§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.46 a.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I have it in Command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty places Her prerogative and interests, so far as concerns the matters dealt with by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the constitution of the State of Singapore and for its peace, order and good government. As I think the House knows very well, Singapore owes its creation to the genius of one man. Stamford Raffles arrived on the site in 1819. He knew of the forgotten past of that island—the prosperous commercial community of Singapura, the Lion City, which had flourished here in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and which had been destroyed by the Javanese when King Edward III sat on the throne of England. No remnants of the former grandeur existed, nor had the slightest vestige of the past been discovered.
Then came Sir Stamford Raffles. His strategic eye saw the commercial and military possibilities of the island. In five years the population grew from 150 to over 10,000 people, and trade, which was absolutely non-existent, had in that short period of time become 13 million dollars a year. In seven years1 time from its creation, it was as a port second only to Calcutta in the Far East. Now there are nearly 1½ million people living in Singapore, in an island the size of the Isle of Wight, and its trade is 6,000 million dollars a year.
It was built almost overnight by confidence and by a wise civil and religious policy which brought together people from all over the world to live here in a most fruitful partnership in an area of immense importance for the commerce and for the security of the free world.
Sir Stamford Raffles last visited Singapore in 1823 when, working with titanic energy, he endowed this city with a magistracy, a code of laws, a police force, with trading regulations and even 746 with a town planning scheme—the skeleton on which Singapore has grown. He also founded in advance of the time his own educational institution, saying that educationmust keep pace with commerce in order that its benefits may be ensured and its evils avoided".All those people in the world who are only too anxious to decry British colonialism should remember with honour, as we do, the work of men like Sir Stamford Raffles. But for him and for his many successors, it would be impossible for such a Bill as this to be introduced today. After him, came many other pioneers, of whom I wish to mention just one, whose name, I think, is known to us all in the House, Dr. Ridley who, in earlier days, had been director of the Botanical Gardens in Singapore. It was his rubber discoveries which made him really the father of the Malayan rubber industry. He died only two years ago aged 101. As Secretary of State, I was able to write to him on his 100th birthday and say:It is given to few decisively to change the lives of their fellowmen for the better. Of those few, it is given to an even smaller number to see the change in their own lifetime and to know that its value has been recognised by their contemporaries.I know also that the gratitude of the House goes out to the many devoted members of the Administration over the years who have given such fine service to the growth, security and happiness of Singapore.
Naturally, I am very anxious to preserve and protect the interests of the members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service, for whom I am responsible, and I am glad to say that satisfactory safeguards for their conditions of service, for their pensions, and for compensation for those who lose their appointments have been agreed. There are, of course, many others of our countrymen who work for various official organisations other than the Singapore Government. These are not members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service and were not appointed by me. For them, I have not the same responsibility and, naturally, I have nothing like the same powers, but, if necessary, I am very ready to use such good offices as I can to try and secure fair treatment and justice for them. We honour all these men, and I know that I speak for the House as a whole when I 747 say that we in Britain are grateful to them and very proud of the work they have done.
Although it would be a fascinating subject, I should not, I think, carry the story of Singapore forward from the days of Sir Stamford Raffles until the present time, but, as this is a constitutional Bill, perhaps I should pick out one or two of the main incidents in Singapore's political history since the 1939–45 war which ought to be recorded. First, there was the detachment of Singapore from the Straits Settlements and its creation as a separate Colony in 1946, when Penang and Malacca were joined to the Malayan Union. Secondly, there was the introduction of elected members to the Legislative Council in 1948 and to the Executive Council in 1951. The third I will mention was the Rendel Commission of 1953, which led to the introduction of the present constitution in 1955. Fourth, there were the requests which came for further constitutional advance, leading to the unsuccessful conference which I held in 1956 with a delegation led by Mr. David Marshall and then the successful conference which I held in 1957 with a delegation led by the present Chief Minister, Lim Yew Hock. With this delegation we reached agreement on the form of the new Constitution which, as hon. Members will know, is published in Comd. 147.
Now a brief word on the state of the nation of Singapore today. We are, I feel, entitled to draw confidence from certain cheering facts. The first is the great material prosperity of Singapore, having as it does the highest per capita income of all South-East Asia. Next, there is the ability and ingenuity of her lively and most likable people. Singapore has excellent health services, with one of the highest birth rates in the world and a death rate which, at about 10 per thousand, compares well with most modern countries. Also, there are Singapore's complex and quite unrivalled commercial services. That is the material picture, and it is a very good one.
The House knows, of course, that there are great movements at large in the world today, and, not least, in South-East Asia. There are two contending forces at work in Singapore, nationalism and Communism. We must recognise that fact. Nationalism is running with a strong tide throughout South-East Asia. 748 It has naturally been reinforced by the independence granted in recent years to India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma, Indonesia, Indo-China and, last year, to the Federation of Malaya. As for Communism, we know that it seeks to exploit the forces of nationalism should these forces be frustrated.
There must be many people in this country and elsewhere who, in these days, ask themselves certain very serious questions in relation to Singapore. Those questions might take this form. Has there not been a Communist bid for power in Malaya which took the form of armed rebellion in the Federation, and is this not still being maintained after ten years? In Singapore, such people would rightly ask, is there not a far more insidious form of sedition among students, and is it not a fact that over half the population of Singapore today is under 21, and is there not subversion also in the trade unions and political parties? They would say, Is it not true that the extent and vigour of the Communist threat to Singapore is such that our interests will be imperilled if we concede further constitutional advance? These are perfectly proper questions, and the state of mind of those who ask them can readily be understood. Indeed, the questions ought to be asked, and I know that they are being asked.
To all such people, I would say that I have asked myself these questions constantly during the last four years. We have most seriously weighed the risks. We have come to the conclusion that this is the best step that we can take. The elected Government of Singapore, under its courageous and most likable Chief Minister, Lim Yew Hock, has boldly and and vigorously tackled the threat, and there is no ground, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, for denying them further responsibilities.
Our Prime Minister, on his recent Commonwealth tour, said in Singapore itself that the best answer to Communism is free government. In our view, and in the view of the leaders of all political parties in Singapore, further constitutional advance offers the best and, perhaps, the only hope of encouraging and giving help to the democratic forces in Singapore. It is most certainly not, however, merely because of the threat of Communism that we first offered the Rendel Constitution in 749 1954 and that further advance has now been proposed. The forces of nationalism which seek this advance are themselves the product of those very liberal influences of the Western World which we ourselves brought to Singapore.
Our whole outlook and all our colonial tradition is directed to this end. Just as the Communists are alert to try and catch us out in any insincerity in the carrying out of our professed intentions, so our friends in Singapore and elsewhere are watching the way we handle the problem of emergent nations. They have seen with respect the way we have handled these problems elsewhere, and they look to us with trust to show equal understanding and vision in Singapore.
The only line that Her Majesty's Government draw is that a Communist conspiracy shall not gain control in any of our territories and shall not gain control in Singapore. If I were asked what is the overwhelming United Kingdom interest in Singapore and elsewhere in that part of the world, I would say that it is to prevent South-East Asia from going Communist by sustaining the democratic forces in the area. Singapore is at one of the great crossroads of the world, and it lies across one of the lifelines of the Commonwealth. In order to support our friends and to fulfil our international obligations, we must have an effective military base in Singapore for our forces in South-East Asia, and we have to do something which is not easy but which can be done, and which we believe we are doing, and that is to strike the balance between the military and the political means of defending the free world against Communism. In giving responsibility to the democratic forces in any territory, we must not at the same time destroy our ability to come to their aid if they need it. Nor should we let any of our friends in any part of the world have any cause to fear that this is what we may be doing.
There is also this further very important point. The good government we have established in Singapore is the reason why such a vast population has grown up, and in handing over our direct responsibilities we have an obligation to all these people to do our utmost to ensure that the standards we have set in administration are carried on. To this end, the prosperity of Singapore, which is founded as Raffles saw it would be on 750 her status as a free port and on international confidence in her stability, must be maintained, together with her position as one of the major channels of trade through which British commercial activity and investment are directed into South-East Asia, to our own advantage, of course—there is nothing wrong in that—but also to the advantage of Singapore and all the nations in the area.
What then, Sir, is the problem we now have to solve? It has long been assumed, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) who was my predecessor at the Colonial Office knows very well, that the economic and geographical forces in Singapore and the Federation will combine to bring Singapore and the Federation of Malaya together as an independent country. This has not yet happened, and it is a decision which the peoples of the two countries alone can take.
In the meantime, the aspirations of the people of Singapore must be met, even if it is generally recognised that an island of only 1½ million people and of the size of the Isle of Wight cannot aspire to independence on its own in the present situation in the world. Nor indeed, in aspiring even to full internal self-government can its people overlook the facts of history or disregard the international importance of Singapore, whether in the sphere of defence or of peaceful commerce between nations.
The solution at which we have arrived is, in broad outline, as follows. Firstly, it is that Singapore should have, and will have, the fullest possible measure of internal self-government, and within that sphere will be completely free from United Kingdom supervision and control. Secondly, the United Kingdom will continue to have exclusive responsibility for the defence of Singapore and for the conduct of Singapore's foreign relations although a measure of responsibility for the conduct of certain matters in this latter sphere will be delegated to Singapore acting within the framework of our policies, responsibilities and commitments. Thirdly, internal security will be the responsibility of the Singapore Government, but because it is interrelated with defence there will be set up an internal security council on which there will be equal numbers of United Kingdom and Singapore representatives, 751 and there will also be a representative of its great neighbour, the Government of the Federation of Malaya.
This council will be able, if need be by a majority vote, to reach binding decisions on matters of internal security. It will also be able to decide in any case of dispute, which I hope will be very rare, whether a particular matter is one of defence and external affairs or of internal security. The working of this unique experiment has been made possible by the co-operation of the Government of the Federation of Malaya, and I express our gratitude to our very good friend Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues for their readiness to assist in this respect.
The constitutional arrangements giving effect to these principles are unique, as I think the House will realise—but none the worse for that—not only in the composition of the internal security council, but in a number of other ways which have been designed, between myself on behalf of the British Government and the Singapore delegations, with the specific intention of signalising the dramatic break with the past which the new constitution provides.
For example, Singapore will be known in future not as the Colony but as the State of Singapore. Next, there will be the appointment, after six months, of a Malayan-born citizen as Her Majesty's representative in Singapore. Then there will be the appointment of a special United Kingdom Commissioner to supervise the responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government for defence and external affairs. Then there will be the creation of a separate Singapore citizenship which will be in all respects a fully-fledged Commonwealth citizenship. Then there will be the abolition of any constitutional supervision by the United Kingdom of Singapore's conduct of its internal affairs, except when these impinge on the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government for defence and foreign affairs, or are in contravention of the constitution.
At the same time, the United Kingdom will surrender the general power under the British Straits Settlements (Repeal) Acts, the general power to legislate for Singapore by Order in Council and the provision that the United Kingdom, by 752 Order in Council, may amend the Constitution will be only with the concurrence of the Government of Singapore unless—and this is a very important proviso, which I pray God it will never be necessary to apply—our abilities to discharge our responsibilities for defence and external affairs are endangered by the Government of Singapore, or unless the Constitution has been contravened, when the Constitution can be suspended without the concurrence of the Government of Singapore.
The Bill itself, as the House will realise, is primarily an enabling Bill to give power to Her Majesty by Order in Council to make the new Constitution and to make any necessary incidental, consequential or transitional provisions. Perhaps the House will bear with me if I say a word or two about that Constitution and Order in Council.
The general principles agreed last April, which I have already mentioned, have now been reduced to the form of a draft Order in Council for submission to Her Majesty. In the course of a further visit which I was glad the all-party delegation were able to pay to me here last May, full and final agreement was reached on all its provisions. As the House knows, we were unable to reach agreement on the existence of the ban, which Her Majesty's Government feel it necessary to impose, debarring people known to have been engaged in subversive activities from standing for election to the first Assembly under the new Constitution. We do not propose that this ban should be set out in the constitutional Order in Council itself. It will be set out in another Order which will be necessary to make provisions for the holding of the first election.
As to the principles of the ban, in our talks last May both sides adhered firmly to the line which they had taken hitherto, I on behalf of the British Government insisting on its necessity and the delegates from Singapore opposing it as a departure from normal practice. All parties in the Singapore Legislature are committed to the Constitution, and, I am glad to say, are content with it. It will be a system of Parliamentary democracy founded on Westminster.
I know that I speak for my friends in Singapore as well as for myself when I thank the officers of this House for the 753 kindness they have shown in helping and in giving guidance in regard to a number of very difficult problems. We are very grateful to them, and the work that they do all over our Commonwealth is, I hope, realised as I can assure them that it is most deeply appreciated.
The Constitution makes proper provision for an independent judiciary and for an independent public service with entrenched safeguards for the terms of service of all public officers and for the compensation rights of expatriate officers.
The Bill is an essay in mutual trust and co-operation. We intend to discharge our responsibilities in that spirit, and we have confidence that in the same way the people of Singapore will discharge theirs. The Constitution provides a just recognition of the aspirations of the people of Singapore and gives a sound democratic basis for Singapore's future. We believe it to be an honourable reaffirmation of our belief in the power of democracy to attract human loyalties and to maintain itself as a true way of life against all contenders.
§ 12.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
I think most hon. Members would wish to endorse most of what the Secretary of State has said about the remarkable growth and development, both economically and politically, of the new State of Singapore. The Bill is generally welcome not only because it is liberal in character in trying to find the answer to the problem of a Colony of peculiar perplexity where there was need for some effective democratic system of Government to be established, but also because it has won the good will and the consent of the people of Singapore.
The Bill does not involve a constitution which is being imposed on the people. It is a Constitution which has been freely negotiated with them. It has answered the difficult problem of how in a Colony of such strategic and commercial importance internal self-government could be established. It will contribute to the orderly development of Singapore and its future good government.
There are one or two preliminary comments that I should like to make apart from the Bill itself. First, it would be of some assistance to the House if when these rather complicated Bills are brought forward we could have a simple 754 statement about the kind of constitution which is to follow the introduction of the Bill. The Bill is couched in very difficult legal jargon, which I believe to be inevitable. True, a White Paper was published following the conferences, none the less it would assist us if we could have set out in a White Paper the substance of what will be embodied in the Order in Council.
I confess that in the past I have been a culprit and have probably not served the House as efficiently in this respect as I should have done. However, sitting in the Opposition, I find that when Bills couched in legal terminology come before us it would be of very great assistance if we could have a White Paper in much simpler language so that we might know precisely what will be put in the constitution in the Order in Council.
The Bill reminds us that the House of Commons does not restrict its attention only to the bigger territories. It is of great interest to note that over the last year a number of very small territories have received not only the special attention of the Secretary of State but the attention of the House of Commons. Singapore is not a large territory; as the Secretary of State has reminded us, it is about the size of the Isle of Wight. The House has also spent a great deal of time dealing with Turks Island and Christmas Island and a number of other smaller parts of the dependant Commonwealth, and I think that fact should be duly registered.
The Bill brings back to my mind the passage through this House of the Straits Settlements (Repeal) Act, 1946, when we were trying to find some basis for the future of Malaya and Singapore. We were up against the major difficulty that with the introduction again of civil administration after the defeat of the Japanese the old forms of Government could no more be resorted to and a new basis of unity and Government had to be found. Because of the apprehensions which were felt by the Malays, we could do no other at that time than to separate Singapore from Malaya itself. Most of us urged that policy with some great reluctance and some misgiving, but if political progress were to be made, if a democratic form of Government were ever to be established in Malaya, the 755 only course open to us was to do something about the Straits Settlements, to merge Penang and Malacca into Malaya itself and to separate Singapore from Malaya. That was done with the broad consent of all parties in the House, and it was a line of action which I think I am right in saying had been worked out under the Secretaryship at the Colonial Office of Mr. Oliver Stanley.
Today we see the most amazing changes which have come over the whole Continent of Asia, and particularly the change in this part of South-East Asia. When we were discussing the Straits Settlements (Repeal) Act twelve years ago, none of us thought that within twelve years a democratic Government in Malaya would be set up and that the House would be asked to acknowledge the Statehood of Singapore. Malaya faces a problem of almost unknown complexity in the building up of a democratic society—how to weld together three important races in a common democratic constitution. The progress in that part of the world and the political changes are remarkable.
There was general agreement when the Secretary of State made his announcement about what should be the basic lines of policy in respect of Singapore. In Cmd. 9777, published in 1956, the Government said that their object was:to carry forward the devolution upon the people of Singapore of the direction of their own affairs in accordance with the central purpose of British Colonial policy, endorsed by all the parties in the United Kingdom:That statement of policy has been admirably translated into the Bill.to ensure the maintenance of the democratic way of life of Singapore and its defence against external or internal attack;to maintain the position of Singapore as a great commercial and trading centre in South-East Asia, since upon that position depends the livelihood of its people;to maintain the position of Singapore as a major strategic centre and base in the defence system of the free world.
In all the circumstances, the Constitution goes as far as is practicable in these days, for it confers full internal self-government, including internal security, leaving responsibility for external affairs and defence to the United Kingdom. It permits a Malayan born person to represent the Queen and the Queen to continue as Head of State.
756 Most of us will agree that Singapore needs a certain amount of streamlining. It has a motley of ad hoc bodies, but perhaps this is not the time to suggest internal reform, because that will now pass to the control and jurisdiction of the Singapore Government. The Constitution now offered provides for a directly elected legislature and a Cabinet, with responsibility, made up of elected members, and it provides adequate safeguards for racial and religious minorities. It makes provision for citizenship within the Commonwealth and it also provides for ex-patriate civil servants, and other necessary safeguards for the public service.
In addition to those normal provisions for a democratic State, provision is also made so that the United Kingdom may be kept informed of the discussions in the Singapore Cabinet on matters of particular common interest. Although Singapore is to take its full responsibility for internal security, none the less an answer has been found to the very difficult problem involved by the structure of a Committee over which the United Kingdom representative is to preside. There will be equal numbers from Singapore and from the United Kingdom on that Committee and the Federation of Malaya will appoint one of its Ministers to it.
The Secretary of State has reminded us of the important provision which is reserved for the suspension of the Constitution:The United Kingdom Government should retain the power to suspend the Constitution at any time if in their opinion the internal situation in Singapore had so far deteriorated as to threaten their ability to carry out their responsibilities for external affairs or defence, or if the Singapore Government had acted in contravention of the Constitution. The power to make an Order in Council providing for the suspension of the Constitution would accordingly be retained by Her Majesty's Government; and to provide against an emergency situation, the United Kingdom Commissioner would be empowered, on instructions from Her Majesty's Government, to make an emergency proclamation enabling him to assume the Government of Singapore.That is a very exceptional but vital provision in the Constitution, and it is a remarkable feat that in the conference with Singapore representatives so far-reaching a clause should have been agreed by all concerned.
Such a Constitution as this has not been easy to reach, particularly because 757 of the immense strategic and commercial importance of Singapore and because of the very strong current of Communism which flows in that part of the world, especially among a people who are chiefly Chinese and who cannot but be affected in some respects by what is happening in Communist China.
We have also been reminded that there remains one point of difference between the representatives of Singapore and the United Kingdom Government. That is the eligibility of persons to become candidates for election to the first Parliament, if such persons have engaged in subversive activities. I recognise that neither side has yielded on this problem, and it is not my intention to press the point this morning, but it is unfortunate that agreement could not be reached on this one outstanding issue.
At the same time, before leaving the terms of the Constitution, I pay tribute to the Chief Minister and the excellent work he has done in this connection. The courage he has shown in Singapore has won the admiration of all of us and he has been supported by Mr. Lee and others. We are grateful for both the tolerance and the goodwill which they have brought into the discussions.
The House ought not to forget the foundation work which was done by the civil servants, particularly Sir Edward Gent, who thought a great deal about these problems during the war and the early days after, and Sir Henry Gurney. Both Governors were, unfortunately, tragically killed. Also Mr. Malcolm MacDonald was able to carry through some of the most difficult negotiations with the sultans and the representatives of Malaya during the crucial periods of 1946 and 1947.
I hope that with the separation of Singapore from the mainland its economic prosperity will not diminish. There is a danger that with the growth and development of Port Swettenham some of Singapore's trade will pass to the mainland port. I sincerely hope that adequate compensation in the way of further trade may be gained for Singapore, even if some of its immediate trade is lost in that way. Perhaps the Secretary of State will tell me the meaning of the announcement made a week or so ago about the creation of a naval base at Port Swettenham. 758 Possibly that is for the navy of the Federation, and may have little to do with Singapore, and our own requirements for a naval base there, but I should like that position clarified.
I want to say a few words about the future of Singapore. City States are terribly weak, in the conditions of the modern world. They cannot hope to weather some of the political and economic storms which arise from time to time. A suggestion has been made that some form of closer association between Singapore and the neighbouring territories might strengthen its position. It is in close proximity to Indonesia and to China herself, and the influence of those countries will undoubtedly have some bearing upon the policy and status of Singapore.
There was a dream that when the separation of Singapore from the mainland took place we could look forward to some kind of federation, within the Commonwealth, of the territories making up Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei, with Singapore as a member of such a federation. I feel that today such a federation would be altogether too ambitious. It is not likely to be realistic because of the differing stages of political development in the States which would comprise such a federation. There is a move on foot for a closer link between Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei, and in several conferences of Governors recently the suggestion has been made that this proposition might be considered. That seems altogether remote from any possibility of a link-up with Singapore itself.
Some Singapore politicians have also toyed with the idea of something like a condominium, in respect of external affairs and defence, composed of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and this country. I have little faith in the working of condominiums, unless all the partners except the vital one are asleep. The suggestion seems to be utterly unworkable. But many of the politicians there still have a dream of federation with the Federation of Malaya, and it may be desirable that, sooner or later, there should be a closer association between Singapore and the Federation than exists at present.
I do not think such an association would be at all possible if either Singapore or the Federation lost its identity in 759 the process, but some working arrangement might be conceived a little later on, once the Malays can be assured that in any political arrangement they are not likely to be dominated by the preponderant Chinese population. That apprehension is always there, and I cannot see much progress being made unless confidence can be established between Singapore and the Federation in this respect. The door must be kept open. In this connection I should like to recall to the House and to the Secretary of State the paragraph which I wrote into the White Paper, published in January, 1946, which said:In considering the need for a closer political integration in Malaya, His Majesty's Government consider that, at least for the time being, Singapore requires separate treatment. It is a centre of entrepôt trade on a very large scale and has economic and social interests distinct from those of the mainland. It is recognised, however, that there were and will be close ties between Singapore and the mainland, and it is no part of the policy of His Majesty's Government to preclude or prejudice in any way the fusion of Singapore and the Malayan Union in a wider union at a later date should it be considered that such a course were desirable.In 1947 a similar pledge was given that:His Majesty's Government still hold this view, and believe that the question of Singapore joining in a Federation should be considered on its merits and in the light of local opinion at an appropriate time … The new Governments and legislatures in the two territories will be the appropriate authorities to consider any demand for the inclusion of Singapore within the Federation, and it would be a mistake to delay the formation of the Federation on the one hand, or the reconstituted Legislative Council in Singapore on the other, by instituting at this time any formal discussions, or negotiation, on the subject of the inclusion of Singapore. The question is one on which considerable difference of opinion exists in Malaya, but the establishment of the new Federal constitution will be without prejudice to the possibility of Singapore joining the Federation at some later date.I gather from what the Secretary of State has said that there is no going back on those declarations, and that it is entirely a matter for the two Governments concerned as to their future relations.
The Secretary of State invoked the name of Raffles on a number of occasions during his speech, and I want to endorse all that he has said about the wisdom, foresight, qualities and administrative skill of that great man. This country 760 had so little regard for Raffles that when he died we completely lost trace of the place of his burial, and it was not many years ago that his grave was discovered in Hendon Cemetery. I hope that the City Council in Singapore—and especially its chairman—will not seek to obliterate the name of Raffles from its streets, the educational institute, or the statue erected to his memory. I am quite sure that his spirit will brood over the future development and progress of the system of Government which is now offered to Singapore.
It may be that Singapore would like her own absolute freedom, but I think that she is already conscious of the fact that the complexity of her problems and the unpredictable trend of future events in Asia make it impossible to present her with a different interim solution from the one offered by this Constitution. Except in grave emergency, I believe that by this act Singapore has the genuine measure of self-government and political freedom that is practicable at the present time.
I am sure that the British Parliament and people, as well as the Commonwealth, will wish Singapore well in the next stage of her great adventure. It will be our pride to enjoy the friendship and goodwill of Singapore, to give her all the practical aid we can and to encourage her to greater progress and prosperity.
§ 12.40 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)
I am very pleased to follow the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) in this debate, and also to add my good wishes to the State of Singapore. I also wish to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the success of his negotiations. We know that for a considerable period we have had representatives of a number of Dominions, comprised of all races, coming to this country to discuss this very difficult problem. I think, too, that for the very satisfactory solution reached we in this House owe a great debt of gratitude to my right hon. Friend.
I should have liked to have dealt with a great many of the points raised by both right hon. Gentlemen, but I do not intend to go over them all again. However, I 761 wish to draw attention to what I think is a very exceptional Long Title to the Bill, because it says:… peace, order and good government thereof.In a State that has peace and order, it means that the Government are able to devote time to the welfare of the people. I hope most sincerely that the Long Title will prove apt and that what it provides will bring much happiness to the people of Singapore.
I particularly want to say a few words in this debate, because in 1945 I flew into Singapore with the British Red Cross after the Japanese had capitulated. We had come from India in a rather old Sunderland with as much equipment as we could bring. We had no idea with what conditions we were going to be faced in Singapore, but I am very happy to say that we received the most tremendous welcome from all five races there. One must remember that there are five races in the island of Singapore.
I wish to pay a tribute to the people of Singapore for the help which they gave in those days to the people interned by the Japanese. One has to remember that peoples of various nationality suffered under the Japanese. They were literally starving, and one could barter anything for a packet of cigarettes.
During the Japanese occupation the people of Singapore had kept their faith in Great Britain, and in many cases had guarded the property of their former masters or employers. In doing so, they often risked their lives. I think that this fact augurs very well for the future of the State of Singapore, because if under those conditions people could retain their faith in this country, they will want to remain with us in the Commonwealth in the future.
As my right hon. Friend said, there has been the most remarkable change in the standard of living in Singapore. I understand that the average income per head of the population is now 200 Malayan dollars. That is about the highest average income in any country in South-East Asia. This is all the more remarkable when one remembers, as I do only too well, the state in which the Japanese left the buildings, with no water and electric light. On going back to Singapore one realises the great advance that has been made since 1945. 762 There are now magnificent multi-storey buildings and excellent shops. The city has come alive again. What has happened is a remarkable tribute to the energies of the people of Singapore.
My right hon. Friend said that Singapore was the Lion City. I think that its people are lion-hearted. I hope that they will remain lion-hearted, that they will remember that our symbol is the British lion and will continue to be with us in the Commonwealth for many generations to come.
Many other States of a similar nature will, of course, be watching this experiment with great intensity. Therefore, I hope that it will prove a great success. It is worth recalling that of all the territories which have recently been given their freedom, whether they became Dominions or Republics, not one, with the exception of one small State in India, has turned to Communism. I think that shows how well and truly the foundations of these various States and territories can be laid.
What we are discussing this morning is another step in the history of our Commonwealth, because it has shown how we in this country can adapt the various constitutions to the needs of the people. This is an entirely new concept of a State within the Commonwealth, and it may lead to other conceptions in the future.
It has been said that we owe a great debt to Sir Stamford Raffles. It is interesting to realise that in Singapore there was originally no indigent population, with the exception of a few fishermen, and that in the first place the Chinese and Indians were brought in to help. To them we also owe a great debt. Rather a different situation has now arisen. The Chinese first came to the territory to earn a living because of the starvation that existed in their country, and the Indians came because there was less chance of finding work in India than in Singapore. They have now decided of their own free will to make this State their home. I hope that they will continue to look upon it as their home and will not still owe allegiance to the countries from which originally they came.
I believe that in this multi-racial community we have succeeded up to date in getting the highest development of inter-racial mingling. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned that there are still 763 certain separate communities in Singapore, but I would suggest that we are probably very much nearer to a multiracial community in Singapore than in any other territory.
One of the difficulties which I foresee in the future is the vast increase in population. I understand that the birth-rate there is now the highest in the world. That is rather interesting when one remembers that when the Chinese originally came to Singapore they were not allowed to bring any women with them. It was not until they had been there for a considerable time that the women were allowed to leave China. There are now more women than men in Singapore. I hope that this is not going to add to the difficulties of the future.
I would draw attention to the fact that in Singapore it is possible to hear practically every European language spoken, in addition, of course, to Asian languages. I hope that under the new Constitution the people of Singapore will be allowed to live freely in the territory. One point touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman was that of free religious worship. I suggest that this comes under "peace", as mentioned in the Long Title. Free religious worship leads to peace.
A tribute must be paid to the excellent police force in Singapore. Despite all the difficulties there, the members of that force have behaved in an exceptional manner in keeping law and order.
It is very interesting to see the growing stability which is apparent from the fact that there have been fewer strikes in the last year. I understand that in 1955 there were as many at 275 strikes, whereas in 1956 there were only 29. I suggest that the ratio of crime is very low considering the vast population and the crowded conditions under which the people live. The keeping of the peace includes industrial peace. It is interesting to note that there is a considerable increase in the trade unions and that this is one of the first territories where the Workmen's Compensation Act came into force. It was in operation as early as 1932. There are also apprenticeships and training schemes, which augurs very well for the future of this country. I realise that we are faced with consider- 764 able educational difficulties, and this will probably be one of the major problems confronting the Governor. But with the existence of the universities and the fact that we can have students in this country, I hope that, together with the authorities in Singapore, we may be able to overcome them.
One gift which we have made to Singapore is the chance for the people to live healthy lives. As far back as 1901 malaria was under control. I do not say that it was completely obliterated, but it was under control. This island has never had a plague such as cholera or smallpox since about 1930, which is a great tribute to British administration. A thing which interests me intensely, especially when one considers that the population is crowded on to 224 square miles, is the fact that the infant mortality rate has gone down enormously. In 1920 it was 265 per thousand, and in 1955 it was down to 14.69 per thousand. In a way, however, that very successful achievement brings with it the worry of what we are to do with this great population in the future.
We have managed over a period of years to achieve stable conditions regarding elections. As early as 1948, only three years after the Japanese had left, the people were able for the first time to take part in elections. The orderly way in which they were carried out was very gratifying because it is not easy to achieve such conditions when elections are started. My right hon. Friend has mentioned other points in the Constitutions of 1951, 1952 and 1955, and I do not intend to go over them again. I wish to pay a tribute to the fact that we have trained a great many locally domiciled men and women of all races for work in the civil service. In my view, it has been one of the mistakes made by other Powers with Colonial Territories that they have not paid enough attention to training such people. We wish these civil servants great success in their new responsibility. At present, I understand that there are about 311 expatriate permanent civil servants, and I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend give an assurance that these people will get fair treatment. I would draw attention to the fact that there are also 76 short-time expatriates, and I hope that if they are to be kept on for a short time in the future they will be informed of their full contract period 765 and compensated according to their years of service.
We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the British commercial community. At present, there are 20,000 people working overseas in some kind of office and bringing industry, employment and commerce to Singapore. I hope that in the future these people will be given the security they need to carry on with their work. If they are not provided with that security, I am certain that the commerce and so on of Singapore will naturally decline. Many firms have been built up a goodwill over generations. Some of them are nearly 100 years old, and I hope that they will be allowed to remain.
I join with the right hon. Member for Wakefield in his suggestion that in the future there should be a federation of the various territories, including North Borneo and Sarawak and the Federation of Malaya. They all have different possibilities, and their joining together would be for the prosperity of the people, especially for the enormous population in Singapore, because in the generations to come other outlets will have to be found for its people.
In wishing prosperity to the State of Singapore, we should remember the people who have gone there from Sir Stamford Raffles down to the present generation. Having worked there, I should like to pay tribute to Lord Louis Mountbatten, as he then was, who came out to resuscitate the British military administration and help with the reopening of Singapore; to Lord Killearn as High Commissioner for South-East Asia and to Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, the last High Commissioner. It is a long way from the time 137 years ago when this city was first formed, but I hope that in the future the Indian, Malays and Eurasians will attain and retain their own culture and traditions and build on them. If they do that, there will be no looking backward to the countries from which they originally came, but these people will feel that they are citizens of the State of Singapore instead of their original countries. In this way we may find success in the future.
Finally, I wish to pay my tribute to the present Chief Minister, Lim Yew Flock, for his courage and great sense of humour which has carried him through many difficulties. I wish the State of 766 Singapore and its peoples much prosperity and happiness in the future.
§ 12.57 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
Unlike the hon. Lady the Member for Devonport (Miss Vickers), whose eloquent speech we all appreciated, I did not make the same dramatic entry into Singapore that evidently she did in 1946. My first contact was a little more prosaic but none the less impressive to me, but even though I had only a short time there as a visitor rather than a worker, I can endorse a great deal of what she has said regarding the extraordinary development which has taken place there since the end of the war.
This unit which now emerges into a large measure of self-government is very small, and there are no doubt some who feel that this has a melancholy aspect. It has been assumed and is still assumed by some who talk of freedom and democracy that it is necessary to create larger units rather than the smaller units as now represented by the State of Singaport. It is a small island, hardly larger than one of the islands near our own coast. It has a present population of at least 1¼ million, and that figure is likely to be very much greater in the days ahead. It is separated from the mainland only by a causeway. It is paradoxical in that we should be engaged in giving a high standard of self-government to a small island detached from the mainland to which, geographically as well as politically, it should be united.
None the less, I agree that, in existing circumstances, it is right that we should confer upon this particular island this considerable degree of separate status and independence, rather than seek at this juncture a premature union with the mainland. We know that there are difficulties and problems on the mainland and generally in the Federation of Malaya. We know of the very deep fears that exist among many people about premature union of the two parts of this geographical peninsula. I hope there will be union at no distant date, but the responsibility for that rests on the peoples themselves.
That is not to say that we have no right, and had no right, to be in that country. On the contrary, I believe we British had and have as much right as other people to be there. Who is entitled to Malaya or Singapore? If one replies by saying 767 "The original inhabitants," we must say that there are very few of them. The actual aboriginals are a tiny fraction only of the total population. That is particularly true of Singapore itself. We, as British people, can lay claim, with all our faults and shortcomings in many respects, to the fact that we have been able to put Singapore on the map.
Many references have been made to Sir Stamford Raffles. I regret that I was not here to hear the Colonial Secretary's speech, but I endorse all that he and others have said about the sagacity and enterprise of Sir Stamford Raffles. We have seen how this barren island, with a tiny, scattered population, has grown into the great commercial centre it is today, with more than 1¼ million population. Let me state briefly why we can understand the fears that exist in Malaya of a premature union between the two areas.
Of the 1¼ million population of Singapore, about 85 per cent. are Chinese. On the mainland of the Federation of Malaya the proportions are different; there is a preponderance of Malays. The Chinese form a very large section. I think I am right in saying that the Chinese and the Indian populations together approximately equal the Malay population. If in addition to that about a million Chinese were to be flung into the balance, theoretically we should not mind it. We should welcome the multiplicity of communities and the capacity of men, no matter what their race, creed or language may be, to settle down as human beings into a multiple State; yet it does not work like that.
At the present time, large numbers of Chinese in Singapore have not the same ideals as some of the Malays, Indians and ourselves have in regard to a multiple State. Large numbers of them have been infected with Communism. They believe that their main aim is to establish some kind of Communist State. I do not think that is true of most, but of a certain proportion. There are also those who may sway this way or that way, or sit on the fence waiting to see when to come down towards the side which they think for the time being is most propitious.
Those who are infected with Communism are utilising the difficulties there for Communist purposes, as Communists 768 always do. There are others who are not necessarily precisely Communist but only incidentally, or because they have a sense of prior obligation to China, whatever may be the political position in China itself. I have talked with Chinese in Singapore and elsewhere, and I have noted how emotionally attached they are to China, whatever the Government of China may be at the time being. To them something is desirable intrinsically because it is Chinese.
If there were to be an important change in the political position in China, and if the present Communist régime in Peking were to give way to some other form of Government, large numbers of the Chinese in Singapore and elsewhere in the Far East would sway accordingly. Many Chinese are infected by Communism, of course, without necessarily knowing all that that means. Only a very few of them may know. Some are Marxists who have read their Marx and Lenin, but the large majority call themselves Communists, but are probably so emotionally, and little more. There are others who call themselves Communists but with whom nationality is the prior emotion determinant.
Some people in Malaya are frightened that if amalgamation were to take place there might be a preponderant political feeling among the Chinese in these two areas in favour of changing the present institutions and of some development towards association with Communist China. I understand this difficulty, but now the responsibility of dealing with it is passing to indigenous politicians in Singapore, and we should refrain as much as possible from interfering and giving them advice. It is sometimes a great mistake to rush in and start to criticise. After all, those on the spot are on the job and they know the difficulties. It is much better to leave it to them, because they understand the problem better than we who are outside. I therefore beg hon. Members on either side of the House to refrain from interfering too quickly. Let us have confidence in the men on the spot to determine how best to deal with their own political and other problems.
There is another problem with which the people on the spot will have to deal. Reference has been made to the very encouraging fact that infant mortality in Singapore has dropped from 265 per 769 1,000 in 1920—which means roughly one baby in four dying in the first year—to the new figure of 40.69, which is less than twice the amount of the infant mortality rate in this country. From one point of view the drop is encouraging, and from another it is disturbing. A great deal of the area of Singapore is incapable of cultivation. The soil is very rocky. Though it might be brought under cultivation with a great deal of capital investment, Singapore is, on the whole, a commercial port and almost everything will depend upon commerce. That being so, we must expect an acute problem from the extraordinarily rapid growth of population. One wonders whether there will be enough employment for the population in the course of a few years when it may number up to 2½ million.
That is another side of the picture and will create much anxiety for whoever is in charge of Singapore in the days to come. I am glad to bear testimony to the work that has been done in housing. There are still repellent slums, but I have seen some fine housing development, as a result of which many families have been transferred from the slums of Singapore. This task will be a very difficult one, but the authorities are doing what they can. They have done a great deal, but the present population still remains a serious challenge. The political sagacity of mankind must be brought to bear upon active family planning. If we are capable of planning our society materially we can surely plan it vitally as well. If we are to succeed still further in pushing off death, as we are doing by reducing infant mortality and adult mortality, we must counterbalance it at the other end by control of birth.
We have met some of the people who are now active in political affairs in Singapore when they have come here; among them are David Marshall, Lee Kuan Yew and Lim Yew Hock. Whatever may be their political outlook, they and others are desirous that Singapore shall be free from the Communist menace by proving to the people of Singapore and to the world the capacity of the people of Singapore to build up a progressive Government which the people can appreciate.
They have these difficulties and many complexities. We were aware of them 770 when we were responsible. We could never solve them in the way in which they may be solved by those who will now be responsible. There has always been the difficulty of trying to deal with people who suspect that because we are not of their race and are not an Asian we must have an ulterior motive. That was not always true, but the belief was there. That is why those who are now entering on this obligation should receive our confidence and why we must anticipate that they may succeed where we have failed.
We have heard more than once of proposals for a much larger and more grandiose federation of Malaya, Singapore, Borneo and Sarawak, but I doubt very much whether that will eventuate in the near future. There are great difficulties of distance and different stages of development and of suspicion in Singapore with the result that the linking of those areas might be to their disadvantage.
At the same time, I see no reason why there should not be some kind of association so long as those areas are within the orbit of the Commonwealth, nor why we should not increase the number of contacts, commercial, economic, cultural and otherwise, to bring together people of many different races and encourage in them a sense of common humanity underlying their differences, complex as that job may be. Therefore, whilst one endorses all that has been said about past British pioneers, we should extend our very best wishes to those who are to carry on this responsibility and hope that those who are far more indigenous than ourselves will successfully share in the great task of proving to the world that democracy can work.
If we can see a workable democracy established in Singapore, also in Malaya, and later in Borneo, that will do far more than all the military equipment—necessary as that may be—to prove to the world that our kind of government can outlive and outlast institutions behind the bamboo curtain. For this very reason, I cordially congratulate the Colonial Secretary on introducing this Bill.
I feel that I speak on behalf of all my absent colleagues—perhaps I should be grateful to them for not being here, for otherwise I might not have been able 771 to speak in this debate—when I say that I hope this Bill will be one more way in which freedom and democracy can be vindicated in that part of the world.
§ 1.14 p.m.
§ Mr. John Peel (Leicester, South-East)
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this Second Reading debate because I lived, worked, played, wilted, sorrowed and rejoiced with the people of Singapore for seven fateful years, from 1938 to 1945, with only one brief break of seven months when I played a very minor and ineffectual part in a railway construction project in Siam in 1943 under Japanese auspices.
In those seven fateful years, I think I can honestly say, I reached the heights of happiness and plumbed the depths of depression, though never of despair. I had the privilege of serving again in Singapore in 1948 when that island and city were staging such a magnificent come back after the debilitating effects of war. I can recall with pleasure the fact that my father unveiled the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles, which stands outside the main Government buildings on the esplanade in Singapore.
For those reasons I feel I have a right to wish the Lion City well as she approaches the threshhold of a new experiment in self-government and, in welcoming this Bill today, to hope that that great city will continue to fulfil the great expectations of her British founder, Sir Stamford Raffles. As hon. Members know, Singapore was a very sparsely populated swamp when Raffles found it in 1819. Through a combination of British administrative genius and European and Chinese thrift, hard work, commercial acumen and business know-how, she has been enabled to become the thriving and prosperous entrepôt which she is today. Once again Britain hands over a territory which has benefited immeasurably from her tutelage.
I shall not keep the House for long, but there are one or two points I wish to make in connection with this Bill. I was very grateful to hear my Tight hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies say that, so far as we are concerned, there is no question of barring any doors to a closer political association between the island and the mainland, the 772 Federation of Malaya. I hope also that this new step in Singapore's development will not mean in the minds of the people of Malaya and Singapore any question of barring a door to that closer association.
Singapore is as close to the Federation of Malaya as the Isle of Wight is to Britain, and their economies are complementary. It seems that in those circumstances there should be a closer political association. I think the leaders in Singapore are very well aware of this need. With all the wealth of political sagacity which is now available in the Commonwealth, I do not believe it is beyond the wit of our people to evolve a suitable Constitution.
As other hon. Members have mentioned, we should not forget those three small territories for which we are responsible in North Western Borneo are too small ever to stand alone in the world as it is today, but they may well conceive in due course that their ultimate salvation would lie in a closer political association with Singapore and the Federation of Malaya. They have much in common, racially, economically, and in their background connection with Great Britain.
This Bill is bringing into being yet another new Commonwealth Constitution. Nobody can pretend that in the growth of our Commonwealth we have not demonstrated the infinite variety and ingenuity of our political experience and creativeness. I do not believe that we have run dry of further political and constitutional ideas.
I very much welcome the intention to provide adequate safeguards for minorities in Singapore, especially with regard to the Malays. I welcome, too, the fact that the title of Her Majesty's representative in the island is to be a Malay one. I cannot help feeling that these proposals will be most helpful in due course when they contemplate closer association, as I hope they will.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State mentioned the position of European civil servants after the Constitution Order comes into force. I hope that he can assure the House that adequate provision will be made in the Order to safeguard the interests of members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service who continue to serve the Government of 773 Singapore and also that the Order will include an assurance that special allowances, such as cost-of-living allowances, which are being paid now should not be arbitrarily reduced on grounds of political expediency unrelated to any changes in the cost-of-living index.
I should like my right hon. Friend to give some information on one other point. For how long will those guilty of subversion be banned from standing for election to the Assembly?
Finally, I hope that we shall make it abundantly clear that the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government for the external defence and external affairs of this City State is undertaken not only in the interests of Singapore and the United Kingdom but above all in the interests of both the Commonwealth and, not least, the Federation of Malaya.
§ 1.22 p.m.
§ Sir Henry Studholme (Tavistock)
I also should like to welcome the Bill and wish Singapore and its people every happiness and prosperity in the future.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies and other speakers have referred to that great pioneer Sir Stamford Raffles and others whose work and wisdom have contributed towards making Singapore what it is today. I think that we should pay a tribute to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, whose personality—and that is very important—sympathetic understanding and wide vision have helped to guide the fortunes of Singapore along the right lines. I believe that when the history of our times is written it will be seen that my right hon. Friend holds an honoured place in the annals of colonial development within the British Commonwealth.
§ 1.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am indeed grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Tavistock (Sir H. Studholme) for his very generous words. I must apologise to him for not rising at once, but I really was greatly moved by his words. It is one of those nice things to hear, particularly when many difficult problems have to be faced. Sometimes one's actions are not interpreted as they have been by my hon. Friend. I very much value what he said.
This has been an exceedingly cheerful send-off for the new status of the State 774 of Singapore. I know that the united good wishes of this House—and I am sure the same will apply in another place—will be of the greatest encouragement to our friends in Singapore and to the forces of law and order there. The people of Singapore can take encouragement from the speeches of the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones), the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen), and my hon. Friends the Members for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), Leicester, South-East (Mr. Peel) and Tavistock, and from the knowledge that we recognise their difficulties and are anxious to help. The fact that we trust them to face the future in a realistic way will be of the greatest importance.
The right hon. Member for Wakefield made a point which, when I was in Opposition, I used to think had a good deal of merit. I recognise that it is exceedingly difficult without the machinery of Whitehall behind one always to be able to discover precisely what the inevitable legal language of Bills may mean. As the right hon. Gentleman rightly said, a White Paper was published which gave the result of my talks with the Singapore delegation. There have been other occasions when the shape of the Constitution was made fairly clear to the House as a whole.
Difficulty arises from what the right hon. Gentleman suggested, as I think he would realise, but I will certainly give sympathetic consideration on a future occasion to the possibility of the publication of a White Paper giving in outline the form, or possibly even a draft, of the Order in Council. Judging from the knowledge that the right hon. Gentleman showed in his speech, it did not appear that he wanted any more help in arriving at what the matter was all about than was already provided.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to a recent Press statement about Port Swettenham, and asked whether it had any significance. Under the local defence arrangements which were arrived at after the war, the Federation of Malaya assumed responsibility for the land forces, while Singapore assumed responsibility for the naval forces. The naval force was the Royal Malayan Navy, whose responsibility was the local inshore 775 defence of the Federation and of Singapore, the Peninsula. Now that the Federation is independent it is no longer appropriate for Singapore to finance the naval defence of the Federation. The Federation rightly desires to assume that responsibility itself. Therefore, the Royal Malayan Navy is being transferred to the Federation, but the Royal Navy in Singapore is in no way affected. I hope that that clears up the point that the right hon. Gentleman had in mind.
The right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East referred to the relationship between Singapore and the neighbouring territories. Of course, it is our hope that there will be close friendship between Singapore and the Federation. I assure my hon. Friend that we shall not close any door on an even closer relationship. We hope also that there will be close friendship with the Colonies of Sarawak and North Borneo, and with the territory of His Highness the Sultan of Brunei, with which we are closely associated. As to the form which the organisation may take in the distant future, I think that crystal gazing, on my part anyhow, would be a little unprofitable.
The right hon. Gentleman ended his speech by expressing the hope that the City Council in Singapore will recognise the great responsibility that it has to ensure that historical justice is done and that the proprieties of public life and national gratitude are observed. I entirely endorse what he said. In all probability there would not be anybody in Singapore had it not been for the foresight and brilliant work of Sir Stamford Raffles. His memory should be held in honour not only here but in Singapore as well, and I hope that nothing will be done to make that less sure. I know that the House will have heard with great interest from my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East that it was his father who unveiled Sir Stamford Raffles' statue, which I think gives him a particular right to intervene in our discussion today. Both he, who had some grim years in Singapore and Siam, and my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport who had a most dramatic and honourable link with Singapore, speak with very great personal knowledge of Singapore.
776 I join with my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport in complimenting the people of Singapore, not only on their courage and faith during the war, and in our ultimate victory, but on the astonishing recovery they have made, which augurs very well for their future. I share with her the hope that all who live there will tend more and more to regard it as their home, and as the centre of their loyalties. Indeed, this is one of the main purposes behind the Citizenship Bill, and I think that we can take some encouragement from the success already attending efforts to bring about just that state of mind.
I agree with her, also, on the necessity for people of all races to be able to live in absolute freedom and security there, and I recognise, as she does, the invaluable contribution made by the British commercial community, and by commercial representatives of other firms as well. Here, perhaps, I may say something that I have not actually mentioned before. So often in the work of my office, as the right hon. Gentleman will know, one meets people who say that we live in a sort of ivory castle in the Colonial Office, or in Whitehall in general, divorced from the harsh realities and difficulties of business life overseas, and that we are, perhaps, inclined to disregard their difficulties. People come to us from time to time and say, "If only the commercial community were brought more into the picture how much more sensible your decisions would be."
Both in Singapore and in the Federation there has been nothing but enlightened support by the commercial community for developments of the kind that this Bill represents. They recognise that in the present state of the world and in South-East Asia, progress on these lines is not only morally right but is a good economic business proposition as well. I am most grateful to them for the foresight that they have shown, and for the strong backing they have given to the policy of realistic liberalism.
I join also with the hon. Lady in her tribute to the police and to the great courage shown by them under great provocation. They deserve all our congratulations. It is, of course, true, that because of the resolution shown by the Government of Singapore and by the police themselves, those who are anxious to make trouble have had to think again 777 about it, and there has been a welcome change in the local security situation.
She also asked me about what she called the short-term expatriates"—the contract officers. Although I am sure that she has it, I would direct her to the statement of policy on Malayanisation, issued by the Singapore Government. In page 5, the hon. Lady will see this undertaking:Officers on normal contracts are not eligible for compensation, and their terms of service will continue to be governed by their conditions of contract. The Government will fulfil its obligations to them under their existing terms of service, and they are given an assurance that, subject to satisfactory service, and subject always, of course, to the right of the Government to abolish any post that is no longer necessary, there is no intention of terminating their contracts before the term fixed in the agreement.My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East, also asked questions about Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service. The provisions for these, and for the security of their future, which I mentioned in my opening speech, will be enshrined in the Constitution, or by Order in Council, and I think that my hon. Friend will find them satisfactory. He also asked how long the subversive ban would continue. It is, of course, a ban on those people to whom it applies in regard to elections to the first Assembly in Singapore. The Dentention of Persons Ordinance is a Singapore Government ordinance, and Mr. Lim Yew Hock's Government have announced that it is their intention to renew it. The ban itself will, as I say, apply to elections to the first assembly.
I hope that I have answered the points raised. I should like again to thank the House as a whole for the sympathy it has shown; and the happy note of confidence that we are able to transmit to our friends and colleagues in Singapore.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Hughes-Young.]
§ Committee upon Monday next.