HC Deb 11 March 1942 vol 378 cc1051-2
31. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent Africans are being conscripted to work on European farms in Northern Rhodesia; and whether the scheme differs from that approved in Kenya?

Mr. Harold Macmillan

As the reply is a long one, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

In 1941, there was in Northern Rhodesia an acute shortage of maize for local consumption, and emergency measures had to be taken to import supplies, which could be ill-spared, from neighbouring territories. In order that everything possible should be done to obviate a recurrence of this shortage and of shortages of other foodstuffs for local consumption, immediate steps have been taken to increase the production of foodstuffs to the maximum, especially maize and wheat. Every effort has been made to secure the necessary labour but it has not been possible to obtain the full numbers required under voluntary arrangements. Accordingly, in view of the urgent necessity of securing the required labour at once in order that the land may be prepared in time for planting, my Noble Friend has agreed to the Governor's proposal to use compulsory powers for a limited period of two months to deal with the immediate necessity and for the compulsory recruitment of up to 600 labourers on European farms. The Governor has, therefore, taken compulsory powers under emergency regulations for the period expiring on the 30th April to conscript labour for essential work on farms, and he will use the regulations to obtain such number of the 600 labourers as are not obtainable voluntarily. The Government has taken steps to ensure that the conditions of employment on the farms are fair and equitable. Labour conscripted under the emergency regulations will receive a rate of pay not less than the average rates paid to farm labour and rations to the satisfaction of the Government. Expansion of native production will proceed side by side with European, and the Governor is satisfied that the recruitment for farms during the next two months will not prejudice native production in any way.