§ 2.45 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL rose to call attention to the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and its constituent territories; and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I know we are all glad to see that the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, has taken the trouble to come all the way from Salisbury for this debate. He is certainly the most outstanding elder statesman in Rhodesia, and whether we agree or disagree with his views I have no doubt at all that his immense experience will make a valuable, and indeed unique, contribution to our debate.
§ It is almost exactly a year since the House last discussed the situation in Central Africa, and I think your Lordships will agree that, in view of the important events that have taken place, both in the Federation and the territories, since that time, and the fact that their future is still undecided, the moment has come for another discussion of the problem. I do not think any of us expect any announcement by Her Majesty's Government of a new and dramatic change in policy. A new Minister has been appointed, and obviously we shall have to wait until he is in the saddle before we can expect any fresh development in policy. At the same time, the policy is in the formative stage, and it may not be unprofitable for either your Lordships or the Government to do some thinking aloud about the problems of Central Africa.
§ I believe that noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite will at least agree that this problem of Central Africa is the most important and probably the most difficult of all the Commonwealth problems (there are, of course, equally important problems in other fields) with which they are confronted at the present time. The decisions of policy which will have to be taken fairly soon will affect not only the inhabitants of all races in this part of Africa but also the relations between this country and the rapidly growing number of African Commonwealth countries. I very much hope that the views that will be expressed by speakers in this debate this afternoon—and I am delighted to see 852 such a long list—will assist the Government in working out a policy which in the long run will be the right policy for Central Africa and for the Commonwealth. At any rate what we say this afternoon will reach the ears of a Minister with a comparatively virgin mind. Nobody who knows Mr. Butler will doubt his willingness to hear all sides of the case, or his record as a man of progressive views, both at the Home Office and when he was in a position where I used to see more of him myself in relation to India—which, of course, is a good indication of his attitude towards problems in territories overseas. I am sure that all of us, on both sides of the House, wish him all success in his new assignment.
§ Our doubts about this strange transfer of Ministerial responsibility are not about Mr. Butler, but about the policy itself. If, as the Government claim, it is better and more efficient—and I think the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham, made this clear when he announced the new policy—to have one Minister and one Department to deal with Central Africa than to have two Ministers and two Departments, why did the Government not think of this in 1953 when the Federation was established, or at least shortly afterwards, after the old system had been given a fair trial? Why has it taken the Government nine years to find out that the division of responsibility between the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office did not work satisfactorily? I think that is a question which we are entitled to ask. I must confess that this long delay in profiting from experience cannot impress anyone in regard to the administrative competence of the Government.
§ There are many people who have serious misgivings about the practicability of the new arrangement, and I think these misgivings should be expressed. It runs the risk of being seriously misunderstood in Africa where the Africans have always regarded the Colonial Secretary as the man who would take their side. My Lords, I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, who will be speaking in a very short while, will be able to tell us that the Protectorate Governments in the two Northern territories have been asked to explain the 853 position to the African population. It is most important that there should be no misunderstandings, because misunderstandings would undermine the confidence of the Africans in Her Majesty's Government.
§ Another difficulty is that this new arrangement places an enormous new burden of work on an already overburdened Minister, who is still in charge of the Home Office and of Common Market policy. It is essential that the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Butler, should give most of his time—in any event at the present moment—to learning his new job; and, indeed, he is obviously doing so. He has already had talks with two Governors and with the High Commissioner (whom we are glad to see with us here this afternoon: it is a compliment to our debate) and he intends to go out to Central Africa very shortly. That is all very admirable indeed. But what I cannot understand is why the Government do not relieve Mr. Butler of some, at least, of his Governmental duties—not for a long period of time but temporarily, at any rate—so that he can concentrate all his energy, without distraction, on his latest, most important and toughest assignment.
§ What matters far more than the administrative machinery in Whitehall, whether it is going to be an improvement or not—and I am sure we all hope that it will be an improvement—is the attitude of all races in Central Africa towards their political future. That, after all, is what we have to consider this afternoon, and that is the most important factor in deciding what the Government should do. I should first like to deal with the position in the two Northern territories, before I pass on to say something about the policy of the Federal Government and the position in the Federation.
§ To deal with Northern Rhodesia, whatever may be said about Mr. Maudling's new Constitution for Northern Rhodesia, it seems to be fairer to the Africans than the June proposals of Mr. Macleod. I will not go into the details again, because they are extremely difficult and I am not sure that I understand them myself. At any rate, I think the salient points are clear. The candidates for the fifteen National seats, apart from the Asian candidate who of course draws 854 his votes entirely from Asians, will require at least 10 per cent. of the votes of each race. This will give to Africans as good a chance of getting the required number of European votes as the European candidates will have of getting the required number of African votes. That seems to be fairer than the previous arrangement, which gave a certain advantage in this respect to the European candidates in getting the minimum number of African votes.
§ I am delighted that this new arrangement for voting has been accepted by all the Parties in Northern Rhodesia, at least, in the sense that no Party has said that it will boycott the elections which will take place in the autumn. It is true, of course, that the principal African Party led by Mr. Kaunda has made its participation in the elections subject to certain conditions; but I think that if these conditions are studied it will be apparent that, in the main, they are not unreasonable and it should not be difficult for the Protectorate Government to meet them. I have little doubt that Mr. Kaunda himself would recognise that, in asking for a political amnesty, a distinction would have to be drawn between persons who have been detained on security grounds and persons who have been sentenced by the courts for offences such as arson or violence against the person. But I do not see anything in these conditions which could not be settled by good will on both sides.
§ Nevertheless, it is not at all surprising that the Africans in Northern Rhodesia regard the new Constitution as profoundly unsatisfactory. After all, it does not guarantee an elected African majority in the Northern Rhodesian Legislature. Your Lordships will remember—indeed, I have no doubt that we shall he reminded by the noble Lord, Lord Molson, who was a member of the Monckton Commission—that in 1960, when the Monckton Commission reported, they recommended, among other things, that there should be an African majority in Northern Rhodesia. That was about a year and half ago, and it has not happened yet. It is no wonder that the Africans are getting a hit impatient.
§ In view of this, I hope that the Government will make it clear that the next step in the constitutional advance 855 of Northern Rhodesia will not be long delayed. The really vital thing is that we should get the moderate Africans to come in, because it is the moderate Africans to whom we should entrust the future of Africa. They are the people who want to live in peace with all races, with the Europeans and the Asians; and it is these people whom we have to try to brine along, if we are to avoid things passing into the hands of the extremists.
§ It is important that Mr. Kaunda's Party, which is the most important African Party in Northern Rhodesia and is so often represented by other Parties as being extremist and racial (and remember that misrepresentation is not peculiar to Central Africa: it happens also in other countries, in the rough-and-tumble of Party politics), should be shown to be what it really is. The true image of this Party should be seen correctly. In fact, Mr. Kaunda's policy is strictly constitutional. He has always abhorred violence, and he is aiming at a non-racial society of Africans, Asians and Europeans. He is not a racialist. Furthermore, he is not even a Socialist, which I think must commend him to some Members of your Lordships' House, because he says that he believes in private enterprise and will not in any circumstances interfere with the administration of the Copper Belt. There are, of course, extremist elements in his Party, as indeed there are in every nationalist Party, and these elements have been involved in acts of violence in time past. This moderate leadership (Mr. Kaunda is a moderate leader, although it is remarkable how much control he has at the moment over his Party) will not be discredited in Central Africa, unless we here fail to keep up a reasonable pace of constitutional advance in the Protectorate.
§ It looks very probable that after the October elections in Northern Rhodesia, there will be a majority of members in the Legislative Council who will want to take Northern Rhodesia out of the Federation. Indeed, I have no doubt that that is the explanation for the fact that Sir Roy Welensky has been so bitterly opposed to a new Constitution, even though it does not by any means guarantee an African majority. If things work out in that way, the legislators in two out of the three territories—Northern 856 Rhodesia and Nyasaland—will wish to leave the Federation. I shall come back in a moment to the conclusions which I think should be drawn from this, but for the present I should like to pass on to the position of Nyasaland.
§ In Nyasaland there has been no violence or disorder since Dr. Banda's Malawi Party was returned with an overwhelming majority to the Legislative Council; and surely this comments on African nationalism in Nyasaland. Dr. Banda is coming here very shortly, and he will naturally expect his country to obtain a further constitutional advance and to go as far as internal self-government within a reasonable period of time. I have little doubt—because that is the policy of the Government—that that is something which the Government will be prepared to accept, when Dr. Banda puts forward the proposal.
§ But, of course, the greater the degree of constitutional advance in Nyasaland, the greater the pressure on Dr. Banda by his own supporters to leave the Federation and to link up—because this is the long-term objective—with other East African countries in an East African Federation; a new Federation, a different type of Federation. That, I think, is one reason, although only one reason, why the Government should look again very carefully at one of the most important recommendations in the Report of the Monckton Commission—I refer to the recommendation that the Government should state their intention to permit secession if so requested by any of the territories at some future date. Because there is a real danger that, unless some statement of this kind is made, increasing pressure on Dr. Banda in Nyasaland may make it impossible for him to prevent unconstitutional action.
§ Let me now turn for a moment or two to the Federation. Surely, looking at the Federation as a whole, the plain fact is that the passage of time has not made the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland more acceptable in any of the three territories—and, of course, I include Southern Rhodesia as well as the two Northern Territories. Indeed, it is not only the Africans in all the three territories who are against it. Sir Edgar Whitehead, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, has said that Southern Rhodesia would "go it alone" 857 if there were an African majority in Northern Rhodesia as well as Nyasaland —and it looks as though it is only a matter of time before there is an African majority there.
He has also said, of course, that Northern Rhodesia would not accept an African majority in the Federal Legislature. Again, that would be only a matter of time if the Federal Legislature continued to function for a long enough period. So that it is not only the Africans who are now foreseeing the time when the Federation should give way to some other form of political association. And of course the Monckton Commission itself, in spite of its strong desire to keep the Federation together, has said—and I should like just to quote this one sentence from the Report:
Ultimately, Federation must rest on a general willingness to accept it.
My Lords, I hope that the Government in Central Africa, as well as the Government here, will accept the unpalatable fact that, so far from a general willingness among all the races to accept federation, there is a greater degree of general unwillingness now than there has been in time past.
§ The House has just passed a Bill to dissolve the Federation of the West Indies. The Government decided to introduce this Bill and to ask Parliament to pass it because Jamaica and Trinidad, two of the territories in the West Indies, wished to leave it. Surely the principle of consent applied in the West Indies is just as valid in Central Africa; and if the Government were to adopt this recommendation of the Monckton Commission and were to declare their intention, I am quite certain that it would put an end to African unrest and to the political uncertainty of which everyone complains and which is doing so much harm in Central Africa. It would also make it possible to begin the system of economic planning for the future, which must begin quickly and before any of the territories have snapped their links with the Federation. I hope very much that the Government will make a statement on these lines after Mr. Butler has completed his study of the problem and can advise them about their policy in Central Africa.858
§ There is one important matter about which I should like to ask the Government, and I think this is rather a good opportunity. I should particularly like to ask the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor this question, because I think that probably he is in the best position to answer it. Sir Roy Welensky has claimed that the Government are bound by an agreement made in 1958 not to legislate—
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
In 1957. I am very much obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Molson, who knows far more about these maters than I do. It was an agreement that was made during discussions which took place here, I think, in 1957, not to legislate for the Federation except at the request of the Federal Government. What I should like to know is whether the Government agree with Sir Roy Welensky in this statement. I think we should know what the position is, because, owing to misunderstandings that have arisen in the past, there have often been charges of breach of faith. Of course, they have arisen from misunderstandings, but such charges always cause bitterness and make relations between this country and Central Africa more difficult. That is one reason.
But, of course, it is equally important to know what are the position and the policy of the present Government and how far they are morally bound by their decision in 1957, because if there is such an agreement I presume that the Government would be prevented from introducing legislation here to allow secession, for instance, without the consent of the Federal Government. I do not think that that by any means precludes a policy which might involve secession over a longer period of time; and, of course, it does not take away anything from the power of Parliament: but I think we ought to know if the Government have any moral obligation or moral undertaking in relation to the Federal Government in Central Africa, in Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
My Lords, of course, many ideas have been expressed about alternatives to the existing Federation. We are just as entitled as anyone else to air our views, but those who know most about Central Africa are perhaps the people whose 859 views must be most seriously considered. I think that we should all like to express an opinion about the views which it is alleged (although, of course, I have no information, apart from what I read in the Press) Sir Edgar Whitehead put forward to the Government, during his recent visit to London, for a partition of Northern Rhodesia. This partition of Northern Rhodesia would link the Copper Belt, and possibly also Barotseland, with Southern Rhodesia, and would keep this area in the Federation even if the rest of Northern Rhodesia were to secede. For my part, I hope that the Government will have nothing to do with a plan of this kind. I have no doubt that there would be the strongest objection in Northern Rhodesia to partition, because if the Copper Belt were taken away the rest of the protectorate would become a rural slum. Nor could Barotseland be detached without provoking a bitterly hostile reaction in the rest of Africa. The whole idea of partition is regarded by the Africans as a strategy of the Europeans—and particularly of those in Southern Rhodesia, whom they profoundly distrust—to annex their territory and to cripple their independence.
May I pass on for a moment to the question of the Review of the Federal Constitution? The timing of the next stage in this Review is, I think, a matter of very considerable importance. Sir Roy Welensky is urging that it should take place as soon as possible. There has already been a delay of rather over a year since the Conference was held in London, and he wants the discussion resumed at the earliest possible moment. But, my Lords, I very much hope that the Government will tell us to-day (and I do not see why they should not do so) that the earliest possible date for the Review of the Federal Constitution is after the autumn election in Northern Rhodesia; because it will not be until then that both the Northern Territories will be able to come to the Conference with representative spokesmen. I very much doubt whether anything positive could come out of a further Conference without a very definite lead from the Government. The last Conference achieved nothing at all, and there is a danger that a resumed Conference will have the same result unless the 860 Government are prepared to give a very definite lead.
The broad lines of such a lead from the Government would, I suggest, be somewhat as follows. I think the Government should say that secession will not only be discussed, but be permitted at some later date under conditions to be agreed between Her Majesty's Government and the territory requesting it. If this is made clear—and this should be made clear before the Conference, because otherwise there is the danger that the principal African Parties and the two Northern territories might not attend the Conference—then all concerned would be able to get on with immediate talks about the economic future of the Federation, which I think should be the second aspect with which the Conference should deal. It would be a great pity if these talks were limited to the political and constitutional future of the Federation. The Monckton Commission made it perfectly clear, as I think we should all agree, that the dissolution of the Federation would have very unfavourable economic effects and would cause a great deal of hardship, particularly to Nyasaland, which would be by far the greatest loser.
Apart, however, from anything that the Government here may be able to do to mitigate these economic effects, the resulting hardship would certainly be less if a system of common services could be started while the Federation is still intact. Of course, there is the University at Salisbury, the Kariba power station, posts, telegraphs, railways, and harbours. These are all services which provide for the needs of the Federation as a whole. I have just returned from Uganda, where I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks in January last in the company of two other noble Lords, and I must say that I was immensely impressed by the efficiency of the services provided by the East African High Commission. I stayed in a most excellent and comfortable hotel which was run by the East African Railway Board, which is under the High Commission.
This Commission, which covers what is now independent territory, Tanganyika, as well as Uganda and Kenya, which will shortly be independent, is surely an example of what can be done 861 with economic co-operation, even when territories have different political systems and different political relationships. Your Lordships will remember, because we discussed this only a very short while ago when the Bill was going through the House, that the system of common services in the West Indies will be retained after the Federation there is broken up. I am sure that an organisation somewhat on these lines would be invaluable in Central Africa, and one hopes that the political differences, which unfortunately are much greater there than in East Africa or in the West Indies, will not stand in the way.
Another economic factor which I should have thought is valuable and which should be tackled as soon as possible, and certainly before any separation between the territories and the Federation, is an agreement about a customs union. Industry in the Rhodesias is geared to a market which includes the whole area, and it would be a very great misfortune indeed if any territory, once it became independent, started to put up tariff barriers. It is essential that goods should flow freely throughout the whole area. But, my Lords, the uncertainty which exists at the moment can be removed only if the Government take the initiative and at the earliest possible moment say what is their policy in relation to the Federation. A declaration of policy, even if it has to wait, as it obviously has to wait, until Mr. Butler is properly in the saddle and has a thorough knowledge of the problems, should be made at the earliest possible moment, and I very much hope that we shall at least have that assurance from one of the Ministers who are going to reply for the Government this afternoon. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I should like to express my thanks to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for putting down a Motion on what is a most important subject, at a most important time in its history. This debate could not, in my opinion, have come at a more opportune moment. I agree with some of what he said; I do not say the same about some of the other things he said. Perhaps I can specify what I mean as I proceed.
862 In my view, there have in recent months been four important developments in the Federation. The first is the new Constitution, or the new constitutional arrangements, proposed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Maudling. The criticism of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, on this was that it did not guarantee an African majority; that is to say, a majority of the Nationalist Party. But, in my view, it would it a very odd Constitution if it did. In what part of the world, except behind the Iron Curtain, can any Party guarantee a majority? And even behind the Iron Curtain, whereas they used to get 102 per cent. votes in favour of Stalin, Mr. Khrushchev can now summon up only 99.3 per cent.; so this guarantee does not seem to be quite so firm even in that part of the world. In this country, as we know, he would be a very bold man who would guarantee that any Party would get a majority in these days. So I see no real criticism there.
Last September I led a deputation to the then Secretary of State, Mr. Macleod, and we had a very full and frank discussion of this whole question. As your Lordships will remember, at that time the urge was to get away from the June Constitution and to go back to the February one. We spent, I suppose, about an hour with Mr. Macleod. By and large, with some variations, the present Constitution is what we proposed to him then, so on behalf of myself and my colleagues on these Benches we welcome the Constitution for Northern Rhodesia now being propounded by Mr. Maudling. And more, we would urge all Parties in Northern Rhodesia to get in and fight the elections, and to hope that they will secure a majority. In fact, there is no reason why there should not be an African majority if the Party works for it. There may be a Coalition between the African Nationalist Party and the Liberals—who can tell? But I do think that it is quite a fair Constitution; and I believe that more than that one ought not to want.
The second development of late is the appointment of Mr. Butler as a sort of "overlord." We were rather puzzled in this House as to what that was going to mean: what would be the position of the two great Departments of State if the Home Office came into the picture? 863 It was rather unusual, to say the least of it. I gather that from the officials' point of view, it is not going to mean very much. Mr. Butler will be acting, as it were, in a ministerial capacity, but by and large the work will still be done to a great extent by the two Departments in their respective spheres.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I be permitted to interrupt the noble Lord? Perhaps either he, or one of the Ministers, when he replies, will explain this point. Surely Mr. Butler is not going to be an "overlord", as that term was understood some years ago when the Conservative Government were formed. Surely he is going to be in charge of a Department, a small Department, concerned with this work, which is then taken away from the other Department.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I should have thought that that was an "overlord", but it is only a question of definition. I may be wrong, but it is my impression that a great new Department of State is not going to be set up. Broadly speaking, the officials of these two Departments will still carry on, but top level decisions and negotiations will be dealt with by Mr. Butler personally, advised by a very small nucleus of high-level staff. That is my impression and if I am wrong I have no doubt that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, will correct me.
The third point of development seems to me to be the Federal general election, which takes place on April 27. This has been called by Sir Roy Welensky, who, so far as I can gather, is the only supporter of it. It has had a universally bad reception right through the Federation and it would seem that no problem is going to be solved by it. All that is happening is unnecessary delay in the various elements in the Federation getting together and discussing the matters they should be discussing.
The fourth point, which to my mind is, unlike Sir Roy Welensky's point, a very happy one, is the measures of reform that Sir Edgar Whitehead has been bringing into being in the last year or so. He has gone a great way in social and educational reform in Southern Rhodesia and I think that we must pay tribute where tribute is due in that respect. Unfortunately, it has been left rather late. It would have been much 864 better if these educational reforms, and particularly the social reforms, had come a good many years ago, when it was not possible to have a meal or a drink with an African in any hotel in Southern Rhodesia; but better late than never. I am sure that this will have a good effect upon the climate of opinion in Southern Rhodesia.
On behalf of my colleagues and myself, I would urge the Africans in Southern Rhodesia to accept the Constitution as at present revised, to get on the register and occupy the 15 seats which are available to them. I am quite sure that if they do this they will gain a great deal of experience and they may have a great deal of power. What people in many of these countries which have had no Parliamentary experience do not realise is that it is not necessary to have 51 per cent. or more of the seats to exercise power, or to exercise influence, as we know in this Parliament. Therefore, I think it is most important that they should take the seats allotted to them and go into Parliament. As to the Copper Belt proposal, I entirely agree with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that this would be disastrous. To take away the Copper Belt from Northern Rhodesia is not a starter at all in any sort of political scene. I think that we can strongly urge Sir Edgar Whitehead to drop that. It is not a political possibility. Certainly, it is not a constitutional one.
I am very much afraid that the days of this Federation are drawing to a close. I regret this because, as noble Lords who have attended these debates over the last twelve years know, I have always been a great supporter of federation in Central Africa. My quarrel with the Government is not on the virtues of federation but on the timing. So far back as April 1, 1953, we had a great debate in your Lordships' House on Central African Federation and noble Lords who were not Members of the House then may be interested to read the speeches that were made on that occasion, not only from the Opposition Benches but also from the Conservative Benches, from the Bishops' Bench and by other noble Lords, who urged the Government not to force this Federation through against 865 the wishes of the Africans but to take the Africans with them. Well, that was not the case and we have now to put up with the consequences.
What is the present position, and what is likely to be the future position? Obviously, in its present form, the Federation will not continue, although I feel sure that there must be some sort of association, whatever it may be called, between these territories in future. Some months ago, Mr. Julian Greenfield, the Federal Minister of Law, said that there was no constitutional way in which Nyasaland could secede from the Federation and that his Government had no intention of allowing the Federation to break up. In fact, his Government will have very little say in the matter because, quite apart from the Preamble to the Federal Constitution, we in this country are committed very deeply on this issue.
Speaking in the House of Commons, on March 4, 1952, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, now the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, said this [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 497, col. 231]:Lastly—and here is a matter which cannot only be covered by words in the Constitution—the political advancement of Africans in the Northern Territories must be, and must be seen to be, safeguarded.On July 27, 1953, he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 518, cols. 901–2]:I cannot repeat often enough what I have said in this House before, that the Federal Constitution gives the Federal Government no power either to retard or to accelerate the political advancement of Africans in any of the constituent Territories; no power to interfere with the Territorial Governments on this matter. I am thinking particularly of course, of the two Northern Territories.The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, then Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, said in your Lordships' House on July 7, 1953 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 183, col. 338]:The noble Earl also asked me … whether amendments to Territorial Constitutions required the assent of the Federal Government. The answer to that is emphatically no.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, as I have been quoted, may I say that naturally I stand by what I said in this House, but I understand that the noble Lord is arguing that it would be possible for Nyasaland now to secede from the 866 Constitution. That would be equally illegal.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, that is the point. The noble Earl may say that it would be "equally illegal". That is the whole point to be decided. Presumably it will be decided by the High Court of Parliament or by the Privy Council—I do not know.
But what I am saying is that at that time, when there was no question of secession at issue, the two Ministers concerned—the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, then Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations—were saying to both Houses of Parliament in this country that this arrangement was not going to affect the Constitutional position of these territories and was not going to affect their political advancement. Therefore, it seems to me clear that, if these territories say that, in order to attain their political advancement, they want to advance on their own, that comes within the scope of what the noble Lords said and the intention of Parliament at that time. In other words, there was nothing in the Act at that time insisting that these territories should remain part of the Federation. The power to secede was implicit, as it must be in every Constitution of this kind.
We have just had before us, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said, the West Indies Constitution. That was a Federal Constitution and nobody except the noble Lord, Lord Walston, said that it was wrong to break it up or that none of the territories should be allowed to secede. The Government did not say that. Only the Labour Party denied the right of a territory to secede. They said that about the West Indies. To-day they say the opposite about the Federation of Central Africa; therefore they are inconsistent. But I suggest that neither the Conservative Party nor the Liberals are in any way inconsistent about this. We say, in effect, that in either case, if the territory wants to secede, it must be allowed to do so.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? If he will read once more (assuming that he has already read it) what I said in my speech, he will find nothing to suggest that it was wrong for any of these countries to 867 secede. It was the manner in which this was to be carried out that was being criticised, not the right to secede.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I listened to a long speech from the noble Lord, and I must say that I thought the upshot of it was that he was criticising Her Majesty's Government bitterly for acceding to the wishes of Jamaica and Trinidad. That was the whole point of the Bill. Jamaica, and to a lesser extent Trinidad, said they wanted no more to do with the Federation. If the noble Lord was not criticising the Government for acceding to this, what was there to criticise? In my view, there was nothing. I do not want to hash too much over the past, but I want to put my position clearly before your Lordships, as one who has always been a believer in the idea of federation, who is very sorry that it has gone as badly as it has, but who yet thinks that a territory must be allowed to secede if it so desires. That was the upshot of the Monckton Commission Report.
Where do we go from here? Above all, I feel that we must avoid anything in the nature of a Congo or an Algerian situation. We must take all steps to prevent chaos in Central Africa. It will call for great statesmanship to avoid those dread fates of any territory; but I believe that we still have some statesmanship, and I see no reason why this should happen. I am not pessimistic about the future of Central Africa; in fact, I feel optimistic, because I think that people who have been trained in the British Parliamentary tradition are more sensible than sometimes appears. I hope, first of all, that Mr. Butler's appointment will not mean any delay in holding the elections. I would ask the noble Earl, Lord Perth, to assure us that the appointment of Mr. Butler, his getting to know the people and that sort of thing, will not hold back the elections; because it is most important that they should be held in the next few months. Secondly, I hope that we shall not have any undue delay in arriving at the other constitutional arrangements necessary, because at the moment uncertainty and delays are affecting the economic and financial position of these territories. I hope that all constructive steps which are possible will be taken by us in the economic and political field in the area, 868 and that we shall go in in a big way to take them wherever possible.
I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government whether it would be possible, as a first-aid measure, to do what was suggested by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. He suggested—and I myself had intended to suggest it—one of two courses. One was to re-create the old Central African Council, as it was called, which was a Council for economic purposes operating with reference to the territories. This Council failed; or at all events did not succeed, largely because (though the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, will probably deny this) the Southern Rhodesian Government never properly supported it. It is interesting to note that when in 1950–51 the Labour Government were considering possible future Central African federation, we were informed at the time that quite possibly the difficulties would come from the European element in the proposed Federation, and particularly the European element in Southern Rhodesia. It was not anticipated at that time that there would be such an objection from the Africans. That, as I say, was some advice that was given to us at the time. People said: "The Europeans in Southern Rhodesia have not supported the Central African Council, and they may well not support the Federation." I do not know whether there is any more likelihood of their doing so now than then, but if there is, I think that is one way in which we might look for the machine to tide us over into the future.
The second way in which I think we could deal with this interim problem is to do what the Government are now doing in the West Indies—namely, to set up an authority to handle the common services, which are, as it were, left in the air at the break-up of a Federation. As an interim measure, the Government might appoint a Commissioner for this particular purpose, and at a later date they could set up a more formal and elaborate authority, on a permanent basis, which all the territories who so wished could join. I feel that we must get around in our thinking to some such organisation, and the West Indies Federation seems to me to be quite a good precedent for the Central African Federation. What we must realise is that if the Federation does break up, as I think is likely, this will not be the 869 end of everything; indeed, it may even be the start of a new and happier association between the territories and this country. As I have said, I am not pessimistic but optimistic about the future of Central Africa. If there were fewer Jeremiahs, and more people of an optimistic nature—I cannot think of one from history or fiction at the moment—
§ LORD OGMORE
I do not think Micawber is a very good example. But, at any rate, if we had more optimistic people at this stage, instead of those who run down the Federation, I think the happiness of the people in the areas would be the greater. That is all I have to say to-day. I believe that there is a great opportunity for statesmanship in this field, and I can only ask Her Majesty's Government to show the statesmanship that is required.
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, having listened to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, I feel confirmed in what the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said—namely, that this should prove a valuable debate, of particular use to the Government in giving us ideas at a time when we are very much in need of ideas. When we are going ahead with what is such a difficult problem, we clearly want all the thinking that we can get to help us in that task. I would say, that, so far as I am concerned, I am not speaking in my capacity as Minister of State for Colonial Affairs, because we in the Colonial Office no longer have responsibility for the two territories, but it seemed to me that it might be useful if I gave your Lordships one or two facts about those territories for which until recently we had the responsibility.
I would say, in passing, that I believe it was quite right that we should make the change that has now been made. I say "now" because we have already given Nyasaland, and shortly will be giving, Northern Rhodesia, a new Government under a new Constitution. When that stage has been reached, then it is clearly a wise move to bring all the territories under one Secretary of State. A moment's thought will show that it could not have been either the Commonwealth Secretary or the Colonial Secre- 870 tary who could have taken on the centralisation. It had to be a Secretary of State, and the choice, as your Lordships' know, fell, in my view very wisely (although it is not for me to say) on Mr. Butler. I would say that he is not an "overlord"; he has direct responsibility for these departments. I might recall what was said in regard to staff at the time the statement was made. It was this [col. 323]:The staffs directly concerned with these matters in the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office will be brought together in a single unit which will be wholly responsible to the Home Secretary. As part of his general responsibilities the Home Secretary will assume the ultimate responsibility at present exercised by the Colonial Secretary for members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service serving in the Protectorates.So this is a complete changeover, not only for policy, but even in relation to the officers who are serving. I am sure that is right. One does not want a halfway house in something of this nature.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, did not ask so much whether Her Majesty's Government stood by our pledges, because that has been done and he recognised it, but whether this was known and understood by the territories concerned, and whether the Governors and other officials had done what they could to make this clear. The answer is that they have done what they could, and "what they could" has been highly successful; and in all the territories all the leaders have realised that this changeover does not in any way mean a change in the responsibilities exercised by Her Majesty's Government in relation to the Protectorates. That, I think, is a very satisfactory state of affairs.
Turning to Nyasaland, I just touch for a moment on the constitutional position. Your Lordships will recall that they had elections some six or eight months ago which were very keenly fought, in the sense that no less than 95 per cent. of those registered went to the polls, and the result was an overwhelming majority for the Malawi Party. The Government was formed and Dr. Banda took office. He took on a difficult post. He took the post of Minister of Natural Resources, which had a lot of difficulties and some unpopularity. He has filled that post with success, and now the Government goes forward steadily and smoothly.
871 So much for the constitutional side. The economic side is not so easy. Nyasaland has a large population in relation to its size—some 3 million people more than in Northern Rhodesia, although it is only one-sixth of the size of Northern Rhodesia. Nyasaland, unhappily, has not yet discovered any particular wealth, other than the wealth of its land and its agriculture. So that in Nyasaland one runs into the problem of where the money is to come from to run the country and to help forward its development. For the last ten years Government expenditure in the country—ten years is about the time during which we have had federation of the territories—has grown in all to no less than three times. That shows the increase in the wealth of the group as a whole, and perhaps of Nyasaland in particular. Today the figure is some £15 million, of which £10 million is for day-to-day current expenses and £5 million for capital account. But this is the difficult problem. Of that £15 million, only about one-third is generated from revenues inside Nyasaland itself, so that, of its day-to-day expenses, it is recovering only about half from its own territory, and the other half it has been able to get from outside. But Nyasaland clearly faces a very difficult problem of its ordinary day-to-day running if it is thinking of "going it alone".
Then we come to the capital side of the country's development. There are schemes afoot for a new development plan for the territory. Let us assume for the moment that that new plan would be run at about the same rate as the present, some £3 million or so. Mostly, the money would be for rather dull things. It would be money for spending, not on nice spectacular projects, but for the financing of vital things for the country, such as improved agricultural production, research, irrigration, land reclamation, new roads, and water supplies. I suppose much of that help will have to come from outside sources. Perhaps one may hope that some help will come from the World Bank, and I have no doubt that the World Bank would wish to help, so far as it could; but the World Bank cannot help except in so far as external supplies can come into the country. It is not able to spend 872 money for local labour costs. Other countries, whether it is the United States of America or the Federal Republic of Germany, are also rather hesitant to put money up for this purpose. They like building up some particular thing, whether it be a dam or plant. So there is a great problem of finding all the money for development.
Of course, Her Majesty's Government will continue to do all they can to help, but there is great competition for money from this country and, unhappily, our resources are not unlimited. I have gone into some detail on the economic side of Nyasaland because I think it is important that we should all realise the very grave difficulties that lie ahead for Nyasaland, with all that that means for Dr. Banda and others when we come to consider the future of Nyasaland.
Now I would turn to Northern Rhodesia. There the situation is the other way round, if I may put it that way. There is no particular problem at this time from an economic angle, because she has the great wealth of the copper mines. But at any rate so far as constitutional progress is concerned, it has been very difficult to find the right answer. Indeed, it is over a year since we first started trying to find the answer for her next constitutional stage. There was common agreement that in the next stage there should be a substantial increase in African representation, and apart from that we have been guided by two considerations. One was that there should be no built-in or guaranteed majority for any Party or race. I know the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, supported that, and at the first statement that we made at the time of the first Constitutional Conference, the Colonial Secretary at the time said [Cmd. 1295, p. 2 (i)] that we could:move into arrangements which will produce in practice something like equal numbers of European and non-European members in the Legislative Council or something short of that or something going a little beyond it.In other words, there was to be no built-in majority for any race—let alone a Party.
The second consideration we had was that for any Party to be successful they had to have a platform which would appeal to both the races. In other words, the platform had to be moderate 873 and one which took into account the fact that there are two races which are interdependent and on whose well-being the country's future depends. As your Lordships know, we have now set out the Constitution, and we have taken care of these two considerations. We have taken care of them in the main through the device of the National seats and by saying that those who stand for election have to gain a qualifying percentage of support from both races. That qualifying percentage—perhaps I might use the word "hurdle"—has to be jumped before they can be elected to a National Seat. That proved a very difficult hurdle to get right. It is of great importance that one should have this qualifying test, and when we first made our proposals we suggested that the hurdle should demand a certain percentage of approval from each one of the rolls. As your Lordships know, there is an Upper Roll and a Lower Roll. When we first put forward that suggestion, it was pointed out to us that it was quite possible that the Africans could get a sufficient percentage on the Upper Roll of African support because there are sufficient Africans on the Upper Roll, and they might have no need to get help or support from the Europeans. Quite simply, there was a miscalculation; so when we came to the next round, as it were, last June, we announced a different basis for this hurdle and said that we would have a hurdle demanding that there should be support from each of the races as opposed to the Rolls. Then we said that the number that candidates would have to get would not be based on a percentage, but we thought it would be better to do it by numbers; but we added a percentage because we realised that otherwise elections might be frustrated by boycott or by a low poll.
Here again we ran into objection and difficulty, although I think the thing would have worked and would have turned out all right. We ran into the objection that people said, "This is not right because it may be that a European only has to get less than 5 per cent. support of the Africans, while an African has to get under this principle of qualification some 12½ per cent. of the European support". As I say, this certainly looked like a good point, and although I do not think it would, in 874 fact, have made any difference it was terribly important that everybody should feel that the thing was absolutely fair.
So we came to the third suggestion. It was made at the end of last February, when we said, quite simply, that the hurdle must be a flat 10 per cent. of each race; and that, clearly, was favourable neither to the one nor to the other. I like to think that the third time we are lucky, because what has been the reception of this latest proposal? It is quite true that all the parties have voiced strong objections; they said that they did not approve the Constitution; they did not want to have it, and so on. Having said that, they added, "All the same, we are going to have a shot at it; we are going to fight the election". And this has been true, whether of the Dominion Party on the far Right or of the African Parties, U.N.I.P. or the A.N.C.
I think that this encourages one to believe that we have it right, because—and both the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, supported this—all Parties have said that they are now going to have a shot at the elections. It is quite true that U.N.I.P. have said that they are going to fight but under certain conditions; but broadly speaking I do not think the conditions are going to be too difficult to meet. For example, they said that the Delimitation Commission should both be independent and do its work urgently. Clearly, the Delimitation Commission will be independent and objective and we want to get on with it quickly. Or, again, they said that, if elections were frustrated, there should be no nomination to the seats. We have no intention of nominating in that event.
Another condition they made, and a very important one which I can well understand, was that the elections should be held as soon as possible, in fact before October. We certainly want them before October if possible and I do not see any reason why we should not have elections before then. I can assure your Lordships that because my right honourable friend Mr. Butler has taken over, that is no cause for delay. There is a lot of work to be done before holding elections: consideration of objections to those who are registered on a new Roll and so forth. Then we have to have 875 the Delimitation Commission. But I see no reason to believe that we shall not be able to get on with it. Certainly this is what we want; the sooner the better.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl for a moment, as I think he is passing from these conditions? I was very glad indeed to hear that he thought the conditions were not going to be too difficult to meet. He did not mention one condition, which I think I recollect accurately, which was that the Federal Review should not take place until after the elections in Northern Rhodesia.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
I do not want it to be thought that we are, as it were, rather specifically going out of our way to meet each difficulty; that we are saying, "Now that we have met this condition and that, please come in and take part in the elections". It is not obviously the right of any Party to ask this sort of thing, nor are Her Majesty's Government acting in that fashion. All that I wanted to try to show was that what I called "conditions" were the sort of things which we think will happen in the ordinary course of events: certainly, as I tried to show, they are things which we had in mind anyhow.
I think all of this, particularly what has been happening in the Constitutions of these two countries, is an exercise in partnership and I use the word "partnership" because I recall seeing in a paper the other day an article by the noble Marquess, in which he said that he thought perhaps partnership now was defeated as a concept. I very much wonder whether that is true. Certainly in my approach to the African problems it is not the case. Of course there has been a change in the meaning of the word "partnership", if I may put it that way. Twenty years ago it was clearly the European settlers or the European people who were out there who made most of the running in any partnership. But the very success that they had in making that running and in educating the Africans, who were at that time very much the younger partners, means that now we are on a different basis of partnership. The Africans have grown up and are anxious, and indeed able, to play their full role in the government of the 876 country, and, of course, when you grow up you do not necessarily do exactly what your elder brother wanted you to do in the earlier days.
But it seems to me, when one looks at the record of the African countries—the independent ones whether, for example, they are the ones we have launched into independence or the French territories—that almost all of them have looked to their sometime parent countries for continued help and assistance. Indeed, the technical aid that we give, which is aid in personnel almost more than in anything else today, is on a far, far greater scale than anything that was true twenty years ago or before that time. And technical aid means, as I say, people who go out to these countries; and they, the people who stay there as part of the existing services, do so from a real sense of duty and mission. So that for my part I do not think that anything of that is lost.
If I might elaborate just a little more by turning for an example to the case of Nyasaland, Dr. Banda has again and again said how much he wants the help of Europeans and welcomes their help in the building of his country. I recall, and your Lordships will no doubt recall, how, when Dr. Banda swept to victory, there was a great deal of anxiety about what lay ahead for us all. And in fact these last eight months have been very encouraging. So much so that a short while ago the Governor was able to exercise a right he had to give up one of the seats in the Executive Council which belonged to the officials and to put in an unofficial, so that to-day we have in that country a majority of unofficials from the Malawi Party who are operating very satisfactorily. Dr. Banda and his colleagues have really shown a considerable grasp of administration. They have not hesitated to do unpopular things. I believe that the partnership shown there augurs well for the future.
My Lords, in this speech I have not put forward any new ideas on what the future may be for the Federation, and that, I know, your Lordships understand. As the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said, it is hardly appropriate for us to do so in a debate just when Mr. Butler has taken over and clearly wants to review the whole situation and when he is on the point of talking with the Governors 877 and the High Commissioner. I think this is a moment when one might pay tribute to the Governors and the High Commissioner for the part they have played in these very difficult last months. I think that the appointment of Mr. Butler shows how we recognise that the Central African Federation and its territories are a very important responsibility.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, quoted the Monckton Report and I am happy to know that the noble Lord, Lord Molson, is shortly going to speak to us. I am sure that the value of the Report and the views and information in it will be of great value and aid in the days to come. But whatever the future may be, it must depend on all concerned, on all races, on the spot working things out together. I know that your Lordships are anxious, and I am anxious, to hear the ideas on that of the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, and others, and so I think I have spoken long enough.
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MALVERN
My Lords, the last time I had the privilege of speaking to this House was after the publication of the Devlin Committee's Report, and apparently what I had to say was somewhat controversial, or at any rate it was very much tied up in the Press. I found when I got back to my country that what the Press had reported, removed from its context, did not impress the more intelligent Africans or the people working with and among the Africans, because I was challenged on a remark I was alleged to have made. So I copied out your Lordships' Hansard so that they got the context of what I said, and the African priests and others said they were quite satisfied that what I said was correct.
Of course, we welcome what the United Kingdom Government have decided to do in regard to the responsibility for the Federation. I agree it would have been much better if it could have been done earlier, but, for quite obvious reasons, all the territories could not be put under either the Colonial Secretary or the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. Southern Rhodesia has had her own Government for thirty years and so could not possibly be suddenly denigrated and placed under 878 the Colonial Office; and if the other two territories had been placed under the Commonwealth Relations Office it would probably have created a political riot in this country, but most of the Africans would not have understood, so I do not think there would have been any trouble there.
I feel that I have an opportunity of trying to explain some of the things that have happened and why there has been considerably more heat in the discussions between the various Governments than there need have been. Some of it goes back to the Conference which we held before the Federation was established. At that time I was leading Southern Rhodesia; and I am pleased to see here this afternoon two noble Lords who also attended that Conference from time to time. Shortly after my last visit another Commission was set up, the Monckton Commission. They had a rather mixed reception, but when they dealt with the subject of secession they really "put the cat among the pigeons". At the Conference, noble Lords will remember, one of the delegates suggested that there should be a clause enabling the Federation to break up. Curiously enough, it was suggested by one of my delegates, who represented our Socialist Party, but he was "jumped on" by everybody from the United Kingdom, and by the delegates from the various countries.
The reasons why secession was taken out of the possibilities were two. The first—and of course this was before the West Indian Federation—was that where previous attempts had been made to get out of federations they had been overruled. There was the Australian one, the Canadian one, and the one in the United States of America which led to a civil war. But these things were partly academic. The question that influenced us most was, who was going to lend this vast territory money for development if the security was liable to be destroyed? That is the thing that must be considered now if we cannot reach some peaceful settlement.
If you abolish the Federation you create a void to take over, at a cost of about a couple of hundred million pounds, which is a lot of money even for people who run their own railways. I do not think it is a bill that can be 879 faced with any degree of levity; and between £200 and £300 million will be the cost of destroying the Federation. I think that should be understood by people who may be doubtful. I am not doubtful. I am still an optimist. I believe that something can be saved after all this heat, and almost hate, that has gone on for the last two or three years. It has gone on for too long.
I mentioned the secession question because that was revived by the Monckton Commission. I remember so well that as leader of my delegation I fought for two days to get law and order federalised, and I failed. The only reason why I did not take my delegation home and say the whole thing was off was that I was given defence, and I thought, "That will do to go on with". Why did I want law and order? I knew that the Protectorates were completely inadequately policed. In Nyasaland there was practically no Government at all. Therefore, I thought that as those people came on and there might be some trouble we must have at any rate some means of enforcing law and order. That brings up a very interesting point which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. You may have the law on your side, but it is perfectly useless unless you have the power to enforce it; that comes into the arguments that have been going on from time to time between Her Majesty's Government in this country and the Governments in the Federation.
I now have something quite startling to tell your Lordships. The establishment—I do not like the word "experiment"; it was used too early; that was part of the upset—of a Federal State in south Central Africa has been a great success and has achieved to date everything we expected from it. Unfortunately, it has produced a little more. But it has produced prosperity, and an increase in the social amenities for the African people. Their wages have all gone up, and they have more say in government. It has done something in Southern Rhodesia which could never have been done without federation, and that was apparently unbeknown to some of them when they accepted the Federal Constitution, at a referendum, which included putting Africans—black Africans I am talking about now—into the Federal Parliament, a Parliament which 880 was divorced deliberately by the Federal Constitution from having anything to do with Africans. The people in Southern Rhodesia had accepted that they must liberalise their own policies and put Africans into their Parliament.
It is true that my successor in office blundered badly and made a great fuss about it, but it stood out a mile that if you were going to have Africans in a Parliament that did not deal with Africans, it was more or less common sense that you should have at any rate a fair number of Africans in a Parliament that did deal with Africans. That was one of the worst possible mistakes that we made. Those of you who followed our history know that it was one of the big blunders which led to the break-up of the Southern Rhodesian Government and a division into even more Parties.
In recent times there has been a tremendous amount of delay in various decisions which had to be made in the Federal area, and that, unfortunately, has given a number of people of no particular background or knowledge the opportunity to travel the world, to build themselves up with the Press and television and to collect money from Russia, Cairo, China and so on. They are some of the richest people in the country today, and they are the people who are still making all the noise. These people have had an opportunity of building themselves up, and the proletariat in that part of the world are so ignorant and still so primitive that it is easy for them to be whipped up.
Comment was made on the question of the majority obtained by Dr. Banda in Nyasaland. Of course, that would be a most impressive thing had it happened in Great Britain. But you cannot have a secret ballot in our part of Africa—not if you are an African. The spirits will give you away if you do not do the right thing. How can you have a true secret ballot with people like that? They must have representation, and the more the better, but the method of getting the representation is of great importance, and at the ballot box you must get away as far as possible from the influence of the spirits.
I believe that the great majority of the Africans in the Federation are completely friendly to the European people, and in 881 their crude way a great many of them know that everything they have got they owe to what the Europeans have done. I should like to put one more thought in your Lordships' heads before letting somebody else have the floor: it is not this handful of Europeans who are being "done down" and destroyed if you run away; it is these millions of decent Africans, who are going to be handed over to some barbarous dictator. Because it must happen. You have seen it happen, and it must happen again. If you follow the history of these people and how they get into power, you will see that as soon as they have a majority in Parliament, they have got to be more and more extreme or their immediate supporters will liquidate them. That is an essential part of the political task of the African at present. I appeal to the House to realise that it is not fair to hand over these primitive, unknowing people more or less to a return to the barbarous conditions that existed before the Europeans ever went there.
I have always said that it does not much matter what are the Constitutions of the territories so long as there is a strong enough Federal Government to restore order in case of necessity. It has been argued, particularly I think in Kenya, that the Governor-in-Council is there, and that he will protect everybody who needs protection. But the Governor-in-Council is not "worth the paper he is written on" unless he has the power to enforce his will and the people in the United Kingdom have the desire to support him. If neither of those things is present, then you have handed the whole thing over on a plate to a lot of barbarians.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF VERULAM
My Lords, to address your Lordships for a first time, and on this subject, after the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, makes the task even more difficult. But I have some experience, as this is my second maiden speech, if such a thing is possible, in this Chamber, the other being from the opposite side of the House and without my having changed my Party allegiance. When your Lordships gave up this House to another place during the War it was my pleasure to make my maiden speech here from the other side of this House. If this is at all remarkable, I 882 am afraid it will be the only remarkable thing at all in my speech.
I have also an interest to declare—or at any rate I did have one until last week, when your Lordships debated smoking. For many years I have been associated with a tobacco farm in Rhodesia. Whether or not that is still an interest, I have yet to discover. This duty has involved my working in Rhodesia and visiting regularly there for many years, and has resulted in my having a great love for the country and its people. I am prepared to admit that I am probably prejudiced—I think most of us tend to be a little prejudiced about Central Africa—and I will try to be both brief and constructive, so far as possible about some of these prejudices.
I wonder whether much of the criticism of this or that Constitution is not prompted by a good deal of double thinking on all sides. Has not experience shown that the Westminster model of a Constitution is inevitably distorted when we export it to some overseas countries, and particularly to some undeveloped countries? I think this is a matter of fact and we should do well to admit it, and not be too particular when some detail or other conflicts with the kind of democracy to which we in this country are used.
I think our present state here has been reached after a long period of apprenticeship and has had two parallel effects, neither of which is present in these new legislatures. First of all, we have a highly sophisticated electorate—the example of Orpington is too recent for noble Lords to forget. Many procedural and other checks operate upon us. In another place Erskine May has a taming effect on the wild men; and the collective displeasure of the House, which is an awful thing, has an effect in an old establishment which is entirely lacking, I suggest, in a new establishment. In addition, here no one questions the independence of the Judiciary, or the competence or independence of the Civil Service, and the individual conscience exerts major influences on all our activities. It is only these factors, I suggest, which have made possible the kind of universal suffrage with economic stability to which we are so used, and it is only things of that sort which have made it possible to whittle away the power of your Lordships' House.
883 To continue discussions without making it quite clear, in a country like Nyasaland or Northern Rhodesia, that there is no question of "One man, one vote", where the vote is going to sanction the exercise of absolute power, it seems to me both essential and to be far less objectionable to say this openly than to continue discussion where the purposes of the various Parties are so capable of being misunderstood, as they are at the moment. If you read of certain things that the Nationalists say, you will find they have in mind quite different things from those that I think most of us in this House have in our minds. I think we should say these things openly, and expect there to be plenty of criticism—which I suggest will come mainly from those people whose record is the least enviable in this matter.
Another thing that we should make quite clear—because it is not clear at the moment—is that in no circumstances are we going to desert our friends in these territories. This country has, in my view, a sad record of deserting some of its friends, and this fact is not lost on our friends anywhere, least of all those in Africa. It requires exceptional courage—which is often, I am glad to say, shown by black Africans—when you are told that if you do such and such a thing your wife will be beaten up and your house burnt, to go on and do it. Many of them are doing it, and will be encouraged to do it the more in direct proportion to our determination to maintain order and to bring them into partnership. If our friends, fearing that we may leave, do not come forward they must make their terms with our enemies, and we shall be forced from one expedient to another. That will lead in the end, at the best, to some form of sub-dictatorship, and, at the worst, to some of the unnameable atrocities of the Congo of black man against black man, which came as no surprise to those of your Lordships who realise that, so far as I know, there is no word in the African language for pity.
This series of Conferences seems to me rather like the annual wage claims of certain trade unions to which we are becoming accustomed nowadays. They do not help; I think they hinder. If there is no thought that any one Constitution 884 is likely to be final, the irresponsible element in the country will not try to make it work, for, by its failure, their own position will improve. In these circumstances how can economic stability be maintained, and why should money flow into the territories? And Africa is still a desperately poor country, in great need of money. I am convinced that a less favourable agreement now—less favourable to any of the parties—which is said to be final is vastly preferable to this endless taking up of belligerent positions.
My last observation on the constitutional point is on a matter which disturbs me very greatly, and I say it with some diffidence. It is, however, being said in the territories. I have had it at secondhand because, from its very nature, your Lordships will see that one cannot get it at first hand. These comments were made before the visit of Mr. Sandys, so he is absolved from them, and they expressly exclude the noble Earl, Lord Home, because everybody had the very best things to say of his conduct. But it is being said: "We do not know now where we are with the British Government. We used to make an agreement with them and, whether we liked it or whether we did not, we knew exactly where we were. But now when we make an agreement, we come back to the territory and a couple of months later we find that perhaps it was not an agreement, but the heads of something or other, and that the agreement, as we thought it was, is gone back upon". There may or may not be substance in this, but it is, alas!, being said—and it is being said by people who could not be more British than we are, people who do not like having to say things of that kind. This attitude can, of course, be put right, and I hope that it will be.
One of the prejudices of which I said I would speak seems to me to be the use, mostly in the Press, of tendentious words and descriptions. Sir Roy Welensky is described as every kind of bully and ogre, and so on. Words like "white settlers" are used, and it seems to me a great shame that on this desperately difficult question of black and white people living together—which is at least as difficult as foreign policy and disarmament questions—we have not achieved the same objectivity in this 885 country as we have on these other questions. If some lunatic said that the Prime Minister was out to drop a hydrogen bomb on Moscow he would be seen to be a lunatic, but no accusation seems too fantastic if hurled at Sir Roy Welensky—and, when it is, it achieves the headlines.
Sir Roy Welensky does speak for the vast majority of educated Rhodesians, and under his leadership and that of the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, unbelievable changes in approach have come about. As one example only, if you attend a political meeting in Rhodesia to-day, it is the heckler who disparages partnership who is howled down. Five years ago the heckler who advocated partnership would have been the man to be howled down. That, itself, is a most staggering change. A sad sidelight of our treatment of Sir Roy is the effect on our friends in the Union of South Africa and those in the Union who believe in apartheid, which I think is a most horrible doctrine. They say, "Look what you are doing in Rhodesia to Sir Roy who is trying out partnership. Why should we in the Union try to make any go of it at all?" This is what has happened, and it is a direct result of the campaign which is being waged, most unfairly, as I see it, against Sir Roy.
The fact remains that the Federation is the only State in Africa, black or white, which is trying, as a conscious policy, to build a democratic State on the basis of partnership of black and white, and not on the domination of either. It deserves much more support than we give it. On the question of white settlers, I would point out that they are the sons, grandsons, and now greatgrandsons, of the men who settled long ago in Rhodesia, and Rhodesia is the only country they know, just as much as it is the only country many of the Africans themselves know. If anyone calls them "settlers" he will very soon be disillusioned, because these people have nowhere else to go. It seems to me that the attitude of those who try to denigrate the people who built up the country is a serious matter.
On the question of Press comment, I would say that the effect of even the most sober of our papers, The Times, may surprise even The Times itself. I was 886 in Tanganyika recently when Mr. Nyerere ceased to be Prime Minister, to devote his time to his Party. The Times had a headline about how sad it was that democracy had failed in five months. This caused the greatest damage and dismay in the territory. We, of course, knew it was only The Times; but in Tanganyika it was quite clearly thought to be the attitude of Her Majesty's Government. My Lords, the cost of the continuing misunderstanding in the Federation will fall on the British, mainly in the form of economic loss. This, viewed cynically, may be tolerable; but, in my view it is neither fair nor sensible. The cost which will fall on the Africans, however, for whose benefit presumably the whole exercise is being planned, will all too probably have to be paid in violence and bloodshed.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Earl, Lord Verulam, in his second maiden speech; and I congratulate him on it and on much of what is in it. He approached this problem not only with a wide personal knowledge, but with much objectivity and with very much sympathy. Although I cannot pretend to follow him in all his statements, or all his views, with much of what he said I am in complete agreement. In particular, I would single out the point that he made of differentiating between this country and many other countries, such as Central Africa, when we come to talk about democracy. There is no point in pretending that something which has grown up here over many hundreds of years can be transplanted in a matter of a decade or two into a different country; a country having not only a different climate (which has its bearing on the subject) but different customs, habits and stages of social evolution. I think that that is something which all of us critical though we may be, supporters though we may be, of the Government must always bear in mind.
Mention has naturally been made today of the Report of the Monckton Commission, and I make no apologies for referring to it again. To me there seemed to be two outstanding points made in that Report. First, it was unanimously agreed by the members of the Commission that federation was a good, even a necessary, thing for the area, and 887 that it would be disastrous if federation failed. But, secondly, it was made very clear, too, that federation could succeed only if it had the wholehearted support of the majority of the people involved—and that, clearly, means the Africans. That was a point which my noble friend Lord Listowel quite rightly brought out in his opening speech. I should like to quote one sentence from the Report of the Monckton Commission. In paragraph 27 it is stated that:The dislike of federation among Africans in the two Northern Territories is widespread, sincere, and of long standing. It is almost pathological.My Lords, the first imperative in dealing with this problem of Federation must therefore be to remove this pathological attitude towards it. How can that be done?—for that really is the first problem to which we must address ourselves. The fact that it is so long-standing, and the fact that, as the Monckton Commission said, it is a pathological feeling does mean, in my view, that it can be removed only by drastic, severe, urgent action on the part of the British Government. I will not go into the reasons why it should have arisen; there are obviously many. But prominent among them is the form of differentiation between races, the colour bar, which has existed in the past; which I freely and happily admit is now rapidly disappearing, but traces of which, and the memories of which, still remain. That is the biggest obstacle, and it is the one that must be overcome if there is to be any happy solution to this very difficult problem.
I admit, of course, that the more one takes action to undo the damage of the past attitude, and to remove this pathological fear, the more one is going to weaken the confidence (and the noble Earl, Lord Perth, mentioned this aspect) of investors of capital, whether they be private investors or foreign countries, whether they come from here or from elsewhere, in the future of the territories, and therefore make it less likely and more difficult for economic progress to take place. Clearly, without economic progress at the same time as political emancipation, there will be no happy solution to this problem.
There is no point in shutting our eyes to the fact—and the noble Earl in his usual honest way was very frank about 888 this—that so far the efforts of the Government to solve this problem have met with failure. I do not believe that that failure was in any way due to lack of good will on the part of the Colonial Secretary or of Her Majesty's Government. I believe that there was ample good will in an attempt to find a solution, and I am quite certain that that good will still exists. But what was lacking—though I do not want to dwell too much on the past—was strong leadership in this matter. As the noble and learned Viscount said in another context, leadership does not consist of leading from behind with clichés and with platitudes; it consists of going out ahead, with all the qualities which we know are required of a leader. Above all, leadership (and here it is Her Majesty's Government who must give the lead in Africa, as well as in this country) means the capacity to inspire confidence in yourself as a leader. In order to do that, you must make it abundantly clear that there is honesty; that there is good will; that there is understanding of the problems involved and of the conflicting interests; and that there is courage, too, to carry through the final solution that is brought forward, regardless of the inevitable interests which are going to oppose whatever solution is brought up.
My Lords, it was a shock to many of us when we learned of the new arrangements which were made for dealing with this problem. But, although it was a shock, I am very much happier when I see Her Majesty's Government facing and, in fact, tacitly admitting failure in the past, and bringing forward new ideas and a new solution, rather than doing their best to cover up and to carry on with the old methods and the old attempts which have failed. In that context, I would quote to your Lordships the words of the distinguished grandfather of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, when he said that the commonest error was sticking to the carcases of dead policies—a very true statement then, and a very true statement now.
I sincerely hope that this change of personnel and change of methods in dealing with the problems of Central Africa, personified by the appointment of the Secretary of State for the Home Department is—as the noble Earl, Lord 889 Perth, in fact said—a change-over of policy and not simply a change-over of administration. Now, my Lords, what form should the new policy take? As I said at the beginning of my remarks, at this stage something must be done which is drastic and—
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord, but I do not believe that I said that it represented a change of policy as opposed to a change of administration.
§ LORD WALSTON
I think the noble Earl did. The exact words I wrote down were "change-over of policy". Whether the Official Report will show that or not, I hope that there is a change-over of policy. I was complimenting the noble Earl on his courage in announcing this, and I am sorry that he now shakes his head over it.
But I would suggest, my Lords (the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is not here now, but perhaps he will read these words at a later stage), that, first and foremost, we must make it quite clear to the territories concerned that, eventually, they will have freedom to leave the Federation if they so wish. I hope very strongly that they will not wish to do so; and I believe that it would be a mistake to give them that freedom to-day. In the debate on the West Indies, the complaint from this side of the House was not that Jamaica and Trinidad were allowed to leave the Federation, but that insufficient efforts had been made to keep them within the Federation. The same charge does not lie against the Government at this stage in connection with Central Africa. Many attempts have been made to keep the territories in and I hope that the Government will go on with their attempts, though of a more constructive kind. But it must be made quite clear that the recommendations and the views of the Monckton Report, in this respect at least, are accepted, and that in the final instance there will be no coercion by Her Majesty's Government to force any of the territories to remain in the Federation against their will.
The second point which I hope will be made in this connection—and this is, I imagine, the more controversial—is that there will be a rapid move towards full franchise in the whole of the 890 territories. I fully accept what the noble Earl, Lord Verulam, and the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, have said. I know that there are many difficulties. I know that there are millions of people who do not understand about voting, who are illiterate and who are swayed by all sorts of irrational motives and pressures. But I would say that, even in this highly-developed country, there is quite a large proportion of the voters who do not really seriously balance up all the pros and cons at a General Election, and who, in fact, vote very largely according to prejudice, or according to pressure—not pressure by an individual, but social pressures; pressures of backgrounds. But in spite of those difficulties, and in spite of the difficulties that will ensue from doing that, I am convinced that, in this day and age, those difficulties are less than the ones which will accrue from denying this fuller franchise over the next ten or fifteen years.
It would have been very nice if we could have said, "Let us go slowly. Wait until education spreads throughout the territories. Wait until everybody is literate. Wait until everybody understands the implications of these things". But, my Lords, events to-day move too fast for that. I believe that if we try to resist not only the pressure of the desire in the territories themselves but the pressure from outside countries—countries friendly to ourselves and countries Who are very unfriendly towards all that we stand for—it can result only in a disaster which may well be worse than that which has been seen in the Congo or in North Africa.
So, with our eyes open to that danger, I think we should press ahead with an announcement of intention, declaring that we do believe in "One man, one vote", and that, in the very near future, there will be a far greater equality in the franchise than there is at the present time. We must bear in mind that in the three territories, with a population of 8,000,000 people, there are under 300,000 Europeans. That is an unpalatable fact, and, as I say, will lead to problems and difficulties. But if we handle the situation properly, if we give help, assistance and leadership, I believe that the difficulties which will arise will be less than if we hold back and suppress this desire for independence and freedom 891 from what is thought to be—in some cases rightly, but in many cases wrongly—the oppression of the European.
At the same time as that, my Lords, let us firmly and publicly announce that all racial discrimination of any kind is illegal, and that in any territories over which we have any control whatsoever it will not be countenanced. And, concurrent with that—because I am certainly not one who believes that all the faults are on the side of the Europeans and all the virtues on the side of the Africans—let us take the firmest steps we possibly can to prevent intimidation on any side at all. It is a well-known fact that in many of the elections in Central Africa there has been very considerable intimidation, and the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, mentioned the absence of powers of the Governor, of the authorities, to prevent that sort of thing. That must be a responsibility of this country, of Her Majesty's Government. Let us use our responsibilities to ensure freedom and justice—justice, in particular, between both sides, European and African, coloured people and white people; and do not let us concentrate our efforts simply on keeping down one or building up the other.
But it is not sufficient to deal solely with the political aspects of this problem. As I said earlier, it will be a very poor service to these territories for which we are responsible if we give them political freedom but allow them to fall into economic ruin. And there is no doubt whatsoever that the more we hand over power and give increased votes and increased responsibility to the Africans themselves, the less willing will Europe and the United States be to invest their money which is so much needed in those territories.
There are various things which we can do in this respect. Some of them cost immediate money; and unfortunately, as the noble Earl pointed out, we are now a poor nation and cannot afford to do many of the things that we should do. We cannot even afford to do many of the things for which we have a direct responsibility—and this is one of them. But I hope that more money than in the past will be available to overcome some of these difficulties. In that connection, I would suggest that the Depart- 892 ment for Technical Co-operation should play a very large part, and it should be the Department actually responsible for giving direct assistance from this country.
There is one other way in which I believe we can help without, at any rate, an immediate cost in cash. That is by giving guarantees to investors, private and other countries, that the British Government will stand behind any of the investments which are made; and that if, in the next fifteen years, or whatever period is considered the right one, the countries have so altered their Constitution, through having self-government or through internal distress, upset or whatever it may be, that the money invested by these outside agencies and outside individuals has been lost, the British Government will make good that loss.
I believe also, my Lords, that that guarantee should be extended, in some form or another, to those people from this country who have gone out there and have worked hard—and I am glad to pay tribute to them for what they have done—to build up the economy of the country. I do not think it is right that, because we take a political decision to give increased freedom to formerly dependent territories, in some cases the whole of the livelihood of these individual pioneers should be forfeited. I should like to see some form of undertaking given by Her Majesty's Government that, at least so far as future investment, if not past investment, whether by individuals or by large concerns, is concerned, this should be underwitten by Her Majesty's Government.
Finally, on the economic side, I hope that we shall once more provide the leadership so much needed to promote far greater economic interchange not only between the three territories of the Federation, whether they remain within the Federation or whether they decide to exercise their right to secede, but also over a wider field throughout the whole of East Africa, including perhaps Zanzibar; and to promote a form of Common Market, Customs Union (call it what you will), so that the whole of the economies of this vast area, with its millions of people and great potential wealth, should be able to develop in harmony, each territory with another, instead of in competition; and that the common services which already exist there should 893 be enlarged and developed. Although I do not fully share the great optimism of the noble Lord, who does not quite consider himself Mr. Micawber, but cannot help feeling that something is always better round the corner, I believe that in that way there is still the chance that the errors and the delays of the past years can be forgotten, and that within the next five years something really worthwhile and really great will arise in this new form of Commonwealth development, which all of us, on all sides of the House, wish to see.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, before I turn to the subject of debate, I should like, if I may, to offer very warm congratulations to my noble friend Lord Verulam on his maiden speech. The noble Earl is a close neighbour of mine, and I had the privilege for some years, when he was a Member of Parliament, of being president of his association, so I have long known him as a man of wise and independent mind. As I am sure your Lordships will agree, he certainly showed those qualities in what he said to-day, and I hope, with Lord Walston, that we shall hear him again, both soon and often.
My Lords, I should now like to turn to Central Africa. During recent years we have had so many debates on the future of the Central African Federation that it might almost appear that everything that can be said on this subject has already been said. But, in spite of all that has been said and done, both by Parliament and by the Government, to find a solution, the problem of the Federation still seems to be remarkably intractable. Like Tennyson's brook, whileMen may come and men may go,it goes on for ever. Within the last few years, how many members of the Cabinet have tried their hands at finding a solution? We have had, in one capacity or another, Lord Boyd of Merton, Lord Home, Mr. Macleod, Mr. Sandys, Mr. Maudling, and now Mr. Butler. And to them, of course, must be added Lord Monckton of Brenchley and his very distinguished colleagues. Yet a solution, it seems, continues to elude us. Indeed, in some ways, I think the position is more acute than it was before. It appears that we may be again moving towards a crisis.
894 My Lords, what is the reason for this? From what the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said, I rather gathered that he thinks that it is because the Government have not moved fast enough in a transfer of power from the European to the African. Perhaps that was because of the noble Earl's experience in Ghana. But, my Lords, apart altogether from doubts, which some of us may have, as to whether Ghana can be regarded as a shining example of grafting democracy on the Westminster model on to an African electorate; apart altogether from that, the Central African Federation, surely, is no more parallel to Ghana—which, after all, has had the advantage of contact with Europeans over a very considerable time—than with Algeria, with which it is sometimes foolishly compared. The peoples of the Central African Federation have had contact with the Europeans for only a period of a single lifetime; and, with very few outstanding exceptions, they are still, as Lord Malvern, with all his knowledge, has said this afternoon, very primitive indeed. It is, perhaps, not unnatural that the white Rhodesians who live there are chary of handing over power too rapidly to people who they know very well are without the mental equipment to administer a modern State, a State, moreover, in which, unlike us, they, their wives and children have to live.
I should like to plead to the House this afternoon, and especially to noble Lords opposite, to look at places like Central Africa not with a racial bias against people of their own colour, as some of them seem to do, but objectively. I suggest that it is especially important, if I may say so, that they should do this for one particular and very practical reason. The future prosperity over the whole of that region of the African peoples, just as much as of those who are sometimes rather contemptuously called "settlers"—the future prosperity of all of them—must inevitably depend on the European, or (if I may so call him) the African of European origin, remaining there and playing his full part over the next decade.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, the noble Marquess has accused some of us on these Benches (he does not say which ones) of having a bias against people of our race. Will he not indicate 895 which noble Lords deserve that particular censure, and what we have done to deserve it?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Perhaps the noble Earl will allow me to finish my speech. At any rate, it is apparent to some of us that there are people in the Party to which the noble Earl belongs who are much more gentle with people of African origin than they are with people of European origin in that part of the world.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
The noble Marquess referred to us on these Benches: he did not say people of our Party.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I think I have even heard that said from those Benches. I should have thought it was probably true; I believe that it is common ground among all of us.
Yet there is one thing, I think, which the experience of Kenya ought already to have taught us; and it is this. It may be true, up to a point, that Governments here in London, who are responsible for colonial territories, are in a position to adopt whatever policies they like for the colonial territories which they administer: they can take whatever view they wish of their colonial responsibility, and there is nothing, constitutionally, that the white population of the Territories concerned can do about it. That may be true—up to a point. But if the home Government pass that point, and impose on the European population something which they consider intolerable, they will, ultimately, take the only action open to them: they will walk out and leave the country; and there is nothing the Government of this country can do to prevent it, although we know that it will mean absolute disaster for the territories concerned.
That, as your Lordships know, is beginning already to happen in Kenya, as a result, I think, of the recent policy of the Government: and I have no doubt that that fact is already beginning seriously to disturb the minds of Ministers. For, were the exodus of the white population to continue, it might easily mean utter ruin to the Colony, relapse into barbarism, the waste of all the effort and treasure which have been poured 896 into the country within the last 50 years and untold misery for the African peoples themselves.
The same thing could happen to the white population of the Central African Federation, if they were tried too hard; if they felt that they were being utterly deserted by their fellow countrymen here. I would not say that there is at present any danger of that. I am quite certain that the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, would rebuke me if I suggested any such thing. I hope that it never may happen. The older Rhodesians, as your Lordships know, would be very reluctant to leave in any circumstances. They regard Rhodesia as their home, just as we regard England as ours; and they would cling to it as we should cling to our homes here. But two-thirds of the white population there have come to Rhodesia only since the last war. Their roots are not so deep. Do not let us, in any circumstances, create there what I may call another Kenya situation. I do most earnestly commend that thought to Her Majesty's Government.
Moreover, my Lords, there is another danger, not so catastrophic in its potentialities but, I think, more immediate. It is this. The Rhodesians themselves will not be so inclined to sink money into the development of their country, if they are doubtful about its future; and other people outside the Federation will not be so inclined, either. Indeed, anybody who knows the country will realise that to some extent that is already happening, not because Rhodesia is not at present prosperous but just because of the uncertainties of the future. Therefore I suggest that it is imperative that some settlement about the future of the Federation should be reached at the earliest moment, so that these present uncertainties can be ended.
There are those who say that we must wait, even defer discussing any plan, until after the election in Northern Rhodesia: we must wait for this; we must wait for that. But, as the noble Earl, Lord Verulam, has already told us, this is no time for delaying or dallying or drifting. We have had much too much of that already. This is the time for making a firm, enduring agreement. And if I am asked what is to be the basis of that agreement, I would reply that, of course, that must be primarily 897 a matter for discussion between the Governments mainly concerned—Her Majesty's Government here and the Federal Government—rather than for private individuals who have not the same knowledge or the same responsibilities.
At the same time, as one who participated in the Conference which created the Constitution of the Federation in 1953, perhaps I may be allowed to say this. We who were responsible for that agreement nine years ago thought that the plan which was eventually decided on, to include within the Federal boundary the three territories of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, was about right. Northern and Southern Rhodesia would provide the increased wealth that was needed to develop Nyasaland; Nyasaland, with its surplus of hired labour, would help to provide the manpower required to create that wealth; and through the centre of that whole vast territory would run the River Zambesi, providing unlimited industrial power to fructify the whole area on both its banks. That, in simple and crude words, was the conception in our minds. And, as I think the Monckton Report has made clear, that conception has already become more than a mere pipe-dream. As the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has told us this afternoon, it has become a reality.
Nyasaland has benefited immensely, from a purely financial point of view, by her inclusion in the Federation, but it is certainly also a fact, which we all have to face, that those of us who were engaged in those discussions nine years ago did not anticipate the violent opposition in Nyasaland itself to federation. Such opposition as there was at that time came mainly from the Rhodesias. In many ways it would have been more satisfactory to them not to have to pay large sums merely to subsidise Nyasaland, especially since they would probably have got all the Nyasaland labour they wanted anyway. That being the case, if they were now to be relieved of that necessity and were asked by Her Majesty's Government to place back on our shoulders here in this country the financial burden which they have had to carry for the last nine years, I should not think that it would definitely break their hearts.
898 It seems, therefore, that, over Nyasaland at any rate, it is conceivable that there might be circumstances which might make possible some readjustment of their association that was acceptable both to Nyasaland and to the Federal Government—though presumably any arrangement of that kind would be a good deal more expensive to us in this country. But if something was to be done in that direction—and, of course, I have no knowledge whether it is possible or not—I feel strongly that it should be part of what I believe the Americans now call a "package deal". Piecemeal adjustments, as we have seen lately, seem to have no staying power at all. The agreement to be reached between the United Kingdom and the Federal Government should, therefore, I suggest with great diffidence, be comprehensive. It should cover not only Nyasaland, but also Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Barotseland. I should be meant to last and should safeguard the essential interests of the inhabitants, white at well as black. I believe that that is the least the white Rhodesians can accept—nothing else, nothing less, would satisfy their essential needs.
After all, my Lords, one can understand that. Whereas we live 5,000 miles away and most of the people of this country have never been nearer the territories than those 5,000 miles, the white Rhodesians live in the place; and not only their money but their lives are invested there. Do not imagine that they will want to drive a Shylock's bargain. I am quite certain that they will not, for most of them are very like us, with the same origin and the same traditions. They will not want to grind down the faces of the Africans, as so many people seem to think here. All they will want is security, financial and physical, for the wives and families of themselves and the loyal Africans. And when one sees what has happened in neighbouring countries, in the Congo and Angola, one cannot be very surprised at that. But, within that limit, I believe that they will be very ready to work for a steadily increasing degree of partnership.
Like the noble Earl, Lord Verulam. I feel that that is the only policy that gives any hope for a prosperous future for the people of Central Africa, and I 899 was very glad to hear from the noble Earl, Lord Perth, that he, too, shares that view. Moreover, if they need reminding, it is a policy to which Her Majesty's Government have long been pledged. My doubt (and here I cannot help wondering whether the noble Earl, Lord Perth, is not just a little too trusting) is whether the African leaders—Mr. Kaunda and others—really want that type of partnership, or whether their idea of partnership is not really a form of purely black domination. It is for that very reason that I think it so important that, at this psychological moment, the Government should throw the whole weight of their support behind the policy of partnership. It may be the last chance. A further period of delay might well destroy all hope of a possible settlement.
It is to the achievement of such a settlement that I hope my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, in his new office, will bend all his efforts. Whatever may be urged against the new arrangement—and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, adduced some powerful arguments—this, at any rate, can be said in favour of appointing Mr. Butler to this particular post. He has experience; he is known and respected everywhere, I think, for his broad humanity; and he comes of a family noted for its great record of imperial administration. There could be no one more fitted by his past, or what maybe the French would call provenance, to cut this particular Gordian knot. I would urge him, with all deference, not to be afraid of taking the initiative himself.
There is, I am afraid, a real danger of what I may call a Lord Chatham and Richard Strachan situation arising; a situation in which both the United Kingdom and the Federal Governments say they are ready to consider any plan but that the other party must put it forward. We shall never get anywhere on that basis. Someone must make a start, and I believe it must be Her Majesty's Government here. For the atmosphere, as we all know, is at present so inflamed and poisoned by long and bitter controversy, that if the Federal Government were to put forward any plan, however moderate and sensible, the very fact that they advocated it would be 900 to—I was going to say destroy it, but anyway to cause it to be viewed with grave suspicion by the Centre and the Left in this country. If the plan—whatever Mr. Butler's plan is—is to have a fair chance, if it is to be given objective consideration, it must, I believe, emanate from the Government here. It is to the formulation of such a plan that I hope he will devote his great abilities.
The noble Lord, Lord Walston, who spoke just before me, was good enough to quote some words of my grandfather's to the effect, as I understood them, that there is no greater mistake than to tie oneself to the carcases of dead policies. I think we should all agree with that. Therefore, I would say that in his task the Home Secretary will have the good wishes of us all, whatever views we may hold as to the past history of this controversy. For this most certainly is the moment for looking forward and not looking back.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, wish only briefly to follow my colleague in the Conference which founded Federation and passed it through this House. It is interesting to note that three of the parents of it are here to address the House to-day. I should like to confine myself to two aspects of this only. I was rather doubtful if this was a wise debate to have at the present time, but it has produced many constructive thoughts and if it continues on the same lines, I am sure it will have served a useful purpose. There has been a good deal of criticism—and some criticism from noble Lords opposite to-day—about the appointment of a single Minister. When that was announced my first impression was that it was a wise thing to do; and on further consideration I am completely convinced that it was a most wise step to take. To have one Minister entirely responsible for the affairs of the Federation and the constituent territories; to have one Minister and one Department seeing the whole situation in perspective, and seeing the problem as a whole, seems to me to be unquestionably a wise thing to do.
Indeed, the very reasons which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, advanced to show this was a wrong decision seem to me to be really strong arguments in 901 its favour. The noble Earl said that it would create suspicion amongst Africans. We are all—at least, I hope all of us are—supporters of the inter-racialism which I prefer to call partnership. So long as you had two Ministers there was a tendency for people in Central Africa, whether they were Africans or Europeans, to look upon the Minsters as competing advocates and upon the Departments rather as if they were rival firms. That, I believe, did some injustice to Ministers and to their Departments. There is no doubt at all that the feeling was there; and I think there is no doubt that it tended to encourage separatism, which is just what we want to avoid. Having one single Minister, and as my noble friend has just said, a very wise one, with all the experience, all the tradition and entirely without prejudice, must surely tend to bring moderate men, European and African, together to make a solution possible. Therefore, I am all for having a single Minister, and I hope that he will get all the understanding and support here and, even more important, in Africa.
I want to say just a word or two about the federal election, because the action of Sir Roy Welensky and the action or inaction of Her Majesty's Government about the federal election has been criticised a great deal. I know how glad we all are that we have had with us and speaking to-day my old friend, the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, who for twenty years gave the wisest guidance to that territory. It is quite impossible to exaggerate the service which Lord Malvern gave to Rhodesia, and equally to the United Kingdom, and everyone of us who had the privilege of serving and working with him would endorse that sentence.
Any Prime Minister has a right to ask for a dissolution. Sir Roy Welensky, if he thought it the right thing to do, had every right to ask for a dissolution. I think, equally, there can be no question that it was the duty of the Governor General, in the circumstances, to grant that dissolution. And certainly it would have been in my view unconstitutional and extremely unwise for Her Majesty's Government here to have intervened in any way. Having said that, I must admit that I find it a little difficult to see why he thought it wise and necessary to ask for a dissolution; and I think that many 902 electors in Rhodesia appear to be equally puzzled. When it is all over there will be no change in the composition of the Federal Parliament; indeed, hardly anybody is contesting a seat; and I see in the newspaper this morning that at the close of nominations something like three-quarters of the members have been re-elected without any contest. That, of course, is their affair; it is not for us to try to play a part in the federal elections.
This I think we might say, and perhaps should say. I most sincerely hope that nothing will be said in that election to exacerbate feeling and make it more difficult for all the Governments and all the interests to come together when it is over. That, if I may say so respectfully, goes for our debate in this House to-day. I do not think we can attempt, here and now, to lay down what is the right solution of this extremely difficult problem. I agree very much with what my noble friend Lord Salisbury has said. We must be quite sure that we do not override what Parliament has already done and laid down. After all, the Act of Parliament and the Orders in Council, which he and I drafted and passed together, laid down that the Constitution of the Federation could be changed only after there had been the Statutory Conference of the Government of this country, the Government of the Federation and the three other Governments. That Conference has already started, and it has to go on and to be reassembled. I am sure my noble friend would agree with that.
I would also agree with my noble friend that the sooner that happens the better. I do not know whether you have to wait for an election to take place in Northern Rhodesia. I should rather hope not, but I do not know about that. If that is so, then there is a tremendous argument for getting the election brought on and getting it over in Northern Rhodesia as quickly as possible. I would also definitely agree with my noble friend that although that Conference must reassemble and consider this matter, the initiative must come from Her Majesty's Government. While it is not reasonable for us to ask the Government, if I may put it vulgarly, to bring a rabbit out of the hat at any moment, yet I think we can have the confidence that the new Minister is studying all this most care- 903 fully and that he will not hesitate to put his proposals forward.
Meanwhile, I hope that, while these solutions are being hammered out, no one will try to jump the gun. There is a lot of loose talk about letting people go out now. The Constitution of the Federation can legally only be changed in the manner that Parliament has laid down, by legislation and Orders in Council. If any single State in the Federation attempted to act contrary to those Acts of Parliament on their own, then they would be breaking the law, and by such action they would, if I may so put it, be also guilty of a breach of contract.
Let me take an example. I put this because the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, challenged me on it, as I understood it, and challenged me on undertakings which I had given to this House and which Lord Chandos had given in another place. I say this advisedly. Supposing Nyasaland said: "We are going to treat the Federation as if we had seceded, and we will not work the Federation". That would be, as it were, breaking the contract. If they did that, obviously Nyasaland could not claim to enjoy the benefits of federation. You cannot, as the lawyers say, approbate and reprobate. They would forfeit certainly any moral right to the £5 million which they get as a grant in aid from the Federation. They would forfeit what is invaluable to them—the right they enjoy under the Federal Constitution for their people to go freely and work in Southern Rhodesia. If they break their side of the contract, in my opinion the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, who has unemployed of his own to deal with, would have every right to say, "No, you cannot have it both ways, and your people can no longer come here". That would undoubtedly be a great disaster for Nyasaland and, surely, their leaders would be wise to reflect on the consequence of any precipitate action.
The time for reflection is not being wasted. With my partners, if I may so call them, Lord Malvern and Lord Salisbury, I still share in the faith I had in federation when we worked on it together. It may require change, but if you abolish it, if you abandon it, I do not know what you are going to put in 904 its place. The Federation was a great conception of partnership. The Federation remains a great opportunity. It has brought enormous material benefit to all the people in all the territories in the Federation. It is bringing other benefits, too, which, as the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, said so wisely to-day, would not have come without federation.
If I may recall to the House one benefit, I do so because I remember that when I was piloting federation through this House the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, now the most reverend and noble Lord, Lord Fisher of Lambeth, said that he would take as the test whether this were right or wrong: whether you could establish an interracial university. Under federation the inter-racial university is established. It is working to-day; and in what I am proud to know they have called Swinton Hall Europeans and Africans are living side by side, just as they would in any Oxford College. With good will, federation can be the way to inter-racial partnership in Central Africa. I believe it is the only way.
§ 5.30 p.m.
THE EARL OF IDDLESLEIGH
My Lords, those who have so far addressed your Lordships' House have for the most part had long experience of the territories and great acquaintance with colonial problems in general. That I cannot claim; nor is it necessary that I should do so. It is my aim to say something about public opinion in this country, a factor which I think is too often ignored in our discussions, and it is perhaps not inappropriate that a Cross-Bencher should venture on this topic. If we represent no organised body of opinion, at least we have some claim to represent the floating vote.
I can recall no Commonwealth problem that has excited more continued interest in this country than the Central African problem. In times of crisis, naturally, colonial news from one country or another may fill our newspapers, but here for a long time, day after day, I have seen reports of what is happening in the Federation. There is a sustained interest; and, after all, newspaper proprietors print the news that interests people. It is not only that the events which are occurring in 905 Central Africa have a dramatic quality—I sometimes feel that I am moving in an atmosphere of a play by Shakespeare, in which case there is no difficulty in identifying the part of the hero with the character of Sir Roy Welensky; and let us hope that he will be the hero of a history and not the hero of a tragedy—but people talk about Central African problems more than they have done about other Commonwealth matters. Within the last two years I have entertained two intelligent young men from different provinces of the Federation. One of them was a member of that very interesting and important class to which allusion has been made, the grandsons of the pioneers. I wish we could see more of that type of Rhodesian and that he could see more of us. For we should both benefit. Both those young men observed with surprise how much England understood their problems, how much more we knew about their affairs than they had expected.
I do not think that there is in this country any inclination to disengagement, or any inclination to run away. I believe that the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, may feel reassured on that. He knows, of course, that we can remain involved only to the extent of our powers, which are limited. The noble Viscount will also appreciate, better than anyone else, that we should be involved in these questions to do what we think right, and not necessarily to support one section or another: we have to do our duty by all sections of Her Majesty's subjects. It is very important that that should be understood, and I am quite sure that it is true.
We sometimes hear from unexpected sources in the Federation harsh and unjustified criticism of the attitude of the British people. Those criticisms I think we have some right to resent. We are doing our duty by Central Africa, not least in having placed at the service of Central Africa some of the very ablest men in our public life; and in my view some of these men have been unfairly judged, because I do not believe it is appreciated what their task is. We know that if Federation is to be preserved—and we hope that it will he preserved, even if it is only in the skeletal form 906 advocated by the Monckton Commission; even if only as an idea—it can be preserved only through the triumph of racial partnership. And I conceive that the duty of our Ministers is to draw up the deed of partnership. It is not surprising that we hear of Constitutions drafted, amended, and drafted again; that we hear of protracted negotiations, and of Ministers distrusted first by one set and then by another. That is the path of a negotiator who is trying to express in constitutional form a sincere desire for partnership. It is not an easy task that our Ministers are performing, and we regret that in the criticisms that have been made of them that function of theirs is not appreciated. Let us hope that the Home Secretary will in the end succeed in making such a deed of partnership that both parties will accept it. They will not accept with enthusiasm, but if they accept with a shrug of their shoulders and an honest desire to make it work, it will satisfy us.
One other point I would venture to make is that there have been many allusions in this and previous debates to the barbarian state of the black African population. They are no more barbarian than our own tribes from which we are descended. Over the Throne is a picture of the baptism of the King of the Danes. After that event they had for a short time their own kingdom and the Danelaw; but Alfred, who, in the picture, is standing as godfather to the King of the Danes, sent teachers among them and cured them of their barbarism, and it was not many years before the country had come together again, first under a Danish monarchy and then under the restored House of Wessex.
I wonder whether we are doing anything like enough in our protectorates, as much as is demanded by the situation, in the way of education. The Federal University is a magnificent and splendid example of educational effort, but are there enough secondary schools to prepare the Africans for entrance to that University? What proportion of Africans do, in fact, get there? Has it not been a common mistake of European Powers in Africa—and the Belgiums are the worst example—to give a great amount of primary education but to neglect secondary education? Can we he assured that these considerations are 907 present in the mind of Her Majesty's Government?
I understand that the establishment of schools is a matter for which permission must be sought from the authorities. I realise very well the necessity for control over the educational system of a country such as Central Africa, but I hope that that permission is not now given too grudgingly. May I also hope that in secondary schools also we shall see that mixture of races which occurs in Swinton Hall. "More Swintonisation" is an admirable slogan. I am told (though I have not been able to check this), that a few white boys wanted to go to a secondary school for black Africans and that permission was refused. That seems very strange to us. We must not, of course, impose, or attempt to impose, our views on those who are much nearer to the problem; but I am bound to say that in this country, where I suppose there is not a single boarding school that has not several coloured children in it, it seems strange that inter-racial partnership cannot find further expression in the scholastic system.
My Lords, it is not for me to tell Central Africa what to do, but here I would quote from a speech by one deeply involved in African questions. It was made during a debate which took place in this Chamber two years ago but for one day. It was a debate on Kenya. The noble Earl, Lord Portsmouth, who lives in Central Africa and had lived there all through the Mau Mau times, spoke of the African and he spoke very interestingly of the psychological difficulties that the African is experiencing through the decay of tribalism. He also said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 222, col. 379]:… we can recognise and sympathise with … the desire for education and knowledge; the desire, as an African, to be treated as he should be, as a friend and fellow man regardless of his skin.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ LORD MOLSON
My Lords, when we debated this subject just a year ago, my noble friend Lord Swinton chided me very gently with having suggested that the Government had no option but to accept and swallow the Monckton Commission Report whole. I did not say that last year. What I said was that African 908 opinion would not be content with anything less than our recommendations. This year, after another twelve months has passed, during which problems in the Federation have become more acute, I shall go very close to saying what I was alleged to have said.
We have had in this country and in Africa controversy over the Northern Rhodesian Constitution. The majority of the Monckton Commission recommended an African majority. The reason for that, certainly in my case, was that Nyasaland had just been given an African majority in the Legislature, and after making inquiries it appeared to me that Northern Rhodesia, which previously had enjoyed a more advanced Constitution than Nyasaland, would not be content with anything less. As several noble Lords have pointed out to-day, the effect of that African majority and bringing Dr. Banda into power has been a tremendous improvement in the state of Nyasaland. When we were there there was an almost complete breakdown of law and order, and I confess that I doubted whether it would ever be restored. But at the present time Nyasaland is probably the most peaceful part of the Federation.
I very much regret that Sir Roy Welensky should so vigorously have opposed the original White Paper proposals for the Northern Rhodesian Constitution and should have continued opposing it and doing so with such outspoken vigour. He says that he is not opposed to an African majority but only to a majority of African nationalists. But it was perfectly clear to us that more than 80 per cent. of the Africans in Northern Rhodesia were opposed to federation, and therefore it follows that anything in the way of a more liberal Constitution is likely to bring about opposition to federation. He has made it quite plain in his recent speeches that what in fact he has been asking for is a gerrymandered Constitution in Northern Rhodesia. He said, speaking on March 6 in the Federal Assembly, referring to the Lennox-Boyd Constitution:The outcome of the election was that a moderate non-racial Party won a majority of seats and was able to secure the inclusion in the Executive Council of five Ministers, including an African.909 Of course, the moderate non-racial Party was his own Party, the United Federal Party.
He then goes on to claim as a virtue of the June White Paper, which he said was issued largely as a result of pressure that he brought to bear on Her Majesty's Government, that when he was speaking in the referendum he was able to advise Southern Rhodesian voters thatunder the new Northern Rhodesian constitutional proposals a moderate Party would have a reasonable chance of winning the election. …Then he goes on to say:I never expected that the scheme would be subsequently altered in a most material way so as to prejudice the prospects of a moderate Party and enhance the prospects of an extremist racial Party in the Northern Rhodesian election.In case any noble Lord may be in doubt as to what he means when talking about a moderate Party and asking that the franchise shall be so contrived as to make the success of his Party in Northern Rhodesia certain, or at any rate probable, he made it clear in a subsequent passage:But what to me is the most shocking aspect of all is that the British Government should be determined to make changes to favour and encourage an anti-Federation Party.Then he goes on to say:I think we were entitled to expect the British Government so to arrange Constitutions within the Federation as to give the best prospect for the successful continuance of the Federation which Britain herself created.My Lords, I congratulate the Government that they have had the courage and wisdom to amend the White Paper of June of last year, and I think that the new proposals are, on the whole, on balance, slightly more favourable to Africans than the original Paper issued in February, 1961.
I turn from the Northern Rhodesian Constitution to the future of the Federation, and here I think it is necessary to be more outspoken than I was last year. Like all other members of the majority of the Monckton Commission, I am most sincerely desirous of seeing the Federation preserved: first, because of the great economic loss that would certainly result from its break-up, and secondly, for the great moral importance of making a success of this great nonracial experiment in Africa. But now it 910 is quite clear that doubts are beginning to exist as to whether it can be preserved. Sir Edgar Whitehead in a speech the other day said that it could not go on in its present form and he has put forward certain proposals for its modification. The credit of the Federation is now such that if you buy a Federation bond you get a yield of 10 per cent. That is clearly the opinion of financiers who are not concerned with any political aspect of this question.
Sir Roy Welensky's approach in his speech has been: "Will Her Majesty's Government break up the Federation?" But the real question is not that. It is: can it be preserved? In what I am going to say in the rest of my speech, I am going to put forward suggestions as to what must be done if it is to be preserved. It cannot be preserved by force. That was what Sir Roy Welensky himself said a year ago. I quoted it last year, but I will quote it again. Speaking on October 25, 1960, he said with regard to the Monckton Commission's opinion that it could not be kept together by force:I would be the first to agree. Clearly, the Federation cannot be held together by force, and no sensible body of people would attempt to do so.One of his colleagues in the Federal Government told me afterwards that he had heard the Prime Minister say that, and he much regretted it—he did not agree. But surely the course of wisdom is to recognise that the Federation can continue only if it is held together by agreement. Consider the alternative when you have self-governing territories in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Suppose you have a secessionist majority; suppose you have a secessionist Ministry; above all, suppose you have a secessionist Finance Minister and a secessionist Minister in charge of the Police and Home Affairs. I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Swinton, that it is extremely undesirable that there should be any idea of unilateral disruption of the Federation on the part of any territory. This is a matter which must be discussed, and I hope discussed in a most amicable and reasonable way, at the resumed Federal Conference. I mention these things because we have to face the realities. If you have self-governing Governments in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, then 911 it is out of the question to hold the Federation together by force.
Last year when the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, spoke in this matter, he spoke of Sir Roy Welensky as a humane and a kindly man, a great personality and a likeable person. Those views, coming from that side of the House, I was glad to hear, and I think that anyone who has met Sir Roy Welensky would feel the same. I think that some of us were reminded of the late Ernest Bevin when we met Sir Roy Welensky, and I think that anyone will regard that as very high praise. But even the late Ernest Bevin had some limitations, coming from his experiences as a trade union leader. Just as he found it difficult to believe that anyone in his trade union was ever unreasonable, so the fact that Sir Roy Welensky began by being the leader of a white trade union, and afterwards has been a political leader of white people in Rhodesia, has, I think, made it difficult for him to understand the point of view of Africans.
In a biography of him written by a great admirer and friend, there is a most revealing passage which says that Sir Stewart Gore-Brown tried to persuade him to come out and address African audiences, and he says that he went on one occasion and it was an immense success. He almost invariably won loyalty and affection from those serving him, and showed an illimitable patience, and his easy and unselfconscious approach to Africans and his personal charm made an immediate appeal to them. But unfortunately, largely owing to administrative preoccupations, he did not follow it up. When one criticises the policies of a statesman, one often feels inclined to say that if he retired and went, things might be better. With regard to Sir Roy Welensky, with his personal magnetism and humanity, I believe that when one criticises what he has done, one must also say that one wants him to stay and to alter his policies in certain respects. He is one of the few people now who would be able to transform the existing atmosphere in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I do not despair that a man with that breadth of vision, even though he may appear to be a little colour blind, will be able to do what no other statesman would he able to do.
912 The Monckton Report, in its desire to preserve federation, tried to analyse what the reasons were for African hostility. The reasons that we gave were: first, that it was regarded as being domination by the whites; secondly, what the Federal Government had done during the last eight years; thirdly, that the Constitution was imposed; and fourthly, fear that the effect of federation would be to slow down the constitutional progress of the two Northern territories. It was not so much hostility to federation as such, but hostility to the Federal Government. Our remedies were, first of all, try to meet the reasonable grievances of the African.
The first of these was to end a state of affairs when such important matters as education and agriculture were divided between the Territorial Governments and the Federal Government, with the Territorial Governments with only small financial resources providing for the education and agriculture of the Africans, and the Federation with larger resources providing for the education and agriculture of the white man. Surely the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, put his finger upon this point, although I do not think he understood it that way, when he said that it had been the intention that the Federal Government should not be concerned with the affairs of the African. It follows naturally from that that the Africans would tend to regard the Federal Government as being chiefly concerned to look after the interests of the white people.
Secondly, we recommended a greatly increased franchise and reserved seats to increase African representation at the centre. Then, finally, we recommended that the territories should be given the right to secede after the lapse of a period of time. We felt that the danger was an immediate demand to secede, and we believed that if the Constitution of the Federation were amended in order to meet the reasonable complaints of the African, they could then be asked to give the amended Constitution a fair trial, and elect to secede only if, after giving it a trial, they were dissatisfied with it.
I want now to deal with a point that was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. He suggested that there is at the present time an inherent right of the territories to secede. I would ask him to read the chapter in the Monckton 913 Report dealing with this whole question of secession. Serving on the Monckton Commission there was a Judge of the High Court, who is now the Chief Justice of Southern Rhodesia; there was an ex-Attorney General and an ex-Solicitor General of this country, and an ex-Attorney General of Southern Rhodesia. The chapter dealing with the legal position is largely their work. The first point I want to make is that the chapter states quite plainly that:the present Constitution does not confer on any of the Territorial Legislatures any right express or implied to secede from the Federation…An argument which has been put forward is that under the Convention of 1957 the British Government have debarred themselves from any right to amend the Constitution of the Federation without the agreement of the Federal Government. At the top of page 99 this matter is dealt with explicitly:… there can be no legal justification for excluding from consideration at the Review Conference any part of the Constitution, including Article I which provides that the Federation shall consist of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. After the review, therefore, it must be for Her Majesty's Government to decide what is to be the future of the Federation and to put its proposals before Parliament …That, my Lords, I suggest is probably the correct legal view, having regard to the legal eminence of those who were responsible for drafting this chapter. Indeed, if I may also put the layman's point of view, how can it seriously be argued that there should be a statutory Review of the Constitution at the end of a period of time if it is intended that nothing can be done to amend that Constitution without the agreement of the Federation?
My Lords, the reason for advocating the granting of this right of secession is in order to try to persuade the Africans to give an amended Constitution a fair trial. I was very much interested to gather, from the speeches of my noble friends Lord Salisbury and Lord Swinton, that they feel that this matter will have to be looked at in the Conference, when it is resumed. I should like to see that Conference resumed as soon as possible, but I do not see how that can be done until the two new Governments in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland have come into power. I think it is not always remembered that 914 these proposals for secession were agreed to by all the representatives of the four Rhodesian Governments, including those who were appointed by the Federal Government.
I know it has been argued subsequently that the only reason why they agreed to that was the view—which a certain distinguished lawyer has subsequently criticised—that it was constitutionally open to the Imperial Parliament to amend the Federal Constitution. But, my Lords, whether that legal view be right or wrong, it really is quite irrelevant to the views then expressed in the Report by the representatives of Rhodesia. The Monckton Commission was set up to advise all five Governments, and we should certainly have given the same advice as to how to ensure the preservation and prosperity of the Federation, whether on this particular legal point we had followed one opinion or the other.
I hope, as my noble friend Lord Salisbury said, that someone—and it may well have to be the British Government—will take the initiative in making proposals at the forthcoming Conference. Reading Sir Roy Welensky's latest speeches, I feel there is some danger that no proposals will be acceptable to him which do not strengthen the position of the Federal Government, and that he will claim the right to veto any proposals which seek to relax the bonds and in some degree to meet the aspirations of the three territories. If that be so, then I can only hope that the British Government will give the leadership that is required.
It is already clear that there is a certain rift in this matter between Sir Roy Welensky and Sir Edgar Whitehead. Sir Edgar has recognised the need for change. I understand from what I read in the papers that he is disposed to consider allowing Nyasaland to go out, and he has put forward a proposal for the incorporation of part of Northern Rhodesia in Southern Rhodesia. That, of course, is taking up proposals that were made to us by the Dominion Party, and would clearly he unacceptable to the British Government, because it would be a breach of the obligations of protection of Northern Rhodesia which Her Majesty's Government long ago undertook. It certainly would be quite unacceptable to African opinion, and I 915 feel sure that it will not be acceptable to Her Majesty's Government. But even if it were, I am quite sure that there would be such strong opposition in Parliament, in the country and in Africa that there would have to be a reconsideration—just as there had to be a reconsideration of the June White Paper.
My Lords, what is the object of the General Election which is now being held in the Federation? Was it intended as a demonstration of strength? Was it intended to obscure the real issues? It so, it is a complete failure. It has, in fact, gone a long way to demonstrate the unreality of federation. It is boycotted by the Africans—and who can wonder when the black electorate is, in fact, some 2,000, plus about another 3,000 to 5,000 who might register but have not (or had not) done so, as compared with 90,000 white Rhodesian voters? It has been boycotted by the Dominion Party; it has been boycotted by the Liberal Party, and it has been criticised by Sir Edgar Whitehead.
My Lords, the Federation is in great danger of drifting on to the rocks. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will be prepared to give the necessary leadership. I rejoice that Mr. Butler has been made responsible for dealing with this matter. Many noble Lords have referred to his past record in Imperial matters and his broad and liberal outlook. I believe that it is a wise appointment, and I am sure we all join in wishing him success in his great task.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I also should like to begin by adding a word of welcome to Mr. Butler in his new appointment, which is virtually that of Secretary of State for Central Africa. It is high time that these sections of the two departments dealing with the different parts of the Federation were amalgamated, and Mr. Butler with his great abilities and his unique experience is obviously admirably suited for the task. For the first time, one Minister will be able to look at the situation in the Federation as a whole, and that is really what should have been done from the very beginning. I really believe that he, if anyone, can make sense out of this completely tangled situation.
916 I have recently spent the best part of a month in the Federation, during which I saw all the political leaders of note in the three territories who were in the country at the time, as well as, of course, many officials, businessmen and farmers. With so many opinions diametrically opposed to one another, it is clearly impossible to find any solution of the problems of the Federation satisfactory to all concerned, but certain facts stand out which one cannot ignore and on which reconciliation will have to be found.
In the first place, Federation has brought untold economic benefits to millions of the inhabitants of the three territories. Their economies are complementary and, from this point of view, any attempt to break up the Federation into its constituent parts would be little short of disastrous. It is true that, through political uncertainty generated over the past two years, progress has slowed down lamentably, but, even so, the economy of the Federation is sound, and its development during 1961 has carried an almost unbelievable momentum behind it.
Although for political reasons investment was scarce and building activity was reduced to a trickle, the Federal resérves rose—partly, of course, because of exchange control—from £24.5 million in March, 1961, to £48.2 million in September. There was a favourable external trade balance of £59 million and, in spite of the fall in the value of copper, exports totalled no less than £214 million. Much of this progress took place in Southern Rhodesia which, to give one example, with only a small pilot scheme has become the second cheapest steel producer in the world. This scheme is now being expanded with a further investment of £10 million. So to sum up, the potential of the Federation for development is incalculable, and the country awaits only the advent of political peace and the return of public confidence to leap forward in spectacular fashion.
The second main factor which stands out is that, as a matter of hard fact, no change can be made in the composition or status of the Federation as a whole, without the consent of the Federal Government. I quite understand, as my noble friend Lord Molson said, that 917 from the strictly legal point of view the Federation could be abolished tomorrow by an Act of Parliament. But, my Lords, so, strictly speaking, could Parliament abrogate the Statute of Westminster or repeal the Dominion of Canada Act, but it would be a very bold man who attempted to do that, and I submit that it would be a bold man who would attempt to do the same thing so far as the Federation was concerned. The rights of the Federation are enshrined, as my noble friend said, in the Convention of April, 1957, under which it was clearly understood that the British Government would not legislate in the Federal field without the consent of the Federal Government. The rights which the Federal Government acquired at that time were identical with the rights which the British Dominions possessed before the passing of the Statute of Westminster.
Some people may say that the Monckton Report, or the calling of a conference for a Federal Review, or even a "wind of change" speech may have altered all that; but, in fact, pledges remain pledges and, while in announcing the appointment of Mr. Butler the Prime Minister reasserted the pledge given in the Preamble to the Federal Constitution to the two northern Protectorates, he equally remains bound by all the pledges given by the British Government to the Federal Government in 1957 and, indeed, on many occasions before and since.
§ LORD MOLSON
My Lords, may I ask my noble friend a question to make this clear? Does my noble friend consider that the Convention of 1957 applies to the amendment of the Constitution as a result of the statutory Review?
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I have a long speech to make and I do not want to be drawn into that. But I am quite certain that, as a matter of practice, you cannot revise or amend the Federal Constitution without the consent and good will of the Federal Government.
I come now to the third main factor, and it is one which as realists we are bound to consider. I am referring to the stubborn opposition to the Federal concept of such African leaders as Dr. Banda, Mr. Kaunda and Mr. Nkumhula. Who are these men, and what is the 918 nature of their opposition? I met Dr. Banda for the first time last month and, though we met as old antagonists, I found him a man of great intelligence and charm, and I must say, in spite of his close association with Dr. Nkrumah, basically Western in outlook. His essential objection to the Federation, as is well known, is that in his view it was imposed upon Nyasaland and is unacceptable to the Nyasa people. He has nailed his colours firmly to the mast of secession and he is determined not to budge from that position. On the other hand, should that aim be accomplished I should not despair of his being willing to negotiate some working arrangement under which Nyasaland would not lose the whole benefits of some association with the Federation.
There is, of course, the tremendous difficulty, to which my noble friend Lord Malvern referred, of disentangling such matters as the national debt, civil aviation, telecommunications, the health service and so on, but more important still is the question who is going to put up the £5 or £6 million a year, which the Federal Government now provides, to help the Government of Nyasaland in their current and capital expenditure? A vacuum in Africa is always dangerous. Who would put up the money? Would the British taxpayer be willing to shoulder the burden? I know that Dr. Banda has hopes of finance from the United States or from Federal Germany, but the Americans, I believe, have so far put up plans of assistance for only some £400,000 and the Germans have promised nothing. I do not believe that Dr. Banda would willingly turn to the Soviet for help, and still less to Communist China; nor do I believe that the Communist Governments would be very willing to put up the very large sums which are required.
Then, again, under Federation Nyasaland has the advantage of free migration of labour to the other territories. What would happen if in fact the 175,000 Nyasa workers in the Copper Belt and Southern Rhodesia were to become aliens and had to return to Nyasaland? These people alone send remittances back to Nyasaland of £1 million a year. Of course it is true, as a noble Lord pointed out, that their departure would help Sir Edgar Whitehead with his un- 919 employment problems, but, as I said and truly believe, the economies of these territories are complementary and should not be disturbed. So, surely, the sensible thing to do is to work out an arrangement whereby Nyasaland would still get the benefits of Federal finance, free migration of labour, a customs union, and all the other common services of the Federation, which can be most efficiently and economically handled centrally.
I also formed an excellent impression of the work which Dr. Banda and his fellow Ministers are doing in Nyasaland, despite some unwise actions such as the refusal of the Federal grant of £3½ million towards the Nkula Falls hydro-electric scheme, which is so vital to the power supply of the country. Dr. Banda and his colleagues seem to me to have gained a very realistic knowledge of the country's needs. I really cannot believe that it is beyond the wit of man to devise a plan whereby an association with the Federation could be negotiated with Dr. Banda, acting freely and independently, in substitution for the existing arrangements.
What, then, of the Northern Rhodesian leaders? Mr. Kaunda was not in Lusaka when I was there this time, although I have met him on other occasions. He was in Addis Ababa for the Pan-African Movement Congress, where he distinguished himself by acclaiming Dedan Kimathi as one of the martyrs of the Pan-African Movement—and Dedan Kimathi, your Lordships will recall, was the most bestial of all the Mau Mau killers, who was executed after due trial. I did, however, meet the secretary of the Party, Mr. Chona, the national chairman, Mr. Kalula, and the publicity secretary, Mr. Sikota Wina. They are new men since I was last in Africa fifteen months ago, and they made a poor impression. Indeed, one thing should be said right away. The whole image of Mr. Kaunda and the U.N.I.P. Party which has been carefully built up in this country—in the Press, in Parliament and among the public—is, from all the information that I could gather, totally divorced from the truth.
We must never forget that U.N.I.P. was formed from the banned Zambia Party which Sir Arthur Benson, the late 920 Governor of Northern Rhodesia, one who was by no means well-disposed towards the Federal Government, described as "Murder Incorporated". The picture has been built up of Mr. Kaunda as a sort of paragon, some sort of plaster saint; and he has even been described by Mr. Fenner Brockway as the Gandhi of Africa. In reality, he is a very different type of person. He is a man who, whatever his personal character may be, is quite ruthless in the use of the weapons of murder, violence, sabotage and intimidation to achieve his own ends. His Party is in receipt of funds from behind the Iron Curtain, and his followers have been encouraged to undergo training in Communist organisational methods. He and his Party are closely linked with the most extreme racialist elements of the Pan-African movement.
My Lords, in case there is any doubt about these charges, I should like to spend a minute or two in amplification of them. The Northern Rhodesian Government's Report on the events from July to October last, which has now been fully accepted by the Colonial Secretary, places the blame for acts of violence and intimidation entirely upon the United National Independence Party, and though Mr. Kaunda himself was discreetly absent from Northern Rhodesia at the time, it certainly formed part of his "Master Plan". During this period of violence, no fewer than 2,158 members of U.N.I.P. were convicted. According to information given to me by a highly reliable source, there were at least 50 cases of arson while the inmates of huts or buildings were still inside. When the noble Earl who opened the debate was putting forward Mr. Kaunda's demand for an amnesty, as part of his conditions for joining the election, he said that "of course it would not apply to convicted prisoners". The noble Earl went on to ask how many detainees there were. The answer, of course, is that there is none: for everyone was convicted by due process of law. These events of which I have been speaking took place mainly in the Northern and Luapula provinces, where Mr. Kaunda has his main strength, and to a lesser degree in the Copper Belt. I might add that a week before I arrived in Mufulira a policeman was murdered 921 after a political meeting which had been addressed by Mr. Sikota Wina. Mr. Harry Nkumbula, the Chairman of the African National Congress, told me himself of U.N.I.P. attacks on his person in February; and only yesterday fresh assaults by U.N.I.P. supporters at one of his meetings in the Copper Belt were reported in the Daily Telegraph.
As regards finance, there is no doubt whatever that U.N.I.P. is receiving funds from behind the Iron Curtain, apparently from the same sources as those from which Mr. Oginga Odinga is receiving money on behalf of KANU. Most of this money is channelled through London, some of it through Cairo. All of it, I understand, goes into a personal account in the names of Mr. Kaunda and Mr. Kapwekwe, the treasurer. These facts are all perfectly well known in Northern Rhodesia. Mr. Harry Nkumbula told me that he had had similar offers of funds from the same sources, to be paid on the basis of results in the form of acts of violence. He had, of course, refused. Really, my Lords, in the light of all this, it seems to me ironical that such excellent people as the noble Earl who opened the debate, Mr. Dingle Foot, Mr. Jo Grimond, Mr. Wedgwood Benn and many others should now have formed a committee to provide U.N.I.P. with a so-called "Freedom Fund".
That members of U.N.I.P. are receiving training in Communist methods of organisation there can be no doubt. I heard evidence, again of the highest reliability, of young Northern Rhodesians going to Ghana on three-month trade union courses where they are taught the principles of a complete cellular organisation for Northern Rhodesia and an elaborate programme of subversion and violence. So far as the connection between U.N.I.P. and the more extreme African racialist elements are concerned, perhaps I may cite a personal experience. Having met the officials of U.N.I.P. the previous day, I ran into the secretary, Mr. Chona, and Mr. Sikota Wina at Lusaka airport. Mr. Sikota Wina informed me that he was going to Nairobi for a fortnight to confer with the KANU leaders. Upon my pointing out that they were all in London for the Conference, Mr. Chona said, "Ah, but he means the real leaders, the men in the second rank". Then, on my 922 asking whether he was referring to men like Paul Ngei and Fred Kubai, Mr. Chona said, "Yes, those are the real kingmakers". My Lords, these men were the convicted Mau Mau leaders who were largely responsible, with a number of others, for forcing—and I really believe that this is true—Jomo Kenyatta to embark upon a policy of violence in Kenya ten years ago.
This is the Party and these are the men in favour of whom the constitutional proposals for Northern Rhodesia have been slanted during the course of the past twelve months. It is unnecessary to go into that sorry story again at any great length. Six months have been wasted during which not only the Northern Rhodesian elections but the discussions on the future of the Federation have been held up. The changes now made are not perhaps vital, except in so far as they will probably render the elections for the National seats abortive. The net effect of the changes, as I understand it, is to lighten the burden for racial extremist Parties in getting European support to the extent of 20 per cent., while increasing the burden of the moderate Parties in getting support of Africans by 150 per cent.
I will pass over the steps by which this new Constitution was arrived at and announced to the public before Sir Roy Welensky had the chance to make his final representations to the Prime Minister. All I would say is that in my opinion he was very shabbily treated. My Lords, the irony of this apparent attempt to twist (if I might put it like that) the Constitution in favour of U.N.I.P., with perhaps the Liberals as a balancing factor, is that it would almost certainly not work out in the way desired. There is a good deal of evidence to show that the actual voting strength of U.N.I.P., as opposed to the gangs of rabble-rousers and intimidators, is very much less than might be thought. In the Southern and Central Provinces there is strong support for the A.N.C., the African National Congress, and in the Eastern Province U.N.I.P. cuts very little ice. In Barotseland, with its 300,000 inhabitants, U.N.I.P. is an anathema, and the Litunga has stated that he has no intention of submitting his people to the control of an extreme nationalist 923 African Government. I know that it is the fashion nowadays to decry the power of the Litunga to influence his people, but I was assured, again by very authoritative and quite unbiased informants, that, as in Buganda, the monarchy is still a very important factor to be reckoned with in Barotseland.
What is the alternative to government by U.N.I.P.? In my view, the siutation is by no means hopeless. In all areas, other than the Luapula and northern provinces, the strength of U.N.I.P., has been overrated. Even in the Copper Belt, where the A.N.C., through the late Mr. Katilungu, are well established, U.N.I.P. maintain a rather uneasy domination, mainly through fear. Certainly the African National Congress afford a possible and an acceptable alternative. Though they are nationalist in outlook, they are far less intransigent. While they demand "one man, one vote", they say they will "work towards this". Though they dislike federation they say, "We will work towards its dissolution". Racialism plays no great part in their policy. Whatever faults Mr. Nkumbula may have, he and the people close to him are reasonable people with whom one can talk, and with whom I believe one can do business. Nor do they lack courage, based very much, I suspect, on the knowledge of the support which they command among many Africans who fear and hate U.N.I.P.
Then, in addition, there is a large and ever-growing number of Africans who want peace and quiet, and who are prepared to vote for whoever will give this to them. Some will vote for A.N.C.; some will vote for African candidates of the United Federal Party; and some will vote for Independents. Between them, I believe they will fill a fair number, possibly half, of the "B" roll seats, and unless the elections for the National seats prove abortive, quite a number of those seats as well. But it will all depend on the extent to which U.N.I.P. intimidation can be prevented or kept under control during the months which lie between now and the elections. For this we must rely on firmness in Lusaka and an absolute determination in Whitehall not to be stampeded into retreat by U.N.I.P. threats or terrorism. It is not, 924 I submit, wishful thinking to hope that a Government will emerge which will be one with which both the Federal Government and the British Government can do business.
How do all these events affect the ultimate issue of the Federation itself? Before turning to that, I should like to say a few words about the position in Southern Rhodesia. Here, in spite of occasional stoning of school buses in Harari, on account of a lack of education facilities, things are pretty a quiet. The Zimbabwe African People's Union, which is the successor to the banned United Democratic Party, is pursuing a rather uncertain path. They are in a dilemma over the October elections which they have publicly announced they intend to boycott. But assuming there is enough African registration on the voters' roll, it is not at all impossible that another and more moderate African Party will come forward to fill those fifteen African seats, or even a few more. I think that Z.A.P.U. have this very much in mind. They have some good leaders. I met Dr. Pararenyatwa, who in December gave up the Federal health service to become Vice-President of Z.A.P.U., and he strikes me as being an essentially moderate man, in spite of some of his publicly expressed beliefs.
At the present time the Party are trying to concentrate on hampering the registration of African voters by various forms of pressure and intimidation, and this they think could prevent Sir Edgar Whitehead from holding elections under the new Constitution. But in fact registrations are going well, and although he has hopes for 50,000 African registrations, Sir Edgar Whitehead will no doubt go ahead with a much smaller number; and, in that event, I expect Z.A.P.U. to join in the elections.
Sir Edgar Whitehead has not allowed himself to be daunted in his liberalising programme, either by the non-co-operation of Z.A.P.U. or by the hostility of the extreme Right racialists in Southern Rhodesia. He is proceeding with his plans for abolishing the Land Apportionment Act, which is to form one of the important parts of his electoral programme. He has now announced his intention to revise the unpopular, although in many respects valuable, Land Husbandry Act. No one can fail, 925 I think, to admire his courage in face of all these difficulties, which now include the illegal and, to my mind, and I think to all our minds, totally unacceptable demand by the United Nations for an investigation into the state of self-government in Southern Rhodesia. People sometimes forget that Southern Rhodesia, which has been self-governing since 1923, receives no help at all towards its social services from the British Government, other than a few bursaries. Nor does it receive any help from the United Nations or from other world organisations. But to-day 32.5 per cent. of its national budget is spent on African education and housing, and almost all of this comes out of taxation of Europeans. I think that alone should be a sufficient reply to the United Nations.
Her Majesty's Government have announced that now the question of the Northern Rhodesia Constitution is out of the way, the time has come to reopen the question of the future of the Federation itself. Let us be clear on one thing. The Federation can be made to work if Her Majesty's Government, in accordance with their pledges, are determined that it should work. Had the full weight of Her Majesty's Government's authority been thrown behind the Federation in the past two years, and indeed, for many years before, it would be working properly to-day. The Federation is bringing immense benefits to millions of Africans, and more and more of them are coming to realise this. It is not something which can simply be discarded, with chaos resulting in the northern territories, and Southern Rhodesia being driven back, much against its will, into the arms of the white racialists of South Africa.
What are the elements with which we have to work in this present situation? First, there is the Monckton Report, now much out of date but still containing many valuable ideas. Then there is the so-called Whitehead Plan, of which some general features have appeared in the Press. I say "so-called", because this is a plan similar to one which has for many years been in the minds of many people, including, I suspect, at times, Her Majesty's Government. Curiously enough, it was not the Dominion Party who originated it, but Sir Stewart Gore-Brown, now a card-carrying member of U.N.I.P.; arid that was back in 1952. 926 In its latest form it appears to constitute a plan to keep Southern Rhodesia and the central backbone and shoulders of Northern Rhodesia as part of an independent political Federation, giving the right to Nyasaland, to Barotseland, and to north-west Northern Rhodesia either to become part of it or to become completely independent, or to be linked with the Federation in various forms of economic associations. It certainly has merits. Its great merit would appear to be its elasticity, which would enable the outlying parts of the Federation to attain all their basic aims, while retaining the important economic and other advantages of Federation. I am not saying that this is the only solution. I do not even know whether it is a possible solution. But I think it is one that Her Majesty's Government should consider very carefully.
But one thing appears to me to be essential. Having heard the views of all the other interested parties, it is, as my noble friend Lord Swinton has said, for Her Majesty's Government to put forward a plan. This time, as Lord Salisbury has said, it must be lasting and comprehensive. It was Her Majesty's Government which set up the Federation, and if they wish to see changes made, it is for them to put forward a plan of their own. Certainly there can be no going back on the principles of Federation or of a non-racial society. We cannot sacrifice the welfare of millions of Africans and the unique chance of building a successful non-racial society to the threats of a few power-hirsty demagogues. African advancement is going ahead and going ahead fast. It is going ahead much faster than at times some of us could possibly have hoped. In time, probably sooner rather than later, it will be the Africans who will play the leading part in the Federation, and this is something which everyone in the Federation, African and European, fully recognises. But we really must not allow expediency, or lack of courage, or even pressure from the United Nations or the Afro-Asian bloc to force us to adopt courses which would be disastrous to all concerned.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, at this stage in a long debate it is difficult to avoid repetition, but the speech of the 927 noble Lord, Lord Colyton, has introduced a certain amount of new matter which I think should be commented upon. The first thing that I would mention is his really deplorable attack on the United National Independence Party. With great respect, I thought it was a reversion to the rather heated and wild attacks that used to be bandied about in debates not long ago, but from which our debate this afternoon, I thought, had been notably free. He made these accusations and character sketches—I might almost say, character assassinations—based on his own recent visit. I heard them with some surprise, because I have never heard accusations of that sort before. U.N.I.P. is a legally recognised, constitutional political Party in Northern Rhodesia. It is affiliated indirectly to the Party to which I belong, through the Commonwealth Socialist Association, a body which I am quite sure would have nothing to do with any institution that was connected with the Communist world or the Communist Party.
The United National Independence Party has expressed its views on the various Government proposals for constitutional advance in Northern Rhodesia. When the proposals of last June came out, there was violence in Northern Rhodesia, but I understood that the Party itself was not concerned and that Mr. Kaunda had come out plainly and forcibly against violence and urged his supporters to keep in mind the use of constitutional means. A large number of people were arrested, but I doubt very much whether the several thousands convicted were, in fact, convicted of violence. I understood that in most cases they were convicted of demonstrations against federation and against the Government proposals. I am sure that Her Majesty's Government do not take the view of U.N.I.P. that was taken by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, and I hope that, with fuller knowledge than I have, they will be able to dispose of some of his charges.
The noble Lord said that the power of U.N.I.P. was grossly overrated, that in many parts of the country it had no influence, and that such influence as it had was due to intimidation. This talk 928 of intimidation is very familiar. We have heard it often in connection, not only with Central Africa but also with other parts of the African continent. We remember hearing, a year or two ago, that in Nyasaland the Malawi Congress Party depended entirely on intimidation: it was said that the lives of people were threatened, and that people had their huts burned. But I remember at least one case in which, after an African member of the United Federal Party in Nyasaland gave evidence of his house having been burned, it turned out, on investigation, that it was not burned by the Malawi people at all.
As the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has said, the result of the Nyasaland election gave a decisive, almost an overwhelming, vote of confidence to Dr. Banda and the Malawi Congress Party. Although the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, implied that the success of this election was due to intimidation, no intimidation was reported. It may be that some people voted for fear of the opinion of their neighbours, but where people hold views very strongly there is a tendency for some members of the minority to be intimidated, to be reluctant to go against the views of the majority.
Another point which the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, brought up was the position of Barotseland. I think that we should take with caution any assertion that the Barotse people are hostile to the idea of independence. I know that we have read that the Paramount Chief and his Kuta, his Assembly, have come out with those views. But are they representative of their people? Are there any democratic institutions in Barotseland that confirm these views? We know, in fact, that there have always been minority opposition views in Barotseland, more especially in the years since the people have been going to the Copper Belt to work in the mines. I believe that no fewer than four members of the executive of U.N.I.P. are Lozi, members of the Barotse people, and there is a section of opinion in the Copper Belt and in Barotseland which is violently hostile to the ruling Party in the country itself. Until there are democratic institutions in Barotseland. I do not think that we should give too much weight to the opinions of those 929 who are ruling the country at the moment.
We have heard a great deal about the future of the Federation. To avoid repetition, all I will say is that all my noble friends agree that the Federation can be held together only by peaceful means, by the good will and agreement of the people of the various territories. We know that the Monckton Commission put their highest priority on the recommendation that the Northern Rhodesian Constitution should be amended in such a way as to give an African majority. Over the past fourteen months, Her Majesty's Government have made various attempts to secure a suitable constitutional means for achieving that. I am bound to say that their first attempts were treated with hostility by Sir Roy Welensky's Government and by the nationalists in Northern Rhodesia. This latest attempt, which is disliked almost equally by both sides, can probably be taken to be the most satisfactory solution that can be achieved. We must hope that the Government will have the courage of their convictions and go ahead with the scheme as it is, in the hope that all Parties will co-operate in the election that will take place as a result.
Another of the recommendations of the Monckton Commission was on the subject of partnership. Partnership is not, I think, out of date or out of fashion; but it needed a complete change of view, in Southern Rhodesia in particular, on the question of the colour bar. As I said in a recent debate, I believe that Southern Rhodesia has come a long way. When I said that, I was taken to task and was accused by the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, of being patronising. But I believe it is true that in Rhodesia there has been a great advance towards a genuine partnership, so that there will not be the suspicion and the gibe by Africans that the kind of partnership recommended in Rhodesia was that of the rider and the horse. It must be equal partnership. We hope and believe that they are working towards this. We hope that Her Majesty's Government will go ahead as speedily as possible to resume the talks on the future of Federation, and that the Review Conference will lead to a settlement.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, speaking at this late hour, I will endeavour to be brief and not to repeat unnecessarily what has already been said. I suggest that in speaking or thinking of multi-racial Africa and that part of the world one has to understand the sort of life that is lived out there, the economic advances, the impact of money economy and industrialisation, and the new social tensions which have been set up thereby. Fundamentally, the struggle is one for power. I sometimes think, with due respect, that the real problems are not understood in this country, because people are apt to apply political concepts which have no validity at all in Africa. To understand the political and economic realities of Africa one has to live there, and I do not think there is any adequate alternative to that if one is fully to understand what things mean on the spot.
African nationalists, following the gospel of Dr. Nkrumah, have concentrated on acquiring political power as the key to economic and social power, whereas the truth lies precisely in the opposite direction. With adequate economic and social progress political power naturally comes, and without it political power is revealed as a hollow Pyrrhic victory. The British Government in recent times seem somewhat to have fallen into this error and have contemplated the surrender of political power to those who are quite unqualified to use it fruitfully. To argue, as some nationalist leaders do, that Africans would be better off without the European settlers simply ignores the facts of life. Economic progress and liberty of the individual are what the white Africans brought to their black fellow residents in that country—the European's skill, his capital and his tradition of government.
This was stated much better than I can put it, in a recent publication on the subject, from which I should like to read a short extract. The author says:The mines, the railways, the factories, the tobacco barns, and the hydro-electric schemes that have come now into being in Central and Southern Africa are not things which the white man stole away from the Africans. They were the fruits of an enterprise in which white and black participated, but in which the lead was always taken by the Europeans, who supplied all the plans, the skill, and the capital. Africa herself had unskilled labour and natural resources, but these alone would have been of no avail.931 Without them the choice was, and perhaps will be in the future, one between anarchy and a highly authoritarian Government. The problem to-day is just as much re-establishing white confidence in Africa as of conciliating Africans, on which the British Government have so excessively, and apparently so unsuccessfully, concentrated in recent times.
I do not propose to weary your Lordships by saying anything about the situation in Nyasaland, which has already been dealt with, except to point out that Dr. Banda now is in virtually supreme power there. We heard what a wonderful percentage he won in the elections, although from all accounts I have heard, some, at least, of that success is due to the prevalence of intimidation which is regrettably present not only in Nyasaland but throughout Africa.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, did not the noble Lord draw some encouragement from the report on Nyasaland given to us earlier by the noble Earl, Lord Perth? We were told that Dr. Banda was doing an extremely good job there. I hope the noble Lord will not make up his mind in advance of these reports from Ministers.
§ LORD MILVERTON
If the noble Earl heard me correctly he would know that I was not criticising Dr. Banda's present work as a leader of the Government; I was merely pointing out that it is a little deceptive in the atmosphere in this country to say that because he won 90 per cent., or whatever it was, in the elections that percentage of the people were really in favour of what he stands for. In the matter of secession, I very much doubt whether more than a small percentage had any idea what it was all about.
Northern Rhodesia has also been dealt with, and I do not propose to go into it at all, except to remark that it has had, since the institution of Federation, three Constitutions. And I would, in passing, say that it seems to me very regrettable that what is known as the Lennox-Boyd Constitution of 1958 was scrapped so unceremoniously by his successor, when all the advantages which were claimed for the scheme substituted in its place could easily have been fitted into the framework of that Constitution, and fitted in without breaking up that departure 932 from the racial basis of representation which was one of the great gifts of that Constitution, and which has now been lost.
I do not want to go into the rather sordid story of the quarrels about the recent Constitution, the variations which have been made and the concessions which, apparently, the British Government have seen fit to make. While the noble Earl who introduced this Motion was speaking, I made a note to say something about Mr. Kaunda, but that has already been said by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton. May I say that I entirely endorse what he said about that leader—that he is not the moderate man he has been painted in this country.
To come to Southern Rhodesia, there is no need to stress the enormous advances that have been made in giving a better future, socially, politically and economically, to the Africans in that country. Southern Rhodesia has been self-governing since 1925, and its record is one of great honour. About 500,000 African children go to school there, and the percentage of education given to Africans is not exceeded by any other country in Africa. Incidentally, when talking of the break-up of the Federation and things like that, I think we should remember that Central Africa, and one or two of the countries adjacent, form a very important point in the defence of the West. In matters of world strategy, they are going to matter very greatly indeed; and what happens to that country will matter a great deal to us.
Any Constitution can be made to work, provided that those whose duty it is to work it sincerely wish to work it. The trouble is that, in all of the three Federal territories to-day, the organised bodies of African extremists who have captured the attention of the British Government do not want the present, or any, Constitution to work—or, at least, any Constitution which does not hand over all power to them. They do not want any Government, Federal or Territorial, which allows any share of power to citizens of another race or to Africans who do not agree with them.
Like everybody else, I welcome the appointment of Mr. Butler to this extremely difficult task. He will find that most of the African population have 933 no idea what federation means, and are in any case victims of intense pressure, intimidation and violence. As he looks for a policy amid the encircling gloom, he may perhaps also appreciate that there are scores of thousands of moderate Africans who would be willing, if allowed and encouraged to do so, to support a multi-racial State. The noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, has told us how high a percentage of Africans he estimates would be willing to do that if they were free and if they understood what was being put to them. Mr. Butler will also find that, short of a sacrifice of principles and of a number of pledges which have been made, any decision will require firmness and courage.
In conclusion, I take this opportunity of expressing my admiration and sympathy for Sir Roy Welensky. His courageous stand and his determination to use every constitutional means to maintain the Federation and its principle of multi-racialism, equal rights for every civilised man, and so forth, is the most redeeming feature in the situation we are considering to-day. I suggest that on his success depends not merely justice for the white Africans, but hope for the black Africans of higher standards of living and increasing progress in education and in material wellbeing. I wish him all that success. As Sir Roy himself has said, disaster, ignorance, poverty and superstition are the problems to be overcome in Central Africa. There is no short cut or quick answer. Flexibility, expediency, the game of political twist, cannot solve it—only wisdom and firm, decisive justice.
May I, in conclusion, quote the words of a leading African businessman? He wrote about the Central African Federation in these words:Federation is not a means of sharing wealth; it is a means by which greater wealth can be created, wealth that could not be created without such a scheme of collaboration. The education, the health and social services needed to raise the African standard of life to fit them for active citizenship, must be paid for. Without Federation the money will not be there.That precisely is why economics matter so much. The African cannot be trained to be fit to run his country unless that money is there, and federation, as we see it, is the only way in which it can be provided in such quantities as is needed.
934 One final word about secession. There is no legal right, apparently, in the Constitution, and I suggest that the British Government should not consider secession, or allow secession to be considered, until each of the three territories has attained to self-government. When they have attained that position and have proved their ability to run their own territorial government properly, then, surely, would be the time, when they are on the verge of territorial independence, to invite them to meet together and to settle in what form they will continue their federal association and what changes and alterations they would like to have. Until then, I suggest that secession is not a suitable subject for discussion.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ LORD POLWARTH
My Lords, we have had a long, exhaustive and, I might also say, exhausting debate on this subject this afternoon. It has certainly been in the heavyweight class, for out of seventeen speakers on the list, no fewer than thirteen either hold or have quite recently held high office in Government or other official positions in some connection with the Commonwealth. I suppose the correct procedure for me at this late hour would be to throw in the sponge, realising that I do not measure up to this weight, and leave the programme clear for the final bout which is to follow. I have firmly rejected this course, even if some of what I am going to say will be a repetition of what some others have said, because I feel it is so important that it should be corroborated by someone who is not a professional politician or constitutionalist, but who has endeavoured to see the problem from the angle of the ordinary businessman. Before I do so, I should like to add my warm congratulations to those of other noble Lords to the noble Earl, Lord Verulam, for his maiden speech, because it was most ably and sincerely delivered. I can honestly say that I agreed personally with every word he said.
I have just returned from a visit to the African continent representing a British institution which has money invested in industries in Africa and Rhodesia, and I was there trying to assess whether or not we are wise to leave that investment there or whether 935 we should not cut our losses and take it out; a course which, personally, I should be most loth to adopt. During that visit I was fortunate to meet a fairly wide variety of people in the Federation, ranging from business men, financiers and farmers, to, of course, politicians. I was privileged to meet Sir Roy Welensky and talk to him, and also to spend a fairly considerable time with Sir Edgar Whitehead; and I think I should declare an interest at this point in that he is a relative of mine, although I can assure you that that adds no bias in his favour.
The Federation, as we know, is a great experiment, despite what the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern said, in linking the fortunes of these three countries where British standards have been fairly and firmly implanted, where an advanced economy has been developed to the great benefit of all races, and where immense efforts are being made every day to advance the African materially and politically and give him a full share in a multi-racial society; the only one we see being created in the African continent today.
One thing was perfectly plain from this visit: that no business decision could be taken on purely commercial grounds. Everything is under the shadow of the cloud of politics and therefore in a state of uncertainty. Constitution-making, as we know, has been rife. Southern Rhodesia has its new Constitution; Nyasaland is virtually under African rule and straining to be out of the Federation; Northern Rhodesia, after a number of false starts and a great deal of wasted time, has its new Constitution, too. Now, on top of it all, when I was there news broke that there was to be a Federal General Election. Personally, for what it is worth, I regret that decision. It is going to mean a lot of wasted time and it is unique in that the result, Party-wise, is already known a month before polling day; so it seems rather a waste of time and effort. Even if Sir Roy has made a mistake—and all politicians are, to some extent, fallible—do not let us forget all that he has done, and is doing, in the way of leadership in the Federation. The castigation to which he has been subjected, somewhat gleefully, in some so-called Liberal sections of our Press 936 here is, I think, both petty and unworthy. It is utterly belied by the strength of his following in the Federation and by his support from Rhodesians of all races. Fortunately, he is not the kind of man to be deflected from his course by criticisms of that kind.
We must admit that because of these political affairs the Federation in its present form quite clearly cannot go on. But politics, after all, is not an end in itself; it is only the means to an end; and that end should be a happy, contented society with a rising standard of living in the fullest sense of the word, for all to develop their abilities to the full. I sincerely believe that this can be secured only if we have a sound economy based on some economic linking of the three territories in any future arrangements. Each of them, as we have been told this afternoon, has its own particular resources, but it is only by the interplay of these that the territories as a whole can really benefit. The advances that have been made already, since federation, are evidence of that.
To my mind, it would be unthinkable for each territory to go completely its own independent way. Northern Rhodesia may be rich in copper, but a single commodity is a precarious base for any economy. Nyasaland provides its native farming and has its reserves of labour, but, as one noble Lord remarked, what would happen if with heavy unemployment in the mining areas of Northern Rhodesia and South Africa, it were decided to keep out Nyasaland's labour? What a problem of unemployment would be landed back in Nyasaland! Southern Rhodesia is the one territory that might make a go of it alone, though even it would find it hard. What would happen to all those institutions which have been built up since federation?—enterprises like the railways, the airways, the Federal Reserve Bank and the Kariba Dam. And there is the very pertinent point which the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, hinted at for the Government of the responsibility for the Federal debt.
I know that in all these matters the economic argument is the easiest to put forward. After all, bread and butter is important for the African—although for the African we should say "mealies"—and particularly important for a country 937 of this kind. I even heard of one group of Africans who, when asked if they would like a vote, answered, "Yes, if we can eat it". That shows the problems we are up against in trying to put politics over or to give political control to people of this kind. Even now, with the uncertainty about the future, the economy of the country is tending towards stagnation. Building activity is virtually at a halt, there is much empty office and housing space, and industrial expansion is being held back until the future is known. It is surprising, in the circumstances, just how the economy at the present time has kept going without an inflow of new capital.
But if we are to restore and expand that economy, I believe that our Government must act, and act soon. First of all, I believe we have to look again at some of our fundamental principles and beliefs. We brought Africa to its present state of development because we believed that what we were doing was right. To-day it has become rather fashionable to decry all this, and to say that we should be ashamed of our record and that we deserve to be made to leave Africa. This attitude—one, again, which has been fostered almost gleefully by some of our Press—to coin, I suppose, a Potterism, is the art of "one-downmanship". To make it worse we have been pilloried in the United Nations with their latest piece of impertinence dealing with the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia. I am delighted that our Government are taking a firm stand, and even more delighted that the Government of the United States, for once, is standing by us on an issue of this kind.
Do let us remember our duty to the African citizens of Rhodesia. Having led many of them so far on the path of progress, are we going to abandon them to slip back into their old tribal rivalries, with a lowering of their standards, both economically and morally, and the possibility, as has been hinted at to-day, of something like a Congo situation? Do let us remember that, for example, as several speakers have told us, Mr. Kaunda is no more speaking for all the Africans in Northern Rhodesia than Mr. Kenyatta is for all the Africans in Kenya, as we have been so very forcibly reminded in the last month's negotiations here in London. We have 938 heard varying views on the position of other tribes, such as the Barotse, but I I am pretty convinced, from what I have heard, that there is a clear and unanimous wish not to be under the rule of one Party there.
Then I think we should be fair and take a positive and straight-forward attitude with our own white population. A great many of those I spoke to—people in responsible positions, some of them in business and some even connected with the Government—are deeply bewildered and indeed hurt by the way we here have handled issues like the new Northern Rhodesia Constitution, feeling that we have always been ready to backtrack at the first sign of African opposition, that we have no real policy for the federation of these territories and that our Government are hoping for the best to turn up. I know that attitude is not fully justified, but we must take cognisance of it.
The Rhodesian white population are not children. They are a tough and in many ways a realistic people, who have put their all into building a new country and are proud of it. They are quite mature enough to be taken into our confidence. And we must also remember that in Central Africa the lights are bright and the shadows are dark. It is not easy, so far away to appreciate the more sophisticated and sometimes frequently changing shades of Western
Western politics. Some of your Lordships doubtless read a letter in The Times only last week from one of the citizens of Southern Rhodesia expressing this view, and with him, after my visit, I must say I have much sympathy. Do the Government fully accept this principle of a multi-racial society, that principle that the Government of Southern Rhodesia and the Federation are trying to follow up? Because if so, I hope they will say so in no uncertain way at the conclusion of tonight's debate.
Despite all this, I am still an optimist. I still believe a solution can be found. Immense progress has been made in the last few years towards advancing the African and reconciling the European to the fact that the balance of partnership is changing. For this a great deal of credit must go, as many noble Lords have said, to Sir Edgar Whitehead, who has led white opinion just about as fast 939 as I believe any man could have done. I should never have believed five years ago, when I was last in Rhodesia, that I should be able to go into Meikles Hotel in Salisbury and sit down with an African or at the next table to him. That is a change for which we should be profoundly thankful and for which we owe a great deal to Sir Edgar Whitehead.
There is a great deal of determination to find a solution to federation, not only among Europeans but among many of the less vocal of the black Africans. Sir Edgar propounded in his Legislative Assembly while I was there this possible dream of a new shape of link-up of the territory, which I will not go into in any greater detail. I think some noble Lords poured rather a lot of cold water on that and without really good reason. After all, national boundaries drawn many years ago surely are not sacrosanct, especially when they contain people so diverse as, say, those in Northern Rhodesia. In any case, can any of the critics suggest any better starting point for a discussion of the future form of the Federation? At least we have something to start from. I do not say that this grouping is necessarily the correct one. Nor do I feel that Sir Edgar would necessarily feel so. But the problem is now right on our plate here for this Government, and I join with the others who have welcomed the appointment of Mr. Butler to take unified command of the great problems that this brings. I am quite certain, from what I have heard already, that it will bring new hope and confidence in the territories concerned.
It is only a short seventy years since Cecil Rhodes had his dream of a great new country opening up in Central Africa, and journeying there at this time I have marvelled at the distance that has been travelled towards realising that dream, far further than he could ever have conceived. Surely it is unthinkable that all this achievement and all our hopes for the future should be jeopardised simply for the sake of political manœuvrings and expediency. This is the moment at which it must be tackled. Time will not wait for us, and I earnestly ask the Government to throw all their endeavours along with those of the Rhodesian people into finding a solution and a lasting one at that.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am sure that all of us who have lingered so long will be glad that the noble Lord decided to go ahead and that he refused to be intimidated by all those ex-Ministers who had preceded him, even by the one or two who might be coming after. In his interesting speech he made a point which seemed to him a very good one, and I am sure it seeemed to others a good one, because it drew applause, at any rate to the extent permitted in this House; but to me it seemed an extraordinary point. He expressed great gratitude to all concerned, including I think almost the Creator, for the progress made in removing the colour bar in the last five years in Southern Rhodesia. Five years ago he would never have thought it possible that in a country run apparently by white Britishers he would actually be able to sit down with a black man in a public place. That is what he told us, and I think it is an extraordinary reflection on the society that existed there five years ago that he should he so astounded at the change.
§ LORD POLWARTH
My Lords, if I may say so, there is no point in jobbing backwards; we should be grateful for what we have achieved.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I know, and I hope the noble Lord will realise my point. I followed his remarks very carefully; I think the state of affairs there was absolutely shocking, and we are now reaping the very painful reward for that detestable colour bar which distinguished this part of the world and which has still not been altogether abolished, although I agree that there has been progress.
Noble Lords beside me and behind me have already very effectively put the point of view of my political friends, led, as always, in a very statesmanlike way by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and supported as he was by the noble Lord, Lord Walston and the noble Earl, Lord Lucan. I hope that I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, that I think even his sharpest political opponents (I know that he has no personal opponents) would agree that he tried to find an economic solution of great political difficulties of which he and so many of us are all too aware.
941 I should like to also to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Verulam. Though I am afraid that I was caught out and missed his speech, I understand from everybody that it was highly successful; and he may be consoled by the thought that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, to whom I wish to refer, will miss mine. If that is any consolation, I hope that he will accept it in that spirit. I understand from everybody that his speech was very impressive.
I should like to say one word on the allocation to the Home Secretary of the responsibility for Central Africa. I cannot help feeling that noble Lords opposite have misunderstood the criticism of this appointment. Certainly none of us is going to criticise Mr. Butler personally. I feel, if I may say so, that that has nothing to do with it; I have paid him many tributes in this House as a penal reformer, and the criticism of his appointment has nothing to do with personalities. There may be arguments for saying that with such an extraordinary affair as the Federation, constitutionally speaking, a separate Minister is needed to deal with it. I should have thought the well-tried method of making a senior member of the Cabinet responsible to pa Cabinet Committee which included both the Commonwealth Secretary and the Colonial Secretary would have been better. But at any rate I am prepared to agree—because I think this is an almost unprecedented, such a fantastic, set-up—that it may be that a special Minister was required.
But where I do object, and I think most of us do, is the allocation of these duties to the Home Secretary, who is, or should be, already heavily burdened. He is supposed to have a full-time job. I do not want to return to my own hobbyhorse, penal reform, which has not been discussed in this connection, but I cannot help reminding the House that when the right honourable gentleman became Home Secretary there were 2,000 sleeping three in a cell; to-day there are getting on for 8,000, and crime is increasing. That is his full-time job, which he is tackling manfully, but not very successfully, judging by results. Now we find that federation is one of the great questions of the hour, and Mr. Butler must find time for it. It seems to me extraordinary that even the best Home 942 Secretary can take on all this work. If a senior Minister must be give a new Department, why should not the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, receive it? No-one suggests that his duties as Minister for Science or as Leader of the House are as arduous as Mr. Butler's. I should have thought that an excellent suggestion. But what the Government have done has made them a bit of a laughing stock.
I should like to sum up once again a few of the principles which we in the Labour Party hold in this connection. Perhaps I should just say one word in advance about the credentials (this rather arises out of what the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, said) of those who speak on Africa without much African experience. We were told some nine years ago by certain Ministers, not all of them here tonight, that all the experience in Central Africa of the people who knew Africa was on the side of going ahead with federation, and that only a lot of slightly irresponsible and somewhat academic gentlemen were against it. I am afraid that after nine years during which federation has clearly foundered, we are not so humble about our credentials to-day. Those who told us what the African was bound to have a few years from now have been proved totally wrong, and we, at least, in our rather pessimistic view, have been right. I do not want to stress it, but we certainly have less cause to stand in a white sheet about the views expressed earlier, than some of those who were so contemptuous of our reason for speaking at all.
We have heard certain experts tonight—I will not mention them all by name. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and the noble Lard, Lord Colyton, have been good enough to remain, both of whom have great knowledge of the subject. Though I disagree with them totally in almost all the views that they expressed, I should not like them to think that I underestimate their first-hand knowledge of the issues. Many people would say that the greatest expert, taking Lord Milverton's test at any rate, would be Lord Malvern. But, frankly, he seems to have put himself out of court, not only on an earlier occasion, but also by talking such extreme nonsense about the African, and I fear that it is difficult to pay attention to his views at all. He is 943 a man who has laboured in a personal way devotedly as a surgeon among the Africans, and therefore has every right to talk about them. But it will be recollected that on an earlier occasion he used some words about Africans which I think have not been forgotten, and will never be forgotten until they are withdrawn. Though I tried to find him, the noble Viscount had already left the Chamber.
What he said on an earlier occasion, speaking of the African people, was this [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 215; Col. 254]:These Africans, until they are very much advanced, are all liars.That is what he said. He tells us to-day that when he went back and explained the text, his African friends all agreed. That I find terribly difficult to follow. What he said earlier [ibid.] was:They are, for instance, essentially a pleasant and polite people, so, unless they have been trained in politics, if you ask them anything they will always tell you what they think you would like to hear.It may be that, on his own analysis, these Africans were either trying to please him or trying to pull his leg. But I cannot believe that anybody, certainly Africans, are grateful for being told that they are all liars. I am afraid I cannot accept the test that first-hand knowledge of Africa is what, in this House, qualifies one to speak, and that a lack of firsthand knowledge disqualifies one.
Until fairly lately this great question divided the political Parties sharply. But I would not say that that was so true at the present time. I think that the Monckton Commission Report, to which the noble Lord, Lord Molson, who spoke in such a weighty fashion to-day made such a notable contribution, was perhaps the turning point; and certainly Lord Molson, who knows this question much better than I do, expressed a great deal better than I can the principles that are in our minds. Until then, clearly, there was this Party division; and even to-day it does not seem that the Conservative Party have shaken off their schizophrenic air about it.
I am sorry that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who sent me a gracious note explaining his absence, is not now able to be with us, because I was rather hoping that he might have interpreted a speech he made last Friday, in which 944 he said that true Tories had seen the loyal people of Kenya and other countries of Africa, both black and white, cynically as some people think "sold down the river", and seen their loyalty turn to bitterness. He said:I believe … that many Conservatives are becoming convinced that there are certain elements in the Party that influence Party policy and that, in the truest sense, they are not true Conservatives at all.These people are not, presumably, bottle-washers in the Party; they must be near the top. So we understand from the noble Marquess that the Conservative Party is in this matter being run by people who are not true Conservatives, but who carry a great deal of influence. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Molson, might be one of those people—I cannot tell; but at any rate it is a bad thing, in the noble Marquess's view, if such people seize the controls. I do not know whether he is alluding to the Leader of the Party or to the Chairman of the Party, Mr. Macleod, and presumably the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham. But we in the Labour Party are at any rate united in our attitude to this matter, while, so far as I can see, the Conservative Party is split from top to bottom. That does not prevent a number of eminent people like Lord Molson from making most helpful contributions from which all of us can benefit.
Broadly, the principles for which we in the Labour Party stand in this connection can be summed up like this. First, we call for an African majority rule in Northern Rhodesia, as in Nyasaland and as recommended, as the noble Lord, Lord Molson, reminded us, by the majority of the Monckton Commission. We request that the future of the Federation be determined by a review conference at which Africans truly representative of their people are present. We demand—this has been said, of course, by two speakers from this side—that the right of secession be guaranteed to each territory. We have heard learned arguments from the noble Lord, Lord Molson, and the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, among others on this point. Is it too much to ask the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor to express some attitude to this right of secession when he replies? Does he think it injudicious to concede it? I can hardly 945 believe that if in fact we reach a point at which the Legislatures of Nyasaland and of Northern Rhodesia both demand to he allowed to leave the Federation, any Government would retain them by force. Perhaps the noble and learned Viscount will be able to say something on that point.
Great tributes have been paid to Sir Roy Welensky tonight. I do not intend to join in them, except to say that I am well aware that he is a man of stature and one who has a great power of arousing affection. Those are not qualities given to all of us. But I am not going to join in tributes to him to-night. I think that just lately he has played a most disastrous part. I think that was conceded even by his friends in this country. We recall that not long ago he said:Neither the British Government nor anyone else can break up the Federation. I am prepared to fight, to go the whole hog if needed, to keep it.The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, tactfully (if that is the right word) inserted the word "constitutional" into a discussion of Sir Roy's intentions. The noble Lord will agree that he said Sir Roy said he was going to go as far as was constitutionally possible. I know that it is perhaps not easy for the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor to say anything directly critical of someone in Sir Roy's position. I think I should be asking him to do something which perhaps was not to be expected. But I hope he will make it plain that the Constitution will he asserted, come what may, and in the teeth of resistance from any quarter. That I think we at least can ask the noble and learned Viscount to make plain this afternoon.
Then, fourthly, we urge that the future association of the Rhodesias must he determined by the majority of the people, which of course must be the Africans—which does not mean that the white people should not be given a considerable say. If they favour an East Central African Federation, that should be encouraged, but we should accept the democratic principle of allowing the peoples of those Territories to determine their form of future association.
It can be asked why there is all this difficulty, and I think anybody coming fresh to this subject to-night would find it puzzling. They would see that here 946 is a Federation which, from certain points of view, has been a great success. I think the economic claims made for it were slightly exaggerated, but I am not prepared to argue against that strenuously; and let us concede that in many ways it has been a great economic success, bearing in mind that there might have been a very large measure of economic success without it. But I think anybody would find it all rather puzzling, that although here is this Federation which has apparently been an economic success, yet the majority of those under its sway are determined to throw off what they regard as its yoke. If one is asked how one can explain it, I think the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, who has now left us, gave an indication of it in his illustration that five years ago it would have seemed to him incredible that he could ever sit down in a restaurant in Rhodesia with a black man. They have had five years to overcome that feeling, and they have not done more than a certain amount towards overcoming it.
Some people would say, "Give it a few more years and all will be well." It is not for me to try to destroy something which already exists, but I am not an optimist about the Federation in any form resembling its present one. But if there is going to be peace and harmony in that part of the world, whatever the ultimate constitutional framework may be, I would think that all of us on these Benches would insist, with all the conviction at our command, that it can come about only on a basis of complete racial equality. Lord Perth in his interesting speech talked, if I may say so, a little vaguely about this partnership. I could not follow all the metaphors that he used. At one moment they were the elder and the younger brother, and in the very next moment they were the father and child. I never feel that the father-child relationship is regarded as a partnership in the ordinary sense. When he uses that phrase in that way, with great respect to the noble Earl, it ceases to mean a great deal. At any rate, we are now agreed that there must be this basis of equality.
I would resent the suggestion made by the noble Marquess earlier on, that some of us on these Benches—he did not say who—had shown a bias against their own race. I cannot think why that 947 should be so, and I was not in the least surprised to find that he became very uncertain when he was asked to justify that particular statement. We are not anti-European, but we must take the view that in these countries in the long run, and indeed in the future that looms up before us, the 300,000 white people can play only a relatively small part in the government of eight million human beings.
As I close perhaps I might draw on one personal experience, which is not very far away, though perhaps the noble Lords may think it is a little strange. In the corridor outside this Chamber there is a picture of the House of Lords in 1893 throwing out the second Home Rule Bill, which had been passed by the House of Commons, by 419 to 41 votes. That was, of course, a considerable vote—460 people voting in a House of about 600 at that time. We should do well to have anything like that number today! Their Lordships at that time rolled up in their hundreds to say that the Irish were not capable of governing themselves. The opposition was led, as one can see from the picture, by that great man, the grandfather of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. I am bound to admit that he was supported by the Lord Listowel of the day, the Lord Lucan of the day—and the Lord Longford of the day. And I am sorry to have to retail that piece of history. So I am not trying to win any family arguments against the noble Marquess, but that was the view of some of the most enlightened people of that time.
When I was a boy in Ireland my father could never have been elected to any local authority. But we reached the stage that is reached in Africa when the black men say, "We must have the rule, and must not be governed by the white man any more." To pass on a generation, my brother who made his mark in Ireland by his contribution to the theatre, was made a Senator by de Valera. I hope this is not too divorced from what we are discussing, but this is how I see the future in Africa. The white man will be hopelessly outnumbered, he will not be able to run it as he does now, but, with his great traditions behind him, with his educational advantages and with his love of the African—and I know this would be true 948 of the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, in spite of what he said on another occasion—the white man, with all his ability and idealism, I believe has a contribution to make in the future which may be greater and purer than anything he has been able to display in the past.
However, it must be on the basis of racial equality. Without that, it is hopeless; without that, it is a non-starter and deserves to disappear. That is the future: complete racial equality with a great possibility for the white man in Africa. Anything else we see—and I hope the whole House sees—as quite outside the Christian idealism and quite outside any kind of comprehensive belief in human democracy.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I have three very pleasant preliminary duties. The first is to add my meed of praise to my noble friend Lord Verulam for the excellent maiden speech with which he provided us. It was sincere, well-informed and well-delivered, and I should like not only to congratulate him, but to add to the other requests that have been made that he will speak to us often, and very soon. The second pleasant duty is to say that I think everyone is delighted that the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, has come over to this country to give us the benefit of hearing him once again. Most of us have met him on his native heath and have heard him talking there, and it is a very great pleasure that he is able to be with us.
The third thing—and though I put it third, it is very sincere—is to thank the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for putting down this Motion. I think we shall agree that it has produced, on the whole, a constructive and friendly debate. I have additional gratitude for the good wishes which were extended to my right honourable friend Mr. Butler and which were initiated by the noble Earl, and I should like to say to him, and to everyone who has spoken, that this debate will be of great value and assistance to Mr. Butler. He will be as grateful as I am for the varied suggestions that have been put forward, and they will all receive his careful consideration.
The noble Earl, Lord Longford, was in a more sombre mood than usual. He combined a resolute and determined 949 presentation of his Party's position with a determined pessimism, which of course explained the association. But he left me wondering whether he had in mind not only the faculties of Cassandra but also her ultimate fate. However, I shall do my best to deal with his points as I go along. I should like very shortly to take the main anxieties which have been expressed by your Lordships and deal with their factual bases, and then to give my own view of the present situation. I should like to say to my noble friend Lord Polwarth, that the Government do accept the idea of a multi-racial society. Many of us have worked and spoken for it for a number of years now, and I should like the noble Lord to go back to my native land assured on that point.
If one looks at the position of the Federation, my Lords, one sees that it was set up in 1953 after prolonged discussion, because, as we have heard again to-day, it was believed at the time that such an arrangement offered to the people of Central Africa the best prospect of a stable, prosperous future—in due course as an independent member of the Commonwealth. After all that the noble Earl, Lord Longford has said, I do not think that the potential good of the Federation is any less to-day than it was in 1953. There has already been ample demonstration of the economic benefits, and the administrative advantages are manifest.
But, my Lords—and this raises the problem—it is, unfortunately, equally apparent that over a wide sector of African opinion opposition to federation is widely and deeply felt. The problem which faces the British Government, the Federal Government and the people of the Federation is, therefore, how to secure both the continuance of the benefits and the allaying of African fears. We have come to the position where the Constitutions of the constituent parts are fixed for the present moment of time, and the most extraordinary aspect of my experience this afternoon (and I have listened to every speech which has been made throughout the debate) is the relative absence of attack on these Constitutions and, indeed, the relative agreement on the problems.
With regard to Nyasaland, although there were some criticisms of electioneering methods, there was no criticism 950 of the Constitution, of the result, or of the Government that came into power. But what I found so interesting was that words which required deep consideration, and which I am sure were said with deep consideration, were spoken by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, when he said:It is a very poor thing to give political freedom and economic ruin".These were brave words, because it is so attractive to ask: "What is a child's stomach, compared with the glorious heritage of freedom?" But the noble Lord did not fall into that error. He said what I have just repeated and, if he will allow me to say so, I respect him for saying it, because that is one of the problems. Though other people, including my noble friend Lord Salisbury, mentioned it, the noble Lord, Lord Walston, pinpointed the problem that faces Nyasaland. I should be the first to admit that the financial and economic problems are not the only factors which will have to be taken into account in the future of Nyasaland. But that those factors are there, that they exist in the way in which my noble friend Lord Perth placed them before your Lordships, is an undeniable fact; and it would be cowardly to regard the whole problem without taking them into account. So far as I can see, there was general agreement on that approach, and I am very glad that there was.
My Lords, let me take the case of Southern Rhodesia. I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, was the first to deal with this subject. Again, nobody differed from him in that there have been great advances, both constitutionally and in other spheres of legislation, in Southern Rhodesia. I do not think that those who have spoken of Southern Rhodesia, and especially those who have criticised it, have really understood the great change which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, suggested the last Constitution has made. With regard to the franchise, there is a Double Roll franchise, based broadly on economic grounds, although there are some other qualifications. But the two Rolls are in no way intended to be confined to one race or the other, and there is no doubt that, while the "A" Roll, the Upper Roll, will be predominantly European at first, an increasing number of Africans will become eligible far it as 951 time goes on. That is the big step in regard to the franchise which Southern Rhodesia has taken; a step which means eventually that, as the Africans come on in the economic sphere, they will become predominant and the power will go to them. But the initial step has been taken already. Where I join issue with the noble Earl, Lord Longford, in the best-tempered way in the world, as he knows, is on the fact that I do not have his power of condemning people for failing seventy years ago to hold the views which I hold now.
My Lords, with regard to this, if you have people in a changing society, if you have the courage, as the Southern Rhodesian Government have had, to say, "Here is a basis for the franchise, which will inevitably, in time, as the ordinary economic river flows on, bring these people on to the Roll," that is a great step. But it goes beyond that. I am, as the House knows, inclined to be a bore about human rights. I took some part a dozen years ago in bringing into being the European Convention of Human Rights, and I have had to study the problem. I have had something to do with, and have been asked to advise on, the Southern Rhodesian Constitution.
The alternative safeguards to the old reserved powers are a Declaration of Rights embodied in the Constitution which, besides safeguarding normal human rights, contains special provisions against legislation discriminating against individuals or groups on the grounds of race (and the Declaration of Rights is enforceable in the courts) and, in addition, a Constitutional Council is set up to examine new Bills and to advise the Legislature where they are in danger of enacting legislation inconsistent with the Declaration. My Lords, that is a fine step. To have a Declaration of Rights which is designed to prevent discrimination, and to have it enforceable in the courts so that anyone who thinks he is being discriminated against can come to the courts is, I believe, a fine step—and I think that, apart from the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, no one really gave sufficient credit to the Southern Rhodesian Government for it. On the other point, Sir Edgar Whitehead is pressing determinedly on with the liberal measures to 952 repeal all discriminatory legislation which has outlived its usefulness. The only major measure in this category now remaining is the Land Apportionment Act, and Sir Edgar has said that he hopes to repeal this before the end of the year.
My Lords, let us by all means look forward hopefully and anxiously to the future, but do let us be fair to those who have worked and changed the Constitution. Indeed, I would say to the noble Earl, Lord Longford, that if he takes a five-year period of his life and thinks of the views he held at the beginning of that period and at the end, he will find (and certainly it would apply to myself) that he had considerable changes. So I would ask him to give credit to Sir Edgar Whitehead and his Government for these very remarkable changes, of which I have given only a mere outline today.
Now with regard to Northern Rhodesia, may I say that I have been pleasantly surprised? Your Lordships will realise that I had some not ill-grounded fear of meeting fairly close criticism on the Northern Rhodesian Constitution—I have met it before. But a sentence or two from my noble friend Lord Colyton—and only a sentence or two in the course of his long, interesting speech—are the only criticism one has had of the eventual solution. All I would say (I am not going to go into details, all of which have been well discussed) to my noble friend Lord Colyton, and to the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, who approached it in a different way, is this: in the circumstances where general agreement had become impossible (and I think my noble friend Lord Colyton recognised that general agreement had become impossible) it was then incumbent upon Her Majesty's Government to meet valid representations without disturbing the general balance of the proposals or straying outside the intention of the White Papers. My Lords, we had to recognise the strength of the feeling against the numerical alternative, and we changed that to a percentage, as it is now part of the Constitution.
But I would say to my noble friend Lord Colyton—because I know he will think it over very carefully—that there is a double responsibility. There is a responsibility to consult—and, of course, 953 if you consult, that means giving fair attention to the views of the Federal Government. That is one matter from which we should never shrink. The other duty, as he knows—because he was Minister of State at the Colonial Office—is a responsibility for law and order, and for the safety of those persons who are under Her Majesty's protection by the various treaties. Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have certainly no more right to disregard the second of these—namely, maintaining law and order in the territories under Her Majesty's protection—than they have the first. I specially do not want to be contumacious in any way upon the point, but I ask my noble friend most seriously to consider that, because I think that, if he does, he will understand what I said just now about, when you cannot get agreement, seeking a way along the path I mentioned.
My Lords, that is all I propose to say about the various Constitutional matters, but I should like to say just a word about the changes in ministerial responsibility. The account which your Lordships have heard from my noble friend Lord Perth and myself demonstrates, I submit, that we are approaching the stage when all three territories will have Governments elected under Constitutions which we consider meet the needs of the particular territory for the time being—and I say "for the time being" not because any early change is expected, but because in the normal course of constitutional development further changes are inevitable. In our view, it is right, therefore, that the complex and often conflicting problems of the Federation and its territories should be concentrated in the hands of a single Minister, because the position of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, under the Constitutions which have been described, is very different from that which existed at the time the Federation was formed.
There have also been the changes which I have just mentioned in the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia, and I have explained the compelling reason for them. I think that is the answer to the first point made by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, to the effect that, "If this is the right way, why did you not do it nine years ago?" I hope that, while 954 no answer to one's question is eves entirely satisfactory, he will see the force of the answer that we are really dealing with a different situation to-day.
There is another aspect which I think he ought to have in mind. There are, as in all Federations, questions as to which matters should be the subject of Federal and which of State power. My noble friend Lord Molson has referred to that in the recommendations which the Monckton Committee made. That is always a problem in Federations, with which we are very familiar. In this case I should have said—I hope my friend Lord Molson will agree with me—that questions must arise as to the boundaries between Federal, State, and United Kingdom powers, and the administrative implementing of those powers. Therefore, the resultant problems are, in my view, obviously much more suitable for a single Minister. I put it to noble Lords in all parts of the House Who have held office that, in that situation, you ought to have one path, and not two different paths, to the Cabinet, in relation to the same territory.
The Home Secretary has agreed to shoulder his heavy additional burden. My noble friend Lord Salisbury, who has sent me a note to say that he regretted he would have to go, paid so admirable a tribute to Mr. Butler that I need not repeat what he said with regard to his qualifications. I thought the noble Earl, Lord Longford, was a little ungenerous in his remarks about giving Mr. Butler additional work. I should like to give him my theory of the human brain, which has absolutely no foundation in any medical or psychological textbook, and that is that the human brain is exactly like a motor car engine: the more you "rev." it up, the more able it is to take any additional hills. That is, I am sure, the mood in which Mr. Butler has taken to his task.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, will the noble Viscount allow me to interrupt him for a moment? Surely we must all agree that this is a most extraordinary arrangement. It may be that there is an unprecedented emergency, but the noble Viscount is almost arguing as though this was the most natural thing in the world, and that it is only surprising that we are not doing 955 the same with other overlapping problems. It is an extraordinary thing, and I should have thought that the only way it could be defended was by saying that there was no other method of dealing with a very strange emergency.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
No, my Lords, I entirely disagree with the noble Earl. I think this is a very important problem which has reached a very important stage. Really there has not been much argument against putting it under one Minister. Then, when it is a question of selecting a Minister, I think that at the present time, and with the present problem, to give it to the second senior member of the Cabinet shows its importance. It happens—and I am sure the noble Earl will understand this—that Mr. Butler has my complete confidence. There is also a minor point, of which I do not make much, and that is that it is much easier to give it to a Secretary of State because of the mechanics of government. But that is the real point: that it is a problem of great importance at this stage. I think the question of the "overlord" has been made clear. There is now a Central African Office staffed by the Department of Commonwealth Relations and the Colonial Office. Although the noble Lord was right that their actual machinery will be used, on the other hand there will be this special staff dealing with the problem.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, was good enough to say that your Lordships would not expect any statement of policy from me to-day. Indeed, I think he will see that it is very important that I should emphasise what my right honourable friend the Prime Minister emphasised on March 15: that this setup does not ipso facto mean a change of policy. It will be for Mr. Butler to think out his, policy. But I would remind your Lordships, if your Lordships will allow me, of what the Prime Minister said [OFFICIAL REPORT Commons, Vol. 655 (No. 76), col. 1546]:In conclusion, I wish to emphasise that this new organisation does not imply any change in our policy towards the Federation or any of its constituent territories. In particular, it does not affect in any way the constitutional status of the Federal Government or of the Governments of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland; nor does 956 it affect in any way the Government's pledge to the peoples in the Northern Territories as set forth in the Preamble to the Federal Constitution, which provided that Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should continue under the special protection of Her Majesty, to enjoy separate Governments for so long as their respective peoples so desire.That remains a pledge binding on the Government, and which the Government will, of course, uphold.
Your Lordships will recall that in the Constitution of Rhodesia and Nyasaland there is the requirement, of which mention has been made, of the Federal Review Conference. Your Lordships have been again reminded that it was adjourned in December, 1960, to a date to be decided by the five Governments concerned in the light of the progress made with the Review of the Constitutions of Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia. As I have said, these Constitutions have now been drawn, and the stage has therefore been reached when we must consider in what way we can best carry on the Constitution which was begun in December, 1960. I welcome the hopeful words of my noble friend Lord Salisbury.
Although we cannot divest ourselves of the responsibility for taking the initiative, I should like to say this: that Her Majesty's Government have indicated, and I do so again, that they are prepared to consider any suggestions as to the future of the Federation as a whole which are put forward. And we hope that ideas will be forthcoming from the Federation for this reason: that it is quite clear that no lasting settlement can be imposed by the British Government. Therefore, nothing would give greater grounds for optimism for the future of Central Africa than evidence of a fresh constructive approach to this problem. That lasting settlement can come only from an appreciation by both sides of the needs, contributions, aspirations, and loyalties, of the other.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has pressed me to express an opinion on the legal position of the power of the United Kingdom Parliament to legislate for the Federation.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am certain the noble Viscount is anxious to answer my question, but perhaps it may help him if I were to make it clear that I was not concerned about the legal power of Parliament here, but 957 about the alleged convention or agreement made between the United Kingdom and the Federal Government in 1957.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I appreciated that. I think that if the noble Earl will follow me he will find it is certainly my intention to deal without reservation with his point. If I do not, I hope he will interrupt me and say so. I should remind your Lordships of the terms of the joint announcement which was made on April 27, 1957, by the Government of the United Kingdom and the Federation. Part of that announcement reads as follows—and I am afraid that I must read it in order to make my point clear:The Federal Prime Minister drew attention to doubts which had arisen in regard to the purpose and effect of Article 9 (7) of the Federal Constitution and to the subject of legislation in the United Kingdom for the Federation. United Kingdom Ministers made it clear that the United Kingdom Government recognise the existence of a convention applicable to the present stage of the constitutional evolution of the Federation, whereby the United Kingdom Government in practice does not initiate any legislation to amend or to repeal any Federal Act or to deal with any matter included within the competence of the Federal Legislature, except at the request of the Federal Government.I would draw the noble Earl's attention to the important point—… to amend or to repeal any Federal Act or to deal with any matter included within the competence of the Federal Legislature ….As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has already stated in another place, the text of Sir Roy Welensky's recent speech, to which reference has been made to-day, makes it clear that he was referring to the announcement which I have read. The Prime Minister said that, apart from that, no assurance has been given by Her Majesty's Government about legislation affecting the Federation. The joint announcement of 1957 refers to an agreed understanding between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Federation.
As a matter of pure law, I entertain no doubt that the power of the United Kingdom Parliament to legislate how it wishes for the Federation remains unfettered. However, Her Majesty's Government would not breach the terms of an understanding which has been clearly agreed with the Federal Government. The important point, I think, 958 from the noble Earl's point of view, is that as to those matters that fall outside that understanding and are not included within the competence of the Federal Legislature, the legal position must clearly be, I consider, that the legislative power of this Parliament is free from any restriction. Legislation for the dissolution of the Federation or the secession of any one of its constituent territories is a matter solely within the legislative competence of the United Kingdom.
Of course, this is discussing matters of law and constitutional nicety and is ignoring the ordinary canons that are applicable to such matters between Governments, where consultation takes place between them, in ordinary circumstances, as a matter of course. It would be quite wrong for me to try to speculate on acts which would have to be taken in the event of consultations which would be made on what is at present a purely hypothetical set of circumstances. I have tried to answer the noble Earl's question quite straightly, without any reservations at all, and that is the best I can do.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords. I am much obliged to the noble and learned Viscount. I could not have had a more satisfactory answer.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, it is clear that, if the three territories are to continue to enjoy the advantages of association, certain things are necessary. The first is the restoration of confidence. Much has been made in this debate of the ill effects which the political uncertainty has had upon the economic progress of the Federation, and the necessity to bring that uncertainty to an end. I fully accept that, but there would be little advantage in changes which put only a temporary end to the uncertainty. That would not be putting an end to the uncertainty at all.
What must be found is a solution which promises to endure. No solution which does not take account of the opposition to federation in its present form of most of the African population can be expected to last. At the same time, any new arrangements must give the Europeans grounds for confidence that the economic structure of which they 959 are the architects and builders and which is equally vital to all races—I repeat, equally vital to all races—will not be prejudiced.
I do not deny that these requirements are difficult to meet. They demand, let us be frank, a new approach on the part of a great many people. If there is any contribution to the restoration of confidence which your Lordships and the British Government can make, it is to say to the people—all the people—of the Federation, "We are not going to let you down; but it is you, the people of Central Africa, who have to make up your minds to sink your differences and work together for a country which has so great a potential future for prosperity, happiness and peace".
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, may I thank all noble Lards who have taken part in this debate and who have made such a serious and responsible contribution of thought towards the solution of the Central African problem? I am sure that we were delighted to hear from the noble and learned Viscount that this was also useful to the Government. I should also like to thank the two Ministers for sitting through an extremely long debate and for the trouble they have taken to help us by enlightening us with their valuable and admirable speeches. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.