§ 2.48 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE rose to draw attention to the unrest in Nyasaland, and to the urgent need for the appointment of a Parliamentary Commission to consider and report upon this situation; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Opposition have put down this Motion for to-day owing to the serious situation in Central Africa and, in particular, in the Protectorate of Nyasaland. I am sure the events that have transpired in the Protectorate are regretted on all sides of the House and that the people of Nyasaland have our full sympathy. Much anxiety has been shown by the public in this country over these events, and I personally hardly ever remember a case where so much anxiety has been shown and has manifested itself so quickly. On March 3 I moved, on behalf of the Opposition, a Motion on the Adjournment. That is a rather rare event in your Lordships' House, but it was necessitated by reason of the fact that that day a state of emergency had been declared in Nyasaland.
§ In the course of the debate I urged the noble Earl, Lord Perth, to go forthwith to Nyasaland in order to bring to bear his calming influence on the situation there. I am glad to say that although he did not accept our invitation at the moment it was given, he did so shortly afterwards. We are grateful to him for going to Nyasaland; we welcome him back, and we await with eagerness his report.
§ It is our wish to-day that the debate in this House should be objective and reasoned. The noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, the Lord President of the Council, has accused the Opposition of being hysterical. I can assure the noble Viscount and his colleagues that there is no hysteria whatsoever on these Benches. The allegation is that there have been plots in Nyasaland to carry out violence and the massacre of Europeans, Asians and moderate African leaders, such plots having been the work of the African 199 National Congress; that, as a result of these plots, widespread unrest and disturbances have occurred, but that the massacres were forestalled by a declaration of a state of emergency. There are, therefore, certain issues at stake. First, what injury to persons and what damage to property has, in fact, taken place, whether by the rioters or by the security forces? Secondly, to what extent was the African National Congress implicated in these events? Thirdly, what were the causes of the unrest; and, fourthly, was there in fact a massacre plot?
§ Nyasaland, as your Lordships know, is a land area roughly the size of Scotland. It is land-locked, so far as communications with the sea are concerned. It lies in a belt along the western shore of Lake Nyasa. It has a population of 2,648,000, of which some 7,000 are Europeans. It might almost be called a Scottish Colony, if there were such a thing, because for some sixty years and more Scotland has been intimately concerned with this Protectorate. The first contact Scotland and we had with Nyasaland was in the figure of David Livingstone, that great Scotsman. After him came the Church of Scotland and its missionaries. For a time the missionaries found that they had not only to preach the Gospel—which, of course, they did, and continue to do—but also to act as traders and administrators, because there were no others. But in time some of their compatriots in the business community in Scotland followed, and there was thus not only a spiritual connection with Scotland but a material one as well. Undoubtedly the missions saved Nyasaland from the slave trade, and I am glad to see to-day that quite a number of Scottish Peers are to speak. No doubt they will emphasise the long connection that Nyasaland has had with Scotland.
§ Unfortunately, in spite of all their efforts the people remain poor. The country is a poor country. The exports are mainly agricultural, and the labour force which leaves every year for work elsewhere brings a considerable contribution to the economy of the territory. In 1957, the revenue was £8,267,000 and expenditure £8,420,000. There is need for economic development and for training of leaders. 200 In fact, I understand that only one barrister and one physician are at present qualified from Nyasaland. There are no other professional men. No district officer comes from the African community, and there are no business executives. So it does not seem that we have overdone higher education in Nyasaland.
§ The background to the trouble is this. There has been unrest—there is no question about that; it is admitted on all sides—and a state of emergency was declared on March 3. As a result, the Nyasaland African Congress was proscribed and its leaders detained. In all, 447 have been detained under the Emergency Regulations; and of those people some were detained in Nyasaland and some were sent down to Southern Rhodesia. In the Adjournment debate to which I have referred, I protested at the removal of these Africans to Southern Rhodesia, and in this I was supported by the noble Lord, Lord Boothby. I should like to know under what authority they were so deported. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, said that they would remain under the Governor's control, but how can this be? How can the Governor control them in a territory over which he has no jurisdiction? It seems to us as if both the Governor and the Secretary of State for the Colonies have lost legal control over these men. But whatever the legal position may be, in our view it was a grievous blunder, owing to the known antipathy of the Africans in Nyasaland to elements in Southern Rhodesia. Arising out of the disturbances, some fifty Africans have been killed by the security forces, and an unknown number injured. Some of the security forces have been injured.
As to the reasons for unrest, the noble Earl, Lord Perth, is reported to have said in Africa—and I quote him:
Among Africans I found a great deal of opposition to federation.
In 1953, African opinion was averse to federation, as is stated in paragraph 6 of the White Paper which the Government published yesterday. In both Houses the Opposition at that time informed the Government of this fact, and warned them not to go on with their federation proposals in the teeth of African opposition. Speaking on behalf of the Opposition in your Lordships' House in April, 1953—and I quote it because it was at that time the view of
the Opposition—I said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 181, col.512]:
In conclusion, I beg the Government to pause while there is yet time, and not to blunder on with this plan, irrespective of African wishes. And I say to the Government: 'Pause until you can take Africans with you. If you cannot do that, drop the plan.' It would involve no loss of prestige—indeed, the Government would gain prestige. To go the other way means disaster: disaster for the Africans and disaster for us.
§ Those were our views in 1953. The result of forcing federation on the Africans has undoubtedly been a loss of confidence in the United Kingdom Parliament by them; a feeling of betrayal by the United Kingdom Government; a lessening of friendship for the British people; an intensification of their fear of Southern Rhodesia and an enormous quickening of political feeling and organisation. This last is admitted in paragraph 6 of the White Paper to which I have referred.
§ Now we come to the alleged massacre plot—a very serious allegation by the Government in Nyasaland and the Government here, as stated by the Secretary of State in another place on March 3. As to this alleged massacre plot, the onus is on the Government here and on the Government of Nyasaland to prove it. It is not on the Africans or anyone else to disprove it. We all know that it is practically impossible to disprove a negative. Some preliminary thoughts occurred to us in this field before we actually saw the White Paper, but they have been re-emphasised since reading it.
§ First of all, let us consider Dr. Hastings Banda, the leader of the Nyasaland African Congress. To me, Dr. Banda seems rather an unlikely revolutionary leader. We have known many revolutionary leaders in the last twenty years, but none of them has been remotely like Dr. Banda. He left Nyasaland when he was twelve, a very poor boy, and walked down to the Union of South Africa, where he received certain further education and then he went on to the United States, where he completed medical training. He practised for many years in this country, in Kilburn, which, as your Lordships may know, is a district to the North of Oxford Street, reached by the Edgware Road. I understand that his patients were almost entirely European and that they found him a kind and considerate physician. When he arrived back in 202 Nyasaland, Dr. Banda, it seems, was unable to speak in public in his original language and had to address meetings in English. Taking him all in all, he does not seem the type of person one would expect to lead a revolutionary plot and engage in activities of a bloodthirsty kind involving the murder of Europeans, including the Governor and moderate African leaders.
§ And then we come to Mr. Kanyama Chiume, a member of the Nyasaland Legislature and publicity secretary of the Nyasaland African Congress. As your Lordships will know, Mr. Chiume was one of the four leaders who were said to have been named, if Dr. Banda was arrested, as the leaders to run Congress in his absence and to fix the day when violence was to begin and massacres to start—that is, according to the White Paper, "R-Day". Mr. Chiume has said that he knew nothing whatever about this plot. He had never heard of it. If there had been such a thing he would have heard of it; and in any case they would not have been so inept as to conduct a massacre campaign of this kind and turn world opinion against them. My Lords, it may be said that deeds speak louder than words, and there is one curious deed on the part of Mr. Chiume, which we ought to recognise. At this important time, when Dr. Banda was about to be arrested and Mr. Chiume was to be the leader to conduct this massacre plot, where was Mr. Chiume? He was on a slow boat taking a five-weeks' voyage from London to the East Coast of Africa. When these events broke out Mr. Chiume had reached Mombasa. He got off the boat and wisely flew back to this country. It seems odd that if he was to occupy this important place he should put himself on a boat which would take five weeks to get to his home port.
§ The next point I would like to bring to the attention of the House is that for eight whole days the Northern Province was in the hands of Africans. Police were withdrawn, but no one was killed; few were injured, and there was no massacre of anybody. It is admitted in the White Paper, in paragraph 37, that Congress activity has been most violent and effective in areas such as the Northern Province where Congress organisation was strongest. Yet in that place, where the police had been withdrawn and the 203 Africans had full authority for eight days, no massacres whatever took place. The airport was retaken by the Tanganyika police before a state of emergency was declared; and the fifty Africans have all been killed since the state of emergency. Lastly, we come to the attitude of the Church of Scotland and its missionaries. We shall hear more about this in the course of the debate, but such reports as I have seen have not supported the case for a massacre plot.
The attitude of the Opposition, as in all such cases, is to criticise the course of action the Government are taking if we consider thatcourse of action to be wrong. We have been strongly condemned for criticising the Government in this case, again by the noble Viscount the Lord President of the Council. He criticised in strong terms.But I should like to make this point. The criticism of the Government's action by the Opposition, so far from weakening Britain's position abroad, actually strengthens it. It certainly does a great deal to bring a salutary effect on opinion overseas, not least in the country affected. It does to some extent redress the appalling effect of statements like that of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Jeffreys who, speaking in the debate on the defence plan on March 10, said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 214 (NO. 48), col. 889];
When all is said and done, in spite of nuclear weapons, conventional armaments are necessary, if only for minor operations or for policing work. Take, for instance Cyprus or Nyasaland. We do not want to annihilate the inhabitants but we do want to teach them a good lesson which will not be forgotten.
I regard that as a very shocking statement to make at a time like this, and I do not regard the British Army's job to be to "teach people lessons." The Army hate being called in to aid the civil power, and when they are it is to restore order or to maintain it. It is not to teach lessons, with or without weapons.
§ We are glad that the White Paper is before the House, and we are grateful to the noble Earl and his colleagues for getting it out so quickly. The great interest in it was shown by the queues at the Printed Paper Office—the first time in my experience that that has happened. It was like waiting for hot cakes. What we have to ask ourselves is, first, whether the White Paper contains sufficient evi 204 dence to satisfy the imposition of a state of emergency, and secondly, whether there is in it sufficient evidence of a massacre plot. In the view of the Opposition it is a most unconvincing document to put before the House and the country. The so-called massacre plot is based on circumstantial evidence unsupported 'by any verifiable fact. What is more, the plot is quite inconsistent with the events that have occurred in Nyasaland during the past two months. It is remarkable, if the Africans are so anti-European, as is alleged, and intended to massacre Europeans, that no such murders or attempted murders have taken place. There are large areas of the territory where district commissioners, planters and their wives and children are living in isolation and no serious assaults have been committed on them. Of that we are, of course, all very glad.
§ We shall all agree, whatever our views have been in the past, that there is a great need to restore confidence among the Africans of Nyasaland in the United Kingdom Parliament and Government, and in the good will of the British people. In order that this may be broughtabout, the following events should, in our view, take place. First the return of the Southern Rhodesian troops and police and the Federal troops to Southern Rhodesia; and, secondly, the bringing back of the detainees from Southern Rhodesia to Nyasaland at once. Thirdly, as soon as practicable the publication of the new Nyasaland Constitution, as the Government have been pressed to do by the Opposition since October, 1957, and again definition of the Government's attitudeto the 1960 Conference.
I think I ought to say a word about that, because undoubtedly this will form some part of our consideration to-day. The Labour Party hasgone on record as to the preliminary steps which should be taken and as to the attitude towards the 1960 Conference over Central Africa, and this is what the Labour Party have said:
The Labour Party regards itself as completely bound by the Preamble to the Constitution, which declares that the people of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should continue to enjoy separate government under the special protection of Her Majesty for as long as their respective peoples so desire. Labour believes there should be a review of the powers of the federal and territorial governments so that theposition of the protectorates is safeguarded. We reaffirm the pledge that
dominion status shall not be conceded until all the inhabitants of the Federation have expressed a desire for it through the exercise of full and equal democratic rights.
In older to enable African views to be more effectively expressed at this Conference and as a step towards full democracy, the Labour Party believes that Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland must now be given opportunities for much greater participation in their governments. To this end it urges immediate constitutional reforms to ensure a majority of elected Africans in the Nyasaland Legislative Council and the appointment of African Ministers equal in number to those of other races. In Northern Rhodesia there should be parity of representation between Africans and other races in both the Legislative and Executive Councils. Labour also believes that the franchise in both territories should be broadened immediately as an instalment of progress towards a common roll and full adult suffrage.
So far as Northern Rhodesia is concerned, the Government have a very great opportunity this week to put African Ministers on the Executive Council there.
§ Last, but perhaps most important of all, certainly a very important matter at this stage, so far as Nyasaland is concerned, is the appointment of a Commission of inquiry. We of the Opposition believe that the sending of a Commission of Inquiry to Nyasaland in the very near future is essential for the reasons I have already given. Various types of Commission have been suggested and various precedents have been canvassed, but we believe that every case is different and every case must stand on its own feet. I suppose that there are three types of Commission, all of which have certain factors in their favour: the judicial Commission, the Parliamentary Commission, and what one might call the mixed Commission, some judicial personages and some not. The Labour Party, after considerable consideration and discussion, came down on the side of the Parliamentary Commission, because they felt that from the Africans' point of view they would welcome a Parliamentary Commission, as it would appear to them less aloof and formal than a judicial Commission. We felt that their pride had undoubtedly been hurt; they felt to some extent we had abandoned them, and for those reasons and because many of the considerations were likely to be political ones, the Labour Party considered that it would be better to have a Parliamentary Commission than a judicial one.
§ Furthermore, it is essential, I believe, that now or perhaps at a later stage— 206 at all events at some stage well before the constitutional conference—Parliamentarians should have the opportunity of going to Nyasaland and considering these matters, because in 1960 Parliament in this country, in conjunction with the other authorities concerned, will have before them the whole question of the future of Central Africa including Nyasaland. The mare Parliamentarians get to know of the problems before 1960 the better. It was for those reasons that the Labour Party felt that of the various types of Commission, all of which have things to be said for them, in all probability the Parliamentary Commission would be the most suitable in those particular circumstances. I would emphasise that the main point is to get the Commission of Inquiry out there as soon as possible. It is not in this case, I feel, only a question of getting to know the facts; just as important, if not more important, is the need to know the feelings which lie behind the facts. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF PERTH)
My Lords, I think first we should all welcome the objective way in which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has moved this Motion. After all, this is not, I feel convinced, a matter of Party politics. Rather have we all got to try to get to the bottom of things and find out what is the right course. I have been wondering how best I might help your Lordships in this debate. I have wondered about that quite a lot, not only in the aeroplane when I was coming over but also on the ground when I was trying to get here and was being delayed between my flights. I came to the conclusion that it would probably be most helpful if I divided my speech into three parts, the past, the present and the future.
First, the past. Many of your Lordships will have read the White Paper. I do not think that, broadly, it is appropriate for me to comment on what is there; the record speaks for itself. I would, however, make just one remark. I am quite clear that, apart from the issue of the massacre plot, events, as shown in the White Paper, were getting completely out of control in Nyasaland. It was clearly the duty of the Governor to take measures to restore law and order.
207 To this end, as we have read, he sought the help of the Federal Government. The Federal Government, as we should expect, responded to this call and sent up Federal troops, and police also. At that time many people in this country accused the Federal Government of a deliberate plot somehow to take over control of Nyasaland. No one can now substantiate that. But, my Lords, the harm has been done. Many people in Africa, and more particularly in Southern Rhodesia, are bitterly resentful of such accusations. Southern Rhodesians are loyal Britishsubjects, and I think that these accusations are both wrong and damaging to all our interests. I want to take the opportunity to thank the Federal Government and the Southern Rhodesian Government for providing the troops and the police. Without them there would undoubtedly have been grave trouble, grave disorder and loss of life; indeed, this was already happening.
Now let me come to the present. It was, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, says, only three weeks ago that we had a debate in this House on the Adjournment when, as he has recalled, he urged that I should go out to Nyasaland. Her Majesty's Government said that if they thought conditions were right they would be only too ready to arrange for that to happen. In due course I got my instructions, and I went there.I remember that in that debate Lord Ogmore said he thought it was important for a Minister of the Crown to go out, so as to show the people of Nyasaland that they were not a forgotten people. I must say that I did find in one memorandum put to me the phrase, "Britain does not take Nyasaland seriously." So I was glad to be there, and I took special pains, in the four days that I was there. to travel widely over the country.
I went to all the three Provinces—the Northern Province, the Central Province and the Southern Province. I saw not only such people as district commissioners or provincial commissioners but many of the military forces, not in action but on active service, trying to protect the people and to keep things under control. I also saw many of the police. If any of your Lordships had had the good fortune to be there and to have seen the troops, he would have known that they did not treat their job in any punitive 208 sense; rather were they there performing essentially a police operation. There was no spirit of vindictiveness or any such thing—very much the opposite.
Then I saw several of the African Chiefs. I saw many other Africans, both politicians and civil servants. I saw them as individuals and not as Party members, because at that time it was clearly not appropriate to discuss Party matters. I also saw representatives of theChurches—not of all the Churches that I should have liked, but representatives, in particular, of the Church of Scotland. Unhappily, as I shall show later in my speech, I was not able to get up to Livingstonia, but I was in contact with Mr. Macpherson, of Livingstonia. Last, and of course not least, I saw the Governor and those around him. I would take this opportunity of saying that he and they were doing what one would expect —a quiet, efficient and good job. I also went to visit three of the detainee camps. I thought it was important to see how they were run. Remember, my Lords, the whole thing was done very hurriedly. What I saw filled me with satisfaction. Those who were looking after the detainees were volunteers. They were men of humanity, who did not like the job but were there to do it. In the circumstances, the conditions were, I am sure, satisfactory to one and all.
What did I learn from my visit? First of all, it became clear to me at the time —and this has been confirmed since—that, broadly, we can hope that the situation now will be under control. It is true that there will still have to be certain operations to establish authority in one or two of the areas; but, on the whole, I think there is a fair chance that no new serious incidents will occur. There can be no certainty on this. After the events that have occurred, matters could suddenly flare up again; but I think we can hope for better things. The Federal Government are now wanting to withdraw their troops which have been in Nyasaland only for the purpose of reestablishing law and order; and that as we know, is already in hand: not all the troops at once, of course—one cannot do that, because one has to go steadily and carefully.
In talking to many of the Africans, I found how widespread had been the intimidation of them. A peculiar fact 209 was that almost everyone I talked to had had this threat in one form or another, and particularly those who were ordinary Government servants. Several of them I talked to had been stoned; others had had their families threatened. Many of them had feared to go to work. That was true not only of those working in the Government, but it was also true of many ordinary villagers and country people. There were various gangs—young "teddy-boys" is perhaps the best way of describing them—who gathered together and if they saw any body in their way, stopped them, interfered with them and intimidated them. There was no doubt of the great relief that ran through the country when the emergency was declared and this type of activity was stopped.
Then I found that there was undoubtedly widespread support of one kind or another for Congress. I asked myself why. I came to the conclusion that it was for perhaps three main reasons. One of these was the intimidation about which I have already spoken. It may seem strange to your Lordships here that intimidation by a relatively small group of people can be effective. Here, we think in terms of order—we have the police at hand to whom we can appeal, and so forth. But it is not the same in Nyasaland; and there the fear caused by one man, riding around a village on a bicycle, saying: "You had better be careful or something terrible will happen to you", is extraordinary, and real.
The second reason for the widespread backing of Congress is, I think, that quite a few of the young who have been educated, not to top but none the less to reasonable standards, are extremely ambitious. They had the feeling that here was a chance for them if they supported Congress—that very soon they were going to find jobs at the top; that is what they were after. The third reason was undoubtedly the fear of federation. That, I believe, was the widest fear, and I will come back to it, if I may, in a moment.
We all deplore the tragic incidents that occurred, the loss of life that we know about. In certain cases we were desperately unlucky. I well recall the incident at Nkata Bay. I understand that no fewer than twenty people were 210 killed. The district commissioner when faced by an angry crowd, showed extraordinary courage. He was trying to stop them breaking through to overwhelm a boat which was waiting to set sail, and on which there were various prisoners. For an hour and a quarter, while the crowd grew ever more threatening, he parleyed with them and kept them from advancing. He did all he could to play for time, because he knew, since he had sent for them, that a relieving force was on the way to try and establish order. But when, finally, he could no longer hold out, his few troops—I think they numbered eight or ten altogether—had to open fire. At that moment there came over the hill, not more than 400 yards away, the relieving force. It was tragic bad luck. Two minutes more and the disaster might have been avoided. That is the kind of thing which has bedevilled us; but I would pay great tribute to the courage of so many of the district commissioners.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
Lastly, my Lords, I would say one word about the Chiefs. I saw several of them, and I remember well one of the older ones saying to me with pride, "We are British Chiefs." He went on to talk about a leader whom he did not mention by name, but he was talking of Dr. Banda. He said that he did not understand how this leader could do these things to his people; that he had caused great upset and unrest in the country, and that was not the way for a Chief to behave. He could be no Chief if he did that. That is the simple faith of these Chiefs and that is the simple way in which they reason. I am sure that it is a reasoning which will appeal to all of your Lordships. Our policy at the present time is to do all we can to restore the authority of the Chiefs which is seriously threatened by Congress activities. As a matter of policy, troops or police are going to the district of every Chief in every area for the purpose of being seen and of making clear that authority is once again restored.
Now let me turn to what is the most important thing—namely, the future. First, whenever we can, we are going to prosecute the wrongdoers; and I have seen in the Press to-day that those prosecutions have already started. That will 211 take time, for it is difficult to make all the arrangements for such prosecutions. One thing which the Governor particularly asked was whether we could supply one or two additional magistrates. That will show that we want to get on with it. There is no doubt that British justice is very highly regarded in the territory and we want to do nothing to weaken this belief in British justice.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked me about the detainees, suggesting that they should be brought back from Southern Rhodesia straight away. But Nyasaland is a small country, and the prisons for these detainees are not available there. We have seen that when detainees were known to be in one place or another there were demonstrations, organisation of crowds, rioting and so forth. Is it seriously suggested that at this moment we should risk all that happening again? Surely we should wait. At the right time the Governor will decide when they should come back, and, as I said three weeks ago, they can comeback at that time.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl forgiving way. If these detainees had to be sent out of Nyasaland, why send them to Southern Rhodesia?
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
It was a convenient place to which to send them, because the prisons were available in Southern Rhodesia.
Next, as to the future, let us turn to what is going to happen in the political field. Our aim is to advance, and we intend to go as fast as we can in the Africanisation of the Civil Service. I saw quite a few Africans in positions of responsibility, though not so many as Ishould like, for things cannot always go as fast as we should like;but we certainly intend to have more Africans gaining administrative experience with all possible speed and we hope, although it may not come at once, that we shall soon have some as Ministers in the Government.
Already there has been a start in the resumption of normal political life. We have had Mr. T. D. Banda—who must not be confused with Dr. Banda—and Mr. Wellington Chirwa, who is a member of the Legislative Council, joining forces; and it is right that we should see political 212 Parties coming together and actively pursuing their policy—even if one does not agree with it—so long as it is not a revolutionary and subversive policy. In fact the policy of these two people is also against federation but that we do not mind. What we do mind is any resort to terrorism to prevent federation.
Why is there this great fear of federation which I found, not only in Nyasaland but also in a lesser degree in Northern Rhodesia? People may ask, "Why, if this opposition to federation is so widespread, do we force it upon the people? Why give them something that they do not want?" My answer to that would be that if the people fully understood the issue then I have no doubt they would think differently, and I will try to show your Lordships why I have that belief. We mustgo back a little in history. Unhappily, about 1950 or 1951 when the idea of federation was first mooted by the Labour Party, it got off to a bad start in Nyasaland for a curious reason. When the proposal was put forward the Governor was instructed to ask the people, through his district commissioners, what they thought of federation;but he was not asked to give any indication of whether the Government thought it was a good thing.
Always before in the history of the country when a district commissioner put forward a proposal the Chief and others of the country would ask his opinion, saying, "Do you think this is a good thing?" Knowing the integrity of the overseas Civil Service, when the answer came they were satisfied. On this occasion many of the Chiefs asked that question but got no answer, for the district commissioners were under instructions to give no answer, and the result was that the people immediately become excessively suspicious, for they said, "If you do not say it is a good thing then it must be a bad thing." From that moment opposition to the idea of federation become widespread. That is the history and there is no doubt that we got off to a very bad start.
What were the two reasons which made people so fearful at that time? They were told that the land of the country was to be grabbed by the Europeans. What are the facts since that time? Whereas then there were, I 213 believe, one million acres in European hands, there are to-day 500,000 acres. So much for that fear. The other fear was that in some way or other Salisbury would take over the running of the country under federation and would swamp the Civil Service and so on. But that has not happened either.
Now let us look on the other side. What are the benefits that have come from federation? First let us remember, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has said, that while Nyasaland is a country very lovely to look at—it might well be Scotland—it is also a small and a poor country. It is over-populated and there is already unemployment. If numbers of the people of Nyasaland could not go to Southern Rhodesia or Northern Rhodesia to work it would be disastrous for them. The country could not survive for it could not support the Government services that it has to-day. Its medical facilities, its transport and many other things are provided by the Federal Government from revenues which would not otherwise be available to Nyasaland. It is roughly true to say that nearly a half of the total revenues which are spent in Nyasaland come from the Federal Government as a result of federation. Can we imagine the situation if the Federation were to end? It may be said that material benefits are not important; that what counts are the moral issues, the fears; and in some degree I would accept that. But it is also important for the people to know just how serious would be their material position if federation came to an end; and I am quite sure none of them has that appreciation or realisation.
What is it that they fear? As I say, it is somehow a fear of the unknown, a fear that they are going to be swamped, taken over by Southern Rhodesia. But there is no ground for that fear, any more than there was ground for the fear that they were going to lose their land. Let us look at the pledges contained in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland of 1953. Let us remember that again and again Government spokesmen have, without qualification, said that they stood by the Act. What is perhaps the key pledge is in the Preamble, which states the following:Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should continue under the special protection of Her 214 Majesty to enjoy separate Governments for as long as their respective peoples so desire.What could be more specific and more binding, more of a protection for the peoples who are all the inhabitants of those territories, as my noble friend Lord Chandos made clear?
It has been suggested at one time or another that we should state now how the desire of the people should be ascertained, if there was any question of withdrawing Her Majesty's special protection. But I am sure that your Lordships will agree it is not practicable at this stage to try to lay down what method should be adopted for ascertaining this. The pledges are specific; they are enshrined in the Preamble to the Federal Constitution; and we accept the Act in its entirety, not just one part or another. So fear of the Federation, fear of the 1960 talks, again seems to me unreasoning and without foundation.
I may be asked, what does the future hold for the two States which are under our special protection? Nyasaland, your Lordships will know, has some 2,700,000 African inhabitants and a handful of Europeans and Asians. Can anyone doubt that in due time the Africans will be in the majority in the Government? Mr. Wellington Chirwa, in a memorandum which he submitted to me, speaks of a "Black State". For my part I greatly prefer not to think in terms of "black" and "white", but of a Nyasaland State in which all are in a working partnership and make their contribution to the welfare and progress of the country. Mr. Macpherson of Livingstonia, whom I was unhappily unable to see—I tried to get up to him and he tried to come to me, but it just was not possible—sent me a message as to their views; and after asking that there should be an increased African participation in the Legislative Council and Executive Council, he went on to state that it was essential that there should be a guaranteed way open for self-government within a stated period without the threat of the whip-hand from Salisbury.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
There it is again, my Lords; fear of the threat of the whip-hand from Salisbury. But I 215 have already tried to say that there is no foundation for that, either in practice as to the past, or in the future in the light of the pledges.
Let us just look at Salisbury, which is the seat of the Federation as well as of the Southern Rhodesian Government. Other noble Lords will know far better than I can about the position there. I know that my noble friends, Lord Malvern and the Duke of Montrose, have both especially come over for this debate. This is more than welcome. I would say only one thing: that the policy there is essentially different from the policy of South Africa. In South Africa, unhappily, the policy is one of segregation and of keeping the Africans out of the political arena; but in Southern Rhodesia and in the Federation, the position is absolutely the opposite. Their purpose is to bring the Africans into partnership. Maybe some will say it is not fast enough. Bat the fears I have referred to above generate other fears, and the cry that we should get on with things faster than is prudent very naturally creates the opposite fear in the minds of other people, who resist progress just because of such a fear.
I will say just one word on Northern Rhodesia, because I think that one wants to get the whole of this pattern. I was there for two days at the very end of the election campaign. I only wish that many of your Lordships could have been there at the time. It was a most remarkable experience. It has not been written up very much, as far as I can see, in the papers; but there one really found the whole community all working to the one end of winning an election. It did not matter whether you were an African or whether you were European; one found the Africans addressing meetings of Europeans; one found Europeans addressing meetings of Africans; one found Africans and Europeans both on the same hustings, talking to an audience which would be made up of both races. It was a most heartening experience. It was the beginning of what we all hope for: partnership in the political and the creative work of developing the countries. To me it was a tangible and exciting proof of what we should all wish for and hope for. I will say one other word on Northern Rhodesia. There your 216 Lordships will remember that the Zambia Congress was banned. The Zambia Congress also threatened intimidation and was broadly favouring violence, and when they were proscribed the relief throughout the country was remarkable. They had been following the same pattern as the Congress Party in Nyasaland; but action was taken in good time, and I did not find one person, African or European, who was not immensely relieved at the removal of the threat.
My Lords, I do not believe that this question of federation should be one for Party politics. At the same time I cannot help but be puzzled when I find some strange bedfellows advocating secession from the Federation. I have particularly in mind some of the members of the Labour Party—I am not saying that this is official Labour Party policy—and many others (perhaps I should say) of the Left; many people who I know believe sincerely that it is a right policy but who believe it for the wrong reasons; and then we get others of a quite different Party, of the extreme Right, I think one might say, also advocating it. I have in mind The Dominion Party of Southern Rhodesia. That is something which is very curious and I cannot help but feel that there is something wrong there.
It is only six years since this experiment began. I am reminded, when I think of how little time it has been going, of Pilgrim's Progress of Timorous Mistrust, who turned back, and even more of Pliable.If we have such ill speed at our first setting out, what may we expect between now and the journey's end?".Like Christian, I feel I must venture. Are there any great things which have been achieved in a short time! Let us think for a moment,for example, of the Trade Union Movement in this country, or of universal suffrage. These were not achieved in six years. If people lose heart at the end of a short period, I believe we must go on and hopethat, in time, people will understand just what is of value, and what is the meaning of federation. I am confident that our policy must continue to be federation.
I am convinced that it is for the good of the people, and I have tried to show why I have this conviction. At the same time, we are deeply concerned with the fear of federation that prevails in Nyasaland; 217 and, in view of past history and present events, we face a most difficult task in restoring the confidence of the people—and, indeed, in satisfying opinion in this country.
Towards the end of his Motion, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has called for a Parliamentary Commission to consider and report upon this situation. Others, in the Press and elsewhere, have called for a Commission of Inquiry. Her Majesty's Government, for their part, have equally, over the last two weeks, considered what can be done. Indeed, one of the first topics I discussed with the Governor in Nyasaland was this very matter. The Governor is now satisfied that conditions have improved to such an extent that, with the approval of Her Majesty's Government, he is setting up a Commission of Inquiry into recent events in Nyasaland, whose terms of reference are as follows:To inquire into the recent disturbances in Nyasaland and the events leading up to them, and to report thereon.Mr. Justice Devlin has agreed to serve as Chairman; and there will be three other members—Sir John Ure Primrose, a former Lord Provost of Perth, Sir Percy Wyn-Harris, formerly Governor of the Gambia, and Mr. E. T. Williams, Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford. I am sure that I voice the opinion of all your Lordships in expressing our gratitude to them for having been ready to undertake this important inquiry at such short notice. I do not doubt that, with such eminent men of such wide experience, we shall get to the heart of things: and it is for that reason, my Lords, that I have not thought it appropriate to go into any detail on the White Paper, or to answer in detail the doubts that have been expressed or charges that have been made by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore.
The Commission will be concerned only with the recent disturbances in Nyasaland and the events leading up to them. There remains the issue of the future of the Federation and the 1960 constitutional talks. Regarding this, Her Majesty's Government are in touch with the Federation Government and the other territorial Governments concerned, and are considering the best way of preparing for the 1960 review of the Federal constitution. When Her Majesty's Government are in a position to put forward proposals, 218 they will do so— and they fully understand that Parliament would wish to be associated in an appropriate way with any machinery that might be set up.
My Lords, we are all in this together, and together we must, and we will, find the right answer.
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I should like to ask a question about what is obviously the official Government statement which was made at the end of the noble Earl's speech, with regard to these terms of reference:To inquire into the recent disturbances in Nyasaland and the events leading up to them, and to report thereon.That seems a little limited; but, in view of the composition, are the Commission to be entirely judicial? Are they to inquire only into disturbances in Nyasaland? If that is so, we can understand the terms of reference, but the noble Earl said just now that they were to go into the heart of things. I should like some guidance at this stage of the debate as to what exactly is to be covered by the terms of reference, and to have much later on from the noble Earl a little more explanation of the end of the statement.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I should like the terms of reference to be made known before my noble friends speak.
THE EARL OF HOME
I am sorry; I misunderstood. Perhaps I might read out the terms of reference for the Commission of Inquiry. The Commission will be concerned—and these are the terms of reference—with the disturbances in Nyasaland and the events leading up to them, and will report thereon.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
But a number of charges of foul behaviour and proposed assassinations have been laid and published in the White Paper, and we all expected the noble Earl to come back and tell us whether he had examined those charges or done anything to verify them. That is the difficulty: he has said not one single word about them.
THE EARL OF HOME
What the noble Viscount asked for, and what his Party 219 asked for, was a Parliamentary Commission to examine the situation. What we have done is to appoint a judicial Inquiry composed of independent persons. They are the people, I should have thought, to look into the charges. If my noble friend had expressed an opinion on the charges, he would have been accused by the noble Viscount of taking sides.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
These charges have been laid and printed, and the names of men have been mentioned. The noble Earl has been there; he has been on the spot; he has seen the Governor; and he has had an opportunity of seeing the detained people, and we want to know what he thinks about the charges, whether they are true or whether they are false.
§ 3.58 p.m.
After that slight digression, may I be permitted to follow the noble Earl, Lord Perth? First of all, I should like to welcome him back to this House after his slightly hesitant departure from these shores, though not due to his own fault, and slightly hesitant arrival—also, I gather, by no means his responsibility.
My Lords, it is about seven years, I believe—it was in July, 1952—since this House had its first big debate on this matter. The two chief speeches then were made by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury; both of whom, if I may say so, I seem to recall, set a very high tone of restraint and reasonableness on a very touchy and difficult problem. There were particularly difficult and explosive possibilities in this matter then, as there are now, but I trust that during those years we have learned to see the whole matter in a little more proportion, and that some of us who were perhaps considered extreme, either on the right or on the left, have come to a more middle line of view.
I feel that, when this matter was discussed in the earlier stages, there was a little too much intolerance, and that those who were suspected of being more than normally pro-African were sometimes automatically expected to be anti 220 white: the sort of person who says that this country is always wrong, and that the foreigner is always right. Nothing is further from the truth; but that is sometimes said. Similarly, those who are interested in prison welfare are sometimes accused, quite wrongly, of looking after the welfare of the accused but of forgetting all about the victim. Those are far-fetched and puerile arguments, which I hope no longer exist. There is also a feeling, on the other side, that most white people in Africa are overbearing, irresponsible, and take advantage where they should not do so. I do not think that either of those arguments bas the least force nowadays; and I hope that this debate will be conducted on the same high level as that on which the last debate finished.
We must, of course, take the long view of things that happen rather suddenly; and it is difficult, at such very short notice, to review them, and to take up the points made in the speech by the noble Earl. I am in a particular difficulty because until a short time ago I thought that I should be speaking before him, and I had prepared a series of questions, which I am now unable to put because the noble Earl has more or less given me the answers. At least let us keep the debate off Party lines, and let us look at it from the long view and not from the short. It is because we did not have a long enough view on the last occasion we discussed the matter that this tragic position has come about. In those days, there was the rather curious situation that noble Lords on these Benches and on the Labour Benches took what might be termed a conservative view. They begged the Government of the day not to hurry too far too fast in this matter of federation, when the two countries of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia were really not ready for it, did not want it and had expressed their unwillingness. Many arguments were put forward on both sides, and, if I may, I would touch on one in a humorous, though not in a critical, way. I remember one noble Lord indicating that he represented the underprivileged people of Nyasaland because he was an absentee landlord in Northern Rhodesia.
I am not going to keep your Lordships now, because there is a long list of speakers, but I should like to make one or two points thatI had noted to ask 221 the noble Earl, Lord Perth, if he had not anticipated some of them. First of all, with regard to the Governor's dispatch, which is an appendix to the White Paper, noble Lords on this side of the House are not fully convinced by its tone. It is a good report, and I am sure a sincere report; it gives a very clear view of one side, but it seems to us not to give both sides of the picture. Therefore, we want to have the other side more closely investigated. We know, of course, the extreme difficulties in this matter, particularly in the matter of security, and I think we all appreciate the great difficulty the Governor had in making a report on matters of this nature, in skating round security problems. We have the greatest sympathy with him in that. At the same time, think we should point out that we do not like a mystery created by security problems which are deliberately put up, and we do not like to have the issue befogged by points which may not really exist.
I am sorry that the noble Earl did not touch at all upon the question of detention without charge and without trial, but perhaps the noble Earl who leads the House will touch on that matter when he comes to wind up. I think that all noble Lords are most anxious to know how it came about that these people could be detained without proper charges being made and can now be released without any charges being withdrawn, because they were not made, and with no explanation of why they were put under detention.
My Lords, I think that we all welcome the appointment of the Commission of Inquiry which has been announced from the Government Front Bench. We had felt that it was not suitable that the Commission should be purely a Parliamentary one. We should have welcomed a mixed Commission. But the eminent names which the noble Earl has given us will give great satisfaction, and I am sure that the work the 222 Commission do, so long as it is undertaken very quickly, will be excellent.
I hope that special investigation will be made of the authenticity of the plots which are referred to in the Governor's report: how widespread they were, how co-ordinated they were, whether there really was one centre of organisation dealing with this sort of thing, and whether Dr. Banda was actually in charge. I do not know anything about Dr. Banda, but I heard on what I consider reasonable grounds that when he was in this country he was regarded as a high Tory and that his politics were definitely of the Right. It seems rather extraordinary that he should have switched over, unless his disappointments in this country were such that he changed his allegiance. He also should be brought under investigation, and those who have been detained in Southern Rhodesia. The investigation should not be confined merely to matters in Nyasaland itself.
I am not going to detain your Lordships further. I would tell the Minister and the noble Earl the Leader of the House that, in spite of our criticisms, they have our sincere good wishes for a happy solution of this tragic situation, which some of us think could have been avoided; but, since recrimination does us no good, we hope for better things to come.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, like the two previous speakers, I welcome back the noble Earl, Lord Perth, who went to Africa on a mission on which we had particularly urged him; and we are grateful to him for the full report with which he has returned. In the course of my remarks I shall deal with various things that he said, but I should like to begin by referring to the alleged lack of interest which the people of Nyasaland feel exists in this country. The noble Earl made the remark. which is quoted in The Times, that he thought that his visit would have dispelled that feeling. I certainly agree that it must have played some part. but I doubt whether a three-to-four day visit to Nyasaland would really dispel the feeling that they are somewhat isolated and that we are not taking the fullest interest in them. Perhaps. if they read the OFFICIAL REPORT in Nyasaland, they may feel encouraged at the end of the day by the 223 fact that there are twenty-five speakers to-day and that we have an unusually full House to discuss their affairs.
One of the things that has come out is the White Paper, which gives the grounds on which a state of emergency was declared by the Governor. We had that last night and most of us have read it with care. Although I have some reservations, I accept the fact that the Governor acted with sincerity, and that on such facts as he had available to him he was right to declare a state of emergency. He carries a great responsibility, and whether, in the result, those facts are justified or not, I think that a responsible Governor was bound to take note of them and, as a precautionary measure, declare a state of emergency. Therefore, no criticism arises against the Governor for the action that he took. I understand that he was in touch with the Secretary of State here, and that his decision was supported by the Secretary of State. I make no complaint about that. Nevertheless, I am bound to say that I think that the White Paper does not really make out a powerful case.
I have a number of apprehensions about it, but I do not want to go through the White Paper in any detail. I imagine that the Commission who has been appointed will have as their responsibility the investigation of all the allegations that have been made, and that it will be for them to say to what extent there was, in fact, a plot, and for them to answer the questions which the noble Lord, Lord Rea, so properly put.
I have, however, gained a general impression about this White Paper. Most of the incidents that are referred to are incidents where there was unlawful assembly. That can mean a lot or a little. It can mean a few people getting together in the market place and talking things over—as is the case in one of these instances—orit can mean an official public meeting at which large numbers of people attend. I canot help feeling that rather heavy weather has been made of these unlawful assemblies; that large numbers of people have been arrested through attending these meetings, and that a good deal of the trouble has arisen because those attending have been resentful of the fact that their friends were arrested merely for having attended.
224 That is the feeling I have, and this question of unlawful assembly constitutes a large part of the justification for the incidents which have caused the Governor to declare a state of emergency.
I cannot help thinking that the authorities have been somewhat heavy-handed over this business; and I certainly cannot accept the fact that the persons throwing stones, or even trying to rescue their comrades, should have been arrested, as if they justly deserved it, and killed for their pains. If anything of that sort happened here the whole country would be up in arms and resentful against the action of authority in dealing with events of that kind. We ought to take the same line in this case: that there can be no justification for the shooting and killing of fifty people following these unlawful assemblies.
The whole of this story does not hang together. Up to the stage when there was the declaration of emergency, and Banda was arrested, there was no real violence. The whole plan depended on the rejection of the constitutional demands made by Congress, and no rejection had so far taken place. If the plan was being carried into effect, the time for these murders had not yet arisen. Dr. Banda, as my noble friend Lord Ogmore said, was not even present at the meeting at which the plot was supposed to have been made. He has never been guilty of incitement to violence; and, so far as I know, no statement of his has been put forward in justification. Furthermore, if the key to the putting into operation of Plan "R" was to be the arrest of Banda, why was it necessary to arrest him at all? By not arresting Banda the Government had it in their power to postpone indefinitely the events which were going to follow his arrest. However, as I say, I hope all these things will be investigated fully as the result of setting up the Commission.
While my noble friends and I would have preferred the setting up of a Parliamentary Commission, because we think it would have created greater confidence among the people of Nyasaland, we nevertheless welcome this Commission. I want to say at once, as is, I think, fairly obvious, that we all have complete confidence in Mr. Justice Devlin, whom many of us know, and we are quite satisfied that we shall get from him an objective Report. Frankly, I do not know the 225 other members of the Commission, but I have every reason to belileve that they will he equally objective. I accept the fact that the Government have gone out of their way to try to find people who will give an objective Report. Therefore, I am satisfied that if there is to be a Commission of this kind the Government have undoubtedly chosen a body which will command general support.
THE EARL OF HOME
I think that perhaps I misled the noble Lord. It is not technically a judicial Commission, but it is a Commission of independent persons with a judge as its head.
That puts a rather different light on the situation, because a judicial Commission—and no doubt the noble Earl will correct me if I am wrong—
§ LORD SILKIN
I had in mind that this was to be the sort of body which could compel the attendance of witnesses and where witnesses would give their evidence on oath; where they would get complete immunity in respect of the evidence they gave, arid could be represented by counsel, if they so desired; and the whole atmosphere would be one of judicial inquiry. If that is not to be the case, then I am bound to say that I should like to give further thought to the desirability of a Commission of this kind.
I should be grateful if I could be informed in what form and in what way this inquiry will be conducted. Will they have power to compel the attendance of witnesses? If not, how is it expected to get at the truth of the matter? It may well be that the people who are alleged to have given the information to the Governor upon which he acted are people who were actually present on the occasion of the meeting out of which the plot arose. If they were, and they took a solemn oath that they would not disclose anything, they might be in serious difficulty if they came out into the open and gave evidence voluntarily. It would be a different matter if they had been compelled to give evidence. I should be grateful if we could have some further elucidation of this point, because this rather changes the flattering tone of what I have been saying into a somewhat critical one.
226 I want to ask the noble Earl who is to reply why, instead of imprisoning Dr. Banda, it was not thought desirable to make a charge against him. If in fact he has been guilty of conspiracy to murder, and if those who have been associated with him have been similarly guilty of conspiracy—and that is what the allegation amounts to—would it not be more satisfactory to put them on trial; to formulate charges against them and give them the opportunity of vindicating themselves? As it is, I always have the fear in regard to these inquiries, and especially the type of inquiry now contemplated, that it will be for these people to prove their innocence rather than for the authorities to prove their guilt. As my noble friend Lord Ogmore said, it is much more difficult, if not impossible, to prove a negative than to have to defend, as is the normal thing, a definite and clear charge made. So I hope that it may be possible for the noble Earl to satisfy us on the point of this inquiry, or, alternatively, that it may be possible for him to reconsider the form of the inquiry if it is not in a form which we on this side of the House regard as desirable. We are all prepared to forgo our view that this should be a Parliamentary inquiry, but we certainly feel that the alternative should be a judicial Inquiry.
The Commission are to consider the events leading up to the disorders. I do not know whether the noble Earl can elucidate exactly what that means. As my noble Leader indicated, we have some doubts whether that goes far enough. For instance, will the Commission feel able to inquire as to the causes of the disasters? Events leading up to them may be interpreted as meaning just events preceding them but not necessarily the causes of the disorder. We feel that it is most important and relevant to the whole thing that we should get a clear investigation into the facts as to the disorders and the causes of them.
In the course of his remarks the noble Earl gave us some of the causes, and I think the main one was fear. Incidentally, I suppose that fear is, at bottom, the main cause of every disorder. It is the cause of the cold war that exists, and it is the cause of most of the disturbances that exist in the world. But the question is: how far is their fear justified? The noble Earl tried to convince us, and, of 227 course, the people of Nyasaland, that these fears were without justification. But are they? If one has to go by statements that are made by prominent people—for instance, Sir Roy Welensky and the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern (I have given him notice that I was going to refer to him in my remarks)—one cannot help coming to the conclusion that there is a good deal of justification for the fears which they feel at the present time.
I have a host of quotations from speeches made by Sir Roy Welensky, but I will quote only two; I think they will give an adequate idea to the House as to his outlook on federation and what the people of Nyasaland have to fear. Before I quote, I should like to emphasise the fact that the people of Nyasaland are a Protectorate and are relying on protection by this country. What they fear is that this protection may disappear and that they may be placed under other control, particularly under the control of the Federation. It is in the light of that that I wish to quote two statements that have been made by Sir Roy Welensky. The first is a quotation from the Johannesburg Star of August 14, 1957, when he said:The pledge that independence should not be granted before the majority of the inhabitants wanted it "—that is, independence as regards the Federation—did not mean that the natives had a right to veto anything which would be in the best interests of the Federation.Who decides what are in the best interests of the Federation?—Sir Roy Welensky. If it is not to be the natives themselves, who have a preponderance in the Territory, who does decide what is in the best interests of the Federation? Surely they are entitled to understand by that that when Sir Roy Welensky decides that it is in the best interests of Federation then he will demand independence.
The other quotation I wish to make is from the Financial Times of April 18, 1957:I have not been demanding independence for the Federation forthwith. By this I do not want you to assume that we are not determined to claim independent status within the Commonwealth. We are. But I believe the time to settle this is in 1960.We are now getting towards 1960. There again, I am not arguing that the people of Nyasaland are completely justified in 228 their fears. But I do submit that they have very good ground for their fears, and that unless they have far more reassurance than we have been able to give therm—
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question? I am obliged to him for giving way. Does he regard it as wrong that a large European community overseas should organise independence at some future time?
§ LORD SILKIN
I am not suggesting whether it is right or wrong. All I am trying to prove at this moment is that the fears of the people of Nyasaland have some ground—that is all—andthat the fears are imminent, because the demand for independence is going to be made before 1960. If the noble Earl would like a discussion on whether it is right or wrong that people should demand independence, I am perfectly prepared to discuss it. But that is not the issue at this moment, and I hope he will accept that as a fair reply.
The noble Earl, Lord Perth, said—and I think he said it very fairly—that, as a result of his inquiries, he thought the people of Nyasaland were not in favour of federation; in fact, the majority of them were against it. He pointed to the great economic advantages of federation, and nobody would dispute it. I have no doubt at all that Nyasaland would find herself in great economic difficulties if federation ceased to exist. On the other hand, the noble Earl said, and said quite clearly, that the economic considerations were not the only ones: that there were moral considerations also. One consideration is this. Just as the people of Southern Rhodesia are entitled (if the noble Earl likes) to press for independence, so those in Nyasaland are entitled to say that they object to federation. They may be wrong-headed, and they may be working against their own interests; but they are entitled to take that view if that is what they feel. I am not at this moment suggesting whether they are right or wrong in that view, but if that is their view it is a view which must be taken into consideration and cannot be brushed aside.
Without wishing to gloat or in any way express a feeling of "we told you so", the fact is that we did warn the Government in 1953—and my noble friend quoted from what he said—that this is the kind 229 of thing which was likely to happen: that however desirable federation was, it was not a thing one could force. I think the noble Earl recognises that, because he said that the people of Nyasaland were inadequately prepared; they were not sufficiently educated up to the blessings of federation. I hope it may be possible that that can be done in the course of the next few months, but I am bound to say that I do not think the events of the last few weeks are the best form of education. We shall have to take a very different line.
I said that they have grounds for their fears, and I quoted a statement of Sir Roy Welensky. I now want to come to the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern. After all, he is a very important person in the history of Rhodesia and has rendered great service to that country, and we are very glad to have him in this House. But he has made statements which hardly tend to reassure the people of Nyasaland. I want to make one quotation of what he said. He said:You cannot make people do things unless they wish to "—
§ LORD SILKIN
—except by force. One of the curious things about our Constitution is that we have complete control of our defence forces. I can only hope we shall not have to use them as the North American colonies had to use theirs. Because we are dealing with a stupid Government in the United Kingdom.Would noble Lords like to cheer that? That speech was reported in East Africa and Rhodesia on August 30, 1956, soon after the last election. He means that "Our job is to consolidate our position economically, to advance our people as we do so, and when we are strong enough we do not care, because nobody can stop us doing what we like". I have no quarrel with that as such. The noble Viscount is entitled to have these views, but I am bound to say they are not very reassuring to the people of Nyasaland.
§ LORD SILKIN
That is the point I am trying to make. There is another statement the noble Viscount made more recently, as the House will know, and there is no reason why he should feel in any way ashamed of it. The noble Viscount is a director of the British South 230 Africa Company and on March 19 last he was re-elected as a director of that company. No doubt in the exuberance of that achievement he made certain statements. I should like to tell the House what some of those statements were. First of all, he referred to certain upheavals that had taken place in Nyasaland—he had only recently comeback—and prophesied that they would all be over in about a fortnight. He had to explain why his prognostications had been wrong. Well, we all make prophecies, and I do not grumble that he was over-optimistic. But he went on to say:One of the outstanding impressions I must say I have derived from certain groups in this country"—Great Britain—is that they are very disappointed there are no European casualties yet.I think that that is a shocking thing to say.
§ LORD SILKIN
I make no apology for using strong language about it. There is nobody in this country who is disappointed because there have been no European casualties.
§ LORD SILKIN
That is an utterly improper thing to say. I hope that when the noble Viscount comes to speak he will be able to tell us that these remarks do not really represent his views but were put forward in the excitement of his reelection as a director of the British South Africa Company.
My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord does not want to be unfair, but earlier on he said, I think, that it is all wrong that natives should be killed for throwing stones. Those of us who have in years past served in the civil power in India and many other places know what a lonely moment it is when you are facing an angry mob.
And it is one of the biggest decisions of your life that you have to make when you consider that in the rights of the case you should order your men to open fire. I am sure the noble Lord does not mean to be unfair. 231 But I thought, as he is stating a case, that I should be allowed to make that comment.
§ LORD SILKIN
I am grateful to the noble Lord for making that interjection. I do not mean to be unfair, and there might well be extenuating circumstances when troops open fire on a mob. Nevertheless, the remark I made is perfectly true; fifty lives have been lost among people whose main crime was throwing stones. You may make light of that, but I think it is a serious matter.
But I come back to the noble Viscount. I can understand that a person may make a statement like that on the spur of the moment, without preparation, but the noble Viscount was so pleased with the remark that he repeated it. He said later on:They would be happier if the policy of partnership had been implemented more by a few European deaths.I am sure that the noble Viscount is much too goodhearted a man to mean that really, and much too generous a man to say that about his opponents. We may disagree, but none of us—I need hardly say this—would wish to have European deaths merely to further his advocacy of a particular cause. That is what the noble Viscount was saying. That sort of statement would not commend itself to the people in Africa. But I want to make one further quotation. He says it is a pity that these outbreaks took place at the present time. If they had taken place in the winter the law-breakers would have been under cover of something like, he says, six or seven to eight feet of grass, and he says,Of course, had it happened in the middle of the winter, a few matches used with a favourable wind, and all that cover would have disappeared in two or three days.'
§ LORD SILKIN
When we talk of fear, I want to emphasise that there is some justification for fear, and we have a great deal to do to remove that fear—a great deal. What does it all amount to? As 232 my noble friend Lord Ogmore said, there are 7,000 white people and over 2½ million Africans. Is it unreasonable that the Africans do not wish to be dominated by their own white people, still less by the white people of Southern Rhodesia, and that they fear it? Does one need to look further than this fear—and, as I hope I have established, this reasonable fear—to understand the root cause of the trouble?
And so I hope that the Commission will be able to examine this matter in the widest possible way. I do not know whether it is necessary that the terms of reference should be widened. Perhaps it is a question of how these terms of reference should be interpreted. Perhaps the noble Earl, when he replies, will give us his view as to the proper interpretation of those terms of reference. I am very glad indeed that there is to be in addition a political inquiry, which I imagine will be greatly helped by the findings of this Commission. I am not suggesting that the Commission should in any way make any recommendations; I do not think they should. I think the Commission we are talking about should merely find facts.
THE EARL OF HOME
May I interrupt the noble Lord? I could not understand him when he said that in addition there would be a political inquiry.
§ LORD SILKIN
I understood that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, had said that in his statement—I do not mean immediately, but at some time before 1960.
THE EARL OF HOME
Perhaps I may read it again. It is very important, when we are dealing with other Governments and peoples, that there should be no misunderstanding. What my noble friend said was:Her Majesty's Government are in touch with the Federal Government and with the Territorial Governments concerned, and are considering the best way of preparing for the 1960 review of the federal Constitution. When Her Majesty's Government are in a position to put forward proposals on this they will do so, and they fully understand that Parliament would wish to be associated in an appropriate way with any machinery that might be set up".It is a little dangerous to use words like "a Parliamentary Commission."
§ LORD SILKIN
I hope the noble Earl will acquit me of desiring to misinterpret what he said. He has left the matter deliberately vague and open. I gather 233 that there may be some sort of political examination into the matter before the time comes to make the decision.
I want to say a word in conclusion about the attitude of the Opposition. I am very glad that the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham, is here, because he generally accuses us, the moment we happen to disagree with the Government, of being unpatriotic and trying to make Party political capital. I want to assure him and the House that that is not true. We regard this as much too serious a matter to make Party political capital out of. If the Government want a bipartisan approach to this matter they must carry out all the implications of a bipartisan approach. That implies that the Opposition should be fully informed before events happen, and taken into consultation and their approval obtained. But no Opposition—even if noble Lords opposite were in opposition —could agree to accept whatever the Government do under pain of being called unpatriotic, and we should 'be seriously abrogating our functions as the Opposition if we just swallowed whatever the Government said in order to avoid being accused of being unpatriotic and using events in order to further our politics.
The problem of Nyasaland is, I am afraid, an aspect of a world problem. It is the problem of the second half of the twentieth century. It is how peoples of different colours and races and traditions can live together in harmony and friendship. It confronts us in every continent and in almost every country. It confronts us even in London and in Nottingham. For years white nations have dominated by reason of their superior education and power. But there is evidence everywhere that the other peoples are growing up. They are no longer prepared to accept domination or an inferior status, either politically or socially—and I want to emphasise "socially". It is not sufficient to give people the vote. They want the right to belong to clubs and to be treated on equal terms with other people, 'whatever colour they are.
We must learn to accept this dramatic change—and it is a dramatic change—just as we have one day to accept the fact that our children have grown up and can no longer be treated as children.
234 If we accept this graciously and willingly, and not grudgingly and reluctantly, there is hope for the future. We are greatly outnumbered in most of these territories and we cannot hope to dominate indefinitely. On the other band, white people who have long settled in these territories, for generations perhaps, and who have a considerable stake in the country, have their rights, and they should not be overridden. We must, therefore, be prepared for a genuine partnership and offer it immediately, in name and in fact. We have surely learned from our experience that delay only aggravates the position; it never gets better; it always gets 'worse. In the end if we do not accept and grant partnership the alternative will be domination by the black people, certainly not domination of 'black by white.
I am glad that the Government intend in due course to have further inquiry well before the Constitution is due for revision, and I welcome that all aspects of it will be examined. I promise that so far as my friends are concerned the Government will have complete co-operation. This is a human problem and we have no desire to make a Party issue out of it. Our one hope is that we may arrive at a wise solution in accordance with the best interests of all parties and in accordance with their wishes, and so enable this lovely country —and it is a lovely country—which, given peace, could well become a world-famed international resort, to live in prosperity and in happiness.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ LORD ROBINS
My Lords, I must seek the indulgence of your Lordships in addressing you for the first time, saying immediately that I welcome the opportunity of speaking on a Motion relating to a country and a people among whom I have spent the last thirty-one years of my life. No one who has had that close association and who has, in a sense, grown up with these people can fail to have sympathy for the aspirations of the African people to progress economically, socially, educationally and politically. I put the importance of their progress in the order I have stated, because without economic advancement and the benefits of education it is quite impossible to give the vote to an African or, indeed, to anybody in these territories. I hope I 235 may be forgiven for giving some emphasis to this point, because in the utterances of Dr. Hastings Banda and his staff of agitators we invariably find put in the forefront pressure for freedom: they ignore the fact that this can come only in the train of economic and educational progress.
The Motion with which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has initiated this debate begins by drawing attention to the unrest in Nyasaland and goes on to voice the urgent need for the appointment of a Parliamentary Commission. That unrest exists is, of course, quite obvious, and that it has been accompanied by violence is equally obvious. That violence is regretted by no one more than myself. The progress of events which has followed on that unrest has been reported fully in the public Press; it has been reported in this House and in another place, and the White Paper we are discussing to-day has given a factual statement bringing the situation up to date. Force and violence have resulted from the necessity to put down violence, and, as I have said, no one regrets this more than I do, as, knowing the good-natured, good-mannered and naturally peaceable Nyasalander pretty well, I am convinced that this unrest is confined to a handful out of the 2½ million inhabitants of that country, and that violence has been resorted to by only a hard core of agitators and self-appointed leaders, whose aims no one can describe as disinterested.
We have been told several times, and again to-day, that this unrest was initially a revolt against the inclusion of Nyasaland in the Federation with the Rhodesias and that Nyasaland wished to remain under the direct control of the Colonial Office. I emphasise this, in particular, to one certain group of our fellow-countrymen in the United Kingdom, who seem only too happy to belittle and destroy everything that those of us who are working in Central Africa for the advancement of its inhabitants, black and white, have been endeavouring to achieve over the last seventy-five years. When it had been shown, over and over again, that in all matters affecting the internal affairs of the people of Nyasaland, they were, and still are to-day, a territorial entity under the direction of Her Majesty's Government inthe United 236 Kingdom; and, further, that when the constitutional changes now under consideration come into force they will increase the influence of its African population in those affairs, then things would seem to be fairly clear. Once the true nature of the agitation became apparent, Dr. Banda and his lieutenants came out into the open and declared that their objective was to throw off British control and set up an independent African State, on the lines of the West African model. So, my Lords, we need now be under no illusions as to the aims of these self-appointed leaders.
May I refer to a book published recently under the title, His Own Oppressor? The author is one B. G. Paver, a gifted writer and editor in Central Africa, and a trusted friend of the African people. One chapter in the book deals specifically with this unrest in Nyasaland. I will quote two or three sentences from it:One of the most tragic factors of the situation is the emergence of black politicians prone to a Bhudda-like contemplation of their navels. What they sec is a black skin; no more and no less. So the surge of advancement becomes political and ignores the fundamental sociological and economic factors of the black man's future.There is no doubt that this hard core of politicians has played upon the ignorance, superstition and fears of the people of Nyasalandto such an extent that unrest and violence have been the result.
I think that it is often necessary to remind people in this country that it is only seventy years ago that slavery and the slave trade were rife in Nyasaland, and that disease, starvation and intertribal strife kept the people of that Territory in a miserable and unhappy state. It was the followers of Livingstone, missionaries, traders, and, subsequently, representatives of the "Great White Queen," like Sir Harry Johnston, who brought to Nyasaland the benefits of British example and of its administration.
May I refer again to what we have been repeatedly told: that the people of Nyasaland were opposed to federation from the start and were forced into it, and that that is one of the causes of this unrest. There is, unfortunately, some foundation for that statement; but though I am most anxious in my maiden speech not to tread on controversial ground. there are some facts of which it 237 is only fair to remind the House. They have already been referred to in part by my noble friend Lord Perth.
It is a fact, which I have never seen denied, that in the period preceding 1953, under the Government then in power, the negotiations for federation were proceeding, and it was made clear by that Government that Nyasaland must be included in the scheme. There then emerged a small band of Nyasas who declared their objection to it. The situation was greatly worsened by the instruction given by the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, that Colonial civil servants were not to offer any advice to the Chiefs, to African Native Authorities or to individuals as to whether federation was a good thing or the reverse. They were told to say that the African must make up his own mind. Could any instruction have been more calculated to cause doubt in the mind of ignorant, though well-intentioned people, as to whether they could gain or lose by a change of this sort? The African in Nyasaland has always regarded the district officer as his mother and father. He goes to him for advice on every subject—domestic, public and economic. To be told that he must make up his own mind on an important question of this sort only created a doubt which made him think that this must be a bad thing for him. That this course of action did have the effect I have indicated, I have ample evidence from my own experience.
Unrest in Nyasaland will not subside, nor will these doubts be removed, until we are able to convince the people of that country of the sincerity of the planners of the Federation and to gain their co-operation in that partnership which is one of its cardinal aims. Partnership has had many definitions, but when it conies down to bedrock it embodies the principle enunciated by Cecil Rhodes many years ago, of "equal rights for all civilised men". We must never lose sight of the fact that it is civilisation and not colour that will decide the contribution that each partner will be able to make to it.
My Lords, I wonder whether it will be thought out of place if, as a citizen of the Federation, as well as a Member of y our Lordships' House, I say one word of appeal for the support by people in the United Kingdom, and particularly by 238 Members of the Mother of Parliaments, to whom Africans in all parts look for guidance and advice, for the British administrations in those countries who are endeavouring to restore order and to make of the Federation the successful entity which it is designed to be. I mean, in particular, the Governors of the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland, the Prime Ministers of the countries in the Federation of Southern Rhodesia, and the troops and police whose duties have been particularly trying; also the civil servants and the citizens of these territories. Their task and responsibilities have been extremely heavy, and I trust that your Lordships will agree with me that they are entitled to the support of all their fellow subjects in the United Kingdom.
My Lords, I had intended to finish my remarks by referring to that portion of the noble Lord's Motion which calls for the setting up of a Parliamentary Commission, but from what we have heard from the noble Earl. Lord Perth, I feel that there is nothing for me to say except that I am very happy that the nature of that Commission of Inquiry is such that it will be free from any tinge of Party politics, and that the members of that Commission will not be called upon to take part in any legislation which may be required to give effect to their recommendations. I feel that the Commission which has been suggested will go far to restore the confidence of Nyasaland in the United Kingdom and to help the progress of the African people there and I, for one, welcome it very warmly.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, it is very agreeable to me, as an old friend of Lord Robins, to he the first to congratulate him on a model maiden speech. He has had a very long experience of Rhodesia and Nyasaland—the whole of the Federation—and its people. He has always shown himself a man of wise and unprejudiced judgment, and that is just the kind of man we need, both in this House and out there. I believe that this is a very timely debate. I am quite sure that Her Majesty's Government are just as anxious as any of their critics to ascertain and appraise the true facts, and just as anxious as any of their critics to do what is right and wise. Her Majesty's Government, of course, have a special responsibility, but as the noble 239 Lord, Lord Robins, has said, that is a responsibility which we all share because, by word or action, we, certainly in both Houses of Parliament, can all help or prejudice both the present and the future.
It is a great advantage to have had my noble friend Lord Perth back for this debate. If I may say so without impertinence, he seems to me to have got an extraordinary amount into a few days, as a man seeing things for himself. Obviously he has behaved out there without any prejudice, with complete objectivity, and I feel that the account he has given to the House to-day could not have been more fair, more objective or more understanding. It is also a great advantage to have the White Paper. I am not going to say anything about the details of that White Paper except to make a point on which we can all agree, even before the inquiry starts—and it is rather an important point: that all the action which was taken by the Governor of Nyasaland was action taken entirely on his own initiative and responsibility, no doubt subject to the approval of the Secretary of State for the Colonies; but what is abundantly clear is that it was in no sense action pressed upon him from outside, from Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia or anywhere else, and that his demand for such troops and police as were required to support the civil power was made as a personal request. After all that has been said, I believe it is a good thing that that should be cleared up.
I must admit that I have a strong inclination to trust Her Majesty's Government, not merely because I am a supporter of them but because the Government—and not only this Government but any Government that is in office —have means which none of us can have to the same extent to get full and accurate information; and also because the Government are and must be the best judge of timing—and in this matter timing is very important.
This debate has ranged pretty widely, and no doubt will range wider, but I believe it should be recognised that there are here two quite separate and distinct issues, and they are issues which it is important to keep distinct. First, there is the subject matter of the White Paper— 240 this plot for subversion, violence, sabotage and, as it is said, of murder, no less, and the action which was taken by the Governor to suppress that plot. On that I am going to express no opinion, but I want to say to the House that that is a separate issue from the future Constitution in the Federation. Those are matters of fact, and I am glad that Her Majesty's Government have taken exactly the same view. It is a view which I believe we all share that those are matters which are very suitable for a judicial inquiry.
I am not going to ask Her Majesty's Government to lay down almost a "book of rules" on how this Commission are to proceed, and I believe that on consideration the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, will feel that it is probably not wise to try to persuade Her Majesty's Government to do so. The Commission seems to me to be a good body, and, what is very important, it is headed by an extremely able Judge. I am sure that it is the desire of Her Majesty's Government and will be the purpose of the Commission to make the most thorough investigation that they can; and that Her Majesty's Government will put all possible information at their disposal. I may add that I have no doubt that the Government will be able to put at the disposal of the Commission evidence which they could not possibly disclose to Parliament or to anybody else. I say that with a full sense of responsibility, and I am quite sure that that view will be endorsed by anybody who has ever held responsible office. When in government one always has at one's disposal information which one is bound to assess and then to act upon, but if one were to disclose the sources of such information one would be completely hamstrung for the future. It is all right to make a claptrap about it outside, but among responsible people there cannot be any doubt about that.
At the same time, where we have a Judge of the High Court, with responsible men sitting with him, it is quite possible to disclose to those people and to put at their disposal evidence which has been before the Governor, and no doubt the Secretary of State. so that they may evaluate that evidence for themselves. I have no doubt that that will be done. Further, I would not try to lay down just how the Commission are to conduct their business, for it seems to me much better to let Mr. Justice Devlin and his 241 colleagues be masters of their own procedure, with the broad direction, "You shall have at your disposal everything which is relevant to your inquiry; do it as thoroughly as you can." That is one issue and I am glad I carry both sides with me on that.
The other issue which is quite distinct is the development and possible variation of the Federation Constitution. That is a matter of policy and a matter, if you please, of opinion. It is under the Constitution itself to be the subject of discussion and conference again next year; and I would say, obviously (and I should think this view would be echoed as much in Africa as here) the formal conference will, I take it, be the kind of conference which my noble friend Lord Salisbury and I took part in before we introduced the Federation. But before that, there was great preparation, and no doubt there will be again, and there must be a great deal of preliminary preparation both in Africa and here.
I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, say that in that matter the Government would be able to rely upon leaders of his Party for the fullest co-operation. That, I am sure, is the right way. Meantime, of course, there is on the constitutional side the territorial Constitution of Nyasaland; and that is a matter, as soon as circumstances will permit out there, for Colonial Office discussion and for proposals from the Colonial Office, which no doubt will be put to Parliament. But to-day I am sure the House will also agree with this: that the first and immediate duty of the Government is the restoration of law and order. Trusteeship has always been the policy of the Colonial Office. It has not only been its policy; it was the practice of colonial administrators all over the Empire long before Trusteeship became a dogma. They have acted as trustees and, above all, as trustees for the common man; and the greatest benefit that that trust has brought to a dark continent has been security and justice and the rule of law; and therefore law and order must be restored.
There is something else which must be restored, and that is confidence. On this question I thought that my noble friend Lord Robins spoke very wisely. For any of us who through the years have 242 travelled the Empire and seen colonial administrators at work, it has indeed been remarkable and gratifying to see how not only experienced governors but young district officers have inspired confidence and trust; and that confidence and trust have been a priceless boon to ignorant men, often suspicious, often superstitious and easily misled.
I hope that we shall not attempt to pass judgment to-day; judgment needs full knowledge. But I hope we shall all realise that in the Federation, which many of us in both Parties have helped to create, we have an experiment in racial partnership which is unique and, I believe, full of hope. Remember for one moment the inter-racial University in Salisbury, the direct offspring of that Federation. Some noble Lords will remember that when we were debating federation in this House the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury said, "If I were to apply"—I paraphrase his words—"the acid test of whether this is going to succeed or not—and I pray it will—I would say that if you can get an inter-racial university going, then I think that will be evidence of real partnership."
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, will the noble Earl say a word about the black professor at the University who wanted to marry a Canadian girl?
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, no, I will not. The noble Viscount is really a most extraordinary person. He is always great on a little point and little on a great one.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
No; I am not going to give way. He gets more mellow, perhaps, with old age, but he certainly does not get more responsible. But what I will tell him is this: that the standard there is as high as that in any university in this country. Black students and white students are living together in the same hostel—and I am proud to say that I believe the first hostel was called "Swinton Hall". That is a pretty good success. I do not know what has happened about somebody's marriage lines and I think that, compared with that great achievement, it is not very important.
243 My Lords, in this federation, this great experiment, the black and the white races must live together in Rhodesia, which is their home. It is the home of both of them; and to anybody who knows Rhodesia (even those who do not know it as my noble friend Lord Robins does, but nevertheless who know it), to talk about settlers and natives just does not make any sense at all. They are all natives of that country. It is the home of both of them and both have to work out their future together. Is it too much to ask that both those races, whose home it is and will continue to be, shall be able to look to us, all of us, in this country for understanding and encouragement? For we are all responsible. Governments may change, but any Government will have to handle the same problem; and the nearer we can come to a common understanding and a continuous policy the better it will be for federation and for this country and for all of us.
§ 5.18 p.m.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, the noble Earl who has just spoken has reminded your Lordships of the speech made from this Bench by the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury when federation was first debated in your Lordships' House. On that occasion speeches were made from this Bench both in favour of federation and strongly against it, and it was obviously admitted that it was impossible to say that opposition to it per se was the Christian policy or that support of it per se was the Christian policy. What Christian conscience demands is that policy shall be followed consistently such as promotes genuine partnership between the black and white races.
I am glad that the noble Earl referred to the University of Salisbury. Some things have gone wrong, as the noble Viscount has mentioned. That may indeed be so; but that University of Salisbury has evoked great enthusiasm in many parts of the world, both from white people and from black people, who want partnership in education and who, by "partnership in education", mean sitting side by side, working together and doing all things together in intellectual life and comradeship. Whatever else happens, let it be hoped that as regards its achieve 244 ment the University of Salisbury will stand out as a beacon for great good things to come. The tragedy is that in the minds of the Africans in Nyasaland that achievement, and many other achievements, such as, I believe, the threefold increase in the Nyasaland Territory of expenditure upon education and public health generally, is overshadowed by their deep fear. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, referred to that fear very fully, but I feel that we need to probe it more deeply than he did.
It is not a question of whether the fear is reasonable or unreasonable, justified or unjustified. If you have said that it is unreasonable, you have not dismissed it: you have reached the point where the formidable problem really begins—at the dark and irrational levels. In speaking of the fears felt at the initiation of federation, the noble Earl said, "If they fully understood, they would have thought differently". That may be so. And in the same spirit the noble Earl dealt with a number of existing fears and summed them up by saying that these fears are "unreasoning". So they may be; but I believe the noble Earl will agree with me that, with many kinds of fear, that is the very point where we begin.
It is unavoidable that a speaker from this Bench should refer to the testimony of missionaries, and noble Lords are always very tolerant when we do so. The fact is that missionaries do live extraordinarily near the population, and, whatever their defects as statesmen, they are often good judges of feeling, as well as of thought and reason, among the people. Much testimony has come from Nyasaland of the nature of the fears that are felt; and, as is so often the case, while these fears are in one way vague and broad, they have a way of piling themselves round particular points—which, in our sophisticated psychology, we might call a "complex". Here are some points around which there is a great deal of testimony that fears focus.
First, there is the fear that in 1960 there will be a determined effort in the Federation to get independent Dominion status. The fear may be groundless, but it is there; and there are made from time to time political statements which nourish it. Secondly, we are told that another fear is in connection with the 245 franchise. It is a fear that, whatever extensions in franchise are made to Africans, it is the ultimate intention that Africans shall always be in an inferior status in voting power within the State. Again, the fear is there. Then, thirdly, there is a widespread fear about the meaning the Federation will ultimately give to the word "partnership". When the word "partnership" is used, people soon begin arguing about its definition. An illustration of it was that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, was this afternoon, I think, giving the word as lightly different meaning from that which I give it. That proves nothing: it merely illustrates that the word of itself is liable to diverse interpretations; and fears are fostered among the Africans of Nyasaland that ultimately partnership will mean not individual partnership in social participation in the same affairs, but rather the juxtaposition of groups within the State, groups always to be made liable to some sort of colour bar. The fear is there—of course it is there —and its removal is a very long-term task. Its removal means the abolition of every sort of colour bar that has fanned the flames of that fear.
My Lords, those fears being there, I wonder whether Her Majesty's Government cannot do more to probe them and to meet them by a certain giving of assurances. The noble Earl who is to reply may say: "Ah, but assurances are abundant in the Constitution and in previous statements by statesmen". But in dealing with this sort of irrational background of fear, more than that is needed. What is needed is assurances that go to very great lengths indeed. For instance, an assurance specifically about the franchise —an assurance, that is, that the status of Protectorate for Nyasaland will not be withdrawn until Africans have, in federation elections, equality of voting power. Again, what is needed is an assurance that will make clear something that may be entirely self-evident in the world of calm reflection, though it is not self-evident in the heated atmosphere of emotion in Africa—namely, that Dominion status in 1960 is just unthinkable. The legitimate steps that might lead to it simply are not there.
Let me say a word, my Lords, about federation itself. The future of federation has, indeed, seemed at stake during the terrible events of recent weeks. On this matter the advice that has come from 246 churchmen in Africa, men of long experience and great authority, disagrees. A Bishop working in these territories, who has been there for many years and who has an immense knowledge of the Africans, writes this:I do not think that the Africans of Nyasaland will ever now accept federation with anything more than a sullen acquiescence, ready to break out into active opposition at the first opportunity.I quote that judgment, not because I agree with it but because it is a part of the background with which we are dealing. But, in fairness, I quote a judgment from another Prelate of long standing within the territory of the Federation. He writes:Difficult though times may be, I do not feel pessimistic, and I think that the shock of it all may do good and make future progress possible.My Lords, let it be hoped that he is right, and let it be hoped that the steps which Her Majesty's Government are about to take will take us forward towards that end. The noble Earl who spoke last emphasised that we are all in it. The solution rests upon the working out of spiritual forces, deeper and more long-term in character than political decisions.
One mare word in that context about partnership, if I may. We should probably be no nearer to agreement about its definition if we started arguing about it, but the last few years have made it more and more clear that partnership involves the learning of a great deal on the part of both sides participating in it. It is not just a question of the Africans becoming fully cultured and civilised for partnership to be a reality. It is as hard for a white man to get inside the thought, the mind and the feeling of an African as it is for an African to get inside the thought, the mind and the feeling of a white man. It is in a very comprehensive sense indeed that we are all in it. Let it be hoped that the appointment of the Commission which the Government have announced will have immediately a healing effect. It is good to remember that following the disturbances in the Gold Coast eleven years ago the mere fact of the appointment of a Commission had a rapidly healing effect upon the situation in that Territory. But dare I ask that Her Majesty's Government may do still more by the giving of assurances and the conveying of assurances to the African people 247 of things about which at present they are bewildered and distrustful.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I will speak briefly on two points. The first point is this. We have all read in the newspapers of substantial charges made against a number of leaders in Nyasalandof criminal behaviour and criminal conspiracy. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, went to the country. I suppose I am too inexperienced, but I certainly expected that in this debate he would come and say, "I have been to Nyasaland; I have seen the persons who have prepared these charges, and although I cannot go into details, at least I can assure your Lordships that these charges are well-founded." These are two of the most terrible charges that can be made against anyone—charges of murder and assassination. Nobody else has raised this point, but I think that, in the face of these charges against named men, it is all very well to say that the Government may have secret information and feel it necessary to act (I know something about that from the India Office), but to charge named men with offences, then to send a Minister out and not produce one tittle of support for those charges is an astonishing affair.
Did the noble Earl find evidence? Did he find police evidence? Did he go and see any of the detained persons and ask them? Have the detained people seen the White Paper? These would be interesting things to know. It is customary to present to prisoners the charges on which they are arrested. Have the detained people seen this Paper or had any opportunity of making an answer to it? I think that these are questions which the sense of justice of our country would permit me to ask. There is another curious thing. These are named people. I think that that is rather unusual in an issue of this kind. And one of these persons is at liberty in this country—he is a secretary of something or another; I cannot remember his name and I do not pronounce African names very well. Here is a man at liberty in our country under a charge by the Government of conspiring to murder and assassinate men, women and children—and nothing is being done about it. The matter could easily be brought into court; the evidence could be produced. The man concerned has 248 all the protection of our own sense of justice and law. Yet nothing is done.
Now we are told that we are to have a Commission. That is very good, and Mr. Justice Devlin is respected very much by those who know him. But it is not quite clear whether this Commission are to investigate these charges. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, seemed to think that they are. I do not want to interrupt the debate, but no doubt somebody who answers for the Government will tell your Lordships whether this Commission will call the accused persons before them, put them on oath, produce the evidence and ask them to reply. What is the good of having a Commission which says only that there was a disturbance, and so on? What differentiates this debate from all other debates I have seen on this matter is that we are dealing with a printed published charge against a number of leaders of African opinion, and no effort whatever has been made at this stage to support it. Whether or not that will be done later, I do not know; but in the meantime—
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, since the noble Viscount has said that he felt it wrong of me not to report to the House what I might have seen and what I might have heard, I would say this, quite deliberately: whatever I might have seen, or whatever I might have heard, it seemed to me quite inappropriate that at this time, when we are to have a Commission of Inquiry, that I should give what are, after all, only my personal views.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
That is so. In that case we might just as well have had the White Paper by post. We could read it and see everything in it. Are the police to be brought forward? Are witnesses to be brought forward and put on oath? He says that that is not his job. Then it must be somebody's job, and in that case it must be a matter for the Commission. If that is so, a great part of the cause for complaint on this ground will disappear. But from the debate so far I am not clear that any such assurance has been given.
My second point is that people of experience in Africa do not believe in this murder plot. I should like to ask the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, who is going to speak after me, whether he believes that there 249 was such a plot. At the famous British-South Africa meeting at which he, as it were, "took his hair down" and let himself go on the South African question, he said that he had to come to this country in order to find out what an alarming state of affairs there was in South Africa. He said that of course there was some anxiety, but he pooh-poohed the idea of a tremendous emergency. I should like him to tell your Lordships this evening whether he really believes that these five or six eminent African leaders are guilty of the charges laid against them. I am sure that his view on this matter would be most valuable.
As the most reverend Primate pointed out, the real trouble is that the people of Nyasaland believe that they are going to be put into a Federation. Therefore everything the Federation does is relevant to the question. We cannot take this just as a question of Nyasaland or Northern Rhodesia or Southern Rhodesia; we must take it as a whole. Therefore we must follow the sequence of events, the sequence of emergency proclamations in the Federation.
The first man to move was Sir Edgar Whitehead. At the end of February he said that there was a tradition that we did not act against people until they had done wrong or created a disturbance, but that he did not believe in that tradition. He believed in acting in advance. And he did so. He was the first person to issue an emergency order—that was about February 27. Under that order, he arrested a great many people, including— a most remarkable thing—Mr. 'Clutton-Brock. Mr. Clutton-Brock is well known. I do not imagine that anyone would suppose he could possibly be involved in any way in a plot for assassination or murder. The man appears to me to be the most dangerous man to white domination in South Africa, because he is a passive resister—he is a Gandhi. The reason why Gandhi beat us in India was not that he could mass forces, but that our conscience could not stand repressing him. Similarly that is the reason for the influence of Mr. Clutton-Brock and the mission he conducts. This man was rolled into jail; he is now to be rolled out of jail. Nothing is said as to whether he has been charged, and nothing is said as to whether he has been compensated.
250 I do not know—perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Perth, could tell me—what is Mrs. Clutton-Brock's condition. Is she better? It seems that the noble Earl does not know. But Mr. Clutton-Brock and his wife are British subjects. They have Rhodesian nationality, which permits the Rhodesian Government to deal with them; but they also have British nationality. There is a British Minister who takes an eminent and saintly man like this and permits him to be put in jail and chucked out again, with desperate damage to his wife's health—she is in hospital at Bulawayo—and the noble Earl disavows any responsibility for the whole thing. That, I think, is a shameful episode.
The next thing, after Sir Edgar Whitehead had made his declaration, was that he said he hoped the other Governors would follow his example. Now there is a great argument as to whether they were under pressure or not. It is true that a day or two after Sir Edgar Whitehead had issued his proclamation the spokesmen for the Governments of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland said that, so far as their territories were concerned, there was no emergency. Various reasons were given for that, and one rather subtle reason was that they were waiting for the troops to arrive. I discard that; I do not think they would be so dishonest as to say that. But they did follow the example a few days after the emergency was declared. Looking at the matter from the point of view of the Nyasalander, who sees the clock moving day by day and the fatal moment arriving when he may be put into the Federation—which the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, is determined to get him into when he can; and he says he has enough force to compel opinion in this country, if necessary—can you wonder that this man in Nyasaland is very alarmed and that Dr. Banda has meetings?
And can you wonder that he is the more alarmed when you find that Sir Edgar Whitehead does not satisfy himself with an emergency order, but proceeds to put into Statute all those things in the emergency order, so that they may become permanent? I have asked the noble Earl several times if he would give us a copy of the Unlawful Organisations Bill and of the Preventive Detention Bill. He has been unable to do so. Yesterday I did 251 secure a copy of the Unlawful Organisations Bill, and I will tell your Lordships what it does.
THE EARL OF HOME
There is another copy arriving for the noble Viscount by post. He asked for it only yesterday.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I am grateful to the noble Earl, who is always so courteous. I had a copy handed to me by somebody who is a friend of Africa. What is this Unlawful Organisations Bill, to which, in the event of Nyasaland coming into federation, the natives of Nyasaland will be subject? It is copied exactly from the South African legislation dealing with these matters. That is to say, the Minister puts down on a list organisations that he proscribes, and if you are (at one time it was said, in Clause 9, if you could not prove that you were not; but that is rather difficult, and Clause 9 has now been omitted) a member of any of these organisations which the Minister has written as a Schedule to the Bill—and Parliament approves his actions—you are subject to the Preventive Detention Bill. And all this is without appeal to anybody. The noble Earl will know if my detail is wrong, but the broad principle of what I say is absolutely right.
Now what happens to you if you come under the Preventive Detention Bill? You are put away. Once a year you are allowed to make a petition to five Members of Parliament (I believe that now there is to be an alteration, but the principle is going to be maintained), and these people, whoever they are, look at your petition. They may or may not hear evidence; they may make a report; but it must not be challenged and must not be debated in Parliament. If they reject your petition, you are back again for another year.
Are you surprised, my Lords, that Africans in Nyasaland, who in their own country, at least, are free from all the degradation of the pass laws, are afraid of being brought under the tyranny of legislation which I say is almost indistinguishable from South African legislation and converts the Federation into a Police State? That is the situation. If Mr. Justice Devlin examines the truth of the charges made against these people, that is all to the good. But if he is looking about for the cause of unrest in 252 Nyasaland, it is quite simple to see: they are afraid of the shadow of Salisbury.
I have one further word to say. Are we really going to continue discussing this African question as if we were in the days of Jamieson raid? Things are happening. Even since the Federation was started, there is the French policy: every French African colony is free to be independent or to join the community, as it wishes—and one at least, Guinea, has become independent. Since the Federation we have a powerful, rich and determined black Dominion of which we are proud—Ghana. Can we ignore the opinions of these people? The Ghana Assembly met the other day and stood in silence for a moment or two in sympathy with the detainees.
THE EARL OF HOME
This is very dangerous ground. The noble Viscount is making comparison with other Commonwealth countries. If he would look at the Preventive Detention Acts of the other Commonwealth countries, he will not find a great difference. I would ask him to be a little less reckless and a little more careful before he makes comparisons within the Commonwealth, because it is very dangerous and inflammable stuff.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
Nothing that the noble Earl could say to me would prevent me from making my protest against the class of legislation which is being passed at Salisbury in imitation of the legislation that exists—
THE EARL OF HOME
I do hope the noble Viscount will examine other legislation in other Commonwealth countries and, if he feels so inclined, make the same kind of charges. But I do not think he will make them.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
The noble Earl has made his point several times, but what he always overlooks is that these powers would be exercised over territories which are not Southern Rhodesia at all, but are territories under the special protection of Her Majesty. That is the point. They are afraid that they are going to have this sort of legislation brought to them as permanent legislation.
It may be said: what evidence is there? The first evidence is this. If I wanted to go to Nyasaland I could not go without permission of the Prime Minister of 253 the Federation. He has the ultimate authority; and of course he would exercise that authority reasonably. But what does that mean to the Nyasalander? Suppose some sympathiser wants to go and see for himself, he can be told, as Mr. Stonehouse was told: "You are a prohibited immigrant." That is the first point. The second point the Nyasalander looks at is that when order is to be restored it is Rhodesia which supplies the troops. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, spoke of that as a good thing. But why should not British troops from Kenya have been used, if it was necessary to use troops? 1 should like to ask the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, if he will answer that because he is the most expert man on this matter in this building to-day.
Is it a fact that an Afrikaaner can join the Territorial Forces in the Federation without becoming a citizen; and is it a fact that there is a considerable Afrikaaner element in the Territorial Forces? If so, it is a material thing when you think of the sharp bitterness that exists between the Afrikaaners and the natives. That is the first thing. The Nyasalander finds that the gate-keeper is the Prime Minister; secondly, that the people who keep order are the Rhodesians; and, thirdly, that the people who are locked up under this order are shipped off and imprisoned in another country over which his own Governor has no control. These things all tend to make him fear that he is going to come under the same control himself; and I think it is a fear with which many of us will sympathise.
My last word is this. What is the crime of the Nyasaland African? His crime is simply that he pleads to be left directly under the protection of Her Majesty. He is not somebody who wants to break off and become independent. He pleads to remain the ward of the British Government, and that is a plea which I believe will appeal to most people in this country. I hope that that plea will be borne in mind when the fateful hour of 1960 comes to revise the Constitution.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MALVERN
My Lords, if the Motion before your Lordships' House asking for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the state of affairs in Nyasaland had been granted by the Government, it would have 254 been the biggest insult and the greatest slap in the face the Europeans and the British people in the Federal area would ever have had. Your Lordships must be well aware of the immense damage that has been done to race relations in the Federal area by itinerant politicians, sometimes paid by newspapers. They have done more harm, I think, than even Dr. Hastings Banda. In case I should forget it, I should like to say that the last newspaper correspondent, who was a Member of a Parliament, was really quite harmless, except that he was extremely ignorant. He addressed 3,000 members of the African National Congress in the native urban area of Salisbury and he made quite a good speech—if it was listened to only by intelligent people of any race it was quite a good speech. But this is where he blundered; he could not speak a word of the native language or any of their dialects, and he got a member of the African National Congress to interpret for him. I think your Lordships would be surprised at the difference between the speech as delivered and the speech the interpreter put over to that mixed collection of Africans. That was the trouble, and it is not the first time it has happened.
These people are often "taken in". One has to remember some of the habits of the African people. They are, for instance, essentially a pleasant and polite people, so, unless they have been trained in politics, if you ask them anything they will always tell you what they think you would like to hear. Now this may shock some of your Lordships. These Africans, until they are very much advanced, are all liars. I can explain that to your Lordships. It is not anything wrong in their world; it is one of the defensive mechanisms provided by their Creator to be used as and when required. We were not brought up like that. But your Lordships must remember these things when you are looking for facts and a real description of what is happening.
I should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Perth, for the way in which he cleared the air. In view of the fact that the Secretary of State for the Colonies in another place had been called a liar, I knew that doubt would be thrown on anything he might say. However, the fact remains that I think your Lordships 255 now have a pretty clear picture of what was happening in Nyasaland. If your Lordships wished, I could give you one or two more details. First of all, it must be understood that the African National Congress was formed originally, just after the war, by young men who had come back from the war, by others who had been engaged in war industry and others whom we had deliberately indoctrinated with the idea of supporting Britain and achieving victory. Like the Europeans, they thought they were coming back to a brave new world.
The two Protectorate Governments did their best. They absorbed a large number of them in various ways and created work for them. But there was the usual aftermath of war—a residue of restless people who could not settle down. In the first instance, they were more or less a welfare society, and the first one was formed in Kit we in the Copper Belt. Shortly after that it spread to Nyasaland, where I regret to say it was fanned and assisted by the Indians. Therefore it grew quickly. It had some superior people to help it. In the southern part of the Federation, the African National Congress started at the same time and faded out almost at once. It was resuscitated at the end of 1957, and since its resuscitation and indoctrination by the boys from the North, and following a visit to Accra, it had become, if anything, the more dangerous, because it was using all the criminals in the Colony as its action group. The other Africans were terrified for their livelihood, and even their lives.
I was there when the Southern Rhodesian African National Congress was swept up, and you should have seen the relief on the faces of all the other Africans who had been threatened with the most dire consequences if they would not put up their shilling and take out a Congress card. The same thing was happening in Nyasaland on a big scale. There the people are more addicted to witchcraft than they are in the Southern part, and they were told, "If you do not support us now, when we are the Government we will see that your body is not buried", and that is the most dreadful thing that could happen to Africans in that part of the world. Intimidation and threats and everything are quite impossible, and are being supported by some of the noble Lords on the other side.
256 I think the history of the fear in Nyasaland was not taken back quite to the beginning; or, if it was, I should like your Lordships to know where the blame lies. The then Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs—there was another Government in power—decided, before we had our first Federal conference, that he would visit the place himself. So far as I know, he could speak no native language other than Welsh. He went round and formed his own opinion, and thoroughly frightened the Nyasaland African, who wondered, "Where is the nigger in the woodpile?" We have never been—
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I must remind the noble Viscount that we do not have rules of order and it is not a point of order. The noble Viscount has to decide whether or not he will give way. I understand the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, has no wish to give way.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
—if a point of order is raised, to decide it. I would point out to the noble Viscount that he has been breaking one of the chief rules of this House by making an attack on a Member of another place.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I am here as Leader of the House to see that the House observes its usual practice, and the practice is that the noble Viscount himself decides whether he wishes to give way.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
It is also the practice that it is not customary to make an attack on a Member of another place.
§ VISCOUNT MALVERN
My Lords, I should now like to continue exactly where I left off. When I saw what was happening in Nyasaland, I cabled to the 257 Government in the United Kingdom and strongly recommended that the Conference on Federation should not be held. The opinion of the Government in the United Kingdom was that the Conference should go on. And as I have been interrupted I will say a bit more. The Conference went on, in spite of the fact that the negotiator for the United Kingdom knew that there was going to be a General Election in England in five days. That was the bit I was going to leave out.
§ VISCOUNT MALVERN
We can leave the quarrelsome part for a few minutes, but I shall obviously have to revert to it. No doubt an Inquiry will have to be held. It is not a peculiar action, but among all these democratic Governments now it has become the custom to spend taxpayers' money on inquiries to tell the Government what they already know. That is going to be so in this case. But it does serve another purpose, I agree, because all democratic Governments now are suspect. Therefore, I think the Inquiry which is about to proceed to the place where trouble has occurred, is a necessity.
A good deal has been said about the wicked people from Southern Rhodesia, with their troops, their guns, and their police, and perhaps I should explain that the territorial forces of the Federation are recruited in Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The only difference is that, at the special request of the then Governor of Nyasaland, I promised him, as he had so few Europeans and practically no police, that I would allow the Nyasaland territorial troops to remain as special constables in Nyasaland. Of course, they would be available again, as in the past, if this country should get into trouble. We have always given every one we could.
§ VISCOUNT MALVERN
The territorial troops in that part of the world are extremely efficient. That seems to be rather a grievance. But I was in office 258 for quite a long time, and never had to use my police for a "rough-house"; and, being asked fairly frequently by the Protectorate Governments to send police to help them, I naturally felt that under federation we might be dealing with a more complicated situation than we should desire. Therefore, we passed a new Defence Bill and altered the training of our troops, and when they had done a year I was quite satisfied that we could deal with any situation so long as it arose in only two territories at a time. Of course, if you have trouble and the civil power has to ask for help, you do not go to another country and ask them to provide troops; you ask for the troops of your own country. I cannot see anything extraordinary in that.
One point was raised early in the debate which I might as well answer, as I come from that part of the world. Police and detention camps are a Federal responsibility and not a Territorial one. I should like to deal with my old friend Clutton-Brock, because really, I agree with the noble Lord, he is pretty harmless. But he does silly things. The Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, Mr. Todd, told him he was very stupid to join the African National Congress. However, when it was decided that the Southern Rhodesia African Congress must be put behind wire so that they could, not create a diversion and prevent the sending of necessary police to Nyasaland, there could not be this racial discrimination of leaving out their one and only European. It was quite impossible.
Certain noble Lords have been kind enough to tell me they were going to raise points which involved my name this afternoon, and I wish to thank them for doing what I believe is customary in your Lordships' House. I did not hear all of it, as usual, but the remark about no Europeans being killed is a case for an appeal to the noble Lords on that side of the House to try to influence their friends in another place and their Press so that such an impression would never be created. Then one would never suggest it and therefore their Lordships' feelings would not be hurt. It was an impression I got. In regard to the question of casualties in particular, I got the impression that there was some disappointment.
259 Then I come to the remarks I made in the Federal Parliament after I had failed to persuade the Secretary of State to substitute a treaty for the three reservations in the Federal Constitution. I may say that the reason for doing that was that I expected a good deal of trouble out there, because I knew that Ghana was about to receive its independence and I thought that even if there could be a pseudo-independence through the treaty there would be less disturbance. As things turned out, they took no notice of it at all; they expected it to be a failure and there was no reaction locally.
That brings me to the future of independent African States. There is no doubt that, however cleverly their Constitutions may be worked out, after a few years they will be nothing like what one hoped. That is why, having accepted what might almost be called the burden, at any rate the mission, of looking after Nyasaland, we intend to see that she is thoroughly educated, so that when she has a majority in her Parliament there will be no tendency to relapse and go back to something like a South American republic. The fact that we accepted responsibility for Nyasaland is known to everybody. The fact that most of the people in Southern Rhodesia did not waft it is also known. I personally never opposed it. Because they are overcrowded, their labour has to create wealth in Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia and the Union of South Africa, and it seemed to me only fair that they should share in a common treasury and get the benefit of the work they were doing.
What has happened in Nyasaland since the Federation has been a fait accompli? I know, of course, the vote is much more valuable than a bun, but on the credit side the fact remains that we have increased the amount available for their expenditure. We filled the gap in their budget of £3¼million, we have enabled them to borrow money more easily, and there is prosperity such as Nyasaland has never known before. It was a poverty-stricken place. At the time of federation there was one European in the Northern Province of Nyasaland; they could not afford any more. Shortly after federation they had three, so they were really growing up. For the first time in their history they have got the franchise. 260 It is true it is a limited one, but they have started on the right road.
Now on the other side, what disabilities have they suffered from? I presume you do not think the fact that the doctors and hospital nurses are paid by the Federation instead of by the Territorial Government is a disability. There are certain services like that. In dividing up the functions of these States, we did, at times, get into quite a ridiculous situation. There was the occasion on which a dispute occurred as to whether a Federal veterinary surgeon could attempt to stop the spread of cattle diseases, and, as I remember, finally it was decided that the Federal veterinary surgeon might do it, but that if he had to inoculate the animal he must use a Territorial syringe. I know something about this problem. I have lived there for forty-eight years, looking after Africans, Indians and Europeans as a doctor, and I claim to know something about the Territory. But I am quite well aware that the man and woman who are so confident they are right are generally the people with the least knowledge on which to base their opinion. That is a common state of affairs.
As far as the suggestion of dismembering the Federation is concerned, my noble friend, the Duke of Montrose, belongs to a Party which would not mind doing it, but I am speaking for the people who form the Government and are likely to do so for very many years. Their view is that at the Conference it was decided that no clause allowing anyone to contract out could be put in the Constitution, because in future any money raised for public purposes would be to the credit of the whole and not of any part. But in case there might be a change of Government—I do not want to do any threatening, but I know you are very indignant that we have a little Army of our own, and Air Force, and so forth—I should like to say that the people in the Federation have not the slightest intention of surrendering Nyasaland to destruction by its own people, but are perfectly willing, as they come on, to welcome them as a dominantly black State within the framework of the Federation.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I find myself in a difficulty, because, owing to a dinner engagement in the City, I shall have to leave almost immediately after 261 making my speech, which is contrary to the normal good manners current in this House. I will not follow the noble Viscount who has just sat down, but I feel hound to say that, eminent as he is and as his career has been in South Africa, and great as his qualities are, one that he lacks is courtesy, common courtesy. I had been hoping in the course of his speech to hear him withdraw some of the things, the quotations from his speech that had been made by my noble friend Lord Silkin. I waited in vain. And other things that the noble Viscount said seemed to me, with my limited experience of Parliament, to be directly contrary to the traditions that govern our proceedings.
The noble Viscount is not renowned for courtesy, because it was at the time of the Victoria Falls Conference, eight years ago, that he made some rather similar remark—a slighting remark—about Cabinet Ministers from the United Kingdom Government. I would ask the noble Earl the Leader of the House whether he would not confirm that the Commonwealth and the well being of the Commonwealth depend at least as much on common good manners and good feeling between the leaders of the different Governments in the Commonwealth as they do on the legal constitutions that govern the component parts.
The noble Earl, Lord Perth, spent a good deal of time explaining that the reason why the Nyasaland Africans were opposed to Federation was because they did not know—because they were unreasonable and ignorant. With great respect, I would put it that most of the Nyasaland Africans know more than the noble Earl does himself about Southern Rhodesia and the conditions under which Africans live in that country. Many of these people have for generations been going to spend their working lives in the Colony of Southern Rhodesia. They know the attitude to Africans. They were told that partnership would be the watchword, and they have had nearly seven years to see the results and to see partnership working out in practice. It crossed my mind that I could scrap the whole of this part of my speech, after what we have heard from the noble Viscount, because if his speech is transmitted to Central Africa, I cannot think that it will leave any African in any doubt as to the 262 kind of attitude of certain of the Europeans to the African inhabitants of those countries. There was a case, not many years after federation came about, when the African member of the Federal Parliament, Mr. Hovey, who called for a parcel at the Post Office, was treated roughly by the Post Office staff and asked to show his registration certificate "as all other 'boys' do." That is the sort of contempt in which Europeans in Southern Rhodesia hold Africans, no matter what their educational, personal or moral qualities are—just by the colour of their skins.
We know that the Africans have seen things happening over the years that do not remove their distrust of coming under the control of the Rhodesians. The question of land, which is uppermost in the minds of all Africans, is one on which there is great anxiety. That anxiety has been increased in recent months by attempts to get territorial agreement to transfer non-African agriculture in Nyasaland to the Federal Government. The non-African agriculture in Nyasaland consists, for the most part, of large estates, tea and others, and the fear of the African—and nothing that has happened has dispelled it—is that if that subject came under the control of the Federal Government there would be the greatest threat to their land, and the process that Lord Perth tells us about, by which European-owned land has been reduced, would be likely to cease altogether. That is one example.
They then read also in the Press that in Southern Rhodesia an enlightened system has been introduced by which Africans can qualify for an identity card which exempts them from carrying a pass. The qualifications for that identity card have been reduced. But by how much? What is the effect? Up to the end of the year, we believe, 188 Africans had qualified to be exempt from the pass laws. We read also that the Southern Rhodesian Parliament has passed an Amendment to the Land Apportionment Act which permits multi-racial hotels to be erected in European areas. That has been passed. It is a good sign. But there was considerable opposition to it. The Africans are not so foolish or so ignorant as some people think, and they do not miss things like that. We also know that the Northern 263 Rhodesian Police Force has been expanded. We do not quite know, but it appears that an expansion plan is in hand to increase the European strength by 15 per cent. and the African strength by 33 per cent. by June. 1959. There is an ominous sound about the expansion of the security force before 1960.
Then we have some of the statements made (I will not weary your Lordships with quotations) by the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, and other Ministers of the Southern Rhodesian or Federal Governments. They are all on a record, and the tone of some of those quotations is enough to convince any African that he would have little chance of improving his political and social status if Southern Rhodesian influence were strengthened in Nyasaland. We have had talk about itinerant M.P.s; but I have seen a quotation by an itinerant ex-M.P. from the United Kingdom Parliament, Captain Waterhouse, who made a speech in Salisbury in which he said:Be careful before you apply democracy and the principle of 'one man, one vote.' It should be made quite clear that there is never going to be any question of ruling this country by counting heads.So much, my Lords, for the prospects of democracy !
Only just before Christmas, Sir Edgar Whitehead, the Prime Minister, said that the aim of Southern Rhodesia in 1960 would be to remove the last restrictions on their complete self-government. When the emergency had been proclaimed, and the Governor of Nyasaland asked for troops and police to assist him, who decided to send the Royal Rhodesian Regiment, which is European, and the British South Africa Police, which is European, to reinforce his forces in Nyasaland? Why were the Rhodesian African Rifles not sent?—though I believe that a small detachment was sent ultimately—and why were the Northern Rhodesia Police not sent? That was a piece of sheer stupidity on the part of somebody, which was bound to increase the fears and suspicions of the Nyasaland Africans. Then we have the classic case of ineptitude in the rounding up of the leaders of the St. Faith's mission. Something has been done, by releasing Mr. Clutton-Brock, to undo the harm that was done to the reputation of the 264 Europeans in Southern Rhodesia, though I am not sure whether all his assistants have also been released. A blow like that to confidence seeps far deeper into the consciousness of Africans, not only in Nyasaland but in other parts of Africa, and probably other parts of the world as well.
I will not keep your Lordships longer than to ask the noble Earl, who mentioned in his speech that it was important (if I got his words aright) to build up the authority of the Chiefs, whether he could say if the policy of the Colonial Office is, in fact, to build up the authority of the Chiefs or to build up the machinery of local government under Native Authorities, which is different from the authority of the hereditary Chiefs. I wonder if the noble Earl can say whether or not the policy is not to restore the authority of the traditional tribal government but rather to set up Native Authorities according to the plan that the Colonial Office have had for some time.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I believe that I may say it is a mixture of both. One has to have some measure of authority over the Chiefs and also, of course, to restore the authority of the native districts and of the district commissioners.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for that explanation.
Many other things could be brought into this debate. The debate was widened very considerably by the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, on the whole subject of independence of Commonwealth countries, but I do not think this debate on the Motion of my noble friend Lord Ogmore is the occasion to do that. I do say, however, that one must try to keep this matter off the emotional level to which it so easily gets in a debate of this kind. Those in power in Southern Rhodesia have displayed many extra-ordinary traces of a split mind. They have carried out a certain number of enlightened liberal measures, but have then spoiled the effect by reverting to what one might call primitive reaction. My noble friend Lord Stansgate was talking of some of the legislation which has been introduced. Some attempt has been made to remedy the harm that has been done, and I understand that one of the Bills has been withdrawn, but not the others.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, even if the Bill in its original form is not reintroduced, a Government which introduces a measure like that, apart from being accused of taking panic measures, labels itself as thoroughly reactionary. Why cannot the Government choose a reasonable liberal policy and stick to it? We know that leaders of liberal opinion in Southern Rhodesia, small body of opinion though it is, are men of great influence, and their reputations are well known and respected all over the world.
I should like to end by quoting a short passage from a speech made by Sir John Moffat not long ago, in Salisbury, on the subject of federation. He said:The Africans opposed federation five years ago and would oppose independence now for the same reason. They consider that their future is made less secure but the difference is that while it was possible for us to go ahead with federation in spite of African opposition, for Dominion status this is not so. The moral approach to this quesion is so clear that there can be no difference of opinion on it. We have pledged ourselves not to proceed until the majority of the inhabitants of the Federation agree. Our task"—and by "our task" Sir John meant the task of Europeans in the Federation—is accordingly to go ahead and win that support by creating conditions here in which the African's future is secured to him. If we do not do this, and if we get Dominion status by any means other than in honouring our undertakings to the full, we shall demonstrate that we are unfit to govern a multi-racial State and our disappearance from the political scene would be a tragedy to no one but ourselves.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ THE DUKE OF MONTROSE
My Lords, I feel very honoured to be the third Rhodesian to take part in your Lordships' debate, but any nervousness which I had already has been added to by having to speak after two such eminent fellow countrymen. However, maybe I can contribute usefully to this debate, perhaps as one rather more of the earth earthy than the two previous Rhodesians who have addressed your Lordships. The noble Lord, Lord Robins, as your Lordships know, in addition to the very wide interests in Rhodesia that he is able to represent, is perhaps more able than anybody else to speak from the angle of big business enterprise and big mining enterprise, whereas the noble Viscount, Lord 266 Malvern—our much-loved elder statesman—can give your Lordships the history of the country politically, from a very early date. I cannot claim to have been as long in Rhodesia as the other two speakers, for I have been there only for twenty-eight years; but it is my home. It has been my home for all those years, with the exception of the war period, and if your Lordships will forgive me for a few moments I should like to say why I feel that I may be able to contribute to this debate from a real Rhodesian angle.
My wife was born in Africa. All my children were born in Rhodesia and they are all being brought up, and will be brought up, to consider themselves Rhodesians and to consider Rhodesia as their homeland, just as much as the inhabitants of any other colour whatever. In the course of my life as a farmer out there I have been in the closest day-to-day touch that one can be with African people. I employ and have employed, as my farming business grew, from sixty to one hundred Africans. I have often spent the livelong day working with them in the lands. I am able to talk to them and understand what they say to each other, sometimes speaking with the intention that I should hear, and at other times not knowing that I knew what they said. So I feel that I have a pretty good insight into their minds and into what they desire. I have looked after them in sickness, and in health I have tried to help them solve their problems. I have written letters for them. I have even ventured so far from my own calling into that of my fellow countryman, Lord Malvern, as to have attended at a birth. I claim that I know the African people and, in common with all the people I know who call themselves Rhodesians, I can say we know and like the African people. How much more important is it, then, to us who live in this way, to find a lasting solution to the problems that your Lordships have been discussing to-day! As I have listened to your Lordships' debate I have realised that I chose well to sit on the Cross Benches, because I quite honestly could not decide from listening to your Lordships which side would approve of what I have to say.
We think that none are better able to find the solution that we desire than those of us who have lived out there and know the people with whom we are trying to 267 come to terms. I think that the other two noble Lords who have come from Rhodesia, too, will be in agreement with me on that point; and I am sure we are all agreed, too, in the great regret we have felt about the uninformed denials as to the necessity for the emergency powers to be taken, and about the vitriolic attacks that were made on the Government and the steps they took to preserve the safety of the people of the country.
Some of the speakers, I think the noble Earl, Lord Perth, among others, mentioned the extraordinary way in which intimidation of the many can take place by the few. That I am very glad he realised. It is abundantly true. During the last strike we had in Salisbury exactly that happened, not on my farm but on a neighbour's farm, where all the workers struck. They were asked why, and they said that an agitator had come round and told them that if they did not strike something would happen; and, exactly as the noble Lord said, they had no idea what could happen. I wonder whether your Lordships realise the extent to which the belief in supernatural powers still exists. Not long ago five native children died on my farm—a few years ago, certainly—and suddenly one Sunday the whole village settlement arrived, dragging one member whom they said they had found burying poison in the path down to the water; and he was quite ready to say yes, he had done that and that this had caused the death of the children. That sort of threat is what we have to cope with. It is a very real weapon used by these agitators; and so, although I have quite rightly been named by the noble Viscount as a member of the Opposition Party, I do want to say that in the Opposition over there we have been 100 per cent. behind the Government in the steps they have taken to end the fear that had been roused in the country.
The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, mentioned the legislation in regard to detention; but I am glad to say that that has gone on the scrap heap for the moment and is being re-drafted. There were many of us—though we are supposed to be an illiberal element, I think as I go on you will find that we are by no means so illiberal—who did not like that particular rather panic legislation that was being put forward.
268 It must be realised that those of us who live there have a great faith in at least 99½ per cent. of the African people among whom we live; and we have been, and still are, quite prepared to entrust our wives, our children and ourselves to living in remote parts of the country, far from any fellow European neighbour—twenty, thirty, maybe fifty miles away; myself only one—and we are prepared to go on trusting these people. If our trust should prove misplaced and our families become the victims of violent deeds we feel then that that is our own look out. But we are not prepared to be made into sitting ducks by agitators, egged on by people living 6,000 miles away in perfect safety. We know that there is that characteristic in the African people (that I know, at any rate) where even the oldest and most faithful of the people among whom we live could, with the right amount of beer, the right amount of tom-tom beating, the right amount of witchcraft and intimidation, the right amount of inflammatory speech, be for a few hours whipped up to committing acts of violence that I, who know them, would be quite sure the following day they would weep for and regret.
Now to come to Nyasaland, which is really the object of this debate. A great deal upon which I had made notes to speak has already been dealt with much more ably than I could have dealt with it, but I think it would not be out of place to tell your Lordships of one or two other things that may have led up 40 the state of mind that existed in Nyasaland. Your Lordships know and have been told of the mistake that was made by advising the district commissioners to say that they did not know whether federation was good or bad. I need not deal with that matter.
However, when federation went through, the people of Nyasaland were told that it would be all right; that they would have two representatives in the Federal House—two African representatives of African interests. These two representatives were to be elected by a sort of electoral college composed of Chiefs and native councils and native representatives, but their appointment had to be "O.K.'d" by the Governor of the Territory. Immediately the Africans thought that these chaps may well be stooges. Then, as time went on, the Electoral Act was changed, the Federal 269 House was enlarged, and there were to be two more members of the Federal House from Nyasaland; and again the people in Nyasaland were told, "This time you will elect your own representatives."
As your Lordships are aware, there are certain qualifications that have to be complied with in regard to education, and so on, to get on the common voters' roll, and so a special voters' roll was brought in with very much lower qualifications, the intention being that considerable numbers of Africans would get on to that special voters' roll, and that then the two voters' rolls, voting together, would elect these two new members of the Federal House. But the Africans boycotted the special voters' roll, and when the election came they did not even put up candidates. To us, who know the African mind, it was no good trying to explain to them: "It is your own fault; you boycotted the special voters' roll, and you have got nobody to thank but yourselves for the fact that you virtually played no part in the election of these two members"—which was the case, because, with the exception of a dozen or so Africans on the special roll, these two new African representatives were virtually elected by the common voters' roll alone, and this was almost entirely composed of Europeans and Indians. So that, once again, the Africans have felt that they are not represented in the Federal House: and although your Lordships and myself may think that they got no more than they deserved on account of their boycott, they do not look at it in that way.
A very unfortunate thing was that it was not until some months—I think nearly two years—after this new Electoral Act came into force that the Prime Minister of the Federation, Sir Roy Welensky, went up to Nyasaland to talk it over with the African leaders. By that time they had decided that he was not one with whom they wished to discuss the matter in any case, and they refused to see him. That was a very unfortunate thing to happen at that stage. With the 1960 talks looming ahead, still no plan, no blueprint, has been given to the people of Nyasaland as to what their Constitution will be and as to what is going to happen to them. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, used the phrase, which is indeed a very apt one, that fear of the unknown was one of the main causes of the state of mind that exists in Nyasaland today. 270 More important than recriminations for the past, and even more important than investigating what has led up to it, is that we should put forward some definite plan for the future.
If I may digress a little, I would say that it is very important that we decide what exactly it is that the African people want. I do not think it is at all what long-haired enthusiasts in far-off countries think that they want. Let me say here that the African community that we have to deal with is not a mixed-blood Negro population such as there is in America. The population of black Africans that we are talking about is a more or less racially homogeneous group with its own pride of race, and I believe that what they really want is to be an African, if possible a prominent African, in an African State, conducting things in an African way. If Dr. Banda has been said to be of the Right by one noble Lord, is it not perhaps because he is of the same sort of opinion, that he is not really a multi-racialist? He wishes to see his country—and he has said so—an African country run by African people.
My Lords, when that type of State comes about, I am sure that the African who has adopted European ways—and enjoys the type of set-up and State that we visualise as a Western State transported to Africa—will be swept on one side if we cannot find a solution, at the very same moment that the European is swept on one side. In regard to the African States that have already got independence, the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, also indicated that he felt that there was some sort of recession from the European set-up that had been bequeathed to them. I do not use the word "recession" in a derogatory way: it is a moving back, if you like, from a 100 per cent. European way of doing things to a more African way of doing things, a way easier for the African to understand but more difficult for us to understand.
I would go a little further, even, and refer your Lordships to the Mau-Mau. There you saw a non-warlike tribe suddenly become ready to fight and die for something; and it certainly was not for the right to be allowed to live as Europeans and to have a European type of Government. If your Lordships want to know what it was for, you should read Jomo Kenyatta's book, Facing Mount 271 Kenya, where you will see that he gives them a blueprint for an African-type State. What they fought for was to get rid of the Europeans entirely and to build up some sort of modern African State along the lines that Jomo Kenyatta had set out for them.
I have mentioned all that because there is no doubt that the Nyasalanders have made up their minds that it is going to be an African country; it is going to be a black man's country. I got the impression that noble Lords on my right thought that it was only domination by the Europeans of Southern Rhodesia, or the Europeans of Nyasaland, that they feared. I have here a letter from none other than Dr. Hastings Banda. I am not going to read it all out. He refers to a plan which I wish to speak to you about in a few minutes; but, relevant to this topic with which I have just dealt, he says:
But I can say that one of my major criticisms so far as we are concerned is that you assume that we, the Africans of Nyasaland, would accept anything the British Government decides for us.So he does not want to be governed by the Europeans of England, either.
I am afraid that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, when he used the phrase in the Federation the other day that we must "sell the Federation to the Africans", was very wide of the mark of what is possible. I, who know the African well, will tell you that one thing you can never get him to do by argument—"never" may be a strong word, but I still use it—is to change his mind once he has made it up. Arguments that appear very cogent to any of us here just go like water off a duck's back with the African who has made up his mind that he does not like something. It has been suggested that we could point out to the African people that they never really understood what federation meant. It has also been made very much a point that they would not be an economic unit; and that that could be explained to them. Also that they should be told that from the Federal Government to-day they get a boost to their budget to the tune of around £4 million. I have read in the debate in another place that they say they would rather be poor and independent. There again, that sort of remark is made, with no appreciation of the fact that the population of Nyasaland is doubling itself every twenty years. Enough has been said to-day of the fact that already the people 272 of Nyasaland cannot support themselves without going to work in the surrounding Territories.
I have heard their leaders say that Southern Rhodesia depends and will depend for ever on Nyasaland labour. One thing that has to be mentioned among the restrictions we are supposed to impose upon the Africans in Southern Rhodesia is that in the towns passes to seek work are now being given only to Africans who belong to the Federation, because we have large numbers of unemployed in all the towns of Rhodesia. That has had a tremendous effect on farms like mine, where Africans from Angola, Mozambique and Bechuanaland now come to look for work. This is something which should be understood by Nyasaland Africans. In the course of time, it could very well happen to them.
It also happened that the night before I left Rhodesia an African Member of Parliament rang up to wish me well on my trip over here. The only remark he made beyond that was, "Tell them we do not want federation." That was the remark of a Southern Rhodesian African. Naturally they do not want federation, because it means competition; it means labour coming in and competing with them. As I have said, we canput up all these arguments to the Africans and it will make not the slightest difference. We shall never "sell" federation and anything it means to the African now. He has made up his mind that he will not have it, and I can assure the noble Earl that it will not now be accepted.
If politics is the art of the possible, we have to accept the fact that either this word, "Federation" will have to be changed for something else, or a new setup will have to be gone into. Secondly, when we are thinking about what is impossible, we must include the fact that Nyasaland is not an economic unit and cannot be left unsupported. Thirdly, at the moment, there are only two Africans with university degrees in Nyasaland. They have not the people to form a Territorial Government at the moment, so they will have to go on being administered by the Colonial Office. In other words, Protectorate status will have to remain for quite a long time. I believe that this is something we must accept. I believe that any people who 273 are going to have their status quo uprooted like to be told something about what the future bolds in store for them. They like to have their fear of the unknown allayed. In this case it is vitally important that this is done as quickly as possible after the present emergency powers have brought back order to the country.
I have heard no real suggestion from either side of your Lordships' House about any sort of new set-up. It may be premature at this point of the discussion, but f hope your Lordships will bear with me fora few minutes longer, as I shall be returning to Rhodesia and shall not have an opportunity perhaps for a very long time of addressing your Lordships again. I was accused by the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, of belonging to a Party that wished to break up the Federation. The plan that I wish to put before your Lordships is, I believe, the only plan that will keep the territories of the Federation under one umbrella at all. Those of us who have worked on it have called it The Central African Alliance.
In this we accept the fact that Nyasaland and Barotseland, with whomthe United Kingdom Government have these treaties, must continue as Protectorates; but we think that the rest of the Central African Territory should now become an independent Dominion, and that the United Kingdom, as the protecting Power of Nyasaland and Barotseland, should enter into an alliance with the new Rhodesian Federation that we should like to see formed. Of course, there would be a High Commissioner for Central Africa, responsible to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and he, together with the Dominion Government, would be responsible for trade agreements and controls, and for revenue. The whole area would form a customs union, and the Dominion would be fully responsible for running posts, telegraphs, civil aviation, railways and services of that sort. The costs of all these services, of course, could be apportioned between the three territories.
I do not think the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, dealt with the fact that at the beginning of the conception of some kind of Federation or amalgamation with the North, even he did not really mind very 274 much whether Nyasaland was in it or not. I have advised him that I was going to reply on this point and that I was going to read a short extract from the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Federal Assembly, when they were dealing with the Electoral Bill in January, 1958. Referring to the Conference he had over here, the noble Viscount said:
That meeting was arranged and the two Territorial Governors from the North were called to the Conference and that was the only Conference where we really all took our hair down and told one another our fortunes and in the course of remarks that were made the Nyasaland representative, having been very obstructive and difficult, he then said they could only provide four Europeans at the maximum from Nyasaland to be Federal Members of Parliament and I said in that case Nyasaland seems to be so difficult, why not cut her out altogether. That was the famous occasion when the then Secretary of State banged the table and said, 'All or nothing'.I do not think that at that time any of us really would have minded at all if Nyasaland had been left out of it altogether. To-day, if a referendum were held in Southern Rhodesia on the question. I do not think that more than 10 per cent. of the people would be anxious about keeping Nyasaland in.
My Lords, I am not going into great detail on this plan. I intend to leave some copies of it in the Printed Paper Office, and I hope that if anything I have said has stimulated the interest of noble Lords, they will get a copy and have a look at it. But an important point under this Treaty of Alliance is that we propose that the new Dominion we should like to see formed in Central Africa will continue to contribute to the Nyasaland budget for a period of years to be agreed upon in the same sort of proportion as we at present contribute, but in the form of a grant in aid. In view of the table being banged as it was in the Conference referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, I think that that might be important to your Lordships in this country, because the reason why the table was banged was that it was then costing the British taxpayer about £3 million a year to finance Nyasaland, and the Colonial Secretary was most anxious that we should carry that burden. We took it on, and in these new proposals we are quite prepared to go on carrying it.
There is an area in the proposed Dominion that we have designated a special area, and that is the territory 275 lying to the north-east of the sort of waist caused in Northern Rhodesia by the Congo Pedical. We feel it should be a special area, because it is a large area, very backward—far more backward than either of the two Territories—and it would be quite impossible for it to govern itself. It would be difficult at this stage to organise an administrative body along the lines that the Colonial Office have in Nyasaland, and we believe that this area should remain part of the Dominion. But we propose to include in the Treaty of Alliance the promise that when the time comes—again after a specified number of years—it would be able to opt out of the Dominion. We hope that by that time Nyasaland, Barotseland and this particular territory will have found that to be allied with the Dominion is of great advantage and that they will not consider leaving the Alliance. The new territory, if it did opt out of the Dominion, would be in a position to enter into a Treaty of Alliance, just as the other two would then be in with the Dominion.
It now remains to find out if in the Dominion we could not form some sort of body to which the reserved powers that the United Kingdom Government still have in regard to legislation, and that they fear one racial group might impose on the community to the detriment of one of the other racial groups, could be handed over with confidence by the United Kingdom Government. To this end it is suggested that a Senate should be formed, to which members would be elected on a racial basis. They would be elected by people who were on the common and special voters' rolls, but for the purpose of electing members of the Senate they would be divided up into racial groups. There the Indian community would send its representatives, the Europeans would send their representatives, the Africans would send their representatives and the coloureds—well, perhaps I might explain that again.
There is a division caused by themselves. We have always referred to the coloured people as people of mixed parentage, and they have further divided themselves into coloureds and Eurasians. "Coloureds" now refers to Cape coloured people, who are largely of Malay descent or Hottentot and European admixtures. They now differentiate 276 themselves from those who are of Bantu-European stock, who call themselves Eur-Africans. So there are two more communities which would both get individual representation in the Senate. Provided the numbers could be agreed upon with the United Kingdom Government, as to what proportions they should be in and how those proportions should be arrived at, we believe that we would have a body representing all races capable of safeguarding the interests of all.
We in the new Dominion, if it was formed, would, as I say, be responsible to administer this northern territory, and we should very much like it to be known that we feel that we could administer a backward territory like that every bit as well as the Colonial Office; and we would as fast, and perhaps faster than they, bring such a territory forward towards a sound economy and a sound political stability. It is the area in which the whole experiment of the Federation could be carried on, where an effort is being made to establish an African State completely on Western lines.
Before I sit down I should like to add to what has been said about the difference between the policy we have in the Federation to-day and that of South Africa, and how we intend to carry the present on if we get this Central African Dominion formed. In the Central African Dominion we believe that everybody should advance entirely on merit. We do not believe that that is what they want in Nyasaland. In Nyasaland they want to be Cabinet Ministers because they are black. It has been suggested that a gesture could have been made, and can be made now in the new territorial Government in Northern Rhodesia, by putting members in the Cabinet just because they are black. That will be the difference in the new Dominion. We have absolutely no objection to having Africans in the Cabinet, or anywhere else, but in the Dominion we visualise they will get there on merit. And there are a lot of Africans to-day who are doing well both in business and in politics and who are quite prepared to take a chance in that type of set-up. They do not want the umbrella held over them by competition from Europeans being removed from their State. Thus you will have in the Central 277 African area territories that can accommodate all shades of opinion.
There were one or two points made by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, which I might answer. He referred to the statement that had been made by Sir Charles Waterhouse that you could not govern the country by a counting of heads. As an example of the stage of development at which we have arrived in the Federation, I may say that we have, as your Lordships probably know, a fine new £1 million hospital in Salisbury. But if you go there you will find that on the doors of the rooms where the doctors sit are painted giraffes, crocodiles and elephants, because the Africans going to that hospital are still at the stage where if they want to see a particular doctor, it is no good writing the name of the doctor on the door; you tell them to go to the door with the elephant on it, or the crocodile, and so on. So to start thinking at this stage about forming a Government to be elected by people who, instead of a candidate's name on the voting paper, would need to have him designated by an animal, is out of the question.
On the matter of the Rhodesian African Rifles (I am sorry the noble Viscount was not here when it was brought up, because he might have had a different answer from mine) my answer is enough: that is, that if you had sent a bunch of Matabele policemen up to where there was a row in the Mchewa area, there would have been not only fifty killed, but 500 killed; they would have "got stuck into them" and British law and order would have gone by the board. The only possible force you could send up to another territory was a European force. On the question of Chiefs, I may say that they are not hereditary. They are generally chosen by the system that used to exist many hundreds of years ago in Scotland; they are chosen from a noble family. They choose the man they think is best for the job, and they have the greatest respect for the Chief when they have chosen him.
We are agreed in the Dominion Party, just as much as in any other Party, that there is need for first-class multi-racial hotels in any major centre. There may be need for more. In Salisbury there are now something like five hotels where, if you wish to take an African to dinner, you can do so. But we believe in freedom of choice and of association, and we 278 believe that there should also be hotels—and I think the African is very much in favour of this—where, if he is not wanting a multi-racial dinner party or a drink with a member of another race, he can be among his own people. That is what the majority of Europeans feel, too. In all sections of political life there we now recognise that there is a necessity for association and for first-class accommodation for the advancing African, but we also insist that in our leisure time if we so desire we may get away and spend it among our own people.
The plan that I have outlined to your Lordships was the subject of this letter from Dr. Banda. He said:As to the plan, I cannot pretend that I agree with everything said in it, but it is far more realistic than anything Welensky has ever said or produced.I think, therefore, that it is not the final plan, but it is a basis for discussion. It is far more than I have heard put up by any political Party in Rhodesia, and it is far more than I have heard put up by either side of your Lordships' House. I should like to thank your Lordships for your great indulgence to me, and I hope that you will find what I have said of some use.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am very happy that it should fall to me to congratulate the noble Duke on a most successful maiden speech. If I may say so, it was a first-rate performance and brought a breath of fresh air into our discussion. The sincerity and intimate knowledge of his subject which he displayed will, I am sure, have given great pleasure to us all, and especially to those older ones of us who remember the forthright and robust speeches which used to be delivered to us by his distinguished father. I am only sad to think that the opportunities we shall have of hearing the noble Duke again will be comparatively limited. However, I hope that he will come and see us and take part in our discussions whenever he can.
It is a proud boast in this House that whatever subject is raised, with whatever part of the world or whatever aspects of our life it deals, we are always able to produce some of the foremost living authorities on that subject. Certainly this debate has been no exception to that rule. Indeed, with contributions by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, the noble 279 Viscount, Lord Malvern, the noble Lord, Lord Robins, and the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, in addition, if I may say so, to the extraordinarily effective and moderate speech of the noble Earl, Lord Perth—I think the best I ever heard him make in this House—so great is the weight of authority and experience which has been shown that I think anyone might hesitate to intervene. If I do it is not because I am nearly so much an authority on these countries as the noble Lords, Lord Ogmore and Lord Robins, or the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, but because I have known parts of the Federation on and off now for upwards of fifty years, and I was there myself only a month ago. So I think I can claim to have some practical experience of the country and of its affairs.
Of the recent distressing events in Nyasaland itself, which are dealt with in the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, there is not much that I can say at the present stage. I am sure that, before we pass a final judgment on this, we shall all want to consider what the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has said. Of course, the announcement of an appointment of a Commission of Inquiry, and of the terms of reference on that Inquiry, make the whole question, to some extent, for the moment sub judice. But it had occurred to me that it may be possible for me to sketch in some of the background to present events, so as to give a rather more balanced picture of the position there than can, I think, be obtained by reading the organs of the daily Press. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will allow me to do that.
In particular, I should like to say a few words in defence of a body of people who have hardly been referred to, except obliquely, in our discussions. I refer to the settlers. If I may say so, with all deference, the whole picture of the settlers which is to-day being displayed to the horrified eyes of the British public is, I must confess, one that would make anybody who knows them wonder what has come over us to cause us to regard as an object of shame and reproach what used to be our greatest pride. By a great many people in England at the present time the word "settler" has come to be regarded as a term of opprobrium, hardly to be mentioned without a sneer. I wonder whether those who take this 280 rather prejudiced view ever reflect that almost all of the British Commonwealth derives from settlers. It was settlers who founded Canada; it was settlers who founded Australia; it was setters who founded New Zealand, and it was settlers who founded the United States, too. All these great, free nations who fought against tyranny, and defeated it, during the last two world wars sprang from settlers. Without settlers the free world would not exist to-day.
Nor, my Lords, were those settlers any better welcomed by certain sections of the indigenous population when they first went there than they are being by certain sections of the population in Africa to-day. Yet would anyone with common sense say that it would have been better if those far-off settlers had not gone there, and if the countries had been left to primitive savagery? I wonder whether those who attack settlers so easily, and with so little knowledge, ever consider these things?
Nor are the settlers in the Federation of Central Africa to-day any different from those to whom I have referred. They are the same ordinary men and women, with ideas and ideals just the same as our own. If one goes out into the streets of Salisbury, in Rhodesia, as I have done quite recently, in an evening, when the shops are closing, one sees just the same men and girls, decent people with decent ideas, as one sees at any London railway station at the end of a day's work. Nor is there any difference outside the towns. If one goes out into the countryside, into the largely untamed countryside, one sees—and I must confess I find it very moving—little isolated houses, miles from any other white habitation, miles from any habitation except a native village and a native school, where some of the older and more experienced Rhodesians, or some English boy, with an equally young English wife, and perhaps one or two children, are living quite alone, making the land more fruitful and teaching their African neighbours how to make the land more fruitful.
My Lords, that is not the stuff out of which Simon Legrees are made. No; slowly and steadily the leaven is working. Each time I go I see some advance in the status of the Africans. There is the University College at Salisbury, which has 281 been referred to. There, Europeans and Africans are working side by side, eating together, living side by side in the same hostels; and the interesting thing about it—and I am sure the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, would agree—is that both races are growing year by year. Neither race is being put off by the presence of the other. That I believe to be a very encouraging sign.
Then there is the legalisation of the multi-racial hotels, to which reference has been made, the rapid increase of African schools and the extraordinary popularity of these schools with the Africans themselves. I speak with great deference in the presence of experts, but I went to two farms, and they told me they had a better chance of getting African labour if they had schools. The Africans are anxious to learn. If I were asked: "Could the change going on be more rapid?" I would say that I personally believe that it could; and the more quickly unnecessary differentials between white and black are removed, the better, I am sure, all round. After all, the basic aim of our colonial policy, as I said in Salisbury only a few weeks ago, is to help backward races forward in the light of our experience.
As a result of that policy the Africans are moving forward, and we must clearly not continue to treat them as though no change had taken place. If we were to do that we should he confessing that our whole policy had failed, and I am sure that that view would receive the support of noble Lords in all parts of the House. At the same time, we must not fail to recognise that they have still a very long way to go. There are, of course, as the noble Duke said, some extremely intelligent Africans occupying responsible and highly paid jobs. I met some when I was there. But the great majority are still extremely primitive, and they are not yet ready for full Parliamentary democracy. I am sure that the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, would agree if he knew the country better.
Full Parliamentary democracy is perhaps the most difficult political system to operate ever devised by the wit of man. It took us nearly 600 years to learn, and the British people in the 13th century, when our Parliamentary system started, were already far more advanced than the 282 Africans in Central Africa were when we went there in the 'nineties of the last century. In this matter I feel that both Europeans and Africans must surely recognise what I think Sir Winston Churchill once called, "the inevitability of gradualness". To use the very wise words of a Methodist missionary, reported in the Daily Telegraph the other day, if we have true faith and patience I still firmly believe we can succeed in creating in Central Africa a multi-racial State based on partnership between black and white, and, in Nyasaland, with far greater emphasis thrown on the black.
But, unhappily, there is a hard fact which has already had to be faced by the Federal Government and the Territorial Governments in Central Africa, and I believe must be faced by us too. A multiracial State, partnership between black and white, is not, I am afraid, what the leaders of the African National Congress want to-day. Whatever their original aim may have been, they are no longer interested in a multi-racial State. They are not even interested in the preservation of the status quo, in a direct relationship between the Northern Territory and the Colonial Office or the Protectorate treaties negotiated between Queen Victoria and the Chiefs. That was underlined in the letter from Dr. Hastings Banda read just now by the noble Duke.
What they want now, especially since the Accra Conference; what they are determined to get—and they make no secret of it—is something far more simple and drastic. They want, to use Mr. Tom Mboya's forceful phrase at the Accra Conference, to make the Europeans "scram out of Africa", and have been enjoining Dr. Nkrumah to "keep the pot boiling." That is the môt d'ordre which went out from Accra. That is the instruction Congress leaders carried back to their respective territories. We have already seen the fruits: disturbances in French Equatorial Africa, disturbances in the Belgian Congo, and now disturbances in Nyasaland. Ministers from Ghana, I have read in the Press, denied that there had been a plot, and I think the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, was sceptical. But whether one calls it a plot or a phased campaign, the result is exactly the same. At some point there was to have been a massacre of Europeans and loyal Africans in Nyasaland; and that point had been 283 almost reached. That, as I understand it, was the information that reached the Territorial Government and the Federal Government, and the information, I understand, which has been transmitted to Her Majesty's Government here. I gather that, by the Governor of Nyasaland anyway (I cannot speak to-day for Her Majesty's Government), that information is regarded as dependable.
In such a situation, my Lords, what must any responsible Government do? It must surely take whatever steps are necessary to maintain law and order. For a main function of the Executive in any civilised country is not so much to restore law and order once it has been broken, as to ensure that it is not broken at all. Indeed, a doubt which rises in one's mind is not whether the Nyasaland Government moved too soon but whether they moved soon enough. We must honour their patience and restraint, but if an emergency had to be declared anyhow, earlier action might well have saved African lives. However, any delay may well have been due not to hesitation or to vacillation but to a much more simple reason—that they had not the necessary forces.
In any case, the important question before us all to-day is not what should have been done, but what ought to be done now. In Central Africa itself, as has been emphasised by more than one speaker, the first step must be to restore law and order. What after that? The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, mentioned certain steps which have already been taken by the Southern Rhodesian Government and was critical of those steps. I imagine that we all, in whatever part of the House we sit, hope very much that the Government, whatever their provocation, will not go beyond the bounds of what is absolutely necessary or take measures which could only tend to weaken their case in the eyes of moderate opinion, both in their own country and in the rest of the world. Indeed we are all glad, I am sure, to have seen from the Press this morning that they seem to have reached that view themselves.
But we on our side must, I feel, equally recognise that those Governments there in Central Africa have problems and responsibilities from which we are mercifully free. This, I would emphasise, 284 is not necessarily a brief emergency—in fact, I doubt very much whether it is. It may well be a continuing condition. They are engaged—or they may well be engaged—in what may be described as a tepid war, something, between a cold war and a hot war, with ruthless opponents who are determined to subvert by any methods within their powers the existing system of government. It may well be that if those Governments, who, after all, stand for law and order, are to stand up to that subversion which is continually being preached, they must have some additional powers which go beyond what is normally necessary in a country like our own. We must, I feel, take factors of that kind into account in forming a balanced judgment.
My Lords, what are we to do here in this country to help? The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, expressed the view—indeed, it was the whole effect of his Motion—that it would assist the people of Britain to form a right judgment of these events in Nyasaland and reach balanced conclusions if Parliament sent out a Commission to look into the facts. When I came down to the House I must confess that I had myself been doubtful about this, for I should have thought that all the relevant facts were already at the disposal of the Government; and if they have not published them up to now it is not because they do not know them but because to divulge their sources of information would only be to put the people who had given that information into imminent danger. I felt that the same would presumably be true of all the information that was made available to a Commission. They could not publish it; they could study it; and I hope that they will be given all the information that is available so that they may come to a right judgment. But, as I say, they could not publish it. However, that is already decided: the Government have made up their minds, and I expect rightly, to appoint a judicial Commission; and a very good one it is, if I may say so. I am sure we should all be very ready to accept the Government decision. They, in fact, by what they have announced this afternoon, have already done their part.
But is there anything that any of us who are not members of the Government can do? I suggest that we can reflect on 285 recent events, both in Nyasaland and in other parts of Africa, and that we can come, even at the present stage, to certain broad conclusions. There is just one—and this is the last thing I want to say—that I should like to submit, with great diffidence, to the consideration of noble Lords this evening. One continually reads nowadays of Africa's fight for freedom and independence—and here I am treading on some of the ground which I think has already been covered by the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern. But, my Lords, do not let us make the great mistake of assuming that freedom and independence always mean the same thing. That is an error, as I see it, into which a great many of our intellectuals are falling to-day.
We all know what we mean by freedom. We mean what we are able to describe broadly as free institutions. We mean the greatest measure of freedom for the individual to speak, to think and to act as he wishes that is compatible with the welfare and security of the community as a whole, and of all sections of it. That, as I understand it, is what we all in this country mean by freedom. It may go with independence, but it is not necessarily at all the same thing. Look at Hungary. Hungary is nominally independent, but freedom in our sense, the sense I have just tried to define, does not exist in Hungary. Or look at Ghana, if I may say so. Ghana had freedom until it got independence. But can anyone he certain it has got freedom now? On the contrary, if one reads the Press day by day one gets the impression that the safeguards of free democracy are being whittled down month by month, almost week by week, and the country is reverting to what may tactfully be described as more old-fashioned methods.
This reflection, I suggest, if there is anything in it at all, has an important bearing on our future policy in Central Africa. Is it freedom or is it independence that we are to regard as the primary object of our colonial policy? Some of your Lordships may reply "independence", and of course you are absolutely entitled to that view. But personally I hold very strongly the other view. I believe it is to buttress and sustain freedom, in the sense I have tried to define it, which must always be our primary aim; for without freedom there 286 can, as I see it, be no real civilisation at all in Africa or anywhere else.
That is why I, like, I think, the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and the noble Earl the Leader of the House hold so strongly to the view that partnership between black and white is essential to the future of Africa; and that is why I believe it is absolutely vital that the Europeans should stay there. The fear felt by Africans, which was emphasised this afternoon by the most reverend Primate, is not going to be removed by the departure of the Europeans. On the contrary, it is going to be replaced by a new and much more terrible fear which will be felt, above all, by moderate Africans, among them the best of all. The new and terrible fear is that in the absence of the Europeans Africa will soon relapse either into anarchy or into despotism—in fact into the condition in which we found it when we went there sixty years ago.
What is the truth, my Lords? The truth is, as I see it, that, if Africa is to prosper and advance, the European cannot do without the African, and the African cannot do without the European. Both must move forward together. That, I believe, is fully recognised by most moderate Africans in Central Africa today. My fear is that it is not yet fully realised here in Britain; and yet, my Lords, I believe most profoundly that unless we do realise that, and unless we act on it, we shall not only be deserting our own kith and kin in Africa who are upholding our standards in those far-off lands, but we shall be going far to lose the cold war itself, on which our own very existence and the survival of civilisation in the world depend.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ LORD MATHERS
My Lords, this has been a long debate and it has still a long way to go, and I do not want to delay the proceedings to any extent, but I want to say that I feel I have been rewarded in sitting here listening to the different speeches, listening, for example, to the speech that came from the most reverend Primate speaking for the Anglican Church, and listening also to the son of one whom I knew for many years—I refer to the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose. who came from Rhodesia, it seems, specially to take part in this debate, and gave us a speech, a long 287 speech it is true, but one full with many things that we do not come into contact with very often.
My object in seeking to take part in this debate was in order that a Scottish voice might come from this part of the House about matters which are dear to the heart of Scotland. I say that quite definitely in regard to the relationship of Scotland with Nyasaland. We remember David Livingstone. We think of his wanderings as an explorer, as a missionary in Central Africa, and the fact that he carried the name of Scotland; and we look upon him, of course, as one of the greatest sons that Scotland ever produced. In addition to these reasons, there is the fact that it seemed to me that the interest that the Church of Scotland has shown in the colonial territories, and especially in Central Africa. Would be of some interest to the House. Perhaps it will give some material for the Commission which is being set up; it may give them something of a background to the problem with which they are being called upon to deal.
I am referring to passages in the last report to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland by the Church and Nation Committee. There are a number of passages there which deal with matters that we have been examining in this debate. The Church of Scotland has given great attention to African affairs through the instrumentality of the Church and Nation Committee, of which I am a member. It is, for instance, practically a "hardy annual" in the report of the Church and Nation Committee to make reference to the territories of Bechuanaland, Basutoland, and Swaziland, and to the strong desire on the part of the Church that these should not be incorporated in the Union of South Africa without an express desire for such a merger being clearly ascertained and approved beforehand by the whole population.
The latest available report of the attitude of the Church of Scotland to the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland is that contained in last year's volume of reports to the General Assembly. That portion is of considerable length and, having regard to the time that this debate is taking. I have cut it down. I wish to make reference to the Constitution Amendment Act, with which the Church 288 and Nation Committee, approved by the Assembly, deal in the following passages from the report. It says that the Constitution Amendment Bill wasduly approved by the Legislatures of the three countries; but in both Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia this decision was taken in spite of the opposition of all African members…. While making a much desired new provision for the African Protected Person to vote, its other provisions seemed to the African designed to make European dominance more secure. The African Affairs Board referred the measure, as a differentiating one, to the British Parliament. It has to be remembered that this power of reference had not previously been used and the power to do so had been described by the then Secretary of State for the Colonies as an impregnable safeguard'.No wonder it came as a shock and as a matter of grave concern when this objection was not upheld, and indeed was dismissed with perhaps less discussion than would have been desirable. Clearly African opinion was not the only factor to be taken into account; but the decision struck at the roots of African confidence in Great Britain.... While everything was done legally, in accordance with procedure laid down in the Constitution, African opinion was not sufficiently consulted nor was there that attempt to win African acquiescence which would have been desirable.Then there is added the words:The Committee would appeal for an even more liberal measure for African voters as urged by the General Assembly of 1954.That is the quotation in that regard. A later paragraph that shows the interest of the Church refers to the Union of South Africa, and I think it is worthy of notice. I quote:A great deal has been done for the welfare of the Bantu and the record of it is very impressive along certain lines, but they are kept under-privileged and denied certain rights. The Church's conviction, however, is still that the policy of Apartheid as it has been practised in the Union offers no permanent solution to the problem and is fundamentally unchristian.These extracts are from the Church and Nation Committee report. The Assembly pass deliverances on the various reports that are made, and this is the general deliverance relating to Commonwealth interests:The General Assembly are gratified to know of the beneficial effects of Central African Federation already perceptible in the industrial and economic spheres, and rejoice in the prospects of greater financial prosperity and a higher standard of living for Africans in Rhodesia and Nyasaland.The General Assembly, concerned at the continuing racial tensions in Central Africa, deeply regret the introduction and passing of the Constitution Amendment Act and the Federal Electoral Bill, which, although the procedure satisfied legal requirements, and 289 although one result has been an extension of the franchise to protected persons, have caused serious dissatisfaction and aroused increased resentment and suspicion among Africans in all the three territories. While the principle of widening the franchise is entirely right, what is of cardinal importance at the present time is to establish mutual trust and goodwill between Africans and Europeans; and, if the spirit of true partnership is to be achieved, the utmost tact and patience are called for.I apologise for the length of these quotations, which may be said to be not quite up to date, but I believe they are useful as a background for the much briefer remarks that I now wish to make.
Here is a letter which is quite up to date, which I received the other day among a number of others which have reached me on this subject, all to the same purpose. I read this letter because it comes from the mission field, and from a missionary with experience. I hope that it will be accepted as authoritative. I will not name the experienced missionary from whom it comes, as I do not know whether the identity of the writer should be made public. The letter is as follows:It is with a feeling of urgency that I am compelled to write to you as a well-known Churchman. I was a missionary of the Church of Scotland in Central Africa for 19 years. I spent 10 years in Nyasaland and 9 years in Northern Rhodesia, and it is because of that fact that I would plead with you to raise your voice in the House of Lords when the question of the present crisis in the Federation arises.It is a fact that this has not arisen solely because of Dr. Hastings Banda as has been implied by his detention along with the others at the outset of the present crisis. A great deal has been written by people who have no first hand knowledge of these people or what racial discrimination is. I have been in touch with Africans of considerable ability who are respected in Africa for their character and Christian witness, and I have been assured that they realise that the deterioration of race relations which has happened since 1953 is because of Federation and that is why they are determined to get out of it.The Nyasaland Africans were a happy people and lived and worked harmoniously with the Europeans until the effect of the Southern Rhodesian attitude permeated the country. The Nyasaland people were told that Federation would work if Black and White worked together in partnership. That partnership has been a mockery as far as the Europeans were concerned and no amount of talk of economic gain means anything to them because it is evident that the Blacks were to be the inferiors in everything.It is because of the foregoing conclusions that I would plead with you to see that justice is done. I cannot but feel that it is not British justice to accept only the word of the 290 Europeans about what is happening in Nyasaland to-day. Would it not be in order to send a Parliamentary Commission to Nyasaland to meet with the Africans as well as Europeans in this great crisis? The people of Africa cannot but feel a grievance when their leaders are Imprisoned during the crisis.It is quite evident that the partnership, which I am sure we all desire on proper lines, does not prevail under the present régime. The noble Earl who so acceptably leads this House spoke of this partnership at a meeting in Edinburgh on Friday night. On reading the report of his speech, my reflection was that partnership was a two way traffic, and I doubted whether the Europeans in South or Central Africa were yet ready to give up their privileged position and to co-operate on more equal terms with their coloured fellowmen.
I have been content largely to allow others to speak for me in my remarks. May I say, in conclusion, that I view the clash of opinion on this matter as arising mainly from fear—the fear of the white minority that they may be overwhelmed by the black majority, who, in turn, feel that the power wielded by the whites will keep them permanently in political and industrial inferiority. Real partnership cannot come about until this fear gives way to faith. I pray that the spiritual nature of the present problem may clearly emerge and that the white attitude of assumed authority, which is not always justified by the facts, may be modified, and that the real partnership which we should all welcome may be achieved.
Arising out of the statement that has been made to-day, a question has occurred to me, and perhaps before I sit down I might ask the noble Earl who leads the House whether he would say, when he comes to reply, what will be the position of Dr. Banda when the Commission get to work. Dr. Banda is accused in the White Paper. Will he be charged with regard to his actions, or will he be one of the persons called to appear before the Commission of Inquiry? I should have liked to see a member of the Church and Nation Committee of the Church of Scotland as a member of the Commission. That is a wish I express. I feel that the interest of the Church of Scotland in these matters would have made it very desirable to have a knowledgeable member of the Church and Nation Committee sitting on that Commission.
§ 8.7 p.m.
My Lords, I hope to be very short. I have no information and I would not ask Her Majesty's Government to give me any information they may have as to whether or not the international Communist conspiracy has been involved in any way in the troubles we are discussing; but the Soviet are now showing very great interest in Africa and when one comes to see some of the writings of their major prophets one realises why. The noble Lord, Lord Mathers, has let us off a good deal of the proceedings of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and I will therefore let your Lordships off a great many of the quotations with which I am armed from Karl Marx, Lenin and Stalin.
The argument seems to run roughly like this. Marx said that under capitalism the workers must get poorer and poorer. When Lenin came to examine the position he discovered that the exact reverse was happening. Searching round for the reason, he came to the conclusion that it must be that the workers in the more forward countries were exploiting the workers in the more backward countries, and that these toiling masses in the backward countries could be added to the toiling proletariat of the world upon which revolutionary attempts should be made. They became a weak point in the capitalist world to be attacked and their freedom movements encouraged, though not for the sake of freedom—very far from it! The objectives were to embarrass the mother country and to help destroy the capitalist system in hopes of creating a free Government and, with the help of Left Wing elements in the country, obtaining control of that free Government, the Left Wing elements to be then discarded, the original backward territory ultimately being brought over to be a Soviet satellite.
This process was to be helped by the so-called "innocence societies", which consist of very respectable and reputable people put up as a "front", the policy being wagged by a crypto-Communist "tail". These societies can be particularly mobilised against a Government when, for instance, it suppresses a newspaper or arrests a leader. I sometimes think that the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, is a one-man innocence society at times—well, perhaps not quite so innocent.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, if the noble Lord cares to enlarge on that I shall be very interested. So far, it sounds rather obscure.
My Lords, the noble Viscount seems to have two sides: one a great love of country; another for sympathising with the enemies of this country, and one seems to take the other off.
My Lords, I have numerous times in this House heard the noble Viscount stand up for people who are either for rebellion against Her Majesty's Government or for attacking the institutions in one way or another.
Well, we know where we stand. The programme has been laid down by the three prophets of Communism, and the whole doctrine is a mountain of cynical hypocrisy in which backward peoples are to be used as pawns in the game to destroy Western civilisation and achieve world domination. It looks as if the events are following the theoretical programme. The penetration of Africa has started. We are already seeing moves to weaken Governments, to accentuate differences between Governments and their people. On October 4 the Soviet recognised Guinea.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he has any objection to Guinea being recognised?
It is a symptom of their interest in Africa. That is what I am bringing out—their interest in Africa. They have set up an African Department in the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and an African Commission, on the international front level, as part of the Soviet Committee for Afro-Asian Solidarity, under a gentleman called Professor Potekhin. Broadcasts have started. As yet, I understand, the broadcasts, have 293 not been stirring up revolt, but they are reminders of under-privilege.
Early in December the Afro-Asian Economic Conference was held in Cairo, but many of the delegates refused to talk politics and it was somewhat of a disappointment for its organisers. But later in the month an All-Africa Peoples' Conference met in Accra, with one Russian representative and various observers. Khrushchev sent a message speaking of the "righteous struggle against colonial oppression"; and I understand that the Soviet speaker told the conference that the Soviet was a true and mighty ally of the African peoples in their struggle against imperialist exploitation. This, my Lords, is the pattern of penetration, and I have suggested the motives.
In the circumstances in which the Governor of Nyasaland was placed, and in which the authorities in the Federation were placed, I believe that they acted with great wisdom and resolution, and they have my wholehearted support. But arising out of the events there I would ask Her Majesty's Government to be quite certain that the other colonial territories in Africa have adequate provision for police and counter-intelligence, because sometimes in the past money has been lacking for those very important organs. In this cold war that is going on, news and information are the bullets; and I beg Her Majesty's Government to do their utmost to release all the information they possibly can. Anybody who has worked in Intelligence knows perfectly well that one tends to get a mentality, a squirrel mentality. One collects information for the sake of having it in one's files. But at this particular juncture we know that information in files is no good. It is information that one can broadcast to the world to expose the truth about one's enemies which is the thing that counts; and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will see their way to release the maximum they can in those respects.
§ 8.16 p.m.
My Lords, I took in 1953, and I take now, a different view of this matter from that of most of the noble Lords who sit on these Benches, and not least, I may say, from that of the noble Lord who has just spoken. I am a retired teacher, on pension, from Ghana and Uganda, where I 294 taught Africans. I enjoyed it, but life was not always easy. I lived with my wife and my children in both those countries through times of riot. I was in Ghana (the Gold Coast as it then was) at the time when there was rioting and Nkrumah was convicted of sedition, and I had the humiliating task of driving my wife and her little daughter from a school whose badge was the black and white keys of the piano to a military camp where they might receive protection. In Uganda I was headmaster of a school at a time when the Kabaka of Buganda was a pupil. Rioting broke out in the school; staff were stoned and buildings were burnt; and I had the unpleasant task of deciding, on my own initiative, to call in armed police for the protection of persons and property. Your Lordships will therefore believe me when I say that I hold with law and order, and that I have great sympathy with my friend Sir Robert Armitage in the task that he has just had to face.
But through this experience I became also a friend of a class of person who has not, I think, received sufficient justice in this most interesting debate; that is, the educated African—the class from whom the agitators come, the ambitious men about whom the noble Earl, Lord Perth, is anxious; the people who, in the opinion of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, I fancy, endanger the common man for whom he is so anxious that we should stand. May I ask whose child the educated African is?
He is the child of the common man; and for people in this country to fancy that, once he gets education, he will use it simply for his own ambition, and will draw away from the illiterate parents from whom he has sprung, is to introduce into the conception of African society an idea, an outmoded idea, from ancient England, a country which in the past was riddled with snobbery and exploitation, but is not to-day. I wish to speak up for this educated African who is regarded with some fear, and I should like to say how important it is that people should realise the power of African opinion.
My Lords, there is not a division between the urban educated minority and the common man, the uneducated 295 majority. They are, as they have always been, one clan, most strongly united by firm community feelings. I know that there are exceptions to this. I could name among my own pupils rogues whose only intention was to work for themselves; but any of your Lordships who have been schoolmasters or pupils in our schools could do the same. Since I started to draw my pension, I have twice re-visited the countries in which I lived. I had the honour of going with His Highness the Kabaka of Uganda in the aeroplane which took him back to his country from his "irrevocable" exile; and, at the invitation of Dr. Nkrumah, I had the honour of going to see him present to Her Majesty's representative the speech that she would read from the Throne at the opening of the first Parliament of Ghana.
I have been impressed by the strength and power of African opinion. It was for that reason that, before I had the two interesting experiences that I have just mentioned, I opposed federation in Central Africa: not because I was opposed to federation in principle—far from it—but because I was opposed to the imposition of an undemocratic system of government upon an unwilling people. I have never regretted the line that I took. In taking it, I received the greatest courtesy from my noble friends on this side of the House—and not least, of course, from the then Leader of the House, the noble Marquess of Salisbury.
But I was told that I was quite wrong; that I was looking at things through Ghanaian spectacles; that I did not realise that Nyasaland was different from Ghana; that I did not understand, though I had lived in East as well as West Africa, and had been in that continent for twenty-six years, that Ghana was a single society and that the countries which it was proposed to federate were plural or multi-racial societies—something entirely different. I was told that one could not worry about African opinion; that, after all, the educated were in a minority and the majority were uneducated. Therefore, it was said, one could wipe out African opinion; and, in any case, what was perfectly clear was that as soon as federation had been introduced, and the fruits of it began to fall from the tree, then African opinion would at once swing round in favour of federation. My Lords, I have therefore 296 watched very carefully during the past six years to see whether that was going to happen. I have not found that it has done so.
I have been impressed by the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Perth. He has been to Nyasaland, and he has realised, and has told us frankly, that there is there a general fear of federation. It has puzzled him—puzzled him very much indeed. He was inclined to attribute it to the fact that a former Government advised the district commissioner a few years ago not to try to influence African opinion, either in favour of federation or against it. He imagines, I presume, that that was an entirely fantastic idea to Africans: they had never heard of a referee, and they could not understand that their father would not tell them what to do. I do not agree with him. I think that the Africans clearly understood that here was a question on which the district commissioner did not wish to persuade them: he wished them to make up their own minds. My Lords, their minds were already made up. They had been made up long before this instruction was issued from Whitehall—and when I say that, I say it in the full knowledge that I have never been to Central Africa.
But, my Lords, though I do not know Nyasaland, I do know Nyasas. I have had Nyasas as my pupils in East Africa. In 1953 I had the honour of accompanying Chief Mbelwa and four other Chiefs from Nyasaland to Edinburgh, to the great assembly hall of the Church of Scotland, to Glasgow, and to Dundee, where they were putting their views on federation; and they made it perfectly clear that they had always been dead against any kind of closer association with Southern Rhodesia. With them, and with me, went Dr. Hastings Banda. I find it difficult to the point of impossibility to believe that Dr. Hastings Banda can have conceived the dastardly plot that we are told of in the White Paper. I have myself heard Mr. Chiume speak on the allegation that he was connected with this plot. He may have been playacting. If so, he put on an emotional performance of a very fine order. My Lords, it may have been a performance. I do not know Mr. Chiume, and it is quite possible that he was deceiving me. I can only say that he seemed to me to be sincere. But, my Lords, while I 297 cannot vouch for the integrity of Mr. Chiume, though I have nothing against it, I can, and do, vouch for the integrity of Mr. Clutton-Brock, a man who has been working for partnership in practical ways: partnership in pushing the plough, and partnership in sitting together in a village community to discuss problems jointly. He has been working in institutions, I am quite convinced, which have had precisely the same objects as those in which I had the honour of working in Africa.
Now what have been the objects of those institutions? First, in a great many cases, to teach Christianity, with its very great emphasis on the value of every single human soul; secondly, to teach the ordinary subjects of a school curriculum in any country, including history, and including the history of Oliver Cromwell, John Hampden, and, yes, of George Washington. They are places where people have been taught that democracy is something worth living for and dying for. Some of my old pupils have risked their lives for the preservation of our democracy here: and Nyasaland, we know, has made its contribution to the defence of our democracy.
In these institutions, my Lords, we teach football; and wherever football is played there are teams, and the teams have captains, often selected by the players. Wherever there is a class in Africa, that class has a monitor, and wherever there is a boarding house it has a set of prefects. Why?—because teachers were determined to subvert the British Constitution? Because they were deliberately setting out to produce agitators? Because they wished to foster the ambitions of self-seeking men? No, not for those reasons, but because Thomas Arnold, Sanderson and others, have taught us that these were the best methods of education that they knew. That is the education that we have given in Africa.
And when I am told that Ghana is totally different from Nyasaland, that a multi-racial State is entirely different from a single society, may I point out that we British people, through our Government schools and mission schools, through the taxes that British subjects pay, through the gifts that British church people make to their missionary societies, have been teaching the same kind of education and 298 fostering in the breasts of the Nyasas, no less than the breasts of the Ghanaians, all their natural aspirations, the aspirations of ordinary human beings? They are also the aspirations of the descendants of people who have had a tragic history. For 400 years, both Nyasas and Ghanaians lived with little contact with people of the outside world, handicapped in innumerable ways, and during that period the rest of the world drew their slaves from that one continent. The world could not do that without leaving in the people of that continent a certain sensitivity, a sensitivity shown nowadays by a burning desire to display to the world what Africans can do and be, a sensitivity which makes them care far more for their status than for any material thing, which makes them acutely sensitive about the respect or lack of respect shown to them by others.
Do you realise that? Do you realise that an African whose spirit has been hurt is not going to have his happiness restored by any number of millions of pounds poured into the Treasury of his country and by the erection of any number of concrete buildings? The fallacy of federation is that it was introduced by British people who have no kind of doubt about their status in the world, no kind of fear of whether other people respect them and who can give their major attention to practical economic things. The African is not like that. He is more interested in his status.
President de Gaulle has shown brilliant recognition of this fact of psychology. He has offered complete independence—a public recognition of utterly free status—to all the French territories in Africa, accompanied by the notification that if his offer were accepted, French economic aid would cease. His offer has been accepted by only one country, a country which I am quite happy to recognise, although the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, may think it is a bad thing to recognise it—namely, Guinea.
My Lords, may I correct the noble Lord? I instanced it as an example of Soviet interest in Africa that they should be the first to recognise it.
It is a great pity that many other people do not follow the example of the Soviet and take a greater interest in Africa. If they did, 299 they would not be so absorbed by Russia. I should like to go on from exactly where I left off; the difficulty is that I cannot quite remember where I did leave off. President de Gaulle's offer has been declined by a dozen countries. Is it because they do not want independence? No; it is because, having been offered independence, their feelings are completely satisfied. Their honour is soothed and they are left free to think of practical problems. Knowing that they may have independence whenever they wish it, they have no kind of difficulty in saying. "Thanks very much. We do not want it now. There are a lot of things we still have to prepare and do before we are ready for it." It would not be a bad thing if this country took a leaf out of President de Gaulle's book.
"All very interesting", I hear some noble Lords say. "but not closely connected with Nyasaland". But I believe it is, because I think that with this background I can explain to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, why there is this deep feeling among the Nyasas about federation. They were told that as soon as the fruits of federation came they would be happy. I have not found that it is so. What happened a year after federation? The noble Viscount, Lord Malvern (and I wrote to tell him I was going to say this), said in the Federal Parliament:Let us, for the sake of federation, which was for economic advancement, not for the Preamble, which was forced upon us, have patience.I quote that from the Rhodesian Herald of July 31, 1954. Was that statement calculated to allay the fears of the Nyasas?
In 1955, a Defence Bill was introduced into the Federal Parliament which was going to bring non-Africans only into certain Defence Forces. The African Affairs Board took the view that this was a discriminatory measure, but they did not recommend that it should be reserved for Her Majesty's consideration. The view that it was a discriminatory measure was not put by an African agitator or by an ambitious young man determined to exploit his own people, but by an old fried of mine and of many of your Lordships—Dr. Alexander Scott. In 1957, a Constitution (Amendment) Bill was introduced into the Federal Parliament and a great many Nyasas feared that this was 300 not going to prove to be in their interests. The African Affairs Board took the same point of view and reserved this Bill for Her Majesty's pleasure. But the Government and Parliament of this country rejected the Board's conclusion. I am not now discussing whether or not they were right to do so; I am suggesting only that their attitude was not calculated to allay the fears of the Nyasas.
In 1958 a Federal Franchise Bill was introduced. The Nyasas did not like it; nor did the African Affairs Board. The African Affairs Board, under the leadership of Sir John Moffat—not an impatient, young, educated, urban African—regarded this as a discriminating Bill. So it came for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and Parliament. The Government and Parliament did not agree with the African Affairs Board's conclusions. I am not saying that they were wrong, but I am saying that their rejection of those conclusions was not calculated to make the Nyasas think that the African Affairs Board was going to be the sure safeguard of their interests which many speakers on these Benches said it would be when we debated these matters in 1952. The most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of York, in his brilliant speech, spoke—and, in my opinion, rightly so—of dark and deep levels of irrational fear. But are the things that I have mentioned things that can be explained only by going down to that level? Might not rational people think it a pity that the two Bills objected to as discriminatory by the African Affairs Board should both be approved?
What happened after that? The Secretary of State for the Colonies went out to Nyasaland, and he listened, with his usual charm, to all that was said to him. But the principal plank in his message (if messages have planks) was, "Federation has come to stay". We had been teaching these people that democracy was what one should live and die for. But when it comes to deciding on this matter, well, whatever the Nyasas may think, "Federation has come to stay". The next thing was that the noble Earl the Leader of the House went out there—and I will not bring any blushes to his cheeks by reminding him of what he said. But the noble Earl did not do any more than the Secretary of State for the Colonies 301 had done to allay the fears of the Nyasas or to give them any hope that in 1960 there would be a reversal of this imposition of an undemocratic system—totally unrelated to the situation and the facts of population, and so on—upon an unwilling people.
What happened after that? They saw the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia fall from power in that country. Why? Because he held with the kind of things that the Nyasas disliked? No. It was because he was considered by the electors of Southern Rhodesia, who are mostly Europeans, to be much too liberal in his attitude towards Africans. After that the Nyasas learned that the Reverend Andrew Doig, who had been one of the members specially appointed to represent their interests, had resigned from the Federal Government in protest against the way that African interests were being treated.
Meantime, as the noble Viscount. Lord Stansgate, has already said, the clock was going on; day after day, the calendar was having a page torn off it; 1960. when there was to be a Conference to review the Federal Constitution, was coming nearer and nearer. Who was to attend that Conference? The representatives of five Governments: the Government of this country; the Federal Government, and the three Territorial Governments. What guarantee have the Nyasas that when 1960 comes their point of view will be represented at that Conference? I do not think their fears that their point of view will not be represented are the fears on that "dark and deep irrational level." They seem to me to be the national reaction that one would expect from intelligent people who have interested themselves in political affairs. I would ask Her Majesty's Government to do something to assure the Nyasas that in 1960 they will not be let down, as they were in 1953.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
The noble Lord has been talking about various people like Sir John Moffat and Mr. Todd, and saying that he feels the people of Nyasaland can have no comfort from what has happened. Is he aware that at the present time Mr. Todd is head of his Party in Northern Rhodesia, and Sir John Moffat has just been elected as a member of the Legislative Council? I should have thought that those two things 302 might give the Nyasalanders considerable comfort.
Yes, I think so. But I do not think what the noble Earl has said in the least affects the truth of what I say, which is that Mr. Todd fell from the position of Prime Minister because, in the view of the people who elected him, his attitude towards African advancement was too liberal.
I should have preferred a Parliamentary Commission to be appointed, because I should have thought that would provide the best possibility of the formation of a bipartisan policy. In my view, colonial affairs will not be properly treated until there is a bipartisan policy. I see no reason why there should not be. When the husband of the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, went to Kenya as head of a Parliamentary Committee formed of representatives of all Parties, at a time when there were many controversies in Kenya, the members of his Committee found themselves, by and large, in agreement with one another. When, in another place, Mr. Aneurin Bevan made a mistake as to which Government was in power at the time that my old pupil, Dr. Nkrumah, was imprisoned for sedition, he too was showing, unintentionally, that there is no essential difference between noble Lords on that side and noble Lords on this side of the House over colonial matters. I hope that before 1960 there will be a Parliamentary Commission going out as well as the Commission about which we have heard to-day.
I have only one thing more to say, and that is with regard to the terms of reference of the Commission that has been appointed. I remember that great comfort was given in the Gold Coast by the appointment of the Watson Commission in 1948 to inquire into the causes of the disturbances there. Unfortunately, I do not remember what were their terms of reference, but, as your Lordships are aware, the Commission found among the causes of dissatisfaction a great desire for further political advancement. Their Report was severely criticised by some noble Lords on this side of the House because it was said that they had gone beyond the terms of reference. I hope it will be clearly understood that the Commission which has just been appointed may deal with political matters 303 as conducted through the normal channels of politics, and not only through riots, for what we want to know is the truth, and the whole truth.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, as I am, in a manner of speaking, the fourth Rhodesian to take part in this debate, I must open my speech by making some reference to the other three preceding me. First of all, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Robins, on his maiden speech, and for the special reason that I have lived in Southern Rhodesia. I am well aware of the tremendous services the noble Lord has performed for both Northern and Southern Rhodesia, not only in the fields of industry and commerce but in almost everything that has ever taken place in these two countries, in philanthropic and voluntary organisations, in the Services, and in the organisation and creation of what I think was the finest exhibition I have ever seen anywhere in the world, not excluding those in Europe and America: I refer to the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition, 1957, in Bulawayo. We should all be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Robins, for what he has done in those countries, and his words to-day are worthy of great attention and great respect.
Now may I turn to the speech of the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, who, as he said, has farmed for twenty-eight years in Southern Rhodesia and, I feel, brought into your Lordships' House a most welcome breath of fresh Rhodesian air and perhaps a new understanding of what it means to live in that country and to farm, and the conditions in which the Europeans live cheek by jowl with the Africans. I do not agree with the politics of the Dominion Party which he represents now as a member of the Federal Assembly, but I am sure I am right in saying that your Lordships were pleased to hear the most interesting and, perhaps, constructive views that he put forward; and his visit especially to do that has been well worth while.
Finally, may I turn to the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern. I think that noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite were somewhat disappointed, and, in fact, as I regarded their gloomy expressions when the noble Viscount was in full sail, I could not help 304 reflecting on the difference of atmosphere in your Lordships' House and the Colonial breezes which have blown through my bones for a period of six or seven years, which perhaps enabled me to interpret the remarks of the noble Viscount somewhat better than noble Lords opposite. I must say one thing in this respect, because the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, besides quoting some remarks of the noble Viscount as being not too reassuring for the people of Nyasaland, also quoted some remarks he had made, I think, on his arrival in this country, which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, considered of a particularly provocative nature. The noble Viscount did not perhaps give the entire answer as to why he did that or as to why it was possible, and while not wishing to be unduly controversial I think I must remind noble Lords opposite that all the time I was living in Southern Rhodesia, from before the federation and for several years afterwards, the impression conveyed by the Socialist Party to the people out there who were trying to construct the Federation to the best of their ability was that the Socialist Party, by continued questioning, cross-examination and criticism—often, it seemed to them, of a wholly unjustified nature—made them very resentful indeed. It is only because of that that the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, was able to make the sort of speech he did this afternoon.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, since the noble Lord thinks it right to act as an apologist for the noble Viscount, I should like to ask him whether he really thinks that any action on the part of the Socialist Party justified the statement that we wished that there were a number of European deaths.
§ LORD HASTINGS
The noble Viscount himself said that it was an impression they got out there. It may be somewhat of an exaggeration. If the noble Lord wishes me to cite examples of what I may call annoyances and unjustified criticisms I could do so, but I would rather not waste the time of the House in that degree.
We have heard from Rhodesia the speech of a non-politican, of a member of the Dominion Party, and a member of the Federal Party. Therefore I think it may be of some interest to your Lordships, and in particular to the noble Lord, 305 Lord Hemingford, who has just spoken, to know that when I was in Southern Rhodesia I was a branch chairman of the United Rhodesian Party under the leadership of Mr. Garfield Todd. In that respect I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, that his information as to the reasons for the crisis which removed Mr. Garfield Todd (most unfortunately) from the leadership of the Southern Rhodesian Government are not entirely correct. I say that with some knowledge of what I speak.
I do not wish to follow in a wide general discussion of the principles of federation such as the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, gave, or on the question of racial policies. I feel that we shall have other opportunities when we discuss the proposed new Constitution for Nyasaland and, later on, in a year to eighteen months' time, the revision of the Constitution. I want to turn my attention to one or two matters of detail which are perhaps rather more closely related to the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. In order to do so I will refer again to a quotation, or rather a reference, I made to a speech of Sir John Moffat in the Adjournment debate in this House some three weeks ago, when I said that Sir John had expressed the opinion that at least 90 per cent. of the African population were willing to co-operate with the Europeans. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked me whether that was only in relation to Northern Rhodesia so long as they remained under the protecting power of the Colonial Office. As this quotation has direct bearing on the debate to-day, quite apart from that important point, with your Lordships' permission I intend to read some of it out.
Sir John Moffat, speaking in the Federal Assembly on July 1, 1958, in a debate entitled "Co-operation between Peoples of the Federation" said:In the rural areas in Northern Rhodesia where I live, the African population, the vast majority at any rate, desire only to be left in peace under a Government which they respect and to be treated like men and to suffer no manifest injustice. In the urban areas, the situation is less tranquil because the urban Africans are showing marked resentment at what they consider discriminatory practices.Lower down he goes on to add, talking of the problem of fear:Now, this fear for the future is due to a ariety of causes, but, of course, the main one L, that African nationalistic leaders tend to 306 play upon it for their own purposes. These Nationalistic African groups have power far in excess of their numbers. Why? Because their members are banded together for a common purpose and because it is apparently characteristic of the African peoples at their present stage of development that they are prepared to act with boldness as individuals only when they have behind them the consciousness of belonging to a tightly-knit group.The African individual who is prepared to act wholly as an individual without this group backing is at present rare indeed. It is my conviction that the moderate Africans who desire to co-operate with us number 99 in every 100, but for the reason I have given the prospect of getting these people to come forward as individuals and join us when they are given adequate motive to do so is not bright. If we are to win African support it has to he won in the mass, in the group, and not by individual allegiance.I quoted the whole because out of it arise two important matters. One, which has puzzled many people in this country, and not only the Party of noble Lords opposite, is the question of how representative the African National Congress is of the mass of the people in Central Africa? And the second is the matter of intimidation. With regard to the first, it is quite clear that the African is not yet able to stand as an individual, on his own feet. for lack of education and tradition to do so. Therefore, he is fairly easy game to demagogues. But there are Africans who have overcome these initial handicaps, and I am, for a moment, going to refer to them because they have, I think, been rather overlooked in this debate. I shall refer only to two particular cases to illustrate my remarks, both of them in Nyasaland since that is the country with which we are dealing.
Here, of course, I must refute, and my argument will refute, the inference of the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford that all educated Africans are agitators and that the people who live in Rhodesia are stupid enough to believe that all educated Africans are agitators. Neither premise is true. Let us take the case of Mr. Matinga, now a Federal Member of Parliament for Nyasaland, elected without opposition, in the way the noble Duke explained. That is not his fault. Mr. Matinga was originally one of the initiators of the Congress of Nyasaland but left it eventually because he disagreed with the trend it was taking. Then he had the courage to form the African Progressive Association and went also to the now famous Conference at Salima on the shores of Lake 307 Nyasa in 1956 (which, in parenthesis I may say, I was the only member of either House of Parliament to attend.) That was a time when the Congress leaders were afraid of the Capricorn Africa Society because of the success it might have had leading to the ruination of their plans.
Mr. Matinga has always stood on his convictions and never bowed to any threats or intimidation, and now he is convinced of the necessity of co-operation with Europeans. Mr. Wellington Chirwa is an even better example, because up to a few months ago he was the great spokesman of the Nyasaland African Congress in the Federal Assembly, but was not re-elected. The verbal rows he had with the Prime Minister, Sir Roy Welensky, are part of history. I need not go into that, but the fact is now that since the arrival of Dr. Banda he has also isolated himself from the extreme element of the National Congress and is to be considered a moderate. But he is another man who has had the courage and the strength of conviction to stand on his own feet, and to go his own way and support the principles of federation and of co-operation in the long run. We must make it clear to-day, my Lords, that we are nat going to be fooled by having this sort of African vilified and smeared with the name of stooge. They are nothing of the sort. I hope I shall never hear that term applied to them in this House; and I hope, too, it will never be applied to them in another place.
§ LORD HASTINGS
I think it is up to us to give every encouragement and support to these educated non-agitating Africans, who deserve the place which they have so hardly won.
Now may I return to the question of intimidation? I do not intend to enlarge very much on that. I think it was dealt with admirably by the noble Duke when he gave some little, homely examples of what it can mean on the farm. I myself have seen a farm worker who nearly died because another put a curse upon him. Fortunately the culprit was a mere amateur in the trade and it was sufficient to remove him from the farm for the victim to recover, but when that sort of thing is exploited on a mass scale and on a national basis it can and does become very dangerous.
308 Here I might just read out a section of the broadcast made by the Governor of Northern Rhodesia, Sir Arthur Benson, when he declared—not a state of emergency, but ordered the arrest of Zambia Congress leaders. I do this because a certain amount of scorn has been poured upon it by the Liberal and Labour Press. He said:Twice in the last fortnight Government statements have warned everybody in the country that any interference whatsoever with the rights of voters will not be tolerated. In spite of this, certain leaders of the Zambia Organisation have deliberately continued their plan by spreading uncertainty and fear, to prevent registered African voters from exercising their newly-won right. This they have done openly, in public; but worse—far worse—is what they have done privately in the villages and in the towns at night. There they have instituted a reign of terror. They have placed men in fear of their lives; have threatened death and mutilation to their wives and children; they have invoked witchcraft and other unmentionable cursings in order to deter their fellow Africans from voting".My Lords, that is not a joking matter matter and it is impossible to dismiss it by uncomplimentary reference in the Press.
The argument I am trying to build up, if I may interpolate in mid-stream so to speak, is the very serious nature of the insinuations that have been cast upon the honesty and integrity, and particularly upon the truthfulness, of the Governments of the four territories—not only, as in this case, upon the Government of the Federation and of Southern Rhodesia, but on those of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. There seems from the start to have been a great lack of willingness on the part of the Socialist Party to believe what they hear: a lack of willingness to believe the Governments and the civil servants of these territories. Very little has been said about that here and I feel it is about time it was said.
Therefore, it is no surprise to me to know that Sir Edgar Whitehead, Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, has received many congratulations on the action he took in such a timely manner. One letter was from the headmaster of an African school in the Que Que area. It said:I am filled with zeal, courage and determination to add myself to the growing number of people, particularly Africans, who are congratulating you on the bold step you took to ban the A.N.C. which had become a curse among us all.309 There was another message from a group of African women at Harari, the African township on the outskirts of Salisbury, thanking the Government for its prompt and courageous action. Then a European in daily contact with Africans said:Those Africans to whom I have spoken are immensely relieved to know there is not going to be any trouble here.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
If I may interrupt the noble Lord, would he agree that Dr. Hastings Banda and his colleagues have not yet had an opportunity to deliver their side of the story?
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, that is rather anticipating my argument later on, and, if the noble Lord will permit me, I would rather continue with the argument as I have developed it.
There is one more quotation worth mentioning, especially in view of the remarks of the most reverend Primate and the great store which, quite naturally and rightly, he sets upon the evidence of missionaries. This is a letter from a Methodist from Southern Rhodesia who says:Some of us who arc missionaries have personal evidence of the use of threat, intimidation and violence by some of these leaders in the hope that they might force ordinary law-abiding Africans to follow their lead at whatever the cost.Later he says:We can assure folk in Britain that the average African in this territory has breathed a sigh of relief that he can no longer be intimidated and threatened.In the development of my main theme, which is the essential importance of supporting the Governments and the civil servants, and giving them some credit for competence and truthfulness, I want to dispose of two large red herrings which have been trailed across the path and which, I think, have tended to confuse and bewilder not only noble Lords in this House but the population of this country of all political Parties.
The third case I will come to, also in that context, which deals purely with Nyasaland, is the question of the Church of Scotland missions in that country. The two things I want to dispose of are the case which has been mentioned already of Mr. Clutton-Brock, and a rather brief reference to the case of Mr. Stonehouse, which has been mentioned, I think, by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate. I am not going to impugn the 310 character or the work of Mr. Clutton-Brock; I have no intention of doing any such thing. But I think it is necessary to try to get this matter in perspective, and I will refer your Lordships to a letter of his own, recently made public by the Africa Bureau, in which he says:In Southern Rhodesia some of us may have been foolish and wrong".Your Lordships may have read a very brief letter by Sir Archibald James to The Times, in which he reminded us that Mr. Clutton-Brock had spread political propaganda outside the area of the mission. If one is a missionary, one has an added responsibility to do or say nothing which can possibly exacerbate racial relations.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, the noble Lord referred to my reference. Does he consider that the facts he brings to our notice justify the internment of Mr. Clutton-Brock?
§ LORD HASTINGS
I am merely making the argument that Mr. CluttonBrock got himself involved in the African National Congress and, in his own words, may have been foolish and wrong; and therefore the Southern Rhodesian Government, in the emergency, probably had no alternative but to include him with the Africans who were being held at that time.
That is not the only point I wish to bring to your Lordships' attention, because at the time of the Federal Constitution Amendment Bill I had a little correspondence in the columns of the Observer with Mr. Clutton-Brock. He wrote at that time criticising the Natives (Registration and Identification) Act, 1957, of Southern Rhodesia. He presented that Bill as a consolidation of the segregation laws, as though it were new legislation, building upon that a strong attack on the Federal Constitution Amendment Bill. In point of fact, of course, it was a re-enactment of old legislation, and two new clauses were put in for abolishing passes altogether in the rural areas (a point overlooked by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, when he mentioned this subject) and for creating the identity cards in the urban area for people of a certain category who could qualify.
At the same time in that debate it was stated that the Government wished to abolish passes in all urban areas and to 311 discuss the matter with the municipalities who were in control of the townships. That point was completely overlooked by Mr. Clutton-Brock. I was not able to take the view that he did not know what was in that Bill, and I was obliged to take the view, to put it mildly, that his attitude in that case was at least intellectually dishonest. I mention that only to put the matter into perspective, so that it may not be said that the Southern Rhodesian Government had no justification whatever for having certain suspicions about this otherwise admirable missionary doing such good work.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I am still waiting to hear some reason why a man who enjoys partial British citizenship should be deprived of his liberty for many weeks. I know that his views may be very wrong or mistaken, but I have not heard any justification for putting the man in gaol.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, I do not think I will go into that, because, after all, I am not representing the Southern Rhodesian Government. I am just painting a picture which is perhaps slightly different from the general impression that has been held about the matter in this country.
For a very brief reference, and again for the same purpose of putting this matter of truthfulness into its proper perspective, I am going to refer to one matter in connection with Mr. Stonehouse. I do this purely because I feel that the Federal immigration officers have not been given the credit which is due to them and have been shown up in a light which they do not deserve. I always thought it was strange that Mr. Stonehouse chose to fly to Blantyre to get to Salisbury, knowing that there was a plane direct from Lusaka to Salisbury, which it would have been more convenient to take.
I made some inquiries in this matter, and I have it quite officially that a seat had been booked on the plane leaving Salisbury at 14.25 on March 3, reaching London at 12.35 p.m. on March 4, in ample time to permit his attendance at the House of Commons. Later on, I was given the information that to get him to Salisbury he was offered two methods. He could have taken the 8.20 a.m. Central 312 African Airways plane, in which case he would have had to remain in Salisbury about three hours to get his connection. This he flatly refused. Secondly, the Northern Rhodesian Government offered to fly him to Salisbury in a Government light plane which would have got him to Salisbury between 1 and 1.30 p.m., in time for the connection. This offer also was flatly refused. I bring this up because it was stated that the Federal authorities gave no alternative chance or arrangement at all, and I do not think it fair that that statement should go unrefuted when there is clear evidence to the contrary.
Now I come to the final leg of this argument, and that is in connection with Mr. MacAdam, of the Church of Scotland Mission in Blantyre—and I may say that I do not know Mr. MacAdam. Here I shall be very careful what I say. On the other hand, of course, missionaries should also be careful what they say and do. I got the impression that in the first days of the emergency Mr. MacAdam was acting as a sort of journalist or reporter, giving accounts of events not all of which were in Blantyre. Whether he was there himself or was accepting information at secondhand, without checking it, I do not know. and no doubt the judicial Inquiry will go into these matters. But I bring this up because the criticism of Her Majesty's Government and of the Nyasaland Government was largely based at that time on the account that Mr. MacAdam gave of an incident at the Church Mission school at Blantyre.
I have here a letter which Mr. MacAdam has written to the British Weekly, published on March 5, in which he says:A prominent elder told me last night 'It was only when the Synod publicly challenged Federation, that the men of Nyasaland began to come back again to worship regularly since the 1953 drift'".Are we to assume that the Church of Scotland missions are encouraging a political organisation in order to get members for their church? I should not like to make an accusation, but it seems a rather strange letter. I prefer the attitude of Canon Chipunza, an African, who is the senior priest at the St. Michael Anglican Parish in the township of Harari, when he was threatened by Mr. Nyandoro, who was Secretary General of the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress—I said three weeks 313 ago that he was President. I am sorry; he is the Secretary General. Mr. Nyandoro threatened:We shall organise a purely African church under the banner of the African National Congress, and this church will see to it that it draws away all Africans from the existing churches".Canon Chipunza replied that any church formed on a political basis such as the A.N.C. proposed, would not be a church of God; and I hope that the Church of Scotland Mission takes the same attitude in that respect. At the end of Mr. MacAdam's letter he said:Anyone, black or white, who opposes Federation will be crushed by the Army and police".I really do not think there is a noble Lord siting opposite who would consider that that was either a responsible or a fair statement, and certainly not one which should be made by a gentleman wearing the cloth.
Coming finally to the White Paper, my Lords, I should have thought, from what had been said in your Lordships' House to-day, that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence not only in this White Paper but from the knowledge that people have of the African environment and the whole question of intimidation and how it operates, to show that the declaration of a state of emergency was fully justified. I am not concerned to argue whether there was going to be a massacre plot: I do not think that is absolutely essential to the declaration of an emergency. In view of the lesson of Kenya, I cannot see that the Governor of Nyasaland was doing anything but his most necessary duty in declaring that state of emergency, and, in the estimation of many people, including missionaries, saving human lives as the result.
My Lords, I am not going to quote more evidence about these matters which I have here, but in regard to the question of appointing a Parliamentary Commission I would just quote an extract from the Central African Examiner, which, as noble Lords opposite know well, is often approved by their Party and is by far the most liberal paper in the Federation—comparable, I suppose, to the Economist or Spectator in this country (I do not mean in its shape and visage), though perhaps not to the New Statesman and Nation or Tribune. But that paper says:If the House of Commons decides to send a Parliamentary Commission to Nyasaland, the 314 Protectorate for which the British Government is still in part responsible, nothing can prevent it from doing so. But if, as it surely must, Westminster wants to avoid inflaming Central African feelings among all races at a particularly critical juncture, it will not insist on such a Commission being sent out.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, I should like to commence on two personal notes. First of all, I should like to congratulate my noble relative by marriage —I think that is the correct way to describe one's wife's first cousin—on the most interesting speech which he has just delivered, speaking with a great knowledge of the countries which are under your Lordships' consideration to-night. The other thing that I should like to do, although it has become almost old-fashioned in your Lordships' House, as it has in another place, is to ask your Lordships' permission to allow me to leave soon after I have delivered my speech, as I have to catch a train. When I first entered another place it was considered right that any Member who made a speech should remain to listen to at least three other speeches. That seems to have been given up in another place and in your Lordships' House as well. In fact, some of your Lordships make a speech and immediately burry out and are never seen again in that particular debate.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, may I interrupt my noble friend for one moment? He has brought to mind by what he has said the fact that I have not yet had any dinner, and I should be obliged if he would excuse me.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, I can assure my noble friend that nothing could possibly worry me more than that I should be the means of depriving him of his dinner.
I propose to ask one or two questions of noble Lords opposite. But before doing so I should like to say that one point has come out in the debate which has never been answered by any member of the Labour Party who has spoken—neither by Lord Silkin nor by Lord Lucan. I greatly hope that the Leader of the Opposition, in his summing-up speech, will have something to say about it. It was a point made by my noble friend Lord Malvern, and others, that if anyone can be described as being 315 responsible for the fears of the Nyasalanders in the early days of the Federation it was the Socialist Government. That is abundantly clear. Yet we have never heard a word about that in all the controversy that has gone on in another place and in the Press. I hope that tonight we shall have some explanation. I want to ask one or two questions of noble Lords opposite, and I am sure my noble friends on this side of the House are as anxious as I am to know the answers.
First of all, I want to ask them: Do they or do they not accept the statement in the White Paper that there was this plot? If I may use the word without offence, their attitude on this question this afternoon has been rather equivocal, and I believe that most of us on this side of the House are still in doubt as to whether or not they accept the truth of the White Paper. If they do not, may I point out to them, I hope very courteously, that this is an extraordinary attitude for a responsible Opposition to take up. Because if they do not accept it, they say, in effect, that not only Her Majesty's Government but especially the Colonial Secretary, the noble Earl the Leader of this House, in his capacity as Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and the Governor of Nyasaland have all been hoodwinked or are not truthful people. Do they accept it or not? I hope we shall have an answer from the noble Viscount their Leader in this House. It is very necessary that we should know.
Assuming that noble Lords opposite say they are not satisfied, while it is very difficult to say whether or not the facts are facts—and the informers may have misled the local Government and Her Majesty's Government—even if there is no conclusive evidence, would they agree with me that, if the circumstantial evidence was such that in the opinion of the appropriate authorities on the spot there was evidence of the possibility of a plot, it was the duty of the Governor of Nyasaland, after consulting Her Majesty's Government, to declare a state of emergency? If they do not I should like to ask this question—
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, may I save the noble Lord from asking further questions? I actually said so. Had the noble 316 Lord paid me the honour of listening to me he would have heard that I actually said that on the information he had the Governor was right to declare a state of emergency. If the noble Earl will read my speech to-morrow morning he will also find the answers to all the questions he is putting.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble Lord. This is not the first time there has been a difference of opinion between noble Lords opposite and their colleagues in another place; because the whole argument we have had until now in another place is that there was no evidence of a plot. I wish to pursue the matter a little further, even though the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has answered my question. I am sure that anyone who has had experience of Africa (and I myself, many years ago, owned land in Africa, and have visited a good many African territories), like my noble friends Lord Malvern, Lord Hastings and the Duke of Montrose, and anybody else who has lived in Africa, and especially those who know what went on in Kenya, would realise the enormous danger of not dealing at once with a plot even if the evidence on it is not conclusive.
I am shocked at the attitude of certain people in this country, including Members of another place, and members of the Labour Party and their Press, in their failure to express any sympathy in the tremendous strain on European inhabitants of Nyasaland. Do they realise what these people have been through? Do they realise that many of them know the hideous atrocities committed by the Mau Mau in Kenya? I heard the other day of someone who owned five or six racehorses in Kenya during the Mau Mau trouble. It was winter and the horses had rugs on. The Mau Mau came and poured petrol on those horses and set fire to them. That is the kind of atrocity that is committed when an African is under the influence of a witch-doctor and his atavistic trend towards witchcraft comes out.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl, who has so kindly given way, whether he thinks Mau Mau is any more relevant to Nyasaland than Belsen is to Britain?
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, most certainly it is. The noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, could not have read the information put out by the Nyasaland Government, before the White Paper was published, in which they said that a number of these men who were engaged in the conspiracy were being subjected to the same kind of filthy and obscene rites as had occurred in Kenya. That is the relevance; and I will ask the noble Lord a question. Has he ever heard of witchcraft in Africa while he was there?
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, if the noble Lord has heard of witchcraft there, he should know of its horrible nature when it comes out; and there was real danger. It is all very well for noble Lords opposite to laugh, but they would not laugh if they were residents in Nyasaland. They would not laugh if they had women and children in an isolated place. They would not have laughed had they been in Kenya at the time of the Mau Mau explosion. There is nothing funny about the kind of situation that can arise; and in saying that I am not attacking Africans as such. I have several African friends. I agree with everything that has been said on both sides of the House to the effect that the best type of African, to whatever tribe or country he belongs, is a most delightful person. I am no reactionary on this subject, but when discussing these matters it is necessary that we should realise the intense danger of the situation with which the Government were faced in Nyasaland. And far from attacking the Governor for what he did, and Her Majesty's Government, I should have hoped that every noble Lord opposite would have said that they had done the right thing.
We have had a long debate and I do not want to keep your Lordships long, but I want, in conclusion, to deal with two points. My first, I am afraid, is a very direct question. It might be described as an attack upon noble Lords opposite. What good do they think their Party are doing by carrying on what the right honourable gentleman the Colonial Secretary described as "a vendetta" against Sir Roy Welensky? What good do they think they are doing by the appearance—and I hope it is only an appearance—of being anti-European? How do they visualise the future? 318 Assuming that they are in office when the present Constitution comes under review, and that steps have to be taken either to continue it or to put something else in its place, how do they think their position will be helped by the kind of attacks which, to their disgrace, the Socialist Party, including some of their Members in another place, and their newspapers, are making upon Sir Roy Welensky, Her Majesty's Government and indeed, all Europeans in Rhodesia? There was a statement—
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, the noble Earl did ask a question. May I, in turn, ask him whether he would consider it anti-European or pro-British to protest against the fact that hundreds of people have been arrested, have not been charged, are not faced with a trial but (it is said) are to continue to be kept in prison? I regard that as anti-British, and if it is wrong to protest against that I hope that we shall still continue to protest against it.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, certainly the noble Lord is entitled to protest, but I would ask him a question: does he think it proper that the principal newspaper of the Socialist Party should refer to Sir Roy Welensky as "a ruffianly Prime Minister"?
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I do not think that that kind of language helps anybody where it is applied to a responsible Minister, but I still feel that the justification for these criticisms lies in the fact that the Preventive Detention Bill has been dropped—as I hope the other Bill will be likewise dropped.
§ EARL WINTERTON
I agree with the noble Lord to this extent: everybody is entitled in this House or in another place to say he does not like the attitude which the Government have taken. But it has gone much further than that, and I think my honourable friend in another place, the Colonial Secretary, is quite right in describing it as a "vendetta".
But I would return to my original point. What good do the Socialist Party, and Members of another place in particular, think they are going to do by this? I do not want to get on to the 319 subject which has been touched on once or twice to-night, except in a very mild degree, about the future of the Federation. But I think noble Lords opposite, and especially their colleagues in another place, should be reminded of this fact: that very soon, owing to the large immigration of Europeans into Southern Rhodesia—I believe pro rata it is greater than that of any of the Dominions—there will soon be a quarter of a million Europeans in Southern and Northern Rhodesia. Supposing (the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, referred to this in a parenthesis) there were a head-on collision between the Socialist Party, in office, and these people, and they said, "We do not accept what you want us to do; we refuse to accept it", what are the Socialist Party going to do? I am one of the few Members of your Lordships' House who was in another place when the Ulster question was under review—
§ EARL WINTERTON
—and we were told very much the same thing as we are being told about the Rhodesians: "Why should we listen to this small minority that has got a tradition of trying to tyrannise over the majority, who are of a different race and a different religion?" And when we said, "You had better listen to them or you will be faced with the most serious situation we have had in this country since the Civil War" we were laughed at. They did not laugh so much in the later days after what happened at the Curragh, after the creation of Ulster volunteers. It would be deplorable if a similar situation should arise; but if there is no sense of responsibility on the part of the leaders of the Socialist Party, if they continue to give the impression that they wholly mistrust the two Rhodesias and they do not like them, anything might happen. I only wanted to say this in conclusion.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, am I to understand that the noble Earl justifies the Curragh mutiny?
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, what I do justify is the attitude the whole Conservative Party took in opposing the Home Rule Bill, which was going to put Ulster in a position which no one in Ulster could possibly allow.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, the noble Earl and I were in the House of Commons at the time. Is he now resurrecting the idea, "Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right"?
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, Ulster was prepared to fight and Ulster managed to get its own way, a thing which might be noticed by noble Lords opposite. But I do not want to pursue that subject. I only want to say that I think most people outside this House, as well as a good many in it, would agree with me that you are playing with fire if you antagonise people who are loyal to this country and who are trying to work, under great difficulties, a multiracial system; and you will only drive them, or are in danger of driving them, into more extreme courses.
I am sorry to come to a personal matter connected with the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate. He took up the most extraordinary attitude in the course of his interruptions of the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern. He said it was quite wrong to criticise another place. That is a most astonishing attitude to take up. If he were right it would be interfering with the privilege of this House.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, the noble Earl is an old Member of this House and we are both very old Parliamentarians. I asked the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, to permit me to put to the House, which is the judge, a point of order; and my point of order was this: it was out of order—
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I really must not allow the noble Viscount to describe what his point of order would have been, because there was not one. There is no point of order. If a noble Lord does not choose to give way to another noble Lord in the course of a speech, nothing can compel him to do so; and the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, did not want to give way. There was no point of order then and the noble Viscount cannot make it one now.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, as we are working under the gag, may I ask the noble Earl the Leader of the House whether it is in order—this is a general question and I will leave the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, out of it—for a noble Lord in this House to indulge in personal abuse of an honour- 321 able Member or a Minister in the other House? That is the point. The noble Earl can answer that generally. If he does not want to bring in the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, I do not mind.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I did not hear any such thing. But whatever the point of order may be, there are no rules of order here and we rely upon each other to maintain the practices which have been observed for many, many years in this House. But the noble Viscount was on the very limited question when he appealed to me, or, rather, when I had to intervene, of whether or not he could interrupt a noble Lord who did not want to give way; and that he cannot do.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, I would appear to throw a little water on the fire by observing that we are perfectly entitled in this House to criticise another place and individual Members. They criticise us, they have done so very often, and we are perfectly entitled to criticise them. I raise the matter because the noble Viscount, with whom I have the greatest personal friendship, was trying to take away one of our privileges, which is the right of saying, if we feel that way, that we differ from the attitude taken by another place.
Having made the rather desultory observation I have made, I should like to end on this note. We have had a very interesting debate, one of the best I have heard, on a very difficult subject. It would be wrong to assume that there is not a considerable amount of difference of opinion between both sides of the House. It is unfortunate that it should be so, but that difference of opinion has existed indeed ever since the early days of federation when the Bill was passing through. I would end on this note. It would be extremely unfortunate if that difference of opinion gave the impression to the people of Rhodesia that they were going to be made the battledore and shuttlecock (or whatever it is called) of British politics; and I would, with the greatest respect, say that the one thing that is most desirable in this question is that there should be some form at some time or other of agreement between British political Parties on the whole future of this most interesting experiment of the Central African Federation.
322 I believe—to come back to the immediate subject of the debate—that that situation will be advanced and helped by the appointment of the Commission or the judicial Inquiry (or whatever it is called) which has been announced by Her Majesty's Government to-day. I am extremely glad that the Government are not going to send out a Parliamentary Commission. I think it would have been a very great mistake, because there would undoubtedly have been a difference of opinion. Very eminent men are going to be sent to Nyasaland. It may well act as a guide, as a torch, towards some eventual understanding between the political Parties in this country, which will make the consultations with the local Governments much easier than they would be to-day.
§ 9.49 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, at this late hour I do not propose to detain the House for very long, but before I say the few things I should like to say I feel that I cannot pass by many of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, without entering a note of dissent. Nobody enjoyed the speech that he made more than I did, and I envy his being able to live in such a dreamland of fancy. He asks us to believe that the ordinary African lives on that high level and does not care, unfortunately, about economics, or anything like that; that all that he cares for is liberty and the beautiful thought of being free; but that when one offers it to him he will say, "No, thank you; what about the money side of it?" I hope I am not being unfair, but that was my interpretation of what he meant when he was telling us about De Gaulle, and how the French Colonies which were offered freedom were so pleased at the thought of being offered this freedom that they said they were not yet ready for it and would like to go into the economic side of it.
It never seems to occur to any critics of. in this case, Central Africa, or anywhere else—not even to the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, though he mentioned various Colonies and other places—to give an instance such as Nigeria, which will obtain its freedom in perfect peace and amity next year, and over which there has been no bloodshed or dispute. That, of course, is not worth mentioning: 323 it is only worth mentioning cases where one can criticise. I felt I had to say that, and I should like to remind the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, that I have a certain amount of experience of Africa myself, though not in the adolescent circles in which he moved. I have dealt with adult Africans for many years, and I know how rarely one comes across an African—and perhaps the educational system is responsible for it—who has the immediate qualities of administrative ability which is what they will need if this freedom is going to be of any use to them.
I also noticed that the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, slid over what is going to happen, or what would happen, if Nyasaland were to be given this precious gift of freedom. It has neither the men nor the money—nor anything at all—with which to function. It would be a life of acute and utter misery for the whole population, practically, with the one possible exception of Dr. Hastings Banda—who is the one intelligent and competent person they could produce, and who no doubt would get the dictatorship which we assume to be his end.
My Lords, there are many angles from which one can approach this debate, but. to begin with, I should like to emphasise the fact that democracy is not a native plant in Africa. It is extremely improbable that any of these States which are now getting freedom and independence will, after a few years, present anything resembling what we in this country call democracy. I do not say that they will be any the worse for it: I merely point out what I regard as a fact. There are many angles from which one can approach this subject. My own angle, as I have said, is that of a responsible administrator who has had to come down to earth, and who has dealt with many Africans of all kinds and classes, though they were adults doing a job of work.
As I view it, the struggle going on in Africa—and this point has been touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Robins—is not a clash of colour; it is a struggle between Western civilisation and semi-savage retrogression. That is the real struggle that is going on; and I am a little horrified at times to find the sort of Members. even of your Lordships' House, who appear to be ranging themselves firmly on the side of semi-savage retrogression.
§ LORD MILVERTON
The question of civilisation—and do not let us forget it —has many African supporters. There are quite a number of them, and they are increasing; but these numbers are obscured because the African is very liable to be intimidated by the noisy demagogue who talks of nationalism and democracy, which he regards only as the means to power and as the tools whereby he will attain power; and the first use he makes of that power—as we have had many examples in recent years—is to destroy the liberty of which he talked so much before he got it. In reality, the whole basis, as I see it, of our Colonial policy is at stake when we consider this question. Either we are right in holding that we have undertaken certain trusts in Africa or elsewhere, or we are wrong; and it cannot be right to give away to riot what we have previously denied to reason. There must be some principle somewhere on which all of us agree to stand; and surely all our principles are not to be traded away for the sake of illusory peace or appeasement, because it has never yet in the history of the world achieved the peace which we hope to buy at such an expensive price.
I want to begin, and very nearly to end, by expressing my deep sympathy with Sir Roy Welensky. I happen to know Sir Roy Welensky. I know that he is a man of liberal principles, and I know that he is honestly trying to fulfil an extremely difficult task; and if he succeeds, it will reflect not only great honour on himself and his fellow settlers in the Rhodesias, but also great honour and credit on this country. So naturally I deplore the venomous attacks and the misrepresentation to which he has been subject. To my mind, too, the Governor of Nyasaland deserves all the credit we can accord to him. He has faced this situation very firmly and, I think. rather wisely. Possibly, as the noble Marquess. Lord Salisbury. said, if one had to criticise at all. one might say that he had been too patient before he took action. But having had a little experience myself in dealing with difficult situations of this nature, though not so acute. I realise that there is indeed "a tide in the affairs of men", and that the only person qualified to judge the right moment is the man on the spot 325 who is responsible; and he is entitled to ail the support that we can give him.
My Lords, there is another thing that I should like to say. I do not want to sound too didactic, but this is the fruit of my experience, anyway. The average African does not think. He is in that stage of growth of being unable yet to grasp and formulate views on any such subject as federation. He has an infinite capacity for being misled. He thinks what his leaders tell him to think, and that is the danger; because the flamboyant demagogue, the aspirant for power, has the advantage of irresponsibility over the moderate men.
I am sorry to mention this point again, as it has been mentioned several times, but it is a most important point, as I see it. En the days when federation was first being discussed, under the auspices of the Labour Government of the day, the Secretary of State for the Colonies issued those unfortunate orders that the civil servants were to keep complete silence on the subject and were to give no advice at all. Nobody knows better than I do—though your Lordships must also know—the immense position of influence which the average district officer in the Colonial Service held, and still holds, in many places. If the person to whom the Africans would naturally go for advice says that he cannot advise them and that they must make up their own minds, that is equivalent to telling them that it is not a good thing. I am not offering any accusations, obviously, against the Secretary of State in question. I merely think that it was an unfortunate thing that he was ignorant of the effect of that, and apparently ignorant of what a district officer meant although he was Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time.
Viscourrr ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, the noble Lord has a great deal of colonial experience. and we all pay tribute to him for that; but does he imagine that the Secretary of State of that time was not in full receipt of advices from the Colonies of the underlying feeling that was to be watched out for in dealing with federation? What would the noble Lord have said if the advice was given another way? Surely the Secretary of State was quite right in saying that the people themselves should decide whether they were for or 326 against federation. To try to shift the whole blame for the position by this kind of argument is unworthy.
§ LORD MILVERTON
I am sorry to create that impression on the noble Viscount, because I am not trying to shift the blame entirely. I am trying to point out what is the basis of the present position. As I said, it was left entirely to the men to make up their own minds, and there was early in existence the African National Congress, which proceeded to work on them and made them a sitting shot for any agitator, for any more intelligent African whose idea it was to break up federation who went along and talked to them. That is exactly what happened, and it is no wonder that federation got a bad name from the start, because the only thing these people heard about it were things to its detriment.
It seems to me that the dilemma really is whether in the name of the Western tradition of freedom and all that sort of thing—I have every reason to know how often this phrase is associated with an abuse of those traditions of freedom; I am not decrying them intrinsically—we ought to allow freedom of organisation to subversive people and sit by and watch this great experiment in partnership destroyed for lack of will to stand up for what we believe in. I assume that we all really do believe that this experiment ought to he given a fair trial. We ought to realise that the problem is a serious one and that it is one which essentially should be settled in Central Africa and not in Whitehall. In my opinion, this is obviously a question which must be left to be solved by the people who have to live with the results of it.
There is one other thing I wanted to say. It has been pointed out how Nyasaland has benefited, but I think that it would not be a bad thing to have on record one or two details. For instance, the recurrent expenditure on health in the last five years has increased from £300,000 to £1 million. Capital expenditure on health services has increased five times and grants to medical missions seven times. Expenditure on education has trebled. The Federation Government has spent £19 million in Nyasaland in the first four years of federation. In 327 the eight years prior to federation, the capital inflow to Nyasaland was £584,000, but since federation it is £2½ million. The gap between Nyasaland's revenue capacity and expenditure, £3½ million, is met by the Federal Government.
Secession, if you look at it, will solve nothing at all. Nyasaland, as has been pointed out again and again, is not viable from any point of view, and there would be an inevitable demand for North-East Rhodesia to secede as well, and Barotseland would probably hive off. With this wonderful dismembered remnant, which I believe Sir Roy Welensky called "rump fed", consisting of Southern Rhodesia and the railway strip of Northern Rhodesia, but still containing 3 million Africans and 300,000 Europeans, there would be the same old problem of this area surrounded by pockets of poor and utterly destitute but independent States. The suggestion was also made, I believe, although it has not been made to-day, that Nyasaland should be allowed to join Tanganyika, which would be one bankrupt joining another. Tanganyika is not in a position to support any other country.
There are illuminating figures which I might rapidly note. The revenue of Nyasaland in 1946 was £2,100,000; in 1947, £1,600,000; in 1948, £2,100,000; in 1949, £2,700,000; in 1953, £4,900,000, and in 1958–59, £5,357,000. I think that, in itself, is a record which speaks a good deal in favour of continuation of this Federation. I am unable to agree with the noble Duke the Duke of Montrose when he says that an African, once he has got something into his mind, will never get it out, and because somebody has instilled a dislike of federation, nothing will move it. I am certain that an African who, as the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, has said, is just an ordinary simple person like you or me, will be amenable to education and to the wonderful logic of facts which I think he should be given the opportunity of experiencing.
We have heard a lot about fear, and that is also perfectly true. He has a fear of federation which has been instilled into him. But in talking as if Dr. Banda wanted Nyasaland to go back under the ægis of the Colonial Office and the British Government we are talking nonsense. That is not in any way the programme of 328 Dr. Banda. His programme is complete and absolute independence of everybody, so that he can work his own will in whatever way he likes. And combined with his propaganda against federation is the spreading of these false hopes of that wonderful future which awaits them when they manage their own affairs. One can well imagine what kind of future that would be. So, in conclusion, I should like to emphasise that this is a matter where the people of the Federation, who have made the country the wonderful success it is at present, should be allowed to settle it, because it is they, their children and their children's children who will have to pay the price of failure.
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, my only reason for venturing to address your Lordships at this hour tonight is that I happened to be in Southern Tanganyika at the time when the events we have been talking about here this afternoon were happening. I suppose I come under the description of "itinerant politicians" used by the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, earlier on in this debate, but I can tell your Lordships that I was not there in connection with anything we have been discussing today; my timetable was decided by the requirements of some Scandinavian business friends of mine with whom I was visiting Rhodesia. Rather naturally, those Scandinavian friends asked me whether I thought that any of the events which they were reading about in the Press ought to shake their confidence in the future of the countries comprising the Federation. I told them that I thought not; that the idea of federation of the three countries as an economic unit was a thoroughly sound one and, therefore, given time, the people on the spot, whether they were Europeans or Africans, would come to a proper solution in their own time and in their own way, and that anybody from Scandinavia or anywhere outside Rhodesia could go on with their business plans and feel long-term confidence in their results.
I know as well as anybody how dangerous it is for the onlooker to pay short visits to places like Rhodesia and then come away and tell everybody all about it. None the less, one feels that time is very short, and that everything possible must be done to push forward African 329 education in every way. Possibly one feels that there are sections of European opinion in Rhodesia which over-estimate the difficulties of going faster, and underestimate the difficulties of not going fast enough. Be that as it may, a great deal has been said about it tonight, and I do not mean to say any more about it now.
What this Motion is dealing with is the disorders in Nyasaland and the need or otherwise to send out a Parliamentary Commission. When I was in Rhodesia for the first week in March, I got the strong impression that all the newspapers I read were engaged in building up the sensational aspect of what was going on in Nyasaland, to the complete exclusion, shall we say, of the more serious aspects which might have been dealt with. In other words, the news was, as I thought, on the same level as the news about murders, crimes and sexual affairs that one finds in the papers.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
I beg the noble Viscount's pardon. I was saying that to my mind the handling of the news was on a par with the handling of murders, crimes and sexual affairs which one reads in the same papers. Of course, in other columns there were the adventures of the honourable gentleman the Member for Wednesbury. But I thought there was a marked absence, or at the least a marked under-emphasis, of the more serious sides of this problem: of the causes of what had been going on in Nyasaland, and what should be done to remedy the matter, and almost a complete absence of any word of support for the Government and officials, and everybody else who had the responsibility for keeping order and the Queen's peace in those parts. That being so, it is not surprising that perhaps wrong impressions may have got about of what was actually happening and what were the causes of what had happened.
I myself was struck by the calm which I noticed in Southern Tanganyika a week before, and in Northern Rhodesia on March 2, which was the day, or within a day or two, of the issuing of the Emergency Ordinance in Northern Rhodesia. I spent that clay on the Copper Belt. Everything was quiet. You could have 330 heard a dog bark; and the mine manager of one of the big Copper Belt mines told me that he had had no trouble and did not expect it. In fact, when the union representatives on that mine had received overtures from people who came along inviting them to take part in the agitation at that time and afterwards, they rejected those overtures.
So I find it very difficult to come to any other conclusion but that the disturbances in Nyasaland had been very carefully organised and would not have taken place unless they had been carefully organised. Supposing, for example, there were real discontent and a real desire for self-government among the Africans, would that discontent have stopped, as it did, on the borders of Nyasaland, or would it have extended to Northern Rhodesia on the one side and Tanganyika on the other? In the third week of February I was on a tea garden a few weeks before there had been a strike at the garden next door on the subject of wages: and although matters were steaming up in Nyasaland, only forty miles away, no apprehension was felt either by the management or by the district commissioner with whom I talked.
Again, if any noble Lords have, by any chance, seen Karonga, in the Northern Province of Nyasaland, where one of those riots occurred, I think they will realise that a great deal of effort and staff-work had had to be done in order to produce events on that scale at a place like Karonga. So I come back to this point, made so often in the debate, of the need for the Government to keep order, a point which I say was much under-emphasised in the Press. It is no good looking at these matters in the same way as we might look at a strike at London Airport, Dagenham, or anywhere else in this country, but I feel it is the duty of the Government in this country to see that decent, quiet people are protected from the effects of intimidation. If that is so in this country, how much more must it be true in a place like Rhodesia, where the African is so easily intimidated and where agitation, through the African nature, can build up so quickly and assume such dangerous proportions!
That brings me to another point, which is the question of whether the right 331 action was taken by the Governor of Nyasaland and whether it was taken at the right time. I felt, from my impressions on the spot, very much as I think my noble friend Lord Salisbury felt when he was speaking a little while ago. In other words, if the Governor of Nyasaland made any error of judgment whatever—and I am by no means certain that he did —then that error of judgment, or error of administration, was not so much in acting when he did as in not acting before. After all, a good deal of information about the origins of these incidents described in the White Paper, and the plot which is said to exist ought to have been known to any Administration that was on the job a long time before.
There is one point which never comes out in these debates—it has not come out today; it did not come out on the Cyprus debate, so far as I know, or in the debates on Mau Mau—and that is, where the money comes from to finance these various political measures. It must come from somewhere. Of course, it may come from the African shillings, but I suspect that more money is involved than can be collected in shillings from the Africans. If that is so, the Special Branch, or whoever they have there, ought to be able to keep track of that money, and that information ought to give those in authority a very good idea indeed as to what is really happening. Of course, if the Governor of Nyasaland had rounded up 200 or 300 people suspected of intention to cause a breach of peace, no doubt noble Lords opposite would have said that it was quite wrong to do so, but equally, to my mind, there would have been strong probability, if that action had been taken, that no-one would have been killed; and if that were so I, for one, would have approved.
However that may be, these are the impressions which I gained from my time there. One had to think, as I sat on the tea garden there in Southern Tanganyika with 500 or 600 African employees, exactly what we were going to do tomorrow morning supposing they took part in this agitation. It struck me that if they did take part in that agitation, the thing would be entirely synthetic, because only the day before we had been discussing with the management how to get over the difficulty, which is so acute, of finding enough Africans 332 to take responsible positions as boss boys and foremen on the garden. It struck me that if one did not have enough boss boys to run a tea garden, it would be very unlikely that there would be strong and spontaneous feeling in those people next door on the subject we have been discussing this afternoon.
All that again leads me to feel very glad indeed that the Government have decided to appoint a judicial Commission and not a Parliamentary Commission. I feel that a judicial Commission will have far more opportunity of getting down to the real facts, a great many of which, as has been said already this afternoon, cannot really be given without prejudicing the sources and endangering the lives of loyal people on the spot, whoever they are. Equally I feel that a Parliamentary Commission, however good it might be in some respects, would, in many other respects, have the reverse effect of what we all want. It would prevent things being settled down by the firmness and the tactful handling and the justice which will have to be applied now in the endeavour to get things back to normal. It would provide a continuing platform for agitators and trouble-makers of all kinds, in addition, no doubt, to more responsible people, as long as the Parliamentary Commission was there. I feel very glad that, by not having a Parliamentary Commission we shall avoid any risk of doing what I think we all want to avoid doing, and that is projecting our Party political differences here into the arenas of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. At any rate, that is my hope, and what little I saw when I was there confirmed very much my ultimate faith in the Federation and my belief that this White Paper is sound and that the Government's decision to proceed as they have is sound also.
§ 10.25 p.m.
LORD ST. JUST
My Lords, the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, stated that in regard to Africa it would be an extremely good thing if everybody except the Government Departments responsible kept out of the situation from which we are some 6,000 miles distant. In principle, I think that the noble Duke is absolutely right. But for those of your Lordships who have been to Africa, and who have a great love of that country, there are certain things that, quite naturally, are worrying us at this moment in regard to what is going on.
333 I shall detain your Lordships for but a few minutes, but I feel that a few words should be said concerning some of the societies, such as the Capricorn Club, which have been working out there in Central Africa for a great number of years. I know that a great many of your Lordships will say that this society, and the great inspired work that has been done by its late leader, is some fifty years ahead of its day. They say that it is a dream world, that is something in the fantasy of people's minds which cannot be put into active operation. I do not believe that that is altogether true; in fact, I am quite convinced that it is exactly the opposite. I think that people who work and have been connected with that society, missionary societies and so on, are people who have studied the situation from every angle and have worked out there for a number of years. Probably a great many of your Lordships know that this society, in collaboration with the Government out in Central Africa, are trying to form a college of citizenship which will, I think, provide enormous help towards an understanding between the European and the African. People will go to this college and will hear lectures. They will work side by side, and I think it can do nothing but good.
Carrying on from that, I should like to state that I think that what has been said from various sides of the House during this debate concerning the African chieftains is of the greatest importance. For the short time, some seven months, that I was out in Africa, I always found, when I came into contact with the Africans, that most of them had the greatest respect for the African chieftain. He held great power within the tribe; he was generally exceedingly sound in his judgment, and he had a good common sense. I only hope that everything possible will be done to foster and encourage this.
I should like to end on this point. We heard from the noble Duke the statement that the Africans in Nyasaland have for various reasons been frightened, through suspicion, and are determined flatly to turn down the idea of federation. There are many people who may know a great deal more about this than I do, but I am convinced that the noble Duke is on to something in this connection. The 334 African is suspicious, and when he gets a definite thought in his mind he is liable to take this attitude. I am wondering whether the Government, in conjunction with the Powers out there—I think some five in all—will at any rate give sympathetic consideration to the scheme which the noble Duke produced this aftternoon and is lodging in the Printed Paper Office, and also to the other ideas which I am quite certain will be put forward in the near future from these various societies of which I have spoken, so that, in some way, agreement and understanding can be produced along these lines which might result in an answer which is satisfactory from all angles,
§ 10.31 p.m.
My Lords, first of all I would say how glad I am that the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned the Capricorn Society. I am sure we all wish the Society all success in the College which it is trying to found. I shall intervene for only a few moments to express my support of the very able way in which the Governor of Nyasaland has handled this most difficult situation. I believe that there is no more difficult task for a Governor to have to face than the declaration of a state of emergency. And in this case it was made even more complicated by the fact that the forces needed to implement this state of emergency had to come from authorities outside the Territory which the Governor controlled. Nevertheless, despite all these difficulties, and despite the fact that these forces were not at first under unified command, law and order were largely restored quickly.
I was very surprised that the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, should have criticised the sending of forces from Rhodesia, particularly as he has been a soldier, I believe, for most of his career. I should have thought he would be aware that the military authorities on the spot would have chosen the most suitable force available. The noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, has already successfully disposed of his suggestion on the sending of Matabele troops. I was brought up in the Navy and was always told that when a ship or squadron was involved in action one trusted the senior officer on the spot and did not harass him by strings of 335 signals and unnecessary advice. In my opinion, in this affair of Nyasaland there have been too many touch-line critics.
I listened very carefully to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, followed by what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, and it struck me that the tone of the noble Lord's speech largely expressed disbelief in what was said in the White Paper.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords what authority has the noble Lord for saying that? I said that so far as I could see the terms of the White Paper did not support the alleged massacre plot. I cannot express any opinion as to whether what is in the White Paper is correct or not. I have no evidence one way or the other.
My Lords, the White Paper included information about the massacre plot, and therefore I feel I am right in saying that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, expressed disbelief in it. He tried to belittle the disorder, and I should like to ask him whether it did not occur to him that the fact that the Governor took prompt action presented the disorder and loss of life from being much worse than it was. In past troubles in other parts of the world the Government have been blamed for being taken by surprise. In this case, at least, it appears that we were most certainly not taken by surprise and that action was taken in good time.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, as I understood him, said he thought there was no excuse for opening fire. I should like to ask him if he has ever been in the position of that gallant district officer mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, who succeeded in parleying with a mob for one and half hours by the lakeside before he eventually had to open fire in order to prevent them from storming the ship on which prisoners were held.
I was very glad that my noble friend Lord Salisbury said something in praise of the much-maligned settler, who had very little consideration from noble Lords opposite. My father went to Rhodesia as an early settler with the first column, seventy years ago, and in those days it was considered a matter of pride. Indeed, he had to face a revolt very shortly after he got there, and was elected Colonel of 336 the column by popular vote, on the strength of his having been a private in Canada in "Strathcona's Horse." My noble friend Lord Salisbury also indicated the difference between freedom and independence, and I am very glad that he uttered that note of warning. In that connection I recently heard a most profound remark by the Bishop of Ceylon, who reminded his audience that sometimes in losing the British Empire we had also lost the British Umpire. I do not propose to say any more to-night, except that I believe your Lordships will be behind me in expressing our wholehearted approval and admiration of the way in which the Governor of Nyasaland and the others in authority in the area handled this very difficult situation.
§ 10.37 p.m.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, I think we shall all agree that this has been a great debate. We have had no fewer than four citizens of Rhodesia and an ex-Prime Minister of Rhodesia taking part. We have had a great maiden speech from the noble Lord, Lord Robins, and another from the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose. There is, alas! one voice on the subject of Central Africa that we have not with us to-day; that of one who gave the last few years of his life to the service of Rhodesia and, indeed, one might almost say, by disobeying doctor's orders and staying at his post, gave his life for Rhodesia. I refer to the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin. He is deeply missed at this moment.
My Lords, this debate. I think, was to have caused a considerable amount of clarification in our minds. Although perhaps at some point it has done just the opposite, there is no doubt that the White Paper issued last night has clarified one point that we are up against. I think one must say that it seems a sad day for this country when the word of a Secretary of State and two Commonwealth Prime Ministers and two Colonial Governors is sufficiently doubted to make it necessary to ask for the publication of Secret Service Papers before they can be believed.
There is only one main point on which I venture to concentrate at this hour of the evening, and that is the point that has been steadily driven into my mind 337 throughout this whole discussion, although I do not think anybody has exactly put it this way. What has struck me so forcibly is the feeling that we are working under a profound misconception if we feel that we are discussing simply a conflict between black and white, It is, in fact, a conflict between those who believe in ordered progress and those who are prepared to accept racial domination—achieved, if necessary, by violence, intimidation, and even murder. We have heard on all hands of intimidation. I am not going to inflict them on your Lordships, but I have with me letters from Rhodesia telling me of the relief—the universal relief—which has been expressed by Africans in every class. They prove, clearly, the amount of intimidation that there has been. The relief that has been expressed proves also that the Africans have not felt this to be a matter of conflict between black and white. On the contrary, the masses of the Africans have felt themselves to be protected by the whites against the African National Congress.
My Lords, I think it is notable that there has not been one single speech tonight that has denied the need for African advancement—its possibilities, and its desirability. After all, how could there have been? Who is responsible for African nationalism? It is we British, with our colonial policy. It is we who have taken the schools to Africa; it is we who have encouraged the students to come back to British universities in order to achieve our ideas of freedom, knowledge, and independence. Naturally, therefore, it is not we who can possibly want to oppose legitimate African nationalism. But that does not mean that we want to hand over to ambitious revolutionaries. The noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, made great play with the idea that this was a matter not in any way concerned with ambitious agitators; but I think there is too much evidence in the other direction for many of us to agree with him. But if we choose not that way, but the path of ordered progress, it is ordered progress to what? Towards that partnership to which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and many other noble Lords during this debate, have directed their minds.
That means a policy of patience; of steadily building up our educational services; of increasing the health 338 services; of increasing knowledge and improving education. It also means the building up of an African middle class —technicians, professionals, traders, and administrators, local and central. The moment one says what that programme must be, one realises that it can be achieved only by the two races working together, and not against one another.
Surely, my Lords, this, above all, is true of Nyasaland. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, spoke of a choice in Nyasaland. I think he used the phrase "the continuance of white domination in Nyasaland." How can he use that phrase about a colonial system that is based on trusteeship, when devoted white administrators, living in Nyasaland, have been working there, in this generation and the last, trying to build these people up to a position where they are in a state to take over control of their own affairs? How can we allow that to be spoken of as "white domination"? Here, surely, is a territory where there is no racial discrimination and hardly any settler problem; a territory which the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, and Sir Roy Welensky have frequently described as being ultimately an African partner in the federal set-up. And when this occurred, my noble friend Lord Perth was only within a few days of leaving for that country in order to discuss further steps in the development of the Constitution.
One cannot help asking oneself why this trouble occurred in Nyasaland and when it did; why, if Lord Perth was going to be there so soon, Dr. Banda did not wait until after the discussions; why he did not put off the agitation at any rate until the discussions had been a failure, if that was what was expected. It is hard to answer that question except on the basis that Dr. Banda felt he must get in before success was achieved, because that was his only chance of achieving the personal position for which he hoped. Incidentally, is it not precisely the same pattern as occurred in the Congo only a short time ago when, a matter of a few days before the Belgian Government were known to be making an announcement about the constitutional programme, an outbreak was ordered there?
I must confess that there is one point which leaves me completely bemused and 339 I have never been able to get an explanation of it. How is it that those in this country who generally feel themselves to be liberal-minded, and who in many aspects of their lives have proved themselves to be liberal-minded, range themselves on the side of racial domination achieved by violence and intimidation, followed up, as it doubtless would be, by a tyrannic form of government, instead of the ordered progress towards real liberty and real democracy that has been achieved in country after country of the British Empire during even the last ten years?
I feel that it is vital to Africans that ordered progress towards partnership should remain our policy. If Nyasaland leaves the Federation, and if the Federation breaks up, the whole policy of federation and partnership goes, then the whole of our efforts over the last forty to fifty years will have failed. We know that if Nyasaland leaves the Federation at the present moment, she will have neither the money nor the personnel. We know, as my noble friend Lord Salisbury so brilliantly said—and it was repeated later by my noble friend Lord Milverton—that Dr. Banda is not seeking to remain with the Colonial Office. He is seeking complete independence. The result of that must be—I am not going to weary your Lordships with all the figures that have been given—a rural slum, plus a nonviable vacuum. Have we asked ourselves what a non-viable vacuum means. Today in a country that has now become one of the main targets in the cold war?
One genuine fear has been expressed, and that is the fear of Southern Rhodesia and its identification with the Federal Government. We have had great discussions as to the source of this fear; some have said that it is the initial lack of explanation and advice given to Africans; and other reasons have been put forward. But has the case for federation ever been really put to Nyasaland? If I were to venture any criticism of our friends overseas, I would question whether the case has ever really been put. For instance, what need is there for a Government that is ultimately going to be an African Territorial Government to have fears of federation when almost every subject that affects the African in his daily life is the affair of the Territorial 340 Government and not of the Federal Government? Again, there is the fact that the Federal Parliament itself now contains twelve Africans plus three Europeans elected to represent African interests, a total of 25 per cent. of the present Federal Parliament, and now one African junior Minister; and there are the tremendous advances that have been mentioned already—of the treatment of Africans in banks and shops and hotels, promotion on the Copper Belt and complete equality in the Civil Service. All these things have been happening during the last few years. I have been going out every year for the last ten or twelve years, and each time I see enormous changes. We know that in a multi-racial territory (and for the moment I am speaking about Southern Rhodesia) it is always a more difficult problem than in a territory with only one race.
What one can say is that both sides are making immense progress; but we cannot say that either is helped by some of the speeches made over here. What struck me, during my last visit to Africa, was that I received nearly as many complaints from Africans themselves as from Europeans. Both in Kenya and in Rhodesia Africans asked how they could be expected to co-operate with the British when they were being continually stabbed in the back by our politicians at home. Let us all agree that there is much that many of us would like to see done, and, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said, much that we should like to see altered in Southern Rhodesia—as there are plenty of things that we should like to see altered in this country, too! But it is no help to have negative criticism; and, moreover, it only gives encouragement to extremists and those who are anxious to represent this problem as a fight between black and white.
Incidentally, I believe that we are reaching the limit of the criticism that our friends in Southern Rhodesia are prepared to take. Some noble Lords on the other side of the House did not entirely enjoy what the noble Viscount. Lord Malvern, said today, but I would ask them to realise that Lord Malvern is an experienced and a moderate leader of Rhodesian opinion. If he is feeling as he is about the speeches from over here, and the speeches of visiting Members of Parliament, then your Lordships must begin to take the dangers of the situation 341 very seriously. The noble Lord, Lord Robins, appealed for understanding of the position of those who are living over there now. if it is not given, I am afraid that they may learn how to do without our sympathy and understanding.
How can we in this House help? I believe that this debate has shown a large measure of basic agreement. Could we not come to an understanding now, between ourselves, that Federation and the policy of partnership, which we all agree is dependent upon it, should be given a chance from all sides; that the speeches which are continually giving the Africans the lead against Federation should cease, and that meanwhile everyone should be free to press for every form of reassurance or, if it is felt necessary, change of policy in Southern Rhodesia? We should ask Her Majesty's Government, as they have already been asked in this debate, to think of this problem, and to think of every means by which they might reassure African opinion against the fear of federation. I feel that that might be a positive policy which we could pursue in order to help partnership. Partnership means equal opposition to black as to white domination, and the fact is (as I think we have all of us recgonised today) that neither is on the cards. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said that at the beginning of the debate, and I think we all agree with him.
Surely our best contribution is to send a message to the Federation reaffirming our belief in partnership—partnership, in the case of Nyasaland; of an ultimately African Territorial Government working in the Federal set-up, and partnership between the races in the multi-racial territories and in the Federal Government. I believe a message of that character could help, and I close by expressing the hope that this debate will give the necessary encouragement to European and African alike to face the future that needs to be faced with confidence and with courage.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, we have had a very long debate, and it does not look as if we shall be getting away from here, after two more speeches, before getting on towards midnight. I hope it will not be quite so long. I have listened to most of the speeches and should like to say 342 "Thank you" to all those who have joined in the debate on this very important Motion. The interest in the House is also indicative of the enormous interest which has been taken in the country in regard to the whole position of the Nyasaland incidents and the general question of the Central African Federation. I have at times received great stimulus from some of the speeches; and at other times I have been quite saddened in my thoughts as I felt a reaction to the old, almost worn-out ideas that, ultimately, we must resort to force in order to retain what we think we have a right to retain, however much in a minority we may be in a particular part of the world.
I think, perhaps, the Economist was right in its leader last week when it wrote about "Africa to scale"; and how important it is that we should begin to remember that there is a very great movement going on apace in the whole continent of Africa. I should think that this was very much in the back of the mind of the Duke of Montrose in the maiden speech he made—and I hope we shall have the pleasure of his presence and of hearing from him again. He seemed to have an idea of how vast is the problem outside this new sort of venture, to create, especially in this area, what is called multi-racialism. Here you have, to East and West and North, and very nearly to South, the African race at large on the move. It is on the move in such a way that in case after case it has already achieved independence; and in the course of the next year or so several other major countries in Africa will also have achieved independence.
The general agitation that has been so much complained about in the debate today is, therefore, by no means confined to the natives in Nyasaland or Northern Rhodesia. It is part of the general movement, and to talk about just sitting down on a policy of what is called multi-racialism and saying. "Thus far and no further no further advances towards the liberty and freedom of the African race of the character which are taking place elsewhere," is like King Canute sitting on the seashore trying to keep the waves back. We have to face the fact of the movements of minds and men in the world today. I am absolutely in favour, and always have been, in 343 trying to arrange for the granting of independence to races which have been subject races and have not been well advanced races, of doing it as gradually as possible and marching steadily along with the growth of education, training and experience, and first local and then national administration, and the like. There is no doubt at all that, if there is any nation in the world which has given advantages of that kind, it is this country. I have always recognised that; and I do not think the Government to which I was proud to belong from 1945 to 1951 did any less—in fact it may have done more—towards advancing that steady, historical benefit to subject races which has come through the efforts of the British people, than other Governments.
My Lords, will the noble Viscount, before he leaves this point, deal with the point made by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury?
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I think I must develop my own speech. I have enough notes to keep us here all night. I think we ought to get on at this time of night, and get through as soon as we can.
All I want to say, therefore, is this. First, the Party for which I speak tonight, and who put this Motion down, have a very clear policy on the matter. Arising out of that, and well based upon it some weeks ago now my Party offered co-operation in securing—we thought we should secure it—the cessation of bloodshed in Nyasaland by means of sending out a Parliamentary Commission. It was not a new and Heaven-sent suggestion: Parliamentary Commissions have been used before, and with success, in the case of action having to be taken in ultimate negotiations for independence or advance towards independence. We think that it is perhaps a matter of regret that the Government did not feel able to take up our offer at the time and to accept what would have been really the sort of bipartisan co-operation that somebody was asking for this afternoon to help towards a settlement out there. I hoped that on that basis tonight we should have been able to go on pursuing the policy of offering from this side of the House 344 whatever co-operation we could in improving the situation in Nyasaland and co-operation towards coming to the best result possible in this central African problem. But I am afraid some of the speeches that have been made from the other side have not helped us very much in that direction.
I think it was the noble Earl, Lord Perth—whom, of course, we are very glad to see back safely, after his little upsetting delays; I hope they were not too terrifying—who first raised this afternoon the question of what was the attitude of a Labour Government Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1951 when Federation was first being discussed. I must say that it is important to remember that the attitude of the Government then (the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, is here and I think he will agree with what I say; I have not put it to him) was that the whole question of federation at that time was a matter for discussion with everyone, with Africans, with Europeans, discussions on our part with officials. But we said that the discussions with the people should be decided by the people, and that while the discussions were going on officials should not express opinions, one way or the other, on the proposals submitted to them for discussion. I must point out that soon after we were succeeded by a Conservative Government—I think the Election was in October—the Conservative Government took steps, in November, to instruct the officials to take the line at all times when they could in favour of federation.
I am bound to point out, as my noble friend, Lord Ogmore, said in his excellent speech in opening this discussion this afternoon, that it was a great revelation to find, when we could get in touch in the last two years, as we have been getting in touch, to find out what was going on, how the feeling against federation had been growing. We did warn the Government in 1953—I did not speak myself. but the noble Lord. Lord Ogmore, the late Lord Jowitt, and others, spoke on it—to be very careful about this; and we did really hope that the Federation, if it was once set up, would succeed in its objective. But we did give the warnings because we knew what was the state of native minds in places like Nyasaland. There is no doubt at all, from some of the speeches we have heard, that those warnings were necessary.
345 I am sure that it was not very good to the Government, coming from that side, but from our point of view was exceedingly impressed by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, who had given the same kind of warnings to the Government in 1953 arising out of his experiences in Africa. I could have wished with all my heart that those warnings then given should have been found to be unnecessary, and that we should not have had the happenings of 1959. But it is no use now for us to go back again and again over what has happened in the last two or three months. I think we have a task to perform—namely, to seek. as I said in our debate on the Adjournment a few weeks ago, the most urgent and best method of regaining the confidence of the Africans in Nyasaland, and particularly in Northern Rhodesia.
I want to put to the Government that perhaps one thing that will determine whether confidence can be restored may he how the Governor of Northern Rhodesia handles the results of the recent elections. Whilst rumour may be a lying jade, it often comes from sources which are not altogether without foundation. It is rumoured that when the Governor comes to deal with the making of the Government, following upon the elections in Northern Rhodesia, an attempt will be made to secure that the Welensky Party representatives, who will have been elected amongst the six elected representatives in the Government, will all have to be of his Party; and that if they are not all of his Party, apart from the official members (of whom I think there are four), then he will not allow his Party representatives to enter that Government. I hope that that is not so. But I want to make it clear that that is important especially when we hear speeches like that made by the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, tonight. I do not want to trust myself to comment particularly about that speech until I have seen it in Hansard and read it again; because if I were to speak tonight, upon my first impressions of what he said. I feel that I might say something for which afterwards I should be sorry. I want to see his speech in print and to study it very carefully indeed.
The impression left upon my mind, when I was thinking of the election just finished in Northern Rhodesia, was that if the speech of Lord Malvern really 346 represents the feeling of all the whites in the area of which he has had so much experience, then the view he expressed tonight, and the kind of challenge which now comes with the formation of the Government of Northern Rhodesia, is a very vital stage indeed. Because if all the other Africans in Nyasaland, for example, are to be told that the Crown protection of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia does not prevent a Party with the objectives of the Welensky Party in relation to Federation from getting a complete majority at the present time in Northern Rhodesia, so enabling them to out-vote the four officials in the Government, then with regard to that particular Crown protectorate the influence from the Colonial Office would be on exceedingly tender ground. I believe that the Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland will he watching with special care to see what line the Governor takes on making up the composition of the Government after that election; and I hope that no mistake will be made that will stop the possibility of restoring confidence in the African population.
Now I should like to turn to what I believe was the most important part of the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Perth. That was when he gave us the statement which had been made in another place today by the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I felt, with my noble friend, Lord Silkin, that a Commission of some kind would need to be sent, and as I listened to the full approval he gave, I quite agreed with him. But I am bound to say, also, that having now seen the comments that were made in another place by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, I feel that there are questions to be raised.
At the time when my noble friend Lord Silkin was, quite rightly, saying that this course seemed to be right, we understood that the Commission was, in practice, to he a judicial body, presided over by a Judge of the High Court; that he was to have public men to be his assistants, and that the Commission's terms of reference were:To inquire into the recent disturbances in Nyasaland and the events leading un to them; and to report thereon.I cannot feel sure, from the answers of Mr. Lennox-Boyd in another place to-day, and the belief expressed by the noble 347 Earl, Lord Perth, in the course of his speech, that this kind of Commission would go to the heart of the matter. Originally I had thought that the Commission would be of a judicial character, such as was forecast, for example, in the Daily Telegraph leading article this morning, and that the terms of reference would be fairly narrow and concerned with inquiry into the actual events in the disturbances, so that the Commission would find out, as a fact-finding mission, exactly what had led up to the events. It seems to me, however, that the terms of reference go rather wider than that.
As yet we have no information as to how the Commission, under the learned Judge, are to proceed to get their information. Are they to be given full access to the detainees who have been in prison? Are they to take evidence from them? Will the evidence be upon oath? Will every one of the detainees be allowed counsel? If they are to be taken before a tribunal presided over by a Judge of the High Court, will any of these detainees be in any way prejudiced if he is brought to trial on some specific charge which has not yet been made? What is the difference between this interpretation that I put upon the Commission and what is actually in the mind of Her Majesty's Government?
I should like to know this, because, although I have not, of course, seen the actual text of the replies, which we shall not see in Hansard until to-morrow, I understand from the tape that the Secretary of State for the Colonies said to-day:The White Paper will be very much before the Commission. Exactly who they will see will be for them to consider, and I do not want to pre-judge that. With regard to representation by counsel, I do not think that would be appropriate because this is not a judicial inquiry in the strict sense of the word.I do not know whether that means that the inquiry is quarter-judicial, semi-judicial or quasi-judicial, or whatever other hyphenated adjective may be put to it. But I must say that it sounds to me very unsatisfactory if it is going to be neither one thing nor the other; and I feel that we ought, if possible, to have some further explanation to-night from the noble Earl the Leader of the House.
348 The Secretary of State went on to say—I quote these words from the Press tape:I do not imagine that there would be provision made for representation by counsel, but matters of that kind must be left to the Commission.As to the number of internees (if I may so call them, as I like that way of putting it) or those imprisoned (if you would rather have it that way), I would suggest to the noble Earl the Leader of the House that probably the number so imprisoned today is not merely the 447 that was mentioned by my noble friend in his opening speech, which I think is now a figure that is about a week old, but something between 600 and 700. And to go into this Inquiry with no certainty in the mind of Parliament as to what is to be the position of those people—as to whether they are really going to be judicially cross-examined in a Tribunal presided over by a Judge of the High Court, whether they are to have defence counsel, whether their case is going to be ultimately prejudiced and whether any prosecution will be made—seems to me to be grossly unfair. While I welcome the fact that the Government have decided to send a Commission, I think we ought to have the functions more clearly set out before us than that.
Then I would come to the end of the statement that was made on behalf of the Government this afternoon, which also does not seem to me to be very clear. The Secretary of State said:I think it appropriate to take the opportunity to say that Her Majesty's Government are in touch with the Federal Government and with the Territorial Governments concerned and are preparing for the 1960 review of the Federal Constitution. When Her Majesty's Government are in a position to put forward proposals on this they will do so, and they fully understand that Parliament would wish to be associated in an appropriate way with any machinery that might be set up.That seems to foreshadow that something else of importance is to be done between now and whatever date in 1960 is settled under the Preamble of the Constitution for considering the revising of the Constitution. Five Governments will be represented at that Conference for revision the Government of each of the three countries concerned in the Federation, the Government of the Federation and the Government of this country. I should think that if we are to be ready 349 to send from this Parliament delegates to attend that Conference, fully informed and really up to the proper standard for obtaining all the information we require for advising Parliament at this end on what its attitude should be when it comes to the Conference, which has to be called under the Statute to consider the revision of the Constitution, something ought to be clone about it very soon.
I have talked this matter over with some of my friends and I put these points to the noble Earl the Leader of the House as Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. I think that whatever action is taken in that direction after the present Commission you have set up has gone out and reported on their fact-finding ought to be taken in hand as soon as possible; it ought to be decided pretty quickly. Do not leave it so late that, as a result, you have no growth of confidence in the population that will help you in the Conferences you are going to have in 1960.
The second point I would put to the noble Earl the Leader of the House is: that this Inquiry, when it is sent, should be an Inquiry set up on behalf of Parliament. Parliament has grave responsibilities in the matter of what is to be the future of these two Crown Protectorates —very grave responsibilities. In spite of all the things that have been said on this matter today—some of them rather huntful to those of us who feel as we do—I still say that this British Parliament has a very grave responsibility in the matter of the protection of the rights of the African as such in the Federation, or their Proteotorates; and until the Conference concerning the revision of that Constitution has been properly held we should take every possible step to find out not only what are the facts, especially about the most unfortunate events of the last few weeks, but what ought to be the line taken by the British Parliament as a whole (and I hope that, when it is taken, it will be taken by Parliament as a whole) on the question of the political things that need to be done to set the Federation firmly on its feet and to ensure that the people out there accept it with a full understanding of its economic implications. Further, if any section of the Federation feels it has the right to withdraw, then we ought to see that that right is properly taken into consideration and properly safeguarded.
350 It is important, if you are to gain this confidence, that our home Government here should get on rapidly with constitutional reforms in the Legislature in Nyasaland if necessary, in Northern Rhodesia, but especially in Nyasaland. What is the use of saying to these people the sweet things that have been said by some Members of your Lordships' House this afternoon if you cannot persuade the Africans themselves that they have anything like an effective voice at all in their future and in reaching their aims? If you can move constitutional reforms in your Colonial Government—in Nyasaland, for example—and can give them something on which 40 build increased confidence in British Parliament, then you will go a long way to bring about the situation which we all want to see brought about.
My Lords, we on this side of the House are only anxious for the fair treatment of the Africans. We are only anxious that they should be free to seek their freedom, as we in the past have from time to time had to both seek and defend it in our own country. That is all that we seek. We feel that if there had been, perhaps, a little more understanding of the problem, and a better treatment of it by both the Federal Government and our home Government, and its present Administration, then some of the graver difficulties might have been avoided.
With regard to my last point. I have not particularly referred to the details of the White Paper. It is rather strange that so many Members of your Lordships' House seem to take every word in the White Paper for granted. The noble Earl, Lord De la Warr, who spoke just now, seemed to think it a shocking thing that neither the public nor the Press seems to take the word of this one or that one among Ministers or Secretaries of State in different Governments. My Lords, I picked up the newspapers this morning, and I expect that noble Lords have read most of them, as I have myself. The three more responsible journals I looked at this morning were The Times, the Daily Telegraph, and the Manchester Guardian. None of them seemed to be completely convinced that there had been anything like a massacre plot. The Times devoted a whole column to try to show how friendly it wanted 351 to be towards the White Paper, but in the last four lines, at the very end of that article, it had to concede that there was considerable doubt.
If you take the leading article of the Daily Telegraph, you find that they were still not wholly convinced, although obviously they were bending over backwards to be as friendly as possible to the Government. I thought that the leader in the Manchester Guardian put the position fairly when it said that if everything was as set out in the White Paper then things were pretty bad, but that there was not really substantial proof. On the other hand, if you pick up papers like the Daily Express and the Daily Mail, you find that every word is supposed to be true. The Daily Mail was mostly concerned with attacks on members of the Labour Party and the Daily Express was anxious that we should not let go of this piece of Empire land.
Where has all this trouble really been, and why has it happened? I hope that the Commission the Government are sending out will find out and will be able to tell the country in some detail. Hundreds of people have been shut up without trial by the action of the Federal Government and the Nyasaland Government, and it is due to the country that it should know in detail what has really happened. As regards the future, if we regain the confidence of the natives, if we really concede to them what ought to be conceded by a country which is a signatory to the Declaration of Human Rights, and see to it that proper steps are taken to do so, that way will lead to a much happier solution.
§ 11.32 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, although we have been debating now for many hours, gratitude is still alive to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for the way in which he introduced this Motion to the House. The noble Viscount who leads the Opposition is right when he says that this extended debate and the number of noble Lords who have been inspired to speak in it reflect the interest of the country in the present events in Central Africa. None of us will complain that the country to-day has an alert conscience and is deeply interested in this matter of Commonwealth evolution.
352 As so often happens when there is a debate in your Lordships' House on matters of political, economic or social importance, we have many speakers of first-hand experience. But to-day we have had the treat and advantage of hearing a number of noble Lords who live in Central Africa and are themselves Rhodesians. They have come here to take advantage of this Parliamentary platform, speaking with an authentic voice from Territories overseas. As I proceed, if I may, I shall comment on one or two of the speeches that have been made, but the House certainly values greatly the two maiden speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Robins, and of the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose. The noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, is accustomed to your Lordships' House, of course, and we to him. I remember once having to propose the noble Viscount's health at a public dinner. I said that the reason that had attracted me to him in public life was that one never knew what he was going to say; when he had said it, one could never believe that he had; and when one read it afterwards, one always found that it was good, sound, common sense. If I may, I would stick to that judgment.
The general effect of the speeches of noble Lords from overseas has been astringent. They have reminded us that this formation of a partnership between the races in Central Africa is not a theoretical, academic, constitutional exercise, but something which deals with people, with homes, with possessions, with property, with rights, with the soil —real human problems on the ground in territories for which we still have a great responsibility. I am glad that my noble friend Lord Salisbury reminded us of one thing. These noble Lords who have spoken to us today would be put in the category of settlers, and some harsh things have been said in the last few weeks about European settlers. But who are these European settlers? They are not big business men—a few may be; but very few. The European settlers in Central Africa to-day are business men, farmers, farmhands, coal miners, bricklayers, shopkeepers, shop attendants—indeed, a cross-section of the population of this country translated overseas; and they have all the same sense of fair play that we have in this country.
353 I should like to say to the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose—and I hope I shall not be thought to be entering into Southern Rhodesian politics—that he had a Parliamentary triumph here to-day by the speech he made to us. I wonder if noble Lords opposite realise that the noble Duke represents a Party in Southern Rhodesia which would normally be classed as the extreme Party against African interests. Who could believe that for one moment after the speech which the noble Duke made to-day? It was a speech full of sympathy for the African, he himself having for most of his life carried out in practice sympathy and co-operation with the African community.
In summing up this long debate, which has dealt with many aspects of these affairs, I think, if I am to be coherent, that I should divide my few remarks into the three sections into which the debate has naturally fallen. First of all. there is the Nyasaland emergency. Parliament to-day has had for the first time the benefit of two essential pieces of information which were not available before—namely, the Governor's report, giving the picture of a build-up of a campaign of calculated disorder, and the first-hand and most lucid account of his experience which was given to us by my noble friend Lord Perth, fresh from the scene.
I am not going to be dogmatic, but listening to the debate, and having read the White Paper, I have come to certain conclusions which I think are of value, and I believe certain noble Lords may have done so, too. First of all, we can dismiss certain charges which have been thrown across the Floor in both Houses of Parliament. The White Paper and my noble friend have proved conclusively that this was not a plot which was engineered by authority in order to control certain awkward customers. Nor was the Governor influenced in his decision in any way by pressure from Sir Roy Welensky or the Government of the Central African Federation. Those are two charges that were made in my hearing last week, and both can be dismissed.
In an unstable world in which subversion is almost the order of the day the word "plot," I agree, becomes devalued, and to use it is almost to court disbelief. But on any reading of the White Paper I think noble Lords would 354 agree that there is evidence of a conspiracy—a deliberate conspiracy, to disrupt law and order—and that the disruption of law and order in such a way in Central Africa certainly endangered life. The story has been published, and it will be further commented on by Mr. Justice Devlin and his Inquiry. But I should like to ask noble Lords opposite and some of those who have been so critical in the last few days and weeks: Would they have stood idly by, when they were in possession of this information, and seen a conspiracy unfold which they had reason to believe would lead to assassination? Of course they would not. No Government could have done so. To have done so would have been to condone violence as a political weapon.
I believe that the feeling of most of your Lordships—indeed, some of you have expressed it this evening—was that it was merciful that this conspiracy went off at half-cock. But although we may feel, with the information in our possession, that the facts are certain and that there was a conspiracy, nevertheless, as the House knows, we have agreed that there should be an Inquiry to look into the disturbances and the events leading up to them.
The noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition has asked me certain questions about this Inquiry. It will be—and this is a perfectly normal thing—presided over by a Judge, helped by men of great experience. I think that when your Lordships heard their names they carried complete conviction that they were men of experience of public affairs, not only in this country but also, in the case of one of them, of African affairs, and that from such a body we should get impartial judgment. This will be an Inquiry presided over by a Judge who will be master of his own procedure. The noble Viscount asked me how the Judge would interpret the terms of reference. That is not for me to say. The noble Viscount also asked what machinery the Judge would want put at his disposal. That is for him to decide. But he has accepted the terms of reference. He will make his wishes known, and he will get that support which will enable him and his tribunal to establish the truth and accuracy of events. That really is what the people 355 of this country want—the truth about the facts and events; and as events have causes, I have no doubt that we shall learn something about them.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Does that mean that the functions will certainly not include the examination by the Commission of any of the important detainees who are still under imprisonment? Are they not going to be examined? If they are, have they not the right to be defended and justified?
THE EARL OF HOME
Any question of charges against any of these people will be a matter for the Attorney-General of Nyasaland. But I should have thought that the advantage of having a learned Judge like Mr. Justice Devlin would he that he would so arrange procedure that there could be no possible damage done, no prejudice, to any individual person, and that he would arrange the Inquiry according to his great experience. We have complete confidence in him, and I believe we should show it.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
May I just express the satisfaction, since the Secretary of State said in another place today that he thought counsel for these people would be inappropriate, that at least some voice has been raised in Parliament so that the learned Judge himself will know that if any of these persons does come under examination and wishes to have legal representation, then he ought to have it.
THE EARL OF HOME
I have no doubt that Mr. Justice Devlin will read this debate and that he will make up his mind as to the best conduct of the Inquiry.
§ LORD SILKIN
Before the noble Earl leaves that point, may I ask him this question? The point I made about it is that it does not look as if this kind of Inquiry will confer upon the Committee the necessary powers—for instance, power to call witnesses, to compel witnesses to attend and give evidence on oath. If the learned Judge finds that such powers are necessary, will the Government undertake to confer those powers upon him?
Before the noble Earl answers that question, may I ask whether the Inquiry will be confined to Nyasaland or will it extend to what has happened in other adjacent Territories?
THE EARL OF HOME
The Inquiry is into the disturbances in Nyasaland and the events leading up to those disturbances. I think it must be left to Mr. Justice Devlin to decide how he wishes to conduct this Inquiry, and I am sure that he will do so in the public interest.
There is one other aspect of the Nyasaland feature of this debate upon which it may be useful to reflect. The agitation of Dr. Banda and his friends is recommended to us as democratic because it expresses, or gives expression to, the widespread fear of the African in Nyasaland on two counts: first, that the Federation is moving faster than was anticipated and that the Nyasalander might be dominated by the European in either Regional or Federal Government; secondly, that the British Government may, in these circumstances, withdraw the protection they give and which is guaranteed to African representatives. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, made that point. It is certainly the basis of the anxiety of the Church of Scotland mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Mathers. The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, made that point very particularly. He said that if these Africans are left without the protection of the British Government, where would they be?
One assurance that that protection would be maintained is in the attitude of Dr. Banda and his friends, as revealed by the White Paper. Who were the targets of Dr. Banda and his men? The list was headed by the Governor and included all the Europeans who are the protectors of the Africans and guardians of African rights. Mr. Justice Devlin and his colleagues will examine this question further, but, of course, it has been known to us for a very long time that the extremists in Congress have not been interested in the principles and the practices of democratic or constitutional government, but that their object is the murder of moderation.
We have seen this kind of manifestation of political ambition and personal power in more sophisticated and educated communities. There is a pattern, unhappily all too familiar—intimidation 357 persecution and liquidation. To give free rein to those who sought to eliminate all those who stood for constitutional progress and tolerance could not be permitted in a British Colony or, I may add, by a Christian people. It is no service at all to the millions of Africans who favour constitutional ways of advance high-mindedly to turn a blind eye to the policies of extreme people in Congress. My Lords, I would ask this question in particular of Lord Mathers, who spoke to-day quite properly as a member of the Church of Scotland has he studied Congress policy? Congress policy is "Africa for the Africans." It was put very dramatically by Mr. Mboya when he said that "Europeans should scram out of Africa." If Lord Mathers thinks about that policy he will recognise it for what it is, apartheid in reverse—pure racialism. If these extremists in Congress had their way it would be the death-knell of partnership of European and African in Africa. Neither the noble Lord nor the Church of Scotland, nor any thoughtful person, would wish that.
The second theme of this debate has been the nature of the constitutional progress within the Commonwealth for this particular area of Central Africa. I must here emphasise and re-emphasise a point which cannot be made too often, and that is that in this matter of granting independence to countries in Central Africa we cannot follow the same pattern of evolution as we invented for the old Commonwealth countries where the Europeans are in great majorities, or for the new Commonwealth countries with native populations far exceeding the rest, and where the European is only tenant of the soil.
There are certain facts of life which we must accept and they have been illusstrated and underlined to us by the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, and other Rhodesians who have spoken today. One is that Europeans and African have homes in that country and they enjoy them as of right. Expressed negatively, neither is going to surrender his home to the other. Expressed positively and constructively, as I prefer to do, each is indispensable to the other in this Central African society. Therefore there is really no other way open to us when we are trying to promote the future evolution 358 of this Commonwealth country than the solution of partnership. Anybody who encourages either the extreme European on the one side to deny the African his advance, or encourages the extreme African on the other, namely, the African Congress, to believe that he can use his numbers to eject the European from Africa, is really inviting bloodshed and war.
I beg people to remember, too, that we cannot judge this African scene against the background of our own sophisticated society. Things can be said here with impunity which, said in Africa, would simply light a forest fire. Violence is endemic in Africa and it will take a long time and much patience to exorcise it; and we must remember that the crust of administrative stability in Africa is precarious and thin. Therefore, the structure to fit the realities in Central Africa must be a design for partnership. Nothing else will do. And that goal is, I am happy to say—and I have seen it for myself—accepted by the great majority of thoughtful, moderate opinion in the three territories, of Africans and Europeans.
My plea, the one plea that I make to this House and to Parliament this evening in this country, is give us patience and time, and partnership can be built. Many bridges—and I will not delay your Lordships on this aspect of what I might have said—to span both colour and race are being built, and they are being built at great speed. Any of your Lordships who go to the Rhodesias to-day and see the advance the African has made in industry in a short time and the responsible positions which he is beginning to fill would be astonished at the progress in those short years since the war. My noble friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York rightly called our attention to the University in Salisbury, an experiment fruitful for future co-operation between the races.
I have noted the point that the noble Viscount made about Northern Rhodesia; but in Northern Rhodesia we have seen elected to Parliament in the last few days Africans representing the different Parties in the Federation the Party of the noble Duke, the Party of the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, Congress and other Parties. We are beginning to see there a Party political system; the first seeds 359 of it are growing in the Central African Federation. In Nyasaland, if it had not been for the disturbances, we could have made a further constitutional advance and given further influence to Africans. In the Federal Parliament the number of Africans this year is double what it was last year, and we shall find the Africans exercising increasing influence there. If we are given patience, and if we can find—and here I wish to respond to the attitude of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition—the all-Party approach to the 1960 review of the Federal Constitution, then we have great hopes of building partnership.
What are we to say? What should be said to-day about federation or the future of federation? I would respectfully remind noble Lords opposite that federation was the Socialist Party's conception. They have said some fairly harsh things today. I am not going to repeat them, but I will say that it might not be thought a very heroic posture to give birth to a baby and then leave it on somebody else's doorstep for him to nourish. I found that that accusation had some basis in it. It was made across the House, so I will leave it there.
I will say that the Socialist conception of federation in Central Africa was right, and economically it has been a success which nobody can deny. My noble friend Lord Milverton, gave many examples of economic progress and the pace of economic and industrial progress. and indeed the increase in social welfare for the African, particularly in Nyasaland. which has flowed from the federal conception. But federations are in themselves most difficult systems to run, and it was always feared that the political growth and the extent of politics in the Federation must be much slower, and would be seen much more slowly, than the economic advantages. My political memory is not all that long, but I remember—the noble Viscount will remember it well—that Western Australia petitioned us for separation from the Commonwealth of Australia. The noble Viscount looks back over a long and distinguished. and somewhat controversial, political career. What would he say if we had, in a panic, submitted then to 360 the plea that Western Australia should separate off from the rest of that Continent?
THE EARL OF HOME
No, we did not. But had we done so we should have done great damage to the State of Western Australia and to that Commonwealth country which now exercises great influence in the world. So when we come to talk about the possibility of secession of Nyasaland from the rest of the Federation, I hope that we shall have patience, and give time for people to see, not only the economic advantages, which are already apparent, but the political advantages which may flow from building a Commonwealth country exercising partnership between the races in the Continent of Africa.
The difficulties of Australia or Canada have been nothing to what they are in the Federation. I think that the noble Duke would probably confirm—at least I have been told, and I have no reason to disbelieve it—that actually the word which is used by the Nyasalanders, for "federation" is exactly the same as they use for the unitary State. So there is a great deal of education to be done. They are slow to understand, and there is room for fear. So when we come to 1960—and again I say this in response to what the noble Lord said in his closing remarks—we want to study the next stage of constitutional advance, and it is of supreme importance and significance that we should get this right for the future both of the Commonwealth and race relations in the continent.
The most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of York has said that there are fears, and it is useless to deny it. When I was in Central Africa a short time ago I concluded from my own observations that there were two basic fears that are not actually on the surface. You do not very often hear them expressed but there are two latent fears, both legitimate in their way. There is the fear of the African that the European will use his wealth, his power and his influence to stop legitimate African advance. Then there is the fear on the part of the European that the African, before he is sufficiently educated and capable of understanding the responsibilities of democracy, will use his numbers 361 to throw the European out of Africa. Those are the latent fears that have to be reconciled; and 1960 will have to play a large part in reconciling them, because partnership must be made real and the obligations of partnership must be understood by both partners.
The most reverend Primate talked of the fears of Dominion status, fears that the African's land might be removed from him, fears that the franchise might be "rigged" against him— in fact, the vague fear that partnership would mean domination. I believe that, with time and patience, all those fears can be removed. and I plead that we should not concentrate on fanning the fears but that all of us should co-operate to remove them. The most reverend Primate asked me whether Her Majesty's Government could not give more reassurance to the Africans. The right honourable gentleman the Colonial Secretary and I have said time and again that we accept in its entirety the Act of 1953 which guarantees the African his rights, but it is because I recognise that there are spiritual forces abroad on this question of the future of Central Africa—that, in the words of one noble Lord, we have to "transform fear info faith"—that I attach so much importance to the preparations for the 1960 review and to the educational opportunities that will be provided if that time is well used.
It was for that reason that my right honourable friend in another place used certain words which said that we were looking at the preparatory machinery, and that it was at that point, if we were successful in finding the right preparatory machinery, that Parliament would wish to be associated with it. Therefore I welcome without reservation the hope expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. and confirmed by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, that we should work together on the approaches for 1960; and I am intensely relieved because that is not the impression which has been given in other quarters—I do not say in another place but in other quarters in the Labour Party. Indeed, Mrs. Barbara Castle said during the week end (if she is correctly reported):Unless we make this one of the great issues of the General Election then we are betraying everything that this country and above all the Labour movement stands for.362 That is reckless, flamboyant political nonsense—and dangerous. It would mean disaster in Central Africa.
I am prepared to accept what noble Lords have said here today—and it is the heart and kernel of the matter—that we must create partnership and together must work to achieve it. Her Majesty's Government have a full realisation of what is at stake. There is at stake the future of harmonious race relations in Africa and the peace of a Continent; and the prize which we may win is a nonracial community, setting an example to the world and healing Nature's great divisions of race and colour between men. For this work I trust that the Federal Government, the Government of the United Kingdom and the Territorial Governments, and, if it is conceivably possible, all the Parties of the State in this country, may be able to work together on the next stage of advance in Central Africa and give what is needed above all—confidence to European and African in the continent. In that way we may yet achieve perhaps the greatest prize in our Colonial story.
§ 12.4 a.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, beginning with the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and continuing with all the other speeches up to and including the last one, I must say that I found the debate fascinating. I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken, and particularly to the two Ministers who have replied with such detail to the points which have been put to them. I would congratulate the two noble Lords who made maiden speeches and I hope we may often have the pleasure of hearing them again. This is not the time to develop any of the points which have been made in the course of the debate; except that I hope the House and public will realise how many and how difficult are the problems which are comprised in this subject. My Lords, I beg your Lordships' leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.