§ Again considered in Committee.
Postponed Proceeding on Question:
That a further sum, not exceeding £40, be granted to His Majesty, to wards defraying the charges for the following services connected with Colonial Administration, for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1945, namely:
|Class II., Vote 7, Colonial Office||£10|
|Class II., Vote 8, Colonial and Middle Eastern Services||£10|
|Class II., Vote 8, Colonial and Middle Eastern Services (Supplementary sum)||£10|
|Class II., Vote 9, Development and Welfare (Colonies, etc.)||£10|
§ Mr. Turton
Before the interruption of the Debate I was talking on the question of development and whether the right way to develop our Colonies was in terms of an industrial revolution, or rather of raising the standard of living of all the natives by encouraging their main industries, agriculture and forestry. I said that I thought that two of the previous speakers had stressed too much this view of an industrial revolution. The test, I think, of what the Colonial Secretary has done up to now is seen in his return under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. If we take the Colony of Nigeria, we find that this year there is only one scheme for the whole Colony—a scheme costing £230,000, for the replacement of a dredger 432 lost by enemy action. When you consider that you have there a population of 28,000,000, whose industries are to-day very impoverished, it is surely a criticism of my right hon. and gallant Friend that all he can produce for Nigeria is what I should call, not development, but replacement of war damage. West Africa with its development schemes compares very unfavourably with the treatment that the West Indies are receiving. Jamaica, according to this White Paper, has 17 schemes, amounting to £1,200,000. Jamaica has a population of 1,000,000. I hope that, as the result of what has been said in this Debate, greater encouragement will be given to our West African Colonies.
Let me say a word about forestry. I have always been struck with the great scope that there is for raising the trade in timber products in the Empire. The African Colonies have 350,000,000 acres of timber, yet before the war their whole export of timber, to this country and to other countries, amounted to £317,000 a year. Compare that with Sweden, which had 55,000,000 acres of timber, and whose export trade amounted to £41,000,000 a year. We have failed so far to take advantage of the natural timber resources in the Empire. That has had very serious repercussions on the Colonies, politically and economically.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)
Is the hon. Member suggesting that there should be a greatly increased export of timbers from West Africa, apart from the hardwoods; and can he tell us what the timbers are and what is their use? The point I want to bring out is that the Swedish timber is useful for building and that, as far as I know, the African timber is not. The timber in Africa is mostly on the land owned by the African inhabitants, on communal tenure. What does the hon. Member propose about that? I think that he is misinformed. I do not think that the African timber is of sufficient value to compete with Swedish.
§ Mr. Turton
I suggest that the hon. Member should listen to what I propose, and then, in due course, he can raise any points. In the hinterland of the Colonies you have annual encroachment by the Sahara. What was fertile a decade or so ago is becoming desert. On the coastal belt you have soil erosion. Yearly we are losing part of our Colonies 433 by soil erosion. Both those factors could be cured by an extension of forestry. The Commission, of which I think the hon. Gentleman himself was a member, realised that, and pointed to the Ibo experiment, where natives had been told, "Whatever land you plant you may keep. "That is one suggestion I make: that forestry should be encouraged, quite clearly under native proprietorship, for that is the system of our Colonial administration. The other problem is that agriculture in Africa is unthrifty and uneconomic, owing to what is called the system of "shifting cultivation." The native comes along, cuts down, the timber, plants his yams or macuma, and then moves along to another belt of timber. As a result, we are losing our timber resources. There was an experiment which I witnessed at Eggozi which I think deserves notice in this House. They have experimented in the rotation of crops, and have found that by the rotation of maize, yams, macuma and cassava you can keep the fertility of the soil, and there is no need for this great destruction of the timber resources. Therefore, I claim that more timber should be planted, and that what timber is planted should be conserved.
The real reason why we and the Colonies pay not the slightest attention to their timber is that the natives make very little use of timber for domestic purposes. I think it is wrong to suggest, as the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) did by his interjection, that there is no use for African timber except for mahogany. I could prove him wrong if I could take him around the Nigerian furniture factory, where Nigerian timber is being used with great effect, and from which I believe exports have been made to our different theatres of war during this war. Africa has a great number of timbers which compare favourably with our hardwoods, like obeche, which is a very good white timber, and of great value for furniture and building. We must try to develop the export of timber from West Africa to this country. What prevents this is lack of capital and lack of ships adapted for the trade. There is no failure by the West Africans to realise the advantages of trade with this country. They want to increase their trade with this country in every possible manner. I hope that the Colonial Secretary will touch on that side of the question.
434 We have heard a lot about development and the great need to raise the standard of living in all our Colonies, but there is one great obstacle to development that has not been touched upon yet, that this House must face up to with realism and with frankness, whatever difficulties it may cause us in our relations with other Powers. I refer to the Mandated Territories. So long as you have large areas of territory which have no certain future, you cannot attract capital to them, and you cannot have any development plan. As far as I can understand, the system under which the Mandated Territories are held differs from the Colonial system in four respects: first, uncertainty as to their future; second, the ban on all fortifications and naval bases; third, what I shall call the open door policy; and, fourth, the submission of annual reports to the League of Nations.
Except for those four conditions, the African Colonies are held on exactly the same principles as the Mandated Territories, but what a great disadvantage it is for a native of a Mandated Territory to know that there is no certainty that the Mandatory Power will remain the Mandatory Power, and to find that capital will not come to help the development of his industries because, again, there is that uncertainty over the future. I hope the Colonial Secretary, in his reply, will give us a little more certainty on that matter.
As to the ban on fortifications, I would only say that it is, to me, inconceivable that, at the end of this war, the United Nations could possibly permit a territory to be defenceless, when strategy dictates that for consideration of security fortifications should be erected or a naval base established. It will be a crime against the future peace of the world if we leave territories that are mandated in a defenceless position. That may have been perfectly sound when the Convention of Saint Germain-en-Laye was made, but after the war defence provisions must be made for these territories in agreement with the other United Nations.
Let me say this about the "open door." This is an involved problem, because the "open door" of the Convention of Saint Germain-en-Laye is mixed up with the Congo Basin Treaties, and if you are going to amend one you have to amend the other. I put this to the Committee. Is it fair that natives of a Mandated 435 Territory should not be free to exercise their own fiscal policy? As long as you have this "open door" policy, it means that the Convention or the Mandate determines what taxes should or should not be levied on goods entering that country. I believe that it is right that the Mandated Territories should be in exactly the same position as the Colonies, and that the inhabitants of the Colonies and Mandated Territories should determine their own fiscal policy in the interests of their own prosperity and with due regard to their trade with other countries. The time has, I believe, come when these three differences between Mandated Territories and Colonies should disappear.
About the last difference—the submission of annual reports to the League of Nations—I can see nothing very terrifying in that. The reports give very striking illustrations of what can be done in administration, but let us extend it. Not only should these territories have an annual report; there are other undeveloped countries, and, I believe, for instance, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) mentioned Liberia. I believe Liberia and Ethiopia and other countries should have reports submitted on them to the United Nations. The Mandates Committee of the League of Nations may not be easy to resurrect after the war. Let us build something new after this war. Let us have, as was suggested in a book by my hon. Friend the Member for East Fulham (Mr. Astor), some council for undeveloped territories and let us have both Colonial and non-Colonial Powers on that council. Let the undeveloped Colonies, whether they have been previously mandated or not, be supervised by that council, and let annual reports be made, but let there not be, in that system, any failure to have security of tenure, so long as a good administration is conducted.
I am quite sure that it would be in the interests of the British Empire to have some of our own undeveloped Colonies brought into that system. We have nothing to fear. It would be a great awakening to some of the critics in the United States if they were able to read the reports on our Colonial administration. That is one of the great difficulties. The Mandated Territories did give full annual reports, much fuller than we ever got 436 about the Colonies. I hope the Minister will give us a policy for the Mandated Territories. It is quite wrong that we should go ahead with our hands tied in the development of these Colonies. The time has come for a radical change in our administration of the Mandates.
It always has been a proud and sobering reflection to feel that the prosperity, the health and the whole livelihood of many millions in our Colonial Empire depend on our foresight in Parliament, but what I welcomed most, in the short intervention of the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell), was the very fact of the realisation that the prosperity of this country equally depends upon the prosperity of our Colonial Empire. We are mutually interdependent, and on too many occasions we have talked in this House on the depressed areas of this country, and on too few discussed the depressed Colonial territories in the Empire. If we can get prosperity in the Empire it will help those whom the chances and hazards of the export trade often condemn to unemployment, and, if we can secure that higher prosperity, I believe we can march forward to a still more glorious future.
§ Dr. Morgan (Rochdale)
There is much to be said and little time in which to say it. I hope to confine myself, as I usually do, to a part of the Colonial Commonwealth which I know. The hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) said he had the qualification of not very intimate knowledge of the subject but wanted to stress certain general principles. I think that is a very good point to make, and I have never forgotten! that the hon. Member for Seaham, when I was trying hard to get a certain man released from prison because he was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment in Barbados for asking his fellow workers to join a trade union, made one interjection: "Is what the hon. Member is saying really true? Is it really called sedition to ask a fellow worker to join a trade union?" The hon. Member did not realise that, as a result of what was said here, this man was released from prison with nearly seven years to go. This was the man about whom the Under-Secretary for the Colonies announced in the House that he could not be released because this House could not interfere with the self-governing Colony of Barbados. I am very glad that a front 437 bencher with such a virile power of speech should come to the rescue of the more obscure of us who sit on the back benches.
I want to touch upon one or two particular matters connected with the medical services in the Colonies, with special reference to certain diseases and certain improvements that have recently been made. One is always in a difficulty in making a speech in the House of Commons, which is regarded as a sounding board, and if anything very disparaging is said or the truth really stated, one is always liable to be told by opponents that one is making to the world certain disgraceful statements about the conditions in the British Empire and doing great harm to the British Commonwealth. Far be it from me to do that. I know from what I have seen of other European countries which have Colonies in the world that our Colonial System, bad as it is, is the best that could possibly be witnessed in such a civilization as exists to-day. But because we are some miles ahead of the best of other European countries. I do not think that we should be resentful of criticism, but rather that we should regard this, instead of being a bludgeon knocking us out of the ring, as a prod to do better.
In the course of a previous Debate on the national health services I made a statement with regard to the overriding local bureaucracy and I said that the Colonial Medical Service was one of the worst in the world and was a disgrace. That led to views being expressed in the "British Medical Journal" by men of the notoriety, sobriety and solidity of Lord Hailey, an example of the Herrenvolk mind apparently, who, after his retirement from Indian civil administration, took an interest in Colonial affairs. He was followed by certain other knights, including Sir Philip Manson Bahr, and one of my previous colleagues in this House, Sir Drummond Shields, who occupies a position with the Empire Parliamentary Association which one would have thought would have given him no political right to indulge in our controversial questions in public. The Minister, also without notice to me, in my absence, on the last occasion, made the most contemptuous references to me personally and said rather contemptuously, "We all know the Member for Rochdale; now and again he puts forward a constructive criti- 438 cism but he makes an irrelevant interjection without any great importance on all sorts of matters." The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is entitled to any private opinion he may have about me, but I represent the doctors he employs in the West Indies on the British Medical Association Council. I also hold certain honourable medical positions in the democratic movement in Britain. He referred to me as Jekyll and Hyde. Jekyll, at any rate, was a brave and courageous man—although it is a fictional story—a half lunatic, sane in some moments, and mad in others.
§ Dr. Morgan
I do not think that I do, in the conditions under which the right hon. and gallant Member expressed it.
§ Dr. Morgan
I was talking about a statement made by the Secretary of State, and from what I see of the hon. Member, I do not think that much explanation is needed from him personally.
§ Dr. Morgan
I do not care about myself; I can give hard knocks and take them, but my people in the West Indies resent this very much. They know the work I am doing for them, good, bad or indifferent. The Secretary of State was rather sensitive and resentful of criticism, for my remarks were applied to conditions of service rather than to Colonial medical personnel. I have gone out of my way to praise the excellent, devoted and hard work of the medical men in the Colonial Medical Service who have given long hours under discouraging conditions. I mentioned in particular the men in the Caribbees, especially the port medical officers who do their work by keeping away plague and yellow fever and diseases of that kind. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, as well as the "British Medical Journal" writers, attacked me with violence, whereas if he had asked me privately I could have given him a reason- 439 able explanation. I have given a sober answer to the "British Medical Journal" and I am still waiting for an answer from Lord Hailey. Is it not true that certain medical conditions in certain Colonies are bad?
Take Nigeria: there is a Colony in which we have had a Government-owned colliery—used for 35 years. Is it not the fact that there is a high rate of accidents because the Nigerian miners, after cycling and walking 10 miles a day and more to work, worked in the mines and there suffered leg wounds because they had to work without leg and foot protection? Is that the fault of the medical men? Is it not a fact that the medical men asked that foot guards should be provided for these men and that such a provision reduced the accident rate by 50 per cent. per year? Surely it does not need any great acumen to see that there was something wrong. I have documents here from medical journals in the West Indies against the handling of disease and as to the facts admitted and time and time again dissatisfaction is expressed there. Take, for example, leprosy, a disease which could be wiped out in the West Indies in 10 years. There are 3,000 cases altogether. Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that the medical men have no power to discharge such cases under the constitution say in Jamaica and that powers of discharge of a patient lie, under the law, in the hands of the magistrate. Does he deny that? Is not that true?
Is not that a bad position in which to put medical men, in that they have no right to discharge certain patients from certain hospitals in respect of certain diseases? It has to be a decision of the resident magistrate, who has no medical knowledge to enable him to decide on a medical problem. Does he not realise that in the island of Grenada, where I was born, he has increased the burdens of medical officers and given them worsened conditions in an increased population? Does he realise that when I was in Trinidad in 1939 the medical men of Trinidad, worried by evidence for the Commission, held a meeting of the British Medical Association? I was present at the meeting, because I was their representative. They had asked the Government, through the Acting Colonial Secretary—the 440 present Governor of Jamaica was then Acting Governor, and the Acting Colonial Secretary, who, in my opinion, was not a good officer—whether they were entitled to give medical evidence of conditions in the Colony before the Royal Commission. Does he know what official answer they received from the authorities? Instead of the Acting Colonial Secretary saying, "Certainly, by all means, no one can prevent you. You are entitled to go before the Royal Commission, which can hear and are hearing evidence from all sections of the population. You as doctors are entitled to go there and give your advice," What do hon. Members think he did? He referred them to the appropriate Colonial Office Regulation, which stated that no officer employed by the Government might, on grounds of public policy, make any disclosure of information coming into his possession at the time of his work. So these medical men, in my presence, said, "We are finished. This Memorandum which we have prepared cannot be presented to the Commission. Our pensions and our super-annuations are at stake. We dare not." One medical man I know, a good medico, said, "My children are being educated in Great Britain. If I go as your representative to the Commission, as you ask, I may be sacked by the Government because of disobedience to this Regulation." I was asked to see what could be done and so went to ask Sir Walter Citrine, a member of the Commission, to appeal to Lord Moyne, as Chairman, whether that Order could be countermanded, and whether the local medical men representing the British Medical Association could go there and give their views without fear of penalisation. Let it be put to the credit of the Commission and the Commissioners that they immediately said, "Of course, this is quite wrong. The medical men are entitled to come to this Commission and give their evidence." They did so, with very good effect. I regret to say that the Report of that Commission has not yet been published. May I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman when we may expect it to be published?
Those are the conditions of which I was complaining; I was not complaining of the individual medical men. Maybe I could have complained of certain of the men the right hon. and gallant Gentleman appoints to official posts. I want him to 441 appoint more of the local medical talent. I gave him a case in my letter to him, which he did not think worthy of reply, of the medical officer of health of the City of Port of Spain in Trinidad. That doctor had received from this country the highest medical qualifications he could possibly obtain for his work—a diploma in tropical medicine, a diploma in public health, all sorts of higher degrees in addition to the ordinary degree of the University of London. Yet the man appointed as the director of medical services was a plain M.B., Ch.B., of Glasgow University who had never bothered to take a higher degree, and some of us knew from our period in Glasgow University. Yet men in the service, local-born European men, coloured and not coloured—it is hard to tell the difference, because they all get sun-tanned and you can only tell by the fact that as a rule the hair of the European does not curl—men who have served 30 years in the Colony, have never been appointed to the post of chief medical officer, except, now, the acting deputy Director-General of Medical Services in Trinidad. Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman get up and tell me of any other medical officer who has been appointed to any of the higher supervisory posts in respect of local knowledge and by reason of his qualifications, in respect of his years in the service, and of coming over here for study leave? All the time they appoint a European with less experience and lower degrees.
This is the sort of thing I was after: No Whitley Council, no organised basis for making representations, no arbitrative machinery of any kind. The Medical Board at Trinidad is still in the melting pot, a Board which has done work for 150 years. The local Government of Trinidad, time and time again, have attempted to disrupt that Board. They want to take away from that Board the power of recognising diplomas and give to the Government the power of recognising diplomas that would not be recognised in Great Britain. Is that not true? That was what I was thinking of when I said the Colonial medical service is a disgrace. I was not referring to my many friends and colleagues, even my own brother who is in the Colonial Medical Service. I would not think of disparaging the very fine work they are 442 doing, and I hoped that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would at least have given me credit for having some common sense. I may be mad perhaps at odd moments, but I think I am sane at most.
Let me put this point to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. I know that his heart is of gold and I know that he means well, and I am not saying a word against him. This is nothing personal, far from it; I believe he will probably end by being the best Colonial Secretary we have had if he continues as he is now. It is the system, it is the way things now work which I want to criticise. The other day I went to the Colonial Office and I was shocked to see three maps on a wall. I have never seen maps there before. I think it was the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain who said that the walls of the Colonial Office should be covered with maps from the very entrance. I said, "Somebody is waking up here." Let me remind the right hon. and gallant Gentleman of this. In one of my Hyde-drugged-moments I put before him a very good scheme for West Indian nursing from the point of view of recruitment in Great Britain, and also for federal nursing. Is the whole thing still in the melting pot? I think it has been prejudiced already. His Controller of the West Indian Welfare and Development Fund has already announced a scheme at an open conference of the senior medical officers in St. Lucia, in 1943. I have said nothing since, because I know official information takes a long time to trickle back, but a scheme like that has been before the Colonial Office for two or three years. The London County Council refused to do it at first, but was induced to adopt it after I had published an article in a very valuable monthly journal called "Tomorrow." Then the L.C.C. said, "We will take between nine and 14"—or whatever the number was—"from the West Indies and train them here so that they can go back and give service in their islands." Is that a Jekyll and Hyde madman pronouncement? And such an announcement of such an excellent nursing training scheme should first have been made in the House of Commons.
That is not the only scheme I put up. I put up another scheme about St. Kitts. I pointed out that the St. Kitts Sugar Factory for the last 30 years has never 443 earned less than 100 to 1,000 per cent. per year in all its history after having paid for the factory and the railroad round the Island. Yet the wages of the workers, especially the women, remain at 1s. per day and the estates are under contract to the company. They dare not leave because there is no other sugar factory on the island. There is no housing on the estate because there is no land available—it is all used for sugar— and the people have to live in the town of Basseterre. One medical officer there is doing very fine work in encouraging people to have early treatment for leprosy. He is a coloured gentleman, Dr. Jones. Yet he has not been awarded an O.B.E. while some of the capitalist lawyers and the business men of Trinidad get honours. Can there not be a better distribution of these honours and so encourage these medical men to do better work? When I put up a scheme about the alternative employment of women in coal-bearing in St. Lucia, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman did not think my alternative proposals for employment were practicable during war. Did I not put before him a scheme for West Indian training? He wrote me a letter about it. I would like to read it because it is not marked "Personal," but if he tells me it is personal I will not do so.
§ Dr. Morgan
My scheme was to train boys in the West Indies in character and education. I discussed it at the Colonial Office with the late Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and he thought it was a good scheme. Two years later, in May of this year, I wrote to the right hon. Gentleman, knowing he is very well-intentioned, to ask what had happened to the scheme, whether it had been cooked long enough or what had happened. This was his reply:
§ "Dear Dr. Morgan,
§ "I am afraid you have caught us out badly about your Training Ship scheme for boys in the British West Indies. I can only plead that it was not me! Apparently it was Macmillan with whom you spoke, and to whom you handed the memorandum some time in 1942, but owing to the result of a misunderstanding on the part of his secretary the paper, instead of being sent on for consideration, was put away and nothing further was done. I must apologise for this treatment."444
§ Dr. Morgan
What? The apology? No, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is very good. The letter continued:I have now had an opportunity of looking at the scheme and, at first sight, I like it. I am sending it on urgently to the Comptroller for his views, and I will write you again when I hear from him. With many regrets, Yours sincerely, etc.Nothing was done for over two years. Was I a Jekyll and Hyde here, or "Hide and Seek" in the Colonial Office? A very decent letter, a very fine letter, but a witness of the sort of thing which is going on in London. It is striking evidence how somebody in the Colonial Office had an attack of sleeping sickness immediately I presented this memorandum.
§ Dr. Morgan
Far from it. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman had seen the State hospitals in New Zealand he would know how well they are conducted.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Charles Williams)
If we have many more of these reminiscences we shall be going back generations. We cannot consider matters connected with the Dominions Office as well as the Colonial Office.
§ Dr. Morgan
I agree, Mr. Williams, but I was led into that by the hon. and gallant Member's interruption. If the hon. and gallant Member will go to certain Colonies he will see State hospitals which are very well run, and he will find that his observation is not true. And again this is a generation and racial problem; it is the old Herrenvolk idea, with a pink form of totalitarianism.
§ Dr. Morgan
It is the old Herrenvolk idea with a pink form of totalitarianism. Has that gone in now? I raised with the Minister the question of federation and I was surprised to hear an old contemporary of mine at Glasgow University say to-day that he could not accept a principle like federation. I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot), who, I know, is considered by 445 his friends to be rather an omnibus politician, had better stick to health, to Scotland, and to agriculture, if he is going make such mistakes as he is making over federation. He said that he did not believe in a general principle of this nature and that executive power should rest here. Well and good. But then he put forward the fantastic idea that an additional Under-Secretary of State should be appointed to go out to certain consolidated and, I presume, federated areas like West and East Africa. Some most amusing things are said in this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that I am getting my speech across with a little humour and amusement.
§ Dr. Morgan
When I say virulent and violent things they are resented. Some time ago I sent the Minister some questions by people interested in the medical and nursing problems of Jamaica. They concerned a hospital, once a poor law hospital, which had been flooded with patients from another hospital because of the want of room. I put four questions to the Minister, from authentic sources, and he told me that he could not give me an answer at the time because he had not the information. Now I have his reply here. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] No, it is too long. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman did not, with his usual clarity and honesty, say that I was right in what I said, except on two points. One of those was that untrained nurse attendants are not being paid 14s. a week but 16s., and I am sorry I made that mistake. I must have mistaken the figure "six" for the figure "four." Also I said that there were two pit latrines, instead of one. But every other fact in the letter was correct. This medical institution has one trained person, the matron. There are 262 patients there, the average being 242. There are one trained person, as I have said, and another person with a maternity certificate of training, and eight untrained attendants, two of whom are on night 446 duty. They take their meals in a dining room which is not screened from flies. The Minister told me that they have a rest room, bed and wash basin not far away. When I asked about pit latrines, a subject not mentioned in polite societies, he said there were two, but no lights. Does the Minister think that fair? Does he call that encouraging to a good Colonial nursing service? I know it is not his fault.
§ Dr. Morgan
I was told the same sort of thing in 1929–31. When I was a Member for a London division I put the same sort of question and with great monotony of platitudinous somnolence I was told that conditions were being improved. I know that sort of answer so well—"It is having due consideration," "Improvements are being made," and, "Plans are being made." All this has been told me time after time. I know that things are getting better because more money is available now, but money is not the only thing that matters. In the area I know best, the Caribbean area, men have ambitions, they are asking for cultural and educational improvements and advancement. They are pressing the Government, but the Government are putting on the brake.
Let me again turn to leprosy, and to an article written by Dr. Muir. In certain Colonies like Barbados, leprosy is on the increase; there are more cases than in Jamaica, which has a much greater population. In Grenada they have reduced leprosy cases to 12, all of which are non-infective, and there are no child cases. What has been done? Not a word is said about this, Men have done good work out there. Not a pat on the back, publicly made to the medical officer in charge of the medical institution. I know what it means to these poor people, and to illegitimate mothers in places where maternity has become an industry. I know what it means to those who have no vote. In Barbados only one person in 35 has the vote. How long are we going to allow mammon-infested oligarchy on top to keep in certain allegedly self-governing Colonies the people below in a constant state of destitution and poverty?
Instead of the present mummiform multiformity and variety of Constitutions, 447 why not have a federation of the Windward and Leeward Islands? I challenge the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to have a plebiscite on whether they want federation, and I have no doubt what the verdict will be. There is no sanatorium for tuberculosis in Trinidad and the hospitals are still disgraceful in Antigua and San Fernando. Let us have a fair investigation. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is certainly doing the best he can, but I think, when a Member of the House puts a scheme before him for three years and the medical adviser to the Controller is reporting to his senior Colonial officers he might have the generosity to say that a certain doctor in Parliament interested in the West Indies put forward a scheme and it ought to be taken up. What hopes can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman offer to the people of British Guiana of a new Constitution which will enable them to do things for themselves? Welfare is not enough. They want to take an interest and get a training in public affairs and get some experience in self government. They are intensely loyal, devoted to the Empire and the Crown and full of admiration for democratic institutions. When are they going to be given the job? What hopes have they of a potable water system in Georgetown in British Guiana? They have been asking for it for years.
I did not go to the colonies as a tourist. They are described in tourist brochures as the finest places in the world, and so they are. There is beauty of scenery, an equitable climate and everything of the best. They could be made public paradises, as they used to be. Time and time again the whole of the people of certain of them have pressed for certain reforms. They have pressed the right hon. and gallant Gentleman with regard to dual control in denominational education. I have been approached by the Archbishop of the Port of Spain and the Vicar-General of St. Lucia to ask whether he would refuse to impose a secular system of education on a population the great majority of which want denominational education. All the ministers, Nonconformist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of England and Catholic, are united in favour of a denominational system, but we are imposing from the top on a voteless population a secular system. Why not see whether something like the Scottish 448 system, under which the Government own the schools, cannot be introduced? Questions of that kind—the medical services, transport and air transport—could be run on federal lines, things that cannot be run individually because they cannot stand the expense of it. I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to look at federation again from the point of view of education, using films and radio for adult and mass education through village settlements. It can be done. I do not know whether it can be done in Africa. I do not know Africa as well as I know the Carribees. I know them upside down. I lived there for fifteen years and I have been there several times since. The only hope of making that place a success is to have federal self government under a reserved constitution. If the right hon. Gentleman does that he will leave a name, which we hope he will leave, in the annals of the Colonial Office.
§ Captain Gammans (Hornsey)
The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Fraser) earlier in the Debate made certain implications against the loyalty of our fellow subjects in Malaya who are not able to answer for themselves. I am glad that he has announced that he proposes to take an interest in the Colonies from now on, but he should certainly verify his facts before he makes a slanderous statement of that sort in the House.
Mr. Creech Jones
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman be more precise? What was the slanderous statement, and what criticism of the loyalty of the British subjects in Malaya was made?
§ Captain Gammans
The hon. Member complained about the inadequacy of the social services and went on to say that it was the dissatisfaction of the people of Malaya that was responsible for Singapore. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I certainly got the impression that he was imputing to the people of Malaya dissatisfaction with British rule. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nothing of the sort."] I should not wish to misquote the hon. Member, but I hope that that calumny may be laid for ever. I hope that before very long we shall be in a position to reconquer the country. We are going to ask the young men of this country and the Dominions to risk, and possibly to lay down, their lives to reconquer it. In what spirit are they going to do it? In the spirit of restoring liberty to their fellow British subjects, or 449 having it dinned into their ears that these people stabbed their comrades in the back at a vital stage of the war? It is most essential that the question should be settled. Malaya fell for one reason only; that there were not the arms there to defend it. If these imputations are to be made against the inhabitants of Malaya, it is equally applicable to make them against the inhabitants of Norway and Denmark.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. Member has already made one very long speech, and it is only fair that other Members of the Committee should have some opportunity to take part in the Debate.
§ Dr. Morgan
I am surely entitled to defend a colleague when I think that his remarks are being wrongly interpreted.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Yes, but I suggest, when there are a large number of Members who want to speak, that when an hon. Member has already made a considerable contribution to the Debate it is in the general interest that hon. Members should make their speeches and finish rather than have too many interruptions.
§ Dr. Morgan
Am I to understand that it is the Ruling of the Chair that, because a Member has made a considerable contribution to the Debate, he cannot seize the opportunity of making a correction when a colleague's remarks are being wrongly interpreted?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
That is not my position. What I suggested was that if a Member had made a long speech it would be a good thing if he did not interrupt, so that more Members could intervene in the Debate.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans) aware that in the only detailed report of the operations in the loss of Singapore, the two regiments which received outstanding recognition were the Royal Malayan Regiment and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and that there was no calumny levelled against the Malayans in fighting for their own country?
§ Captain Gammans
I was not making that point. I drew the implication from what my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton said that he was reviving the story that went round the country two or three years ago about the loyalty of the inhabitants of Malaya, and as I spent many years of my life in that country I felt that I must refute it. However, I am pleased to have the assurance from his friends that he did not mean that.
§ Captain Gammans
I think he imputed it, anyway. The hon. Member for Hamilton said he hoped the Colonial Secretary would make a reference to the future of Hong-Kong. I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman does nothing of the sort. It would be most unfortunate if, at this juncture of the war, any statement whatever was made about the future of Hong-Kong, or any other part of the Far East.
I would like to make a plea to my right hon. and gallant Friend, not for a statement on Colonial policy, which I do not think is necessary, but for a greater clarification of what he proposes to do to carry out that policy. I would like to make the plea, too, for some better machinery for carrying it out here at the centre. May I put it this way? Almost all his other colleagues in the Cabinet have during the past year come forward with far-reaching and inspiring plans for the future. We have had statements on housing, medicine, employment, education, and so on, and I am rather hoping that the Colonial Secretary will be able to come forward before long with some comprehensive and long-term plan for the future of the Colonial Empire. We do not need to argue about the principles on which we should develop the Empire. There are two. First, that we should do all in our power to promote self-government in the Colonial territories; second, that those territories should be developed in the economic sense for the benefit of their inhabitants.
I suggest that there is a third principle which has come much to the fore during the past year; that is the necessity for promoting unity, not only between this country and the Colonies, but between the Colonies themselves. We often say that we in this country know very little of the Colonies, but what I think is equally dis- 451 tressing, in some ways more so, is how little the Colonies know about each other. How little, for example, the people of Africa know about the West Indies, and how little the people of East Africa know about the Far East. We had an inspiring Debate a short time ago on the necessity for Empire unity. So far as unity in the Colonial Empire is concerned, as opposed to the Dominions, the responsibility for fostering it rests upon the Secretary of State for the Colonies and, in finality, on this House.
I want to put forward the suggestion that there is a need for clarification of our Colonial policy far a different reason. To-day the Colonies are in the news, and on the front page at that. The days are over when we could conduct our Colonial affairs in a sort of vacuum, when all the public expected was that the Colonial Secretary should come to the House once a year and give an account of his stewardship. We have taken down the ringed fence, and we have to do still more. There are to-day three sections of public opinion which are vitally interested in the future of the Colonies. First, there is world opinion, and especially the interest of the United States. I would be the first to admit that many of the criticisms of many of our American friends are unfair, and to a certain extent, among a certain section of the community, are inspired by malice; but even among the vast majority of the American public who are well disposed towards us there is a deplorable ignorance of what we are attempting to do or what we have done. If they know little about our Colonial achievements the fault is perhaps ours for not telling them.
The second section is the opinion of the people here at home. I am glad to see that at last the British public are becoming increasingly conscious of their Colonial responsibilities. I think that to a certain extent that has arisen out of admiration for what the Colonies have done in the war. The British public have realised that Allies come and Allies go. It is only 25 years since we were talking about "the gallant little Japs." It is the British Empire countries upon which alone we can rely in the long run, and I think the British public realise that. I believe that they will be prepared to tax themselves to an increasing degree, as my hon. Friend the Member for Seaham (Mr. 452 Shinwell) suggested, but I do not believe they will do it in a blind sort of way. They will not do it unless we can lay before them definite plans for the development of the Colonies as a whole. Lastly, we have the opinion of the Colonial peoples themselves. One of the things that worries me with regard to our relationship with the Colonies is that I do not think that, on the whole, we are carrying the Colonial intelligentsia with us. The tendency for them is to follow what has happened in India. The tragedy of India in the last two generations is that the best brains have been lost in the arid desert of agitation and have not been available for social and economic reforms. There is a danger that the same thing may happen in our Colonial territories.
How can we get the co-operation and understanding of these three branches of public opinion? The best way it can be done is for my right hon. and gallant Friend to come to the House, as his other colleagues have done in other directions, and state his long-term programme. What could that programme contain? I will not go into it in detail but I would like to suggest these points. I am one of those who feel that we ought to try to get a proper imperial currency. I cannot imagine why it is necessary for us to continue with the hotch-potch of dollars, rupees and all sorts of coinage of varying denominations. Why cannot we have one imperial currency? I think, too, that there ought to be a certain minimum standard of social services. There is a great disparity as between different Colonies. Surely there is a minimum at which we should aim in medical services, health services, workmen's compensation and the like.
The third point is education. What is our Colonial educational policy? I suppose that in a short-term sense it is to make people literate. A lot can be done there by a mass attack on illiteracy, but that is not enough. Education policy does not merely stop at making people literate. It is surely a failure unless it makes men good agriculturists, develops local powers of leadership and engenders pride in local traditions and customs. If we apply that test to our educational achievements of the past 20 or 25 years, or longer, in many parts of the Colonial Empire, there is much that we find unsatisfactory. We have transplanted our 453 own education system into a tropical setting, and on the whole it has not been a great success. One of the worst things we ever did was to introduce the Cambridge local examinations as a sort of standard of gentility. We made the African a dissatisfied African without making him a satisfied anything.
The next point is with regard to defence. We often have paid tribute to what has been done by Colonial regiments in the war, and a pretty wonderful story it is. They have shown that not only are they willing to share the burden of Empire defence, but that they are capable of doing it. Is all that to be lost when the war is over? Are we just to go back to our few regiments in Africa and in other parts of the world? Cannot we have a proper Defence Council, so that it will feel that it has a share of the defence of the Empire?
My last plea is with regard to economics. We cannot be satisfied with the economic development of the Colonies unless we have a proper economic development Board here in London upon which each Colony has direct representation. It is true that we have the Colonial Welfare and Development Act and that certainly was a move in the right direction, but it has been suggested to-day that that is all that is required. Personally, I do not think so. There are definite limitations to that Act. It is too short-term in its application. To a certain extent the tendency is for it to operate only when something is starting to go wrong. It is not part of an economic plan. Perhaps its greatest handicap is that the Colonial peoples themselves feel no sense of responsibility for its operation. It savours too much of doling out money from Westminster.
I have come to the conclusion that there are certainly four great questions in the economic field that cannot be solved properly on the present basis. One of them is the question of secondary industries. The right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) said that the industrial revolution is coming to Africa. It surely is. How is it to come? In the same way that it came to us? Are we to realise there the horrors that have come to this country in the last 150 years, through lack of planning? I do not believe that, under the present aegis of the Colonial Welfare and Development 454 Act, we can get secondary industries developed in the light of the experience that we have gone through. We need something more comprehensive than that. The same will apply to broadcasting and——
§ Captain Gammans
I will come to that in a moment. In regard to broadcasting I knew that in our Colonial Empire we lagged very far behind the rest of the world, but until I went to the West Indies the other day I had no idea how far behind. Broadcasting is not merely a means of telling people the news and of amusing them; it is the best method yet devised for adult education and for imparting technical knowledge. How is that to be developed? Is it to be done Colony by Colony? I now turn to civil aviation. Whatever may be developed over the trunk lines of the world, as between territory and territory and island and island, development must remain British, and the Colonial people themselves should have their say in what is to happen.
The last point is in some ways the most important. What is to be the future of the investment of outside capital in these Colonies? I know it is the fashion to-day to talk about exploitation. The truth is, of course, that the Colonies which have attracted the most outside capital enjoy the highest standard of living. But I suggest that the day has gone by when capital may be invested without any sort of regulation, without any sense that it fits into a plan and without any assurance that it pays its fair share of local taxation. My right hon. and gallant Friend interrupted me a moment ago and asked what the Board was going to do. That is a very big subject, but my answer is shortly this: The Board is to be responsible for the various things I have mentioned, done in a co-ordinated way as between island and island and territory and territory. I admit that it would need a proper technical staff and a competent secretariat.
§ Colonel Stanley
Does my hon. and gallant Friend suggest that this Board-will consist of representatives from each one of the 40 Colonies but will be responsible for the economic development of only one of them?
§ Captain Gammans
No, I think my right hon. and gallant Friend has taken me a little literally. When I said "direct representation of the Colonies" I was not suggesting direct representations from each territory or each island, but perhaps for each block of territories. There is a case for a Board of that sort, which to a certain extent my right hon. and gallant Friend has now. It would have some responsibility under him for the proper co-ordination of economic work. Let me give one example. The thing that struck me about British Guiana was that the first thing needed was a thorough survey of its mineral resources and agricultural possibilities but it is no one's particular job to do it, except the Government of British Guiana. Under these five different heads I feel that my right hon. and gallant Friend could do something, and produce a very inspiring programme. I am not suggesting that that is all. I hope he will be able to tell us of the work that is being carried on by the women officers of the Civil Service. I think we all agree that we cannot raise the social level of any community above that of its women. Far more can be done in that direction.
I do not want my right hon. and gallant Friend to feel that I am criticising his administration or that of the Colonial Office. On the contrary, I feel a greater sense of confidence to-day than I have felt for many years past. I believe that feeling is shared by many hon. Members. I was a Colonial servant myself for many years, and I know that the Crown is served by no more devoted and loyal men. During the last 20-odd years they have been asked to fight a sort of rearguard action. They have not known exactly what they were supposed to be doing, but it has been a sort of rearguard action of political concession and economic improvisation. There has not been a sort of blue print of what they had to do. Too often, things were only done when matters had gone wrong.
We cannot solve our Colonial problems merely by doling out Constitutions either in response to political clamour on the spot or unpractical idealism at home. Now, I believe very sincerely, is the time when we can take a great step forward. The foundation of our association with the Colonial peoples has been well and truly laid by those who have gone before. Our association together has been sanctified by 456 blood shed in two wars. Now is the time when we can build on those foundations a permanent world order which will be of benefit, not only to ourselves and the Colonial people, but, I think, of benefit to the whole world.
§ Mr. Emmott (Surrey, Eastern)
The hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken has a large and detailed knowledge of this subject, and he never discusses it without adding much to the knowledge of the Committee. His speech to-day has been no exception to that general principle, but I do not propose to follow him on any special points he has raised, as the time is now abbreviated and the Minister has to reply. I wish to offer to the Committee one or two remarks upon one point,' or possibly two, which are of great practical present interest to the Colonial Empire. The first is the question of recruitment to the Colonial Service. The Colonial Service has, through the call upon it of the Armed Services of the Crown, lost large numbers in this war. The first particular point I want to make is that it seems to me certain that after the end of this war the many wide economic development schemes, which will require to be put into operation in the Colonies, will require a considerable increase in the staff of the Colonial Service. I am thinking not only of administrative officers, officers whose work might he generally described as political in its nature; I am thinking more of surveyors, irrigation engineers, agricultural experts and men of that sort, who will surely be needed in large numbers for the preparation, supervision and management of development schemes.
It is, surely, obvious that expensive development schemes should not be undertaken without careful preliminary investigation. There is great pressure in this Committee now, and rightly so, for the expenditure of large sums of money in the Colonies after the war. How things have changed in recent years! How difficult it was only a few years ago to obtain, if not sanction, at any rate general approval for the expenditure of large sums of money. But the pressure is now all the other way. All the argument is for the expenditure of more and more money. That will be necessary, but there is a certain danger that, under pressure of this 457 kind of argument, there may be a tendency to embark on great schemes of economic development with insufficient preliminary examination. It will be a false economy and a very wrongful waste of money if expensive schemes of Colonial development are undertaken without sufficient preliminary investigation. All this work requires additional staff. Further, there has been in recent years, and will be after the war a considerable retirement of the older men, many of whom have remained at their posts during the war when otherwise they would have retired. These men have often remained in unhealthy climates, separated from their families, at the call of duty. When the war ends they will go. Of the younger men, too, surely many of them who have done long tours of duty without any interruption will require extended periods of rest and recuperation.
All these factors will result, at the end of the war, in a considerable shortage in the Colonial Service. I want to ask particularly whether the Colonial Office now has in preparation plans to fill the vacancies that will then arise, and if it has, what is their general nature. These plans must have been considered already. It will be too late to embark on considering them when the war ends. The emergency will then be upon us. They must be ready now to be put into operation the moment the fighting ceases.
The Appointments Department of the Colonial Office, as is well known, has discharged its task with great efficiency and imagination. I suppose it has been very much hampered by circumstances which there is no need to detail. There can have been no more than a slight trickle of recruitment into the Colonial Service in recent years and months. I express the hope that the Appointments Department of the Colonial Office will be in a position to resume its full activities in recruiting for the Colonial Service of the earliest possible moment. I ask with some diffidence whether it would be possible even to begin the selection of likely entrants into the Colonial Service now, before hostilities cease. There may well be men who have been disabled by the war, but who are not so seriously disabled as to abandon the prospect of a Colonial career. There may be other categories of persons also whose eyes are already turned in that direction. Would it be possible to have a kind of prelimi- 458 nary selection of candidates drawn from such categories?
There is one other point under the heading of recruitment to which I would like to make reference: that is the type of training and instruction which I understand is required to be undertaken by would-be entrants for at least some appointments in the Colonial Service. A good deal has been said in other Debates, and something has been said in this Debate, about subjects which are now very much in the mind of the House. One is the increasing importance of economic subjects in our modern life, the increasing importance of men having more than a merely superficial knowledge of economic and commercial questions, both in the Diplomatic Service and the Colonial Service. The other is the increasing importance of agriculture both in domestic and Colonial life. I should be the last man to depreciate the importance or the value, to those who can profit from it, of a literary education, but it may well be that the type of instruction, the type of training, which was appropriate to a period when knowledge of these subjects was less important is no longer so appropriate for men, many of whom will have to pass the most active period of their lives among the peasantry in the West Indies, or in Africa, as training of a type which will give them a practical knowledge of agriculture, training, generally speaking, of a type which will give them a good, sound, general knowledge of economic and commercial questions. There was one other point on which I should have liked to have said something, but I do not wish to stand between the Committee and the Secretary of State; so I conclude with an expression of the hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman may find it convenient to say something upon the points that I have mentioned.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Oliver Stanley)
I am only too sorry that the hon. Gentleman's speech was cut short, in order to give me time to reply to the Debate. I think he was the only Member who dealt with the very important point of the recruitment and training of the Colonial Service after the war. He will not expect me to go into the question fully now. I will content myself with saying that I well recognise the great deal of recruitment which will 459 be needed directly after the war, both to replace the people who will then retire and to bring a very much understaffed service up to strength, and to bring in the new conditions we have in mind. I agree that plans cannot be made in a day. We have given considerable thought to them. We have plans which are far advanced, and which we shall be in a position to complete at a more appropriate time than this, when we are at the very crisis of the war. That will be when we have learnt more of the actual problems of demobilisation. We have to consider not only the training of the immediate applicants after the war, which will have to be of a special character, but the general training of recruits in peace-time., We shall bear in mind the need for practical instruction in agriculture and the understanding by everybody of the broad principles of modern economic thought.
If I may turn to the Debate as a whole, I would say how glad I am that Members, through the usual channels, asked for another discussion on the Colonies. I hope that it will be a settled practice now to have at least two days Debate—and I hope more. May I make this suggestion? If, in fact, it becomes an accepted practice that we are allowed more than one day for the discussion of Colonial affairs in the House of Commons, wonder whether it would not add a great deal to the value of the Debate if we could, by some arrangement among ourselves, while devoting one day to a general discussion, try to confine subsequent days to the discussion of problems affecting particular geographical areas or particular functional subjects. I speak with some concern, because, having to wind up the Debate to-day, which, although interesting, has roamed over a considerable number of subjects and of parts of the world, I feel how ragged and therefore unsatisfactory my reply will have to be. There is another thing that I may be excused for saying. Had one been in a position to introduce into the Chamber to-day a visitor from Mars, during the period when the Committee was interrupted for other Business and also at another time; and had one told him that at one time the House was discussing an important matter, it is true, but a matter which affects one particular unit in this country, consisting of perhaps a few 460 thousand people, and that at the other time the Committee were discussing Colonial affairs, in which 60,000,000 were concerned; and then, had one asked him to guess, from the attendance, which subject we were discussing at which time, I wonder if he would have guessed right.
Perhaps I may start by referring to the speech of the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley). He had three main points. The first was the question of the Advisory Committees. He complained that, although he did not call into question at all the qualifications of the members of those Advisory Committees, it was—I noted his exact words—typical of my attitude towards Members of Parliament on Colonial questions that I had included only four of them. The inference of that, of course, is that I am always trying to exclude Members of Parliament, by every possible means, from any influence in Colonial affairs. I leave that to Members as a whole to decide. These are advisory bodies of experts on particular subjects; I am only too glad when there is a Member of Parliament who has the technical qualifications on any subject which enable him to hold his own in a discussion on that subject.
§ Colonel Stanley
I should be prepared to discuss the medical qualifications of anybody in this House compared with the medical qualifications of anybody on the committee.
§ Colonel Stanley
I am only too anxious to have the help of Members of Parliament, and their interest in Colonial affairs. I want, above all, to give them an opportunity of getting to know the Colonies, of visiting them,. and of taking an interest in them. I want ample opportunities for debate and question and answer in this House. Members of the House of Commons, I think, should be helping to deal with broad lines of general policy, particularly on the political side, rather than with these technical 461 questions. Above all, I do not want the situation to arise when it is said, "You have put a member of that party on a particular technical committee, and so you must have a member of the other party," and then it is said, "That leaves out the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely, and you must have him on." [Interruption.] I mentioned the hon. Member only because he happens to be the only Member of his party present. Then, gradually, what had started as an expert committee becomes a party political committee. But I ask the hon. Gentleman to accept my assurance that I welcome every sign of interest taken by every hon. Member in this House, and I think hon. Members will agree that at all times I have been only too ready to listen to arid accept their advice.
Another point that the hon. Gentleman raised was the question of the machinery with regard to development. I do not know whether he was speaking for his party or with their authority, but I rather imagine, from the expression on the faces of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that he was not. He wanted a development authority in this country, with executive powers, which should be charged with carrying through schemes, and which, apparently, therefore, would decide on the scheme and would put it into operation, quite apart from whether the local Government wanted it or not.
§ Colonel Stanley
Under my direction—but there may be a scheme for building a school in Jamaica, and it is not going to be done by the Jamaican Government. There are the particular principles to be agreed with me for help under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. I want them to decide where the school is to be, what numbers they are to have in the school and what type of school it is to be. I do not want a board sitting in London——
§ Colonel Stanley
What on earth does that mean?—a board in London, to whom we give executive powers, like the Ten- 462 nessee Valley Authority, and yet say it is only to work in co-operation with the local authority. Had not the local authorities better do it themselves? I feel that, in all this discussion on strengthening the machinery in London—and heaven knows I do not think it is perfect, and I am perfectly prepared to listen to suggestions for strengthening it—we must always bear in mind that more and more of these things are going to be decided and carried out, not in London, but in the Colonies by the people for whom they are intended, who are going to make use of them and to whose lives they are going to make the greatest difference. In considering our machinery in London, therefore, we must remember the part to be played in planning the schemes on the ground itself.
Hon. Members have also raised the question of a Joint Parliamentary Committee. I want to associate Members of Parliament with this work, but let me state quite frankly my objection to this proposal. I think it was suggested by Lord Samuel, whose idea was that a Joint Committee of 10 Members from another place and 10 hon. Members of this House should visit the Colonies, make reports and take a general interest in Colonial affairs. In Colonial affairs in this House, I do not want just 10 selected Members to have all the opportunities of going abroad, of hearing evidence, of writing reports, because, I know that, if that happens, other hon. Members will begin to feel that Colonial affairs have been taken out of their hands and given to these 10 people, who would get all the interesting jobs, with the result that other hon. Members would not bother. When it comes to the question of the future amount a the development grant, and the question of this House supporting money for the Colonies which other people may be asking should be spent in social services here, I would rather have the support of the general body of hon. Members of the House than the expert interest of just 10 Members of this Committee, and it is because of that that I am opposed to this particular proposal.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) went into a number of questions connected with West Africa on rather broad lines. There is, I think, one particular point to which I would call attention. The right hon. and gallant 463 Gentleman said that an industrial revolution is coming to West Africa. I do not think he means to conjure up the idea that as we, in the early part of the 19th century, changed from a country predominantly agricultural into one predominantly industrial, so, after the war, something of that kind will happen in West Africa. There is going to be no industrial revolution in that sense, but a considerable increase in secondary industries and in industrial work. West Africa, however, will remain for a very long time predominantly agricultural in character, and it is predominantly upon the development of its agriculture and the better use of its agricultural resources, whether land or human resources, that West Africans will depend for an increased standard of life. But even this industrialisation and this increase in the workers employed in industry will, I quite agree, come with a fearful impact upon the tribal customs and conditions built up to meet quite different circumstances, and we have seen what a fearful effect it can have if, without any preparation at all, modern industrial conditions are allowed to impinge upon ancient tribal lives built up on a different basis and defenceless against the new conditions.
It is largely for that reason that I have set up this new Social Science Research Council to try to see if we can, before the thing happens, realise what the effect is likely to be on the social life of the people and prepare for it in advance. Preparation is one of the most important factors in the industrialisation that is coming.
The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) referred to the problems of demobilisation, and I was very glad when I found him saying something which I have already impressed on Colonial Governments. We do not want this demobilisation just to make jobs for returned soldiers. We want to have plans of development which will be useful, desirable and essential in themselves and will absorb whatever labour is available. That is the task which Colonial Governments are facing now. The hon. Member asked "How soon will they be ready? "Of course, they are not all at the same stage. Some Governments are considerably more advanced than others, but they are pressing on, and I believe they will be ready in time, but, quite frankly, my 464 difficulty is the difficulty of personnel and not the lack of desire to get on.
This work has to be done either by taking one or two people from current work, which they are doing under very difficult conditions of over-work, or by asking people who are already working overtime on very essential jobs, to take a few hours for this planning work. I think the Committee will appreciate that they are working under very great difficulties, and I should like to express my gratitude for the way they are adding this new burden to the one they are already bearing.
My hon. Friend also made reference, as did the hon. and gallant Member for Preston (Captain Cobb), in connection with the demobilisation problem, to the magnificent human material, to whom we owe a debt, and from whom we can constantly expect work which really redounds to the interests of the Colonies. I should like to associate myself with the tributes they paid. I have recently been provided with an account of some of the things that West African troops have been doing in Burma. At this stage, it is too long to give to the Committee in full, and I should not like to take bits out of it, but I will be making it public as soon as possible.
Hon. Members will realise that I cannot answer every point, but there is one with which I would like to deal. My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely referred' to the White Paper on the disposal of Government stores and to the fact that the Colonial Empire was not mentioned in it. I have been on to that, too, and the reason is that the White Paper really does not begin to operate until the Government Departments here and in the Colonial Empire have had their say. It is only when things are not wanted by the Government, and that includes any demands made by Colonial Governments, that the machinery of the White Paper will come into effect. I am glad that he called attention to that fact, because it gives me an opportunity to make the position clear. They will have an opportunity of putting in their demands for anything they want and settling the terms on which it is handed over before the White Paper machinery takes effect.
The hon. and gallant Member for Preston referred to the Colonial public debt and the high rates of interest charged for loans raised just after the last war. 465 The rates were high, but rates of interest were high generally. Some conversions are now being made, and if it is possible for the Colonies to raise loans I have no reason to suppose that they will not get extremely low and favourable rates.
The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) referred in part of his speech to the question of Malaya. I am not going into the controversy of what he said or meant by that, but it is obvious from the hon. Member's statement and the interjections from the other side that all of us now dismiss the idea which was current and was put about that Malaya was lost because of the disaffection of the Malayans. We ought to recognise that Malaya was lost because we were beaten in the field. There was one point he made with regard to the lack of sources of information for hon. Members and the public generally who are interested in the Colonies now. It is true, and I admit it. I shall be only too glad when we can go back to the pre-war practice of annual Colonial reports. They might add a great deal of reality and urgency to the Debates in this House. On the one occasion that we had a document to discuss—the Stock-dale Report—it made the task of hon. Members very much easier.
§ Colonel Stanley
It is impossible to have the annual report in view of the shortage of staff I have now, but I have already said that as soon as possible after the war it will be resumed.
§ Captain P. Macdonald
There was another document, prepared by a predecessor of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, which was called "The Census of Production" into which a great deal of labour was put, and since the war that census has not been kept up to date, but I hope that, as soon as possible after the war, it will be issued again.
§ Colonel Stanley
I shall review all the ways of giving information afterwards and I promise hon. Members that I will give them the fullest information possible. I cannot recall the actual document or whether it was in the best possible form or not, and I shall have to look into it.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Reed) dealt with the question of federation. We have to be 466 very careful of generalisations about the Colonial Empire and of saying that, because in different parts of the world there are different blocks of territory which look to be close together, the same solution is applicable to all of them. It is not. The difficulty of communications to which hon. Members have referred in the past has made each unit grow in a different way. I want to see the biggest integration practicable of those Colonies in the various regions referred to, but in getting that we have to take account of political sentiment, political difficulties and the circumstances of the particular region, and nothing is more fatal than to force upon people federation for which they are either unready or which ignores practical difficulties either in economic circumstances or political affairs.
With regard to the West Indies, which is a subject of great interest to the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan), it is our declared policy to get the greatest integration that the people of those islands themselves want. A good deal of progress has been made in recent years in getting discussions, conferences and decisions upon an all-island or all Caribbean basis, which is the beginning of any scheme of closer political union. We are to have two interesting tests in the near future of how far the sentiment in the various West Indian Colonies really stands up to the test of a closer political union. There will be a recommendation in some form—I do not know what form it will take—for a university for the West Indies; and further, I have asked all Governments to discuss the question of currency as applicable to the West Indies as a whole. Let us see how we get on with this kind of thing and that will give us an idea of how much feeling of unity of interests there is. I am sure that it is growing, and that it is going on growing and that eventually we shall get a very much closer state of both political and economic co-operation than we have today. The one thing which might delay or even, in the end, entirely destroy that prospect would be to force a decision too early.
§ Dr. Morgan
What about the medical services and the legal services? Surely such interchanges are possible.
§ Colonel Stanley
These improvements in communications are very recent and in war time they are still not very real, as 467 some hon. Members know better than I do, but I gather that there is still a good deal of ignorance, and not always a great deal of admiration in one island for either the services or the administration of another, and this kind of feeling has to be broken down.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) made a speech from which I am not likely to dissent, because he asked for more money. I have already told the Committee on several occasions that I do not believe we can possibly discharge our responsibility towards the Colonial Empire in the way we ought upon the sums laid down in the present Act of Parliament. My belief is that when this House is told what we think would be the proper sum it will be prepared to support it, even at some sacrifice to itself. If it is not, then all this pretence of interest in Colonial development would be a farce. But I am anxious before I raise the subject to proceed further with these long-term plans now coming in from all the Colonies, so that I shall have some basis for saying what I believe to be the sums which will be required. When that time comes, I am sure that I shall have a favourable, kindly hearing from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the substantial and unanimous support of this House.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) raised two main questions. With the question of afforestation it is difficult, I think, at this stage to deal in detail, except to say that I know the importance of the forestry problem is well appreciated by the Nigerian Government and will form part of their comprehensive plan. As the hon. Gentleman pointed out, it is not only the possibility of the commercial use of timber either for export—which may be a possibility—or for developing local uses, but it is useful for preventive arrangements and, above all, for the provision of firewood for many of the people of Nigeria. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton has been up to the plateau, but the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) certainly has, and anything more dismal than this immense, treeless plain, where every tree has been cut down, every root has been dug up, in order to provide firewood for the inhabitants, can- 468 not be imagined. It is encouraging to see there quite small, unambitious, but promising experiments in simple re-afforestation, not for the purpose of selling mahogany woods in competition with Sweden, but to give the people who live there something to burn and something with which to cook their meals. That, I think the hon. Gentleman will agree with me, is just as important a side of forestry as the more ambitious scheme.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)
It also affects the question of the Southern march of the Saharan Desert.
§ Colonel Stanley
Enormously, of course. It is an essential part of development work. He then dealt with the question of Mandated Territories. He probably had the same experience as I had in West Africa, and I believe the hon. Gentleman will come to the same conclusion as I did. In point of fact the two main blocks of mandated territory in West Africa—the Cameroons, administered as part of Nigeria, and Togoland, administered as part of the Gold Coast—were the most backward part of those two Colonies respectively, and that came about for very simple and natural reasons. First of all, no private capital would go into an area whose future was so uncertain; secondly, when the Government had money to spend on capital development, on the building of schools or roads, it was not an unnatural inclination to put that money into the part of the territory they were administering which they knew was remaining permanently British, rather than this part whose future was uncertain. I certainly think that at the end of the war, in co-operation with other nations signatory to these treaties, the whole position must be reviewed. Of one thing I am certain—I do not believe there is any British Government which contemplates now, or would contemplate, divesting themselves of responsibility for these territories. It is only on that basis, I think, that any adequate planning can be done, or any adequate life developed for the inhabitants.
With regard to the Congo Basin Treaties, there, again, it is a difficult, complex subject. I do not want to go into it at any length, but for countries which are rapidly ceasing to be the mere dependencies they were at the time when 469 these Treaties were first signed, and are developing towards a form of self-government and control of their own economic fiscal system, they would seem to be rather antiquated. They impose the open door upon the Colony but they do not exact in return the open door for Colonial products in the countries which make use of these treaties.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochdale made some reference to a little controversy we had over the question of the medical service. I am very glad to hear that the words he used in a previous Debate—which I must still confess seemed to me capable of bearing the construction I put upon them—were not intended to apply to the personnel of the service, but merely to its administration. I am very glad to hear him say that, because there are many devoted people in this service, and to leave them under any misapprehension that a thing like that was said about them in the House would have been a great pity. The hon. Gentleman has now made it clear that he never intended to refer to them, and I am very glad to hear that. When he refers to the medical administration and asks me if it is completely satisfactory, of course I am not going to say that I am satisfied with the state to-day of the medical services in all the Colonies. There is a tremendous lot to be done, but in order to do it we want two things—men and money—and at the present moment, although we can get the money, we cannot get the men.
§ Colonel Stanley
One cannot, of course, separate any one form of social service from the other. Unless we develop the economic and the educational side, however much is spent on the medical side will be largely wasted. We have to develop all three together. I would like to take this opportunity of acknowledging the help which the hon. Gentleman gave me with regard to the nursing scheme to which he referred, which I hope will be a considerable success.
Finally, the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans) made an interesting speech with regard to publicity—I mean that in the best sense—for our Colonial policy. The hon. and gallant Gentleman speaks with a great deal of experience, because 470 he has taken a great deal of trouble and met with a great deal of success in explaining our Colonial policy in the United States of America. He asked for some kind of White Paper such as other Ministers have issued. My trouble is this. The Minister of Health issues a White Paper about health, but I should have to issue a White Paper about health, education, economic development, and I should have to do it for 50 different territories. I have tried in several speeches, including one in the House, to set out the broad lines of Government policy towards the Colonies, and I do not want merely to repeat broad statements of principle or of pious intentions. What I want to get down to now are brass tacks—not just saying we want to develop the medical service, but to get down to saying what hospitals there are going to be and where, and how many medical officers there will be. That is the purpose of the development committees now set up in all the Colonies. I believe that when these plans have been finally agreed, and are put together, there will be a really fine development programme for 10 years and a real justification of British Colonial policy.
I have only one word to say in conclusion. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham was good enough in the course of his speech to refer to me and say that he believed that I was anxious to make a success of my job. Well, I want it above everything in the world. I want it because I believe that this job, and the success of our administration, are of immense importance to millions of people all over the world. Not only is it important to the 60,000,000 people in the Colonies whose standard of life, whose future, whose political development and, above all, whose friendship with us will largely depend upon the course of administration in the next few years, but it is of immense importance to the 40,000,000 people or so in this country. I believe, in the long run, that it is just as important to them as it is to the 60,000,000, because the Colonial Empire, economically developed to a higher social standard, with a loyalty which comes from common interests and a common point of view, will add immensely to the power of this country for good in the world of the future, and give immense opportunity to strengthen our own eco- 471 nomy, not at the expense of the economy of the Colonies, but in co-operation with them and to our mutual advantage.
That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Captain McEwen.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.