GREAT BRITAIN: Passfield & Governors

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From Ceylon, from Gambia, Mauritius, Sierra Leone. Bermuda, and from the Gold Coast, the Governors of all His Majesty's Colonies (not Dominions or Protectorates) came, month ago, to London, began deliberations which they briskly concluded last week. Chairman of the meeting was the Secretary of State for the Colonies, benign, chin-whiskered Lord Passfield (Sidney Webb) who has scarcely figured in the news since half his Ministry (The Dominions) was recently turned over to James Henry ("Jim") Thomas, late Lord Privy Seal (TIME, June 16). In his opening address to the Governors, Lord Passfield devoted most of his speech to explaining how important the Crown Colonies really are: The area of the Crown Colonies and mandates is as great as all British India. . . . Since 1913 the exports of the Colonies have grown from 100 to 236 million pounds. . . . "The reason why perhaps the Crown Colonies are not adequately appreciated is, to put it paradoxically, that there are so many of them."

Thus reassured of their importance, Lord Passfield and the Governors settled down to a discussion of their more serious problems. Two bothered them particularly: cinema censorship and the creation of some sort of central civil service from which properly equipped colonial administrators might be recruited. In discussing this latter point one interesting fact was brought out: High Colonial posts, which are not in the giving of the local Governors are at present all distributed by Lord Passfield's private secretary, one Major Furse.

On the cinema the Colonial Governors were particularly severe, recommended strict government censorship for all Colonies, especially tropical Africa.

"Africa requires a particularly stringent censorship," they reported, "and the present time when there are only a trifling number of cinemas is the time for action. . . . Local educated opinion, anxious for amusement, is an influence leading to the exhibition of films the natives ought not to see."

Amiable Lord Passfield suggested that negative censorship was well enough but the government should go further, suggested a government lending library of strictly pure, blue-ribbon films which the natives ought to see.