chapter  7
20 Pages

The economics of ‘trusteeship’: colonial development policy 1921–9

Colonial development policy, 1921–9

British government funds for any kind of colonial economic development up to the early 1920s were meagre. Table 7.1 sets out the major loans and grants according to the Treasury’s accounts. Over 90 per cent of the funds provided went to railway construction, nearly all of it in East and Central Africa. All but 2 per cent of the financial assistance was in the form of loans, the interest payments on which had to be met from the start of the loan period. This was not a satisfactory record in the view of the imperialists who took charge of colonial affairs during and after the First World War: Lord Milner, Leopold Amery, William Ormsby-Gore and J.H.Thomas.1 Their aim was to provide more money, possibly on easier terms, in a more comprehensive programme of colonial development. As the unemployment situation in Britain deteriorated in the early 1920s the need for Britain to take measures to stimulate colonial economic development could be portrayed as being more urgent.2