§ 16. Mr. BANFIELD (for Mr. T. GRIFFITHS)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will issue instructions to the Kenya Government that the burning of huts of native men and women who are unable to pay hut and poll tax is to cease?
Mr. M. MacDONALD
The hon. Member is no doubt aware that the hut of a tax defaulter does not become forfeit to Government until the tax is 21 months overdue; and there is no reason to suppose that even when a hut has thus become forfeit it is the practice of Government to burn it.
§ 17. Mr. BANFIELD (for Mr. T. GRIFFITHS)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can now see his way to issue instructions to the Kenya Government that the collection of tax from African widows is to be discontinued?
African widows are not taxed in Kenya. The huts which they occupy are liable to hut tax, but in the great majority of cases the hut, together with the widow, becomes the property of the deceased husband's heir, and he, not the widow, is responsible for paying the tax. In the exceptional cases where a widow can find no such protector, my right hon. Friend is assured that she is normally exempted from the tax.
§ Miss RATHBONE
May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether the statement which he has just made, that in Kenya an African widow is the property of the heir, is not a contravention of the definition of slavery by the Expert Commis- 360 sion on Slavery, that a slave is a person over whom any or all of the property of ownership is exercised; and will he refer the matter of the position of African widows to the Expert Commission on Slavery?
Speaking both as a bachelor and as the temporary answerer of this question, I should have to look into the matter.
§ 18. Mr. BANFIELD (for Mr. T. GRIFFITHS)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in how many cases the provision in the native hut and poll tax ordinance of Kenya, enabling the local Government to waive the collection of tax from impoverished and destitute Africans, has been acted upon during the current year's tax collection?
The hon. Member is no doubt aware that the tax in respect of the current year became due only on the 1st of January, and collection is still in progress. Cases for exemption would be considered as they arise.