HC Deb 05 July 1938 vol 338 cc177-8
40. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware of the anxiety caused to Africans in the native reserves in Southern Rhodesia by the compulsory selling of native cattle; that considerable reductions are being enforced at Fort Victoria and adjacent districts; that prices involve heavy losses to the natives concerned, and that drastic restrictions have been imposed on the number of cattle a native may have; and whether he will make representations to the Government that more adequate arrangements should be taken to explain to the people concerned the policy involved, that the co-operation of the natives in the policy should be obtained, and that a fair price should be guaranteed when a reduction is enforced?

Lord Stanley

The Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia recently issued a statement on this matter, a copy of which I am sending to the hon. Member. It is explained that the rumour of the compulsory sale of cattle is unfounded, and results from the Southern Rhodesia Government's attempt to assist the natives in over-stocked areas to improve their herds by selling some of their scrub cattle. An officer of the Veterinary Department has been made available to help in this matter and to give advice to the natives as to which of the animals are most useless. It has also been pointed out to the natives that owing to the shortage of water and the poor grazing, due to a bad season, their cattle will die of poverty this year unless the numbers are reduced. The statement adds that the prices paid for the class of stock sold are fair and reasonable.

Mr. Creech Jones

Is the noble Lord aware that the scheme is actually in full-swing operation in certain parts of Southern Rhodesia, and that there is considerable apprehension among the natives concerned, who certainly are not getting a fair price for their cattle, and will he make representations to the Government that a least the native people should be taken into consideration when a policy of this kind is put through?

Lord Stanley

The policy has been adopted to help native agriculture and improve it as far as possible. I am sorry to hear that the natives are apprehensive in the matter, and I hope that my answer to the hon. Member's question will do something to allay their suspicions.