HC Deb 01 December 1948 vol 458 cc1995-6
32. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many African women have been arrested in the Fort Hall district of Kenya for failing to dig contour strips; and whether he is satisfied that imprisonment is the best means of dealing with this problem.

Mr. Creech Jones

One hundred and twenty-five women in this district were convicted during the last two years of failing to comply with the directions of their Headman in regard to anti-erosion measures. Of those convicted all paid fines except six who served detention in default. Unfortunately, no other equally effective method has been found of enforcing essential measures of soil conservation.

Mr. Rankin

While we recognise that these people should be following the most advanced methods of agriculture, does not my right hon. Friend agree that the point is that imprisoning them is not a good method of teaching them? I ask my right hon. Friend to keep that consideration before him.

Mr. Creech Jones

Tremendous educational propaganda is going on amongst the tribes. Soil erosion is one of the greatest evils and every effective measure must be taken to check it.

Mr. Scollan

Does not my right hon. Friend think that it would be wiser to consult the Minister of Agriculture with regard to what he does with some of our own savage farmers?

Mr. Baldwin

Is the Minister aware that English farmers are subject to compulsion and that if they do not obey orders they go to prison? Is he aware that unless compulsory steps are taken to enforce proper cultivation in Kenya and East Africa generally, there will be wholesale starvation for the Africans?

Mr. Creech Jones

Certain compulsory measures have already been adopted on the English model.