HC Deb 21 December 1938 vol 342 cc2867-9
54. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now able to make a statement regarding the removal of groups of Africans from the Highlands of Kenya; and what procedure will be followed in carrying through the policy of His Majesty's Government?

Mr. M. MacDonald

As the answer is rather long I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Creech Jones

What public good or administrative advantage results from the transfer of these native people to the reserves? What is it proposed to do? Will adequate compensation be given after the transfers are effected?

Mr. MacDonald

To answer that question fully would obviously require a long speech, and that speech has been made on a number of occasions by another Secretary of State in this House. The policy was approved by the House. As regards the question of compensation, I hope that the hon. Member will be satisfied with the new arrangements which have now been concluded, in which there are proper safeguards for adequate compensation to the natives concerned.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the policy of His Majesty's Government is driving an even larger number of people out of the Highlands of Ross and Cromarty?

Following is the answer:

With a view to ensuring that the transfer of certain natives from the Highlands of Kenya should be carried out with the minimum of hardship to the natives concerned, I have approved the adoption of the following procedure.

Before the Governor issues an order for the transfer of any group of natives from the Highlands, the natives concerned will be afforded an opportunity to state any objections that they may have to the land to which it is proposed to move them. In any case where objections are raised the matter will be referred to the Land Trust Board, of which the Chief Native Commissioner will be chairman, and which will include the two members of the Legislative Council who are nominated to represent native interests, and the order for removal will not be issued unless the Governor and the Board are both satisfied that the new land constitutes a fair exchange for the land from which the natives are being moved. The Board will be instructed that, in considering these cases, they are to have regard to all the relevant considerations such as the quality, area and situation of the two areas of land, and the extent of the rights of the natives in the land on which they are now living. If it is found that the land which it has already been decided to add to the reserves is insufficient to accommodate all the natives concerned on the basis indicated above, additional good land elsewhere will be purchased for this purpose.

As, in some cases, a considerable time may elapse before the transfers can take place, the Native Land Trust Bill has now been amended to provide that all natives whose removal is deferred will, pending the issue of the Governor's order for removal, continue in the enjoyment of the rights which they possess in the land on which they are at present living. The Bill, as amended, also provides that no order for removal shall be issued until the natives concerned have had an opportunity of reaping any growing annual crops, and this will hold even though these crops may have been planted after the Ordinance has come into force. Moreover, no order will be issued at such a time or in such circumstances as would prevent the natives concerned from taking advantage of the planting season either on the land on which they are now living or on the land to which they are moved.