§ 3.44 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I beg to move,That this House expresses its grave disquiet at the handling toy Her Majesty's Government of affairs in Africa.When we express, as we do in our Motion, our grave disquiet about affairs in Africa and the handling of those affairs by Her Majesty's Government, we are convinced that we speak not only for ourselves but for a large section of the British people which feels an increasing anxiety about the position in our African Colonies. Our own people are asking with increasing anxiety when they think of Africa, "What has gone wrong? When and where is it going to end?" What are we in this House doing whilst there is still time to stop what many are coming to feel is a drift to disaster in Africa?
What we have witnessed, over the past few months in particular, is a succession of crises in our Colonies, and particularly in Africa, and with each one—and increasingly with each one—a steady deterioration in the relationship between the people in the Colonies and Her Majesty's Government. One of our weekly journals, a supporter of the Government, "The Spectator" in commenting upon the last of these crises, that in Buganda, expressed what very many and an increasing number of people in our country feel, when it said in its issue of 4th December, referring to Buganda:The whole episode has shown all over again how much distrust there is among Africans of the intentions of the British Government.If there is distrust among the Africans of the Government and their intentions—and I say with conviction that there is far too much cumulative evidence of this distrust for the Government either to ignore or to rebut it—then let us face the consequences that our hope of being able to make steady progress in partnership in our Colonies towards responsible democratic self-government will be in vain, for it depends upon winning, maintaining and keeping confidence between the people in Africa and those responsible in this country for African affairs. Therefore, if there is this distrust of Her 394 Majesty's Government, it is a matter of grave concern to the country. If the Government by their mishandling have increased and deepened that distrust, the Opposition has a paramount duty to bring it to the notice of the House and of the country.
Our case against the Government is that their mishandling of African affairs at crucial periods in the past two years has had the cumulative effect of increasing and deepening this distrust until it has reached the stage where steps must be taken to halt it. Otherwise it may have calamitous consequences for them and for us. I have said "cumulative effect," for it is not one thing but a succession of episodes and crises, and it is the effect of all those added together which we are now experiencing among the people in Africa and beyond Africa.
I want very briefly to recall some of these, and I beg the House to realise as I recount them that what really matters, and what is the gravamen of our charge, is that all these added one to the other have resulted in this progressive deterioration of relationships between us, and in this increasing distrust which is fatal to all the hopes we have in Africa and elsewhere.
I begin with the early months of the life of this Government and with Central Africa over the issue of federation. We on this side of the House left office shortly after a conference had been held at Victoria Falls to discuss this project which had been a matter of discussion, and indeed of controversy, for more than a generation. What marked out that conference from previous conferences on the subject was that, for the first time, African representatives from the two Protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland attended it. They not only attended but took part in it, and, at the end of that conference, we had hopes that it might be possible—that was my conviction then, and has remained my conviction—to build up in Central Africa a State which could become the pattern of a multi-racial community working in cooperation with a multi-racial democracy.
What happened then? As soon as we left office, voices from across Central Africa began to be heard in this country. The new Government were hailed by some people in Central Africa as being 395 realists compared with the previous Government. Shortly after that, the Secretary of State for the Colonies took the first wrong step, the repercussions of which are still reverberating in Africa. At the turn of the year 1951–right hon. Gentleman took the initiative of convening here in London a conference of some representatives from Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia and from Nyasaland to discuss the question of Central African federation.
The House will recall that when that fact became known, I immediately warned the Secretary of State of what the consequences would be. I said that it would create fears, suspicion and anger among Africans if once more a matter affecting their whole future welfare were discussed not only in their absence, but without even any prior consultation with them. I have sometimes been criticised in these debates by hon. Members opposite for the way in which I handled the situation. They say that we should tell the Africans what to do. I believe that this attitude is at the root of the trouble in Africa and is what is wrong with the Government's policy. Hon. Members opposite are thinking of Africa that is dead—beyond recall. But these Colonies, with the emergence of nationalism and with the education of a growing section of their people, are beyond the stage when they can be told or ordered what to do. We have reached the stage when we can only go on working together in consultation and confidence. Therefore, I say that this first step was and has remained one of the biggest factors in creating distrust in Africa.
Let us look at the repercussions, first, in Central Africa itself. The repercussions in Nyasaland are still being felt. There was trouble in Cholo some time ago, and it was clear from the evidence and the findings of the Committee set up to inquire into the position that one of the causes of the trouble was the unrest, disquiet and distrust which had been occasioned by political controversy engendered by fears concerning the way federation had been handled. The effect and consequences of that trouble may go on for a very long time.
Questions have been asked in this House concerning the almost un- 396 precedented example of the official Administration in Nyasaland spending public money on advertisements in newspapers in which it sought to denigrate and undermine the African Congress in Nyasaland, an organisation which the Africans have created for themselves. That one consequence may appear to be a very small thing, but we should realise that these political organisations can be the beginnings of political democracy. If we treat them in this way, it may have consequences which we have seen elsewhere, resulting from frustration, anger, and all the rest of it, which will turn the Africans against us and drive them to look elsewhere than to this country for inspiration. Such actions as that produce distrust. How long will this state of affairs exist in Nyasaland? Who knows? But there it is, and it began with the Secretary of State's mishandling of the situation.
There are some disturbing signs in Northern Rhodesia to which I want to call the attention of the House. When federation had been accepted by this House, my right hon. Friend indicated that we on this side would seek to make it work. He said that in the spirit of the pledges which had been given when federation was finally accepted. During the past few weeks, however, we have seen signs that the promises made concerning a progressive and developing racial partnership are being forgotten and repudiated.
I shall deal with one of the pledges, because it is of vital importance. It emerged from the 1951 Victoria Falls Conference, was accepted by the present Government, and was included in the preamble to the scheme which was finally embodied in an Order in Council. The pledge was that the political advancement of Africans within the local and Territorial Governments shall be the prerogative of Her Majesty's Government and of the Governments in the Territories without the Federal Government having the right to intervene in the political development of the people in those areas.
There were other pledges, too, to the effect that the Protectorate status shall be sustained and that the existing safeguards in regard to land tenure shall be retained. In the course of the discussion on the Bill to enable Central African federation 397 to come into being, we sought to write those safeguards into the Bill. I think that we were right to do that, but by a majority the Government and the House turned down our proposal. They said it was unnecessary, that we could trust our kith and kin and the pledges which had been given. Therefore, those pledges were not written into the Bill and are not an integral part of the Constitution. They are in the Preamble.
I say that there are now disturbing signs that in Central Africa attempts are being made to ensure that the federal Government and the federal Parliament may be able to influence the future political development of the Africans in Northern Rhodesia. I want to quote from a statement made quite recently by one of the responsible leaders in Central Africa, one who is spoken of as a future Prime Minister of the federal Government—Sir Roy Welensky. On 10th December he made a statement, reported in "The Times" of 11th December, commenting upon a statement made by the Secretary of State regarding his impending visit to Northern Rhodesia, and about the discussions which took place quite recently on the changes which he decided he would make in the political constitution of the Legislature in Northern Rhodesia. Sir Roy Welensky used these words:The assurance by the Secretary of State that there would be no change in the Northern Rhodesian franchise for the period of life of the first federal Parliament in Central Africa meant, in effect, that there would be no changes for five years. At the end of that time, he added, the Central African federal State would be firmly established and it could confidently be assumed that no "reckless experiments" would take place on constitutional matters in Northern Rhodesia after the five-year period without full consultation with the federal Government.One of the pledges which we all accepted was that the political advancement of the Africans in the territorial sphere of Northern Rhodesia would be a matter entirely for Her Majesty's Government and for the Government and people of Northern Rhodesia. What we clearly see here is an attempt now to stake a claim, and to get behind that pledge. One can imagine an African who has now accepted and worked for federation reading this statement and saying, "Another pledge is on the way out; another undertaking is already being modified and may, in the end, be destroyed."
398 Statements such as I have quoted and others of a like character create distrust. My charge against the Secretary of State is that, whilst such statements were and are still being made, there comes no repudiation from this country. I say that when statements of this kind are made in Central Africa, the Secretary of State and the Government have a duty to say, "We stand by our pledges," and to repudiate all these statements made by others, lest this distrust becomes a deepening distrust of Her Majesty's Government and of their intentions for that country.
In the course of elections in Northern Rhodesia we have recently seen announcements made to the effect that the Dalgleish Report is dead. Mr. Lange, one of the members of the Northern Rhodesian Legislative Council, in the course of the federal elections, boasted that he and his colleagues had been able to prevent the application and operation of that Report and pledged himself to go on doing so. One of the things which created at any rate hope that some of the pledges would be carried out, and of which the Colonial Secretary spoke when we last discussed Central African federation, was that one group of employers had taken steps to discuss and implement the Dalgleish Report. Now these statements are being made that all these attempts have been, and will be, stopped, but still we do not get anything from either the Secretary of State or the Government to the effect that their pledge still stands and that they are determined to find ways of implementing it.
My conviction still is that the best way of doing this is by voluntary agreement, but how can we hope to get even the beginning of discussion and voluntary agreement as things are? I have sought through the membership in my own union, which is also a miners' union, to bring the two African unions into contact with mine in order to try to promote friendly feeling and a settlement of this matter, but all that will go in vain if such things as these go on.
I say definitely and without hesitation that, from the very beginning, the handling of Central African federation by the Secretary of State and by the Government, and the subsequent events and statements to which I have referred, taken together, have had a very big effect upon the Africans in Northern Rhodesia and 399 in Nyasaland, and in combination have created this distrust of Her Majesty's Government and their intentions which is the gravamen of the charge we make.
It is not only in Central Africa that the repercussions have been felt. They have been felt all over Africa, and I turn now to East Africa, because in recent events in Buganda we have had a reflection of the distrust and the fears that have been occasioned by the way in which Central African federation was handled and the way in which it was regarded by the Africans. To give the background of recent events in Buganda, perhaps I may be permitted to read a number of quotations from "The East African Standard, "a newspaper which is read out there by an increasing number of educated Africans who can read English. The articles take on the pattern and shape of the very kind of mishandling and misuse which, at the end of 1951 and the beginning of 1952, created and deepened the distrust which is still there, and which continues.
The first is a report, on 10th June, 1953, that there had been talks in London between Sir Godfrey Huggins and Mr. Michael Blundell, and Mr. Blundell was quoted as having said at the end of those talks:I discussed with him problems of Central African Federation, how it was proposed to get it going, and methods of bringing into line the interests of the East and Central African Territories. We talked about services common to all Territories with the object of nourishing closer association.That sounds quite innocent, but not to African ears. Indeed, it sounds, sinister to African ears because of the fears that have been already aroused and deepened by what had happened before.
It is in that atmosphere that we come to one of our charges against the Secretary of State, which is that following that report of 10th June, there very quickly appeared, on 3rd July, 1953, in the same newspaper, a heading right across the front page,Great New Dominion Foreseen.This is "The East African Standard's" interpretation of the speech of the Secretary of State; it might and could have been repudiated immediately, but so far as I know was not so repudiated:The British Government is believed to be planning a federation of Central and East 400 Africa as a great new British Dominion…This is understood to have been behind the statement of the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Lyttelton, on possible federation moves of the future when he spoke at an East African Dinner Club in London The first step towards the Government's aim will be, it is understood, to step up moves towards federation in the three East African Territories.We know what the reactions were to those statements in the atmosphere engendered at the end of the summer, when Central African federation came into operation in the circumstances which I have described.
"The Times," on 21st November, in an article—the first account that I read—indicated that trouble was brewing in Uganda, and it gave a description of the background, of the atmosphere of watchfulness, fear and anxiety created by the speech of the Secretary of State. In that article was a phrase which, I think, sums up our charge against Her Majesty's Government. Having described the atmosphere, it said of this speech and its effect upon East AfricaA match had been dropped, and it fell among tinder.Who dropped the match? Africa today is tinder. There is mistrust, fear and anxiety, and I say that a Secretary of State who drops matches into that tinder is a person about whom we have every right to be anxious.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
I thought the right hon. Gentleman would probably make this point, so I telegraphed to the Governor of Uganda and I have his authority to say once again that nothing concerning the recent crisis arose as a result of that speech.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The House has heard me say on more than one occasion that I have the deepest respect for the Governor of Uganda. Let us look at the sequence of events. If that speech had no effect upon the situation, why did the Governor at once fly home to see the Secretary of State? If it was not the speech, what else was it? Of course, it was the speech, and it has been clear from the very beginning that it was that speech which was the match that set light to the tinder.
§ Mr. Griffiths
No, I am not repudiating it. I am, indeed, deeply sorry that the Governor should be in a position of having to face this crisis which was caused by the speech of the Secretary of State. [Interruption.] I appreciate that that metaphor of the match being dropped in the tinder is not appreciated by hon. Members opposite, but I shall make my speech in my own way. I am an old collier, and I tell the right hon. Gentleman that if he had dropped a match in the pit he would have ceased to work in the pit, and his fellow workmen would have refused to work with him. The Secretary of State, perhaps unintentionally, committed an indiscretion of this kind which has had repercussions in Buganda the end of which we do not know.
§ Mr. Frederick Gough (Horsham) rose—
§ Mr. Griffiths
No, I cannot give way now. This is a charge which we are entitled to bring and which the nation expects us to bring against the Secretary of State.
Let me now come to another aspect. So often in these debates when we have sought to make suggestions which we believed sincerely could help to solve the difficulties confronting us, the Secretary of State has at once rebuffed us. The right hon. Gentleman may think that such occasions are few, but in fact they are many. Let me give two recent examples. One occurred in the debate on British Guiana. In that debate, while I was speaking, the right hon. Gentleman got up and shouted across the Table, "I demand an answer now." I said then and I repeat now—this is one of the things about which we and the nation are concerned—that we think the right hon. Gentleman exhibits a temperament which is not suitable in a man who has to do this great human job of work.
The other occasion was when we discussed Buganda. Earlier that day I had had discussions with the Kabaka. He had asked me if I would see him. I said that I would not see him until he had seen the Secretary of State, which I thought was the right thing to do. I said to him, "I shall be glad to see you afterwards." I saw him afterwards and I found that he was anxious for a settlement. I left 402 him in no doubt—a colleague of mine in this House was with me—that I thought his proposals were not in the best interests of his country, and I still think so. I told him that I did not think my hon. Friends would support him in those proposals. I decided that I would tell the House what his fears were.
We had decided that it was our duty to bring this Motion before the House, but we did not want to do so at a time when there was a chance of a settlement. On my own responsibility, without discussing the matter with my colleagues, I decided to tell the House that I was deeply anxious for a settlement, as we still are, and that if there was a chance of a settlement I would take the responsibility of advising my right hon. and hon. Friends to take the Motion off the Order Paper lest it should prejudice the chance of a settlement.
What happened when I made that suggestion? Before I could speak a sentence, the Secretary of State was on his feet shouting. In spite of that, with a real anxiety for a settlement, I said that I would still so advise my hon. Friends, and I asked the right hon. Gentleman not to say "No." I said, "Do not give a final answer. Keep the door open." We were seeking to promote a settlement, and I made that suggestion honestly and sincerely in a desire to save Buganda—which had so far been saved from so many of the troubles in Africa—from what I feared might become a serious situation which would remain for a very long time. After I made the suggestion, the Minister got up and slammed the door.
§ Mr. Gough rose—
§ Mr. Griffiths
Now I come to one other example. I come to an example in which the Secretary of State has had a success. I refer to the problem of Nigeria. I know how difficult is the problem of Nigeria and how thorny the problem of Lagos is. There was a conference in London, and in the end they failed to agree about Lagos. A dispute had arisen, and the Secretary of State was asked to give a 403 decision. I am not going into the merits or demerits of the dispute. I only say what the Action Group said. The conference agreed that the Secretary of State should decide upon the future status of Lagos, and the Action Group—which includes Ministers of the western region, together with the man who is virtually their Prime Minister, Mr. Awolowo—left the conference under the impression that he would decide between four alternative proposals concerning the future of Lagos which they had put forward. That may be right or it may be wrong. I do not know. They say that the Secretary of State then made a decision which went outside those four alternatives within which and from which they thought he would make his decision.
Their people are incensed about this. I know that this problem is a very difficult one, and I am not minimising it, but one consideration which we have to bear in mind is that the future of Lagos cannot be dissociated from the feelings of some of the local people. Their feelings have been expressed in the recent municipal elections. They sent, through Mr. Awolowo, a telegram which was phrased in intemperate language and which contained wild words. They very often use wild words. This is one of the problems that we have to recognise. Very often they use words which mean something different to them from what they do to us.
That telegram was sent, and a reply was sent by the Secretary of State. It was not sent directly, nor through the Government, but through another official. This may seem a small matter, but I have always held the view that it is one of the duties of a Secretary of State, in building up these democratic Governments, to seek also to build up the prestige of these democratic Ministers. This is of enormous importance in building up a sound democracy, and to send a reply to a responsible Minister through an official was in itself to hurt and bring down that Minister's prestige.
More than that, comments have been made upon this telegram. The "Commonwealth," a responsible journal, which has a great circulation and which supports the Government—too often, I sometimes think—had to say that the Secretary of State could have acted with more tact and with equal firmness. That 404 was another case of mishandling a situation. Where will that end? Lagos is back in the melting pot. The issue as to its future may now be coloured, conditioned, affected and even poisoned by a telegram which could have been—to quote the words used by the "Commonwealth"—"put with more tact."
Now let me turn to Kenya and its tragedy. We have been confronted there—we still are—with a reversion to barbarism in the form of Mau Mau. We have supported action to put down terrorism, and action wherever violence has arisen. I said the same thing about British Guiana. When the Secretary of State issued a challenge to me, I did not hesitate to answer what I thought should be the action by a responsible Minister, and what would by my action.
The House and the nation have been profoundly disturbed by recent events. An inquiry is taking place, and we shall await its results, but there are still other things to be inquired into. A delegation is leaving from the House of Commons. Months ago I pleaded that a delegation should go to Kenya from the House of Commons. I suggested it because I thought that it was desirable and would be to the advantage of the House and the nation. My right hon. and learned Friend, with all his knowledge and experience as a distinguished member of the legal profession, will speak later on some aspects of this matter. It is important that we should have reports from this delegation because of the disquiet which is felt so widely among all sections of the nation in view of recent events. This trouble has now been going on for over a year.
I want to direct the attention of the House to a most important statement on Kenya, made in Nairobi by General Erskine. In my view, it reflects, in the long term, one of the most serious failings of the Government in regard to the Kenya situation. On 21st October, General Erskine, when making a survey at the end of the first year of the emergency, was reported in British newspapers as having said that he thought the terrorist situation looked much better. But he added that there was no military answer to Kenya's troubles. He said that it was a political problem, the problem ofhow Europeans, Africans, and Asians can live in harmony on a long-term basis.405 He added:If the people of Kenya could address themselves to this problem and find a solution they would have achieved far more than I could do with security forces.Let me recall certain suggestions and pleas which we have made to the Secretary of State over the last 12 months, most of which he has rejected from the very outset. There is one danger which we have not yet been able to avoid. In this situation, to avoid making this question become, or appearing to become, a struggle between black and white, we said that it was important that we should make representatives of the large mass of Africans who are not in Mau Mau, men who are opposed to it, who have suffered from it and have paid for it with their lives—men whom I have been privileged to meet and know—members of the Executive Council, representing the Africans, or members of the Legislative Council, in order to build up an alternative leadership. I pleaded that they should have the opportunity of speaking to their constituents and playing their full part in the affairs of the Colony.
Some time ago the Secretary of State announced that an Emergency Committee was to be set up to advise the Governor. When the announcement was made we discovered that it was proposed to put in as an unofficial member—somebody who was not in the employ of the Government—one of the Europeans. I urged the Secretary of State to include in that Committee members of the other communities, and to put in an African and an Asian. I pleaded with him to make this Committee and everything we do in Kenya representative of all the communities for, as General Erskine said, if we are to solve this problem we shall not do it by having one race or community taking part in its solution. It can be solved only by bringing in together all races and communities and making all the committees, and everything else, symbolic of the unity without which there can be no hope for the future of Kenya.
The Kenya Africa Union was proscribed. When the Kenya Africa Union was proscribed, we again urged the Secretary of State to encourage the Africans to build a political organisation. There is now a danger of a political vacuum, without a leadership that has contact with its people, who are kept at 406 arm's length. I say that this is a dangerous vacuum for which we may pay a very heavy price long after this emergency is over.
We say that the political handling of this problem by the Secretary of State and by the Government is another example of their mishandling of the situation. I read papers that are produced, some of them by Africans, and I receive letters from friends who read the papers published in the vernacular. It is clear from these that we have failed so far to convince the people in Africa, in Kenya and in other Territories in Africa, that the struggle against Mau Mau is a struggle against terror.
There is a widespread belief, which adds to the mistrust, that it is a struggle between white and black. The political handling of the situation in Kenya as I have described it, which we have raised in this House so often, is partly responsible for that, because Asians and Africans are being kept outside. The Secretary of State knows, too, that both communities, particularly the Asian community, were deeply hurt by the implication of their non-appointment to the Emergency Council that they could not be trusted to co-operate with the Government.
There is in Kenya, as indeed elsewhere in these multi-racial communities, a problem. My major charge against the Government is that, with all these incidents and their cumulative effects, we are now faced with a great human problem. To these multi-racial communities we have taken our civilisation and our standards of life, and the Africans have been shut out and made to feel strangers in their own land. This is a problem far greater than the problem of capital investment and capital development, far greater than the problem of raising the standards of life, vital as those two are; far greater and far deeper than the provision of education and the other social services.
It is the problem of how to bring these people fully into our society, to integrate them, to open doors to opportunities—not to leave them, as they are now, two nations, often three nations, often more. This is the problem that I am convinced the Government have mishandled, as 407 shown by the incidents of the past two years. It is a fundamental human problem, and unless we solve it there can be no basis for future prosperity in the Colonies.
I have no doubt that in this debate hon. Members opposite will look at the six years' record of the Labour Government. They will point out sins of omission and commission. That is all right in a debate, but I ask them, at the end of it all. to answer this question: Would they not like to go back to the Africa of 1951? There was trust, there was confidence, there was mutual relationship. [HON MEMBERS: "There are."] Now what do we see? What is the biggest effect of all these things? It is to create the impression, which is there, which is part of this deep mistrust, that the British Government stand more for the whites than for the blacks. It is a very simple feeling, but it is very deep and very profound, and no one who speaks with Africans can miss the point that that is the essential thing, that that is the opinion that is held; that the atmosphere, that the approach, has changed.
When we look at the African scene today what do we see? We see this rising tide of nationalism among the African people. We see white racialism in the south, spreading beyond the Limpopo to the north and to the east. Fortunately, so far it has been held at bay, but it is there. Those who know Africa best—I know so many of them—tell me that this is the kind of problem which fills them with foreboding for the future, and the apprehension that these two great nationalistic forces, which are growing, may clash.
There is federation in Central Africa which Africans regard—and we have to face the fact whether we like it or not—as a white federation. There is talk of federation in East Africa. I hope that hon. Members noticed the significance of what happened in West Africa the other day. They, too, are coming together, perhaps beyond the confines of British Africa, to form their own West African federation. I remember when I was in Nigeria in the early part of the year speaking to a young man who was trained here, who had gone back and was 408 working there. I was talking to him about the day when his people would become independent. One of the advantages, he thought, would be that his country, his nation, would be a member of the United Nations, because they were anxious as a people, as a nation, to play their part in foreign affairs. When I asked him, "What foreign affairs are you thinking of?" he said, "To us foreign affairs is what happens to our people in other parts of Africa."
These two nationalistic forces are growing. If they clash, it will be the end of the British Commonwealth. I say to the Prime Minister that this is what will liquidate this Empire. We need to reaffirm to all the African peoples, wherever they are, that we are determined to build a nation in which their own people will have the opportunity as human beings progressively to develop and to become full partners, with a place, for their own nation, in this British Commonwealth of Nations.
The time has come—indeed, it is overdue—for a new approach, for a new leadership before this incipient conflict one day becomes more serious than any we have ever faced. We have had Commonwealth Conferences. We welcome them as helping to solve all kinds of problems. Here is a problem which vitally concerns this Commonwealth. We have to live now in a changed Commonwealth. My right hon. Friends changed so much of it in the early days of the Labour Government We have a Commonwealth in which people of other coloured skins outnumber those of us who are white, and who watch with care what happens elsewhere in this new Commonwealth of ours. In facing all these problems, there is need for a new leadership and a new approach.
Looking back over these last two years, with all these incidents, with all the Government's mishandling, and with the mistrust among the Africans, I say that these things can never be attained or hoped for if the African people distrust the British Government. They distrust this Government, and it is because that distrust is there and is deepening that I have moved, I believe with the assent of the vast majority of this nation, this Motion.
§ 4.40 p.m.
The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr, Oliver Lyttelton)
I deplore some of the strident tones which have been employed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) on some of these subjects. I shall endeavour to look at these matters in the most objective way that I can, because I believe that the problem and challenge of Africa far transcend any political or, indeed, personal quarrel which might engage the House this afternoon.
Today, the House has the opportunity of appraising Britain's achievements in that Continent, particularly in the last two years, to which the Motion refers. Whatever variations there may be on the main theme, all parties in the House follow a common aim and an essential continuity, which is the advance of the peoples of Africa, all her peoples, towards self-government. But this is a time of challenge—the right hon. Gentleman agrees with that—and in a time of challenge the path is not always smooth.
It is not only we here who are challenged by these events. The African is also challenged by the technical progress, the culture and learning of the West. It is a double challenge, and I believe that is why Africa is stirring. None of the reasons which the right hon. Gentleman has attempted to adduce gets anywhere near the root cause. I shall try to give the reasons.
We know some of the reasons. First of all, there is the history of detribalisation and of political advance. So far, the Continent of Africa has made little contribution to the civilisation, art, letters or enlightenment of mankind. Where it has it has been generally under the influence of more ancient civilisations, of the Phoenicians or Romans along the Mediterranean littoral; of the Arabs in the north and west, or of the Nilotics.
What has happened? What are the fundamental causes? It is because into this continent has suddenly been projected news, news of a world a short time ago unknown to any Africans, and still unknown to many. In the last decade this impact has developed new force. For example, Africans volunteered in large numbers in the war against Hitler. Hundreds of thousands of them fought side by side with the British.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Perhaps it does not mean a thing to the right hon. Gentleman.
From huts and kraals the Africans travelled thousands of miles and saw a new world. There is now an ever-growing stream of students from Africa absorbing Western ideas at our universities and technical colleges. The universities in Africa, which are growing up largely with the help of Great Britain, open new windows alike on ancient and modern civilisations. I remember going through the library at Achimota one day. I saw a tall young student, I think an Ashanti, bending over a volume. I found out afterwards that it was a translation of a volume of Guy de Maupassant.
Newspapers representing all shades of political opinion from the extreme Right to the extreme Left arrive in Mombasa or Nairobi, in Ndola or Lusaka, in Kano or Lagos or Enugu, in Accra or Freetown, with their different and discordant voices. Is it to be wondered at that Africa is stirring?
Then there are the marvels of modern science. African visitors went recently to the air display at Farnborough. They saw bat-like aircraft break through the sonic barrier.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The Comet, like the portents of the old astrologers, whistles at 40,000 feet over the primeval forests and savannah of Africa. Is it any wonder that Africa is stirring? The aeroplane brings into these countries men of every shade of opinion, of all kinds of skills, trades and professions. The aeroplane decants me one day in Nairobi and the next day the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) and the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), and also "The Times" correspondent one day and Mr. Kingsley Martin another. The saucepan radios in many African villages catch up new voices. All these voices have a message, one of hope or despair, to the Africans who hear them.
411 Africans as a whole—I shall show that the term "African" as used in almost every sentence by the right hon. Gentleman is an inapposite and inaccurate piece of terminology—cannot always chart these cross-currents. Often we cannot chart them ourselves. The Africans cannot make a common theme out of the discordant voices, nor can they unravel the tangled skein of our Western civilisation. All they know is that they are:…moving about in worlds unrealised.as the poet had it.
But one thing they see clearly, if they can only grasp the lesson. If they snatch from all this the elixir, the talisman, the key—call it what we may—to the modern world, then there is no reason why the same civilisation, with the same material benefits, which they so admire should not be theirs. Is it a wonder that Africa is stirring?
These are the real reasons—not the trumpery ones which have been put before the House this afternoon—for the troubles which we experience today. They are the convulsions which always accompany the great changes which take place in the history of nations and of their relative power and culture.
The ethnographical pattern is so diverse and so complicated that only those with a lifetime of study behind them could give a reliable picture. In West Africa, we find negroes who speak the Sudanic languages. In Central and East Africa we find those who speak the Bantu languages, and these form about two-thirds of the whole of the population of Africa south of the Sahara.
From the North and North-East, there descended upon the negroes successive waves of pastoral Hamites, the sons of Ham, the dwellers in tents. They have intermarried to produce the half-Hamites, of which the Masai and the Baganda are typical. In many cases the differences between the so-called African peoples themselves are as pronounced as the differences between Africans and Europeans. Thus we are likely to get the picture distorted if we use the term "African" as an overcoat term applying to them all.
So the news of worlds unrealised has made its impact not only upon Africa; it has made its impact upon men of widely different races and widely different 412 antecedents. I repeat that these are the true reasons which have led in the main to many of the troubles with which our predecessors, including the right hon. Gentleman, have to deal and with which I have to deal. Let us hope that we may be able to hand on to our successors a firmer foundation upon which to build.
Amidst this tumult of ideas and this confusion of voices, there must be one message sent from this country to Africa. Above all the noise of faction or disagreement on detail or approach to be heard in this House from time to time, the message must continue to proclaim to the African people those aims of policy and humanity which, I still believe, are shared in common between all parties and which represent the voice of Britain. Conservative, Liberal and Labour all believe in giving an ever-increasing share in the management of their own affairs to all these peoples. There is no argument about that. The argument begins about the methods used, the pace, the tempo at which it is done.
The corner-stones in all this must be law and order, economic progress and political advance, and I shall say something about that in a moment. But our responsibilities do not end there, not yet at least. They do not end with the handing out of Constitutions. They extend to making these Constitutions take root and grow. They extend to ensuring that, during the birth pangs of the Constitution, law and order and freedom for the law-abiding are preserved.
In a broadcast to which I shall refer later in passing, the right hon. Gentleman said:In the short time I have been Colonial Secretary, 12 Colonies have had new Constitutions.But that is not the monument of policy nor the touchstone of success. Anyone can hand out a Constitution. But will it work? Is it a framework within which democratic institutions can grow, or is it a source of strife and friction? Is it too slow to satisfy the progressive, or too quick to fulfil the needs of law and order?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I wish that the hon. Member would allow me to make my speech.
413 All the same, when it comes to arithmetic—which it should not—11 major constitutional advances have been made during the last two years.
Before I come to some of the troubled Colonies, I wish to emphasise to hon. Members again that, in looking at all these matters, they will find that much falls into its place when we fasten on to the simple proposition that law and order, economic progress and political advance are all interdependent, and we cannot move successfully on one front without the other two. But we cannot make Constitutions unless the knowledge and ability to work them have been previously implanted, and there is sufficient will and ability in those concerned to work together.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
I apologise for interrupting, but the point which I wanted to make was this. Was not the right hon. Gentleman seeming to imply, when my right hon. Friend said that 12 Constitutions had been established, that Constitutions could be established on paper? Are not all the Constitutions, even the British, rather pragmatic things, and we demonstrate that we believe in freedom from contempt for these people?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I am surprised that the hon. Member should have reached such an advanced stage of life before discovering something blatantly obvious to every student. I should have thought that every hon. Member would know that when we talk of a Constitution we mean something generally on paper and that there are things not on paper in a Constitution. I thought that the hon. Member was going to interrupt me on a more important point.
I want to refer to some of these troubled Colonies, and also to some of the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman. Let me begin with Central African federation. If ever there was a subject upon which one would have thought that an approach could have been possible on non-party lines, outside party consideration, it was surely this. The revival of the idea of Central African federation—and it was an old one—was not a project of this Government, it was the project of the last Government.
The federation scheme, although in our opinion—I am not trying to be controversial—it contained a number of defects, which have since been remedied, 414 was not our scheme; it was the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends. They it was who set in motion this mighty force which, properly handled, might have led to federation in far happier circumstances than, in fact, actually surrounded its birth. It will be within the recollection of the House that every Parliamentary occasion was used to try to delay and prevent the coming into force of the federation instruments.
The grounds upon which the right hon. Gentleman conducted this campaign and the 12 debates which took place upon it, was that it was being imposed when African opinion, where it was vocal, was against it. But, unfortunately, the rôle of the Colonial Secretary and of Her Majesty's Government cannot always be to halt a scheme admitted by both sides of the House to be beneficial to the future of Africans and to the development of their political institutions because a vocal section of the community is against it. Such opinions, of course, must be taken into account, must be weighed, their interests must be safeguarded, and, on occasions, a scheme must be abandoned because the safeguards cannot be provided. But when we are satisfied that they can, then it is an abrogation of all the principles and responsibility of Government to be turned aside by the clatter and clamour of a few interested parties.
I awaited the day when federation became a fact, I admit it, with apprehension. Such a stream of propaganda had flowed out from this country, some of it from the very authors of the scheme itself, that African opinion had become far more inflamed than it should have been. We might easily have witnessed—and I weigh these words carefully—a victory for the extremists on the one side or the other. But, fortunately, wisdom won.
I turn aside from the general course of my argument to return to another matter, to which the right hon. Gentleman did not refer. I expected that he would. He seemed to rake round for everything he could find, but he missed this one. My treatment of the Nyasaland chiefs has often been referred to as being very unsympathetic. It might interest the House to know what some of the proposals in the memorandum put forward by the chiefs contained at the time. I have it here. They asked this: Replacement of high officials by new ones. The Governor 415 to be replaced. The Chief Secretary to be replaced. The Secretary for African Affairs to be replaced. The Provincial Commissioners to be replaced. I said that these demands should not be taken seriously, and I dismissed them, as any Colonial Secretary should, quite summarily, but I listened with the greatest patience and courtesy to everything they had to say, and the one subject which I felt it necessary to dismiss summarily was falsely represented to be the tone in which I conducted the negotiations. As the right hon. Gentleman has said, Nyasaland today is peaceful. I have a telegram here from the Governor which I received only last night. It says:African co-operation is now normal. Considerable interest is being shown in the election of African Members to the Federal Assembly with 13 candidates for two seats. Position is settling down very satisfactorily.I got that last night. May Nyasaland long remain peaceful; it will soon begin to reap the benefits of federation.
There are constitutional troubles in Northern Rhodesia. The right hon. Gentleman referred to that. They have happily been resolved and I can sum them up in a few sentences. The elected Members—our own fellow countrymen—thought that the concessions given to Africans and to African representation were too great. But during the whole controversy concerning federation we spoke of the goal of partnership, and we spoke of it sincerely, as did the elected Members. I felt, and I still feel, that the increase of African representation was the least we could do to show that our protestations were not mere words. Does the House think that this Constitution was mishandled or that some other form of accommodation ought to have been reached? I wonder.
The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who I see in his place, said:May the right hon. Gentleman's colonial policy be summarised in this way: that he obtains equity by offending everybody sufficiently? "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1953; Vol. 520, c. 606.]The answer, of course—and I give it with some diffidence—is that I am prepared to risk a clash of opinion with my fellow countrymen in a cause which I think just. It is very easy to gain popularity from one side by favouring it at the expense of the other.
416 I leave the subject of Central African federation with one last remark. Central African federation was approved by this House. The majority in the critical debate was 46. The party to which I belong commands ordinarily a majority of 18. I therefore think it infelicitous, in view of those figures, that the discussion on a Motion of censure should include references to Central African federation. Hon. Members in all parts of the House will have seen the results of the elections to the federation and watched their progress with great interest. It is not for us to pretend to any party politics here, but I hope the result will, at any rate, be seen in this light: that the party which has been elected with an overwhelming majority is the one pledged to the principle of partnership between the races—and I suppose it will be said that that is another mishandling!
I now turn to Kenya—
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Will the Minister say something about the pledge we gave on the subject of political advance in territorial government?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. The responsibility for constitutional changes in the Northern Territories rests with Her Majesty's Government alone, and I am glad to have the opportunity of repeating that.
I was proposing to turn to the subject of Kenya. If hon. Members opposite really believe that Mau Mau started at about the time of the General Election they are very wide of the mark. This canker had, in fact, become deep-rooted and had been festering below the surface long before the General Election. It had remained either undetected or ignored. The reports—and I admit it freely—which I received when the first horrible outrages came to light, were quite wrong. They arose, no doubt, from faulty intelligence. It takes years to build a sound system of intelligence, but it was not there.
The Mau Mau was a secret society which sucked its poison from witchcraft, from a hatred of the white man, from a hatred of Christianity, and it gained its force by unleashing a primeval savagery. Does anyone suggest that adjustments and balances on the political front could have stamped out Mau Mau? I think not. The sooner some hon. Members—and I repeat some—learn that you cannot fight 417 pangas and bullets and witchcraft only with Motions on the Adjournment, or even Motions of censure—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
—the sooner the light of reality will begin to play on these dark places.
I say, with every force that I can command, that the first duty of the Government, of any Government, is to deliver peace and order. Social, economic and political advance are a mere mockery unless we can do that—and it is as simple as that.
§ Mr. Edelman rose—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
No, I cannot give way.
No one, least of all I, needs to be told that war, or near war, solves nothing. It makes me smile when people try to impress that on me. I know it. I have seen too much of it to think otherwise. Only a handful of my generation have survived the holocaust of 1914. But war is sometimes necessary, or all perishes. It was, and is, so in Kenya.
As the Parliamentary Delegation will find out, through all this, so far from social and economic progress having been arrested, it has actually been going forward at a greater pace than before. Hon. Members will recall the recent statement I made—and I give this as an instance—of the sums of money which this country has dedicated during the next five years to the cause of improving African agriculture.
We have to say that at the beginning of the struggle with Mau Mau excesses were perpetrated here and there by individual policemen. I abhor them, whatever were the provocations, and they were certainly great. I believe that today the police are well disciplined and that although there may be one or two cruel incidents they are rare exceptions. I believe that the rigorous inquiry into the conduct and discipline of the Armed Forces will show that in Kenya, as elsewhere, the name and reputation of the British Army as a whole is high; and that the horrible allegations which we are probing will turn out to be, at the worst, isolated, though none the less contemptible, blots on this otherwise fair record.
418 I wish to say a word or two about two things in which the House showed great interest during Question time: first, bombing ; and, secondly, the right to open fire in the prohibited areas. Someone, I do not know who—it was no one here—got the bombing all wrong by describing it as pattern bombing. In spite of all denials that lie has stuck. The House knows that such bombing is only upon specified, pin-pointed targets in the forests, and is carried out by one or two aircraft at a time.
I think that another word is necessary concerning the right to open fire in the prohibited areas. The hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman) is particularly interested in this subject. To listen to some people, and some of the Questions asked, one might think that the forests were inhabited by large numbers of Kikuyu. That, of course, is ridiculous. They are often absolutely impassable and we have to cut tracks through them in order to supply the troops.
They are now used as a sanctuary, as strongholds, for the gangs of terrorists who raid the settled areas from the fringes of the forest and bring murder into the reserves. Every instrument of publicity has been used to inform all the Kikuyu that the forests are prohibited areas. I say that with great emphasis. Before I leave the subject of the Kikuyu I would ask some hon. Members to search their hearts and then to answer this question, "What would you have done, faced with the Mau Mau menace?" What other policy, faced as we were, by terror and murder, could have been pursued, other than that of suppressing it by force? But in carrying out that policy—and I think it is the policy which any Colonial Secretary must have pursued—we must suppress with equal energy and determination any excesses which, whatever the provocation, are committed on our side.
I turn now to Nigeria, the largest Colony, with 31 million inhabitants. I confess that my blood began to run cold when the right hon. Gentleman said that it was our greatest success, but he was soon able to obliterate that impression from the minds of his hon. Friends. I do not think he should be worried. When I visited Nigeria last May it was clear that the Constitution was working only with great difficulty. Storms were gathering. They can hardly be attributed to 419 mishandling by me, but still, they were gathering. It seemed to me that the Constitution was made to work only by the adroitness and patience of the Governor, Sir John Macpherson. In fact, my judgment then was, and still is, that the Constitution contained one or two fatal defects. First, that the Central Government, the Central Council of Ministers, were not separately elected. They were, in fact, delegates of the three Regional Governments. They were not Ministers representative of Nigeria, and their regional differences were projected into the centre at the council chamber. They had to look only to the regions for their support.
The situation became almost impossible for the Governor and the Central Council of Ministers to work, although I know that, with one or two notable exceptions, all the Ministers did their best to make it work. All this has been altered by the agreement reached last August.
The other great defect—and I admit it is a difficult question—was that of Lagos and I will say a word about that. If we listen to reason it is obvious that Lagos must be a federal area. Lagos is, first of all, the commercial centre of the country. All the firms carrying on their trade in Nigeria have their headquarters in Lagos. Secondly, it is by far the most important outlet through which Nigeria can ship her produce to the markets of the world. Finally, it is the political centre of the Federation, with Government House and the head offices of nearly all the Government departments. So if we were to follow the dictates of reason it would be clear that Lagos must be a federal capital.
But in politics, I admit, it is not always possible only to follow the dictates of reason. In Nigeria that does not apply, because the overwhelming majority of the population—including, according to my information, large sections of opinion in the West—are in favour of making Lagos a federal capital. The three main political parties entrusted me with the decision and undertook to abide by it when I had made it. This is a Motion of censure and I think I may say—although I am rather reluctant to do so—that the opinion almost universally held at the time the conference opened was that the task before it was well-nigh hopeless. That was 420 widely said. We sat all through the month of August, and we achieved great results. I will say no more than this, that if the Africans had been unable to get on well with me or I had been unable to get on with the Africans, nothing whatever would have been achieved; but something quite different has been accomplished, no doubt rather disagreeable to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly charges me with being at fault in all these troubles that have arisen in Africa.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
On Nigeria, I began by saying that the Colonial Secretary had had a success. I then said that afterwards some contention had arisen and one point of criticism was about an exchange of telegrams with Mr. Awolowo. I did not make any general charge. I made a specified one, that the right hon. Gentleman showed a lack of tact in dealing with the matter.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The right hon. Gentleman said I had had some success in Nigeria, which he could not possibly deny, but he immediately followed it up by drawing attention to a telegram which I had sent. He said that it had gone through a minor official, but even an ex-Secretary of State should know better. The letter was sent to Mr. Awolowo by the Chief Secretary. Surely the right hon. Gentleman has enough experience of these things to know that if the Secretary of State started to correspond with individual Ministers in regional legislatures, that, without going through the usual channels, there would be very soon chaos.
At this London conference I was strongly pressed from all sides to preside at the resumed conference in Nigeria, and as it has been repeatedly made clear to me that that is the general desire of Nigeria that is what I am going to do.
I want now to turn to the affairs of Uganda. I do not propose to recite the facts which I have already made known to the House. For reference they are set out in a White Paper which is available in the Vote Office. The Kabaka is coming to see me tomorrow, and I can make no statement to the House today.
421 As the Motion of censure covers the whole of Africa, I cannot pass on from those Colonies where, as I said at the outset of my speech, the ferment of Africa is breaking out into troubles, without reference to those where they have not, or are at least of small importance. Last week the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly, without that emotional exaggeration with which we have become accustomed to expect from him, referred to Uganda and described it asthe seemingly one peaceful spot in Africa was now to follow the others."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd December, 1953; Vol. 521, c. 1281.]Has he forgotten about the Gold Coast? The right hon. Gentleman carried on there the bold experiment which his predecessor, Mr. Creech Jones, had set in train after, incidentally, they had between them to declare two different sets of emergency in the Colony. Soon after I took office we agreed to take this experiment a small stage further by conferring on the leading Minister of the Gold Coast the title of Prime Minister.
Shortly after this I went to Accra, and held very long discussions with the Prime Minister and his other Ministers. I announced the willingness of Her Majesty's Government to discuss further proposals for further constitutional changes as soon as these were formulated by the Gold Coast Government themselves. These discussions are now going on, and there is every hope of success for a further considerable step forward in the territory's progress towards full responsibility for its own affairs.
I rejoice to pay tribute to my two predecessors for their pioneering work in this job, but I trust that they, in their turn, will be generous enough to recognise that I am carrying it on in the spirit in which they started it and conceived it; and that, if this territory continues to progress in this manner, they and we can share with the Governor, his advisers and with the African leaders the credit for these developments.
I pass quickly over Sierra Leone, where, in February of this year, I agreed to the introduction of a ministerial system. Orderly progress continues there. The first Ministers were, in fact, appointed in April. In the Gambia I have agreed to an enlargement of the Legislative Council and an unofficial 422 majority in the Executive Council with the creation of two Ministers. Progress continues. In Tanganyika, I have agreed that the unofficial seats in the Legislative Council shall be equally divided among the three racial groups. A Speaker has been appointed. Orderly progress continues.
In short, I claim that our record in Africa over these two years is that we have established federation; that the birth pangs have been passed with far less disturbance than its critics foretold; that all is set now after the elections for this great British experiment to found an inter-racial society based on partnership between the races; that in Nigeria, by far the largest British Colony, all the main difficulties, except Lagos, have been overcome successfully; and a Constitution which takes account of the realities, and may well give Nigeria a permanent framework under which its many races can live and prosper in a federal State, has been negotiated and agreed. The work, however, is not yet finished, and I hope that in presiding over the conference in January, I shall carry the good will and good wishes of at least a large number of hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Is it the Minister's intention, at these talks in Lagos, to widen the basis of discussion so that under his chairmanship the very vexed and contentious question of Lagos and the capital will be debated.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I think the hon. Member, who takes such a wise interest in all these matters, will agree that the least I say about these negotiations the better, and I would ask the House to give me the widest possible latitude in them and then judge by the results.
I apologise to the House for keeping it so long, but I now come to the last main subject with which I want to trouble hon. Members. It is the most serious of all. The House will remember that when I traced the causes for the discontents in Africa which are to be seen now in one or two of the Colonies I tried to give an objective view. I did not claim that the troubles which we inherited were due to the misdeeds or inactions of the previous Government. I should not advance this to the forefront of my argument for the very simple reason that I do not think it would be true, and it would give a false 423 emphasis and would be unworthy of the topic which is engaging us. That mistaken policies and sometimes inaction and indecision by our predecessors have contributed to make these various crises and often to make them worse is, I fear, undoubted. In fact, I rather doubt whether any Administration could expect to steer its way through all these currents without striking an occasional rock. There is no statesman in Colonial affairs whom I have met who can look back upon his record and say, "I have made no mistakes, even in the light of my after-knowledge."
I do say that the Constitution of Nigeria was defective and that the inclusion of Lagos in the Western Region for the first time two years ago only glozed over what is one of the most acute issues in Nigerian politics. I do say that the attitude adopted, and the indecisive way in which it was advocated, caused a lot of the troubles over federation. I do say that imperfect intelligence over many years led the Mau Mau movement to get a far greater grip upon the Kikuyu than it should have. I do say that, since I have been in office, the attitude of many hon. Members on the subject of Kenya, and the stern but regrettable measures we have had to use to suppress the terrorists, have increased the burden which the security forces and Her Majesty's Government have had to bear.
I do say that the attitude adopted by some hon. Members that our fellow countrymen are always wrong and that changes in the political balance could have prevented all these troubles are arguments without foundation of any kind.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough) rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way the hon. Member must resume his seat.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I scorn the argument, and I do not advance it in the forefront of what I am saying, that the cause of these troubles is, in the main, the misdeeds or inactions of our predecessors in office. These matters are far too important for me to try to take tricks off the right hon. Gentleman in this way and, if 424 he looks back at his speech on the same subject, he will see that he made some rather trivial points when he was trying to build up his case.
I say, however, that any dispassionate or unpartisan observer would not think that there was a shadow of truth in the suggestion that these troubles are due to Her Majesty's present Government or to me. As for the cruel innuendo which was advanced by the Leader of the Opposition that it was my unsympathetic personality which had brought these troubles to the surface, what a remark—what a little remark in a big scene! The right hon. Gentleman translates my importance or my influence in these great convulsions far beyond what the greatest eulogist would claim.
I hope, if I am generous about right hon. Gentlemen opposite and say what I believe about all this, that a small measure of generosity will be forthcoming to one who has had the task—and I expressly repudiate that it has been an unenviable task, because I regard it as an opportunity—of first establishing peace and order and then of promoting the constitutional advance of these countries.
We in this House have a long tradition of treating these matters upon a national and not upon a party approach. It has been one of the proud traditions of Government in this country that we have been able to pursue, through the vagaries of democratic elections, a continuity of policy which alone, I suggest, has maintained the prestige of our country through the tangled pattern of affairs, even after civilisation has been rocked by two great wars.
This Motion of censure upon the Government's handling of affairs in Africa is the last step which the Opposition have taken in breaking down that approach so far as colonial affairs are concerned. I cannot but say, with the greatest sincerity, that I think it is against the national interest that we have reached this position. The House will know that in all these matters I have at least refrained from personalities, and if at times I have been betrayed into defending myself with vigour and with bluntness it has only been because I have been the subject of very great attack, both in the Left-wing Press and at Question time and at other times in this House.
425 The break-down of a non-party approach to colonial affairs began long before this Government came into office. It began when the right hon. Member for Llanelly made a broadcast—
§ Mr. William Warbey (Broxtowe) rose—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The right hon. Gentleman made a broadcast at the General Election on this subject which shocked a large body of opinion in the Colonies. The repercussions of that broadcast, believe me, are still felt. Again and again I have found in starting conferences that there was a distrust—this is the word which the right hon. Gentleman used so much—of a Conservative Colonial Secretary because that broadcast said that everything that had been done for the Colonies had been done by the Labour Party—[An Hon. Member: "Past experience."]—and that as soon as we had a Conservative Government the Colonies could expect nothing.
At least, I claim that everything we have done has been dictated solely and impartially by what appeared to me and to my colleagues to be for the best. When I look back upon the two years in which we have been in office, I should like first to acknowledge with warmth and gratitude the help I have had from many hon. and some right hon. Gentlemen opposite. However, the Government must look first to the official attitude of their opponents and not to the support which they receive from individual Members. When I look back—I hate to have to say this—I can recall no difficulty and no danger in which the official Opposition have tried to be helpful. I have discerned very much the same course of events in the various crises.
First, Her Majesty's Government have to take action. What happens? This is followed by a violent explosion in the Left-wing Press—"Lyttelton must go." Of course, at the time none of the facts are known—I see one or two hon. Gentlemen opposite who write these articles. Violent speeches are then made by hon. Members—the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) is quite right to hide his face.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
That is a most unfortunate intervention.
The next thing that happens is that the Parliamentary Labour Party meets in the House of Commons and the first information is available. Other opinions begin to be expressed, and it is found that the party is not united. Then criticism of quite a mild kind is delivered from the Front Bench opposite, and what began as the assassination of democracy ends as a complaint that there are not enough copies of the Order in Council in the Vote Office, British Guiana is described as an island, and a Division is not challenged.
The smear campaign, however, goes on unabated in the country by the Left-wing Press. I should be out of order in referring to the storm of criticism which greeted the changes that I made in Malaya. Again, when we were faced with a civil war against Africans in Kenya, and when many of our fellow countrymen were living in fear of their lives, no help whatever was forthcoming from the official Opposition except the suggestion, which I repeat would have been completely ineffective, to send out an all-party delegation to Kenya in the middle of these troubles, with the power to cross-examine officials and to call for documents. The official Opposition confined itself to deploring the situation and criticising in detail each and every measure taken by the Government.
I shall say no more about what has come to light in Kenya. We are determined, and always have been, that any cruelty inflicted upon witnesses or upon the population by the police or the military should be suppressed with all the vigour of the law. My right hon. Friend and I are determined to see that the fair name of the Army is not besmirched by reckless or cruelaction by anyone.
I must say one word about summary justice. Some hon. Members below the Gangway opposite have tried to give the impression that I believe in summary justice—whatever the term means. Yet both in Malaya and Kenya I have completely resisted the ill-judged pressure which certain groups have brought to bear upon me in this respect. I think the position can easily be resolved, when people talk of summary justice, by asking 427 one question: Is the accused to be represented by counsel? The answer is nearly always "yes." Once we say "yes," there can be no drumhead court martial and summary justice. By increasing the number of judges we have tried to accelerate the administration of justice but, as I have said before, I pledged myself enthusiastically—and I think I have carried it out—to see that the principles of British law have been kept intact even in the height of the emergency.
It is a sad day which witnesses the final breakdown of a national and not a party approach to colonial affairs. If this debate did anything to clear the way or, at least, did anything to lay the foundations upon which we can go on to build a less partisan approach to these subjects, it would have been a good afternoon for us and, above all, it would have been a good afternoon for the Colonial Territories. Let no hon. Member forget that we are the most progressive colonial power in the world, and that we have all set our hands, whatever our party, to giving self-government within the Commonwealth to these territories. It ill-behoves us, when our sincere efforts meet with setbacks, and when law and order is sometimes threatened by a handful of terrorists or by the mighty ferment which is now stirring Africa, that we should seek only to probe the shortcomings of our opponents, and not endeavour to stress that wide measure of agreement which exists between us on all the essentials.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilfred Paling (Dearne Valley)
I should like to draw attention to some of the features of the speech which we have just heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I have been interested in the fact that he would like to have the unanimous opinion of the House on what has happened and is likely to happen in colonial affairs. Very rightly, the right hon. Gentleman defended himself against some of the things that have been said in the past, and it may be that he will have to defend himself against some things which will be said in this debate. I do not accuse him of brutality and wantonry, but I say that his tenure of office has been a disaster to the colonial peoples and has not added 428 much to the good name of this country in relation to its control of the Colonies.
The right hon. Gentleman started with a kind of monologue which might have been interesting as history. He spoke about the impact of certain things on these native peoples. He related, for instance, how Africans had been over to Farnborough and had seen the Comet, and he said that such things had made a great impact upon them. I agree, but the right hon. Gentleman has also sent Lancaster bombers to Kenya to the Africans there. They have experienced both kinds of impact from aeroplanes, and they are not very pleased about it. The right hon. Gentleman talks about a policy of humanity in the Colonies, which presumably he has carried out. My mind goes back to the beginning of the Kenya business and I know what was said at that time.
The right hon. Gentleman has always posed rather as a strong man in this business, a strong man who will put things down, and he has always been very careful to talk about law and order. I am always afraid when a Tory begins to talk like that. He talked about law and order and the other things which would follow. Why not try to talk the other way round? Why not talk about the other things first, because then more law and order would follow as a consequence?
When the right hon. Gentleman talks about humanity, I remember what he did. The right hon. Gentleman sent the British Navy, he sent reinforcements of troops, he arrested 17,000 or 18,000 people, he closed the schools, he had the women and children sent to the reserves. Dogs were trained to round up suspects, and a gallows was set up so that people could see what might happen to them. I have also been reading the White Paper report on the Griffiths case. It makes very painful reading. All these things, put together, do not seem to indicate that the right hon. Gentleman has been guilty of any great policy of humanity at the Colonial Office.
There are everyday things in which the Africans are vitally interested. If this country wants to keep up what the right hon. Gentleman describes as its good name in colonial matters, it would be better if we paid some attention to those things with which the poverty-stricken African is concerned every moment of his 429 life—questions of work, wages, housing, education, and the ever-recurring and important question of the land hunger of these people. Those are the things which are worrying millions of these people today. In the resurgence which is taking place among Africans, those are the things which they want and for which they are fighting.
Let us consider what we are doing with regard to those things. A White Paper issued by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, entitled "Central African Territories: Comparative Survey of Native Policy," gives a fair and fairly full account of the conditions in these territories in Africa. It gives an account of wages, of land hunger, taxation, colour bar problems, and all the rest. One gets from it a fair appreciation of what Africans are thinking and what they want. Are not these things, taken from that White Paper, likely to trouble the African people?
It says, for example, that in Southern Rhodesia the wages in agriculture range from a minimum of 20s. a month, with an average of 32s. 6d. per month. In mining the wages range from 35s. to 70s. in Southern Rhodesia, with an average wage of 47s. 6d. per month. In Northern Rhodesia underground mining work is paid for at 55s. per month minimum. Unskilled agricultural workers are paid 15s. per month, house boys in domestic service, 30s. per month, boys employed as gardeners 25s per month. I ask any hon. Member opposite if he thinks millions of people engaged under conditions like that, having to work for miserably low wages like that, including sometimes some amount of food, can be expected to be in a state of contentment with affairs as they are? Does any hon. Member opposite blame them if occasionally they are inclined to break the law to try to make things better?
If the Colonial Secretary tried to look at those problems in that way, instead of bringing down on these people, with all his might and main, every possible policeman, he would be a success. Let us consider how some of those people who have great influence in Africa—the Europeans—look at this question of wages. I have in my possession a booklet entitled "Birth of a Nation, the British Purpose In Central Africa," which has a foreword by "The Rt. Hon. L. S. Amery, 430 C. H." There are many rather big names attached to this pamphlet, not members of the proletariat but members of the governing classes.
On African work and wages, the pamphlet says:There are other considerations which help to explain the European view. As many OFFICIAL REPORTs on African territories have shown, the African's attitude towards his economic activity is not nearly as dependent upon the cash nexus as is that of the European. His tendency is to value leisure above money. If, for instance, his wages were to be raised so that he received for one month's work as much as he formerly received in a year, he would be less likely to congratulate himself upon his increase of wealth as upon his increase of leisure. 'Why,' he would tend to ask himself, 'should I work for 12 months when it is now only necessary to work for one month? This Arcadian attitude is being modified in parts of Central Africa, and it will no doubt undergo still greater modifications in the future, but it has to be taken into account.The pamphlet calls these people "Lords of leisure." In other words, the attitude of the authors is that if one gives the African extra wages he will not work so often or so long, and one will have a job to get him back from his reserve after the end of his contract. These people who blame the Africans for liking leisure more than work are the last people in the world who ought to blame him. They have set him a great example.
The pamphlet goes on:Another important factor affecting differential wage rates is that they are based, not only upon skill, but upon temperament. If a European over a period of time has established his reliability, it is usually safe to assume that he will continue to be reliable: with the African that would be a dangerous assumption.If an African obtains leave of absence to go home for a week's visit, for instance, there is the ever-present possibility that he will not present his cheerful face for another six or twelve months, and perhaps not then.I know people in this country who do that—people of the class of the right hon. Gentleman. So it is not wise to blame the African over-much on that. The pamphlet also says:If the reader thinks that such happy-go-lucky attitudes are exceptional in Africa, let him ask any responsible person who has lived there for any length of time. It will then readily be seen that the European is employed and paid, not for his skill alone, but because he can be relied upon not suddenly to surrender himself to joyous abandon. The European has only his work to keep him alive, whereas the African often has other means of livelihood in the reserves.431 What an improvident Providence it was that gave the African other means in his reserve besides having to work for the European for his living. How terrible it would be to see one of the rail way men now threatening to strike, with a wage of £5 17s. 6d. a week, if he got a rise of £1 next week and, in a spirit of joyous abandon, took his wife and kids on the Riviera, or went off on a luxury cruise.
That is the way in which hon. Members opposite look at this question of wages. When the right hon. Gentleman talks about humanity and understanding, he shows that he has not begun to understand the problem except in terms of law and order, of force, and sending the Army, the Navy and the bomber. He says they must learn that lesson first and, if they learn it, he will do something to help them.
This attitude about wages is nothing new. It existed in this country for long enough; it exists now. When we talk of the African not working and say that if he were given more money he would work less, I remember what happened in my industry of mining. I remember coming to this House of Commons in 1926, and coal owners who sat on the Government benches imploring us to settle the dispute and go back to work. They said, "If you only go back and increase production by half a cwt. a shift, prosperity will follow." We went back. [An Hon. Member: "Driven back."] Yes, we were driven back. We increased production, but our wages went down and down until in 1931 or 1932 effective action had to be taken to put into operation a wage which was hardly sufficient to keep body and soul together. We have experienced these things in this country and we know the attitude of hon. Members opposite to these topics. Because of that experience, we have very little faith in hon. Members opposite.
I wish to say a word or two about land hunger. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we cannot put up with murder, and that the Mau Mau are wrong. The right hon. Gentleman said that all this was lying beneath the surface. He may be right, but it was not long in coming to the surface when he came into office. It has been on the surface ever since. We hardly know what to do about it. I suggest that it is time this country 432 turned its attention to these questions of work, wages, land, education and housing, and to all the things from which the African is suffering. If we did that, we would begin to make an impact on the problem.
It is quite true that the African is becoming alive to these circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman was right in saying that it is easy for the African to get in touch with higher civilisation and that he is getting an increasing number of newspapers and periodicals. He is beginning to know what these things mean, and is asking that he shall have a share of them. He is right in doing that. One of the things of which we are most proud in this country is the fact that we have liberty and freedom. We have a long record of freedom, and the African is aspiring to the same kind of thing. It is our duty to help him as much as we can.
I should like to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention once again to the question of the colour bar. The last time I spoke on Kenya I related how the colour bar operated there with tremendous and deadly effect on the mind of the African. The other day I was surprised, but to a certain extent pleased, to read in the "Daily Express" an attack on the right hon. Gentleman on this question of the colour bar. That newspaper said:On the holiday island of Bermuda life goes back to normal. And be sure that there are some on the island who hope they will now be left in perfect peace. It is the duty of the British Parliament to see that these hopes are frustrated. For the searchlight of publicity has shown up some most unpleasant facts about life in Bermuda.
§ Mr. Paling
If hon. Members had listened, they would know that I said that on the last occasion I spoke of the colour bar in Africa. I am giving an illustration from another part of the world to show what the colour bar means and what the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman is to the colour bar. The article continues:The colour bar excludes the big majority of Her Majesty's people in Bermuda from any position of responsibility or dignity. And Mr. Lyttelton argues there can be no change in that intolerable situation because the bar is essential to the dollar tourist trade.433How monstrous to suggest that a vital human principle should be sacrificed for dollars. Mr. Lyttelton is simply pandering to intolerance.Instead he should be compelling the white people of Bermuda to give up their intolerance. It would do their tourist trade no harm, anyway.
§ Mr. Paling
I have made my point and I bring it to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. When he talks about dealing with these people in a humane way, particularly in regard to the colour bar, does he think he is dealing in a humane and sympathetic way with people in Bermuda? Does he know that in some parts of Africa the colour bar is more vicious than it is in Bermuda? The people of this country are losing faith in the right hon. Gentleman. His record is disastrous; I think the best thing he could do, both for Africa and for this country, would be to get out.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Sir Walter Fletcher (Bury and Radcliffe)
I am delighted to have the opportunity of catching your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, because I speak as one who has lived in Africa. It was a great many years ago. I was in the East African Campaign in 1914 to 1918 for three years and for three years after that I lived in Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya. Therefore I speak of a different epoch, but one of historical importance from which a great many of the events of today spring. The right hon. Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wilfred Paling) will, of course, excuse me if I do not follow him in the pitiful inadequacy and irrelevancy of the remarks he has put forward. I have rarely heard a speech so stuffed with ignorance, prejudice and unwillingness to face the facts.
The Motion as set down—and the period of gestation to produce it is, I should think, the longest on record—is couched in certain terms. It uses the word "Africa." Included in that, of course, is the Cape. We could discuss Dr. Malan's policy. Included in that is Morocco. We could discuss the circumstances under which the French Government have been forced to remove a ruler—and that cannot be laid at the door of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. We can even discuss Egypt and Egyptian matters.
§ Sir W. Fletcher
I propose to touch on that. What we could also point out is the curious change which there has been in the people who signed this Motion of censure. In television terms, at least two Members have been thrown to the wolves. I refer to the hon. Members for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) and Oldham, West (Mr. Hale). With "consumer choice," the wolves would select Oldham as the portion that they would go for first. But it is significant that this Motion of censure has now been taken out of the hands of the two chief instigators of it originally and has become something much more serious: a clear Opposition policy.
I warned the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) that I was going to say something about Egypt, which is an integral part of Africa, and which is not a political entity but a geographical one. I was going to suggest that when the right hon. Gentleman burst forth in the Press there, he must remember that one of the new features throughout the whole of Africa, in the state of ferment in which it finds itself and which the Colonial Secretary has described, has been the springing up of a vast and not always very responsible native Press. If, therefore, in the Press in any part of Africa, a Privy Councillor from this country likes to put forward views, which must carry weight and which must be copied everywhere, he is indeed taking on himself a responsibility which goes far further than he may imagine.
We are told that the right hon. Gentleman is going out to Egypt. I hope he will spend 5s. on a tarboosh, because that would enable him to disappear without trace among the local crowds. But in thousands of years to come, because the climate and the sand there preserve papers, when the tomb of Aneurin and that of his great consort Janilee is reopened, his articles would undoubtedly make curious reading as coming from somebody outside the country who has stepped in there and expressed opinions which run like wildfire and which will be repeated in every small native paper throughout the country. It is that sort of irresponsible subversive activity which we on this side of the House so deeply deplore.
§ Mr. Baird rose—
§ Sir. W. Fletcher
Let me finish. Let me go back a little into the history, because we cannot judge today's events until we do that. I say this to the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), who opened the debate. When I was in Africa, what was the state of affairs? The fear of slavery had not fully vanished. I lived in Zanzibar, in the house that had once belonged to the chief slave trader, and in the cellar of that house, there were the great iron spikes driven into the walls to which the slaves had been chained. When we were going to capture Dares Salaam in 1917 we landed at Bagamoyo, which was the great slave port. Those of us who really got to know the African by living with him in patience, which is the chief virtue that one needs in dealing with him, saw then and realised that in his mind there was still the fear of slavery. The record of this country in the emancipation of slavery was treasured in Africa and is still remembered.
From that sprang a great many other things. We were also in the epoch—and it is important to remember it—when the great tussle for power had taken place in Africa, and particularly in Eastern Africa; when the great European countries—ourselves, Germany, Belgium, Portugal and others—had all obtained spheres of influence and had built strategic railways, which today are economic units. From that period springs the history to a great extent of what is happening today.
When I heard the right hon. Member for Dearne Valley talking as if the events of Kenya had sprung up in the last two years, I realised the complete inadequacy of his knowledge of the subject. There has been in all these countries a gradual move towards the present state of things. It has not suddenly sprung up overnight, and it is quite foolish to think that it has.
But there are two units: there is Africa, and there is "Arfrica," which we hear so often from the right hon. Member for Llanelly. His "Arfrica" is an unreal, non-existent unit. He talks about the African. There is no such thing. If the right hon. Gentleman takes a tour of the Lake Victoria area alone, he would find at least seven tribes of varying size, with practically no connection in their way of life, their language, their 436 tradition or what they do. To pretend that that is not so is not to face the facts. The real difficulty about federation, which my right hon. Friend has made clear is not a problem for today but one which will force itself upon us, a problem for tomorrow, and it is this: that unfortunately in the eyes of many of us the small unit cannot survive economically.
Uganda, which fears a certain form of, let us say, white domination being imposed upon it, happened to be the one country in that part of Africa where political no us and sense prevailed long before we set foot in it. Before Speke, Lugard and Harry Johnson appeared, there was already a developed system of government, and I, who had the privilege and honour of helping to draw up the first cotton rules in Uganda in 1919, saw how easy it was to get this politically-minded people to work. I had the honour of the acquaintance of the then Kabaka, father of the present Kabaka, a magnificent athletic young man of great power and sense, who had the advice of a Prime Minister, an old African, who had more wisdom in his head than I have found in most politicians in many parts of the world. But the Waganda were not typical of Africa. They cannot, however, in the long run fail to face these facts about federation, which must be considered now unless we are to have put before us, without any opportunity for study, another series of crises.
What really governs events in Africa? Facts—ethnological, geographical facts. The failure and tragedy of the groundnut scheme, to which I am not referring in any party spirit, was not the £40 million that was lost, although we could do with it at present; but it was lost because there was a desire to fit the local facts into the theories of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and for no other reason.
What are the facts? There is in Eastern Africa a coastal strip with the same problem everywhere. It is divided into two, partly Tanganyika, partly Kenya. There is a highland group, in which most of the white population is centred, and, therefore, a good deal of the political bias is there; and there are the two lake basins, Victoria and Tanganyika, in which the same problems exist. In the end—I wrote articles on this very question in the "Daily Telegraph" in 1922; this is no new subject—federation in Eastern Africa, which will bring 437 peace to Uganda and prosperity to Kenya, where it is deserved by the white settler for the pioneer work he has done and also by the other races, and on the coastal strip, will be forced upon the people by the geographical and ethnological facts.
There should be in this House a large raised map of the whole of the African Territories showing tribe by tribe the size, the existence and the history of each tribe, the rainfall and the soil. The real facts should be examined before hon. Gentlemen start to talk about their democratic theories, because they will not work unless the prosperity that comes from a knowledge of the economic facts, digested and put into a form in which it can work, has been acquired. This is no new subject, but the blindness—I sometimes think the wilful blindness—the desire to fit the facts to the theory, persists on the other side of the House, and from thence tragedy flows and will continue to flow.
If hon. Gentlemen take the countries which make up Uganda, as we call it, they will find a line can be drawn almost as sharply as a razor. On one side live the people who have no political understanding and who are entirely a cattle-minded people, and on the other side there are people with full political understanding far more than is possessed in any other tribe or group of tribes anywhere in East Africa. These are the facts of the case. The same is true to a considerable extent in Central and West Africa.
If a great deal more time were spent looking at the economic and ethnological facts and then grafting on to them the correct form of political and democratic machine for Government, we should get somewhere. In dealing with the Africans, there is one quality that is needed more than any other—patience. I was in control of a mixed force of 6,000 Africans recruited from various people when I was running sisal estates in Tanganyika, and I never had any trouble at all. The reason was that every evening I was accessible to listen to every complaint and every story that was put to me.
As long as we listen to the African—and now this is more important than ever because, though a very low proportion are literate, a great many who are not are nevertheless informed—we shall do better. If we will listen more carefully and set our pace rather more slowly than we 438 are doing at present, if we realise that the ballot box is not a panacea; that we cannot cure by giving a democratic constitution; that we cannot turn the people into a really politically-minded adequate state to govern themselves, we shall do better than we have been doing up to now. It is very easy to condemn, as we have heard from the other side of the House, but it is very difficult to administer.
One of the greatest disadvantages is the speeding up of modern means of communication. What I call "flying saucery" is a most unfortunate feature. My right hon. Friend gave a picture of arriving in some part of Africa, and the next day the hon. Member for Eton and Slough and the hon. Member for Oldham, West followed him. Let us hope that that does not happen at Ujiji and that they do not go up and say, "Dr. Lyttelton, I presume," because that would be history very nearly repeating itself.
What is the result? It is the breakdown of the authority of the Governor and those who act for him in the districts. In the days when I knew Africa well, the district officer and the assistant district officer had to know everything that went on in the district. They had to know and, therefore, they were able to spot trouble a long time ahead. Today that has all broken down. The Governor is on the end of a telephone. He in turn can either send a helicopter or a message by telegraph to the local post boy, which is what the district commissioner and the provincial commissioner have become.
It is this breaking down of authority, together with the sending out of the numerous "flying saucers" from both Front Benches and other parts of the House, that has done great disservice to the true Government of all our Colonial Territories. In the old days the Governor had to take the responsibility. Therefore, he was not able to "pass the buck." The same is equally true the whole way down the line.
I would plead on different lines to what we have heard in this House. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough tried to bring off a very effective and old Parliamentary trick by saying to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, "Go." I say to him, "Stay. 439 do not go to Africa." This nodding acquaintance with the hand-picked, specially selected local committee, which will put before him a picture which will not represent the truth in any way at all, is a tragedy.
I happened during the war in China to see the arrival of a Parliamentary mission. In those days when I was not a Member of Parliament, my respect for that animal was rather less than it is now. I saw how carefully prepared the calculated deception of that Parliamentary mission was. Do hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite think that does not prevail now? When they go out for two or three weeks, or two or three days, and come back and preach to us here as to what local opinion is, it means nothing at all. It is an absolute travesty of fact.
Until one has sat down and soaked oneself in the atmosphere, until one has come to think in African terms—which are not our terms, though they are changing—until one has seen and felt for oneself the different standards—the things we consider axiomatic which they do not consider even important—until one has digested and understood that, one can do nothing but harm in coming back and reporting, as is done here so frequently. Indeed, I very often suspect, when I listen to certain hon. Members opposite, that they seize avidly the opportunity not to learn but to propagandise. That is something they should refrain from doing.
The great magnaminity with which my right hon. Friend treated the attack on him this afternoon impressed me. I do not say that I have always agreed with him, or that I always shall agree with him in all his actions, but I say that this permanent denigration, this permanent picking on every small mistake made, when on the opposite side of the House those who were guilty of the groundnut scheme, which was the chief mark left by the Labour Party in Africa in the last ten years, is scandalous.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
The hon. Gentleman referred to the groundnut scheme. In comparison with his right hon. Friend, I would very much rather have failed to grow groundnuts in Tanganyika than have succeeded in producing insurrection in Kenya.
§ Sir W. Fletcher
The right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) must be filled with self-satisfaction, because he did fail to produce the groundnuts. He also went quite a long way towards sowing the seeds of discontent in Kenya—[HON MEMBERS: "No."] Yes. There are disappointed people in what was described as an "Eldorado"s by another right hon. Gentleman. I see that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) is also present. He and the right hon. Member for Dundee, West, between them, have the responsibility for failure and deception which is very great indeed and from which a great many of the present troubles spring.
But this is a time when I hope that we shall be able to say that this is the last debate in which the vendetta spirit will abound. The Secretary of State has now, on three occasions, withstood a personal vendetta. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite should begin to realise just a little bit that they are harming themselves by doing this. The African, though he may not be politically advanced, has a fairly good nose for what is right and what is wrong. He can see and feel fairly well who is really striving to advance him and who is not and merely makes political capital out of him. It is clear from what my right hon. Friend said this afternoon that the sincere desire to advance slowly and safely is embedded in all my hon. Friends, and that will transmit itself to Africa.
To give—as if it were in our gift, which it is not—democracy to Africa, even when it is recommended by such a demagogue as the last Colonial Secretary, is something quite different.
§ Sir W. Fletcher
What is the use of giving a people a Constitution for their political well-being if they are economically unable to support themselves and physically unable to defend themselves? They are easy prey—the tribal history of Africa shows it—to those all round. We have to shoulder the responsibility for a good while longer, and we can shoulder it much better together.
I want to say a word about Uganda, a country which I hold very dear. During the last two years, I have been able to contemplate pluses and minuses—when 441 one is ill one has that opportunity—and I have felt that in my life I have assisted in the development of that country. The Kabaka, whose father I knew, comes of a dynasty about which nothing but good can be said, and few such dynasties have survived in Africa. In his heart of hearts, the Kabaka is saying what every one of us has to say on many occasions, the prayer which goes out from the greatest and wisest of us very frequently, "Lord, give me another chance."
Where it will be, how it will be, and in what circumstance, it is impossible to say, but I feel that throughout Africa the fairness in dealing which the Colonial Secretary has shown throughout to the Kabaka and the support which he has given to the Governor at the same time may make it possible in the future for one further step forward to be taken in the wonderful record of development of Africa that we hold.
I saw the German development of German East Africa before it became Tanganyika, the Belgian development of the Belgian Congo and the Portuguese development of Portuguese East Africa, and, in no offensive spirit to those countries, I say that if we look at our record in Africa over the last 50 years we must be driven to the conclusion that it is outstandingly good. If the impression goes out—it must do so after the speeches which we have heard from the Opposition Front Bench—that that line has been abandoned, irreparable harm will be done.
Let us hope that the Colonial Secretary, who is stout-hearted, and, under his stout-hearted exterior, very kind-hearted, will find some opportunity of helping this misguided young man who stands for a tradition of government and for a people with a great future to play as the leading democracy in Eastern Africa.
Federation is coming and will come. It should be studied now, and we ought to look upon African problems in the light of facts. If we do that and have less of the irrelevant nonsense which we had from the previous speaker, we can make slow but real progress.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
The Colonial Secretary spent a great deal of time in the main part of his speech going round the African scene and painting a very favourable picture. We were 442 told that in most parts of Africa things were well, and that if there were difficulties and troubles in some areas, they were due to the unreasonableness of the Africans or to nationalist feelings in those areas. Thus it was said that the suspicions of the Nyasaland chiefs were greatly exaggerated, that the Action Group in Nigeria was being rash over Lagos, and that the Kabaka in Buganda was being unreasonable, and so on. Each trouble spot was explained away. Above all, we were told that in Kenya the Kikuyu were reverting to savagery and barbarism, which in part is undoubtedly true.
What struck me, and must have struck the House, was that that picture of Africa is totally at variance with what we know to be the facts and what we know to be common knowledge about the facts. If we read "The Times" and other responsible newspapers today, it is apparent that it is common ground that, unfortunately, in British Colony after Brtish Colony in Africa there is, in varying degrees but to a most serious extent, suspicion of our motives, and there is unrest, and in Kenya there is this terrible and tragic insurrection.
Let us for a moment accept every word that the right hon. Gentleman said in defence of his own actions, speeches and letters. Let us accept for a moment all the criticisms which he made about this African group or that African group in relation to tactlessness and rashness. Yet the fact remains that the House is confronted by a loss of confidence in Her Majesty's Government over very wide areas of African opinion, a loss of confidence which expresses itself in suspicions in one place and unrest in another and in open insurrection in Kenya.
However that situation has come about or whoever is to blame for it, that is the subject to which this House has to address itself, and it seems to be a position of the very utmost seriousness. The Opposition feel—how can we help feeling it?—thatin other areas the situation might degenerate to the point which it has done in Kenya, where government is Carried on only by the chronic exercise of open force. When one gets to that stage, however inevitable it seems when one gets to it, that stage of governing only by using chronic and perpetual force, one has 443 very nearly reached the point where the minimum element of consent amongst the governed, which alone really makes government possible in the long run, has gone.
The reason we challenge the Government and express our lack of confidence in them—it is not so much our lack of confidence in the right hon. Gentleman; the right hon. Gentleman is only the instrument of the Government, although an exceedingly blunt instrument—is that their actions are undeniably, obviously and to common knowledge leading more and more to a loss of the minimum degree of consent in the governed, without which government is impossible in Africa or anywhere else.
I put it to the Government Front Bench that, if there is any lesson in experience, it is that the British people do not indefinitely allow their Government to carry on its rule by force. We have evidence of that in the Black and Tan period in Ireland and in what happened after Amritsar in India. If the history of occasions on which government by these means has broken down proves anything, it proves that the British people do not allow their Government ultimately and indefinitely to carry on government by force.
I, for one, am very glad that the British people do not, because if there is anything certain, it is that, though no one says anybody can avoid using force on some occasions—of course, they must do so—continuing for long and indefinite periods to rule almost exclusively by force degrades and debases the people who use that force even more than those against whom it is used.
It is in that connection that I want to say a few words to the House on the subject of the situation in Kenya, and to say them from the point of view, which naturally interests me very much, of the British Army in Kenya, the tasks which the British Army is being forced to undertake in Kenya, and the effect which the indefinite continuance of those operations is bound to have on the repute, good name and morale of the British Army.
In that connection, we have all read the proceedings of the court martial on Captain Griffiths which my successor, the present Secretary of State for War, placed 444 in the Library, and we have all read those proceedings with the utmost concern. Certainly, it is no part of my intention to try to retry that case this afternoon or any other afternoon. The interest in those proceedings lies in the picture which they reveal of what is happening to the Army in Kenya as a result of the continuance, month after month—and the campaign is now in its second year—of the tasks which we are imposing on the Army.
I want to read to the House one extract from those proceedings; it is not one of what we might call the horror extracts which have been quoted in the Press; it is merely an extract which gives us a picture which, I suggest, must fill any one of us who has the good name of the British Army at heart with the utmost concern. It is an extract from a series of questions and answers from the cross-examination of Captain Joy, who was the companion of Captain Griffiths in the jeep from which the shots were fired by Captain Griffiths which resulted in the death of two African foresters.
In order to make the extract which I shall quote clear to the House, I have to say two things. One is that, as I understand it—and the Secretary of State will correct me if I am wrong—even in one of these prohibited areas of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke, it is not the case that Africans can be shot at sight. They must be challenged, and they can only be shot if they refuse their names or attempt to escape. I see that the Secretary of State himself confirms that. The second thing that I must make clear is that, as a matter of fact, the area in which the two African foresters were shot by Captain Griffiths was not a prohibited area.
With these two things in mind, I should like to read this extract, because I think it illustrates what I mean. It is to be found on page 50 of the proceedings, and the extract begins with the prosecuting counsel asking this question:Why did you assume that anyone could be fired on"?Captain Joy: I was under the impression that it was a prohibited area.The Judge-Advocate: You encountered a postman. Would it have been all right if the accused had taken it into his head to shoot the postman?Captain Joy: Under the circumstances, yes, because I assumed it was a prohibited area.445The Judge-Advocate: You thought the military had a complete discretion as to sparing anyone found in that area?Captain Joy: Yes, Sir.A member of the court: Were you carrying a personal weapon yourself?Captain Joy: I was.A member of the court: Why did you not shoot the lorry driver?Captain Joy: I do not know.The Judge-Advocate: The military had a complete discretion to decide whom it was necessary to shoot?Captain Joy: Yes.The President: Shooting without asking questions?Captain Joy: I have always understood that, in a prohibited area, a person of the Armed Forces is entitled to open fire on any African.A member of the court: If it was a prohibited area, would you not have been informed?Captain Joy: I had not been informed.The Judge-Advocate: Where did you gel the impression that in a prohibited area you had a complete discretion to shoot anyone?Captain Joy: I think that impression was formed by conversations which I had heard in the officers' mess.The President: You went out on an operation and fired a Bren gun, and all you went on was a conversation you had in the officers' mess?Captain Joy: That is correct.I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not attacking Captain Joy, Captain Griffiths or any particular officer. In selecting that extract from these proceedings—and one could give many others—I am simply suggesting that it shows a state of confusion—indeed, I am bound to use the word brutalisation—which long-continued operations of this kind are bound to produce. And I am bound to say that, if this goes on in this area, and if it spreads, as we apprehend, to other areas of Africa, then it will have and must have a ruinous effect on the Army about which we must be profoundly concerned.
§ Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
The right hon. Gentleman has made a statement that this sort of thing goes on, but what he was reporting to the House took place well over six months ago. On what basis does he now make that statement to the House?
§ Mr. Strachey
It took place, as a matter of fact, in June—not well over six months ago, but under six months ago, to be exact. I am afraid—and I answer this 446 quite frankly—that, although General Erskine is no doubt making the most intense efforts to eradicate this kind of thing from the Army, if we rule by these methods—which, after all, have become intensified since that time by the bombing that is now going on and which was not going on then—and if that situation continues, so will that psychology, that degree of irresponsibility—I think that is the word—and that type of conversation in the officers' mess. We can all too easily imagine inevitably that conversation. That is the kind of complaint I am making, and I am not putting blame on any individual.
The next thing I want to ask is what assurances have we that still another of these odious police operations which are being imposed on the Army in Africa is not upon us now. This is the second consideration I put before the House. I believe that the question whether the Army will not have another, even greater and even more odious task of this sort will depend on the decisions which the Government reach on the subject of Egypt. Egypt has been referred to in the course of the last speech we have heard, and Egypt is in Africa.
The Government are confronted with the question whether they are going on with their reasonable, wise and sensible attempt to reach agreement with the Egyptian Government on the basis of the complete evacuation of the troops of this country from the Canal Zone. Or are the Government going to give way to the group which has formed itself behind them and abandon these negotiations?
This is a most serious issue, above all for the British Army. If the Government abandon these negotiations they will have two alternatives. The first is of sitting on where they are behind barbed wire in the Suez Canal Zone. Of course, they will not have the slightest difficulty in doing so; with 80,000 highly mechanised and heavily armed British troops they can stay on there till Doomsday. I have not the slightest doubt about it, but they will be sitting there to no purpose whatever. I challenge the Government to deny that their military advisers will all say that to keep British troops there in face of the implacable hostility and non-co-operation of the Egyptian Government is one of the most wholly useless things that could possibly be done. The troops 447 will be kept there simply to appease the group of diehards behind the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
If the right hon. Gentleman holds these views, why was it that when he was Secretary of State for War he did not take any steps to run down these 80,000 troops?
§ Mr. Strachey
In those days we had some 10,000 troops there, if my memory serves me aright. There are now 80,000 troops there. It has become clearer and clearer that as long as we maintain fighting troops on that scale in that area of Egypt, quite outside our Treaty rights, it is impossible to have that minimum co-operation with the Egyptian Government which is indispensable.
The other thing that the Government can do—and this is far more logical if they break off negotiations with the Egyptians—is not to sit on in the Canal Zone totally uselessly, but to re-occupy Cairo and Alexandria. I have said that before in this House. That is the only logical alternative to coming to an agreement with the present Egyptian Government. If the Government do that—and even to some extent if they simply sit on at Suez—quite apart from world repercussions and the matter coming before U.N.O.—I believe that it is wholely impracticable on that account—the Government will be faced with another long struggle of indefinite duration carried on against a nationalist movement. This time they would be coping with them in a highly-populated country.
It is fashionable in this House to speak in the most slighting terms of the power of resistance of the Egyptians. We are told that they are such decadent people that we need not worry about them in any way. I can well believe that the power of the Egyptian Army in the field is very small. We have seen that in the war with Israel. Are we so sure that there are not individual Egyptians, and a fair number of them, who are not filled with a certain spirit of fanaticism in the assertion of what they rightly or wrongly consider to be the elementary rights of their country? Would not guerrilla warfare give us very great difficulties indeed?
448 I have in mind the Ismailia incident of two years ago. My information there is that the particular Egyptian police who were concerned in that incident fought very hard and died very heroically, and had to be blown to bits to the last man by the gunfire of Centurion tanks. It seems that since then a national monument has been raised to these men. The spirit of nations which may have sunk low is sometimes much changed by these incidents.
It would be rash indeed to suppose that, if we undertook another long-drawn-out, interminable campaign of semi-police action semi-warfare in Africa, it would not be a like burden because it was in Egypt. I ask Her Majesty's Ministers to think very hard indeed of the burdens which we are placing on the Army from which, as I think I have shown in the extract I read, it is suffering very badly already in Kenya, before the Government place another heavy burden upon it.
In this debate, as in all such debates, there emerge two conceptions. I may call one for short the "Empire" conception and the other the "Commonwealth" conception. The old Empire conception is still held very sincerely and very fiercely indeed by many hon. Gentlemen on the Government side. It is a conception of this country ruling peoples all over the world, no doubt for their own good. The Commonwealth conception is, putting it equally crudely, simply that of transforming that imperial structure into a Commonwealth in which the members become self-governing units as fast as is practicable, and remain in the Commonwealth only by their own consent. The Colonial Secretary assured us a dozen times over in his speech that he adhered to that Commonwealth conception, and we are very glad to hear it.
Some of the actions of the present Government confirm that, as in West Africa, and recent actions in the Sudan undoubtedly confirm it. But some of their actions, and some of their policies in Africa, do not confirm it. What is worse, and surely this is not a matter of doubt or argument, those actions clearly have convinced, however wrongly, masses of the African population that the Government have abandoned the Commonwealth conception and are going 449 back to the Empire conception. That is the seriousness of the damage, perhaps irreparable, which is being done by the present Government.
We on this side of the House are accused of being in favour of the liquidation of the British Empire. That is very often thrown at us as a taunt from the Government side of the House. We are not; but if hon. Members mean that we are in favour of the Empire's transformation into a Commonwealth, with all that that means, including the freedom of members of the Commonwealth to leave it, then we are in favour of it. After all, in the five years that our Government were in office we transformed by far the larger part of the Empire into precisely such a Commonwealth. I do not think it is often realised.
I added up the figures the other night. Of the 550 million people who, in 1945, were ruled directly from this House, 470 million of them were no longer ruled directly from this House by 1950. Most of them, I am glad to say, have stayed in the Commonwealth but some, like Burma, have not. I glory in that immense transformation, that immense work of dis-imperialism which that Government undertook.
The root of the trouble that we are getting into in Africa today and which is increasing, is much deeper than the causes ascribed by the right hon. Gentleman. The root of it is that the right hon. Gentleman is failing to maintain the confidence of the people in the African Colonies that we are determined steadily and genuinely to push along the course to self-government.
What can be the consequences of all this? Can anyone doubt that, sooner or later—in some parts of Africa by no means yet, in other parts of West Africa fairly soon—these people will become self-governing? That, surely, is not doubted or disputed. But if during the intervening years we have lost their confidence, it means that when they become self-governing they will not remain in the Commonwealth. That, to my mind, would be a tragedy both for them and for us. It is precisely because the profound stupidity and profound lack of imagination of the right hon. Gentleman's policy and that of his Government will, if continued, have the effect of prejudicing the 450 whole future of the British Commonwealth, that we express our profound lack of confidence in that policy.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)
I do not wish to follow the remarks of the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) at any great length, but I do want to say how unworthy I thought was his intervention during the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Sir W. Fletcher). I do not want to drag up the sorry fiasco of the ground nuts scheme or to make any unfair capital out of it, but I think it right and proper to protest against the sort of insinuation which the right hon. Gentleman so easily throws up, namely, that he would rather fail in the groundnut scheme than succeed in producing disorder, violence and bloodshed in Kenya.
§ Mr. Peyton
If the right hon. Gentleman really adheres to that opinion and statement, then I think that he will ultimately face a very adverse and very severe judgment at the bar of history and at the bar of public opinion.
§ Mr. Strachey
The whole burden of this censure Motion is that, rightly or wrongly—and we are convinced rightly—we think that the policy of the Secretary of State for the Colonies is producing suspicion here, unrest there, and actual insurrection in this one place. I certainly adhere to that.
§ Mr. Peyton
I am glad to know where the right hon. Gentleman stands, but I would like him to read Sir Philip Mitchell's dispatch on Kenya, which shows that this discontent, violence and revolutionary uprising has been bred from seeds which have been germinating for 30 years or more, and has not been produced by my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Strachey
I do not want to criticise Sir Philip Mitchell, but the curious thing is that his dispatches show the exact opposite. They were far too complacent, and suggested that there was very little trouble in Kenya. The hon. Member cannot have read them, because they say the exact opposite of what he now tells us.
§ Mr. Peyton
If the right hon. Gentleman has them in his pocket then he has the advantage of me, because he will be able to turn up a fairly early page on which reference is made to a district officer's report which states the various causes of unrest in Kenya in 1930 or thereabouts, and which says that unless action is taken to deal with that unrest the consequences will be disastrous.
No action was taken by successive Governments to deal with those very severe problems. Even with that in mind, the right hon. Gentleman said that the Colonial Secretary was responsible for producing bloodshed and disorder in Kenya. I say without any equivocation whatsoever that that is a shameful and most unworthy allegation to make.
My understanding of this debate may be at fault, but I was clearly under the impression that the intention of the Opposition—it is sometimes very difficult to diagnose its intentions—was to censure my right hon. Friend. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West devoted a considerable portion of his speech to the Canal Zone which, I thought, might more appropriately be discussed tomorrow.
I want now to pass to the speech made by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and to say, at the outset, how surprised I was that this Motion was put on the Order Paper, in view of the debate which we had only last week. I was very disappointed with the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman. It appeared to me that there was a tremendous contrast in generosity and magnanimity between the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary and the speech made by the right hon. Member for Llanelly, which he was seeking to answer.
I know that it is fair and right for a certain amount of party gain to be made when a Minister fails, but this unending nagging and the failure ever to give credit where credit is due is something quite different. When my right hon. Friend was half way through his great speech, the right hon. Gentleman opposite admitted that this was only half a Motion of Censure, that in the West of Africa all was quiet today—a case of "All Quiet on the Western Front."
Much of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite was devoted to a single theme, that, as a result of the 452 policies of Her Majesty's Government, and, in particular, the policy of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, mistrust was being actively sown among the Africans today. The right hon. Gentleman ended his speech by asking who, in this House, would like to go back to 1951 in Africa and to the confidence which was then felt. At a previous point in his speech, he referred to the carelessness of my right hon. Friend in throwing matches into tinder. He referred to a distrust which was becoming ever deeper.
The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. Is he saying that when the present Government took office Africa was peaceful, contented and happy, and that there was no anxiety, distrust or lack of confidence, or is he saying—as he did in one part of his speech—that it was like tinder which, if a match were dropped into it, would explode? I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give a plain answer to that question.
Instead of talking about going back to 1951, it would not be unfair, I think, to go back to 1900 and to measure the immense progress which has since been made in this vast continent, where at that time not even the wheel was known. Let us admit our faults, but do not let us be too weak-kneed to claim some credit for the immense achievements which we have been able to make.
I believe that two results can flow from the speech of the right hon. Member for Llanelly, and that they will flow whether he wishes it or not. First, he will persuade people, as apparently he has sought to do all along, that the policies of Her Majesty's Government are designed exclusively for the whites. I do not believe that to be true for one moment, and if ever a denial was necessary, a monumental one was forthcoming from my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary this afternoon. Maybe the right hon. Gentleman was speaking hypothetically but he actually used these words, "Another pledge on the way out." In the name of conscience, why did he use those words? No pledge is, in fact, on the way out, yet the right hon. Gentleman, apparently at random and wantonly, is prepared to make these accusations.
I think that the second effect of the right hon. Gentleman's speech is to add strength to the conviction which is growing in Africa that the official Opposition is 453 very much anti-white, and has no sympathy whatever for the white people out there, who have the practical burden to bear and these problems to face. I want to say, quite clearly, that I think it is very unwise indeed, and sometimes very unfair, to preach, from a long distance, to people whom we hardly know, the doctrine of the Kingdom of Heaven when we are, infact, not ourselves sure of it.
I should like to read a letter from the brother of a constituent of mine. He is engaged in work of social development in Tanganyika.
§ Mr. Peyton
If the hon. Member will allow me, I am trying, for the moment, to present the views of sincere and decent people who live in Africa and try to do a decent job. One paragraph starts:How is politics going? Africa seems to be enormously in the news these days, and we listen a good deal to the B.B.C. and are appalled by the mass of ill-informed comment on African affairs. Seriously, I wish to God someone could persuade people at home that Africans are not neat little bowler-hatted trade unionists catching the 8.13 to work every morning, no different from Europeans except that they have black faces.The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) may laugh, but the writer of this letter is serious and talks of serious things. He goes on:The really awful thing about Europe nowadays is the denial of the value of education and of 2,000 years of civilisation. It is literally true that the grandfathers of my staff were very much more backward than the ancient Britons: they had no wheel, no money, no tools, except bows and arrows and pointed sticks with which they scratched at the ground to till it, and the majority of them had not even reached the stage of being primitive agriculturists—they were nomadic cattle people, wandering from place to place until they had exhausted what little pasture there was. Can we expect their grandsons to be aware of democracy and self-government?I do not want to exaggerate the importance of that letter, but I think the comments made throughout it make plain the writer's views. I think, honestly and sincerely, that the views of these decent, honest people, our own people living in Africa, have been discounted, and that they themselves, their values and their way of life have very often been wantonly discredited by speeches from the other side of the House.
454 May I refer, briefly, to Kenya? Sir Philip Mitchell's dispatch has already been mentioned, and to suggest that the present disorder in Kenya is the result of anything other than a long, lingering sore, on which action has been long over-due and not taken, is wholly to misconstrue and wholly to mislead. The right hon. Member for Llanelly specifically mentioned the speech made by General Erskine, and, of course, mentioned it with approval. I should have thought that it would have been reasonably gracious of him to say who sent General Erskine there, and on whose authority General Erskine speaks. Is he speaking without the approval of the Colonial Secretary? Of course he is not. In using the words he did General Erskine was speaking with the entire approval and authority of the Colonial Secretary. Is not my right hon. Friend entitled to the benefit of expressions which the right hon. Gentleman otherwise finds laudable?
I am sorry that my remarks are perhaps somewhat disjointed, but I do not want to make a long speech. In regard to federation, my main point against the right hon. Gentleman, and the Opposition, is that his proposition has been so vapid and his whole policy so uncertain. At no stage in these various exchanges have we ever been told what he would have done. We have had pious expressions, but no promise of action whatever, and if Africans really feel happy and encouraged at the prospect of having such a lot of negations restored to the Colonial Office then I say that they are to be pitied.
One of the points which has always been uncertain in the extreme is whether the right hon. Gentleman, when he left the Colonial Office, was for or against federation. I believe that immense harm was done when the right hon. Gentleman changed his ground with such apparent abruptness. At least, seen from Africa, it was difficult to explain or understand how it was that his views had changed.
I should also like to refer to the incident which took place in the House the other day, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly, blamed the Colonial Secretary for saying, "I demand an answer on the question of the Motion of censure." In fairness, cannot the right hon. Gentleman think what he would feel like in similar circumstances, 455 had he been subjected to the same maintained series of groundless attacks? Why, therefore, should not the right hon. Gentleman assume that perhaps the Colonial Secretary is as sensitive as he? Why should he think that the Colonial Secretary would not welcome, in some degree, some personal fairness from time to time?
It is my belief that the whole conduct of this series of attacks, led by the right hon. Gentleman, has been as venomous and vicious personally as it has been vacuous and vacillating in substance. When shall we really face facts and make decisions on our immense responsibilities in Africa—on these colossal problems? Is it that, forever, wishful thinking is to do duty for common sense, and sheer optimism to replace the determined, honest facing up to the problems which the right hon. Gentleman knows very well confront us?
I should like to echo the hope, expressed with such restraint by the Colonial Secretary this afternoon, that this debate may lead to a happier period in this House, when we can meet more calmly the real responsibilities which face us, admitting, as we must, that, in the interests of the races in Africa, we are committed to heavy responsibility there for many years to come. I say that those responsibilities, those causes, and even the people whom the right hon. Gentleman himself seeks to help, have been ill-served by the vacillation and uncertainty which is the only meal he has been able to offer.
I offer to the Colonial Secretary my own humble congratulations for the speech he made this afternoon—the second in the course of a week or so—defending a considerable record, expressing a hope for the future, and without attempting to give the right hon. Member for Llanelly even a tithe of what he really deserves.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
The House tonight is asked to expressits grave disquiet at the handling by Her Majesty's Government of affairs in Africa."That, put in direct language, means that this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government and is prepared to censure the Government. It is right that questions of that kind should be debated 456 by the House at the earliest moment, but I think there is a far more important question than the handling of affairs in Africa at the moment. It is a question not of whether this House in itself has confidence in the Government, but whether Africa has confidence in the Government—indeed, whether Africa has confidence in this House and in the people of Britain.
I would re-echo the words of the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Sir W. Fletcher). He said that this country has a record which is not only great but noble in its handling of affairs throughout the whole world and is beyond comparison with any other country. Sometimes one lets one's mind run, when considering some criticism of us, and one wonders what might have been the history of the world had some other people on the continent undertaken the tremendous task that this country undertook some 200 years ago. What other country would do what this House is doing now and what it has done from the days of Warren Hastings, who stood his trial in Westminster Hall, and hold an inquest on the conduct of the Minister responsible for the affairs of those people? We therefore have a very great tradition which we should cherish and which we desire to maintain.
The right hon. Gentleman quite rightly tried to analyse the position throughout Africa. We are accustomed to regard this century in which we are fated to live very rightly as the most extraordinary century in the long history of man. Amazing progress and great discoveries have been made. For example, there is the discovery which we were discussing only yesterday, television—that amazing new discovery which, as I said yesterday, will probably have a greater influence than anything else upon humanity and upon our knowledge of one another throughout the world. We have made extraordinary progress during the last 50 years. But is there any country in the world which has had to face changes so quickly as the Continent of Africa? It is not so long ago that an Englishman was lost for many years in the heart of Africa—Dr. Livingstone.
§ Mr. Davies
And a Welshman was sent out to find him—a man who afterwards became a Member of this House, 457 and I had the honour of knowing him. He wrote about this mysterious continent known as darkest Africa. Look at the extraordinary impact there has been upon us with all our knowledge, training and education. But what is that compared with the impact that there must have been upon the African, north, south, east and west, and especially in the centre?
That being so, let us consider what has happened. Never has there been such a vast economic and social change as there has been in the last 50 years—in fact, really in the last 20 years—and there have been greater changes in Africa than anywhere else. Until we arrived there, the African only knew one form of government—by the chief, or the dictator, or whatever he was called. Then we came along and we worked alongside the chief, and the chiefs took their orders from us. But, at the same time, we have been doing our best to educate and train them in economics and health, and in disseminating knowledge so that they can learn how we live.
They formed their own local government, trade unions, and co-operative movements. Is it to be wondered, therefore, that there is a new consciousness throughout Africa, a new realisation of the inherent individual rights of the African, and a consciousness also of the fact that he is part of a bigger family? The ambitions of these people are now beginning to assert themselves and there is a desire to look after their own affairs. That is a point which must be emphasised.
Undoubtedly throughout Africa today there is a great cloud of anxiety. All over the place there are warning rumbles. Incidents are happening in East Africa, Central Africa and South Africa. Each is of a different kind, but there seems to be one common denominator. There is a new ambition, which is right, and a deep fear, which is wrong. There is a fear on the part of the African that now that he is realising his own position, his own individuality and his own right to look after his own affairs, nevertheless the white domination may continue; and there is a fear on the part of the white man, whatever country he comes from, that he will be deprived of all that hitherto he has owned, and that the 458 domination will pass out of his hands into the hands of the African.
I believe that those matters and the way in which they should be handled ought to receive our consideration now. Are we handling them properly? I do not think any Government can be blamed for the present position. Undoubtedly, there have been great evils. Land was taken from the Africans without any consideration for them in the slightest degree. Boundaries were made, in some cases right through the middle of a tribe. I had the good fortune to be in West Africa in 1938 and the beginning of 1939. In Paris it was arranged, without consulting anybody, that a line should be drawn through that part of Africa, and on one side the African was going to be turned into a Frenchman and on the other side he was to be guided by us. On one side, a third of a tribe had a chief, and on the other side two-thirds of the tribe were to be dealt with entirely differently. Those are evils which are persisting there today.
What am I to say about the Government's handling of this matter? I have often wished that there was a third Lobby in this House. This is one of those occasions when both the Government and the Labour Party are to blame. Self-government is gradually being given, certainly on the west coast of Africa—and one is delighted to see what is happening in Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Gambia, and what is being done in the Sudan—but too much emphasis is put upon the economic and material advantages and too little attention is being paid to the personal side, and the desire of the individual. That is why I objected, right from the outset to Central African federation as the Colonial Secretary and the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) both know.
It ill becomes the right hon. Member for Llanelly to throw all the blame upon the right hon. Gentleman who succeeded him in office. This question had been gone into before the war, when it was put on one side. It was the right hon. Member for Llanelly who resurrected it. He then appointed six Englishmen—at least, six people from Britain. They were first-class men who knew the conditions there, but not one of them was an African. When they reported, instead of considering the report privately, as a guide to himself, he published it. Can 459 it be doubted that that disturbed all the people in Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland?
Then, when the present Colonial Secretary came into office, he again put all the emphasis on the economic side and said, "This will be of very great advantage to these people," just at the time when they were becoming conscious of themselves and of their own rights, and realising that they had an inherent right to be consulted as to how they should be governed and who should govern them.
Now I turn to the most recent happenings in Uganda. I was deeply distressed that the Kabaka was taken forcibly out of his country. I cannot think of a more cruel punishment than to exile a man from his own country and people. It will be recollected that one of the greatest men in history, when given the choice of exile or death, preferred death to exile even among people who spoke the same language. He preferred death even to being exiled from his own city. That was the great, wise Socrates himself.
Everyone has a tremendous attachment to his own people and country, especially one who is, as I understand, one of a long line of kings or governors of his own people, knowing and understanding them. This morning we received the document published by the delegation from Buganda. The Kabaka's people still ask that he should return to them. I hope that a settlement can be arrived at to enable this man to return to his own people.
But no criticism can corns from the Labour Party with regard to this recent happening in Buganda, for who exiled Seretse and Tshekedi from their own people—simply because Seretse had committed the offence of marrying a white woman and Tshekedi had said that he wanted an inquiry into the question of leadership? I well remember endeavouring, as best I could at that time, to get debated in the House the question whetherTshekedi—who had committed no offence; no charge was brought against him—should be allowed to return to his country. I could not get that opportunity except with the assistance of the present Prime Minister. If it comes to throwing bricks at each other both parties are living in glass-houses.
460 I hope that more attention will be given to the personal or spiritual side of the matter, and the real desires of these people. There is no doubt that the economic side of the matter is important. It is vital that these people should have the means of living, and that we should inquire as to who occupies the land and provide for its better distribution among the people, but still more important is what happens to the people themselves.
I throw out this suggestion. These people are now conscious of their rights—information travelling as rapidly as it does—and are watching most anxiously what is happening in South Africa. They know all about the difficulties which have arisen in various parts of Africa. Has not the time now come when we might call an African conference, when the Africans might be consulted as to their own future? We are considering the question of a European federation. Why not consider, not a federation of Africa but the question whether the Africans themselves should have the main voice in their future and how that future should be conducted?
They have not been accustomed to managing their own affairs. We have taught them much about economic life. We have taught them a great deal about health. We have given them a certain amount of education, which is now being increased. But they still lack knowledge of the proper working of a democratic institution. We should go carefully in teaching them that. It is not that we deny them that right, but in the meantime, until the arrangement is working properly and they understand the importance of toleration towards each other, we should exercise, as we are in duty bound to do, a trusteeship over them all, so as to help and protect them.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
It is with very great pleasure that I take this opportunity of rising to speak following the Leader of the Liberal Party in this House. On the last occasion when I spoke on matters relating to world affairs, it was he who followed me, and he was good enough to make some polite observations about my speech. I should now like to reciprocate that kindness, because if there is one thing that is true of him it is that we always hear from him an independent view of the 461 utmost integrity—and an independent view is one which can always be so interesting.
I agree with a great deal of what he said, but I undoubtedly differ in one respect. I require no third Lobby in this matter. Even there I shall be in some danger with regard to some of the observations which I want to make this evening, following what was said by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) on the question of the Suez Canal. It has been pointed out by several hon. Members that the Continent of Africa covers Morocco and the greater part of Egypt, and that the Suez Canal is, therefore, relevant to this debate. It is not only because it is relevant on that issue, but because it is fundamental to the considerations of the main issue, that I shall seek to deal with that subject fairly shortly when I come to it.
The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), has said that the issue before the House tonight is whether Africa has confidence in this House. That is quite true, and the truth is well expressed. The second question posed by the right hon. and learned Member is this: if Africa has not go confidence in the House, whose fault is it? Can any of the blame be laid at the door of the Colonial Secretary? I am quite satisfied that no blame whatever can attach to him. Wherever I went on a very short trip I had over there recently I heard nothing but praise of him for both his tact and his courage in connection with the questions with which he was dealing.
Confidence depends first upon an assured future, and an assured future, in turn, depends upon the ability to get a job and upon being able to develop the resources of this vast Continent. In their first year the Government were busy dealing with the question of the balance of payments. In the second year they were dealing with increased production. In the third year I hope and trust that we shall go forward with the development of the Commonwealth and of its vast untapped resources, to a degree hitherto never known.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
What is the position with regard to the confidence of the people out there? The first grave matter—and it is a grave matter—is that there is a certain section, a small one, albeit, but, still, a section, of hon. Members opposite doing a great disservice to this country by propaganda which they spread. I say that quite deliberately, and I am not a person given to violent exaggeration. To continue that propaganda that is going out continuously from this House and elsewhere, seeking to set black against white, about race issues and the colour bar all the time, is no way to settle the issue.
The effect of that, in so far as there is an effect, is loss of confidence. I want to show how it comes about. In Buganda was a man, a King with a Great Council, the Lukiko. Buganda is the pivot of Uganda. I was recently passing through Entebbe and Kampala, and so far as Entebbe and Kampala are concerned they are the pivot of the whole of the Protectorate of Uganda. It was, obviously, quite impossible that there should be a separate Kingdom of Buganda set up, and that it should revert to a tribal existence. I thought that was quite unusually preposterous.
But why do hon. Members suppose that the King thought he could get away with it? Do they think one of the reasons may have been our attitude in the Sudan, next door? Do they think that the weakness and vacillation which has been shown in the past in that area may, perhaps, have been part of the contributory causes which led the Kabaka to believe that at the present time the Government of this country were so weak he would be able to get away with the demands he was putting forward? I believe so, and I have some ground for saying so.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
Do I understand that the hon. Gentleman is criticising the policy of the Government in regard to the Sudan?
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
I am coming to it, if the hon. Gentleman will give me time.
As for the Gold Coast I want to leave the question of confidence for a moment merely to say that there is there considerable confidence in the Government, but it is, of course, equally essential that 463 we should support the Gold Coast Government, and, what is more, that we should give the guidance which they will need for many years to come.
Let me give an example. I was very concerned on reading the "Daily Express" for Saturday, 12th December, that Mr. Joseph Adam Braimah, the Minister of Works, has apparently admitted being engaged in corruption in the Government and has, as a result, resigned, and has, by reason of his religious convictions as a Roman Catholic, made a detailed confession of the offences he had committed. He has made very serious allegations by suggesting that the Prime Minister, Mr. Nkrumah, has himself been involved.
I do not for one minute suggest that there is necessarily any truth whatever in the allegations, but I would urge the Government to treat this as a very serious matter which ought to be fully investigated, and, if there be truth in it, to see that any offenders are brought to trial, because the question of confidence is also part of the question of seeing justice is done, and justice can only be done if it can be seen fairly to be done in the public eye.
It is eminently desirable in the Middle East and in Africa, and, indeed, in the Far East, that we should not have undesirable aliens or others being permitted in those areas at a time when there is rapid development. That is most unsatisfactory. We may give certain people who are convicted criminals and others who will find—and, indeed, are finding in the Gold Coast—opportunities with new Ministers and new people to try to run affairs for their own benefit in that area. I urge the Government to take great care to see that they use their powers to see that undesirables do not come in at this stage of development.
I come now to Kenya. I speak particularly in this debate because I have been in close touch with members of the Kenya Legislative Assembly and on the question of why there is, so far as there is, any feeling of lack of confidence at the present time. I would remind the House, first of all, that a delegation from Kenya has been over here and asking for our support. This is a great opportunity for the Secretary of State to assist by gift or loan, and I greatly hope that they will receive that assistance because it is not 464 the fault of the European settlers there that the Mau Mau emergency has arisen. So far as Mau Mau is concerned, that is really something which should be borne by the United Kingdom, and regarded as an exceptional emergency, and I hope that perhaps something may be said on those lines.
On the question of confidence, I have here a letter written to me by Colonel Grogan, who, some hon. Members may remember, has been over 50 years a leader in Nairobi and who, in fact, walked afoot from Cape to Cairo. At any rate, he is one of the major leaders there, and in this case he speaks with great authority, though not necessarily for the Assembly, for many people out there. He says:We in Kenya, who played our small part in the last war with consequential recognition of the strategic key points in Northern and Eastern Africa, and regard ourselves as the garrison in this front-line outpost of the Western defences, view happenings in the Sudan and Egypt with grave alarm.It is only 54 years since I personally was exploring the geographical Lacunae in Central Africa and the pagan area of the Sudan and the ultimate resources of the Nile in a study of the physical significance of the Treaties theoretically defining the European spheres of interest. The present situation has betrayed the pagan tribes of the Southern Sudan to their traditional predators in the North. These vast desolate areas, peopled by heterogeneous tribes of simple folk with genetic affinities to the tribes of Kenya and Uganda, have been retrieved from utter chaos and a long history of spoliation into an era of peace and security by a handful of British administrators and technical advisers.The repercussions on our British East African tribes and general loss of British prestige here is considerable, apart from the all-important consideration of the strategic significance of Khartoum. The control of Khartoum is a dominant factor in prestige throughout the whole of North African Islam, and Khartoum is the special soundboard of the age-old pilgrim movement between West African Islam and Mecca.Secondly, Khartoum is a vital and exclusive key point in East African air communications with the United Kingdom and with the West. It may be that Khartoum, in this air age, will prove to be of greater strategic significance in the future even than the Suez Canal.In so far as there is any feeling of lack of confidence out there, so far as the people of the Sudan and, I believe, Asian peoples, are concerned, it is not in any way to be laid at the door of the Colonial Secretary. They regard him as a strong leader who will support them in this 465 matter, but the fault lies with the mounting inanity of certain advisers at the Foreign Office, and I want to turn to consideration of that field.
The question of Egypt has for a long time past been receiving the very close attention of most distinguished Members of my party and of the House. I am a very junior Member. I am almost always in disagreement with the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey), as is natural, and, indeed, sometimes I cannot regard his views as being serious. At no time have I understood the Government's proposals to be what he described them to be—the reasonable and complete evacuation of the Suez Canal Zone, the only alternative according to the right hon. Gentleman, being to occupy Cairo and Alexandria. Those statements are preposterous.
In the first place, we cannot possibly seek to continue to enter into agreements with men who, virtually, are Nazis and cannot be trusted to keep their word. There is no difference between General Neguib and his dancing major, on the one hand, and Hitler and Goebbels, on the other. The propaganda which is being thrown out by Neguib is similar in style. To enter into an agreement with him and his Government, who have obtained powers by a pütsch or a coup ďétat—we have no English word for it—an agreement which is not worth the paper it is written on, would, in my opinion, be fatal to the psychological issues involved and to the prestige of this country and would lead to the very lack of confidence to which this Motion seeks to draw the attention of the House. It is no use entering into an agreement unless we know that the obligations may be maintained on both sides. Equally, we must adhere to the principle of not negotiating under pressure—and at present we are under pressure.
May I say a few words about the constitutional position, which is a subject about which I have taken some care. I would draw attention first to Articles 8 and 16 of the Treaty of Alliance of 1936. Article 8 reads:In view of the fact that the Suez Canal, whilst being an integral part of Egypt, is a universal means of communication and also an essential means of communication between the different parts of the British Empire, His Majesty the King of Egypt, until such time as the High Contracting Parties agree that the 466 Egyptian Army is in a position to ensure by its own resources the liberty and entire security of navigation of the Canal, authorises His Majesty The King and Emperor to station forces in Egyptian territory in the vicinity of the Canal.Article 8 further reads:It is understood that at the end of the period of 20 years…the question whether the presence of British forces is no longer necessary owing to the fact that the Egyptian Army is in a position to ensure by its own resources the liberty and entire security of navigation of the Canal may, if the High Contracting Parties do not agree thereon, be submitted to the Council of the League of Nations for decision.…May I point out what has never been stressed in this country—that there is no question whatever of leaving the Zone in 1956. The position is perfectly plain and continues as long as the entire security of the navigation of the Canal is not guaranteed by the Egyptians.
Let us see how we are to meet this position. We meet it, first, at the present time, by withdrawing from negotiations and by withdrawing the offer, if any, which has been put forward, until the position becomes clearer. In the New Year we can put forward sensible proposals which can be ensured and can be effectively carried out. They can be effectively carried out only if we have the fighting force there to carry them out when Neguib breaks his word, as he will if he can.
The principle which I and many of my colleagues have put forward is that, first of all, Britain should retain in the Canal Zone bases, airfields and port facilities with sufficient British personnel to maintain and to operate them. Britain should retain in the Canal Zone fighting units sufficiently strong to ensure the safe landing of further forces, should the necessity, of which Britain must be the sole judge, arise. It is imperative that Her Majesty's Government should withdraw from the negotiations with Egypt immediately and withdraw categorically the terms put forward. Next year negotiations might properly be resumed with the above terms as minimum requirements. The reduction of the Canal Zone to a garrison will enable the reduction of military forces from 80,000 to the neighbourhood of about 10,000 and the reduction in cost would be very considerable.
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
I gather from the hon. Gentleman's arguments that he thinks that the presence of fighting British troops is essential to keep the Canal open. We have had 80,000 there during the time the Government have been in power. Will he tell us why their presence has not enabled us to get oil to Haifa or to prevent the Egyptians from blockading the Canal?
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
In making that interjection the hon. Gentleman has opened up a matter which would take too long to discuss, otherwise I would deal with it. I shall try to deal with it in due course, possibly elsewhere, but I have only one minute to go now and I have not time to discuss it.
The psychological issues involved are the prime reasons. The question of our prestige in Africa is one of immense importance and, in my opinion such questions outweigh the military and economic issues which arise in Egypt—and they are directly relevant in this debate. We believe, and I am sure we are right, that we could cut down the size of the Canal Zone commitments very considerably. There are a large number of installations which are useless.
We do not need the whole of the length of the base, the many miles of it. By securing a garrison based in a similar way to Gibraltar we can reduce the effective strength to one effective division of about 10,000 men, the number before the war. We can reduce the cost of £50 million. As a result of that policy we shall ensure that we do not have an avalanche of claims throughout the Mediterranean—Cyprus for the Cypriots, Malta for the Maltese, Gibraltar for the Spaniards, and so on, throughout the Mediterranean and the rest of the world.
The Colonial Secretary is a man of dynamic power and ability, and that is needed in these times. He is just the man we need to deal with the development of the Continent of Africa. He has the support of the settlers and the people there, and if we end a lot of this misleading propaganda from some hon. Members opposite we shall have peace. I hope I have now answered the questions of the Leader of the Liberal Party.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
We have just listened to a most interesting speech from the hon. Member for Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies). I should like him for a moment to turn his attention to the terms of the Motion which we are discussing. It says specifically:That this House expresses its grave disquiet at the handling by Her Majesty's Government of affairs in Africa.It does not say the Colonial Secretary in particular; it states "Her Majesty's Government." After his speech, can the hon. Gentleman honestly go into the Lobby with the Government in support of their handling of African affairs? I cannot see how he can possibly do so.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
I deliberately left the matter because I invited the question. Sometimes members of the Bar do that. My answer is briefly, "Yes, of course," because the whole of this debate has been entirely directed to Africa, as in fact it was looked at by hon. Members opposite. They did not take into the smallest consideration the extreme northern part of Africa, Egypt, and the only part that I view with concern is the serious issue relating to the Suez Canal. As to 99 per cent. of the balance, we on this side of the House are absolutely satisfied with the actions of Her Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. Dugdale
The hon. Gentleman is entitled to his own opinion and to follow any course he considers right. It would appear to me to be very curious, because my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) specifically referred to the Sudan and made a number of references to it. It may be referred to by other hon. Members, and I may refer to it myself. It is certainly a part of Africa, and so far as it is part of Africa—and, the hon. Member would agree, an important part of Africa—I still fail to see how he can go into the Lobby with the Government supporting an African policy with part of which he disagrees so profoundly. I did not, however, rise to speak about the hon. Member's speech except to make that comment.
The Secretary of State has spoken of the impact of the West upon Africa. He spoke of its importance, and he said that it was a large and important subject going 469 far beyond any little local incidents that might be cropping up. I want to deal with one particular part of that contact, the contact of Western civilisation with East and Central Africa. What have we got there? We have a simple people, a people who for years, as the Secretary of State himself said, have had no experience of Western civilisation and who have found themselves suddenly confronted with it—a people who are bewildered and puzzled, and many of whom, no doubt, are very frightened. The reason we are having this debate is that we on this side of the House differ profoundly from Members on the other side as to how we should handle these people. That is the problem. How should they be handled?
During the time that we on this side were in power—during the years between 1945 and 1952—we gave to these people sympathy, and not only sympathy but a very practical sympathy. We gave them, for instance, such important things for people growing up in the Western world as trade unions, co-operative societies and factory Acts. These were things which they had never had before and would not have had had we not given them. They were things, I venture to say, which the present Government would never have given them had they been in power at that time. We did give them, and as a result of that there was established, when we left office, the foundation of confidence in the British Government.
We are discussing today whether the Africans still have or do not have that confidence in the British Government. The fundamental difference between our two policies may, I think, be summed up in this way. We believe that while Africa can be developed in the interest of all races in Africa—and we realise, just as the Government do, that there are different races, that it is not a single racial problem but a problem of how to adjust different races—the race there which has to be considered first is the race which is the overwhelming majority of its people, namely, the African people. Hon. Members opposite say that the race which has to be considered first is the race which has the least people there—the white people. That is the fundamental difference.
§ The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. Henry Hopkinson) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Dugdale
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, and I have no doubt that when he replies he will mention that point. That is, I think, the basic difference between our two sides. That fact has been illustrated by the actions of the Colonial Secretary. I am sorry that he is not in his place. I do not intend to attack him personally. I do not see why he should consider that every attack on his administration is a personal attack. Does he think that we are going to say day after day how wonderful he is? Surely he must realise in that responsible position, being Minister in charge of African affairs, that he is naturally the target for any criticism there may be. We realise fully that he is not the only person responsible, but that it is the responsibility of the whole Government.
The people of Africa have found themselves time and time again scorned by the right hon. Gentleman. In the case of Central Africa, he did not even bother to consult them. He saw a few people from time to time, but when it came to the point the only views he considered were the views of the white people there, and he did not bother to consult the overwhelming mass of the African people. As I have said, the right hon. Gentleman is not the only one. The Africans cannot forget that the present Prime Minister is the greatest enemy of freedom that the Indian people have ever known. They believe that if he holds these views about India, it is only natural that he will hold these views, and impress these views upon his Government, about Africa.
We heard the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary in his speech today deal very briefly with affairs in Uganda. I am sorry he is not here because I am afraid that I must say one thing about him. He is usually a very brave man indeed. I would never before have thought that he could be guilty of anything resembling cowardice, but I think that the way in which he hid behind the statement contained in a telegram received from the Governor was not the bravest action he has performed in recent years, to put it no lower than that.
He said, in effect, that the Governor had stated that it was not due to his speech that there had been this difference of opinion with the Kabaka. It was not 471 due to his speech that this problem had arisen. We feel that it was his speech more than anything else which precipitated the crisis in Uganda. Those of us who know the Kabaka know him as a quiet, unassuming, charming young man, not the least likely to become excited without reason. There are many who do get excited without reason—Englishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen as well as Africans—but the Kabaka is not amongst them. Yet he was so deeply moved that he faced banishment. Why did that happen?
It happened because of the Secretary of State's speech. I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) referred to the fact that he had set a match to affairs in Uganda. I would say that he is the greatest incendiarist since Nero. He has managed to do something which people would have thought to be impossible there, not only to the Kabaka but to a country which all who have visited it know to be a profoundly peaceful country.
Anyone who has been to Kenya and gone across the border to Uganda can at once sense the difference. Of course, there have been disturbances in Uganda from time to time, but, compared with Kenya, the whole atmosphere is one of peace. The sense of strain and friction between races which exists in Kenya is entirely absent in Uganda. Yet in this most peaceful of all the East African and Central African Colonies, the Secretary of State has managed to start a great conflagration. That is one of the things, among many, for which we blame him.
Personally, I have not yet decided in my own mind whether the right hon. Gentleman's speech was a mistake, in which case it shows that he does not know very clearly how to use his words and the affect his words will have on African people, or whether in fact it was deliberate, whether in fact it was simply letting the cat out of the bag, and starting what he hoped would be a movement towards this East African federation—and that is what the Africans fear.
Many Africans fear, and fear deeply, that the Secretary of State supports the organisation which, I believe, is known as the Capricorn Society, which wants to have a great federation stretching from the Limpopo up to the borders of the 472 Sudan, dominated primarily by the white people there. That is what the Africans, including the people of Uganda, are frightened of, and that is why the Kabaka took the action that he did.
I think that the form of that action was quite wrong. I do not think that there could be a separate state of Buganda in the middle of Uganda—that is quite impossible as a practical proposition; but I understand what made the Kabaka want to do it. He wanted to opt out of what he thought would be this new East African federation, which, he thought, the Secretary of State showed by his speech that he wanted to see created.
The policy of the Government is not only morally wrong, but wrong in its practical results. In Kenya, as a result of the action of the Government, we find that a country which, when this Government came into power was at peace, is now at war. There has been a statement by the Colonial Secretary in which he said that £6million was to be demanded of the British taxpayer as the result of this war. No doubt many other sums are involved also, and these and the £6 million are to be taken from the British taxpayer as the result of the policies which the Government have pursued in Kenya. There is the cost of all the extra military establishments which would not have been there otherwise. There is the cost, too, of the men who have been standing by waiting, so it seems, to go into Uganda.
It may be that the newspapers are wrong, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will let us know when he replies, but the papers have informed us that a regiment was being held ready in Kenya and had been taken off its work in order to stand by ready for action should it have to go to Uganda. Has the Colonial Secretary often consulted his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War? What is the position today of the Secretary of State for War? He gets call after call from his right hon. Friend to send troops to Kenya, to Uganda, and here, there and everywhere, as a result of the right hon. Gentleman's policy. It has cost the country much in cash and it has cost the Army much in strain.
The Colonial Secretary in his speech said, "We must hand on a firmer foundation to our successors"; that was the tenor of the whole speech. We of the 473 Labour Party gave our successors a firm foundation, firmer than it had been for many years. We gave them a foundation built on confidence and on trust, but this Government have dispensed with that foundation and have replaced it instead with a foundation built on fear, anxiety and mistrust.
It is for those reasons that today we condemn the Government, and we are not ashamed of doing so. I do not think it is wrong that colonial affairs should be brought into party politics. We are quite certain that had we made any mistakes in our Government, the Conservative Party, had they been in opposition, would at once have tabled such a Motion. There is a fundamental differance between the two parties on colonial policy, and it is right that those differences should be brought forward tonight so that all shall see them.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ Captain Richard Pilkington (Poole)
The right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) concluded his remarks by saying that in his opinion it was quite right that party politics should be brought into colonial and imperial affairs. He would be right in saying that that was the main difference between our two parties rather than the difference which he suggests at the beginning of his speech.
The difference which the right hon. Member suggested was that, so far as Africa was concerned, his party was primarily concerned with the welfare of the Africans and we on this side were concerned primarily with the welfare of the white population. That is complete nonsense. We do not differentiate between the races when we are furthering the well-being of any State or community in Africa. We consider that the various parts and peoples, whether African, European or Asian, are all interdependent, and we try to aim at the welfare of the community as a whole.
The right hon. Member said that it was my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies who had started what he called the great conflagration in Uganda. Then he spoilt the whole of his case by admitting that from time to time there had been trouble there in the past. Of course, this is one of those times. When we are responsible for so many different communities, as we 474 are in Africa, at so many different stages of civilisation, it is inevitable that from time to time trouble will occur. The whole continent can be grateful that we have in the Colonial Secretary a man who is firm and wise in his handling of these things.
When this debate was first announced in the House, I asked whether it could cover the fact that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), as reported in the newspapers, was a representative of a section of the party opposite which was in favour of the liquidation of the British Empire. Some of his hon. Friends jumped up and defended him, as they had a perfect right to do. I want to make it clear now that it was not so much an attack upon the right hon. Member as a desire to know whether there was, in fact, a section of the party opposite which was in favour of the liquidation of the British Empire.
§ Mr. Sorensen
Would the hon. and gallant Member not agree that the Conservative Party have agreed with the liquidation of the Empire in India and Pakistan?
§ Captain Pilkington
One of the leading statesmen in the party opposite, the late Sir Stafford Cripps, first gave currency to the phrase when he said, some time before the war, that the Socialist Party was in favour of the liquidation of the British Empire. That phrase has lived and has been reproduced in an Egyptian paper quite recently. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) referred this afternoon to that phrase and explained it away by saying that what was meant was not "liquidation," but "transformation"; and I imagine that is what the hon. Member also is trying to suggest. If so, why did the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale not use the word "transform" instead of "liquidate"? In the common understanding of the word, "liquidate" means one thing and "transform" means another.
§ Mr. Sorensen
Surely, if an Empire disappears, as it has done in India and Pakistan, that is liquidation, and transformation is merely the positive side of liquidation.
§ Captain Pilkington
No. I think this matter ought to be pursued to the full. I should like to think that the interpretation of the word "liquidation" meant 475 "transformation," but that is not the case. When the late Sir Stafford Cripps was challenged on this point, in 1948, he said:Certainly, I stand by what I said, and it is what we have done in India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma.He gave the whole of his case away when he mentioned Burma, because for him, apparently, it did not matter whether these States, which had been given self-government, were outside the Commonwealth or inside it.
I say that he gave the whole of his case away when he classed Burma with those other States which had had complete self-government within the Commonwealth, and I say that we have a right to know today whether there is still a section of the Labour Party, and how big it is, which desires to see the liquidation of the British Empire in the same way as has happened in Burma. If the answer be "no" I would rejoice, because I regret very much that what we have been discussing this afternoon has been tinged to such an extent with party politics.
I do not want to keep the House long, but I should like to say a word about Suez. We shall shortly be engaged in considering an arrangement to replace that made in 1936 with Egypt. That arrangement was praised, at that time, on all sides of the House. Indeed, the "Daily Express" of that date appeared with a headline referring to the then Foreign Secretary in these words: "Eden praised by all sides." I should like to think that the same will apply when the new arrangement comes up for consideration. The vindication of that Treaty of 1936 came three years later when, in the task with which we were confronted, we had the good will of the Egyptian nation as a whole. Otherwise, we should have found it very much more difficult to do the things that we had to do at that time.
§ Captain Pilkington
We did have the good will of the Egyptian nation as a whole while we were fighting on that front.
§ Mr. Patrick Maitland (Lanark)
To get the record clear, and to see that there is no exaggeration either way, would not my hon. and gallant Friend agree that when Nahas Pasha became Prime 476 Minister it was following the arrival at King Farouk's palace of British tanks?
§ Captain Pilkington
That is perfectly true. I thought it possible that that point might be made, but in the working of the base and in the hinterland behind the lines we had the good will of hundreds of thousands of Egyptians. That was the point I was making, and I chose my words with care. I said "the Egyptian nation as a whole," and I meant that.
We have to recognise that since that time the Egyptian nation has moved on. It is no doubt an unfortunate thing, but it is a fact, that when we have to deal with the evolution of a young nation there is very often an accompanying inferiority complex. That is one of the factors we have to take into account today when we try to get a new arrangement.
It would, no doubt, have been much better if we could have got full and equal co-operation with the Egyptian people in making a safe, working base to protect what is essentially an international waterway. We have not got that co-operation, and unless we take into account the feelings of the Egyptian people as they are and not as we should like them to be, we shall find it very difficult to get any sort of satisfactory arrangement. It was Mazzini who said long ago that nationalism was a necessary prelude to internationalism. In this country we do not mind that the Americans are on our soil or that we have American airfields and bases here, but, unfortunately, the Egyptians do mind that there are bases of any other nationality upon their soil, and I say that we must take that into account.
We are, of course, speaking without the full knowledge of what the agreement is to contain for it is not actually before us, and we have to see it before we can pronounce judgment. I, at any rate, very much hope that it will be possible to find a modus vivendi by which both nations can co-operate together for the good of each and the good of all.
Finally, one word about the colonial aspect, which has been extensively dealt with in this debate. The Opposition have repeatedly laid stress upon the fact that there is a lot of trouble in Africa at present. How could it be otherwise when it is such a vast continent, the youngest in development, with the various communi- 477 ties all in the early stages of evolution? From time to time there is bound to be trouble.
It is always difficult, when trying to help communities to evolve and grow, to say exactly when a particular rung of the ladder has been reached. Inevitably, some people will say that it should be reached a little earlier and others a little later. I do not quarrel with the fact that we in this House have an unsleeping consciousness about all the things that are done in Africa. We have an immense responsibility there. It is not a bad thing to have an unsleeping eye, watching all the time what is happening.
We must remember that we substituted in Africa our own responsibility, and that that took the place of almost daily practices of things besides which Mau Mau is nothing at all. Bloody practices and wars were going on habitually between the tribes. We have established a framework of law and order within which real development can take place.
Besides this Parliamentary watchfulness we can indeed, be grateful for the fact that at present we have a Colonial Secretary who is proving not only wise, but strong. He comes in, I know, for a lot of attack from hon. Members opposite, and I can perhaps illustrate the situation by quoting the old French proverb: "cet animal est méchant, il se defend". If I may extend what the Prime Minister said on one occasion, for the benefit of any old Etonians or any old Harrovians, that, translated, means "This animal is wicked, he defends himself."
§ Captain Pilkington
My right hon. Friend has, in fact, shown how well he can defend himself.
We have a duty in Africa which is best described by the word "trusteeship" and when criticism gets too strong I would commend some lines written in the last century:Pray God our greatness may not failThro' craven fears of being great.We have no reason to be ashamed of what we have already done in Africa. At one time or another we have been responsible for the whole of Africa on one side from the north to the south, and in that vast area we have set up an independent Egypt, we have freed Abysinnia and we have set up the Union in the 478 South. It is the seething masses of people within those three points which we are now trying to help.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman think that, when we have been such great beneficiaries to Africa, it is a little odd that suddenly, in the last two years, we should get votes of no confidence in the Sudan, in Kenya and in Nyasaland?
§ Captain Pilkington
I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to re-read my speech tomorrow. I fully answered that criticism and I shall not spend any more time on it now.
I conclude by saying that I wish that party politics could have been kept out of this debate, and that I believe that the country as a whole is unitedly behind my right hon. Friend in his handling of our affairs.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
In the short time at my disposal I do not wish to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Poole (Captain Pilkington), except to say that in his reference to imperialism he seemed to me to get lost. However, I venture to point out that when we speak of liquidation we mean that we desire something to disappear, and in fact imperialism has disappeared in Burma, in Ceylon, in Pakistan and in India, and I understand that the Conservative Party acquiesced in that fact. So the idea of the liquidation of what was originally the largest portion of the British Empire is an accomplished fact. In its place we have a Commonwealth, a much superior conception, and it is for that purpose we on this side of the House are working in regard to our Colonies, and I understand that the Colonial Secretary is working as well.
§ Captain Pilkington
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but does he not see that the use of the word "liquidation" by the Egyptians has a completely different connotation from the one he is seeking to impose on it?
§ Mr. Sorensen
I am giving the right connotation. I am pointing out that it is a part of our discussion because the Colonial Secretary, in his quite effective speech this afternoon, made it clear that he and his party were pledged to economic progress and to political advance. The logical consummation of that is un- 479 doubtedly that ultimately present colonial peoples will attain the same status as has been attained by the other nations I have named. To that extent, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is anticipating and preparing for a day when there will no longer be 80 million subject peoples, when they will be free citizens of free countries, able themselves to decide whether to remain, as I hope they will, in association with other partners of the Commonwealth or to go outside.
I mention that because it is encouraging to find the implicit assurance given today by the Colonial Secretary that this is his purpose. I welcome his plea and that of other hon. Members, including that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that we should try to make this a non-partisan question. Certainly, if we can give the assurance to colonial peoples everywhere that the goal is complete freedom, and that it has the endorsement of all parties in this country, that is likely to be much more effective than if we leave them with the impression that they have only one or possibly two parties on their side.
So I am delighted that we have had this assurance, and that I shall be able to say to my colonial friends that, however they may criticise one or other of the parties in regard to speed or method, they can be sure that all parties are now agreed that the ultimate goal is entire emancipation from any kind of imperial domination, and that this will carry with it their right, when they attain that status, to please themselves whether they shall remain inside or go outside the Commonwealth.
But if we intend to make any qualification, that will make nonsense of our assertion. It is only when it is quite clear that freedom means the right to disagree with others and to take any course that it has any meaning. We have only to go to any Indian or Pakistani or Burman or Ceylonese—
§ Mr. Sorensen
It is not Singalese, it is Ceylonese—and ask whether they belong to the British Empire and they will repudiate emphatically any such idea.
Although great advance has been made at the present time as compared with the 480 past, there are still those who hanker after the bad old days and still think that, although we must be philanthropic and benevolent in a patronising way, we must so do it with only that amount of speed and method which will enable many of the colonial areas to be under our direction and, if necessary, under our command.
We have to give up that assumption entirely. Although I do not want to labour the point, undoubtedly one of the fears that is affecting many parts of the Colonies today is the fear that what has happened in Central Africa will spread elsewhere. I am not saying that they are right or wrong. I am trying to be objective. I fully recognise that hon. Members on both sides of the House believe in the principle of Central African federation. I will go further and say that in principle I think federation is an excellent idea. For instance, I want to see the federation of the Caribbean Colonies. One day I should like to see a federation of East and West Africa, not only of the British Colonies but of other Colonies as well that are not under our immediate control.
However, it is one thing to recognise the value of federation, whether for colonial or other peoples, and quite another thing altogether to say, "Because we decide this is good, although we may listen to what you have to say, in the last resort we shall brush your alleged prejudices entirely to one side." That is where the damage has been done. Let us admit completely that Central African federation has its economic and political merits. Of course we have considered the case.
We know that my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) discussed the principle of federation with others at Victoria Falls some years ago but it is unfair for the right hon. Gentleman to make out that we are responsible for the rest of the business. All we did was to say, "Here is an idea, in itself good. Let us confer together to see how far we can implement it." But it was made plain from the beginning that however detrimental it might seem to the Africans themselves, however foolish they might be, however prejudiced they might be, in the last resort we would see to it that we did not impose upon them that which we may have thought intrinsically good.
481 I can understand many hon. Members of this House feeling impatient at this attitude and saying that because it is intrinsically sound and good we should impose it and brush to one side all fears and prejudices; in fact, there are some of my own colleagues who take that point of view. I think they are wrong and we are now seeing the consequences of trying to impose what may be an inherently good principle. We are seeing its effects on Nyasaland, a relatively peaceful Protectorate, to which I shall refer briefly in a few minutes. We see how this effect has spread out into Uganda. We have heard the Colonial Secretary say more than once in this House that he has tried to dispose of the unfortunate effect of his after-dinner speech, when he referred to the possibility of an East African federation, and that the Kabaka had been thoroughly satisfied.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock
With respect, is it not the case with regard to Central African federation that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said that African opinion would be consulted, but it was never a point that if the Africans did not agree with it, it would not go through.
§ Mr. Sorensen
I remember the word "consult" was used. I made some inquiries on the subject and I believe spoke in the House to emphasise that we must not interpret "consult" as merely getting their opinion, but must also look upon it as meaning that there must be agreement. I was very glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly and my party made it clear that "consult" would be interpreted not in that narrow, constricted, negative form but in the sense of agreement. Our actions have proved that point.
I appreciate the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that on the point to which I referred the Kabaka was thoroughly satisfied. But that is not really the basic point. The basic point is that the damage had been done. The Kabaka may have been satisfied, but the psychological momentum of the statement had already done its work. If one talks to anyone from Buganda or Uganda one finds that that is so, and the right hon. Gentleman must know it to be so. Perhaps he now realises that it was a very unfortunate reference to make. Even if he thought it, he should not have said 482 it, although with his characteristic courage he might have done so for that reason. At all events, the damage had been done, and there is a genuine fear on the part of Colonials, not only in Uganda but elsewhere, that it is merely a question of time before we attempt to do elsewhere what we have done in Central Africa.
That makes clear how necessary it is when dealing with the awakening of colonial and African peoples that we should not fall back on merely constitutional defence or merely doing legalistically the correct thing. We must do far more than that. We must get under the surface to find out the emotional and moral significance of the disturbances which are taking place. If we look beneath the vehemence of many colonial peoples we shall find that they are clumsily or crudely striving to emphasise the significance of status. That is why I do not agree with some of my hon. Friends who suggest that the trouble in Kenya is merely over the wretched social conditions which exist there. Those conditions are a most important factor, but another factor is undoubtedly the sense of the significance of the individual. Maybe at first it is more or less unconscious imitation of the significance attached to a personality when it has a white skin, but it is there all the same.
Attempts are sometimes made to suggest that all the troubles in certain Colonies are due to agitators. That is not true. I grant that it is partly true, but why should we be ashamed of agitation? Any hon. Member who speaks in this House is agitating, sometimes more visibly than others. Every person with creative ideas who speaks on behalf of the unvocal and the bewildered is an agitator. We owe a great debt to-such agitators. We owe a great debt to the British agitators who were the first to cry out on behalf of the dumb millions.
That is why I say that, if we could have a little more perception, imagination and human generosity, we should get behind the extravagant expressions of bewilderment and resentment which are made. We should not, of course, condone or support violence, because violence at all times defeats the end towards which it is directed, and we 483 should appreciate that violence itself is often a by-product of arrogance. In the last resort, arrogance, pride and contempt, even though they are less obvious and cogent, may be just as vicious as violence, even though they may not have the same active expression.
I want to apply this more precisely to an aspect which has not been touched upon except in passing, and that is the issue of Nyasaland. Nyasaland was a relatively quiet country. There were disturbances from time to time, but the work of the missionaries had a very great tranquillising effect. Any who have spoken to the indigenous Christians there—however simple their faith may be, it is a very real one—know that they feel a deep sense of indebtedness to the early Christian missionaries and to the missionaries who are there now. It is most unfortunate that as recently as last September disturbances in Nyasaland were attributed to the Nyasaland Congress and to agitators emanating from that body. That is shallow and misleading. We should look beneath the surface, for then we should know that one of the reasons there have been disturbances in Nyasaland is the admittedly difficult and complex question of the land.
In the Shire Highlands about 500 white people own about 1 million acres of land—which they are farming well—on which some 200,000 Africans are working. However, on the other hand, about 500,000 Africans are working on 1½million acres of land. I am not saying that there may not be some justification for the disparity in the division of the land, but I know that the reasons for the disturbances in Nyasaland in relation to the Shire Highlands have been land hunger, the feeling that the land now being used by the 500 white settlers does not really belong to them and that, although they have rights of occupation, they have no rights of ownership, and also the feeling—I do not say that it is a necessarily justifiable feeling—that the Africans have not been able to get a square deal.
The disturbances which have arisen have been aggravated by the emotional backwash of what has happened in Central Africa. The Africans feel, rightly or wrongly, that their Protectorate will be swamped by the domination of a minority 484 of whites in Nyasaland. It is no good saying that the Africans are foolish and that we will not treat with them, or that we know what is good for them and that their prejudice must be overborne. We have to understand the deeper reasons agitating those people in Nyasaland, and, indeed, elsewhere.
To return to the subject of the land, it must be something very serious to cause disturbances which have led to the death of 11 Africans in Nyasaland in the last few months. I want to know why a more positive attempt has not been made to deal with the question. There was an inquiry and we have had its report, but it touches only the beginning of the disturbances. I have read the report from beginning to end, but I could find no reference at all to the later events which caused the death of 11 people.
Here is an opportunity for the Colonial Secretary to show that he is consistent in what he professes. He should send out to Nyasaland an impartial judicial inquiry to investigate not merely the circumstances leading to the death of the 11, but also the whole question of land tenure, for this would create practical confidence, to the material benefit of the Africans, as well as, one hopes, to their political satisfaction.
Let us also remember that nearby there is another area which is also disturbed. I do not propose to go into the merits or demerits of the exile of Seretse and Tshekedi Khama, though I did what I could at the time to bring them together and to achieve a peaceful solution. What I do ask now is whether, in these days when some imaginative action is required in order to counterbalance so much that is deleterious and dangerous, it would not be possible to inquire whether Seretse Khama is not prepared to go back to Bechuanaland as a private person? A good many people think it right that Seretse should return and might engage in ordinary civil pursuits, both professional and political, with skill and wisdom, but without reoccupying the chieftainship.
I have reason to believe that he will be prepared to go back, and, in these days of often unnecessary exile—because Seretse Khama's exile was unnecessary, just as I think the Kabaka's exile was unnecessary—it is a small step to take when considered against the great moral and psychological effect which we might bring 485 about. By reversing the process, not only by inviting the Kabaka to go back, but also Seretse Khama and any other such representatives of their people, we might give some sign that we do appreciate that the feelings, no matter how unfounded we think they may be, which Africans have are genuine feelings which we wish to treat with respect.
I close by saying that the picture is not all black. It is quite true that, in Nigeria and the Gold Coast, there are promising signs, and what has been done in those countries I am sure can be done elsewhere. The peoples of Uganda, Kenya and Central Africa include a tiny minority of whites, a large minority of browns and certainly a majority of blacks, if that is not an unfortunate description, but there is a difference in their status. The complex problem can be resolved only by promoting the essential and ultimate human equality of them all.
There is an African consciousness developing, just as, in this Continent of ours, although there is a vast difference between the Scandinavian and the Latin countries or between France and ourselves, there is a European consciousness. Because of that, I feel that, while we have on one side the great encouragement of what is taking place in the Gold Coast and Nigeria, we should give some sign to the whole of Africa of the policy we are striving to fulfil. There are many helpful factors in our favour, and it is up to the Colonial Secretary, who is responsible on behalf of the Government, to try to reverse a less helpful process, and, even if it means some slight loss of face, to put that on one side as of much less importance than the great contribution it will make towards recovering the confidence which we are in danger of losing.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Archer Baldwin (Leominster)
I agree with the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) when he says that the picture is not as black as it is sometimes painted. I think it is very unfortunate that so many speakers in this debate are speaking without more practical and up-to-date knowledge of the position in the Territories named than they seem to possess. It seems unfortunate to me that four hon. Members on the opposite benches who have recently been to Africa, who spent quite an amount of time in East and Central Africa and who have expressed their views outside this House 486 in no uncertain terms, have been kept out of this debate. [HON MEMBERS: "Which ones?"] It is unfortunate that they have not spoken, for they have seen things for themselves, and they could have made a useful contribution to the debate.
§ Mr. Sorensen
On a point of order. Is it not rather reflecting on the Chair to suggest that hon. Members have been kept out of the debate? Is it not also true that those hon. Members who have come back from Kenya in recent months have spoken many times in the House in the past few weeks?
Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)
The hon. Member's sentence may have many meanings, but I did not understand it to refer to the Chair at all.
§ Mr. Baldwin
I am not referring to the Chair at all. These four hon. Members were here for the early part of this debate, and one is forced to the conclusion that representations must have been made to them that they should not take part in it. [HON MEMBERS: "No."] Very well, that is my impression, right or wrong.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
On a point of order. I do not want to interfere in other people's squabbles, but when an hon. Member says that representations must have been made as a result of which certain persons have been kept out of the debate, can that be anything other than a reflection on the selection of speakers by the Chair?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member made no reference to whom the representations were made or by whom they are made.
§ Mr. Baldwin
I will proceed to something else. One can form one's own conclusions quite fairly when one knows the circumstances and what is going on. For those who are not politicians but who study the problem of Africa the question must arise why this debate was originated. They must wonder whether the debate will do good or ill to that great Continent of Africa which is in a state of transition. I think they could only come to the conclusion that the debate has been originated to make a personal and vicious attack upon my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
487 It is extremely unfortunate that that should have been done. If what has been said in this House had remained for the newspapers of this country, no harm might have been done. We have to remember that the statements that have been made in this House this afternoon will be broadcast throughout all the African papers and distorted to stir up some of the agitation which is in such a dangerous state at the present time. I do not suppose that my right hon. Friend will feel hurt. He has had so many of these attacks that he must be getting fairly immune. It will make no difference to his prestige with us on this side of the House. The unfortunate thing about these debates is that they encourage the extremists on both sides in Africa, whether white or black. It is unfortunate that our debates should have that effect.
I propose to see what substance there is in the allegations that have been made. After the very devastating reply which the Colonial Secretary made in the debate on Uganda, I should have thought it would have been sufficient to stop any further criticism of what he did there. All I can say is that, knowing the Governor, I cannot conceive that he would have made any other recommendations than he has done to the Colonial Secretary, who has accepted his advice. If the Colonial Secretary had done something with which Sir Andrew Cohen did not agree, I know Sir Andrew sufficiently well to be sure that he would not have retained his office for five minutes.
Now let me say something about Kenya. Very extreme things have been said about the settlers and the Europeans in Kenya. Those things were very ill-conceived. I recommend to hon. Gentlemen who want to find the views of the Kenya settlers to read a document which has been published by the European Elected Members' Organisation. It is a statement of policy by liberal-minded Europeans who realise that the future of Africa is bound up with black and white. One of the statements in this document is:To develop opportunities for all loyal subjects, irrespective of race, to advance in accordance with character and ability.Hon. Gentlemen opposite have often said that the African is not permitted to rise. I want them to remember another declaration in this document, which is: 488In the Public Service, technical posts or posts of executive grading of equal responsibility, should carry equal salaries for persons of equal qualifications and ability, irrespective of race.That is the sort of document that is being circulated at the present time. The liberal-minded people of Kenya know full well that there is no future for them or for the Africans unless they all work together.
Statements are made which may cause trouble between the two races. It is rather extraordinary that the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) should try to visit on my right hon. Friend all the troubles through which Kenya is going at the present time. There is no doubt that Mau Mau has been in existence under the surface for several years, and there is no doubt in my mind that the Colonial Office and those Ministers who have been visiting Kenya previous to the coming into office of the Conservative Party must have known that these disturbances were boiling up, and that was the time when steps should have been taken to prevent the disaster which has overtaken Kenya. I can only wish that my right hon. Friend had been Colonial Secretary some four or five years ago, in which case Kenya would still be the happy country it was before Mau Mau started.
Now a few words about Tanganyika. I suppose that my right hon. Friend will also be blamed for the position in that Territory, but let me remind the House that the future pattern of the Constitution set up by the Colonial Secretary in June, 1952, provided for the expansion of the Legislative Council and for equal representation in it of the three racial groups—Europeans, Africans and Asians. Would the Opposition condemn the action of my right hon. Friend in setting up that Constitution? Tanganyika is progressing under that Constitution.
I now propose to say a word or two about Central African federation, because there has been a great deal of misconception with regard to it. It has been quite rightly stated that federation was started by the Socialists, but they ran away from it. It has also been stated that the party opposite did not agree with the steps which we took when we came to office, because we did not first obtain the approval of the Africans. Would the party opposite have waited until they had received the full approval of people who did not know what was going on? They 489 knew full well that the opposition to Central African federation came from a few vocal extremists who were supplied with literature manufactured, very largely, in this country.
What has happened since federation took place? There has been great industrial expansion. Capital is flowing into these three Territories in order that production can be expanded, for without such expansion the African has no chance of rising from his present low standard of living.
I may be challenged when I say that the relationship between the native and the European populations has improved since federation. The hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) called attention to the troubles in Nyasaland and said that a tremendous amount of land in that Territory was occupied by Europeans, and that it should not be so occupied.
§ Mr. Baldwin
I am sorry if I misconstrued what the hon. Gentleman said, but he certainly made the point that a lot of land was owned by Europeans. In fact, only about 5 per cent. of the land of Nyasaland is occupied by Europeans.
A few weeks ago, the Governor of Nyasaland made a statement to the Legislative Council in which he said:It showed the good sense of the vast bulk of the African population of the Province that, once they realised that they had been misled by false propaganda, and that the Government was not prepared to tolerate the flouting of the laws, the people settled down to their normal lives with a feeling of relief, so that now conditions in the Southern Province are more settled than they had been for some years.When making statements about what has happened since federation has taken place, hon. Members opposite should realise that they are not being realistic. Federation has been beneficial, and will be even more so as time goes on.
§ Mr. Baldwin
I am not talking about East Africa; I am talking about Central Africa. All the Territories were attacked, but no Territory was more violently attacked than Southern Rhodesia. There was more misrepresentation about the position in that Territory than about any other part of Africa.
Let me quote from another speech made by Mr. Jacha, President of the 490 Southern Rhodesian African Farmers' Union. It may be interesting to hon. Members to know that there is such a thing in Southern Rhodesia, because statements have been made that the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia wanted to keep the black man in the ditch but, as one very prominent East African politician has said, a man cannot be kept in the ditch unless you get down beside him. At a meeting of the Southern Rhodesian African Farmers' Union—
§ Mr. Baldwin
I do not know whether it is like the National Farmers' Union or why the hon. Member saw fit to interrupt. The President said,This year will be remembered by posterity as a year of great events—event's which prove that the country is growing. In it we have celebrated the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, witnessed the opening of the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition by the Queen Mother, and the coming into being of the Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland.He further said:I urge you farmers to make your full contribution to the three states by becoming active citizens…but we cannot do it unless we follow the white men's footsteps of adopting new and good methods of farming.That was said by one of the poor, downtrodden farmers about whose conditions we hear such terrible stories; and it should be remembered that there are other unions in Rhodesia.
Federation was brought about during the short period in which the Colonial Secretary has been in office. When this Motion of censure has been defeated, I appeal to the House to return to colonial politics in a non-party atmosphere. During the five or six years when the Conservative Party were in opposition, they supported the colonial policy of the Socialist Party, and the first appeal which the present Colonial Secretary made to the House when he took office was:…however much there may from time to time be disagreement between us on details, all parties will be with me in agreeing on those ends."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th November, 1951; Vol. 493, c. 984.]He appealed to the House that, in dealing with colonial affairs, it should still keep them free from party politics, and I hope that those reasonable-minded men 491 of the party opposite who have had practical experience will make their voices heard in the party committees in order to see whether we cannot do that, and work for the good of the country as a whole. These debates do a great deal of harm to the whole of Africa.
§ Mr. H. Hynd rose—
§ Mr. Baldwin
If the interruption made previously is typical of what the hon. Member is going to say, I shall not give way.
I would recommend all hon. Members to read an article in this week's "The Economist" entitled "The Colonial Bogeyman." It might open their eyes and give them a little insight into something of which, at the present time, I am sorry to say, so many know so little.
I hope that the Opposition will agree to turn over a new leaf and endeavour to assist the Africans of all races to move forward. This is certainly one of the biggest problems with which this country has ever been faced, and it very largely depends on the attitude of this House towards Colonial affairs as to how Africa develops. There are great possibilities. The African himself realises that he has received great assistance from the white man, and that he must still have a great deal of assistance in the future. I hope that the House will not make it impossible for the white man to continue to assist the black man and to raise him to a higher standard of living.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Sir Frank Soskice (Sheffield, Neepsend)
We have just listened to a very remarkable speech, which I do not think carried the debate much further but, in some ways, re-echoed the speech that we heard from the Secretary of State this afternoon. They contained this common feature, which is difficult for many of us on this side of the House to interpret.
The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) and the Secretary of State adopted as one of their main contentions that there was something nefarious and contrary to the public spirit in our discussing this subject at all in this House. Does that really mean that the Opposition are faced with the dilemma that either they agree with the Government, in which 492 case they are acting in the public interest, or they must keep their mouths shut and not discuss the Colonies at all? That seems to fee the logical conclusion of what, so far as I could apprehend, was the burden of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks this afternoon.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) made a reasoned case, putting forward the view which we on this side of the House earnestly hold, that the Colonial Secretary is a disability to the country. Mediocre though the performance of his colleagues is, his is far worse. He asked almost plaintively for credit for the few achievements which he has to his name, which we readily concede, but our case is that if we weigh the advantages and the disadvantages which have accrued from the right hon. Gentleman's administration, he appears as a serious and grievous encumbrance, and the debit balance heavily outweighs the credit.
Therefore, we put down this Motion criticising the right hon. Gentleman's administration because it is our considered view that the sooner he goes from the office which he at present holds the better for the destinies of Africa and for the future relationships of Africans with this country.
§ Sir F. Soskice
The first thing that we noticed about the right hon. Gentleman's speech, after the effect of his protest about our discussing the matter at all had evaporated, was that he did not proceed to answer one single point that my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly had made against him. Therefore, it seems to me that, in the hope that whoever is to reply to the debate, will do better than the Secretary of State, I must recapitulate the arguments and give him a chance to make a defence on behalf of his right hon. Friend, if there is a defence to be made.
The case we make against the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues in the Government in relation to their administration of African affairs is this. We think that the right hon. Gentleman has repeatedly, throughout the two years that have elapsed, shown that he is completely insensitive to African opinion. He has, 493 by action after action, increased the distrust which Africans now feel for the Government of this country and are beginning to feel for the white races as a whole. No greater catastrophe for the future of mankind can be conceived than that the black races should be aligned against the white races.
I see that the right hon. Gentleman has now entered the Chamber. I think I heard his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government say that I had been rather offensive so far. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will agree that I am being wholly just to him. I was saying that he was a very grievous encumbrance.
May I take up my argument from the point that I had reached when the Secretary of State came into the House? I was saying that the case we had against him, which he had made no endeavour whatsoever to answer, was that he had shown by action after action during the two years of his administration that he was utterly unaware of African opinion and incapable of looking at matters from the point of view of the African. We say that the consequences of that disability and inability on the part of the right hon. Gentleman are that there is a growing distrust on the part of the Africans, and that relationships in the future will be grievously prejudiced if the right hon. Gentleman continues in his present office.
If the right hon. Gentleman will listen, I shall develop the case against him. When answering my right hon. Friend he entertained us with a great deal of information which we already knew very well. He said that there were a number of ethnological differences in Africa; that it was a very large continent, and that a number of Africans had not seen an aeroplane until comparatively recently. That really does not answer the main case against him, which is that he has shown himself completely unequal to the task that faces him.
What is that task? He told us, as we know, that Africa is in a state of transition; that the Africans are groping after new concepts of democracy, liberty and self-government, and that it is the aim of Governments of this country to help them towards the gradual attainment of a greater and greater measure of self-government within the Commonwealth. So far, we are agreed, but what we say 494 about the right hon. Gentleman is that the progress towards the attainment of that end, which had marked the years of Labour Administration, was brought to an abrupt halt when the present Conservative Government came into office.
I want to look back and take, point by point, the arguments which my righthon. Friend used against the Secretary of State. He began his administration by what we regarded, and still regard, as a crucial fault, by imposing Central African federation upon an unwilling African population. That is his fundamental fault. He very much objected to our pointing that out. It was unpatriotic on our part, according to him, to argue that point throughout the debates which took place on Central African federation, just as it is unpatriotic today for us to raise the question of his own administration. That is a matter on which, however persuasively he puts his argument forward, we shall never be able to agree.
During the course of the debates on Central African federation we pointed to organisations, spokesmen, every representative of African opinion in the three African territories, trade unions, the African Council and the Council of Nyasaland—Councils which the right hon. Gentleman himself said were representative of African opinion—and we quoted their utterances, saying that they were firmly and irrevocably opposed to the imposition of Central African federation. The right hon. Gentleman, nevertheless, persisted in going forward with his plan.
§ Sir F. Soskice
I am much obliged—our plan, originally elaborated as a result of the initiative of my right hon. Friend, replete with adequate safeguards to protect African interests. When the Colonial Secretary's plan came out, emasculated as the result of the consideration of successive conferences since this Government came into office—at many of which the Africans were not represented—it was to a large extent bereft of those safeguards and, because it was so bereft, the Africans refused to have it imposed upon them.
The Secretary of State should have considered the fact—and we say that this was a serious fault upon his part—that he was imposing this scheme upon 495 Africans in the face of what was going on in South Africa. We have no complaint that he is in any way responsible for Dr. Malan, and I have no doubt that he and his right hon. Friends dislike the poisonous reactionary policy of Dr. Malan as much as we do. [HON MEMBERS: "Do they?"] Some of my hon. hon. Friends ask, "Do they?" That is a matter, perhaps, of opinion. I do not credit them with liking Dr. Malan's policy. What, however, the Secretary of State should have done, in our view at any rate, was as a first consideration to say to himself, "The Malan policy of apartheid is gradually broadening. It is gradually being unfolded in front of African eyes." He should have taken note of the fact that the immigration of white settlers was larger in volume that any other white immigration.
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. He says that that, at least, is true. If the right hon. Gentleman did take that into account and if he considered that every organ of African opinion was consistently against the imposition of Central African federation it seems to us on this side of the House difficult to see how he could have brought himself to go on with the emasculated scheme as it was when he imposed it upon the Africans.
We think that that was the root of the evil inherent in the present administration. It was interesting today, if somewhat depressing, to hear the right hon. Gentleman, although he himself had described some of these African organisations as fully representative of African opinion, still saying that the volume of opposition to which we pointed was simply—I think he used this expression—the idleprattling or idle clamour of a few interested parties. That is what he said, entirely in conflict with what he himself said when we were discussing Central African federation at an earlier stage of its history. That is the view he still takes.
I point to it because it seems to us to be significant of the profound shortcomings of the right hon. Gentleman to fit into the office he at present holds, which have caused distrust amongst Africans, and sowed suspicion among the three Territories in Central Africa as to 496 the future intentions of British Governments as a whole and particularly, of course, Conservative Governments. In that way, he did a great deal to exasperate the feeling among Africans as a whole and to do precisely what my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly described—create a situation of an inflammatory and dangerous character which could easily have been avoided had it not been for the right hon. Gentleman's persistent obstinacy in going on with this scheme.
It is really no answer for the right hon. Gentleman to say, as he does—and it is really the only excuse that he makes for himself in continuing with this scheme—that it was originally our scheme. Certainly, it was originally our scheme, but in an entirely different form, in a form in which it might well have been acceptable to Africans; but it became completely unacceptable to them when it had suffered the various changes that it did suffer when it passed through the various conferences at which it was considered.
What has happened since? We have all noticed in the Press, and we rejoice in the fact, that the Confederate Party has so far gained no seats. Everybody rejoices about that, but will the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. and right hon. Friends consider how the scene must appear to Africans at this moment? This is the appeal that my right hon. Friend made to the right hon. Gentleman earlier today. We on this side are not altogether completely reassured about many of Sir Godfrey Huggins's and Sir Roy Welensky's utterances particularly that one attributed to Sir Roy Welensky in the extract from "The Times" that my right hon. Friend read out today, but their party has now swept the board.
At present, the Confederate Party has no seats. However, Africans must see, and must have seen, during this election, that of the two parties contesting over their destinies one is the party of Sir Roy Welensky, with the views to which I referred a moment or so ago, and the other is the Confederate Party, with a policy and doctrine of apartheid of which Dr. Malan might well be proud.
At the outset, Hitler had no support; at the end, he carried everything before him. It may well be that the Confederates now have no influence, but who knows what is to happen in the future? At any rate, they are the only other party 497 organisation in the field worth mentioning. The elections take place upon a suffrage against the form of which we repeatedly protested during the course of those debates and which virtually—virtually, not wholly, but because of the various qualifications inherent in it—virtually excludes Africans from participating in the vote. These two parties, therefore, contest over the destinies of Africans and are elected upon a suffrage in which, broadly speaking, Africans do not participate.
When the Measure which introduced federation was being discussed, we begged the right hon. Gentleman to write into the Bill some safeguard at least in the matter of suffrage. He refused, if I remember correctly, on the wholly technical grounds that it was impossible at that stage, the Committee stage, to alter the Bill. Not only did he refuse, but recently, as my right hon. Friend has pointed out, he has gone further still and has capitulated to white opinion, in promising that in Northern Rhodesia, for a period of what, in effect, will be at least five years, there should be no electoral change. My right hon. Friend cited the satisfaction with which Sir Roy Welensky, on learning of that, concluded that there would be what he regarded as no reckless experiment in the next five years and then it would be virtually too late.
We on this side of the House regard that as a complete reversal of what had been hoped for at the very outset of the scheme. Here are the Africans under the domination of this Federal Government elected with little chance of there being a change in the electoral structure, or of the suffrage upon which the election is based, and with these two parties being the only two parties in the field. What must Africans think of that? I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether that is a situation which even he contemplates with any degree of equanimity.
I for my part, and I think my right hon. and hon. Friends agree, see in that a situation fraught with great danger for the future, and we regard the Secretary of State as being directly responsible for having disregarded our warnings, repeatedly uttered during the course of the consideration of this scheme. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman laughs, but he has been responsible for 498 the administration in Africa for the last two years.
So much for the situation in Central Africa. The right hon. Gentleman has asked for some credit for his achievement, such as it is, in Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Tanganyika. I will willingly concede him all the credit to which he can claim to be entitled. But if we look away from Central Africa, where African opinion, not unnaturally, is exasperated with the right hon. Gentleman—
§ Sir F. Soskice
—exasperated and rightly suspicious, where can the right hon. Gentleman take comfort in the African scene? We have the Gold Coast and Gambia and Sierra Leone. [HON MEMBERS: "What about Kenya?"] Well, what about Kenya? I left out Nigeria because there was that little indiscretion on the right hon. Gentleman's part which by itself would perhaps not have been significant but which, added to and herded together with a whole lot of others, some of which I shall mention in a moment, leads to the conclusion that he is quite unsuitable for the office which he holds. I gather that the right hon. Gentleman says, "Hear, hear."
May I say a few words about Kenya? The right hon. Gentleman was robust in his defence today, but he did not answer the points made against him and I will repeat them now. I do not say that he can be saddled with the blame of the beginning of the Mau Mau troubles, but what I do say is that his policy has been completely inadequate to deal with that menace which has broken out and which at present threatens the life of Kenya. I will say why. There has been a war on a considerable scale, involving a large number of British troops, for something like 12 months, which shows no signs of ceasing. Certainly, in its origin, its causes are economic, social, racial, and so on, but does the right hon. Gentleman, if he will use his imagination on the matter, really think that the bitterness which quite obviously lies behind the Mau Mau rising and which keeps it in existence is wholly divorced from the suspicion and hatred for which his own policy has been responsible?
It is, I know, difficult to measure the precise causes and strength of feelings among large numbers of persons, but 499 what it is not difficult to do, and what it is obviously and always has been the imperative duty of the right hon. Gentleman to do, is not simply to stand aside and be completely negative and supine in the face of this disastrous menace. As my right hon. Friend pointed out, what he should have done and should be doing now, and throughout the 12 months which have elapsed since the fighting was begun, was to take every possible step to try to mobilise anti-Mau Mau African opinion, to get it on the side of the forces of law and order, to bring into being and help into strength some alternative political organisation which could harness the African people, and guide it so as to stand as the ally of the forces of law and order in trying to bring the Mau Mau terrorist activity to an end.
That was the point which my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly made against the right hon. Gentleman. I would ask him, and ask his right hon. Friend in making the final reply to this debate, to say on his behalf, because he had not said yet in answer to my right hon. Friend, what single step he has taken. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give us an answer about that.
It was pointed out when the Advisory Committee was formed by the Governor that there was no African representative upon it. It was urged upon the right hon. Gentleman that he should include such representatives. We were met, when we made the suggestion, by the usual categorical refusal without any reason being given at all. He simply said that he proposed not to do it. Therefore, Africans were excluded from that. He has made no endeavour to try to enlist, or if he has perhaps his right hon. Friend will tell us, the services of representative anti-Mau Mau leaders in Kenya to fight against the Mau Mau terror and to try to build up constructively African opinion on the lines which my right hon. Friend has urged upon the Colonial Secretary.
The right hon. Gentleman, this afternoon, just dismissed my right hon. Friend's accusations and charges against him as mere trumpery things. Does he really say, and do his hon. Friends say with him, that it is merely trumpery to have done nothing in the direction of trying constructively to build up some- 500 thing like an active organised African opinion among the Africans in Kenya? On our side of the House that certainly seems to us to be a grave shortcoming on the part of the right hon. Gentleman.
I want to point to what I regard as a very serious shortcoming in another respect. I think that all hon. and right hon. Members in this House must be agreed upon this. The Secretary of State, I am sure, is himself agreed upon it. There is serious disquiet among public opinion in this country and, no doubt, in other countries about many of the things which, rightly or wrongly, are reported as taking place in Kenya today. The right hon. Gentleman said this afternoon that there were at the outset certain excesses which had been dealt with by disciplinary methods. Can he tells us, because my hon. Friends and I are not aware of it, of any single case in which serious punishment has been visited upon those responsible for the excesses? Jealousy for the honour of British troops in Kenya is certainly no monopoly of the right hon. Gentleman or of Members opposite, and we on this side of the House share that feeling with the right hon. Gentleman as keenly as he himself has it.
It is a shocking indictment of the right hon. Gentleman's administration in Kenya that it should have taken the Griffiths trial and the allegations made in the course of that trial to have prodded the Government into sending out, for the first time, an inquiry into these excesses which are commonly reputed to have taken place. [Interruption.] If it is not the first time, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply to the debate will tell us. The Secretary of State for the Colonies was asked whether the inquiry was to be limited only to military episodes and whether he would not also extend a similar inquiry into possible excesses committed either by the police or by civilians.
I lived a year and a half in Kenya and I have a high regard for the settlers, many of whom I know. Nevertheless, it is always the case that the many are from time to time let down by the few; and there are undoubtedly thugs there who are trigger-happy and who are capable of excesses which are wrongly imputed to other people. It was the bounden duty of the right hon. Gentleman, at an early 501 stage, to foresee that that kind of thing might be possible, and not to wait until the revelations in the Griffiths case were known.
§ Sir F. Soskice
All I can say is that I am not aware of it. If I prove to be wrong, I shall be grateful to be corrected.
I hope that the Secretary of State for the Colonies has carefully studied the facts and will be able to correct me upon them if I have gone wrong, but so far as I and, I believe, my hon. Friends are concerned, the first real attempt to inquire into these excesses has sprung out of the revelations in the Griffiths case. I should have thought that if he had closed his eyes and ears and had not even looked at the Press, the right hon. Gentleman must have realised that there might be dangers of that sort of excess as the result of the bitterness and anger and fighting arising out of the Mau Mau outrages.
And yet the right hon. Gentleman, in those two vital respects to which we have pointed—building up some alternative African leadership to supply the vacuum left by the African Congress, and so on, and also in taking early steps to nail down the rumours if they are untrue and to present all these things in their true light before a troubled English and European opinion—has been completely deficient. He has done neither the one nor the other. The gravamen of our charge is not so much what he has done—perhaps his administration has a cold mechanical efficiency—but what he has left undone in those two crucial spheres of activity. He said that it was his duty to preserve law and order, and so it is. So is it the duty of every policeman, but from the Secretary of State for the Colonies we are entitled to expect more, and the right hon. Gentleman has been failing in these two very important respects to which we have pointed.
I turn now from Kenya to Uganda. The right hon. Gentleman, I feel sure, will know what is coming now. It is only because he is so completely insensitive to African opinion and so completely remote from it with not the faintest imagination to help him to enter into the African mind, that it was possible for him to make the disastrously infelicitous speech which 502 he made on 30th June at the East Africa Club. [An Hon. Member: "Was it a happy speech?"]One of my hon. Friends asks whether it was a happy speech. It was certainly a happy speech.
We can forgive a Minister who, in the course of a public utterance, uses incautious language, such as the Prime Minister's famous Gestapo speech, but for the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with the knowledge of what happened in Central Africa, to have made this grossly incautious speech in the circumstances in which he made it, is, in our thinking at any rate, completely unforgiveable and indicative of a complete lack of that sensitiveness of imagination which must go with anybody who holds his office with any success.
The right hon. Gentleman said this afternoon that the speech on Federation had nothing to do with the crisis. When I first read that he had said that in a speech he made on 2nd December I thought that was perhaps another occasion on which he used incautious language, but since I have heard him repeat it today I think one has to put a more sinister interpretation upon it. Will his right hon. Friend tell the House if he thinks that that speech was not the direct cause of the crisis which led to the summary deposition of the Kabaka of Buganda, the 37th ruler in his hereditary line, why it was that, on his own showing, immediately after he had made this speech and after it had been blazoned in the Press of East Africa, to use his own language in the House of Commons on 2nd December, he realisedin the middle of August…that a crisis might develop in Uganda"?—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd December, 1953; Vol. 521, c. 1249.]If he thought that his speech had nothing to do with the bringing about of that crisis, why was one of his very first actions to send to the Kabaka of Buganda an intended reassurance in terms denying that Her Majesty's Government had any intention of imposing federation on an unwilling opinion in Buganda?
I should like to trespass for a few moments on the time of the House to refer to some of the words which were contained in the reassurance, because they are enlightening as showing the state of mind of the right hon. Gentleman. Having made this disastrous speech and 503 the crisis having arisen, this is what he said in his assurance:Her Majesty's Government have no intention whatsoever of raising the issue of East African Federation either at the present time or while local public opinion on this issue remains as it is at the present time. Her Majesty's Government fully recognise that public opinion in the Protectorate generally and in Buganda in particular, including the opinion of the Great Lukiko, would be opposed to the inclusion of the Uganda Protectorate in any such federation; Her Majesty's Government have no intention whatsoever of disregarding this opinion either now or at any time, and recognises accordingly that the inclusion of the Uganda Protectorate in any such federation is outside the realm of practical politics at the present time or while local government opinion remains as it is at the present time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd December, 1953; Vol. 521, c. 1251.]Those were the words of the right hon. Gentleman. If he really thinks that it was not his speech which brought about the crisis, why was it necessary to give that assurance? Does he still persist in that assertion? If he does, he is flying right in the face of his own language.
§ Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester) rose—
§ Sir F. Soskice
I am sorry, but I want to give the right hon. Gentleman plenty of opportunity for answering various questions that I have put to him.
I would also point out to the Secretary of State for the Colonies that although he asserts here that he would not impose federation on an unwilling Uganda opinion, he stands convicted before African opinion at large of having done precisely the same thing in Central Africa, and if it was wrong to do it in Uganda, why was it right to do it in Central Africa? Can he or his right hon. Friend answer that question?
We are pleased to see from an announcement by the deputation of the great Lukiko which called upon the right hon. Gentleman that apparently a settlement either has been arrived at or is about to be arrived at. Whether it will be possible in view of the language, which also seemed rather incautious to us, used by the Minister of State, apparently under the tutelage of the Secretary of State, when he said that the question of the Kabaka returning to Buganda could now 504 be discounted—he was so eager to say it that he even talked the debate out; but whether it is still possible for him to withdraw the language and for the Kabaka to go back and the entire issue to be settled, I do not know; we can only hope that it will be.
I would also point out, as a symptom of the right hon. Gentleman's handling of these matters, that the one thing which seems to have satisfied the delegation is the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he regards Uganda primarily in the future as an African State, but he did not give that reason in the course of the debate until it was dragged out of him by pure accident in the course of an intervention he made when my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) was speaking. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman might have made that one of the main arguments of the answer he gave to the House of Commons.
What he did say in the course of that debate, and which was self-revelationary, was that he had apparently offended the Kabaka and the great Lukiko by the language he had used, which he still thought very vague. As Secretary of State, does the right hon. Gentleman really think that his language, vague though it may have appeared to him, was not fully pregnant of meaning in the ears and before the eyes of all Africans who either heard it or read it? If he did not realise that, and if he were guilty of such grave indiscretion as to use that kind of language, we feel doubly convinced that we have taken the right, indeed, the necessary course in putting down this Motion in the hope that the right hon. Gentleman may in due course be removed from his present office.
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies will realise that this Motion is not put down from any sense of hostility towards him personally. [An Hon. Member: "Deep affection."] On the contrary, my hon. and right hon. Friends view with the greatest sympathy and good will the struggles of a man with a task which is hopelessly beyond his powers. Indeed, we feel pity for the right hon. Gentleman when he tries desperately to draw upon an understanding which he does not possess. In some areas of governmental 505 activity his undoubtedly great talents, which we all recognise, and his undoubted courage, which we equally recognise, may be useful. There are in this country Departments in which, for a time, we can afford to see Ministers of second-class. But the right hon. Gentleman's Department is not one of those Departments.
I conclude by saying that unless the Minister of Housing and Local Government, who is to reply on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, gives an answer which the Secretary of State did not give in his speech, it is apparent that the public interest demands—as it has long demanded—that the Secretary of State should speedily depart from his present appointment.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice) began his speech with a form of argument which is very common and which, I am afraid, has brought his great profession under some suspicion among laymen. He used the old trick of putting up an argument which had not been used and then knocking it down.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that this side of the House objected to a discussion on colonial affairs and that our view was that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite must either agree or remain silent. That is a pettifogging argument. We said nothing of the kind. There are many occasions for discussion of colonial affairs. There have been a good many lately. There are Supply Days and Adjournment debates. What we said was that we regretted that a Motion of censure had been put down on these matters. That is not the argument which the right hon. and learned Gentleman said we had used, and he knows it. He used a thoroughly dishonest argument, and he knows that, too.
In the course of some 30 years I have heard a good many Motions of censure debated in this House, ranging over a great many subjects, but I do not recall one which was so feebly launched or so decisively repulsed. It was only after long hesitation and, I suppose, a great number of internal conflicts—I thought there was rather a cri de coeur when the right hon. and learned Gentleman said 506 that there were always some bad elements in every party—that the final decision was taken to place the Motion on the Order Paper, and that concluded—I must ask hon. Members to take their minds back to it—one of the must curious, not to say droll, episodes in our Parliamentary history.
Hon. Members will recall the series of decisions. First, the Motion was on, and, by the normal courtesies, the Government Whips were informed that a Motion of censure was down. At the same time—[Interruption.]—hon. Gentlemen opposite may well listen to this—the challenge was proclaimed to the Press and the news agencies, and the readers of the tape machines and the listeners to the broadcasts were told that the Opposition had decided, after full deliberation, to move a Motion of censure on my right hon. Friend which would be pressed with vigour and determination.
To our amazement, a little later on that same evening we were told that the Motion was off, and that it was not to be put down after all. The Motion was not actually withdrawn. That is true. Taking advantage of the technicality that the actual text, though it had been given to the Press, had not been put in at the Table, hon. Gentlemen opposite were able to argue that the Motion had never really existed. But this was only for a few hours. The next official intimation from the party opposite was that the Motion was on again. Three hours later it was off again.
The Opposition leaders seem to treat Motions of censure rather like those items on the bill of fare of various clubs and restaurants, including, I am sorry to say, sometimes, our own Dining Room in the House of Commons. The best dishes are on and they are off; they are on again, and then they are off again. What may be excusable in these spheres is really quite unworthy of the tradition of the House of Commons.
From one point of view, of course, we on this side of the House, and especially the intimate colleagues of my right hon. Friend, welcome this debate. We feel that it is due to him and to the great services he has given and is giving to the Colonial Empire that he should receive a vote of confidence from the House of Commons. Indeed, at one point in these 507 extraordinary vacillations, we did consider ourselves placing a Motion of confidence upon the Order Paper. [HON MEMBERS: "Why did you not do it?"] Because it changed every three hours, and we did not know whether it was on or off. We were only restrained from doing so by one consideration. We did not wish by any act of ours to make manifest to the Colonial Empire itself and to the world in general the breakdown—we hoped only a temporary one—in what hitherto had been by long tradition a generally bipartisan colonial policy.
We now have the opportunity of giving a decisive vote tonight, and everybody, including the right hon. Gentleman opposite—for all his extraordinary technique and versatility—knows that, in his own party, there are many people who wish this Motion had not been put down. There are some who are not going to vote for it, and I make him that bet. There are some who are not entirely happy about the handling of these matters by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths).
There would be a great sense of relief if, even now, after the most, I will not say violent, because he is incapable of violence, but waspish speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Neepsend, who can sting a little, but it does not mean much, because he smiles while he stings, and he is not capable of serious damage to my right hon. Friend—there would still be a sense of relief if, at this late hour, we decided to agree upon words—[HON MEMBERS: "Talk it out."] No, we shall make hon. and right hon. Gentlemen vote; they will not get out of it that way. I still say that I believe there would be relief if, in conformity with the underlying view of the House, we could agree upon a form of words expressing our concern, our sympathy and our desire to achieve progress for the African peoples, which is really our common purpose.
I shall not go over the whole field, although I noticed that, in the tremendous case built up with such sentiment—such anodyne sentiment—which was produced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly, he said as little as possible about the places that are going on well. He did not say anything about the Gold 508 Coast, Gambia and all those places where progress goes on, such as Tanganyika and Sierra Leone, where all these changes are going forward.
But, with regard to Nigeria, it is common knowledge that my right hon. Friend, far from deserving the attack of the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, at the conference won the support, the praise and the confidence of the participants beyond almost any statesman who has had to deal with colonial affairs. The highest tributes were paid to him, and are still being paid, by the leaders of all Nigerian political parties, to my right hon. Friend's impartiality, tact and skill. The fact that they had invited him, as has never been done with any hon. Gentleman opposite, to undertake the task of acting as umpire showed how much they trusted him, and we earnestly hope that in his visit to Nigeria in January he will be able to bring his great work to its final conclusion. It would have been a graceful act if the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Motion had thought fit to say a word of congratulation. He had a little weak, watery kind of praise, but he mixed it with his usual drops of gall.
My right hon. Friend has explained in detail the story of the Central African federation. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has not been quite fair to himself when he said he repeated the speech that he made in connection with the federation Measure. [Interruption.] My right hon. Friend said quite a lot of other things too. I will take all the points and try to answer them. My right hon. Friend having explained this matter in detail, his record is absolutely above reproach. I do not think that the same could be said for the Leader of the Opposition, or at any rate for the Members who are now running the colonial policy of the Opposition.
After all, they were the founders of this policy. It was they who started it, and it is a strange paradox that they are now trying to murder their own infant. It is from their efforts that this whole conception began. It is common knowledge that they would have carried it forward to the best of their ability had they remained in office. But—and this is what we accuse them of—although the Leader of the Opposition said that 509 although he disagreed with its timing, once the thing was through he would do all he could as a patriotic man to see that it was made a success, that is not what many hon. Gentlemen opposite are doing. They had poured out a stream of propaganda, trying to poison every chance.
I do not know that there are agreed views. Some hon. Members opposite hold fanatical and quite unrealistic views on this matter, but we always recognise their sincerity. Others seem to like to make trouble just for the sake of making trouble. Anyway, what has happened is that this federation scheme is now launched, and it is going to be a success.
I want to reply in some detail to one or two points that were mentioned about the scheme itself. The right hon. Member for Llanelly referred to and made much play with a statement made by Sir Roy Welensky, and some alleged equivocations in it. What Sir Roy said seemed to me in no way inconsistent, and cannot in any way affect the position of Her Majesty's Government, either this Government or their successors. It is perfectly clear, and both the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. and learned Gentleman know it—the right hon. and learned Gentleman can read documents even if he misrepresents them—that it is part of the Constitution and that the responsibility for constitutional changes in the Northern Territories rests with Her Majesty's Government and Her Majesty's Government alone.
Of course, if the Federal Government comes into being it is hardly to be supposed that Her Majesty's Government will not consult them and ask their advice. Is that wrong? Do we expect to make these changes without consulting the Ministers who are operating the federal Government and without knowing what they think? Surely that is not our method. I emphasise that responsibility will lie upon Her Majesty's Government in this country, and upon nobody else. The question was raised about what changes are about to be made in Northern Rhodesia and how soon they were to be made. Is it conceivable that changes could be made within a period much smaller than five years, after the next election?
The right hon. and learned Gentleman did at least pay this tribute, that something at least had happened and that Sir Godfrey Huggins had swept the board in 510 the federal elections. It must have been a little bit of a regret to the right hon. and learned Gentleman and I thought he was going to make great play with it. Unfortunately for him he must have read on the tape that the Confederate Party did not so far get any seats. What did he do? He said, "The way to have political success in the future is not to win now," like Hitler. That just shows how hon. Members opposite will twist and torture any fact and any argument. The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well that the safeguards in the new Constitution are not emasculated but are stronger on behalf of the Africans than they were under the plan of himself and his friends.
Then the right hon. Gentleman made great play with the word "suspicion." That was the great word. He is one of those who go about saying, "Do not cause distrust; do not cause suspicion." We all know those people who, in bad and difficult times, go about saying, "Do not cause distrust and suspicion," but who create them all the time. It is the right hon. Gentleman's stock in trade. He made great play with the fact that at the meeting in February, 1952, there were no Africans present. He said that this fact caused deep suspicion. Had he forgotten the meeting which he called in March, 1951, at which, again, and in spite of pressure from some hon. Members behind him, no Africans were present?
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
It was a meeting of officials, a consultation with members of the Colonial Service. The first conference which I attended on this matter was at Victoria Falls, at which Africans were acting as representatives.
§ Mr. Macmillan
The right hon. Gentleman says that the conference called by my right hon. Friend in London caused suspicion. But what was that but a conference of officials? There were two Governors, but no representatives of the elected members of the Northern Territories for whom the Governors spoke, as they spoke for Africans. I really do not see, if a Secretary of State for the Colonies cannot call two Governors and a Prime Minister to see him, how he is to conduct his affairs.
§ Mr. Macmillan
The point is that there were no elected members of the Northern Territories, and that they were represented by the Governors.
Now we come to Kenya. The right hon. and learned Gentleman made great play with the lack of organisation—that was his phrase—of an opposition movement among the loyal anti-Mau Mau in order to clothe it with some political scheme. I wish first to say—and I am sure the right hon. and learned Gentleman would agree—how much we welcomed what he said about the European population in Kenya. I am glad that he associated himself with the general tribute to their good spirit and good sense. It is indeed encouraging that a man such as Mr. Blundell acts as their leader.
Throughout this terrible time the European population have shown great courage and great good feeling. Of course, we know, in spite of our sympathy for them, that the monstrous attacks of Mau Mau and its fanatical savagery have fallen with far greater rigour upon the Africans themselves. They have been the main sufferers, and the casualties caused among them and the horrible things done to them are on a far greater scale.
Therefore, the answer to the right hon. Gentleman is to ask what is the way to organise the support. The first thing is to get people to rally round and help. What has happened is that the loyal African people have given magnificent support to and rallied round in great numbers organisations such as the police, the Home Guard, and all the rest. They would not have done that unless in their hearts they were prepared to work with those who are prepared to work with them. That is the real answer, and the right hon. Gentleman knows that is the answer which the Africans have given.
With regard to the incidents which we all deplore, all I would say is that the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) and the hon. and learned Member both referred to the "Griffiths case." I am bound to point out that what arose out of that was a high-powered inquiry—and had I been a former Secretary of State for War I would rather have waited until the 512 inquiry had reported, but that is a matter of taste.
It should be remembered that sometimes we English people do behave quite well. There is something to be said for our country. It has been mentioned very many times by refugees to this country, and by other people, "The remarkable thing is that your country has a public court martial like this. There is nothing hushed up. When something is done it is brought out into the open. If you had been in the countries we have come from and struggled against, there would have been no inquiry, no court martial, no high-powered judges going out to get to the root of the thing." I think that is something to be proud of.
Even in this disastrous incident—[Hon. Member: "Eight minutes."] Oh yes, I noticed that—there are some redeeming features. The personality of General Erskine, like the personality of General Templer, has imposed itself upon the whole country, it commands the admiration of all his fellow countrymen, and it is good to feel that there are men such as this ready to lead us still.
On every occasion upon which the administration of my right hon. Friend has been attacked it has been triumphantly defended by him. But before I leave Kenya I should like to make just one reference to a point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) because I think it is of some importance. I understood him to accuse the Government, or to put forward the view, that the doctrine which was introduced by the Duke of Devonshire in 1923, that African interests were paramount, had now been abandoned.
I take a certain interest in this because I remember very well the circumstances when that doctrine was laid down, but it was declared by the Joint Select Committee of Parliament in 1931 as meaning no more than that the interests of one section of the community were not to be sacrificed to those of another, however important in itself. That doctrine has been reaffirmed by Mr. Creech Jones, and has been reaffirmed by the former Secretary of State, and it surely is now accepted that the true doctrine today is the doctrine of partnership and equal regard for all the interests concerned.
§ Mr. Dugdale
May I ask whether it was the doctrine of partnership which induced the Government to refuse any consultations with the Africans before introducing Central African federation?
§ Mr. Macmillan
As usual, the right hon. Gentleman is riding off on a point that he did not make. I am only stating that it is an historical fact—and I have here the formal words in which this doctrine was asserted—so to bring up the view that we have somehow abandoned paramountcy when it was abandoned by the Secretary of State before us is a little unfair, even in an argument in debate. What has done so much harm in all this has been lack of, I would say generosity, but I do not think my right hon. Friend would expect that, but I do think a certain lack of responsibility, in this continued attack upon him.
Let me take the last example of all to which the right hon. Gentleman made reference—the case of Buganda. I was rather interested that he should raise that. There is something rather comic in the oppressors of Tshekedi posing as the champions of the Kabaka. Everyone can remember what happened on that occasion.
I do not think that in the whole history of the House of Commons can an attack have so completely misfired and, when the Colonial Secretary had finished his statement, clear, manly and sincere, it was common knowledge that as hon. Members walked out they said, "This is the end of that." I think that was one of the times—I get them so confused—when the Motion of censure was hurriedly withdrawn, and, of course, it should never have been revived. It was withdrawn in one of those moods which come some-
§ times to the House of Commons, a certain generous emotion in which we all feel that something bigger than our disputes binds us together. It was put back again in a pure piece of party politics at its worst. The right hon. Gentleman asked me whether it is not a contradiction that a principle which should apply in Uganda should not automatically apply in Central Africa. There are all kinds of differences between some of these territories. One of the important differences is that there are 4,000 Europeans in Uganda and something like 200,000 Europeans in Central Africa. All these points have been over-stressed and over-stated in order to make a case, but one good thing, at any rate, is that an opportunity has been given to my right hon. Friend, who comes of a great cricketing family, to perform a hat-trick.
§ I still think that it would have been better if a debate had been raised not in terms of censure, not promoted by this long, steady propaganda against the Government and my right hon. Friend, but in an attempt to get that very real basis of unity and agreement which still does exist in these affairs between many of us. I believe there are many in the party opposite who will regret this vote. I hope some of them will have the courage to abstain from it. But at any rate, if it is not possible to have this demonstration of unity, then we are glad to have an opportunity to say to a colleague who has been so traduced and so villified that he has our confidence and our affection, and we believe that to be the view of the colonial peoples and of the whole British nation.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 273; Noes, 301.519
|Division No. 17.]||AYES||[9.57 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Blenkinsop, A.||Coldrick, W|
|Adams, Richard||Blyton, W. R.||Collick, P. H.|
|Albu, A. H.||Boardman, H.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Cove, W. G.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Bowles, F. G.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Crosland, C. A. R.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Brockway, A. F.||Grossman, R. H. S|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Cullen, Mrs. A.|
|Baird, J.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Daines, P.|
|Balfour, A.||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Darling, George (Hillsborough)|
|Bartley, P.||Burton, Miss F. E.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Bence, C. R.||Callaghan, L. J.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Carmichael, J.||de Freitas, Geoffrey|
|Benson, G.||Castle, Mrs. B. A||Deer, G.|
|Beswick, F.||Champion, A. J||Delargy, H. J.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Chapman, W. D.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Blackburn, F.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Donnelly, D. L.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Ross, William|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Royle, C.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Edelman, M.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Lindgren, G. S.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Short, E. W.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Logan, D. G.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||MacColl, J. E.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||McGhee, H. G.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||McInnes, J.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Fernyhough, E.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Fienburgh, W.||McLeavy, F.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Finch, H. J.||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Follick, M.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Foot, M. M.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Snow. J. W.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Manuel, A. C.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Steele, T.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mason, Roy||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mayhew, C. P.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Glanville, James||Mellish, R. J.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Messer, Sir F.||Strauss Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mikardo, Ian||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Mitchison, G. R.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)||Monslow, W.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Moody, A. S.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Grey, C. F.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Morley, R.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hale, Leslie||Mort, D. L.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Moyle, A.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Mulley, F. W.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Murray, J. D.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Hannan, W.||Nally, W.||Thornton, E.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Timmons, J.|
|Hargreaves, A.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Tomney, F.|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||O'Brien, T.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hastings, S.||Oldfield, W. H.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Hayman, F. H.||Oliver, G. H.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Orbach, M.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Oswald, T.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Padley, W. E.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Page, R. G.||Weitzman, D.|
|Holman, P.||Paget, R. T.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||West, D. G.|
|Hoy, J. H.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Pannell, Charles||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pargiter, G. A.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Parker, J.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Parkin, B. T.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Paton, J.||Wigg, George|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Peart, T. F.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Popplewell, E.||Willey, F. T.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Porter, G.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Janner, B.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Proctor, W. T.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Pryde, D. J.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Rankin, John||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Reeves, J.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Rhodes, H.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Keenan, W.||Richards, R.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Kenyon, C.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Yates, V. F.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Astor, Hon. J. J.||Beamish, Maj. Tufton|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Baker, P. A. D.||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Baldwin, A. E.||Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Banks, Col. C.||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Barber, Anthony||Bennett, William (Woodside)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Barlow, Sir John||Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Baxter, A. B.||Birch, Nigel|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Beach, Maj. Hicks||Bishop, F. P.|
|Black, C. W.||Hay, John||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Heald, Sir Lionel||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Heath, Edward||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Neave, Airey|
|Braine, B. R.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr, G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Bromley-Davenport Lt.-Col. W. H.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Hollis, M. C.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Billiard, D. G.||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Hope, Lord John||Odey, G. W.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Horobin, I. M.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Carr, Robert||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Channon, H.||Howard, Hon. Greville (SI. Ives)||Osborne, C.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Page, R. G.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Cole, Norman||Hurd, A. R.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hyde, Lt.-Col, H. M.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Crouch, R. F.||Jennings, R.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip℄Northwood)||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Redmayne, M.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Kaberry, D.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kerr, H. W.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Lambert, Hon. G.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lambton, Viscount||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Donner, Sir P. W.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Leather, E. H. C.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Russell, R. S.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Lindsay, Martin||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Erroll, F. J.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G (King's Norton)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Fell, A.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Shepherd, William|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Longden, Gilbert||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Fletcher, Sir Walter (Bury)||Low, A. R. W.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Fort, R.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Foster, John||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||McKibbin, A. J.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Gammans, L. D.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Maclean, Fitzroy||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Storey, S.|
|Glover, D.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Godber, J. B.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Summers, G. S.|
|Gower, H. R.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Gridley, Sir Arnold||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Teeling, W.|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Marples, A. E.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Maude, Angus||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maudling, R.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Tilney, John|
|Harvey, Air Cdrs. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Mellor, Sir John||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Molson, A. H. E.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Turton, R. H.|
|Vane, W. M. F.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||Watkinson, H. A.||Wills, G.|
|Vosper, D. F.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Wellwood, W.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)||York, C.|
|Walker-Smith, D. C.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)||Sir Cedric Drewe and Major Conant.|