29 MARCH 1963, Page 15


SIR,—I should be grateful if you would allow me the courtesy of your columns to draw attention to some of the glib over-simplifications contained in Mr. Harry Franklin's article on Central Africa.

Mr. Franklin claims that the North is rich, and that the Federation remains a constant financial drain on Northern Rhodesia. The North is rich so tong as cooper remains fairly high-priced, but modern advanced chemical engineering develop- ments and developments elsewhere in non-ferrous metals make reliance on one commodity such as this a rather dubious proposition. It is also worth noting that the overall Federal revenue figures from 1954 to 1962 show that Northern Rhodesia contributed £173 million and Southern Rhodesia contributed £244 million.

Mr. Franklin draws the inference that the Federal Government debt. in itself, offers no particular problem if the Federation were to be dissolved. However, it cannot be assumed that the individual territorial governments either would, or could, afford to take over their allocatable proportions of the total Federal Government debt. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and if the Federa- tion were unscrambled into its three constituent parts, the resulting diminution of economic activity, the blow to confidence, reduction in investment activity, the possible withdrawal of capital, and the general running-down of the economy, which might well follow, would all reduce the capacity of the individual territorial governments to support the public debts on the scale which the Federation as a whole has been able to support. Already Dr. Banda has indicated his reluctance to take over Federal assets and the associated Government debt.

Mr. Franklin states that it is not true that thous- ands of Federal Civil Servants will be out of work. `They can carry on what they are doing now when their departments become territorial again.' This again is an easy way of dismissing a difficulty which is a very real one. Federal Civil Servants are em- ployed by the Federal Government. Their pros- pects of promotion are bound up with the con- tinuance of a large Federal Service. Whereas some employment opportunities would no doubt be available for them if the Federal Government were to be dissolved, it does not necessarily follow that Federal Civil Servants would choose to work for territorial governments; nor could they be com- pelled to do so. Their conditions of service are with the Federal Government, and if this employer disappears, their contracts of service are broken. However, those who cannot be tempted and coerced into working with the territorial governments must in law and in equity be given 'abolition of office' compensation, which would be a financial respon- sibility of the British Government.

Whilst it may well be true that there is a deep- seated hatred of Federation on the part of the African Nationalist politicians, to extend this to the great mass of the population is a dubious propo- sition. Although they may have been taught by their leaders that 'Federation' is a dirty word, they have no valid concept or realisation of what the Federation is and what it spells for them in bread- and-butter economic terms. To say, as Mr. Franklin does, that no talk of economic benefits can affect this attitude in the slightest does not absolve the British Government from its responsibility in regard to the general welfare of the people of Northern Rhodesia.

W. D. A. BAGNEL.L Member, Executive Committee, Conservative Commonwealth Council 41 Lowndes Strei.t. SW1