§ 2.41 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved on Tuesday last by Lord Hastings—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:—
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ LORD SILKIN moved as an Amendment to the Motion to add at the end of the proposed Address:
§ "but humbly regret that the gracious Speech contains no proposals for ending the state of emergency in Nyasaland, for the release or trial of political prisoners; or for an early and substantial extension of the franchise in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia so that the Governments of these Protectorates may truly represent their peoples at the proposed Conference on Central African Federation."
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the problems which confront this Government in Africa are numerous and serious, and it would be well worth the time of the House to spend a day or more in discussing them. But I am moving a censure Motion on the Government, and I propose, therefore, to confine myself strictly to the terms of the Amendment and to forgo the privilege of speaking over a wider field. We have put down this Motion because we genuinely believe that the course the Government are about to embark on, coupled with their policy in the past in Central Africa, will have disastrous effects in the Commonwealth and create grave repercussions throughout all its territories, more particularly in our relations with the African people throughout the Continent. I am astonished that the Government have been deaf and blind to all the indications around them, against which they have been repeatedly warned both by the Opposition in the last Parliament and by most observers, and by a good deal of the Press.245
§ We have to-day a new Minister and a new Government, and we feel that it may well be that both the Government and the Minister will find themselves able to be less committed to the policy of the past and able to review the whole position once more objectively; that they will have the courage to break with the past and put forward a new policy if they are convinced it is necessary. We have high hopes that it will be so, and especially after the very reasonable and conciliatory speech which was made yesterday in another place by the new Secretary of State.
§ The facts as regards the Central African territories are well known. They were discussed in this House on a number of occasions shortly before the end of the last Parliament; they were discussed in another place, and they have been extensively discussed in the Press. It is therefore not necessary for me to cover the ground in any detail, but I would state a few facts which I hope will be found to be not too contentious. First the Federation of the three Central African States has existed for nearly six years—that is non-controversial. It was carried into effect in the face of intense opposition from the Africans in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia and in the face of opposition from the members of the Opposition in this place and in another place. It is true that federation has been accompanied by economic advantages to both the Africans and the Europeans, and yet, in spite of these economic blessings which federation is supposed to have conferred on the Africans, they are more opposed to federation to-day than they were in 1953.
§ It is not easy to fathom the minds of the Africans and to ascertain all the reasons which have created this increased hostility, but I think we may assume that fear of increased domination by the Europeans is a factor, and particularly consequent upon the encroachment by the Federal Government upon some of the rights of the separate nationalities. There is also a growing desire on the part of the separate nationalities—and I refer particularly to Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—to manage their own affairs; and, as we are successful in our efforts to provide them with more education and more understanding of events, this feeling will grow, and we ought not to discourage it. There is also a feeling 246 that they cannot now rely on our protection and impartiality. That I deplore, but I believe it to be a fact. There is a loss of confidence, as The Times put it in a leading article yesterday, which has been caused, among other things, by our setting aside the advice of the African Affairs Board that certain amendments to the Federal franchise which were introduced in 1957 discriminated against the two territories.
I should like to draw attention also to the report of the Commonwealth Parliamentary delegation which visited these territories in 1957. This delegation consisted of four Conservative Members of Parliament and three Labour Members, and was led by Mr. Richard Wood, who is to-day the Minister of Power. That delegation issued a unanimous report, which I should like to read. This is what it said:
It is quite clear that to the Africans and to the Asians"—
and we must not forget that the Asians, too, form an integral part of the population—
the term 'partnership' is not yet a reality. In our view, if the races in the territories are to live together in amity the African community must be made to feel that it has a high political stake in the Federation. This would mean an increase in representative government in the territories, together with a substantial widening of African interests in the election of members to the Federal Assembly. These steps appear to us to be essential if African opinion is to be won over to full support of the Federation".
No action has been taken on this recommendation. I should like, by the way, to draw the attention of the House to the fact that that recommendation of this Committee is exactly one of the points that we have put forward in our own Amendment this afternoon.
§ It is a fact that during the whole of the six years of federation there has been no worthwhile advance in African franchise, nor any really serious attempt to give the Africans participation in the management of their own affairs. Now I am not saying that there has been nothing—that would be wrong—but I do emphasise that it has been no worthwhile advance and that the Africans are in no stronger position to-day as regards the management of their affairs than they were six years ago. It is not surprising, therefore, that the opposition to federation has become increasingly vocal.247
§ A state of emergency was declared in Nyasaland in March of last year, under which there were restrictions of the liberty of a number of people there as well as certain restrictions in Northern Rhodesia. The leaders of the Congress Movement have now been imprisoned for nine months without trial or any prospect of trial, and the state of the whole Federation has become restless and uncertain. I think that these facts are virtually incontrovertible. There may be a difference in emphasis. The noble Earl may say that there has been some advance. But, broadly speaking, I think that I have painted a not exaggerated picture of the situation.
§ It is against this inauspicious background, my Lords, that the Government propose to set up the Commission of twenty-six to advise the five Governments in the preparations for the 1960 Review of the constitutional programme and the framework best suited to the achievement of the objects contained in the Constitution of 1953. I am going to leave to some of my noble friends our criticisms of the number and composition of the Commission. We think that it is too big, and we have considerable criticism of the way in which it is to be composed. But I say at once that no criticism is intended to be directed against the noble Viscount who is designated as the chairman of the Commission. In his ability and impartially we have complete confidence.
§ I should like to make some comments on the terms of reference and on the advisability of having a Commission at all at this moment. First, I am puzzled to know why it has been left to the eve of the Review to consider the question of the Constitutional Review and its framework. Surely those should have been considered from time to time right through the period of the Federation. If we were desirous of winning the confidence of the African people, right the way through the six years we should hav been making the necessary appropriate constitutional advances; we should not have left it to a Commission to go out just before the Review and consider what alterations there should be. Furthermore, the terms of reference to the Commission imply, or assume, that federation must continue. If the 248 terms of reference are to be taken literally, there is no scope for proposing any alternative, possibly a more acceptable form of association between the three categories. After all, it may become clear from the evidence that federation is still wholly unacceptable to Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia and may involve the use of force to maintain it. Still less do the terms of reference leave the Commission free to say, if they are of that opinion, that for the time being federation should be abandoned. If the Commission are to go out and consider these matters freely and objectively, they ought not to be tied down to accepting federation as a fact which cannot be altered in any way.
§ My Lords, we have to face this unpalatable fact: that what the Africans appear really to want, it seems to me, is to put an end to the Federation. We all wish—and I say this with all sincerity, on behalf of my noble friends—that the Federation could become acceptable. We are all very much alive to the economic and other advantages that Africans, as well as Europeans, could gain by a restoration of confidence and by the opportunity of working together under federation. But we are bound to recognise that it would be a great mistake to impose a Constitution on a people, and to impose it for an indefinite period. We all know that repressive measures have never resulted in success, and there is no reason to believe that repression at the present time would meet with any better fate.
§ So, having regard to the circumstances at present prevailing in Central Africa, we must ask ourselves the question: is this the right moment to send out a Commission, probably to create positions which will tend to become hardened and rigid on both sides? We take the view that before the Commission is appointed, an attempt should be made to improve the atmosphere in order to give it a reasonable chance of success. That is why we have this Amendment down on the Order Paper.
§ We propose, as a preliminary, the early release, or the placing on trial, of all political prisoners, and the early removal of all restrictions. We are not complaining of the original detention. In reply to a supplementary question the other day, the noble Earl, Lord Perth, said that the Devlin Commission 249 had reported that the Governor had to "act or abdicate"; and we fully agree. But that was in the light of the information then at his disposal: the facts which were brought out in the Devlin Commission's Report indicate that there is no justification to-day for this continued detention. We feel that after the new Minister has had a reasonable opportunity of looking at the position for himself (I understand that he is to see the Prime Ministers of the various Federated States, and that he may even have an opportunity of paying a visit to the Rhodesias and Nyasaland himself) it would be right to release these political prisoners or to put them on trial, and that the Commission should not go out until that has been done.
§ We think also that the leaders of African opinion should be represented on the Commission as free men, or alternatively—and this in my view would be vital—they should be enabled to give their evidence as free men. I observe that in another place it was stated that they would be free to give their evidence. That is quite a different thing from giving their evidence as free men. To have evidence given under duress is not the most healthy circumstance in which to get reasonable evidence from men whose views you want to get.
§ We also ask that the Government should introduce an early and substantial extension of the franchise and of representation in the Legislative Council of both the Northern Rhodesian and the Nyasaland territories, even if it should come into operation at a fixed and definite time not too far distant ahead, so that the Africans may know that at a certain date they will get considerable advances in their status. We must not make the mistake we made in Cyprus, of being indefinite about the time at which we will give the people of these territories their freedom.
§ But if this is done I recognise that it will involve postponement of the Commission and of the Review. What harm would come if that were so? I recognise that it has for some time been accepted that the Review was to take place in the year 1960. But the Constitution under which the Federation was created does not say that at all. It says, under Clause 99, that within not less than seven years nor more than nine years from the date of coming into force of the Constitution there shall be held a Review; 250 and there is nothing sacrosanct about holding this review at the earliest possible date. I should have thought that it would be well worth while postponing the date of the Review, and consequently the date of the Commission's going out, until such time as we had reasonable hopes of being able to carry out both the Inquiry and the Review under more favourable conditions. It is our view that if the things which I am advocating this afternoon could be done they would undoubtedly create the greater confidence and the better conditions which we all desire to see. It is better to hold up this examination and review in order that it should take place in a harmonious atmosphere with a hope of success rather than in a discordant and rebellious one.
§ Many speakers in another place and in this House, including the Prime Minister and many noble Lords opposite, and none more so than the noble Earl who leads this House, have spoken in eloquent terms of the object of United Kingdom colonial policy as being to create a multiracial society in which the three races should be able to live and co-operate together in complete confidence and security as equal partners, and that each of the two territories, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, should work towards becoming eligible for full membership of the Commonwealth. These are indeed praiseworthy objects, and I believe they have been put forward by those who have stated them in complete sincerity. But my noble friends and I are sincerely convinced that their present course of action is calculated to prevent and frustrate these laudable objectives and to embitter increasingly the relations between the different races. It is because of this belief that we have put down this Amendment. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, as an Amendment to the Motion, to add at the end of the proposed Address ("but humbly regret that the gracious Speech contains no proposals for ending the state of emergency in Nyasaland, for the release or trial of political prisoners; or for an early and substantial extension of the franchise in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia so that the Governments of these Protectorates may truly represent their peoples at the proposed Conference on Central African Federation.").—(Lord Silkin.)251
§ 3.4 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, in a way, I suppose this is a third maiden speech which I am making: two in this Chamber and one in another place. Before I begin, I must express my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and his colleagues for the welcome they have given me. May I also acknowledge the intimation, or the invitation, of the noble Earl the Leader of the House, who suggested that this was a halfway stage to his own Benches. I should like to assure him that I shall not take advantage of that invitation to join the peace, perfect peace, of the Benches behind him. I do not leave the Labour Party to become less Radical, but to become more Radical.
I should not have inflicted a speech on your Lordships to-day were it not that the subject is one in which I have taken a great interest for many years and which I think, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has said, is one of the most important that faces us in this country. I want straight away to pay a tribute to the late Secretary of State, Mr. Lennox-Boyd. I want to pay that tribute particularly because he and I on many occasions over the years crossed swords; we did not see eye to eye on many matters. It is too early yet to say what his place will be in the long and distinguished list of Secretaries of State for the Colonies, but one thing we can say about him, and ought to say—because Parliament is a very hard place and public life is a very harsh life, and when a man drops out of it, he has gone—is that nobody who has occupied this position ever had a more sincere interest in it than Mr. Lennox-Boyd, who in his heart of hearts had a great desire to do his best for the people for whom he was responsible. I should also like to welcome the new Secretary of State, Mr. Macleod, and to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Perth, on at least remaining in the saddle and on not having been moved away from a Department in which I know he is deeply interested.
Years ago, just before he died, the late Field-Marshal Smuts said to me: "You know, Africa is the forgotten continent; nobody is thinking about it; but I am perfectly sure that in a very few years' time Africa is going to come into its own and is going to be the continent of which we are all thinking." I say that he was 252 right. Africa is now going through the same sort of upheaval as Europe went through in the sixteenth century: new ideas are fermenting and new forces are germinating, and when the drums roll in one part of Africa, as they are to-day at this very moment in the Belgian Congo, the voices of those drums are heard from one end of the continent to the other. The greatest challenge that face this country at the present moment is the challenge of Central and East Africa, and how we meet it is very largely going to mean whether we get a world in which Parliamentary democracy can exist and can rule rather than a world in which totalitarian Powers and totalitarian systems rule instead. The position is not yet lost, in my opinion, but the sands are running out at a terrifying rate and there is little time to lose.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, dealt with the background to this problem shortly, but quite adequately, in my opinion, and we might just bring it up to date. Since the statement by the noble Earl, Lord Home, on July 21, two things have happened: Mr. Chirwa, one of the leaders of the Africans in Nyasaland, has been released from custody—a fate which has not yet come to Dr. Banda or 458 colleagues of his who are still in detention; and Mr. Chirwa has founded the new Malawi Congress Party in Nyasaland. In addition to that, the officials who are obtaining the necessary information and material for the Parliamentary Commission that is to sit next year are now completing their inquiries. I regret to say that in Nyasaland the deadlock is almost complete. The Africans are sullen; the Government is aloof. The Africans have not been mollified by the tentative moves by the Government in the Executive and Legislative Councils. Strangely enough, in Southern Rhodesia the position seems to be more healthy, and there certainly has been a considerable move there in European opinion. In fact, steps have taken place in Southern Rhodesia which only a few years ago would have been thought to be quite impossible.
Of all theories in this world, I should have thought the most stupid was the theory of racial discrimination: that by reason of a person's birth—though, after all, our birth is one thing for which we have no responsibility whatever, and can 253 take neither blame nor praise—because of the place where he was born, the colour of his skin, the language he talks, in some way or other that person is of a higher or lower order than the rest of us. Unfortunately, this principle or theory is held in certain parts of Africa. One objection is that the Africans have black skins and a certain configuration of the face. The reason for this was brought home to me very clearly only last year in Port Harcourt. I was representing the East Nigerian Government before the Willink Commission, and we were carrying on our deliberations in a tin-roofed but without any fans, or anyway without ceiling fans, in a temperature which was indescribably hot and indescribably humid. It occurred to me that, of all the people there, we, the few Europeans, were the worst equipped with our pink cheeks and narrow noses. The Africans had been far better equipped by the Lord to deal with the sort of conditions with which they had to deal. Thai is the reason why some people have dark skins and some have pink skins, and some have broad noses and some have narrow noses. It is simply a question of conforming to the geographical and physical conditions in which we live—a very sensible decision of the Lord, if one may say so. But that is very different from saying that a person with a certain type of skin and facial description is not fit to rule himself, whereas others with other types of skin and colour are. When put in that way it is so absurd that none of us reasoning creatures can believe it for a moment.
The other objection is that not many of these people—and we shall probably hear this in the course of the debate to-day—or that at present not sufficient of them have been trained. Whose fault is that? We have been in these territories for many years. Whose fault is it that they have not been trained to undertake the responsible duties which are required of them? It is remarkable how quickly Africans can acclimatise themselves to their duties. Last year I sat in at the deliberations, being the only European there, of African Cabinets on two occasions, and I can assure your Lordships that those men, who have had comparatively few years in government or experience of that kind, carried on the Cabinet in a perfectly thorough and 254 efficient way. My experience of people in the Far East and Africa is that basically we are much the same. Basically our desires and limitations are much the same, and it does not really make very much difference. We can exclude, as I hope an objective audience looking at this problem purely objectively can exclude, any question of race from the consideration of this problem. The urgent necessity to-day is to restore confidence and to create a better climate of opinion in the Africans in Central Africa.
We on these Benches entirely agree with the Amendment which has been proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and we shall support it, if necessary, in the Lobby. In addition to the suggestions made by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, which I hope the Government will accept—I really do not see why they should not—I would, if I were in their position, go to Dr. Banda, Mr. Chirwa and the other leaders and say to them: "Look here, mistakes have been made in the past on all sides. Let us forget the past. Let us tear it up. Let us start afresh. We will treat you as responsible politicians, and we have no doubt that you will behave like them." I would suggest to the extremists on both sides to keep open minds and closed mouths. Statements like that of the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, that, with a few minor exceptions, all Africans are liars, are not helpful, to put it mildly. Statements like that of the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, who in this House suggested Mat we should send out the British Army to teach the Nyasalanders a lesson are not helpful either. Because what does "teach them a lesson" mean?—shooting them, beating them? Perhaps that is the opinion of noble Lords who, in the words of the noble Earl, Lord Winter-ton, in common with the rest of the Conservative Party, are now Left of Centre.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has referred to a Parliamentary Commission. This could create a better understanding of the problem, and it could find a common approach. There were three opinions on this matter in the beginning. There was the Government's opinion; there was Sir Roy Welensky's opinion, and there was the Labour Opposition opinion. The Government, to do them 255 justice—and particularly the noble Earl, Lord Home—did their best to find some sort of common ground between Sir Roy Welensky, who gave the Federal Government's opinion, and the Labour Opposition. The noble Earl worked very hard to try to do that. I think it is fair to say that he got Sir Roy Welensky about as far along the road as he would go. One must look at Sir Roy Welensky's problems. He has difficulties, as we have here. I think that he even had a Censure Motion put down against him in his own Legislative Council. He undoubtedly moved a considerable way towards meeting the point of view of the Labour Opposition. He said quite clearly that his people in his Legislative Council did not welcome Parliamentarians from the British Parliament coming to Southern Rhodesia and wandering around and making inquiries.
I feel that to-day the British Government's view, the Government's synthesis, as it were, between Sir Roy Welensky's opinion and the Labour Opposition's opinion, is not an unreasonable one, and I think we should all do well to accept it. It seems to me that the present framework of the Commission is reasonable in the circumstances, and is likely to be workable. I would therefore ask the Labour Party, as well as noble Lords in other parts of the House, to accept the Government's Commission as they propose it at the moment. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, is a good choice as Chairman. I feel sure that he will hold the balance in the best possible way. I hope he will not have the same sort of experience as Mr. Justice Devlin had.
The main point in all this, however, is: Who are to be the African representatives on this Commission? Your Lordships will remember that there are to be five Africans appointed as members of this Commission. Who are they going to be? That is really the key to the whole matter. We can assume that there will be distinguished people from this country, who will do their best in the circumstances, and that there will be distinguished people from the Federation, who will also do their best. But they will all be Europeans. I think there are to be two members of the Commonwealth who may not necessarily be Europeans, 256 and I hope they will not be; I hope they will be Indians or Malayans or something of that kind, as members of the Commonwealth. But it is mainly the Africans upon whom the success of this Commission will turn.
I would suggest that the Government consult Dr. Banda, Mr. Chirwa and the other representatives of the Africans, whether they are in detention or not, and do their best to get from them—and I think this is essential—a list of Africans who they will agree should be on this Commission. That may be impossible to do—I do not know—but I think it is well worth a trial, to try to get from Dr. Banda and Mr. Chirwa a list of people they would regard as suitable. Because unless both the Africans and the Europeans have confidence in this Commission, then the whole point of it will be gone. If the Africans reject these proposals completely, if the Europeans reject them completely, there is really no point in setting up the Commission. I do not think the proposal which I make to the two noble Earls who are going to reply is at all unreasonable, and may well sow the seed of a satisfactory solution to this problem.
Talking about solutions, I would remark that it is rather early at the moment to suggest firm solutions to this problem, but we can at least be talking about them and thinking about them. In the first place, I think there are certain definite principles which this Commission, and we ourselves as Parliamentarians who will ultimately have to decide the problem, ought to bear in mind. The first is the need for political advance in the three territories to democratic self-government, and that within a reasonable time. Once this principle is acknowledged and acted upon, then the Africans will co-operate in becoming trained to take their share in the running of the three territories. Furthermore, they will then, I feel certain, be prepared to carry out their responsibilities to the Europeans and the Asians who have played such a vital part in the development of these territories. They will realise the immense contribution that the Europeans and the Asians have made and will be prepared to acknowledge that contribution and, as it were, to incorporate it into the framework of their future lives in Africa.
257 I must say, having regard to this point, that I have been most concerned at the attitude of the present Tanganyikan Government. It is all right, you may say, to kick Asians around; there are not many of them, comparatively speaking. But if you start kicking any race around as a race, you never know what will happen and who gets kicked around next. I have been most concerned at the attitude of the Tanganyikan Government in its treatment of some of the Asians in its territory.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF PERTH)
I think the noble Lord means Uganda, not Tanganyika.
§ LORD OGMORE
No, I have no complaints about the Uganda Government. It is not their fault that the Asians have had such a bad time in Uganda. I am talking about the Tanganyikan Government. The Asians are having a bad time in Uganda, but it is not the fault of the Government but of the Africans. But in Tanganyika the Government itself has some responsibility for what has happened, and that is a very bad precedent to follow. On the question of African rule and what is going to happen when the Africans—as they will; there is no question about it—get majority rule in all parts of Africa, I wish some people who talk so despondently about this would go and visit Nigeria. There is a good example. There are no Europeans in the Governments; they are all-African Governments. They have, of course, a certain number of Europeans in the administrative services and the technical services, and they are recruiting more. This is the point I want to make. Here is a country with an all-African Government—in fact there will be four African Governments soon, when they have independence. Nobody is refraining from putting capital into Nigeria for that reason. In fact capital is pouring into Nigeria—British capital, American, German, Italian and Israeli capital. I have never seen the figures, because no one has ever computed them, but I guarantee that if the figures were computed of the capital being poured into Nigeria anti the capital in Nigeria at the moment, it would be as much as, if not more than, the European capital in Kenya; and soon it will be more than the European capital in the whole of 258 central Africa. What are we afraid of? No one worries about the risk to capital in Nigeria. Why should there be any worry about the risk to capital in Central Africa?
Yesterday in another place on this point about the representation of Africans, which is one of the key questions in this whole problem, the new Secretary of State, Mr. Macleod, said he did not want representation in the Legislative Councils of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland by races but as a result of a common roll (I am not quoting him literally; this is a digest of what he said); in other words, he did not want the Legislative Councils to represent races but to be returned, as Members of another place are in this country, from a common roll, from electors from constituencies. I entirely agree with him on that; he is perfectly right. Such advice as I gave years ago in Africa and Malaya was to do this very thing, to get away from this racial representation.
There is, however, a curious anomaly in this case. The Secretary of State does not want racial representation; he wants a common roll. But he wants the common roll with a very limited and qualitative franchise. You cannot have both; this makes nonsense. You can either have racial representation or you can have a common roll, with everybody on it. You cannot have half and half, because then you are trying to have racial representation with a common roll; and that, surely, must be nonsense. Perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Perth, when he comes to reply, will tell us how this dangerous illusion came into the mind—because I have never heard anyone say this before—of the Secretary of State after only a week or so in office. I would ask the noble Earl to do his best to scrub out from the mind of his right honourable friend this thinking, which is both dangerous and incorrect.
I would also ask the noble Earl why the Nyasaland Africans are so different from the Africans in other parts of Africa, in West Africa and North East Africa, Somaliland, and particularly in Basutoland. I want to compliment the noble Earl, Lord Home, on his recent action in Basutoland. He has been very shy over this; he has not told us anything about it, so far as I recall. There in Basutoland, in the very heart of the 259 Union, surrounded by Union territory on all sides, an island in the heart of the Union, the noble Earl, Lord Home, has arranged for an electoral roll, for elections in January next and for an elected Parliament for the people of Basutoland. That surely is a very courageous thing to do in the heart of the Union of South Africa. And now that he has done that courageous thing, perhaps he will tell us in what way the people of Basutoland differ from the people of Nyasaland. If he can bestow this system upon the people for whom he is responsible in Basutoland, why is it that his colleague the Colonial Secretary cannot bestow the same system immediately on the people of Nyasaland?
The second principle (and I shall say very little about the second and the others) I think we ought to bear in mind is the need for a great deal of economic assistance by us to Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. I should like to ask the Secretary of State, when he comes to reply, what specific proposals he has in this regard. In respect to the gracious Speech, the noble Earl referred to the fact that the foundation of peace lies in bringing the standard of living of underdeveloped nations nearer to that of the industrial nations. We all agree with those sentiments and we welcome them. Perhaps he would tell us precisely how he intends to bring them into being in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia—in other words, what developments are going to take place there so as to bring this most desirable future state into being? How are they going to be brought nearer to us so far as their standards of living are concerned?
The third principle is that we must not stop short at Central Africa in our genius for constitutional development of various kinds. We have the most diverse constitutional arrangements in the world. We have in our Commonwealth a non-elected Queen, the Queen of Tonga; we have an elected King, the King of Malaya. We have a republic in India and we have a republic in Pakistan. We have other countries in various states of constitutional development and having various constitutional forms. Surely, with that genius of ours for applying Constitutions to fit the particular standards of the time, we can create some form of Constitution in Central Africa that is going to meet the needs and 260 desires of the people. At the moment, it is quite clear that federation as it has been conceived does not suit the bulk of the people; and at the moment—I say "at the moment" —there is no possible likelihood that it will. So is it not possible for us to consider other forms of association—confederation, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said, customs unions, and the like? There are all sorts of ways in which we can achieve the object we have in mind—namely, to have some kind of economic relationship between these three territories.
The fourth principle is that it is essential for us here to make social contacts with the people of these territories. I hope that the Secretary of State for the Colonies will go out soon to Nyasaland. Will he see not only the present leaders of African opinion, who unfortunately are mainly in detention—he can go and see them, certainly—but will he not also see the future leaders? At the present moment they are much more difficult to get hold of, but they can be got hold of if you know where to look for them. I would suggest to the Secretary of State that, on occasion, he should slip away from the cavalcade that always accompanies Ministers on these occasions; that he makes his own investigations, that he walks alone in a bush shirt and a pair of slacks—they will not recognise him; they never recognise anybody in these places—and that he goes around the streets, to the bazaars and to the coffee shops, and sits down and listens. Probably he will not understand what they are saying, but he will gather what they are saying; he will learn what the ordinary man on the street is saying and thinking in these places, and he will find out that there is not a great deal of difference between that and what the ordinary man in this country thinks.
My Lords, in conclusion, may I ask the Government, and particularly the noble Earl, Lord Home, who has vast responsibilities in this area, without a moment's delay to take the initiative in this whole problem—the initiative such as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and I have suggested; and as an earnest of their good intentions may I strongly recommend that they accept the Amendment moved so ably by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin.
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I welcome—I think I speak for all of your Lordships—the speech of the mover of the Amendment, and that he should have done so in such a nice and reasonable way, even although I think he strayed a good deal from the Amendment as it is written and argued perhaps more generally—though there is no harm in that. I welcome still more the "third maiden speech" of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. I welcome it because he himself supports the idea of a Commission and because he paid such a warm tribute to my former Secretary of State. The noble Lord's wisdom and his valuable suggestions on African and Colonial affairs will be of the greatest value to all of us, wherever he may sit, even if he does not come the whole way round.
There is one point that I must cake up which, quite frankly, I do not fully understand, and that is when he made an attack on the qualitative common roll, which is a policy which we have adopted, I think with great success, in Northern Rhodesia. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in his speech referred to how things in Northern Rhodesia were going better. It is no negation of the idea of a franchise that it should be qualitative. The idea of a qualitative franchise is something which was a common thing to find in this country until a short time ago, and it is the best way of getting all the races to take their part in political life without questioning whether they may be African or white.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am sorry to intervene but I did not make it clear to the noble Earl. What I meant was that if you decry the idea of having racial representation—which I think is the right thing to do—then you cannot at the same time have a qualitative roll, because that is a way of getting racial representation in by the back door.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, you can and you do have a common rôle. As I have pointed out, in Northern Rhodesia we have had success in getting one and all to play their part in the work of government when they are up to it.
Before I deal in some detail with the Amendment, I have it in mind, with your 262 Lordships' permission, to roam a little wider on colonial matters. I shall not roam too wide. In particular, I want to touch on two subjects. One is my former Secretary of State, and the other is my recent trip to Nigeria. Just three months ago in this House, and also in another place, there was a strong attack on the Government for the tragedy of Hola and on the Devlin Report. I am not complaining that there should have been such an attack on either subject, but, in a way, it was so unlucky that the tenure of office of one who, am sure, is one of the greatest Colonial Secretaries should, as it were, end on this note.
His achievements in office—he was Secretary of State for over five years—are apt to be taken for granted, though I am confident that in fact they will always live. To name a few: independence for Ghana and for Malaya, and in 1960 for Nigeria; Federation of the West Indies set on its path, and great constitutional and other progress in many other territories. Of course, his alone is not the credit for all this. It is, too, the work of countless others in the Colonial and Overseas Service, some of whom sit now in your Lordships' House, and, of course, of many past Governments. All the same, his was a very personal contribution—ask the Prime Minister of Ghana, Dr. Nkrumah, or the Prime Minister of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman; or, again, ask the Prime Minister of Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar, or the Premiers of the Regions, or indeed any of those who were fortunate enough to take part in the Nigerian Constitutional Conferences of 1957 and 1958. One and all of them, and many others, know his devotion to the colonial peoples and to their wellbeing, whether of things material or things of the mind. Colour and race did not and do not enter into his concept of relations. It has been a great inspiration and a great privilege for me to have worked under him and I shall never forget it. And now I have a new boss, and already I know that to work under him is going to be good and to be fun.
Let me now turn for a moment to my Nigerian trip. I spent an all too short time there—three weeks to be exact. Let me take this opportunity of thanking all my friends in Nigeria, and particularly the Federal and Regional Governments, 263 for all their kindness and the trouble they took with my visit. What I saw fully confirmed my belief in the great future that lies ahead for that country, a country with a population of between 35 and 40 million people, nearly one-fifth of all the peoples of Africa.
This great population is in, for Africa, a relatively small country—something only about four times the size of the United Kingdom—but the very fact is indicative of the richness of its soil and its climate. Not only can its people grow enough to feed themselves but they also produce about £100 million of cash crops for export—such things as vegetable oils, cocoa, cotton and rubber; and with improved methods of agriculture and improved strains of crops I am quite sure that these figures will soon be largely exceeded. Now they have discovered oil; how much it is early times to say, but it is in important quantities.
The economic outlook is good. Nigeria can, in the main, pay its way and finance its hugh development programme. Roads and railways (it is one of the few countries, I suppose, where railways are now being built), huge power projects and harbours, as well as industrial plants, are fast progressing. And the people look to us, above all, to help them not only with money but also, and most important with industrial skills and experience. There is, I am sure, a great opportunity for our industry, and we, and they, must think not only in terms of exports but of setting up in the country and of training its people—who are quick to learn—both on the spot and in this country, so that they can go forward on their own. Everywhere there you feel the bustle and awakening of the country. I have spoken of economic matters but equally help is needed in the schools, in the Health Service, and so on—
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
—and there is room, and more, not only for help from us but for help from others of the outside world. But Nigerians look first to us as their tried and trusted friends and we must not fail, for I believe that if Nigeria goes forward, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has said as I am sure she will, her peoples' influence for good in Africa will be decisive.
264 The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, has asked that I should turn to the Amendment and Nyasaland. I will try to be not too controversial, but the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who raised the matter first did not stick very strictly to the terms of the Amendment; rather did he range widely and question the whole policy on the Federation. It is, of course, very helpful to get some of these ideas, and one is always open to consider them, and has no closed mind. When the noble Lord puts forward the suggestion for the postponement of the plan we have launched to get on with the development of the Federation or whatever it may be, then I feel that that suggestion is a difficult one and is not one about which I can give him much encouragement.
Three months ago we had a debate on the Devlin Report and it is now the first subject on which the Opposition challenge Her Majesty's Government. In the meantime the Government have had a resounding vote of confidence from the country, and at least that vote can be interpreted as not disapproving of our policy in Africa. Why, then, it may be asked, do the Opposition raise the issue again so soon? I believe the answer is to be found in the speech of the Mover of the humble Address to Her Majesty, the noble Lord, Lord Hastings. He showed how there have always been two streams of thought and action on colonial policy: that of Warren Hastings and the great colonial administrators on the side of law and order, and that of such as Wilberforce and Burke on the side of individual liberty. Sometimes the streams diverge, sometimes they run parallel and sometimes they merge.
I believe that those who move the Amendment do so in the belief that they are pleading the cause of individual liberty—and what is more important? The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, said the other day, "This is a matter that really touches our heart". But while I respect their belief and sincerity, we are not behind them on this matter, and I believe they are in danger of being led astray. If we follow their Amendment we might get exactly the opposite to what they and we want, namely, liberty of the individual. I believe that if conscience is allowed to overrule reason, what they and we deeply desire will be lost and there 265 will be great suffering for the people who are entrusted to our care.
I should wish to take the Amendment as it stands. It is divided into two parts. The first is that we should end the emergency with the release or trial of individuals. As your Lordships know, ending the state of emergency is the responsibility of the Governor, just as is its declaration. If it is ended too soon, or if individuals are released too soon, then, again, we may have violence, and his would be the burden and the blame for the suffering of the people. Unhappily it would seem (and it is only eight months since the emergency was declared) that violence threatens still. Mr. Andrew Kayira, a distinguished African, a short while ago was appointed to the Legislative Council. Within a day or two of his appointment his house was burned; and since then there have been several other cases of arson. Intimidation, which is so often referred to in the Devlin Report, is unhappily still a weapon in that country and points to the continuing necessity for some emergency powers for Nyasaland.
Neither the Governor nor Her Majesty's Government wish to see these powers retained for a moment longer than is necessary, and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State in another place yesterday told how the whole of this question of emergency powers in the Colonies has been specially considered. The aim of the Governor of Nyasaland and ourselves is, of course, to get back to normal and legitimate political activity in Nyasaland. Some indication of this is to be seen in the growth of the Malawi Party of which Mr. Orton Chirwa is Chairman; until recently he was a detainee and he had been legal adviser to Dr. Banda. The Malawi Party policy is strongly opposed to federation and the policy of the Government; but legitimate opposition—and I would stress the word "legitimate"—has nothing to fear.
Again, on the release of detainees I would point out that the Governor has already managed to reduce the number detained to well under half of those who were detained at the time when the emergency was declared. It is not enough, but it is progress, and, as all your Lordships will know, he is constantly reviewing cases to see whether he can cut down 266 the numbers still further. But to go too fast may ruin everything, and would take this opportunity to reiterate our complete confidence in the Governor and in his judgment.
Last week the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, raised the question of Mwenya and his application for habeas corpus. That. My Lords, is a very complex legal question, and I am happy to say that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor is to deal with this matter so that I shall not have to travel into these difficult and uncharted seas.
I would now turn to the second part of the Amendment, which is a call for an extended franchise for Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia so that those taking part in the 1960 Conference may be truly representative. Before I touch on that, I think I must refer to a red herring which I felt the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, drew across in his speech on this subject, when he said that it was necessary because we had made no progress for six years in bringing Africans into Government in those two territories. My Lords, that simply is not the case. If your Lordships look at the record, even in Nyasaland to-day, you will see that Africans are in the majority in unofficial members. It is true they are nominated rather than chosen by election, although until recently they were so chosen: that is a state of affairs which is due to the emergency. Again, we have two Africans on the Executive Council in Nyasaland, and in Northern Rhodesia there are many Africans who are in the Legislative Council. So to say that there has been no progress is just, as I said before, not the case.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I intervene just to correct the noble Earl. I did not say that there has been no progress; I said there had been very little material progress.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I do not want to become too controversial on this matter, but when one recalls how many Africans had the vote or a seat in the Legislative Council in the days of the Labour Government, one would say perhaps that the progress is very marked, because in those days there were none.
I believe that the second part of the Amendment, to which I have referred, is based on a misunderstanding of the position. If without an extension of the 267 franchise the people of the territories would not be well heard, I myself would support the Amendment; or again, if, but for such an extension of the franchise, the protected status of peoples were endangered, I would support the Amendment. But neither of those things is so. Let us consider first the protected status. In this I cannot do better than quote what my right honourable friend said in another place yesterday. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 612 (No. 8), col. 692]:… the pledge in the preamble"—that is, to the 1953 Constitution—is absolute, and I repeat the undertaking given by the Prime Minister in this House on 22nd July;'The British Government will certainly not withdraw its protection from Nyasaland and Rhodesia in the short run, and in the long run our object is to advance these Territories to fully responsible government'.The Prime Minister went on to say that while the Legislatures of the two Northern Territories were constituted in their present stage to conduct their ordinary affairs, they would not be more than one element in the machinery which might be devised for the purpose of obtaining the views of the inhabitants.These pledges make it plain that changes in the franchise before the 1960 Review are unnecessary if the proposers of the Amendment had in mind that such changes would be a necessary safeguard against any change in the protected status of the Northern Territories.
Let me return to the proposition that without the extension of franchise the peoples will not be well heard: that their opinions before the Commission, or before the Conference, more importantly, will not be properly represented. In fact there are two avenues open to them. One will be the 1960 Conference, and the other is, of course, the Monckton Commission. This Commission will hear representatives of all the Parties from Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, representatives of any significant branch of political opinion, whether or not they are in detention when the Commission is operating; and for those who so wish it, the Commission will be ready to publish their statements for one and all to know and to see. Could anything be mare fair?
This, my Lords, is one of the things which make the Commission and its 268 composition of such importance, bearing in mind its purpose—namely, to try to create both here and in Africa a common mind on the next stages of the political evolution in the Federation. We have made a great and fortunate start in having Lord Monckton of Brenchley as its chairman, and I know that all your Lordships join with me in expressing our gratitude to him for accepting this post. We—and I know that this also is true of the Federal Government and other Governments as well as ourselves—mean to have a Commission of the same high quality (if I may so put it) as the chairman, drawn not only from this country but also from the Commonwealth and the area of the Federation. For us all and when I say "all" I think of the Parties opposite, as well as others in this country—to support the Commission in every way, to ensure its best membership is, I believe, the best way to contribute to African confidence, which we all desire, and to the future wellbeing of the peoples of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and to hasten the return to happier things in Nyasaland.
As for the other avenue for the peoples of the Northern Territories to make known their views, again I will quote what was said by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State yesterday. He said (col. 692):The Amendment presupposes that the Conference in 1960 will be between Governments, but that is not what Article 99 of the Constitution says. It is more explicit than that. It says that at the appropriate date: 'There shall be convened a conference consisting of delegations from the Federation, from each of the three territories, and from the United Kingdom Government chosen by their respective Governments for the purpose of reviewing this Constitution'.… at this distance of time it would … be premature to indicate how the delegations from the Northern Territories to this Conference may be chosen. But I think it is equally premature to assume, as the … Amendment did … that any such delegations would be drawn solely from the Government Benches in the Legislatures of those two Territories.My Lords, it has been a little difficult to know where to begin or where to end on this matter, because one might again go all over the ground on Nyasaland which has been debated so often recently in Your Lordships' House. I have therefore tried in the main to stick to the points raised—
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I wonder whether I might ask the noble Earl this question, because it is rather important. He said the representatives of the 1960 official Conference would not necessarily all be drawn from members of the Governments in these countries. Could he say whether the actual appointments here will be made by Her Majesty's Government here, as it was in the earlier ones, in both our time and in the Labour Government's time? Will the delegations which come from the Federation and the three territories be appointed by the respective Governments of those territories?
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I think the answer to that is, "Yes". Perhaps I might read just once more the actual sentence in Article 99. It says:There shall be convened a conference consisting of delegations from the Federation, from each of the three territories, and from the United Kingdom Government chosen by their respective Governments for the purpose of reviewing this Constitution".
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
As I said, my Lords, I have tried in the main to deal in detail with the Amendment as it stands, but I should not wish it to be thought that we are not constantly seeking new ways to improve the situation and to return to more normal times. As your Lordships know, it was announced yesterday that the Governors of both the Northern Territories are shortly to come back to this country for consultation, and our aim, with them, is not only to get political life going again but, in conjunction with the Federal Government—and let us never forget our debt to the Federal Government—to improve in every way possible the lives of the people of Nyasaland, whether materially or in health and education.
I remember how, a short while ago, there was a good deal of surprised comment in the newspapers about the job that the Colonial Administration had been doing in Cyprus during the emergency, and how, despite all the difficult times, the real work of developing the country was going on. My Lords, this is, of course, true also of Nyasaland at the present time, and I should like to pay my tribute to the overseas service who are doing just this in Nyasaland at this 270 difficult time. Our hope is that, with such steps as the appointment of the Monckton Commission, and with the constant reiteration of our pledges that we stand by the people of the two Northern Territories, they will come to recognise that they have nothing to fear and that the way to progress is not by violence or by intimidation. Then, together, we can all go forward to the constitutional development and fully responsible self-government of Nyasaland that is our avowed aim and purpose.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, we have listened to a speech from the noble Earl which I think might be summed up as striving to put the best possible face on a bad case; and I must say that he certainly has not done anything towards convincing me, at any rate, that the excellent case put by my noble friend Lord Silkin has been properly answered, nor has he in any way avoided the final Division to which we must carry the House at the end of the debate. It is a pity he saw fit to chide my noble friend for not sticking to the Amendment. He seemed to me to wander very far from that in the first ten minutes of his own speech to your Lordships' House. Perhaps one part of it, referring to his personal friend the late Secretary of State, might well have been rendered direct to the Prime Minister before the decision to drop his Secretary of State, as he was then, altogether. However, we say that in the case of Nigeria no doubt great progress has been made.
THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, I think the noble Viscount is being a little unfair. He is suggesting that my noble friend the late Secretary of State was dropped. I think the noble Viscount knows quite well that the late Secretary of State retired entirely of his own wish.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Perhaps it might have been more truthful to say that there was a lack of pressure on him to retain his very successful management of the office. Apparently there was not very much pressure.
271 Now I will stick to the Amendment, if I may. I want these points in the Amendment really answered, and I feel certain that the noble Earl the Leader of the House will try to deal with them. On the general question, all sides of the House poured their hearts out in July. We on this side of the House were taking a very different view from some noble Lords on other sides of the House. We poured our hearts out, but we have not got any further on the way of getting our point of view met. For example, even in the last few days we have been told that Dr. Banda and other notable Africans of Nyasaland are to be kept interned indefinitely at the instigation of the Governor of the Protectorate only, until he is of the opinion that there will be no danger to law and order upon their release. I find that an astonishing conclusion to arrive at, in view of the terms of the Report of the Devlin Commission. They can find no case in fact to be delivered against this Christian African, Dr. Banda. It is an amazing thing that, in the year 1959, we should have wandered so far away from those democratic principles of liberty and justice that the British people have been brought up to know, to understand, and to work for at all times. My Lords, the state of emergency has been described as having lasted seven months. I correct the noble Earl on that. It is practically eight months now. I think it started on March 9: it is November 3 to-day; and still there is no move in this direction.
Might I ask the noble Earl who leads the House (whose genuine desire for the welfare of the Commonwealth we all know, and whose personal attitude to matters of religion and freedom we have always welcomed in this House) one very personal Scottish question: have the Government sent an answer yet to the Presbyterian Church of Scotland about Dr. Banda? Considerable pressure was brought upon them. I think the Duke of Hamilton went up to talk to them, and there was a good deal of pressure brought on them. Are they satisfied? It does not appear from the results of the Election in Scotland, whatever happened elsewhere, that on either unemployment or upon Nyasaland the Scottish elector is completely satisfied; and we are making no real progress in that matter.
272 The second point I would make to the noble Earl is this: that we are asking for the release or the trial of those who are incarcerated. Now the noble Earl, Lord Perth, referred to the fact, as if it was a matter of very great achievement, that, of the persons who have been treated as detainees, less than half remain in detention. From one point of view that is very good. I am speaking only in round numbers, but my recollection is that the number of people interned was between 1,300 and 1,350; that about 134 only of those have been the subject of a charge and a trial; that others have been let out at different times for all kinds of different reasons, but that to-day there remain in custody something like 560. Am I right?
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
As I said, I am speaking from memory. I must say that, after eight months, that is the most extraordinary position to be in; and I suggest that if you go on pursuing this kind of policy in Nyasaland then, instead of having an emergency period of eight months, you may get much nearer an emergency period of seven years, as in Kenya. I thoroughly believe in what the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said: you simply cannot deal with these matters by repression. For example, if you read the leading article in the magazine Eastern World, you will note that in all parts of the world to-day the attitude of the British people and of the British Parliament to this problem of Africa is being watched very closely indeed. Asia, as well as Africa, is on the march: and to-day, in those countries where they are not Communist-controlled, they know that the only possible defence against Communism, and the only chance of getting anything like a free State for themselves in the future, is to see the success of social democracy—and they believe that they have as much right to it as anybody living in the United Kingdom. Therefore what we are doing in this matter is likely to be of vast importance to us, not only in Africa but also in the Eastern world with which we shall have continually to deal. When will the charges be made against these persons in 273 custody? Will the noble Earl please answer that for us? That is vastly important.
The third point is that we ask for an early and substantial extension of the franchise in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, so that the Governments of these Protectorates may truly represent their peoples at the proposed Conference on Central African Federation. If I understood the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, aright, what he is suggesting is that there is no need for that; that we do not need to do anything before the 1960 Conference. What sort of actual representation will the 2¾ million of Africans in Nyasaland get in the Conference of 1960? There are certainly some Africans in the Legislature to-day, but how many of them are there by a vote which is in any way indicative of the feelings of the 2¾ million Africans?
Should I not be right in saying that you have only 8,000 whites in the Protectorate? What is the position of the balance of power in that Protectorate of the Crown? Apparently you want to drive the Africans into the Central Federation in pursuit of what is now called "the multi-racial policy." I must say that if you think you will ever get lasting peace from action of that kind, you are very wrong. I should have thought that by now the Government would have learned the lessons of the past, and the lessons of their own failures as well as of their successes. They have had both in their colonial policy during the last eight years.
What are we asking for? We are asking for an immediate—perhaps I am putting it too strongly—an early and substantial extension of the franchise in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. In another place yesterday it was pointed out that in the Federation at the present moment Sir Roy Welensky, acting as Premier of the Federation, is accorded, in that extraordinary qualitative vote you have in those areas, 37,000 votes out of 64,000, which gives him control of 44 seats. This is equal to the Prime Minister's controlling 45 per cent., or little less than half, of the total population of the territory. Is that the kind of basis on which you want to march forward towards social democracy in Central Africa? Apparently you have not learned anything from the attitude 274 of the Africans themselves. The Devlin Commission were perfectly clear about the view of the majority of the African people in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, although, of course, they were not talking in the main about Nyasaland. Therefore, it seems to me a very reasonable request to the Government to take steps now, in view of the ascertained facts, to so extend the suffrages of the people in these two Protectorates of our Crown that they may get a reasonable approach to representation in the Conference which is to take place, as at present suggested, in 1960.
It seems to me that at the present moment the African population has little foundation to rest upon in the different statements which have been made from time to time on behalf of the Government. I feel that it would be a good idea if the noble Earl the Leader of the House, when he comes to reply to the debate later on, would give us some clarification of the statement he made to the House on July 27, 1959—not merely in order to give us clarification but perhaps also to bring to the African population, a little more faith in what is really intended in the future, if that is possible.
The quotation I take first of all is from column 596 [Vol. 218] of our own OFFICIAL REPORT for July 27. It says:The conception is that as power is transferred from the United Kingdom in respect of the two Northern Territories it will be transferred not to the Federal Government but to the Governments of the two Northern Territories, which will progressively become more and more representative of Africans until they have African majorities.Later [col. 597], the noble Earl said:So it is clear to me, and I think it will be clear to your Lordships, that both here and in Africa there are the most widespread misconceptions, and that the process of public education is essential to enable people to have confidence in the action of Governments when the time for the review comes in 1960.I remember saying at the time that I found it rather difficult to follow what the noble Earl really meant to establish.
When we turn to the Observer of August 29 last—the House was in Recess and I way away then, and I had my attention brought to this only recently—it appears that Mr. Roberts, Minister of Labour and Mines in Northern Rhodesia, and spokesman for Roy 275 Welensky's United Federation Party, called Lord Home's declaration… a blast at the very foundations on which the present Northern Rhodesian Constitution has been built.That shows pretty clearly to me that we do need clarification of the situation in your Lordships' House, so that the African people may really understand.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I wonder whether I can straight away clear up that point. I was not talking about African majorities in Legislatures. Of course, the whole object is that there should not be racial distinctions. That is what we have in mind: that in the Parliaments of these two territories there should be candidates from all Parties representing all races. What I had intended to convey was that the time was bound to come at some time in the future when there would be a majority of Africans exercising the vote in both territories. But I did not intend to talk about African majorities in Parliament.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, that seems to me to be what was concluded by the correspondent of the Observer when he wrote:Although Africans will in time constitute a numerical majority of Africans, Lord Home says that this is not the same thing as an African majority.Well, it is obvious why we differ so much at this moment. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, should remember, when he asks us to state immediately our support of joining in the work of the Commission, that this is quite contrary to what the Africans are asking for and to what we ask for on their behalf, in the light of British experience—that is, to move at the earliest possible time to universal suffrage. We have not asked for that to be made in one immediate act. But if you could make, as my noble friend Lord Silkin clearly indicated by the terms of his speech, the first big approach to extending the suffrage of the people of these Protectorates, so that they might have a real voice in their Legislatures, who will be called upon to make their nominations to the Congress, whenever it is held, then you would be going a long way to achieving what every Party in this House agrees is necessary: that is, to restore confidence in the African popula- 276 tion as to what is going to be done in the future. Let the African have some confidence in the statements and the acts of the Government.
The noble Earl, Lord Perth, quoted the statement of the Prime Minister in another place about the protection of the people in the Protectorates. It is quite unclear to me at the moment how that protection is going to be exercised if at every stage you give way to the present Legislature of the Central Federation, which is dead against the progress that is the basis of the agitation and organisation of the African Congress in Nyasaland and in Northern Rhodesia. I do feel that the Government really must face up to the fact of this.
We are very desirous that we should be able on this occasion, as we have on so many previous occasions, whether foreign or colonial, to join in on a nonpartisan basis discussions for the purpose of advancement of the Commonwealth and for the growth of international peace. You force us by your attitude on these matters into a doubt and a withholding of our support, because you do not speak plainly and do not seem to feel and act in the human way which would bring justice to Africans, such as you would be expected to do for your own people. That, it seems to me, is really quite fatal. If you are going to get peace in these two Protectorates; if you are going to get peace in Africa as a whole; if you are going to get a real appraisement of the British position throughout the Eastern world, then you have got to come to that. When will you begin?
I hope that, as a result of this debate, when we have been forced to put down this Amendment to the loyal Address, the House as a whole will ask the Government to reconsider the position. Do not, for pity's sake, go and rush this 1960 Conference now, knowing what the native feeling is, before you are ready for it, and before the Africans have been given an opportunity to take part in making themselves ready for it. Give them their chance. Postpone the Conference for a couple of years; take your further soundings; and may the Legislatures then be able to give adequate nominations for the Conference which will make the recommendations for the 277 final decisions to be made! I do beg of the Government and the Whole House to take this into consideration.
I welcome the speech of my noble friend Lord Ogmore (I still call him my noble friend until he gets into other aspects of Liberal policy; and probably we shall always remain political friends—he has not been such a political enemy to-day—though I assure him that when he experiences the pursuit of the Manchester economy school of thought by the Benches up there he will not hold his radicalism very long), always full of information and of fine thought about the future. But I think he is making a mistake if he will not go as far as we want to go and get the decision made now for extending the suffrages of the people and giving them a real foothold in the climb they have to make, step by step, to their particular summit of independence and liberty.
§ LORD OGMORE
May I interrupt the noble Viscount? I hope he does not suggest that I am not accepting the Amendment; and that includes the early and substantial extension of the franchise.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I am not thinking of that. What I am thinking of is the noble Lord's special word to the Government: that the Members of the House for whom he speaks to-day will be glad to co-operate even if they go only this far, or that far, or the other far. We want what is on the Paper; and I hope that, as he has given his generous assent to the movement of the Amendment, he will see the deeper and wider case we are putting to the House than that which he has already put on behalf of the Amendment.
I hope that, when we come to take the vote, we shall vote with our hearts as well as our minds. I am not at all sure where I would follow with all kinds of philosophy, such as religion and so on, the sort of conscience statement made by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, when he said that when conscience is matched against reason, reason must prevail. I thank God for the Wilberforces and the William Knibbs and all those who have led the common people over the years against those who have been holding 278 them down by reason and not by conscience.He hath put down the mighty from their seats: and hath exalted the humble and meek.He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.That is the song of those who really hold to the full principle of human liberty.
§ LORD FRASER OF NORTH CAPE
Before the noble Viscount sits down, may I ask him whether he has ever been to Nyasaland?
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I could ask the noble Lord all sorts of questions of the lands he has been to. He has been to many; and so have I. I have not visited Nyasaland—
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
—but I know enough about the facts of life to understand the case that intelligent Africans put to us. Do you despise them?
§ 4.27 p.m.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, it is with great diffidence that I follow four such distinguished and learned speeches as we have listened to this afternoon. I assure your Lordships that I shall not detain you long and I trust that you will feel that, although I am talking op a very wide aspect, it is to the point of the Amendment that we are debating. I am aware that, just as it is the duty of a Government to govern, so it is the duty of the Opposition to oppose. But I would humbly submit that that dictum is valid only when we are discussing our own affairs. When the matter under discussion is the welfare of the millions of Africans and the very many Asians and Europeans who live in Central Africa, then it ill becomes us to indulge in the pleasure of squabbling among ourselves. I feel that this is additionally so because I do not think that there is any deep point of principle dividing the two sides of this House; and that feeling has been much brought home to me in listening to the speeches we have heard so far this afternoon. After all, surely the Leaders of both Parties have exactly the same aim: they want to see these territories, Northern Rhodesia and 279 Nyasaland, brought fruitfully and peacefully to progress towards the eventual aim of self-government. They want to see those countries developed to bring their natural resources to their optimum and to see that peace and tranquillity prevail within the borders of those countries and above all else, they want to see a truly multi-racial society built up in those territories.
There are bound to be grave difficulties arising from the differences between these territories, both political and economic. Indeed, to my mind it is the very fact of these differences that makes it so essential there should be a Federation that really does work. To take one example, in theory no one would wish to deny to Nyasaland the right of eventual self-government. But, in point of fact, can that country economically ever develop itself as a viable State? I feel sure that the Leaders of both Parties are most anxious to achieve conditions under which these territories do advance at once towards a political independence, and eventually have that as their aim and goal.
If the noble Duke will forgive me, he mentions these ideals as being of both Parties, with which I quite agree. But I think we ought to include the Conservative Party as well.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I thought the noble Lord was going to say that we must include the Liberals. What is vitally important in the development of these countries is that all races, European, African and Asian, should be adequately protected, and no one race should have undue advantage over any of the others. At the same time as the multi-racial society is developed, with goodwill and self-respect to each other, the rest should be built up, so that black may look to white and white to black for help and encouragement towards the achievement of what must be, if it is to be successful, a common aim. We cannot divorce the interests of one race from another in this problem.
I would repeat that the differences are those of degree and not of principle. There are differences as to how rapidly the rate of political advancement for the African should develop. But that is a matter of degree. There may be differences as to what safeguards should be 280 taken to see that the interests of the African are properly protected from being over-managed by the European. But again that is a matter of degree. It is not, after all, as if one side of the House wants to see a policy of apartheid, and the other side wants to see every European driven out of Central Africa. There is no basic difference of principle. Therefore I think we should be very ready to sink our Party differences so that those who live in these Territories may gain.
I am well aware that there are real difficulties in reconciling these Party differences, because people of genuine good faith and genuine integrity and ability do hold different views. But I think the goal is worth substantial sacrifices, because I feel that for these territories to have peace and progress it is essential that the political Parties in this country should agree. I can see no hope of any permanent settlement and permanent peace in Central Africa so long as there are differences of opinion in this House and another place.
After all, my Lords, let us look at it this way. Just as there are differences in this country, so are there grave differences between the factions in Central Africa, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Surely, those factions in the territories will argue like this. They will say: "There is a Conservative Government in Britain at this moment, and we do not like their plans for the development of our territories. But let us wait. Let us adopt the tactic of prevarication, causing difficulties. Let us do anything, in fact, so long as we do not agree to these proposals, because we do not like them. In four or five years' time there will be another Election, and possibly the Socialist Party will be elected to office." I personally do not subscribe to that view, but that is how the Africans may well argue. They will say: "So long as we prevent any permanent settlement from taking place now, there may be a change of Government in Britain and we shall have a Government whose ideas for our future we find much more acceptable." Four years go by, and there is another Election, and by some remarkable achievement the Socialists are elected. Those factions in Central Africa who do not agree with this present Government's point of view will adopt exactly the same tactics, and so ad 281 infinitum, while all the while feeling in the territories gets worse and worse; and the longer the delay there is in creating a permanent settlement, the less likely chance there is of that settlement ever being achieved.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
May I ask whether all that means that the noble Duke is prepared to enforce this Federation upon them? We do not want to force them either one way or the other. We want the African people to decide for themselves.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
Very much the contrary. I am urging, to the best of my rather indifferent ability, a genuine wish to see a bipartisan policy for Central Africa which would require sacrifices from all sides.
Let us look at what the advantages would be if we could have a policy for Central Africa, for Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, with all Parties subscribing to it. In Africa, just as in this country, no-one might think it ideal, but all political factions in the Central African Territories would realise that it was the best they could possibly hope for, because it was underwritten by all the Parties in this country. Once it was put over to them, as it would be very quickly, that they could not hope for anything better, no matter which Party in this country was in office, very soon a climate of opinion would be created in which all people who wished for the success of their country would sink their own differences and would work together for the successful conclusion of that policy. The example in this country, fashioned by all Parties, would soon be copied by the territories and all Parties there would support it, knowing that it was the best they could possibly hope for, and that if they did not work towards it they would be in a minority.
Before I close, I should like to say a word about the Conference which is to be held next year. Here we have a golden opportunity in which the blue print for the future of Central Africa may be written. We cannot afford to let that opportunity be wasted, because should that Conference fail then the opportunity may well not arise again. I say that, unless the British delegation to that Conference represents all views 282 and all Party opinions in this country, the value of the Conference will be seriously, if not disastrously, weakened.
Even more immediate is the question of the Commission to be presided over by the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley. This country's delegation to that Conference is to be eleven men. I think it is essential, if that Commission is properly to carry out its vital work in preparing the way for next year's Conference, that those delegates should represent all aspects of all British opinion in this country. Not only that: those delegates—as their leaders will, I hope, instruct them—must work out a common policy, so that when that Commission makes its Report there is not a Majority Report and a Minority Report. If that happens, then again, going back to the point I have already made, those in the Central African Territories who do not like the Majority Report will cling to the Minority Report and hope to get the Majority Report overruled at some future date.
Finally, I should like to refer to a point I made at the beginning of this speech, the great difference between squabbling about our own affairs and squabbling about affairs in which other people have a primary interest. In so far as Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland are concerned, we in this country are in the position of parents or guardians of a growing child. I do not have to remind your Lordships of the disastrous effect upon that child if its parents are continually squabbling in its presence. It has an even worse effect if the cause of those squabbles should be in the child's own future career. I can only describe it as an extremely unbecoming sight to see these Houses, the Mother of Parliaments, continually squabbling about the future well-being of millions of Africans, large numbers of Asians and Europeans, for whom they are in the position of trustees. After all, the well-being of those people in those territories is the first charge on the conscience on the people of this country, whether they be Conservatives, Socialists or Liberals. Therefore I would ask the Leaders of both Parties, very humbly but very sincerely, to remember that they are statesmen rather than politicians, and to sink their differences so that future generations living in Central Africa will have every reason to be 283 thankful to them for the way in which they have been guided to nationhood.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in rising to offer a few comments on the Amendment before the House, I should like to say, to begin with, that I intend to confine my remarks entirely to the Amendment which is before the House. It is a great temptation, I know, to range more widely but I think time does not permit me. I would at the start say in a general way that I felt that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, tended to exaggerate very much indeed what they were pleased to call the state of unrest in Central Africa and the lack of confidence which they stated was general in the British Government and the British people out there. I notice on the list of speakers that there are speakers with a more recent knowledge of Nyasaland than mine, and I will leave it to them to say how mistaken that view is. There was one other general point, and that was the idea that the time for this Conference and the Inquiry was not now and that it would be better to postpone it. I am confident that if half the things that noble Lords opposite say are true, the sooner this sort of Inquiry and Conference takes place the better, in order to dissolve the doubts which seems to be left, according to those noble Lords.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord, in view of the question which was asked my noble Leader and which I think ought to be asked of every speaker henceforth, when was the noble Lord last in Nyasaland?
§ LORD MILVERTON
Five years ago. I listened with intense interest to the speech of the noble Lord the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this House, and I appreciate that, holding the views that he does, he no doubt felt impelled to unload them at the earliest possible moment. Whether this is a suitable opportunity, and whether an Amendment to the humble Address to Her Majesty is really a suitable channel, is not a matter for me to say. I recognise the sincerity with which he speaks and I hope that nothing that I am about to say will be felt by him as impugning that sincerity. What I want to question very much indeed is the underlying idea in those speeches that 284 Protectorates should be governed from Westminster and that the moral responsibility of Parliament should be extended to executive control by a body totally unqualified to exercise that control. A state of emergency cannot be ended by mere words; nor can it be dissolved by just releasing the human causes of it. That, to my mind, would be a negation of government. I seems to me to be easy for the Opposition to slip into the fallacy that controls which are exercised by their Party when in office are a reasonable use of the power of government, but controls exercised by the Conservative Party when it happens to form a government are repressions. After all, there are fundamental principles of government which apply whichever Party may be in charge of national affairs, and there are controls which in the interests of law and order must apply if those forming a Government are not to betray the very foundations of authority itself.
The second part of the Amendment before the House contains a very questionable assumption. The kind of early and substantial extension of the franchise as envisaged by noble Lords opposite would be far more likely to ensure that the Governments of these Protectorates did not truly represent their people than that they would so represent them. I know that the noble Lord and his Party really believe, apparently, that Central Africa is peopled by millions of black Africans who have reached the same standard of enlightenment as the people in this country, who have the same standard of values and the same belief in freedom under the law. That, my Lords, is simply not true. Noble Lords opposite would, unwittingly no doubt, open the floodgates of every kind of intimidation from witchcraft to personal violence, and if they had their way they would find themselves in bewildered contemplation of the chaos they had created.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I suppose the noble Lord's answer is that it is quite right to exercise intimidation by locking up for months, without charge and without trial, the intelligent ones among them.
§ LORD MILVERTON
I appreciate the noble Viscount's comment, but it contains so many assumptions which I consider to be false that perhaps I should 285 be taking up too much of the time of the House in trying to answer them. These, at any rate, are my views, founded on some knowledge of Africa and of the practical importance of timing and education in applying the principles of Western democracy to people in whose past there has been so little practical experience of its meaning or its difficulties or of the training which only such experience can provide. I believe in freedom and high principles just as much as noble Lords opposite believe in them, but perhaps with more hard-won knowledge of the need for safeguards. I think I know that the greatest enemy of democracy is universal suffrage when it is applied to a people who have not yet the judgment and the knowledge and the education to use it for their own protection and for their own national interests.
May I go back to the superlative speech which was made in moving this Address by the noble Lord, Lord Hastings? He spoke, as has been mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, already, in quoting it, of two distinct streams of thought and action which have influenced and guided our imperial policy over the last two hundred years, the one stream represented by soldiers and administrators, the maintainers of law and order, the supporters of economic development, as you will remember he said, and the other stream represented by the idealists and missionaries and champions of individual liberty and justice. If I may add my own gloss to this quotation, I would say that the first stream consists of men who have always had to work on the ground, dealing with facts and with human nature, whereas the others have only too often been men who live in the realm of abstract dreams, and who would apply principles regardless of the timing, circumstances or consequences.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether, when he speaks of those who live in the realm of abstract dreams, those are the missionaries? He did refer to missionaries.
§ LORD MILVERTON
Yes, I did refer to missionaries. I think they are very appropriately named in that context. I think that only too often in recent times have missionaries trenched upon politics, 286 and they offer and preach policies which they have arrived at solely from their own high-minded point of view, without any knowledge of administration or of the facts of human nature which a Government have to take into consideration—at least, which Conservative Governments endeavour to take into consideration.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
That sounds to me like the sort of attitude that the high priests adopted against the Master when they said:He stirreth up the people.
§ LORD MILVERTON
Well, perhaps noble Lords opposite will try to remember that the road to hell has always been said to be paved with good intentions.
§ LORD MILVERTON
With the able assistance of the noble Viscount. Lord Hastings went on in his analysis to point our how sometimes the two streams have run parallel, have sometimes merged, but always quarrelled, and that their quarrels have formed the catalyst from which new policies emerge. Such a quarrel is in process to-day. I remember many years ago having a discussion in Ottawa with a leading Canadian civil servant about the difficulty of translating into practical human possibility some of the policies evolved by politicians in the vacuum of a perfection untrammelled by human frailty. He concluded by trying to reassure me, saying "After all, is it not one of our main functions to try to educate our masters?" I have spent a certain amount of my life in that kind of experience of trying to translate policies, founded on the highest principles, into practical human achievements.
My Lords, we agree on so much, even on the ultimate objective of self-government for the Colonies and their eventual independence. May I therefore, as an administrator myself, offer some criticism of the idealistic approach of the noble Lord who moved this Amendment? Surely, the franchise is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. The elector must be able to make an intelligent choice between the candidates soliciting his vote. That inevitably 287 involves the capacity to make an intelligent choice between the political programmes submitted by the candidates, including the question of whether or not they can be carried into effect. Surely the right policy is for the vote to be given to the greatest number of people who are able to exercise it rationally, while pressing on with the greatest energy towards educating the rest until they reach a similar standard. As I see it, that is the only hope for the emergent African States of to-day.
A Parliamentary vote is not a fundamental natural right in any country. It is, I suggest, a privilege of competent citizenship. In the course of dealing with this question some time ago in Salisbury, in an address to Africans, Sir Charles Cuming who, as your Lordships probably know, is a white African, born in Rhodesia, who has lived his life in Africa, which is his homeland—made these remarks:If universal suffrage were introduced in this country"—that is, in Central Africa—the great bulk of the electors would not be able to vote rationally. The result of the poll would be no more sensible than if the candidates were to toss up for the seat. Indeed, it would be much worse, for leaving the election to pure chance would give the better candidate an even chance of success, but an election by an irrational electorate will ensure that the worst candidate gets in, the one who will go further in taking advantage of the ignorance of the electors in promising them the impossible or in rousing their passions for his own ends.That brings me to another point. Anyone who knows Africa, and East and Central Africa in particular, knows that in their stage of political growth intimidation plays an important and highly objectionable part. Organised groups, such as the African Congress, bring pressure to bear on a voter to vote for their group by branding him as a traitor if he votes any other way; and, if he does so, he and his family live under constant threats of violent interference. That is not democracy; it is blackmail. In England, the principle of universal suffrage was not the foundation of our Parliamentary system. The franchise was extended to the people in this country as they reached the standards that we have laid down as necessary in theory for the proper exercise of the vote.
288 I do not think that anyone will deny that social, cultural and political progress must rest on a firm material basis. Dr. Banda and his associates maintain that it is better to be free than rich. It is easy to talk like that, especially when the price of such policy in poverty and stagnation is not going to be paid by the person who utters it. Too late the people who listen to that kind of talk will find that they have exchanged the guidance of Europeans and moderate Africans for indigenous oppression and will find that they have paid in poverty and stagnation for a spurious freedom which has undermined the last bulwark of their freedom.
My Lords, Mr. Harry Oppenheimer, whose appraisal of the Central African situation has been stated with such brilliant clarity in recent speeches, has summed up in one sentence the main points. He says:The choice for Nyasaland and the African tribal areas, as a whole, is not between progress inside or outside the Federation, but between progress inside the Federation and stagnation and poverty outside.I appreciate that beneath these simple generalisations there lies a most difficult and complex psychological problem, which ought also to be considered by us before we express any hasty opinions. Progress, the impact of Western civilisation and the undermining of the old tribal way of life, with all its familiar idleness and inefficiency, has left so many Africans adrift in a spiritual vacuum. With a vague unrest and a longing for the old traditional way of life they want also the material advantages of industrialisation and efficient agriculture, while inherently disliking the discipline and the regimentation which are the unavoidable concomitant of modern progress.
Dr. Banda and men like him have no wish to revive the old traditional way of life of the African, but they have a very lively appreciation of the motive power which lies behind this nostalgic regret for that life by the bulk of the people; and they have been very cleverly endeavouring to harness it to drive the chariot of racial nationalism to a destination of which their dupes—if I may call them "dupes"; their followers if your Lordships prefer the word—have no idea when they start on the journey. Doubt less these leaders think that it is better 289 to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven; but that should not be of any great influence in determining our policy. I think that any Governor or Government who released such men without some valid assurance that their activities would be confined to constitutional channels and exercised within the law would be false to their trust and their responsibilities.
If your Lordships will permit, I should like to make one final quotation from Mr. Oppenheimer which puts the situation very fairly and clearly. He says:The Rhodesias have comparatively large European populations with no other home. They are determined to stay in Southern Africa and to create conditions in which their children and grandchildren can stay there also. Any political approach which does not accept that fact is unrealistic and useless. Nyasaland is different from the other territories. It is an African country with a very small European population. The question there is not so much of building up a multi-racial country but rather of finding a fair way for an African territory to be associated with multi-racial territories in one political system. Whatever the material benefits of the association to Nyasaland, it is plainly not going to be workable unless the policy of partnership is honestly and intelligently implemented, not only by the Government but by individuals in the daily life of the two Rhodesias. It is not going to work either, unless African opinion and aspirations in each of the federated territories are fairly represented in the central Government. The question that must be answered is whether the Federal Government and Europeans in the Federation as a whole are sincere in the racial policy they profess. I am convinced they are. Criticism is easy, particularly for those without first-hand knowledge of the situation: but I think that any person with experience of conditions and prejudices in Southern Africa, and an understanding of the changes implicit in the racial situation, will give the Federal Government credit for a real desire to implement the racial partnership envisaged when the Federation was founded and for proceeding with courage and determination and as much speed as in the circumstances has been practical.I, too, believe that the policy of partnership is being honestly held and carried into effect by Sir Roy Welensky and his colleagues in the Federal Government. Common sense, patience and human sympathy are required, we know, from all sections in the Federation, and they are no less required here than there. To some of those who refuse to accept the integrity of the Federal Government I would say only that Christian charity was not only meant to be 290 reserved for black Africans alone. It should cover both black and white, and it is not too late, I hope, to remind the Church of Scotland of the old lines:Oh! for the rarityOf Christian charityUnder the Sun,and respectfully to ask them to save a little for Sir Roy Welensky and the group of men who are so gallantly and so sincerely trying to build a new State on the principles of partnership which may yet be a model to the world. After all, the miracle is being achieved by Malays, Chinese and Indians in Malaya, and why should it not be achieved by Europeans, Africans and Asiatics in Central Africa?
I should like to make this appeal to noble Lords opposite. It is no use murmuring with Omar Khayyam:Ah Love! couldst thou and I with Fate conspireTo grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,Would not we shatter it to bits—and thenRemould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!I have no doubt that noble Lords would find it easy to shatter it to bits, but I am equally convinced that if they proceeded with that method they would find it impossible to rebuild. I would also ask noble Lords opposite to consider whether acceptance of the conditions laid down by noble Lords in their speeches to-day would not prejudge and prejudice the unfettered study of the problems by the Commission under the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley. Why cannot the Party opposite, having made clear their apprehensions, assist in the appointment of men who will apply a keen intelligence to the study and perhaps be instrumental in handing down to history a model of what real co-operation, good will and partnership can achieve?
The cry is: "Come over into Central Africa and help us!" Will noble Lords refuse such an appeal and such a chance to make an outstanding contribution not only to Central Africa but also to the progress of mankind? Posterity, white and black, would not easily forgive the unconscious saboteurs of their salvation whose refusal, for however lofty motives, inevitably would hamper the search for means to ensure the racial peace and 291 partnership without which this Land of Promise can never fulfil its name. I hope, for the reasons I have given, that noble Lords will have second thoughts about pressing this Amendment to a Division.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I beg to rise to support the Amendment to the humble Address that has been moved this afternoon, and I do so without any word of apology to the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, who felt that on an occasion of this kind it was not the duty of the Opposition to oppose. I do not rise in a spirit of opposition to Her Majesty's Government, I rise because the state of affairs as portrayed in the words of our Amendment is totally repugnant to members of my Party and, I believe, to the majority of the people of this country. I think Her Majesty's Government would be very wrong to believe that, because they have obtained an increased majority in another place, the country is satisfied with the management of affairs in Africa. I found throughout the Election a very deep concern for African affairs, not only for what was going on in Nyasaland and what went on at Hola, but for what, unfortunately, is going on throughout Africa. We have reports of trouble in the Belgian Congo; we have trouble in French Africa. My Lords, I believe that there is an explosive atmosphere throughout Africa, and that unless there is a safety valve Africa will explode; and that will bring great trouble not only to Europe but also in Asia.
We have had two speeches this afternoon from ex-members of the Labour Party. We had the speech of my noble friend Lord Ogmore. I thought it was a remarkable speech, an instructive speech, and I would earnestly beg the Government to consider all the points that he raised, because they are so very important for the welfare of Africa. Then we had a speech from the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. I found his speech truly remarkable, coming from a man who at one time sat on these Benches. He sat on these Benches, after a long and distinguished career in the Colonies, and now we have a speech for all that we on this side of the House have always believed in no longer existing. He seemed to imply that those who have made our Commonwealth are 292 the administrators and not the intellectuals, the men of conscience—
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but does he intend to imply that an administrator may not be a man of culture?
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I rather gathered so from the noble Lord's speech. I would pay great tribute to the administrators, but I should very much like to be associated with the name of Wilberforce, the man who fought against slavery, the biggest blight on the white man's history, a history that the Africans still remember and resent.
My Lords, my noble friends Lord Silkin and Lord Alexander of Hillsborough fully satisfied me in the case they made against the Government this afternoon. I do not propose to go over that ground again. As one who has lived in two Colonies that are now multiracial societies, I should like to make an appeal to the white settlers and the African leaders in Africa, for I firmly believe that the society we want in Africa will not be achieved by any speeches that are made in your Lordships' House or in another place. In fact, I do not believe that Her Majesty's Government themselves will have a great effect. If there is to be peace, if there are to be prosperity and understanding in Africa, it will depend upon the white settler and the African leader. If I appear to stress my appeal more to the white settlers it is not because I believe there is greater blame on their shoulders for the misunderstandings, the bitterness, that now exist, but because it is they who will have to make the greatest gesture if the true multi-racial society is to be achieved.
The white settler has tremendous advantages: he can acquire great wealth; he can have a standard which he would never get, or would be very unlikely to get, in this country. Therefore it is natural that he should be reluctant to agree to any change that will weaken his position. We had that feeling in Asia; we had it in India; we had it in Malaya; we had it in Singapore. But there, my Lords, the Englishman has adjusted himself and is now happily living side by side with the natives of the country. But the story is not the 293 same in Indo-China; it is not the same in Indonesia, for the simple reason that the settlers, the Europeans of those countries, will not adapt themselves, will not concede to the native. I hope that in Africa the white settler will learn the lesson, for he can make or mar the future of his country. To the African leader I would say this: "You have a very great responsibility; you have probably suffered slights, perhaps innocent slights, which have created bitterness in your heart, but you have a lot to receive and gain from the European settler and from Europe with all its manufacturing capacity."
It is these people, my Lords, men and women, white and coloured, who can make the Federation. It is these people who can create peace in Africa. If the House would endorse my words we could send a message to our own people in Africa to draw their attention to their responsibilities and their dangers. If they are prepared to concede some of their privileges, some of their opportunities, to the African, we shall then be able to create, in the not too far distant future, the kind of society that we now see building up in India and Malaya, a society which will be instrumental in bringing peace in their part of the world.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, I do not think that the people of Nyasaland can complain that Nyasaland has not been debated in the Palace of Westminster, when on nine consecutive Parliamentary days, with the Recess intervening, Nyasaland has been discussed four times either in this House or in another place. I very much enjoyed the third maiden speech of Lord Ogmore, as indeed I enjoyed the other two. I do not know whether his immunity lessens as the number of his maiden speeches extends. He made one or two strange comparisons.
There are many other speakers coming after me, and I will detain your Lordships only for a few minutes, for I want to make one point, and one point only. Before I get to that, though, may I say that we have heard two very eloquent appeals from both sides of the House. The noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, appealed for us to abandon our electioneering attitude to the problems 294 of Africa; and there was the appeal from the noble Lord who has just sat down, addressed not to those of us in this House but to the white settlers and their principal opponents on the other side of the African Apartheid coin, the African politicians. I can associate myself with both.
I am sorry that when we come to the fourth discussion on Nyasaland it should be on a Vote of Censure, and everyone knows what the wording of the Amendment is. In fact, we are censured becausethe gracious Speech contains no proposals for ending the state of emergency in Nyasaland.Every Government, much to its regret, has had, at one time or another, to impose a state of emergency. It surely goes without saying that it ends that state of emergency as soon as it can. There is not one of us in this House, in any Party, who would wish to prolong it a day longer than is necessary. But it is on the responsibility of one man—the Governor, who, more than any other one man in that territory, is responsible for the preservation of life and order. It is suggested in some quarters that if we were to release Dr. Banda it would be a great act of faith. An act of faith is a rather better name for what one might call a gamble. And what would the Governor be gambling with? The lives of the men over whom he presides as Governor. If he felt there were no grounds for releasing Dr. Banda, would a man of conscience or integrity feel that he could take that gamble? My Lords, I will leave that subject.
Just before I get to my one short point, I should like to say a word about secession, which was mentioned just in passing by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and which is frequently mentioned by publicists who write and speak about this matter in Britain. My Lords, when they framed those two pre-eminently successful Federations of Canada and Australia (which will probably, consciously or subconsciously, act as a model for any later Federation) they quite deliberately did not write in the right to secede. Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, who framed this so far as Canada was concerned, was criticised for this, as Nova Scotia, you remember, had federation imposed on them. He said, "No, if you write into 295 the Constitution that there is a right to secede, it "—he was referring to Nova Scotia—" will live in a perpetual state of tumult and electioneering, and never will the Federation settle down and never will it succeed".
In Nyasaland, on top of the other difficulties, they have the troubles which always attend a country which is heavily over-populated. Malta suffers in precisely the same way; Barbados, Mauritius, and part of Nigeria all feel the same strain. If Nyasaland were to secede, she would fall to a degree of impoverishment which would arrest not only any kind of partnership but any kind of progress, as I see it. She would be dependent for her minimum needs on monies provided by the United Kingdom; and, great as is our will in this matter, and prosperous as we now are, our purse is not bottomless.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, "Well, if there are too few educated people in that country to set up a Government, whose fault is that? It is Britain's. We did not educate enough". That may be so; but, as I have said, with the calls on our purse during the last forty or fifty years we could not do everything. Now, as a result of the funds made available by the Federation, three times as much is being spent on education. It is a rather slow pipeline to fill. As your Lordships consider at what age one first started to get educated, compared with the age one set out on the world fully educated, it is not a matter of just one year or two. Then, you must, after all, choose your Government from a pool of educated men, and not from just a handful. An African speaking in London last July, talking about the Federation, of which he happened to be in favour (he was an African from Central Africa), said that in Nyasaland there were, I think, two doctors, one lawyer, and a handful of men with university degrees. My Lords, far and away the most important economic result of the creation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland has been that funds are available to press on to produce these educated men whom they must have in order to form that Government which we all want to see them have. Otherwise, my Lords, what do you have? You may have some kind 296 of an autonomous Government of Nyasaland; the Government of the mud hut, below the intimidation level.
It is worth while looking around the world to see the interplay between politics and economics. If there is a clash between the two, politics will nearly always win. There are various countries in the world which are very highly furnished with national resources—Canada is one, and Australia is another—and they have made a great success of that; but that blessing was a rugged blessing, and they had to work hard to win those resources. One could point out a number of other countries in the world who were much more richly blessed in resources, having regard to the difference in size and the difference in population, whose subjects live in abject poverty because their economics have been bedevilled by their politics. These days, you cannot leave out the creditworthiness of a nation, and uness you are a Government which is regarded as stable you will not attract foreign monies. You have only to remember what the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, warned us of, that paper independence, independence without liberty, is not freedom. We cannot conceive of a democratic Government which does not embody the one real safeguard of democracy as we see it: government by respect for the other man's point of view.
Now Africa has been traditionally a continent of conquerors, and the conqueror has left his defeated foe on the ground and has seen that he stays there. There is no tradition of Opposition. Gradually, I believe, we are going to build one up. Already we see hopeful signs in Kenya, which has been at this process rather longer; but it is not a natural process. If you look at Liberia, you will see that the ruling Party, the True Whig Party, has been in power since 1877, so it does not look as if the Opposition there has had very much of a chance.
My Lords, this is my point, which I come to after some labour, regarding multi-racial governments. We have heard an eloquent plea from the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and we have heard already a great deal which is interesting on this subject, but multi-racial government is nothing if it is not a just balance, and my plea is for a cool analysis of what amounts to a just Government. We in this House reject at one and the same 297 time both sides of the medal, of white domination and all-out black nationalism. We do, I think, realise why these things grow up, and it helps us to understand them, but we reject both. The whole pool is becoming harder to see into by the odd colours of black Africans and white Europeans beginning to merge.
I had a friend of about my age, who died last year, who was the son of a man who had entered Rhodesia, in the wake of the pioneer column. He had been educated in South Africa and become a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and gone out with the Colonial Service, and had only once left Africa again. What was that man if he was not an African? Many men have risen to positions of great responsibility in this country, when they themselves and their families have spent no longer in Britain than that man and his family had lived in Africa. I know one of the leading citizens in Tanganyika, who sits on the Legislative Council, whose family came from what is now Pakistan to Zanzibar, and thence to Tanganyika, in 1823. What is that man if he is not an African?
All these races have undoubted rights, but the two things they need is fairness under the law, and the fairness of the judgment of a man by merit and by no other consideration. If a job under the Government calls for education and experience, it must go to the man who has these, regardless of what colour he may be. Because many young Africans have got themselves educated, and have expected to be given jobs above their experience, they have doubts of what we really mean by partnership. Self-government does not grow from the ground. It is taking over a strong framework of government that we have built, and that framework is strong only if every man in the Administration is there by merit and by merit alone.
In the last few years we have seen to what heights Africans can aspire. Many of your Lordships besides myself will have known Sir William Coussey, Chief Tchekedi—who, although he had his political ups-and-downs, was undoubtedly the greatest expert on cattle in Southern Africa—and will have been extremely pleased to see a few weeks ago that it was announced that the first black African has won a Fellowship at All 298 Souls. That is a very difficult examination to pass—it completely shattered the only two members of my family who have tried. The college maintain their standards, regardless of who the candidate may be. If they were to lower them for anybody they would depreciate the whole standing of an All Souls Fellowship for those who hold them, and confer no great honour on the man they are admitting.
We are beginning to see some breakthrough on this question of merit alone. I see that African farmers who can prove that they are good farmers are being allowed into the White Highlands of Kenya. We must keep our eyes firmly on the standard of merit alone, and never subjugate it to considerations of race. If we are to remove these suspicions in the Federation, which we know to be groundless, we must realise that what is important is the differences which cause these suspicions and frictions between us. It is remarking the similarities and forgetting the differences that is responsible for much of the friction between us and the U.S.A. My Lords, I have been long in making what I said as a short point. May I repeat these words which Mr. Vincent Massey used about Canada, but which I think apply equally to what we are all trying to do in multi-racial Africa:Canada,he saidis not a melting potbutan association of peoples who have and cherish great differences but who work together because they respect themselves and each other.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ LORD SINCLAIR OF CLEEVE
My Lords, I hope that I may have your Lordships' indulgence if in my opening remarks I stray somewhat from the specific terms of the Amendment; but I do so in the hope that thereby I may add a little to the background of knowledge of Nyasaland. I lay no claim to being an authority on this country, but I have been there on several occasions. In a sense I have lived with some of its problems for forty years, for the company which I serve have had their own organisation there, and I have kept in close touch with our people. We employ a great many Africans, both in Nyasaland 299 and in Southern Rhodesia. We have housed them, and we have given primary education to their children.
I was in Southern Rhodesia when the Devlin Report was published, and, more relevantly perhaps to this debate, I was in Nyasaland shortly after that, just two months ago. I should like to give your Lordships the impressions I gained. I may say that I have talked to our own Africans in our factories and villages, with other Africans in their villages and with some of the chiefs and their councillors, but in all these conversations, of course, I laboured under the disadvantage of having to talk through an interpreter, as I cannot speak Chinyanja. I have many friends who have lived there for many years and know the language, who understand the Africans and sympathise with them and want to help them, and on whose judgment I can confidently rely. It is on my observations and on these conversations that I base the impressions which I give to your Lordships, with a full sense of responsibility and without prejudice.
In the first place, I gained the impression that the people out there felt that the actual handling of the emergency by the Government on March 3 was astonishingly good: the marvel was that that very dangerous situation was brought under control with so few casualties and so little damage. I am sure that there is no Member of your Lordships' House who has had experience of dealing with that kind of situation who would not agree that had the action been less firm, the casualties and damage would have been much greater. The Governor's own despatch in relation to the Devlin Report was a complete answer, I think, to the accusation that had action been taken sooner the casualties would have been fewer. To have taken action sooner would have been to risk failure. In the second place, I had many evidences of the Governor's personal popularity among Africans and non-Africans alike after the emergency. The feeling of the great majority of Africans when I was there was clearly one of relief from tension. There had undoubtedly been a great deal of intimidation and of wild talk, amounting to incitement to violence, and threats of dire consequences to Africans, their families and homes if hesitation was 300 shown in resorting to violence. The majority were reluctant to resort to violence.
For the most part these people are, in a political sense, children. It is only a very small percentage who have any understanding of what federation means. Although it has been consistently drummed into many of them by Congress leaders that federation is a bad thing—and, regrettably, for reasons we all know, there was little positive assurance from those whom they were accustomed to trust that federation was a good thing—very few, as yet, have any conscious or rational view about federation. Their emotions can be easily stirred even to the point of fanaticism by those who know how to play on them. Yet there were many this last spring who feared the consequences of violence and instinctively distrusted those who sought to lead them along that road. Consequently, when the nettle was grasped and law and order were restored, there was a widespread feeling of relief and a feeling of admiration for, and gratitude to, the Governor himself.
I should be misleading your Lordships House if I gave the impression that such a feeling was universal, and that those who sympathised with Congress and subscribed to its views had changed their beliefs; but what I am saying was undoubtedly the prevailing feeling in the Southern Province, and I believe that to a large extent it was shared by the people in the Central and Northern Provinces. The last thing I should wish to do is to revive controversy about some of the events recorded and commented upon in the Devlin Report, but I would suggest to anyone who would like to know more of the aims and the methods of the African National Congress, and who has not yet read these documents, that he would do well to read the Beadle Report and the Ridley Report. These Reports have had little reference in the British Press. The Beadle Report was a Report of a Review Tribunal, under the chairmanship of the Acting Chief Justice of Southern Rhodesia, to inquire into the activities of the Southern Rhodesian African National Congress and the justification for detention. That Tribunal had the power to examine and cross-examine, and some of the more important examinations and cross-examinations are reproduced verbatim in the 301 Appendix. The Ridley Report was a Report of a Commission set up by the Government of Northern Rhodesia to inquire into the circumstances which gave rise to the emergency regulations there and, in particular, the activities of the Zambia African National Congress. Both these Reports are very illuminating. In all three territories of the Federation it is established beyond doubt that the slogan was, "Self-government now"; and violent action to secure it was advocated.
Independence for Nyasaland now or in the near future is an economic nonsense and a grave political risk. Secession—if I may use the word in the sense in which the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, used it—may, as an idea, be held to be a legitimate objective. But until Nyasaland can, in an economic sense, stand on her own feet—and that is not yet—secession would have nothing to commend it as an alternative to remaining within the Federation under the specific assurances which have already been given by Her Majesty's Government, to the effect, first, that Protectorate status will not be withdrawn unless the people of the country show by their own free and unfettered choice that they want it withdrawn; and secondly, that an increasing measure of what they term home rule within the Federation will be given. If this debate results in a reaffirmation, in effect, of those assurances, it will serve a useful purpose.
Nyasaland is a poor country in a material sense. Numerous surveys have failed to disclose mineral deposits of any great significance; not much of the land is of high fertility; much of what is cultivated is not cultivated well; and, as is now well known, much of the political agitator's work recently has been to encourage resistance to the adoption of modern scientific methods of agriculture. Yet there are signs of progress. There are signs of the emerging of a class of master farmers, Africans with a kind of tenancy over ten acres or more, enabling them to employ other Africans and farm more scientifically—a development which is not easy to arrange within the tribal system; but here and there ways and means are being found.
There is some increase in industrialisation in the Southern Province, but it is handicapped by the low purchasing power of the country and by the high 302 cost of power and so forth. Economic assistance from outside is vital. Under federation, as we all know, Nyasaland receives by way of a subsidy from the Rhodesias a sum amounting to one-third of its total revenue; and under federation a great deal has been done in Nyasaland to improve communications, build hospitals, extend educational facilities and so forth. But there is room for more, and I hope that schemes such as the Nkula Falls hydro-electric project and the Polder Scheme, on the lower Shire, may come to fruition. They are both under active consideration now. The report of the civil engineers examining the practicalities of the hydroelectric scheme is due this month. Incidentally, electricity in the township of Blantyre Limbe is generated from coal which is hauled by rail from Wankie, 1,000 miles away. Such schemes, if approved by the experts, may well qualify for grants from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund or for Exchequer grants, to both of which the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor referred last week; and they and others, perhaps, may also be helped by the Colonial Development Corporation.
These things take time to produce an impact on the economy of the country, but their being started can be a great encouragement to a country that badly needs it, and needs it now. At the best, only a very small proportion of the African population—and I imagine that this applies to some extent also to Northern Rhodesia—can be industrialised in the near future. And in both territories political evolution is confronted by the necessity to find a solution to this terribly difficult problem of adjustment between the tribal system and industrialisation. It is natural that the tribal African should be attached to his traditional way of life and should wish to preserve it; yet politically conscious Africans, who will rapidly become more numerous as education spreads, want their people, and quite rightly, to share in the benefits of industrialisation. I have heard it said that the chief need of Africans in that country is not advancement in politics or advancement in industry, but more food. Well, these things are not mutually exclusive and I think there is some truth in that statement. But even the production of 303 more food in Nyasaland requires the adoption of modern scientific methods of agriculture, which as we know are not easy to harmonise with the traditional African way of life. Yet I believe that, with good will, patience and understanding, these things can be done and a sure foundation for the future built. Unfortunately, these qualities of good will, patience and understanding are not those which predominantly seem to characterise the leaders of the African National Congress.
My Lords, I trust that these general remarks may help to fill in some of the background against which the Amendment may be considered. On the specific points of the Amendment, I believe that we should place great reliance on, and give evidence of, our trust in the judgment of those on the spot who are primarily carrying the responsibility. Sir Robert Armitage is a humane man; he has shown that he is not weak. He is, I am sure, fully aware of the risks involved in making martyrs out of these people who are still in detention. He has had, as we have heard, over 60 per cent. already released, and he has said that he will release others as soon as he can consistently with the maintenance of law and order. Nothing could do more in Nyasaland to impede real progress than a recurrence of disorder. Assurance to the people of that country that intimidation will not be tolerated, and that order will be preserved, is vital. And we have heard of the dreadful experience of the Reverend Andrew Kariya at Karonga, whose house was burned down so very recently.
As regards representation of the Africans, we know that Sir Robert Armitage has increased African representation on the Legislative Council, and that now, for the first time, Africans are in the majority among the unofficial members. We have also heard that he has added two Africans to the Executive Council. What has not, I think, been mentioned this afternoon, is that those two Africans on the Executive Council are attached to two branches of the Secretariat so that they may gain day-to-day experience of the machinery of government. The extension of the franchise is something that has to be done gradually. It surely would be quite unrealistic sud- 304 denly, and because of the imminence of the 1960 Conference, to impose the system of a highly civilised country on a territory that is still, to a large extent, primitive. But the determination to assist the African in every possible way to attain standards on which the privilege and responsibility of the franchise can be soundly based is, in my firm belief, there.
Against that background I do not regret that the gracious Speech contains no references of the kind specified in the Amendment. I hope the Government will give the greatest possible latitude and encouragement to those in authority on the spot to continue to deal with the situation and to develop their own proposals for the extension of the franchise under practical and realistic conditions. The principles underlying the Amendment can be readily appreciated in a well-established democracy. But might it not have been the precipitate or unrealistic application of principles that was in Lord Melbourne's mind when, as the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, reminded us last week, he said that nobody ever did anything very foolish except from some very high principle?
I submit that what is needed in Nyasaland to-day is practical progress, the securing of a sound material and economic basis on which political advancement with the active co-operation of qualified Africans can be attained. I hope that in years to come this debate, in spite of one or two things that have been said earlier this afternoon, and the debate in another place yesterday, may be seen as the first signs of a bipartisan approach to this problem—an approach, as I see it, which is vital to the future of the Commonwealth. I also hope, if I may say so, that it may be followed by a clear indication from all Parties that they are prepared to co-operate to the full in the work of the Advisory Commission. So, paradoxically, I am glad that this Amendment was put down, though I do not propose to vote for it.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, on Wednesday last I raised the question of a Mr. Mwenya, and the noble Earl, Lord Perth, was good enough to say that the Lord Chancellor would deal with it to-day. Therefore, the wisest thing for me to do is to listen to what the Lord Chancellor has to say and then, if I wish to make any comment, with your Lordships' permission make it then.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT KILMUIR)
My Lords, I am happy, of course, to fall in with the suggestion of the noble Viscount, and I hope your Lordships will not hold it against me that I am making a speech to-day. I am simply going to give a factual account of what happened. In September, 1956, the then Acting Governor of Northern Rhodesia proclaimed a state of emergency in the Western Province of Northern Rhodesia, and promulgated Emergency Regulations under which the Governor had power, in certain circumstances, to detain persons without trial. Almost immediately a number of persons, including Mwenya, were arrested and detained in accordance with orders made by the Provincial Commissioner of the Western Province. Subsequently, an application for writs of habeas corpus was made to the High Court of Northern Rhodesia in respect of 54 detainees, including Mwenya. The application was successful because there was a technical fault in the delegation by the Acting Governor to the Provincial Commissioner of the Western Province of the power to make detention orders. The 54 applicants and all other detainees were released. But the Governor immediately made orders under the Emergency Regulations in the cases of the majority of the released detainees restricting them to various parts of the Protectorate outside the Western Province.
These measures enabled the situation in the Copper Belt in the Western Province to return almost to normal, except for the fact that, unless the restricted persons were prevented from returning to the Copper Belt, disturbances might be expected again. Therefore the Emergency Transitional Provisions Ordinance of 1956 was passed by the Northern Rhodesian Legislative Council, which made provision regarding persons in detention or subject to restriction orders on the day on which the Emergency Regulations which I have mentioned might be revoked. The effect of the provisions of this Ordinance was that such detention or restriction orders would remain in force for a specified period by virtue of the new Ordinance.
Then there were these provisions for the review of the position of the detainees. First, that a Commissioner 306 would be appointed to examine each case; secondly, that the Government might make orders for the further restriction of such persons after having examined each case individually in the light of the report of the Commissioner; thirdly, that each case of further restriction would be reviewed by the Commissioner after six months; and fourthly, that the Ordinance would cease to have effect at the end of 1957 unless extended by the Legislative Council. The Ordinance was extended and is in force today. On January 1, 1957, the emergency procedures were revoked. The procedures under the new Ordinance were followed and Mwenya was one of those who remained under restriction; and although the details of the restriction have been altered by subsequent orders, the restriction remained until it was revoked by the Government on October 20, 1959.
In May, 1959, an application was made on behalf of Mwenya to the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court in London for a writ of habeas corpus. The main ground of the application was that the Emergency Powers Order in Council of 1939, relying on which the Acting Governor of Northern Rhodesia had made the Emergency Regulations in 1956, had not been published in compliance with the Rules of Publication Act, 1893, and was therefore invalid. I do not say anything about the merits of that or its legal power. That, in fact, was the ground, and the argument was that there was therefore no valid restriction when the Emergency Regulations were revoked to attract the provisions of the Transitional Provisions Ordinance of 1956, and therefore that the restriction was unlawful.
The Divisional Court dismissed the application against the Governor of Northern Rhodesia and the district commissioner on the ground, taken as a preliminary point, that the Court had no power to issue a writ to a Protectorate, which Northern Rhodesia is, and against the Secretary of State for the Colonies, on the ground that he was not the custodian of the body of Andrew Mwenya. The decision of the Divisional Court was taken to the Court of Appeal, which reversed the decision but decided only that a writ might issue to a Protectorate in certain circumstances—I 307 quote my noble and learned friend the Master of the Rolls—If upon proper investigation of the facts it appears that the internal government of Northern Rhodesia is in legal effect indistinguishable from that of a British colony or country acquired by conquest …then he, the Master of the Rolls, can see no reason for denying jurisdiction. The Court did not decide that the writ could be issued in this particular case or even in any case to Northern Rhodesia.
Before the order of the Court of Appeal was drawn up, the Governor of Northern Rhodesia revoked the order against Mwenya because it was no longer necessary on the ground of public security. His action was in no way the result of the judgment of the Court. For similar reasons he had revoked the order against eighteen other persons before revoking the order against Mwenya, and in those circumstances on the 26th October the Court of Appeal made an order staying all further proceedings in the matter except in so far as might be necessary for the enforcement of the order as to costs.
The noble Viscount was therefore wrong in three respects—and I do not blame him at all, because the noble Viscount can see how much research I have had to do myself in order to satisfy him. The Court of Appeal did not decide that the Government had no power to do what they had been doing or that Mwenya must be released. Secondly, the judgment of the Court of Appeal had nothing to do with the eighteen other cases; and thirdly, the Attorney-General agreed that proceedings should be stayed merely because with the release of Mwenya the cause of action fell to the ground. I hope that the noble Viscount will realise that I have done my best to satisfy him and have given him the facts as I know them.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I am deeply grateful to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, and I shall study and read to the best of my amateur ability what he has said. What I gather as a layman is this: that nineteen people were in fact detained since 1956, and in the end it appeared that the Government had no right to do that.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I wanted to make it clear that the Court of Appeal never decided that the Government were wrong in detaining these people. All the Court of Appeal said was that in certain circumstances a writ of habeas corpus could issue to a Protectorate. They never went beyond that. Neither the point of law nor the merits of this case have ever been pronounced upon by the Court of Appeal.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
By haw, coincidence, the emergency disappeared at the same time that the Court was about to say that a writ of habeas corpus may be issued. The second point is that it appears—I am speaking as an ignorant layman—that the Government of Northern Rhodesia claimed that in some parts of Her Majesty's Dominions it was impossible for one of Her Majesty's subjects to procure a writ of habeas corpus.
§ 6.6 p.m.
My Lords, I rise to make the last speech from this side of the House before the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, exercises his right of reply. The case for the Amendment has been put so well by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd—and I know the old hands on this side will agree that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, was particularly effective—and also, if I may say so, by my old friend Lord Ogmore, that it might be thought a mere formality for me to add a few words. They will not be many words, I can assure the House.
We should perhaps once again take note of the departure from his high office since we last debated these matters of the right honourable gentleman Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd, and certainly, whatever may be thought about the controversial aspects of his policy, we are all at one in saluting a Colonial Secretary who gave himself without stint to his duties over a number of troubled years. I know well that he was someone who set his political conscience above his own personal predilections. I have seen him little in recent years, but he was one of my oldest friends.
I remember that ten years ago he found it necessary to take a strong initiative in seeking to remove me immediately 309 from office because I had set aside the findings of a tribunal which inquired into an air crash. I remember, and the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has every reason to remember, too, the language that was used in another place on that occasion. Mr. Lennox-Boyd said, "There was the tribunal. It's findings have been overruled. That is the gravamen of our charge." He was supported on the highest legal grounds—the argument did not prevail there—by the noble and learned Viscount who looks after us in kindly fashion now as Lord Chancellor and who was then a leading spokesman on these matters in another place. He said, "We believe that the Minister should accept the findings unless he believes they have been made on no evidence at all." That was the doctrine expounded by the right honourable gentleman Mr. Lennox-Boyd and the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor. I must say that they have learned from my example—if you like, my infamous example. Whereas I overruled a single eminent Q.C., Mr. Lennox-Boyd has set aside a judge of the highest standing and a strong tribunal. Therefore I feel that perhaps the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor would not actually stand up on the language he used ten years ago.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I want only to round off the story. Was that the occasion which convinced the noble Lord that he had been wrong all his life up to that time in thinking that the fox really enjoyed being chased?
It is very kind of the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor to remember a joke of mine for ten years. Most of them, if they are tolerable at all, are forgotten after ten minutes, and I take it as a kindly gesture that the noble and learned Viscount remembers. I am sure the right honourable gentleman Mr. Lennox-Boyd will be glad to think that I followed his example before he left office in calling for his removal at the end of the last Session. Friendship has been maintained all round and I have the highest regard for Mr. Lennox-Boyd, as has everybody who knows him.
We have now a new Colonial Secretary. Unlike Mr. Lennox-Boyd he is not known to me, but I have been trying to find out a little about him. It is always well to examine a man's written words. He is the author of a book called Bridge is an 310 Easy Game. I hope that he does not think the same about Colonial statesmanship, because if he does, I think he may run into difficulties. But there in that book, towards the close, he uses this expression:It is in the end game that most of the big fish are finally landed.Let us hope that before he leaves office he will land some very big fish, in the sense that he may pull off some quite big achievements. But earlier he warns us, as students of the game:Very rarely is it possible later to retrieve the consequences of a thoroughly bad opening bid.I am not saying that the new Colonial Secretary has made a bad opening bid. I think on the whole he has made a promising bid; perhaps what he would call in his book "a light hid". At any rate, he made a good entry yesterday, although I am afraid his colleagues have dealt him a bad hand and it will need all his skill at bridge to secure the results that he has, and indeed in a sense we all have, in mind. We all certainly wish him well in his office.
We differ on certain points that have already been made plain by the authoritative speakers from this side, and before I conclude—I shall not be very long—the House will forgive me for just touching on them briefly again. In the first place, we criticise the composition of the Monckton Commission, though not its Chairman. I do not think that anywhere in this country there would be a voice raised against the Chairman. I do not say that merely because he is the chairman of a clearing bank—we do not stand together to that extent—but he has other great claims to distinction, and we all, on this side in particular, remember his remarkably humane, unbiased and tireless work as Minister of Labour. We admire the Chairman, but, for the reasons instanced, we are not at all happy about the composition in so far as it has been unfolded. We say that the leaders of African opinion should either be members or that they should, at any rate, be given the chance, as free men, to make representations. We do not say that that alone would be sufficient, because if they were not members we would insist, in any case, that any Africans who were members—of course there should be African representation—should be of a kind that the actual leaders of African opinion would regard as representative.
311 We say also that the Commission should be free to consider alternative solutions to federation. That question was pressed in another place yesterday. I do not think that we can blame the new Colonial Secretary for the type of answer he gave. He said he would look into the point and would be ready to discuss it with leaders of the Opposition. But that is a point to which we on this side attach great importance. Until the points that I have mentioned, and no doubt others, are cleared up, it is impossible for noble Lords on this side, and for the Opposition generally, to say whether they will or will not participate in the work of this Commission.
On general grounds, of course, we wish to participate. We are anxious—as anxious as any noble Lords or any men in public life—that the Commission should be a success; but we cannot, in spite of the argument submitted by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore—I think it would be most unreasonable to expect us in the Opposition—say that we will participate in the Commission until we have attained at least a considerable measure of satisfaction on these disputed points.
However, it is not exactly those points to which the Amendment calls attention. As has been pointed out by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, there must be an immediate and speedy constitutional advance inside the territories, that if possible it should take place before the Constitutional Conference planned for 1960, and if that timetable cannot be kept to, then the Constitutional Conference should be postponed. Otherwise, we do not believe that there is any real chance of restoring African confidence. I think everybody here, in his different way, recognises, as did The Times newspaper in an important article yesterday, the need for restoring this confidence if disaster is to be avoided.
We say also—my leaders have said it this afternoon more than once—that those who are at present detained should be released or, where that is thought to be impossible, at least should be charged. I do not see the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, but I followed his argument with close attention. I will not reply to it as I do not think he is in the 312 Chamber. We say that the Police State—a State at any rate described by one of Her Majesty's most distinguished Judges as a Police State—should be ended much more promptly in Nyasaland than now seems at all likely. I say "than now seems at all likely" in spite of the more progressive attitude which the new Colonial Secretary appears to be showing, and naturally we hope that we are rather pessimistic in regard to the intentions of the Government. We hope that in fact the Government intend to do better in this respect than we suppose.
My Lords, I do not intend to be very long, but when we draw close to a Division I think it is right that no one in this House—particularly noble Lords who have not heard all the earlier speeches—should be under any misapprehension as to where we stand in regard to principle. We do not say—I do not think it has been argued against us this afternoon in this House, although I am afraid it is of ten brought up elsewhere—that Britain is always wrong. We decline to put ourselves in the position of being professional enemies of this country. We do not say that the white man is always wrong and the black man always right. We refuse to accept any such label attached to us. We recognise the immense responsibilities that the Government carry, particularly in this House, where the Leader has been so tireless in pursuing the objectives we all have in mind, and we recognise the great complexity and delicacy of their tasks.
But there are certain positive principles on which we take our stand. We say, as our leading spokesman yesterday said in another place, that justice in Central Africa should be the same as justice in Britain; that anything approaching a colour bar is utterly evil; that the soul of each African is of the same infinite value as that of each white man, and that he should be treated accordingly. We do not say that human nature is perfectable here below, but we do believe in the vast possibilities of development contained in all human beings and in all races, and we believe that each people must in time be given the chance to govern itself.
We cannot say—perhaps it would be an impertinence to say, when there is a new Colonial Secretary—how far these principles are accepted, even in theory, as an aspiration by noble Lords opposite. 313 Certainly these principles have often been denied in practice, even by those who are, I am sure, completely sincere in preaching the ideal of multi-racial partnership. I remember that when we were debating Hola in the summer, or rather after that debate, several gentlemen, I think one or two of whom were Members of the House, came up to me at various times, when I had argued that each black man is of as infinite value as the white man, and said, "Of course, we know that that is only an expression; you were speaking on a political platform and you do not really mean that." We want to make it plain that we do mean that. If we did not mean it, we should not bother to come here at all, and certainly should not take up the time of the House by putting down Amendments which have very little chance of success.
When that very distinguished man Lord Malvern comes down to the House and says that, with a few exceptions, all Africans are liars, you would think that he would be denounced by the Government. You would think that the House would rise and say, "Why should this monstrous statement be made?" I was not in the House on that day so I cannot say what reception the noble Viscount got, but I am not aware that he was in any way dismayed by the reception he received in the House of Lords after making that outrageous statement. So it is perhaps not otiose of me to say exactly where the Labour Party stands on this question of principle.
When we come to federation, we say that this insistence on imposing federation on Africans who are violently opposed to it is, as the noble Viscount said earlier, in conflict with all our declared 'Western ideas of liberty and justice. I believe that the word "saboteur" was used at one point, though not in a particularly unfriendly way—that is if the word can be used in a friendly way; but certainly that word was used at one point in the debate. We have no intention of sabotaging the Federation, but we shall insist to the end that the peoples concerned in the last resort have the right to say whether or not they wish to continue with it or to secede from it.
Noble Lords opposite or their Party had not long ago a slogan which they made fairly popular—"Conservative 314 Freedom Works!" I am not sure whether that is the current slogan or whether it has not been superseded by something relating to prosperity; but at any rate that Conservative freedom works is the doctrine of noble Lords opposite. Why not give Conservative freedom a chance in Nyasaland? It may not be the best kind of freedom, but even Conservative freedom there would be better than none. One thing is sure: whether or not Conservative freedom works, Conservative dictatorship does not, or, if it does work, then it does a great deal of mischief.
We heard from the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, the other day, in the very interesting speech that he made, a reference to the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. The noble Lord quoted him with approval, but he did not quote those words used by Sir Henry during the Boer War relating to "methods of barbarism". If Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman is to be quoted here, let us recall what he said about methods of barbarism, and how unpopular that reference to methods of barbarism as applied to our own activities made him during the Boer War. And let us recall that a few years later his Party won an overwhelming triumph. We have heard one or two quite discreet and not exaggerated references to the recent General Election. Noble Lords have become immensely democratic, while flushed with triumph. Perhaps they will recall what Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman said and the kind of reception he had at the time, and what happened a little later on.
There is no need to exacerbate feeling. I hope I have not raised any. I am perfectly well aware that the two noble Earls immediately facing me—Lord Home and Lord Perth—are engaged night and day in trying to make a success of Central Africa among their other responsibilities. I do not doubt that they are devoting themselves to that with passionate intensity; but I do say that while we represent in this Party half the nation—and one day may represent more—the noble Earl and his colleagues must face the fact that if they continue as they do, they will continue to divide the nation; and while they divide the nation as they are doing we have no option but to divide the House.
§ 6.23 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, at an early stage in this debate my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir reminded the House that if we ran the last Session of Parliament together with this one, the affairs of Africa have been mentioned on nine consecutive Parliamentary days. If I may pursue the analogy of the bridge table, mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Pakenham—
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I was merely using intelligent anticipation. But if I may pursue that analogy a little further than he did, I wish it fell to my lot to be "dummy" more often in playing this very controversial hand. At one moment when this debate started this afternoon I was afraid we were going to revert to an undercurrent which ran through this series of our debates in the last Parliament, when a picture was drawn of British colonial rule as one of harsh oppression, and of a colonial administration geared to retarding rather than advancing the legitimate rights of Africans in Africa.
The Opposition in the country at the General Election made quite a feature of the future of Africa and of our colonial administration, and the people rejected that picture of a harsh colonial administration as one that was utterly unreal and untrue. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, very fairly made the point to-day that not only in the case of Nigeria but also in the case of Basutoland, a much smaller country—and, I may now tell the House, in the case of Bechuanaland, where we are making preliminary advances on talks respecting a future Constitution—we have made a great deal of progress and we have practised what we have preached through the years—namely, that it is the aim of our colonial policy to give to the native peoples increasing responsibility in the management of their own affairs, leading to eventual self-government. I hope, therefore, that we shall hear no more of the insinuation that British colonial policy is out to retard and diminish the legitimate rights of the inhabitants of the colonial territories of Africa or, indeed, anywhere else.
316 If we are to be realists, however, we must admit that the stuff of politics is inflammable; and in dealing with primitive countries which are just beginning their apprenticeship in democracy we must remember, too, that they are exposed to-day to the cult of nationalism and the cult of racialism and that therefore it is likely from time to time, as indeed has happened in our colonial history before, that there will be threats to law and order, and emergencies may have to be declared. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that when there is a threat to law and order—which, always let us remember, is a threat to the majority and therefore to the community as a whole—then the Government must act; and the Government which must act is the Government on the spot, of course with the assent of the Secretary of State in this country.
Do not let us pretend that we can turn aside when situations of this kind arise in our colonial territories, because if we did not perform the duty of preserving law and order then democracy would not last for one minute. Governors must, therefore, be equipped with the appropriate powers to preserve the public peace. Your Lordships who have seen much of the world and of our Colonial and Commonwealth story would not quarrel with that principle. But equally let us say that if we are humanitarian and if we believe in justice, then we must secure that no emergency continues one moment longer than the threat to law and order, and that the instruments which are put into the hands of authority must in all the circumstances be just.
The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, and others have read what my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary said in another place yesterday, which was repeated from this Bench by my noble friend Lord Perth—that he is eager to find ways and means of ending the emergency in Kenya and hopes that he sees a prospect of doing so; that he is eager to reduce the numbers of detainees and, indeed, to end the emergency in Nyasaland whenever that is possible. My right honourable friend is going to East Africa himself. He has asked the Governors of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia to come here for consultation, and one of the purposes of these consultations is (I am paraphrasing his words, but using one word which was significant) to see if there 317 can be devised an instrument which will enable authority to keep the public peace without using what he called the "sledgehammer" of emergency regulations. I do not think I can carry that any further to-day before my right honourable friend has had his discussions, but I believe the whole House will hope that he will be successful in his talks with the Governors and that we shall be able to report progress in this particular matter at a later date.
During the debate particular emphasis was laid (and in particular by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough) on the undesirability of holding persons in detention without trial. All will feel that—none, I am sure, more than the Governor of Nyasaland, who has succeeded in eight months in returning to civil life half the persons who were detained. But, my Lords, again if we are realists, we know perfectly well that in these primitive countries where tribal law prevails to a very large extent, the authorities may have a conclusive case against an individual or several individuals conspiring to subvert authority and to bring the law into contempt and, indeed, to plot against the authority of the Government, but these people cannot be brought to open court because the witness would pay the penalty, and the penalty very often would be his life.
For that reason, I cannot accept the strictures of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, to-day. He insinuated—in fact, I think he said in so many words; he will correct me if I am wrong—that it was the wicked Conservatives who hold individuals for detention without authority. He said something like this: that we were guilty of the destruction of the standards of democracy and justice which the people could always expect and had always expected from Governments and Administrations in this country. Researches are in the air. My noble friend was doing researches for the benefit of the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate; the noble Lord was doing researches into the past of the Colonial Secretary; and my memory was jogged and I thought I remembered that in the case of the arrest of Gandhi the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, himself was somewhat concerned. So I looked up the records and I found that Mr. Fenner Brockway asked a question of Mr. Wedgwood Benn 318 following on the arrest of Mr. Gandhi. He said:Will Mr. Gandhi be charged and tried?No, Sir,"—said Mr. Wedgwood Benn—it is intended to keep him detained under the regulations.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I am glad the noble Earl has raised that point. It is perfectly true that when I was Secretary of State for India many people were detained under orders. But what I did, and what the Government will not do, was immediately to set on foot an arrangement which brought Mr. Gandhi to London, produced a Round Table Conference, and solved the emergency.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I am going to ask the noble Viscount to agree to a round table conference very soon. But he will—
THE EARL OF HOME
—and the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, will forgive me if in this matter I find their memories a little selective and their indignation a little synthetic.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl to wait a moment? Am I to understand him to say in reply to my intervention that he intended to arrange a round-table conference and invite Dr. Banda to come?
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, no. The noble Viscount must not understand that. The noble Viscount can now hear me and he must not understand that. What I was going to suggest later on was that the noble Viscount and his friends should join in a Commission to examine the rights and wrongs of the position in Central Africa.
But, my Lords, I am interested in the philosophy of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough. I do not know whether it is unfair to put it—I am not quite sure that he would say this, but a lot of people have been very near saying it—that "We must always negotiate with people whom we first put in prison, so why not let them all out at once?" I suggest that the lesson of the past is not that, but this: that everything stable and 319 lasting in the Commonwealth and everything that has led it to be a permanent bastion of peace and freedom has been based on respect for the rule of law and the insistence that it should prevail; and we could not have brought, and we cannot bring, nations to the sunlight of democracy and independence by surrendering all our standards to intimidation and to violence.
Now, I would turn for one moment to the franchise. Again, the last thing I want to do is to be controversial—my whole purpose is to join in happy harmony with all sides of the House—but who are the noble Lords opposite to criticise us for the progress that we have made in the franchise in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland? During six or seven years of Socialist administration, not one single person in Nyasaland or Northern Rhodesia had the vote, either territorial or federal. Why not, if they stood for justice and these human rights? And on the universal franchise, why on earth did they not begin? They were not on a trial of Socialism, finding their way; they had already had one Government—though they made a mess of it, it is true. They had another and they still did nothing in the matter of franchise.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I think that the noble Earl had better still further extend his researches, and he will then find that the real beginnings towards producing democracy in these territories over which we had control occurred during the lifetime of the Labour Government; and at any time, if the noble Earl likes, I will produce evidence from my noble friend, Lord Hall, or Mr. James Griffiths.
THE EARL OF HOME
But it is much worse, my Lords, to begin and then to forget your principles. Apparently, in respect of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the principles were forgotten—the principles of democracy and the practice of the franchise—and no one made a start at all on giving Northern Rhodesians or Nyasalanders one vote, although they were British protected persons. Now, in Northern Rhodesia at least, there are some thousands of Africans both on the territorial and on the federal rolls—some 7,617 actually registered—and 2,000 Asians, a total of 320 9,000 Africans and Asians compared to 20,000 Europeans are on the territorial register. I suggest, when we are talking of franchise, that my noble friend Lord Sinclair of Cleeve was right. The thing for all of us to do is to assist the Africans in increasing numbers to advance their education, and to increase their incomes; and thus, under the existing franchise rules—I assure the noble Viscount it is so if he will study them—hundreds and thousands of Africans will be added to the roll in Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland. If only the violence had not intervened, we had plans for a franchise scheme on the model of the Northern Rhodesian scheme, and we will hope still to be able to bring that into force later when the security situation allows.
The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, plays on my emotions and heartstrings so surely every time he speaks that I have strictly to keep hold of my head. I would respond immediately to what he said about the principles which should govern the approach to these colonial problems. He mentioned justice and the rule of law and tolerance, and it is just because we are so anxious to see these elements woven into the fabric of these new nations that we counsel that there should be time taken so that justice and the rule of law and tolerance should be secured for all races; and that is particularly true in Central Africa.
Noble Lords opposite may think my methods misguided, but I do not think that they or their colleagues could possibly accuse me of not trying during the last year to co-operate with the Opposition on the problems of Central Africa. I could have counselled my friends on many, many occasions, that it would be unprofitable. I have persisted because I believe, with the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, that we should have an all-Party approach. The Federation contains three territories—one of which has virtually had self-government for 30 years, so it is not a problem of purely colonial scope.
I want co-operation, and I will do everything I can to get it. I want to say, and to meet the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, and the particular appeal made to me by Lord Ogmore this afternoon, in this way; that we will look at this with fresh minds—and indeed, will 321 make a fresh start—although I must qualify that by pointing out that there are certain facts in Africa that you cannot get over. There is the fact that the advance of the African must take time, until he reaches the same standards as the European; and there is the fact that the Federation of Central Africa has been in existence now for six or seven years. But I do believe that there is an instrument ready to hand by which all sides of this House—and, indeed, all political Parties in this country—can co-operate and set an example here and now, and, what is more, can reach a high degree of accord. My Lords, I refer to the Monckton Commission; and I want, if I can, to clarify certain points in response to the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough—and I wish to do so to be helpful.
The two points which, in particular, seem to be worrying him and, I think, his colleagues in another place are these: will this Commission command the confidence of all Parties, and in particular the confidence of the African? My Lords, I can forecast with absolute certainty that when the membership of the Commission is generally known it will be seen to be very good and to maintain the quality already set by the selection of the Chairman, and that it is composed of people who will look at this question with complete objectivity. The Africans, when the names are seen, could not possibly be described as "Yes-men" I do not like to use, and will not use, the word "stooges", which has been used in the past; but I say that they cannot be described as Yes-men". The Commission gives an opportunity for Africans in two ways: first of all, to play their creative parts inside, in the counsels of the Commission; and, secondly, to give evidence to the Commission, In addition, as the Colonial Secretary said yesterday in another place, Africans would be able to give evidence, and that evidence, if necessary, would be recorded for the whole world to see.
Now, my Lords, if the noble Lords opposite and their colleagues in another place want African opinion and African influence to be brought to bear on the 1960 Review, I cannot imagine a better way than by beginning to do it now through the Monckton Commission.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Do I understand from the reference that the noble Earl the Leader of the House has made to African members of the Commission that it is to include Africans of all views? Are the Government going to include on the Commission, say, a member of the African Congress?
THE EARL OF HOME
I would not particularise, but the whole point of this Commission is that it will include people who are respected locally and who will be willing to look at the whole question with unprejudiced minds. We shall not inquire, no doubt, too closely—or, indeed, at all—into their political views if we are satisfied that they are men of substance who will look at matters with an impartial mind.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
As the question of India was raised earlier by the noble Earl, the Leader of the House, may I remind him that what led to the success of the Round Table Conference was the bringing on to the Conference of members of the very committee, the working committee of the Indian Congress, who had been interned and charged? If people like that could be brought on to the Commission, perhaps we might have more confidence.
THE EARL OF HOME
I must continue my historical researches—but I seem to recollect that the Indian Round Table Conference was the final act: this is the preparatory Commission.
Then the second matter which has caused the Opposition concern is that the terms of reference for the Commission preserve a link with federation through deliberate reference to the Preamble of the 1953 Constitution. I therefore ask the question, and hope to answer it: are the terms of reference adequate to the situation in which we find ourselves to-day in respect of the African Federation? I would remind noble Lords of the history of this matter. We are in a situation where Parliament has laid upon us a duty to review a Constitution which exists—namely, the Constitution laid down in 1953. I therefore suggest to noble Lords apposite and their colleagues that any Commission preparatory to the 1960 Review must be directed to the scope of the Order in Council which contains the Constitution of 1953. 323 You cannot get away from it. Parliament has laid that duty upon us.
There are two features, as noble Lords will recollect, of the Preamble to that Constitution. The federal principle is one, but the other, as one or another speaker from this side of the House has reminded us, is the declaration that the final emergence of the Federation as a full and independent member of the Commonwealth depends upon the consent of the African. So there are two features inevitably in any preparatory Commission: the federal background and the safeguards for the Africans which are built into the Preamble. Both the aspirations and safeguards are inevitably there in the terms of reference.
I could not help agreeing with my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir—and I am not asking for any replies or indications of the Socialist Party's attitude today—when he reminded us of the history of Canada and said that if you talk about federation and secession in one breath all you are going to do is to invite chaos and uncertainty in Central Africa. The Canadians were very wise and the Australians were very wise in the early days of federation deliberately to exclude the right to secede.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Having gone so far with the argument—I followed it as closely as I could, and the principle laid down in it by the noble Earl the Leader of the House, that ultimately it must be by African consent that this federation comes into being—may I ask this question? If you are going to get all this through in 1960, what are the proposed steps he would take in order to get the true African view of the populations of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in time to get a really full result of African opinion about the part they are going to takle? What steps does the noble Earl propose?
THE EARL OF HOME
The noble Viscount is jumping quite a long way, because he said, "If you are going to get all this through". But, of course, the 1960 work is to deal with the next phase of constitutional advance, and it is quite uncertain when the final time will arrive when the whole Federation will become independent. That is at some date in the future.
324 My Lords, again I think this thought is worth consideration by the noble Lords opposite. There is a very great temptation to lay down blue prints as to what may happen over the next 10 or 20 years or more. In fact South Africa has perhaps been guilty in that respect. I do not know what is going to emerge from the 1960 Review; nor does the noble Viscount; nor does anybody. I do not know what Parliament will accept as a result of that Review—and remember that Parliament here has the last say. But what I do say is that noble Lords ought to face up to the fact that in any terms of reference for any Commission you might have there must be the federal background, because we are working under Statute and there must be included the safeguards for the Africans, because it is with their consent that the final phase will be necessary.
My Lords, the last sentence I have to say is this. I think that, apart from any other argument, it would be very valuable to this country and to the people in the Federation to have the facts of the situation. I have never seen all the facts put together, nor have I seen a survey of the opinion of the people of the Federation as a whole on these issues. Mr. Justice Devlin gave us a certain indication of opinion in Nyasaland at the present time, but I want to see what one noble Lord to-day called a cool analysis and a fair and just balance of proposals for the next stage of constitutional advance reflecting the opinion of the sensible and reasonable majority which form the population of that country. Membership of the Commission does not commit anybody. There may be minority reports. Personally I believe that if we all combine to serve on this Commission there is likely to be a high degree of unanimity, because once the Commission get on the spot, there is an obvious common-sense middle road which can be taken, and one can see the way to bring justice and fair play between all races and to safeguard minorities and individual rights within the Federation. I believe profoundly that the Commission can point the way which men of reason and good will can take, and that therefore all political Parties in your Lordships' House ought to join in supporting it, in joining it and helping it to work. That is my appeal.
325 In general, I am glad that we have debated this matter of colonial policy. None of us can claim perhaps to be wholly right, and although we have said a few harsh things about each other and each other's attitudes, and although we cannot agree on methods, I believe that there is an opportunity for us now to get together to do a practical piece of work on a Commission which is headed by a man whom the whole House knows to be impartial and who will give good guidance and leadership to the Governments concerned in the 1960 Review.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I do not propose to detain the House for long. The only purpose one may achieve in a closing speech is not to continue the debate but to try to answer many of the points that have been raised. I think that at this stage that would be hopeless, because the respective attitudes of the two sides have been very clearly defined in the course of this debate and nothing I could say could alter that. I would just say one or two things about a few of the general points that have been raised. For instance, I feel that the noble Earl the Leader of the House somewhat departed from his usual high standard when he delved into the past and tried to establish that the Government are right because my noble friend Lord Stansgate was wrong some years ago—
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, may I correct the noble Lord? I did not say necessarily that the Government were right, but that the noble Viscount was being over-righteous.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I repudiate the suggestion of my noble colleague that I was wrong ten years ago.
§ LORD SILKIN
—or that the Government were right because my noble friend was right ten years ago. I do not think that these incursions into ancient history will really help us. We all make mistakes and we think that the Government are making a mistake to-day. Nor did I think it very helpful to suggest that the Opposition are oppos- 326 ing merely for the sake of opposing, because it is the duty of an Opposition to oppose, or to suggest that it is really their business to acquiesce in everything the Government say in order that unity should be demonstrated to the people of Africa. If Parliamentary democracy means anything at all, it implies that there is a Government and that there is an Opposition whose duty it is to be vigilant and to express the point of view which it sincerely holds. And we do genuinely hold the views which we have expressed. We may be mistaken—we often are; and so are the Government—but at least there is this interchange of ideas; and without an interchange of ideas we cannot get a true democracy.
I do not suppose that we have convinced anybody on the other side to the extent that they will be ready to support this Amendment; nor have any of the speeches on the other side convinced us that we ought not to proceed with the Amendment. But I think that what all the speeches have done is to give us cause for further thought. I think that we all have heard to-day, from all parts of the House, things which will give us cause for re-thinking and which, in the end, may affect the attitude that each side adopts. For instance, the Colonial Secretary is going to hear the views of certain of the Governments of the territories. He is going to take them into consideration. He is going to inform himself of the circumstances in these territories and he has had the advantage of hearing what honourable Members of another place and noble Lords in this House have said. I cannot think that all that would have no influence on him at all. Likewise, we have heard what has been said, and no doubt will think again. In these circumstances I think that our Parliamentary system justifies itself.
I do not think that I need say more than that at this stage. Neither of us, I imagine, has been convinced by the other and we therefore propose to press the Amendment.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents 31; Not-Contents 84.327
|Addison, V.||Greenhill, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Henderson, L.||Shepherd, L. [Teller.]|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Latham, L.||Silkin, L.|
|Ammon, L.||Layton, L.||Stansgate, V.|
|Amulree, L.||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Stonham, L.|
|Amwell, L.||Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Boyd-Orr, L.||Ogmore, L.||Taylor, L.|
|Burden, L.||Pakenham, L.||Williams, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Pethick-Lawrence, L.||Wise, L.|
|Crook, L.||Rea, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Aberdare, L.||Furness, V.||Onslow, E. [Teller.]|
|Ailwyn, L.||Gage, V.||Perth, E.|
|Albemarle, E.||Gifford, L.||Radnor, E.|
|Allerton, L.||Glyn, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Ashton of Hyde, L.||Goschen, V.||Rathcavan, L.|
|Baden-Powell, L.||Gridley, L.||Rockley, L.|
|Baillieu, L.||Hampton, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Balfour of Inchrye, L.||Harris, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||Hawke, L.||Salisbury, M.|
|Boothby, L.||Home, E. (L. President)||Saltoun, L.|
|Brand, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Carrick, E.||Hylton, L.||Savile, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Inchcape, E.||Selkirk, E.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Iveagh, E.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Jessel, L.||Soulbury, V.|
|Conesford, L.||Kilmarnock, L.||Spens, L.|
|Croft, L.||Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor)||Strang, L.|
|Crookshank, V.||Kinnaird, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Devonshire, D.||Lambert, V.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Digby, L.||Long, V.||Swinton, E.|
|Donegall, M.||Luke, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Dovercourt, L.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.||Torrington, V.|
|Ebury, L.||Margesson, V.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Merrivale, L.||Twining, L.|
|Erskine, L.||Milverton, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Ferrier, L.||Montgomery of Alamein, V.||Wellington, D.|
|Fortescue, E.||Newall, L.||Winterton, E.|
|Fraser of North Cape, L.||Northesk, E.||Wolverton, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.328
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine dissentiente: the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.
§ House adjourned at nine minutes past seven o'clock.