Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
On a point of order. Is it possible for some right hon. or hon. Member connected with the Colonial Office to be here to answer the very important points which are now going to be raised?
That is not a point of order.
Because of the vacuum now apparent on the Front Bench it is rather difficult to advance the points that I have in mind. It is exceedingly regrettable that the debate must go on without any representative of the Colonial Office, but the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour has undertaken to report what takes place to the Colonial Secretary and we can carry on in those circumstances, though it looks like speaking into a blank wall or an open space.Clause 1 gives the Secretary of State authority substantially to increase the sums of money to be made available to the Colonies under the present system. These are very substantial sums and I feel that it would be proper for the Secretary of State to tell the Committee in some detail how he proposes to spend that money now that he has got it. I do not mean that we expect him to say that so many thousands will be for this scheme and so many thousands for some other scheme, but we ought to have some broad indication, for example, how many of the total millions it is intended to spend on what might be called the social side, and how many on the economic side. That is a very important consideration.
It may be very important, but it can only be discussed on Second Reading.
I bow to your Ruling, Sir Charles, but with respect I am merely asking whether the Committee can be advised of the nature of the projects upon which the money is spent. Would that be in order?
In a very narrow way. This Clause deals only with the money.
I shall try to make my speech as narrow as possible. Let us put it this way. Could the Government indicate as narrowly as you, Sir Charles have ruled, what part of these sums they would allot to new housing, roads, health, education, and what part to new schemes such as the development of agriculture, industry, fishing or things of that kind. If that could be indicated, we might then be able to assess the intentions of the Government. [Interruption.]Now that the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary has taken his place we can at least feel that the points being put are being heard by a responsible Minister. I may be allowed to repeat what I have said, for the benefit of the right hon. Gentleman. It is relatively short. I said that this Bill enables the right hon. Gentleman to spend increased amounts of money, and I was asking whether he would like to indicate how he is going to spend this money, not in detail but broadly speaking. This is a Colonial Development and Welfare Bill. It has two objectives—development and welfare. They are not exactly the same. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman in his Second Reading speech made it abundantly clear that they are not the same, but he said that they were complementary. As they are two different things and as there is, today, throughout the Committee and the country a clear conception that it is the development rather than the welfare side on which there is emphasis, the right hon. Gentleman ought to indicate what proportions of the sums will be allotted to welfare and what to development. Let me take the development side. For example, what part of the sum allotted to development would be spent upon projects similar to those now undertaken by the Colonial Development Corporation? The right hon. Gentleman appreciates that the Colonial Development Corporation, the local authority and the Colonial Office are three organisations which must work in the closest harmony. Although this Bill does not authorise the right hon. Gentleman to make grants out of these sums to the Colonial Development Corporation, it is true nevertheless on the development side that it is very unlikely that the right hon. Gentleman will spend much of this money without it being mixed with the moneys spent by the Corporation upon common projects. That would seem to me to make it possible for me, and I hope you will think it permissible, Sir Charles, to ask the right hon. Gentleman to what extent he proposes to use the Colonial Development Corporation for achieving the objects of this Bill. I do not want to repeat arguments which I have already put to the Committee more than once, but I think the Committee would agree that there must be in the next few years a very great expansion of the development side. The Minister told us the other day that, in fact, his new Colonial Development Corporation will be the body to do that kind of work. Is he therefore satisfied that the present Corporation is capable of doing all that is needed? Is he satisfied that it is possible for that body to do all that is needed alone, or does he contemplate, as I have suggested, creating another, or even two other, Colonial Development Corporations in order to achieve the objects of this Bill? I put that question to the right hon. Gentleman, who I know did not have time to reply to every question put to him, but, as this is a vital part of this concern, I venture to put it to him again in the hope that he will tell me what is in his mind. The Colonial Development Corporation is now operating under a new chairman, a man of great gifts and great standing, and a Scotsman, so that all is probably well, but I do not believe that Lord Reith, with all his great qualities, is able, through that organisation alone, to do one half of what is required in the next 10 years. I am of opinion, and I know that this opinion is shared by many responsible men of experience and knowledge, that some considerable change must be made in this whole project of Colonial Development Corporations. I think the Colonies should be divided into areas—
I must remind the hon. Member that the debate on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," is very narrow and must be confined to the Clause itself. I think he is now going rather wide of that.
I understand, and, of course, I accept your Ruling, Sir Charles, and I shall not develop the argument further. I have tried to make the point on as narrow a platform as possible, and I hope that you will feel that it is possible for the Minister to make an appropriate reply to the points I have made.
I should like to support the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson Stewart), though I shall abide by your Ruling, Sir Charles. Every year, when I read this Report, I am struck by the comparative lack of knowledge that persists, not only in this House but outside, about some of the more obscure Dependencies listed in the Report, for which financial provision is made within the terms of this Bill.I hope my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary will not mind me making reference inside this Committee to a conversation which I had with him once, because I think it may very well be that this money will be well spent if there were to be an application of some of it to some of these very outlandish parts of our possessions and if there were some provision by which the Committee might be better informed about them. I know practically nothing, and I am prepared to bet that nine out of 10 people in the Committee also know practically nothing, about the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. Who knows anything about the Solomon Islands? Again what does anybody know about Antigua, Montserrat, St. Kitts—Nevis, the Virgin Islands, Grenada and St. Lucia? These are all places about which one or two people in this Committee may know something, but about which we ought to know a great deal more. I have the suspicion that there are things going on in these Dependencies which we ought to know about and which must affect their economies. They are matters which this Committee ought to have the opportunity of discussing with a greater knowledge. Here, we are proposing to spend a great deal of money in the better-known parts of the Colonial Empire, and I suggest that we might consider finding some of the money, which the Colonial Secretary once told me he had not got, in order to investigate on the spot what is going on in these very distant parts of the Colonial Empire.
Before agreeing to the sum contained in this Clause, there are three points which I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to make clear.The first is how the figure of £20 million, which is to be added to the sum available for colonial welfare and development during the next five years, is arrived at. Is that sum considered to be the most that we can afford, or is it regarded as being adequate for the purposes which the Government have in mind? I think that my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee would feel that it is neither as much as we can afford in this particular case, nor is it adequate for the purposes for which it is required. My second question is why the horizon for operations is limited to 1956? I can see quite clearly that, in the circumstances of 1945, it was impossible to plan or to consider the necessities for colonial welfare and development more than 10 years ahead, but I would have thought that, after the experience of the last five years, and having the certainty in our minds that these schemes must go beyond 1956, this period in the development of the scheme might have been a good point at which to plan for another full 10 years into the future. Surely, there must be continuity if these schemes are to have their maximum value, and unless there is a long horizon in front of the Governments concerned, particularly those of the poorer Colonies, they cannot model their schemes most effectively. The third point is how far the right hon. Gentleman intends to use this additional money in order to force upon the various Colonies the development of trade unionism. The Committee will remember that, in the 1940 Act, it was laid down that the Secretary of State should not disburse money for this fund for economic developments unless he had ascertained previously that facilities existed in the Colony concerned to allow the development and growth of trade unions, and that, in addition, he was to assure himself that fair conditions of employment also existed. There is not one hon. Member on this side of the Committee who would oppose either the proper, responsible and gradual development of trade unionism in any British Dominon or Colony, or the pressing forward of improvements in conditions of employment, but there has been a feeling, which I would certainly express personally in this case, that the money which we vote for colonial welfare and development has been used in the last five years in order to force—to hothouse, so to speak—the development of trade unionism in the Colonies, regardless of whether the conditions in those Colonies were appropriate to that development. I I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that under the Act of 1945, one Protectorate—
I think that what the hon. Member is now saying comes under the Ruling I gave a short time ago. The Debate must be confined to the Clause.
Naturally, Sir Charles, will not develop the point any further, but I do ask the right hon. Gentleman, in the interests of trade unionism itself, for an assurance that he will not use this money in order to force the artificial development of trade unionism in connection with the schemes that may be financed. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reply to the three points I have put forward.
It will be noted that among the financial arrangements to be provided, mention is made of the sum of £2,500,000 to be dedicated for the promotion of research. The volume of research already being conducted under the guidance of the Colonial Secretary is a very considerable sector of the whole field. There are one or two aspects of it about which I wish to ask a few questions, as, for instance, what priorities my right hon. Friend has in mind regarding the distribution of the money.In the first place, it is not entirely a matter of giving, because we are already receiving considerable benefit. I was very struck indeed to find that from the University College in the West Indies we are receiving the benefit of the piece of research on monomycin which may save hundreds of thousands of lives all over the world. All those who have been responsible for and are interested in that research should be congratulated. The Colonial Secretary has always shown great interest in matters of social hygiene and public health, and I am sure he realises that one of the great problems facing his Department today is the question of tuberculosis in Africa, and how much money can be allocated out of these funds in order to prevent the extension of that disease and to effect a cure of those affected. I wish to ask my right hon. Friend whether he agrees that, in view of the difficulties of getting enough skilled medical personnel from Britain to go and work there permanently, it would be desirable at this stage to set up a research station in Africa in order that African medical men, wherever they have been trained, may study on the spot this specific disease as it affects the Africans, because they would then have the advantage of knowing they were going to work in their own country and would not be confused by training in this country where they call our sanatoria chromium plated. Reference is made to the expenditure of money in Gambia on a mill for grinding the cereals on which the natives live. I wish to ask the Colonial Secretary whether he remembers the experience of the Dutch in the East Indies when rice was first milled and people began to sicken and die from beri-beri because no one knew that the outer husk constituted the protective part of their diet and kept them in good health. I hope my right hon. Friend will bear in mind that any alteration in the dietary of the peoples in the Colonies must be such as not to alter flavour, if possible, and certainly not to remove those protective parts of the dietary upon which their health, their safety, and their very lives depend. If he will give me an assurance that this point will be borne in mind, I shall be very happy indeed.
I think we are all aware of the difficulties under which we labour in speaking on this Clause, but before I ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies for certain assurances, I wish to refer to what was said by the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow). With great interest I heard him suggest that more attention should be paid to the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, the Montserrat and Solomon Islands, and, indeed to the Virgin Islands. I agree with everything he said on the subject, and I urge the right hon. Gentleman to consider the point very carefully. We on this side of the Committee do try to pay attention to the smaller and more remote territories, and the right hon. Gentleman should consider very carefully whether or not he should send the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth to the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, the Montserrat and Solomon Islands, and, indeed to the Virgin Islands.I now pass to the Clause. What we must all have wondered very much at various times is whether the funds available for colonial development and welfare would ever by anything like adequate to the needs of the Empire. I very well remember the striking speech once made by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery) in which he described those needs in terms of scores of Tennessee Valley schemes. If we take this figure of £140 million mentioned in the Clause, it must, at first sight, appear to be very inadequate in face of the tremendous demand for capital in the Colonies. I suggest that it is a false calculation to make a direct comparison, and that where we have this relatively small sum, the answer to its adequacy or inadequacy depends upon adopting the right priorities in its expenditure. Theoretically, there is a short-term and a long-term approach to the subject. Had we adopted the short-term view the whole of this sum would, perhaps, have been spent on welfare. It would then, indeed, have been grossly inadequate because the needs of the Colonial Empire far exceed £140 million. If, however, we had adopted the longest-term view—and this is, of course, a purely theoretical view—it would, perhaps, have been spent entirely on development because from that development would have flowed a sufficient development of wealth to support a greater degree of welfare. We obviously have to seek a compromise between the two. I think the Secretary of State made it clear to us that in the allocation of this very small amount of money he would be giving considerable priority to development in the future. The more we concentrate on development, however much we may dislike risking having to do without some of the welfare schemes, the more adequate the figure of £140 million is likely to be, although, of course we would all like to go far beyond it. 5.30 p.m. If we are to make the most of this sum there are three principles which we ought to apply to its expenditure, and if we apply them we are likely to get a very considerable result for our £140 million. The first principle is that to every scheme sanctioned within this limit of £140 million there should be applied the test whether it is likely to attract private capital in addition to what we are putting into it. In other words, if we are putting in a shilling we hope that somebody else puts in a pound. I hope that that test is applied to every scheme under this Bill.
If one adopted that principle would it not be the case that no welfare work would be done at all?
On the contrary. The hon. Member will realise that I am putting forward a test which will have to be applied in every case and, naturally, schemes which are going to augment development by drawing from private sources should have a high priority.
But is that in the Clause?
My point is that the adequacy of the funds will depend upon that principle.The second principle on which the adequacy of these funds depends is that of making sure that, in their application, they will make use of the maximum amount of existing human and material resources. Out of this £140 million every sum which is spent as a final expenditure is going to be a less valuable proportion of the whole than any sum which is going to fertilise existing resources. Here I should like to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to one example, although not to a specific scheme, which I think would be out of order. It is the example of farmers' co-operative schemes. I believe that the more these schemes are encouraged within this sum, the bigger our figure of £140 million will appear. My third and last point is that if our £140 million is to bulk as large as possible, then, when we consider such schemes as will attract further capital, such as the constructions of roads, we ought to spend as quickly as possible. If the money is spent with the utmost rapidity, it will be likely to give us maximum productivity and the maximum welfare for the very limited amount we are able to find in this Bill. I wish to make it quite clear that I am not suggesting that these proposals should be exclusive but merely that, since we have so little to spare for these vital purposes, we have to consider priorities most carefully if we are to get the maximum value for this money.
I listened to the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Peter Smithers) with close attention, because he is known to have first-hand evidence upon this subject. I think it will be agreed that in considering the amount of money we have available, and which is involved in this Clause, the problem is how best it should be spent, not merely on development and welfare and in attending to human needs but also in terms of schemes of development so that the indigenous populations shall be able to be independent of outside assistance.The Annual Report on Colonial Territories sets out the aims tersely. We are seeking to get a strong and vigorous people in the Colonies. That assumes that they must have knowledge and be wise men. Therefore, they must have education. They must be able to support themselves and in addition, have some surplus to exchange for the things that they want from other countries. I also imagine that it is part of the process for which this money is required that we should help our brothers overseas to reach out to self-government and, therefore, some attention must be paid to facilities of that kind. I should like to emphasise, particularly, the great value of the money set aside for research purposes. I have been greatly impressed by reports from the Colonial Office on what has been done with the limited amount of money already provided. I gather that today, in setting aside £2½ million, we shall continue to pay particular attention to the health of the people. Stories set out in the last Annual Report should encourage us to vote with confidence for the sum set out in the Clause. There has been a reduction in infant mortality in Hong Kong, Singapore and elsewhere and there is the record of the treatment of malaria in Cyprus. The disease has been almost exterminated there. Great progress has been made with the sulpha drugs in the treatment of typhus, and with the use of B.C.G. vaccine in the treatment of tuberculosis. These and other campaigns against various diseases are all first-class investments which should not be questioned. If I had to raise a question at all, it would not be about the use of the money but its adequacy. Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the sum of money earmarked in the Clause is adequate for the purpose? We are told it is not intended to hand out this money for each of the Colonies completely and absolutely for their use, but that some reserve of money will be kept centrally to develop common services. That is a very wise policy. How far are the British Government collaborating with other metropolitan powers, like France and Belgium, to develop these research services, so that the advantage of their discoveries and their work may be available to all and to the peoples in particular? More especially, what is being done to overcome the great tragedy which is happening in West Africa in connection with the swollen shoot disease, upon which some money has already been spent and upon which a great deal of research work has been done? These are most important matters. I shall not detain the House in dealing with other items, but I hope that the Minister will not hesitate to inform the Committee if he feels that this sum is inadequate for the purpose we have in mind—not only for the treatment of disease and the tackling of these human problems but in building up geological services. In the biggest Colony, Nigeria, for example, whatever we do to raise the standard of living and to provide water supplies and so on, the ultimate success of that Colony must depend upon the nature of their minerals and their natural resources. The same applies to other Colonies. A great deal of this money should be spent, therefore, in finding out what are in the bowels of the earth, and to discover whether there are any rich minerals they can exploit for their own advantage and for the advantage of the world. I am glad to see that, in co-operation with America, much of this work is being done. I hope that, at some convenient opportunity, we shall hear of some success and of some plan which provides not only for the individual welfare of a Colony but for some co-ordinated system so that one Colony is not seeking to grow a product which it is least suited to produce in competition with some other Colony, but that there is going to be some kind of co-relation. I suggest—
That goes beyond the Clause.
I am sorry, Sir Charles, but I have finished what I had to say.
I have found it a little difficult to know what is in order and what is not.
I shall make it quite clear. The hon. Member is allowed to discuss only what is in the Clause.
I shall endeavour to keep strictly to that. I understand from what has been said in the last few minutes that many hon. Members are in considerable doubt about whether sufficient money has been allocated. That leads me to a question I should like to ask the Colonial Secretary. How does he arrive at this figure? Is it the request of the various legislative assemblies? Do they put in demands to the Colonial Secretary and does he then take a decision as to how he will allocate the money?Like other hon. Members, I am deeply perturbed because, obviously, this is not sufficient money. Bearing that in mind, I would ask: who takes the final decision? Is it the people on the spot? Is it the legislative assemblies and the Governments which put in applications to the Colonial Secretary? If that is so, what happens then? Does the Colonial Secretary cut down everybody in proportion, or what is the final decision? Everything in connection with this expenditure has such a great bearing on the Colony concerned that I believe the method by which the Colonial Secretary reaches the final decision is a vital matter. I should like to know how the figure is decided.
There are only two points which I want to raise. Referring to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mr. Edward Davies), I should like to know what has been done about the Island of Zanzibar and the disease to the cloves from which they are suffering. [Laughter.] This is not a laughing matter. It is about the only income which Zanzibar possesses. In the neighbouring Island of Pemba the cloves are in a very healthy condition, but in Zanzibar, which belongs to the same archipelago, the cloves are dying out. If they die out, then Zanzibar will have no income at all.The second point refers to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow) about the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. What is happening to Palmyra? It is a British dependency and it was owned by a British subject who died last February. Discussions have been going on, or should have been going on, between the British Government, the Australian Government and the United States about the future of that island and to whom it should belong. I should like to know whether British interests in this island are being carefully watched.
I want to keep within order and to speak only about the schemes. One of my hon. Friends said that the development of the various schemes should be planned so that a shilling put into them by the British taxpayer would encourage the investment of one pound from private enterprise. In my lifetime I have seen hundreds of square miles of jungle opened out and turned into prosperous communities where hundreds of thousands of people now live. In the old days it was suggested that such areas could be inhabited only by snakes and mosquitoes, for they were full of swamps and jungle. The great change which has taken place is due to research, and the man who made it possible to populate these places was Sir Roland Ross, whose malarial research work was afterwards carried on by Mr. Malcolm Watson.In some places I have found that our development was very slow by comparison with Malaya, where it was very fast and extremely efficient. In Malaya they concentrated first upon roads and railways. I have seen so many cases of villagers growing good crops but finding it impossible to transport them to where they could find a profitable market, and I believe that research upon schemes for roads and railways will bring great benefits to the people in the Colonies and to the taxpayers of this country. It might be thought that people have been building roads in the world for thousands of years and know all about it, but in every country into which we go there are different problems arising out of the building of roads. In some places there are swamps. I know that in Southern Rhodesia they found that by putting shingle or stones on two tracks for a motor car they opened up hundreds, if not thousands, of miles of country, and that system was adopted afterwards in other parts of our colonies. I think we should concentrate these development schemes on making it possible to provide roads and railways. If we do that, private industry will follow. When we speak about hospitals and curing the sick we should remember all that the British oil companies have done in this connection in various parts of the world. They have been responsible for some of the finest hospitals. I understand, too, that in places where infantile mortality, especially from malaria, was very much higher than in almost any other part of the world, as a result of the work done by these rubber planters, especially in Malaya, some of the plantations are now as healthy as the great City of London, and the vital statistics are as good. I suggest that the money from the British taxpayer which we are spending here should be spent to make it possible for private enterprise to invest in the Colonies. The money should be put, first, into roads and railways, and other benefits will follow.
If the principle of hon. Members opposite is that only such money should be spent as will immediately attract private capital, then, as I have tried to point out, that limits the expenditure of money purely to development rather than to welfare objectives.
I did not make any suggestion that only such money should be spent as would meet that point. I suggested that it was the most important test of priority if we were to achieve the maximum development and welfare.
I thank the hon. Member; I appreciate that point. I would merely add this, before I put a question to the Minister. In any case, money spent on development is bound to attract private capital for, wherever public money is spent in opening up roads and transport and railways and so forth, inevitably the conditions are provided for private capital which immediately jumps in to take advantage of the facilities provided.The question I want to put to my right hon. Friend is this. May I take it that part of the extra money, as well as the original sum, will be devoted to the welfare of colonials in this country, particularly students but not excluding others, too. My right hon. Friend knows that there are a large number of students here and elsewhere who have to be assisted out of public money. Does this sum make it possible to assist students and others in this country, and institutions which they are now attending, on the basis of welfare?
There is one thing upon which I think both sides of the Committee are unanimous, and that is that the sum we are voting today is totally inadequate by comparison with what is required. The great difference between the two sides of the Committee appears to be in their views on how the money should be spent. We on this side are adopting the line that it should be spent on development, for if we develop the countries properly, welfare services will automatically spring from the development. If the policy of welfare first is initiated, then the danger is that it may be impossible for those countries to continue the social services which we start, unless we have developed those countries with roads, railways and so on. If we develop them, then their resources will increase and will enable them to carry on their own social services.It is ridiculous to suggest that the economy of this country will for ever stand the expenditure of these sums of money for social services. These countries must stand on their own feet, and this money should be spent very carefully, with the largest expenditure on research and on the provision of roads and railways. I am sure that is the correct policy. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, North (Sir W. Smiles) said, the population will develop the land which lies around the railways and roads and it will eventually produce wealth. The question is, where is the money to be found? It is obvious that the sum mentioned here is inadequate. We have to encourage the provision of money from other sources. In addition, money which is made in these countries should be ploughed back into their industry. The first thing we must give to these Colonies in which this money is to be spent is confidence in the long-term future. If there is that confidence there will be no difficulty in seeing that the money made in those countries is ploughed back for development. Exploitation will not then take place. I want to refer to a subject mentioned by the Minister in the Debate of 9th November. As reported at Column 1243 of the OFFICIAL REPORT he said:
Has the right hon. Gentleman yet had time to make any inquiry about those points and, if not, will he make an inquiry? Will it be a public inquiry and will the results of it be published so that we know exactly where we stand in this matter?"…if in the course of my reply in the time available I do not deal with every point which has been made—and sometimes individual cases have been raised, such as that referred to by the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin), and my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), about which I want to say there will be an inquiry—…."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1950; Vol. 480, c. 1243.]
I think it is true to say that in every speech we have heard from hon. Members opposite today there has been used the word "inadequate." In many speeches we have heard it used three or four times. We should like some guidance on what comparison hon. Members opposite are making when they use the word "inadequate." Are they making a comparison with what has been spent in the different Colonies or are they making a comparison with what was spent before the last war among the Colonies?
I will make it clear to the hon. Gentleman. I think I used the word "inadequate" several times, and my meaning was that the sum is not sufficient to do all the things we should like to do.
I thought that was the meaning behind the word when the hon. Member used it. I would remind him that we are considering the expenditure of £140 million, which is a colossal sum when compared with what was spent before the war. I cannot accept the view that this sum of £140 million is inadequate. In the financial conditions of this country at the present time, in a set of circumstances in which we are burdened very seriously by the great cost of the last war, I cannot agree that £140 million is an inadequate sum.
Would the hon. Gentleman be kind enough to tell us what was spent before the war, as he obviously knows?
My hon. Friend will be offside if he is not careful.
We cannot discuss whether the sum should be increased or decreased. We are discussing the Question "that the Clause stand part of the Bill" and it is not in order to discuss any amendments.
Naturally, I accept your Ruling, Sir Charles. We are very pleased, particularly on this side of the House, to think that in present circumstances the Government have been able to introduce a Bill like this.
I think, in fairness, it should be made clear that the comparison is between £120 million voted by a predominantly Conservative Parliament, with a Conservative Colonial Secretary, and £20 million voted under the present Government, with the present Colonial Secretary.
Well, the words "predominantly Conservative" can have several interpretations. I always felt that in that Government to which the hon. Gentleman was alluding the influences were not predominantly Conservative. I am not counting the numbers. I am counting the weight of influence. [An HON. MEMBER: "Weight of intelligence"] Yes, and the weight of intelligence. I think every hon. Member of the House should congratulate the Secretary of State on this expenditure, particularly in view of the circumstances in which we in this country are living at present.
The only observation I want to address to the Committee arises really in part from the remarks of the hon. Member for Nottingham, East (Mr. Harrison)—or that part of his remarks which, I think, were really in order. It is not what we allot but whether or not it is spent that really matters in the British Colonial Empire, and at the present moment only about half of what the Committee thinks it has spent has, in fact been spent, though it has been allotted.This Clause, as some hon. Members need reminding from time to time, actually increases the amount available for the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund from £20 million to £25 million annually, and the £120 million to £140 million over a 10-year period. Let us express the hope that the right hon. Gentleman—and if he does this he will, indeed, deserve congratulation—will give us an assurance that we shall be able in the period immediately before us to spend up to the sum that we are now allotting. I am very glad to feel that in the year ended 31st March, 1950, the money expended is, I believe, very little less than about the total of the sum spent in the three previous years—I think £13 million as opposed to £14,500,000, or something of that kind. That is the main test. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, in commending the Clause to the Committee, will give us an assurance that the money we are now allotting will, in fact, be spent during the immediate future or while his party temporarily remain responsible for our affairs.
I enter this debate in fear and trembling because I have not been in the Colonies myself, and, moreover, I am not very sure about the rules of this Committee concerning the debate; and now that I have caught your eye, Sir Charles, I shall, like many other hon. Members who have spoken, have to keep watching your eye if I am to make my few remarks without transgressing against the rules of order.However, I feel that the business with which we are dealing at the moment comes simply to the question whether the money which is to be allocated under the Clause is thus wisely allocated. That brings me to the whole question of what need there is at the moment in the Colonies. Is there any great need to spend more money? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Of course. But let us examine the question. We can point to the necessity for education; we can point to the necessity for medical research; we can point to the necessity for greater transport; we can point to the necessity for more economic development. No matter what country in the world we consider today, whether we restrict our thoughts to the needs of our own country or whether we look abroad, we find any number of causes on which we could spend money, and upon which we could spend that money beneficially. Therefore, when we are considering the Colonies, the question is whether it is wise to spend more money in these territories. Whether it is wise, and whether it is a necessity, to spend this money depends upon our outlook and whether we have any responsibility in those territories at all. That consideration raises the questions, why we went there, what was the cause of our going, what was the hope in which we went there. I think it must be admitted that these Colonies are now our Colonies because we forced ourselves largely upon those countries and populations.
I do not want to raise a controversial point, but we know that when the people who had the money saw those particular lands, and thought they could invest money beneficially—
I think that this argument is going beyond the Clause. It may apply to Third Reading, but it is not in order here.
Well, Sir Charles, I think that we are taking into consideration the whole position of these Colonies and their needs. I do not think it is a question of going into details as to how we should spend the money. We know that the money is a necessity. We know it is a necessity from the social point of view; we know it is a necessity from the economic point of view; we know it is a necessity from the international point of view.There is no question at all that we ought to pass this Clause. I am pretty confident that despite the needs of our own country, despite our economic necessity, we shall pass the Clause hoping that the Colonial Office, having more money, will not throw it about recklessly, but will spend it beneficially, it being an intelligent and patriotic Department that wants to do some good not only for the Colonies but for ourselves, and to strengthen the bonds of friendship between us. We may be confident that the Department will spend this money wisely and well.
I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) and gathered from him what would be in order in this discussion. You had yourself said, Sir Charles, a little earlier that you had some doubt what would be in order in the discussion of this Clause, and so I was grateful for some enlightenment from the hon. Gentleman opposite. However, when he concluded his speech I was rather doubtful whether he really had been in order himself in all that he said. However, I may assume, perhaps, that I can at least try to follow in his path, and, perhaps, with your permission and guided by your sympathy, Sir Charles, I may go some distance along it.I am under the impression that we are engaged in considering grants that we are to make to the Colonies for development and welfare services, and particularly for purposes of research, all of which are specifically mentioned in the Clause. I feel fairly sure of my ground so far. I am guided on the question so many have raised, as to what is adequate expenditure, by a Report of what has taken place under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts during the last 10 years or so. There is at the end of that Report—in Appendix 8—an indication of what we have spent from 1940 down to the present period, 1949–50. Although this money has not been spent under the Act that we are now discussing, at any rate there is some guide in that table to the extent to which we have been in the past willing to go in matters of research, development and welfare—the three main issues that we are now discussing. Actually, the increase that has been made in the last few years has been remarkable. In fact, in the first year in that table, for development and welfare there was only £170,000. By the end of the 10 years we are up to £11 million. Now that we come along with this further proposal for a considerable increase I think we can congratulate ourselves and the Government on the earnestness with which they have applied themselves to these problems of development and welfare and research in the Colonies. I should like to ask a great many other questions, but I feel that that probably would not be strictly in accordance with the rules of order governing this Debate. However, with your sympathy and understanding, Sir Charles, I want to suggest that, for all that I have seen in this Report, we have been spending a great deal more—all of us—on development than we have been spending on welfare. I was particularly glad to hear in one of the statements of the Secretary of State that he had been glad to note during a visit to some of the territories involved, how the people were looking with greater earnestness to the ideals of the welfare State, and were expecting expenditure upon things which, in the past, we tended to frown upon. I have observed—I will not say contemptuous references—but belittling references to education by some when considering, for example, the inculcation of the principles of trade unionism in the Colonies. But why should they not be inculcated? I have observed similar references with regard to co-operation. But why should there not be co-operation? Somebody else here mentions temperance.
I asked the Secretary of State expressly to increase the grant for co-operation, not to reduce the grant for co-operation.
Order. I do not think we should extend this argument too far. I have every sympathy and understanding, but I have to remember the rules of order.
I am deeply grateful to you, Sir Charles. I knew you would help me as far as you could. It is a pity that I have to stop just as I am starting upon a subject of which I have some expert knowledge, and touching on how best to spend this money for the welfare of the people. I sit down with this sentence. The amount of the burden we have placed on the undeveloped races, due to the bad habits we have inculcated amongst them, is a very good reason why, amongst other things, we should try to set a barrier against the incursion of drink by our further expenditure on welfare.
I owe the Committee an apology for not being in my place when the Committee stage began, and the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson Stewart), began to speak. However, one of my colleagues took a note of the earlier part of his speech, and the hon. Member, for my benefit, repeated what he said, for which I am grateful. Therefore, I think I have all the points that were raised and I shall do my best to reply to them. I hope that in doing so I shall keep within the rules of order laid down from the Chair.First, I think it is essential that I explain the relation between this Bill and the £20 million. Under the 1945 Act the Colonial Office proceeded at once, in consultation with the Colonial Governments, to invite them to prepare, and to submit to the Office for consideration, 10-year plans for development and welfare. Those 10-year plans were from 1946 to 1956, which is the date set out in the Bill, and for which the original sum of £120 million was provided. I think that I ought to say, because it is very important, when we come to speak about this £120 million and £20 million for Colonial Development and Welfare, how we proceed. In the plans submitted the division is roughly this. One-third of the cost of these schemes is met from funds provided from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, one-third is provided by Colonial Governments from their own resources, by revenue and taxation, and one-third by loan. For every £1 which we provide the Colonies themselves are providing £2. For that reason, do not let anyone get too excited about what we we are giving them. We also retain certain sums at the centre. First, we retain a sum for research, which is of very great importance, and which we want to sustain and indeed to expand. Secondly, we keep a reserve fund of £11 million. One reason why we are putting forward this Bill which provides an additional £20 million is that we have found, particularly in the last two years, that we are getting urgent calls. For example, we had a call from Malta for another £1½ million, and some time ago we had a call from the town of Castries which was destroyed. One never knows from what field a call may come to meet a sudden emergency. We think it is essential that this £20 million should be provided as an addition until 1956. The hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Stewart) asked me whether we proposed to allocate this sum. As I indicated on the Second Reading, I do not propose to allocate this £20 million, as we did the earlier sum. I referred on the Second Reading to this, and if hon. Members will refer to the Annual Report on The Colonial Territories (1949–50)—I think that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson), has provided himself with a copy and quoted from it—they will find that on page 153, Appendix IIIB, we have an analysis of the 10-year plans which altogether involve a capital commitment of £194,609,000. We analysed the schemes by services, and there we indicate that 19.4 per cent. of the money is to be expended on communications; 23.5 per cent. on economic quotas; 47.2 per cent. on development and social services, and 9.9 per cent. miscellaneous. Then there is the amount out of reserve, interest charges, etc. which makes up the total. We do not propose to allocate this £20 million for one or other of these services but to use it flexibly. I am indeed as keen as any hon. Member in this House on development and on the social services, and I repeat what I said earlier that, in this early stage, it is inevitable and essential that a big proportion—nearly one-half of the total sum—should be expended on the social services. I am anxious that with the expansion of the social services there should also be an expansion of the resources on which they can be soundly based and sustained. With regard to this further sum of £20 million, I attach considerable importance to helping to provide and strengthen the economic foundations. I am anxious for the social services to have a really solid foundation upon which they can be sustained and upon which they can be expanded, because there is an enormous need for them. I do not want to enter into a long discussion about the C.D.C. and its future except to say that this £140 million is not the only provision we have made. General provision was made when hon. Members on the other side and we were together in government—[Interruption.] There have been some crazy schemes put forward by private enterprise in days gone by. No one could be Colonial Secretary without learning of some of the ill-advised schemes put forward by private enterprise. 6.15 p.m. From the beginning, of course, it is an essential part of the scheme that there shall be not a rigid but a flexible division of functions between the Colonial Development Corporation and Colonial Development and Welfare. In my Second Reading speech, I indicated where they could be complementary and supplementary to each other. I do not think that the Colonial Development Corporation is sufficient in itself, and I think that we are agreed that there is a very big and increasingly important place and function for public investment in the development of the Colonial territories. I think hon. Members will agree that none of us is satisfied that private enterprise alone can do the job in other words, there must be public money. The hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow), who apologised for having to leave, spoke about outlandish areas. They will not be forgotten. I welcomed the suggestion that there should be a Parliamentary delegation to these outlandish places. I think that the development of the smaller territories is one of our most important problems. The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) asked three questions; first, how we arrived at the figure of £20 million. It was arrived at after discussion, based on experience, between myself and the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to what sum we thought we ought to provide for these contingencies as a flexible sum. I was also asked why the plans should be limited to 1956. That is the period provided in the Act, on the basis that the money must be used in formulating and in helping with the 10-year plans—1946 to 1956. I was also asked how far we faced the future beyond 1956. I am not prepared to go into that now, except to say that hon. Members will realise that there is a growing consciousness among the democratic nations that these are just the places where the final battles will be fought out in the lives of men. We have had the South-East Asia conference which took place recently, and the Commonwealth conference, to which non-Commonwealth countries came as well, and we are preparing plans. There is discussion about a world plan which was brought forward by one of the movements in America. It was a plan that America should put 10 per cent. or more of what was spent on World War II into a pool for world development in the future. One day, I hope that we ourselves will propose a world plan for mutual aid. We want all possible development. There is a good deal of discussion on whether a wholly democratic world might not come together, and perhaps the best way of doing that would be by pooling resources. I think it is beyond the resources of any single country if we are to do the job in time. Please do not let us think that we have all the time we need to do this job. We are in many cases fighting against time. It may be that in this House we shall have to consider it. I am certain that we can play our part. A good many of the discussions that are taking place about plans for regions like South East Asia and Africa have their inspiration from this country. I was also asked about research by my hon. Friends the Members for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) and Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith). Some of this £20 million will be used, although I am not allocating any specific amount for research purposes. I am very conscious of the importance of research, research being the last thing I should want to cut. Research is of immense importance. Several Members raised particular problems in regard to research, such as clothing. Those Members who regularly attend Questions on Wednesdays will know that these matters are continually being discussed. They are very difficult problems, and I would not wish to minimise the difficulties. I am quite sure that research does pay. It is a remarkable thing, for example, that under a five-year plan in Cyprus we have been able to wipe out malaria which has plagued the Island for centuries. Malaria has been wiped out by collective action and at this moment there is a continent-wide conference in Africa preparing plans to wipe out malaria for the whole of Africa. I would be the last person to neglect research in any way. The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) thought I ought to apply the test of whether private capital would be attracted to make the maximum use of the resources. There is a good deal in the point he made about maximum productivity and welfare. I commend one thing that was said about the development of co-operative associations, particularly in areas where there are peasant producers. I attach enormous value to the development of co-operative associations. I was asked about the development of co-relations between the Colonial Powers. We shall do our best to co-relate as far as we possibly can. I was also asked who puts in applications. I have explained how the plans were designed and put forward, and the decision is a matter for consultation with the Colonial Governments concerned and our advisers. We have found no difficulty about that at all. Communications are of very great importance, but they are also very costly. We are spending 20 per cent. of the total on communications under the 10-year plan. Nothing leads more to development than communications. The hon. Member for Colchester also asked whether some of this money would be spent on developing trade unions. I would point out that, as we develop the economic life of these territories, we increase the number of men and women working for wages and not for themselves alone. As a wage system is brought in, it is necessary to have trade unions. There are now 1,000 separate trade unions in Colonial Territories, and of this number all but 30 are less than 10 years old. That is a remarkable fact. They need help and encouragement on every possible occasion, because, as we know from experience, if there is a vacuum, it is filled by something else with almost disaster to some territories.
Is there not great danger if these trade unions are forced upon industries and Colonies that are not ready for them? If the experiment fails, will not the result be to bring the trade union movement into contempt, which will do more damage in the long run to the real interests of the unions?
I am prepared to face that risk. I know that there are risks in over-forcing development, but I would rather take that risk than leave these wage-earners unorganised. I say that advisedly. Perhaps I might point out that the attitude towards trade unions in many Colonial Territories is not decided entirely by the people who work on the spot, but by their companies and managers. I make an appeal to some of the companies in London to co-operate more with trade unions in the Colonial Territories, and to give more latitude to their local representatives. I hope that they will do that.
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. I do not know whether reference has been made to this subject matter during the debate, but it appears to be outside the scope of this Clause.
Not only was reference made to it, but I was asked a specific question.
On the question of the inquiries which the right hon. Gentleman promised, might I suggest that when he makes that inquiry, he should do so in the Colony concerned, where there has been some controversy about the statements which have been made, in order to get first-hand knowledge?
Yes, Sir. I gave an undertaking about that during the Second Reading debate. The inquiries are not yet complete, but I will communicate with the hon. Member when they are. I think I have covered most of the points raised, and I hope that the Committee will now agree to the Clause.
Under this Clause, increased grants are being made and public and private corporations are to be welcomed in these Colonies. There is one social consequence that may result from this which will defeat our object of social benefit. If there is large-scale investment without control of the price of goods, there may be an inflationary tendency leading to detribalisation—
The hon. Member's remarks go far beyond the Clause.
Will my right hon. Friend answer the point relating to some of this extra money being devoted to welfare work for students in this country?
I cannot make any commitments about that. We have schemes by which we help students in this country.
My right hon. Friend does not exclude that possibility?
I would prefer to have notice of that question and to consider it.
Question put, and agreed to.
Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.