HC Deb 14 December 1925 vol 189 cc946-7
12. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in regard to the proposed system of detention camps in Kenya Colony, his attention has been drawn to the instructions issued by Mr. Denham, the Colonial Secretary, to the heads of all Departments, pointing out that the prisoners transferred to these camps will be available for railways, etc.: and, if so, what steps it is proposed to take to control these prisoners when they are kept to labour outside the camps?


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in connection with the proposed creation of detention or concentration camps in Kenya Colony, his attention has been drawn to a circular issued by Mr. Denham, Colonial Secretary, pointing out to the heads of all Departments that the creation of detention camps will ensure to the Government a constant supply of labour; and whether he proposes to point out to the Kenya Government that the constant supply of labour cannot be allowed to have my relation to the, punishment of prisoners?


The circular indicates that the native offenders will work under the supervision of the native headman or the hear tribal retainer, and it is to be presumed that when at work they will be under the control of the tribal retainers. Prison officials are not to be employed. The circular speaks of a useful, not a constant, supply of labour for Government purposes. The object of the Ordinance is to avoid the association of technical offenders with criminal prisoners, not to provide a source of labour, but it would be as undesirable if these offenders were to pass the period of their detention in complete idleness, as it would be to keep them in gaols. I see no reason to bring the point to the Governor's notice, but he has already been requested to furnish a report on the working of the Ordinance when it has had a fair trial.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Mr. Denham's circular, there is a distinct hint that behind this new departure is the idea of securing free labour for Government contracts, as well as what should be there, namely the question of the proper treatment of the prisoners?


I can assure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that is not the policy of the Kenya Government. This is a progressive measure and is designed to deal with this particular class of offenders in a more progressive spirit.

Marquess of TITCHFIELD

In view of the Bill recently suggested by an hon. Member opposite, will the hon. Gentleman see that these men are tried by a jury of their own class?


Is it proposed to utilise this labour for Government and public work only, or is it to be available for private enterprise, because Mr. Denham's circular says "et caetera"? What does "et caetera" mean?


Certainly not for private enterprise in any circumstances. It is entirely confined to Government purposes, and from what I have seen in Africa it is usually of a very-light kind.