BRITISH COLONIES IN THE FUTURE
AN ADDRESS BY LORD HAILEY, G.C.S.I., G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E.
The President, John C. M. MacBeth, Esq., B.A., K.C.
Friday, December 18, 1942.
MR. JOHN C. M. MACBETH: Gentlemen of The Empire Club: Last week, His Excellency the Governor-General addressed us on Imperial Unity, suggesting that the unifying element was a bond of the spirit-intangible, almost inexplicable; and yesterday, Chaudhuri Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan addressed us on the problems of one of our sister dominions, giving an informative survey which revealed the basic loyalty of India to the Empire; and today, we are to be addressed by the Chairman of the Colonial Research Advisory Committee, the very head and front of the modern colonial and dominion policy of unity of purpose by independence of action, if I may so express it.
Lord Hailey is a graduate of Oxford-his course, the good old classics; his college, Corpus Christi, of which he is an Honorary Fellow. And, in tribute to the classics, may I say that of the eighteen Prime Ministers of England between 1837 and 1937, ten were good classical scholars and four others had learned both Latin and Greek.
Lord Hailey has spent much time in London, being a member of the Executive Council of the Governor General, as was also our speaker of yesterday. He was Governor of the Punjab from 1924 to 1928, and from 1928 to 1930 was Governor of the United Provinces. He is an author of note, and, in 1935 was Chairman of the African Resources Survey, from which, in 1938, came the authoritative publication, "An African Survey". He was from 1935 to 1939 a member of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, and, in 1941, was head of the Economic Mission to the Congo.
Add to these activities the fact that he was, in 1941, Romanes lecturer at Oxford, and the fact that he is at present in Canada as Chairman of the United Kingdom delegation to the International Pacific Relations Conference, which concluded its sessions only this week, and you still have a very inadequate estimate of the qualifications of our guest.
It gives us very much pleasure, Sir, to ask you to address us. Gentlemen: Lord Hailey. (Applause.)
LORD HAILEY: Mr. Chairman and Members of The Empire Club of Canada: My word, that sounds good! That sounds very good to me. Mr. Churchill said the other day we call it Empire, we could call it Commonwealth. I don't care, what I do care about is the thing itself. I like that word The Empire Club of Canada.
Now, your welcome to me has been very warm today. I am very grateful for it. The warmth of your welcome makes up for the somewhat frigid character of your atmosphere, which strikes one in some respects, after something like forty years in the East. But even if I felt your atmosphere as somewhat frigid outside, I, like many other people, have received spiritual warmth and comfort from the kind of news we are receiving today, that cheers and warms the cockles of one's heart. I do feel indeed that we have reached the turning-point of the war.
Now, need I add what an immense pleasure it is to me to come here. It is my first visit to Canada-indeed, my first visit to this side of the Atlantic-and to come here, above all at a time when we can with truth say we are in a crisis such as we and the world has never seen before.
We in Great Britain are very deeply conscious of the part that Canada has played, very deeply conscious and very grateful. It is not merely on account of your unstinting effort in the recruitment of forces, not merely because of what we know and what we see of all your vast, almost illimitable exertions in the production of munitions, it is not merely that, and if I delay before I go to the main subject on which I wish to speak to you this afternoon, I do wish to add this on my own behalf, as a representative of what I may say are the ordinary people of England, those people of whom Abraham Lincoln once said that God must like ordinary people because he has made so many of them, and we, the ordinary people of England, have a particular reason for this sense of gratitude to Canada. For here was a people which was in itself in no immediate danger from the war. Here was a people which was under no formal obligation to join us as an ally, and yet at once, without hesitation, without restriction of any kind, it threw itself into the conflict on our side.
Now, I want to say how much that conveyed to us of support, of what I might almost call spiritual reinforcement, for you were a people that had a new life and a new vision of your own and it might well be you had thought the age-long conflicts and antagonisms of Europe were of no great concern. But you came in, you came in at once, and we felt here indeed was a proof, here indeed was evidence that we ourselves are not fighting merely to maintain the gains of the past. We were not fighting merely for material purposes, we were not fighting merely for our own lives. We were fighting for a cause common to you and common to us, and here we had witness to it, tangible, powerful witness which no man could gainsay and that, indeed, was a source not only of pride but reinforcement. We knew then that our cause must be just and we felt with new confidence that the cause of justice must prevail.
Now, let me turn to the purpose for which I have to address you today.
I often think that if our legislators were quite as careful of our interests as they sometimes pretend to be, one of the first laws they would pass would be to compel a speaker to explain exactly in advance what subject he was going to deal with, and be very precise about it, because it so often happens, particularly when we find a speaker on the air, that he is proceeding some very considerable distance indeed before we decide whether we should or should not turn the knob on him. Now, it may be in announcing the title of my address to you I may have perhaps offended that way myself. Therefore, if I have, I will put myself right straight away.
I am speaking today on one portion and one portion only of that great body of nations which makes up the British Commonwealth. It is, I think, proper that we should regard that community of nations as divided into three parts. There is, first of all, of course, that great association which has found legal expression in the Statute of Westminster-the United Kingdom and the great Dominions. As you see, I still use the word Dominions because it is an historical word and I wish to be precise, though I think many of us are beginning to feel the need of searching for some other term which would express without any of the old connotations, the kind of partnership for which the Dominions stand.
Second comes India. India, of course, was never a colony, nor considered as such, and an India which is now only waiting the opportunity offered to her of exercising her own choice as to whether she will rank as a Dominion.
Then, in the third case there are the colonial dependencies, that great collection of some forty-five or fifty peoples, numbering in all some 55 millions, scattered all over the world, to which we now give the name of the colonial dependencies. And, of course, it is those and those alone with which I have to deal.
Now, if it had been possible I would have avoided if I could even the use of the word "Colonial", for it has associations, and indeed some people might think it has implications which are not really applicable to them. There are very few of these countries which have ever been colonized in the strict sense. There are of course in the West Indies instances of colonization, though there the colonization has been only partly by Europeans and their present populations largely represent descendents of the ex-slaves who were brought into the country.
Elsewhere you have, as for instance in Africa, some cases that may be said to represent colonization. I will not, of course, speak here of the Union of South Africa, with its population of 2.000,000 white people, nor indeed will I speak of Southern Rhodesia which though technically not a Dominion is entirely self-governing, Southern Rhodesia with 60 thousand white people, but there are in Africa two cases in part-Kenya, with its 20,000 white people, and Northern Rhodesia with 11,000both of course largely outnumbered by native population. Those are perhaps the only two cases in which I could speak of colonization.
The rest of our colonial dependencies are true native dependencies. If Europeans are there it is very seldom as colonists. There are traders or officials but there, in turn, are very seldom permanent residents.
Now, I have been obliged to give you these details for which I apologize, because I wish to be very precise as to the picture I am drawing, but let me add one other detail, too. All these colonial dependencies, or practically all, are tropical countries, or subtropical. All their habits of life, all their civilization is of that character. These countries represent a great diversity of conditions. They came under our jurisdiction over a hundred and fifty years ago in a great variety of circumstances. Now, they represent what has been truly described, I think, as a procession of peoples in which the van is separated by great distances from the rearguard. You will find in the vanguard people such as Ceylon, which has a civilization very nearly akin to that of India. We find the West Indies where, as I have said, there is a population largely of ex-slave origin that has now adapted itself to the ways of European civilization. Then in the -rear you have peoples who have only lately come under the administration, only lately come into contact with civilization, many of whom are still leading tribal lives, many, indeed we may say with some justice, only just emerging from a former state of barbarism and learning the ways of citizenship.
Now, one of the results of the war, a somewhat unforeseen and unexpected result, is that much light has lately been thrown on the whole question of colonial dependencies, not only in regard to the British Empire but throughout the world. Everywhere I go I discern a feeling, and particularly in the British Commonwealth itself, for it is that which mainly concerns me today, I discern a feeling that there is in the maintenance of these colonial conditions something that is out of accord with the spirit of the British Commonwealth Many people feel there is something wrong in a situation which enables one country to exercise political control over other peoples for its own political advantage or for securing cheap labour for its capitalist enterprises. There is something wrong in a situation which enables it to exercise preference in trade for the benefit of its own colonies. And there are some who feel that this in itself is some source of weakness to the British Commonwealth. There are many who feel, and quite honestly feel that they would join hands with us in this present conflict with greater conviction, with greater confidence if those conditions were altered and if they were more satisfied themselves that an alteration of those conditions would make it clear to them and to the rest of the world, the objects for which we are fighting.
Now, there may be others who have approached this question with different motives-motives, perhaps, of old prejudices, motives born of insufficient knowledge, motives in some cases that have arisen out of their own domestic politics. I will not deal with them. I recognize there is an honest opinion in the British Commonwealth itself, an honest-to-God opinion in the British Commonwealth on this subject, and I wish if I can to give those who entertain those opinions an honest-to-God answer.
Now, I do so, and I take this occasion of doing so, because I think that feelings of that nature really lie at the base of much of the challenge that has been extended to us on the subject of what I call "Imperialism" and "Colonization". If I could give a more precise meaning to those terms it would be that Imperialism is felt to represent the attitude which a stronger nation takes toward independent people, those who are felt to be weak; Colonialism is the term used to describe the attitude taken by a power which controls dependencies and towards its administration of dependent peoples.
Now, let me take Imperialism, first of all, the attitude of a stronger nation toward weaker and dependent peoples. Is there indeed any sign that the United Kingdom is endeavouring today to use its strength in order to acquire territory from weaker and dependent people. If there ever had been such a definite policy on the part of the United Kingdom that ended forty years ago. That ended when we yielded to the claim of the Union of South Africa that it should enjoy complete independence. That ended when the British Navy, which had once kept the peace of the world, or at all events had stood in the way of a world war, when the British Navy ceased to hold that position and when it equally failed to hold the position in which it would support any attempt to acquire territory from independent peoples in face of the opposition of the rest of the world. But you may well ask, do we at present use our strength in order to force weaker peoples to give such concessions as would give preference to our own trade, or an advantage to our own nationals?
Looking around the world, I think one might take as a most signal illustration on this point the case of China. For years we, in common with the United States of America, preserved what was known as "open door" policy there. But of course that open door policy did at the same time involve a claim of extra-territorial rights for the protection of our own commoners. Today, we have waived those claims, completely and unreservedly. I take that as an example. I look around the world and I try in vain to find any other instance in which it could be said that the United Kingdom is endeavouring to use its strength in order to secure unfair advantages from other people for the sake of its own commoners or the sake of its own nationals, and indeed, that temper of Imperialism, it should be understood, is not the temper of our people today. We are not a feudal people, preying on others. If it ever was our tradition, certainly it does not represent our condition in the present century. We keep up, it true, certain archaic forms, but that is because we are not without pride in our own past, and we do not desire to break too hastily with it. But there is in Great Britain today a state of social equality not less than that of any other nation in the world. There has been of late years in our generation an advance in the provision of social services, in the promotion of all those policies which make for what is now called social security. There has been an advance in safeguarding the conditions of labour. There has been an advance in wiping out all invidious distinctions which stand in the way of men of under-privileged classes gaining equal opportunities in life. All this has been done and has been done on a magnitude very little understood, I think, by many of the other peoples of the world who were apt to look on us as an unduly conservative and a backward-looking people.
Now, a nation so constituted, a nation with such traditions of liberty, a nation with such a social makeup today is not a nation that would stand for what used to be called Imperialism.
Now, let me pass on to the question of Colonialism, for here, of course, the real substance of the challenge lies. I must take first the application of that attitude toward India, because of course India is still in some sense, though in a very restricted sense, a dependency of the United Kingdom, in a temporary sense, I might add, but still, technically, it is politically dependent upon the United Kingdom.
Now, I cannot give you here the long history of the measures taken, not of recent years but consistently over a long series of years, which have been directed to the promotion of self-governing institutions in India. You may say that we should have taken an earlier opportunity of offering to India the choice that we have now given her of selecting her own form of constitution, even if that choice should lead to her departing from the Commonwealth. You may say we should have done that at an earlier date. You may say again we should have shown more imagination, perhaps more political adroitness in finding some interim arrangement which will give her immediate contentment in this time of war, until she can exercise this final choice. These things you may say, but you cannot say, and you cannot even with any honesty suggest that that offer to India has not been made with all sincerity and will not be fully implemented. There is in Great Britain today no political section, there is no political personage, however high he may stand, who would be able to hold out against the resolution, the determination of the great mass of the people in Great Britain that that undertaking should be implemented, both in spirit and in letter.
Now, in speaking of India I have perhaps gone slightly beyond my subject, and I will deal therefore at once with the question of the Colonial dependencies. Now, if the demand there could be formulated I think it would take three aspects. Emphasis would be laid first of all on the necessity for giving self-government to these people. Secondly, it would be laid on the necessity of the improvement of social conditions,--not merely as an obligation of trusteeship, not merely as one of the duties of humanitarian people--but because the improvement of social conditions, the equalization of the social status of those people with that held by more advanced people is in itself the necessary foundation for a stable form of self-government. You cannot base liberal institutions, you cannot base a representative form of government on stunted bodies. You cannot base it on undeveloped intellects. Vast social improvement is undoubtedly necessary in order that these countries may enjoy a real measure of self-government. Then, thirdly, I think that emphasis would be laid on the necessity of providing some guarantees against what we usually term exploitation of these peoples.
Now, take the point of self-government. We must be clear as to its meaning. It cannot merely mean the immediate liberation of these countries from our control. It cannot mean, for instance, that you should say to the Sultans of Malaya that they are free to resume their rule with all the results of anarchy that formerly characterized that country, and which indeed are the reason why we are there today, because we entered on the administration of that country largely in answer to an, appeal of the very numerous Chinese immigrants who were suffering from the prevailing anarchy and misrule. You cannot say again we must surrender immediately to the South African tribal leaders the authority they once enjoyed. Many of them, as I said before, are now only just emerging from a state of practical barbarism. It would be a situation which no one could stand if you were to say, in answer to the general conscience of the world, you must surrender control there, even though you might be surrendering to the wrong people. Clearly what self-government means is the achievement of conditions under which a people can manage their own affairs without intervention from outside, but nevertheless in accordance with modern ideas of civilization.
Now, it is just the fact that the granting of self-government has to be so defined that makes it so difficult to contemplate with any honesty meeting the demand that we should fix a predetermined date for the granting of self-government to these colonial dependencies. That self-government should be granted has been affirmed on the highest authority which the British Constitution allows. More than that, it has been our traditional policy with the colonial dependencies, it has always been in our country and it has been in yours. We have done much to achieve it. Ceylon today enjoys a degree of self-government which nearly approaches complete independence. There are in the West Indies old parliaments, older than any except the British Parliament, which enjoy powers that are very little restricted and which, indeed, are almost self-governing. But there has admittedly been a lag elsewhere, but if there has been any lag it is largely due to conditions inherent in the nature of the countries themselves, conditions which we have not created but conditions which we are endeavouring to surmount and that we must in time surmount. The effort, believe me, is not wanting there.
Then let me pass on to the second point, the question of the general improvement of the social conditions. Now much has in the past been achieved. I go a little back. When I read what Africa was in the days of Livingstone, or even Mary Kingsley, I realize how spectacular, how dramatic has been the advance in many directions, but I confess that our policy in the past was not directed as dynamically to the improvement of social conditions and the raising of the standard of life as perhaps it might have been. It was directed largely by a sense of trusteeship, a moral concept which pointed rather to the prevention of abuse than to a constructive policy in the improvement of material and social conditions. That is not the case today. There are in Great Britain numerous people, not without influence on political life, who now have a new view of these matters. In our own domestic politics we have begun to realize that the state is not merely the guarantor of equal rights, it is not merely there to prevent abuses, the state is today recognized in our own domestic policy as the most active agent in promoting social well-being, as the primary agent for securing social security and the improvement of all round conditions of life, and that conception has been projected into the colonial policy also.
Two years ago, in 1940, in the midst of anxieties about the war which were without example in our history, we passed an Act whereby we provided. for an expenditure of some £55,000,000 over ten years for social and welfare schemes in the colonial dependencies. Now, when you come to realize how much lower the standard of pay, and the cost of materials and the like is in those dependencies, that sum will be multiplied many times, or perhaps I would say more correctly, it really represents a sum of far greater magnitude. In order to see the scale of it, let me just mention the fact that the normal revenues of these colonial dependencies as a whole amount to between £60,000,000 and £ 70,000,000 a year. That is, 30 percent is expended on the social services and these £55,000,000 spent over the course of ten years will be a net addition to that 30 percent. Now, there, I think, is tangible evidence of the new spirit that is animating Great Britain in this respect, tangible evidence that we have a new conception of our responsibility toward the colonies in regard to their social development.
Now, let me come to the third point, the prevention of exploitation. In endeavouring to define that term I will confine myself to certain concrete propositions. In the first place, exploitation might take the form of giving the trade of Great Britain a substantial preference in the colonial dependencies against the trade of other people. That, of course, would have its own reaction on the standard of living in the dependencies themselves. Now, let me remind you, for some fifty-five years, Great Britain, in company with the rest of the Commonwealth, stood for an open door policy. If, after the last war, we saw reason to depart from that policy, then it was because other peoples closed the door against us, but the institution of a regime of preferences has not meant that the colonial dependencies present a protected area for British commoners.
If I have to give you figures about this it is not because I love figures or statistics, but because it is the shortest way of proving that particular point. Taking the Crown Colonies as a whole, in 1938, out of the total imports taken by them, only 24/ per cent came from the United Kingdom, and 75Y2 per cent came from the rest of the world. Out of their total exports, only 35 per cent went to the United Kingdom, and 65 per cent to the rest of the world. Therefore, in no sense could it be said that this regime of preferences has established a closed market for British commerce in the colonial dependencies.
Then again it might be said that we receive great advantage from the possession of these dependencies because of our investment in them in the past. The result of such investment of course would mean today that the interest of the investments has to take the form of the transfer of war material from those colonies to Great Britain, so, in effect, Great Britain would be receiving raw material without any present policy, though of course, as against past investments extending over some considerable period of past history.
Now, again, I think it has been calculated that the possession of British capital in the colonial dependencies amounts to only £2,500,000 to £3,000,000 and therefore represents only some six or seven per cent of our total overseas investments, and it is only the investment on any which could be represented as going to the United Kingdom and representing imports for which no present payment is required.
But on this question of exploitation of course one has to go further. It is necessary we should see in these colonial dependencies the condition of labour, not only adequate but satisfactory to the people concerned. Now, in the last few years we have passed no less than 130 Acts for regulating the conditions of employment in the colonial dependencies, particularly in regard to such matters as the formation of trade unions, payment of workmen's compensation, and the like, and again it is necessary, in order to avoid exploitation, that we should see that a fair share of the profits made by our capitalist enterprises in the colonies should inure to the benefit of the colonies themselves and not merely to the benefit of the Imperial Exchequer. That is necessary in order that the colonies may have the revenue for the improvement of social services and their lives. In recent years we have largely increased the local income and corporation taxes, though I think that more remains to be done here. I can only quote those as typical. I cannot go through the whole range of matters of that kind. Let me say they are matters very earnestly engaging the attention of people in Great Britain. There are many people who devote great study to them. There are political parties which have sections which give their whole attention to questions of that kind and, believe me, there is in England today a spirit which would not stand for exploitation in any form.
The picture is I know greater. There is one figure I must add to it. I feel there is one issue I have not approached. You may say with justice that Great Britain has as yet offered to the world no guarantees regarding the fulfillment of the policy which I have described. You may ask whether Great Britain is to be the sole judge of when a dependent people have become fit for self-government. You may ask whether Great Britain is to be the sole judge of the efforts it is making or the assistance which it is giving in order to insure a higher state of life, of the proper standards of living in the dependencies, whether those endeavours or that assistance is adequate. Is Great Britain to be the sole judge of that? Is there no third party interest in the rest of the world? If you like to put it, is there no third party interest in our partners of the British Commonwealth?
Well, there are many of us who would say at once there is such a third party. We do not believe Great Britain should be the sole judge in these matters. We are prepared to meet that point and this is what we propose. We propose in all the principal areas in which the colonial dependencies fall there should be Regional Councils set up, representing not only the colonial powers but other nations interested in the areas in which the dependencies lie. So far as the Pacific is concerned, the United States have a substantial interest in maintaining not only security, but social conditions in the dependencies of that area. That Council would have a definite function. It would have no executive power but it would have power of reviewing the progress made periodically, of demanding explanations from the governments themselves. It would have the power of utilizing its own technical advisors in regard to health, economic and similar questions, of using its own technical advisors to say as to the rate of progress made. By mutual consultation, by the pressure of joint opinion, it would do its best to co-ordinate policies, economic, political, and the like, in those areas, and it would, above all, have the great value of bringing to the administration of those areas the test of publicity, the real value, I may say, and perhaps the only real value, in my opinion, possessed by the old mandatory system.
Now, that is what we propose. We do not confine it to the Pacific area. We feel a similar Council should be instituted for the African area and for the West Indian dependencies. That is the manner in which large numbers of us in Great Britain would meet that particular demand, that we should no longer consider ourselves the sole judge in these matters.
Now, I conclude what I fear must have been a somewhat long review of the situation as it appears to me. It may very well be that the picture I have painted to you is not so satisfactory or, shall I say, not couched in such idealistic terms are some would ask. But I have endeavoured to deal with realities, reality of what we have done in the past and reality of what we ourselves believe to be feasible in the future. I do not believe that the picture I have endeavoured to paint to you is one which is out of accord with the spirit which animates the British Commonwealth. I do not feel that it is one which I, at all events, need apologize for. It is after all framed with one aim and one objective only, that we should for the future treat the people of these colonial dependencies, not as our subjects, not even as wards for whom we stand in trust, but as partners in that society of free and equal peoples of which the British Commonwealth of Nations consists. (Applause-prolonged.)
Mr. JOHN C. M. MACBETH: Will you, Mr. Willson Woodside, please express the appreciation and thanks of the audience to the speaker?
Mr. WILLSON WOODSIDE: Lord Hailey, Mr. President and Members: Lord Hailey's talk comes to us at a most timely moment, when some of our good neighbours to the south are most curiously crying for a British retreat from Empire. A powerful publicist has stated the United States would not fight to keep the British Empire together. A political figure for whom otherwise we have a certain affection has said he is shocked, his countrymen are shocked at Mr. Churchill's declaration of his intention to hold together that loose but contiguous British political development--I might say invention--which saved the world for the same publicist and political leaders only two and a half short years ago. A lot of our good neighbours seem to think that one has only to "praise the Lord and pass the ammunition", and make everybody free, and that is the end of reorganizing the world, but this question of world organization needs a lot more talking over, and I hope we have time to talk it over thoroughly before peace breaks out. Our good neighbours need to realize--they still study the Empire of George the Third in their histories--they have to realize more what the British Empire is today and what it is trying to do, and to realize it is not merely an outworn expression of Imperialism in the very bad sense of that word, but in its better manifestations is a pattern, a blueprint, you might say a preview, of that better world organization toward which we are all striving.
Now, I am sure that there are few British spokesmen who could have presented this view to us more completely or more authoritatively than Lord Hailey. I think the members agree with me we have been very fortunate in having him here. Thank you, Lord Hailey. (Applause.)
MR. JOHN C. M. MACBETH: I have nothing to add to that vote of thanks, My Lord, so ably proposed by our good friend, Willson Woodside. The meeting is adjourned.