HC Deb 06 June 1934 vol 290 cc918-20

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the desirability of the findings of the Morris Garter Commission being known and, as far as possible, accepted among the native community of Kenya, he can assure the House that the fullest rights of conference and public meeting will henceforth be accorded, particularly among the Kikuyu, for the free discussion by them of the report?


I am sure the Government in Kenya can be relied on to permit all proper facilities for the discussion of the report.


May I ask if the right hon. Gentleman will facilitate the excellent suggestion of the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) and have the Morris Carter Report translated into the 37 native dialects in the Colony, and also instruct the Africans how to read it when so translated?


Will the right hon. Gentleman guarantee that the natives in Kenya will pay more attention to the report than do hon. Members of this House?


I am perfectly certain that the report in all its excellence and completeness will be equally appreciated in Kenya as in this country.


The point is, how are the natives to become acquainted with it. What steps can the right hon. Gentleman take to ensure that they shall know what is the importance of the report and its recommendations?


We have very able district officers in Kenya who, I am sure, will give all information on all matters.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has yet received the report from Kenya Colony upon the dispute between two natives as to the ownership of a few eucalyptus trees worth a few shillings; how many years were involved in this case; how many courts had the parties before them; what was the total cost of the legal proceedings; and what action he proposes to take to prevent a repetition of such prolonged, involved, and costly proceedings over a relatively trivial issue?


Yes, Sir, the case in question was a claim for £16 12s. which began in a Native Tribunal on the 29th of October, 1930, and finally finished in the East African Court of Appeal on the 20th of June, 1933. The case was taken on appeal to the Native Appeal Court and thence to the District Officer. In certain cases an appeal lies beyond the District Officer's Court, but this was not one of such cases owing to the smallness of the amount for which judgment had been given by the District Officer. The case was, however, heard on appeal by the Provincial Commissioner, and the subsequent proceedings in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal were directed to the legal aspect raised by a motion for a writ of certiorari to quash the proceedings before the Provincial Commissioner. In all, the case was heard by seven courts. I am not able to state the total expenses to which the parties were put, but I am informed that the law costs amounted in all to £70 4s. I am advised that the case is quite exceptional and unlikely to occur again, and I consider that it would be inadvisable to call in question the whole system of dealing with civil native appeals on account of one isolated case.