Skip to main content

Orders Of The Day

Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 16 March 1943

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Supply

[2ND ALLOTTED DAY]

Resolution [23 rd February] reported:

Civil Estimates And Estimates For Revenue Departments, 1943 (Vote On Account)

"That a sum, not exceeding £208,773,000, be granted to His Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the charges for the following Civil and Revenue Departments (including Education and Broadcasting, Pensions, Health Insurance, Unemployment Insurance and Assistance, Roads and other grants and Exchequer Contributions to Local Revenues) for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1944."—[For details of Vote on Account see OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd February, 1943; cols. 48 to 51, Vol. 387.]

Colonial Administration (West Indies)

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

There are, I think, many Members in this House who will be very glad that this opportunity has been given to debate our Colonial affairs. I, for one, am particularly glad of the form that it takes. The Notice on the Paper does concentrate the attention of this House, in this discussion on Colonial administration, upon one particular area where most of the problems are held in common and where, therefore, most of the solutions must be in common too, and I cannot help feeling that that concentration is likely, in this instance, to lead to a more useful Debate. Many hon. Members, like myself, have listened in the past for many years to Debates on Colonial Estimates, and it has been inevitable that, when the Debate has ranged over the whole field of the British Colonial Empire, each successive speaker has taken that particular area or aspect which interested him most. The result, of course, has been not only that the Debate itself has been irregular and inconsequent in form, but that the task of the Minister who had to wind up the Debate was made almost impossible. But even if we do concentrate the Debate, on this occasion, on the question of Colonial administration in the West Indies, it is a very broad subject and, in my opening remarks, I therefore propose to deal only with three main topics, although each of those topics raises quite different aspects of our Colonial administration.

The first of those topics is the new proposals which have been made for the Jamaica Constitution, the second is the background and general conclusions of the Stockdale Report, and the third is the work of the Anglo-United States Caribbean Commission. They are the chief happenings of the past year in each of the three main fields of Colonial policy: political, social and economic, and international. I am sure hon. Members will realise that because I select them as the chief topics for discussion, it does not mean that there are not many others to which I attach importance, and I hope that if such matters are raised by hon. Members during the course of the Debate, the House will give me leave to reply shortly to them and to endeavour to meet the points. May I turn, first of all then, to the question of the new proposals for the Jamaica Constitution?

The history of Jamaica, even to those who have studied it cursorily, as I have, is extremely interesting, although we must admit it is not altogether happy. Jamaica, and indeed the West Indies as a whole, has always had a peculiar interest for me, because, in some sort of way, I have a family connection with it. It was an ancestor of mine who as Colonial Secretary during the first Reform Government, completed that great and humane movement which sprang up among the ordinary people of this country for the liberation of the slaves of the West Indies. When one looks back on that, one always wishes that that great humane impulse had not burned itself out with the act of the liberation of the slaves and that it was not carried on into the very difficult period of adjustment which the West Indies, and Jamaica in particular, had to face after that act had been completed. If only this humane interest and sentiment which had caused that great reform had also extended to giving practical assistance and advice after the reform, and in the new situation which had been set up, many subsequent happenings might have been avoided. I might say, with some temerity in the presence of the right hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) that I cannot blame my forefather for that, because very shortly after this act he left the Liberal Party. [Interruption.] In those days there were no branch stations. You had to go from one side to the other.

Certainly since those days the political history of Jamaica has been a difficult one. I do not intend to go over the whole of that field. I want to pass straight to what we might call the latest manifestations of political ferment in Jamaica, which really date from the visit of what is known as the Moyne Commission a year or two before the war. A feature of all the constitutional discussions which have gone on since that time, both with the presentation of evidence to that Commission and with the proposals made from the Colonial Office and their reception in Jamaica, has always been that whereas certain important political elements in Jamaica have insisted that the best form of Constitution for the island was a bicameral system, it has always been the policy from this side to recommend some simpler form of Government. But when I came to the Colonial Office last year I found for the first time a new situation which had not confronted any of my predecessors. Whereas before certain, perhaps the majority, opinion had been expressed in favour of a two-Chamber system, there had never yet been any complete unity on any particular set of proposals. But I was faced for the first time with an agreed Memorandum subscribed to by all the main political groups at the time, setting out the lines on which they thought political development in the island should proceed, and the main feature of those agreed proposals was the two-Chamber system.

I must confess to the House that theoretically I, personally, have no objec- tion to a two-Chamber system. Perhaps it is because, unlike two or three of my predecessors who favoured so much the single-Chamber system, I am not a peer.

While there is life there is always hope. But although I do sympathise with their desire for simplicity in the Constitution—after all, making Constitutions is not just a kind of paper game after supper—a great deal more depends upon the spirit in which any Constitution is going to be worked than upon the actual machinery you devise. Therefore, unity of opinion in the Colony is and must be a major fact in determining the kind of Constitution likely to be successful in that particular island. I have set out in a despatch printed as a White Paper the reply of His Majesty's Government to those agreed proposals. In the main the reply of the Government is an acceptance. There are certain points upon which I have suggested reconsideration or modification, and certain points to which I have not been able to agree. I should like to make it plain that those suggestions for modification and those disagreements are not made in any spirit of obscurantism, still less in any spirit of insincerity, in any attempt to give an appearance of a generous gesture and then trying to get it back by other means.

The proposals as I have made them on behalf of His Majesty's Government do represent a very great advance towards political self-government in Jamaica. It is the genuine desire of the Government that they shall not only meet with acceptance in the island, but that when they have been put into effect they shall be worked, and worked with success. We want the new machinery to be able to withstand the inevitable difficulties which any new Constitution must meet with in its early years, and particularly the difficulties which this Constitution will have to meet with in its early years in view of the great strains and stresses of the world as a whole. But we do hope that by the success of this particular Constitution we shall ensure in the future even further advances in the political set-up of Jamaica towards what is the goal of all of us, which is responsible government. I should add that in setting out and formulating those proposals for acceptance by His Majesty's Government and for communication to Jamaica I had the opportunity of close personal consultation with the Governor of Jamaica, who came back for that purpose, and I need hardly say that he was in entire agreement with the proposals which have been made. I should like to pay a tribute to the great assistance he was to me in their formulation. I do not intend to describe the proposals in detail. They are set out, as I say, in the White Paper which is circulated.

With regard to their reception in Jamaica, I hope I am not going too far in saying that I believe their reception has been not unfavourable. The position at the moment is that the main political groups are holding special meetings for the purpose of discussing the despatch and clarifying their views upon it, and no doubt they will then communicate, through the Governor, with me again. I am glad that they are approaching it in that spirit—it is what I hoped they would do, meet it and these proposals with reasoned and detailed consideration—because the decision which they and His Majesty's Government have to take is one of the very greatest importance for the future of Jamaica. I think I really cannot close that short summary upon this question of the Constitution in Jamaica better than by quoting from the final words of my despatch, because they express the view of His Majesty's Government, the view, I believe, of the House of Commons and of the people of this country. I said:
"The offer which is outlined in the preceding paragraph undoubtedly represents a far-reaching constitutional advance, and in formulating my proposals I have been actuated by the desire to meet as far as possible the views placed before me on behalf of the people of Jamaica to bring controversy to an end, and to create an atmosphere in which the post-war problems of the island will be faced in a spirit of mutual co-operation and good will."
How great the difficulties of these problems are likely to be is clearly shown in the next stage that I want to discuss, the Report of the Stockdale Commission. Hon. Members who have read this Report of the Comptroller for Development and Welfare in the West Indies will already be familiar with how the Comptroller and his staff came into being and with what their main functions are. The appointment of Sir Frank Stockdale as Comptroller arises, again, from the visit of the Moyne Commission. That Commission proposed that a Comptroller, with the aid of advisers, should be available to advise Colonial Administrations in the West Indies and to prepare reports for the Government at home. At that time it was linked with another proposal of the Moyne Commission for the establishment of a West Indian Welfare Fund, which would be financed by an annual grant of £1,000,000 for 20 years. Later, on the introduction of the Colonial Welfare Fund, applicable to the Colonial Empire as a whole, this particular proposal of the Commission was merged into that for the new fund for the Colonial Empire. There is, therefore, no specific fund now devoted to the West Indies, but it was made plain that the amount which the West Indies would enjoy from the general pool would not be less than that proposed in the Moyne Report. I should like to make it plain that Sir Frank Stockdale is in no sense a sort of economic Czar for the West Indies. The execution of all these projects remains a matter for the Governors and Governments of the Colonies concerned. It is not always realised—and a Report of this kind sometimes, because of the way it is dealt with, obscures the reality—that these Colonies, within the limits of their resources, have in the last few years been doing a great deal of planning, and whatever execution has been possible, on their own. It would be unfair to them to give the impression that this stimulus towards a more progressive policy in the Colonies came only as a result of the appointment of this Comptroller.

The Comptroller is there to advise the Colonial Governments, to assist them, and to make suggestions to them and to help them to work out long-term programmes. He has the great advantage that he can, by knowing what is going on in every Colony, bring the various projects in the different Colonies into harmony with each other. Also, he, with his team of experts, is a sort of projection of the Colonial Office into the particular territories. Any scheme put up by the Governments can be examined on the spot, the difficulties ironed out, the estimates checked, and the time required for approving the scheme when it comes to this country enormously reduced. Already, the Comptroller has direct authority for the expenditure of small sums without reference to this country. On his recent visit here I discussed with him measures to increase the ambit of his authority, and I hope soon to give him the opportunity of accepting immediately small plans without the necessity of reference here. The Comptroller is assisted by a number of experts on agriculture, education, labour, and social welfare. He has an economic expert, too; but that expert did not arrive in the West Indies until the autumn of last year, so the effect of his work is not shown in the Report we are considering. Sir Frank Stockdale has also asked that he should be given a town planning expert, and I have approved of that in principle. It is merely a question now of finding the right individual. I should like to begin by paying a tribute to Sir Frank Stockdale for the excellence of his Report. I think those who have studied it will agree that it is an admirable example of a report of this kind.

Is it appropriate at this stage for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to say a word about the official, or working, relationship between Sir Frank Stockdale and Mr. Taussig?

The hon. Member will remember that I said that the third point I was going to deal with was the Anglo-Caribbean Commission. This Report of Sir Frank Stockdale is also quite candid. There is no attempt to gloss over things which he finds wrong or to hide faults and deficiencies. He sets before us a real, frank challenge. Every year, I hope, when he makes a supplementary report, he will be able to show how we have met this challenge which is here set out boldly before us. But this Report does not set out to be a general social survey, to take the bad things on the one hand and the good on the other and to balance them together. This is an attempt to pick out the bad spots, with a view to recommending how they should be put right. It leaves out the improvements which have been made. We have to remember when dealing with not only the West Indies but the Colonial Empire as a whole, that we are judging matters there by standards which are continually changing, and that the standards by which we judge are always rising. That sometimes obscures the fact that the things that we judge are always improving. The other day I was reading a book by the late Lord Olivier. I do not think that Lord Olivier could ever be regarded as a very kindly critic of what might be called the ordinary British Imperialism, or the sort of person who was likely to err in under-statement on that matter. Yet a thing that is quite remarkable is that in 1930 he found in Jamaica such an enormous improvement since he first went there in 1890. It is well to keep in mind that the standards lay which we judge are always improving, and I believe that the conditions which we judge are always improving too—although I would like them to improve more.

That is partly because of the good work done by Lord Olivier.

Exactly; Lord Olivier as a member of the Colonial Service, and many others, like him, have given their lives to this work. Sections 16 to 43 of the Report set out the general background. I think that the short potted description which those sections give of the different islands and territories in the British West Indies are remarkably interesting. First, they really bring out the immense diversity of the territories with which we have to deal under this one generic term of the British West Indies. They differ in ever way—size, soil, products, population. Yet there are certain main problems common if not to all at any rate to most. The first is that this area is predominantly agricultural. There are oil in Trinidad, bauxite in British Guiana, possibilities perhaps of some mineral development in Jamaica; but apart from that, there is nothing to lead us to believe that there are in those territories any unknown resources of mineral wealth, or to make us alter our opinion that in future they will have to depend on their agricultural products.

Yes, tropical agriculture at that. Secondly, most of the islands are densely populated—on the basis of their present capacity, over-populated. Thirdly, historically, although not to such an extent as is generally supposed, and certainly to a lesser extent in the last few years, most of the island have had a single-crop economy. They have depended oh the production of sugar for export; and sugar perhaps, of all prim- ary products, has fallen on the most evil days. Subsidised beet sugar production and new sugar countries in the Far East have altered the position of the West Indies very much since their proud days in the early 19th and late 18th centuries, when they were sugar producers for the world. I might call attention to the table at the end of the Stockdale Report, which sets out the survey of the results which have been achieved. The first table shows the schemes which have been approved, which have been submitted to be, or which are still under consideration by the Government. The total money involved in the schemes which have been approved is £1,187,053. Schemes submitted to me at the end of September last year amounted to £844,266, and those under consideration to £3,847,333. I can bring those tables more up to date. Since the date covered by this Report, 30th September, 1942, schemes amounting to £956,989 have been approved. Practically all the schemes which are shown in this book as submitted to me have by now been approved, as well as some which at that time had not even reached me. That shows that we are now, with this new machinery, able to deal with schemes of considerable magnitude at a not unsatisfactory pace.

I think that the first thought which strikes anyone looking at this summary of the schemes which have been approved is that, at any rate so far as actual expenditure hitherto is concerned, we have been able to make use of only a proportion of the money which a kind-hearted Chancellor of the Exchequer has generously made available to us.

I was paying a frank tribute to my right hon. Friend. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member really wants to know what I was doing, I was throwing bread on the waters. I thought that by paying tribute to his generosity in the past I should have an increased claim upon his generosity in future.

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman expect it to return only after many days?

Hon. Members will see that the conditions in which we have tried to get this scheme working have been of extreme difficulty. The whole Caribbean area has had many difficulties, and increased difficulties in the past year, owing to the war at sea. Everywhere there is difficulty in obtaining supplies of material and in getting all the necessary technical advice, and in some of the Colonies, owing to the competing claims of war work, there is difficulty in getting labour.

I said, in some Colonies. In the planning stage there is bound to be a period before the larger works can be started. I only want, as I told the hon. Gentleman, to lay out a claim now. I am sure that hon. Members will not think that, because owing to these exceptional conditions of war we have not been able to spend the sum allocated, that means that in normal conditions the sum allocated would have been too big. I think that any examination of this Report will make hon. Members feel that the £5,000,000 a year, for which the Colonial Development and Welfare Act makes provision, if the needs of the rest of the Colonial Empire are on the same scale as those in the West Indies—and one has no reason to think they are going to be any less—is not going to be too much but is going to be too little. The next interesting point from the appendices indices is Appendix No. 5, which shows the allocacation of these grants as between the different Colonies. Hon. Members will notice that Trinidad does not appear in the list. The reason for that is that Trinidad, largely owing to natural wealth in oil, is in a more satisfactory financial position than are the other Colonies and considers the grant unnecessary, except where she undertakes works which are central in character and of utility to the other West Indian Colonies, and the help given her has been given to help with technical advice. The other point hon. Members will notice is that the biggest share goes to Jamaica. That is natural, because it has not only the biggest, but by far the biggest population, something like 1,250,000 out of the total of the population of the territory covered by this Report of under 3,000,000, but still hon. Members will see that very substantial sums for development have gone to the smaller Colonies. And it is perhaps there where these sums, though they may appear small in view of the gigantic sums we discuss in this House, are most needed and where the application of quite small sums will do the most immediate good.

Now I would like to pass to a broad survey of the objects for which this money has been devoted, and for the purposes of debate I would divide them into two classes—economic and social. Although a division of that kind is useful for purposes of debate, it is unreal in actual fact. You cannot really divorce the two—expenditure on economic objects and expenditure upon social objects. The greatest economic aspect of these islands is always going to be the productivity of their own people. Their well-being is going to depend upon that, and that depends upon their health, training and their own self-discipline, and that in turn depends upon health services, education and social welfare services. Just as there can be no economic development in these islands without improved social services, so there can be no proper permanent standard of social services without economic development. But if for the purpose of this Debate I might divide them into two classes and deal first with the economic, this must be predominantly agricultural in character, and to a large extent the question of whether the islands of the West Indies are going to be naturally prosperous or are always going to have a call upon our financial help depends not on causes discussed within this document and not on causes for which this country alone can be responsible, but on far wider world causes outside.

All of us realise that there can only be a natural prosperity of the West Indian area in an expansionist world as a whole—in a world where expressed demand equals potential supply. That is, I am afraid, a bit too wide for debate to-day. Although that is what, as a country, we must plan for and what I, as Colonial Secretary, must hope for, we have also to plan to supplement that natural prosperity, if it comes from those wider causes, so as to be able to guard against the effect of a world set-up after the war which does not allow such prosperity to arise. Everybody, I think, agrees that for these islands too great a dependence upon a single crop economy is surely unhelpful. Already, as I have stated, in most of the islands that economy is becoming more diversified already than people realise, but it is only fair to point out that, if that over-dependence on the single crop economy is disastrous at one end of the scale, at the other end of the scale, an attempt at too great a measure of self-sufficiency would be equally disastrous. It can only be done at the expense of a standard of living which would be intolerably low. Unless you are prepared to devote a portion—and a considerable portion—of your agricultural production in the West Indies to export in the world market, you have to cut the whole of that area away from those amenities of civilisation to which they have become accustomed. And so, in our development of agriculture in the West Indies, we have to find something between these two extremes, and the Stockdale Report lays the very greatest emphasis upon the development of mixed farming.

Many of us in this country have an idea—it is quite an erroneous idea—that the West Indies is a place of extraordinary natural fertility. Hon. Members who know it will agree with me that that is a great exaggeration. Its soil does produce certain things, notably grasses and sugar cane, extremely well, but there are many other important agricultural products for which it is not particularly fertile.

Most of the proteins, and it can only be made to grow them with a certain amount of trouble and a good deal of attention to replacing the fertility of the soil which has been exhausted. One of the real problems in the West Indies to-day is the problem of soil erosion and the loss of soil fertility. The lines upon which the Stockdale Report recommends they should be dealt with are, first of all, and most important perhaps, the improvement of the water supply; secondly, afforestation; thirdly, diversified cropping; and fourthly, animal husbandry. In fact, and above all, by the greatest possible use of really intensive agriculture. Hon. Members will realise that if you are to have mixed farming, diversified cropping and good animal husbandry it does entail a very much higher and a much more widely spread degree of agricultural skill and intelligence. All through the Stockdale Report you will see the emphasis which is placed, either under health or education or social services, on developing this greater skill and intelligence in agriculture.

Some hon. Members may be disappointed that there is little reference in the present Stockdale Report to economic developments other than purely agricultural. I hope at some time to see in these reports a survey done with greater care and detail, as has been done on the agricultural side, of the requirements for the establishment of secondary industries in this area. We want in this document, because it is the basis upon which alone industrial enterprise can afterwards proceed, a survey of the primary requirements of industry, of the technical training, the skilled labour available, of the power which can be made available to islands with no coal but possibly with undeveloped sources of water-power, and, of course, of oil, and finally of communications. I am very hopeful that now that Sir Frank Stockdale has his economic adviser this detailed survey can now be made and recommendations approved.

The section on the question of health—Section 55—sets out very well and very shortly the health problems that have to be met. I obviously could not go through the whole of the variety of recommendations which are made. The particular one to which I want to call attention, because to me, with my very great ignorance of medical matters, it seems to be the most interesting and in some ways most important, is the suggestion of the health community system—an attempt to take up into the rural scattered communities the health advantages which you normally expect to find in an urban and highly populated area. Sections 60 to 62 would well repay hon. Members' reading. We do intend and have given authority for the carrying-out of a large scale experiment in this health community system in Jamaica in the parish of St. Catherine. The report on the health side also draws great attention to sanitation, hygiene, and housing—one of the things, unfortunately, which are most affected by the shortage of supplies—and a certain amount has been done and great ingenuity has been shown in devising the use of local material. But even if you are building a house out of local material, it is surprising the amount of stuff—window frames, screws, and the tools with which to build it—which has to be imported from outside when you have a country or area like this which has no actual material resources. The reference to sanitation is interesting because it shows how interlocked are all the problems of the Stockdale Report. They are dependent not upon anything that you can strictly say comes under health; they are dependent upon what has been done for education and social welfare in the development of clubs. Perhaps most important of all is water supply, where, except for the smaller schemes which you can possibly do with local products, the difficulty of importing the materials has presented almost insuperable barriers to the larger scale projects.

Social Welfare. To me the interesting section here is Section 205, where they set out the objects of social welfare in the West Indies and they make plain—as they should make plain—that these projects for social welfare, these hopes for the development of social welfare, are not in the nature of a relief service. It is not just to do something for people who are not privileged or who are poor, or something which will naturally die away and stop as soon as you can remove their economic position from poverty or discomfort. Social welfare is a permanent part of national effort and just as essential and as important as health and education. Perhaps the most interesting, and to me the most novel, thing to which they call attention is the four Hs' Club. Hon. Members who have seen the reference to the Four Hs' Club in the Report have no doubt wondered what it is. The Four Hs' Club is something like the Young Farmers' Club, although more intensive in its operation, and it brings them in at a younger age and keeps them to an older age. It was started in the Southern States of the United States of America and it has already had an enormous effect in the agricultural rehabilitation of these states. Its motto is:
"I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, my health to better living, to my Club, my community and my country."
It has already caught on extremely well in America, and although it is an idea, not started with us, it is obviously one which has had success already in the United States of America and one which is likely to be equally successful in the West Indies.

I would now like to turn to education. I have had a long connection with educa- tion in this country in one way and another, either through adult education or as President of the Board of Education, and I have considerable sympathy with the problems which met Sir Frank Stock-dale when he was discussing the future of education in the West Indies. What education there is in the West Indies—and it is lamentably little—is based largely on the 19th century education in this country, and the result is that they are now faced with many of the problems with which we are still faced, or have been faced, in this country. In the first place, there is almost complete divorce between education and life, and most people interested in education would say that this was characteristic of the Victorian ideal. Those who want education to be more closely related to life do not want it merely to be vocational. Because you say, "It is no good teaching people either in form or in subject something which has no relation to a life they are living at the moment or will live in the future," it does not mean to say that education should be confined only to those things which will give them a better economic prospect. But it does mean that they have to face the same difficulties as we have faced here in the last generation or two of trying to make people realise that the years they have spent at school are not just something taken out of their lives but a natural part of their growth and education that continues when their school years are over.

Another problem they have to face is the dual system in schools. It is a delicate subject to tread on here and is equally delicate ground on which to tread in the West Indies. But the West Indies have one problem in connection with education which we have not, and that is the problem created by the age groups of their population. Owing to the tremendously high birth-rate during the last 15 to 20 years the proportion of children of school age is enormous compared with the producing portion of the population, whereas in this country, with the falling birth-rate, the proportion of producers compared with the proportion of children is very much higher.

There are only two points I would like to deal with particularly in regard to education. The first is the rural central school, about which there is a very interesting section in the Report. It is very much on the lines of what I was keen on at the Board of Education. It is a real attempt to make school applicable to the life. The second is the question of school meals Something has been done on these lines, and when the Comptroller was here in December I took the opportunity of having a considerable discussion with him on this point. I am very anxious that the provision of school meals for children shall be pushed ahead as far and fast as possible. By that I do not mean that I want to relieve parents of responsibility when they are able to take responsibility, but I do not want to prevent children from getting the benefit of the balanced meals which they can get at school. Hon. Members will agree that part of the trouble with diet in the West Indies is not so much its lack of sufficiency as its lack of balance. Certain products are available in great quantities, and the danger is that feeding in the home may be unbalanced, whereas in the schools it can be made certain that a properly balanced meal is given.

With regard to research, although it is extremely important, I will not refer to it, for the reason that we have in this House the junior Member for Cambridge University (Professor Hill), who is a member of the Colonial Research Committee and who has been Acting Chairman of the Committee in the absence of Lord Hailey. I am extremely hopeful that during the course of the day he will be able to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker. I want to say only one thing more on the Stockdale Report. What struck me more than anything when I read this Report, as opposed to looking at the list of schemes which had emerged from it, was this: This is not merely a question of money or of what money can buy; it is not a question of bricks and mortar, concrete, iron, steel and machinery, all of which we can buy if the money is provided by this House. Everything depends not merely upon material products but upon men and women. The agricultural adviser, the school teacher, the welfare worker, the doctor, the nurse, and the club leader—these are the people who will be really vital in all Sir Frank Stockdale's ideas for improving conditions in the West Indies. We can do something in this country; we can help to train them; we can create the material background against which their work will be successful, but we cannot do more than that. They must come from the West Indies, be of the West Indies, and work with the West Indies, and it is upon them more than anything else that the future of the West Indies will depend.

Now may I pass to the last of my points—the Anglo-United States Caribbean Commission? It may interest hon. Members if I tell them something about the work the Commission has done during its short period of life. Let us remember that this Commission is not only important for what it has done already; it is far more important for what it may do in the future, for the lessons we may learn from it and from the guidance it may give us in the future. The Commission has been in existence for one year and was set up on proposals from America with the function of advising the Government of the United States and the Government of the United Kingdom on common problems of social and economic development in territories for which these two Governments are responsible in the Caribbean area. There are three members upon each side. On the American side there are Mr. Taussig, the Chairman, Mr. Du Bois and Mr. Tugwell, the present Governor of Puerto Rico. On our side there is Sir Frank Stockdale as Chairman. Up to recently I did not appoint two other permanent members because we changed the delegation with the subjects to be discussed. I have recently appointed Mr. Huggins, head of our Supply Mission in Washington, as a permanent member. I had an opportunity in December of meeting Mr. Taussig when he came to this country. He also had an opportunity of meeting a considerable number of members of the Government and of this House, and I know that the impression he left upon them was the same as he left upon me—the impression of a man of great sincerity, a man with a real desire to cooperate and a man with a constructive mind. We had great value from those discussions in London, and I believe that in the future we shall get more value from the work of this Commission.

It was set up originally to deal with long-term development, but naturally it was drawn at once into urgent war-time problems and proved of great assistance to us in the great difficulties of food supplies created by naval events in the Caribbean at the beginning of last year. It was undoubtedly due to the Commission that the difficulties were crystallised over the whole area instead of Colony by Colony. The Commission called a conference of supply officers, and certain, common measures were thrashed out together. The Commission has been active in setting up and helping to run a schooner pool to economise in shipping between the islands and to make the best possible use of the limited amount still left. Now the Commission is working on fishing research, medical questions, including venereal disease, broadcasting and the provision of materials which are urgently required for the development of the plans I have been discussing in the Stockdale Report. In a short year it has made a valuable start, and I hope we shall be able to evolve a technique of international co-operation. The Commission has not started on a high plane of broad theoretical discussions; it has started on a plane of practical solutions to common problems facing both countries, and the sort of problems which will face them in that area after the war, problems of economics, transport, health and communications which go far beyond the frontiers of one particular unit and can only be solved by common effort. I hope that by means of this Commission we are trying out on a small scale the practical means of solving these problems together.

I have tried to set before the House under the headings "Political, Social and International" the chief events. I think hon. Members will realise the magnitude of the problems facing the West Indies now and which will face them even more in the post-war years. The problems are admittedly grave and difficult, but I think they can be solved. It will need not only all our efforts and help but much more than that. There are three things we shall want. The first is real partnership between this country and the West Indies. The West Indies cannot solve their problems themselves without our help, and we cannot solve their problems from this country without their help and co-operation. Secondly, we shall want some organisation which will bring together the West Indies and the rest of the Caribbean area which will enable them to find some solution of problems which are as common to Puerto Rico or indeed to Cuba and Haiti as to Jamaica. Finally, we have to try and fit the Caribbean area as a whole into the world, so that an area like that can survive and prosper. The only world where these communities can prosper is a world which will offer to bring happiness to the Caribbean area. Those, I think, are our three main tasks. Only when we have done them shall we be able to feel in-this country that we have fulfilled our trust to the West Indies and only then-shall we be able to be proud of the work we have done. When we have done it, I am certain that, whatever the progress of the West Indies may be towards responsible government, greater development and free institutions—however far their progress may be—we shall always have a West Indies bound to us by a triple tie of loyalty, gratitude, and affection.

We have listened to a most interesting and frank survey of the problems of the West Indies. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State has shown little complacency in regard to the difficulties confronting him and the local governments. We are very glad the opportunity has been furnished of debating West Indian problems, and we hope that there may be opportunities at other periods of the Session to bring into review the special problems of other Colonial areas. There are, of course, in the circumstances of war, considerable difficulties in the way of any coming to grips with the essential problems in our Colonial areas. I think it can be said that there are few regions in the Colonial Empire which have had so many inquests as the West Indies, and few areas where the essential problems have remained to such a large extent unsolved. It is something of a tragedy that, however the circumstances of the years have changed and however world economic conditions have fluctuated, in the West Indies the problems of poverty, disease and economic instability have remained.

I would like to join with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman in paying a tribute to Sir Frank Stockdale and his advisers for the extremely interesting and valuable document they have made available to us. I would like also to extend that tribute to the members of the staff of the Colonial Office, who have worked equally hard on many of the schemes that have been submitted to London. I agree that the black spots in the West Indies have not been ignored and that, as the Secretary of State said, they have not been glossed over. I think it will be generally agreed that the experiment recommended by the Royal Commission to the West Indies of having reports submitted to the House from time to time, surveying the problems of the areas, has proved to be fully justified. I hope the experiment in regard to the West Indies Commission, a Comptroller with advisers, will be extended to other Colonial areas. The time is overripe for setting up such a body in respect of West Africa, and possibly East Africa, by means of which the economic and social problems could be brought into survey and recommendations made as to how certain of them could be solved. In the case of the West Indies, there is also the other advantage that the West Indians themselves can appreciate the common problems of their area; the fact that there is frequently consultation between the respective Governments gives them an opportunity of studying comparative experience and the conferences which are called together from time to time of officials who are performing like duties in the respective territories also serve a very useful purpose. Consequently, as a result of the work of the Commission, there begins to develop a common view of the problems of the area.

When one comes to study the Stockdale Report, one feels it is a pity that the House is still without the Report of the Royal Commission on the West Indies. That Report might have furnished a very useful background to an appreciation to some of the problems which Sir Frank Stockdale and his advisers have attempted to tackle. At the present time it would be particularly useful to know how far the recommendations of the Royal Commission have been departed from in Sir Frank Stockdale's recommendations.

I take it that it is one of the responsibilities or duties of hon. Members on this side of the House to be constructively critical. I must confess that the picture given in the Report, of the social and economic conditions in the West Indies, is not too reassuring. I appreciate the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's point that the whole picture is not there, but I think it is obvious to anyone who reads the Report carefully that no clear picture emerges from it as to how the many problems it throws up are to be handled in the days to come. Possibly I ought not to complain on that score, seeing that it is the first Report that Sir Frank Stockdale has submitted, and that there are very definite limits to the ground over which he may range; but as one reads the Report one is conscious that there are very acute problems and very great difficulties mentioned without there being offered even a tentative solution of them. For instance, we are left to imagine that the problem of the surplus population in Barbados can be solved only by a system of intensive cultivation. The real nature of the social problem and whether social remedies are possible is not discussed. Likewise, with the problem of land tenure and land settlement, the matter repeatedly crops up as various aspects of the work are brought under review, but one asks how far has legislation gone and what really is being done to overhaul the whole problem of land tenure and how far are schemes for further land settlement now being developed.

Again, one paragraph after another refers to the increasing apprehension in regard to unemployment, particularly when the work on the military bases comes to an end. Yet there emerges from the Report very little constructive idea as to how the problem of unemployment is to be grappled with in any comprehensive way in the various islands. The same difficulty arises with regard to the basic problem of sugar. Sir Frank Stockdale expresses great apprehension about the post-war condition as regard sugar cultivation. Is the present volume of production likely to be maintained? There is also the accompanying problem of price levels and the problems associated with refineries and so on. While those problems are stated, they do not receive a very satisfactory answer inside the Report. I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is right when he indicates that in future the Report should be accompanied by an economic section setting out the broad economic problems that have to be solved in this area. As one reads the Report, one asks all the time questions of this sort. What is the place of the West Indies in world production of certain primary products? How are price levels of export products to be maintained? How can a reasonable income be assured to the primary producers? How in each of the territories are better balanced economies to be effected? What about the problems of trade? How are wage standards and living standards to be built up? How are the resources of the Colonies to be developed, and what about subsidiary industries and industry generally? That is the sort of question which repeatedly occurs to one as one tries to understand the scope and purpose of the Report. As the Secretary of State said, no clear economic plan emerges, particularly in respect of small industries and processing industries, and also, I would add, in respect of agriculture itself. The fundamental problems of land tenure and settlement and price levels are not discussed at all beyond the statement of the problems. Therefore, I think it is important, if one is to get a fair appreciation of the nature of the problems, that the aid of the economic adviser should be sought. Coming to the main proposals of the Report, I notice that already schemes to the value of £6,000,000 have been endorsed. That does not mean the money has been spent, of course——

Shall I say that schemes to the value of £6,000,000 have been submitted?

It is only fair to point out that Appendix I and Appendix 2 together give the schemes which have been either approved or submitted to me. The other long lists totalling over £3,000,000 are only under consideration or under correspondence with the Governors, and, of course, may never be submitted.

The point I was trying to make was that as far as the Comptroller was concerned, schemes to the value of approximately £6,000,000 have been prepared by him. Perhaps the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will explain this matter in more detail later. Most of the schemes have been prepared on a five years' basis, though some are on a nine years' basis. I hope very much that, although schemes of this value have been prepared for the period of the first two years, schemes will continue to flow in and will be concerned not only with economic change but equally with social reform. I should like to recall the point made by the Royal Commission that schemes should be financed to the value of £1,000,000 a year for social reform. I appreciate the difficulty of drawing the line between economic and social reforms, but obviously what was in the mind of the Royal Commission was that sums up to £1,000,000 a year should be spent on such problems as education, health services, housing, slum clearance, welfare facilities and land settlement. I hope that, because in the schemes that are presented there is an enormous expenditure on roads, afforestation, the clearance of swamps, the construction of reservoirs and the making of landing grounds for aeroplanes, schemes of economic reform will not outweigh the importance of social reform, and that the money will be no less available for that. I would also enter a plea that the Comptroller should not be unduly restricted in the matter of long term planning. The Royal Commission suggested a period of 20 years. The 1940 Act, of course, proposed the provision of funds for 10 years. The Colonial Office has been in consultation with the Treasury and obtained a modification of the 10-year view. But, if the recommendations of the Royal Commission are to be followed, it will be noted that they said very definitely that they did not want the Treasury unduly interfering in the administration of this money. I hope that long term planning will be effective and that this will be kept in mind and that the Colonial Office, if it has any difficulty with the Treasury, will come to the House and get the wherewithal necessary for the work which it feels ought to be done.

There is another difficulty in the reading of the Report which is pointed out in paragraph 317. The rate of progress will depend very largely upon the vigour of the executive action of the local Governments themselves. Obviously, it is difficult to get a very clear picture of the lines of reform which are being worked out merely from the Report itself. In regard to the schemes which the Comptroller himself has submitted, they will undoubtedly have to be worked through the local Governors and Governments. That is where my anxiety is. Can something be done to create a greater sense of urgency in the minds of the local Governments concerned? Also, when schemes are being offered by the Comptroller to the local Governments, can it be arranged that all sections of the community which are affected by these schemes are brought into consultation, and will the Secretary of State himself be on guard lest certain admirable proposals that may be made by the Comptroller are not turned down merely because certain plutocratic local Legislatures do not like them? Although consultation is important with all sections of the community, he should be guided not so much by the opinion of certain local Legislatures but more essentially by what the people regards and he regards as essential and making for social well-being.

I understand that the Legislatures contain official members who are in a majority. How can they be plutocratic?

I do not wish to withdraw the description I have given. The plutocracies of the island are extremely well represented and have considerable influence in the working of the Legislative Councils in the West Indian Islands. Constitutional reform is a matter of great urgency as I shall show later on.

Another point I wish to make is the exclusion of Trinidad from consideration in the Report. It may be that Trinidad does not seek financial assistance at present, but when the Comptroller's establishment was set up it was understood that the whole of the British Colonies in the West Indies would be under the constant supervision of the Comptroller and that he would, from time to time, discuss problems with the local Governments and that the position in these territories would be reported to the House for the information of the House. I hope very much that, because Trinidad is applying for no financial help at the moment, the Comptroller will not omit continuous contact with Trinidad as to the way in which it is shaping its social policy.

I am glad to know that the Secretary of State has accorded to Sir Frank Stockdale more authority to deal with some of the problems which arise but I wish he would consider the creation of an effective advisory committee under the terms of the 1940 Act. It was promised that such a committee should be created, its function to include the bringing into review of the various problems of the areas that apply for assistance under the Act. I think that is a method whereby the progress in the Colonies can be ascertained. Such a committee would receive periodic reports and watch the developing situation. The present Report is something of a patchwork. It is broken up in a series of different and unrelated schemes and the real connection with the larger problem of the economic and social development of the West Indies cannot be too easily appreciated. That appreciation should come through an advisory committee charged with studying applications for aid under the Act.

The Secretary of State has pointed out that agriculture is basic to West Indian prosperity. As far as mineral wealth is concerned, there is little more than the oil in Trinidad, and the bauxite in British Guiana. Apart from that, the prosperity of the West Indies must be built up on agriculture and it is, of course, natural that the Report should stress the need for more balanced economies, mixed farming, a different system of land tenure and the need for the production of more foodstuffs and animal products, as well as the adoption of schemes of land drainage, afforestation, soil conservation, and the rest. I should like to draw attention to paragraph 136, on the top of page 36, where a number of agriculture problems are set out which seem to me to be of fundamental importance. It reads:
"It is clear that unemployment and inadequate social standards for agricultural workers are the principal causes for unrest. These defects can only be remedied by remunerative prices for agricultural produce to provide an adequate wage level and to enable Government and other responsible agencies to organise better conditions for rural living. Insecurity of land tenure in respect of land rented from landowners is another major reason for the demand for Government sponsored land settlement. It is obvious that there can be no agricultural advance or a contented peasantry until the relations of landlord and tenant are placed on a satisfactory statutory basis which provides for compensation for unexhausted improvements. This reform is one of the most urgent for agriculture in the standards of life in the British West Indies. Furthermore, it must ever be borne in mind that improvement in the standards of life in the West Indies largely depends on a more intensive use of the soil, and that large scale enterprise in many instances has the advantage in regard to efficiency of production. It is possible, of course, for the small man to be brought into the sphere of large scale production by cooperative systems of land use. The Lusky Hill Co-operative Settlement of Jamaica is the first experiment of this nature to be started in the British West Indies."
It seems to me that these are among the crucial problems that have to be solved. What shall be the level of prices and produce; how are you going to develop the intensive use of the soil; what is to be done in the way of large-scale enterprise; are we to encourage in any degree co-operative farming; what system of land tenure: is to be adopted? It is probably unfair to suggest that Sir Frank Stockdale should provide the answers, but unfortunately, while these problems are stated in the Report, as in so many previous reports on the West Indies, no adequate answer is found anywhere. It is true that a committee is sitting in British Guiana and Trinidad on agriculture, but I hope it is not going to shape its course in the way in which previous committees in these Colonies have conducted their business. They go on and on and never come to conclusions. That is particularly true now in the matter of constitutional change.

I had intended to say something about sugar, because the Report points out that the standard of living in the West Indies largely depends on the volume of export of sugar. The nature of the problem is indicated, but there is no very satisfactory solution. It is of great importance. I do want, however, to raise quite another point in regard to the social services. Nation building, as the Secretary of State has reminded us, is as much an affair of the people concerned as of the aid forthcoming from the effective governing authority. We may help from the top but, unless there is a response from the masses and deliberate efforts to build up the standards of conduct and to develop an appreciation of responsibility, things cannot go far. There is a great deal in the Report about self-help and self-reliance. When we consider priorities in regard to social change, difficult decisions have to be taken. Should benefits of the best kind be made applicable to a limited section of the population, assuming a very long period to spread them to all sections of the people, or should we decide as in the matter of education, if we wish to break through mass ignorance and illiteracy, to adopt something less good which can be more widely spread and thereby do our immediate job a little more speedily. As far as social progress is concerned, we may have sometimes to adopt the second course when the facts and the cost are too strong for us. I would like to ask how far the Royal Commission's recommendation about taxation to meet the cost of social and economic reform has been satisfied. The Royal Commission said:
"We consider it reasonable that, in view of the great disparity between the rates of direct taxation in the West Indies and in this country, the West Indian Colonies should make their contribution by bringing their rates of income tax more into line with pre-war rates payable here. We do not recommend that further burdens should be laid on the payer of indirect taxation. This is in our view a fundamental recommendation."
The changes that are imperative in the West Indies will cost an enormous amount of money. In the light of the past history of the West Indies, the payment should be met by us. But if the British taxpayer is called upon to spend freely on the building up of the social life of the Colonies, an effort should be made in the West Indies to produce what revenue is possible by direct taxation.

Certain social services are, obviously, not likely to be possible unless they are conceived in wider terms than the individual Colonies. Some of the schemes, such as schemes of social security, must be worked out over the whole of the Caribbean area and the finance must be based not on the capacity of separate Colonies but on the grouping of the Colonies. The problem of the condition of malnutrition of great masses of the population is frequently referred, in the Report. It is the source of an infinite amount of debility and disease, and I hope that it is the serious intention of the Government to pursue this problem and give it every conceivable attention. Likewise, in the matter of housing, I am a little apprehensive whether the proposals in the Report are comprehensive enough to deal with the squalor and the dreadful housing that exist in most of the West Indian Colonies. In the matter of unemployment, again, what is the answer to the fears so often expressed in paragraph after paragraph about what will happen with the closing down of the American bases? The answer is not to be found merely in the creation of relief works. Something more fundamental needs to be done. Then again there is the problem which is worrying most of the workers in the West Indies of the inability of wages to keep pace with the cost of living. How far have we implemented the minimum wage legislation that has been passed in the Colonies? To a very little extent I should think. Is it not time we did something about the extension of the principle of trade boards?

This problem of wages is one of great difficulty and it is grossly unfair that in any new departure in public works or otherwise, such as the building of the American bases, wage standards should be determined by the lowest wages operating in agriculture in the respective islands. There is need for a wage policy to be evolved, not only in the separate territories, but over the whole of the area. Wide disparities in wage standards as between one island and another create a great deal of friction and ought to receive some consideration from the economic adviser in that area. I would also like to know whether, since the passing of the 1940 Act, the requirement whereby no territory may receive a grant under the Act unless it has put its house in order in regard to labour legislation and trades union standards has been carried out and whether all the territories have come into line in that respect.

I had hoped to say something about colonial education, in which I am greatly interested. I hope that much more money will be available to tackle some of the basic problems with regard to school buildings, the training of teachers, the raising of their standards and the rest. I hope, too, that there will be a big drive in the field of adult education when the Colonial Office has finished its present deliberations.

I now leave the Report and come to several matters referred to by the Secretary of State. I wish to say a few words about the Anglo-American Commission and the Jamaican Constitution. The Secretary of State has indicated that there is a great deal of value in international co-operation. That is brought out in the relations which have been built up between the Americans and ourselves in the Anglo-American Commission which is now operating in the Carribean. If the Secretary of State will forgive me, I must express my surprise at the rather unhappy phrasing of his speech at Oxford. Was it really necessary to give the impression of a little contempt for American opinion in the field of colonial administration? I also felt regret that he put over the idea of imperial exclusiveness in administration by using the words "sole responsibility." I admit that directly he used those words he made it clear that he stood wholeheartedly for international co-operation or co-operation between the United Nations. I would urge that, much as it may be right that Britain should not and cannot transfer her administrative responsibilities to an international syndicate, it is imperative that we should give evidence that we welcome third party interest and judgment, that we accept in colonial affairs the principle of accountability, that we are prepared to submit our stewardship to international authority to judge, and that we welcome the fullest co-operation between the nations in solving some of the difficult problems in the colonial field.

Some excellent work is being done by the Anglo-American Commission. I had had the advantage a few weeks ago of discussing that work with Mr. Taussig in Washington. He expressed his great pleasure at the cordiality of his reception over here and said he returned to America with a great feeling of satisfaction that we and the Americans really meant business and that it was our utmost desire that the fullest co-operation between the two peoples should be brought about in the colonial field. Already, excellent work has been inaugurated by the Commission, and I hope that every encouragement will be given to the development of its work. May I in passing to my final point say how much I appreciate the work which Mr. Huggins is doing in connection with the Supplies Mission at Washington. The way in which the problem of food supplies for the West Indies is being tackled in the difficult circumstances is admirable, and he and his staff are doing a very good job of work.

I desire, finally, to refer to the problem of constitution-making in the West Indies. We have been tinkering far too long and far too much with constitutions in the West Indies in recent years. We can therefore appreciate the kind of criticism that has come from the Americans in this respect. It is no good our suggesting that people are never ready to practise democracy. When one looks at the present setup of some of our Colonial Governments one sees not too great a virtue in certain of the constitutions. In any case, there ought to be in the West Indies far greater stress on local government. We are still fumbling with the beginnings of local government, and I would urge that far greater attention should be given to this aspect of the working of democratic institutions. I also feel that in our local administrations, particularly in respect of certain of our Governments, there ought to be greater respect for civil liberty. I feel strongly that, time and time again, civil liberty has been outraged in Jamaica and there is cause for considerable apprehen- sion at certain actions which the Governor has taken only comparatively recently. The long imprisonment of Domingo seems to me to be completely indefensible from the point of view of any standards of civil liberty. May I also ask the attention of the Secretary of State to the reform of the constitutions of the "three B's"—Barbados, Bahamas and Bermuda? Is not the time ripe, in view of their generally reactionary attitude to social and economic change, for a review of these ancient constitutions to be made in order that at the very door of America we should at least see democracy functioning?

I congratulate the Secretary of State on the document he has prepared for the consideration of the Jamaicans. It records a real step forward in regard to both representative government and responsible government. I would like to express my personal appreciation of the tone in which the despatch has been written. It is conciliatory, and as a result has had a good reception in Jamaica among all parties and classes. Obviously, the draft constitution does not give us all that we would wish, but it is fairly acceptable to large numbers of people in Jamaica. There are certain checks in it about which one could be critical, but it makes provision for periodic revision. As the parties learn the art of responsible government the constitution will be adapted to a more democratic form. I congratulate the Secretary of State on the step he has taken in his effort to solve this vexed problem in Jamaica. I hope that after Jamaica re-organised and reformed Constitutions will be extended to the other territories.

I am fully conscious of the very great economic problems confronting us in the West Indies. They call for an infinite expenditure of time, patience, and capital and call for much imagination. I hope that year by year we shall have reports coming to us recording a rise in the standard of living, healthier economic development and a continuous improvement in human well-being and happiness.

I listened with the greatest interest to the very informative speech of the Colonial Secretary, and also to the comments that were made thereon by the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones), and I cannot say that I would agree with his remarks that the Colonial Secretary in his speech at Oxford recently in regard to Colonial opinion referred to it with contempt. I desire, however, to speak on one particular aspect of our administration of the West Indian Islands, and perhaps I might say at the outset that I have no commercial interests in those islands. I refer to the present control of imports to the detriment of merchants both there and in this country. The swift growth of bulk purchasing and shipping, not by the Imperial Government alone, but by several of the local Governments, notably those of British Guiana and Trinidad, in respect of manufactured goods has created a very serious situation. From the record of this policy to date it does not seem that increased efficiency has resulted. On the contrary, the Trinidad Chamber of Commerce has testified to the "serious dislocation," which is inevitable, of course, when the accumulated experience of trade channels is ignored. The result has been that merchants in the territories mentioned, and also to a lesser extent in other Colonies, have largely ceased to function as independent importers. Either they are out of the running indefinitely or they have been reduced to the mere status of distributors under official control. Further, the extent to which the placing of orders is taken out of their hands must affect not only themselves but also those British firms on whom they have been relying for shipment. Since many of those firms do not import for their own account but depend for their livelihood upon the commissions earned for their services, it is easy to realise the hardships which have arisen.

I would refer to British Guiana and to bulk purchasing on behalf of importers, which began in a modest way in 1941. Then it was confined to semi-manufactured iron and steel articles. Stage by stage it has spread until to-day, according to the details given by "The Crown Colonist," the system extends also over manufactured iron and steel goods, non-ferrous metals, mechanics' tools, dry cell batteries, fisheries' equipment, manures and estate requisites. The value of metal goods alone bulk purchased by the Government had reached nearly 500,000 dollars by last September. The same story can also be told of Trinidad. Here, also, importing and sales organisations which could be rendering invaluable service and which will certainly be needed after the war have practically been disrupted because the Government declines to make the maximum use of them. The Control Board and the Bulk Purchasing Department have ideas of their own and the power to enforce them. Merchants in a whole variety of trades no longer themselves import but furnish returns and estimates. The officials do the rest. I do not, of course, overlook the necessities of war; no Member of this House is in danger of doing that; but I do require very much convincing that in this matter of the control of imports the merchants should be almost completely eliminated. They have the experience and first hand knowledge built up after many years of trading and the intricacies of buying and selling in the face of competition. I cannot believe that officials, at short notice and without previous experience, can function with the same competence. After all, it is on the merchants no less than on the agriculturists that the prosperity of the islands will depend. If the merchants continue to be reduced to the status of mere clerks making returns, it is difficult to look to the future with confidence.

Development and welfare, as outlined by Sir Frank Stockdale, namely, education, health, housing, water supplies and social welfare, which we all so greatly desire for these islands, will be of very little avail unless they go hand in hand with commercial prosperity and, I should also say, with solvency. In the past the islands have owed very much to men with imperial vision. They inaugurated steamship lines with a direct mail contract, they attracted the tourist traffic, they built hotels and they developed the fruit industry. In all these respects we have in recent years had fierce competition and much penetration. Let us hope that there will arise again, as there surely will, men with imperial vision and enterprise who will direct capital, so greatly needed, into rebuilding the prosperity of the islands. And let us give, so far as is possible in war-time, liberty and freedom of action to those merchants who in most difficult days are carrying on the commerce of the West Indies.

It must strike anybody who is taking part in this Debate that one of the features of it is that the three documents that are being discussed were issued at the same time. It shows how closely connected are the ques- tions of Parliamentary franchise, the development of self-government and the condition of the people in the several places referred to. The question with which I will first deal is that which is described as Colonial development and welfare, and it is interesting, and something of which this country can be proud, that the importance of its work was stressed by the Colonial Office even in the dark days of 1941. Lord Moyne circularised the Colonial Governors urging them to continue with the schemes best calculated to raise the standard of living in areas where this was very low. He urged them to do this in spite of the difficulties of the time and in spite of the necessity for ever increasing war-time production. I am glad that this principle has been kept in the foreground, and it is a matter upon which I should like to congratulate the Colonial Office.

Possibly the most arresting departure is the proposal put forward by the Colonial Secretary for a Constitution for Jamaica on the lines of Parliamentary government in this country, and it is interesting that it should have been published on the same day as the Stockdale Report. It is a new point of view at the present time to realise that political advance is dependent upon economic advance throughout the world. Our attitude towards these matters has undoubtedly changed since the 19th century. It may still be true that freedom in poverty is preferable to riches in bondage. None the less, we are now quite persuaded that freedom in poverty does not flourish, and that political institutions cannot flourish, among economically undeveloped peoples, or people who are backward or uneducated. The creation of Sir Frank Stock-dale's post shows an understanding of this question. There is only one important point in the demands of the Jamaicans which has not been met in the proposals made by the Government. I refer to the Governor's power of certification and veto. I think the retention of this power is a wise provision at the present time, as long as it is coupled with a provision for reviewing the working of the Constitution at the end of five years. Do not let us forget that the larger part of the population of Jamaica is, after all, still illiterate. Some 60 per cent. of the people in Jamaica are illiterate to this day, and very few of the remaining literate section have up to the present joined any political party. There is, of course, a small vocal and important section of the population which is politically conscious, indeed very strongly so This is not surprising, in view of the fact that legislative assemblies have long existed in the West Indies, although the electorate was very small. Now that the electorate has been increased there must undoubtedly be safeguards. Otherwise, we may see arising the danger of juntas, or oligarchic government, in the West Indies. We do not want to see the development there of that queer and curious creature of Central America, the politico, who has impeded the development of democracy in some of those Republics.

It has been said many a time that self-government is good government, and this is, roughly speaking, a true proposition, but self-government is only good government if it is exercised by morally responsible people. Among sections of the West Indians the standard of moral responsibility is, I regret to say, not very high, according to the Stockdale Report. This is apparent in the quality of family life. Sir Frank Stockdale points out that there is more than 70 per cent. of illegitimacy in the islands, and that a feeling of family responsibility is very rare. These, I regret to say, are stigmata which remain from the days of slavery. It is a standing reproach to the white people who have governed Jamaica and the other West Indian dependencies that family life was disrupted—husband torn from wife—and that illegitimate children were welcomed by slave owners as additions to their own herds. It is a duty which is now laid on us to raise the general standard and tone of life so that these people will become fully responsible citizens ready to assume the responsibilities of family life and ready to play their part in a self-governing community.

The Stockdale Report has been eagerly looked forward to ever since Sir Frank's appointment, in accordance with the recommendations of the Moyne Commission. It was a wise and far-seeing appointment, and it marked an epoch in our Colonial history. I myself appreciate the high qualities of Sir Frank Stockdale. I ^at with him on the Colonial Empire Marketing Board before the war, and I realised how keen was his intellect, how broad were his views and how untiring his energy and devotion to duty. The schemes under the heading of "Welfare" seem admirable. The health proposals are very satisfactory in scope, covering the islands with a system of health units. It seems to make sound provision for the control of endemic diseases and V.D. It also includes maternity services and the health of the school children within its scope. The educational scheme is also a hopeful beginning, with its insistence on the raising of the standard of teaching and the status of teachers. Social welfare receives a gratifying share of attention with its special concentration on the needs of youth.

The schemes for development seem to be less comprehensive. May we take it that they are intended only as a first instalment and as an earnest? The White Paper on the operation of the Act states that the West Indies schemes enumerated there form part of a more comprehensive programme. Here I am somewhat puzzled by the question of finance. It is not clear to me how much money Sir Frank Stockdale has left to cover such a programme. Sir Frank Stockdale states in the introduction to his Report that no fixed annual sum is earmarked for assistance to the West Indies. That was emphasised by the Minister at the beginning of his speech. Sir Frank then points out that the Colonial Office has undertaken to make provision on a scale commensurate with the Royal Commission's recommendations, but for 10 years instead of 20 years. On that showing, if I am right, it appears that Sir Frank Stockdale had £10,000,000 at his disposal, or £1,000,000 a year. I imagine that the people in the West Indies are anxious to know whether these annual sums are subject to lapsing if they are not expended during the year. We know, of course, that that is the general policy of the Act, but in the case of the West Indies there are unusual conditions.

It is two years since Sir Frank Stockdale was appointed and went out to the West Indies. None of his grants was approved earlier than September, 1942, as he obviously had to conduct a thorough investigation before making recommendations. I hope that the sum at his disposal will not be decreased on that account and that he will not have to forgo the £2,000,000 intended for 1940 and 1941. This would seem contrary to the spirit of the Act and to the recommendations made by Lord Moyne. I see that Sir Frank has budgeted so fat for £6,000,000. I should much like to know how much he has in hand for further economic development. That is, after all, the more fundamental side of his work, since, without economic development, welfare schemes are mere palliatives.

The budget as put forward by Sir Frank Stockdale includes an expenditure of £2,500,000 upon agriculture, which is described in the recommendations of the Moyne Commission as the principal source of sustenance and wealth in the West Indies. We know to-day what the difficulties of agriculture are and how important it is that agriculture should be developed. Those recommendations contend that the standard of life must clearly depend upon the intensive use of the soil, and they therefore place great emphasis on the importance of a soil survey. Is such a survey to be undertaken or has such a survey been made? If Sir Frank gave his unrivalled experience to this problem, it could be undertaken with an expert and very small staff. In my humble submission such a survey ought to precede land settlement and road building. I see that £200,000 is to be spent on a new road in British Honduras; I wonder whether any survey has been made of that district. Some of us may remember what happened at Stan Creek, also in Honduras, where the land was extensively planted with bananas and a Government railway was built to serve that part of the country. No soil survey had been made, and the result was disastrous, as the soil was too acid for bananas, which became smitten with disease. The whole venture proved useless. I hope therefore that soil survey will precede further land settlement schemes.

In regard to land settlement schemes, I think only two have so far been made, one for £3,000 in British Guiana and one for £4,000 in the Island of Nevis. There is still special need for such a scheme with the Island of St. Kitts, where all the land and all the houses belong to 66 estates, and the inhabitants are without any independence. Sir Frank has pointed out that there is a dangerous drift to the towns. I was glad to hear the Minister state that efforts would be made to create more subsidiary industries in the West Indies, otherwise terrible problems of pauperisa- tion and unemployment will arise such as can only be dealt with by land settlements. Even in the case of employed agricultural workers their work is for the most part seasonal, and it leaves them idle for four months in the year. They need a plot of land of their own on which to produce subsistence crops.

It is gratifying to see the reception which the Stockdale Report has received. It is a happy augury that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman should be actively associated with these progressive documents at the beginning of his term of office. What he said to-day about closer understanding brought about in the West Indies by the work of the Caribbean Commission was heartening news to Members of this House, and especially to those who read that speech which he made only a few weeks ago at Oxford and which was severely criticised in the most important newspaper in the North. But then no man can be a prophet in his own county palatine. A very severe criticism appeared in the "Manchester Guardian" the other day reviewing his attitude to the U.S.A. In his speech the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that he had already lived through 25 per cent. of the usual term allotted to Colonial Secretaries during the last 17 years. I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman may show a keener appreciation of international values as regards Colonies and a greater understanding of the point of view of America or I fear he may reach senility even before the meagre span allotted to the average Colonial Secretary which would be very regrettable.

I agree with what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman says about international administration. That possibility must be dismissed, but the idea of administration under a mandate system still has attractions for many. But if such a system is to work with fairness, it must apply to all Colonies, and the supervisory powers must include all sovereign nations. It is difficult at the present time to put forward any scheme which would entrust the supervision of our Colonies to an international body composed of members of different nations with different outlooks and aspirations, especially in view of the great difficulties which will be caused by the stringency of conditions after the war. But I note that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman left the door open to international supervision, and I am glad he did so. It may yet be a very important matter. No doubt the reports which were furnished periodically to the League of Nations Mandates Commission in Geneva through the Colonial Office were far more full and informative as well as more fairly set out than the reports laid before Parliament concerned with the administration of the Colonial Dependencies. This method is one which I would commend at the present time. However, we should not have a mandatory system applied to the Colonies of one nation only and not to the Colonies of the others. Nor should we have a Mandates Commission on which several of the great nations of the world cannot be represented, otherwise great feelings of jealousy and discontent are aroused such as those which were manifested between the two wars.

I hope that any misunderstanding which may have been created when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke the other day has been corrected to-day. As for a good understanding with America, it is a sine qua non of the future of the world, and we must not be misled by some of the utterances about the West Indies and our Colonies made in America at the present time. I submit that Colonial questions are often not understood at the present time in the U.S.A. The vocal people in America on this question are really a small minority, and I personally am not disturbed, and my withers are unwrung by the loose-thinking and loose-talking on civil flying or of some ill-informed Senator about the West Indies. To the first you may say we are not fighting at the present time against the tyranny of the industrial rings of Central Europe in order to submit after the war to any thraldom by Pan-American Airways, and to those who urge that the West Indies should be handed over to America in lieu of Lend-Lease repayment, surely we can say that after three centuries of government of that country, after liberating the slaves 100 years ago we are not going to hand over these Colonies as goods and chattels to anyone else to-day or to-morrow. No, we are going to free them, we are going to give them independent government. We are going to promote their welfare and happiness. We are not going to give up all our responsibilities, heavy though they be, after the wonderful displays of loyalty and generosity on the part of the West Indians themselves.

The discussion to-day on Colonial administration in the West Indies and on the Stockdale Report opens up a number of questions of general interest to the Colonial Empire as a whole, particularly those connected with education, especially higher education, with medicine and public health, and with research, scientific, technical, industrial, medical and in relation to general welfare. I hope you will not be too strict with me, Sir, if I stray a little from time to time from the particular application in the West Indies to the more general question. The general application is the more important because the West Indies contain only about one-twentieth of the population of the Colonial Empire as a whole. The Stockdale Report, following three years after the recommendations of the Royal Commission and the Colonial Welfare Act, 1940, marks, one may hope and believe, the beginning of a new and fruitful era in the relations of Great Britain to the Colonial Empire and peoples. The humane influence, which as the Secretary of State said was apparent at the time when slaves were liberated, is apparent to-day. What is being done and what is being planned in the West Indies is part of a deliberate policy and is bound to be followed by corresponding action in other parts of the Colonial Empire. The ultimate goal of that policy is the development of all the Colonies, by and for their own people, as self-respecting and self-governing units within the British Commonwealth. The new Constitution of Jamaica is undoubtedly a step in that direction. In some of these Colonies the ultimate goal may still be far off. In all of them probably we shall have to put up with delays and disappointments; patience, courage and realism will be wanted just as much as faith, hope and charity. If however we really believe in our own form of democracy we must keep that ultimate goal in sight.

I was very glad that the Secretary of State referred to Sir Frank Stockdale and his party as a sort of projection from the Colonial Office. One can welcome the spirit in the Colonial Office that breathes in the Report itself. Reading the Report, it is obvious that the greatest need of all is for men and women capable by their intrinsic qualities and by their education and training of taking responsibility in all the new services and enterprises now being planned. As the Report itself says:
"In a democratic world, a healthy free community can only be based on self-help, self-respect and self-determination."
Men and women are needed, and they can only come in the main from the people of the Colonies themselves. A large section of the Report therefore is devoted to education, primary and secondary education, and the provision of teachers; and frequent reference is made to the need for vocational training, particularly for agriculture. To higher education rather little reference is made in the Report, not, I am sure, because of any lack of interest in the subject, but because the immediate possibilities in that direction are small. May I urge, however, on the Secretary of State that nothing else could possibly supply so convincing evidence of our good faith, of our genuine concern for the best interests of the Colonies and their people, of our ultimate intention of producing self-respecting and self-governing communities, as a declaration of our determination now, and practical and effective steps taken as soon as possible, to provide and extend the facilities and opportunities in the Colonies themselves for higher education. No doubt it will still be a long time before primary and secondary education in the schools will be even approximately adequate either in quantity or quality. They cannot indeed be adequate until the Colonies themselves can produce teachers of sufficient quality in sufficient numbers. For that very reason, as well as for others, plans for higher education in the Colonies should be laid now. We need not, in fact we should not, assume that in any locality Colonial education will necessarily follow our traditional lines. Experiment is wanted, not dogma: and readiness to accept the results of experiment without prejudice. The needs, the traditions, the inherent capacities of the people in the different regions and the practical possibilities of their employment may all be different, particularly in such a diverse region as that of the West Indies. As the Report says:
"It is no service to a boy or girl or to their country to lead them into the ranks of the unemployed middle-class."
In that connection I often wish that edu- cationists, and indeed the rest of the world, would ponder on the title—and on the contents—of a book by Prof. T. H. Pear, of Manchester, called "The Intellectual Respectability of Muscular Skill"; but further discussion of that would lead me too far away. With such limitations, however, if our ultimate goal is to be reached, our first step is, I think, to plan adequate educational machinery by which young men and women of ability and character can be trained for responsible posts. The need cannot be met merely by sending selected students for professional training or for higher education to colleges and universities elsewhere. Such institutions must be set up in the Colonies themselves. These must be places, however humble they may be at the start, of higher learning in the best sense, not merely factories for producing machine-made graduates who expect as soon as they have got through their examinations to get comfortable Government jobs. This requires that teaching shall be associated with study and research, followed both for their own sakes and for what they can bring in practical result: and this demands in its turn that the institutions themselves should have financial means to offer pay enough, facilities, libraries and laboratories, and amenities of life, good enough to attract the right kind of teachers and research workers to their staffs. No doubt all this will take a long time, and it is no good going in for too grandiose a scheme in a poor region. It will be better to amplify and extend existing institutions, of which in the West Indies one at least, the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad is of the highest standard. Perhaps in the scattered region of the West Indies it will, as the Report suggests, be better to bring within the compass of a single federal university all the various colleges and institutions, already existing or contemplated.

It has been a misfortune for many years that the British public has had too little interest and apparently no pride in the Colonies. Indeed it has often been the fashion among bright young intellectuals to pretend to be ashamed of them. This lack of interest and pride has been reflected to some degree in this House, and even to some degree that silly fashion. It is easy enough to arouse excitement about the calling-up of a dozen members of the Oxford Group or about the transport of flowers by train, but it is hard to get up any interest in the 60,000,000 inhabitants of the Colonial Empire. That interest must now be aroused, if mutual advantage is to be gained of the association of the United Kingdom with the Colonies. Certainly if higher education is to be promoted in the Colonies, help will be required from the universities of this country, and perhaps of the Dominions; for training teachers and research workers, for post-graduate and professional training, for visiting teachers and research workers, for external examiners and inspectors. I have even suggested that it may be necessary to take a mission, perhaps with a harmonium rather than a big drum, around the universities of this country to arouse their interest in the other countries of the Empire. Anyhow it will be wise probably to set up in this country some kind of central organisation, to watch over the question of higher learning in the Colonies and to bring their needs and the opportunities they offer continually to the notice of the schools, the universities, and the learned bodies here. These and cognate matters, perhaps even the harmonium, are being discussed within the walls of the Colonial Office. May I say to my right hon. Friend how much I believe that both the Colonies themselves, and the universities in this country, could profit by closer contact of that kind and by more widespread knowledge here, both of the Colonies themselves and of the opportunities they offer to young men and women of ability and initiative to take part for a period of their lives in this grand adventure of Colonial development and welfare.

The necessary condition of education is health. That is recognised by the provision of school meals for schoolchildren. Improvements in health and improvements in education go side by side. They act and react on one another sometimes even in the inverse way suggested by the Secretary of State, that a higher survival rate on top of a large birthrate may make provision for education extremely difficult. The Royal Commission recommended that at least one school of hygiene should be set up in the West Indies. In the Stock-dale Report very strong emphasis is laid on the modern, the correct, doctrine of preventive and social medicine, of the maintenance of health, and of adequate nutrition, rather than on the treatment of disease. At present, owing to U-boats in the Caribbean and the stress of war, little can be done in this direction because of the lack of highly-trained personnel and suitable equipment and accommodation. The very high incidence of avoidable disease in the region shows, however, how rich a harvest will be reaped when more equipment and accommodation are available. The same high dividend of public welfare may be expected in most of the other Colonies when it is found possible to apply the results of modern hygienic and preventive methods.

In the large-scale use of such measures we can learn very much from America, and can gain much help. One thing in particular gave me satisfaction in reading the Stockdale Report: namely, the frequent references to collaboration with the Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation. That matter-of-fact, business-like body is always to be found about whenever a real job of work is to be done in research, in promoting public health or in international co-operation; it is the delight and admiration of its friends, I might almost say the envy. No doubt when similar reports come to be written in later years the practical and generous influence of the Rockefeller Foundation, in research and practical methods, will again be found at work. There is no better example in the world of practical co-operation and good will; and not the least of the services of the Rockefeller Foundation to the West Indies is that of undertaking to train in the United States a number of medical officers in public health. The House may remember that about 50 medical students from this country are now completing their clinical training in America, as the guests of the Rockefeller Foundation. Such traffic must be continued and made reciprocal, in training, research and practical methods.

The magnificent achievements of America in public health and preventive medicine are matters of history—not only the history of medicine but the history of the conquest by man of his environment, from the days of the building of the Panama Canal, which those achievements made possible, right down to the radical elimination of disease in the present day which is going on in the neighbourhood of their great air bases in West Africa. America is not uninterested in the British Colonial Empire, as nearly every speech of Mr. Wendell Willkie shows, but such practical and helpful interest as the Rockefeller Foundation and American medicine have offered, always in the friendliest spirit of collaboration, we may hope will continue to be of the greatest value to the health and well-being of our Colonies; and particularly the West Indies, which are so close to the coasts of America.

In the Colonies in general, as in the West Indies, disease is largely the consequence of social, moral, and economic conditions, due to malnutrition, poverty, and lack of moral restraint. Education, and training in citizenship and moral responsibility, for example by those "Four-Hs' clubs" to which reference has been made, together with an improved standard of living due to greater agricultural and industrial prosperity, should help to eliminate some of the grosser manifestations of this widespread disease. All this is mentioned in the Stockdale Report, but it is true also of the whole Colonial Empire.

An improved standard of living depends largely on wider and more confident application of research to the problems of Colonial industry, agriculture, products, and resources. For example, one might imagine that the work of surveyors would be regarded as the natural basis for developing the resources of a region. The West Indies are still almost unmapped. The development of Africa still awaits the completion of a geodetic survey of the Continent. The work of the recently established Colonial Products Research Council should be of the greatest assistance in finding new uses for the special products of the region—for example, in the West Indies, of cane sugar—while agricultural research in the regions themselves should aim at controlling the biological dangers of pests and diseases which affect the single crop, and in particular at avoiding the economic dangers of a single crop by enlarging the scope and broadening the basis of agriculture, while, as the Secretary of State said, maintaining the capacity, to export. Fisheries research, research in oceanography, meterology and soil erosion, research on the industrial utilisation within the region itself of its own raw materials, better geological information as to mineral resources and water supplies, veterinary research, and the investigation and control of insect vectors of diseases in plants and animals—all these, by strengthening the agricultural and industrial structure, will tend to make the Colonies more self-supporting, and so to advance their prosperity, their self-reliance, and their dignity.

In this country we do not yet realise as fully as the Americans do the enormous influence of technological and scientific research on success in industry. We spend per man in industry about one-third as much as the United States do on such research. So far as the Colonies go, a good start has been made by the £500,000 per annum made available for research through the Colonial Research Committee. This may sound rather a lot, but it works out at 2d. per annum per inhabitant of the Colonies. Owing to conditions due to the war, it is not yet possible even to spend that; but in the days to come, I would warn my right hon. and gallant Friend—in case he is still at the Colonial Office, as I hope he will be, because continuity, above everything, is required in these matters—that there will be a demand for several times as much money for research as there is now. To quote from memory the words of General McNaughton, commanding the Canadian Forces here—and I would remind the House that General McNaughton is also President of the National Research Council of Canada: "We shall hold up our heads, stick out our chests, look as bold as brass, ask for all we want, and expect to get it."

Scientific and technical research has shown very clearly what a rich harvest it can bring to those who use it wisely and with confidence even in the old established industries, and how much more in the virgin fields of the Colonies. I am glad that the Secretary of State does not regard the £5,000,000 welfare fund as too large. He spoke of throwing his bread upon the waters. I would warn him that in the name of my scientific colleagues and myself I am now throwing my bread upon the waters in respect of the Research Fund.

The question of research and its effect upon prosperity is one not only for the United Kingdom and the Colonies but one for the Empire as a whole, for the Dominions, the Dominion institutions and Dominion universities as well as for those of the United Kingdom. In the autumn of 1941 the Royal Society set up an informal Committee which has come to be called the B.C.S.C.—British Commonwealth Scientific Committee. It was at a meeting of this Committee that General McNaughton made his famous remark. This Committee has now completed a Report, and perhaps I may be permitted to read the first paragraph in it, since it brings out the point about the importance, to the Empire as a whole, of scientific research and development:
"The scientific problems provided by the war in connection with technical devices and weapons, supply, medicine, public health, agriculture, food, communications, etc., brought scientists from all parts of the British Commonwealth into close collaboration. The efficient organisation of this work necessitated the presence in London of scientific representatives of the various Dominions and the opportunity was taken of instituting some kind of informal meeting ground for the consideration of general problems. The general object was to ensure scientific co-operation in the technical emergency problems of the immediate post-war period and to ensure that the most Should be made of our common scientific resources in the future after the war "—
and this is the chief point—
"for improving both scientific knowledge itself and the life of the people of the Commonwealth."
The Secretary of State referred to the fact that one cannot really divide the social and the economic factors from one another. In the same way one cannot divide the scientific and the social research. I would like to refer to a very wise comment in the Report, the reference being to research in social welfare. The comment is:
"The most obvious gap in the apparatus of social administration in the West Indies is machinery for research.…Many praiseworthy endeavours…are greatly weakened by the conflict between the purpose underlying them."
There can be no doubt that dispassionate, objective study of the social and economic conditions in the West Indies, as in all the Colonies, is a prior necessity of all social advancement. The stirring-up of political feeling by oratory and similar methods, as indeed the Report says, is all too easy. The wiser method of disinterested study and examination is far more difficult. This cannot be done only by experts from this country. It needs two things—experts engaged by the Colonial Governments and the prosecution of social studies in institutions of higher learning within the territories themselves, the Government expert and the independent student and research worker working together. These must act and react with one another as they do in this country. We can no more trust to undiluted bureaucracy in the Colonies than we can trust to it here. This confirms the conclusion of my earlier remarks about the higher education. It shows how necessary such education is as the basis for developing the self-respecting, self-reliant and self-governing communities, which are the goal which we have set before us.

The hon. Gentleman the Junior Burgess for Cambridge University (Professor Hill) has stressed the importance of research, and I must say how greatly I agree with him in that respect, although I do not intend to follow him into that sphere of discussion with which he is perhaps the best qualified man in this House to deal. I want to deal with the Stockdale Report, which has been the chief subject of our discussion to-day, and to say how heartily I welcome it, how excellent it is, and how glad I am that the Stockdale Report—this extension, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has called it, of the Colonial Office—has been focused upon the West Indies in the Colonial Empire. The West Indies are the depressed area of the Colonial Empire and most need attention. The Report has been made with the help of many eminent scientists and experienced experts, and I should like especially to refer to Sir Frank Stockdale's medical adviser, Sir Rupert Briercliffe, whose experience on tropical medical conditions must be greater almost than that of any other man in the Colonial Service. But I am not sure that this Report, excellent as it is as a report, gives the House of Commons what it wants. It is a report by a civil servant, and it deals with a very large number of matters in, as my hon. Friend said, rather a patch-work manner. It does not establish—and I think the Minister should himself establish—the priorities of this work and the way in which it is to be done. I do not feel satisfied in respect of this Report that it establishes sufficiently clearly any scheme of priorities. For instance, Sir Frank Stockdale is appointed as Comptroller for Development and Welfare. Clearly development is very much more important than welfare. Development will create new sources of wealth, and it is new wealth and the creation of new wealth rather than welfare subsidies which are required by the West Indies.

I believe—and the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has reminded us—that the West Indies have not been surveyed. By development in the West Indies you have the possibility of creating much new wealth, and I am entirely convinced that you can, at any rate, create sufficient new wealth to raise the level, if you do it in the proper way, of subsistence of the people in these islands to a very much higher level. In dealing with the question of priorities, let us ask bluntly, What is the central problem of the West Indies? I want to tell the House, and in order to convince my right hon. and gallant Friend the Colonial Secretary, I am going to take my information from the Stockdale Report and also from the Report of the Committee on Nutrition of the Colonial Empire, to which I do not think my right hon. and gallant Friend referred. I want to convince him from this Report of the actual conditions. On page 45 of the Stockdale Report the conditions in Jamaica are described in this way:
"In Jamaica, where for years unemployment has been endemic, the establishment of the United States bases has not even temporarily solved the unemployment problem."
It has, of course, partially solved the problem. The Report goes on:
"Jamaica contains approximately half the total population of the British West Indies, and there has been a tendency for years past for the population to increase faster than the productivity of the Island, a process which cannot but lead to the general lowering of the standard of living of the people unless counteracting factors come into the picture."
That is a situation which can only be corrected either by emigration from the island or by the creation of new wealth to support the additional population. Anyone who looks at the facts with regard to the West Indies and the population there will come to the conclusion that there is very little help indeed to be obtained in the direction of migration. The problem of the West Indies must be solved in the West Indies, with the sources they have available. The problem is also defined in the Report by the Committee on Nutrition in the Colonial Empire, and I would like to draw the attention of the House to two paragraphs dealing with diet and health and deficiency diseases. On page 90 of Part II of the first Report the Committee, referring to nutrition in Jamaica, states:
"the nutritional state of a distressingly large proportion of the labouring classes is definitely bad."
They mention that there is a divergence of opinion between those who say it is bad and those who say it is not, and they go on to say:
"The position with regard to children seems, however, to be much clearer. Of 12,000 children examined multiple vitaminosis was found in about 20 per cent., the most striking signs being blindness, glossitis, stomatitis, dry skin and anemia. Evidence of mild rickets is frequently found among younger school children."
This evidence of rickets in Jamaica is a staggering indictment of the dietary, because rickets is not supposed to occur, according to the rules of the game, as it were, in countries where there is plenty of sunshine. The sun is not lacking in Jamaica, but unfortunately malnourished children are suffering from rickets. It says here in the Report, and I quote it because it has the backing of names of the highest authority:
"Although no cases of beriberi, pellagra and scurvy have been detected in schools, the condition of many children suggests a near approach to these diseases. The state of nutrition, alike in adults and children, is complicated by the considerable presence of yaws, hookworm infection and malaria. Adverse economic conditions, the poverty of the masses, low wages, unemployment, the over-large family and the high percentage of illegitimacy (71 per cent. of all births) are the root causes of most of the malnutrition found. The average income of 184,000, or 92 per cent. of the employed population, in 1935 fell below 25s. a week and 147,700, or 71 per cent., received an average of 14s. a week. These are the sums earned by the male wagecarner responsible for an average of five persons but in a large number of cases he shirks his responsibility, leaving it to the woman to bear most of the family burdens on an intermittently earned wage of 5s. a week. The difficulty of maintaining families under such circumstances is reflected in the infant mortality."
I have ventured to bring before the House the facts of the problem which apply fairly generally throughout the West Indies, above all, in Jamaica. There is poverty among the masses of the people, there is want, there is squalor, there is dirt and disease. The Stockdale Report, speaking of Jamaica, states that the Colony will require considerable assistance if its economic resources are to be developed, if its unemployment problem is to be alleviated and its social services improved. Indeed it will, but it requires more than that; the problem must be looked at in a new perspective and that is why I said to the Minister that we ought in this matter to establish new priorities.

Is it money that is required to solve the problems of the West Indies or is it good organisation? I suggest that although some money is required it is very much more a question of a new and better kind of organisation for a development of the economic resources of the country rather than the provision of large sums of money. We have a tendency in this country—and perhaps in this House—to think that if we arrange for payment of a large sum of money we have somehow discharged our responsibility to the Colonial people whereas what may required is something very different. There is, of course, special recognition of the importance of development in the Stockdale Report, but how is it to be done? I suggest that the labour of the people in the West Indies—let us take Jamaica as a typical example—should be directed to the production of food for their own consumption from land which is quite fertile enough to produce all that is necessary. In that way the first new wealth they should produce should be new wealth of food which would nourish them properly. The Report recognises the importance of this development of new food production. Improvements in this respect have been made in Jamaica but more are needed. Changes are also needed in the Barbados, in Trinidad and Tobago in the direction of greater production of food by the labour of the people on the land.

In the same Report it is recorded that in Barbados many of the children do not go to school because for the last three days of the week there is no food. That is a very serious indictment of the situation. What is needed is not so much elaborate welfare work but a new kind of social change in the West Indies. There should be created everywhere a self-sufficient peasant agriculture on which the population would support themselves and it must be on land owned and leased by the Government. Otherwise, the difficulties which have arisen between landlord and tenant and with regard to the freehold tenure of land in the West Indies will make the situation impossible. On that point I venture to quote further from the Stock-dale Report. On page 32, in paragraph 125, it is stated:
"Agriculture in the West Indies has been generally conducted in the past on a purely commercial basis. It has been concerned too much with the production of crops for export in many instances having little or no regard to the maintenance of soil fertility or the needs of future generations. Individual interests have also been paramount. Local institutions and movements for the organisation of rural life have been lacking. In consequence, leadership and the spirit of self-help are largely absent. Public opinion is now awaking to the fact that soil erosion and the neglect of food crops and animal husbandry have resulted in social and economic problems of considerable magnitude."
In the next paragraph there is reference to the—
"disastrous results to the community of the freehold system of land tenure, especially the fragmentation of holdings, indebtedness on the land, and the accumulation of land by mercantile interests at the expense of the agricultural community."
That stresses very strongly the importance and necessity of the cultivation of food crops for the subsistence of the population. I do not want to stray from the West Indies, except to remark that exactly the same problem faces the population in West Africa, and the Nigerian Agricultural Department has been working very successfully on the improvement of the agriculture of the Africans and on the improvement of their standards of life by improvement of the food which they themselves grow. I put forward peasant agriculture, not as an end in itself, but as the foundation on which there can be a general improvement in health and an increase in productivity and prosperity.

The health problems of the West Indies are extremely grave and they are insoluble without adequate nutrition. To erect a costly medical structure on the basis of the hopeless poverty of the West Indies at the present time would be to give the doctors appointed to do the work an impossible task and to delude ourselves that we were acting wisely. It is a thing very well known to the medical profession, and it is frequently done in the Army, that when something is very difficult, one passes the buck to the doctor. If we do not deal with the fundamental question of the production of food and an improvement in the nutrition of the people, which is the fundamental problem of the West Indies, and if we simply erect a complicated and expensive medical service, we shall not benefit the people, as they could be benefited by a medical service on a proper foundation, but shall merely pass the buck to the doctors because we do not want to tackle the fundamental economic problem of the lack of proper production from the land.

I do not suggest a revolutionary Socialist programme; I suggest a programme which could be carried out without any violation of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Conservative principles, and with the greatest possible benefit to all the people in the West Indies. The medical proposals of the Stockdale Report are, in themselves, admirable. The plan of the health unit is a piece of first-class organisation. I have not the slightest doubt that it is an excellent thing. But I have done enough medical work in the slums of this country to know that it is no good pouring good medicine down the throats of people who are suffering from starvation or semi-starvation. One must give them proper nutrition before one can make medical science really effective. At the present time, the West Indies are riddled with diseases and the prevention and cure of those diseases are impossible with the severe degree of poverty and malnutrition which exist at the present time. Let me quote from the General Report on Nutrition in the Colonial Empire on this subject. In Chapter 5 there is a review of the different diseases which are caused very largely by malnutrition—deficiency diseases such as beri-beri, pellagra, scurvy, Vitamin D deficiencies. Moreover, it is not always realised that malaria, yaws, venereal disease and tuberculosis are all made very much worse by the existence of malnutrition. The Report sums up what would happen if it were possible to remove malnutrition from the Colonial Empire at one stroke:
"To sum up, Colonial diets are very often far below what is necessary for optimum nutrition…. We do not doubt that if it were possible, as unfortunately it is not, to remove at one stroke all traces of malnutrition in the Colonial Empire, there would be an immense gain in physical health, mental alertness and material welfare. Money spent on improving nutrition should be a sound investment, yielding a dividend in the increased welfare of the community as a whole"—
and also, I would add, in the increased productivity of those people in any work they do. I suggest that in our Colonial reconstruction work the first priority should be to get improved nutrition. I would remind hon. Members that the question of nutrition in the Colonial Empire has been under discussion for a good many years. At an earlier date, which now seems very remote, it received a very great stimulus from a valuable debate at the League of Nations in 1935. In that debate Mr. Stanley Bruce, who was at that time representing the Commonwealth of Australia at the League, made a very striking speech, which received world-wide attention, on the necessity of the marriage of health and agriculture. That is what I propose should be undertaken with regard to the West Indies, that you should marry health and agriculture, and make it subsistence agriculture primarily for the benefit of the people living there, and that you should take all steps to bring about a great increase in subsistence production in order to abolish malnutrition, which is at the foundation of all the troubles there. That is true today, and it will be true to-morrow unless things are changed. The marriage of health and agriculture in the West Indies, meaning the setting up of peasant agriculture so that the first call of the labour of the people is labour on the land to produce food for their own sustenance, will produce a revolution in the conditions of the people in the West Indies and make possible all kinds of projects of development, such as education and technical efficiency, which are quite beyond their reach at the present time. If this, policy is carried out, it will go far to solve many of the problems of life in the West Indies, it will give the people of the Islands a firm basis on which to build the structure of a happy and prosperous life, and it will be an example and model for work which can be carried out in other parts of the Colonial Empire.

Shall I be in Order, Sir, in asking a question of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury on Business?

I am afraid the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not be in Order on this occasion. I have been looking up the Rules, and the Report of the Vote on Account has to be put at a certain hour, and the time cannot be extended.

In view of the importance of the subject and of the fact that a large number of Members will be shut out of the Debate, and particularly as there was half-an-hour's interruption, through no fault of their own, surely it would be possible for us to have another day, or part of a day, for this very im- portant Debate. Will my right hon. and gallant Friend consider that?

If I might answer the question, no one is sorrier than I am that it is not possible to continue the Debate to-day and give a full opportunity for everyone who wishes to take part. It would be a very great pity, as far as I am concerned, if the very much increased interest which has been shown to-day only results in a certain number of people not getting a chance to take part. I will consult with the Parliamentary Secretary with regard to the possibility, if not of a complete day, at any rate of some part of a day, which will enable those who have not been able to take part in the Debate to get in.

The evidence is clear that there are ample speakers for a full day's Debate, and it would be for the convenience of the House if another day were allotted.

I am sure that will be considered. I hope that, at any rate, we shall get some opportunity of continuing the Debate.

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman mean that if another day is secured we shall be more or less confined to the subject matter of to-day's Debate, or will it cover the whole field?

I should hope it would be confined to to-day's Debate. I am hoping that we shall have the normal opportunity on the Colonial Estimates to discuss the whole field.

I should like to add my congratulations to the Government on acting so quickly on the recommendations of the Royal Commission. I know Sir Frank Stockdale personally, and I have the highest opinion of his qualities. I have also worked in East Africa with his agricultural adviser, Mr. Wakefield, and no one is a better authority, not only on agriculture but on other broad practical questions. We all welcome the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's survey. I think it is to a great extent an answer to some of our critics, but I could not help feeling some sense of unreality because the Stockdale Report requires a background, and I should like to deal for a few minutes with the background. The hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) felt, as I do, the difficulty of getting really reliable information, partly perhaps owing to the non-publication of the Moyne Commission's Report. What is the problem? Our aim is to create self-supporting, happy and prosperous Colonies. What are the forces arrayed against these progressive ideals? Perhaps I may call them the three P's—population, production and prices, the last two being, of course, the lifeblood of the Colonies. When we come to look into all these questions we are hampered by the fact that we have no comprehensive reports on this group of eight Colonies. With great difficulty I managed to find out, on the subject of population that in 1896 it was 1,700,000; it had risen in 1921 to 2,018,000, and in 1936 to 2,500,000. I think my right hon. and gallant Friend said it was now close under 3,000,000. This population is confined to these islands and cannot get out. Emigration has practically ceased in the last 12 years, and the Report states that there is little, if any, possibility of transferring a large number of people to less densely populated countries. It shows that emigration is impossible. When you think of Barbados, with a population of 1,200 to the square mile, a purely agricultural country, which compares with 700 in this densely populated country of England, you will see what the problem is, and, if it is true that the population of this group of Colonies continues to increase at the present rate of 2 per cent. per annum, it will be doubled in 35 years. It is a population problem that we have to face, and we have to face it in this way, that, unless schemes can be found for enabling the population to live, a reduction in the number of births is essential if there is to be any hope of improving, or even maintaining, the standard of living. That, of course, in view of what was emphasised by the hon. Member for Ely (Mr. de Rothschild), is a social problem of very great magnitude.

Then we come to the problem of agricultural production, mainly for export. There again there are no statistics, but I found that the export of sugar in 1928 was 357,000 tons, and it rose in 1938 to 620,000 tons. The hon. Member who spoke last discussed the question of changing over from large estates to smallholders, but it does not follow that that will solve the problem. Then we come to the question of price. The price of sugar fluctuates between £8 and £14 a ton. It is easy to imagine the effect of such fluctuations on producers. If the price falls heavily they cannot make a living. I am only putting these points forward because I would wish our critics on this and the other side of the Atlantic to bear them in mind as a background when considering this very difficult problem. It is certain that this country cannot control overproduction in the world, and it cannot guarantee the financing on a sliding scale of the difference between world prices and the costs of production in all our Colonies. We have here the uncomfortable picture of a rising population at the mercy of world over-production and world fluctuation of prices. I hope that our critics and everyone in this country will study this question and try to understand it, because the Government by themselves cannot solve it. It requires the help and all the intelligence of those who study these matters. It is only by the help of everyone that we shall arrive at what we all desire, and that is that these countries should be self-supporting, happy and prosperous.

We have just had speeches from some Members who may be expert in their own subjects but who certainly know very little about the West Indies. Perhaps I may be allowed, is one who was born and educated in the West Indies, to try and correct some of the fallacies that have found expression to-day. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Professor Hill), for example, may know his physiology, but he certainly does not know the West Indies. He made two perfectly inaccurate statements, which is surprising from a university representative.

He made the statement that the British electorate were not interested in Colonial affairs. I have said before, and I say it again, that that is perfectly inaccurate. I speak continually in the country on Colonial affairs, and I have never yet found an audience disinterested. The Press, however, deliberately because of vested interests—and we know what they are in the West Indies, not only porcine and porcupinish but leechlike—keep information from the British electorate. So do the B.B.C. They have never yet allowed anyone who represents West Indian democracy to get a chance at the microphone.

The hon. Member for Cambridge University pleaded for research. I do not mind his pleading for research, for I am as keen on medical research as anyone else, but when he pleads that we should send more experts out to the West Indies, I would remind him of what the people there are saying. They are writing to me by every mail saying, "The one thing you must not do is to send us any more experts." The people want a chance of doing things themselves. Your schemes of social and economic welfare are simply playing with the subject. We pay the Governors £6,000 or £7,000 free of Income Tax, and we are told that it is done on the ground of public policy. The Colonial Office scores. Appointments to such posts as Crown Agents for the Colonies come from their staff on the verge of retirement, and the Colonial Secretary avers that those appointments are on merit, as if no merit exists outside his office. The present Governor of Barbados, salary £3,000 free of income tax, got his appointment in the blitz period from the Colonial Office, as he was the Legal Adviser there. The present Comptroller of the W.I. Development and Welfare Fund before appointment to this Caribbean work was the Agricultural Adviser to the Colonial Office. Their appointments in the main come from the Colonial Office. The West Indies are a regular recruiting ground for patronage. Instead of having a Colonial Parliamentary Committee which we can face here, the Colonial Office pick their men and put them on advisory committees, doing all they can to keep real democracy out, because they are afraid of information about the West Indies leaking through.

The West Indian people are noting all that. Certain speeches made recently, as the "Manchester Guardian" indicated, have been very unfortunate. The West Indian people are perfectly loyal and decent people who want to live in the British tradition under British laws. They are proud of their association with the British Empire and want to remain citizens of it. They are not disloyal, but they are disaffected and disappointed at the sort of conditions under which they are forced to live. I ask the Colonial Secretary to be a little less formal and a little friendlier when he is making speeches with regard to the people in the West Indies. Critics are not necessarily disloyal. They are perfectly loyal and merely ask that these beautiful islands, which have everything in their favour, should be made really the paradises which they are described in tourist brochures. Having said that and made one or two remarks about the hon. Member for Cambridge—I am sorry I cannot do more—I will come to the Stockdale Report.

These beautiful islands, geographically the top of the land which once existed between North and South America and described as tropical paradises, are dens of destitution. The Stockdale Report is a very excellent Report and far be it from me, having seen one of my dreams realised, to criticise it too harshly. From the time I was a small boy in the West Indies, meeting people from the different islands, I have often wondered why the islands are kept deliberately separated, with different laws, different customs, different crops, different economies and lack of communications. The people are howling for educational advance, clubs and welfare, and yet they are deliberately kept apart. It always struck me, even as a small boy, that these islands should be amalgamated and federated into one unit. I know the usual argument of the Colonial Office that the people do not want it. The common people do. The present legislative council, which was elected on a high franchise, may not want it, but the common people do. It may be that Jamaica will have to be kept as a separate unit. The others should certainly be amalgamated into one decent unit with a good Governor. At the time of the Royal Commission of 1939, when I knew the proposal was to be made for a welfare fund, I thought that it provided the idea for a federation. Even if the islands were to be kept separate under different Governors with the patronage still being exercised, the welfare fund would provide a central controller federating; the islands for welfare work, for economic advancement and for everything except political progress. The idea, however, is to keep them back at all costs and not to let the people have the right to do things for themselves, even with many reservations.

I agree that the Jamaican Constitution is a great step forward. I would not be hard on the question of the Governor's veto, and the local people will be unwise if they allow this question to stand in the way of the acceptance of the Constitution. We have vetoes in this country, and the United States Constitution is full of reservations and checks. I congratulate the Colonial Secretary on the effort he has made. It is a fine, friendly gesture. I do not believe in being critical all the time and not giving praise when it is due. Why, however, should Jamaica alone be given a Constitution? What is the reason except its large population and its rather active political section? What have the Leeward Islands done to be left outside? What have Trinidad and Tobago done-Trinidad, the richest Colony in the British Empire—the richest Colony in all the world on account of its oil as well as its agricultural produce—what have Grenada. St. Vincent and St. Lucia done, that they should be left out? Are the people of Jamaica better educated than the people of Grenada or Trinidad? As I have said before, it is easy to write political constitutions—I could write them every day for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman—but I should like to see them in practice, even with reservations. I should like to see local councils in the islands, under universal suffrage, engaged with local matters, and also a federal senate doing things that concern the group as a whole.

By the way, the United States is no model. Let not Mr. Wendell Willkie or any other American statesman start to tell us how to run our Colonial Empire, because we have a very proper answer to him. We can tell him to wash his own face first. I would refer him to the Island of St. Thomas, which the United States secured from the Danes, and refer him also to things done on his own doorstep. We can remind him of San Antonio in Texas, and tell him to clean that den first before he dares to tell us how we are to govern our own Colonial Empire. After all, the West Indies provide not one fraction of the sink of iniquity which is found in certain of the United States towns and districts. We have a perfect answer to the Americans. We have nothing to learn from the United States about Colonial administration. We were the pioneers, and our Colonial record is good as compared with that of others, but the comparison between what we ought to do and what we have done with the material in our hands is per- fectly disgraceful. We are not taking advantage of our opportunity to do what the people are anxious should be done. Why should we not do what the United States have done in the Philippine Islands? They have given universal suffrage with a united Legislature, and temporarily, they have a United States Commission, which exercises a veto and there are reservations. If we did that as a start, with provisions for reviewing the situation in five or seven years' time, we might go on to a constitution with legislative councils and a federal senate and have a decent West Indian Civil Service.

I plead with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and with the Colonial Office, as members of the Commission pleaded with them during their deliberations, to reconsider the question of federation both from the point of view of the medical services and the agricultural services. From the point of view of general public policy, federation is the thing for the West Indies. Some people in the West Indies have not done very badly and some have done excellently. I think we ought to pay a tribute to the hon. Member for Bournemouth (Sir L. Lyle) for the excellent housing which his firm among others has provided in Jamaica. Let us give credit where credit is due. It is no good saying that every man is wrong because he is engaged in business. I do not mind British companies in the West Indies making profits, though I have criticised the St. Kitts factory, where they get profits of from 200 to 1,000 per cent. per year out of the estate, and where the poverty-stricken people cannot live on the estates but have to go down to the towns and pay high rents. When that sort of thing goes on I am entitled to say that things are disgraceful.

In the Stockdale Report we can find an example of the necessity for federation. In the matter of the water supplies the Stockdale Report shows that they have a team of experts available to go out to different islands to attend to the question of water supplies. Why not have a mobile team ready to move as required from some federal unit? Medical experts could run off to where they are required, to islands where epidemics have broken out, others to where the water supplies need attention, thus looking after social welfare in one place and medical requirements in another. That would be preferable to having these little islands, measuring 12 miles by 15 or 20 miles by 20 or 30 by 40, each with its Governor, its Colonial Secretary, its Colonial Treasurer, its Postmaster-General—all getting salaries out of the poor people of the islands. The islands are on an agricultural economy—cotton in one island, bananas in another, sugar in another, cocoa in another—all liable to the vicissitudes of tropical agriculture. Not only do we allow that state of affairs, but they have to import their food. We do not allow the people in the West Indies to have decent production of milk. We talk about animal agriculture policy, but we do not allow them to have decent milk production.

I am glad to hear that. It is a good thing. Milk is a great necessity from the point of view of nutrition, in addition to the question of consuming home-grown food, but they cannot produce the milk out there. They have to import condensed milk and dried milk in order to suit the profits of the manufacturers of dried and condensed milk in this country. Throughout the Stockdale Report, running through it like a good theme, with variations, in a musical symphony, is this idea of ultimate federation. It is a crazy idea nowadays to have separate Governments in different islands and to super-impose upon them a federal scheme for certain purposes, because that means double officials, different policies and calls for time for consultations, approval, and discussion. It is a crab-like method of getting to the right position. Why not go straight to the goal? If at any time a plebiscite of the people were taken, certainly in the Windward Islands, the Leeward Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago, on the question of whether they wanted to be a federal unit under one Governor, not on the present franchise but with universal suffrage, I have no doubt at all what the answer would be. I have been full of this subject of good government for the West Indies for years, thinking and dreaming of it, long before I came to the House. I have seen some terrible things from the men sent out to be Governors and officers by the selection committee, which is said to have great psychological knowledge in choosing the right persons. Bad men have been chosen when good men were available.

Let me return to the question of health in the West Indies. The present conditions are a perfect disgrace. One endemic disease, hookworm, is not mentioned in the Stockdale Report. I believe it is completely left out.

Tell me the paragraph. I have read the Report through and through, and I shall be interested if anybody can find the reference to hookworm. I represent the West Indian doctors on the British Medical Association Council. I will tell you why it is not mentioned in the Report, or at any rate not emphasised. It is because Government policy makes the disease endemic. The cure of this disease depends upon the production of proper latrines, dug to a certain depth to prevent the infection. At present the deposits are not prevented from being carried away. Proper sanitation and proper digging of latrines would mean that the disease could be absolutely abolished. I notice an hon. Member laughs, but if he saw the people I have seen suffering from anaemia he would not laugh. He would see expectant mothers with anaemia and mothers bringing up babies with anaemia the same as their own, babies suffering from malnutrition, plus this disease, plus tuberculosis, plus leprosy and malaria. Swamps are not drained, and latrines are not put up. There is no decent scheme, except on the Island of Trinidad. Medical officers engaged purely in preventive work have no opportunities for doing their work properly.

Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of hookworm, will he say whether, if the natives were supplied with enough wages to enable them to buy boots or shoes, there would be any fear of hookworm?

People get contamination by touching the soil. The provision of boots would help to a certain extent, but not completely. If these people had the right in their own legislative councils to vote their own money and impose their own taxes, things might be different, and Colonial money might not be sent to the City of London and kept there. They would be able to see that machinery was available for building latrines, and various other health measures could be taken.

I want to add a word about leprosy. This is an endemic disease in certain islands in the West Indies, and in St. Kitts and Trinidad especially. I saw them there, and it is terrible. Leprosy could be abolished in the West Indies in a generation. There is a very excellent specialist. Dr. Muir, there from the Leprosy Association, and he is doing excellent work. He has been allowed by Sir Frank Stock-dale to travel through the various islands, and his reports are excellent. In one of his reports he definitely says that he would not blame the medical profession for not diagnosing leprosy. He said:
"I do not blame the medical profession. It is only recently that leprosy has become recognised as a remediable disease, and those who have qualified as doctors in Britain or America, and even those who have taken the Diploma of Tropical Medicine, have had scant facilities for becoming acquainted with the appearances and nature of leprosy."
So much for medical education in this country. I would beg and plead with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to do something for Colonial nursing. I have put a scheme for a naval training ship before the Colonial Office, but obviously it has been pigeonholed. Goodness knows what has happened to it; I have never heard anything about it. The recent Colonial Under Secretary was very good indeed and discussed these things with me. He was exceptionally encouraging.

Cannot the right hon. and gallant Gentleman do something for the women and girls in the West Indies to give them a chance to get British education? No matter how hard a West Indian girl works or how good her elementary education results may be, or even if she went to the secondary school; she never has an opportunity of doing what boys have had an opportunity of doing once a year—winning a scholarship. Cannot the right hon. and gallant Gentleman do something to set up a federal nursing service with an agreed course, an agreed training and a diploma that will be recognised throughout the different islands? If a nurse is trained in one island, her diploma may not be recognised in another island. Cannot a federal nursing board have a definite scheme to provide nurses, who can go about the islands and gain experience? Cannot something be done to train West Indian nurses in Great Britain? We have the facilities and the hospitals here. We have sister tutors here; some of them should be sent out to the islands. We have the London County Council here with facilities in every type of hospital—mental, mental deficiency, tuberculosis, V.D. clinics, general, surgical and medical. Cannot there be special hospital groups to give the girls a good training so that they can go back to their own people and try to nurse them through the squalor of disease which has been mentioned here to-day?

I know some of the objections. It is said that British patients would not like a black nurse. I do not believe it. But what a chance for propaganda. These girls are very fine nurses. Why cannot there be an organised scheme? Some hospitals do it now. Willesden Hospital accepts such recruits. So do the Ancoats Hospital in Manchester. These are isolated examples. Why cannot the Colonial Office use the money in the Welfare and Development Fund in order to make a grant to the London County Council, if the L.C.C. is afraid of a charge falling on the rates, for the setting-up of a decent colonial nursing scheme so that these girls might be encouraged to come to the L.C.C. hospitals? I put up a scheme five years ago on these lines, with the L.C.C. under the right hon. Gentleman who is now Home Secretary. I was told that these nurses must take the trouble to come from the West Indies here to have their health, education and general education for work examined. Why not get them here after examination? I know parents who have been earning is a day and who have saved for 40 years to give their children an education to get them here. When the girls have got here they have found that their health and education were allegedly not up to standard or their aptitude was not right—perhaps they did not stand straight enough—and that they could not be nurses.

There are many cases of leprosy which filter back to this country by means of retired officers from the Colonies and which are now tramping through the streets of Great Britain unrecognised. I spotted one in my hospital. It came, after having gone to five or six voluntary hospitals for the past ten years. I was lucky enough to know something about leprosy. I had seen it in my youth, I have seen it in my visits to the West Indies. I took my reputation in my hands and said, "That is leprosy." When I was sneered at and laughed at I said, "Bring your microscopes." The microscopic examination was secured after a lot of trouble. I am not trying to frighten the population. I am not telling the whole population of Great Britain that they are going to get leprosy to-morrow. There is no need to be scared about leprosy. It is the same type of disease as tuberculosis, much less, but this sort of thing should not go on.

One word more, and I shall sit down. An effort is being made with regard to tuberculosis that an expert in tuberculosis should be sent out by the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, to Jamaica. Why do it that way? The specialist who has been chosen may be a very good man, but you have an excellent tuberculosis specialist like Dr. Halliday Sutherland, who can write and who knows tuberculosis, having been trained by Sir Robert Phillip, who started tuberculosis clinics, a man who knows the problem of tuberculosis from top to bottom. Will he be chosen? No. I will tell you why. Because he is not a "Yes"-man. He knows too much. He has an independent medical mind; he is not purchaseable; he could not be kept quiet. Therefore you dare not take that man, who can write—his books have proved he can—and send him out as the expert. It is because these things are done, because the kind of man is preferred who will give little trouble in the West Indies and here and is safe, that information is scanty. I appeal to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. I am sorry if I have been too virulent, too vituperative. I have always felt strongly about the West Indies. I have always been proud to be associated with the West Indies. I know all classes, rich and poor, black and white, I know them well. I will do anything that will help them. Abraham Lincoln said, referring to chattel slavery, "If I see that thing later on, I will hit it and hit it hard." If I get an opportunity of hitting present conditions hard, I will hit them hard, because I know perfectly well that in the Colonial Office there are facilities, within a generation, by political action, by federation, by welfare, by economic development, to change these delightful islands to be models of Colonial government so that the reputation of the British Government shall be that we are the one country throughout the world which both past and future has given a lead to the peoples of the world in Colonial administration.

I should like to remind the hon. Member of a very old proverb, which is that comparisons are odious. I cannot help feeling that the comparisons he drew between our administration and the administration of the United States are not particularly helpful at the present time. The House listened with the greatest interest to the speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. I cannot help feeling from my point of view that the most hopeful feature of that speech was the fact that he did not appear to consider that political development was an adequate substitute for economic welfare. Economic welfare in this present and also the post-war period presents features of very considerable difficulty, and it is likely to prove a full-time job for a very big man to make a success of the economic position in these islands at the present time, because I do not altogether agree with what the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) said with regard to the creation of new wealth.

Firstly, I do not think it is going to be an easy matter to create new wealth in the West Indies, unless one looks on printed paper money as wealth, in which case any Government can print it. But real wealth, it seems to me, is not going to be too easy to create. If we turn to the concluding pages of the Stockdale Report, we find a list of the Colonies which are going to receive grants of assistance. There are two Colonies excepted from that list. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman explained why the Island of Trinidad had not been included in that list. I think I am right in saying that he said that conditions there are tolerably prosperous at the present time. I should like to ask him what his reasons are for excluding that group known as the Bahamas. It is perfectly true that one of the islands, New Providence, is or was up to 18 months ago reasonably prosperous. That was entirely due to the tourist traffic from the United States, but since that time the Bahamas have fallen on pretty bad times. The United States tourist traffic is to all intents and purposes non-existent. It has come to an end through the activities of German U-boats in the Caribbean sea, and in addition to that the only other export which these islands have, namely, the export of sponges, has been very heavily hit through a sponge disease which has developed in the last five or six years. I should like to ask him whether anything has been done with a view to isolating the bacteria which is causing that disease and whether any steps have been taken to reconstruct this particular sponge industry which has been so heavily hit.

As the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said, one of the difficulties of the position in the West Indies is the density of population, which of course for islands dependent, as they are likely to be for many years, on agriculture, is very dense indeed. In addition to that, for two of the staple products of the West Indies, the future is, to say the least of it, rather obscure. For more than 250 years the principal export from the West Indies has been sugar and its by-products. It is perfectly true that in the last 30 or 40 years a fresh export has developed which has not only equalled but from one island, Jamaica, has very nearly doubled the export of sugar, namely, bananas, and the latest figures of exports for bananas indicate that the value of the exports of the West Indies is approximately the same as other exports from the whole of the islands. It is questionable whether the export of sugar is likely to go on. After all, the principal purchaser of West Indian sugar has been this country. To-day the Ministry of Agriculture is taking pride in the fact that the whole of the half-pound ration of sugar for the people of this country can be, and is being, produced by sugar beet in this country. That means that in the future the demand for West Indian sugar is likely to be very much reduced.

People may say that when the war is over and the export of sugar is resumed people will soon use the amount of sugar they did before the war. I very much doubt whether that is the case. Many of us discover that we are better in health with half a lb. of sugar per week than we were before the war with 1 lb. or 1¼ lb. Also, when people have cultivated the habit of doing without a thing it is difficult to build up the demand afresh. So it may easily be that in the West Indies they will not have the wherewithal to buy the staple foodstuffs from abroad which are necessary for the welfare of the people. If the export of sugar from the West Indies is very much reduced, what can we do to provide a substitute? As the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said, the mineral wealth of the West Indies is non-existent or entirely undeveloped, except that Trinidad is rich in petroleum and asphalt. Apart from that, the sources of wealth which would enable them to import the necessary foodstuffs are very limited.

There are two courses open. One is to develop other exports, and the other to grow substitute crops to enable the inhabitants to feed themselves. It is possible, no doubt, for them to live on what they produce, sugar and bananas, but I cannot conceive an A1 nation being built up on a diet of bananas and rum. We must see what can be done to provide substitutes. What can they grow, first, from the point of view of export, and, secondly, from the point of view of their own consumption? The first thing that occurs to me is cotton. Everybody knows the value and the merits of sea island cotton. It is probably the best that can be produced anywhere. In future there will be an almost unlimited demand for cotton of that quality, for motor tyres and other purposes. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, unless I misunderstood, said that the cultivation of cotton tended to cause soil erosion. I do not think that is necessarily so. Soil erosion has not occurred to any extent in Egypt, and only in those southern States of America where farming has been particularly careless. The other crop which might be grown is cocoa, for which there is a considerable demand in this country. A third is lime juice, which is already produced largely in some of the islands, and for which the demand, in this country, as far as I can see, is definitely on the increase. The other possible course is to grow food which they can consume themselves. Maize grows very well there, but I do not think that maize is considered a particularly desirable food for the human race, although people can live upon it. Rice can be grown to a large extent.

But the question I would ask is, whether it is possible to grow wheat in those islands? I know that 50 years ago people would have laughed at the very idea of wheat being grown in the West Indian climate, but since then so many new types of wheat have been evolved that there is a possibility that wheat may be found which will form an ear and ripen in that climate. In order to develop these new crops which the uneconomic situation in the West Indies would require, research and education are necessary. An institution of the kind is already in existence—the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that that college was still functioning and that the number of students had been considerably reduced. Why is that college situated in Trinidad? Why is it not in Jamaica? I suppose that the answer is that funds were forthcoming in Trinidad to support it, but does it not seem advisable that an institution of that kind should, at least, have a branch in the bigger island? A branch of that college situated in Jamaica would work wonders in developing the agriculture of that island. Whatever government and administration we adopt or encourage, the first duty of such administration would be to see that the people had a sufficient amount of the food they require.

It was my intention to discuss the questions of health and agriculture in the West Indies at some length but owing to the time that has been taken up in the Debate by a few of the previous speakers I am unable to do so. Some of us have sat here patiently enough a considerable time while others have indulged in unduly long dissertations so I will confine my few remarks chiefly to a few points about the agricultural position. Indeed, I shall curtail what I have to say about that. The West Indies in the past were dependent upon their exporting capacity. There have been those in our own country who have been inclined to condemn, perhaps those who sought profits in the West Indies as exploiting the islands for that purpose only. That has not really been the case. The reason the islands were used for exporting purposes was that, as the standard of living was raised in this country, vast masses of people demanded sugars and fruits and so on and the islands were used to their full exporting capacity. That was largely the fundamental cause of the islands being used for exporting products to such a degree in the past. The great evil of that was that the islands were dependent upon world prices and when world prices depreciated the natives suffered a good deal on that account.

To an increasing population in the West Indies agriculture is of first class importance and should be encouraged in every possible way. Land suitable for agricultural production in the West Indies is very limited indeed. It is situated on steep slopes and soil erosion has been very serious on account of the destruction of forests. The maintenance of fertility, too, is very important. The more intensive cultivation of land is essential if a reasonable standard of living is to be maintained. The local production of foodstuffs and animal products is essential. Much has already been done. It is the intention under the Colonial Development Act to see that this sort of agriculture is brought into being, and it is essential to have intensive cropping and the development of mixed products. Encouragement should be given to stone and hedge contour terracing to help soil preservation. Rural amenities, housing, village life and installation of water supplies should be regarded as of first-class importance. Another thing which must be done is to improve the land tenure conditions. I believe that I am right in saying that much of the land is now held in small freeholds which are split up after the death of the holder, or are frequently mortgaged, and the results are very disastrous. It is important to have long leases from the Crown or whoever may be able to grant them. I do not want to prevent in any way the Secretary of State from answering this very long Debate but those are a few points with regard to agriculture in the West Indies. It is very encouraging to see that the exporters are, on the whole, realising that welfare, as the Report says, must come before wealth.

I would say this of the Stockdale Report: excellent as it is we should be clear that although the Colonies will depend upon the mother country in the early years of post-war development it would be neither good for their social services nor for their economy that they should always continue to do so. We must help them to get on their feet but we must not pauperise them. Eventually, they must become self-supporting, otherwise development and self-government will become a farce. I am in agreement with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman in regard to his speech at Oxford recently. I think he was quite right to show that we are not prepared to hand these islands over to anyone. We are prepared for the Americans keeping theirs and for the French keeping theirs, but we should not be prepared to put our own under even an international commission. An international commission is made up of members who are responsible to their own countries; hence an international commission must be hampered in regard to this question. The sovereign power must belong to this country; we are quite prepared to listen to the advice of an international commission on health economics, transport and the like, but we should not be prepared to hand over sovereign and executive powers to them. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman was also, in my opinion, right when he said that maximum prosperity was only possible in an expansionist world and that there must be world demands for products and free passage across the sea. He also said that secondary industries—and here I profoundly disagree with the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest)—should be encouraged if they absorbed labour relevant to agriculture but that uneconomic and secondary industries should not be encouraged. I am sorry that I must now cut short my remarks, but I know that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman wants to give a brief reply to this long Debate and I wish to give him time.

I can only speak by leave of the House and I apologise for trespassing on Members' time but I feel that it would not be courteous, after such a Debate as we have had, if I did not make some reply, however brief, to some of the points that have been raised. I sympathise very much with the point raised by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Captain P. Macdonald). I think it is a great pity that we have not been able to give all Members who wish to do so an opportunity of speaking and I very much hope that it will be possible at some future time to find an opportunity of continuing this Debate. My right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary has pointed out to me that it might be done either by dealing with it on some Adjournment Motion which would, of course, necessitate agreement being reached among parties to terminate the Business of the Day early enough to enable such a Debate to take place, or failing that, to allocate an early Supply Day, although that may make it rather late, as Supply Days do not start until after Easter. However, I hope that after discussion through the usual channels some means will be found of continuing this interesting Debate.

If it is a Supply Day, I hope the Debate will not be extended over the whole Colonial area.

I could not agree more with the hon. Member. I hope something of that kind can be done. This is the first time in my experience of the House—not 39 years but, I think, about 18—with the exception of the Debate on Palestine that I have listened to a Debate in which Colonial administration has been confined to one area. I think it has been a great success and I hope we shall be able to have more Debates of this kind, referring to different areas, in the future. I am afraid I shall be able to deal only briefly with some of the points that hon. Members have raised. The hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) drew attention to the experience that we have gained in the West Indies from having the Comptroller there and asked about the possibility of an extension of this system elsewhere. The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that one of the difficulties of the Colonial Empire is that no one area resembles another in its problems and difficulties. I do not think any one machine, even if it is successful in one area, is probably the right machine to transfer to another area; but certainly, we can learn a great many lessons from the work that has been done with this particular kind of machine in this area and from that experience we can see what we can do to help other areas by perhaps a rather differently adapted machinery.

I thought the hon. Member was a little unfair to Sir Frank Stockdale when he complained that the Report did not deal with fundamental questions such as the price level of sugar. I do not think one could really expect the Comptroller under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act to devote part of his Report and spend part of his time as Comptroller in looking into the price level that sugar will have after the war. Important as that is, the factors that will determine the price level of sugar will obviously depend upon things far outside the purview of such an Act as this. Therefore, I do not think one can blame Sir Frank Stockdale in this respect. I do not think the hon. Member for Shipley need be unduly worried that there is not a sense of urgency among the Governments and Governors, as opposed to the Comptroller, about the necessity for these proposals. I have had an opportunity of seeing at least one of the Governors and an opportunity of talking at great length to Sir Frank Stockdale himself, and I would like to pay a tribute both to the Governors and to the Comptroller on the way in which they have settled down to co-operate one with another in this machinery. I think that the Governments and Governors are, on the whole, just as anxious to press forward with these reforms and this development as the Comptroller is.

The hon. Gentleman then touched on the very difficult subject of the Advisory Committee. This is a matter to which I have been giving a very great deal of thought. No doubt it is a matter that we shall discuss again when we come to the broad discussion of the Colonial Estimates. With regard to the present set-up of the advisory machinery to the Colonial Office, I assure the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) that the members of the various Advisory Committees are selected by me solely with the idea of getting the best experts in the particular lines. The one thing I want them to do is to say the truth and to think the truth. I am not in the least frightened of somebody doing that on my Advisory Committees. However, there is a definite gap, I think, in the system of advice I have on the economic side, and I am considering how and when that ought to be filled; but frankly, I am not certain that the same sort of body which one wants to advise one on big economic questions—perhaps as to the allocation between regions in the Colonial territory, the priorities between one form of development and another—is the body to which one wants to submit, as under the White Paper to the Colonial Development and Welfare Act one is supposed to do, the details of schemes costing £840 or the provision of a water supply in one small village or small island. I am not sure that you are not creating a wholly unnecessary bottle-neck of administrative detail and I should certainly like to think that over very carefully before I advise the House on what we ought to do about that Committee under the Development and Welfare Act.

The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) spoke, perhaps more in sorrow than in anger, about some words that I was tempted to use at Oxford. As far as I could see, he began rather in criticism, but he then went on in detail to agree with every word that I said and ended with a peroration so much more robust, virile and forthright than anything I could ever attempt to imitate, that I am afraid, in the cold light of to-morrow morning, when he goes to open with trembling fingers that newspaper which is no doubt the Bible to which he referred, "The Manchester Guardian," he may very well find a severe rebuke.

We were very grateful to have from the junior Member for Cambridge University (Professor Hill) some of his ideas with regard to higher education and research. I will not deal at length with higher education. It is a tremendously important subject, one of the subjects where general principles probably have to be evolved which are common to higher education in all the Colonies. My Education Advisory Committee, which is in touch with the Research Committee, is now engaged on that very problem of the whole set-up of higher education, and in particular university education, after the war. I was delighted to hear that the hon. Member, accompanied so far as I could see by a large number of intellectuals interested in research, is going to descend, at some time or other, upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer and make demands in the most violent way, accompanied with physical demonstrations, that the amount spent on research should be increased. I hope they will do so. I suppose this combination of physical terror with intellectual pre-eminence is the sort of thing to which he referred in this book with the odd title of "The Intellectual Respectability of Muscular Skill"—what I should call in my simple way the brawniness of brains.

The hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) made an extremely interesting speech. As he is not here, I do not know that I need reply very much to him except for one thing he said, which leaves quite a wrong impression and ought to be corrected. He talked about what should be the object of Sir Frank Stockdale's experts and said that the work of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act should be the creation of new wealth. From the way he talked about it, it looked as it you were going to send an expedition to walk round the West Indies and that suddenly they would look under a stone and say, "There is some new wealth." The whole of the Report is the creation of new wealth. I agree that it is very disappointing to realise that, no doubt, wealth in the West Indies can only be created very slowly, by a large number of measures, each small in itself, and that there is no sudden, short, quick, easy way to the creation of new wealth. I think it is a great mistake to give the impression that something can be done which will suddenly transform the whole economic future of the West Indies and that the sort of small detailed considerations which we have been dealing with here, represent much too unromantic and pedestrian a way of attacking the problem. The hon. Member called particular attention to the question of nutrition, and I agree that that is one of the most important problems. It is for that reason that I am so much interested in the part of these proposals which deals with the question of school meals. Do not let us forget that poverty is not the only difficulty.

There is a great lack of the sense of family responsibility in some of the islands which adds to the difficulties. It is for that reason that the problem of nutrition of children at any rate is probably best dealt with through the school meal. When the hon. Member went on to say that our goal in the West Indies must be a reversion to subsistence agriculture, I entirely disagree with him. We must leave the extreme which existed at one time of a single crop economy. But to go down to a subsistence agriculture and depend for everything merely on what you can get out of the soil of the West Indies, with no attempt to exchange the products you can grow for manufactured goods and raw materials which other people can send in return, is to condemn the West Indies to an intolerable standard of life far lower than anything you can complain of today. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Colonel Ponsonby) put his finger on the most difficult part of the whole problem, which is that the increase in population at the present moment is bearing no relation to the increase in the productive capacity of the islands.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) said that I ought to be less formal in addressing the people in the West Indies. I do not think I have been too formal and I will certainly try to avoid any undue formality in future. He made a very interesting speech, the main point of which was the question of—call it what you like—federation, integration, amalgamation, some form of closer political administrative union between the various territories in the West Indies. Obviously, with two minutes to go in a Debate of this kind, I cannot enter into a discussion of that question except to say this. In all my reading of history I have always found, and I expect other hon. Members will agree with me, that the only successful examples of federation that have ever been are examples where the desire to federate has come from the bottom.

No federation succeeds by imposition from the top. It comes from the discovery of common difficulties, common solutions and measures which have to be taken gradually, allowing it to build up into a desire for the political structure. That is not the first but the last step in the coming together. With regard to the question of colonial nursing, I will certainly look into it. I was very attracted by the hon. Gentleman's idea.

The hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull (Sir A. Lambert Ward) had a word to say about the Bahamas. They were not included in the scope of the Moyne Commission Report, and as they were not included there they were not included in the scope of the work of the Comptroller, because that arose from the Moyne Commission. I gather that it was left out of the Moyne Commission because the Bahamas were felt to be, owing to their position with regard to America, more a kind of touring spot for Americans and not to have exactly the same problems as the rest of the islands. The hon. and gallant Gentleman will realise that because they are not covered by the Stockdale Report it does not mean that they are not covered by the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, which covers the whole of the British Colonial Empire. I said, "are not covered"; I ought to amend that by saying that they would not be excluded from the Colonial Development and Welfare Act provided they had in existence the kind of labour legislation which, alone, entitles a Colony to some at least of the: benefits under that Act. I was sorry to hear about sponges. The hon. and gallant Gentleman will be glad to hear that the disease has apparently passed its worst, but it will be some time before the islands can grow sponges of sufficient size to commend themselves to the ordinary consumers. The hon. Member will see also that sea island cotton is dealt with in the Stockdale Report. Finally, with regard to the hon. Member for Southampton (Dr. Thomas), I quite agree with him that our aim should be to put the Colonies on their own feet and not to make them entirely dependent.

It being the Hour appointed for the interruption of Business, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the Report.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee on the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.

Publications And Debates Reports

Ordered,

"That Mr. Charles Williams be discharged from the Select Committee on Publications and Debates Reports and that Commander King-Hall be added to the Committee."—[Major Sir James Edmondson.]

Disposal And Custody Of Documents

Ordered,

"That Colonel Clifton Brown be discharged from the Select Committee on the Disposal and Custody of Documents."—[Sir J. Edmondson.]

The remaining Orders were read and postponed.

Housing Problems

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[ Sir J. Edmondson.]

I desire to call the attention of the House and in particular of the Minister of Health to some of the grievances of tenants which I raised with him at Question time on 4th February. In the time available I can do no more than list a number of grievances which have been brought to my attention and ask the Minister to take urgent action upon them, because I wish to leave time for some of my hon. Friends who wish to put forward points of their own. I will recite a number of grievances which I have investigated and of the authenticity of which I am perfectly satisfied. We owe a debt to the men and women who have been transferred or evacuated in the national interest. Tens of thousands have gone to new homes in order that they may obey the nation's call either in the Services or in industry, and an obligation lies upon us to protect them in every way. The protection they get now is completely inadequate and not worthy of the Government or the House.

The first grievance relates to the practice which has grown up of demanding key-money as a pre-condition of the letting of a house. I have a number of examples of this. The worst is the case of a man evacuated on national service. He was desperately anxious to keep his family with him. He heard of a house which was vacant and approached the landlord and was told that he could only hire it provided he paid £50 as key-money. In his desperation that man paid the £50. I raised his case in the House, and the Minister said the man had his remedy. The man is now taking his remedy, and in due course the case will come before the courts, and I hope the courts will deal adequately with it. Very often people do not take action in court because their need for houses is so desperate. Next I would ask the Minister to take action to stop the furnished apartments ramp. If he says that he has not the power, let him get the power, because this House will give it. It if frankly a ramp. In order to make a house into a furnished apartment a new dodge has been introduced known as the table and chair dodge. You get a table and chair and put them in a room and call it a furnished apartment, and at once you take it out of the protection of the Rent Restrictions Acts, and you can charge what you like. The Minister may shake his head, but the point is that poor people are often helpless in these matters because they have no legal knowledge. Every hon. Member has examples of the furnished apartments ramp which he could give to the Minister.

Thirdly, there is the case of sub-tenancies. It is growing up, particularly in the case of houses of some size with five or six bedrooms. They are divided up and let in a series of sub-tenancies. I have a case of a house which, if rented as a whole, would not fetch more than £2 a week, but it has been divided up into a number of sub-tenancies and is now bringing in £5, £6 or £7 a week in rents. That is a very bad form of exploitation, and it is increasing rapidly. I direct the Minister's attention to it and ask him to deal with it.

About the sale of houses, the Minister may say he has no jurisdiction, but very often people are evacuated and find that the only way to obtain accommodation is to purchase a house. Otherwise, they must remain separated from their families for the period of the war. I have some examples, particulars of which I am prepared to give to the Minister in order to satisfy him. The first is of a house within 30 miles of London. The house was sold six months before the war for £950. It was re-sold last year for £1,500. I am giving only examples which I can verify. The second example is of a cottage which was sold three months before the war for £575 and was re-sold three months ago for £1,075. Other instances in the countryside have been brought to my notice which I have not been able to verify in which houses, which were actually condemned before the war, were sold at £500 or £600.

Let me mention one other point. My attention has been called to the practice which has grown up in one town in the North-West of England—I am told it exists in other towns in the South—by which agents for landlords canvass tenants and ask them whether they are willing to give up their tenancies for a consideration—not immediately, but at the call of the landlords. They are told that if they are prepared to do so when called upon, they will receive £25 or £50 in cash. The agents then proceed to advertise the houses for sale with vacant possession. The houses are controlled, but they get out of the control by the tenants being induced to accept the £25 or £50 so that the houses can be advertised. One example is of a house, value £450, sold in the circumstances I have described for £855. I will give full particulars to the Minister.

On the question of standard rents, I have no end of cases of people who are finding it very difficult to get a statement of the standard rent from the landlords or from the local authorities. As one who has a very great deal of respect for local authorities, I say that in remote districts the part-time clerk of the council is very often an agent for a set of landlords. That creates a difficulty and the Minister ought to look into the matter. I have stated the grievances and the complaint is that what the Minister, the Ministry, and the local authorities do is not adequate.

I would make three suggestions. The first is, Why not do the big thing, which seems to get to the core of the problem? Give power to the local authorities to secure control of all the vacant property in their areas, for them to let it and control the rents. Surely that is the right thing to do. If we evacuate people, if we transfer people to places, we have no moral right to do that unless we secure that when they are transferred they are not exploited. I cannot see any way of doing that except by requisitioning all vacant property. Let it be in the hands of local authorities, and let them decide who shall have it, based on need, and not on ability to pay. If the Minister came and asked for power of that kind, and authority to confer that power on local authorities, I believe the House would unanimously give him that power, because we all desire to see these people protected against these forms of exploitation. In the second place local authorities should be requested to set up tenants' protection committees to which people who have been transferred and have grievances about their rents can go. I do not think we can say to them, "Go to lawyers." We ought not to place on them the onus of the expense of legal advice. Finally, I ask the Minister and the local authorities to give publicity to these matters, to these grievances. They are growing in number, and, believe me, there is a sore feeling, a very strong feeling, about them. I hope this is not the last occasion on which we shall debate this matter, which is a matter touching the lives and welfare of the people very closely. I hope that we shall get an indication from the Minister that his Minis- try intend to take some really strong and adequate action about this matter.

I do not want to take more than two or three minutes at the very most, because we are all very anxious to hear what the Minister has to say about the point which my hon. Friend has raised. I agree with everything my hon. Friend has said, and with his proposals, but of course that would deal only with or mainly with houses that are vacant. These Rent Acts have been in existence now for nearly 30 years. In the course of those 30 years, especially in the last few months, it has become patent that the Acts themselves are inadequate. It has become perfectly clear to anyone who either politically or professionally has had anything to do with the administration of these Acts, either before the war or since the war, that a number of anomalies have become perfectly clear which only amending legislation can put right. Take this point about the furnished house. When my hon. Friend said that if you put in a table or a chair or any other furniture you take the premises outside the protection of the Act, the Minister shook his head, and appeared to indicate that he dissented from that view. I respectfully agree with him. It is not correct. It does not take the premises outside the protection of the Rent Acts, but when you look at the Rent Acts to see what is the protection afforded by them, you find it is so ill-defined that it is impossible to administer.

It is quite true that the Act provides that in the case of furnished premises you shall not charge an unreasonable or extortionate rent, but it nowhere defines what is an unreasonable or extortionate rent, and if my right hon. Friend has had the curiosity to compare the decisions of courts in some parts of the country with decisions of courts in other parts of the country, he will find it perfectly obvious that the standard of what is reasonable and what is extortionate differs with the length of the magistrate's foot. The protection afforded by the Act is so nebulous as in practice to amount to no protection at all. One of my hon. Friends showed how you could get out of the Act altogether by inducing the tenant to accept a 14 years' lease, on the assumption that a 14 years' lease gave him greater security; than the protection given by the Act. But it does not. The Act gives indefinite secur- ity while certain conditions remain. All I want to remind my right hon. Friend of is that, in answer to a supplementary question by me a little while ago, he promised to consider sympathetically the appointment of a Select Committee, to examine these anomalies and to propose remedies that could be applied quickly. It is certain that until you have a comprehensive amending Act you will not get justice applied and you will not get the common will of the people on this matter carried out. A great many things can be done administratively, as my hon. Friend said, and those ought to be done forthwith. But the time has come when the whole machinery of the control of dwelling houses ought to be overhauled and brought up to date.

I am indeed very grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this issue, and I am sure the House is grateful. Hon. Members will do me and my immediate predecessors the justice of realising that a very keen watch has been kept from the centre upon the various problems involved in the housing position of this country, from the very beginning. Circular after circular and advice after advice to the local authorities on particular points have followed one another from the centre. That close watch was necessary because here we are dealing with one of the universals of human need, shelter. When there is a particularly difficult artificial situation the watch kept on the operation of that situation upon the life of our people is bound to be even keener than would normally be the case. I say straight away that I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising the issue; and I am grateful to him from a second point of view.

I think that on one or two points he over-stated his case, and that on others he under-estimated the difficulty of finding a solution. [Interruption.] Take the point about furnished lettings, for instance. Three Government Committees have sat on that problem. They were appointed by different Governments. One was presided over by Lord Salisbury, one by Lord Marley, and the third by Lord Ridley. All those Committees, appointed by varying Governments, came to the conclusion that to solve the problem was not so easy as to state it. One moment's thought will show the House the central difficulty. It is, of course, that there is such an infinite variety of accommodation. There may be infinite variety of circumstances, even under one roof, and it is not easy for Parliament to bring forward a law and to state it in such definite terms as would solve the infinite problems that would arise.

Since when this matter was raised in the House at Question Time, key-money was the point specially stressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), I will begin with that subject. Like hon. Members, I hope that we shall have other opportunities of dealing with it. I want to show that I am alive on this issue, and that I do not want to shirk any issue. Here you have a case where the protection is almost—not quite—complete. I want to make that protection quite clear to people outside. I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I am sure they are, for giving us this opportunity of doing it. What is the law about key-money? It is obvious that legislation to control the maximum rents which may be charged for houses would have little effect if landlords and their agents—and indeed tenants, in the case of sub-letting—are to be able to reap a rich harvest by charging a premium or key-money and holding up accommodation for the highest bidder. Parliament has realised this. The very first Act passed to restrict the increase of rent—the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restriction) Act, 1915—contained a Section making it illegal for any person to require the payment of a premium or key-money in addition to the rent and enabling the tenant to recover from the landlord any sum so paid after 25th November, 1915. This Section had, however, no sanction behind it. This was a serious detect and, when the Acts were consolidated and extended in 1920, a Subsection was added making the breach of this Section an offence for which the offender became liable to a penalty not exceeding £100 (Section 8 of the Rent Restriction Act, 1920). This Section is still—I want the House and the public outside to note this—the operative provision, and it has been applied, with some minor consequential Amendments, to all the houses which were newly brought under control by the Act of 1939 at the beginning of this war. So the protection there is a formidable one.

The Section provides that a person shall not, as a condition of the grant, renewal or continuance of a tenancy or sub-tenancy of any dwelling-house which is controlled, require the payment of any fine, premium or other like sum or the giving of any pecuniary consideration whatever in addition to the rent. Any person requiring a payment in contravention of the Section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £100, and to refund any sum which has been improperly paid in this way.

There is one gap. It was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) and my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan) at a recent Question time. The gap is this: The Section does not apply to the grant, renewal or continuance of any tenancy for a term of 14 years or upwards. I have looked this up. It appears to have been added to facilitate the granting of long-term leases at a small rent, plus a premium. The House took particular notice of it and acted on that notice because there had been a legal case which showed that to be impossible under the Act of 1915. That was why the House took the view that it ought to facilitate the granting of the longer leases for the protection of the tenant, and so that became the law. I have said, in answer to my hon. Friend who first raised it—I have not heard of more than one district where at the moment abuse of this provision is taking place—that I have noted the matter among other things for possible legislation.

There was also another way in which, despite Section 8 of the Act of 1920, a sum equivalent to a premium could be extracted, and that was by requiring the prospective tenant to buy furniture or fittings at prices greatly in excess of their value. That has been safeguarded by Section 9 of the Act of 1923, which provides that, where the purchase of any furniture or other articles is required as part of the grant, renewal or continuance of a tenancy or sub-tenancy of a controlled dwelling house, the price shall, if requested, be stated in writing, and if the price exceeds the reasonable price of the articles the excess shall be treated as if it were a fine or premium and the provisions of Section 8 of the Act of 1920 shall apply. The House will see, therefore, that the law provides very full safeguards against the evil of key-money. The Rent Restrictions Acts apply to the great majority of the houses in the country—in fact, to about 90 per cent. of our 12,000,000 houses.

I am not overlooking the other points which have been raised. I will note them carefully, and no doubt we can have further discussions about them. I want to take advantage of the opportunity which my hon. Friend has given me of making an appeal to the public in this matter. After all, here is a case where the law is, on the whole, adequate, and if action is not taken by those against whom offences are committed the law is impotent. What is wanted here is the public spirit and the moral courage to make the Statute law effective. The public must co-operate with the law makers and with those who administer the law, otherwise the law itself is impotent. It is for the people with evidence to achieve the ends for which the law was framed——

Cannot the local authorities take up the case for a tenant? Will the right hon. Gentleman push that through, so that local authorities will do it, because the tenants themselves are too poor?

My hon. Friend has taken up half a minute of my time in which I might have made a complete statement. I was about to come to that. Local authorities have power to undertake prosecutions for breaches of the law, and I am confident that they use it and will continue to us it to the full. But it is obvious that they cannot do their duty unless tenants do theirs. We have been keeping a very keen watch on this all through the war. Two and a half years ago I urged local authorities to exercise special vigilance on this and other provisions of the Rent Restrictions Acts. I have been getting reports from 1,500 housing authorities every six months, and I am glad to say that over the whole field I have not had many complaints of exploitation of this kind. But in order to make quite clear our view as to the action which should be taken, I am arranging now to send to local authorities a special poster which, among other things, will contain the following sentences:

"The charging of a premium or key-money is illegal and subject to a fine up to £100. Tenants of unfurnished premises cannot be evicted without an order of the Court, which can be given only in special circumstances. The Council have power to prosecute for offences but they cannot act unless complaints are made to them."
I ask the Press to take notice of this and to help us, as they have done in the past, by making this known. In so far as the law is not complete, we shall watch developments and analyse the reports we get, and I have no doubt that in the course of future Debates I shall be able to go more fully into details of actual cases. It is our desire to see that the war is not exploited to the disadvantage of those who, in the national interest, are on service in various parts of the country.

There is only a minute left. May I say that several of my hon. Friends would have liked to take part in this Debate? I know that the right hon. Gentleman has not covered all the points he would have liked to have covered, and I would ask him to use his influence in order to see whether we can have an early day for a discussion of this matter more fully.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.