HC Deb 12 December 1934 vol 296 cc366-7

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Government of Tanganyika has recently raised the poll-tax age for African males from 16 years to the limit applying to non-African males of 18 years, and that Kenya Colony, alone among our East African dependencies, retains the racial discrimination of an earlier tax-age for Africans; and whether he will request the Kenya Government to follow the action recently taken in Tanganyika?


I am aware that the Government of Tanganyika have recently passed an Ordinance raising the age of taxation to 18, with effect from next year. As the hon. Member is aware, this question was specially considered in Kenya by Lord Moyne in his report as Financial Commissioner; and Lord Moyne reported against the proposal on merits, and estimated that it would cost £40,000. In view of these facts, and of the financial position in Kenya, I should not feel justified in adopting the hon. Member's suggestion.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, since the Moyne Report was issued, there have been serious losses as a consequence of drought and so on, and that as a result these boys have drifted to the towns, and in many cases have drifted into crime also?


While losses arising from drought are very unfortunate, they do not seem to me to affect the question whether these people should be liable to taxation at the age of 16 or at the age of 18. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the difficulty of ascertaining the real age, and it is pointed out in the Moyne Report that, if this relief from taxation were given, it would only mean that it would be necessary to impose higher rates of taxation on other natives, who are equally affected by the drought.


Is not the age of 16 rather low for this purpose?


I think that, if the hon. Gentleman reads Lord Moyne's Report carefully, he will see all the arguments on the subject fully set out.