§ 3.5 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion for Second Reading, moved yesterday by the Earl of Munster.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
My Lords, the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt and the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, speaking in this debate yesterday afternoon, laid particular stress upon the fact that the debate appeared to them to be unreal. They said that they took that view because it was not within the capacity of this House to alter the Constitution of Rhodesia and Nyasaland as passed by the last Conference held in London, and afterwards confirmed by the referendum held in Rhodesia. I confess that I also regarded the debate as unreal, but not at all for the reasons which those noble Lords gave. In the first place, the fact that the Bill was in no way subject to amendment was not due to obstinacy on the part of Her Majesty's present Government. It is the invariable practice in matters of this kind. When Her Majesty's Government have made an engagement with another Government—whether it be a Government of the Commonwealth or a foreign Government—then the honour of this country is pledged, and always Parliament, in being asked to ratify that particular Treaty or Agreement, or whatever it may be, is asked to do so without amendment. Parliament, in fact, can either accept the decision of the Government of the day, or it can turn out the Government of the day. But it has no other alternative; and this particular debate is certainly no exception in that respect.
May I remind your Lordships of certain precedents? Let me recall, for instance, the debate on the American Loan. Parliament had absolutely no discretion in that important matter. It could either accept the Loan on the terms which had been negotiated by the Government—there was no question 271 whatever of any capacity on the part of Parliament to vary those terms—or it could turn out the Government, something which there was little prospect of doing at that time. I do not think that any of your Lordships who remember that debate will consider it a debate which was unreal or without value on that account. I remember it as being one of the most interesting debates to which I have listened in this House. I think it was the occasion on which the late Lord Keynes made his last speech.
I will take another precedent, one which is perhaps even closer to what we are doing to-day. Let me take the case of the decision made by His late Majesty's Government in favour of the immediate partition and emancipation of India. That was announced in another place on June 3, 1947, and simultaneously in this House, without any previous consultation whatever; and so short was the discussion given to the Act which followed that it was passed before the Summer Recess. And I would remind your Lordships that on that occasion noble Lords on my side of the House certainly felt as deeply about India as any noble Lords on the other side of the House at the present moment can feel about what is happening in Africa. There was no question as to how profoundly distressed they were concerning what was being done, but they recognised—
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
If the noble Lord will forgive my interrupting him, I am sure he will agree that the establishment of the independence of India was agreed between all three parties, and that is not the case with regard to the present Bill.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
I am afraid that I cannot accept that statement. The agreement of the parties then was made on two conditions—I am sorry to have to go into this, because I think it is really irrelevant, but since I have been questioned I must do so. In the first place, it was a condition of taking the step that there was agreement on the part of all parties in India. In the second place, it was a condition that there should be a period of Dominion status, during which India and Pakistan should have the freest possible discretion as to whether or not they remained in the Common- 272 wealth. As a matter of fact, there were many other conditions attached to that declaration which were subsequently added by the Government. Therefore, I cannot accept the correction offered to me by the noble Earl. Let us consider the parallel in that case. Deeply as noble Lords in this House felt, they recognised that the honour of the King's Government, as it was then, had been pledged, and they felt that it would not be right or wise to vote against the Second Reading of the measure. I have not consulted the records, but I am certain that they did not do so. I think that is an exact parallel, and I hope it will be followed by noble Lords opposite in the present instance.
Is it to be said that the parallel is not a real one, because conditions are very different in the case of this Bill for the federation of the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland? With that I would disagree entirely. I think the parallel is remarkable. Let me give your Lordships one instance alone. We heard a good deal yesterday from the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, about the Nyasaland Chiefs. I hope that he has not forgotten those even greater chiefs, the Indian Princes, who were responsible for two-thirds of the area of India and for one-third of its population. Under the decision which the then Government took, their treaties were repudiated and they had no means of re-establishing their position. One of them, I know—and perhaps more than one—asked the question which has been asked by the Nyasaland Chiefs: whether they could not remain as independent Territories or Dominions directly subject to the Crown—exactly the question asked by the Nyasaland Chiefs. The answer given by Lord Mountbatten was, No; that was not open to them.
Let me say to the noble Earl that, so far as I know, no single voice was raised in this House among noble Lords belonging to the Conservative Party to suggest to the Indian Princes that they should take this question outside the Commonwealth and submit it to the United Nations. They accepted the decision of His Majesty's Government as being responsible within the Commonwealth, and that was the end of it. Whether the Indian Princes would have succeeded in an appeal to the United Nations, I do not 273 know. I am familiar with the Agreement under which the Nyasaland Chiefs came under the protection of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, and I should say that the case of the Indian Princes was immensely stronger than theirs. Nevertheless, the decision was then accepted. In all humbleness, I beg noble Lords to remember that precedent and to recognise the great harm that may be done, when once the honour of the British Government and the honour of the British people have been pledged, if Parliamentary and Party division is carried too far. It is the function of this House to try to prevent that from happening in our domestic and our Commonwealth affairs. I beg noble Lords to consider whether that might not be a good precedent to follow in the present instance.
§ EARL JOWITT
My Lords, I did not suggest or express any opinion about the claim of the Nyasaland Chiefs. I merely stated, as I believed to be the fact, that they contemplated trying to get their case put before the United Nations. I say nothing as to the merits of the case, nor do I advocate or express any opinion on it; but I say as a fact, that they are trying to get their case put before the United Nations.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
Of course, the noble and learned Earl is quite right upon the facts, but he is not a political innocent, and he knows perfectly well that if the late Lord Chancellor makes a speech, as he did, saying that the Nyasaland Chiefs have a case, in fact he is encouraging them to put that case before the United Nations.
§ EARL JOWITT
My Lords, I stated that the case of the Nyasaland Chiefs—this is no laughing matter. If the noble Lord will forgive me, he made an attack on me, and there is no reason why he should laugh when I answer. I merely stated that the case of the Nyasaland Chiefs was not to my mind fanciful or imaginary, and could not be dismissed as merely a question of the Africans being afraid of the dark. That is all I said.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
In the first place, let me apologise to the noble and learned Earl. I was not laughing at the interruption which he had made, which I welcome. I was laughing because my neighbour had asked me how long I should be, and I replied that that depends on how much I was interrupted. That 274 was the sole reason that I smiled when the noble Earl rose a second time. Of course, he is perfectly right and his description of his own speech is absolutely correct; but really he must realise that a former Lord Chancellor, now the Leader of the Opposition in this House, does not say that kind of thing without its being taken very seriously and being regarded as encouragement. I do not think he would differ from me about that, otherwise he is greatly understating his own position in politics and his influence in the Commonwealth.
I have mentioned the case of the Indian Princes, but there was another aspect of the Indian decision which has some bearing upon the Bill which we are discussing to-day. Under the Indian Independence Act this House and another place completely repudiated all the responsibility which they held for the protection of the under-dog in India. They were pledged to look after the under-dog in India, and they abdicated from that responsibility. I do not believe we are doing that in this case. Under this proposed Constitution Parliament retains a large measure of responsibility for the African who cannot speak for himself. Parliament, through the Colonial Office, is retaining practically complete control of native affairs, and therefore the extent to which this Parliament is abdicating responsibility in Central Africa is much less than was the case with India. I do not wish to put this matter controversially. I am really quoting precedents. I am sure the noble and learned Earl will give me credit for that. I think it is extremely important that we should recognise what the precedents are. In this House we should regulate our procedure in accordance, with what matters most on such questions as this, which is not merely to pursue our Party disputes in this country, but to do our utmost to maintain good relations and good will between this Parliament and the four Parliaments to which we are delegating responsibility in the Rhodesias and Nyasaland. That is the most important consideration. I believe that the way in which we conduct ourselves in the final stage of this debate, and, in particular, the way in which we deal with the Second Reacting, will have a great effect upon that vital issue.
275 We are unquestionably devoting ourselves to an act of faith in passing this Bill, just as we made an act of faith when we handed over all responsibility to two completely independent Governments in India. We accepted the position in the case of India because, despite the dangers and the doubts which were involved, and despite also—and I must say this—the breaches of faith which were involved, we believed that that was the best and wisest course which could be pursued in very difficult circumstances; and because it was the best and wisest, it was the right course, which, whatever it cost, ought to be pursued. It was an act of faith. I remember, sadly, that we made that act of faith upon the assurance from both great Parties in India that the change would be carried out peacefully and without bloodshed. Unhappily, that was not the case in India. But I believe we are going to have the exact opposite in Africa. A great deal of protracted opposition is being threatened in Africa. I do not believe it will be anything like what is predicted. It will certainly bear no resemblance to what took place in the case of the transfer of responsibility for government in India. I say that with conviction. But I should like to add that I say that without in any way underrating the importance of African feeling in this matter.
Nobody who knows Africa can doubt that at the present moment there is a tremendous wave of unrest, suspicion, fear and ambition running throughout Africa; no one who is not a political idiot would fail to recognise that most important fact. That condition of mind among the African peoples at the present time, however it is being aroused—and I do not want to argue thatpoint—is not open to question. I know a good deal about Africans—at any rate, I have dealt with them for a great many years of my life. I do not know them as well as do many noble Lords in this House—for instance, the noble Lord, LordHarlech—but I know that on such matters as this the great mass are not open or equal to argument. Argument means nothing to them. For one thing, very few of them understand the terms which you use; they misunderstand even the terms with which you are trying to convince them. 276 The only thing which will convince Africans is a demonstration that the evils they fear are not going to occur; and that I am absolutely confident we can give them. But if we are to give that demonstration, the essential thing is to have the co-operation of the Governments and of our own people in the two Rhodesias. Without that we cannot do it. I feel that the result of the referendum in Rhodesia shows that we can do that with the greatest confidence.
To my mind, the significance of that referendum has been greatly underrated. It certainly ties our hands in this House, because it was taken on the understanding that, if the Rhodesian electorate approved the Constitution which was agreed to at the last Conference, then it would be passed by this Parliament. But it was a great decision which was taken in the referendum by the Southern Rhodesian electorate. With one exception, it is, I believe, the only example of a self-governing nation accepting any derogation from its powers of self-government. The only other example is Newfoundland, and Newfoundland accepted it because she was absolutely bankrupt and incapable of carrying on. That is not the case in Southern Rhodesia: Southern Rhodesia is extremely prosperous. Nevertheless, Southern Rhodesians accepted a serious derogation from their powers of self-government, which they had enjoyed for thirty years.
Why did they accept that? They accepted it—and this is why I have confidence in them—not from any financial motives but because they were loyal to the British system and because they wished to do their utmost to see that the British system was established beyond challenge in Central Africa. I am convinced that that was the prevailing motive. It was certainly the motive most strongly argued by Sir Godfrey Huggins in the meetings before the referendum; and I believe it was the strongest motive with the white electorate, and indeed, also, with the black electorate, in Southern Rhodesia. They announced, as no other self-governing community in the Commonwealth has ever before been ready to do, that they were prepared to share responsibility in Africa with the Colonial Office, with Downing Street—the very thing from which most self-governing Governments revolt, and always have revolted 277 throughout our Imperial history. Not only did they do that, but they accepted a grave new commitment, because, after all, Southern Rhodesia made itself responsible—indirectly, but nevertheless responsible—for great expenditure and great decisions of policy in regard to native territories, such as Nyasaland.
Even before that referendum I had a great admiration for, and trust in, our people in Rhodesia; now, I am bound to say, that admiration is greater than ever. They accepted this system, I believe, with great faith and great generosity. So far from deserving our criticism or our doubt, they deserve the utmost confidence from us, and I trust that it will be given. If we give them good will and co-operation, they will certainly reciprocate. A great deal depends upon your Lordships as to the atmosphere in which that system of co-operation will start. It is not my affair, but I hope that on that account—and I have tried to present the case fairly and broadly—therewill be no Division upon the Second Reading of this Bill to-day. Noble Lords opposite have said, I am sure with complete sincerity, that once this Bill is through they will do their utmost to make it a success. Well, it is going through; and, certainly they can do nothing more to give it a good start than to realise that it is going through, and must go through, unless we are to repudiate the word which we have given. Realising that, I hope they will decide—as Conservative noble Lords agreed on a previous occasion—not to divide upon the Second Reading of this Bill.
I do not wish to detain your Lordships much longer, but I must deal with another reason, different from those given by the noble and learned Earl and the noble Viscount, why I found the debate of yesterday unreal. In common with the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, I felt very strongly that the speeches made by Lord Jowitt and Lord Samuel, and by some other noble Lords, showed no appreciation whatever of the pace at which events are moving in Africa, or of what would be the alternative if this federation were not carried through at the present moment After all, practical statesmen have to consider alternatives. What would happen if this measure were repudiated? I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, that the days of Downing Street control in Africa are narrowly 278 numbered. They have practically gone in West Africa; they have gone in the Sudan, and in existing conditions they will not last very much longer anywhere unless we secure the support in Africa itself of people who share our own Christian democratic scheme of values and give us their support in that Continent. You cannot maintain what you are striving to maintain in Africa by remote control. The day for that is passing very rapidly; I am not sure that it has not passed already. I consider, therefore, that, so far from federation being premature, it is perhaps too late. I hope it is not too late, but it may be.
Unless a Federation is established now, the consequences will be quite certain. What would happen if we were unable to intervene in any manner whatever? There would be a Union between the two Rhodesias. What was once united would once again be united. Unless we were prepared to go to war over it, nothing in the world would prevent that one self-governing community and the other very close to self-government from coming together in the present situation. What then would happen to Nyasaland and the other native Territories? In my opinion, if that happened it would be a disaster for the native Territories, and I say that despite the fact that, because they do not understand the situation, some of them have even suggested it. What would it mean? It would mean that all wealth, all promise of wealth and practically all production of wealth, would be concentrated in the white areas, and poverty would be concentrated in the native areas. No wonder that the white minority in Southern Rhodesia—including, so I am told, the whole trade union vote in Southern Rhodesia—were strongly in favour of a solution of this kind! What a disaster for the native people! But that is the alternative. Nothing in the world could prevent those two communities from coming together. They were one; we separated them. And they will certainly come together again. The only question is, in what manner and with what responsibilities?
Let no one, however, think—I repeat and insist.—that in this question of imposing federation, I regard African opinion as negligible. I believe federation should be imposed not because I have a disregard for African opinion, but 279 because I am absolutely convinced that the greatest sufferers would be Africans if it were not imposed at the present moment. African suspicion and unrest are very grave. What is the remedy? Certainly not the vote. You might give the vote to everybody who on any conceivable qualification could qualify at the present moment, and it would not make the slightest difference to the real mass of the people in the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland. Nor will it be done by higher education. I am all for university training without a colour bar of any kind. I am all for hostels in one wide location so that there may be no question of colour discrimination. But when every conceivable African who can qualify for a degree has done so, it will not for years make the slightest difference to the welfare and progress of the great mass of Africans in the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland. Let us get on with it; it is an important element in the situation; but it is not going to help the great mass of the people.
And most certainly they are not going to be helped by speeches in this Parliament. On the whole, speeches in this Parliament do harm. They create opposition to what might otherwise be done very easily without opposition. I believe we all have at heart the raising of the great mass of the people in Africa. I believe the white people of Rhodesia also have it at heart. They know that there can be no such thing as white domination. They know that white guidance and white control, if it comes from the West, must be white guidance and white control in accordance with the principles and the sentiment of the West. That may not be accepted in the Union of South Africa, but in the Rhodesias it is accepted, well appreciated and thoroughly approved. They know all that. But the advancement of Africans cannot be pursued effectively by speeches in this Parliament.
What is going to raise the mass of the people in the Rhodesias and Nyasaland is good administration. Now of what does that consist? It consists, in the first place, of a great number of services: education, health, better agriculture, good communications, irrigation and all that is necessary to help production, and, above all—and I insist on this—the education of women. But all that costs money, and the money will certainly not 280 come from this Parliament. The taxpayer in this country will not have the revenue or the capital to put into the Rhodesias on the scale that is required. Therefore, it must come from other sources. If, moreover, you are going to have good administration you must have a good Civil Service. I agree absolutely with what the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chichester, said yesterday, that in this matter the king-pin is the administrative officer.
I remember many years ago when the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, and I were discussing Kenya, having an argument with him upon this subject. Great pressure was then being applied for the appointment of specialist officers, biochemists, agricultural officers, and every kind of specialist. I was not opposed to that, but I did argue that, while science was absolutely essential to progress, it must be given to the African with acceptance; and acceptance could be secured only by good administrative officers. I believe that part of the trouble which has arisen in Kenya lately is due to the fact that there has been too much insistence on trying to get ahead with technical advice, and too little insistence on good and close administration, particularly on administration by sufficient numbers to keep the administrative officer in constant contact with his own people. I believe that to be absolutely and vitally important. The first need, then, is good administration and good district officers.
The only other essential for a Civil Service is security. I observed with some amusement yesterday that the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, talked of equal status having been achieved for the races in West Africa. I can assure the noble Viscount that so far as West Africa is concerned it is not now a question of equal status; it is a question of black supremacy. That is the actual situation in West Africa. The Civil Service feels, in consequence, that it has no security. That is the plain fact; and that is what is going to happen elsewhere in Africa unless we give up the foolish belief that we here in this country can give sufficient security to a service operating in Africa, and unless we realise that it must be anchored to a system of government in Africa itself which shares its own schemes of values. Without that, your only instrument, the Civil Service, will be lost to you.
281 Without good and close co-operation between this Parliament and the Parliaments of Central Africa, without the revenues which can be derived from the development of the central spine of Africa, and without the capital which will be attracted only if you establish security, you cannot have a good Civil Service. I would only ask that the Government here should do their utmost to promote the welfare of that Civil Service and to see that when it asks for men, as it is bound to do, it is given the best men who can be spared from service here or elsewhere. Some will probably be found from among those who are to be discarded from the Sudan; but in any case we should send the best we can.
Remember this, my Lords: that you are putting upon a very small white population an immense responsibility, because you have no alternative. They are the only representatives of our civilisation who can do the job at the present moment, and they are going to have great difficulty in meeting the demands which will be made upon them. They have got to man no fewer than four Legislatures, one of them a federal one, and that is a great demand on a population of that kind. They must therefore be given a good Civil Service. If you give them a Civil Service which wins their confidence and which has confidence in them, then you will be establishing in Central Africa a medium through which your influence here will be very strongly felt and which will be a harmonising, progressive and educational influence in the whole process of Central African government.
I beg, therefore, that the Government will pay special attention to the establishing in Africa of a good Civil Service, anchored to Africa, because that is what Central Africa most requires at the present moment. Given that, I believe that this decision will justify itself. Faith in our own system is indispensable. We are fighting a challenge from a materialistic and dogmatic religion which is absolutely fanatical, which has no lack of faith in its own formulæ, and which believes it can predict clearly what is going to happen. We do not make any claim of that kind. Faith, I would remind the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester—I regret he is not here at the moment—is the "evidence of 282 things not seen." He seemed to me to be asking for assurances which are never given in this world—certainly not given by practical statesmen. We have got to act with faith. Our human vision in these matters is very limited. Statesmen can only do what they think best. Let them act, not drift, and, for the rest, put their confidence in Divine wisdom. I have always felt that our Christian British statesmen should echo Newman's Prayer, that hymn which is so familiar to all of us:Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see The distant scene; one step enough for me.My Lords, so far as Central Africa is concerned I am most profoundly convinced that this is the right step, and I hope that, despite all the doubts and differences which we may feel, your Lordships will act as a united House in giving this great scheme a send-off, with generosity and confidence.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
My Lords, it is some time since we had the pleasure of seeing or hearing the noble Lord who has just spoken. He has apparently come to your Lordships' House to-day to unload a lecture mainly on the opposition to this scheme. He started his speech by going back to an Indian precedent with which, it appears, he disagreed. If we spent the time which was allocated to this debate in going back to dealing with precedents of injustice in the past we need not go to India; many instances can be found of injustices which have been meted out to the people of this country on very many occasions. I must say that I thought the noble Lord's speech was a most dangerous speech: certainly the most dangerous speech I have listened to in this debate and throughout the discussion—I will not call it controversy—in another place. In the discussion there on the Third Reading of this Bill it was admitted on all sides that there was a desire that controversy should, so far as possible, be eliminated. The principle of federation of Central Africa—perhaps the noble Lord had not recognised this—was admitted and agreed to eighteen months ago. It is not the principle that has given rise to controversy in another place or, indeed, in this debate.
I do not wish to strike a note of controversy in this House but I thought the 283 noble Lord's references to the speech of the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, and also to the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, in the debate yesterday were most unfair and undeserved. The two speeches were, I thought, most helpful, and every speech which was delivered was directed to seeing that this great scheme of federation for Central Africa should be launched under auspices that would almost guarantee its success. Really, why the noble Lord ever delivered this speech this afternoon I just cannot understand. No reference was made yesterday to endangering or harming the European population in Southern Rhodesia, in Nyasaland or in Northern Rhodesia.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
The last thing I desired to do was to promote controversy: let that be perfectly clear. I think it was made perfectly clear by the noble and learned Earl that he was against the imposition of this scheme. He said so himself. That was the point against which I was arguing, a legitimate matter for debate. So far as the noble Viscount is concerned, he said: Why this year; why not next year or the year after? Against that point I thought it my duty to argue. But I am not promoting controversy. All that I am saying is that imposition in present circumstances is inevitable and that. if you do not do now as you are pledged to do, you will regret it.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
It is a question of timing; that is all. Several opinions have been expressed in this House, even by noble Lords in the Conservative Party, suggesting that the timing was a little unfortunate. But now, in view of the fact that this Bill is going through, there was an expression that it should go through without controversy, which I am afraid the noble Lord may have started. I am not going to follow that train at all, because I am convinced that the attitude adopted in the first three speeches yesterday—of the spokesman on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, of the noble and learned Earl on behalf of the Opposition and of the noble Viscount on behalf of the Liberal Party—is the line to follow. Indeed, the purpose of those speeches was the bringing together of both the white and the black populations in this great country. It is to that that I am going to 284 address myself this afternoon. In what I say I shall not detract for one moment, or indeed in a single word, from what the noble Lord has said in relation to the responsibility of the white population, the European population, of these three Territories. At the same time, however, we must have some regard for the interests of the millions of others who are resident in those Territories.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
Surely the noble Viscount is not suggesting that I did not say so. I spoke about it continuously and I explained how it was to be done.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
There was more than one implication in the speech of the noble Lord, which he took some time to deliver. Again, do not misunderstand me. I do not intend to enter into controversy with regard to the white population. They are doing and have done, a grand job, and they should be encouraged to continue to do it. From this side of the House we will encourage them in every possible way. But there is no doubt about the African attitude in connection with the bringing into operation of this Constitution. They are definitely against it, and the Government themselves must have some anxiety as to the reaction of the Africans in this matter.
In a recent debate in another place the Secretary of State himself said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 515 (No. 103), Col. 416) that there wasa very hard core of African oppositionto this scheme of federation. The Minister of State, Mr. Hopkinson, tried to water it down by stating that 90 per cent. of the Africans involved in this scheme had no opinion. It is dangerous that he or anyone in this House should think that the Africans have no opinion, because they are guided by others who have opinions and, indeed, opinions which perhaps are not always advantageous to the Africans. That is one of the difficulties with which we are confronted. I should like to refer to one of the most convincing speeches made on this subject of the African attitude by a noble Lord belonging to the same Party as the noble Lord who has just spoken—I refer to the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford. He described himself as a proud member of the Conservative Party, and he had every 285 right so to describe himself. He looked at the African question in the light of convictions formed by him during twenty-six years in Africa. True, it was mainly in West and East Africa; but that qualification applies to many other people who have spoken in favour of this proposed new Constitution. I could name a number of others who have not been to Central Africa but who pose as experts on Central Africa. However, there is little difference in the attitude of mind of the native if he is in Africa.
Let us see what the noble Lord, Lord Hemmingford, said in relation to this matter. I am now paraphrasing. His convictions were that British leadership avails little unless it wins a large African following, that infinite patience is required to persuade the Africans; that Africans will accept even unpalatable proposals from leaders they fully trust, and that it is wiser to defer the best laid plans than to forfeit that trust. He was convinced that no Federal Scheme would work, either economically or politically, without the general support of the Africans. He maintained that opposition against it was overwhelming, and he cited five influential groups of Africans, officially recognised by the Government as entitled to speak for African opinion. He gave the names of those organisations: the African Representative Council of Northern Rhodesia, the Protectorate Council of Nyasaland, the African Mineworkers' Union, and, in Southern Rhodesia, the Supreme Council of eight African organisations.
I should like noble Lords to remember that we are not dealing with small groups of people in considering this scheme of federation. At the present time the population of the three Territories—the figures were given yesterday by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester—is something like 6,250,000. The Europeans in the three Territories number round about 200,000—that is, one European to every thirty Africans. If we take Nyasaland, where there is no settled European population—if there is, it is a Very small one—we found that the number of Europeans there is 2,000, out of a population of over 2 million—or one European for every 1,000 Africans. I am quoting these figures to try to impress upon your Lordships the vital importance of securing African support in rela- 286 tion to this scheme, and, indeed, for the working generally of government in this Territory.
Uneducated though many Africans in these Territories may be, when an injustice, real or imaginary, has been clone, not only do they strongly resent it but they also long remember it. I have known of instances in other countries, and in this country, where possibly the mass of the people have felt that they have been unfairly treated, and I know that it becomes not only a question of resentment at the time but one of memory. That is the thing we must remember. This, too, must be remembered: educated Africans in Central Africa—indeed, in West and East Africa also—now regard the liberal Constitutions of the Gold Coast, Tanganyika, Nigeria and the West Indies as precedents set for the political development of all the British Territories in Africa, and, indeed, for other Territories as well; and they ask themselves why, if these Territories can aim at sell-government, with the assistance of the British Government, it is necessary for them. to federate with a Government for which they care very little. There are the difficulties in relation to this problem.
I know that there are good reasons for some differences in political development between the various Territories. This has not been fully explained to, or realised by, the Africans. I think that much more care and time could have been given to inform and consult with the Chiefs and other representatives of the Africans on the need for federation, and particularly in regard to the proposals of the Federal Scheme, and what changes, if any, are likely to be brought about by the application of the scheme. A few months ago I met some loaders of African opinion. I endeavoured to persuade them of the safeguards which were provided in the Federal Scheme. They would not be persuaded. They said "Whatever you say about the paper safeguards, they can be so easily disregarded," and they pointed to four matters which were giving them concern. They said that if these four matters could be satisfactorily dealt with, if they could be assured upon them, then it was possible that the whole attitude of African opinion would be changed. The first thing they said was that federation was the thin end of the wedge for amalgamation; secondly, they said that the 287 Protectorate status in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia would be lost in federation, and, thirdly, they said that through federation the land of the African people would be acquired by the white population, for the Constitution would ensure them the majority of the votes. Their fourth point was that the political advancement of the African people would be retarded by federation. If we could but persuade these people as to the safeguards, and indeed if the Government themselves could he more forthcoming in this matter, that would do very much more good.
My Lords, I hope that it will be some little time before the scheme comes into operation, even after the passing of this legislation. In the intervening period great efforts should be made, by contact, by consultation and by more fully explaining to the Africans the proposals, the safeguards, the scheme and also the possibilities of federation. No doubt it is true that the bulk of the population are unaware of the issues and that the vast majority of the people could not be described as being opposed to federation. Nevertheless, the matter cannot be left there, for it is also true that only a very small proportion of the Africans are in favour of federation. These are very grave and important matters. Unless we obtain the good will and support of these leaders and influential Africans, and of other moderate elements within the African community, the great efforts towards building a stable and progressive State in these and other African territories will not mature.
What a fine gesture it would be if, as soon as possible after this Bill is passed, we sent out a kind of Parliamentary delegation to the three Territories! I think it would be a good thing if the Secretary of State for the Colonies (who I understand has not visited these Territories, notwithstanding the difficulties) and, indeed, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, together with others, were to go out there and spend some time contacting the Africans and showing them the benefits which will be obtained by federation. I realise that invitations were sent to some of the leaders of African opinion to come to this country and stay, and to attend the Conference, and that this was refused by them. I realise, too, that the Minister 288 of State had discussions with many Chiefs when he was in the Northern Territories in August and September of last year. But that was almost a year ago, and much has happened since that time. I believe that the time is now opportune for another attempt at talks and explanations with the Chiefs and representative African bodies.
Looking at this scheme, I think one of the key positions is that of the Governor-General. I do not know whether I can refer to the Governor-General designate. If the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, is, in fact, to be Governor-General, I should say that the Government are very fortunate in having secured his services. I have no doubt that his appointment would be an excellent one, and as a very old friend of his, I would wish him well.
My Lords, there is little that I wish to say about the Bill. On the Committee stage we shall endeavour to persuade the Government to accept Amendments which will give greater assurance to the Africans on some points. I should like something more definite than the statement in the Preamble to the Federal Scheme in relation to the maintenance of the Protectorate status of the two Northern Territories, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I would not suggest that the Government should put the whole of the Federal Scheme into a Bill, but there are certain important matters, such as the maintenance of Protectorate status, native land loss, the question of franchise—and, indeed, the set-up of the Assembly and the Government itself—which might be included. The natives would have greater assurance if some of these matters were placed in the Bill instead of in the Order in Council to be made under it.
I would ask Lord Swinton, whether he could deal with just one point in relation to higher education. The classified list of subjects on which the Federal Legislature alone will be empowered to make laws includes the item:Higher education (including higher education of Africans), that is to say, institutions or other bodies offering courses of a university, technological or professional character.Item 29 of the same list refers to:Primary and secondary education of persons other than Africans.I should like to know whether this means that the Federal Government are to be 289 responsible for the higher education of all races, but that when it comes to primary and secondary education they are to deal with that kind of education only for the white population, and not for Africans. It is matters of that kind which give rise to suspicion in the minds of Africans. It may be that my own interpretation is wrong. I hope that the noble Viscount will be able to give me a reply upon this matter.
Then it is not easy to understand the allocation of the seats in the Federal Assembly. The number of seats for elected members is twenty-six. Of those twenty-six seats, I gather, fourteen are allocated to Southern Rhodesia and twelve to Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I should like to know what was the basis upon which this allocation was made. Was it on a basis relating to the white population or to population generally? May I have the attention of the noble Viscount?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (VISCOUNT SWINTON)
Yes, certainly. I have the noble Viscount's point.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
Was this allocation based on population or was it based on area or on income? I ask the same question with regard to the other two areas, because, even taking into consideration African representation, which makes the total number of seats in the Assembly thirty-five, Southern Rhodesia has nearly 50 per cent. of the seats. That appears to be a very large proportion. In the same way, it is not easy to understand the distribution of income tax receipts. The Federation gets 64 per cent., but Southern Rhodesia gets a smaller percentage than that of Northern Rhodesia, and of course Nyasaland gets a smaller amount still. So I am a little puzzled with regard to these questions. But I feel sure that the noble Viscount will be able to reply to them.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
We all welcome the announcement, authorised by Sir Godfrey Huggins, that a Central African University of such a high standard is to be established and that it is to be multiracial, undergraduates of any race sharing the same teaching and undertaking the same courses on a foundation of academic equality. This announce- 290 ment has given great satisfaction, and I am sure that every possible assistance will be given in this matter from this country. I have always maintained that it is very much better that these young people, in any of our Colonies, should, so far as possible, be educated and trained in their own areas. I well remember that when I first went to the Colonial Office I was asked to agree to the bringing over to this country of a number of trade unionists for training here, so that they would be able to guide trade unions in Africa. I at once said, "If you bring twenty or thirty native trade unionists to this country every year for training and send them back at the end of the year, I am afraid they will give us very much more trouble than if we left them in their own country. It is far better to train them on the spot. Send people out to help them by all means."
I was interested to know, too, that another attempt was to be made to settle the question of the advancement of African labour in the Copper Belt. This is a very long-standing and worrying problem. It was the first matter which the late Lord Lloyd and I had to deal with on our entry into the Colonial Office in 1940. We then sought and obtained the valuable assistance of the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Lyttelton. That association resulted in a settlement of the African wages question, but did little to assist African advancement. Indeed, this is almost an insoluble problem. As a trade unionist I can understand, to some extent, the attitude of the trade unions, but this rigid application of the rule is not understandable. If this attitude is to be adopted in every industry, indeed in every calling, in the native Territories, what is the use of training these people? What is the use of educating them?
There must be a much more generous method of dealing w this problem. I think that both employers and trade unions ought to make concessions in connection with this matter. I can understand the trade unions saying, "If a native who is now getting probably forty shillings or forty-five shillings a month is put into a job for which the pay of the skilled or semi-skilled white man is forty-five shillings a day, then naturally an inrush of skilled or semi-skilled natives into 291 such jobs must be feared." Africans will naturally leave jobs in which they are paid a wage infinitely lower than that paid to a skilled man at the present time. America was faced with the same problem, and eventually employers there had to pay the coloured man the same wage as they paid a skilled or semi-skilled white man if the coloured man was equally well able to do the job. I appreciate the difficulties, and I realise that it may take some time before a settlement can be worked out. But a settlement must come, and I shall be happy to see some scheme whereby these things can be put right.
Central Africa occupies an important key position in the matter of race relations, and it should afford the best chance of trying out the course of partnership by practicable stages, for there is still time to prove the sincerity and good will of European control by proving in practice that African interests will greatly benefit from the federal proposals. The three Colonies could make a viable economy, strong enough to attract not only assistance from this country but other investments of capital, without which the great resources of these Territories cannot be developed in the interests of all the races. The success or failure of this scheme will affect the future of the whole continent, and thereby the future of the British Commonwealth.
In a few days federation will be given legal effect. It will then be the duty of us all to try and make it work as smoothly and beneficially to all the inhabitants of the Territories as we possibly can. The constitutional provisions of the Bill will be of great importance. I agree that paper safeguards cannot themselves be a solution to all the difficulties, but it is the duty of us all to make these safeguards as effective as possible. To make the Constitution work, we must breathe into it the proper spirit of multiracial co-operation and create an atmosphere which will really make this Constitution a step towards the progressive development of a partnership between the races. It will make all the difference if it comes to be associated in the public mind, European and African, with concrete steps towards the things they want and for which they have been struggling.
292 The moment of the introduction of this scheme is one when new impressions can be given, when a new atmosphere should be created. I appeal to the Colonial Secretary and to Her Majesty's Government to do all in their power to ensure that the introduction of federation will be accompanied by the friendliest approach, particularly to the Chiefs and leaders of African opinion. Now is the time to clear up any misunderstandings which may exist. For under federation Her Majesty's Government still retain in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland great power which directly affects African interests. The whole field of such things as pass laws, trade union rights, health, housing and schools in these Territories will be the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government in this country, and, therefore, of Parliament. In these fields further efforts for improvement should be made soon after the introduction of federation.
Above all, the whole question of political advancement should be dealt with, particularly such matters as the electoral qualifications for Federal elections. I trust that one of the first acts will be to create for elections a common roll with fair and reasonable qualifications. That will be much better for partnership than communal representation, the danger of which perpetuates the colour bar, whereas the common roll cuts across it. It is the wish of my colleagues on this side of the House and myself that when federation comes it should work, and work efficiently, and bring to both races the advantages that this close co-operation could give them. We wish federation well.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I much regret that we are not to hear the views of the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, because I had hoped we should see a certain balance in the debate; but that is his wish, and so it is. Let me say for myself, and I believe I am speaking for many other noble Lords, how greatly we rejoice at seeing the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, taking part in the debate today. I have known him for many years and respect his public service. He has a profound knowledge of this subject and an enthusiasm and sincerity which we all admire. Having said that, I should like to add that I did not agree at all with anything that he said. I was particularly 293 puzzled at his presentation of the Indian case. How can we compare the Indian case with the African? India was steeped in inquiries—the Simon Commission, the Shrankain Nair Commission, and the first Round Table and second Round Table Conferences: nothing was omitted to get the opinion of the Indians. It was absolutely different from Africa, where no step has been taken to obtain the opinion, far less the assent, of the Africans. But need not go into that now, except to say that I was surprised at what the noble Lord said about the necessity to take this scheme as we find it.
I do not know what is meant by controversy in your Lordships' House. I always understood that people should speak their mind truthfully, without any reserve or concealed opinion, and regardless of any political affiliation. And that is what I propose to do this afternoon. I shall put the facts as I believe them to be before the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, who is going to reply, and if I am wrong he will say so and I shall accept any correction he gives me. The first fact I want to bring forward is this. We speak of this as a formal stage. Everybody has said, "Why debate this? It is formal; it is agreed that it should go through." I am no "House of Lords man," and never have been, but I am certainly astonished to hear that debates in your Lordships' House are of no account, and that the matter has been settled in Bulawayo before even the Second Reading of the Bill is taken in your Lordships' House.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I think what the noble Viscount's leader said was not that it had been settled in Bulawayo but that it had been settled in another place. There seems to be a slight difference. The noble Viscount is absolutely free to divide. I have not spoken yet at all. But it was not Bulawayo, according to the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt: he said it had been decided in another place.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I do not know about the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt. The speeches to-day suggested that the celebrations in Bulawayo disposed of this matter as a living issue—that, combined with the Division in another place. If that is not the opinion of noble Lords opposite, very well; it is 294 a living issue. Then perhaps the Government will permit us to move Amendments and will consider the Amendments on their merits. We are asked to make this scheme work, but have not been permitted to move a single Amendment. Any amendment of the new Constitution must be made by Order in Council, and the power of this House to make any amendment is just nothing at all.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, the noble Viscount and I sat together for nearly forty years in another place. Surely he should be aware of the fact that this is the usual procedure in the case of both Treaties and Constitutions. It is the exact replica of what has happened time and again.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
Does the noble Earl mean in the making of what he calls a Treaty? Half the debate yesterday was taken in saying how closely Parliament could control any use of this legislation. Now we are told that it is a Treaty. If we find that the Federation claims, as it will claim before long, the powers of a Dominion, then shall we say, "Not at all, Look at Parliamentary control"? The noble Earl, Lord Winterton, says it is a Treaty. But, of course, the plain fact is, as the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, said—
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, what I said was that this was an exact replica of the system that has always been followed in both your Lordships' House and in another place in matters of this kind, and the noble Viscount will find it so if he studies history.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
The question is this: Is it a matter in which Parliament have any control? That is the point; and the whole burden of the argument to-day has been tat Parliament has no control. This stage is a formal one and there can be no amendment. The Bill may be discussed, but no Amendments will be permitted, and an Order in Council, in the form of a White Paper, is to be put before us. And if at any time the Federation itself considers it should amend its own Constitution, it will have to be done by Order in Council, and we have no power of amendment.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
My Lords, I should not like to be misrepresented or misunderstood. Of course, Parliament is free to discuss anything. But as in the 295 case of the India Bill, the American Bill and everything else, the Government are committed. What we say will go on the record. The alternatives before Parliament are either to accept the Government's decision or to turn out the Government. Noble Lords on the opposite side often put us in that position; now they are in that position themselves. That is the whole situation.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I have not made myself clear. The whole burden of the argument was that we must not complain about the powers in this Constitution, because it was said that Parliament would control the new Federation. Well, will it control the new Federation? No. That supports an argument which will come a little later.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
Surely, the noble Viscount knows the Constitution. Parliament will not control the Federation. Its responsibility will be confined, so far as I understand it, to the two Northern Territories.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I shall proceed with my argument and I will try to make my meaning clear. To me, the thing is perfectly clear. It is that this is a scheme conceived, as I think, on far too narrow a basis; it is a scheme which we are invited to make work, and yet are not permitted to move any Amendment to it; it is one which can be amended only by future Orders in Council, which we cannot alter; and, in fact, to-day—and this is what makes this debate most important and critical—we are abdicating the power of Parliament to control these Territories. That is the whole gist of what the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, said. These people are going to be given the job and we are to have no right to interfere. Nobody denies that they are grand fellows; not a word has been said against the Southern Rhodesian people. But why this is such a critical debate is because to-day we are parting with the power to assist in the political development of these Territories; in fact, we are setting up what is an independent Parliament with a permanent white supremacy.
Does anybody doubt that? Look at the White Paper. Look at the number 296 of members who are to be elected by the whites or nominated by the blacks. There is a present white majority, and to that majority, free from interference by this Parliament, as the noble Lord has said, is conceded the matter of making further amendments to their Constitution; that is to say, Parliament has abdicated its power and handed it over to a white Parliament—excellent men, no doubt—and it is to them that we must look in future for any progress. Therefore, this debate is the last debate in which we shall have any chance of helping to shape the destinies of central Africa.
Two arguments are used. One is that this is a safe thing to do, because the Federation is to be based on the principle of partnership; and the second is the reference to Mr. Rhodes' dictum about "equal rights for all civilised men south of the Zambezi," south, as he said, but we must now go north. We have asked repeatedly what is the meaning of this partnership. We have asked that it should be defined in the Bill. But we cannot get that done. It is just a vague term. The words occur in the Bill in a vague way in the Preamble, as everybody knows. But I would submit to the Government—and I would ask the noble Viscount to reply to this point—a definition of partnership which is given by Miss Marjory Perham in a remarkable letter which appeared in The Times a few weeks ago. This is what she says—and it is an alarming examination of the case. Miss Perham says:As for rejecting either 'white or black domination' it may be asked whether power can be indefinitely suspended between the two. This Bill legislates for white domination now, but unless the experience of history and all British policy and principles are to be reversed there must one day be black domination, in the sense that power must pass to the immense African majority.That is Miss Perham's paragraph dealing with the question of partnership, and really it is the key of the whole thing. How are you going to have a Government of a country with an able white minority and a huge black majority? How are you going to distribute political power between those two in order to secure justice? That is the problem. As regards the equal rights for all civilised men, that is really a form of words. It was 297 quite justly dealt with by The Times, again, which said:…but he"—that is, Mr. Rhodes—was already proclaiming in the nineteenth century the principle of' 'equal rights for all civilised men south of the Zambezi.' That ideal has not been attained anywhere in Southern Africa, even where it has been nominally established by law, but it remains the best hope.…So that the two undertakings, one of partnership, which is ill-defined, and the other of "equal rights for all civilised men" appear to some people to be a totally inadequate basis for handing over power to a white oligarchy.
What are the reasons for this scheme? They are quite simple, and we are all agreed about them. They are that if these Territories are amalgamated greater economic advance may be had; more capital will be attracted; and it will be easier to make roads and railways and to develop and balance the resources. We are all agreed about that. And no doubt higher standards will be afforded to the workmen in the country. But what it will not do is to provide any political protection for the people who are to provide the manpower for this new development. This question of labour in South Africa is quite a common one. The reason why there are 10,000 (I believe that is the right figure) absolutely vote less Indians in the south is because a hundred years ago there were not enough Africans to reap the sugar crops or to build the railways; and so they sent for these Indian people now forming a real sore between the Union of South Africa and the Republic of India. I remember—other noble Lords may remember it too —that in 1906 there was a shortage of labour in the gold mines, and the Colonial Secretary of the day imported Chinese indentured labour to do the work. It destroyed the Government, because public opinion was able to apply itself to the problems of South Africa at that time.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I was thinking of the happy days when the noble Viscount went to the Front Bench and, with the assistance of his colleagues, put the matter to rights. It does not in any way reduce the value of my argument. The need for labour is quite 298 understandable. In modern conditions it is impossible to concede it unless you are willing to give labour some political protection for its own rights. In this Federation you are going to create a vote less industrial proletariat, and that will be an extremely dangerous thing for the British Commonwealth. I say "voteless" but I should like to ask the noble Earl, Lord Munster, or whoever is going to reply (if anybody is taking a note of what I am saying—and I do not say that by way of complaint; I am a humble person) what the position will be.
They speak about the position of Africans in Southern Rhodesia. What is the position of Africans in Southern Rhodesia? They are to have votes "equal rights for all civilised men." I have done the best I can for figures, but the Colonial Office publications are sedately prepared and not always punctually issued. The latest figures I have are for 1948. I understand that you cannot vote in Southern Rhodesia unless you have an income of £240 a year. I understand from the figure I have—and I should like the noble Earl, Lord Munster, to correct it if it is wrong: this is the figure for 1948 from an official document—that the monthly wage of a miner at that time was 37s. I am told that it is now double that amount. But suppose it has doubled, how can you pretend that you have equal rights for blacks and whites when you cannot get a vote unless you have £240 a year, and when you can work from Monday morning to Saturday night and earn only £3 a month? It is a disability. You may say that it is equal hr everybody—after all, black or white, they must have £240 a year before they can vote. But it is so manifestly and patently a trick as to become almost a reproach.
Take the position of trade unions, in which many Members on this side of the House are very interested, and about which they have vast knowledge. Whereas in Northern Rhodesia you can have a trade union, in Southern Rhodesia you cannot have a properly registered trade union. You can register a trade union, but in some way it can never he made effective. If you come from Nyasaland to work—and people do not come as tourists from Nyasaland to Southern Rhodesia; they come because somebody wants to employ them and keep the industry going—you have to have a pass. 299 If you are black you cannot move outside your town without going to the police or somebody and showing your pass. Not so if you are white. How can you talk about equal rights when you have these grave disabilities, and when to-day you are surrendering any possibility that this Parliament can put the matter to rights? The truth is that protection is needed for these eight million people. It is extremely dangerous to have these people if you do not give them any protection, and the only protection we know is political protection. That is how it has been done here. The working people in this country have a measure of economic justice because they have political power. My noble friend Lord Samuel always corrects me about dates, because his memory is so retentive, but I rather fancy that he will agree with me when I say that the enthusiasm of the Liberal Party in the matter of the Osborne judgment and the Taff Vale decision in 1906 would not have been so keen had not Liberal candidates like myself been conscious of a large Labour vote which was demanding that something should be done. The secret of economic protection is political power, and in this Bill nothing of the kind is provided.
Where are these people to turn? The scheme creates a great force of people who are going to earn more money; it is going to be a powerful Federation. Where are these people to turn for protection? In the old days, when I was a young man, people used to say, "We will mount the barricades; we will break windows." What did we say? We said, "My friend there is no need to do that. Register and vote." The result was that we got rid of all threat of violence in this country, and that is why the Communist Party has disappeared in this country, because there has always been political protection. If we are not going to give them that protection in Southern Rhodesia, what is to be the safety valve or the vent hole for these peoples' grievances, if they feel they have any? That is why we are so keen about the status of the Northern Territories. At any rate in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the Colonial Office has a standing, and Members of Parliament here can be the watchdogs of the rights of the Africans in those Territories. But that will not be so in the South. But when 300 federation comes, whilst technically there may be protection, I do not know that the protective status of the Northern Territories remains intact. If you look at the list of powers which have been transferred from the local Legislature to the centre, you find that the whole source of power is at the centre, and all that power has been put out of reach of Parliament here.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I am sorry, but I must interrupt the noble Viscount. If he will do me the honour of reading my speech of yesterday, he will realise that the Governments of the two Northern Territories have ample power to deal with the day-to-day activities, interests and life of all the Africans.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
Let us look at that, because I want to be careful. I have a list here of the transferred powers—these are the matters in which the Colonial Office will not be able to interfere. Emigration and immigration—that is to say, if the labourers are a bit tiresome the right of bringing in labourers from Portuguese East Africa rests with the Government. Aliens, and citizenship of the Federation. If you do not want a man or a class of men, the Federal Legislature can keep them out of citizenship. Duties on customs. I am not familiar with the Rhodesian Budgets, but the Customs duties have a considerable bearing upon the cost of living. Railways, shipping, meteorology. Meteorology may sound a queer thing, but I suppose if you are an African cultivating a field in Nyasaland you are interested in whether or not it is going to rain tomorrow. If you look at the body of these things—I do not think the noble Earl can deny it—you have transferred the major weight of Government power into the centre, and you have transferred it to the centre without permitting the natives any appeal to anybody, except to the white oligarchy which is to control the Parliament at Salisbury. There was U.N.O. Faith in U.N.O. has been considerably shaken by the lamentable happenings in South West Africa, whereby all that vast territory, and the native inhabitants therein, have lost their rights, and it merely provides a field for six additional members of Doctor Malan's Parliament.
301 The noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, abused the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, for speaking about the right of the Chiefs to bring their case to the Brussels Court. If U.N.O. has gone and the Colonial Office has gone, what are these people to do if they feel aggrieved? That is the question to which I have not been able to find any answer. I spoke of this Bill having been passed in Bulawayo. My broad complaint about the Bill is that it is a Rhodesian conception, where as you cannot wisely alter the Constitution of the British Commonwealth unless you take the broadest possible view. You should not make your survey from the top of the Matoppo Hills; you should make it from the top of Everest. You have to remember this. Then again, we seem to be in danger of losing that affection of brotherhood which at one time existed—I hope it exists still—between the African race and ourselves. We look back with pride to the Governorship shall we say, of Cape Colony a hundred years ago by Sir George Grey. The franchise says the history bookwas conferred on all British subjects over twenty-one years of age with a low property qualification and without distinction of race and colour.That was in 1853. That is a long way from the freedom which we are offering the natives of Southern Rhodesia.
If we want to know who is to hold the friendship, as I devoutly pray, of the African people, it will be the missionaries—the London Missionary Society, with its glorious record. The modern prophets will be men like Patrick Duncan and Michael Scott. You can conquer the barefooted African with bomber and machine gun, but you cannot govern him without his assent, and that is what we have made no sufficient effort to secure. In the course of the last two or three years we have had many attempts by leading Africans to approach us in one way or another; and I think they have all been rebuffed. Take the Khama case. Seretse Khama took the talk about partnership between black and white too literally, and that cost him his throne. There were the Chiefs from Nyasaland. They came here and wrote a letter to the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor, quite rightly, as a member of the Government, handed it to a clerk at the Colonial Office to answer. The Chiefs went home bitterly disappointed. They 302 asked whether they could approach the Throne, a natural link in their minds; but they were refused.
There is nothing strange about the Chiefs' approaching the Throne. There was the famous case of Khama, and even in my own life time I remember Sir Ellis Ashmead Bartlett, introducing the Swazi Chiefs to Queen Victoria. The Nyasaland Chiefs asked to come to the Bar of this House. There is no procedural difficulty about that—it has often been done before. It would have been a wonderful thing if we could have got these men to present their grievances to your Lordships. But the request was turned aside. Yet we want their help. We cannot govern Africa without them, but no real effort was made to secure it.
It must be obvious to everyone that this is not a question for Rhodesia at all. The whole world is in a volcanic state. In Asia, resistance to white control is universally successful except in the dreary, unsuccessful, futile efforts that are being made in Indo-China. In the Arab world it is the same thing. The difficulty in the Arab world is that their sense of dignity is affronted. They say, "We are not masters in our own house." Even among the neighbours of Russia it is the same thing. Control from outside has become too much. They will not stand control from outside. Surely this is a lesson for all of us to see, and from it to draw our conclusions. So far as Africa is concerned it is a most remarkable picture. You have in West Africa an African method of government advancing, apparently with success, with very rapid strides. The East African tragedy has not yet been worked out to a conclusion. In South Africa, so far as Africans are concerned, you have what is a desert, a gehenna. Now 6 million Africans in Central Africa are screwed down under the lid, so that they cannot get the vote. They car not appeal to us; they cannot appeal to the world. I say it is a most dangerous thing that has been done.
In conclusion my Lords I want to read from a remarkable speech published this morning by Pandit Nehru. We are not a little country colonising Africa; we are an immense Commonwealth. Your Lordships heard the letter of the Aga Khan, which the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, read yesterday. The only way 303 we can deal with this question on this point is on a Commonwealth basis. It cannot be settled in Bulawayo, by Sir Godfrey Huggins and a few officials of the Colonial Office. It is a world, an Imperial, question, and it is assuming very dangerous forms. Pandit Nehru said that in some parts of the continent Africans "are treated almost as wild animals," adding, "It amazes me that this kind of thing can go on." Mr. Nehru is Prime Minister of the largest constituent of our Commonwealth, the head, the trusted head, of 400 million people.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
The noble Earl's remark is a footnote which will go down in Hansard. Pandit Nehru went on:If there is no solution to this problem very soon the whole of Africa may be ablaze.The Indian people, he added,did not wish to interfere in other people's problems, but the Indian people sympathised with the countries which sought their freedom from colonial authority, and they wished to help them with all their heart and soul, because the question of racial discrimination was one which concerned every person in the world.That is the opinion of one of the leading statesmen of the British Commonwealth. It is an opinion that we should bear in mind to-day. We are not going to perambulate the Lobby, but I myself claim the right to say, on the first collection of voices, "Not content."
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, far be it from me to promote any controversy, and particularly controversy within a political Party, but I think your Lordships on all sides of the House would like to know whether the noble Viscount who has just spoken agrees with his leaders, the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, and the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, in the very statesmanlike conclusions to both their speeches, when they said that when this Bill has become an Act of Parliament they will try to give it their loyal support.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I am invited to reply. I regard this as a bad Bill and I shall do all within my power to make it a better Bill within the limits of the authority given in the Bill. If you are 304 asking me whether I will promote violence or resistance to the law, the answer is that of course I will not.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
I listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Viscount and I could not make out what its main purpose was. He was destructive; not one word of constructive alternative was put forward in his remarks. I am reminded of the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Lucan:Men of great experience in public life do not talk at random. They weigh their words and use them for a purpose.My Lords, it is not for me to judge of the weight of the noble Viscount's words, but I must say that their purpose, to me, was most obscure.
I have listened to this debate from the beginning and one of the remarks that struck me was the challenge issued by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who posed the question of our generation as to whether the movement of Europe into Africa was morally justified. Lord Samuel's conclusion was that it was justified, a conclusion which I believe must be shared by everyone who has any knowledge of and has studied this question of our history in Africa. The material benefits we have brought wherever we have touched Africa are enormous. We have lifted great areas from primitive conditions; and there is no part of Africa where our impact has been felt where there has not been tremendous benefit for the indigenous inhabitants. Even African objectors to these proposals, who have raised objections purely constitutionally and within their rights, owe their education which enables them to object, and their economic position which enables them to come forward, to proposals put forward by previous British Governments, which have been successfully implemented for the benefit of the Africans.
It is only on this economic aspect that I want to speak to your Lordships for a very few moments, because this economic march forward must continue. On it depend all our hopes for raising the standard of life for the Africans in these Territories. There is no question of raising the standard of life by subvention or anything except the economic merits of the Territories themselves. I believe we have reached a stage now when the three units alone cannot render 305 to either Africans or white inhabitants the full benefits of their latent richness without new and special measures, including that of federation.
There has been no dispute in any part of this House as to the fact that federation is going to bring economic benefits; but there has been some dispute in the minds of the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who have both said that these full economic benefits can be brought about without political federation. That is where I, and many others, must differ from those two noble Lords. I maintain that political federation is necessary if we are going to achieve the first economic necessity, which, I repeat, is fundamentally for the benefit of the inhabitants, African and white.
The first economic weakness is the danger to the three Territories in varying degrees of depending upon single economies. In the case of Northern Rhodesia, 80 per cent. of its revenue comes from the copper mines; then there Nyasaland, with its tea, cotton and agricultural production; and there is Southern Rhodesia. building up secondary industries on the high lands which are particularly suitable for farming by the white settlers. It is a dangerous position indeed that these three Territories, prosperous as they may be at the moment, should each depend, as it were, on a single economic outlet. Once you have the three put together you have a much firmer foundation for their social and economic life.
My second claim as regards the need for federation as an essential for economic benefit is that a central economy and budgetary control are necessary far the raising of capital which will be required in the development of existing and latent resources. It is true that federation is not going to increase the individual income yield in the three Territories. What it is going to mean is a backing to lenders on a much sounder basis. If any of your Lordships wanted to borrow money and were fortunate enough to be able to do so, you would prefer to go to someone who you knew was a sound lender. If you are going to be lent money you like to know the person to whom you owe the sum. If these Territories are going to borrow they are going to be able 306 to offer the joint credit of the three Territories instead of having to borrow individually. The hydro-electric schemes alone will require something like £100 million in the not distant future. The last claim I make for the necessity for political federation from the economic aspect is that federation will mean that the interests of one are the interests of all. Southern Rhodesia will, in future, have an interest in the development and production of the copper mines—a far greater interest than at present—and therefore in the allocation of coal and transport; and she is bound to be more sympathetic than she is at present. Equally, Northern Rhodesia will look with greater interest to Nyasaland and southward to Southern Rhodesia. I believe that federation, from an economic aspect, brooks no delay.
It seems to me the advocates of delay can be divided into two groups. There are those, like noble Lords on the other side of the House, who have a genuine feeling that federation is right but that it should be delayed; and there are those outside this House, amt certain sections in Africa, who want to see this scheme killed, who do not believe in partnership, who believe in eventual black domination, and who will therefore use the proposal for delay as an extra piece of ammunition towards achieving their ultimate purpose. I hope this Bill will pass without delay. I was grateful to hear the concluding words of the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, and of the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt. I must say, however, that Lord Jowitt's words, statesmanlike though they were, seemed to be a little offset in their value after his earlier legal deployment of the Nyasaland Chiefs' position as regards the possibility of their going to U.N.O. It seemed to me that for a legal luminary, with all his skill, to speak of the possibilities of certain people objecting seemed rather to take away something of the value of his declaration that he wishes the scheme well directly it becomes law.
My final suggestion is this—I do not know whether or not the Government will approve of it. Words of goodwill and good wishes are valuable and are accepted in the spirit in which they are offered; but I wonder whether some of those who have been ardent and sincere critics of this scheme but who have said 307 as Lord Hall and Lord Jowitt have said, that once it becomes law it is our duty to try to make it a success, could not take unto themselves the task of going to those quarters in Africa where their criticism has been most effective hitherto, and declare in firm terms to the Africans in those Territories those fine, good constitutional sentiments which have so heartened our debate in the last two days.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ LORD HADEN-GUEST
My Lords, this debate has been an extremely interesting one, but I feel that we ought to try to see the problem which we are discussing in a rather wider perspective than has hitherto been envisaged. I believe we must see this question of the federation of the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland in the perspective of the awakening of the whole of Africa—because that is really what is happening. Since the last war, there has been a tremendous development of feeling and, to a certain extent. of organisation which has affected all parts of Africa. I am, of course, not going to deal with all parts of Africa, and I am not going to touch upon the question of the South African Union; that is a separate organisation. But I want just to contrast, from my own experience, what I saw in two or three months before the outbreak of the war in Nigeria, in the Gold Coast, in Sierra Leone and in Gambia. Those are the four Colonies in the West of Africa which are now undergoing such extremely rapid development.
I went out there with a party of Members of Parliament, and we had two expert advisers, one dealing with the question of farming and one dealing with general scientific development. We also had secretarial assistance, and we had the greatest assistance from the Governments of those areas. We made a thorough examination and interviewed a large number of people in connection with possible developments. We were hoping that there would be no war and that we should be able to bring forward, when we returned to this country, a policy for large-scale Colonial development which would have enabled those countries to go ahead more quickly than they had done in the past. We got back to Great Britain shortly before war broke out, and the fact that war did break out meant that 308 our hopes were dashed to the ground, and any question of large-scale development through the Colonial Office at that time was frustrated.
But the result of the war in those areas to which I have been referring, and in fact in all parts of Africa, has been greater than anything anyone ever contemplated. Prior to the Second World War, no one ever contemplated that the conditions which now exist in the Gold Coast and in Nigeria would exist. My companions and I interviewed various leading personalities in the African world, in the Gold Coast, in Nigeria and in other Colonies. We discussed with them the possibility of developments, and we have quite elaborate notes of what was said; and though we met some people who are now prominent in local movements, on no occasion, at no time and in no condition, did they ever mention the possibility of their urging on the policies which they are now following. So rapid has been the change. And it has also been rapid in other parts of Africa.
I happen to know Africa fairly well: at one time I lived for three years in the Union of South Africa. I am not going to refer to that, except to say how much I liked my Afrikaner friends, how well I used to speak (indeed, I think I could still speak it) the Afrikaans language, and how very disastrous I thought the position of the Bantu and other Colonial people who were servants on the farms, in the houses and in the towns of those people. Their condition was deplorable; their wages in those days were about 10s. a month. I do not intend to refer further to that aspect. I referred to it only because I have a background of African experience. On a later occasion, for another purpose in between the two wars, I went from the Cape by train up through all the different parts of the Union of South Africa, revisiting places where I myself had worked as a young man. I also went through the Rhodesias, Southern and Northern. I had one interesting experience then, because on the train, going up from Cape Town to the north of Northern Rhodesia, on the border of the Congo, the train was manned by white men. There was, for instance, a white driver of the engine, and a white man stoking coal. I was told: "The black people cannot do this; they are not able to do this. Anyway the 309 trade union would not allow them to do this." When we got into the Congo, the white men got off and the black men got on the tram and did the same work, showing what a complete farce the situation was.
It is true that this awakening of Africa is affecting every part of Africa. As your Lordships know, it is affecting Egypt. If we were able to look in detail into the Belgian Congo, French Equatorial Africa, other parts of French Africa and Angola and Mozambique, I have no doubt we should find great changes there. I emphasise the African continental side of these changes. As the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said yesterday, all Africa is astir; and it is essential to realise that all Africa is in fact on the move. It is not only a question of the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland. I myself think it is a good thing that they should be federated, because I believe that that will be the best protection against the possibility of anything worse happening, owing to various movements in Africa. I am not thinking of anything happening from the standpoint of the inhabitants of Nyasaland itself, but from those who might go to Nyasaland and who might wish to disturb what was going on there.
with respect to the Bill that is now before the House, it has been said that we shall not oppose it, but I must emphatically say that the chance of success of the Bill, when it becomes an Act, depends on the most liberal interpretation of its provisions as regards African conditions, economic and political. We must have equal rights, and nothing but equal rights, for all civilised men, not only as Rhodes foresaw it but for the whole of Colonial Africa. These rights must include, in the two Rhodesia sand in Nyasaland, the franchise. I am not going to discuss the details, because, of course, there are different conditions in Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, but we must have the franchise on a basis similar to that existing in this country, and not depending upon the income qualification. The income qualification in Southern Rhodesia at present excludes teachers, who do not get enough money to be able to vote. There must be no property qualification of any kind. I do not say that this state of affairs can be reached at once, but it must be reached in 310 a reasonable period of time, because the tempo of change in Africa is very rapid indeed. From the beginning of this century until the outbreak of the last war, there had been only comparatively minor changes in the status of Africans, although there had been, of course, considerable economic, mining and other developments. Since that time, however, there has been a swift change, not only in the parts of Africa with which we have to deal but in all parts of Africa; and it is no good blinking that fact. It is no good pretending it is not the case. You may not like it. You may say you think the African ought to develop more slowly, ought to be given a longer time in which to develop and so on. But that is not going to happen, because the rate of change in Africa has become very rapid indeed.
I want to ask the noble Viscount who will be replying for the Government to answer a specific question with regard to the peoples of the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland. Will they, in fact, be given the opportunity of taking part in the Government and in the economic life of the country on equal terms with the white man? I do not mean all of them, of course, because not All white men or coloured men are equal with each other, but I mean on tern-is which might be applicable in this country. The decision is a grave one. Its effects will not be confined to the Rhodesias and Nyasaland but will embrace all Africans. The African wants freedom, he wants education and economic opportunity, and the Constitution which is proposed will allow these aspirations to be met if the new Federal Government set up so agree. Will the Minister tell us by what steps this goal is to be reached?
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ LORD BADEN-POWELL
My Lords, I will detain your Lordships for only a few minutes. I wish to emphasise, as indeed I pointed out to your Lordships on a previous occasion, that I myself was living and working in the Colony of Southern Rhodesia for some fifteen years. Therefore, I feel that I can claim to have some fairly good first-hand knowledge of conditions as they apply to-day. During the course of my very happy domicile in that Colony, I had the honour to serve in the British South Africa Police, and also in the Native Affairs Department of the Southern Rhodesian Govern- 311 ment. Consequently, it is rather from the African side of things that I wish to deliver these few remarks. It will be appreciated that Southern Rhodesia is a very young Colony, as also, I think one may say, are Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. As your Lordships possibly know, Southern Rhodesia has been colonised by Europeans only during the course of the last sixty years or so. Development, however, is extremely rapid—so much so that even in the four years that I have been living back in England I am sure that tremendous strides have been made in every direction.
To my mind, this Federal Scheme is quite the boldest and most far-reaching effort that has ever been made in the whole of Africa. I earnestly hope that it will prove itself and will show, as has often been said, that there really can be this true harmony and partnership between the black and white races. I feel sure that the Africans themselves, in their tremendous thirst for knowledge and for education, will, in time to come, definitely take their part in the proper administration of this new Territory. So, too, my Lords, I feel that the Africans—who, after all, are the original indigenous inhabitants of the Territories to which we now refer—in their thirst for knowledge, will be given by the Governments concerned everything that they could wish for in the way of welfare, which will gradually bring them up to a higher state of civilisation, by way of better housing, improved methods of agriculture, and so on. The tremendous strides that have been made in the various medical services, in housing and other spheres, cannot but help to improve the general lot of the Africans and do much to make them useful citizens.
The broad general attitude of the Europeans can be commented on, for it seems to me that undoubtedly they are taking a much more lively interest in the lot of the Africans. I still hear frequently from good friends of mine in the Colony, and reading between the lines of every letter I receive I can see that the European is now taking a far more tolerant attitude towards the African than he did in the past. Admittedly, there is still in existence a certain colour bar. I will not dwell upon that. I think it is simply a rather natural prejudice of the one against the other. Undoubtedly, there 312 will come a time when the African will gradually level up to the higher degree of civilisation that we know, and there will come a time when this greater partnership will indeed prove itself—when the black and the white keys of the Central African piano, one might almost say, will be played to the correct harmony of the proper way of life, as it should be in Central Africa. I will not detain your Lordships any longer. There were quite a lot of things I wished to say, but many of them have in fact been said by others who have already spoken. So, in conclusion, may I, as an adopted Rhodesian, once again wish this Federation well.
§ 5.24 p.m.
My Lords, I think that this is an extremely difficult moment at which to speak on federation, and I think that those of your Lordships who have spoken have felt the same thing. I feel that to-day there has been much for anybody to learn. In the speeches that I have heard there has been much that is provocative and at the same time educational. I am the last person to want to treat this matter of Central African federation in a Party spirit; therefore, I am trying continually to be a learner in this matter. In fact, since our last debate I have thought very considerably as to why we should have differed so much in our opinions—why we, with our similar backgrounds and coming from one Island, should appear to be taking two such fundamentally opposite attitudes to a problem in the overseas Commonwealth. I console myself a little, in realising that federation is bound to come about, by the thought that there are in fact bigger things than federation. I remember a certain labour officer in the copper belt in the autumn saying to me, "Federation or no federation, we have this colour bar on our plate." I think it is a consolatory thought to dwell upon now, because that is the biggest thing that we have to deal with in order to make this plan a success, and it is a thing that has made federation such an extremely live issue.
The harmonics of this issue of federation are as wide as they possibly can be in terms of human affairs. The noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, whose speech I was very interested in (I having been for only three months in Central Africa) spoke of the European attitude towards 313 the African as becoming more tolerant. Without wishing to take the sad view, I must say quite frankly, from moving about everywhere at the end of last year without any ties whatever, that I could not help forming an opposite conclusion—that temporarily at any rate, race attitudes were hardening. In fact, in the last two years this question of federation has been one of the features that has brought this about.
The noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, from whom I feel I have learned more this afternoon than from anybody else, spoke particularly of the fact that we ought not to deal with federation in a Party manner. I was particularly pleased that he recognised the fact, which is not so universally admitted on the other side of this House, that there is great uncertainty and tension in Central Africa. I feel that the Government's attitude to this question is glaringly out of date. It might have fitted the Africans of Living-stone's day, but it most certainly does not lit the Africans at this present moment. The attitude to federation seems to be really that "Nanny knows best"—but unfortunately, Nanny has not got a very close relationship with her charges.
I do not think that there are lots of different African opinions about federation. The question is simply whether we respect those opinions. There is no doubt about it that the articulate view is unalterably against federation. We accept that we cannot now stop federation, but that does not alter one's view of Africa in any sense—and, without being Party minded, the present Government are not going to be in power for ever. I think that everything now will depend on the good faith of the Europeans on the spot. One must put faith in that, and in no sense say anything that shows that one is not a friend of the people on the spot. In fact, in the short time I was there I made many friends on the spot. I could not see Africa in terms of whether one knew Europeans or Africans; I felt that one just knew people.
I was myself criticised in our last debate for saying that the Europeans in Africa did not recognise, or did not view, the African as a human being. I think that is so, but I think that the mature way of putting it is to say that there is something in the European attitude to the native that has to mend if things are 314 not in fact to go from bad to worse. It is not too late for that attitude to mend. It may sound rather strange to speak of talking with Africans in this way, and may suggest that one has, so to speak, lapped up humbly the sort of lectures which they give. But they do say to us: "It is not too late for your attitude to mend." I agree that our culture and our race is, in fact, much superior, and the position is that they have more to learn from us than we from them. I think the fact is that they are in a very exasperated state of mind. But it is interesting that the Africans whom I met did not think it too late for the European attitude to change.
I do not think the outlook over federation is frightfully good because, for one thing, we have destroyed a tremendous amount of good will through this protracted discussion of federation. We can ill afford that. We can ill afford this destruction of good will through imposition, and of course there has been what one might call the perennial and fundamental falsity of the European attitude towards the native. No doubt most of us would fall for the same ideas if we were part of a comparatively small community in a sea composed of people of another race. It remains true that, despite the dangers pointed out in the last debate in your Lordships' House and in every debate in another place—especially relating to partnership—not a single assurance that will mean anything to any African has been given by the Government. One cannot help having the impression that the Government do not really care what the African thinks. The Government are, in fact, on a dangerous road. And we can only warn.
If I may just look back for a moment, I should like to say that Cecil Rhodes is not a person whom I consider anything but really great. I admire—if it is not presumptuous of me to say so—Rhodes's character very much indeed, and deeply realise his meaning for the British Commonwealth. But as past things are always so vividly and electrically active in the present, I think it is interesting to look back to the early days. We are now celebrating the Rhodes Centenary. One hundred years ago today Rhodes was a baby of two days old in Bishops Stortford. I think this is a link with what the noble Lord, Lord I Altrincham, was saying about "faith in 315 our system." I agree that we have faith in our system. But though Rhodes was great, I do not think this myth of race which, after all, has been operating in Africa and in other parts of the world, was great enough to build the British Empire, or, rather, is not great enough to be of much assistance at the present stage. It will not work in the present century.
I think the Government are out of date in their attitude. The Government are sticking to old ideas—and this is true not only of the Government but of the settlers on the spot. I do not know if there is such a word as "psychotic," but the attitude of the European to the African does present an almost psychological problem. I look back over my recollection of various things that happened to me in Salisbury and Southern Rhodesia generally and it seems to me that there is what John Bright called "a Botany Bay view" of their African countrymen, just as many of us a hundred years ago had, no doubt, within our own country. And this feeling is very deeply seated—almost instinctive. But I submit it is that attitude that must change if a crisis of violence is to be avoided at some point.
I was reading the other day Sarah Gertrude Millins's life of Rhodes, and in it I found recorded a conversation which took place in 1900 between Rhodes and W. T. Stead who was editor of the Pall Mall Gazette. I do not want to linger in the past, so I will be brief. Rhodes told Stead that he had faith in his race. He said to Stead:I believe in my race. It is the only faith left. I believe in my people. I would annex the whole world. I would—if I could.I know that while none of us feels like that nowadays, we are, some of us, in the same tradition in our feeling about the British Empire. I am a person of very slender experience, so, rather than be accused of lecturing, I should like, before coming back to the present, to quote what Stead then said to Rhodes. It seems to me that his words would be true with regard to the present. Stead said:It is a fundamental mistake to imagine that you can base the British Empire on the supremacy of one race. It can only last on the condition that it rests on the consent of its subjects. Otherwise it will fail—and it is not the British Empire any more.316 In my view, federation, in a way, is a rather fatigued proposition. It is non-Elizabethan. I feel it is now very late in the day, but I think we could probably have secured African support for it if we had done many more things for the Africans in the past to convince them of our good faith and belief in partnership. But our attitude need not be like this if we wake up to our responsibilities. As Kenneth Walker says in his latest book, The Healing Arts:The game of the chosen race is one that other races can play.That is exactly why I fully appreciate the dangers of words. Lord Altrincham spoke of the dangers of speeches—I think he meant all speeches in this House on this subject. He spoke of the harm they could do at this time.
In this connection I should like to quote in a minute from a letter which I received from a Nyasalander who is living in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, at the present time. Your Lordships might say that if Nyasaland is so much happier a community than Southern Rhodesia, why go to work in Salisbury? I think the answer to that is, that there is great over-population in Nyasaland. Interestingly, African bitterness is directed more at Whitehall than at local inhabitants. The Nyasalanders seem to have the feeling of the position that we have known often in the past, and to think of their country as an island to be defended against hostile invasion. Those who have thought carefully about this matter regard the prospect of becoming merged in the Federation, with a self-governing Colony, in a way which I think is well expressed in the letter from which I should like to quote. This, I suggest, is a real cri de coeur. It represents an attitude of mind, and this is something which I am trying to get across to your Lordships. My correspondent writes:At the moment although federation is not yet, the Nyasaland Government appears to be getting oppressive measures from officials of Southern Rhodesia and bitterness is increasing day by day. We wonder why Britain of fame allows occurrences of this kind to take place in her Protectorates. Who is to protect us?I have had several letters of this sort. It may be that your Lordships will say, "That is the kind of letter which it is interesting to read. It is a letter from a child. Do not bother about it very 317 much." On the same sort of wavelength, one other Nyasalander made this remark to me, and this, I suggest, also shows an attitude of mind worth taking note of:We have been waiting for the British Government to educate us for sixty-one years; now we are giving up hope.They have got to the stage where they say that, knowing what Europeans (in their view) mean by it, they do not want partnership. They say that "in federation we shall not have the privilege of self-government."
I appreciate the terrific—though it is a crude word—trickiness of the situation. I am not advocating a vote for every African. I agree that once you start opening the sluice gates of this sort, it is hard to close them, or even to control them. In fact, in these Central African Territories the proportion of Africans to Europeans is very much greater than in the Union—it is something like thirty to one, I believe. It is a deeply difficult position. The African people of these Territories are very much aware of the Union. Actually, I met more liberal people, as individuals, in the Union than in any other part of Africa, but they are powerless at the moment. It is a mature community. The Africans say: "Many things are done down there—in the Union—but Her Majesty's Government are quiet" Nothing is done about it by the Mother Country. So one can understand the fear of African natives at being handed over to a new near-Dominion.
I feel that everything now depends on the sort of faith, in themselves and in the Africans, which the European settlers in these Territories can develop. They ought to know that the African does not wish to feel as he does. He says that he does not wish to feel like that but he is forced to do so. The new type of African who has broken away from tribalism through our leadership and lives in towns was brought from barbarism by us and surely we do not wish to push his head down under the water again. I think many people on the spot—especially the post—war settlers—are frightened of the Africans, because the situation is increasingly difficult and the people who have come lately have inherited this more complex situation. I should like to read a letter from Northern Rhodesia, written by a resident of long-standing of whom a noble Lord opposite has said that" no man has done more for the Africans." 318 This letter was written the day after Coronation Day. The writer said:You ask about the troubles in rural Africa brought on by the insane handling of the federation business. They are pretty nasty, not, thank goodness! any bloodshed to speak of so far, but nasty because of the way we, and especially the Government, have thrown away with both hands the priceless asset of these people's confidence and trust. Even in Chinsali, of all places in the world, the school-children threw away the Coronation medals they had been given and stamped on them. There was a march past the District Commissioner twice, singing a near-seditious song, 'We are in misery. The white roan has come to take our country.' Thank the Lord we have not got it here so far, and are as we always were, perhaps even more friendly and serene than of yore. But one doesn't kid oneself that it mightn't come.I could tell you of the happier side of the picture where in the copper belt, especially underground, in dangerous work, one sometimes finds excellent relationships between European underground managers and African boss-boys and the African generally. It should not always take danger to make people feel that way—as in an R.A.F. crew. If we are not careful—if we do not face up to the situation as it really is—we shall ruin the reputation of British rule for ever. We shall move far further away the prospect of real peace in the world. And we shall say, in the words of D. H. Lawrence:And so we missed our chance with some of the lords of life.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, will not think it discourteous of me if I say that his speech was a good example of the somewhat confuted state of mind of the Socialist Party on the subject of federation. In the course of reading a number of somewhat dreary letters (if the noble Lord will forgive my so describing them; he is not the writer of them) which seem to me to have no possible bearing on the question before the House, the noble Lord proceeded so far as he could possibly proceed to denigrate and attack this scheme in every possible way.
My Lords, I very carefully did not do so. I said it depends on the attitude taken in future.
§ EARL WINTERTON
Would the noble Lord allow me to finish my sentence? I repeat that the noble Lord did everything he could to denigrate and attack this 319 scheme and then at the end of it (and this is typical of the speeches we have had from the Socialist Benches in this House), after saying everything possible to make this scheme more difficult by arousing fears in Europeans and Africans alike, the noble Lord said that the scheme was going through and he only hoped that the people on the spot would be reasonable. A great deal has been done in this country, I hope without effect, to make European opinion unreasonable by reason of the attacks made on them. They have occurred in both Houses of Parliament. I repeat the charge made yesterday in an interruption. These attacks have been made in both Houses and in one organ of the Press, which I think has shown a lack of responsibility which is astounding in any responsible Sunday newspaper.
I do not want to trouble your Lordships with a long speech, since I inflicted two long speeches on the House on previous stages of the Bill. Having criticised the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, I should like to pay tribute to the obvious emotion that is felt by many noble Lords opposite over this matter. I appreciate that emotion. It is based on almost atavistic feelings of the Left, of the old Liberal and now of the Labour Left. I do not wish to attack the sincerity of their speeches, but I think they had a bad effect. I feel in a very different state. It is with the utmost elation and satisfaction that I see this Bill coming before your Lordships' House this afternoon, because in a small and humble way, perhaps more than any Member of your Lordships' House, I have worked behind the scenes for twenty years to bring about something of the kind.
Twenty-one or twenty-two years ago I remember visiting Livingstone on a very hot day at this time of the year, to talk to the unofficial members of the then Northern Rhodesian Legislature, who had asked to see me as a Member of Parliament. They were then working through unofficial channels with members of the Legislature in Southern Rhodesia on a possible scheme of amalgamation or federation, and they asked me what I thought of the chances of its being brought about in the near future. I did not think at the moment it could be achieved. I did not think the Imperial 320 Parliament would agree to it. At that time there were only some 15,000 people in Northern Rhodesia and about 30,000 in Southern Rhodesia. I remember, as if it were yesterday, making this observation to the assembled unofficial members. The British mind goes slowly, but since the American Revolution Britain has never refused to grant self-government to a growing overseas community of European descent. And I stand on that assertion. Britain has never done so.
It may be said, and possibly will be said, by those who hold the views of the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate—whom I should like to congratulate on his obvious state of good health, because his speech to-day was in thorough accord with those we used to listen to with such delight and disagreement in another place—that the situation was very different in other parts of the world. But the arguments used to-day could have been used about the aborigines in Australia and certainly about the Red Indians in Canada and the American Colonies. British Governments have never refused self-government to developing Colonies, since the Boston Tea Party burned into the political mind of the British. To-day, in Northern Rhodesia there is a population of some 40,000 Europeans, which is being added to at the rate of 7,000 a year. In the case of Southern Rhodesia the European population has increased proportionately more by emigration from this country than in the case of any one of the Dominions. We really must have regard to actualities in this matter. How can we say to these people, even if all the fears of noble Lords opposite and of the Liberal Party were justified, that there is to be no advance in self-government, that there is to be no federation?
That brings me to my second point. I am the confidant of more than one important leader of moderate opinion in the two Rhodesias and Kenya, and I have to report to your Lordships' House that they are seriously concerned about the effect on their own followers, who, of course, include some extremists, at what they regard as the wounding attitude of a section of public opinion in this country. Some of them might even say, if they read the speech of my noble friend the Under Secretary of State, that he attached immense importance to persuading your Lordships that there were 321 sufficient safeguards for Africans, but that perhaps he did not devote so much of his speech as he could have done to the that these Europeans are entitled to advance on the road to self-government. I think it was the last noble Lord who addressed your Lordships who seemed to think that it was a terrible thing that there should be another British Dominion in Africa. What an astonishing remark to go out from the Legislature of this country!
I should like to say that, on the contrary, I feel that aspiration towards Dominion status is very noble, but not if we are likely to let down the Africans who feel that the people on the spot are not ready for it so far as race relations are concerned.
§ EARL WINTERTON
So far as I understand what the noble Lord has said in his interruption, he seems to think that the Europeans on the spot are not ready for self-government. I should have thought that no people were more ready for self-government than the Southern and Northern Rhodesians. After all, as my noble friend Lord Altrincham, in his admirable speech, pointed out, the interesting thing is—and I think it is greatly to the credit of the Southern Rhodesians—that, in order to bring about this Federation, they have to some extent given up some of their attributes of self-government. That is a very remarkable thing indeed, and it shows what moderate-minded people they are. I said to my friends—I thought it was my duty, though I occupy no position of authority, to try and reassure them—that they really need not take too much notice of those attacks which have been made on them by a section only—and it is only fair to say that it is only a section—of the Labour Party, and by a section of the Liberal Party. I reminded them of the phrase of the great past Leader of the Party to which noble Lords on this side of the House belong, Lord Beaconsfield, when he said that, unfortunately, the Liberal Party contained a considerable nucleus of the friends of every country but their own.
§ EARL WINTERTON
He may have recommended that we should get rid of 322 the Colonies. If so, he was very foolish. But the statement he made about the Liberal Party at the time was a factual and a true one.
§ EARL WINTERTON
As my noble friend reminds me, it was when he was of a riper and more mature age. I am sorry to say that the lineal descendants of the Liberal Party have now migrated to the Labour Party, and that is one of the many undesirable things they have taken from Liberalism in its old age and decrepitude. I tried to persuade my friends that that is so. I do not want to be frivolous in a debate of this nature. As a rather new recruit to your Lordships' House, I think it has been a debate of the highest quality. Seriously, I would appeal to noble Lords opposite from now on to try and do something to reassure our fellow subjects in the two Rhodesias that they are not their enemies. I am sure that they are not, and that they do not want to give that impression. I would particularly appeal to the noble and learned Earl, the Leader of the Opposition, for whom I have a great respect. I believe that we should make them feel that we trust them to work this scheme, and that we think they are going to try and make multi-racialism a success.
Having said that, I hope it will not be considered out of place for me to say to noble Lords opposite that I hope they will not be quite so gloomy as they have been throughout this debate about the future of federation. Of course, there are difficulties and danger. But when has it been the case that this country has failed to face up to any constitutional difficulties and dangers? The British Commonwealth is facing difficulties and dangers now. As say, I do not want to be frivolous, but the situation in Korea, for example, is far more serious than it is in Africa. To listen to some of the speeches this afternoon, one would have thought that the only place where any trouble was boiling up was in Africa. The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, in a most eloquent part of his speech, said how the Asians and Africans disliked us. and were going to get rid of us. They seem to be disliking each other quite a lot at the moment in Korea. I do not think, for instance, that the Indians and Pakistanis 323 are very fond of each other—they have been threatening to go to war. I did not see the relevance of what the noble Viscount said.
The relevance of what I say is this. It is absurd, in my opinion, for Members of your Lordships' House or of the other place to be influenced by the sort of speeches made in both Houses on one aspect of the subject. It has been said, in effect, that there might be civil war in Rhodesia. I think that is nonsense. We should have a sense of proportion in these matters. In fact, if I wanted to be frivolous—and I do not—I would say that the ordinary day-to-day relationship between the European and the African in the two Rhodesias—and I speak with some knowledge—is just as happy as that existing between the Bevanites and other members of the Labour Party in this country. They may well find that the question of solving the problem of Red v. Pink in their Party is just as difficult as solving the problem of Black v. White in Africa. After all, mankind is given to contention. There is, of course, justifiable ground in both cases for the hostility of one to the other. If I were a member of the Party of noble Lords opposite, I should be very suspicious of Mr. Bevan and his followers in the other place. No doubt some Africans are suspicious of Europeans, and vice versa. But it is wrong to suggest that the day-to-day relationship is not a good one.
I have only two or three other things to say. I was glad that the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, quoted Mr. Nehru—and I wish to apologise to the noble Viscount for a somewhat heated interruption. I was astonished at Mr. Nehru making the statement he did. As he chooses to make very controversial statements, he cannot complain if we in your Lordships' House rebut those statements. I understood him to say—and I think it was an inferential reference to federation, although I hope I was wrong—that the whole of Africa will be ablaze. Let me assure Mr. Nehru that what happened in the great peninsula of India is not likely to happen in Africa. Five million people, as the present Prime Minister has stated again and again in another place, were either murdered or rendered homeless. Until the memory of that indelible stain on the great peninsula is removed by time, Mr. Nehru 324 should refrain from giving gratuitous advice to Her Majesty's Government in Great Britain as to how to avoid trouble in Africa. I think that would be generally accepted by the majority of the voters in this country. I may say, in passing, that the voters in Abingdon did not seem to have any great feeling against federation, though I understand the Liberal candidate (who as usual forfeited his deposit) was violently against it.
I want to say only this in conclusion. I believe that this scheme can be made to work. The real difficulty, as has been pointed out by more than one speaker opposite, and especially by the noble Viscount, Lord Hall—an old personal friend of mine, though not a political friend—is the question of racial discrimination in social and industrial matters. I do not think we ought to be too self-righteous over that. We in your Lordships' House and in the other place, sometimes talk as if there was no racial discrimination in this country. There is a lot of it. I was horrified and shocked to see in the newspaper to-day that a taxicab driver was summoned to take the Sheik of Kuwait who was staying at a hotel in Bloomsbury, to some place. When the driver saw the sheik, he said: "I am not going to drive foreigners. They are no use to me." He was had up before the magistrate, and was fined £2 for failing to take a fare, and £2 for using insulting language. If I had been the magistrate I should have taken away his licence and sent him to prison for a month. I am sorry to see the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, laughing, for I think that conduct of that kind does infinite mischief to our relationship abroad, and I do not think we should be so self-righteous as we are in this country.
The only thing I want to say to noble Lords opposite is that over this question of racial discrimination they must recognise that practically nothing happened when they were in office to reduce it. I know their difficulties. I am amused to see the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, laughing, because he knows the difficulties as well as I do. It would be very inconvenient for a Socialist Government in Britain to say to a white trade union in Northern Rhodesia, "You have to do something about this discrimination against native labour." It might even I have to be taken up at the International 325 Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and I do not know what the British representatives would have to say on that subject. It is a very serious matter. Of this I am absolutely convinced, as I think anyone who knows Africa is convinced: that this question of racial discrimination can be settled only by good will on both sides, on the spot. It will never be settled from this country.
The fundamental mistake of noble Lords opposite—a mistake which I am astonished they should make; and even the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, fell into it in his most eloquent speech, or at least I thought he did—is the astonishing idea that these things can be settled from Whitehall. It is really amazing that the Labour Party should have such faith in the Colonial Office. It is the first time that they have ever displayed it. For years, they have been attacking them as a most reactionary body. Their questions in another place were always directed against them. But to-day they say that everything can be settled by the Colonial Office. They say that racial discrimination is a dreadful thing, and only the Colonial Office can improve the position. That is a profound mistake, and I sincerely hope that, as a result of the two winding-up speeches which we are shortly to hear from my noble friend Lord Swinton and the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, the result of this debate will be to give boll Africans and Europeans in the Territories concerned the belief that all Parties in this country want to see this scheme work; that despite the dangers which some noble Lords opposite see in it, they agree that it can be made to work; and that if it does work it will be one of the most notable experiments, even in the history of the British Empire, of multi-racial co-operation.
§ 6.3 p.m.
My Lords, I was interested to hear the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, refer to the Cape Franchise in 1853. I do not know whether he is aware of the subsequent history of it. It developed into what was called the "blanket vote." The Parliamentary agents went round and provided the necessary qualifications for the native to vote: they would then put him on to the register, and Parliament had to intervene to prevent it. Eventually, the registration of the Bantus in the Cape was 326 considerably reduced. That is the difficulty of a franchise. You have manhood franchise for the Europeans; are you going to have manhood franchise for the Africans? You would probably create conditions such as those created in the Southern States of America after the Civil War.
It is all very well to talk of equal civilization, but you have to define it, just as you have to define partnership. The noble Viscount referred to the Union. I was a citizen of the Union, and I feel strongly about it when he referred to the Union as a desert. I have been reading some reports from the Union lately, and I would draw the noble Viscount's attention to two Reports—one by a Professor W. M. Macmillan. This is what Professor Macmillan said:The raising of the general level of the African has, in fact, proceeded further in South Africa than anywhere else.The other day I bought a book recently published by Peter Abrahams, who is a strong supporter of noble Lords opposite. In that book he says:There are more educated Africans in the Union than in any other part of negro Africa.The importance of these statements lies in the phrases "the general level" and "any other part of negro Africa"—which includes Nigeria and the Gold Coast. The level of education in the African Union is higher than anywhere else in Africa. It seems to me that in West Africa we are inclined to produce what I might call political stars. Is the level of the African in West Africa as high as the level of the African in the Union? According to Mr. Abrahams, it is not. Therefore, I do not think it is fair to call the Union a desert.
I believe that there are two reasons for this high level of education in the Union. One, of course, is the presence of the large European population. The old Boer, with his ox wagon, the family Bible, and a Mauser rifle, had very little impact on the African; but the modern settler, with his internal combustion engines and his modern civilisation, has a tremendous educative effect on the African. It is the presence of this contact between the African and the European in the Union, and the industrial development which that has introduced into the Union, that has caused this increase in education. The very fact 327 of contact between the African and the modern European is an education in itself, and I believe that that is proved also in industrial developments which have followed in South Africa since the two world wars. The industrial development has been enormous, and consequently the numbers of Africans who earn a better living have been largely increased. Of course, with the modern machine age and mass production, the demand is more for semi-skilled labour than for unskilled labour, and the result is that the chance of Africans earning alongside the Europeans has increased very considerably.
Figures were published the other day showing that in these modern industries in Africa the percentage employed was as follows: Africans, 35 per cent.; Europeans, 33 per cent.; coloured, 21 per cent.; and Indian, 11 per cent. That is semi-skilled labour. Those figures knock the bottom out of apartheid. They are the basis of partnership. The men are working together on the same benches, in the same factory, although I doubt whether they carry that into their social intercourse afterwards. At any rate, it is a breaking down of the colour bar, and it is by industrial development such as that that the colour bar is being broken down in the Union and, I hope, elsewhere also. Therefore, of course, I warmly support federation. It will lead to industrial development and increase the demand for labour. The labour force in Africa has never been equal to the supply. I was always short of labour in Africa. The more development increases, the more the demand for labour will increase; and I believe that in this federation we are on the right lines towards achieving that object.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, we are coming to the end of what I can describe only as a most memorable two-day debate. It is memorable for a variety of reasons. In the first instance, I suppose there is no gathering in this country where there is such an accumulated amount of knowledge and experience of the subject matter that we have been discussing. Almost every noble Lord who has spoken has spoken from personal knowledge and experience of a 328 great many parts of Africa. Indeed, it may well be that I am the sole representative of the unenlightened persons in this country who have never paid a personal visit to Africa. And, in passing, may I say it is perhaps one of the unfortunate aspects of this controversy that so few people, relatively, in this country know Africa from personal experience, although a great many people have taken part in the controversy.
I think our debate has been valuable also because it has made Africans themselves realise that this subject is being fully ventilated in this House, by people of all political Parties, people who speak from a great knowledge of the subject. It will be realised by the Africans that there is a great interest in this House, as there has been outside and in another place, on this subject and that it is most unlikely that the views of the Africans and the effects of federation will be lost sight of. In another place, one of my honourable friends said he had made eleven speeches on the subject since the Bill was first introduced. That was on the Third Reading of this Bill and, of course, that is not the end. I imagine that he will make at least one more speech, when the scheme is introduced. That, I believe, is all to the good.
May I say, also, that the speeches on the whole have been on a very high level and with a great degree of sincerity. It is almost invidious to select particular speeches, but I should like to refer to four in particular. There is that of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, who impressed us all by his sincerity and with his desire to make constructive suggestions; and that of the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, who I am glad to see is here, for I should not like to say things behind his back. He spoke with great knowledge and, if I may say so, with great ability. I should like also to say a word about the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, who spoke with great ability and experience as a former Secretary of State, and I hope and believe in a constructive way. Finally, my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton spoke with great sincerity and took the trouble to make himself acquainted with his subject.
I think the debate has been extremely valuable. There have been speeches of a controversial nature. There was the speech 329 of the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, which I think was foiled by that of my noble friend Lord Stansgate; and there was, of course, the "eternal" Earl, Lord Winterton, who endeavoured to psychoanalysed the Labour Party. May I say to him, with great respect and admiration, that, if I am to be psychoanalysed, I should prefer to choose my own psychoanalyst, and that he would not be the noble Earl. One remarkable thing about this debate has been that so little has been said about the Bill itself—indeed, some noble Lords have succeeded in making speeches of half-an-hour's duration without mentioning the Bill at all. That is something that is possible in this House, but would hardly be possible in another place. There is perhaps some justification, because we have been discussing something much wider, much bigger, much more important, than federation itself. Let me say at once that I think that nearly every noble Lord, and possibly everyone who has spoken, believes federation is a good thing, both for Europeans and for Africans; that it will enhance the economic position of the three Territories, and that, given good will on all sides, it will make for the future happiness of the Africans.
There is no dispute about federation itself, and there is very little dispute about the scheme. One can, of course, make legalistic points about the difference between discrimination and differentiation. I am not going to do anything of that kind. It may well be that in certain respects this scheme can be improved. I myself—and I hope noble Lords opposite, will agree—shall not regard it as difficult or troublesome or as causing trouble between Africans and Europeans, if, on the Committee stage, we put forward our view as strongly as we can that certain of the principles incorporated in the scheme should be included in the Bill itself. We shall argue for very practical reasons but, by and large, we have no desire, and I do not think any desire has manifested itself in the debate, to make any fundamental alterations to the scheme. Of course we think we could improve it, just as noble Lords opposite could have improved it if they had a scheme in front of them prepared by noble Lords on this side; but that is not a fundamental issue. What we have really been discussing in these two days is the future of Africa, its place in the 330 British Commonwealth, and relations between Europeans and what have been described as black Africans. I believe that this question has repercussions on the relationships between coloured peoples all over the world. Both the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, and the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, in their various conflicting ways, indicated this reaction between the different coloured peoples throughout the world.
One thing has emerged from our debate: that there is a general view on all sides that the Africans are opposed to the scheme, not necessarily on the merits but because they are afraid and suspicious. My Lords, that is not a condition of things which is confined to the Africans and Europeans. This is the situation between the Europeans themselves. It is the position as between, in my view, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Suspicion and fear account for a great deal of the difficulties that confront us all over the world, and the problem that we have to face, therefore, in Africa is one which is common to the whole world. How can we remove that fear and suspicion between different peoples of different colours, different races, different civilisations and different political systems? By and large, there is no justification for this fear and suspicion; that is the difficulty that faces us. It is, on the whole, an unreasoning fear and suspicion. How can we get rid of it? It is often quite impossible to get rid of an unreasoning fear and suspicion. I think that perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, put his linger on the spot when he said that what is wanted is proof that we have no designs on the Africans.
I think the Government were ill-advised, even if they believed that these fears were without justification, not to do more with the Africans than they have done in an effort to dispel these fears, or even to give the impression that they were prepared to listen. In my limited experience, I have found that when you know that a man wants to say something, it is a good thing to let him say it. I do not want to use a disrespectful term, but I think it is well to let him "blow off steam": let him say what he wants to say and let him, if necessary, say it for days; and days; and listen to him. You may find a grain of wisdom and sense in what he is saying; and he himself is satisfied in knowing that 331 what he wanted to say has been said and has been listened to. These Africans came all the way to England to voice their objections, and it seems a great pity that they should have gone back feeling that they had not been allowed to give utterance to what they had to say. I think the matter could have been handled more wisely. I do not want to be unduly controversial about this, because fundamentally I think there is very little between us: we are all desirous of making federation work, once it comes into operation, and, as a pre-condition of making it work, putting the relationships between Europeans and Africans on a proper footing.
I do not know that there is any difference between us as to what requires to be done. Many noble Lords have talked of removing the colour bar, and of course that is a pre-condition. The noble Lord who spoke last took the view—which, with respect, I think is mistaken—that you can remove the colour bar by having people working together in the industrial field. While that may be one way of doing it, I would suggest that it is by no means the most important way. I think the most important way of removing the colour bar is to recognise that the other fellow is a human being just like oneself, perhaps with less experience, perhaps less educated, but nevertheless a human being; and to treat him as a human being. Noble Lords must realise that that has not always been done in our treatment of the African people. Perhaps the greatest cause of ill-feeling is not so much economic discrimination or even, with respect to my noble friend, the lack of a vote, as the humiliation which Africans feel in not being treated on equal terms. The noble Earl, Lord Winterton, gave an example from this country. If these most regrettable things can happen here, there is no doubt that they happen in Africa, too; and if we want to preserve our position—and by that I do not mean our position of dominance, but our position as inhabitants of Africa, endeavouring, as our settlers are doing, to earn an honest living from the land—we must, in the long run, recognise that the Africans are as good as we are, and that they are entitled to be, and must be, treated as 332 human beings, with the same amount of respect as we accord to the white people.
Lord Winterton—and what he said was typical of a number of other speeches—was, I thought, over-optimistic about the future. I am not a prophet of doom; I do not think that inevitably our position in Africa is finished or likely to be finished—I do not think that at all. But let us recognise this simple fact: that we are outnumbered in these Territories in Africa in the proportion of something like thirty to one. In Africa as a whole there are approaching 200 million Africans as against a very small number of Europeans, of white people; and, taking Africa as a whole, I think it is true to say that the African people are increasing at a much greater rate than the white population.
§ EARL WINTERTON
I think the noble Lord should get his figures right. He is counting in the Mediterranean peoples, but they are not Africans—they are Arabs.
§ LORD SILKIN
I was not attempting to count. As a matter of fact, I was reading the book issued by the Colonial Office the other day. I was taking the figures from that, and I deliberately took a vague figure, because the Colonial Office themselves are apparently uncertain as to the exact population, and they give a number of different figures. Therefore, cautiously as I thought, I said "something approaching 200 million." I could hardly have been more vague. The fact remains that it is a very high figure, and the Europeans are hopelessly outnumbered. The only way in which it is possible to live together is by the removal of the colour bar in the truest possible sense.
I think I am the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth batsman on this wicket, and it is not possible for me to make any runs. I am not going to try; the proper thing for me to do, indeed, would be to declare at this point. I should like, however, to end on this note: that whilst we on this side of the House believe that the Government have been ill-advised in not consulting the Africans more than they have done, nevertheless we have now come to the point when this Bill will shortly be passed; and in due course the scheme will be submitted to the House. I would not associate myself with anyone 333 who says that in the last resort, having done everything possible to conciliate the Africans, having done everything possible to explain the meaning of federation and of the safeguards we introduced in the scheme, and having done all that is possible to meet them, if we find at the end of the day they are still opposed to it then we are not going to introduce federation. I do not think it is practical politics to count heads at this stage. All we can do is to make sure that our actions are understood, that we have done everything possible to meet legitimate fears, suspicions and oppositions. When that has been done, we have a responsibility, so long as we are the trustees of the African Territories: we have to act in accordance with what we believe to be right. If, at the end of the day, we believe federation to be right, then I think no Government can be blamed for introducing it.
My difficulty is that I do not think that that stage has yet been reached. I hope, therefore, that—we are beyond the eleventh hour, but even at five to twelve it will be possible to do something to meet the Africans and to put over to them what we think. Perhaps it could be done by way of a Parliamentary delegation—though the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, at any rate by his actions, seemed to express some horror at the thought of sending out a Parliamentary delegation. That may or may not be the best way of doing it. However, I think that in some way we ought to endeavour, even at this time, to meet those who are representative of the African people to try to put over to them what this scheme means and the various safeguards that are being introduced; and even, if possible, to provide them with further reasonable safeguards.
I would therefore echo the hope expressed by several of my noble friends that, between the passing of this Bill and the introduction of the scheme, further efforts will be made to meet the Africans in an endeavour to secure their good will. If that can be done—there may be only once chance in a hundred, but I believe that it is worth taking—and if noble Lords opposite are successful in securing a certain measure of good will, they will have given this scheme of federation an infinitely greater chance of success than we believe it has at the present time. 334 Having said that, I echo what several of my noble friends have said: that we shall do nothing to prevent this federation from being a success—indeed, we shall do everything possible to make it a success.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, this has, I think we should all agree, been a valuable, a helpful and an encouraging debate, and, not least, in the speech which we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. As he said, it is a debate that has ranged wide. The scheme itself is wide, wide in its prospects, wide in what it can produce, wide because of the problems that federation raises, and wide because, as we believe—and certainly we all hope—in its effects, it may reach far beyond the borders of even the large country that bears Rhodes's name. The noble Lord said that we have not talked much about the Bill, and that is quite natural, because it is an Enabling Bill, to enable us to give effect to the federation scheme which we have debated already at such length on a previous occasion and again in the last two days. It has also been a realistic debate because it has been generally realised that the scheme which was negotiated and evolved over two years or more must be accepted or rejected; it cannot be changed.
That has been recognised by everybody, with the exception, of course, of the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, who can put down as many Amendments as he likes; anybody can at any time, and I should be the last to wish to limit the rights of any Member of either House; but, in practice, as the Leader of the Opposition said, if you are a realist, you realise that the decision has, in fact, been taken, and that federation will come into operation. What has certainly been most welcome in the debate is that from all sides of the House in almost every speech—there have been really very few exceptions—has beer the sentiment that now it is up to all of us, here and in Africa, to work together to make federation a success.
At the same time, a number of questions have been asked and suggestions made, and I think I should best serve the House by dealing with as many of these as I can in a reasonable space of time, and then by concluding with some more general observations which I think 335 transcend the whole matter and which make us feel sure, not only that federation is right—and I think the great majority of both sides feel that—but that federation is right now, at this moment. Apart from the question of further delay, to which I will come later and on which, if reluctantly, it seemed that the Leader of the Opposition accepted our decision, the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, raised two matters with which I ought to deal. In effect, he said that he appreciated the economic advantages of federation but wondered whether they could not be obtained by some other means of co-operation short of federation. I think there is an absolutely categorical answer to that, and the answer is, "No." That is not a dogmatic a priori answer. It is an answer based on the practical experience of a number of years when an attempt at loose co-operation was being attempted and when it signally failed. It was not anybody's fault that it failed. I think it went back even as far as our Government. It certainly went on all the time the noble and learned Earl was in office and it failed, not by any fault of the noble and learned Earl in not wanting to make it work, but because you cannot get what is necessary for co-operation short of federation.
Let me give the reasons briefly. Only a properly constituted Federation will attract the capital which is required for the tremendous development work which is necessary. The Territories, as individuals, could not raise the capital which is needed. Again, individually, these Territories are relatively weak and ill-balanced. Northern Rhodesia, with its enormous wealth of copper, is dangerously dependent for 90 per cent. of its wealth and, I think, its living, upon copper; and Nyasaland is able at best to maintain a precarious balance of its Budget. Strangely enough, all the anxieties have been expressed on behalf of Nyasaland and yet, if any one of these Territories has everything to gain from federation, it is Nyasaland. Some people have said: "Why cannot you leave it out?" If Nyasaland were left out of this federation scheme—and it would pay both Rhodesias to leave it out; there are certainly many white people and, I dare-say, quite a number of black people, who would be only too glad to see the two 336 Rhodesias joined together, leaving Nyasaland on the side lines—what would happen? In all probability, in a short space of time, little Nyasaland would become a bankrupt backwater.
Only federation and a properly constituted central Government with authority and power to take decisions and act upon them, can eradicate inter-territorial jealousies and frictions which have always been cropping up over the rival merits of different hydro-electric power schemes—where to place them: and over the disposal of coal—whether it is to go primarily to the industries of Southern Rhodesia or where it is most needed, and needed in the greatest quantities, up to the mines of Northern Rhodesia. Moreover, all the railway development needs federation. Only under federation can there be the proper development of the great agricultural potential of the three Territories. What is more(and this will be an appeal I am sure I can make to what is left of the Liberal Party) only under federation can full benefit be derived from free trade within the federal areas.
The other point the noble and learned Earl made was one about the United Nations Organisation. Of course, that Organisation has no jurisdiction whatsoever in our domestic and Colonial affairs. I noted what he said with reference to the International Court. I should not venture to answer that on my own responsibility, but I have taken the highest legal advice open to me. The noble and learned Earl appears to have lost sight of the fact that the provisions of Article 73 of the Charter of the United Nations to which he referred are subject to paragraph 7 of Article 2. This paragraph provides that nothing in the Charter authorises the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State.
I must say that I rather regret that the noble and learned Earl should have appeared to have given, or could be construed as giving, any support to the view that this is a matter in which either the United Nations or the International Court has any jurisdiction at all. I would add that I can assure the noble and learned Earl—indeed his Government must also have examined it meticulously, and no doubt he advised 337 them—that we have examined with the utmost care to see that the scheme was fully compatible with the Treaties and Agreements whereby Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in part came under the jurisdiction of Her Majesty. We have been advised, as no doubt were our predecessors, that the scheme does not contravene those Treaties or Agreements in any way. It was never suggested by anyone, at any stage in the two years of conference, that they did. No one has ever been able to produce an example of any way in which a Treaty is vitiated or modified. That being so, unless the noble and learned Earl thinks that the scheme is a breach (and I am sure he does not, because his Government would have made that very plain had they thought so) I regret a little that he should have mentioned it in a way which might lead some persons to suppose that there was a breach, and that if they could get somebody to take up their case they might be able to find some tribunal where possibly the point could be argued out.
§ EARL JOWITT
Perhaps I might usefully state that I do not assert for one moment that there is a breach. The line of my argument was that so long as the objections raised by the Africans are merely fanciful you have a right to disregard them. The line of my argument was that the argument of the Africans here was not fanciful—that is all I was saying: that they honestly believe it. That is a very different thing from saying that I suggest or I assert, or, indeed, that I believe, that there is any breach here involved.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I am much obliged to the noble and learned Earl. But the arguments of the Africans are not wholly fanciful, in the sense that, in regard to their anxieties, they are not very real. Perhaps "fancied" would be a fairer word to use than "fanciful." That I accept. I will come to deal with that point. But what I cannot understand is that in order to fortify the argument, which I have not the least doubt that some people are inclined to believe—namely, that they are in danger or that their Protectorate rights are in danger, although there is no conceivable breach and there is every possible safeguard—it was necessary to bring into that statement, which is very fairly and properly made, 338 an allusion to a possible appeal to the International Court, which certainly has no jurisdiction whatever in the matter. I am glad that that has now been cleared up, because I think we agree that we all ought to try to help the Africans and each other to make this thing a success; and it would not be helping them at all if somebody, worst of all some ill-disposed person rather like an agent provocateur, were to mislead them into supposing that they could follow some legal by-path which would only land them in costs and in trouble to no useful purpose.
Then the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, asked me how specially elected African members would be elected. I would refer him to paragraphs 23, 24 and 25, of the scheme. He will see there that they are to be elected for all time under regulations which are to be made by the Governors of the respective Territories. The noble Earl also asked me—and I am rather glad he did, because I think he or some other noble Lord referred to a statement in The Times in which for once The Times was misinformed—whether amendments to Territorial Constitutions required the assent or the Federal Government. The answer to that is emphatically no. The responsibility rests entirely with the United Kingdom Government in this country, though naturally they would invite the opinion of the Federal Government and hear what they had to say about it. That is only a natural, friendly and partnership kind of act.
Then the noble Earl and, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, asked which Secretary of State was concerned and why the scheme did not state which Secretary of State was meant. However far back you go, you will never find, where a Secretary of State is given power, that there is any reference to a particular Secretary of State. That custom has its origin back in the trigs of history when Secretaries of State first came into existence. They are not like the blessed Trinity; there are more than three of them. They are co-equal though not co-eternal, and they are each of them often in the position of acting the one for the other. Therefore, the reference is always to a Secretary of State. But in practice what would happen is that if the matter were a federal matter, the Secretary of State to whom the Bill would be referred would be the Secretary of 339 State for Commonwealth Relations. If the matter were a Territorial matter affecting the Territorial Legislatures of Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland, reference would be to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. But of course the Secretaries of State will consult together. That is the way business works, certainly in our Government, and I hope in those of our predecessors and of our successors at a long long distance hence, if it ever comes about. If the Secretaries of State disagree there is, of course, the Cabinet to go to in order to resolve the difficulties. That is the way that, from the time Cabinet Government started, the collective and individual responsibility of Ministers has been dealt with, and I do not think it would be wise to change that sound, historic practice in a short enabling Bill.
Then the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chichester, in his very interesting speech, welcomed very warmly the university pronouncement. He asked mea number of detailed questions as to how it would be carried out. He will appreciate that I cannot give him a complete blueprint and plan of how the Federal Government and the Federal Assembly will work, before we have even authorised their Constitution. As a matter of fact, Sir Godfrey Huggins—who in all human probability will, please God, be the first Prime Minister under federation—and the University Board, who will no doubt continue their existence, have both gone a very long way in advance of federation becoming a fact to say what is their purpose and intention. It will, of course, be for the Government and the Board to work out the details. The essential principle of a multi-racial university is completely accepted. It has been agreed that the site must be large enough. In fact there is plenty of room on the Mount Pleasant site. It is not a built-up area, and if that be the final site chosen for the erection of a University there will be plenty of room on the outskirts for expansion.
As to the other point which the right reverend Prelate raised—that with regard to autonomy—I am sure there will not he the least difficulty about that. Discussions are going on about it. It is, of course, inconsistent that this should come under a local Act of the Rhodesian Parliament; it will have to be dealt with 340 under federation by a Federal Act. I think it is accepted—certainly by the Board themselves—that it is an essential condition of their being in communion with universities all over the Commonwealth that the University should be an autonomous body. I do not think there will be the least difficulty about that.
The noble Viscount, Lord Hall, in his interesting and helpful speech, put a whole catalogue of questions to me.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
Yes, he administered three interrogatories—and fairly substantial ones they were. Their quality, if not their quantity, was high. The first thing he asked—I think I have it right—is why, if higher education is a Federal subject, primary and secondary African education does not come under Federal authority too, but remains a Territorial subject? The answer to that is quite simple. The primary and secondary education of Africans is a matter of exclusive African concern, and the whole principle upon which the last Government insisted when they were in office—and we agreed— is that those matters which are primarily and particularly of African concern should be reserved to the Territories, whereas matters which are of general concern should be on the Federal list. Higher education—university and technological education—which must be for the whole Federal area and which must be multi-racial, is a Federal subject.
The noble Viscount's next question was I think: What was the basis on which seats were allocated to elected members of the three Territories? Was it financial or economic and so on? I cannot answer that, and for this reason. It is about the one thing in this scheme which was agreed at the start, and has never changed all through. I do not know of anyone ever having tried to sit down and write out exactly what were the different considerations which moved them in agreeing to this division. I imagine that, like sensible and practical people—your Lordships will understand that I am talking about what happened at the start—they got round a table and agreed that this was a reasonable division. That is the one thing which has been adhered to all through since the Labour Government's version, which has never been 341 challenged in all the time I have been concerned with it. So it stands.
Then the noble Viscount asked about income tax allocation. If I followed him rightly, he drew attention to the fact that it had been slightly changed since the first Raisman Report was produced. We had the advantage of Sir Jeremy Raisman's services, both in the original inquiry and in the sub-committee which we set up during the sittings of the last Conference. All three Governments were, of course, represented at the Conference, and their recommendations as to the distribution of income tax were unanimous; and, naturally, as they were unanimous we accepted them. As the noble Viscount will see, there is provision in the scheme for are view from time to time, and the first review will take place within three years. I may say, with regard to Nyasaland—which we always come up against; and it is right that we should look after the smallest—that the representatives of that Territory fully agreed to this. Indeed, I am not surprised, because the best estimate that could be made—and this carries the Nyasaland estimate with it—is that under this allocation of revenue as between the Federation and the different Territories, Nyasaland will be something like £3 million a year better off. And that is not to be "sneezed at." in the case of a Territory of that size, and in a Budget of that size.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
May I ask the noble Viscount on what basis it is assumed that 6 per cent. of the taxable income of these Territories for Federal purposes will provide for Nyasaland £3 million a year. It seems incredible.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
The calculation is not quite so simple as that. You have to take account of all services for which the Federation assumes responsibility, and all debt charges. What happens at present, when each of these Territories is separate, is that each is responsible for its own debt, its amortisation, its interest payments and so on. Under federation, the Federation itself assumes the general debt, takes charge, broadly speaking, of future borrowing, and assumes responsibility for a number of highly expensive centralised services. That is taken on the liability side away from the Territories. Then, in order to pay for that (I have not the figures before me) whatever percentage goes to the Federation is for the 342 discharge of the liabilities and payment for the services assumed by the Federation. Certain Territorial expenditure remains with the Territory, and for that the Territory itself has to provide. On a calculation of what will be the financial position of Nyasaland, with the centre taking charge of a great many of its liabilities, and in view of the contribution it will get to what will still remain with it as a Territorial liability, it is estimated that Nyasaland will be £3 million a year better off. It is a calculation which was produced by Sir Jeremy Raisman and his colleagues. I put it forward for what it is worth; and I submit that you cannot have much better people to make such a calculation. Anyway, it is an estimate which, I gather, Nyasaland itself underwrote. I think I remember it coming up during a conference. If I should find that I have in any way misled the noble Viscount, we have another stage of this Bill and I will certainly take the opportunity to correct what I have said. But I think I shall be told that it is all right.
The noble Viscount, finally, said that we ought to have given more explanation to the Africans, and we ought still to give them more. Honestly, we have tried to do our best. To hear some people talk—this does not apply to the noble Viscount at all, for he said, "I know you have tried"—it would seem that my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary had acted like a deaf adder, stopping his ears and refusing to listen at all. But he has never done anything but listen. His ears are always open. Do not forget that these people were asked to come into consultation. Perhaps I may refer to the Report, which contains this statement:During these discussions"—this was before I came on the scene—they declined the Secretary of State's invitation to attend the Conference as delegates, although he gave them assurances that by attending they would not be committing themselves in any way. An invitation to attend the Conference as observers was also refused. The Southern Rhodesia delegation however included two Africans who attended the Conference and took an active part in the proceedings.That statement will be found in paragraph 10 of the Report, Command Paper 8753.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, may I clear my own mind on this matter? The Conference to which they were invited was a Conference to discuss the details of 343 federation. They were opposed to federation: therefore, it was not very helpful to be there to discuss the details of forming a Federation to which they totally objected.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
That shows how hopeless this position is, in a sense. This was at quite an early stage in trying to plan a scheme of federation. They were asked to come in and join in the discussion, as the noble Lord's own Government asked them. The noble Lord has said, however, that it was no good their coming because they were not in favour of federation. What does that mean? It means that they had made up their minds, I am bound to say largely on some extremely false information sent out, not by the noble Lord's Party, or at any rate not by most of them, but by some ill-disposed people who hate the idea of federation and partnership and who completely bamboozled a number of these people and got them into the state of mind in which, even away back in these early Conferences, as the noble Lord says, it was no good to bring them into consultation, because they had already made up their minds that they would have nothing at all to do with federation. That shows how difficult it was, and that the decision has to be taken, I think, as we have taken it.
The Minister of State went out to Central Africa and met a great many Africans. I do not want to put this as a controversial point, but only in view of what the noble Lord has said. Quite a way back those people who, for one reason or another, had made up their minds in advance against any idea of federation did not really listen, nor did they discuss the merits of this or that scheme; and they persuaded many to take the same attitude. Frankly, we have made some mistakes, but I am bound to say that the late Government made a great mistake in telling district officers, who are the people in whom these natives have confidence and whom they know in their daily lives, not to tell them the merits of federation, but only to ask their opinion. I daresay we have made mistakes, but I am sure that that was a fatal mistake. What we have to do now is to get on with this business so as to carry all the conviction we can. I am certain that the real conviction is the conviction of federation successfully in action.
344 I do not want to say too much about this aspect, but the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester raised, quite reasonably, the question of safeguards and the African's anxiety about his land. I think it is now universally understood that land and native agriculture, and other subjects of special African interest, remain Territorial subjects. We must remember that the legislative list cannot be altered for ten years without the agreement of the three Territorial Legislatures. The right reverend Prelate was good enough to say, when I intervened yesterday, that he was completely satisfied on the matter of land, and that he was glad that that had been so clearly stated. I would add that the Federal list has been most carefully designed to embrace those subjects where all the population have a common interest and to exclude those subjects where the interests of black and white might be likely to clash. The safeguards (I am not going into them over again) have been very complete, as complete as we could make them.
The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, in a characteristically wise speech, said some wise things about safeguards. He admitted that this was different from the South African Constitution, where we parted with control. In this Bill we retain the Protectorate status, and political and Territorial advancement are also in the hands of the Territorial Governments under the ægis of the Colonial Office. The Colonial Office must feel flattered, because everybody now puts haloes round their heads. Everybody in this country puts haloes round their heads and some people outside want to get away from them: but they are, if I may say so, very good. These safeguards are all right on paper, but the noble Viscount said that if we always have to be applying them, then the scheme breaks down. There is a lot of truth in that, although the fact that the safeguards are there is a good guarantee that they will be observed and will not have to be used. One does not say that certain things are not to be done, because if that is done one will always have to be invoking the law. Provided that they are sensible laws, and that people know they are the laws and have a share in making them, then generally they tend to keep them.
The value of an agreed plan, as this is, is that people will want to keep the 345 rules. The safeguards in the Bill are the strongest we can possibly have on paper. I believe they are. But if I believed this scheme turned for its worth, for its validity and for its functioning, upon safeguards, I should be against it altogether. If anybody believed so little in the scheme that he placed all his reliance on safeguards and none on federation, then he ought never to embark on federation at all. But I am certain that that was not the view of noble Lords opposite and of the Labour Government when they initiated this scheme and thought it was so vital to go on with it. And from the speeches of most noble Lords in this debate, that is not the view they hold to-day. The real safeguard is the spirit in which the scheme will work.
We have seen that spirit over the University, the issue which the most reverend Primate said in our last debate would enable the whole scheme to go forward in good hope. That has been warmly welcomed by African leaders in Southern Rhodesia. I am going to quote one. This was not a private letter written to me, but a public statement which I read in a Rhodesian paper. It was a statement made by Mr. Sankange, the. General Secretary of the Southern Rhodesia African Congress, who said this:It is now for the African people to demonstrate their worthiness to be partners in the establishment of this shrine of learning by donating to it every penny they can afford to give. Now we are able to breathe a sigh of relief at the knowledge that the University will be our University. This augurs well for the future race relations in Rhodesia.I attach as much importance to that statement by a leader of opinion as to some anonymous letters which we have had read to us. We know the enormous common interest that both races have, and the advantages which both Africans and Europeans can get under federation and cannot get in any other way.
We know—and noble Lords on both sides of the House have paid tribute to it—the liberal spirit of the men who will lead this Federation. We know that many who were opposed to federation now accept it, and are determined to make it succeed. And in Southern Rhodesia that certainly is true of both Africans and Europeans. There is no other plan or way of life for a country which is African and European, where 346 both have an equal right, where both have their homes, and where both will go on living together generation after generation. Some continue to say, "This is right, but you still ought to delay. Wait and see a little longer." For the decision to go forward now, we, the Government, take full responsibility. We are convinced that to do otherwise would be to play into the hands of extremists on both sides: the men who want to make federation impossible; the men on both sides who want domination, whether it be black or white, and who hate the idea of partnership or co-operation. We should be giving them a power of veto; we should play straight into their hands.
That, so long as we are trustees, we should regard as a dereliction of our duty and our trust. It would be a body blow to liberal opinion; it would be a setback to the spirit of practical co-operation: and it would lead immediately to an embitterment of race relations—in fact, it would be a victory for the extremists and the enemies of federation. That view is overwhelmingly endorsed by the men of the greatest experience, and the men upon whom the task will fall. Many have testfied to that, in this House and elsewhere, and I should like to mention one who cannot be here to-day, but who has perhaps as long an experience as anybody—that is., the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe. He asked me to tell your Lordships that he would have been here but for the fact that he is also the oldest past President of "the Royal," and he has to be at the Royal Show. He wrote to me to say that he was more than ever convinced of the rightness of the scheme, from the standpoint of native welfare, and of the unwisdom of any avoidable delay.
We shall do all we can to carry conviction. The district officers will probably be the wisest people to do it. I consulted the Leaders of the Opposition to confirm that they would not take it amiss if I accepted to invitation to go to Southern Rhodesia in a week or two. I may not be here when the Order comes up: it will be in lie able hands of my noble friend Lord Salisbury, if I am not here. I will do what I can when I am in Central Africa. I shall see people, and talk to them. I have no doubt that I shall have an opportunity, not of making speeches—I do not want to make public speeches; that is rot the best way of 347 doing it—but of having quiet talks with various people. I understand that my noble friend has Rhodesians coming here to discuss constitutional advance in the month of September. I myself, as the House knows, have certain other plans in other parts of the Empire, to which I have been invited later in the year, so I cannot do this. We shall do all we can to carry conviction, I am sure of it—particularly in the state of opinion today, where there are suspicions which are so hard to eradicate because they have no foundation, and that is the hardest kind of suspicion to eradicate. The real effective proof and discounter alike of doubt and fear will be federation in being. That is why it is right to go on. My Lords, I am sure that it will be a great encouragement to many in Central Africa to know that they will go forward on this high venture with such a wide measure of good will, and with so firm a faith in its future.
§ On Question, Bill read 2ª, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.