§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Edward Boyle)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The object of this Bill is to give effect to the intention of the Government, announced in this House by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 21st March, to create a new Government Department to be called the Department of Technical Co-operation. This new Department will deal with the provision of aid to overseas countries in the form of what is known as technical assistance, and it is being created to bring together certain responsibilities and functions which are at present divided amongst the three overseas Departments—the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office, and the Colonial Office.
Up to the present time, requests for technical assistance have been dealt with by one or other of these three Departments according to whether the requests have come from a foreign country, from one of the independent countries of the Commonwealth, or from one of our dependent territories. The Government's proposal is that such requests should in future be handled by the new Department, irrespective of the country from which they come.
Before I go into detail about the functions of the new Department, I think perhaps the House may like to have a short explanation why this Bill is being introduced by a Treasury Minister. I sincerely apologise to the House for the fact that I address them so often, and I think that many hon. Members will feel 248 rather like certain people felt about Hamlet's ghost—What, has this thing appear'd again?There are two reasons for this. First, the Treasury has a general responsibility for all matters relating to the machinery of Government; and second, one of the most important functions of the Treasury is to see that, within the necessary overall limits determined by the circumstances of our Budget and balance of payments, public money is spent prudently and with the right choice of priorities. I am quite confident that, from this point of view, a decision that all requests for technical assistance now dealt with in the overseas Departments should be handled by one Department will mark a definite advance.
The wide range of assistance given to overseas countries, under the general heading of "technical assistance," was described at some length in the White Paper (Command No. 1308) published last month. I do not think I can define technical assistance better than by quoting the definition given in paragraph (9) of the White Paper. According to this definition, technical assistance covers:training in the United Kingdom and overseas, the provision of experts, administrators and other professional men and women; the provision of advisory technical and consultant services and expert missions, and the supply of equipment for training, demonstration, pilot schemes or surveys.I think one can, without undue subtlety, draw a broad distinction between helping overseas countries with trained men and women, special equipment and so on, and helping them with the provision of capital aid. It is perfectly true that a capital project may include some element of technical assistance; and it is certainly true that technical assistance may quite often help to pave the way for the success of some major capital project, by means of a pilot scheme or by the expert assessment of the local resources that can be made available. Hon. Members will probably have read the interesting remarks in Mr. Andrew Shonfleld's book The Attack on World Poverty, in which he lays stress on the concept of pre-investment before some major scheme of capital aid is undertaken. In the same way, a technical assistance scheme 249 may on occasion, if it is to fulfil its purpose, require equipment on a scale exceeding the normal provisions of this kind of aid. Nevertheless, I feel confident that there is usually, in practice, a pretty clear distinction to be drawn according to whether the object of the scheme in question is capital development, or whether it falls under one of the heads which I have already quoted from paragraph (9) of the White Paper.
So far as capital aid is concerned, I believe that our present procedures are adequate. I am talking now about the machinery and not about the scale of capital aid, which can be discussed during this debate. The point I was making is that our procedures regarding capital aid will not be affected by this Bill. I should like to make it absolutely plain to the House at the outset of the debate that the new Department of Technical Co-operation will not be responsible for the provision of capital. That will remain, as at present, with the overseas Departments. I think that is perfectly reasonable. Loans or grants to overseas Governments do not normally involve the United Kingdom Government in any close technical examination of the project or plan for which the money is to be spent. On the other hand, the mobilisation and application of our resources for technical assistance is a task of very considerable complexity, and requires the kind of co-operation which a unified Department can best provide.
Now I want to give the House some indication of the present size of our technical assistance effort. At the beginning of 1960, which is the last date for which figures are available, about 47,500 overseas students were receiving educational training in this country of some kind or another. About 2,000 of this total of 47,500 students held some form of United Kingdom scholarship. About 2,500 trainees have come to this country under Colombo Plan technical assistance arrangements since they started in 1951, and 380 British experts have been employed under the Colombo Plan in South and South-East Asia. I can remember very well when I was at the Ministry of Education visiting a technical college in the north of England and meeting there a pharmacologist who had just come back from working in Nepal under the Colombo Plan technical 250 assistance arrangements. Altogether, some 6,000 officers, covering the whole range of professionally qualified men and women, were recruited in this country to serve overseas Governments during the years 1955–60.
Some of this assistance, particularly in the educational field, is at present handled not by the overseas Departments but by the Ministry of Education, the British Council, the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, and certain other bodies. For the most part, where arrangements of this kind are working well there is no intention of disturbing them, although, naturally enough, there may be a need for some marginal adjustment of responsibility from time to time, and I hope, if I may say this respectfully to the House, that those adjustments will be made with the minimum of friction. In any event, most of the forms of aid which I have described have been provided in the past by the overseas Departments, and will be provided in the future by the new Department.
I should like to give some examples of the work which will be done by the new Department when it comes into being. One table in the White Paper of last March lists 36 different categories of experts whom we recruited last year for service in the United Kingdom's dependent territories. They ranged in alphabetical order from "administrators, architects, auditors" to "veterinary" and ended with a substantial category headed "miscellaneous" to include people who could not be classified even in that long list of 36 separate categories. The Government have found in practice that the business of recruiting a biologist, for example, is not such a different job whether he is to serve in Asia, Africa, or the Caribbean. The Government consider that the work of recruiting these specialists can be done more easily and efficiently if it is centralised in one Department.
I am sure that there is no need for me to emphasise to the House the importance of the work done by these experts. It is a great deal less spectacular than some other forms of overseas aid. Technical assistance does not easily catch the headlines in the same way as the damming of a great river or the founding of a new major industry in a territory. But, nevertheless, it will 251 often lay the foundation on which a sound project of capital investment is based, and it may very well provide the skill without which a major industrial problem may be unable to develop its full potential.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
The hon. Gentleman continues to emphasise the word "technical" which is in the title of the Bill, and he quoted the definition from the White Paper. The Bill refers to social services. Are they primarily only to be ancillary to technical development? How, for example, will the problems of medicine, the vital problems of a veterinary service and of veterinary research into the problems of large areas of the continent, continue to be tackled?
§ Sir E. Boyle
That certainly would come within the ambit of the Bill. Clause 1 (1) speaks of technical assistance, and there is special mention in that context of assistance in the fields of economic development, administration, and the social services. I would say that obvious cases which one would consider to come within the ambit of the Bill are those concerning experts needed to advise in such things as the starting of a new industry, the provision of skilled administrators in every field, and under the heading of "social services" the provision of veterinary services would be most certainly included.
I was about to add when the hon. Member intervened that it seems to me that in the whole matter of economic development, whether of growth at home or abroad, there is always danger of putting too much emphasis on the spectacular. Putting in weight all along the line, sometimes in unspectacular ways, may have just as great an economic effect as those aspects of economic development that most easily attract public attention.
The United Kingdom has a long record of service overseas both in the public and private spheres, which dates back over several centuries and of which we as a country can justly be proud. Anyone reading the White Paper could hardly fail to be impressed by the size and authority of our effort. Nevertheless, the needs of emergent countries are becoming more urgent every year—I would say 252 almost every month—and the supply of qualified people available for service overseas is naturally limited. It is, therefore, of the highest importance that we should have the best possible arrangements both for selecting them and for using their abilities in the best directions.
Another important responsibility of the new Department is the administration of the scheme set out in the White Paper presented to Parliament last October by my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary for the continued employment of overseas officers. As the House will recall, this scheme is designed to help certain Governments to retain the services of overseas officials until local public services can be firmly established. It is expected to cost about £12 million a year, apart from compensation payments. This is not my own direct departmental responsibility, but I think, as all members of the Government think, that this is something of great importance from the point of view of the future of a great many countries and territories. I should, however, make it plain that the new Department will not be responsible for the transfer, promotion and discipline of the overseas service in dependent territories. That responsibility will remain with the Colonial Secretary.
Another part of the responsibilities of the new Department will be concerned with the technical assistance provided with the help of the United Kingdom through the United Nations Organisation, in particular the United Nations Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance and Special Fund. The new Department will also take over the present work of the Technical Assistance Recruitment Unit of the Ministry of Labour, which recruits personnel in this country for service with the United Nations.
The Department will also deal with technical assistance under the Colombo Plan and under the newly-formed Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan. It will be responsible on behalf of the United Kingdom for technical assistance matters discussed in the Development Assistance Group, and for any such discussions held in the new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
§ Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)
Does that mean that when 253 a development plan for a dependent territory is to be drawn up, the new Department will be more involved in that task than the Colonial Office?
§ Sir E. Boyle
That is a difficult question to answer in advance of the new Department being set up. It is one of those questions which cannot be answered simply "Yes" or "No", but it is precisely the sort of issue which will arise and which we shall have to consider carefully on its merits when the new Department comes into being.
I apologise to the House for giving this catalogue, but it is difficult to be explicit on this matter and not at the same time be rather tedious. Among the other responsibilities of the Department will be the provision of technical assistance to a number of Middle East countries under the Central Treaty Organisation arrangements and also through the Middle East Development Division. The increasing importance of international co-ordination and the growth of what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister calls inter-dependence throughout the world are themselves among the strongest reasons for the creation of a new central Government Department.
In general—and I emphasise this to the House—the relations of the new Department with other Departments and organisations over matters of technical assistance will be the same as those of the overseas Departments hitherto. Where other Departments and organisations have specialised responsibilities in the field of technical assistance, these in general will be left unchanged. For example, as a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, I naturally have in mind those educational matters for which I used to bear a share of responsibility. In this respect the very valuable work of the British Council will retain its full importance, and the Ministry of Education will remain the Department responsible for Britain's contribution to the work of U.N.E.S.C.O.
I have already indicated that the creation of the new Department may well necessitate a number of marginal changes in other people's responsibilities; but it will be far easier to consider such matters in a practical way once the new Department has come into being and has started work.
254 Now I pass on to the place of the new Department within the central Government machine. The new Department will, as has already been announced, carry out its responsibilities within the general framework of the policies for which my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Secretary of State for the Colonies are responsible. The intention is that the new Department should be in charge of a Minister, to be known as the Secretary for Technical Co-operation, whose rank will be equivalent to that of a Minister of State. The permanent head of the Department, the chief civil servant, will be known as the Director-General, and his rank will be equivalent to that not of a Permanent Secretary but a Deputy Secretary in another Government Department.
The staff of the new Department is expected to number something over 1,000, but this will not mean, at any rate initially, the creation of more than at most a very few additional posts. It will mean the transfer to the new Department of posts from the existing overseas Departments and, broadly speaking, the transfer of equivalent numbers of staff. In so far as any new posts are created, either at home or overseas, the Government will certainly keep in mind the possibility of re-employing former members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service with the right qualifications, and we certainly hope that the new Department will help to increase the opportunities for former members of the Service to be employed on technical assistance work.
The Government hope, subject to the approval of Parliament, to set up the new Department before the Summer Recess. Its main offices will be in part of Carlton House Terrace. Perhaps I might also remind the House that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already said that the Secretary for Technical Co-operation will be a Member of the House of Commons and he will, therefore, be available in this House to answer for the work and organisation of his Department.
I am sure, nonetheless, that the House, will agree with me when I say that some of the most important work of the Secretary for Technical Co-operation may well consist in visits overseas, both to 255 individual countries and as a British spokesman at international gatherings, and I am sure the House will gladly, so to speak, grant him leave of absence from time to time. Of course, it will be up to the usual channels to make any arrangements for answering Questions and so on if the Secretary is away.
§ Sir James Duncan (South Angus)
Could my hon. Friend explain who will be the Secretary's boss? Will he be directly under the Chancellor of the Exchequer?
§ Sir E. Boyle
He will not have a boss in the sense that my hon. Friend means. This will be a Government Department on its own. The Secretary for Technical Co-operation will work within the broad framework of the policies for which the three Overseas Ministers are responsible, but he will be his own boss so far as the House of Commons is concerned, and it will be possible to put Questions down to him.
§ Sir E. Boyle
That is so.
Now I come to a matter which is naturally somewhat close to my own heart as Financial Secretary. The new Department will have a Vote of its own to cover both its establishment expenses and its expenditure on the provision of technical assistance, including the cost of the Overseas Service Aid Scheme. I would say to the House that on a provisional estimate, this Vote will be of the order of £30 million, including certain expenditure now financed out of Colonial Development and Welfare funds. But this £30 million will not represent new expenditure. As the Financial Memorandum to the Bill explains, this will be in place of corresponding expenditure by the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office, and the Bill, which is designed to authorise a plan of administrative reorganisation, does not involve, other than incidentally, any net increase. I will see to it that Estimates for the new Department, and revised Estimates for the three overseas Departments, are presented to the House as soon as possible.
Now I come to the Bill itself. Hon. Members will see that the Bill to give 256 effect to these provisions is a short one, and I should have thought in itself quite uncontroversial. Clause 1 provides for the creation of the new Department under the charge of a Minister with rank equivalent to that of a Minister of State, and for transferring to him the proposed functions. Later on the House, in the form of a Committee—not that this is anything to do with you, Mr. Speaker—will be asked to consider the question of the Minister's salary.
Clause 2 relates merely to the oath of allegiance. Clause 3 provides for the appointment of his staff and for the payment of the Department's expenses. The remaining Clauses in the Bill are all in the nature of consequential provisions.
I think it is fair to say that in Britain today there is more widespread interest in the needs of the under-developed countries than ever before. Whatever our views may be about the moral implications of an affluent society, and however much we may differ in this House in detail about the sort of society we wish to see, none of this can in any way lessen the significance for the whole of the human race of the fact that millions of ordinary wage-earners, in the advanced industrial countries of the West, have now achieved a standard of life and of opportunity which has hitherto been denied to all save a tiny fraction of humanity. What is more, this fact is becoming more and more widely known and understood, and its implications known and understood, in those parts of the world where the standard of living is still, for the overwhelming majority, only at the level of bare subsistence.
I commend the Bill to the House as a reflection of the importance which the Government attach to meeting rapidly and effectively the needs of the less developed countries for technical aid from the United Kingdom towards the furtherance of their social and economic progress.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
I am sure that the whole House agrees not with the last couple of sentences in the Minister's speech, but with those generalisations that he made about the importance of world poverty today, the growing understanding of its nature and its size, and the difficulties that we 257 have to encounter if we are to overcome it.
There are three major problems confronting us and which call for an urgent solution. One is disarmament; the other concerns our relations with Africa, which we discussed last night; and the third is the problem of the dire poverty of two-thirds of the world's population. The Bill derives any significance that it possesses from its association with that grave problem.
Unfortunately, the gap between the more prosperous nations, comprising about one-third of the world's population, and the conditions of the remaining two-thirds of the world's population who are poor, is widening. It has not been closed by what has been done hitherto. Mr. Paul Hoffman, who knows as much about this subject as any man, who is certainly as well qualified as anyone to talk about it, having been the administrator of the Marshall Plan which set Europe on its feet after the war, and whose qualifications are unrivalled, has calculated that, in the last ten years, whereas the annual rate of income of the better-off nations has been increasing by 3 per cent., the annual growth of income in the 100 underdeveloped countries with which he particularly deals has been at the rate of only 1 per cent. While we are getting richer at the rate of 3 per cent. per year, they are improving their condition at the rate of only 1 per cent. per year. Therefore, though some progress has been made, the gap between us is widening all the time.
The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Lansdowne, stated on 22nd February that the average income today is the United States is £750 a year, that the average income per head of population in the United Kingdom is £360 a year, but that for over 50 underdeveloped countries the annual income per person is only £35. Many Commonwealth countries are included in the latter statistics. Two Commonwealth countries, in particular, are key countries in the battle against world poverty. One is Pakistan, which has only just managed to break even after the end of its first five-year plan, which, at the end of its first five years of attempted economic development, is no better or worse off than it was when it began. It is now setting out on another five-year plan, 258 aiming, this time, to increase its annual income per head by 2 per cent. For that objective, which we all hope and pray it will achieve, it needs foreign aid of £90 million a year.
The most serious problem of all arises in India, the largest of these great underdeveloped nations. Her hope was that her present plan, a third five-year plan, would enable her to reach at the end of it what is called the take-off stage or what is sometimes referred to as the break through, or of becoming self-propelled, whichever phrase we like to use. The hope was that at the end of the present five-year plan India would be in a position to generate sufficient capital from her own resources to continue to expand the annual income at a reasonable rate without recourse to overseas aid. Recent population calculations made in India suggest that the amount of aid required to achieve that highly desirable objective may have been seriously underestimated.
We have been told that, apart from the reduction in the sterling balance—and, after all, that is only the repayment of a debt which we owe to India for services rendered during the war—Great Britain's aid to India so far has totalled £80 million. Obviously, a more intensive effort now has to be made if India is to achieve the objective of take-off. In the face of this newly-discovered great increase in population, her total foreign exchange gap for the present plan is estimated at £1,482 million, but her request for overseas aid for this year from other countries, including our own, totals £228 million. In his ten-year plan, to which I refer particularly in speeches which I make in the country as the world ten-year plan for economic development, Mr. Hoffman estimates that there must be an increase over the ten years of £7,000 million over and above the present amount of Government aid to the 100 underdeveloped countries to which he refers.
I think that the House could have reasonably expected this afternoon some indication of the part which the Government intend this country should play in these big efforts. In his Budget statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer indicated that there were many difficulties in the way and that our present balance of trade situation was such—if 259 I did not misunderstand him—that we would not be able to do this year all that we had set out to do, and almost certain that we should not be able to increase our effort. Most certainly, I cannot be making a mistake in interpreting the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Budget speech as indicating that we should fall short at the present rate of providing our fair quota of what this gigantic ten-year Hoffman plan calls for. We may fall short of what India wants in these difficult times and unless we can help her to make a success of her takeoff she may lose hope.
The Chancellor pointed out the need for a surplus on current account if we are to invest overseas. If we are to have this surplus, we must either increase exports or reduce imports or have a combination of the two. I agree that in present circumstances it is difficult to do this. I will not enter into controversial discussion on this point; that has been done on the Budget debate and can be done on the Finance Bill. We have given our reasons why the country is in this difficult position at present. Let us leave that aside and concentrate on this problem of aid for the underdeveloped areas.
Our resources do not match the needs of the moment. Surely that involves some assessment of priorities in what we do. If our total resources are less than the reasonable claims calculated by world experts, we must somehow devise a measure of determining which activity shall be given priority in what we are able to afford. The first paragraph in the White Paper, Cmnd. 1308, which was issued a short time ago and which is, of course, our main guide to the general purposes of the Bill, tells us that during 1960 Government aid for overseas development totalled about £150 million and private investment from this country to the underdeveloped areas totalled about £100 million, a round figure total of £250 million.
I am glad that we have had the figure for private investment broken down to a figure which applies to the underdeveloped countries. The previous figures given to us included private investment in countries such as Australia which, although physically underdeveloped, are not economically underdeveloped. We are told that this represents 260 doubling the effort in the last three years. That is good, but there was need for it. The Chancellor evidently doubts whether he can do much more, and we must, therefore, try to ensure that all this aid is used to the best advantage.
The £100 million of private investment counts just as much against our balance of payments as the £150 million of Government investment. It is all going for the same general purpose. If my argument is correct—and I feel that it is—that this is insufficient for the urgent needs of the moment, then both the public and the private investment must have the test of priority applied to them.
It was because of this major problem that I hoped that the Government would have come forward this afternoon with a Bill not merely for centralising under one control technical aid given to underdeveloped countries. I agree that there is a case for this and I am glad that it has been done. But many of us on this side of the House hoped that a Minister for Aid would be appointed, a Minister responsible for surveying the overall problem and determining the priorities. We need not discuss how he would indicate the priorities to private investors, but it will have to be done by someone if we are not to make a mess of this in the next few years.
Three years ago I suggested the establishment of machinery for co-ordinating aid, technical as well as capital, and bringing the Colonial Development Corporation well into the centre of the setup. The Corporation could become the Government spearhead in an effort of this kind, advising the Minister from the practical experience which is possesses in assessing what the priorities should be. Ministers are at some disadvantage in assessing these priorities since they are at some distance from the problem and are, naturally, apt to have proposals put to them piecemeal. This Minister for Aid, if only we had him, could also be responsible for a vigorous British Government initiative in trying to secure a greater degree of stability in the terms of trade. All who have studied the problem agree that this is a major problem in the provision of economic aid to underdeveloped countries. The noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, pointed out the other day what has been pointed out 261 before—that a 5 per cent. drop in the price of tropical products on which the underdeveloped countries mainly rely for their trade could wipe out the value in one year of all the aid given to them. Everyone who has been in these countries knows that this is a serious problem. I will not elaborate it, because I have given many examples in other debates.
If we could secure a greater stability in the terms on which we exchange our manufactured goods with these tropical products, through agreements not necessarily identical with but of the same type as the wheat, tin and sugar agreements, we should, at the same time, tend to stabilise the terms of trade in general, and we should not then encounter periodically, as we have every two or three years since the end of the war, the problem of an adverse balance of payments and a continual fluctuation in the balance of payments, with an accumulation of gold for a year or two followed by a year or two of financial stringency, credit squeeze and a reduction in our export trade.
A stabilisation of the terms of trade can be achieved. Proof of that lies in the agreements which have been made. More effort needs to be given to that objective, especially by this country which, with her world-wide trading activities, is more subject to the evil results of fluctuations in the terms of trade than is almost any other country.
Recently, proposals of this kind for setting up a Minister to discharge this sort of function about aid were made, I believe, from other sources, and on 22nd February the noble Lord, the Earl of Perth, said in another place:The whole question is still under study, but I would say that whether it"—and by that he means capital aid—is included now or not, the great thing is to make a start."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 22nd February, 1961; Vol. 228, c.1088.]I deduce from what the noble Lord said on 22nd February that the idea of having a Minister of Aid to co-ordinate all aid, to be responsible for priorities and perhaps to undertake a greater initiative in stabilising the terms of trade was under consideration by the Government and that it has been turned down.
I suspect that the representative of the Lord High Executioner is sitting on the 262 Government Front Bench. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury was not responsible, because he is not in the Cabinet, but he is present today as representative of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I suspect that it was the Treasury which dashed the hopes of all of us who thought that our great effort in this third largest problem in the world today would be placed under a new, co-ordinated, active direction in the person of a member of the Cabinet.
The hon. Member said that he might have been mistaken this afternoon for a ghost. I think that he is classed for the rôle of midwife of a not tremendously impressive baby. It is because, in Lord Perth's words, that this may represent a start and may be the first trembling step towards co-ordinating at least one aspect of aid, and, because it may lead to other steps and to what we think is the only sensible way to run this business, that we welcome the Bill and hope that it will prove successful.
We are encouraged to believe that it will prove more important than it looks at first sight by the story which has appeared in reputable newspapers that Sir Andrew Cohen is to be appointed chief official. I suppose that he would hardly accept such a posit unless he thought the purpose worth while and unless he thought that it would contribute to the problems of the underdeveloped countries which he knows so well from his long experience, especially in the Colonial Territories and in the Colonial Office. If he is to be the head of the administration under the Minister it is a guarantee that the Department will be vigorously administered.
Is the status of the Minister to be as high as the hon. Member indicated and is he to have direct access to the Prime Minister? That statement took my breath way. It did not sound like the status of a Minister of State to me. If it is so, so much the better, because it means that he will be a more important Minister than I thought. I thought that he would have more of the status—because that is indicated elsewhere—of the Secretary for Overseas Trade during the Labour Government. That post has been raised to the status of Minister of State, but, even so, I am sure that that Minister has not direct 263 access with his problems to the Prime Minister; he is bound to go through the President of the Board of Trade.
I hope that we shall have a Minister who is fully alive to the importance of his post and to the importance of the problems, a section of which he will handle. I hope that he will seek to build this Department into an effective nucleus which one day will grow to be much bigger.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury gave many examples of the value of technical aid which is being and has been given. I fully agree with all that he said. Technical aid is highly important. Without technical aid, in many instances capital aid might be wasted. Technical aid prepares the ground for capital aid and capital aid is a preparation for the use of technical aid. Technical aid is necessary even when the capital has been put to work. The new steel mills in India are glad to use the services of steel workers, blast furnace workers and others from this country who have supervisory knowledge. Only recently I read of one such British worker being sent from Tees-side to undertake work of that kind. This is technical aid, as is the aid of soil specialists, agronomists and teachers. Thousands of different specialists can give of their best in this way, and their aid is invaluable if they approach the job in the right spirit.
When he has to find these experts in response to requests from overseas, the new Minister will be unable to find all he wants. I suspect that if this job is to go ahead as fast as it ought, he will have to determine priorities. He may have to say, "I have only two soil conservation experts on my hands, but I have four requests for such people". He will have to make a decision between the four applicants for the two men. I do not envy him the job of determining these priorities when no central priorities are laid down by a Minister with greater powers. I hope that, at any rate, he will try to obtain directives which will enable him to do his job in the most satisfactory and least wasteful way and that he will not just take it as a Post Office job, take the applications in the order in which they are received and supply the labour force in the order in which it is available.
264 The new Minister will have a difficult job, working for three Ministers—and it is undeniable that he will have three Ministers. He will be responsible to three Secretaries of State. There is a danger, but it is not so much that he will not have access to them, will not be able to make his ideas plain to them and to persuade them what they ought to do, or that they will not come to an agreement on what he is able to do with his scarce resources. The danger in this set-up is the danger of what the Civil Service calls consultation. If the new Minister is responsible to three other Ministers, the officials of those three other Ministers will all the time be concerned to see that the interests of their Departments are not interfered with and that any matter which might in the slightest degree trespass on one of these Departments is referred to it before a decision is made. I know that this is a danger, having worked both as a civil servant and as a Minister. I hope that the new Minister will be strongly supported by the Prime Minister and his colleagues in cutting out unnecessary consultation and that he will devise means whereby prompt decisions can be taken.
The new Minister will be responsible for the Overseas Civil Service provided for in the Overseas Service Act, which we passed a short time ago. As the Colonial Secretary remembers, I warmly welcomed the proposal which he put before the House when he made the statement which was eventually embodied in that Act. It is potentially an extremely valuable service for this country to render—to make available the service of experts who have worked overseas and to pay the overseas Government the difference between the reasonable remuneration of those people and what the overseas Government can afford to pay them. I supported that Bill when it was in the House and wish it well in its operation.
It is, however, disturbing to read the Answer given on 18th April last by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to the hon. Lady the Member for Hornsey (Lady Gammans), who asked…whether the arrangements recently made by Her Majesty's Government in the Overseas Service Act have been accepted by Nigeria…265 The Answer was:The Nigerian Federal Government and the Regional Governments decided after careful consideration that they did not wish to avail themselves of the arrangements offered by this scheme."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th April, 1961; Vol. 638, c.85.]Why not? This is an occasion on which we would like an answer to that question. It may be an isolated example—I hope so—but Nigeria is one of the most important of these countries. It has a population of 45 million people, and its Northern Region, particularly, greatly needs economic development. How can it be that Nigeria was not willing to accept the provisions made under that Act? Could it have had something to do with the terms on which capital aid was offered to Nigeria?
What the Government have done is to say that the colonial development and welfare grants shall end, or shall be tapered off as quickly as possible after a Colonial Territory becomes independent, after which the territory becomes eligible for loans instead of grant. But the loans are now being offered at 6½ per cent. interest. Can it be that this very high rate of interest is resulting in a refusal of capital aid, and a consequent refusal of technical aid? We are entitled to know that.
I can imagine that the representative of the Treasury will say, "You talk of the necessity of priorities in the giving of aid. The way to secure that is through the rate of interest. That is the regulator of the market." With that, we shall never agree. In this particular sphere, above all, we believe that the aid should be offered on terms that are not prohibitive to the recipient country, and that the priority, if priority there is to be, should not be fixed by a high rate of interest and the aid given only to those who can pay that rate. The priority should be granted in accordance with the need for aid of the recipient country. I hope that before the debate ends some light will be thrown on what has actually happened in Nigeria.
I will not attempt to go into what the Financial Secretary called his catalogue of various agencies with which the new Minister will be in contact—I heard it only a moment or two before I had to speak—but I welcome the fact that the Minister will be in touch with the United Nations organisations working 266 in this field, and with the new Organisation for European Co-operation and Development.
I hope that nothing I have said about the importance of capital aid, about the inevitability of priorities, will cause anyone to think that in any way I underestimate the value of technical aid. Of course, it is highly valuable. As I have already said, at many points it goes with the provision of capital aid, and it is valuable even beyond that, because it assists in creating educated men and women who are able to use the tools of the twentieth century and it assists in building up the health of vigorous men and women who are able to work in the new undertakings that are provided.
Its value cannot be over emphasised. Nevertheless, do not let the emphasis on the importance of technical aid be in any way a substitute for making the maximum possible effort in the important fields of capital aid and the stabilisation of the terms of trade.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
Like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), I welcome the Bill as an event of the greatest possible importance. I found myself much in agreement with what the right hon. Gentleman said, especially when he referred to India. I read the leading article yesterday in the Financial Times, which pointed out that over the next five years India will require some £2,500 million. That is only one territory in a vast world where aid of every kind is needed. It gives one some idea of the immense task that faces the capital-producing countries, and I believe that it will not be overcome unless the capital-producing countries come together for that purpose. It is absolutely essential that, in some way, our economic policies should be co-ordinated.
Of the two points on which I wish particularly to dwell, the first is staff. I believe that the staffing of this new Department is to some extent tied up with the reform of the Colonial Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office, and the staff of the Foreign Service generally. We may utimately come to some form of common intake, but I was delighted to hear my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary say that in this new Department 267 there should be places for many of Her Majesty's overseas civil servants who are found to be redundant elsewhere.
My hon. Friend listed them alphabetically, and I am glad that, as a result, administrators come fairly high. For too long administrators working in some of the emergent countries have not been considered to be technicians, and we all know how difficult it is to run government unless those running it are sufficiently qualified. I believe that administrators count with those who deal with education, with medicine, building bridges or roads, and many of them may have to be seconded from either the home Civil Service or from local authorities.
I only hope that Her Majesty's Government will make it clear to local authorities and to others in charge of or responsible for the careers of these technicians that by going overseas they will not lose their place on the ladder of promotion. One constantly hears from doctors and from teachers of the fear that if they do take a job overseas they will, by the time they wish to come back, be forgotten, and will find it difficult even to get into a place at the same level at which they have left this country.
I should like to ask my hon. Friend whether he has given consideration to the way in which private enterprise in industry can help this technical aid, not only through the trade unions but through the directors of great companies, who might help by seconding their own technicians overseas for a year or two. I hope that this problem can be tackled jointly with various Commonwealth Governments. I should like to see it a joint venture not only in the management of the technical aid but in the provision of the technicians who will be employed in that service. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will be prepared to take technicians from every member of the Commonwealth so that there is the biggest possible interplay of ideas and skills between the various Commonwealth countries.
I turn now to what the right hon. Gentleman said about Nigeria. Many of us were very fearful during the Second Reading debate on the Overseas Service Bill that this very thing would happen. In my opinion, the aid, great as it is, has been produced too late. Many of us 268 have argued for many years about the need for this aid, and it has been fairly obvious that many emergent countries have been frightened that political dominance will be succeeded by economic dominance. In their independence, they are fearful that another kind of Briton will be provided, whose loyalty might be divided between the emergent country's Government and the United Kingdom Government. I believe that is feared, not only in Nigeria but in many of the about-to-be-independent territories.
This expenditure of £12 million—it was more before Nigeria opted out—is, of course, a magnificent gesture on behalf of this country, and I only hope that if, in a year or two, Nigeria has second thoughts we would be prepared to extend the aid that at the moment Nigeria has refused.
Then there is the method of the aid. The Financial Secretary likened himself to Hamlet's father's ghost, but I would like to remind him of the words of one about to die. Polonius said:Neither a borrower, nor a lender be:For loan oft loses both itself and friend;And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.There is the danger that a lump sum payment by, say, this Government to another Government can be abrogated and be politically difficult in the years to come. If there is some other way in which the aid can be given, I hope that attention will be given to it.
Developing countries want not only the infrastructure—the roads, ports, railways, and bridges—but also want to keep up with the Joneses in steel mills and light industry. I believe that it is in that way that private enterprise, in particular, can help. I also think that the old view held in this country by some people that we should export the products of our industry in return for agricultural produce is completely wrong. One has only to see the immense expansion of trade between the United Kingdom and other industrialised countries, such as the United States of America.
It is a British interest that either alone—or, preferably, in partnership—we should establish new factories in emergent territories. I believe that to be a long-term British interest, and that those factories will come back time and time again to Britain for the plant necessary for the expansion they will probably 269 achieve, and for our general "know-how". I hope that the Treasury, when it fears balance-of-payment problems over money invested overseas, will consider that side of the question, because I think that it is there that private industry can help in a major way.
The trouble is that the historical events of the last decade have militated against that very thing—Abadan, Suez, the Congo, the events in Angola, or even in Rhodesia. Not very long ago, Sir Roy Welensky said that Africa stank in the City of London, and very few private investors, saving their capital, will today want to invest either in Africa or in Asia.
How have other countries tackled this problem? The United States of America, through the International Co-operation Administration has been able to ensure hundreds of millions of dollars of investments overseas. The Germans now have a similar scheme; so have the Swiss and the Japanese. At the moment, they are all bilateral schemes. I am told that the Common Market countries are now discussing this very subject and that within a few months they, too, will have some scheme of insurance for their industry overseas.
I believe that it is high time for the Commonwealth countries to get together and establish a similar scheme to insure against two main risks; the fear of nationalisation, with compensation only in an inconvertible currency, and the fear that it will not be possible to remit profits to this country. There are other fears, I agree—civil war, international war, creeping nationalisation—that is to say, discrimination between an externally-owned and an internally-owned concern. There is also the fear that the local currency will depreciate, between the formation of the overseas company and the turning of its cash into bricks and mortar and plant.
But one cannot insure against everything, and the two main risks, I repeat, are the fear of not being able to remit profits and that of nationalisation. If we could have some form of Commonwealth scheme of this kind, we would be able to get a lot of private capital investment to supplement, or to some extent even to take over from, Government loans. I urge the Financial Secretary to look into that possibility very 270 carefully. If only we could get that as a joint approach by the Commonwealth, great good would flow from it.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of three main questions facing the world today. There is another which surpasses them all. It is that capitalism and the mixed economy are on trial, and that at the moment we are losing the cold war. We have to show the uncommitted countries that capitalism can produce the goods which are wanted in the world. It is absolute nonsense that millions should be unemployed in the United States of America when the production of the United States can be immensely greater than it is and when people all over the world are in need of that production.
The capitalist countries have to co-ordinate their economic policies. It is absolute nonsense that American aid cannot be as generous in future as in the past; for fear of a run on the dollar, and that we cannot invest in the Commonwealth as we would like, for fear of a run on the £, and that gold mounts in the vaults in Germany. We are all in this together, or should be. I hope that we shall tackle it together. There are signs that at last the international bankers are coming together. I hope that they will continue to do so and that they will be seen to do so.
Finally, I urge that whoever is appointed to this very responsible job should co-ordinate not only the aid of all the Commonwealth countries, but that of all the capital-producing countries of the Western world.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)
I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), who has a great reputation for his deep knowledge of, and great sincerity in, these matters. I think that the whole House particularly appreciates the continuing interest which he has taken in British administrators overseas. I am not so warm in my welcome of the Bill as is the hon. Member. But for the fact that my intention might have been misunderstood, I would have tabled a reasoned Amendment to reject the Bill on the ground of its total inadequacy in present circumstances. I hope that the hon. Member for Wavertree will forgive me, but it is my intention to leave what 271 he said and to attack the Bill and the extent to which it is grossly and patently inadequate.
I agreed with the hon. Member when he spoke of the future of the mixed system—he called it capitalism and also talked about a mixed economy, but let us refer to it as the "free system"—and the extent to which the free system is on trial in the world today. If, in the British Commonwealth, we cannot show sustained economic growth, if we cannot make the British Commonwealth into a fighting example which will make it self-evident that Communism is unnecessary, then we shall fail in the next decade. And we have only the next decade in which to provide that fighting example.
To put it in a nutshell, we have to show to the world how the Commonwealth, this Commonwealth of free nations, can share its burdens, irrespective of colour and creed, and united, as the hon. Member would have it, in economic terms in freedom and liberty of action. We have a very short time in which to do that. The challenge of Communism is still growing. It is still eating in at the edge of the British Commonwealth and I shall later be talking of an area in which there is still a danger, not properly noticed in this country, and where we ought to be doing something economically to prevent that from happening.
I suspect that my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) was right when he said that the Bill was only half the Measure it could have been if there had been a different agreement in the Cabinet. There could have been a Minister for Aid, as my right hon. Friend called it, and it is a shame and a grave mistake that we have been given only this half Measure instead of the total Measure the virtue of which my right hon. Friend expounded so brilliantly.
The whole problem is that it is impossible at this stage, effectively and with any sense of satisfying the needs of the Commonwealth, to divorce technical from capital aid. This should have been a Ministry which first did much of the technical work needed to assess the problems and to help to teach people how to solve them. Then the Ministry should have been able to show the 272 channels through which to satisfy legitimate demands for capital aid for dealing with the problems which the technical investigations had uncovered.
In the words of an administrator in one of our Colonies who wrote to me this week:As regards the new Ministry, I fully agree with you that capital needs should be co-ordinated by the same group dealing with Technical Assistance.This man is the head of an economic planning department in one of our former Colonies. He went on:I believe that the most telling point here is that so often Technical Assistance means nothing more than defining and putting together what the needs are. All these needs invariably can only be met by capital. There is very little point in sending us technical assistance to study our ports if when the recommendations are made as to what should be done the source which should be providing the capital will be different, and the whole case has to be made all over again to this new source.That is very true, but that is precisely what has to happen. We will have a Minister who will be co-ordinating on the periphery of the whole problem, and as soon as a great problem has to be met, he will have to say to the territory concerned, "Go away with the problem which we have uncovered and tout it round"—to put it into the vernacular—"to all the various agencies who may be able to give you capital assistance". That is precisely what is going on today, and that will not provide the example to the world of a Commonwealth developing in harmony and with its plans carefully laid for the next decade.
Let us consider the position of capital assistance at the moment. There are a number of ways in which developing territories, such as that which I have mentioned, can get capital help. First, there are the colonial development and welfare schemes, except—and one begins to make exceptions as soon as one starts to make a list—as soon as an area becomes independent. There are Commonwealth assistance loans—direct grants made by the Colonial Office. There is the Colonial Development Corporation, all hedged around by what it can and cannot do as soon as independence is in the offing. Incidentally, nobody seems to know just what it can and cannot do when that era approaches in any particular case: there is a vague phrase about it being able to carry on with projects 273 which it has been encouraging, but nobody knows precisely what that means or how far the Corporation can step over the boundaries of that definition.
Through our own subscriptions, there is help from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. There is our own participation in the Development Assistance Group and there is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. There are all these Government and international agencies. In private enterprise there is the Commonwealth Development Finance Company, which is specifically for helping some areas to get capital for projects which would not normally be satisfied directly by direct investment from particular firms. There is access to the London market for loans, and there are individual investment and development projects by individual firms.
In other words, once one gets to the point of seeing what capital needs for all sorts of problems in our developing Commonwealth there are, one finds eight or more agencies to which the area can turn, one by one, to ask for help in carrying out any project. It is ludicrous that we should go through the 1960s without a Minister helping and guiding the whole process and being available to help an individual territory to go to the best organisation for getting its money. That situation is intolerable.
I quote to the House what President Kennedy said when he took office and found what was the situation regarding foreign aid from the United States of America. He found just the sort of situation which exists in this country. Indeed, his document to Congress on foreign aid is one of the most inspiring documents which he has issued since he came into office. I quote one section in which he says:For no objective supporter of foreign aid can be satisfied with the existing programme—actually a multiplicity of programmes. Bureaucratically fragmented, awkward and slow, its administration is diffused over a haphazard and irrational structure covering at least four departments and several other agencies. The programme is based on a series of legislative measures and administrative procedures conceived at different times and for different purposes, many of them now obsolete, inconsistent and unduly rigid and thus unsuited for our present needs and purposes. Its weaknesses have begun to undermine confidence in our effort both here and abroad.274The programme requires a highly professional skilled service, attracting substantial numbers of high calibre men and women capable of sensitive dealing with other governments, and with deep understanding of the process of economic development.On the basis of that diagnosis, President Kennedy has proposed a Ministry of Aid for America—just what my right hon. Friend was advocating today for Britain. He has proposed a clean sweep of the board and a winding up of the agencies, co-ordinating the work under one central direction. If that is accepted by Congress, it will be an immense support to the job of the free world in the 1960s in properly helping development in the underdeveloped areas of the free world.
This is what should have been done in this Bill. President Kennedy hints as much when he says that other nations ought to be taking part in this work. He said:This goal is in our grasp"—the goal of preserving the free world—if, and only if, the other industrialised nations now join us in developing with the recipients a set of commonly agreed criteria, a set of long-range goals, and a common undertaking to meet those goals, in which each nation's contribution is related to the contributions of others and to the precise needs of each less-developed nation. Our job, in its largest sense, is to create a new partnership between the northern and southern halves of the world, to which all free nations can contribute, in which each free nation must assume a responsibility proportional to its means.This is a challenge to Brtain as well as to every industrialised nation to come in on the great experiment which President Kennedy wants to start—the experiment of doing this job on a proper scale. He clearly wants proper co-ordination and a feeling that it is at least on the basis of proper assessment of our capital needs, and our capital ability to provide help for those areas and then a determination to go forward with a proper plan to get the job done. It is against President Kennedy's diagnosis of the enormity of the problem that this Bill is so puny, hardly worth bringing before the House of Commons.
I shall give one example of the difficulty—to bring it down to brass tacks—which one has in helping with capital development some of these areas. As the House knows, I have been in Jamaica for some time. I came back determined to see what I could do to help with 275 some of that country's requirements. I came back determined to help with the next stage of economic development in Jamaica, a construction boom. There comes a stage in many development territories where the great spurt to economic development, "Operation boot strap" as it is called in some parts of the world, can be provided more by a construction boom than by anything else.
The big need in Jamaica today is for a housing programme, in view of the shortage of up to 100,000 housing units; and for a start Jamaica needs vast housing finance. She needs help for working class houses and mortgage finance for middle class houses. For the working class housing money Jamaica feels bound to go to America. She has felt that for some time, much though she appreciates the help from Britain. The opportunities of getting help on the scale required for working class houses in Jamaica were probably not here in this country. I leave that aside, because I do not claim to be fully briefed on it. But it is tragic that Jamaica has to rely on America, although I know, of course, of the great interest which America has in the area.
When I got interested in seeing whether we could get mortgage finance for middle class housing my first job was to write to the Colonial Secretary. He was courtesy itself. He managed to give me a list of the agencies, the private investment companies, insurance companies and banks which, on previous occasions, have provided money for the housing development in the Carribean.
My next stage is to see whether the Colonial Development Corporation would help with more money. It has helped with the first two middle class housing scheme in Jamaica. I also have to go to the insurance companies which have put money in so far and ask them if they had put in as much as they could in Jamaica, or if they could do more. Then I have to go to those who had not been in this market and say to them, "Your colleagues have been in this field. Do you think that you, as a big insurance company, could come in with a few hundred thousand pounds or a million?"
I am not complaining about having to do this. I am anxious to show how ridiculous it is that I have to do it and how ridiculous it is that a Commonwealth 276 which claims to be sharing its problems in this way has no proper agency in the mother country for helping to guide, counsel and channel these inquiries and needs into the particular places where they may be satisfied. It is intolerable that this should have to go on. Perhaps I made a mistake and should have gone straight to the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) who, with his interest in this field, could have put me wise from the beginning.
§ Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)
The hon. Member has mentioned me. I am fascinated, as I always am, when he speaks as a great advocate of private enterprise. What does he now want? Does he want an enormous bank to act as a great dictator which says that money shall go to Jamaica or Rhodesia? What does he really want?
§ Mr. Chapman
Perhaps the hon. Member was not listening to me, or did not quite understand me. That may be my fault. I said that there was a need for a Ministry which having got the assessment of the problem should guide, counsel and advise the particular territory as to whether and where it was most likely to get the capital to satisfy its requirements. Just as a Minister would be co-ordinating technical assistance there should be a Ministry keeping a continual track of the capital needs, as well as of the opportunities for satisfying them, whether by private enterprise or by Government. It would be one Ministry to which these territories could come for advice and help in finding the right source of capital.
That is my plea. I do not believe that the Bill is satisfactory. I put it as mildly as that. I am as passionate a believer in the Commonwealth as any hon. Member in the House. I believe we have to make it the shining example for the rest of the world. I believe that we can show in this Commonwealth in the next ten years that black need not be against white; I am sure that we can show that the less developed nations of the world need not be jealous of us who, as they call it, have "cushioned living"; I believe that we can show in the example of the British Commonwealth that the former colonial peoples need not hate their previous imperial masters.
277 But this is all a problem of economic development—getting the right diagnosis and then satisfying the needs that are uncovered. I believe that this great aim, which so many of us talk about all the time in this House—the future development of the Commonwealth—is worth a better Bill than this. It would have been better, in my view, never to have introduced it than to have gone half-way and got stuck with the small Bill that we are debating today.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
I have listened to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) with great interest. I think that he certainly had a point when he described how difficult it was to draw a clear dividing line between technical assistance provided under the Bill and capital investment overseas. So, also, I thought that the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) had a point when he, too, referred to the difficulty which he thought might arise for the new department in assessing priorities. I want to say a word about that later in a somewhat different context.
It is easy enough to accuse successive Governments, be they Conservative or Socialist in colour, of investing insufficient funds overseas in underdeveloped countries, but the real question we should ask ourselves is a question which we are not very anxious to ask, and certainly one we do not like to answer. It is: how much each and everyone of us as individuals or groups are prepared to forgo of the high standard of living we enjoy in this country to provide a somewhat better standard of living for the underdeveloped countries? Would it—I do not know—be a good General Election programme point for either party to say, "We will cut capital investment here, have fewer roads, fewer railways, fewer hospitals and less capital investment for this, that and the other so that more capital can be made available for investment overseas"? That is a question which neither side of the House—I do not blame it—is anxious to put and neither is very anxious to answer.
I do not think that anyone could possibly criticise the objective of the Bill. I suppose it is true that the advance in 278 technology and science during the last twenty years has been greater than in every comparable period of history. It is also true, as the hon. Member for Northfield and one of my hon. Friends pointed out, that the provision of technical "know-how" is a most important element, weapon, or call it what you like, in the cold war. It is very important indeed, and we would be most unwise to forget that.
I have never been one of those who think that we can be assumed to have discharged our responsibilities for newly independent countries merely by giving them the tools and symbols of Parliamentary democracy on their independence day. I do not think it enough to send out a high-powered delegation from this House to some particular independence day celebrations and to give them a Mace or Speaker's wig, and so on. Still less do I think that we can be surprised if hands which have never handled those Parliamentary symbols before handle them a great deal more roughly and clumsily than we handle them now after 800 years' experience of trial and error.
Our duty is not fully discharged in the granting of independence to a territory for which formerly we were responsible if we only give its peoples the tools and symbols of democracy; nor let us be surprised if they misuse them. We must also give them the technical "know-how" without which no independent State can survive in the world today for very long. Let us not forget that the desire for power is an extremely strong desire, and a very natural one. In that context do not let us forget either, that the key to power is industrial and technical "know-how".
The Bill sets up a new department. All new departments, when they are set up, are bound, with the best will in the world, to have teething troubles. That was the case with the Air Ministry, after the First World War, and with a number of wartime Departments during the Second World War, such as the Ministry of Supply and others. The post-war Commonwealth Relations Office grew up, so to speak, out of the old India Office and Dominions Office, and it is not an easy thing to set up a new department within the rigid ambit of Whitehall.
279 We wish the new Department every success, but it is up to all of us in this House to see that we do everything we can to ensure that when the new Department is set up it runs smoothly. We have to see that the wheels are oiled rather than clogged. The best way we can do that is to ensure that its field of activity and responsibility is as clearly defined as possible before the Department actually comes into operation.
I should have thought, listening to my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary and reading the Bill, that there were a great many loose ends which ought to be tied up before the Bill goes on to the Statute Book. I want to refer to a number of what I consider to be loose ends in the hope that when my hon. Friend replies he will be able to tie up some of them. Then we can proceed to do more tying up in Committee. The purpose of the Bill, as the Financial Secretary said, is to set up a new Department to carry out the arrangements for furnishing countries outside the United Kingdom with technical assistance, including assistance in the sphere of economic development, administration and social services.
The first loose end which sticks out is in the field of education. I know that the Financial Secretary is very interested in this. To what extent is education included or excluded from the Bill within the context of the new Department? This is not quite so silly a question as it might appear—in other words, when does education cease to be education in the general sense and begin to be education in the technical sense? So long as it is education in the general sense it is clearly outside the scope of the new Ministry. When it is technical it is clearly within its responsibility. When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made his statement on 21st March, about setting up a Department of technical assistance for certain countries overseas, he said:Educational assistance through U.N.E.S.C.O. will still be a matter for the Ministry of Education. The work of the British Council in, for example, providing teachers of English will continue. All this, I agree, will have to be co-ordinated…"—OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st March, 1961; Vol. 637, c.215.]There is certainly a great deal which will have to be co-ordinated.
280 That statement is clear as far as it goes, but leaves in the air all educational facilities other than the teaching of the English language. The Financial Secretary referred to the British Council. Many hon. Members know that it has been my good fortune to be associated with the British Council for some time. I know a little about some of the problems with which it has to deal. I should like to put to the Financial Secretary one or two problems in relation to the functions of the new Ministry to try to explain the kind of way in which I think its functions have to be rather carefully co-ordinated so that we do not get too much overlapping.
The British Council recruits a number of school teachers for Pakistan. It has been quite successful in that respect. By no means all those school teachers teach English. I cannot give details "off the cuff", but quite a number teach other subjects than the English language; they teach other subjects in English. How do these functions fit into the new Department of Technical Co-operation? Does the British Council continue to recruit school teachers for Pakistan as before, or insofar as certain subjects are technical, is that passed to the new Ministry?
Secondly, the Financial Secretary referred to the 47,000 students from overseas who every year at any given moment, broadly speaking, are in the United Kingdom. For the most part, they are doing scientific and technical courses.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
A very large proportion in a loose sense. They are not, of course, wholly the responsibility of the British Council. The British Council does what it can for many of them. Sometimes its officers meet the students when they arrive and help them to find accommodation. A few are accommodated in British Council hostels. Also, they are helped to find the right sort of technical courses, and so on.
In addition to those, there are another 6,000 what I might call advanced technicians. The Financial Secretary probably knows more about these than I do. They are advanced technicians in the sense that they are nearly all doctors, engineers and architects. They are here 281 for advanced courses of a far more highly technical nature than those taken by the 47,000. Where is it proposed to draw the line? Where does the field of responsibility of the new Department begin and end in respect of these students in their various categories?
The third question concerns the Vote. The Financial Secretary told the House that the new Department would have a separate Vote. The British Council funds come under the Votes of the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office. I take it that a proportion—I do not know what proportion—of the British Council funds will now come under the Vote of the Ministry of Technical Co-operation. Therefore, there will be a fourth Department sandwiched in with the other three. I make this point quite deliberately, because this is where I think we shall get into great difficulties unless we are careful. Every year one comes up against the perpetual dilemma of priorities. This is a point which was made by the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East.
I will describe to the Financial Secretary exactly what happens. The Foreign Office asks the British Council to step up activities in a certain country for perfectly good political reasons. That can be done within the financial ceiling only if the Council's activities are diminished in certain other countries within or without the Commonwealth. In extreme cases, where the budget had been very severely slashed in former years, it has meant going out of certain countries altogether.
Thus, one has this perpetual problem—one cannot help it—of deciding whether South-East Asia is more important that Africa, or whether Africa is more important than Latin America. It becomes a three-cornered contest between the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office over which is the right priority. Are we to have the new Department coming in to make this a four-cornered contest? If there is now to be a four-cornered contest on this appalling dilemma about priorities within our financial limits, I can only say that the results will be very much the same as attempts to square a circle.
Fourthly, I do not understand how the new Department will administer some 282 of these overseas service officers. In the same statement on 21st March, the Prime Minister said:The new Department will, as one of its duties, administer the scheme, set out in the White Paper and presented to Parliament last October, for the continued employment of overseas officers. It will, however, not be responsible for the transfer, promotion and discipline of members of the Overseas Service in dependent territories; these matters will remain the responsibility of the Colonial Secretary."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st March, 1961; Vol. 637, c.214.]I have rarely read a sentence which describes more clearly administrative chaos. I do not see how the new Department can administer a scheme for the employment of overseas officers without being responsible for their discipline, transfer or promotion in the independent territories for which it is responsible and in the dependent territories for which apparently it is not. It seems to me to be an extraordinary situation. Before we go further, this point, which will lead to chaos, ought to be cleared up. The Financial Secretary, who has a very fertile brain and vivid imagination, has only to take an imaginary individual posted to Ghana or some such country and work out where the chain of responsibility for promotion and everything else lies to see for himself the absolute chaos which will result if that statement is put into effect.
The objectives of the Bill are admirable. I hope that sufficient thought has been given to the details. With regard to the composition of the new Department, I should like to know how many persons will be transferred from the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office.
I should say that there is very considerable urgency to get something done. The urgency comes from two directions. There are urgent demands—very naturally so—from many overseas countries, both newly independent and otherwise, for technical assistance of this kind. There is an equally urgent need to find employment for a large number of very able officers both from the Colonial Office itself and from former Colonial Territories who have become redundant through no fault of their own. I only hope that before the new Department actually begins to function some of the problems which I have ventured to suggest to my right hon. Friend as being of importance will be thought out so that 283 when the bits and pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are finally put together to make a picture, the picture will be both attractive and intelligible. I support the Bill on Second Reading.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)
I agree with the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) in his interest in the bits and pieces. We are probably all looking forward to some elucidation of the details by means of which the Bill will actually work.
I thought the hon. Member was unduly pessimistic, however, about the substance of the Bill itself. Indeed, I rather fancied that he was so pessimistic that he appeared to me, in the matter of education, which is my chief interest in the Bill, too, to have misread the intention of the Bill and of the Prime Minister's remarks. I certainly hope that that is so, because if the question which he raises as to the scope of the education which is to be included in the ambit of this Department is a relevant one, then there is an abyss ahead of me which, frankly, I am proposing to ignore. I take it that both general education in the sense in which the hon. Member used the phrase and technical education in the sense in which he used the phrase will be included in the activities of the Department.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I certainly did not mean to give any impression of being pessimistic. What I was trying to do was to point to some of the directions in which I thought there would be a good deal of overlapping between the new Department and the old ones, and I wanted to get the sphere of responsibility quite clear, particularly in relation to the British Council. That was all.
§ Mr. MacPherson
Perhaps I should have said that the hon. Gentleman made me feel pessimistic and that it was not so much that he was pessimistic. I had certainly taken a much more hopeful view of the Bill than his questions suggested.
I agree with my hon. Friends about the questions that arise concerning the separation of capital provision and the provision of technical aid, but I am not 284 proposing to develop that line of argument, since other hon. Members have already done so. I agree also that there will be a problem about the relationship between policy-making and the carrying out of policy. This Department will be in a very difficult position. Again, I do not propose to follow up that aspect.
I wish to raise one or two more detailed questions—though they are broad in application—concerned in the main with education and training. I should like to know, for instance, a little more about the scope of the new Department. The three overseas Departments—the Colonial Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office, and the Foreign Office—will obviously be concerned. I understood, I hope correctly, from the Financial Secretary that the activities of the Ministry of Labour which are connected with recruiting for overseas would also be included in the new Department. I am not sure whether I heard him correctly, for he was very quick and short about that.
The Ministry of Labour acts, for instance, by way of being what I suppose one might call an agency for both the Board of Trade and the Commonwealth Relations Office in recruiting people. When the Board of Trade, for instance, wants to place people, it uses the Ministry of Labour's technical and scientific register as its method. I hope that the whole of that machinery in the Ministry of Labour will be included in the new Department. I hope that the new Advisory Committee on Facilities for Commonwealth Trainees in the United Kingdom, which has been set up under the Board of Trade, will also come under the new Department. The Department seems a natural home for it.
There is also the Colombo Plan itself. The Minister responsible in this House for that plan is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I wonder whether his interest in that Plan will remain or will be transferred to the new Department. In addition, there are various organisations. In his remarks a week or two ago, the Prime Minister referred to the Inter-Universities Council for Higher Education Overseas. Will this Council become responsible to the new Department? C.O.C.A.S.T., the Council for Overseas Colleges of Arts, Science and Technology, might well also come under the aegis of the new Department. What 285 about the Commonwealth Education Liaison Unit, for which the new Department would seem to be a natural and sensible home? There is need to clear up a number of these points in advance so that we may know the scope of the new Department.
When the Prime Minister made his statement, he concentrated on the necessity of having a single channel for requests for technical assistance. We all agree that that is important. In addition, however, there should be not only the same channel. It is desirable to have the same forms and methods applied in technical assistance. There are differences which, taken together, are probably unjustified, although there may have been good reason for them in specific cases. For example, I do not think that the Colonial Development and Welfare Corporation now pays or subsidises salaries. On the other hand, the payment or subsidisation of salaries is an essential part of other aspects of technical assistance. This kind of thing could well be founded on a uniform principle and the same kind of structure and methods used.
The question also arises to what extent the new Department will be an exploring or devising Department trying to seek out new methods and possibilities. To make a comparison with something on a bigger scale, when the International Bank began to deal with a similar problem, it devised new methods. It set up the system of making preliminary economic surveys, for example, to obtain information before proceeding with action. Will the new Department be free to go ahead with new ways of finding out and of doing things? It will need, for instance, the co-operation of industry and of various organisations in obtaining personnel for technical assistance. Will it be possible for the new Department to work out different methods of approach to industry and different principles and relationships with industry to achieve this? There have been difficulties about these things in the past.
I should like to deal particularly with education, largely as it affects training in this country. A good deal of attention has been given lately to the students who come over here for training. The number has been quoted more than once today and various questions arise which, I take it, will come within the 286 province of the new Department. In the first place, it is necessary to urge that, within the new Department, the people who are concerned with training and education given in this country should be the same people—interchangeable, perhaps—as those concerned with training and education overseas. We need a strong section concerned with that inside the new Department of Technical Co-operation and a Department especially strong—one does not need to argue the point; it is probably agreed—in the field of technical education.
The problem of getting firms to give industrial training in the United Kingdom has recently attracted a certain amount of attention and discussion. It is possible to be pessimistic about this. A high proportion of students who seek technical industrial training with firms in this country as part of their general education here manage to get it, but there are some who experience difficulty. A great many students who are here, for example, under their own steam financially, who are not sponsored by any organisation, have great difficulty in arranging industrial training during their university and college vacations and after graduation. They have nobody to speak for them. They must themselves approach the various firms, possibly through the Scientific and Technical Register of the Ministry of Labour, but they experience considerable difficulty. This applies particularly to Indians.
I understand that the great majority—probably 80 per cent. or so—of Indians who come to this country for education do so by means of their own finances. They are financially self-supporting. These are the people, who are not under the umbrella of an organisation or Government, who find the greatest difficulty in getting industrial firms to accept them for training. It would be unfortunate if we were to fail to give these people the training they need. We need a strong section in the new Department concerned with the industrial training aspect of education.
There again, we shall run into difficulties. Those excellent people with the experience and the "know-how" about education in the existing Departments and who may be transferred to the new Department will necessarily be people without full knowledge of this aspect because of the very fact that, in the 287 developing countries, this kind of facility is lacking or is almost non-existent. While their service may have included a great deal to do with ordinary school and formal education, it will necessarily not have included this aspect of industrial training.
It will be difficult to establish a strong department of industrial training, but it must be done. As the hon. Member for Windsor said, there must be a certain amount of seconding. There ought to be seconding from industry, if possible, in this sort of situation, and seconding also from other Departments. I suggest to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that it is not only the overseas Departments which have an interest and a concern in this matter. During the war, for example, the Service Departments did a good deal, mainly at the sub-professional level of the training of technicians and craftsmen, in training Indians and people from various developing territories inside the Commonwealth. It should not be impossible to recruit a number of the people who acquired that experience during the war to strengthen the new Department.
Therefore, as a preliminary step, we need a survey of the whole problem. Recently, the Denning Committee surveyed the needs for legal education in the Colonies and overseas. I suggest that an equally strong committee to explore the need for industrial training here and in the developing territories would not come amiss in this setting, because there is a lot that we need to learn in the way of knowledge of possible facilities, and in the way of the needs of the students.
Another activity of the new Department will need to be research. Many of the students who come to this country do not have great success in their courses. We are faced with the kind of situation which faced the Crowther Committee when it began examining the question of technical education. Figures were given to me about one technical institution, whose name I will not mention, where 56 overseas students were engaged on part one of the degree course in mechanical engineering. Forty-six of them passed in mathematics and smaller numbers passed in the various other subjects, until only 22 passed in engineering 288 drawing. The net result is that of those fifty-six students, only 11 passed part one of their degree course, with another 18 referred, to use the technical phrase, in one subject.
That is the kind of failure and wastage rate that the Crowther Committee was up against. It is a wastage of roughly the same proportions. It is the kind of thing which ought not to continue and in which one would hope that the new Department will feel the responsibility of making an inquiry. That is probably not the only inquiry that the new Department will find it necessary to undertake. A fairly strong research section will, no doubt be a necessity in the structure of the new Department.
Reference has been made to the activities of other nations, both within and outside the Commonwealth, in these matters. This, again, is something with which the new Department might well be concerned. If the collection together of the people concerned in the new Department facilities co-operation with other nations in dealing with the problem, that itself will be a step ahead. We have the situation that in the next few years, the numbers of students who will want education which their own countries cannot give them will be far more, even in our own family of nations, than we can ever hope to provide with education.
In the great wave of people leaving India and leaving territories in Africa and elsewhere in search of higher education, there are bound to be an increasing number of people who no matter what endeavours we make, cannot get their higher education in this country. Consequently, they will go to various other places, one of the most obvious of which is the United States. I should like to think that the creation of the new Department will make co-operation, the dovetailing of plans and the fitting together of programmes and the like, with the United States easier and more effective than has been the case so far.
To give one illustration of the sort of problem that arises and causes a certain amount of anxiety, I refer to the India, Ceylon and Pakistan group of students out of the 47,000 who have been quoted this afternoon. In the last five years, while the numbers of students coming here from other places and Colonies 289 have doubled and trebled the total number of students from India, Ceylon and Pakistan has not increased. There was an increase at one stage, but the figure has fallen back to the level of five years ago.
One asks whether that trend has been occurring elsewhere also. In the United States, however, although I do not have figures going very far back, there appears to be a general increase in the number of Indian students, and a considerable increase between 1958–59 and 1959–60 of, I believe, as much as about 20 per cent., whilst the figure for this country remains at about the same level.
What is the cause of that? Is there some failure on our part? Could we do better by co-operating in ways that we have not done so far with the United States? Could we correlate our courses or our offers to these people? Is there some way in which we can ensure that we do not fail this group of countries, two of which have been pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) as the two most important countries concerned in the need for aid?
There are other problems also that suggest the necessity of a close working co-operation with the United States. I am glad that that co-operation has been increasing lately. The Ashby Report has illustrated that, as did the conference at Princeton at the end of last year, but there are still instances of failure to dovetail our efforts, and I suggest—briefly, because I do not want to take more time—that we should consider co-operating not only specifically with the United States and, of course, specifically with our own Commonwealth family of countries like Canada, but also with the Scandinavian countries. I believe that, even if one leaves out of account for the moment the multilateral efforts which are being made by us and many other countries, we should still find that the Scandinavian countries might well offer a good deal of useful co-operation with us over and above their multilateral efforts and over and above our own, if we tried to find common ground with them. There is a very considerable problem here of co-operation, not multi-laterally but bilaterally, with whatever nations we think can help our efforts and 290 whatever nations can help in this direction. I hope that the new Department will make that kind of thing possible.
Like so many other hon. Members who have spoken, I feel that the creation of the new Department itself is a good thing, although in the circumstances a smaller thing than one might have expected; but I certainly give it my blessing.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
With the exception of the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson), who always makes most moderate and constructive speeches upon such subjects as this, I have been surprised by the very cool reception given by the Opposition to this imaginative Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) was most critical, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman), who speaks so charmingly that one does not always realise how caustic he is being, was quite violent in his attack upon it. It seems to me surprisingly ungracious. After all, one does not turn down a glass of perfectly good champagne because it does not happen to be a magnum.
§ Mr. Fisher
The hon. Member was talking of quantity rather than quality. He wanted much more in the glass. He did not complain so much of what was in it, and therefore my analogy was perfectly apt.
However, we can at least be thankful that we are no longer subject, as we used to be a few years ago, to violent attacks on colonialism. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) does not now even bother to be present on these occasions because there is not much to attack. Perhaps that is a tribute to the administration and policy of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary in his great office. Those days are over, and even our friends abroad do not criticise us on these matters so much as before.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I do not know whether my hon. Friend was here or not last night, but it is unfortunately not true to 291 say that we always have in this House really balanced speeches on Commonwealth relations.
§ Mr. Fisher
I was present last night when the debate took place to which my hon. Friend refers, and I must say that if I had a criticism of some of the speeches made on that occasion it would have been directed to my own side of the House rather than the Opposition.
However, be that as it may, although people criticise the pace, just as hon. and right hon. Members opposite may still think that in some respects we are going a little too slowly, so other hon. and right hon. Members, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), who was in the Chamber earlier, may say that in certain parts of Africa at present we are going too fast. I do not agree with him. I think that the timing is probably about right. There would, however, be general agreement now, I think, on both sides of the House and in the country that we are at least travelling along the right road. We have trained and we are training the people of the more backward Commonwealth countries to manage their affairs. That part of our responsibility to them is being steadily discharged.
This Bill deals with a different but in some ways a really more difficult task: to try to help less fortunate countries to share in the prosperity which we ourselves now enjoy, to match the political progress which we have been making by economic advance. That is the most urgent and vital matter which we could be considering nowadays, because the industrial nations of the world are really quite rich, but the primary producing countries are relatively terribly poor. The worry about it, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East said, is that this disparity between the two is actually increasing. The generation beginning just before the last war has seen world trade in manufactured goods increase by about 60 per cent., while trade in raw materials has increased by only about 30 per cent. and in food by only 10 per cent. Most of the colonial and new Commonwealth countries are, of course, producers of food and raw materials. So the rich countries have been growing relatively richer and the poor countries relatively 292 poorer, and that sort of situation plays straight into the hands of the Communists.
We in this House, I suppose, much prefer trade to aid, but where trade has been inadequate to raise living standards we must supplement it by aid. I would agree very much with my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) when in his excellent speech he pointed out that the emerging countries—I am quite sure he is right—are watching the two rival ideologies, capitalist and the Communist, to see which will give them the best chance of progress. This is one of the issues upon which we shall and must expect to be judged, and rightly.
Capitalism, as I think the Prime Minister said so well recently in a remarkable speech in Boston, must expand or expire. And it must think of new ways of helping the economically less fortunate and politically still uncommitted nations, or they will turn in despair to Russia.
This Bill, at any rate, does provide one of the ways in which we can help countries more backward than ourselves. It has already been done, so far as we can afford it, in the provision of capital, by direct loans and grants from the Treasury, by the C.D.C., where it is allowed to operate, by private investment and through various international agencies. This Bill is not concerned with that, but the form of aid with which it is concerned has been somewhat neglected in the past—the provision not of money but of men. It is true, of course, that most of the under-developed countries need money, but all of them need men. They need teachers, doctors, engineers and scientists; they need technicians of every conceivable kind; and, without that sort of help, much of the purely financial aid we make to them must inevitably be wasted.
I noticed that Prince Philip pointed out recently in a notable lecture:It is quite useless for the more fortunate countries to offer their help in building dams, power stations and factories if the managers and engineers needed to operate them are not available.That is so true. Of course, we have already done a good deal. We have provided both men and money under the Colombo Plan. We have sent out experts from the United Kingdom and 293 we have helped to train people locally. I should like to see some sort of plan on those lines developed for Africa.
We have also educated by now, I suppose, tens of thousands of Commonwealth students at training colleges and universities here in the United Kingdom, and we have spent a good deal of C.D.W. money in educating people in the Colonies themselves; not nearly enough, but still, we have done something; and all that has been helpful. But it is not enough and in the past it has not been properly co-ordinated. Different Government Departments have been working on the same lines, but they have been working independently, and this new Bill is mainly administrative and organisational in character in integrating this form of aid under one Department.
One of the new Department's important functions, as we know, is to administer the continued employment of overseas civil servants, recruited in this country at a cost of over £12 million a year. It is difficult to over-estimate the importance of this one service, particularly in Africa. The leaders of African opinion—of the Nationalist parties in various parts of Africa—men like Mr. Kenneth Kaunda in Northern Rhodesia, and Dr. Banda—have often told me, and I am sure that they mean it very sincerely, how dependent they are bound to be for a long time to come upon the help of the overseas civil servants, recruited from this country, in administering their territories for a considerable period after independence has been achieved.
I agree very much with the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East in his disappointment that Nigeria has not thought fit to take advantage of this offer, and, like him, I am rather wondering what is the reason for it. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree is not right. I hope that it is not that they think we intend economic domination in place of political domination. I am sure that that is totally wrong, and that the more we say and prove it to be wrong the better.
After all, we have one great asset which we can make available to the emerging African nations, and to others, and it is the skill and experience of our trained administrators—men who have dedicated their lives to this work, and whose contribution is quite unique and 294 will for a long time be quite indispensable. The most valuable export which we can send to the under-developed countries and the most valuable import which they can receive from us is men and women; but we must make it attractive for such people to say on in that service after the devolution of power, not only in regard to their security of employment but also their pension rights after retirement. This, I suppose, will be one of the main responsibilities of the new Department, but there are other ways of helping colonial and Commonwealth development which I hope will also be evolved by the new Department.
I hope the new Department will promote a closer liaison between the Government and the big industrial and commercial concerns which have been and are being established overseas. I hope that we shall try to help with the training of unskilled and semi-skilled labour in the Colonies, and so help to bring about the economic advancement of these people, which should and must coincide with their political progress.
I hope that the new Department may be helpful—by training the local populations in British skills and techniques—in diversifying the economies of these new countries, which are now so largely agricultural. I believe that no less than 56 per cent. of all the people of the Commonwealth are engaged in one industry—agriculture. If we can build up their industrial potential we shall not only be helping them, but we shall be providing our own economy with tremendous new opportunities. We shall be creating new purchasing power, new markets and new demands for manufactured goods, and, in raising the standard of living of these people, for whom we are still responsible, we shall also be giving a great new impetus to the improvement of our own living standards in the United Kingdom.
I was very glad when I heard my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in his statement to the House in March emphasise that the wide range of the new Department did not imply any change in the priority which would be accorded to Commonwealth countries. We may well wish to help foreign countries, particularly, I suppose, countries like the Sudan and Burma, which in the past were associated with the Commonwealth, 295 but we have plenty to do both in our own Colonial Territories, for which we are still directly responsible, and also in the new emerging Commonwealth countries, which are still linked to us but which can no longer be helped by the Colonial Development Corporation. I hope that the main beneficiaries of the new form of technical co-operation which will be developed will continue to be the Commonwealth countries.
This Commonwealth of ours is not at all a static association. It is changing in every generation, in every decade and in almost every year. Of the Commonwealth it is really true to say that the future is happening all the time. This Bill is one of the vehicles of change and the new Department it creates will be one of the agencies which will contribute, not only to the prosperity of the Commonwealth, but also to its cohesion. We are now reaching the point when the ties which bind us together are becoming rather tenuous. I hope the new Department will strengthen these ties and that it will be a uniting and unifying force in the Commonwealth. For beyond independence lies inter-dependence and partnership, partnership not only between the races in multi-racial States, but also between nations in a multi-racial Commonwealth.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. R. E. Prentice (East Ham, North)
I agree with a very large part of the speech of the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) and indeed enthusiastically wtih some parts of it, but I would differ from him on one point which he made in the early part of his speech. He was the second hon. Member from the other side of the House who put this question in the context that there was a struggle going on between capitalism and the Communist world, and that capitalism had to justify itself by meeting the needs of the under-developed countries. I hope I may be permitted, as a social democrat, to say that I do not regard this struggle as one between capitalism and Communism, but as a struggle between democracy and Communism. I think that the democratic countries have in many ways to depart from the methods of capitalism if they are to win that struggle.
The very fact that this Bill is now in front of the House is a confession that 296 the private enterprise system on its own will not do this job. In the last century, and in the early part of this century, a great deal of capital was exported to the new countries like Australia, New Zealand, Argentine and elsewhere, where development was carried out entirely on a private enterprise basis. Owing to the fact that private capitalism is no longer so virile, it is necessary for Government action on a bigger scale to take effect. I do not want to pursue that sort of theoretical political argument, but I thought that I should make that point clear at the outset.
§ Mr. Tilney
Would not the hon. Member agree that capitalism would be just as virile if the conditions of security of investment were as good as they were in the last century?
§ Mr. Prentice
If history would stand still, old institutions might be able to stand still as well, but history is on the move in many ways.
I should like also to make the point that, although this cold war argument is a very important argument for doing this job of technical aid more effectively, I do not regard it as the first reason for doing so. The first reason for extending technical aid I believe to be a moral reason. I believe that it is something which should be on the conscience of every one of us that the gap is growing between the standard of living which we enjoy in the richer countries and the standards of life of something like two-thirds of the people of the world.
As we move on in the wealthier countries towards more and more technological advances and find the way to perform delicate operations on the human heart and to send spacemen into orbit round the world, we ought to remind ourselves that two-thirds of the human race are living in conditions of bare subsistence. This is the biggest moral challenge of our time. More people should say this more often and more clearly in public life.
I am sure that, if given the lead, more people in this country would respond to this appeal and would be prepared to make the greater sacrifices that will be required of us if we are to do this job on a big scale. The hon. Member for Windsor (Sir S. Mott-Radclyffe) said that no one seemed ready to ask for these sacrifices. It is a test of leadership that we should be 297 ready to ask for them. I should like to see the provisions of the Bill viewed as a means of putting the Government's and the people's will into effect in this respect.
This is in many ways a disappointing Bill. I agree with my hon. Friends that the new Minister should deal with capital aid as well as technical assistance. I should like to see that Minister one of Cabinet rank and to see him charged with the job of co-ordinating the whole of our effort in terms of aid of all kinds. I should like to see him become a diplomat in these matters so that, on behalf of this country, he would try to stimulate all the richer parts of the world to greater efforts to help under-developed countries. Accepting that this is a limited Measure—and I agree with the hon. Member for Surbiton that we should welcome what it contains while regretting that it does not go further—I should like to speak of some of the problems which I hope the new Minister will face. I urge that he and his Department should plan for a much bigger volume of technical assistance.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) quoted the recent analysis made by Mr. Paul Hoffman of the needs of the underdeveloped parts of the world. I should like to refer to some more details in that analysis. Mr. Hoffman pointed out that in the 1950s the under-developed parts of the world increased their resources to the extent of an average rise of 3 per cent. per annum in their national incomes. But that 3 per cent. had to be reckoned against the fact that in those countries there was an average rise of 2 per cent. per annum in population. Therefore, per capita, the rise in income was only about 1 per cent. per annum. He went on to say that if we set the target in the 1960s of merely doubling this rate of growth in income the richer countries would have to pour out additional aid which he estimated at 3 billion dollars per annum.
The European Economic Community also carried out a survey into this problem with the same aim of doubling the rate of growth in the 1960s. Its estimate was the even larger figure of 4 billion dollars per annum of aid from the richer countries to the under-developed countries. Whichever figure is correct, this is an enormous challenge. We should accept this target as a beginning and we and all the countries involved should 298 think in terms of a much bigger volume of aid than we are now giving
These figures include capital aid and technical assistance, and it is because these two are linked so closely together that I share the disappointment that both are not to be covered by the new Ministry. Accepting that they are not, it seems clear that the Minister will have to plan his technical assistance in relation to the movement of capital as well. We ought to consider the strategy of the West in the matter of capital aid for the under-developed parts of the world. It seems to me that the methods to be used, certainly by the United States Government who will be giving the lead to the new Development Aid Group, will be along the lines which have been developed by Mr. Rostow in his book Stages of Economic Growth. He is President Kennedy's leading adviser in this field.
We shall have an emphasis on the idea that certain countries have reached a stage of "being sent into orbit", as it has been described. Some hon. Members have used other metaphors. These countries have been described as "breaking through the sound barrier", and so on. The concept is of a State, through its own resources, going forward and increasing its standard of living at a fairly steady rate. It may be assumed that India, Mexico and Brazil have just about reached the threshold of that point and that, given a large injection of capital for the next few years, they will break through and "go into orbit" on their own.
Countries like Pakistan and many South American countries are a little behind and may reach that point in a year or two. Some of the countries of Africa are still further distant in the queue. It seems that Mr. Rostow's view, and therefore presumably that of the United States, is that there should be a deliberate policy of unfair shares in the distribution of economic aid from the West. There should be a deliberate choice of the countries which are nearly reaching the break-through stage and they should have most of the economic aid so that that aid shall do the greatest amount of good.
Although this concept is unfortunate in the sense that one would have liked a greater part of the aid to go to the 299 poorest countries, there is obviously much to be said for it in terms of results. If this is to be the pattern of events in the next few years, it does not follow, however, that technical assistance should be distributed in the same way—because it has to play a large part in bringing countries up to the point where they are ready for a large injection of capital aid. Technical aid may also be necessary later when the economic aid arrives. It is also needed by the poorest countries in making a beginning on the provision of education, public health services, the building of roads, and so on, which will start them on the road to eventual greater prosperity. It seems to me, therefore, that the Minister must be at least in close touch with the capital aid programme of this and other Western Governments even if he is not to have responsibility for this field.
I should like to see a bigger proportion of our technical assistance channelled through the United Nations. The preface to the White Paper on "Technical Assistance from the United Kingdom for Overseas Development" states that:…United Kingdom Government assistance…in 1960 will have been in the region of £150 million of which £125 million will have been extended bilaterally, and £25 million multilaterally.I am a multilateralist in this as well as in other respects, and I believe that the greater part of this aid should be given multilaterally.
The White Paper also states that of the £25 million only about £6 million went through the United Nations Technical Assistance Programme. One criticism which we must level not only at our programme but also at the programmes of most of the Western nations is that a large proportion of the aid given at the moment, which is in any case too small in total, is going to specially selected friends of the donor countries. It is true, for example, that a great deal of our aid is going not only to the Commonwealth but to the oil sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf and to places where we have a special interest. An enormous proportion of the aid from France is going to Algeria. Much of United States aid goes to the oil countries of the Middle East or to special American allies in the Far East—to 300 places like the Philippines and South Korea. While I am not suggesting that any of those countries should receive less, I say that if we are going to plan for an increase, a greater proportion should go through the United Nations and its agencies, for two reasons. First, it seems to me that the United Nations agencies are the right organisations for administering technical assistance. They are not necessarily the right organisations for administering capital aid, particularly if we accept the concept that it has to be concentrated on certain countries which are ready for it, because we cannot get that sort of decision made by the United Nations working under the system of "one nation one vote" in which inevitably all the nations are going to insist upon fair shares. But this difficulty does not occur in relation to technical assistance.
It is very important indeed that the man who goes to an under-developed country to work there should have the best possible relations with the people on the spot. If one takes into account the very natural feelings of newly-independent countries, the pride that they have in not accepting any sort of disguised version of colonialism, they are most likely to accept the presence of people who go under the aegis of the United Nations, an international organisation of which they themselves are members. That is a very important point and indicates the desirability of the job being done through the United Nations wherever possible.
Secondly, as a matter of deliberate foreign policy, this country ought to help to build up the United Nations by whatever methods are available. If we want that organisation to play a bigger part in world affairs and to become eventually some sort of federal world government, we must take every opportunity to build up its institutions wherever possible. I was disappointed to see that in the course of the recent General Assembly when the Assembly turned itself into a pledging conference on the expanded programme of capital assistance, it voted 86 million dollars, or something over £30 million, for the expanded assistance programme, which is 14 million dollars less than the target originally set by the 1957 Assembly. I think there ought to be a much bigger effort here and that 301 we ought at least to meet the targets which were originally set.
When the Financial Secretary moved the Second Reading of this Bill, he spoke of the relationship between this new Department and other existing Departments. I was a little disappointed at the way in which apparently the other Departments are still to continue their relations with the United Nations technical agencies appropriate to their work. The hon. Gentleman gave the example of education. I assume that the Ministry of Health, for example, will still have its relations with the World Health Organisation, the Ministry of Labour with the I.L.O., and so on. It seems to me that in recent years there has been far too restrictive an attitude by some of these Government Departments towards these agencies, far too much of an inclination to stick to the rigid formula of the British Government's share in the regular budget—perhaps too much Treasury share is involved—and a reluctance to enter into new projects.
There was, for instance, the failure of the British Government to make a contribution to the World Malaria Fund other than their regular contribution to the annual budget of the World Health Organisation. However, this is a matter which I hope to raise on the Adjournment tomorrow night, so I will not deal with it in any further detail.
There was the failure of the Ministry of Labour to make a special contribution to the Institute of Labour Studies which is being established under the I.L.O. We have been told that we should be satisfied with our regular contributions. But in fact a special endowment fund has been created and a large number of other countries are making special contributions to it. Not only relatively wealthy countries like France, the Netherlands and Western Germany but also relatively poor countries such as Chile, Mexico and Tunisia have announced that they are making contributions to the special fund. But the British Government will not do so. We should like to see a loosening up here.
Paragraph 89 of the White Paper refers to the question of training in United Kingdom industry. The Financial Secretary referred to this aspect of technical assistance. I must 302 say that I found this paragraph particularly disappointing. It begins by saying that the whole conceptis too broad a term about which to offer significant collective facts and figures.It goes on to say thatsome 9,000 people from overseas obtain experience in United Kingdom industry each year.That does not seem to me to be a particularly large figure, especially when one considers that a part of that training is carried out by British firms which have subsidiaries overseas and are training people to go out and take responsibility there.
The hon. Gentleman said that under the Colombo Plan 2,500 people had come for training within industry. When one considers that this plan has been going for ten years, that it covers several countries with many hundreds of millions of people, this seems a most modest effort, and I hope that this is one aspect of technical assistance which can rapidly be improved. We are shortly to celebrate Commonwealth Technical Training Week, and I should have thought that one way of celebrating it in a practical way would be to initiate a Government survey, to ensure that the Government have a bigger grip of the problem and discuss with other Governments how people overseas can be brought to this country in larger numbers. This seems to me to be a relatively cheap and efficiently method of making a big impact on the economies of developing countries.
In passing, I should have thought also that one more criticism against the concept of a payroll tax is that it may discourage employers from taking on trainees of this kind. No doubt, this is one of the matters which will emerge on another occasion.
The last thing that I would suggest is that the new Minister should initiate something like a British Peace Corps similar to that which has been initiated by the President of the United States. This seems to me to be an immensely challenging concept which we ought to follow. It is a way to bring large numbers of young people into the service of technical assistance—not only people who are expert but people who can assist experts, because very often the work of an expert in an underdeveloped country can be much more 303 effective if he has assistants to work with him.
Also I believe that the experience of young people from different nations working together, is of tremendous importance in building up a spirit of internationalism which can be a factor towards world peace. It is now fourteen years since I went as a volunteer to work on the Youth Railway in Yugoslavia. I am still entitled to travel free between Samac and Sarajevo in Bosnia because of the modest contribution that I made in heaving stones and bricks around. I do not think that the foreign help to that project was a very large piece of technical assistance—certainly not my contribution—and when one speaks of a Peace Corps one thinks of something much more effective than that operation. Nevertheless I think that we all learned a tremendous amount from each other and we all became better world citizens as a result of the experience.
The Peace Corps should be organised by the Government. We all recognise the good work done by certain voluntary bodies in this field, but only the Government can give it the impetus that is needed. The American example should be followed here. These Peace Corps—British, American and the rest—should to a large extent be allowed to operate through the United States agencies.
Most of us have tended to talk about matters of detail, but I feel that we should regard this problem fundamentally as a challenge to the conscience of this country to do more. It is about 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln said that the American nation could not survive "half-slave and half-free". It seems to me that the impact of modern science upon our world has made the world a much smaller place than the United States was when Abraham Lincoln used those words. Therefore, unless we accept that our biggest task is to liberate men and women from the slavery of abject poverty our civilised standards will not survive and we shall not deserve that they should survive.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Mr. W. T. Aitken (Bury St.Edmunds)
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher), I am somewhat surprised at the lukewarm reception that this not only imaginative 304 but very timely Bill has had. I think that the Bill has immense possibilities which, if exploited, could range far beyond what we are thinking about in the terms of the White Paper.
I believe that in the next few years the main problem of aid to the underdeveloped countries will not be so much lack of capital as the inability of the under-developed countries to use the amount of capital which could be made available. For that reason, I believe that this new Department could tackle this matter at no great expense, from the point of view of looking at some of the problems we have to face in this revolution of rising expectations. Some of these problems have emerged only in very recent years.
I do not know how many hon. Members have read "The Ugly American", but I hope that those who have read that book will also read one which is coming out in the next few days, by the same author, called "A Nation of Sheep", because the theme of both these books is the complete and utter waste of money which certain types of direct financial aid or grants can be.
I believe that one task of this new Department will be to make the best possible use of the much greater degree of expertise that we have in this country in technical aid to overseas countries. There are not only the Colonial Office resources and the Commonwealth Relations Office resources, which will go on, but there is also the vast experience of private enterprises concerns which have worked overseas for many years and know all the difficulties. In some of the less sophisticated forms of aid, that is, both loans and direct grants, we often see the cart put before the horse.
A good example of that was told to me some years ago by Mahatma Gandhi, when he gave, at Chatham House, a most a glowing description of a new hospital that had been built in India, and which a great contribution from the British Government had made possible. He pointed out that the Indians would not go into it—they were much too frightened to go near the place—and he gave facts and figures to show how many millions of Indians could have been given elementary hygienic training for the same amount of money as had been 305 spent on a hospital which could deal with only a few hundred Indians a year.
Most of the people in the emerging countries for political reasons can only seek, in the form of aid, something which is spectacular. They want something which will make a tremendous impression on their supporters in the country, something that will provide them with the most concrete evidence possible that the country is going right ahead, when half the time what is needed is something on a much smaller scale, covering a much wider area.
I remember seeing, when I was in Nigeria and again in Malaya, people winnowing grain by the medieval method of throwing it into the air and letting the wind blow away the chaff. For a very few pounds one could buy a small hand-threshing machine which would do the job very much better than they are doing it at present. There are firms in this country already doing a great deal of research into simple machinery that can easily be repaired, if it breaks, mostly hand-powered.
Then again, we have a problem which is quite alien to the richer countries but not to the poorer countries. In the richer countries the driving force of all our economic system has been production, the desire to provide unlimited supplies of consumer and capital goods. A few years ago Mr. J. M. Keynes said in a speech, "Do not talk to me about over-production until the last Hottentot in the depths of the African jungle has a fleet of Rolls-Royce cars, at least six pairs of shoes, a top hat, and all the rest." That is not true. We have found out recently that in the poorer countries there is a quite different attitude of mind towards production. It is very hard indeed to get people to continue to work beyond a certain wage level, because they do not see any sense in it. They do not require any more. Their wants are not the wants of the richer communities.
No one has done effective research into how to persuade people, once they get higher wages, to continue to work and produce at the same rate. This is a characteristic in many parts of Africa and Asia. No one has yet been able to tell those countries how to overcome that particular problem so as to get the increased percentage of production every year which is necessary for them to 306 break through the barrier into a developing economy. If this new Ministry could provide the answers of giving aid to these under-developed countries without causing inflation and if British organisations could do research and provide the answers to these kind of problems, I think that it would have made a major contribution towards the growth of the under-developed territories, merely because it would have provided people in other countries able to provide aid with the answers on how to overcome the difficulties which make it impossible for many of the receiving countries to use even the capital that is at present available.
There is only one other point which I want to make. If this new Ministry can give a lead to those parts of the world which are willing and capable of providing substantial assistance to underdeveloped countries, then I should like to see it call in not just technical personnel but also to appeal to those various Commonwealth countries who are able to make contributions—not only contributions in the way of personnel, but also contributions in the form of planned aid, as was done by Commonwealth countries in the Colombo Plan.
It also seems to me that the fear of economic imperialism can be most effectively dealt with if, perhaps in a year or two, when the Ministry is in being and has had experience, we could persuade Canada, Australia and New Zealand to set up similar junior Ministries to co-operate with us in doing exactly the same thing. One of the curious features about the Commonwealth is that for many years, since we have had an independent Commonwealth, most of its leading countries have strenuously objected to any kind of permanent central organisation such as a permanent secretariat. On the other hand, the attitude is usually quite different when it comes to setting up something like the Colombo Plan which, after all, is a Commonwealth concept and is run by various people from all over the Commonwealth, and under which contributions are made into a common pool and run by a common pool of experts and administrators.
I believe that if this Ministry can do the research and find the answers which so many countries do not have at the moment, and if we can persuade the rest 307 of the Commonwealth, in conjunction with the United States, to set up similar organisations, then it will not only have done a splendid job but, with the comparatively small amount of money available, will have made a major contribution to aid under-developed countries.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)
I would point out to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) that the unspectacular is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do these days. In science, miracles are performed almost daily, and people expect miracles in their political and social arrangements. These things do not happen. Indeed, most hon. Members on this side of the House, in giving our welcome to the Bill, think that the Bill is timid in stretching out to the future. I confess that I am disappointed that the status of the Minister and of the Permanent Secretary is not higher, and I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) that it is disappointing that the Bill does not include anything about economic aid.
May I confine my remarks to the detail of the Bill and ask some questions of the Financial Secretary on how it might work? I have heard in several Colonial Territories of very serious delays in the recruitment of staff, and I have also heard of very serious delays in obtaining equipment. It seems a little odd that in the present situation, when the shipping industry is crying out for trade, it is so difficult to get material shipped from West Africa to England and to get passages on the steamship lines. I feel that not enough attention has been devoted to communications between West Africa, for example, and England.
If the new Ministry is to suffer from the danger of consultation, it may well be that there will be even more delays in recruitment than at the moment, and there may be important delays in providing equipment. I urge upon all parties co-operating in this Ministry, and I particularly stress to the Financial Secretary, that very special attention should be given to the machinery dealing with recruitment and with the supply and forwarding of equipment, because 308 nothing causes more frustration and dismay in the field than to be short of staff and equipment after having made repeated applications for it.
When the Financial Secretary says that this Ministry will not be doing spectacular things, I hope that he does not rule out the Ministry having ideas. From time to time imaginative pieces of social work are undertaken. I refer to the training of Malayan teachers in England and the recent development of providing English teachers on vacation in Nigeria, for example. I hope that these bright ideas will run right through the new Ministry and that it will not only cultivate these bright ideas but will learn new techniques in getting them over to those people who might benefit from them.
Ofter an under-developed country is not quite sure about which are the things which it should do. If it is becoming independent, it is in a rather delicate relationship with this Government, and much attention therefore needs to be directed towards how to get ideas which are worked out in England, or in other parts of the Commonwealth, conveyed to newly developing countries in a way which they will accept.
This particularly applies to Sierra Leone in relation to the training of teachers. Sierra Leone is very short of teachers, but I have not heard of any particularly spectacular or inspiring scheme of ours to help Sierra Leone. I hope that we can adapt the Nigerian scheme to suit Sierra Leone and find more places in our own training colleges to assist Sierra Leone in her very grievous shortage, which is holding up a good deal of development in that country.
I also hope, as the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds said, that very serious thought will be given to the way in which other Commonwealth countries can assist the newly developing countries which are becoming independent. A short time ago I had a very interesting conversation with a Tasmanian education officer who was in England recruiting teachers for Tasmania. I suggested to him that it might be interesting if his Government persuaded one or two Tasmanian teachers to teach in Sierra Leone. I am sure that this gesture from a small country such as Tasmania to a 309 small country such as Sierra Leone would have an effect out of all proportion to the numbers involved. If this Ministry can fertilise ideas and make contacts of this description all over the Commonwealth, it will have a much greater impact than would be expected from the amount of money which may be spent.
In a previous debate, dealing with the Overseas Service Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) put forward what I think was a far-reaching and imaginative idea, and I should like to repeat it. He said that he thought that every professional person in Britain should contemplate at quite an early stage in his career doing a stint of service overseas. I hope that the new Ministry will go to some trouble to produce an atmosphere in which British people, who have had the very great benefit of receiving all the advantages which we have in medicine, education, science, and so on, feel that they are under an obligation to go overseas early in their careers, when they have no family ties, to make a contribution to the Commonwealth. I am sure that this could be one of the most effective ways of persuading territories which are becoming independent that we mean what we say when we say that we want to see them firmly independent and not tied to British capital.
There is another matter which needs consideration. The terms of compensation for civil servants and officers going out to new territories seem to me satisfactory, but I urge the Financial Secretary to ask the new Ministry to look at the position of some of the universities or the university colleges developing in new countries. I particularly refer to a matter which I have raised previously—the situation in Fourah Bay College. I asked the Colonial Secretary why members of that college should not be treated as public servants, and I was given the orthodox but not very satisfactory answer that Fourah Bay is now an independent institution.
Since I wrote to the right hon. Gentleman I have had some evidence which points the other way. In the first place, the college was mostly staffed by recruits from England and was in the same category of Kumasi College of Technology, for example. I have been told that members of the staff going to 310 Nigeria and then leaving the public service, both in the university at Ibadan and also the public service in Nigeria, have had their service in Fourah Bay College counted as public service. I have been informed that members of the college going into the public service in Sierra Leone have had their service with the college counted as public service for compensation rights. I further learn that before a member of the Fourah Bay College can leave the college and resign he has to make application to the Governor to retire from public service.
I can take those three sets of facts only at face value, but if any one is right it demands another look at this situation. It also demands a look at the position of other universities as they develop to ensure that this situation is not repeated.
I hope that the new Ministry will encourage movement from England in the way of conferences and so on in educational matters and industrial matters, so that it is easier for British people to back up conferences overseas. Quite recently, the Executive Committee of the National Institute of Adult Education had a very unsatisfactory interview with the Minister of Education on this theme. We thought that it was very good for this country that our people should be represented when international conferences were held about adult education. The Minister thought that the present situation was satisfactory and that no more encouragement was needed. I hope that here the new Ministry will be more forthcoming than the Ministry of Education has been.
Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East, I must voice disappointment about economic aid. It is most disappointing that there is at present no suggestion at all that economic aid should be dealt with other than by the sort of complacent attitude that emerges from Cmnd. 974. I looked at the Annex in respect of the two West African countries in which I am particularly interested, and I found that the assistance to Ghana over the last three years has been very small indeed.
I do not know whether the Government think that Ghana is misbehaving herself, but grants and technical assistance of £.6 million for 1957–58, of £.1 million for 1958–59 and an estimated 311 £.1 million for 1959–60 seems very small for such a thriving country, and bears out the idea that has already been voiced about the need to give an impetus to a country that is at last getting on its feet. I know that Ghana is one of the richest countries in Africa, but such small grants seem to be well below the level that we should be giving.
My criticism of the grants and technical assistance given to Sierra Leone is that they seem to be quite unplanned. I cannot complain that the last sum of £1.2 million in grants and technical assistance and £1.6 million in loans is unreasonable, but the fact that in the previous year the amount was only £.2 million in grants and technical assistance and, in the year before, £.7 million, may explain Sierra Leone's stagnant economy when this is the right moment for that economy to be expanding.
The Financial Secretary probably very well knows Sierra Leone's difficulties in getting its economy on the move. Apart from agriculture, its only two major industries are diamonds and the iron mines, and it needs very much to diversify. That can be done only by securing foreign capital. Even though the Bill does not deal with this subject, I hope that the Government as a whole will give very serious thought to helping the economic future of Sierra Leone by way of grants and loans.
In the same Cmnd. Paper there are various tables showing grants and loans made by private industry and by Government, but there is no reference to the rate of interest charged. On the Government side, we should have something equivalent to what local authorities used to have—loans at very much lower rates of interest than the market rate—and on the private side we should know at least what their profits and rates of interest are. Nowhere in this document is there any reference to that.
It may well be that modern private capital has reformed itself, but it may be that there are companies that still exploit Africa in the bad old way. We have all been rather complacent today on this subject. We have all said that over the last few years private industry—and even the Conservative Party—has learned new methods and that there is no longer any danger of exploitation. I 312 sometimes wonder if that is true. If it is true, the facts and figures should be made available, and when the new Ministry is under way it will be of great help to those of us who are interested in the problem to have an annual report, and an annual discussion in this House about methods, and so on, and rather better tables, rather better information than is contained in the two White Papers.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)
For the last thirty years I have been one of a team engaged in developing underdeveloped countries, and I ask the indulgence of the House while I put forward one or two points. It is not that I propose to give the new Minister any advice; listening to the whole of today's debate, as I have done, I believe that if he were to accept all the advice that has been given he would be a very busy man before he even started work. In such a situation, a Minister wants to know much more about the problems rather than be given advice on how to deal with them. His own ability will enable him to deal with the problems as they arise.
We must realise, first, that we are now talking of a world-wide effort. Much has been said about the Commonwealth alone but, as I see it, this is a worldwide project. My own experience leads me to say—and we worked in all sorts of countries in different stages of development—that the same sort of treatment and the same sort of ideas cannot apply on a world-wide scale. There is no one single solution. I very strongly support what my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) said; he obviously spoke from practical personal experience.
The new Ministry needs backing up with practical experience. It wants in it men who have worked abroad, and who know the parts of the world with which they are dealing and the individual problems which apply. I could delay the House for a long time speaking of the experience of our own team. I could say how different faces have not fitted in different parts of the world; in some cases for reasons that are quite obvious when one hears them, and in others for quite silly reasons. If I were asked to give a formula for a technical person who was to work in any part of the world, I 313 would advise picking the man who can smile, because a smile is the thing that the people of the under-developed countries understand.
I was very alarmed to hear hon. Members opposite talking about a Minister for Aid. The new Minister will have enough on his plate, if he is to do his present job properly, without making himself a Commonwealth Chancellor of the Exchequer, and a Minister of Education, and without our giving him a colossal control.
This sort of problem cannot be solved by sitting in a large signal box and pulling levers and saying that we will build a dam in India and something else somewhere else. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) quoted an example of how he went with a private enterprise company to build houses in Jamaica. My own company is working not in Jamaica, but in Barbados, and I fully appreciate the problems of raising finance in such areas. I can assure the hon. Member that it is easier to raise finance in Jamaica than it is in many other parts of the world.
In spite of what he said, I do not believe that the problem can be solved by one enormous authority, because we would then start to be in the danger of putting too much power in one man's hands and relying too much on his opinion about what was the right thing to do. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds has pointed the value of simple things in simple areas. In my own experience I have found simple things, such as that a slow operating engine works much better in the tropics than a fast-running engine, partly because the natives understand it when it goes "chug chug", and partly because it does not have a lot of complicated apparatus.
We have heard much about how the new Ministry is to be formed. We have had impressed upon us the importance of a world-wide effort and of world responsibility if this work is to be attempted. The other Ministers whose Departments will be deprived of staff must realise their moral responsibly for giving the best they have to this new Ministry. In my own company, when we are working in a new part of the world and introducing a new company, we find that the success of the team depends upon it getting together and deciding that there is a difficult task to be 314 done and that every department will have to make sacrifices, sacrifices which are made gladly because all departments know that their turn will come and that upon their sacrifices depend the experience and reputation of the team which goes. I hope that the same attitude will be taken by the Government Departments which have to make staff sacrifices.
There are two small points which have not been made. Great play has been made with the question of education. I accept the need for education, but there does not seem to be enough emphasis on the importance of teaching languages in this country. Quite a lot of the world does not speak English and many of the under-developed countries need linguists. At an early stage the new Minister should approach the Minister of Education, not to do his job for him, but to satisfy himself that our schools appreciate the importance of languages.
There has been some discussion about degrees in technical subjects, and reference has been made to the fact that some students fail examinations in certain subjects and are then not fully qualified. We have to realise that we are training not only for today, but for the future. If we are to train engineers and technicians, let us train them to degree standard, but not only academic but practical degree standard. The Institute of Builders has appreciated that of recent years and now has a system which allows for different levels of engineer, of craftsman and of technician. It is important that there should be those grades and that we should not hold up anyone merely because he is not fully qualified. Let us send out those people who are able to do the task. The definition of "civil engineer" is a man who harnesses the powers of nature for the benefit of mankind. I hope that that will be the motto of this new Ministry.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
Throughout the centuries politicians have made speeches about priorities, which are extremely important, and they always talk in terms of settling the priorities themselves, but history has always shown that it settles the priorities for them. I do not know what we shall be talking about next week, but in the last week 315 or two we have been talking about unprecedented, unforeseen and rather surprising events in both the Carribean and North Africa. Priorities will continue to settle themselves.
The Financial Secretary speaks with great sincerity on this subject and I therefore listened to him with great attention. I dislike the Bill and the sort of proposal it contains, and the suggestion that a new Ministry can be staffed with old civil servants, however worthy and able they may be. I am trying to say nothing controversial and no doubt the civil servants will be transferred for respectable reasons, and most hon. Members on this side of the House have great respect for the Colonial Service, but we want new ideas and young men and blokes who can go into this new situation of a world organisation with aspiration and with ideas.
If the Financial Secretary could overcome his natural modesty and suggest to the Prime Minister that this might be a job suitable for him, most of us on this side would have a good deal more respect for the Ministry, because all we are discussing now is a Bill to create a new Department, and fundamentally that is bad, for there are too many Ministers now. The patronage of a Prime Minister or even a Leader of the Opposition in these days is such that he can buy the votes of about 33½ per cent. of the members of his party, and we do not want any more Ministers, but to have one good Minister at last would be not unadvantageous.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), who speaks with not only eloquence and ability, but with a highly reputable record in this matter, made a speech with which I agreed so much that I shall not say more about it. However, the Financial Secretary might have been a little more forthcoming—unless he was so during my short absence when I had to repair the ravages of lack of lunch—about what has happened in Nigeria and the Overseas Service. These debates are apt to concentrate on the non-self-governing Colonial Territories. If the hon. Gentleman takes up this job he may well find that the events have forced the priorities also because the debate to which he referred so felicitously 316 and appreciatively which took place last night was concentrated on the southern part of Africa, and Basutoland, Swailand and Bechuanaland may become priorities. That will not be because of some assessment of need—although, heaven knows, their need is great—but because their political importance has become vital.
There is no decent living available for most of those in the three protectorate territories, or in the three semi-trustee protectorate territories which are adjacent to—indeed, one is included in—the area of South Africa. Basutoland, Swaziland and Bechuanaland which we have discussed from time to time ever since I have been in this House (how often have we talked about the Kalahari Desert?) are territories which may force their own priorities on to the Government. Bechuanaland produced the greatest cattle expert in Africa, Tshekedi Khama, who was not consulted by the Labour Government in 1945 when they produced their scheme for cattle raising in Bechuanaland.
I wish to say a word or two about Nigeria, because I should have thought that on the whole Nigeria is about the least controversial territory in the whole of Africa. It is common ground on both sides of the House that it has about the ablest African leaders to be found on the Continent of Africa today. They are men like the Prime Minister, Balewa, and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the new Governor-General, men of distinction in any society in the world and men of ability in any society in the world. They know their problems. I had the good fortune to be present at the installation of the Governor-General. He would not mind my mentioning that in the past there have been times when his affection for the British Empire has been tempered with a certain amount of polemical rhetoric, but I heard him make a passionate declaration of loyalty to the Queen. One sees that they have done there something which it is not easy for us in this country to do—sunk their party differences in order to work for the common good. Dr. Azikiwe's acceptance of the Governorship surprised most people.
They have one of the finest European civil services which have existed in Africa. I saw the departure of the late 317 Governor and saw the demonstration of popular emotion. I rather expected to hear "Will ye no' come back again?" sung in African dialect as I once heard "On Ilkla' Moor baht'at". There is no question about the good feeling, but one knows of some of the problems. One knows, for example, that Europeans are paid at European rates, although it is fair to add that they must be badly off in the highly inflationary atmosphere of Lagos. It may be that those are not the rates which the Nigerian Government would wish to pay in the future, but their pride would not permit them to differentiate between residents and non-residents in terms of wages.
That was precisely why the Overseas Service Bill was passed. It was because European civil servants were making arrangements to go at the time when we were there, not in anger or in any dissatisfaction, but leaving spheres of work to which many of them were genuinely devoted. They were uncertain about the future and uncertain about the directives. The provision which had been made by this House was apparently not to be brought in in any circumstances.
§ Mr. Costain
I mentioned this point in my speech and I should like to be permitted a short intervention. My impression about these things in Nigeria is that Nigerians are worried that if the British expatriates were to take a salary from Britain they would have dual loyalties. I am told on very good authority that that is the only fear they have. If they are paid by Nigeria a certain sum and by the British another sum, the Nigerians wonder how they could be expected to be loyal to Nigeria. That, I understand, is the only problem. I am quite certain that when they realise that it is because they do not appreciate what Civil Service loyalty is and cannot understand Civil Service loyalty, they will accept it.
§ Mr. Hale
I can well understand that that may be the popular view, but I am perfectly certain it could not be the view of those working in the Government of Nigeria. I think they perfectly understand the independence of the British civil servant, with his devotion to his job, free from political affiliations.
I visited the prisons in Lagos and saw the European director who was leaving the next week and was being replaced by a European second-in-command 318 who was expected to leave in a few months' time. Those of us interested in penal reform know that a first-class prison governor is a rara avis. I do not say that in any political sense, but he is a rare chap. A man who can build up the prison service in Lagos in the almost fantastic building circumstances we witnessed there with a building nearly as old as Dartmoor—with the execution shed overlooked by the maternity hospital, and thirty-seven prisoners were under sentence of death—a man who can develop a prison service in those circumstances, is worthy of admiration and respect. I think it a tragedy that these people are leaving.
I know that the Financial Secretary is deputising at the last moment for someone else who should have presented the Bill, but there are important questions which ought to be answered.
I come now to my second point. I have always disclosed to the House that I have no economic cards up my sleeve. I do not profess to understand economics, and although I know many who do profess to understand economics, I do not know any who do understand economics.
The first point that we have to remember in this field is that bunging a heavy industry into an undeveloped territory is not an unmixed blessing. I am not trying to be political. I am trying to quote uncontroversial examples because the atmosphere on both sides so far has been constructive, and I do not want to disturb it.
In Venezuela I visited the plant of the United Steel Corporation of America. There someone had by chance—I think it was due to an aeroplane accident—discovered an immense mountain deep in the jungle beyond the Orinoco which was mostly iron ore. So they started to develop it. Nothing could have been better than the operations of the company. It is a first-class corporation; something like a world power.
This is one of the important questions which the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) touched on. The company erected ports on the Orinoco, 90 miles of road and railway and the best housing in Venezuela. It provided the best conditions for its men. Its reputation as a developing company was 319 as good as one can find anywhere in the world.
The first results were beneficial. The Venezuelan Government needed revenue, and this provided a taxable income. The Venezuelan Government began to dig very deep into it, and will go on digging deeper year by year. If we wanted to export technical assistance anywhere in the world and we sent a couple of dozen first-class British Income Tax inspectors to Venezuela, they could probably raise a great deal more money for the Venezuelan Government than any other economic operation that one could envisage.
But round the periphery one is creating a raging inflation and accentuating the poverty of those who are outside the circle. One has created unbalanced conditions. Not only that; with one's raging inflation one has nothing for the people who have money to spend unless one is prepared to provide consumer goods in relation to one's developing industry, and then one is still up against the future.
This is what I was talking about last week. I do not propose to repeat myself, but, after all, countries in the end have to pay for their exports and not their imports. Every time I say this six people giggle and go out and are slightly distressed, and nobody seems to understand what I mean. But this is the whole problem of world development. It is a problem of one's permanent trade surplus. If one has an export surplus, one is engaged in an act of economic war. One has to divert to investment. The United States has had to face this problem.
I do not want to impute to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) anything which he did not mean, and I am sure he did not mean this, but he talked about co-operation with the United States in this matter, and went on to talk about the free world. I do not know where the free world is. Whether it is the world of General Franco, Dr. Salazar, General Salan, Angola, and so on, I do not know. But I do know that if one is going to embark on world development as a form of political warfare one will fail. One will start on the wrong foot.
320 My friends in America, who have a very honourable record in this way, say "We all realise this. We have to tag this on, though, to please the less intelligent voters of Alabama." I hope that those voters of Alabama have a clear conception of the implications concerned. But one cannot do it. A suffering child is a suffering child whether it is Chinese or Nigerian, or wherever it comes from.
I come back to Nigeria for a moment. I quote it only because it is a rather uncontroversial country and also one that I have fairly recently visited, if only for a short time. The Teal need of Nigeria is for doctors. The real need of Nigeria is for agricultural scientists. They have made great experiments in agricultural development. They have their little stations and their organisation. But what happens? They have got to have a taxable revenue. They have already got inflation in Lagos. They have got to get new industries into the area of Lagos to provide their taxable revenue, and every new industry which goes there increases the inflation and drags the people from agriculture.
That is why today, if I may go again to Venezuela, the land in Caracas is dearer than it is in the City of London. There is an enormous shanty-town being built at Caracas because one has made a land fit for spivs to live in and one is denuding agriculture and raw material production. This large country, with its vast area of land, is actually importing eggs on a huge scale because it has failed to provide a balanced production. These are the problems.
I would say again to the hon. Gentleman—I certainly never thought of appealing to him as Hamlet's father's ghost, even in his present streamlined condition, and I hope he will not accept my compliments at a premium—that if we are to have a Minister to deal with this matter, we want someone who really has power and really has, as he suggested, access to the Prime Minister. We want someone who will not be encumbered by a choice of staff which is dictated by other Departments, and someone who certainly has not got to go to another Minister for the promotion of his own men. If he is to do anything with this, he must have the right to say "I want that man and this man to lead this organisation."
321 The hon. Member for Wavertree raised several questions of great importance, such as empire co-operation. If one wants knowledge about raw material production, if one wants knowledge of the sort of raw material production that one is likely to envisage in large African territories, one is a great deal more likely to get it from Australia and Canada. Since I was in Canada in 1945, I have constantly raised the question of Commonwealth consultation, of a Commonwealth consultative Parliament, not to take decisions, but to exchange views. During these fifteen years, no one has paid the slightest attention to it.
I heard the Prime Minister at the Box today say that, of course, we must go to a good deal of trouble to find out all the problems of the Commonwealth in relation to possible participation in the Common Market. We ought to know these things. They ought to be a matter of day-to-day discussion. They should be part of the textbook of every politician. It is certainly from the sentiment and the good will of the Commonwealth that we draw a great deal of the power for good that we have in world affairs. We cannot afford lightly to discard them. That is why co-operation and consultation could take in any other country that is willing to participate or join. Do not let us talk as if we are leading in these matters. We are not. The Scandinavian countries have a singularly honourable record in this sphere.
I want to say a personal word to the Minister. Nobody doubts his sincerity. Most of us respect deeply his record in this matter. If, however, he is to impress Africa with his good will, two problems have to be dealt with and he must deal with them, answer them and say what he has in mind.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) produced a paper on communications in Africa many years ago, during the time of the Labour Government. It was a secret document. I was not supposed to see it. Therefore, my recollection of it must continue to be a little vague. Where does background expenditure come into the scheme? It will never pay in terms of so much per cent. interest. Communications are vital. Indeed, they dominate some of the amalgamations of countries in Africa. The position of Tanganyika, of Uganda and of Nyasaland, 322 if she were to come into an East African Federation, is dominated by the communications of Kenya, and Kenya may not be dominated by the sort of political Government to which they aspire. Communications are essential. Nigeria has tolerable communications on the seaboard and, perhaps, around the Niger delta. Inland, however, up to Lake Chad, much of the communication is still by primitive boat and by water. These problems will not be solved unless somebody is prepared to do a great deal more.
It is a matter really for a world organisation. That is why I speak with hesitation, with wonder and with doubt at the creation of a new Ministry, which, we are told, will co-ordinate the work of existing organisations and which, apparently, will not have anything to do with the United Nations, which has a splendid record of work in this sphere. Thus we are merely adding another Ministry with limited responsibility, which must co-ordinate with three or four existing Ministries, which must let an existing Ministry run the promotion of its staff and which has access to the Prime Minister, who certainly has many other preoccupations, and we are to have a quite separate agency dealing with the United Nations, its Special Agencies, and so on.
The second of the two words which I want to say to the right hon. Gentleman is that there are certain tests of sincerity. If there is one organisation of the United Nations which has won the respect of everybody who has ever been associated with it, it is the United Nations Children's Fund. We continue to give a contribution so contemptible and mean as to put in doubt the sincerity of all the stuff we talk about aid to suffering peoples.
The infant mortality rate in some of the African countries is appalling. Do not let us fail to face the sort of thing that is difficult to say and chat is open to criticism—that the more young lives we save in some of these territories, the greater will become their economic problems. This is one of the dilemmas which we must face. In some of these territories there is already overpopulation, which is being increased to an enormous extent. The only way of facing these problems—and they must be faced—is to do what we believe to be 323 right. I do not have the figures at my command offhand, but a few years ago we were debtors to the Children's Fund. If one computes the niggardly subscription that was taken from our national expenditure, so much of it was being spent in British Colonial Territories that we were actually gaining a profit on our participation in the Children's Fund.
As the second part of this final paragraph, let me say this. There is another fund. I have not had any communication with it directly for some years, so I do not speak as an advocate. Some years ago, I raised the question of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind. The problem of blindness in Africa is one of the most moving and most terrible that can be found anywhere in the world.
When I was a lad, one talked of leprosy as the terrible scourge from which there was no relief. Today, blindness in Africa has reached the stage that up around Lake Chad, there are whole villages of blind people, helpless. Six or seven months ago, I went to a small station run by the Royal Commonwealth Society. Speaking from memory, that station could take, I believe, 24 totally blind Africans, some of whom had come 2,000 miles for treatment and a number of whom, by the sheer force of poverty, were neglected and deserted by their families when this affliction came upon them.
Under the direction of a lass from Lancashire, that little station was trying to train—and succeeding—24 adult totally blind men to go back to their territory equipped to win a meagre livelihood by clearing a bit of bush. They had to have training which would enable them to clear a little bit of bush and to dig it, and sow it with seeds provided by the organisation. Totally blind they had to do it, and thus to wrest enough from the bush to provide their subsistence, and if they could do it they would then have a higher standard of living than most of those in their villages.
That is the problem. What do we do for that organisation now? I spent some time a year or two ago trying to get help for it. This is one of the fields in which private enterprise has a very honourable record, because most of the money that organisation was getting, I 324 remember, came from a few big firms. From the Government, how much?
If the Government are sincere, if they really mean that in establishing a new Ministry they are going sincerely to try to fight some of the problems of poverty and suffering and deprivation, why do they not start with a little more help to some of the essentially decent organisations which add to our reputation throughout the world, which provide little bastions of intelligent, decent democracy in every country where they settle? The Government might start that way, and if they were to start that way, I say to the right hon. Gentleman, then at least they might give us a certain guarantee of the sincerity of Her Majesty's present advisers to work conscientiously and effectively in these fields.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Dr. Alan Thompson (Dunfermline Burghs)
My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his very moving and eloquent observations. Indeed, I would not be capable of matching his eloquence.
I should like to take up a point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), in his excellent speech, in which he queried whether we should set up a Ministry in which technical assistance is divorced from the wider context of capital needs and the provision of capital. The hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) denied that any Ministry could do this. A Ministry of Aid, he said, was not practicable. I shall deny this proposition, and I think that the Financial Secretary will agree with me. He knows about the work which has been done in recent years by economists and statisticians on investment surveys, and that we are now at that stage of knowledge where it would be possible.
The proposition for setting up the Ministry was to look at the amounts and kinds of investment suitable for different territories, at questions concerned with the creation of purchasing power, the building up of productive power, and achieving maximum national incomes. We have much more knowledge now on these subjects than we had even ten years ago, thanks to the national-income 325 economists and statisticians, and I think that the Financial Secretary, who dips into an economics text-book as nonchalantly as many of his hon. Friends peruse the Reader's Digest, will know that there is a need for a Ministry with this knowledge which can advise upon the needs of the underdeveloped countries.
Let us just for a moment look at this question of underdevelopment. We have to get out of the habit of thinking that God has divided the world into two immutable sectors, the developed and the underdeveloped. We were all underdeveloped once; and, indeed, looking at the other side of the coin, many countries which are now classified as underdeveloped are richer in natural resources than some of the countries of the West which think of themselves as so developed and so advanced. It can be seen that we have all had to work through certain economic processes, and that our problems have been similar, and that there is no fixed division between the kind of country which needs paternal aid and advice and another more advanced in wisdom. As I said, we all, in our turn, pass through certain well-defined phases towards development.
There are exceptions, of course. It would, for instance, take a whole army of economists and statisticians to transform the Kalahari Desert by investment policy into a kind of industrial and commercial Holland. An adult rabbit does not grow naturally and inevitably into a baby elephant. But, outside the polar and the desert regions, most of the rest of the world has considerable possibilities of economic development. We have seen, in the work of economic historians, that economic development has not necessarily been confined to specially favoured regions or to areas enjoying a specially favourable climate. The efforts of man have conquered these difficulties.
In recorded history, industrial and commercial leadership has frequently passed from one region to another and from one country to another. Countries in the Mediterranean area and in Southern Europe, which were once economically advanced, have slipped back, while other nations, once backward, have gone on to economic greatness. Lest we get to benevolently paternalistic, we might remember that 326 some of these countries now described as underdeveloped possess such enormous economic potential that one day they may be setting up agencies to help us if we slip back.
We have seen that natural resources are important to economic development, but, again, possession of such resources cannot be claimed as the sole criterion whether investment should be directed there. In North America, for instance, the possession of vast natural resources did not help the primitive Indians, who wandered about there for centuries without ever doing much about it. There is no evidence that any Sioux or Apache economist ever wrote a book on the problems of an affluent society, although they had the natural resources underneath them and round about them. There are, of course, other factors besides natural resources, such as productive techniques, and a population of a certain size and quality and of a certain educational and technical level.
I say this to point out that underdeveloped countries comprise a very diverse collection, but there are certain characteristics which they have in common which can guide us in what kind of help to give. The first is the low level of real income per head of the population. When I was in Nyasaland, recently, I was told that the national income per head of the population was £9 per year, which is rather less than a British family spends on its dog. Secondly, these countries are lacking in accumulated capital, and they also have the related problem of the backwardness of their techniques.
I was surprised to hear some hon. Members opposite extolling, it seemed to me uncritically, the advantages of industrialisation. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West touched upon this point. I think that we have to approach this mystique of industrialisation very warily. A few economic thinkers of the West are to some extent to blame for applying their analysis based on Western societies to these backward territories. Some of them have misunderstood the basic problems of these backward areas. They have misunderstood the nature of the subsistence economy and the agriculture which is the basis of these countries.
Some economists have tended to say that industrialisation is the answer to all 327 problems. They point out that an industrial country has better social services, has a more efficient army, and has an educational system higher than anywhere else, and that, therefore, as all these benefits spring, in the history of the West, from industrialisation, the country which does not industrialise quickly enough cannot share these benefits.
This view has, I think, now come to be regarded as mistaken. We should acknowledge that manufacturing industry is simply one type of economic activity and that there is not necessarily any strong reason why it should be given preference. We can have a high level of national income in backward countries based on agriculture. The high national income of a country stems from its natural resources and from its resources of technical and managerial skills, and both can be applied to agriculture as well as to industry. In the past, we have tended to apply them to industry and to neglect them in agriculture. The contrast has been painted between a pitiful subsistence level in agriculture, while industry can have good factories and beautiful new houses. We have to think of developing agriculture in this way, and applying to backward countries some of these managerial techniques which, for over a hundred years, we have applied to industry.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I am very interested in the point, but I confess that I cannot altogether agree with the hon. Member's last few words. Does he not think that there is some significance in the fact that if one wants to engage a farm worker one of the first questions that he or his wife asks is what the local schools are like? I should have thought that that was a significant point.
§ Dr. Thompson
I do not say that agricultural workers should be held to a lower standard than industrial workers. Our aim should be to see the economy as a whole develop so that the living standards of all these workers should not only be comparable, but should rise.
When some economic writers apply their techniques to backward countries they should be wary of measuring things by our own yardsticks. Unemployment is a serious problem in these backward countries, but it is not so easily solved as is sometimes thought. It often depends, 328 particularly in Africa, on a complex social system, and it is sometimes hard to determine who is working and who is not. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish the involuntarily idle, the unemployed in our sense, from those who have a strong preference for leisure or at least a preference for casual and intermittent employment. These attitudes towards work must be broken down, particularly in Africa. Enlightened African leaders would be the first to admit it.
When people look at investment possibilities in countries like the African countries too much is made of the so-called lower quality of the African worker. We have seen in our own history that workers can adjust very quickly to new conditions. It is argued that the African worker is lazy, unstable, or has a poor output, and that these failings depend on racial characteristics. The racial argument is nonsense. We had similar difficulties in adjusting workers to the new pace of industrial change in Britain in the nineteenth century. We solved our problems largely in Britain once a stable political and economic environment had been achieved, and once these are achieved in the African territories the African worker will respond very quickly.
There are complaints, too, that the white overseers tend to be critical and impatient of African workers. As has been said in the debate, the overseers do not smile enough. This is a simple point, but it is true. Secondly, the African worker resents the higher social position of the white worker. This is changing and there is a situation now in parts of Africa where employers and African workers are trying to reach agreement in spite of obstacles put in the way by white workers.
As one employer in Africa put it to me, there is not only the problem of underpaying the Africans, but that of overpaying the whites. These Europeans came to that part of Africa when it was a white man's grave. They had to be paid a great deal to get them there, but now, with the advent of modern drugs, better health and housing and other advantages, that part of the world is no longer the white man's grave. European workers came there when the white man expected automatically a higher standard of living than that of the Africans. This 329 proposition is no longer accepted so simply and uncritically. Indeed, it is bitterly resented by Africans, and we must face this problem.
In pleading for a Ministry of Aid in the wider sense, I would expect to see a Ministry that would try to strike a balance in help to backward countries between what might be called social investment and productive investment. This is an extremely difficult balance to strike. If we spend too much on social services we divert resources which could be used to expand production. If we expand production without the social services we are surrounded, as my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West, said, by poverty on the periphery of plenty. But this is a problem that we must tackle and economists are doing work to try to find this balance. We were lucky in Britain. We built up a tremendous accumulation of capital before the demand for higher social services came as a result of political emancipation. But the African politician of the future must advance the social services alongside productive investments. It is not politically possible for him to hold his people at subsistence level during the period of intensive investment.
I should also like to have seen a Ministry of Aid examining the problem, of what one might call the dangers of one-sector development, in some of our backward countries. In the Federation of Central Africa, for instance, 40 per cent. of their investment is devoted to transport and 4 per cent. to agriculture. There is clearly imbalance there, possibly because the transport enthusiasts have, so to speak, prevailed in their investment proposals over the agriculturists.
I am not denying that Central Africa needs communications, but 40 per cent. for transport as against 4 per cent. for agriculture, which is the basic economy of the country and the means of subsistence for millions of Africans, does not seem to be the right proportion. In Sarawak, 54 per cent. of the investment goes to transport and only 14 per cent. to agriculture. This kind of maximum one-sector investment is not always commensurate with an increase to the maximum level of national income.
All this adds up to a criticism that in the past the allocation of funds by Her Majesty's Government to help these countries has not always followed a consistent 330 policy. The Government have been very confused as to what they should spend or lend or give to the social services and what they should allocate for productive enterprise. It is difficult to criticise the Government for this, because these problems are very complex and difficult to solve, but I think that an attempt should be made. I am not sure that this Ministry and its terms of reference are wide enough to investigate these problems.
Perhaps the Financial Secretary will deny this; perhaps he has powers up his sleeve, but, as I read the Bill, it seems to me that the powers of the Ministry and the range of its staff are not adequate for examining the kind of crucial problems with which I am dealing. I was an academic economist long enough to have a certain slight agnosticism on the whole subject of economics, but I nevertheless believe very strongly in the usefulness of many economic techniques developed in recent years, and I believe that we should use the economic research institutes and other bodies to assist us. Experts in national-income analysis can give us many useful criteria in the allocation of investment to achieve a maximum return. A straightforward allocation to achieve maximum return would involve a ranking by the British Government of all possible investment projects overseas in terms of some criterion of economic return. The central Ministry should be able to draw upon the findings of input-output specialists. It would not always act on its schedules. It would sometimes say, "Social and political considerations demand that we should do this and planning considerations demand that we should do the other" but at least it would have the schedule from which to work.
Clearly, however carefully we plan, we should never remove all the risks of investment. I hardly need refer to the Tanganyika groundnuts scheme, though I would say that it was not the economist but the meteorologist who was to blame for this failure. The plan failed because of a mis-estimate of the rainfall. That is the kind of thing which can happen, given the best will in the world, and nobody can pretend that every Government will always be free from making mistakes.
To take another example, let us consider the plans for investment in 1955–60 331 which were made when world commodity prices were buoyant. Then came falls in the prices of coffee, sisal, rubber, and groundnuts and this made nonsense of all the predictions. This leads me to the point made by several of my hon. Friends that we cannot do very much unless we have a United Nations agency working for the stabilisation of primary prices through the F.A.O. This can only be done at the United Nations level. This lends force to the argument that the Government must support and positively urge through its delegates on the various agencies of the United Nations measures to try to get some order and economic sanity into world price arrangements, particularly with respect to primary products.
All this indicates that I am critical of the very limited functions of the new Ministry, and I would prefer that we had a Ministry with much wider and imaginative aims. Nevertheless, limited as the aims are, we wish it well. I should like it to conduct work in the field of education, maintaining close liaison with the universities for the exchange of students, scientists, technologists, and so on. I should also like to see it maintain much closer relations with the various bodies concerned with Commonwealth technical education and international technical education than the Government have done in the past.
I sit on a committee composed of a number of hon. Members, industrialists and educationists, the Commonwealth Technical Education Committee. We certainly get courteous replies from the Government whenever we correspond with them, but I do not think that we get much action. I hope that this new Ministry will be able, instead of expressing pious interest and hope, to give some concrete help to the various schemes we have put forward. In conclusion, I say that it is not the Ministry I would have liked, but I still wish it well.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
This debate has been going on a very long time, longer than was expected, but, in my view, not too long. I think that the length of the debate and the quality of the speeches have done a great deal to indicate to the Minister and to Her Majesty's Government the importance 332 which hon. Members attach to this subject.
The Bill has received only a qualified welcome, not because it is bad in itself but because we are doubtful whether it will fulfil the aspirations which the Minister has of it. I should like to echo some of the sentiments of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) and other hon. Members on this side of the House in saying how much we hope that when this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament it will be clothed with real energy and we shall have a Minister appointed to this new Department with vision and ideas, and the drive and ability to carry out the objectives which we hope the Government have in mind and which, as several of my hon. Friends have pointed out, the Government ought to have in mind.
Tremendous opportunities are afforded; in fact the opportunities are limitless, but I will try not to duplicate anything said by my hon. Friends. I hope, however, that when the Minister comes to reply he will clear up some of the obscurities with regard to the procedural concept of the Bill. I was not very clear from his opening speech exactly what are to be the limitations and the functions of the new Minister. I shall be disappointed if all that the new Minister does is to recruit staff from the three existing Departments now dealing with these functions.
I hope that the new Minister and the new Department, vitalised, as I hope they will be, with new blood and new staff, will take a new look at the immense possibilities and moral responsibilities which this House and the country have in giving all kinds of technical aid and educational aid and assistance to overseas countries.
Would the Minister, when he replies, give us some enlightenment about the financial implications of the Bill? Would he give us some idea of the size of the staff with which this Ministry will be equipped and of the extent of the Vote which this House will be passing in order to enable this Ministry to fulfil its functions? Would he also give us some idea of what Vote will be required not merely for the departmental expenses of the Ministry but for the actual expenditure on technical assistance overseas? Indeed, I hope that we shall not find, when it 333 comes to the Vote of this Department, that we are merely asked to vote departmental expenses and that the only object of this Ministry is as the Explanatory Memorandum says:…to co-ordinate, promote and carry out arrangements…I hope that the Minister will be able to initiate financial contributions where they are wanted. Could he, for example, tell us more than he has told us about the valuable functions now being performed by the Colonial Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Foreign Office which will be taken over by the Ministry? I refer to the Geological Survey in Africa and the Topographical Survey, for example. All these are fundamental to technical assistance in African countries.
There is one other specific aspect of this problem on which I hope the Minister will enlighten us a little. I refer to the activities of the Inter-University Council for Higher Education overseas which is mentioned in paragraph 9 of the White Paper on Technical Assistance. When the Prime Minister made his announcement about this Ministry on 23rd March he was noticeably reticent about this, although he was asked questions about it by both the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and myself.
I understand from what the Minister said that educational functions are outside the scope of the Bill and will be channelled through U.N.E.S.C.O., and I gather that health matters will continue to be dealt with through the World Health Organisation, but I am concerned about the valuable activities which have hitherto been undertaken by the Inter-University Council for Higher Education Overseas. This body was set up by the Labour Government through the inspiration of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones). It is worth while recording the immensely valuable services which have been rendered by British universities, notably the University of London, in assisting overseas countries notably in Africa, some dependent, and some formerly dependent but now independent, in establishing their own universities and university colleges.
I gather that the functions of that Council are not limited to Commonwealth 334 countries but are intended to apply also to overseas countries outside the Commonwealth. I hope that the Minister will tell us whether this new Department will be able to give further assitance in this field where it is urgently required. We should be nattered that people look to us in this country for this kind of academic assistance.
I will mention a specific example which came to my notice a few months ago. I was in Jordan, a country outside the Commonwealth but with which we have very close, intimate and sentimental ties—a country to which we make a substantial financial subvention to enable her to establish for herself a viable economic life. Jordan is a poor country. The standard of living of many of the Bedouins—particularly in times of drought—is one of considerable hardship. On the other hand, Jordan is a country of which it is true to say that its stability and independence are in large measure essential for the stability and peace of the Middle East.
When I was there I was struck by the fact that in interviews which I had with His Majesty King Hussein, with the Prime Minister, with the Commander-in-Chief and with others, they all stressed the need for setting up a university in Jordan and they are naturally looking to this country for assistance in establishing such a project. Heaven knows, Jordan needs a great deal of technical assistance and financial help of various kinds, but the enlightened leaders of that country realise the long-term importance of having their own university like all their neighbours. I am not thinking only of the great Hebrew University in Jerusalem, but also of the universities in other Arab countries in the Middle East.
In Jordan they realise that they have no university, but they have 500 students a year wanting higher education, and those students have to go outside Jordan either to Beirut or to an English university or elsewhere. If any country is to compete economically and also is to develop its own culture and independence, it must encourage and develop a cadre of its best students so that in the coursse of time they can provide ideas for progressive advancement in their own country.
No country, not Nigeria, not Rhodesia, nor any other of the African 335 countries which we have helped in the last few years in establishing universities, can perform that task without assistance from outside. We should be proud that in Jordan they look to us to give them the initial assistance by the provision of administrative expertise, and the supply for short periods of a number of professors and lecturers to enable them to develop their own university, so that in the course of time they can cater for their own students of university calibre.
This is a sphere in which we in this country, with our great cultural achievements, our great wealth of academic experience and traditions and our supply of skilled professors and teachers, have a duty, an obligation and an opportunity to render assistance to a number of overseas countries, some in the Commonwealth and others, like Jordan, outside it. I have mentioned this as an instance of a pressing need of a different kind, in addition to those in the economic, technical and social spheres which other hon. Members have mentioned, in which there is an opportunity of service. I ask the Minister whether this is the sort of thing which the new Minister and his Department will handle, in conjunction with the Inter-University Council, which has proved as valuable in Commonwealth countries, and is presided over by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds?
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
Will my hon. Friend allow me to underline the great importance of what he is saying by reminding him that the splendid work which the Inter-University Council does is confined to the dependent territories of the Commonwealth and that its work is cut off short and sharp the moment independence is achieved?
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning that, because it is precisely the sort of point that I hope the Minister can clarify. I have, in fact, asked the Chairman of the Council whether they could respond to an official request of the Jordanian Government by giving that assistance, and I understand that in principle the Council would be prepared and glad to do so. There may be a limitation in their resources. They may be asked in 336 the first place to give only technical advice and assistance.
This is the sort of sphere in which we can usefully aid a country to which we are making an annual subvention of some £2 million with very little additional cost, but with great benefit to the future of Jordan. If this Inter-University Council is not in a position to give aid where it is wanted, then it obviously should be. Whether or not it is able to do so, it seems essentially the sort of task that should attract the energies and the interest of the new Minister when he is appointed.
I have no doubt that other hon. Members know of places where similar opportunities for giving valuable assistance will occur. The opportunities are tremendous. I hope that the Minister will respond to what has been said in this debate, and will impress upon his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister the enormous opportunities there are in this sphere; and that we shall have appointed to this office—I would hope, as my hon. Friend said, the Minister himself, but at any rate someone with similar vision and outlook; some one who is sensible of the opportunities that lie ahead.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)
In debates on this important question of aid to countries less fortunate than ourselves there is a natural tendency to concentrate discussion on large territories with big populations and to tend to neglect the smaller Colonies that are dependent on this country. We concentrate on the countries that are progressing towards ultimate independence, and we forget about smaller territories that will never be able to sustain themselves, but will always be dependent on us. I refer to such places as the Falkland Islands, Tristan da Cunha and St. Helena, which I had the privilege of visiting some years ago.
There are no riots in these islands. Peace reigns there—but poverty walks hand in hand with peace. I often wonder whether they would be given a better deal if there was more unrest there. There was a time when St. Helena was one of the most important British colonial possessions. The historians say that there would not have been an Empire in the Far East had it not been for the 337 existence of St. Helena as a victualling station for ships on their way round the Cape of Good Hope.
After the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869, the island became unimportant to the British Empire and since that time its standard of living has deteriorated. Even today, when Britain has "never had it so good", British people are living in destitution in St. Helena. I hope that this Bill will help to bring some measure of additional prosperity to these small territories, and that the Minister will give an assurance to that effect.
St. Helena is a small island of 47 square miles, and has a population of about 4,600 people. The people are descended from the East India Company settlers from this country and are of mixed British, Indian, African and Chinese blood. They are a British people in their attitude, their way of life and their standards.
The cost of foodstuffs and the necessities of life is roughly equivalent to that in this country. There are two private firms in the island which run the flax industry, and these two, with the Government, are the main sources of employment. What is the level of wages on the island? A worker in the flax industry gets £1 13s. 6d. a week. An agricultural labourer employed privately gets £1 13s. 6d.; if employed by the Government he receives £2 5s. a week. A skilled labourer employed by the Government receives £2 6s. 6d. a week. That is the wage position.
Because the workers receive so little, their families do not get enough to eat—that is the position in that island today. The only food crop is potatoes, with a few smallholders growing green vegetables. The animal stock there is donkeys—the chief means of transport—and a few horses and goats, 700 cattle. 1,218 sheep, 266 pigs and 9,200 poultry. There is insufficient meat, milk and egg production to meet the demand. The waters around St. Helena abound with fish, but the islanders do not get enough fish to eat. That is the extent of the success of Government administration in St. Helena.
What are the results of that neglect? The World Health Organisation conducted an inquiry into food and nutrition in St. Helena and reported: 338It will be seen that the St. Helena children are in general from 2 to 2½ inches shorter than the London children of the same age, and they reach the same height some 12 to 18 months later.At 6½ years of age the St. Helena children are 7 lb. lighter than the London children; by 13½ years they are 20 lb. lighter; up to that age the St. Helena children reach the London children weight some 2 to 2½ years later. The difference after 13 years is greater.Those are the facts and they speak for themselves.
Then there is the question of housing. The housing needs of these people are precisely the same as our own, but housing conditions there are extremely poor. The islanders have no money to repair, extend, or to rebuild their old cottages, which would have been condemned out of hand in this country sixty or seventy years ago. Overcrowding is commonplace and when I was there I heard of as many as 12 sleeping in one bedroom. Two hundred and seventy-seven families on the island with two or more children live in houses with three bedrooms or fewer.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes
I hope that the Bill will assist in providing better housing conditions for those people.
The education position is very unsatisfactory. I agree that because of the remoteness of the island there are inherent difficulties. There are 12 schools on the island and the figures show that out of a total full-time teaching strength of 62 only two have received university or college education and that, of those, one is the education officer. The standard of teaching therefore cannot be high, although many of the untrained personnel, by virtue of their character and application, are very good teachers. The provision of trained teachers in St. Helena is an urgent necessity, because the children are of a high intelligence.
In one of his reports the Education Officer for St. Helena said:The general impression obtained is that the standards of intelligence are as high as those in England, and that the proportion of educationally sub-normal children is rather lower than would be the case there.But when he deals with the home background of these children he says:Their diet is monotonous, the basis being bread, margarine, fish and tea. Meat is 339 expensive and scarce and vegetables are also seasonally scarce. Clothing is poor; shoes being worn only by a small proportion of children and adults, while many children have no change of clothing. As they feel the cold easily, presumably because of their poor diet, it is also usual for the country children to wear all the clothes they possess and for these to be washed at week-ends. It is, in fact, a remarkable feature that, with the exception of one or two areas, children, homes and adults are scrupulously clean, both in person and in clothing.I suggest that, under the provisions of the Bill, the Government might consider making arrangements to second teachers from education authorities in this country to St. Helena so that the children may have an opportunity of a higher standard of learning.
In the Report of the World Health Organisation certain suggestions and recommendations were made. Having regard to the fact that the diet of St. Helenians is so poor, the Report says that certain essential steps should be taken at once to make food available for the people. It goes on to say that if that is not done there will be serious undernutrition and malnutrition in the island.
On the question of employment, the Report says:There is little doubt that only limited improvements can be brought about unless the economic status of the people is raised. This, in essence, means that some industry, apart from the flagging tax industry, must be established on the Island. However, steps could immediately be taken to increase the production of food, and some public health and educational measures are necessary.I have described a few of the problems of this Colony because it gives the House an example of a territory for which the House is responsible and which has no Members of Parliament or elected assembly. The people are governed by a Governor, who is virtually the arbitrary head of the Colony. They are entitled to the protection of this House and to a voice in it and it should be the Government's duty to see that they get fairer treatment.
I hope that the Financial Secretary will give the House an undertaking that the Bill is intended to give succour not only to the larger areas, which have numerous spokesmen in this House to support them, but to the small territories which have no one to take up the cudgels on their behalf.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Sir E. Boyle
By leave of the House, I had thought of rising just after half-past eight to reply to some of the points raised during the last four hours, although I fully understand that some hon. Members might not want the debate to come to a conclusion yet. It is four hours since I last sat down, and a number of points have been raised.
I think the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) spoke with the approval of the whole House—and the point he made was taken up by a number of hon. Members, including the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice)—when he pointed out that the gap between the wealthier and the poorer nations was widening at the moment, and when he pointed out the very great moral importance of the whole question of overseas aid. From that time we have had a fairly wide-ranging debate, although this is a subject which we discuss so seldom in this House that I do not think any hon. Member will regret the fact that the debate has gone over a wide field. I certainly did not. Living, as I do, almost entirely on the two sides of Whitehall, it has been a great pleasure, as the Archbishop of Canterbury says, to travel through space, and to have an opportunity I have not had in this House for nearly eighteen months.
The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East asked what the Government are going to do on the question of aid, and went on to say that we should take our full share in what he called the Hoffman Plan. The figures for Government aid are quite striking. We have doubled our effort in the last two or three years. The Government were spending £75 million on aid in the financial year 1957–58. That rose to about £100 million in the financial year 1958–59, and in the last calendar year the total figure for Government aid was about £150 million.
I should like to make it absolutely clear to the right hon. Member and the House that there was nothing in my right hon. and learned Friend's Budget speech which suggested that the Government were going to change their policy in this matter. What my right hon. and learned 341 Friend said—and I have looked up the relevant passage—was:Our commitments by way of grants to the Colonies and lending to underdeveloped and other countries are likely to continue to increase.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th April, 1961; Vol. 638, c.797.]He made that point in the context of that part of his speech which dealt with the export trade. He was pointing out that there was no hope on the invisible side of the account of helping the visible side and no suggestion that we were going to cut commitments in the way of overseas aid.
The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East made other points to which I want to refer. He said that we should have a system of priorities over the whole field both in respect of Government and private investment. This question which I thought he was raising by implication of whether we should have more control over private investment overseas—[Interruption.] I thought that was the implication of what the right hon. Member was saying. It has been raised quite fairly on a number of occasions in recent years. It has been raised in a well-known and important article by the economist, Mr. Robert Neild in the District Bank Review, and in an interesting exchange by the Leader of the Opposition and the present President of the Board of Trade in a debate in this House on 12th November, 1957.
All I would say to the right hon. Gentleman is that I think one would have to consider the effect of any such system of priorities—he was envisaging the effect on the sterling area—on the whole political cohesion of the Commonwealth. I see that I said on this matter in 1959:I hope that we shall not underrate the importance of private investment in the more developed parts of the Commonwealth, because I do not believe that we can keep the Commonwealth together as a great political force for good in the world without this flow of private capital to the whole of it".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th Dec., 1959; Vol 615, c.1686.]I believe there is some truth in that. When one is looking at this from the economic point of view and the broad humanitarian point of view we are considering, obviously it is the underdeveloped parts of the Commonwealth that we have naturally most in mind, but I am a little inclined to question whether 342 we would keep the Commonwealth today as a political unit without some flow of private capital from this country to the Whole of it.
The right hon. Member made an important point when he said that we should have not just a Secretary for Technical Co-operation, but a Minister for aid. He or some other hon. Member, I think it was the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman), contrasted the proposal in this Bill with the speech made by President Kennedy. I make this point to the House. Do not let us forget the implications of the fact that, as an hon. Member poinetd out, we still have the remnants of a Colonial Empire while the United States has not. There are still more than thirty Colonial Territories left. I suggest that in these circumstances our position is a different one.
The Colonial Secretary must remain responsible for the thirty colonial countries which are still left. I should have thought that he is the Minister who must decide priorities in the way of aid. I consider that if we were to have a Secretary not merely for Technical Co-operation, but also who considered questions of aid for the remnants of the Colonial Empire, he would have to become simply, as it were, the office boy of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It is for that reason that I am doubtful whether it can be right for us in this country to have a Minister for aid. I think there are aspects of aid which must remain the responsibility of the Colonial Secretary.
The right hon. Member went on to make another point with which I very much agree. He raised the question whether the new Department might result in excessive consultation among officials in the new Department with officials in the existing overseas Departments. I quite agree about that danger. I should have said that it was one of the principal responsibilities of the new Secretary when appointed—whoever he may be—and the Director-General to see that it does not happen too much. It is obviously a danger and certainly one of the most important dangers to be overcome when considering the working of the new Department.
The right hon. Member also asked a question about Nigeria, and that was 343 taken up by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) in a very impressive speech. The right hon. Member asked why Nigeria rejected the Overseas Service Aid Scheme. He seemed to suggest that Nigeria disliked paying interest on Commonwealth assistance loans and that for that reason she rejected even grant aid under this scheme. The answer, I am told, is that Nigeria quite definitely rejected this scheme for her own political reasons and not the reasons which the right hon. Member implied. It was quite definitely political reasons concerning which I do not think it would be proper for this House to speculate. An essential feature of the scheme is that it is entirely voluntary for any territory to join on its own decision. Like the right hon. Member, I very much regret the decision, but to the best of my knowledge—and I should not like to mislead the House—there was no question of rejecting it because Nigeria disliked paying interest on Commonwealth assistance loans after gaining independence.
This is perhaps an unfair question, and if an answer is not possible, I apologise for it. Have any other territories similarly rejected the Overseas Service Scheme?
§ Sir E. Boyle
No. I have taken advice from another part of the House and the answer, quite definitely, is "No". I think that on a question of that kind it is fair to use that technique.
I come now to what I thought was the admirable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney). I should like to make two comments on what he said. Incidentally, he told me that he would not be able to attend for the whole of the debate, as he had an important engagement at 8 o'clock. He raised the highly important point of how we are to get more investment in Africa. He rightly mentioned the fears of would-be investors in Africa that they would not be able to remit their profits, and also the fear of what he fairly called creeping nationalisation. I should have thought that it was absolutely clear that if there is to be a continuing level of investment in Africa there must be, so to speak, a reasonable code of conduct where investors are concerned.
344 Speaking for myself, I very much hope that the international organisations—the World Bank, for instance—might be able to help us here by bringing some influence to bear on those who may soon be responsible for economic policy in Africa. I cannot help feeling that it may be rather easier for them to bring influence to bear on African Finance Ministers than it may be for ourselves or some other individual countries.
I was interested, too, in my hon. Friend's remark that production in America could be greater than it is. I think his argument about production in America is really the answer to Professor Galbraith's famous thesis about the affluent society. In my view, Professor Galbraith has made a first-class case in his book for the view that America needs a public sector of some size in its economy. I do not agree with his view that higher production in an affluent society soon reaches its desirable limit, and I do not agree precisely for the reason which my hon. Friend suggested—that if agricultural production gets very considerably above the total of domestic needs, surely it ought not to be beyond the wit of man to find some means whereby the surplus agricultural production can be used for the benefit of less fortunate countries elsewhere.
The hon. Member for Northfield spoke fairly warmly on the subject and made a perfectly fair point about the Bill being inadequate. I was very much impressed with his remark that within the course of the next decade the mixed economies and the free societies of the Western world have to show that Communism is unnecessary. I very much agree with him. It seems to me that we can all too easily in Britain forget just how strong the appeal of Communism can be to many of the new countries.
§ Sir E. Boyle
Not necessarily St. Helena, but to a great many other countries as well. I felt this appeal very strongly myself when in the Czech Pavilion at the Brussels Exhibition. Going up to the exhibition I saw on the wall a very impressive hymn to man on the theme that man has had a bad deal in the past and deserves a better deal in the future. While I share the mistrust of the economist, up to a point, of the hon. Member for Oldham, West, and 345 sympathise with the agnosticism of the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs (Dr. A. Thompson), do not let us underrate the importance of taking correct economic decisions and working the economic system as well as we can, because it can be of enormous importance to the whole world. I take note of the hon. Gentleman's specific points about the territory from which he has just come, which he knows so well.
My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe), who has very kindly come here from another engagement to listen to me, raised a number of questions, not all of which I can answer tonight. I was interested at the start of his remarks when he asked how much any of us are really prepared to forgo our living standards. Frankly, I believe that few people would be happy about cutting our road programme or our hospital building programme in order to have more to give or lend abroad. On the other hand, I believe it is right that we should have firm budgetary policies, and perhaps not quite such a rapid increase in consumer spending year by year at home, in order to be able to afford a good balance of payments and a higher level of capital investment at home and more capital investment overseas. I would draw a distinction there between capital spending and consumer spending. I think that that view would be acceptable today to the overwhelming majority of hon. Members.
My hon. Friend asked me about the relations of the new Department of Technical Co-operation with existing Departments, and in particular he asked me about education and about the British Council. Let me try to make this point about the relation of the new Department with existing Departments and with other bodies as reasonably clear as I can. The new Department of Technical Co-operation will be dealing with such a very wide range of work that its responsibilities must border on those of a large number of existing Departments and the British Council as well. Broadly—this is my answer to my hon. Friend—it will stand in just the same relationship to those Departments as the overseas Departments do in regard to technical assistance work at present. Naturally, there may arise between any two Departments a need for marginal adjustments 346 of responsibility from time to time. But it is not in general intended that the creation of the new Department should alter the functions and external relations of Departments other than the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office.
So far as the funds of the British Council are concerned, the British Council will continue to get grants in aid from the Overseas Departments; that is to say, just as now. It will not get any grant in aid from the new Department of Technical Co-operation. On the other hand, I can conceive it quite possibly happening that the British Council might be able to help the new Department in some way by procuring some teachers for the new Department. I can imagine that these relations between the British Council and the new Department might well spring up. In that case, the new Department would, naturally enough, reimburse the British Council for its work. However, so far as I know, there is no reason why there need be any major change in the situation of the British Council under the new relationship. Given good will and co-operation, I am sure that no serious problems need arise here.
The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) made a very fair point, which was taken up by some other hon. Members, when he asked whether the new Department will be able to consider new ways of doing things and to initiate new ideas. Most certainly, the answer is "Yes". There is no suggestion that the new Department should do exactly the same things in the same way as has been done by the existing overseas Departments. Most certainly, the new Department can adopt new ideas. There is, however, a danger—I felt it during the thoughtful speech of the hon. Member—of the new Department becoming a little too much of a welfare department, dealing simply with personal cases. One must keep a reasonable balance between the individual case work and the rather wider questions of policy.
I listened with great pleasure to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher). I agree with his commendation of the speech by Prince Philip about the importance of managers and engineers. The hon. Member for East Ham, North rightly 347 spoke of the relief of poverty in underdeveloped lands as one of the greatest moral challenges—I believe that the hon. Member described it as the greatest moral challenge—of our time. The hon. Member spoke of the importance of bringing more people to Britain for training in skills which would be valuable in their own country when they returned. I very much agree with him. Do not, however, let us think entirely of what I would call engineering and technical skills. The hon. Member for Oldham, West, in an interjection, reminded us, rightly, of a number of people from overseas who are studying law in British educational institutions.
§ Sir E. Boyle
Politics can be less of a skilled occupation.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) rightly pointed out the importance of the greater use of expertise and drew attention to the danger of inability to use capital aid when one has it. I was glad that he echoed my own remarks about the danger always of wanting to see too many spectacular developments in the capital field when, possibly, a wide range of less spectacular developments might be of greater value.
The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) raised a number of questions, not all of which I can answer tonight. I have, however, taken a note of the points raised by the hon. Member and I will, if I may, write to him within a few days. The hon. Member, too, stressed the importance of the new Ministry having ideas and developing techniques for getting these studies over. I also wholly share his view that the provision of technical assistance should not be a matter for this country alone among Commonwealth countries, but should be a responsibility shared among other members of the Commonwealth as well.
My hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) raised the question of the importance of languages. I once disgraced myself by speaking to the Welsh Joint Committee and speaking to a Welsh audience about the importance of languages, including Chinese. I was told that there was only 348 one language to which I should have referred when speaking in Wales. Obviously, however, my hon. Friend was right about this.
I was interested in his remark that the new Minister should not take too much upon himself. In any Department, the Minister has sometimes to trust his own judgment, and that may be the case in the new Department, too. Circumstances may arise when there is scarce material to go round and a great many people are clamouring for a small number of people of rare and scarce ability. Sometimes, the Minister may have to take an arbitrary view, his own view. That is why he is there. We have to accept that today we have a rather more purposive system of government than we had a generation ago.
The hon. Member for Oldham, West spoke about civil servants and said that he would like to have a young and fresh atmosphere in the work of the Department. One must remember the great importance not only of whoever is appointed as Secretary, but also his Director-General. I agree that it is extremely important that the new Department should be got off on the right foot and should show that it possesses initiative.
I was interested in the hon. Member's remark that it is not always an unmixed blessing to bring in heavy industry to under-developed territories. I speak subject to correction and I may be wrong, but I sometimes think that, in many of the newer countries, the gap between the more developed and the less developed parts of the country is every bit as striking as the gap between the wealthier and the poorer countries. Reading, for example, Mr. Crankshaw on the subject of Russia, one gets a strong impression of the difference between the living standards in Moscow and those to be found only, perhaps, 100 or even 50 males away. At the same time, I cannot quite agree with the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs when he speaks about the mystique of industrialisation. Obviously, this is far too big a subject to debate now, but when one is considering living standards and the importance of the greater range of freedom and opportunity that goes with rises in living standards, it is remarkable how the importance of industrialism keeps on breaking into one's mind.
349 I have mentioned to the hon. Member the example of schools in rural areas. Is it not true in Britain, however, that few people are ready to live and work in a rural area unless they get most of the benefits and amenities of modern civilisation? It is, obviously, much easier in Britain to get farm labourers if there is adequate water and electricity. The idea that people can be satisfied by achieving a high standard of living in agriculture without a considerable amount of industrialisation may be a little misleading.
At the same time, there is one respect in which I agree with the hon. Member. Experience shows that it is a mistake, and a serious one, for an emergent country to put too much capital into industry and to neglect agriculture altogether. One then has the almost insuperably difficult job of how to feed the towns. That, which was a problem in mediaeval England, has been a problem in all emergent territories in modern times.
§ Dr. A. Thomson
I stress the importance of the basic utilities, such as electricity, water supply and transport, in modern agriculture. I do not deny that we cannot have the one without the other. I was thinking, however, of other kinds of secondary and tertiary industrialisation.
§ Sir E. Boyle
Obviously there comes a point when, I agree, the extra capital in industry is not so important, perhaps, as the same capital used for some other economic or social purpose.
The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) asked me about the question of the staff of the new Department. What I can tell the hon. Gentleman is this. It is likely that the staff will number something over 1,000, and about half the proposed staff, in number about 550, will come from the directorates of the Overseas Services and the Overseas Geological Surveys. Most of the Colonial Office advisers will be transferred, but a certain number of Colonial Office advisers, for example, the police adviser and the senior labour adviser, will remain in the Colonial Office.
As for the Vote, I cannot say more than I said in my opening speech. The total operational expenditure for which it will account to this House is expected to be in the region of £30 million a year.
350 As to the other point the hon. Gentleman raised about the Inter-University Council for Higher Education Overseas, I took careful note of this point, but I am afraid I cannot add to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said. This is typical of just the sort of question which the new Department will have to look into.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes), to whose speech I have already referred, did us all a service, I think, by reminding us of a number of countries, important but smaller and, I hope, not forgotten territories, which come within the ambit of the Colonial Office.
In conclusion I would only say to the House that I fully expected and make no complaint of the fact that many hon. Members would like to see a more radical proposal than this one. Of course, all of us have our own ideas of where we should like to see a larger proportion of the gross national product go, and I can quite understand that many hon. Members would like to see us do more in the way of aid and devote a larger share of our national resources to this problem; but I would say that within their narrow limits, which the Government do not pretend to be wide limits, the proposals in this Bill justify themselves. I believe that the new machinery can be made to work perfectly well, and I commend this Bill to the House.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Whitelaw.]
§ Committee Tomorrow.