§ 12.52 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
To many people in this House and, indeed, outside it, Nyasaland is a little far-off land at the southern end of the Great Rift Valley in Africa. It contains some 4,000 whites and 2 million or more Africans. But you, Mr. Speaker, and I know better. Nyasaland is the land of Livingstone, and its history began on that day, 16th September, 1859, when David Livingstone first gazed on the waters of Lake Nyasa. In those days it was a smiling land, but in subsequent years, at least until the 1890s, there were many wars and troubles, and the foul commerce of slave dealing did much damage to the land until the Pax Britannica.
I have always had an urge to go to Nyasaland. My own people went there over 40 years ago. It is a beautiful land. Some call it the Switzerland of Africa. I look forward to the day when it will perhaps be almost like Switzerland, a tourist country, if we can develop it and open up the inaccessible parts and introduce a tourist industry in the beautiful highlands of Mlanje and Nyika which are so beautifully portrayed by Laurenz Van der Post in his book "Venture to the Interior."
When I was last in that country following my Kenya delegation visit, I found that the people there, whatever their colour, felt that they were somewhat forgotten and that their difficulties and complaints were seldom heard in the House of Commons. Therefore, I take a particular delight today in mentioning some of their difficulties and their hopes for the future. I heard with joy that the Secretary of State for the Colonies is himself going there in a few days' time. Since my return from Central Africa, I have asked a number of Questions and I have had answers, some satisfactory and others not so satisfactory. But now that the Secretary of State is going there to meet the Africans at the Nyasaland Congress, and to talk to the white settlers, I think that we may see a move forward in the affairs of the Colony.
1359 One of the things that disturb me is the large number of able-bodied men who leave this beautiful Colony. I think something like 180,000 of them go as cheap labour to the Rand mines and to Southern Rhodesia. I need not enlarge upon the social and other evils and abuses which result from this. These able-bodied men are leaving their wives, their tribes and their villages, with consequent disruption in domestic and tribal life and lack of manpower to combat soil erosion and to maintain the land as a viable economy.
It is a thoroughly unhealthy thing that so many men leave their native soil. I hope that today we can have some indication of some development schemes that might help to anchor this manpower in its own country. I know that the Nyasa is a nomad, almost a gypsy, and that travel is in his blood. Incidentally, the 1st Nyasaland Battalion were the first colonial forces to enter the war, in Abyssinia, and the last to leave, in Burma. They have a wonderful record both in commerce and industry, and in time of war. Many of them, like the Chinese, send money back to their families, a form of invisible export, but it is not good for the country that so many of them should leave.
May I turn to the subject of agriculture? I should like to pay a tribute to the white pioneers who have gone there in the last half century. They have introduced coffee, cotton, tea and tobacco—the latter two being the major crops at the moment, and particularly tobacco. I should like to ask a question about tobacco. I know that the tobacco that is grown by the African and is cured in what, I think, are termed pit barns—they have over 70,000 of them—is not quite the same quality as of the Southern Rhodesia tobacco. But I have talked to white settlers—white Africans, I suppose one could call them—who have flue-cured tobacco, and particularly at the C.D.C. farm at Karonga. Their flue-cured tobacco, which is good, somehow or other does not seem to get a square deal in the Salisbury wholesale market. It does not sell so easily as the Southern Rhodesia tobacco, although I gather that it is equally good in quality. I should like the Minister to look into that question.
1360 I now want to ask a question about cotton. I gather that the climate is quite suitable for cotton, that there is a cotton marketing board, and that efforts are being made to develop cotton cultivation in the Central Province at the southern end of Lake Nyasa. Could we have some information about that? It seems to me that when there is a bad tobacco year, or if it does not do well in world markets and the price falls, cotton would be an excellent standby.
I should now like to move to the Northern Province, because I am told that soil and climate there are not unlike Tanganyika. We have already begun coffee cultivation there. One of the types of coffee produced is at Nchena-Nchena. I believe that the Tanganyika Coffee Board have accepted their coffee at between £450 and £500 a ton. Could not some encouragement be given to the African coffee farmers in the Northern Province where there is neither land hunger nor over population? I see no reason why in the future, as with the Chagga peoples in North-East Tanganyika, we could not develop a healthy and paying African peasant farmer co-operative coffee industry.
The tea industry is the most important industry in the Southern Province. That is where the bother begins. Twelve months or two years ago there was trouble and disturbance at Cholo and the Shire Highlands. This is the only part of Nyasaland where, as in Kenya, there is anything in the way of a white population, land hunger, and a heavy density of native African population. Unlike Kenya, however, instead of a large number of white settlers, there are at the most only 300 or 400 white farmers. The majority of the land—over one million acres—is owned and cultivated by six major tea companies. One is the Livingstone Bruce Estate and another is the B.C.A. Company.
The experience I gained on my short visit has been confirmed by others who have been since and before, and by Africans with whom I have talked. The bulk of the land is owned by these six large companies. About half a million Africans work there, and there are many more living there as tenants. In 1952 the companies which owned the land put up the rents to their tenants from £1 to £2 12s. 6d., which is a lot of money for 1361 an African peasant. I could quote from special reports of United Nations commissions, which give the personal incomes of peoples in dependent and backward territories, such as Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland and Kenya. In 1945, the personal income of an African in Nyasaland was £3 10s. per annum. I do not know the most up-to-date figure, but even if it is as much as £6, £7, or £8, the sum of £2 12s. 6d. is quite a large proportion.
The system of tenancy is complicated, and it would be too academic to enter into a discussion of its rights and wrongs now. All I would say is that when the white settlers arrived there some 50 years ago they found, as in Kenya, large areas of the territory which were quite bare of population. Slave dealers had operated there in the past and the population had been dissipated and decimated. I have checked the facts very carefully, and it is apparent that in many cases the native chiefs received only a few bolts of cloth in return for the land which the white settlers took over. It is a debatable argument whether what are termed certificates of claim, given by Sir Harry Johnston to the white settlers, constitute what we should regard as title deeds. The Africans have always argued that the white settlers are not lawfully and legally entitled to some of the land which they now farm.
Another source of irritation arises from the fact that the tea plantations are doing very well. No one will complain of that. Tea is now 3s. 10d. a lb. wholesale, and that works out at £580 a ton. I wish I had a few shares in some of those companies. The point is, however, that if the tea industry is doing well and wants more and more land for tea cultivation, the African tenants are evicted as the tea plantations expand. There is no security of tenure for the African tenants living on the periphery of these plantations. That is a source of annoyance, which gave rise to disturbances in Cholo and other places 15 or 18 months ago.
I do not want to weary the House with many quotations, but I should like to refer to the reports of some of the commissions which have considered the question of land ownership in Nyasaland beginning with the judgment of Mr. Justice Nunan, in 1903. Without being 1362 too long-winded, I can say that nearly all these judgments and commissions tend to come down on the side of the Africans.
In 1924 the East African Commission—then known as the Ormsby-Gore Commission—said:We cannot but regard it as anomalous that in Southern Nyasaland (the Shire Highlands) the machinery of Government is being used to impose on native residents claims by landowners to rights which are, prima facie, not included in their titles, while such claims are not enforced in North Nyasaland and are excluded in North Rhodesia.The Abrahams Commission investigated the situation when Mr. Barnes was the provincial commissioner of the Southern Province. I want to add a personal word of thanks for his hospitality, and also to say how much he is looked up to by the African population in Nyasaland. They have a great regard for the wise advice he has given in the past. When the provincial commissioner gave evidence before the Abrahams Commission, he said:The main cause of discontent among natives of private estates is the fact that they object to the regimentation to which they are subjected. They are constantly being chivied by estate owners and they have very little security regarding either their houses or garden lands.That seems to be the main issue. It is bad enough for their rents to be doubled or trebled, but it is the lack of security of tenure which the Africans have so much on their minds. Sir Sidney Abrahams said that there were three main questions which should have immediate attention, and that is why I am so glad that the Secretary of State is going out to investigate the conditions in the Colony. Sir Sidney said that these questions were:First of all, the economic problem of the relief of congestion on these native lands, secondly, the political problem of satisfying the sense of grievance that Europeans are holding large tracts of undeveloped land while natives are suffering acute pangs of land hunger.The African is bound to feel a sense of grievance if he sees land which is owned by a white immigrant population not being fully utilised.
If this land is not being utilised, I and many more feel that the Government should step in and buy the land and, under wise Government invigilation, let it out to African peasants. I understand that this has been begun, and that about 1363 300,000 acres have been scheduled. I should like to know how much has been taken over, how much has been taken up by African peasants, and what has happened since the Abrahams Commission went out there. I did hear that Her Majesty's Government offered 7s. 6d. an acre for this land and that the companies were a little tough in their bargaining, thinking that they were still in a capitalist economy, and that we finally had to pay 12s. 6d. an acre. This is a little harsh, and I should like to have a little light cast upon that matter.
I am told that the companies are selling unutilised land to white immigrant farmers. This is not a desirable step. Any unutilised land should be parcelled out to the Africans who live there. I know that all the Africans in the area are not indigenous peoples. Many of the Africans are natives from Portuguese territory who have come in, Anguru peoples who have come in over the Portuguese Mozambique border. They can be and often are a nuisance. Many white settlers are very disturbed about the careless farming of the Mozambique Anguru natives, their cutting of timber and the consequent soil erosion. Can the Minister say what control there is, if any, over the entry of the Anguru peoples out of Mozambique into our own territory of Nyasaland? I should like to know also what are the wages of the African labour employed on these European estates, and what is the value of any rations they get in addition to the money wages they are paid.
I come to the very important question of education. If the Africans are to play a larger part in the agricultural and economic development that we want, they must be better equipped for the work. My general impression of education in Nyasaland was not a particularly cheerful one. It is typical of the African educational scene. Mainly the schools are mission schools. Perhaps less than half the child population, of children from five to 18, ever pass the doors of a school. There is little secondary education. There is enormous wastage in the lower classes in the schools. I understand that there are only two secondary schools in the Colony, with a total number of pupils of perhaps not more than 140 or 150, and amongst them very few girls indeed. As in most parts 1364 of Africa, less attention is paid to the education of girls and women, and much more attention ought to be paid to that aspect.
Under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act in 1952 some £90,000 were allocated for a third secondary school at Dedza, to be for secondary and technical education, but I am informed that there are not more than 40 or 50 pupils there. What is to be the future of that school? The future of technical education in Africa is so very important.
We were to open also in 1952, under the Colonial and Development Welfare Act, a junior trade training centre at Blantyre. I did not have time to look into that, for I spent my time on the tea estates, talking to African Congress leaders and looking into African housing. I understand that it is to be begun next autumn. That is a very important development indeed, but I would stress, in addition, the need to amalgamate or concentrate the teacher-training establishments. There are a number of small, inefficient establishments, and I suggest that they should be amalgamated into one or two well-equipped teacher colleges. The only one I would term first-class is the Jeanes Training Centre. In 1951–52, out of 20 high-grade, qualified teachers in the whole Colony, that centre supplied 18. I should like to see more done about that.
Africans have a burning desire for education, particularly informal adult education. I think we have to get off the orthodox lines in this respect. I hope that when the University of Salisbury gets going there will be extra-mural education. Why not an institution on the model of the Scandinavian folk high schools? In Nyasaland we have an agricultural society and a deeply religious African society based upon the teachings of Livingstone and the Church of Scotland. It would be desirable if the Government paid the salaries of the staff of this High School, as the Governments of Sweden and Norway do in their countries, leaving the staffs independent inside, and with a bias in the syllabus towards agriculture and religion. I think we could well proceed along the line that Archbishop Grünther developed in Denmark in the 'eighties and 'nineties of last century.
I was a little disturbed to hear it said that the Governor, Sir Geoffrey Colby, 1365 is not as keen as he might be on development schemes. Is it correct that the Domasi community development scheme is not being helped as much as it could be? Someone told me a short time ago what I hope is not correct, that the community development scheme is ceasing. It would be a scandal if it did. I hope that the contrary is true and that the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs will be able to say that we shall press on with that development scheme even more than in the past.
Let us consider for a moment some future schemes of economic development. The scheme which will put the Colony well upon its feet is the Shire Valley Scheme. Sir William Halcrow and Partners went out in May, 1951. About £150,000 was voted for the initial hydro-logical survey and the like. If this scheme gets going, it will be an enormous boon to the Colony. It is not the first scheme of its sort in Central Africa, but I place it second in importance only to the Kafue Gorge Scheme, and higher than the Kariba Gorge Scheme because it will develop more than water power and electricity. It will mean assisting the people in Nyasaland in their agriculture, and will of course assist land settlement, particularly where there is acute land hunger, as in the Shire Highlands.
I am delighted to hear that the Portuguese are helping, and I think we should link up more with the Portuguese and with the Belgians, too, in economic developments in this part of Africa. Our territory here is land-locked, and it would be beneficial if we could develop as much co-operation as we possibly can with the Portuguese so as to be able to get the produce out to the Indian Ocean.
To safeguard food supplies, the Government began the Nyasaland Farming Corporation, and I should like to know how its farms are doing. Are they being extended? I think there are three or four farms.
I am a little bothered about the C.D.C. Earlier I spoke about the opening up of this country, not merely for tourists, but for all others, too. The only way to do it is by first-class communications. I met a man only two nights ago who has been for many years in Central Africa. He was very disturbed because of the lack of good roads and the lack of future development of them. We want many 1366 more roads there than we have, not only to open up the hinterland for travel but to enable us to get out the tobacco, and cotton, and all the other produce of the territory. What is to happen about the C.D.C. scheme in Nkata Bay? It was to build some miles of road along the western shore of Lake Nyasa, in the Northern Province. I gather that the C.D.C. went to some expense to get a depôt going in the hope that there would be lucrative contracts with the Government. I understand it is to be wound up. It seems to me that with C.D.C. in the territory, it should have more co-operation from the Government in getting on with the job of building better communications.
I have some figures here which shook me, and they may shake the Minister in this matter of roads if I give the bare statistics. I am told there is a large scheme of road building scheduled for between 1951 and 1955. There needs to be, because when I look at the 1952 Nyasaland Report I see that in the territory there were only some 11 miles of main roads with full width tarmacadam carriageways, and only 19 miles have been or are being constructed with a bituminous surface 12 feet in width. The other 4,000 miles are typical African highways. I would plead, therefore, for some injection of energy into that road-building programme.
My last point about economic development concerns the coalfields in the North. There are extensive seams of coal near Livingstonia in the North, and the seams appear to be the same geological strata as those in Tanganyika on the other side of the lake. What is happening there, because I think we ought to have some information about it? Coal there would be of inestimable value in that part of Africa, if only we could exploit it commercially.
May I close with a few sentences about the Central African Federation Scheme? That issue is finished now at Westminster, and I have no wish to open it, any more than the Minister desires to talk about it. I told the people whom I met out in Nyasaland what was the mood of Her Majesty's Opposition and of the Labour Party on this matter, but there is still a deep suspicion in some Nyasaland African minds of federation. Let me hasten to say that the Africans appreciate what can be the possible economic 1367 benefits of federation, but they are still disturbed about the Southern Rhodesian and the Union's native policy. I did my best to dispel any doubts they had, but we must not have any foolish talk by the white community out there.
I have here a statement made at the annual meeting of his tea company by Mr. H. R. Gardiner, chairman of Nchima Tea & Tung Estates, Ltd., Cholo, who, in addition to his annual statement, sent a letter to "Time and Tide" in which he mentioned many things with which I have dealt, but I could not help but notice the tone of his speech, which I found was very much the tone of many speeches made out there, which was that the more that Nyasaland matters go over to the federal body the better. I was also disturbed to find some people, who may have been tea planters in Assam and who have come to Nyasaland in the last few years, talking in arrogant terms of amalgamation. We do not want any foolish talk of that kind to disturb African opinion. It seems to me to be foolhardy for 4,000 white people to think that they can dominate and control indefinitely 2½ million Africans or that they should want to be away from the control of the House of Commons and away from the vigilance of Her Majesty's Secretary of State. To advocate such things does not help matters at all.
In this connection I have had a letter from Mr. Manoah Chirwa, M.P., who is one of the elected representatives for Salisbury in the New Central African Federation, and this is what he tells me. I hope that the if the Minister is not able to answer me now he will inquire into this matter. Mr. Chirwa says:We are greatly hampered in our freedom of speech and of assembly. Last Sunday, 21st March, we held a Congress meeting in Blantyre in the presence of two uniformed policemen taking notes. This is British democracy in Africa! Is it any wonder that our people are losing faith in British principles of justice and their form of Government? We have protested to the police, but can you get it raised in the House of Commons? We should be most grateful.He goes on in the same vein.
I hope we shall have a better atmosphere than that, and that if the African Congress wishes to have meetings to discuss and debate perfectly legitimate matters for consideration, it will have the opportunity to do so. There is still 1368 a deal of suspicion there, and it is our job on both sides of the House—it is not a party matter any longer—to develop a better atmosphere and get federation going. I have said in Salisbury and I have said here that federation can succeed if both sides pull together, but time is running out. It may be that this is our last chance.
There is an enormous legacy of good will among the Africans towards the white population. Men like Livingstone and many others since have helped to create that legacy and we have got to improve on their performance. There is only one African on the Zomba Town Council and only an African Advisory Council at Blantyre. I should like to see more Africans chosen to take their place both in municipal and in national affairs. I want to warn the Government seriously and sincerely that unless we get a better political climate and unless we attend to the land and other questions, I am convinced that the recent disturbances of Cholo will blow up again in the highlands.
This is not, as I say, a party matter and I just want now to add my last sentence. There is yet in Africa, it is my feeling, the idea that the European is an exotic and alien feature upon the African landscape. He has not been accepted as coming to stay by the black, indigenous people of Africa, and unless we work out a partnership together—the Bishop of Mombasa gives Kenya five years and some people give the Union two years—we shall call down upon our heads the curse of those who come after us.
§ 1.27 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. Henry Hopkinson)
I do not know whether the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson), when he asked for this Adjournment debate, was aware that the Secretary of State was going to Nyasaland in the near future, but in any event that certainly has both advantages and disadvantages. It has, first of all, the advantage for us of having been able to listen to the views of the hon. Member this morning. He covered a very wide field, and when the Secretary of State goes to Nyasaland he will bear in mind all the important points which were raised.
1369 There are also certain disadvantages for me in that it will not be possible for me to attempt to give detailed answers to some of the points which he raised, although I will try to touch on them in my comments on his questions over this very wide field. I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is a good thing that we are discussing Nyasaland this morning. I do not believe it has been defeated for some time. I, having visited it myself, can endorse all that he said about the charm of that country.
But Nyasaland is not, and never can be, a very rich country. It is not rich in mineral resources, although there is some exploration going on. It has primarily an agricultural and forestry economy. In the past this reliance on agriculture, and, in particular, on a small number of agricultural products, has caused instability in the revenues and this has been the source of many difficulties in Nyasaland. The main economic crops are tobacco and tea, with tung and cotton in addition. In the past the revenues of the country have fluctuated according to the ruling world prices for those products.
It is this instability and weak economy which has led to many of the problems to which the hon. Gentleman referred, such as the inadequacy of educational facilities. However, the help which Her Majesty's Government have given through the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund of no less than £3,872,000—a large sum in proportion to the size and economy of the country—has greatly assisted. We can congratulate ourselves that things are much improved. Exports of agricultural produce from Native Trust land have increased from 10,000 tons in 1948 to 65,000 tons in 1953 and from £1½ million worth in the first year to £4 million last year.
There has also been a great expansion in forest activities, and the Forest Department is devoting special attention to reafforestation. There is not much in the way of manufacture, although cigarettes and tobacco are manufactured and there is a local soap factory. These things are being borne in mind, and what steps can be taken to develop that side of the economy will be taken.
We can look forward to an increasing rate of economic development in Nyasaland now, especially in the light of the new Federation. We cannot tell exactly 1370 how federation will affect Nyasaland financially until we see the budget for the first financial year which begins on 1st July. We know, however, that the Governor is reckoning on a modest surplus in the first year of federation instead of the large deficit which he would have had if there had been no federation. It is clear that in future Nyasaland revenues will no longer be based solely on a precarious agricultural economy, and this will lead to a speeding up of development, to increased prosperity, and to the possibilities of improved social services. This should be compared with the position a few years ago when, simply because there was a simultaneous fall in the price of tea and tobacco, or because there was a crop failure, there was a complete standstill of all development in the Colony.
The hon. Gentleman asked a question about the coal deposits at Livingstonia. I do not know if he has visited it, but everybody up there was well aware of the possibilities. In a speech on 1st January, talking about the effects of federation, the Governor said:What can we expect and hope for under federation? Primarily I would suggest, stable budgets.That is what I have referred to already. Then, referring to the object to which loan capital might be devoted, he said:I should place the further investigation and exploitation of our coal deposits at Livingstonia very high on a list of priorities. The supply of coal to this territory is a constant source of anxiety …So I think the hon. Gentleman can take it that this is very much in the mind of the Government of Nyasaland.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
I gather that there are no technical difficulties and that the coal can be exploited in thickness of seams and so forth.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I have no details but, generally, the Government are well aware of the importance of this matter. The hon. Gentleman asked me about wages and I have here specimens of the monthly agricultural wages paid to Africans in 1952 which include food allowance: field labour, 25s. to 30s.; overseers, 30s. to 100s.; factory workers, 28s. to 40s. In addition, bonuses were paid in tea and tobacco. The Nyasaland Government are paying great attention to the question of African wages.
1371 While we are still on the question of the economy, the hon. Gentleman asked me about cotton and coffee. As regards cotton, 10,000 bales were produced last year and, in the same speech to which I have referred, the Governor said that cotton was one of the most important factors in the economy of the territory. As regards coffee, I saw small developments of coffee co-operatives on the way up to Livingstonia. I met the director of the co-operatives in the Colony and found him most enthusiastic over his job, though it is only on a very small scale at present.
Then the hon. Gentleman asked me about Portuguese immigration. I regret that we have no details as to the Regulations but, as he knows, immigration will shortly become a federal subject and I have no doubt that the Federal Government will give this question their full attention.
The next important question with which the hon. Gentleman dealt was that of land. As everybody knows, land is the crux of almost every problem in Africa south of the Sahara, and it is so in Nyasaland, too. Of the total land in the Protectorate, 5 per cent., or less than 1 million acres, is held as freehold land, but there are about 200,000 Africans living on privately-owned estates. The most serious land problem arises in the congested area of the Southern Province, where most of the European estates lie. There we find a conflict of interest. There is no doubt that, when the estates were taken over, the land was sparsely inhabited, but since then there has been a natural increase in the population, as well as immigration from Portuguese East Africa, and the existence of the estates has attracted more labour. This has given rise to the kind of grievances which led to the riots in Nyasaland last summer and which we all wish to avoid in future.
As the hon. Gentleman said, African grievances arise from the fact that Europeans hold large tracts of undeveloped land where they are living; and, unlike their friends and neighbours on African Trust Land, the Africans here have to pay rent. They do not understand it; but, on the other hand, the European landlord is convinced, and I think rightly, that under the Natives on Private Estates Ordinance he has a legitimate right to charge rent or to demand work. So 1372 there we have a conflict of interest and, also, to some extent, of understanding.
The hon. Gentleman referred to the Abrahams Report and to its recommendations. As a result, a planning committee was set up to consider how the recommendations could be implemented, but the committee found that there was no clear-cut solution of this problem on the lines indicated in the Report, and recommended the acquisition by the Government of 545,000 acres of estate land, The Government have since bought 300,000 acres of this land. The hon. Gentleman asked about the price of 12s. 6d. an acre. It was carried out as a business proposition; offers were made on both sides, and that was the figure finally agreed.
The Secretary of State has already said in Parliament—and I made it clear in reply to a Question yesterday—that we do not consider the present position in regard to land in Nyasaland satisfactory. My right hon. Friend has been in communication with the Governor about it. He is going out there to investigate this and many other questions personally, and we hope that his visit will lead to some fruitful results. Meanwhile, I should much prefer not to have to attempt to make any detailed pronouncements on land policy in Nyasaland. We are well aware that the problem exists and that it remains a potential source of trouble in many ways. I should not, however, wish to suggest that it will be easy of solution, because it has troubled successive Governors in Nyasaland since 1890.
The hon. Member touched on the question of education. As far as the Government secondary school at Dedza is concerned, there were 73 pupils at the end of 1952 of whom about 40 were engaged on engineering, and the others on academic studies. The school is small and is one of very few such schools. Lack of funds has always been an anxiety in regard to all these matters. The technical education adviser made recommendations after his visit in 1951. These recommendations and his plan for providing for the technical education and training of young persons employed in Government Departments and industry who have attended full-time courses at the school are under consideration. Another difficulty besides lack of funds has 1373 been that of finding in the United Kingdom a vice-principal for the school who is qualified to carry out the proposed development.
The hon. Member referred also to a trade school in the Blantyre area. This is being proceeded with. The principal of the school has been appointed, and the buildings of the old agricultural school at Mpemba, which are no longer needed, are being taken over and modified for a school for the building trades. A start is being made with a course of training which provides for 24 pupils a year for a three years' course, followed by a two years' period of training at the nearby P.W.D. works, where there are courses for fitters, mechanical and electrical engineers, and so on.
The hon. Member referred to the new university and to the fact that all higher education comes under the new Federal Government. Hon. Members will have seen in "The Times" this morning a reference to the arrangements for the new university college to be established at Salisbury. I think it has become clear in Nyasaland that there is a need for something between the secondary school and the university, rather on the lines of the hon. Member's suggestion, although not with quite the Scandinavian flavour that he attached to it—something rather higher than a straight sixth form school course, and falling short of the full university course. Certainly this need has not escaped the attention of those concerned. The fact that the hon. Member has raised the question in the debate today will help to bring it to their notice again.
The Domasi development scheme certainly has been a good scheme. It was a pilot scheme and its object was to try on a very small scale to teach Africans to do certain things. Everybody will admit that it has done very good work, but there comes a point when one must consider whether it is worth while to carry so many extra administrative and technical officers and others on so small a piece of ground; whether it is not, perhaps, a luxury to do this rather than to leave those people where they might be doing the same job in areas where they are badly needed. I am not saying that the scheme has to be closed down, but the matter has to be considered from that point of view.
1374 We all attach great importance to the Shire Valley project. The cost of the survey of £400,000 will be met partly by Colonial Development and Welfare contributions, and the Portuguese Government have agreed to pay one-third of the cost. I have no doubt that the scheme will be of great advantage to the inhabitants of Nyasaland. The question of priority has already been debated in the new Federal Parliament, and the Kafue scheme is to come first. Whether the Shire Valley scheme should come before or after the Kariba scheme would depend on many factors, including cost.
On the question of road development, the engineering and road building depot at Nkata Bay, to which the hon. Member referred, was set up because it was expected that remunerative road building work from the Government would be given to the Colonial Development Corporation and that they would be justified in setting up the depot. They did not, in fact, get the work. They decided to cut their losses and to close the scheme. But the Government, with the help of a Colonial Development and Welfare grant, have bought all the road building plant and are going ahead fast on road building throughout the territory, a matter to which they have paid particular attention in recent years. It is notable that of the £3,872,000 Colonial Development and Welfare money, over £1 million has been devoted to road development in Nyasaland.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
Why were the C.D.C. depot and equipment not used for road building schemes when they were there?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
That is what happened indirectly. They have been merged, and the Government have taken over the machinery. It may be a matter of opinion as to who does this kind of work best.
I have covered most of the points to which the hon. Member referred. The House will be grateful to him for raising this question.
§ Mr. Johnson
May I have a word from the Minister about Mr. Chirwa's meeting in Blantyre? I quoted his letter, in which he said there had been policemen at his meeting. As I said, he was a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly at Salisbury.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
That is the first I have heard of the meeting and of the presence of police. In my own constituency of Taunton, I am quite accustomed to having large numbers of policemen attend my meetings—to keep the crowds back. If, however, there is a matter of complaint in what the hon. Member has said, I will see that it is laid before the Governor and dealt with in a proper way.