HC Deb 05 December 1951 vol 494 cc2369-71
27. Mr. John Hynd

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the number of Meru families resident in the Sanya corridor in Tanganyika who are now faced with enforced eviction; and to how many European settlers and for what form of agricultural development this land is now being leased.

41. Mr. R. W. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in view of the resistance by 2,500 tribesmen to their removal from the Lanya corridor in the Tanganyika Northern Province and the arrest of 13 of the tribesmen, whether an undertaking can be given that no punitive measures will be taken until the cooperation of the chiefs and tribesmen has been secured.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Under a scheme which was accepted by the native authority and publicly announced two years ago, 350 families are to be moved by free transport, and with compensation for disturbance, to land adjoining the area occupied by the rest of the tribe. This has been specially prepared for them by the Tanganyika Government by the installation of piped water supplies, bore-holes and cattle dips. The families removed will be given free food while establishing themselves. As part of the same scheme the Tanganyika Government have acquired a considerable area of land for the use of the tribe. This land was formerly alienated to Europeans, and some of it has been acquired by compulsory purchase, for the use of the tribe. The area to be vacated will be leased for large-scale cattle-ranching. The numbers likely to be thus employed cannot yet be estimated.

I regret that in spite of the acceptance of the scheme by the native authority some degree of compulsion has been necessary to complete this scheme of land re-allocation which is of unquestionable benefit to the Meru Tribe and to the economic development of the territory. Everything possible has been done to secure the consent of the individual tribesmen concerned. Action cannot be further delayed but certainly no measures will be taken beyond the minimum necessary to secure the objective in view.

Mr. Hynd

As the Minister refers to 350 families when originally the estimate was a minimum of 500 families, will he say whether there are still 150 families left on the original soil, and, if so, whether they are going in for cattle ranching or what?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As I said in my answer, the number of families to be moved is 350.

Mr. Sorensen

Does not the Minister realise that these tribesmen, rightly or wrongly, are very much attached to the old tribal lands and that that fact presents a psychological difficulty which requires very great patience indeed; and, further, that the matter will be made even more difficult if punitive action is taken before the utmost consideration is given to this psychological aspect?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I have given a very careful answer in regard to any action taken, but I would say to hon. Members and to those who are rightly concerned with the welfare of this and other tribes that their removal from semi-arid land to better land is in their own interest. The friends of Africans can play a better part by encouraging them to do this than by lending themselves to any suggestion that proper consultation has not taken place.

Mr. John Paton

Would the Minister inform the House who, are the beneficiaries of this newly formed ranch land, and whether it is the case that some of the new lands offered to the tribesmen are tsetse infested?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

All those questions were gone into by the native authorities, and they are fully satisfied with the proposals of the late Government, which this Government fully endorse.

Mr. Paton

Would the Minister please answer my question? Who are the beneficiaries in respect of the land?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I hope the beneficiaries are those people who will bring prosperity to the whole territory. [HON. MEMBERS: "Will they be Europeans?"] Yes, no doubt they will be Europeans. This project was gone into very carefully by the late Government with the native authorities, and I would strongly deprecate the introduction of any racial consideration in the matter. The future of this territory, like so many others, lies in a partnership between various peoples, and hon. Gentlemen who rightly set great store by the interests of Africans would help them by encouraging the development of this new partnership.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the Minister make it clear that the land being compulsorily acquired from the Europeans on which to settle these Africans is very much better land?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman.