§ 4.2 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I beg to move,That this House supports Her Majesty's Government's efforts in helping to seek a solution of the problems of Central Africa.I welcome this opportunity of discussing Her Majesty's Government's responsibilities in the important area of Central Africa. The multi-racial idea in Africa is one which we should make every effort to foster, and my short experience has shown me that the eyes of Africa are turned on the Federation—indeed, not only of Africa but of the world.
I am grateful to the House for allowing me a little time in which to take stock of the situation and of the problems I inherited on assuming my office. I have reviewed the situation in consultation with the High Commissioner in Salisbury and the Governors of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I shall shortly be visiting Central Africa to try to find a way forward through discussions with all concerned on the spot. In particular, I look forward to resuming personal contact with the Federal Prime Minister and Government and the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. I have already met several leading political figures in London, but there are obviously many others I desire to meet and hope that I shall meet.
I want to explain today the line of approach which I think it best to follow. The Prime Minister explained, in announcing my appointment to this task on 15th March, that we have now reached a new stage in our efforts to find a solution for the difficulties facing us in Central Africa—a solution which we all wish to see evolved as soon as possible so that the ill consequences of continued political and economic uncertainties may be ended.
When the Federal Review Conference adjourned in December, 1960, it did so on the understanding that it was best to defer consideration of the future of the Federation until further progress had been made with constitutional advances in the individual territories. We have now got new Constitutions working in all three territories, and I should like 236 to survey the situation in each of them before I turn to the task ahead, which is to consider the problem of the Federation and future relationship of the territories. As the House knows, the territories are at different stages of constitutional advance. They are travelling at different speeds, but the main thing is that they are all heading in the same direction.
First, I will refer to Southern Rhodesia. It may be thought that Southern Rhodesia is lagging behind in the light of the constitutional progress being made in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I do not think that it is appreciated nearly enough what considerable progress is represented by the new Constitution. I would remind the House that the British Government have had very little say in, or control over, Southern Rhodesian affairs since 1923.
Yet, at the Constitutional Conference presided over by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, a year or so ago, all political groups in the Colony, with the exception of the Dominion Party, freely subscribed to proposals which resulted in the new Constitution. This new Constitution not only guarantees immediate and substantial African representation in the legislature—at least 15 seats out of 65—where none at present exists, but will allow Africans, by weight of numbers, to assume political responsibility as more and more of them qualify for the franchise.
The House will notice that the principle of power being assumed by the Africans is conceded in the new Constitution. Yet that Constitution secured the overwhelming support of the almost wholly European electorate in the referendum last July. As was said then, this verdict represents a revolution of European thinking in the Colony. It is a highly significant event in the chequered and, in some respects, depressing history of race relations, that one racial group should have voluntarily accepted the accretion of political power by another at the expense of its own.
Moreover, the programme for African education and the steady progress in removing racial discrimination are very welcome. The House has on several occasions debated the new Constitution, and I will not rehearse the details again. 237 I realise that many Africans are not satisfied with the present pace of political advancement, but I hope, nevertheless—as I am sure that we all hope—that they will take part in the elections and thereby take full advantage of the opportunities which the new Constitution affords them.
Here, I would like to say something about the Sub-Committee of the United Nations Committee of Seventeen which visited London recently to inquire into the constitutional position of Southern Rhodesia. The sub-committee saw my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies, and myself. We told the sub-committee, as I tell the House now, that the British Government cannot by themselves introduce a new constitution for Southern Rhodesia, nor can they set aside the 1961 Constitution. This would be contrary to the convention, which has operated for nearly forty years, of non-interference in the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia.
We are convinced, in any event—and this came up during our discussions—that the Declaration of Rights and the Constitutional Council contained in the new Constitution will be more effective than the reserve powers they have replaced. In fact, the British reserve powers have never been used since they were introduced in 1923.
The sub-committee has published its report. It is very critical of the terms of the 1961 Southern Rhodesian Constitution, mainly in regard to the franchise, but it has fairly recorded the views which Ministers impressed upon members of the sub-committee. The report states that the British Government have not indicated any change in their approach to the situation concerning Southern Rhodesia. Nor has the sub-committee. It is still asking for the impossible, namely, that Her Majesty's Government should take the initiative to have the present Constitution set aside and a new one negotiated. It has expressed many opinions which we do not accept. When this comes up for debate in the United Nations, Her Majesty's Government will again explain our attitude.
Bearing in mind the statement of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for 238 Foreign Affairs in another place on 5th April, I should like shortly to restate Her Majesty's Government's position as follows. In our view, the General Assembly and its subsidiaries can make only recommendations. Members are in no way bound to accept them. Her Majesty's Government cannot share responsibility for our Colonial Territories, nor can we shift it. In the case of Southern Rhodesia, there are special constitutional considerations.
Her Majesty's Government are always ready to give proper consideration to resolutions of the United Nations, but we cannot surrender or abdicate our own responsibility. We have submitted to searing, searching, and, in some cases, misinformed criticism in the United Nations such as I feel many other nations, especially those behind the Iron Curtain, would certainly not have taken so patiently. I was glad when it was acknowledged during our talks in London that Britain had led about 600 million people to independence over the last thirty years. We are proud of our record, and we shall carry through with it with patience, persistence, and wisdom.
I now turn to Northern Rhodesia. Her Majesty's Government's decisions for the next phase of constitutional development in Northern Rhodesia were announced in the House by the Secretary of State for the Colonies on 28th February. Evolving a new constitution for Northern Rhodesia proved to be a difficult task and has taken us longer than we had hoped. It has given rise to much controversy in the territory itself, and much debate in this House. But throughout these discussions Her Majesty's Government have held fast to the objective set out by the then Secretary of State for the Colonies at the beginning of the talks in December, 1960, namely, to find a solution which wouldon the one hand, meet the natural aspirations of the peoples of the territory and, on the other, provide for the maintenance of stable government and an efficient and developing administration",and which would also be compatible with the continued discharge by Her Majesty's Government of our special responsibilities so long as the peoples of Northern Rhodesia desired that protection to remain.
In particular, it was our aim to bring about a substantial increase in African 239 representation in the Legislature, but in a flexible way which would continue to encourage the development of a nonracial approach to politics. This I think we can claim to have achieved in the arrangement for the national seats, coupled with the 15 upper and lower roll constituencies.
The Opposition Amendment asks us to accept the majority view of the Monckton Commission in favour of an African majority. This we cannot do for the following reason, and I do not wish to import any bitterness into our debate. We have not produced a built-in majority for any race or party; but we have produced electoral arrangements which offer every opportunity to a party which can make a genuine appeal to voters of both races. This is our philosophy and we have tried to carry it through in practice.
We have also thought it right that the test of such appeal to both races should be a genuine test, whilst not being unreasonably stiff. It was over this question of the minimum qualifying hurdle for the national seats that we had most difficulty. We knew that we could not produce a constitution which would satisfy everybody in every respect, but it was essential to find something that would command a sufficient degree of acceptance to enable all parties to take part in the elections.
We therefore set ourselves to narrow the area where serious differences of view persisted, and this particularly arose, as the House will remember, over the qualifying hurdle. We made adjustments here in February last, without thereby disturbing the general balance of the Constitution or going outside our previous purpose. The House will remember that the greatest unfairness was thought to arise over the numerical alternative, and will be well aware that this was a highly mathematical problem.
African candidates were required to obtain the support of one in eight of the European voters, whereas Europeans would have needed the support of only one in 25 of the African voters. In view of this, we decided that candidates should be required to obtain the same minimum proportion of the votes. We also reduced the minimum qualification to 10 per cent. as opposed to 12½ per 240 cent. Solutions which are imposed are never greeted with enthusiasm, but all parties now appear willing to contest the elections, and we can take satisfaction in having achieved this purpose.
When I saw Mr. Kenneth Kaunda he reminded me that the U.N.I.P., his party, has attached certain conditions to its participation, but I do not think that any party need have apprehensions, as I told him. No one need fear that the elections will be delayed, and I understood from Mr. Kaunda that he was not pressing for an election before October.
The Delimitation Commission which will settle the constituencies will be impartial and unbiased, and will be presided over by a judge. Political freedom to conduct the election campaign will be accorded to all equally, subject only to the necessary measures to maintain law and order. I do not have it in mind, and this I also told Mr. Kaunda, that a Federal review conference should be called before the elections are carried through. I shall be coming later to our plans for tackling the broader problem.
On the timetable for the elections, registration of voters has begun, and the Delimitation Commission will be set up as soon as the processes of registration are completed. The drafting of the constitutional instrument is in hand, and I hope that everything will be ready for an election in the autumn, before the rainy season sets in.
I must tell the House that I have been disquieted by recent reports from the Governor about clashes between the supporters of rival political parties, which have led to a number of deaths. The Governor must maintain law and order, and he will have my full support in any measures necessary to ensure that the election campaigns are conducted in an orderly and responsible manner. Both he and I are anxious to avoid having to introduce any restrictions or restrictive measures at this time, when we believe that the new Constitution offers hope of resolving the differences between parties and races in the interests of Northern Rhodesia as a whole.
But the peace must be kept, and the Governor has thought it right to introduce regulations which will enable gatherings likely to lead to breaches of the peace to be prevented. Hooliganism 241 and intimidation of the kind that have been displayed in recent clashes must be stopped if the advancement of the territory is not to be jeopardised, so I sincerely hope that all political leaders will recognise this and bring their influence to bear so that there will be no intimidation and that violent incidents will cease.
Now, in relation to the United Nations resolution about Northern Rhodesia, I have no further general observations to add to what I said earlier. But on particular points I would say this. This territory is under the direct protection of Her Majesty's Government. We consider that progress can and will be made under its present Constitution and we are not prepared to make any further changes in the Constitution as finally amended and announced on 28th February last by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
Now I come to Nyasaland.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will make it clear that his last remark does not imply that this is the last Constitution that Northern Rhodesia will have.
§ Mr. Butler
No. I am not looking as far into the future as that. I wish the election to be fought on this Constitution and that it why I was concentrating on the period before the election which is coming about.
Nyasaland's new Constitution was agreed at a conference in London in August, 1960. The elections under it took place in August, 1961. The result was a considerable victory for Dr. Banda's Malawi Congress Party, which gained all the 20 lower roll seats and two of the eight upper roll seats. The Malawi Congress Party then entered Government and was given five out of ten Ministries.
The new Constitution has worked well. The unofficial Ministers have worked hard to master the problems in their fields. This progress has made possible another change—a recent change—provided for by the existing Constitution, whereby two further Ministries hitherto under official Ministers have been handed over to elected Ministers. Seven out of the ten Ministries are now held by unofficial Ministers. Thus, on the constitutional front, and looking only at 242 the domestic picture in Nyasaland, the territory is in good shape and steadily consolidating.
But in Nyasaland the problems arising in the Federation as a whole are reflected with particular intensity. On the one hand, the economic and social advancement in recent years has depended to a very great extent on the advantages accruing from the association of the three Territories. On the other, there is no denying the political opposition to the present Federation from the inhabitants of the territory.
Since the Federation was established Government spending in Nyasaland on recurrent account—that is, federal and territorial—has increased to a figure of about £10½ million, as compared with a figure of £4½ million for all purposes, capital and recurrent, in 1952. It is estimated that only a little more than half of this is covered by revenue which the two Governments are at present deriving from sources within the territory itself.
Even with this external assistance, Nyasaland has a considerable budgetary problem. We have at present under consideration, after discussion with the Minister of Finance and the Parliamentary Secretary, whom I myself have met, what should be done about next year's Budget and the new development planning period which will start next July. I cannot give a final answer on this question today, but we are, of course, studying Nyasaland's problems with sympathy, given our own financial problems and other Government overseas commitments. The point I wish to make at this stage is simply that the financial and economic problems which would arise from Nyasaland's withdrawal from the present Federation would obviously be considerable.
I turn now, having said something about the individual territories, to the general problem of the future of the Federation. My thoughts will slightly expand, I hope, the Motion on the Order Paper. They are that we should seek an acceptable solution which would maintain the very real advantages of association between the three territories. There is some talk about the failure of the Federation, but critics frequently overlook the major advantages which it has brought.
On the economic side, it must be clear to everyone that since the Federa- 243 tion started there have been great developments which would not have taken place without the grouping together of the three territories into one large economic unit. The building of the Kariba Dam is an obvious example of this. I doubt whether many instances of such rapid development can be quoted, or such a high concentration of outside capital investment per head of the population. This would not have been possible if the three component parts of the Federation had been left on their own.
The House will realise that the dilemma we are in springs from the fears of the people who live in the Federation. The European has seen this unprecedented economic progress, which has been made possible by the application of his own skill and initiative. He is afraid that, if political advance of the African is too rapid, the momentum of this development will be halted. The African, who is in the vast majority, contrasts his own modest position with the far superior position of the European and feels that he has too little to say in the development of the country. Many Africans, in fact, are economically far better off than they were before the days of the Federation. They feel, however, that they are going too slowly, particularly on the political side, and the European feels that they are going too fast.
The problem has always been how to find a way forward which will allay the apprehensions of both sides and encourage the two races towards a greater realism and a better understanding of each other's point of view. I am sure that the whole House will be with me in saying that it must remain our aim to try to get the two races to work together for the advantage of both. Her Majesty's Government have certainly not lost confidence in that noble ideal.
This, then, is the situation which faces us. It remains the view of Her Majesty's Government that there are great advantages for all the peoples in Central Africa in a continued association of the three territories. At the same time, it is clear that there is considerable criticism of the present Federation. How is this two-fold problem to be tackled?
244 This is a matter to which I have been addressing myself since I assumed my new responsibilities. I am greatly indebted to the British High Commissioner and the Governors of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland for the help that they gave me when they were over here. I am now looking forward to visiting the Federation to talk things over with its leaders and those of the territories.
Her Majesty's Government have already indicated that they are open to receive suggestions from any quarter for the solution of the problems of the area. I remind the House that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations said this on 8th March:The Constitutions of the three component Territories having now been settled, Her Majesty's Government are giving consideration to the future problems of the Federation as a whole. In this connection, they will be ready to receive proposals from the Federal Government or any of the Territorial Governments or any interests concerned through the appropriate channels."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1962; Vol. 655, c. 92.]I am now convinced that Her Majesty's Government must take the initiative by providing a channel through which such ideas can be presented and studied.
I have been asked on several occasions when I propose to reconvene the Federal review conference, to which I referred earlier. My answer to the Liberal Amendment is that it would not be opportune, in my view, to think in terms of such a conference now with elections pending in Northern and Southern Rhodesia. Nor do I think that a formal conference would be at the present stage the most fruitful method of procedure. But some initiative must be taken quickly if we are to make progress and put an end to the uncertainty which we all wish to see dispelled. What I have in mind is to start as quickly as possible some exploratory work which approaches the problems of the area in a composite way so that the various separate aspects of the future relationship of the territories can be examined together.
Her Majesty's Government cannot accept the terms of the Opposition Motion with regard to the secession of the territories. This is to approach a grave and complex problem in altogether too general and, what is more important, too negative a way. As I 245 have said before, I hardly think that this debate should be an occasion for dissension, or, at any rate, deep dissension, whatever differing opinions may be expressed; but if the Opposition insist on voting we shall have to vote against the Amendment, because we want to approach the problem in a rather different way. We want to take a constructive view of the future and not just pull out bricks and let the structure collapse.
The Government particularly want to take a constructive view about the future of Nyasaland. We acknowledge that Dr. Banda and the Malawi Party, supported by a firm mandate at the last election, are not prepared for Nyasaland to remain within the present Federation. On the other hand, Her Majesty's Government think it right that before any final conclusion is reached there should be a full examination, with particular reference to Nyasaland's financial needs and economic viability, both of the consequences of the withdrawal for Nyasaland and also—this is the constructive part—of possible alternative and acceptable forms of association with the other two territories.
We do not want another public inquiry—I should like to make that quite clear. What I have in mind is to choose a few advisers, attached to myself, who will be charged to examine these matters with the Government of Nyasaland. But the future of Nyasaland is only part of a composite problem, and my idea is that these advisers should also conduct complementary talks with the Governments of Northern and Southern Rhodesia to examine possible forms in which all three territories might be associated in future, or any alternative form of association that might be worked out.
My advisers would maintain the closest touch with the Federal Government throughout their inquiries, and afford them full opportunity of presenting their views on all matters of concern to them. And, of course, I shall be discussing these plans with the Federal Government and the other Governments concerned during the course of my visit. I have long been looking forward to consultation on the spot, and this should remove any difficulties or misapprehensions.
246 Her Majesty's Government are anxious that any ideas should be examined which might help towards a solution of the problems of Central Africa, and might preserve and promote the advantages of a continued association on which, in particular, the economic prosperity of the territories so much depends. At the same time, it is clear, as I indicated in relation to Nyasaland, that any association that is to last must be acceptable to the territories concerned, and must be based on the good will of their peoples. Her Majesty's Government cannot by themselves create that good will; it must be brought about by the understanding and good sense of both races.
We have no intention, as a Government, of abdicating our responsibilities towards Central Africa or, under the Preamble to the Constitution of 1953, to the individual Northern Territories. That is why we have thought it right—indeed, our moral duty—to take the initiative in seeking a solution.
And I say this to the House, because we may debate this often in the course of months or years: nobody who has listened to or read the conflicting and often extreme statements made can be in the slightest doubt that it will be most difficult to find a just solution. There is probably no such nexus of political problems that is so congregated together in one association of peoples.
In two of the territories, there is the direct contact of the protecting Power. In the third territory, the power of intervention is limited by devolution and convention. Then there is the Federal Government, in which are vested the powers of defence, foreign affairs and the other subjects in the Federal list.
I shall, with the help of the House, try to seek a just solution. In the words of Sydney Smith:Nations fall where there is no justice because there is nothing which the multitude thinks worth defending.I shall depend, during my forthcoming visit, on the wisdom and experience of those with whom I confer. I shall look for a sense of realism and constructive purpose. Above all, I ask for the support of this House, for it will be to the general credit of Parliament if we can together achieve a result which is both moderate and fair.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:calls upon Her Majesty's Government to implement the majority recommendations of the Monckton Commission that there should be an African majority in the Legislature of Northern Rhodesia and to declare its intention to permit secession by any of the territories in the Ceneral African Federation".Let me say at the outset that I am sure that we all share the views expressed by the Home Secretary in the concluding passages of his speech. The problems with which he is now charged are probably the most dangerous and complicated and, in some ways, the most important of all the problems we have faced in our Commonwealth and colonial affairs since India was granted her independence some fifteen year ago. We all sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will have more success in dealing with them than had his predecessors, whose efforts we are asked to support in the Government's Motion—a Motion whose ambiguity suggests that it was drafted by the right hon. Gentleman himself in one of his more oblique moods.
Nothing in his speech—or, to be fair, very little—suggests that he is yet prepared for the necessary changes in the attitude which Her Majesty's Government have so far assumed towards these problems, and I can only hope that his speech was influenced more by his feeling of loyalty to the past policy of the Government than by a careful study of the problems that will face him in the future.
It seemed to me that the real weakness of his speech was that it failed to recognise the African and world context within which these problems of Central Africa must now be solved. I do not think that it is possible for us to have what he called a constructive view of the future which ignores what is happening in the rest of Africa, and which ignores the intense interest now being taken in these problems by other countries of the Commonwealth, and, indeed by the United Nations as a whole.
Coming to this field from outside, like the right hon. Gentleman himself, one is bound to be struck at the start 248 by the extraordinary and tragic irony that although this country has by far the best colonial record of any Imperial power—as the Home Secretary said, over the last fifteen years we have been responsible for giving complete freedom to over 600 million people—in spite of this shining and absolutely unique record in the transfer of power to subject peoples, we now find ourselves the target of attack even from those in the United Nations whom we ourselves liberated. We find ourselves, with Portugal and with South Africa, in the dock of world opinion.
There is no doubt that the reason for this extraordinary and ironic contrast between the broad appeal of our colonial record and the obloquy to which we are now subjected in many forums is the fact that, by creating a Central African Federation in 1953, we made it inevitable that the progress of our Colonial policy in those three territories would be inhibited and distorted by pressure from the very small European minority in the area itself—a minority of only three people out of one hundred—and from its supporters in Westminster. As a result of the creation of the Federation—and, in my opinion, only as a result of that creation—our policies in that area have diverged very widely and, in my view, very wrongly, from the general trend of our polices in the rest of Africa and, indeed, in the rest of our Colonial Empire throughout the world.
There is no doubt that the arguments initially used for creating this Federation were very strong. It might have offered the chance of establishing a racial partnership that would have enabed European and African to work together in a way in which they have not so far succeeded in working together anywhere else in the continent; it certainly could have met a need for economic co-operation, and it could have helped to prevent the political Balkanisation of Africa which I think all hon. Members regard as the main threat to stability in that troubled continent for perhaps two or three generations to come.
I think that all of us, even from the beginning, recognised that the Federation could not hope to succeed in achieving those three aims unless it could win the consent of the great majority of its 249 inhabitants. It was, in fact, opposed at the start by the great majority of the Africans, because they considered that "partnership," as interpreted by the Europeans then in power in Africa, meant, as the first Federal Prime Minister once remarked, a partnership between the rider and the horse; and they had no doubt who would be the rider and who the horse. The Africans opposed it also because they feared that the economic co-operation brought about inside the Federation would be overwhelmingly in the interests of the tiny European minority; and because they felt that by adding the Northern territories to Southern Rhodesia the Federation would inevitably hold back constitutional progress in the Northern territories. My hon. Friends, knowing the strength of this African opposition, voted against the establishment of the Federation in the first place. Hon. Gentlemen opposite—and I believe that many of them were sincere in this view—although they recognised that the majority of African opinion was against the Federation, hoped that the experience of living in the Federation would succeed in time in changing the attitude of the great African majority and prove that their suspicions were unfounded.
That hope has itself proved to be unfounded. There is no doubt whatever that the vast majority of Africans living in the Federation, as the Monckton Commission found two years ago, is bitterly opposed to its existence, and all the evidence we have received since the Commission went out to examine the situation suggests that their opposition has become still more bitter in the intervening two years.
We now face a situation in which the Federation itself is in a desperate position. Its very survival is at stake. This is recognised by everyone—white and coloured, in Britain and in the Federation, by those who support Sir Roy Welensky and by those who oppose him. Responsibility for the failure of the Federation does not lie, as Sir Roy so often says, in any lack of faith shown by the British Government in London. It does not lie with any actions which we in Westminster have taken or have failed to take. On the contrary, the failure of the Federation rests on the failure of the Europeans in the 250 Federation to dispel the fears of the Africans and on the steady erosion of Britain's power to protect the Africans which, to its shame, has been again and again supported by the majority of hon. Members opposite, starting with the rejection of the recommendations of the African Affairs Board, which was set up to protect the Africans, followed by the liquidation of the Board itself and, most lately, with the surrender of the reserve powers in Southern Rhodesia.
The result is that it is even clearer today than when the Monckton Commission studied the matter on the spot two years ago that the tragedy of the Federation in Central Africa—although, in principle, it was indeed a noble aim—has been to make the word "Federation" stink in the nostrils of the majority of Africans in the area and to discredit the whole idea of economic co-operation which we, like hon. Gentlemen opposite, regard as highly desirable between these territories. Thus today Africans in all these territories will be satisfied with nothing less than total political independence in three separate states.
The best proof of this was provided, ironically enough, by the recent Federal election which was called by Sir Roy to demonstrate the strength of feeling in the area in favour of Federation, an election which was almost totally boycotted by the 8 million Africans in the area, in which the total vote was only 14,000 and which was composed almost exclusively of Europeans. Indeed, fewer people voted in that Federal election than assembled in the crowd of Africans who gathered a few days later to welcome Mr. Nkomo back from his visit to the United Nations. There was a crowd of 17,000 Africans to welcome the Southern Rhodesian Nationalist leader at the airport—yet only 14,000, mainly Europeans, voted in the whole Federal election.
Only a few days ago the representative of Her Majesty's Government at the United Nations gave a pledge that we would base our policy in these territories on the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants. I suggest that we could not have had a clearer indication of their wishes than was provided in the recent Federal election. Sir Roy asked for a vote of confidence. He did, indeed win every seat—but the party which he 251 leads and which stands on a policy of Federation, uncontaminated, in its present form, got the support of only one out of every 870 members of the population of the territory. One person out of every 870 took the opportunity to vote in favour of the Federation which we are now discussing.
What is to be done against this background? The danger has been obvious for years, and that is why the present Government set up the Monckton Commission to examine the situation on the spot, as far as it was humanly possible to do so without prejudice, and to report. The Commission was set up nearly three years ago and it reported more than 18 months ago—in October, 1960. Its composition, as hon. Members know, was overwhelmingly conservative, not in the party but in the human and intelectual sense. After examining the situation closely on the spot for nearly a year, the Monckton Commission, whose secretary I am glad to see as the head of the right hon. Gentleman's new Department, found that there was no hope of saving any form of association in Central Africa unless fundamental changes were made immediately in the existing Federal structure at almost every point—changes, I think I am right in saying, primarily designed to try to restore some African confidence in the fairness and justice of the association.
I believe that the two key recommendations of the Monckton Commission from which everything else, in a sense, would follow were, first, that the coming African majority in Nyasaland should be followed immediately by an African majority in the Legislature, and reflected in the Executive Council, also of Northern Rhodesia, and that this should be carried out before the Federal Review was completed; in other words, before the end of 1962, which, at that time, was thought to mark the end of the Federal Review Conference.
The second vital step which the majority of the Commission thought essential, if any form of association was to be maintained, was that the British Government should declare their intention to permit any of the countries to secede, if so requested, subject to certain conditions related to timing and 252 constitutional advance. The Commission proposed that the British Government should make this declaration of intent. It believed that the only chance of avoiding secession was for the British Government to declare their readiness to permit it. This may, at first glance, seem ironical to some, but we are all familiar, in our political and personal lives, with the necessity, if any form of association is to be maintained, of making it absolutely clear to all concerned that it is to be a voluntary one.
These recommendations were made by a Commission which was set up by Her Majesty's Government nearly three years ago and which reported more than 18 months ago. All of these recommendations were presented as requiring urgent action on them. The Prime Minister had already recorded in South Africa his belief that the continent was being swept by a wind of change. What happened? Instead of the bold, urgent and immediate action requested by the Commission, we have had eighteen months of vacillation and dithering.
For Northern Rhodesia, we had, first, a proposal by the former Colonial Secretary just over a year ago which might just have permitted the Africans, who outnumber Europeans in Northern Rhodesia by more than 300 to 1—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—to win a majority in the Legislative Council there. This proposal was withdrawn under pressure from the Europeans in the territory and their supporters on the back benches opposite, and another proposal was put forward in June last year which would have allowed the Europeans to have a majority in the Legislative Council. What we are assured by the Home Secretary is to be the final act in this tragicomedy were the proposals made by the Colonial Secretary to the House in February last which were intended to leave it uncertain whether the Africans or the Europeans would have a majority, or, indeed, whether anyone would have a majority at all. It is believed by many people in the Federation, ranging on this issue from Mr. Kenneth Kaunda to Sir Roy Welensky, that the actual effect of the Maudling proposals will be to frustrate the elections in some, if not all, of the so-called 15 national seats.
I confess that, against the miserable background of the Government's record 253 during the past eighteen months, I believe that the Maudling proposals do constitute a small advance. I said at the time, and I repeat now, that I hope that the Africans will fight the elections in Northern Rhodesia under these proposals. I shall return to that in a few minutes. I must say, however, that we still cannot be in any way confident that even these elections in October will implement the basic proposal of the Monckton Commission nearly two years ago that there should be an African majority in the Legislature of that territory.
On the future of the Federation itself, there is total confusion and obscurity, obscurity which remains as impenetrable as before now that we have heard the Home Secretary's statement on the subject this afternoon. We have not the slightest idea even now whether the Government intend to allow secession to be discussed at the Federal Review Conference, as the Colonial Secretary promised Mr. Banda it would be when he was out there a few months ago, or whether, if the territory asks for secession, it will be permitted, as recommended by the Monckton Commission.
This background of vacillation and confusion is the extraordinary basis on which the Government ask for a Motion of confidence in their efforts today. I cannot believe that there are many hon. Members opposite, whatever view they may take of what should be done, who feel any confidence in the Government's efforts against their record of the last eighteen months.
What has been happening in the rest of Africa in the meantime, during these months which the locusts have eaten? The wind of change in Africa has grown into a hurricane. Since the Monckton Commission reported, we have seen the peaceful negotiation of independence for Nigeria, Tanganyika, Sierra Leone and Somalia, some of which are in no way superior either in wealth or in education to any territory of the Central African Federation. A date has been fixed for the independence of Uganda. Kenya and Zanzibar are expected to follow within the next twelve or fifteen months. What is holding Central Africa back? On both sides of the House, we know that it is the refusal or inability of Her Majesty's Government to accord to the Africans in Central Africa the rights 254 which they have freely accorded to Africans in other parts of the continent because of the opposition of a European minority which even in Southern Rhodesia is a minority of only about 4 per cent. and which in Northern Rhodesia is outnumbered by Africans by 300 to 1.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
I do not say that it destroys the hon. Gentleman's argument, but he is wrong in speaking of a majority of 300 to 1. It is 30 to 1.
§ Mr. Healey
I apologise. Other people before me have had trouble with the decimals.
That is one factor emerging during the past eighteen months, independence negotiated peacefully with Britain or with other colonal powers for over half a dozen African states on the continent. But something else has happened which is bound in the near future profoundly to influence affairs within the Federation. Algeria now is on the road to independence as an African State.
§ Mr. Healey
"What a bloody road", says the noble Lord, and he could not be more right in saying that. In Algeria the Africans have won independence only by a long and ruthless war marked by fearful atrocities on both sides, and it is highly doubtful whether there will be any form of co-operation between the white minority there and the Africans who will dominate the new Algerian State as a result. We do not want that to happen in Central Africa. But can hon. and right hon. Members opposite imagine the attitude of the Africans who see their fellows in other countries becoming independent one after the other, through peaceful negotiations, while they see, on the other hand, that the only obstacle to independence in Central Africa, the same as the obstacle to independence in Algeria, is the existence of a large white minority?
How long do hon. Members opposite think that the present moderate leaders of African nationalist opinion will be able to resist pressure to follow the Algerian road, particularly when there is, perhaps, an independent Algerian Government egging them on? The fact 255 of an independent Algeria makes it tremendously urgent for Her Majesty's Government to move very rapidly indeed towards negotiated peaceful representative self-government in the Federation itself.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not wish to mislead the House, but he is going on about Algeria as if the two States were comparable. He must know that that is quite wrong and that the type of road being followed in the Federation is entirely different from that followed by the Europeans in Algeria.
§ Mr. Healey
There are differences and there are similarities. What I am suggesting—I make this suggestion in desperate seriousness—is that the similarities are obvious to the Africans in the Federation, and, unless something is done to remove these similarities, they may well be tempted to follow that road.
§ Mr. Healey
It is nothing of the kind. This is a point put to me by Africans with whom I have discussed these issues. To imagine that Africans in Central Africa cannot read newspapers is to delude oneself. That is an illusion widely held by some of the Europeans on the spot, and it would be dangerous and even disastrous if Members of Parliament in this country exercised their responsibility under the same illusion.
The third big change which, I believe, may well be equally important and which has taken place in the last eighteen months is that there is now a possibility, even a probability, of external intervention in the affairs of the Federation which did not exist when the Monckton Commission first met. As the right hon. Gentleman reminded us, the United Nations is taking a direct interest in what happens in Central Africa, and the subject is likely to be debated regularly at meetings of the United Nations Assembly, as it has been debated already at meetings of the committee.
We know, too, that foreign Powers which have no interest whatever in the welfare of the Africans are beginning to move in to see whether they can find organisations or persons to whom they 256 can offer support. Russia and China are now seeking points of support in Central Africa, as in East Africa, in a way which was difficult or even impossible for them a year or two ago. The real danger which I see and which I beg hon. and right hon. Members opposite to take seriously is that African leaders who, on the whole, have been trying desperately hard for the last ten years to achieve change in these territories by peaceful methods may be supplanted by others who believe in force. It has happened in other territories many times in our own colonial history. It can happen there. I feel that the Home Secretary in the remarks that he made to us this afternoon gave us no indication whatever that he appreciates the sense in which the whole climate in which this problem has to be settled has radically changed since the Monckton Commission first made its Report.
Let me make it clear that I do not blame the European minority in Central Africa for trying to preserve the privileges which at one time it assumed would never really be contested. I would give all praise to those European leaders and others who have succeeded in persuading their own community to accept African advance in the political or social fields.
One of the tragedies in this situation is that the degree of advance given to the Africans in Southern Rhodesia in the last two or three years would have seemed fantastically Utopian ten years ago, yet today I think that it must be accepted as tragically inadequate to meet their aspirations. This, again, is the sort of predicament which we find often enough in the history of empires and indeed in the whole history of politics.
I do not blame Sir Roy Welensky for fighting tooth and nail and threatening even to go the whole hog to defend the Federation in which he passionately and profoundly believes, although, sometimes, like, I suspect, most people in this House, we wish that he would give us a little less voice and more vision. To understand the interests and attitudes of the European minority in Central Africa is necessary, but it is not enough. We have in this House and in this country an inescapable responsibility to the African majority in Central Africa, a responsibility which is juridically spelled 257 out so far as the Northern territories are concerned.
Where the Home Secretary really fell short of his obligations in his speech was that he gave no sign that he was prepared to give first priority to meeting the justified rights of the Africans rather than trying to preserve the privileges of the small European minority. What I should like to do is to suggest what we on this side of the House think should be done in the Federation as a whole and in each of its territories in trying to respond to the Home Secretary's invitation to offer some constructive thoughts, though I fear that he may find some of those thoughts unpalatable.
First, I think that it is most important for Her Majesty's Government to make it clear that this country will not surrender any further powers to the European minority in Central Africa. That means, in the first place, that we will not be deflected from our course by threats of force by anybody in the European Minority or anywhere else. We have had far too many of these threats. This, I am sure, is something on which the Home Secretary will agree with me.
I am not referring simply to the perhaps deliberately vague remarks which the Federal Prime Minister has made from time to time at almost regular intervals. I am referring also to the plot which was uncovered by the British Colonial Administration in Northern Rhodesia in February, 1961, for asserting direct control by force. I am referring also to the threats made by the man who, ironically, now is the Minister for Law and Home Affairs in the Federal Government, Mr. Greenfield, threats of hard action on unconstitutional lines made at the meeting of the United Federal Party Congress in Northern Rhodesia as recently as last October. I am referring to the threats implicit in some of the Federal Prime Minister's remarks in relation to the extremely rapid and heavy growth of the Federal armed forces and police in the area. I hope that when he goes to Central Africa the Home Secretary will make it clear that we do not intend to be deflected from carrying out our responsibility by this type of threat.
The second field in which I believe some clear statement by the British Government, perhaps not in public, is 258 urgently required is to make it quite clear that this House and this country intend to retain our firm constitutional control of the Federation's foreign policy. There have been far too many suggestions in recent months that the Federal Prime Minister is seeking to develop some sort of foreign policy of his own in relations with the Portuguese Government in Mozambique and in relations with the South African Government, with the intention of creating some sort of European bastion in Southern Africa. I hope that the Home Secretary will make it clear to the House that the Government do not intend to abrogate their responsibilities and that he will make some inquiries about the activities of the Portuguese secret police in Northern Rhodesia against missionaries and others who are said to have been supporting the national movement in Mozambique.
I hope that the Home Secretary will make it even clearer than Ministers have made it in this House that we absolutely reject the old Dominion Party plan recently revived by Sir Edgar Whitehead, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, for detaching Barotseland and the Copper Belt from Northern Rhodesia and fastening them on to Southern Rhodesia. This would be a betrayal of our formal juridical obligations in the territory and a betrayal of everything that Ministers have said that they stand for.
In this matter I wonder whether the Home Secretary would consult with the Commonwealth Secretary to try to discover why the Commonwealth Secretary made his extraordinary visit to Barotseland during his recent trip to the Federation, a visit which was said in several British newspapers to have united all opinion in Lusaka against him. To unite all opinion in Lusaka is a considerable feat on which I congratulate the Commonwealth Secretary. If there was no sinister intent behind this visit, I would say that it was one of the most fatuous and irresponsible actions that a British Minister has taken in the whole chequered history of the Central Africa Federation.
§ Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)
Surely the hon. Gentleman would agree that before one can pro- 259 nounce on the fate of the Barotse people, who are more than 300,000 and who have an opinion of their own, it is better to visit the country.
§ Mr. Healey
No, I would not agree that it was a good thing to visit the country at that time when Sir Edgar Whitehead was known to be ventilating in London proposals for the separation of Barotseland and the Copper Belt from the area. To visit it in the rather furtive and underhand way in which the Commonwealth Secretary is reported to have done without giving a clear indication of the purpose of his visit is very difficult to explain. If there is an explanation, I have no doubt that the Home Secretary, who enjoys nothing more than defending his colleagues against charges of malfeasance, will defend the Commonwealth Secretary on this issue later this evening.
I turn to the future of the Federal Constitution. I welcome the fact that the Home Secretary is proposing to start exploratory talks so that when the Federal Review Conference finally meets, after the elections in Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia, a great deal of the preparatory work will have been done. I welcome again the very clear and unequivocal pledge that he gave that the Federal Review Conference itself would not be called until the elections were over.
I should like to ask him one question and put one point to him. First, does he stand by the pledge reported to have been given by the Colonial Secretary to Dr. Banda during his visit earlier this year that it will be open to the Conference to discuss the whole question of secession. I hope that he will give us a clear answer on this later.
Secondly, I ask the Home Secretary to think again about accepting the recommendation in the Monckton Report, which we refer to in our Amendment, namely, that Her Majesty's Government should declare their intention to permit secession, if requested, under certain conditions which the Monckton Report spells out. Is there not an extraordinary and inexplicable contrast between our action in the British West Indian Federation and our action in Central Africa? In the case of the West Indies, a federation set 260 up by this House, the moment one of the Federal territories declares its desire to leave the Federation, without having made any pledge to consider secession in advance Her Majesty's Government simply jump at it. The Bill dissolving the British West Indian Federation was rushed through Parliament within a few months of a declaration of opinion by one of the Federal States.
If the Government are prepared to do this in the case of the West Indies, why are they not prepared to say that they will permit a request to be made by a representative Government in the case of Central Africa? If the Home Secretary will not give us the answer to that, will he try to explain what is the significant difference between the Central African Federation and the British West Indian Federation which can justify such a difference of policy on the part of the Government?
I, together with, I think, my hon. Friends, agree that we should seek the maximum economic co-operation possible between the three existing federal territories whether the Federation survives or not. If the Federation comes to an end, perhaps we could achieve the creation of something along the lines of the East African Common Services Commission. I suggest to the Home Secretary that, in order to have effective economic co-operation, it is not necessary to have political federation. After all, this is the Government's point in negotiating for entry to the Common Market. If the right hon. Gentleman has any doubts on this matter, perhaps he will consult the Colonial Secretary, who spent two years in trying to set up a European Free Trade Area in the correct belief that economic co-operation was possible without any form of political constitution whatever.
I also suggest to the Home Secretary that he must not make agreement on economic co-operation a condition for granting political independence to any of these territories. It will be very tempting to him, when engaged in negotiations, to try to commit territories which are going to leave the Federation to economic co-operation in advance and against their will. Such a commitment, if made, would be worthless. The only chance of having effective economic co-operation in this area is for African 261 majority Governments in the territories to decide of their own free will and under no pressure that this type of co-operation is in their own national interests and in the interests of their people.
I pass to the situation in the individual territories. I imagine that Dr. Banda will ask the Home Secretary, when he visits Central Africa, if he has not done so already, to grant Nyasaland immediate internal self-government. I hope that there will be little difficulty about conceding this request. As the right hon. Gentleman himself said, the Malawi Congress Ministers have an excellent record since their electoral victory a few months ago, a record, incidentally, which belies a great deal of nonsense talked about them by hon. Members opposite before the elections took place.
I believe that, if Dr. Banda asks for it, the Home Secretary must also be prepared to promise, as I suggested earlier, that he will give Nyasaland the right of self-determination at a stated date. I hope that an independent Nyasa Government would decide on some form of economic association with its neighbours. But the economic argument is not an argument against independence. Even in 1957, the last year for which I have been able to obtain figures, the Jack Commission reported that the average income per head in Nyasaland was higher than that in Tanganyika, a country which achieved full independence last year. No doubt there are many unnecessary economic disadvantages which a wholly independent Nyasa State would undergo, but they are no greater than those undergone by Tanganyika. It must be for the Nyasas themselves to decide what their future in this respect is to be.
Northern Rhodesia is the key to the immediate future of the Federation, and that is why the Government have vacillated for so long about the conditions under which elections should be held. We must simply pray that the Maudling proposals will produce an African majority in the October elections, because we should make no mistake about it that Mr. Kenneth Kaunda is risking his political life and, perhaps, his life as a human being by agreeing to take part in these elections on the basis of a constitution 262 deliberately designed to leave it uncertain whether the great majority of Africans in the territory can produce even parity in the Legislative Council. Certainly I hope that the Home Secretary will go as far as he can towards meeting the conditions Mr. Kaunda put to him for taking part in the elections.
I was glad to hear the Home Secretary's assurances about the objectivity of the Delimitation Commission. I should like to ask him whether the judge who is to chair the Commission will be an English judge or a judge from the Federal Territory. Perhaps he will answer that point when he replies, because one of the most important conditions of winning the Africans' confidence is that they should feel that this Commission is not dominated by Europeans from the area itself.
The second condition, which, I agree, may not be easy to meet, is that there should be free activity by the African parties. I wish to ask the Home Secretary—he was not able to give an assurance on this before the Recess—whether the Governor has now agreed to the registration of the Northern headquarters of the United National Independence Party. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that an election in which the most important African party is not able to register its headquarters in an important part of the State cannot really be considered a free election.
I also ask the Home Secretary to try to give Mr. Kaunda some assurance that there will be no interference by Federal troops during the election. This is a fear which the Africans have, and I must confess that some experiences in the past, notably those investigated by the Devlin Commission, make it very difficult to believe that an election held under conditions in which there may be large-scale interference by troops of the Federation can really be considered a free election.
The Home Secretary may have thought that I was rather dense—no doubt I often am—when I interrupted him earlier to ask for an assurance. He said that there would be no change in these proposals before the election, and I asked for an assurance that that did not exclude change later. The reason 263 why I asked was this. There is a real possibility, as Sir Roy Welensky and Mr. Kaunda have told us, that these elections will not produce a majority and that elections for the fifteen National seats will be frustrated because, in some or all of them, none of the parties will succeed in achieving the qualifying vote from the opposite race. In case that is so, the Home Secretary should assure the Africans in the Territory now that if this proves to be a bad electoral constitution the British Government will immediately introduce new proposals which will assure an election in which the enormous African majority will be reflected in the Legislative Council, as recommended by the Monckton Commission.
The most difficult problem of all with which the Home Secretary started is the problem of Southern Rhodesia. The Home Secretary is quite right. We have very few powers in Southern Rhodesia and most of those which we still have were resigned last year when we agreed to the new Southern Rhodesian constitution. None of the powers has been used by us since 1923, and it would require at least a break with precedent to invoke them. It is an open question how far we do not possess these powers because we have not used them, or how far we could invoke them to do what some people ask us to do—namely to abrogate the Southern Rhodesian constitution. Even if it were possible I doubt if it would be very wise for any British Home Secretary to take that line.
I was puzzled by the fact that the Home Secretary repeatedly said in relation to the United Nations Commission that we cannot abdicate our responsibilities in Southern Rhodesia the moment after he had told us that we have no powers there. To precisely what was he referring? He knows that although we have no powers in Southern Rhodesia we still have great influence. We have great influence in Southern Rhodesia, first of all in relation to our intentions in the other territories of the Federation, and secondly because in many respects the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia are likely to depend for a long time on economic and political support from Britain.
264 Under the present constitution there is very little chance of the representative African organisations participating in the elections at all. The Home Secretary very well knows their fears. He knows that on the one hand they fear that after the elections the two-thirds majority of Europeans in the new Assembly will be able to abolish the African seats if it wishes to do so and that there is nothing we can do about it. He knows that the Africans fear that they will never get a majority under the existing electoral law because every time they begin to approach a majority compared with the Europeans on the roll the Europeans will once again raise the income qualification as they raised it ten years ago. Indeed, even under this constitution, if it were maintained, for the Africans to achieve a majority on the rolls within eight years, as Sir Edgar Whitehead said they might, would require an annual rise in the average African income of 7 to 8 per cent., and it seems to me that there is little chance of that coming about so soon.
I should like to put a suggestion to the Home Secretary which I think the United Nations Commission put to him when it was here: when he is out there will he discuss these issues with Sir Edgar Whitehead and Mr. Nkomo and see whether even at this late date there is a chance of having another look at the electoral law? It seems to me that in this situation, in which Southern Rhodesia is almost isolated in an area which inevitably in a short time will be composed exclusively of African majority Governments, it is desirable that he should aim at least at parity for Africans in Southern Rhodesia on a common roll.
I recognise that the suggestions which I have made would mean tremendous changes in Government policy and would require from the Europeans in Central Africa what they would consider to be tremendous sacrifices. But I believe that rapid changes of this nature are the only way to preserve the chance of racial partnership in those States when they become independent, as they certainly will within the next few years whether the British Parliament in Westminster likes it or not. The Government will be under vary heavy pressure in the next 12 or 18 months from their own back benchers to retreat from the 265 sort of policies which I am suggesting and which I dare say in his heart the Home Secretary wishes to push.
Let us always remember that what happens in Central Africa is no longer our private concern in Westminster. The United Nations is bound to take an increasingly active rôle, and it is already being supported by the United States Government on this issue. More important still, I believe that the survival of the Commonwealth as a multi-racial society will depend on rapid progress in Central Africa towards African majority Governments. Let us remember that there are 60 million Africans in the free Commonwealth at the present time, and all of them are deeply concerned with the fate of the 8 million Africans in the Federation. They will never forgive us if we give priorty in our policies in Central Africa to the views of the 300,000 Europeans, and I am sure that the Commonwealth Secretary of State will be able to spell this out in detail from the reports which he receives from our High Commissioners in the other African States. The main threat to the survival of the Commonwealth as an institution in Africa is the failure of the British Government to give to the Africans in the Federation the same rights and privileges as they have given to the Africans in other parts of the old Empire.
I must make a comment on the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. One of the most sinister reasons given for the new appointment of the Home Secretary as head of the Central African Department was that the Commonwealth and Colonial Secretaries were said to be identified with opposing sectional interests in the Federation. We all know that the Colonial Secretary was identified with the African interests in the Northern States. Does that mean that the Commonwealth Secretary was regarded as being identified with the European interests in Southern Rhodesia? If so, how could this be? Did he think that it was his duty when South Africa was still in the Commonwealth to be identified with Dr. Verwoerd in South Africa? Of course not. The Commonwealth Secretary's job is to see that the Commonwealth remains a vital, multi-racial society in the 266 African continent as a whole, and if he takes this rôle seriously he will be pressing even harder than the Colonial Secretary for the rights of the Africans in the Central African Federation.
I hope that the House will accept the Amendment. What we propose in the Amendment are simply the proposals made by a conservative Commission over two years ago in a situation far less acute and dangerous than that which we see today. I dare say that many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will prefer to vote their confidence in the Government by supporting the Government's Motion. Votes of confidence are very fashionable in the countries concerned in Central African affairs. The Home Secretary may get a vote of confidence as decisive in its way as the vote which Sir Roy Welensky got in the Federal elections in the territory itself a few weeks ago. But it will mean as little if he does, because nothing can prevent fundamental changes in Central Africa now, and it is up to the right hon. Gentleman to decide whether those changes will be violent or peaceful.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Nugent (Guildford)
I am glad to have the chance to say a word of support for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and to thank him for his opening speech on this very difficult topic, which I felt, and I think most of my right hon. and hon. Friends felt, gave us a very useful lead in its review of how he hoped to deal with the difficult and complex subjects which now come under his responsibility.
As I listened to the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) I recognised that the whole weight of the Opposition's attack is based on the Monckton Report, a Report which I found profoundly illuminating and admirable in every way. Where I disagree with the hon. Gentleman is in his timing, although I also disagree on matters of substance. He feels, if I understand him rightly, that the Government are wrong to guide their policies of transition to African government in these territories having regard to the European population in the territories. I feel that he is wrong to suggest that these people could be disregarded. He said that in Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia the 267 Africans were growing increasingly impatient because they saw other African territories becoming independent, that they were asking why they were being held back, and that the reason was that large European populations in those territories were holding them back.
I think, if I may deal with Northern Rhodesia first, that the Government are right to be held back by them. The final solution to this question is not just a matter of handing over government to the African political leaders. For myself, I am perfectly happy that that government should be handed over to them. I thought it right that the transition should be made, but I am quite certain that for a successful State to emerge in Northern Rhodesia, in future there must be partnership between the African people and the European people who, after all, are mostly our own people.
The economy of that area depends basically, of course, on the copper mines which produce immense wealth not only for Northern Rhodesia but also for the whole Federation. These copper mines depend for their management and, to a large extent, for their workers on Europeans, and unless these people are willing to co-operate in the policy that Her Majesty's Government are following it seems to me that we are going grievously to prejudice the prospect of this country when it emerges as an independent State.
Personally, I feel a considerable obligation to our own countrymen who have settled in and developed this country. But, apart altogether from that, looking at it solely from the point of view of the Africans there, they are now dependent on a Western form of economy and civilisation, and unless Europeans are willing to remain there to help and work both in industry and commerce and in the Administration the Africans have no prospects whatsoever of operating that territory, and they know it. Mr. Kaunda is the first to say it. He wants the Europeans to remain, and I am sure he is right.
If the Government now proceeded in the transition at a pace which lost the confidence of the European community then, even if they did not turn to some form of physical resistance—I hope that they would not—but if they all pro- 268 ceeded to leave the country in large numbers we would surely be left with a situation which, apart altogether from completely destroying Great Britain's chance of discharging her responsibilities to these African people, would leave them in a very parlous state.
I do not know whether the hon. Member for Leeds, East visited the copper mines when he was in Northern Rhodesia, but I am sure that if he were to talk to the leaders of the European Mineworkers' Union he would quickly find what they feel about the situation. An admirable Scotsman is the General Secretary of the union, and he finds it extremely difficult to bring along his members fast enough in accepting the changes which the management want to introduce.
The fact is that, apart from the fairness to these men and women who have made their lives and homes there and who have helped to develop the country, it really is an essential practical necessity to carry the confidence of the European community in the process of transition in order to give this State a reasonable chance in the future. I fully accept—and, of course, one cannot travel round these parts without learning this—how strongly the European community feel that we are travelling much too fast. They all feel that the Africans are not yet ready for this responsibility.
I felt, in making my assessment of the situation, that the transition must be made at a pace which would carry the confidence of the Africans and their good will so that when the time came for them to have political power their good will would still be towards the Europeans and they would still want the Europeans to remain. That, I am sure, is the touchstone of the whole situation. As long as the Africans want us to be there to work the country for them they will do their utmost to maintain conditions in which our people will wish to remain.
In this disposition in Northern Rhodesia, my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary has surely achieved everything. He has achieved a settlement which has been accepted by the Africans, on the one hand, and by the Europeans on the other. It is perfectly true that they both complained that it was not as good as it ought to have 269 been, but, surely, in the circumstances this is the very best one could hope for. As I said at the time, there was the right balance of unacceptability. Neither side liked it particularly, but both were prepared to co-operate. The Africans, particularly the major party, were prepared to say that they would join in the general election and lift their boycott. That is the vital fact. It means, I hope, that they will go ahead and fight the general election.
They will undoubtedly win seats, and then a number of them will be brought into the responsibility and experience of government. It will then mean that they as members of the Legislature, some of them, I hope, as Ministers, will have a chance to learn something about government in the remaining years of transition so that they will be ready for it when the time comes. That seems to me to be absolutely the right kind of transition. That is exactly what the Government ought to be doing, and I must say that I warmly congratulate them on having found the basis on which to do it.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the question of the failure of the leaders of the European Mineworkers' Union to bring the African along as quickly as they would wish, would he tell the House why the Africans are not allowed to be in the same union as the people who are failing to bring them along?
§ Mr. Jones
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there are two mineworkers' unions operating in the copper mines. He stated in his speech that the leaders of the white trade union are complaining about their failure to bring the African along. What about the failure of the white trade unionist to bring the African within his own union?
§ Sir Richard Nugent
I was not complaining. I was simply referring to the fact that the members of the European Mineworkers' Union are reluctant to see the African's position so advanced in the mines that it is comparable with that of the white man. This is a very considerable problem for management in the copper mines, who are trying with an enlightened policy to bring the African 270 forward. I was making the point to the hon. Member for Leeds, East that these are realities, that these men are working the country. We want them to go on working the country. We want to bring them along with us. I am certain that if the hon. Member for Leeds, East had the responsibility of sitting on the Government Front Bench he would be bound to face that reality.
§ Mr. Jack Jones
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I am associated with a company which has a steel concern in Rhodesia. In the last six months a multiracial steel union has been formed and is operating there.
§ Sir Richard Nugent
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman. I know that there are a number of firms who are following a most enlightened policy in this field.
Returning to my point concerning the hon. Member for Leeds, East, I would point out that at a meeting of the Northern Rhodesia Freedom Fund last month the hon. Gentleman charged Her Majesty's Government with hypocrisy in the constitutional settlement which they had made with Northern Rhodesia. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman really had no grounds at all for making that charge of hypocrisy against Her Majesty's Government. They have dealt most faithfully and sincerely with the realities of the situation. This may be a charge which will prove to be a boomerang to the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Healey
May I clear up the hon. Gentleman's confusion? Had he been at the meeting, which was extremely well attended and most impressive, he would have seen that I was not accusing the Government of hypocrisy in general. I was simply saying that the Government were arguing that their proposals were democratic because they left it uncertain which group would win a majority—the Europeans or the Africans, who outnumber them by 30 to 1. I said that it was hypocritical to call such a constitution democratic. It seems to me that that is a fair use of the word hypocrisy.
§ Sir Richard Nugent
That may be the hon. Member's explanation, but I should have thought that he is in danger of finding this boomerang coming back bang on his own neck.
I was glad to hear that my right hon. Friend hopes to be ready for a General 271 Election to take place in the autumn and is now proceeding with registration and has made arrangements for a delimiting commission. I believe that we shall find in Northern Rhodesia that when we have brought the Africans into government there we shall have much the same experience as we have had in Nyasaland. People who visit Nyasaland now find Dr. Banda and his colleagues to be putting up a very good show. People who have been most critical of him in the past come back and report upon his statesmanship. This sometimes happens even to us when great responsibility comes upon our shoulders, and we usually find ourselves able to measure up to it and to behave in a statesmanlike way. I am not without hope that when leading Africans in Northern Rhodesia are brought into government they also will behave in the same responsible way.
As to when the time comes for these territories to become actually independent, I had an interesting conversation with Sir Robert Treadgold who had been to a seminar on this problem of Constitutions for African and other territories. He was of the thought, which appealed to me, that our Westminster pattern of government may be too sophisticated for them. We have evolved a form of government here, with a Government and a responsible Opposition who are ready and indeed anxious to take over government whenever the chance may offer. This is the very basis of our Constitution here, but this is something which is extremely difficult for Africans to understand and it may give them an inherent feeling of uncertainty when they come to form a Government.
In practice, when one looks round the Continent one does not see it work particularly well and it may be that some different kind of constitution might suit them better, something more on the American pattern with a system of checks and balances which provide the necessary constitutional safeguards and may then revolve about one leading personality, which I think in the main is probably something which the Africans understand better.
I notice that the Colonial Secretary has been most ingenious in his new Constitution for Kenya. Evidently his 272 thoughts on constitution-making are pretty flexible, but I make the point to the Home Secretary that it is worth thinking whether perhaps something rather different from the pattern we have here may suit them best when the time comes, and particularly in Northern Rhodesia where the tribes are very powerful, especially the Barotses, and where the position may be different from that in Nyasaland where the tribes are very weak.
As for Southern Rhodesia, I entirely agree with what my right hon. Friend said about the United Nations Committee of Seventeen. It has completely oversimplified the situation. I would not for a moment disregard what a United Nations Committee says. It is very important, and the fact that my right hon. Friend, with his right hon. colleagues received it, shows the great importance which the Government attach to it. The fact is that today we do not have, and we have not had for forty years, more than theoretical control in Southern Rhodesia. It is substantially a self-governing State. There are now about a quarter of a million white people there and we cannot expect to exert direct influence over them.
I think that the hon. Member for Leeds, East recognises that and I was surprised to see the comments of a distinguished Indian like Mr. Jha, who led this Committee. After all, he and his colleagues might well be asked to go back home and consider some of the situations that exist there. But let us leave out Biblical quotations about beams in their own eyes before looking at the motes in ours.
As far as Southern Rhodesia goes, Sir Edgar Whitehead is moving fast. He is a man of inspiration and he is pursuing liberal policies. I believe that his offer of 15 seats was a generous one and I commended it to the African leaders when I met them last year. My view is that it is a pity that the franchise was made so narrow. It is quite obvious that the African leaders felt that 15 seats were enough because they accepted that number at the start. I have no doubt that their supporters when they went back saw clearly that they would get no vote and so they threw out the proposal.
273 Sir Edgar Whitehead is going on with all kinds of excellent moves to eliminate racialism in Southern Rhodesia. He has undertaken to strike from the Statute Book the Land Apportionment Act and so on, which is all very good. But the time has come in Southern Rhodesia, as in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, when black men do not want the white men to do things for them. They want to do things with the white men for themselves. We shall not see stability there until a Constitution can be found which will bring Africans in to take part in government in a way similar to that which we are now achieviing in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. I hope that when my right hon. Friend discusses this problem with Sir Edgar Whitehead he will press upon him the absolute necessity of finding some means of getting them into government so that they can learn something about it and can feel that they have a joint responsibility.
Finally, on federation, I will make one more criticism of the conduct of the hon. Member for Leeds, East at the meeting to which I have referred. He said that Great Britain is the only country in the world, with Portugal and South Africa, obstructing the movement of colonial peoples for freedom. That is a really wretched thing to say.
§ Sir Richard Nugent
The hon. Member knows the tremendous problem of federation. I agree, looking back on the decision of nine years ago, that it may be that the model of federation was a 1930 model instead of a 1960 model, but the idea of federation, as the hon. Member agrees, is an excellent one. Enormous economic benefit has flowed from it in those nine years and wonderful things have been done. There is no doubt that in future the association of these three territories is "a natural" both economically and politically. There is no doubt that they will be much more prosperous economically and happier if some form of federation goes on in future.
My right hon. Friend adumbrated today the line on which he proposed to tackle this examination. He spoke of a full examination of the possible forms of alternative association acceptable to 274 all three. Of course, if it is to be acceptable it will undoubtedly have to cover such matters as secession. I am sure that it is the right approach. The Times today published a useful leading article on the subject which referred to the huge industrial, commercial, transport and financial interests which have grown up in these three Territories. There are these living organisations now which link those territories together. I would hope that my right hon. Friend might find a basis there for building up from the bottom on these existing trading institutions and forming an association at that level, and then perhaps one could go on from there to see what sort of political association one might have in the future.
But I think that the hon. Member for Leeds, East, somewhat over-simplifies the situation when he makes a comment like he did and does not fairly deal with the enormous problems which exist. Nothing could be more disastrous than that Nyasaland should just go out like that. The country is largely dependent on finance from outside. About 200,000 Nyasas have to find their jobs in Southern Rhodesia. If they seceded, Southern Rhodesia might put up a barrier against them because of employment difficulties, and my mind boggles at the thought of the hardship and difficulty which Nyasaland would experience if such a situation developed.
These are matters at which my right hon. Friend must look as realities. I absolutely accept that the Federation cannot go on as it is, and a basis must be found with the consent of the peoples of the territories so that they have confidence in what is happening and in the structure. How to find that is something of extreme difficulty. It has to carry the confidence of both Africans and Europeans because they have to work it together.
I would hope that Sir Roy Welensky has a part to play in this. He carries tremendous prestige and influence with the European community there. Everybody who knows him would agree that he has great powers of leadership. I am sure that if he would exert his powers of leadership to carry the confidence of the Africans as effectively as he carries the confidence of the Europeans, he could be a very great help to my right hon. 275 Friend in finding solutions to this problem. But he will have to enter into these tasks with a very open mind, ready to look at the facts of the situation. Then I am sure he will be a great help to my right hon. Friend.
I hope to see something built out of the present Federation which will be acceptable to the African or majority African Government in Nyasaland—and the new Government in Northern Rhodesia, which may have an African majority—and will still carry the confidence of the white people. I am sure it is possible. The community of interests there is very strong. My right hon. Friend should have the good will of this House, and I still hope that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will not press the Amendment to a division, because it really will not help in this context. What is needed here is that my right hon. Friend should go out to Africa with the support of the whole House to apply his mind objectively, with his great powers of mediation, to this extremely difficult problem. I am sure that that would give him the best possible prospects. I certainly wish him well.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)
The right hon. Member for Guildford (Sir R. Nugent) has made a sincere speech. Although he made many points with which I could not agree, I recognise that he has moved a considerable way in the last few years. I particularly appreciated his reference to Dr. Banda and his confirmation that Dr. Banda and his colleagues are doing a good job in Nyasaland. This testimony should be put against the dire warnings that we had from the Conservative side of the House several years ago when Dr. Banda and his colleagues were asking for political rights.
What the right hon. Member said about Nyasaland will also, I believe, be very true of Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia when the African political leaders in those territories have the responsibility for which they are now asking. I believe that they will exercise it in the same way as Dr. Banda is doing—in the real interests of their country. I wish it were true that some hon. Members opposite below the Gangway had moved as far as the right 276 hon. Member for Guildford has. I regret very much that that is not the case. To judge from their interventions this afternoon, they have learned hardly a thing in the last nine years.
During the various debates that we have had in the last few years on Rhodesia and Nyasaland, two main points have been put forward. There have been those who thought that there should be some system which has been variously referred to as partnership or multi-racial co-operation in Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The object of it, frankly, has been to maintain in power a white minority with vested interests. That process has been diluted to a considerable extent in the last few years, but I believe that it is still evident, certainly in the Southern Rhodesia Constitution, and possibly in the interpretation of some hon. Members of the Northern Rhodesian Constitution. I very much regret this attitude of mind and the fact that it is still possible in the 'sixties, after most of Africa has obtained independence on the basis of self-determination, for hon. Members to hold the opinion that it is possible to fiddle the franchise and the Constitution to enable a small minority to remain in political control of those countries.
As against that point of view, there has been another point of view which has been accepted by most of my hon. Friends—that we should have in Rhodesia and Nyasaland universal adult suffrage. I have always taken that point of view, and I welcome the fact that many hon. Members, even on the Conservative benches, have moved in that direction. I agree with the right hon. Member for Guildford; it is very important now to continue an economic association between these two territories, and I would add to them Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya. But such an association can be achieved only on the basis of universal adult suffrage or something very near it. We cannot impose on the broad masses of African people a political system to which they have not given their consent.
I would disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) to this extent. He said that the Africans had given up the idea of economic association because they had become so suspicious of the word "federation". 277 That is not strictly true. The representatives of the main political parties in Rhodesia and also in Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda recently met at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and pledged themselves to work towards a close economic association of all their countries. They want to have not only economic association but political association as well. That can be achieved, I reiterate, only on the basis of the self-determination of the people concerned.
It is a pity that the House today has a one-man band performance from the Home Secretary. I do not believe for a moment that he has not the capacity to do the extra job which has been thrust upon him, but I think it is a great pity that at this late stage responsibility has been taken away from the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Africans are certainly, very suspicious about this, because they have in the past, although they have been let down by some Conservative Colonial Secretaries, looked on the Colonial Office as a protector of their rights. Now they see one Minister coming into this field and taking over the whole responsibility, and some of them are suspicious.
However, I was very pleased to detect between the general phrases of the Home Secretary's speech an indication that he appreciates that it would not be possible to ram the Federation down the throats of the Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. This has at last been recognised by the Conservative Party. The Conservatives have been very slow to do it, but I for one express appreciation of the fact that they have come round to this point of view.
I should like to turn to the problem of Southern Rhodesia, because I do not believe that in Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland the major problem is to be faced in the next few years. The real problem will be in Southern Rhodesia, where the Europeans have been entrenched with some power, and, in a great many cases, a great deal of economic power, which they will be very loth to give up. I believe that, provided that the Government stick firmly to their intentions, Northern Rhodesia will see the emergence of an African majority in the next year or so. Cer- 278 tainly, if it does not emerge, there will be trouble in Northern Rhodesia, where the white minority is far too small to seize power there. It would be impossible in certain areas for Sir Roy Welensky's Federal troops to intervene, because this would be an invitation to the United Nations to invite Ghanaian. Egyptian or any other troops to intervene in order to protect the Africans in that country. I do not think that that is very likely, although the danger of it has been pointed out.
In Southern Rhodesia, we have a tiny minority—less than 10 per cent. of the population—in effective control of the Government, and those Europeans represented by that minority will be very loth indeed to give up their power. I think it is regrettable that the Home Secretary passed so quickly over the report of the United Nations Sub-Committee on this problem. After all, it was composed of representatives of India, Mali, Syria, Tanganyika, Tunisia and Venezuela, and it reached unanimous conclusions. It paid a tribute, which I think the whole House would be pleased to endorse, to the United Kingdom Government for the way in which they had co-operated with it, but it reached the conclusion thatthe situation in Southern Rhodesia was serious and difficult and might become very harmful for the whole of Africa.The vast majority of the Africans, according to the sub-committee, are opposed to the new Constitution. So much for the Home Secretary's bland comments that this Constitution was reached by unanimous agreement. It was not. The sub-committee goes on to say that the Constitution of 6th December, 1961, needs to be rescinded and a fresh effort undertaken in consultation with the people to devise a constitution based on the principle of equality and acceptance of the principle of universal adult suffrage.
It is wrong for hon. Members to think that this point of view is being pressed on the United Nations merely by the African people in Southern Rhodesia. That is not the case. There are many Europeans in Southern Rhodesia who believe that this is the only way out of the tremendous dangers that will exist in Southern Rhodesia if a white-dominated Government attempts to take 279 Over complete power. If the Africans are not admitted into the Government of that country to a very considerable extent, there will almost certainly be some uprising. There will be disorders, with the possibility that South Africa will be invited to send in her troops to assist the Southern Rhodesian Administration to put down the trouble by force. If the Africans appeal for outside assistance, who can expect that the United Nations will refuse to intervene? I believe that it will, and many Europeans in Southern Rhodesia are concerned about these possibilities.
Someone mentioned Algeria earlier in this debate. There is a danger that the Algerian story—the terrible, bloody story of Algeria—could be repeated in Southern Rhodesia, and it is because of that that Europeans as well as Africans have appealed to the United Nations to intervene. In fact, Europeans have visited New York, and a visit was made by Mr. Garfield Todd, a former Prime Minister of the country, appealing to the United Nations to intervene. He is by no means the only European making this plea.
I press on the Home Secretary that, when he arrives in Salisbury, he should meet some of these Europeans and hear their point of view, because their opinion is as important as that of other Europeans whom he is to meet. The Home Secretary referred to the economic conditions, the necessity of maintaining stability, the progress that has been made, the Kariba Dam and so on. He went on to say that this sort of economic development would be placed in jeopardy if Africans had political power thrust upon them too quickly. I do not believe that that argument can be sustained in any way. In Ghana, for example, economic development has been very much faster than before since that country became politically independent. Indeed, the per capita income in Ghana will very soon exceed that of Portugal, because of the tremendous advances made. Let us take the case of Tanganyika. That country has been pointed out as having a lower per capita income than Nyasaland. A year ago it gained political independence, and is now going ahead with developments far faster than those territories which are 280 still kept in a colonial condition or are still under rule by a minority.
That brings me to a further point. If a minority race is in political control, it can so organise the economy of the country as to ensure that the minority gets most of the rewards from economic progress. The Home Secretary referred to the Kariba Dam. When I was in Rhodesia some years ago, I remember that there was a strike while the Kariba Dam was being constructed, because the workers refused to work for the paltry wages they were offered, and because there was a great deal of hazard involved in the job. I believe that several of them were killed.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
A considerable number were involved, and because of that paltry wage they went on strike. The strike was put down by the use of Federal troops. The workers did not have free trade unions to protect their rights, and they were not paid fair rates. It cannot be said that the dam gave benefits to the men working on the job of building it. The dam itself created no benefits for the workers engaged in constructing it. The electric power it produced was not going into African homes, but into the industries and the homes of Europeans. The Africans are not participating in these benefits.
I cannot go through all the statistics in a short speech, but the Home Secretary should look again at the statistics in the appendix to the Report of the Monckton Commission. He will see that the major part of the national income of Rhodesia and Nyasaland goes to the European minority of less than 3 per cent. of the population, even if we include subsistence agriculture. Even in the industries run by Europeans and Africans, the division of income is such that on the average the Africans receive only 10 per cent. of the income.
This stems directly from the political conditions in the territories concerned. It is no good our telling the Africans to be patient and wait until political advances have been made, and that then they can enjoy economc progress, because they see all round them evidence that political power gives the Europeans most of the "cake". We 281 have an allocation of land which has not been changed to any significant extent, although many promises have been made about it.
The fact is that, as the Home Secretary will see on page 234 of the Monckton Commission's Report, only 41 million acres are allocated to Africans, whereas 48 million acres are allocated to the Europeans. Over half the land—an area equivalent in size to the total area of England and Wales—was allocated to a European population smaller than that of a medium-sized town in England. It is no good saying to the Africans, who have suffered the effects of the native land husbandry Act and have been forced from the farms to work on European land at very low wages or forced into the towns where they get very low incomes, that they must wait for political advance. They see political advance around them. They see the vote as a key to open the door to more of these economic advantages for them.
I do not blame them. I strongly believe that if they had political advance their incomes would go up, but the European incomes need not be significantly affected. Of course there are many artisans who get highly inflated rates of pay who would suffer. There is no doubt about that, but most of the Europeans would be able to continue if they were prepared to accept prevailing political conditions. After all, in Ghana there are more Europeans now than there were before the country gained independence. I suppose the same is true of Nyasaland. I cannot say, but I should assume that there are as many or more Europeans there than there were before Dr. Banda achieved power.
I do not think we should necessarily accept all the assumptions that political advance on the part of Africans would stop economic progress. I believe the reverse to be true. If we give political advance to the African people, not only will that thrust responsibility on to leaders like Dr. Banda, but it will give more responsibility to the African people themselves, the people on the farmlands and in the factories. These people would feel a greater sense of responsibility and anxiety to work harder for themselves and for their own country.
282 I hope that the Home Secretary will go to Rhodesia and Nyasaland with a really open mind and will come back determined to act rather than to continue to give out these vague platitudes about multi-racial partnership which in the last nine years have not amounted to a real policy in the best interests of these countries.
In particular, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will recognise after his visit that it is possible—indeed necessary—for Britain to intervene in the case of Southern Rhodesia on the lines that the United Nations Sub-Committee has recommended, and as no doubt will be endorsed in June by the United Nations General Assembly—to intervene to prevent this fraud of a Constitution being implemented. That Constitution will most certainly lead to a reactionary Dominion Party in Southern Rhodesia making utterly worthless all the promises made by Sir Edgar Whitehead and his colleagues. It will make it all the more likely that the African people will demonstrate and rise against this new rule.
The only way to prevent that disaster is for the Home Secretary and his colleagues to intervene, to suspend the Southern Rhodesian Constitution and to call back these parties for fresh talks and ensure that we do not abdicate responsibility. The Home Secretary said that we did not want to abdicate responsibility to the United Nations. Nor do we want to abdicate it to a tiny white minority in Southern Rhodesia. I hope that he will act in the interests of all communities in the next few years.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Clark (Antrim, North)
I could hardly have been more depressed after hearing the speech of the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and having heard from a "Shadow Minister" such very shallow and Sunday paper appreciation of the situation. One would honestly think that the problems could be solved by him in one tour and possibly a couple of months' consideration thereafter.
Does not the hon. Member appreciate that the easy problems in the Colonial Empire have been already solved, particularly in the last few years and that the real hard nuts are left to be solved, and that the Federation is probably the hardest to solve? In those circum- 283 stances, which he himself admitted, to say that we have done nothing in the last few years is nonsense. We have had a new constitution for both Southern and Northern Rhodesia and now responsible government for Nyasaland. If that is not progress since the Federal Review Conference, I do not know what is. What does the hon. Member expect to have happened? His whole speech struck me as having been swotted up largely from the back pages of the cheaper Sunday newspapers.
As The Times has told us, we are gathered here today to send off my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on his trip to the Federation, to send him to do a job which we know is extremely difficult but which we have great faith in his ability to perform. I was as surprised as probably anyone in this House when his appointment was announced. I have had certain dealings with him on a number of other subjects and to think that he was taking on another concern was surprising. But I was surprised largely because of the decision of the Prime Minister to appoint him, which was a bold unconventional one, and I accepted that his choice was sound. As a Member sitting for a Northern Ireland constituency, I know the great wisdom of my right hon. Friend and I am sure that he will show the same quality of wisdom in Central Africa as he has shown over rather tricky Irish questions.
There are a number of warnings and other advice which one would wish to give to my right hon. Friend before he goes. The first warning I give to him is about statistics. Statistics are blunt instruments in this country, where we are all on a reasonable level, but in Africa statistics are almost useless. The figures have been quoted only too often that the income of an African in Nyasaland is £10 or £15 a year and the income of a European there is £1,000 or £1,500 a year, but these give no good basis for a comparison. All it means is that the African and the European are living entirely different ways of life.
§ Mr. Clark
These are the statistics which roll so glibly off the tongues of some people, though not so glibly off the 284 tongues of others, about the proportion of Africans to Europeans in various countries, but again they give no fair basis for comparison. The figures are 12 to 1 in Southern Rhodesia, 33 to 1 in Northern Rhodesia and 500 to 1 in Nyasaland. If we took these figures and used them as a basis for comparison one would think that Northern Rhodesia was more akin to Southern Rhodesia than to Nyasaland by a considerable margin, but the statistics produce no proper picture of the situation.
In Southern Rhodesia the European minority has an immense impact on the whole of the country's economy. In Northern Rhodesia, which is very thinly populated by either Africans or Europeans, in one small area only the Europeans have made a large impact and over the rest of Northern Rhodesia Europe has probably made less impact than in Nyasaland where the connection is much longer and the type of European who has gone there has probably been in closer contact with the African because of the type of job he has been doing. Any plan to combine Northern and Southern Rhodesia is, I think, doomed to failure.
To give more advice to my right hon. Friend—I hope he will give an ear to it—I suggest that a great deal of the secret of the solution of this problem is a clear understanding of what African nationalism is. Thank goodness it is not necessary today in this House to assure people that such things as African nationalism exist. Nationalism is not the best name for it, but it is the name by which we all know it. Today we know very well that African nationalism is an immense force. It is neither intrinsically good nor intrinsically bad, but it is a force which is quite inevitable and quite natural. It is one which grows like every other big movement—like Christianity, the co-operative movement, trade unionism or Socialism—starting from a very small number of people in a particular area.
§ Mr. Clark
And Christianity as well.
African nationalism starts with a small number of people, with one area, and at that stage it is easy to criticise it and say that it is bogus. This is the stage which has been reached in the 285 Federation in the last year or possibly two. African nationalism then begins to be a movement which means something to all the people and not just to the educated people. The trouble is that it is too often presented in too simple terms, and too often misrepresented by the Opposition as a question of the haves and have-nots.
African nationalism may be presented in that form because that is the form in which the Africans think that we can understand it, but the Africans are not by any manner of means so dominated by economics in their political thinking as we are. It goes almost without saying that the objective of every political party in this country is to increase the standard of living of the people, but to the African the suggestion that the standard of living is to be increased is a completely meaningless phrase. The African has had exactly the same standard of living for thousands of years and has been fairly content with it. To suggest that one is to make a permanent increase in his standard of living is something which he is hardly capable of understanding. He has known the good days of good harvests and the bad days of bad harvests, but he has no tradition, as we have, of a steadily increasing standard of living, what our Victorian ancestors called progress and what we call percentage rates of growth. What African nationalism does mean to the ordinary African is an increase in his prestige, and increase in his status.
§ Mr. Clark
Not necessarily a better life. He wants to become a more important person in the community. The Africans have a great feeling for status and when there is a continent filled with people of one colour and with a remarkable similarity of habits and customs from North to South and East to West, inevitably this desire for status in the world and status in their own countries grows into a very great movement.
I suggest sincerely to my right hon. Friend that when he talks of African nationalism he should not muddle it with an economic desire of the African people. It is a desire for status. Wealth is of very little importance in African tribal communities, but status is immensely important and it is this status 286 for which the ordinary African is looking when he becomes nationalist. The trouble is that these issues, even among the Africans, are not simple and straightforward.
Europeans brought a very materialistic point of view to Africa. The majority of them went there to make their fortunes. Many Africans have adopted this more materialistic European point of view. But to represent African nationalism entirely in terms of economics is immediately to hand the argument to the people who oppose African nationalism and who say that economic advance is more likely under European rule. The Africans can quite honestly say that they would rather have a poor Nyasaland than one ruled by Sir Roy Welensky. It is this strange mixture of motives—the European materialistic one and the African desire for status—which produces the very great problem in the Federation today.
I ask my right hon. Friend to look into this as carefully as he can. The difficulty is that the motives become muddled as the Africans begin to enter our cash economy and some of them, often in large numbers in Southern Rhodesia move into the middle class and tend to support the status quo. The whole business then becomes much more difficult, because those Africans are drawn, on one side, by the desire to rise up in the society which exists in Southern Rhodesia and, on the other, by their obvious attraction to African nationalism.
Those are the problems which have to be solved and if we can find some form of constitution which to some extent divides the actual business of ruling the country from that of organising the country's economy, possibly an economic community of Central Africa with independent Governments in each of the States, as The Times rather suggested this morning, that may be the solution. If the control of the economy and the ruling of the country can be divided, if we can find some solution of separating control of the economy from the administration of justice and the supplying of services, and so on, we shall be getting nearer a solution in which Europeans and Africans can go on living together in the Federation.
I do not want to speak for very long because I resolved not to speak for more than fifteen minutes, but there is one 287 other thing which I should like to say to my right hon. Friend. In Africa opinions are strange things. There are very few of us who have not changed our minds, even the most fiery of us, over the last ten years. I change mine almost daily and I am not in the least ashamed of doing so. If anybody can honestly say that his views on Africa have remained identical over the last ten years, he had better come to this side of the House and become a high Tory.
Opinions change in Africa and if my right hon. Friend comes across firm opinions with which he cannot agree, he can hope that they will change as time goes by. We must give the greatest credit, and not damn by faint praise, to what has been done and what has been accepted by Southern Rhodesians. They have accepted the most fantastic changes which two or three years ago would have seemed out of the question, but the rate of change must continue and I am confident that it will. There must be more and more change in Southern Rhodesia towards power for the Africans and a share in their country. I think that these things will come, and if my right hon. Friend finds that the problem looks insuperable today he may find that tomorrow opinions will have caught up, for opinion is catching up very fast.
I wish my right hon. Friend the very best of good luck when he goes on his trip. I am confident that he will find a solution. I have the highest regard for his knowledge of human nature and it is my experience that human nature in Africa is not very different from what it is in this country.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. H. Clarke) has said some very wise things as signposts for the right hon. Gentleman. Perhaps I can underline what he said. I am sure that he will agree that he comes from a country which is proof of the fact that if through the fears of the minority there is an indefinite postponement of political freedom for the majority, the end is an explosive situation—and in the case of Ireland a partition which may now be permanent.
288 The Home Secretary rightly said that we have had may debates on specific aspects of the Federation. We have debated either the constitution of the constituent territories, the Monckton Report, or the Devlin Report, or many other subjects, and I wish merely to touch on one or two points which are relevant to the problem which the right hon. Gentleman will have when he goes to discuss the future of the Federation as from this moment. I join with the hon. Member for Antrim, North in wishing the right hon. Gentleman all possible success. This is an incredibly complicated political situation. I do not think that it would be possible to have evolved a more complicated political situation and it will be very difficult to find a solution which will meet with the support of even the minority of the population.
I must confess that I think that the question of whether the Federation can survive is one which has to be faced. I do not think that that is pulling out the bricks. There have been problems in the Federation over the past ten years because the majority of the population are opposed to federation, or at any rate federation in its present form. That is why I believe that the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) was right and that is why the Liberal Party has mentioned consent in its Amendment as being a condition precedent to federation. This is something which has to be squarely faced.
The Liberal Party Amendment is to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add:is of the opinion that the Federation of Central Africa cannot continue without the support of the majority of its inhabitants and accordingly recognises that no Federal Review Conference should take place until after elections have been held in the three territories which would fairly record the opinions of all the inhabitants.The second question which the right hon. Gentleman must ask is on what terms it is possible to get African consent to a form of Federation. The third question which he must ask is the lengths to which Her Majesty's Government are prepared to go to impose a federal solution against the wishes of the majority of the population.
This is not the moment to go into the history of the Federation, but I and my colleagues were apprehensive from the 289 very moment when the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), on behalf of the Labour Government, went out in August and September, 1951, and started the machinery of federation slowly creaking over. At that stage, many of us felt that we should declare that African consent should be a condition precedent to federation. I believe that if we had worked along the lines of an expanded East African High Commission, such as is to be found further north—
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
I am sure that the hon. Member will agree that the two former Ministers of whom he has spoken said quite clearly that African consent must be obtained.
§ Mr. Thorpe
The right hon. Gentleman is strictly correct. Of course, the Victoria Falls Conference was boycotted by the Africans from Southern Rhodesia. No African was present. Notwithstanding the clear opposition of Africans and African representatives, those two Ministers came back and set in train the organisation for the London Conference which was to take place the following spring. The Labour Party was then defeated and the Conservative Government adopted and carried on the Conference.
It is not true to say that the Labour Party was so impressed by the strength of African opposition that it dropped the scheme. It did the reverse. It loaded the Run, and the Conservative Government then pulled the trigger. The only reason why I mention that is that it is essential to accept the principle that the consent of the majority and the protection of the minority is vital to any political solution in the Federation.
One must be perfectly fair. If the Federation is dissolved, there will be grave consequences. The Federal Civil Service, totalling approximately 36,500 people, 22,500 of whom are African, would no doubt have a moral right to look to this country for reimbursement and for pension provisions. It is also true that this country has underwritten debts and international loans on a very large scale—some £28 million in the case of Kariba, for example. Some £40 million has been raised in the market in London alone on the basis of a continuing Federation. Indeed, there would be 290 considerable investment problems. Anyone who advocates, as I do, that there may be a need to dissolve the Federation has to be logical and to accept the grave implications that would follow.
Again, as has been mentioned, Nyasaland depends upon a considerable amount of federal financing. Southern Rhodesia's secondary industries are geared to a great extend upon her export trade to the two Northern Territories. Indeed, Southern Rhodesia itself has benefited considerably from Northern Rhodesian revenues, particularly in regard to the income from the copper mines.
I agree with the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) that the future of the Federation depends upon the attitude of the two Northern Territories to Southern Rhodesia and that, therefore, it is by the actions of Southern Rhodesia that the future possibilities of federation will be judged by the two Northern Territories.
I do not want to go over the recent history of the Northern Rhodesian Constitutions. It has been a shameful, prevaricating history of three Constitutions in one year. The first Constitution, in February, was accepted by the A.N.C., U.N.I.P. and the Liberal Party of Northern Rhodesia, but was opposed by the United Federal Party. By the time that the June proposals came forward, the rôles were completely reversed. In the face of that, the former Colonial Secretary, now Leader of the House, persisted in saying that there was no change in the situation. We all know that it was quite obvious to everyone else that there was a change and that there was a retreat.
We finally had the February proposals, which the Colonial Secretary might like to have taken further, but it was a face-saving operation for the present Leader of the House. We know that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House is particularly antipathetic to faceless men and, therefore, this was a necessary political exercise to save his face. It is still short of the Monckton proposals and of the February, 1961, proposals.
Great tribute is due to the two African parties in Northern Rhodesia for agreeing to try to make the Constitution work. It is a great tribute to them that they 291 are trying to operate the Constitution. I am delighted to hear that the delimitation will be completed to enable the Constitution and the election thereunder to operate in the autumn of this year.
I hope that the absence of any reference to Barotseland means that that is now a dead issue. I believe, however, that a Northern Rhodesian majority should have the right to secede. Here, I agree with the hon. Member for Leeds, East. The fact that the right exists may well be the only guarantee that it will not be exercised. If there is a black African majority and it wants to secede, it will secede unless Her Majesty's Government are prepared to impose continued federation by force.
With regard to Nyasaland, I hope that we shall hear much more from the Home Secretary when he replies to the debate. I hope that he is not seeking to create an African equivalent of the National Economic Development Council or an economic body which can start arguing about economic realignments and possibilities which will be an excuse for failing to face the political realities of the situation.
I hope that we shall know whether the new body will be composed exclusively of United Kingdom nationals or whether it will be partly Nyasaland and partly United Kingdom, whether there will be Federal representatives and where it will do its work, whether here or in Nyasaland. Will it have scope to consider the possibility of some form of economic alignment with Tanganyika and any of the other East African Territories? Can it consider the possibility of a Nyasaland-Northern Rhodesian economic link? In short, will the terms of reference be more precisely drawn and who will be the personnel?
Will the Home Secretary tell us something, too, in regard to Nyasaland, about the suggestion of the Phillips Committee that much more money has to be spent—£1½ million—as a matter of urgency on secondary education? Would he like to consider the possibilities of economic association with Southern Rhodesia as opposed to a political linkup? There was great significance in the visit which the Southern Rhodesian Minister of Labour paid two months ago to Nyasaland, when, apparently, friendly 292 discussions took place. Again, in that case, I suggest to the Home Secretary that it is vital that there be a right of secession.
Our responsibility is to make progress in the two Northern Protectorates. We cannot shirk that responsibility. It will then be for those territories to consider the situation in Southern Rhodesia. The indications are that Sir Edgar Whitehead has made formidable advances in the last year or eighteen months. As one hon. Member has said, they would have been unheard of ten years ago. If some of these measures had been implemented in the time of the premiership of Sir Godfrey Huggins, who, I believe, would have been the one European who would have got away with them and obtained support for them, part of the present opposition to federation would never have existed. We are faced with a situation in which although Sir Edgar Whitehead claims that 50,000 Africans will register by the spring, so that there will be 50,000 African electors, compared with 80,000 Europeans, so far only 4,200 Africans have signed; at any rate, that was the April figure.
I do not believe that this Constitution can now be changed until after the October elections. Sir Edgar Whitehead obtained a two-thirds majority in a referendum based on this Constitution. After the elections the Southern Rhodesians must consider widening the franchise. This is not juridically possible from this end; it has to be done under Paragraph 6 of the new Constitution, by a two-thirds majority of the Legislative Assembly.
§ Mr. Christopher Chataway (Lewisham, North)
How does the hon. Member square what he is saying with the terms of the Amendment which the Liberal Party has placed on the Order Paper, which I assume he supports? He has been arguing that the elections in Southern Rhodesia will not fairly record the opinions of the inhabitants, but the Liberal Amendment says that there should be no Federal Review Conferenceuntil after elections have been held in the three territories which would fairly record the opinions of all the inhabitants.Does he mean that he does not think that there should be any Federal Review Conference ever, or simply not this year?
§ Mr. Thorpe
I am not sure whether the hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway) was here when the Home Secretary opened the debate.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Then perhaps I can refresh the hon. Gentleman's memory. The Home Secretary said that it was certainly not his intention to have a Review Conference until the Northern Rhodesian and Southern Rhodesian elections had taken place.
I was going on to say what I meant by "fairly record". I am not suggesting that a Federal Review Conference should be put off until there is complete universal suffrage. If the hon. Member will read the Liberal Party Amendment again he will see that that is not suggested. But I believe that it should be open for the two Northern Territories to opt for secession when there is an African majority in those territories. It is clear that, as at present drafted, the Southern Rhodesian Constitution does not fairly record African opinion. It does not go one-tenth of the way towards representing it. There are a mere fifteen seats for Africans as compared with fifty seats for the European minority.
If the franchise were extended by a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council after the elections, so that it were possible for 50,000, 60,000 or even 70,000 Africans to qualify, African nationalism, as it now exists in Southern Rhodesia, would, I think, be prepared to accept it as a first step.
§ Mr. Chataway
That means having a second election in Southern Rhodesia before holding a Federal Review Conference.
§ Mr. Thorpe
It would be wholly wrong to have such a Conference until there was a black African majority in the two Northern Territories. We may have to have a further election, unless we have direct rule by the Governor.
When the Africans in Southern Rhodesia are prepared to accept and work the Constitution, as they are in Northern Rhodesia, then will be the moment for a Review Conference, in which the Africans will be partially although even then not wholly represented, and in which the Northern territories can consider whether or not the 294 Europeans in Southern Rhodesia have shown themselves sufficiently sincere in their support for African advancement to make them—the Africans of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—wish to remain within the Federation.
We have great bargaining power with Southern Rhodesia. The Southern Rhodesians would like the United Kingdom Government to shed some of their reserve powers, but no further powers should be given to Southern Rhodesia until there is a proper franchise and there is at least parity between the Africans and the Europeans in the Legislative Assembly. That is what I mean by "fairly recording" the African viewpoint. There must be at least parity in Southern Rhodesia.
If the two Northern Territories chose to secede—as they have a right to do—they might well decide to put up tariffs against trade from Southern Rhodesia in order to protect their own industries. It would certainly be in their economic interest to import more freely from India and Asia. The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is learning that that is not good Liberalism.
§ Mr. Thorpe
That may be the noble Lord's Liberalism, but it is not mine. It is an economic possibility, and the Southern Rhodesians realise this. This country has considerable bargaining power with the Southern Rhodesian Government, and it is for the Southern Rhodesian Europeans to decide whether or not the Federation is to survive. Unless they liberalise their regimé there is no doubt that the black African majority in both the Northern Territories will want complete and immediate secession—and if they want it they should have it, if it can be shown that Southern Rhodesia is adamant in her refusal fairly to record African representation in the Legislature.
There is a suggestion that Sir Edgar Whitehead has realised that federation in any form is now unacceptable, and that he has been negotiating for an outlet with Mozambique and would prefer to defend what he has and cut his losses by shedding the two Northern Terri- 295 tories. In this he is in complete opposition to Sir Roy Welensky. If Sir Edgar continues with a policy of this sort there is a risk that Sir Roy may throw up Federal politics and return to territorial politics. That is a real possibility if Sir Roy feels that the Federation is breaking up.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will inquire Why Sir Roy felt it necessary to raise the estimates for the Federal Army, and will make it plain that no political solution can be arrived at as a result of bullying by Federal troops. The Northern Rhodesian plot, disclosed in February last year, may be repeated if Sir Roy Welensky feels that the Federation is likely to break up.
If the Federation is to survive—and, quite candidly, I believe that there is only a slim hope of that—there must be black African majorities in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and there must be a dramatic change in Southern Rhodesia, at any rate to the extent of producing parity between Africans and Europeans in the Legislative Council. Only when that has happened should there be a Federal Review Conference. If the Southern Rhodesians can show that they are prepared to make partnership work there is a slender hope that the Federation will survive, but if they are not prepared even to produce parity the Federation will inevitably have to be dissolved.
I hope that the Government will for once realise the political realities of the situation and will not wait until 5, 10 or 15 years' bloodshed have forced them to take the obvious decision.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
The House has discussed the affairs of Central Africa many times during the past ten or twelve years. The more we discuss it the more I feel that the problems which are thrust up are almost insoluble. The conception of federation in its original form was a sound one. I am glad that the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) reminded the House that the Labour Party was in power at the time, and had something to do with it. He was correct in saying that the Labour Party loaded the gun and that we pulled the trigger. If the 296 truth be known, I am not certain that the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) when Colonial Secretary—or it may have been the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) when holding that office—gave the conception of federation a very good start
Through motives which were entirely well-meaning but, in my view, singularly ill-advised, the Labour Government prevented district commissioners from explaining federation to Africans who, all their lives, had come to district commissioners to seek advice. The Africans mistook the silence of the district commissioners for disapproval. That added greatly to the strangling of the concept of federation. A great many Africans did not know what was meant by federation. There was no word for it in many of the dialects. The Africans did not know whether federation was an agricultural machine or a new wife. This was one of the difficulties which we encountered at an early stage. I know that the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) acted with the best possible motives.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
For five years I was utterly opposed to the conception of federation. I supported the conception of Mr. Oliver Stanley of a closer association by the three Territories in Central Africa. I toured the whole of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland and I was made aware of the stubborn opposition of the Africans to any conception either of amalgamation or federation. I also read the Report of the Bledisloe Commission which was published on the eve of war. The Commission definitely stated that Africans everywhere were utterly opposed to federation. During my period of office as Colonial Secretary I was in opposition to federation; first, because the Africans would not have it, secondly, because it could not be imposed in the face of African opposition, and thirdly, because Southern Rhodesia was demanding a form of federation which gave virtually all the power to the European minority in Southern Rhodesia.
I met the Southern Rhodesian Cabinet and the view of the members was perfectly clear, that federation would be a possibility only if they were 297 in a position strictly to control its working. Therefore, I want to make it perfectly clear that I have always opposed federation, because I have always regarded it as a tremendous political blunder.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Had I known that the right hon. Gentleman was proposing to take so long with his intervention, I doubt whether I should have given way to him. It may be that I have done the right hon. Gentleman an injustice. It may have been one of his colleagues who gave the instructions to the district commissioners and no doubt the advice was well-meant. But in my view the action was singularly ill-advised. Be that as it may, we are now in a new phase. The whole map of Africa has changed a great deal in the last ten or twelve years. But whatever views we may hold, we all wish the best of luck to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in the extremely important voyage upon which he embarks tomorrow.
I thought that my right hon. Friend dealt with the activities of the United Nations Special Committee on Colonialism very courteously. I do not admit the right of the United Nations to try to tell us as a sovereign Parliament how to alter the Constitution given to Southern Rhodesia in 1923, even had we the power to do so. I consider that an intrusion into our sovereignty and I am surprised that hon. Members opposite, who seem so sensitive about our sovereignty in respect of the Common Market, did not pick up that point. Perhaps there is one concept for the United Nations and another for E.E.C. But we do not need to take the report of the committee too seriously. It is simply another example of the double standards to which some of us have become painfully accustomed.
The United Nations Committee of six, or of seventeen—I forget which—recommended, among other things, that in Southern Rhodesia, and I think in Northern Rhodesia too, there should be a constitution based on the principle of one man, one vote. The Constitution in Mali lays down that there should be one man and one vote, but that is largely irrelevant because there is only one party for which to vote. It will not have escaped the notice of the House that the other countries represented, namely India, Syria and Tunisia, 298 in addition to Mali, were unable to squeeze up enough courage to vote for the United Nations resolution condemning Chinese aggression in Tibet. Suffice it to say that this is another aspect of power politics played at the United Nations Organisation according to United Nations rules, mainly by Powers without responsibility and without much experience. But that is a side issue. Today we are discussing an actual problem.
As I see it, hon. Members on both sides of the House have embarked upon a path which, one hopes, will lead to a multi-racial society—or, as my right hon. Friend prefers to call it, a nonracial society—in Central Africa. They both mean the same thing. It is true that the lessons of history are against us. I think the verdict of history would be that when two races are trying to live together, separated either by violent religious differences or by great divergencies of civilisation and background, they can do so only if there is a third Power holding the ring. That was certainly the case with the Muslim and Hindu, with Greek and Turk and, in a different context, with the Malayan and the Chinese. But I do not think that need be a reason for not trying to succeed with this vital experiment in Central Africa; provided always that we realise in Africa, when the central administrative control is removed, power fragmentates to the tribe; that the tribe becomes the power unit, and that the tribe is what we call the party in our Western political nomenclature.
I think that the multi-racial experiment can succeed only if we have regard, first, to the economic facts of life of the Central African Federation and, secondly, to the realities of African politics. The economic facts of life are quite simple. There is about £2,000 million invested in the Federation, of which about 90 per cent. is in Southern Rhodesia and in the Copper Belt. Of that amount only about £125 million is represented by African investment. I am not saying whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. I am simply stating the fact.
The second fact of economic life is that almost all the power for the Copper Belt is from Kariba, which is in Federal control. The only supply of coal for the smelters comes from Wankie, 299 which is in Southern Rhodesia. Thirdly, the Federation is landlocked and its only outlet for trade is either through South African or Portuguese territory. These are economic facts which I beg my right hon. Friend to bear in mind. They cannot be dissipated by mere oratory. They are economic facts.
Now we come to the political realities which are singularly inconvenient. Of course, we cannot use force to compel Dr. Banda to stay in the Federation if he does not want to. Equally we cannot compel Sir Roy Welensky to dissipate a very large slice of the £2,000 million investment. We have to recognise that the multi-racial experiment cannot succeed unless we devise some Constitution which gives a chance to the African and European moderates to play their part. I think that we should be dishonest with ourselves and dishonest with the public if we did not admit that under present circumstances moderate Africans in the political context have not much chance. Many Africans are moderate. They may well be numerically in the majority. But in the political context, in their capacity to obtain votes at an election, they stand little chance. This is partly due to the organisation of the nationalist parties and partly due to the degree of intimidation which they practice. The African of moderate opinion now tends to climb on the Nationalist band wagon, partly to save his skin and partly as a form of reinsurance against anything that might happen in the future.
If we try to build a multi-racial or non-racial society upon what I would call—and I was very glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Sir R. Nugent) mentioned this—too rigid a Westminster system, I am terribly afraid that we shall not have a multiracial society at all. We shall have something quite different. We might well have a black and white barrier along the line of the Zambesi which would leave the Copper Belt without power; which would be goodbye to any form of European-African partnership; goodbye to any future investment, and goodbye to any further build-up of the economic life of the Africans which we all wish to see.
As one of my hon. Friends has said, it is very largely the economic facts that 300 are so difficult to put across to the African, who thinks in completely different terms. None the less, we believe that the political ambitions of the African and the economic know-how of the European must be complementary. To seek to destroy the one and to hold on to the other is probably to lose both.
We seem, at the moment, to be lurching rather uneasily between the economic and political realities of life. Mr. Kaunda may well say that he wants his country to be independent, and so may Dr. Banda. I do want my right hon. Friend to do his best to explain to them, and to other Africans, that one cannot just say that one wants to be independent. Independence is just not a condition. It is based on certain economic roots.
I am inclined to agree that we have to clothe the Federation with some different garment; perhaps call it by a different name. I do not care whether it is called an economic union, or something else, but I do not see why Dr. Banda or Mr. Kaunda should think that they can just say, "We will be independent", and then expect the British taxpayer to foot the bill for an increasing deficit when neither territory will be viable for long—
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Can the hon. Gentleman imagine Northern Rhodesia, deriving its power from Kariba, with the boundary right across the gorge, remaining economic? Let us be a little realistic about what would happen to the economy of Northern Rhodesia without European technical know-how—
§ Mr. Healey
Does the hon. Gentleman really suggest that it is impossible for an independent Northern Rhodesian to derive power from another State? That happens all over Africa, and all over the world. The question is whether the advantages of a certain economy can be gained without political federation, and the whole tendency now is based on the assumption that it can.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
My point is that the economic life of Northern Rhodesia and of the Copper Belt, on which that economy so largely depends, rests, in turn, to a very large extent on the economic know-how and technical 301 advice which, at the moment, only the European can produce. Therefore, I do not see much future for Northern Rhodesia on its own with the boundary between Northern and Southern Rhodesia going right up the Kariba Gorge. However, as other hon. Members wish to speak, I shall not pursue that point.
Finally, when my right hon. Friend goes to these Territories tomorrow I would ask him just to consider a point that has not so far been made in this debate. The Colonial Overseas Service has, as he knows, a long and honourable record, and nowhere has that record been more honourable than in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Governors, provincial commissioners, district commissioners, assistant district commissioners, police officers, and so on, are all expected to administer vast territories, and to maintain law and order in them as long as we in this House retain the responsibility for these Territories. We expect them to do that, and well have they done it.
But I believe that they have recently been moving into a phase that is well-nigh intolerable. When they take firm action to prevent a riot becoming a major disturbance and someone gets his shins bruised or his clothes torn, they are accused of brutality. There are headlines in the Press and in the B.B.C. news, and there are Questions in this House—
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
No, I shall not give way. If on the other hand, they delay taking action until a minor riot becomes a major disturbance they are again criticised—and, I think, in that case, rightly so. But at the present moment there is the danger that whichever way round it is they will be wrong. They feel they are getting the worst of both worlds.
That atmosphere is thoroughly unhealthy, and I would ask my right hon. Friend, when he is in those territories, to convey a message from at least some of us in this House to these honourable, courageous and single-minded administrators that we understand their difficulties, that we have the utmost admiration for the way in which they conduct themselves in very difficult circum- 302 stances, and that they have our full support.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
In many respects, the speeches we have so far heard today have been very different from those we have heard in the past on this very vexed problem. First, as an individual, I would wish the right hon. Gentleman the best of luck on his trip. I hope that nobody at home looks for a reprieve while he is abroad, because that would be an additional burden on him.
This problem and that of the Common Market are two of the biggest this country has ever had to solve, and if we on this side were in power we should still have them to deal with. The fellow who believes that handing a vote to every applicant—who will vote at the behest of every hoodoo or witch doctor, or Dr. Banda—will solve this problem at the ballot box, must think again. There are tens of thousands of educated Africans who are doing a good job of work—and quite a few are doing quite a good job for themselves. There are hundreds of thousands of Africans who are striving hard in the universities, colleges and schools to learn the use of writing paper, but there are still millions of Africans who have yet to learn the use of toilet paper.
To hand out ballot papers, willy-nilly, seems to me to lend itself to terrific exploitation of Africans by Africans. It would be the easiest thing in the world for African politicians, and even for European politicians, to go into the hinterland and, with a couple of bags of salt and a load or two of meal, get thousands of votes overnight. That is the situation in the hinterland, as I see it. I want the right hon. Gentleman to look not only at the leaders of the political parties but to try, if possible, to make contact with the industrial leaders, the trade unionists.
What worries me is that suddenly, in the eyes of the hon. Baronet, the Member for Guildford (Sir R. Nugent), Dr. Banda becomes a great statesman. I well remember that when we formed a Labour Government some of us who were trade union poachers were immediately transformed and became rather good gamekeepers, and Dr. Banda, instead of riding about in jeeps, as he did, 303 with money from outside and not from inside Rhodesia, was telling his constituents that all they had to do was to put their thumb-mark where he wanted it and next day they could draw money from the bank as Europeans did. Today, of course, it is a different story. The same Dr. Banda ran around telling people that if they had their children vaccinated against smallpox they would become sterile. We know that he himself was vaccinated just a few months before making those sort of statements.
It must be realised that responsibility, once accepted, must be followed by statesmanship. My hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) today made one of the most useful and statesmanlike contributions I have heard from him. However, the days are over when people could shout and persuade others to pander to their particular ideologies. I want to see everyone in the world having the right to vote, being sufficiently well educated, being mature physically and being able to decide what is best for their nation and the rest of the world. We have not reached that position yet.
I would be interested to know why the Home Secretary has got this job. Is it because the evidence produced by the Colonial Secretary and the Commonwealth Secretary was so wonderful and represented such an achievement of success that the work could be put on the right hon. Gentleman's shoulders as being an easy task? It cannot be all that easy in view of the glorious mess that the other two right hon. Gentlemen left for him. As to the exact reason, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will whisper in my ear later in the corridor. He certainly has a big job. This is not altogether a party matter, for unless we can solve this problem as a nation there will be no future at all for these territories.
Much comment has been made about the Copper Belt, but I would inform hon. Gentlemen opposite that without it both this country and America would look very small indeed within ten years. Let us make no mistake about that. The idea that if the Europeans pulled out of the Copper Belt tomorrow or next week—or even if America pulled out of it—there would be a complete 304 failure to produce copper is absolute nonsense. We should get that idea out of our heads, because there is someone else, the big brother, who is waiting patiently, hoping that the situation will arise when he can step in. These are the sort of things about which the Africans should be fully informed.
It must be remembered that the African has a perfect right to want to know why a European can stand and watch him work and receive 17s. or 19s. an hour for doing just that while he gets 8s. or 12s. a shift. As hon. Members can see, I get down to brass tacks when I am speaking. I realise that I do not live in the territory, but I regularly meet people who know a good deal about this part of the world and who regularly visit it. Further, the company with which I have been associated since before the First World War has a stake in that country. I take notice of the ordinary trade union man, the housewife, the ordinary traveller who brings evidence back from that land. The trade unionist will tell me what he thinks about it all and I know that we have in this territory of the Copper Belt the fantastic situation in which two unions exist—a trade union for whites who are mining copper ore and a trade union for blacks who are mining exactly the same commodity.
The white trade union leaders say that they want African advancement. Are they not aware that the quickest way to achieve it is for there to be one union with the same brains advocating the same case for people doing the same work? Without mentioning any names, I refer to one union—not a black one—and ask hon. Members to see from whence its leaders were imported. The answer gives one a lot of information. We know these things; from whence they came and why they are there. So I urge that we get this matter into its proper perspective. Since affluence came to Rhodesia one cannot expect a native boy who leaves his habitation and comes to the town to work not to relate to his less well-educated friends just what is happening. Having seen the Europeans and Americans enjoying their form of life, the native boy has a natural desire to enjoy the same sort of thing. Is that not to be expected?
The many Africans in this position return to where they lived—perhaps in 305 the hinterland—and tell of what they have seen. They return with or they tell stories of having seen decent silk shirts, good shoes, cleanliness, etc., and, apart from these sort of things, they know how to cook and how to conduct a household. As I say, how can one expect them not to return home and inculcate into the minds of those living in primitive surroundings the desire for the same standards? How can these people not have these desires when, perhaps after working in an hotel in Salisbury, they return to their primitive dwellings?
When I told the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. H. Clark) that exploitation had brought trade unions and Socialism into being, he said, in effect, "Nothing of the sort". But, if it did not, what did? If the "boss" class had been the decent Christian gentlemen and employers 100 years ago that they now claim to be there would have been no need for people to band together to demand better conditions. It is a fact that the African now knows in his heart that he is being exploited to a considerable extent. It is that knowledge that brings about his demand for something better.
I appreciate, however, that the copper owners have done a tremendous job. They have made tremendous strides forward in the last fifteen years and hospitals, houses, football fields, libraries and even beer halls have been provided, and all these things are signs of progress. These actions and these people have given the Africans the knowledge that they should have the right to vote. When looking at the questions asked in examinations which had to be sat for jobs in the State Railways—and in this case a multi-racial trade union operates—we were able to see European school teachers, because they were not being sufficiently well paid, deciding to go on the railways. They were sitting for their examinations alongside young Africans and, amazing though it may seem, many of these young Africans were getting higher marks than were the Europeans. Is it not right, in view of this, that they should have the right to vote? If they are able to pass this type of examination and hold the job of stoker, fireman and so on on the railways, should they not have the right to vote?
It is a peculiar situation in which people have the right to vote merely 306 because of their democratic status while others who are sitting alongside them and passing examinations ahead of them in open competition are not able to do so. This makes one think of the wonderful university in Salisbury, and there is not a finer one in the world. It is a marvellous building in which African students work alongside whites, studying, eating and doing their homework together. But six months ago they could not even go to the local cinema together. They can now, for a move forward has been made. It is amazing that this sort of silly restriction should have been placed on decent, educated people.
In the hinterland there are millions of Africans still living in the most primitive conditions. In this part of the country one frequently sees the medical authorities inoculating up to 300 of them in one morning. These Africans queue up to have their sores cured, to be treated for malnutrition and venereal diseases and fevers. They are extremely grateful for the treatment given them, and this is a great step forward.
The Monckton Commission stated that they were entitled to have a black or native majority. I prefer "native" to "black". The question is; how soon is this to be brought about? "When" is a simple word, but when it is asked in relation to this question it becomes an extremely vital one. The world is moving forward quickly and the people in this territory are pointing out what happened in India and elsewhere. However, we are living in a rather different sort of world today, for pressure is being brought to bear by another great power —greater than ever before. I urge hon. Members not to have the impression that pressure is not being employed in Rhodesia. It is, both among the illiterate and the educated sections of the community.
While some of my hon. Friends and others, including my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), speak about the miserable efforts that have been made by the Government, it must also be remembered that there have been several different forms of constitution suggested and no one has been able really to decipher any of them. One has to have some sort of solution, but the sort of computations involved in the 307 last suggestion are almost beyond my comprehension, as, I am fairly certain, they are beyond the comprehension of many who have even had the opportunity of a university education. All the business about getting one vote against eight native votes and all the other nonsense is really ridiculous.
I make the suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman that if a fellow is fit to go to work, if he can satisfy a European, an American, a South African or any other boss that he is fit to be employed, if he is fit to be married and fit to be rearing a family, then, even though he may not have the rate of earnings calculated as necessary according to some constitution, he is fit to have a vote. There should be some liberalisation in the present position. It can be brought about.
As for Sir Roy Welensky, whose name has been bandied about a good deal today, he makes mistakes, but, heaven knows, no one can say that he has not got "guts". He may be sometimes wrong, but I always admire a fellow who lets one know exactly where he stands. Sir Roy Welensky has said in no uncertain terms that if the Federation is tampered with he will go to the extent of using force. That was all right twenty or thirty years ago, when all this country needed to do was to send a gunboat to some place where there was trouble and everybody kow-towed, raised their hats, and did what they were told. But those days have gone. We have the United Nations now. In any case, we do not want that sort of thing to be necessary.
If the right hon. Gentleman inquires, he will find that the farmers of Rhodesia are a fairly well organised military force. It may sound remarkable, but he will find that there are storehouses laid up, the commandants for certain areas have all been arranged in case force has to be used, and they are well organised and well drilled. This applies also to Dr. Banda's forces and to others. What one sees one can believe.
I hope and trust that, with the advent of a new individual moving into the arena, a solution will be brought about. This country cannot afford any longer to lose economic potential. Africa 308 represents economic potential for us. Without doubt, the Rhodesias contain some of the greatest mineral wealth in the world. There are mountains of iron ore and limestone by the million tons. I am a steel man, as everybody knows, and I have seen modern steel furnaces and blast furnaces there. I know that there has been talk of the problem of bring coal from Wankie 200 miles away, but it is brought quite easily overnight on the railways. The Kariba dam has been mentioned. It was Italian labour that built the Kariba dam, not British, and the Italians lost 70 men in the process. The power now being made there is being sent out as far as 90 or 100 miles away and it is being used, among other things, to illuminate mainly the homes of those who can afford to have it.
I am sure that everyone in the House will agree that it is ridiculous in 1962 to say that the native ought not to have electric light, be able to use an electric iron to put a decent crease in his trousers, or have the other benefits of modern industry. These things should be made possible. The question is how, and how soon. This is the problem. It is no good saying, with the voice of nationalism, that they can have the vote and tomorrow everything will be all right. The world does not work like that. But I honestly believe that these things will come, and that there can be a liberalisation of the present position and an extension of the vote.
The 15 African members in the Legislature whom we hear about could be just like Keir Hardie and his small band in this House years ago, a few fellows proving that the average ordinary man could help to govern his own country. It is for them to prove that they can, and, by proving that they can, to make it possible even for Europeans to support and vote for native candidates. That is what we want to see happening there.
There is tremendous economic potential in Central Africa which we cannot afford to lose. If we mess about much longer with the problem and add strength to the forces of nationalism, this in turn will create discontent and lead to disaster. I have a list about 15 pages long taken from Press reports during the last month of arrests of members of the U.N.I.P. and the other various political 309 parties who have gone about preventing the right of free speech and all the rest. If we could get the African honestly to believe that the White European is his best friend in the final analysis, as many of them already do, we could make a success of it. But if we try by any means whatever to use force or intimidation or jiggery-pokery with the form of Constitution which denies the Africans the ultimate right to control themselves, they having learned what is right far themselves and what is right for those whom they employ, there will be trouble.
The hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) said that there were more Europeans in Nyasaland today than before the election. That does not tie up with the statements which Dr. Banda was making before the election about the Europeans having to get out. He has learned that, without the European, he cannot get ahead. His philosophy today and the speeches he makes, like the speeches we should be making, are centred upon the need to work harder so that there is something to export and produce an income for his country. He now tells his people that only when they do work harder and produce an income for their nation will they be able to have the education he promised, the better homes, villages, agriculture, lighting, irrigation and all the rest. That is the sort of thing that Dr. Banda is saying now that he has reached the position of power which, I hope, he now enjoys.
I hope that something will come out of this debate. It is not a matter of the vote tonight. We know how the vote will go. That will be just a numerical assessment. It is one of the pities of the House of Commons that numerical assessments are taken for granted. I hope that, as a result of our debate and of the visit which the Home Secretary is to make to the area and the contacts he will have in an endeavour to bring to the vexed problem of this harassed country a spirit of wanting to do what is right, we shall move towards a solution which is right for all.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
It is always a delight to follow the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) even when one does not necessarily 310 agree with everything he says. He always gives the impression of talking common sense which in itself is beguiling, and also, of course, he speaks with great sincerity and no little knowledge, even though, as he said, he has not lived in Central Africa. Several of the points he made will, I believe, be very valuable for the Home Secretary to take note of before he goes out.
I confess that this is for me a rather sad occasion. When I was first elected to the House ten years ago, federation was almost the first subject in which I took an interest, naturally, since I had lived in those parts before I came to Westminster. I have always believed that federation was the right answer for that part of the world, and I still believe so today. When I pledged my faith to that solution, I did not do it just for economic reasons but because I saw in that part of Africa, almost alone, an opportunity for a non-racial political solution to emerge because there were enough Europeans there to make it necessary for the Africans as well as the Europeans to agree to some form of non-racial solution, provided that there was sufficient vision and goodwill on all sides.
It is common knowledge that we have all been disappointed at the course of events. The hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) blamed all that has happened not on this country, not on Westminster, not on one party or the other, but on the conduct and lack of vision of the European electorate in the Federation. I do not consider that this is fair. On many occasions, I have said, as I did in Rhodesia as recently as two weeks ago, that, if only the Europeans there had done five or six years ago what they are prepared to do now, we should not have had the circumstances which have given rise to this debate tonight.
But let us not stand in a white sheet ourselves. There is a grave measure of responsibility upon us for the unsatisfactory developments within the Federation. It may be that some of us have been too strongly concentrating on the Federation as such, and nothing else. Perhaps some of us have pursued lines of argument which were too rigid in changing circumstances. Every hon. Member who has spoken has confessed 311 that opinions have changed. Mine have changed. Opinions have to change because Africa itself has changed in the last ten years. But the Opposition themselves have a grave measure of responsibility in this matter, too. Throughout the past ten years, they have done nothing to help the situation out there. Indeed, they have done a great deal to hinder. If we are allocating blame, I say unhesitatingly that it is not for the Opposition to declare that it is all the fault of the European electorate in the Federation that things have not gone as we had hoped.
I have just returned from the Federation. At first sight, the impression on me was depressing because things seemed to have become worse since I was out there in December last, but, thinking it over, I feel that there are encouraging signs which should bring a real ray of hope to us in our debate tonight. Until now there has been a sort of three-way struggle, with the African Nationalists pushing one way, a rearguard action by the more reactionary Europeans over there, and varying degrees of British interference one way or the other. Now, at long last, it is generally appreciated that what has been in force there over the past few years cannot continue in its present form. I say that there is a general realisation there that this is, in fact, the case, whatever may be said to my right hon. Friend when he goes out.
In the situation which has developed, the Rhodesians and the Nyasalanders themselves of all races are beginning to realise that a solution must be found. There is nothing more salutary than finding that one has to produce a solution to a really practical problem. I had a very interesting plane trip with some of the African Nationalist leaders on my way down from Tanganyika to the Federation in December. I tried a tactic which I also found to be very satisfactory on my last visit, that is, to stop talking about federation as such and to ask people what items they were prepared to agree, forgetting about the institutions involved for the moment, must be dealt with by some central organisation. It is surprising how the most vigorous African nationalist if one takes him through a list, will say, "That 312 is quite sensible. It obviously must be dealt with by some central body".
I made a note of some of the items that I mentioned. They included fuel and power, transport and communications, posts and telegraphs, overall economic planning, a currency board and university education. Those were some of the items that I spoke of, and in every instance the Africa reaction was that some central body would have to exist to deal with them. When my right hon. Friend goes there he might, perhaps, think in terms not of trying to prepare a Constitution and then allocating functions to it but, first, of gaining agreement on what functions should be dealt with centrally and then thinking about the institutions afterwards. That, in my humble opinion, might be the right way to achieve his aim for a lasting settlement.
This is not the time for Members of Parliament here to suggest detailed constitutional proposals. We all have our ideas concerning voting qualifications and the like. I have my own particular fads and suggestions too. But it is, perhaps, now appropriate just to state a few of the principles on which a future federation or future association of countries in that part of the world will, I believe, have to depend.
I have mentioned already the desirability of contrating on fields of agreement rather than the institutions which will deal with them afterwards. Secondly, the economic links must above all be borne in mind. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) has left the Chamber because I have rarely heard such nonsense as he talked about economic matters. To talk as he did ignoring the existing economic pattern of debts and obligations which have been incurred about currencies, the banking system and all the rest and then to imagine that, at a stroke, one can have three separate nations is to show no knowledge of the economic facts of life.
If we are to achieve satisfactory economic links, a measure of political co-ordination will be necessary as well. I appreciate as a good debating point the remark of the hon. Member for Leeds, East when he said that what we were trying to do in the Common Market is precisely the opposite of that. 313 Yet it has not relevance to these three countries who are not only economically weak but politically weak in themselves as well. It is no good comparing them with the possibilities of continuing political sovereignty for countries making up the potentially European Common Market at the present time.
If we are to achieve any form of co-ordination, political as well as economic, there is one reality that we have to face. First of all, if we start by saying that there shall be a right of secession, every nationalist politician worthy of the name who wants to get into power will go hammer and tongs for secession because invariably it is the extremists who will try to be more nationalist than everyone else and say that they alone are right. This is a perfectly normal fact of political life in Africa at the present time.
I am wondering whether, whatever central legislative organ results from any future association that my right hon. Friend may be able to bring about, we could have some system under which, unless legislation going through the central government had an overwhelming degree of support by representatives of all three territories, there could be a built-in right of veto under certain circumstances for legislation affecting the individual territories to which it applied. I know that there are disadvantages in this, but, at least, it would make the question of the right of secession or otherwise irrelevant. If it could be known that in certain circumstances their fears could be allayed by the central laws not applying unless they carried the assent of a large number of their own people, we should be able to make the question of secession irrelevent. I am not only speaking about African nationalists or extremists. I found the Europeans of Southern Rhodesia having enough trouble with domestic African nationalism. They are not at all anxious to find themselves subordinated in all respects to a central legislature dominated by the two Northern Territories over a period of time. I find just as great a reluctance among Europeans in Southern Rhodesia to central domination as there is among any other inhabitants.
There are two other points that I should like to make. First, I endorse 314 what was said earlier about the dangers of ignoring tribal feelings in Africa and of pinning one's faith on what is called the Westminster type constitution. Invariably in Africa in almost every other emergent dependency since the last war Africans unite only as long as by so doing they can rid themselves of white domination and white rule. The moment that they see white rule disappear, the ordinary tribal allegiancies begin to assert themselves. We make the mistake—we have all made it—of picking a particularly distinguished, successful, virulent or vigorous African—almost like a totem pole—to whom we try to hand independence.
In every territory where we have made this mistake we have learned to rue it afterwards. We are still seeing this in Kenya and we shall see it increasingly in Northern Rhodesia. The moment the Northern Rhodesians think that there is no need to gang up against the Europeans divisions will start among the Africans in exactly the same way as we are seeing them elsewhere today. Anyone who imagines that this will not be so does not know the tribal set-up in Northern Rhodesia. We shall make the same mistake all over again if we think that just because we hand over power to Mr. Kaunda and to the party he represents that will ensure allover African allegiance to him in Northern Rhodesia. Indeed, inter-tribal strife is already starting, because warring U.N.I.P. and A.N.C. are not really political parties as we understand them at all. Yet we are again in danger of fooling ourselves. I wish that we could get away from the atmosphere of referring to tribalism as though it is something unpleasant.
As I have said before in this House, we do not talk about the Luxembourger, Lichtenstein or Swiss tribes, but as races living in their own countries.
We should not assume that, because Africans' faces in a particular part of Africa are black, they all love one another and wish to live together. Their being in one so-called country is no more than the coincidental result of colonial domination only fifty or sixty years old. To suggest any intrinsic unity is like suggesting that when the Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian Empires broke up, all the constituent parts 315 wished to remain united and not at once to start, as in fact happened, to reassert their own separate sovereignties.
My right hon. Friend's main job will not, however, be in any of the fields that I have mentioned. It will be to restore confidence in Her Majesty's Government, in this country and in this Parliament—in our integrity and even more important, perhaps, in our consistency. We know that a large number of people in that country of all races greatly distrust this Government and the Opposition, and the right hon. Gentleman's job will be to restore confidence. To be a visiting M.P. of any party here to Central Africa is not nowadays a pleasant one.
I endorse what every Member has said on this side of the House about United Nations intervention. It really is grossly irresponsible, at a time when these people have got to learn to live together and settle their own differences, that yet another outside body should be knocking at the door. I began by saying that it was much more likely that we should get a settlement once we have managed to achieve a fair degree of stability on the spot. After all they will all have to live together one of these days. For the United Nations to chip in at this stage is only making everybody's job more difficult and making tensions worse. The biggest service that this United Nations Sub-Committee could do would be to shut up and adjourn for a year and give us one final chance of getting this part of the world firmly on its political feet again.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
To hear the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) ask for a chance to get this part of the world on its feet again ties in very well with his opening remarks, when he appeared to apportion blame for the situation which exists in Central Africa between Her Majesty's Opposition and the Europeans in Central Africa.
§ Mr. Bennett
That is grossly unfair. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look at the report of my speech tomorrow. What I said was that we must all accept a measure of blame, and I specifically mentioned the Government and backbench Members of the Government.
§ Mr. Marsh
I apologise if I have misrepresented the hon. Gentleman. I am grateful to know that he at least accepts that the Government should bear some responsibility for the situation in this part of the world. After all, they have been in a fairly influential position for the last eleven years if they wished to change the direction in which things were going.
The hon. Gentleman, like most people, offered best wishes to the Home Secretary in the real and arduous responsibilities which he must undertake. Obviously, hon. Members on both sides of the House wish him well. No one would want to see anything other than a peaceful settlement of an extremely difficult and highly dangerous problem. However, some of us perhaps feel rather unhappy that the Home Secretary has this job. We cannot help wondering whether the right hon. Gentleman's very real ability as a political fixer was not more valuable in overcoming some of the things which one of his predecessors, the present Leader of the House, did in that part of the world. I have no doubt that when the Leader of the House underwent a great deal of criticism by his own party for the views which he expressed and for differences of approach which he adopted he upset and alienated many, although not all, people in his own party.
I think that the Africans, in particular, perhaps had more faith in the Leader of the House than they had in any other Conservative Minister. It is equally true that many of them were highly suspicious about the Home Secretary's elevation into this sphere. We have heard nothing from the Leader of the House in this matter, and of course we shall not do so. His lips are sealed. We can only hope that those people who supported the views which he very courageously put forward in the past will continue to support him in future on these matters.
The hon. Member for Guildford (Sir R. Nugent) made some interesting points. He said that we must not move too fast because Northern Rhodesia needs the Europeans. This was a view which was repeated by several hon. Members on both sides. I think that most of us would readily agree with much of the hon. Gentleman's analysis. 317 Where we part company from him is when it comes to the conclusions which he reached. I cannot help feeling that the only possibility of losing European assistance and "know-how" within the Central African Territories is if we continue to pursue the present policies.
I have no doubt that Mr. Kaunda would be the last person who would wish to see the removal of Europeans from Central Africa. I also have no doubt that the African leadership in all three territories is fully alive to the need for European "know-how" in those territories. But I cannot help feeling that if the present situation is forced to a crunch, forced to some sort of conflagration, then we might well lose the present African leaders, such as Mr. Kaunda, and with them the Europeans, because those who follow the present leadership will have a very different attitude towards Europeans.
My hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) referred to the mineworkers' unions. He said that there was a need for plain speaking in these matters. As one whose trade union background is crystal clear, I willingly do that, because I think it needs to be done.
The biggest danger from the unions comes from the manual unions, because it is the European manual worker who knows that he is enjoying a standard of living which could be enjoyed by Africans. The manual mineworker knows that Africans could do his job. The senior professional mining engineer is not so worried because he knows that in the foreseeable future the African cannot, in large numbers, do his job.
The degree of reaction in the European unions within the Central African Federation, particularly among the manual workers, is frightening. It is certainly not something which should receive support from this House. One of the great tragedies in all parts of the world—we accept this as loyal trade unionists—is that there is always a very difficult and narrow margin in the difference between revolutionary fervour and reaction within the trade union movement, because naturally there is a desire to conserve that which one has.
I cannot believe that many of the utterances of the Northern Rhodesia Mineworkers' Union will make a help- 318 ful contribution to the problem. I have talked to some of them. I have heard them say that they will fight if they are forced to do so. Of course, they are in a minority, and, if they were to fight, it would be a tragedy as much for them as it would be for everybody else. One of the sad things is that so often there is this talk of fighting among people whose only future, particularly that of the European, lies in the acceptance of certain facts which he might find unpleasant or unpalatable but, nonetheless, practical.
As always, there has been a great deal of talk about the need for multi-racial partnership and for rule by moderates. What this frequently means is a desire to maintain the status quo. Moderates are those who disagree with the African nationalist leaders. On the whole, they are those Africans who conveniently have dark skins, but are members of the United Federal Party and acceptable to Europeans. This is what we mean by moderates—people who do not follow the Kaundas, the Nkomos and even the Bandas.
I firmly believe that, first, we must accept that a belief in the status quo is the most dangerous thing. The situation is tolerable only because the Africans are, at the moment, thank God, convinced that the status quo cannot be maintained and will be changed. One example of this is the new attitude towards Dr. Banda. Hon. Members have expressed some surprise that it is now being said that he is a respectable chap. After all, he went to a good university. He did not go to the right schools, but he got to a British university in the long run. It is being said that he has become a much more responsible fellow. The number of times that we have heard this said is rather depressing in view of the tragedies which have been thrown up by independence in these countries.
Terrible things were said about Archbishop Makarios, but after the change in Government he was staying at Claridge's at the Government's expense. We can never get the Government to pay more than 40s. a night when we go to N.A.T.O. But this is the position with all our ex-nationalist leaders. Obviously a point of which all politicians should be aware—it is 319 frightening if they are not—is that a man who is fighting for independence says things publicly which he does not say after he has achieved independence. That is one of the realities of life. Hon. Members should not laugh at it, for it is an important reality. If it had been recognised in the beginning it might have avoided some of the tragedies which occurred in India, Cyprus and other parts of the world and which we hope will not occur in this part of Africa.
Several comments have been made about the United Nations sub-committee. As a Socialist I believe that, "My United Nations, right or wrong", is just as stupid as, "My country right or wrong". I do not think that one should accept any organisation without looking at it. One should accept it on the basis of what it says and does, and on one's own views about where its actions and views lead.
But I am surprised and distressed that the views of an independent body comprised of persons of at least some international repute should have been dismissed quite so cavalierly by the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have been intrigued by the fact that although the report has been discussed with hardly any discussion at all, the Home Secretary and other members of the Government felt sufficiently highly of the composition of the sub-committee that it met not only one Minister but four very senior Ministers. I understand that members of the sub-committee were met very courteously and that there was a long exchange of views.
The Home Secretary seems to accept that there will be major changes in the fundamental basis of the Federation, and presumably he accepts that Nyasaland will secede from the Federation. This only speeds up all the problems which face the Central African Federation, because I cannot believe that the independence of Nyasaland will do anything other than greatly increase the difficulties which already exist among Africans in Southern Rhodesia. The more they see of independence in other parts of the Federation, the less likely will they be to accept the present situation.
320 One of the things which worries me is that time and time again independence under British Colonial rule, which in many ways is very enlightened, has been the reward of bloodshed. Independence has been given after the uprising, after the difficulties and after the horrors of internal conflict. I disagree completely with the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) and others about writing into the constitution a right of secession from the Federation. Either the Federation must be accepted and forced to work or the quicker it is broken up the better. We cannot continue in a state of complete insecurity where one never knows from one year to the next what its future will be.
We have had a long experience of the Central African Federation. The hon. Member for Devon, North has a fascinating ability to find good Liberal compromises to compromises, but the idea that we should send the Federation forward on the understanding that at any time somebody might drop out of it is not wise; surely it is impossible to run any Federation of nations in that way. We must settle at this stage, or as soon as possible, exactly what is to be the future of the Central African territories.
I think that Southern Rhodesia is a major problem—probably the key problem. Most people to whom I have spoken from the Central African Federation, including Africans, agree on the need for some economic alignment between these Territories. They are no more foolish than are hon. Members, and they are as well aware as is any hon. Member of the fact that they cannot exist on their own. But what they detest and abominate, as everyone who has been there will confirm, is that Southern Rhodesia should exist as a sort of internal South Africa. They are not prepared to accept that.
It is true that the Southern Rhodesian Government have moved a long way. It is equally true that every concession which they have made has been wrung out of them step by step and year by year as a result of pressure from all sorts of quarters. I think that the African in Southern Rhodesia today still believes that it is not intended within the foreseeable future to surrender real power to him. As long as he believes that it 321 is not the intention of the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia to surrender real political power to him, he will never accept any constitutional jiggery-pokery or any bromide phrases about multiracial partnership and marching forward into the future hand-in-hand together.
If one looks behind various things which undoubtedly have been done by the authorities recently, one can see that even now the picture is not good. It is accepted that where the African is enormously at a disadvantage is in education. This is the prime basis of European superiority. For example, the local government spends £5 million a year for the 40,000 European children in school. For half a million African children it spends £2 million a year. In other words, for every African child £4 a year is spent on his education and for every European child £150 a year is spent on his education. This causes no one to believe that here is a Government which is running a crash programme to educate a large section of the population in the belief that it is to take power in the near future. I understand that less than 20 per cent. of the original African enrolment complete six years at school. This is very much a built-in problem of the African himself, no doubt, but clearly if we learned anything from the Congo it was the duty of any colonial Power to concentrate everything it has on increasing the educational status of the Africans.
The most important fact in Southern Rhodesia is that for every European there are about fifteen Africans, and all history shows that a minority cannot indefinitely rule a majority without bloodshed. The argument against African representation at the moment on a wide scale, or even in terms of parity, is one of illiteracy and poverty, but the existence of illiteracy and poverty among the mass of the population is not an argument against an extension of the franchise, because the people who will take power in these areas will frequently be university graduates—most of them because no other field is open to them. An African leader once informed me with great indignation that most of the African Governments eventually had far more graduates in them than had European Governments, because there was no way in which an educated African could obtain a major occupation except in politics.
322 But it may produce a different type of Government, and we should be rather wary before we condemn authoritarian Governments in countries in which there is no alternative to such Governments. While these may well be Governments which would not be acceptable in this country, and while this is perhaps an argument for trying to educate the Africans, it is not an argument against permitting them to accept the power of Government—a power which is inevitable merely because of their numbers.
I will be brief, because many hon. Members wish to speak in the debate. The report of the United Nations subcommittee was centred around the argument whether the British Government had any authority over Southern Rhodesia. Unquestionably there is a system of Government in that country which by no standard could be regarded as democratic.
There is no question that there is a white minority rule in Southern Rhodesia and that the African has not anything anywhere near political equality. The Government's answer seems extraordinary and a very worrying one. What they appear to be saying is that, since the constitutional reform last year, Her Majesty's Government have no concern with and no powers at all in Southern Rhodesia and that there is nothing they can do about it. They have not attempted to defend the position in Southern Rhodesia. They have said they cannot accept any intervention in terms of what is happening there, and yet the Home Secretary when he was speaking today about the activities of the United Nations committee specifically said that Her Majesty's Government cannot share responsibility or shirk responsibility.
I agree entirely with that. What happens in Southern Rhodesia is still fundamentally the responsibility of the House and of the Government, and what the Government are doing is precisely dodging their responsibilities. I suggest that when we surrendered the reserve powers, and everybody on this side of the House was violently opposed to it, we clearly retained ultimate power over the Constitution. It is interesting to compare the Southern Rhodesia (Constitution) Act, 1961, with the Tanganyika Independence Act, 1961. The Southern Rhodesia Act sets out in its first Section the power to provide a new 323 Constitution for Southern Rhodesia by Order in Council, in itself a classic indication that the Government here retain ultimate power.
The Tanganyika Act carries the words in its first Section:… and as from that day Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom shall have no responsibility for the Government of Tanganyika.There is a clear difference, therefore, between Her Majesty's Government's position vis-à-vis Tanganyika, or any other independent Territory, and that which exists in Southern Rhodesia at present. The Government try to hide behind an idea that there is a third constitutional position which is a twilight period with neither a self-governing Territory nor one for which Her Majesty's Government here have any responsibility. Paragraph 35 of the Constitution would be intolerable to any nation over which we did not have ultimate control, and the same goes for paragraph 78 of the same Constitution.
Our powers are basic, but, of course, they are only ultimate powers. We cannot introduce detailed legislation. The sole power we have now is over whether or not we abrogate the Constitution, and this is the power which I suggest it is now time to exercise. We have reached a situation in which I think the British Government are now in a position to abrogate the Constitution, because they have ceased to have any intention in the long-term of producing a democratic franchise. Any attempt to abrogate the Constitution, of course, would be a matter requiring serious thought before taking any action on it, but there is a considerable indication that there is a great and growing anxiety about the prospect of some sort of clash in Southern Rhodesia.
One cannot help but be extremely worried by talk in terms of bigger and better defence budgets by Sir Roy Welensky. There have been many inflammatory speeches by leaders on both sides about what they would do if they did not have their own way. It is criminal if the attitude of the British Government is that what happens is no concern of ours. When a United Nations Committee is set up by resolution of the United Nations and it goes there to examine the situation and it 324 produces a unanimous report and says that a highly dangerous and inflammable situation exists in that territory, it is criminal to say that the House need not be interested in discussing the situation there.
The most dangerous politician is a gutless one. All history has shown that to be so every time there has been trouble in the world. M. Guy Mollet, who used to be a Social Democrat, was faced with a similar problem in Algeria. Some hon. Members opposite seem surprised that there should be any attempt to draw any comparison between the situation in Algeria and Southern Rhodesia. Comparisons now are not possible, but it is possible to compare the position in Southern Rhodesia today with that in Algeria many years ago. It is possible to make many unhappy comparisons with that time when M. Mollet went to Algeria, as many people believe with the intention of taking power, when, faced with the crunch, he caved in and tens of thousands of people died as a result. The tragedy could have been avoided if there had been politicians with the guts to face the problem.
There is a highly dangerous situation in Southern Rhodesia at present which may have unhappy results for everybody. I do not think that the House does itself justice if it refuses even to discuss the situation which exists there and claims that because it now has a new Constitution in Southern Rhodesia what happens is no longer the concern of this House.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)
I shall not follow the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) very far in the debate, but I must take up a few of the remarks which he made towards the end of his speech. I find it difficult to believe that he is advocating that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, setting forth as he is on one of the most difficult missions with which any statesman could ever be charged in Africa, should arrive in Salisbury and announce that he proposes to abrogate the Southern Rhodesian Constitution for a start. If the hon. Member thinks that out I do not believe that he will be prepared to put it forward seriously as a suggestion.
325 The hon. Member mentioned education and quoted various statistics. I shall I hope deal in my speech with many of the things to which the hon. Member referred, but I had not intended to deal with that subject. Two points, however, seem to me to reflect the other side of the situation. There are more African children in school in Southern Rhodesia today than there were African inhabitants of these territories when the columns arrived seventy years ago. That seems to me no small justification for the rule that has obtained there since.
It seems to me that the principal need in the educational field in the Federation today is for further education. In the non-racial university in Salisbury, to which the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) referred, a third of the 300 students are Africans. The hon. Member will say that that is not in strict equity, but given the background in Southern Rhodesia it is an extraordinary advance to which we should pay due tribute.
It has been asserted, and as a broad generalisation I believe it to be true, that there are basically three racial attitudes in Africa. In the North there is exclusive black African nationalism. There are degrees of it, but that is broadly true. In the South there is apartheid and in the centre there is the bold experiment to produce a non-racial State. There seems to be little disagreement in the House that that is desirable. It is desirable not only for the benefits which it will bring to the people of these territories, but also because of the influence for moderation which this great complex could have to North and South if it succeeds. Also, because of the spectre which failure conjures up in my mind, of a frontier hardening along the Zambesi between black and white with all the horrifying consequences which that could bring.
We agree broadly on these things but we differ on two points—first, our concept of racialism and non-racialism, and second, on timing. I want to say a word about these two aspects. My view is quite simple racially. I believe that the Europeans in these territories, particularly the Rhodesians, who are genuinely and unselfishly working for non-racialism have a right to expect, and to ensure so far as they can, that as they 326 hand over power, they should do so to men who are moderate and reasonable in character. After all, this concerns their future and the future of their children, and not ours.
By any normally acceptable standards, I should have thought that there must be doubt about whether the three Pan-African parties in these territories—the Zimbabwe, U.N.I.P. and the Malawi—are led by a majority of men who can be regarded as moderate and reasonable. After all, they demand—I am not saying that all of their leaders do, but the majority—immediate power. To the Europeans in those territories this cannot seem reasonable today or for some time to come. Secondly, they condemn non-racialism, which is the lynch-pin of the whole experiment, as a disguise for retrenching European power.
There are those who argue that these parties nevertheless represent the only effective body of African political opinion and that the moderate, who has been mentioned by several hon. Members, is a myth. If this is so, it is perfectly logical to argue as well that the non-racial ideal is totally unrealistic and not worth pursuing. A split on lines of colour is, therefore, inevitable, and the Choice will simply lie between black and white. That, I suppose, can be represented as a logical argument, although I do not happen to agree with it.
What I find it difficult is to accept the position of those who say "Yes, these racialist parties are the only really representative bodies, and, therefore, we must deal with them", and who at the same time pay lip-service to non-racialism. This is a position which is untenable. That is another way of saying that for non-racialism to succeed we must take account of moderate opinion, and the basis of my thesis is that it exists, and I shall try to analyse it briefly.
§ Mr. Chataway
I am probably one of the offenders in this respect in the eyes of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings). But I do not take non-racialism to mean the same as multi-racialism or progressing by means of a qualified vote over a long period of years. I thought that we introduced the term "non-racialism" about a year or two ago to distinguish it from the qualified vote situation and to 327 describe a country in which races live together fairly happily.
§ Mr. Hastings
My understanding of "non-racialism"—here I am open to contradiction; these are subtle and important differences—is a situation in which a man is awarded a post or an advance or is not on the ground of his own personal ability and talents, and not because of the colour of his skin, and that would seem to be consistent with my argument.
It is not surprising that the African moderate has not made more impression in this country than he has. He has no lurid threats to make. His television value is a good deal lower than that of some African nationalist leaders who come over here. But he exists. There is, after all, a wide membership of Africans in the United Federal Party, particularly in Southern Rhodesia. The hon. Member for Greenwich poured some scorn on this. When I was there last autumn they were joining at the rate of about 100 a week. It also remains a fact that as a result of Sir Edgar White-head's "Build a Nation" campaign over 8,000 Africans had signed the Southern Rhodesian electoral roll by early April. The rate of signing was 29 a day in March and 64 in April.
These are not amazing figures thought of in our terms, but what we have to remember is that every one of those men who signed did so in the certain knowledge that he would be condemned by Zimbawi as a traitor. They are under constant threat of intimidation. These are brave men and are not to be discarded or overlooked.
There are also certain balancing factors in the Federation as a whole, of which account should be taken in the same context. In Northern Rhodesia, first of all, is the second nationalist party, of which we have heard little mention today—the African National Congress. It is a question whether the A.N.C. is as powerful as the Zimbabwe. The election in October will tell. But in the south of Northern Rhodesia and in the West, it represents a very real power and competes well with U.N.I.P. Furthermore, in the Copper Belt as well it is a force not to be disregarded.
328 It was tragic that Mr. Katelungo, the leader of A.N.C., was killed last year. But Mr. N'Kumbula, an able man, has taken over. It has never shown itself unduly unreasonable. Although it has disagreed frequently with the Northern Rhodesian Government, it has never refused to co-operate and can be regarded as a moderate or balancing factor in Northern Rhodesia of great importance.
As another I cite the Barotse nation of 300,000 people who live a pastoral life on the banks of the Zambesi. They are well ruled by an African Government. They are reputed to have requested that they should be allowed to become independent, perhaps within the framework of the Federation. Whether or not their economy is viable is open to question, but I know that considerable mineral resources exist there. I know for a fact, because I spent a short time among them, that by and large their life is happy and contented. I also know for a fact that their leaders are determined to resist the incursions of extremists from Northern Rhodesia.
Is this a crime? Is their request to be turned down out of hand? I have heard from the other side of the House fairly heated objections to this proposal. Why? Will it damage the future of these territories? We are considering proposals for secession for, for instance, Dr. Banda in Nyasaland. It seems to me that this is a balancing factor which cannot be flung out without further consideration.
Before leaving the question of the moderate African I want to dwell on what I would call the ordinary mass of rural Africans. We have heard from a number of hon. Gentlemen to the effect that such and such a course is necessary or inevitable because of the view of "the majority of Africans". What does this majority consist of? When I was cut there I tried very hard and genuinely to determine to what extent this conscious political decision had been taken. I should say that at a conservative estimate 70 per cent. of the rural population of the Rhodesias—not Nyasaland—are not yet committed in this affair. What is their position? What are they thinking at this stage? This is no time or place for a lecture on psychology, and in any case my 329 knowledge of African affairs is too limited for me to attempt it. But it is reasonable to consider for a moment what may be going on in the minds of these people. These are simple people, even primitive, and in many parts living near to the subsistence level. For centuries the African has been, I am sure it is true to say, morally bound to what I may refer to as a form of compulsory conformism. Anything unusual to him was suspicious, to get rich or to succeed was evil. I came across a saying in Mashonaland, that if a man found a wild bees hive on the veldt he was lucky, that if he found one a second time he was a very lucky man, but that if he found one a third time it was witchcraft.
These checks and balances are removed as time goes on, and they are in process of being removed now. Yet our own Western checks either have or have not yet been absorbed, and it seems to me that this leaves the ordinary rural African in a very disturbed and uncertain frame of mind. From my own contacts, I am convinced that this is the case. He feels himself released from the old moral restrictions and sees the Western way of life simply as a thrusting worship of ambition and success. It is not perhaps in this connection without significance that more and more Africans in these territories are turning back to witchcraft in their bewilderment. This is a frame of mind which we have to take account, and it cannot be represented as capable of articulate political opinion, pro or con.
I should like to tell one short story which I heard from a very respected African moderate leader—a brave man who fought a crowd of extremists in a political riot in Southern Rhodesia with his fists. When the police sent a car to take him away, he sent it away with contempt, claiming that he did what he had done because he believed in it. He was no stooge. For half-an-hour, in a poignant interview with me, he described the tremendous pull of the old way of life and the difficulties for Africans in turning over, not simply to the outward appearance of the Western way of life, but to the moral value that lay beneath.
He used this very remarkable phrase to me: "if your son asks for a gun and 330 does not know how to handle it and you gave it to him, is that kindness?" This impressed itself on me, and I am sure it represents the view of many African people who are trying to find the moderate way. We should surely, if only there were a handful—and there are more—not forsake that course in any circumstances.
I turn now to one last aspect of the racial question which has not been mentioned in the debate and which bears upon relations between the Federation and South Africa. Many of us in this House, particularly hon. Members opposite, are always ready to show revulsion at apartheid. I share it. But surely it is our duty to try to alter that situation, and the key in South Africa is moderate white opinion. This exists. There is one member of the South African Parliament who is on record as putting forward the immediate abolition of all racial distinction in the public sphere, at least, and also a minimum voting qualification, which should gradually spread to all Africans in the Union.
In Cape Town or Johannesburg, this is revolutionary, but the ruling party—the U.F.P.—in the Federation represents this, and far more than this. It is the moderate South Africans who are trying to bring about a more liberal position there, and it is cruelly discouraging to hear the leaders of the U.F.P. in the Federation continually blackguarded as tyrannical reactionaries, as they far too often are, in my view. If we are sincere and sensible in trying to alter the position in South Africa, we should take account of that.
If I may now pass to the question of timing, it is constantly asserted in regard to handing over power in these territories that we have no time or too little time; that such and such a course is impossible because of the time factor, or that it would be correct if we had enough time. I think we need to get our objectives straight here. Is it our objective to hand over power or to influence others to hand over power to Africans in the shortest possible period of time, or is it our objective to create a non-racial Federation? If it is the latter, which I believe it should be and is, timing seems to me to fall into place to some degree. If one sets out on any course of action with the conviction that 331 one cannot achieve the object because time will not allow, one will not achieve anything at all.
Pressures there are, from Afro-Asia, from the United Nations, perhaps from the United States, from would-be "do-gooders" and some evil-doers in this country, pressure from African nationalists, but the existence of pressure, even great pressures does not necessarily mean that there is no time.
It seems that the only peaceful way to arrange the transfer of power from a white minority to a black majority in these territories, at least in an advanced industrial economy such as that of the Rhodesias, is to press forward with the economic and intellectual development of the African to a point where universal suffrage ceases to be the dangerous absurdity which in fact is what it is today. This should be the criterion of timing. I think many of us in our hearts know that that is sense. If it is, we should not allow ourselves to be ridden off our convictions by pressure from people from whom we have nothing to learn when it comes to democratic practice.
Apart from the risk of political agitation, which of course is constant and I admit it, most of the other problems become easier with time. African education, the finance of African businessmen, African agriculture and land tenure, African housing, non-racial community development, in which a great voluntary effort is being made in Salisbury at the moment—all these things will improve with time. Last and most important as the months go by, more and more young Africans will be leaving Salisbury University, to which I referred earlier, with full graduate education behind them, having studied and lived with their white compatriots. It is they who will provide not only the political leaders but the civil servants and businessmen of the future and among them I am quite sure will be men of far greater ability and experience, and indeed worth, than many Africans who play a leading part in pan-African politics in these areas today with regard to the future of the Federation.
Most of the points I wished to make have been covered already, but I would 332 like to go back to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe). He centred his argument on the economic facts of the situation. I believe that what he said is entirely true. He referred to the gigantic investment—a figure of £2,000 million was mentioned—as being concentrated more or less in Southern Rhodesia, on the line of rail and on the Copper Belt. He emphasised that any development worth while in those territories must depend on the successful exploitation of that.
He pointed out that there are only three outlets to the sea, only two in fact, Lorenzo Marques and Beira, for the Lobito Bay route is frequently interrupted by the United Nations. Thirdly, he mentioned that practically all the power for the Copper Belt came from the Kariba Dam situated across the border between Northern and Southern Rhodesia and that the coal for the smelters comes from the Wankie Collieries in Southern Rhodesia. He represented that this vast industrial complex must be preserved and held together in any new solution which comes about.
He was interrupted at one stage by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who pointed out that surely it was possible to arrange for power to be exported from one territory to another. That would not involve political control. No, but imagine the situation developing in such a way that there was a black/white political frontier along that border. What guarantee could there then be for the continued prosperity of Northern Rhodesia?
I believe we must take account of that in any solution which is reached. There is certainly room for flexibility and change perhaps; in certain circumstances for association rather than federation as it is at the moment; but this economic complex must be preserved at all costs. The cost of giving it up would be ruin for these people. I maintain that, despite what may be put forward by political leaders there, at the moment it is something which we with our experience should avoid.
I want to make one additional plea to my right hon. Friend on the question of a new solution. I hope that he will at least not disregard the possibility, 333 perhaps not now but some time in the future, of what has come to be known as a regional solution in Northern Rhodesia. If I did not misinterpret him, my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Sir R. Nugent) hinted at something of the sort. We have the beginnings of a regional solution in Kenya. It is a balance of this kind which, I think it fair to say, keeps Nigeria stable. I hope that at least as a concept it will not be discarded in the Federation.
I was delighted to hear from my right hon. Friend that consolidation is taking place and that things are going well in Nyasaland, but the ultimate judgment will be whether Dr. Banda decides to leave the Federation and cut off completely without even an economic association. On whether he is prepared to co-operate will depend the future of his country. I shall not emphasise—it has been said many times already—that if Nyasaland breaks away the country will be virtually "broke". The people of that country will then be left not far from the starvation which Dr. Banda threatens. He has said it often enough, he said it to me when I visited him—that he would rather see his people starve than remain in the Federation.
A day or two after meeting him I spoke to an African farmer near Zomba, and asked him what he thought of federation. There was much talk about it, and I asked him what he felt. He scratched his neck with his panga and said, "That will depend on the price of tobacco". I then asked him what he felt about the Malawi Party taking over. I asked him whether he thought that this would bring great changes and a mighty future for the country. He thought again, and said, "That will depend on the price of tobacco". That seems to be the down-to-earth sort of answer which might be expected from any farmer under these circumstances, but hardly the words of a man prepared to starve rather than federate.
The United Nations Committee of the Federation has been mentioned several times. I, too, have read its report. Whatever solution we finally reach, one thing absolutely certain is that it must be as a result of the consultations between the Governments of these territories and Her Majesty's Government and not with any outside body. Several 334 things in the report struck me. First, it is truly biassed in that only two Africans were interviewed; both belonging to the Zimbawe Party in Southern Rhodesia. I saw in the newspapers this morning that a telegram had been sent to the Committee by Mr. Nkumbula, leader of the A.N.C. in Northern Rhodesia, which was written off by the United Nations as "inconsequential". Why should that be so? He is an African leader of great influence and I should have thought that the Committee could have afforded to take note of what he had to say.
I should like to conclude by saying something about democratic practice in these territories. When stability is assailed and challenged in the Federation it is generally in the name of democracy. It seems to me that we are in danger of confusion here. Democratic practice rests on two propositions—that there can be no true democracy unless it is based on liberty, and that liberty in turn depends on the rule of law and upon responsibility. If we permit wide intimidation in these territories we betray these principles. When we get these two propositions in correct order, we are true to ourselves and to the people with whom we deal. When we do not, our example is meaningless and all the work that we have undertaken in these territories worthless.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
I, too, before I forget it, must express my very good wishes to the Home Secretary on his journey out to a very difficult problem which I earnestly trust he will, if not solve, at least begin to solve. I know full well that he will need tremendous patience, great mental flexibility, a great deal of the "guts" to which reference has been made already, but also, I trust, a good deal of another and much higher portion of his anatomy. I am sure that with his great ability, the right hon. Gentleman will make progress. No one will be more pleased than myself or members of my party than if he were to come back with the assurance that he had succeeded somehow in getting general agreement among all those concerned.
I am, however, sure that the right hon. Gentleman will heed the warning of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) who, towards the end of 335 his speech, dealt briefly with democracy. The Home Secretary, going out to the conference, will be fighting on behalf of democracy. I know that there are many paradoxes and inconsistencies, but what we are able to do in Central Africa in the immediate months ahead depends upon whether we can implement the spirit of democracy, if not its actual framework, as against those in another part of the globe who stand for just the reverse. This battle for democracy goes on year after year in a variety of ways and it will go on for many years to come. As I see it, in this part of Africa we are called upon to implement and vindicate the democratic principle in spirit, in order that thus, elsewhere in the world besides Africa, democracy can become stronger.
The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire stressed, as other hon. Members of his side of the House have done, the necessity for respecting the moderate. May I ask him to ponder on what is meant by the word "moderate"? Is it not rather ambiguous as well as being comparative? Would he say, for instance, that in 1946, we were negotiating with moderates like the late Mahatma Gandhi or with Jawaharlal Nehru, who as an agitator and extremist had spent thirteen years in a British prison? Going back still further, would the hon. Member say that George Washington was a moderate at the time that he defied the domination of this country over the American settlers? Would he say that Nkrumah or Dr. Azikwe were moderates? Would he say that Lee Kwan U of Singapore was a moderate? Will he tell me, not now but afterwards, whether he thinks that Sir Alexander Bustamente is less or more of a moderate than, say, Mr. Manley?
In other words, I merely point out to the hon. Member that those are moderates who, in many cases, fit in with their awn moderate views, whereas we have to deal with facts and realise that the leaders of great movements of nationalism who are awakening in many parts of the world are deemed extremists.
We have to deal with people as they are. The leaders of my own party in the early days were all condemned as extremists. Keir Hardie, who spoke in 336 this House, was a leader of my party but was dubbed as one of the extremists. No doubt when the Home Secretary goes out to Central Africa he will meet many of these extremists, some of whom will, no doubt, repeat flamboyantly many times the kind of things that some of us on this side of the House have done in bygone days.
If the Home Secretary is a wise and shrewd man he will penetrate beyond that in order to find out what these people are trying to express—these people whom we are inclined to dismiss as extremists and agitators. He must understand that the wind of change is an impersonal thing. It is often apparently irrational and impalpable. One cannot argue with a wind, or a typhoon.The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.To understand the meaning of the symbol employed by the Prime Minister when he talks about the wind of change, we must realise that what is happening all over the world is that the human spirit—and the term "spirit" is a synonym for the wind—is coursing through communities in such a manner that we dare not resist it. On the ground of sheer expediency, quite apart from any ethical or moral considerations, we must deal with this wind of change with wisdom, or that wind will sweep us away into oblivion.
I think that all hon. Members have come to accept the fact, over the last few years, that the British Empire, built upon the domination of this country, must pass away. Nowadays hon. Members opposite join with us in trying to help the transition from Empire to Commonwealth. Many hon. Members opposite who now speak in support of that transition would have been looked upon as extremists in the extreme by their forefathers.
There is today a world-wide tremendous spiritual awakening, which will often take crude and violent forms. That is why it is necessary for us to be wise in our own generation, and try to find appropriate avenues through which this wind can pass, or, to change the metaphor, channels through which this stream that arises from the discontent of man can find its proper expression. I 337 say that because if we preserve an attitude of patronising condescension towards our fellow human beings in central Africa and elsewhere we shall get nowhere. We must realise that they are struggling for life.
Undoubtedly, many of them are extremely illiterate. They have not our educational advantages or experience. They have not our knowledge, or our technology. The Kariba Dam, the Copper Belt, and the various technical devices and institutions which have been created there, are all reminders to the Central African peoples that they have a long way to go before they can be as expert in modern industrial science as we are in the Western world.
But then one asks, in the colloquial sense, "So what?" We must deal with the fact that these people are awakening. We have helped to waken them. We have set them examples, and have taught them our democracy. Practically everything that has been said by hon. Members opposite in criticism of the indigenous peoples of Central Africa and their limitations could have been said about other parts of the world. That is the difficulty. How can one concede the right and the necessity for Nigeria, Ghana, Malaya, India, Burma and Ceylon—all, at one time, dependent territories—to govern themselves, work out their own salvation, and deal with their appalling problems of poverty and illiteracy, and, at the same time, say, "But this part of Africa must remain segregated from the rest of the world"? We cannot do it.
By bitter experience this has been borne home to many hon. Members opposite. They are gradually realising, not necessarily as a result of enlightenment, or a greater perception than formerly, but because of sheer expediency that they must change their traditional point of view and accept the principle that people should be allowed to learn by their own mistakes and, in the end—we hope—move forward towards a stabilised society. The experiment may fail. Democracy is constantly on trial and it always will be, because it depends, in the ultimate, upon the integrity and ability of the individual, and if there are not a sufficient number of individuals with the capacity, spiritual honesty and sense of responsibility to make democracy live, it will collapse.
338 Surely, however, it is not for us to issue warnings here against people who are dark-skinned. Let us look at Europe where at one time democracy was supposed to be progressing from stage to stage. What happened in Italy? What happened in Germany, in Spain, in Portugal, or what has happened in France? Are we really saying that here were splendid examples of democracy flourishing? We know full well that democracy can easily collapse even in the so-called Western world as well as elsewhere. There is always that danger, and the price of our devotion to democracy is constant vigilance. All we can do for these emergent peoples is to give them every encouragement. We may point out mistakes and errors, but at the same time we must set them on their way and fill them with hope and encouragement and, if possible, give them our co-operation.
I lament the passing of federation in Central Africa as must all who understand the meaning of preventing the Balkanisation of the world. Nkrumah in Ghana is a pre-eminent advocate of pan-Africanism which can never take continental unitary form. It must be federation. Nigeria is a federation. India is a federation. The United States is a federation. We regret the imminent passing of the Federation of the Caribbean and Dr. Williams, who has intimated that he will secede from the Federation, seems in favour of a wider federation confined not merely to British Territories but including others.
I mention this because everyone of us believes in the principle of federation. But we want it on a sound foundation. Earlier in the debate there was an interchange between my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) and the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) regarding the responsibility of the Labour Government and their Colonial Secretary. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield has already made clear that he was hostile to federation. But more than once it has been deliberately stated that the Labour Party helped to instigate federation. That is not true.
What happened was that when, unfortunately, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield was defeated at an election he was succeeded as Colonial Secretary by my right hon. Friend the 339 Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) who discovered that there was strong pressure towards federation. My right hon. Friend accepted the idea of conferences at Victoria Falls and at other places. But he made perfectly clear at that time, and he has made clear since, that "consultation" did not mean merely listening to what was said. In my amateur and humble way I tried in this House to press Ministers about the meaning of the word "consultation". It is one thing to ask for the opinion of other people, it is another to get their consent. Therefore, I wish to make it abundantly clear that although my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly consented to the meeting at Victoria Falls, and the subsequent meetings, in order to explore the idea of federation, he never, at least to my knowledge, consented to the introduction of that principle unless there was effective agreement not merely among the few who happen to possess pallid skins but among all those with sable skins as well.
The passing of the Federation may have a certain economic disadvantage, but do not let us exaggerate it. As has been pointed out more than once, if there are economic facts, those economic facts will still remain. Copper Belt will not disappear if the Federation disappears, and those who manage the Copper Belt will still require labour. They have not had Nyasas working there because they like them more than other Africans but because there is an economic necessity for Nyasa labour. That economic necessity will still exist.
I do not, of course, say that the passing of political federation will not have some effect, but I would endorse what has been said today that the advantages of some kind of economic co-ordination can be achieved in some other way, as they have been achieved in East Africa by the High Commission. I want to see economic co-ordination continued, but we must face the fact that there are those, and they are not merely in Central Africa, who, even if it were demonstrated that they would lose economically if a certain political structure disappeared, answer by saying, "Very well, we will accept that".
Not very many years ago, we were pleading with the Irish people to remain 340 part of the United Kingdom. Now, Ireland is not even in the Commonwealth. With the exception of Northern Ireland, it is an independent republic. If secession was to the economic disadvantage of the Irish, it has not made the slightest difference to them. The great mass of Irish people say, "We prefer to remain poor and free rather than to have the economic advantages of union with the United Kingdom and not to be free as we understand the word." So it is with the people in Central Africa now.
I know that Dr. Banda has sometimes employed rather hyperbolic language, by talking about his people starving rather than remain within the Federation. We know that may be rather extravagant language and we have to make allowances for it. I remember, as a youngster, standing on Tower Hill and hearing Ben Tillett, an agitator, one of the leaders of the old Dockers' Union to which I once belonged, call on 10,000 dockers to raise their hands and say, God strike Lord Devonport dead." Lord Devonport, of course, lived for years after that. We realised that Ben Tillett's extravagant language was just froth, though beneath it was real feeling and substance. Dr. Banda's extravagant language must not be allowed to excuse the evasion of facts, and one fact is that the people of Nyasaland say that they will not be in the Federation.
If we do not accept the right of secession, which is contained in our Amendment, what do hon. Members propose? Do they propose to compel Dr. Banda and his party to remain inside the Federation? Do they propose to send out troops and aeroplanes to do to the Nyasas what we are not prepared to do to the Ghanaians, the Indians, the Pakistanis or the Ceylonese? We do not now assert that because it would be economically better for those countries to remain in the same association with us as they once were they must be forcibly coerced; we know that it would be nonsense to say that.
We may think the attitude of the Nyasas regrettable, but here we have a people who, as a people, are determined not to remain inside the Federation, and we must face that fact. That being so, I hope most earnestly that the Home Secretary will go to Africa 341 tomorrow accepting the spirit of our Amendment, even if he votes against it tonight, because it re-emphasises that the majority decisions of the Monckton Commission should be implemented, and that there should be an African majority in the Legislature of Northern Rhodesia. The Opposition Amendment states:… and to declare its intention to permit secession by any of the territories in the Central African Federation.I beg the right hon. Gentleman to accept this as a fact and as a means, politically and economically, of securing closer association. If he cannot accept it I trust that, for the sake of this country and of democracy, he will at least accept the principle behind it.
With my eye on the clock and realising that the Front Bench spokesmen wish to expound their views, I will content myself by saying that the Opposition Amendment could be accepted by the Government as a basis. It does not mean that we want people to secede or that we want all the possibilities to be certainties. It merely means that we want the principle accepted so that in that better atmosphere we may be able to encourage response from our African brethren out of which, in the end, may come the good will and trust on which democracy rests.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
The Home Secretary, when opening the debate, noted that there were four main aspects of this whole subject of Central Africa, with its almost terrifying complexity. There were the three Territories—the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland and the Federation itself. It is almost inevitable to deal with each one of these separately, although I am well aware that their problems and dangers interlock at every point.
I begin by saying something about Northern Rhodesia. That, of course, brings up the first point, with which both our Amendment and the Monckton Report—from which, in effect, it is taken—are concerned. It is that Her Majesty's Government should see that there is a franchise in Northern Rhodesia which makes possible an African majority. That, I think, is the clearest way of putting it but we should, frankly, recognise that if a franchise makes possible 342 an African majority there will, in fact, be an African majority. Thus the two ways of expressing it come to almost the same thing.
It may be, of course, that the Government have done that. The franchise that has been introduced is of such a complexity that no one is sure whether or not it has done that. It seems to me that unless it has done it will have to be amended again because nothing that was said today can possibly refute the conclusion of the Monckton Report that that must happen. That is not only right but also inevitable. Why do we say that it is inevitable? Essentially, it is because anything else, any attempt to govern Northern Rhodesia with a white majority in the teeth of an African electorate, is completely at variance with everything else that the Government are doing in Africa.
It is really impossible to take one line in East and West Africa and, indeed, in Central Africa itself—in the other part of the Federation, Nyasaland—and permit the election of African majorities, and then to have exactly the opposite policy in Northern Rhodesia. It becomes an anomaly which surely everyone must see is untenable. Therefore, in asking for this in the Amendment we are really only asking that the Home Secretary should recognise and acknowledge in words something which surely every hon. Member knows that the Home Secretary and Her Majesty's Government must do sooner rather than later.
I was struck—indeed, I was a little pained—by the tenor of the speech of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings). The hon. Gentleman made a very able speech but one which seemed to me in many respect to fail to face realities. He spoke a great deal about the difference between the African nationalist leaders and the so-called moderate Africans. Is he sure that the African leaders with whom we are dealing at the moment, for instance, Mr. Kaunda, Dr. Banda and Mr. Nkomo, are not the moderates? I think that he will find that it is they who are precisely the moderates.
The hon. Gentleman was inclined to say that these leaders are not representative. In one sense, I fear that that may be true. As the Secretary of State 343 for Commonwealth Relations found in Southern Rhodesia, Mr. Nkomo was not able always to carry his supporters with him. But he was not representative in just the opposite sense from that which the hon. Gentleman meant. Mr. Nkomo was attempting to lead his supporters into much more moderate courses than they were willing to follow. It is in that sense that these men are the moderate leaders for whom the hon. Gentleman was seeking, and for that reason, also, there is great urgency in these matters.
The hon. Gentleman pleaded with us to take the view that there was no hurry, that the development educationally, economically and otherwise of the African could go quietly on. I fear that almost exactly the opposite is true, that solutions which are highly desirable and which we still trust can be achieved today will become quite impossible in the coming months or, at least, in the coming years if the opportunities which still exist are not seized.
We put it very earnestly to the Home Secretary that it will help enormously to reach the moderate solutions which we all seek if he will frankly say tonight that he considers an African majority in Northern Rhodesia to be one of the keys—only one but an important one—to any agreed solution of the problem in Central Africa.
I pass now to the place where one can be relatively optimistic, to Nyasaland. I was very glad that the Secretary of State himself said that the African majority which has been conceded there, which has been elected and which now, as he said, mans a majority of the Ministries, was working well. This is very encouraging to us and to all who seek a moderate solution in these matters. We contrast it with the dire forebodings we used to hear about what would happen if these African leaders were allowed to take office in Nyasaland.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) was saying, there is a real transformation in the nationalist leader when he becomes a Minister. Anyone who follows events even to the extent that I have knows that this is so, and colleagues of mine who have followed them for much longer assure me 344 of its truth. For instance, if one compares the declarations appearing in the organ of Dr. Banda's party some years ago in Nyasaland—the tone of his propaganda and the attitude of his mind then—with what appears now in the publication which he issues—I have several copies of it here—one finds a very great contrast.
A subject of the utmost importance in Nyasaland, agricultural development and improvement, was represented some years ago as little better than an imperialist plot. Those same improvements in agriculture are being most warmly and ably advocated by Dr. Banda's own party organ today. We say this is no scoffing spirit. It is a transformation which, quite naturally and inevitably, comes when men are trusted and given responsibilities. It shows that this advance which, of course, can never be free from some risk, can work and gives the best possibility of a successful solution being achieved.
I do not suggest for a moment that Nyasaland is out of the wood. I realise, as the Home Secretary said, that that very poor country faces grave economic problems.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to be too naïve about this. He knows that Dr. Banda, before the elections, boycotted the anti-malaria spraying campaign, but since he has come to power he has forcibly advocated it so that the benefits of improvement, so to speak, may accrue to his advantage.
§ Mr. Strachey
The hon. Gentleman is repeating my speech. That is exactly the point. A great transformation takes place in these leaders when they are given power and responsibility, and that is a strong argument for giving them power and responsibility. That is all I was saying. However, I am far from saying that the problems which Dr. Banda and his administration face are not very grave.
The Home Secretary went so far as to say that, if Nyasaland seceded from the Federation, the economic results would be catastrophic. I ask him to reflect on the notable speech made by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. H. Clark) on his own side of the 345 House. The hon. Gentleman has a great deal of firsthand experience in these matters, more than most of us. He said some very shrewd things about the nature of African nationalism. He said that this was not primarily a movement driven by the desire for economic improvement, that the concept of an improving standard of life was fairly remote from African nationalism, and that it was much more a movement driven forward by the desire for status, the desire to be an equal citizen with every other man.
That explains, perhaps, the rather extreme statement of Dr. Banda that rather than stay in the Federation he would make what seem to us most painful economic sacrifices. I thought that the hon. Member was right in saying that the tremendous weight of African nationalism, which he emphasised strongly, was almost independent, to a considerable extent at any rate, of directly economic motives. It is idle to think that fear of the economic consequences is likely to restrain one of the Governments based on an African majority in the Northern Territories if that Government wished to secede from the Federation.
I now come to the Federation. It seems to me that we had better face the fact that the Federation, in its present form and under its present name, has no future. That brings me to the second point of our Amendment, which is to acknowledge the right of secession for any territory which has become self-governing and which wishes to secede.
The Federation in its present form—one must put it brutally and frankly—is, in effect, dominated by the small European minority in Southern Rhodesia. That is a state of affairs which has existed in the Federation since it was formed. Surely this nine years' experience of it are conclusive that that simply cannot continue. The Home Secretary went a long way towards acknowledging it. I am not sure whether his hon. Friends realised it, but the right hon. Gentleman used the phrase that the Federation must be acceptable to the great majority of its inhabitants. When one thinks of it, that is very near to doing what we ask him to do, namely, to concede the right of secession to any self-governing unit of the Federation. It seems evident from his remark 346 that he knows that. It would be much better if he acknowledged it tonight.
As was emphasised by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and by many other hon. Members, if, as we on this side wish to do, we want to preserve all that can be preserved of the value of the Federation, of the economic parts of it, surely it is obvious that a frank acknowledgment of the right of one of its constituent bodies to secede from it is much the most likely way of preserving some valuable economic co-operation.
The only alternative to a voluntary federation is a federation held together by force. What form would that force take? It could be only two kinds of force. It could be the local force of the European minority in Southern Rhodesia. We on this side, at any rate, are bound to consider with great concern statements like those of Sir Roy Welensky by which he introduces a budget proposing that £8 million should be spent on defence and which refer to the necessity for that measure. We can hardly believe that he really intends to attempt the forcible preservation of the Federation by his local forces.
I call the Home Secretary's attention to the ghastly prospect which that would open up of racial war in the heart of central Africa. That would be the beginning of a situation for Britain parallel to that which faces France, with such disastrous consequences in Algeria. The only other kind of force would be by British Regular Forces. If they were employed, which I believe is unthinkable, we should have the full Algerian situation. What possible alternative is there to an acknowledgment that the Federation can be nothing but a voluntary association and that its constituent parts must have the right of secession, as the Monckton Commission recommended?
I may be asked whether anything can be saved from the Federation. I do not know. I think that the economic advantages of it are undoubtedly very great. A common market or a tariff-free area for Central Africa with common services, perhaps, on the lines of the East African Common Services Commission would unquestionably be highly desirable. But surely the Home Secretary realises that the only way in which he can achieve 347 these things is by persuading African opinion freely to desire these things and to realise their benefits. However desirable, this cannot be pushed down the throats of unwilling African nations—this is the decisive factor. It seems to us that one of the factors on which any success in preserving these common economic services and common economic benefits must depend is an acknowledgement of the right of secession. It also depends on the progress made in Southern Rhodesia.
That brings me to the most difficult question—the future of Southern Rhodesia. What is to happen to Southern Rhodesia when—I think we must say "when" and "if"—the Federation in its present form dissolves? It is a crucial question. It is not one which can be decided by the Home Secretary or the British Government in the sense that they have power to enforce exactly the solution which they would like—no one supposes that—but they have very great influence and they can exercise it wisely or unwisely. It is therefore a subject which the House must discuss.
The situation in Southern Rhodesia is governed by the fact that ever since 1923 the country has been ruled predominantly not by this House and the British Government in Britain but by a Governmen founded on the white minority in Southern Rhodesia. That is the fundamental reason why the problems of Central Africa are proving far more intractable than the sufficiently difficult problems, in all conscience, with which the Government are wrestling in every other part of what was British Africa. We on this side of the House make no bones about it: we think that the transfer of power to the European minority in Southern Rhodesia, the main step in which took place as long ago as 1923 but which was almost completed, although not quite completed, last year, has been a profound error.
The new Constitution for Southern Rhodesia which this House has just passed gives up almost the last, though not quite the last, of the reserve powers, as they were called, of the House over Southern Rhodesia. In return, certain safeguards are given. In reading and studying the debates on the subject— 348 and there have been three in the last twelve months, or perhaps a little longer—I was only too struck with the fact that my right hon. and hon. Friends had little difficulty in showing the limited value of the safeguards which have been written into the new constitution. On the other hand, they had far more difficulty in showing that the reserve powers which were given up had been of very much use, either. I think that they have been of some use; the fact that they have never been used in practice is not conclusive, because they stood in the background and certainly had a restraining influence.
Nevertheless, in spite of some economic achievements, which no one doubts, the Southern Rhodesian Government, all through the period since 1923, has, I am afraid, passed some of the worst discriminatory legislation of any society outside the Republic of South Africa. I am afraid that that is what counted and what made the Africans in both Southern Rhodesia and the two Northern Territories, which matter so much on the question of federation, feel that is was a Government profoundly alien to them.
We come to the question whether that situation has not been changed. Several speakers opposite have suggested that the Southern Rhodesian Government have greatly changed their attitude and have begun a process of liberalisation. We must remember that however much we welcome these changes, they are very recent. They have taken place in recent months, not even in recent years. Surely we must not be altogether surprised if therefore they have not yet had an enormous impact on African opinion. But far be it from me to belittle the changes which Sir Edgar Whitehead's Government have begun to make in Southern Rhodesian government and society. Undoubtedly Sir Edgar Whitehead has made a real effort to start a process of liberalisation.
Undoubtedly the election, when it takes place, of fifteen African members to the Southern Rhodesian Parliament will mark an advance, and no one wishes for a moment to belittle that. The promise to repeal the Land Apportionment Act is a promise, if carried out, of very great importance. Something else 349 which would make an immediate impression would be the release of those African nationalist leaders who have been in gaol for three years now without a charge—surely a very serious situation. I know of no evidence that these men are more extreme or intractable than the African leaders with whom the Home Secretary will be dealing on his visit. I should have thought that if the Southern Rhodesian Government wishes to back up its liberalisation that is a very simple further step which it could take.
The question is what standards we are to judge by. All things are relative in this life. If we compare what has been begun and what has been promised in Southern Rhodesia with apartheid in South Africa the improvement is very real. An hon. Member opposite mentioned the one member which the Progressive Party in the Republic of South Africa has in the South African Parliament; and he mentioned the Progressive Party's programme. It is interesting, if we study that programme, which seems so extreme to most South Africans, with its limited franchise, its Bill of Rights, its entrenched protection for minorities in the Constitution—but without going to the fundamental principle of one man one vote. We see that it is very similar to what has been enacted or has been proposed in Southern Rhodesia. I suppose that it would be true to say that if only the Progressive Party could come to power in South Africa it would produce a situation rather like what is being produced in Southern Rhodesia today.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
Would my right hon. Friend agree that some of the measures to which he has been referring are regarded by many informed observers as being window dressing in order to ensure independence for the Territory but that from our side of the House it would be quite wrong to agree to that independence unless there was genuine self-determination?
§ Mr. Strachey
I will come in a moment to what I think to be the limitations of what is being done in Southern Rhodesia.
I think it is true to say that if the Progressive Party in South Africa—and I am using that as a standard of comparison—carried out its programme with 350 all its limitations, and not going nearly as far as we would have thought in equity or justice it should go, we would regard it as quite transforming the situation in South Africa, ending apartheid and moving South African policy in quite the opposite direction to that in which it is going today. We would therefore regard it with enormous pleasure and we should hope that if that could happen it might be possible to create a situation in which South Africa could be welcomed back into the Commonwealth. [Interruption.] I do not know why the Noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) finds that so funny. I should have thought it was something that he would welcome. Or has he now become a staunch supporter of apartheid in South Africa? That is the only thing one can suppose from his scoffing at any suggestion that we want to see come to power a South African party which is opposed to apartheid.
If we compare what is being done in Southern Rhodesia with what is being done in South Africa, then it is an enormous advance in liberalisation. But if we compare what is being done there with what is necessary to save the situation in Central Africa, then we have to compare it with the situation not to the south of Southern Rhodesia but to the north of it, to the two Northern Territories of the Federation, certainly, but also, of course, to all the ex-dependent territories of the rest of Africa.
We must point out that throughout almost the rest of Africa the concept of one man, one vote, of adult suffrage, has been conceded. I do not say that in all the new countries they will work a democratic system and an adult franchise successfully—it would be far too optimistic to suppose that—but on the part of the British Government there has been an assumption that the constitutions of the newly-independent territories would be on these lines.
Therefore, how can it really be supposed that the situation can be saved by what is the very limited advance of Southern Rhodesia—on this standard of comparison—by an advance which leaves on the Statute Book the discriminatory legislation to which I referred just now? For example, the Vagrancy 351 Act, which as I read it, makes unemployment an indictable offence for which one can be sent to prison for three years. Again, the Land Apportionment Act is also still on the Statute Book. As long as legislation of that sort exists, it makes it simply impossible for the African Leaders of the two Northern Territories to associate with the third potential partner, Southern Rhodesia.
Am I suggesting that the only step which could put this right, as suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) just now, would be the immediate introduction of complete adult suffrage on the principle of "one man, one vote" in Southern Rhodesia? I should have thought that for historical reasons which we frankly deplore—I do—but which we must recognise, that was impossible in one step.
I should have thought that nevertheless some franchise and some constitution very much in advance of the present one is a necessity if there is to be a tolerable future for the three territories in any kind of association. I should have thought that, more even than the franchise in Northern Rhodesia, the question of the future of Southern Rhodesia and the character of Southern Rhodesian society, which largely depends on the franchise, was the key.
I was struck by the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) that something in the nature of a franchise which produced a rough parity of numbers between African and European voters on a common rôle, and thus avoided the appalling complexities of all the fancy franchises which are being suggested and, indeed, implemented in Central Africa would mark an advance which would at any rate open the door to co-operation between the three territories. That is the same thing as co-operation between the three races. There are three races; the Asian race in Southern Rhodesia has to be considered as well as the Africans and the Europeans.
I should have thought that some franchise of that sort, which fell short of the full "one man, one vote" but was also an enormous advance on the proposed franchise under the Constitution, which still leaves an entrenched Euro- 352 pean two-thirds majority, was the only thing which would make possible peaceful and constructive co-operation and a solution to the problem of the three territories.
The Home Secretary is just about to go out to visit the three territories. We put to him the suggestion that he would enormously strengthen his own hand during the negotiations which he will begin out there—but which, certainly, he will not be able to conclude in one visit, because it will be an immensely difficult task—if he would, either by accepting our Amendment, or if that is difficult for him, by making a declaration saying what he half-said already today, but saying clearly and in a way that would be understood, that he believes in and intends to implement a franchise in Northern Rhodesia which makes possible an African majority, and that he fully acknowledges that the territories, as they come to true self-government, with Governments representing a majority of their population, have the right to secede from the present Federation if they so wish. I believe that, on the basis of these two acknowledgements, he would, at any rate, stand a chance of solving what is unquestionably and undeniably an agonisingly difficult problem.
Who can doubt that over our debate today, as over former debates on this subject, there has been a heavy sense of foreboding? We have been told, not today, but in former debates, from the other side, that at all costs we must avoid a Congo situation in Central Africa. We must avoid the breakdown of human society in the terrible chaos which undoubtedly arose when the Belgians left the Congo. I think that that danger, as a matter of fact, as the example of Nyasaland shows, is a fairly remote one; but there is something else which must be avoided. If we think of the danger of a British Congo, and it is a terrible one, in Central Africa, I suggest that an even more terrible danger that is possible is the danger of a British Algeria in Central Africa—the danger of a race war, which, by a failure to bring the necessary minimum of agreement on a solution might bring long-drawn-out racial violence in Central Africa.
I am not suggesting that the white population there could not defend them- 353 selves for quite a long time; but what possible future would they have? What possible results could there be except years of blood and shame, both for them and for us? [Interruption.] It is all right for the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South to groan, but what alternative has he to offer? We have an alternative, in the offer of conciliation between the races on the basis of the right of the Africans to progress towards self-government, and to do so rapidly. I suggest to him that there is no other course. These are the alternatives.
We say to the Home Secretary, who has never faced a more difficult problem—we realise that—that we wish him well on his visit; indeed, that is understating it. Our prayers go with him, because the whole future of Africa may be at stake. He will need all his sagacity, and he has sagacity, but he will need boldness also.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) for his concluding remarks. I certainly accept from the House their good wishes in the tour I am about to undertake. I am certain I shall need those good wishes and, as indeed the right hon. Member said, the prayers of those who wish for some solution to be found.
I noticed that in the speech of the right hon. Member he did not expect me to come back with a solution. I should be deluding the House if I caused hon. Members to think that in a short time—and I shall try to return to my duties as soon as possible—I could come back with an already fixed solution. That would be impossible. I am visiting all the territories concerned, and the mere physical movement will mean that there is a great deal of ground to cover, so I do not think I could come back with a fixed solution.
Nevertheless, I think the contacts I shall be able to make will be reinforced by this debate. There was some doubt about whether a debate before I went would be a good thing, but I was always under the impression that it would be a good thing as it would enable me to speak to the House and the House to speak to me. I have listened to the advice which has been given and taken 354 full note of it. It will be of extreme value to me.
There have been a variety of speeches in the debate, to nearly all of which I have listened. My right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Sir R. Nugent) referred to the right pace of advance and my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim. North (Mr. H. Clark) also referred to the same point. Of course, much depends upon the timing, as it always does in politics as we politicians know. Timing is the vital thing. The approach to this question is absolutely vital and timing will be the vital thing. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West referred to the Congo. I think some of my hon. Friends will reflect that the timing there was absolutely wrong. Therefore, we have in mind the very great importance in these discussions of timing.
The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) referred to me as being a one-man band and was in some doubt whether I would inherit the noble traditions of the Colonial Office and be able to translate into my person the traditions of that Office. I would only say that my first contacts with the African leaders—which are much too few up to date, but which I hope now will be increased—have shown me that they understand the position. I am dedicated, as my predecessors were, to the Preamble of the Constitution of 1953. I shall inherit my duties and, I hope, carry them through in the spirit in which I have taken them over.
My hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North referred to the importance of status, his point being that the African attaches more importance to self-advance, which I think is quite natural, than he does to pure economic advance. That enables me to raise a point made in the speech of the right hon. Member for Dundee, West when he said that I thought that the conclusion of Nyasaland leaving the Federation might be catastrophic. Those words were his. They are, I think, an exaggeration. I did not actually use them; I simply drew attention to the possible results. I shall be referring to Nyasaland later and I hope to take up that point and explain it. The hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) raised various points with 355 relation to Nyasaland and I should be dealing with those in the course of my speech.
My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) put before the House some very important economic facts, namely, the almost indissoluble connection between Northern and Southern Rhodesia. The Kariba Dam, which spans the gorge, might otherwise, as he said, be a boundary. He drew attention to the Wankie Colliery and rail freights which affect the situation as between North and South. I should like him to know that in dealing with this situation I shall have fully in mind, as I said in my opening speech, the economic value of the Federation or of some future association between the Territories.
He also referred to the Colonial Service. I should like to take the opportunity of telling him and the House that I shall certainly take a message from the House to the administrators that we ask them to continue with their good service. We acknowledge what they have done and I shall be meeting them and considering their point of view when I am there.
My hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) referred to the importance of confidence. I am sure that an important feature of my tour will be to restore confidence not only between the House and the Federation and the Governments concerned, but also between the House and some of the personalities in Central Africa. I attach first-class importance not only to my hon. Friend mentioning this point, but also to the fact that I have to carry it through.
The hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones), in a typically forthright speech, referred to the importance of my meeting trade unionists. I am going to Kitwe as well as to other industrial centres, and I am also going to Bulawayo, because I think that it is important that I should not stick only at the administrative capitals but should try to meet some of those really doing the work of the country.
The hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) made a very forthright speech and wanted the position posed like this: "Should the Federation be dissolved or 356 made to work?" It is valuable to have from him the fact that we must face the situation clearly and firmly.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) referred to moderate opinion, which was somewhat scoffed at by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West. But, as was evinced by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor, my hon. Friends attach importance to moderate opinion being given a chance to express itself, and that is why we attach so much importance to stemming intimidation from whatever source it may come. The hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) spoke of the importance of the democratic principles, and to that I subscribe.
After referring to the main speakers in the debate, and I think I have referred to all of them, the major part of my speech will deal with questions asked by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). His first point, on which I agreed with him, was that all the faults were not with the British Government. I am very much obliged to him for this one testimonial, about the only one he gave us in the course of a very long speech. I entirely agree with him that the faults do not lie with the British Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not only with the British Government."]—not only with the British Government.
At the same time, the British Government have done their best, and will continue to do their best, to help with the limited powers at their disposal. The hon. Member went on to say that 60 million Africans did not want us to betray 8 million Africans in the Central African area. With that I warmly agree. He went on to say that they would never forgive us if we gave priority to a minority of Europeans.
There is no question of our giving priority to any race or section of opinion. It is important for us to be absolutely just and to face the emergent tide of African nationalism with fairness but, nonetheless, to face the legitimate claims and contribution of the European community to this area. It is in that spirit that I approach the hon. Gentleman's speech in dealing with some of the matters to which he wanted me to pay attention. First, I do not propose to go backwards and consider the past record, to which he devoted a large portion of his speech. I propose to concen- 357 trate essentially on the latter part of his speech when he asked a series of constructive questions.
He said that we should not surrender any further powers to the European minority, and directly he said it there was a cry from this side of the House, "Nor to anyone else". That is exactly what I feel. We have no intention of surrendering further powers to any particular section. We intend, so to speak, to keep the ring. As for the references to statements about force, made by either European or African leaders, Her Majesty's Government do not intend to tolerate any statements which refer to a settlement by force of the intricate problems of the Federation. I referred in my speech to the importance of stopping intimidation on the African side Equally, the use of force in any way to solve this problem is inappropriate at the present time.
The second point made by the hon. Member related to foreign policy and whether we could control the foreign policy of the Federation. He said that he did not expect me to make a public statement about this, and I do not propose to do so. There are considerable intricacies in dealing with the foreign affairs of the Federation. I will certainly discuss the matter with my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary and, no doubt, I shall discuss it when I get out there, but I cannot go further with the House tonight.
The next point made by the hon. Member related to what he called the Dominion Party plan, namely, the withdrawal of the Copper Belt and the possible isolation of Barotseland and North-Eastern Rhodesia. All I would say about that is that I gave an answer on this subject to the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson)—Dundee seems to be very strongly represented in this debate—in which I said, on 29th March, that I wasasking the Governor to explain … that Her Majesty's Government are not committed to such a plan, or indeed to any particular solution of the problems in the Federation; but they are ready to receive proposals, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations said on 8th March. The solution to be sought should be one that can obtain general acceptance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th March, 1962; Vol. 656, c. 134.]That remains the view of Her Majesty's Government in relation to what is some- 358 times described as the Dominion Party plan and to which the hon. Member referred as having been put to hon. Members by Sir Edgar Whitehead.
I would like hon. Members to realise, however, that there are variations to this plan. It may well be that some of them would fall within the bounds of possibility. All I propose to do when I get out there is to listen to any suggestions that are made. I must, however, rehearse to the House at this stage, so that no faith is lost, the terms of the Preamble to the Constitution.
The Preamble to the Constitution of 1953, introduced by our own Government, runs as follows:whereas Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should continue, under the special protection of Her Majesty, to enjoy separate Governments for so long as their respective peoples so desire".I must pay attention to that Preamble in considering any plans for the future that may be brought forward. I should like to reserve my position in regard to considering any plan when I go out, subject to those considerations.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East referred to Barotseland. The position there is important and I shall certainly give it my personal consideration when I arrive in the territory. The present situation is that the new constitution for Northern Rhodesia and how it should be applied is being discussed between the Governor and the Litunga. When I get out there, I shall meet the Governor and ascertain his feelings. I do not doubt that the future of Barotseland will come up during my tour and deserves, in the opinion at least of my hon. Friends, really personal consideration, which I shall certainly give it.
The hon. Member criticised my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations about why he had visited Barotseland. All I can say is that his visit was extremely valuable to the Government and, I think, to the Litunga and people of Barotseland. I see no reason why he should be criticised in any sense for that visit.
The next point raised by the hon. Member was a welcome to my exploratory talks. I am grateful for this. It shows that the line I am taking is received by Her Majesty's Opposition as well as by the House itself. The hon. 359 Member for Devon, North in his speech asked me in more detail how the talks would develop. He asked in particular about the examination which I am making into the future of Nyasaland. The procedure in the case of the Nyasaland examination will be informal.
I propose to discuss all the details on my visit to Nyasaland—which I have never had the opportunity of visiting. It is proposed to associate the Government of Nyasaland with the inquiry. Therefore, I wish to discuss not only with the Governor but also with Dr. Banda how they should be associated with the inquiry. I shall not frame any terms of reference—and this is in reply to a question which the hon. Member asked—until I have discussed the matter with the Governor of Nyasaland. I shall also discuss the matter with all concerned when I am out there. Therefore, I cannot go further into the methods I shall employ until I have visited the Federation, and Nyasaland in particular. That indicates the limitations which must be imposed upon both my opening and concluding speeches. It would be wrong if I came to final conclusions before going out to discuss these matters.
The hon. Member asked me several questions about secession. That subject was also referred to by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West. I have nothing further to add to what I said in my opening speech. It is no good my forecasting what is likely to be discussed at a possible future Federal Review Conference. The House will be aware that secession was discussable at the last Conference. I will just repeat what I said about secession in relation to Nyasaland, namely, that Her Majesty's Government acknowledge the position of the Malawi Party, which wan the last election on the firm mandate that it was not prepared for Nyasaland to remain within the present Federation.
As I announced in my opening speech, the Government feel that before a final conclusion is reached there should be a full examination not only of the financial position—and it is a very serious one—but also of the consequences of withdrawal and the possible alternative forms of association with the other territories. The hon. Member said that he 360 hoped that Nyasaland would forge some economic association with its neighbours. In the speech made by the hon. Member for Devon, North he referred to the contact made between the Minister of Labour in Southern Rhodesia and Dr. Banda. I was aware of this, and the hon. Member has given it full ventilation in the House. These are healthy developments. That is why the Government want to take a constructive attitude in the matter and to see whether, with agreement, we cannot forge economic and other associations for the future. I do not wish to prejudge this matter at this stage.
The hon. Member suggested that no commitments should be made against the will of the people. In this connection I will simply repeat what I said in my opening speech, namely:At the same time it is clear, as I indicated in relation to Nyasaland, that any association which is to last must be acceptable to the territories concerned and must be based on the good will of their peoples.I hope that hon. Members will accept that as being as far as I can go tonight on the question of secession. If we have to have a vote on the subject I hope that we can do so realising that there is a legitimate difference of opinion between us without there being any violent dissension on these important matters.
The hon. Member asked whether we could grant Nyasaland any further advance in its internal constitution. I cannot say any more about that tonight, because I have not yet met Dr. Banda. I am meeting him immediately after I go to Salisbury, and I am visiting Nyasaland before I go to Northern Rhodesia. I must restrain myself from discussing these matters before I visit the territory and the Governor. The hon. Member asked several questions relating to Northern Rhodesia, including the question whether the Delimitation Commission would have an English judge. I think that he meant to ask whether it would have an independent judge. All that I would say on that is that we shall appoint a judge who is independent to perform this extremely difficult task. I cannot go further in that connection tonight.
361 The hon. Member also asked whether the Governor had agreed to the registration of the northern divisional headquarters of U.N.I.P. I am informed that an appeal is pending, and the undertaking that I can give to the House is that, pending the result of the appeal, I shall hope to discuss this matter when I reach Northern Rhodesia in the latter part of this month. The other question raised by him about the national seats I think raised a certain amount of apprehension. In the case of Northern Rhodesia, we propose that there shall be no frustration in connection with the national seats. We propose that if the national seats do not succeed in the first round there will be by-elections to fill them. In answer to Mr. Kenneth Kaunda's question, we do not propose that nominations shall be made by the Governor to fill the national seats. We do not think that a new Constitution will be necessary, such as was referred to by the hon. Gentleman, but we think that it may be necessary to have extra elections on a second round if the national seats are not filled on the first round.
Regarding the next point raised in relation to Southern Rhodesia, I think that the hon. Gentleman went a bit wide of his brief because he gave the impression to the House that the Europeans might destroy the African seats and might alter the income qualifications to the detriment of the Africans. I have examined the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia since the hon. Gentleman spoke. While I should not like to give a final answer on something so complicated, if the hon. Gentleman will examine Section 9 (2) of the Constitution, he will see that this aspect of the franchise is entrenched in the Constitution and the entrenched portions of the Constitution require that a referendum shall be held of all racial groups voting independently before the franchise could be altered in this way. That indicates that there are in the Constitution entrenched features which makes such a contingency most unlikely.
I think that I have covered most of the points raised by my hon. Friends, by the right hon. Member for Dundee. West and by the hon. Member for Leeds, 362 East. I should like to refer to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman in relation to Southern Rhodesia, which has been so controversial with U.N.O. The right hon. Gentleman referred to discrimination and was in some doubt whether anything had been done about it. In paragraph 221 of its Report, the Monckton Commission gives some indication of the way discrimination has been dealt with in Southern Rhodesia. The Report states:While these are only beginnings, they do mark a trend which is accelerating and is moving in precisely the opposite direction to the trend of the present government policy in the Union of South Africa.That is encouraging and confirms what the right hon. Gentleman said. So far as I can ascertain, it is the intention of the Prime Minister to deal with the Land Apportionment Act, and that will be a further step in non-discrimination which is so vital a feature of the development of Southern Rhodesia. So I think we may take hope that that Constitution will develop as the other Constitutions are doing.
To conclude this debate, the position is that while outside opinion in the world and outside opinion in Africa would like us to go more quickly with individual Constitutions we have, as has been said in this debate, made considerable progress with the individual Constitutions. We do not propose, either under the articles of the United Nations or anybody else, to alter these Constitutions. We propose to go ahead and have the elections. I think that is the sensible thing to do in the face of all the difficulties which confront me. We are now, therefore, facing the Constitutions. Let us hope that they will produce suitable results. We are now in fact approaching the next stage.
In the face of the Liberal Amendment, I am not prepared to summon a Federal Review Conference. I think that is right. But I am prepared to do some exploratory work, to hear views and to carry this matter further. It is my conviction that we can obtain a moderate and firm solution and if we can, the House will have the credit for having had a good and a sensible debate.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—364
§ The House divided: Ayes 293, Noes 195.367
|Division No. 176.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Allason, James||Errington, Sir Eric||Leburn, Gilmour|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Arbuthnot, John||Farr, John||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Fisher, Nigel||Lilley, F. J. P.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lindsay, Sir Martin|
|Barber, Anthony||Forrest, George||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Barlow, Sir John||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Barter, John||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Batsford, Brian||Gammans, Lady||Longden, Gilbert|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Gardner, Edward||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Gibson-Watt, David||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn|
|Bell, Ronald||Gilmour, Sir John||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Glover, Sir Douglas||MacArthur, Ian|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||McLaren, Martin|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia|
|Bidgood, John C.||Goodhart, Philip||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)|
|Biffen, John||Goodhew, Victor||McLean, Neil (Inverness)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gough, Frederick||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Grant, Rt. Hon. William||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||McMaster, Stanley R.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Green, Alan||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Gresham Cooke, R.||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Bossom, Clive||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Gurden, Harold||Maddan, Martin|
|Box, Donald||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maginnis, John E.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Brooman-White, R.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Marten, Neil|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Bryan, Paul||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Buck, Antony||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Bullard, Denys||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Mawby, Ray|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Hastings, Stephen||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Burden, F. A.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mills, Stratton|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Hendry, Forbes||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Hiley, Joseph||Morgan, William|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Morrison, John|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hobson, Sir John||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Hocking, Philip N.||Noble, Michael|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Holland, Philip||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Hollingworth, John||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Cole, Norman||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Collard, Richard||Hopkins, Alan||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Cooke, Robert||Hornby, R. P.||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Cordle, John||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Partridge, E.|
|Costain, A. P.||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Coulson, Michael||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Peel, John|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Iremonger, T. L.||Peyton, John|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Critchley, Julian||Jackson, John||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||James, David||Pilkington, Sir Richard|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jennings, J. C.||Pitman, Sir James|
|Cunningham, Knox||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pott, Percivall|
|Curran, Charles||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Joseph, Sir Keith||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Dance, James||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Prior, J. M. L.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kerans, Cdr J. S.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Pym, Francis|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Kershaw, Anthony||Ramsden, James|
|Doughty, Charles||Kimball, Marcus||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kirk, Peter||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|du Cann, Edward||Kitson, Timothy||Rees, Hugh|
|Duncan, Sir James||Lagden, Godfrey||Renton, David|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Lambton, Viscount||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Elliott, R. W. (Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Leather, E. H. C.||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)||Studholme, Sir Henry||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Robson Brown, Sir William||Summers, Sir Spencer||Walder, David|
|Roots, William||Tapsell, Peter||Walker, Peter|
|Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Russell, Ronald||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)||Webster, David|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)||Whitelaw, William|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Teeling, Sir William||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Seymour, Leslie||Temple, John M.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Sharples, Richard||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Shaw, M.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Shepherd, William||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wise, A. R.|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Smithers, Peter||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Woollam, John|
|Spearman, Sir Alexander||Turner, Colin||Worsley, Marcus|
|Stanley, Hon. Richard||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Stevens, Geoffrey||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Vane, W. M. F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Stodart, J. A.||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mr. Chichester-Clark and|
|Storey, Sir Samuel||Vickers, Miss Joan||Mr. Finlay.|
|Abse, Leo||Greenwood, Anthony||Oswald, Thomas|
|Ainsley, William||Grey, Charles||Padley, W. E.|
|Albu, Austen||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Paget, R. T.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Awbery, Stan||Gunter, Ray||Parker, John|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Paton, John|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Beaney, Alan||Harper, Joseph||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Bence, Cyril||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Peart, Frederick|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Hayman, F. H.||Pentland, Norman|
|Benson, Sir George||Healey, Denis||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Blackburn, F.||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Blyton, William||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Hilton, A. V.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics. S. W.)||Holman, Percy||Probert, Arthur|
|Bowles, Frank||Houghton, Douglas||Proctor, W. T.|
|Boyden, James||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hoy, James H.||Randall, Harry|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Rankin, John|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hunter, A. E.||Redhead, E. C.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Reid, William|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Janner, Sir Barnett||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Callaghan, James||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Rhodes, H.|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Chapman, Donald||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Cliffe, Michael||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Collick, Percy||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Ross, William|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Kelley, Richard||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Kenyon, Clifford||Short, Edward|
|Cronin, John||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Crosland, Anthony||King, Dr. Horace||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Lawson, George||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Darling, George||Ledger, Ron||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Small, William|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Loughlin, Charles||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Delargy, Hugh||Lubbock, Eric||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Dempsey, James||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Steele, Thomas|
|Diamond, John||MacColl, James||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Dodds, Norman||MacDermot, Niall||Stonehouse, John|
|Donnelly, Desmond||McInnes, James||Stones, William|
|Driberg, Tom||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McLeavy, Frank||Taverne, D.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Evans, Albert||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Marsh, Richard||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Finch, Harold||Mellish, R. J.||Thornton, Ernest|
|Fitch, Alan||Mendelson, J. J.||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||Millan, Bruce||Timmons, John|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Milne, Edward||Wade, Donald|
|Forman, J. C.||Mitchison, G. R.||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Monslow, Walter||Warbey, William|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Moody, A. S.||Weitzman, David|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mulley, Frederick||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Ginsburg, David||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Oliver, G. H.||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Gourley, Harry||Oram, A. E.||Whitlock, William|
|Wigg, George||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Wilkins, W. A.||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Willey, Frederick||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Williams, D. J. (Neath)||Winterbottom, R. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard||Mr. Charles A. Howell and|
|Main Question put and agreed to,|
|That this House supports Her Majesty's Government's efforts in helping to seek a solution of the problems of Central Africa.|