§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I beg to move,That this House extends it sympathy to all races in Kenya in their present ordeal and reaffirms its support of lawful action to eliminate Mau Mau and suppress barbarous and violent crimes against both Africans and Europeans and to re-establish peace and order. It expresses its grave concern regarding those measures which involve the punishment of innocent people and which if continued may permanently embitter race relations. It regrets the failure of Her Majesty's Government to act upon the urgent recommendation, made by the then Governor of Kenya in November, 1951, for the appointment of a Royal Commission and the unaccountable delay by the Colonial Secretary since that date in proceeding with its appointment; and urges that, once appointed, the Commission should forthwith investigate the fundamental long-term problems in Kenya, including the land problem, and that it should be required to issue an interim report on these matters as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the Government should take all practical measures to mitigate the most pressing hardships and frustrations of the African people, including the progressive elimination of the colour bar, co-operative farming the raising of wage standards, the reduction of the cost of living, extension of free education, the creation of new industries and provision of housing and the democratisation of local government. This House reaffirms its belief that co-operation and common action by all races is possible and necessary, and, to this end, welcomes the suggestions which have been made in Kenya for summoning a Round Table Conference of representatives of all communities.This Motion is in the names of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, other of my right hon. Friends and myself. I would begin the debate, as I am sure hon. Members in all parts of the House would wish it to begin and as the Motion begins, by extending to all the people of all races in Kenya our deepest sympathy in the ordeal through which they are passing. Many of them live in lonely places, under very great strain and under the constant threat, which has been their lot for some time, of violence and crime.
In the debates which, we have had on Kenya in recent weeks, we have realised, and I claim have lived up to the realisation, that it is our duty to speak with serious responsibility about these matters in view of the circumstances in the Colony. We have affirmed from the outset, as the Motion affirms now, our 1213 support for all lawful action which is necessary to suppress violence and crime, to eliminate Mau Mau and to restore peace and order in the country.
But our responsibility does not end there. Kenya is a Colony. We are responsible for the country and for all its people. We have in Kenya, as in all Colonies, what is implicit in the relationship between a Colony and a mother country—a special responsibility for the weakest of its people. There is another aspect of events which take place in any of our Colonies now and which I beg the House to realise. Our administration of Colonies in these days has a certain background and setting which we have always to bear in mind. Our administration of the Colonies for which we have responsibility in these days is carried on with the eyes of the world upon us.
We belong to a multi-racial community and a multi-racial Commonwealth, and it is important for us to realise that among the independent members of our Commonwealth now, the people with different-coloured skins from ourselves are the majority of its citizens. They, too, are watching events in Africa and elsewhere. In addition, the eyes of the world are upon us, for has it not become increasingly recognised in the democratic world that the future of the world may very well be determined in Africa and Asia? We have reached the stage where, whatever contentions we may have—and many Governments have had contentions about the rights of the United Nations to discuss matters of this kind—it is becoming increasingly evident to us that it is impossible to keep questions of this kind from the discussions of the United Nations.
For all those reasons, whilst reaffirming our support for all lawful action to restore peace and order and to do all that is necessary to achieve that end, we have a responsibility to speak out, even to be disturbed, about what is taking place. And we have become disturbed about some of the things that are being done in Kenya. We are also disturbed about some of the things we think should be done and which are either not being done or not being done as rapidly as we believe the circumstances make necessary. That is why we have put this Motion on the Order Paper, that is why I have moved it, and that is why at the end of 1214 the day we shall ask the House to support it in the Division Lobby.
We have recognised fully from the outset of this outbreak of violence that, faced with this situation, the authorities in Kenya had to be given emergency powers which for the time being set aside the normal process of law. When the Secretary of State made his first announcement in the House, on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends I affirmed that support. But we realised, too, that, as we stressed in those early debates, and as I stress now, as we have given the authorities in Kenya very wide powers, it is our duty, for we are the final arbiter, to ensure as far as we can that those extraordinary powers over the peoples in the Colony are wisely administered and that they are never abused.
We have become very concerned indeed about this problem. I realise, as do we all, that whatever is done is done in our name and with our approval, and that if this House of Commons is to fulfil its heavy responsibilities, it is essential that it should inform itself of what is taking place. Therefore, in the early beginnings of our discussions about the events in Kenya I made a suggestion to the Secretary of State, as the House will recall. I put it forward seriously. I put it forward as one who has had experience for a short time in the office which the right hon. Gentleman is now privileged to hold.
I put forward the suggestion that there should go to Kenya from this House an all-party delegation of Members of Parliament. I suggested that in our choice of hon. Members we should seek to use those in this House with knowledge and experience of the use of emergency powers in our own country, who could bring to bear upon the problems that arise in the use of wide powers of this kind, their experience and knowledge. That suggestion was put forward sincerely. I believe I carry not only my right hon. and hon. Friends with me but hon. Members in other parts of the House, if they would speak out. I am sure I carry people in every part of the nation with me in regretting that the Secretary of State turned down that suggestion.
I make the suggestion again, and I make it now because in our Motion we express our grave concern about some 1215 of the measures that are now being put into operation in Kenya, in particular, about collective punishment. We have learned from our history that collective punishment can be a terrible boomerang. I beg this House to realise the setting and the circumstances in which collective action is being taken.
I put this factually because I wish the House to realise what it means. In the very nature of things, having regard to the status of Kenya as a Colony and the kind of administration we have, any form of punishment that is now administered is inflicted by one race upon another race. That makes it doubly essential that we should examine with great care what might be the consequences of this form of punishment upon Kenya and its people now and in the future.
I shall emphasise two of the consequences, though there are others. In putting down Mau Mau, as we must and as we shall, it is important that in the process we do not leave bitter memories behind. I have urged upon the Secretary of State from the outset that one of the essential things to secure in handling this problem all the time in everything we did was to make sure that this was a struggle by all the decent people of the races in Kenya against Mau Mau, and that it was the essence of wise leadership to take every conceivable step to prevent it becoming, or even to appear to become, a struggle of the whites against the blacks or of the blacks against the whites.
For this reason my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself urged upon the Secretary of State early on that every encouragement should be given to the responsible leaders of the Africans. We can put down Mau Mau, but we have to win the Africans. We can never win them unless we do so through their own leaders. In the first debate we had on 7th November, I called the attention of the Secretary of State and of the House to a courageous statement made by Mr. Odede, the new leader of the Kenya African Union. I asked the Government to send him a message of encouragement and to make it possible for him to meet his people in order to offer them an alternative leadership to take them away from the course of Mau Mau, with its terror and its violence, and to lead them along the constitutional path.
1216 For many weeks the Africans heard no voices except the voices of the terrorists and the voices of Mau Mau. Five weeks went by before their representative in the Cabinet was invited or permitted to broadcast to his people. Incidentally, I use the word "Cabinet" for the Executive Council because it is the equivalent of our Cabinet and the Africans have their own member there. Indeed, it was my privilege, with the late Governor, to nominate Mr. Odede as a member to represent the Africans. Yet five weeks went by. How much better if he had been permitted to broadcast in the first few days. How much better if that had been followed, as I suggested realising all the difficulties, by enabling him to meet the people and to offer to them an alternative leadership.
Some of those responsible African leaders have paid with their lives for their loyalty to us. White people have done so, black people have done so. Some I knew. The loss of some is a grievous loss to Africa and to the African people and to the future of race relationships in Kenya. These men have shown by their loyalty—some by the sacrifice of their lives—that they are brave men, and I regret very much that their services were not and are not being more fully used in order to win the Africans away from Mau Mau to the better courses we can offer.
I put this to the House because I believe it is important: when we adopt matters of collective punishment, I want us to realise that we make it very difficult, is not impossible, for responsible African leaders to co-operate with the Government or to have authority and influence with their own people. If they become associated with the Government, and we in that way associate them with collective punishment, that will undermine their influence and make it impossible for them to win the Africans over now. Indeed, it may mean that it will be impossible for them to win the Africans over in the future.
I know that the Secretary of State for the Colonies and those responsible have a difficult task. I beg them to realise, for it is very important, that if what are regarded as punitive measures are taken, not against Mau Mau, but against the Kikuyu people as a whole, that makes the position of the responsible African leaders very difficult if not impossible. 1217 I mention only one other consequence. It is that we fear that the measures so taken and applied will breed deep racial resentments that will go down as a bitter memory from the present generation of Africans to generations to come. Those are two of the consequences, and there are others. In this Motion we have expressed our grave concern lest measures of that kind embitter race relations and make much more difficult our task in future, for there can be only one task in Kenya worthy of our support, and that is that eventually, when these days are past and this terror has been put down, there should be built a multiracial society reaching out towards equality.
I hope that the Government will realise that I am speaking not only for myself but, I believe, for the majority of the people in this country when I say that we are deeply and gravely concerned about what is taking place and that we warn the Government, as we feel we ought, that, if continued, these actions may embitter race relations. Hon. Members may have read the editorial in "The Times" this morning which speaks with its own authority and adds its voice to other voices which express apprehension about what is taking place and its effect upon Kenya and its people. Speaking for the Members of my party, I say that we must record our deep conviction on this matter in this Motion and in the Division Lobby.
From the very beginning we have urged that we have two major tasks in Kenya. The first is to restore peace and order. The second is to take all steps necessary to find out what are the causes of this outbreak; what are the grievances; what are the hardships upon which it has fed and is feeding. Why has this happened? We must find out those causes and remove the hardships, the grievances and the frustrations which have found expression in these evil ways.
We realised that that was a job which had both long-term and short-term aspects. Therefore, we welcomed the decision when the Government recommended to Her Majesty that a Royal Commission should be appointed to examine all these problems in Kenya and in East Africa. We welcomed the decision that the Commission should 1218 examine all the economic and social problems in all their aspects and eventually recommend what steps should be taken to deal with them. In addition to that, there were certain grievances and hardships which we have outlined in this Motion which could not, and cannot, wait for the Report of a Royal Commission. We think that urgent steps should be taken to deal with them as soon as possible.
I turn now to what I can only describe as the strange history of the proposed Royal Commission—a history made even more tortuous by the replies given yesterday by the Colonial Secretary to Questions by my hon. and right hon. Friends. I should like to say something about the background of this Commission before the present Colonial Secretary took office. In May, 1951, it was may privilege to visit Kenya. It was a short visit of eight days. I had to come back and vote in the House of Commons.
During those eight days two major problems engaged my attention. There was the constitutional problem. That was urgent because the existing constitution, in accordance with what is almost normal custom in Colonial Territories, fell to be revised in 1952. Generally speaking, the arrangements are made for four years and are then revised. I had placed before me proposals by representatives of all the races—Europeans, Africans, Asians and Arabs—giving their ideas about the future constitutional development of the Colony and their place in it.
I had discussion with them. I felt that the matter had to be settled while I was there. Eventually, a settlement was arrived at. The House now knows a good deal about that, and I do not propose to say any more except that I came to the conclusion that to build a democratic multi-racial community in Kenya or elsewhere we must begin with members of all the races coming round the same table and discussing the matter together as fellow citizens of the same country. I say that it was to the credit of all the representatives of all the peoples and races that they accepted my invitation to form a round-table conference to seek to hammer out in agreement the future constitutional development of Kenya and to decide the place of all their peoples and communities in it. 1219 The second problem to which I devoted myself and about which I had discussions with many representatives of all the races, especially with the Africans, including discussions with the Kenya African Union, was that which forms the substance of this despatch by Sir Philip Mitchell—land hunger and poverty, low wages and bad housing, squatters on farms and rootless people in the towns. All these problems are put forward with penetrating comment in this despatch which I hope every hon. Member will read.
I discussed these matters with the then Governor, Sir Philip Mitchell. We discussed them fully. He told me then what he had in mind, which was that in due course—indeed, he said in the very near future—he would set out his ideas about the whole of these problems. Who can go to Kenya without being disturbed about them? Who can go to Africa without being disturbed about them? Who can go to Asia without being disturbed about them? We were all disturbed, and we discussed these matters. He said that he would set out his views and recommendations fully in a despatch upon which he was working. I left office on 25th October, 1951. The despatch arrived in the Colonial Office one month after, in November, 1951. The despatch, right through, has a note of urgency about it and ends by inviting the Colonial Secretary:If you are prepared to support my recommendation for the appointment of a Royal Commission I suggest that I might be authorised to publish this despatch and your reply at an early date.The first version came 13 months ago; the revised version in April this year.
In June of this year my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself, some hundreds of us, tabled a Motion on Kenya and put it on the Order Paper of the House. I invite the House to read that Motion. We called attention to many of these problems—not all of them, but the most urgent of them—in that Motion. We did not present it as a formal Motion of the House, nor did we ask the House to vote upon it. We sought the opportunity of a debate, which we had on 17th July, to discuss among other problems concerning our Colonies the problem of Kenya and, 1220 in particular, to discuss the substance of the Motion.
On 17th July why did not the Colonial Secretary tell us that he had this despatch in the office? Here we were discussing the very country with all its problems and discussing it in a responsible way. Our instincts were to ask the House to declare upon that Motion, but I took the responsibility of advising my hon. Friends not to do that and they accepted my advice—
§ Mr. Griffiths
I think that when we were discussing the matter the right hon. Gentleman could have told us of this despatch. He said, in the end, that he was considering setting up a Royal Commission but was not in a position to make a formal announcement: I do not think he took it as far as a formal announcement. But this despatch has been there all the time. It was there on 17th July and it has been there since. But it was not until last week that we discovered that the original despatch setting out this penetrating analysis of the problems of Kenya had been in the hands of the Secretary of State for 13 months. Quite frankly—and I speak with restraint—that delay is unpardonable.
We still await the completion of the Royal Commission. I do not know whether the Secretary of State can tell us today that its membership has now been completed, but we urge that it should be completed quickly. We urge that it should be asked to give top priority to the problems of Kenya. It has been given an immense task. It has to cover the whole of East Africa—Tanganyika alone is equal in area to England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France put together—Uganda and Kenya. It has a long job and a necessary job, but there is no reason why a Royal Commission, given a very big job of this kind, should not be asked by Her Majesty's Government, or instructed by Her Majesty's Government, to give priority to the problems we think are the more urgent.
I therefore urge that it be given instructions to give top priority to Kenya and its problems and to present an interim report. It should have been at its work some time ago and it should be at its work now. In circumstances of this kind, when we still have the problem not only of defeating the terror of Mau Mau, 1221 but of restoring confidence in Kenya—confidence to all the races and, in view of what has taken place, not least the task of restoring the confidence of the African—the very announcement that the Royal Commission had been appointed and was on its way would by itself, even before it began its task, do much to steady African opinion and strengthen the hands of responsible, moderate African leaders. I urge very strongly that the Commission be completed at once and asked to go to Kenya to examine the more urgent of its problems and present an interim report for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government, of Parliament and the nation.
Meanwhile, there are some things which cannot wait; some things which ought to be done at once and about these I want to say a word or two to the Colonial Secretary. Speaking for all my right hon. and hon. Friends—and I hope I shall not be thought presumptuous when I say that I believe I speak for a large part of our nation—in this problem, with all the underlying causes of Mau Mau which we have been seeking to understand and which this despatch helps us to understand even more, we have been disturbed. We have been under a growing uneasiness and disquiet at the attitude of the Secretary of State to these underlying causes.
It has seemed to me and to my hon. Friends that in the statements he has made—I am not going to quote them; they have been made in this House and are within its recollection—that the general tenor of his remarks has been almost to pour scorn on the suggestion we have made that this could not have happened unless there were underlying causes and that this was not merely the work of a secret society.
It is that of a terrorist gang and I remember the Secretary of State, in our first debate on this subject, telling the House that it was the work of common or garden agitators. I said, and I repeat now, that I remember an old chief telling me, "If you find there is trouble in that place do not bother too much about the fact that someone has been exploiting it. That is important, but find out what is there to exploit."
We have urged that the right hon. Gentleman should look at the problems in that way and the Secretary of State, it 1222 seems to us, has taken a superficial view of this matter. That has disturbed us and we say so publicly now, perhaps for the first time, because we feel it is our duty to say it and we cannot stay silent any longer without saying it. I am bound to, ask whether, when he made those statements, he had read the despatch and whether he can reconcile what he has said with what is in this despatch. We need not go beyond the first page, paragraph (iv);The fact is that a revolution in the economic and social basis of life of large numbers. of Africans began some 50 years ago, and has by now gone a long way. …The substance of this despatch describes that revolution.
Sir Philip Mitchell quotes, on the second page, a report written a very long time ago, in 1933, by a district commissioner, in this very area where the trouble is taking place, in which he describes the major problem of Kenya as a race between increasing population and soil deterioration—a race for survival. I could go on reading from this despatch to which I would add a word on Mau Mau just published by Dr. Leakey, at which I have only been able just to glance. That seems to me a work which should be read by everyone, because he sees this problem through the eyes of the Kikuyu themselves. It is important for us to do that also for it is quite clear that what is taking place in Kenya is the impact of our civilisation on their form of civilisation, to break up all their tribal organisations and all that flows from that.
Now, I want to make one other quotation from this despatch, and I ask the House to read it and to ponder it. Let us all remember that what, in the literature of the world when discussing these problems, is now "colonialism" is. on its trial—on its way out, if you like. The problem that we have to face and to solve is how it will go out—whether it will develop into a democratic society. I ask hon. Members to read paragraph 40 of this despatch, from which I will read one or two passages. This is what Sir Philip Mitchell says:The East African Territories began their development as economically productive countries at a time when it was generally believed that cheapness of production must be the overriding consideration in the case of tropical raw materials, and that it could only be achieved by low wages.1223 I ask the House to realise that that is the thesis of people in the world who are hostile to us. That is what is being said—that the economic development of these Colonial Territories, in the main, has been to meet our needs and not theirs. I am stating the case we have to meet; that is what is being said. I admit that there is truth in it, and the consequence is that we get what Sir Philip Mitchell describes here, and what those of us who have been in Kenya have seen—all the problems of a low wage economy. So we have land hunger and low wages, and this kind of vicious circle which must be broken somewhere.
I have been myself for a short time in this very important and exciting office, and I have sometimes made to this House statements with which many people did not agree. I say that one of the most important developments, back in 1945 by the then Colonial Secretary, my right hon. Friend who now sits in another place, which was followed up by his successor and later by myself, was the development of the trade union movement among these industrial workers to seek to develop a policy which would get us out of the vicious circle of the low wage economy.
This is only part of the difficulties and circumstances in which all these problems arise, both in Kenya and elsewhere. These problems of the land, new towns, housing and the cost of living are of immense importance, and we urge upon the Government, not only because of what has happened, but more urgently because of it, that every step shall be taken to deal with this problem as urgently as they possibly can, while, at the same time, we affirm our support to the Government in making available to the Government and people of Kenya all the financial and other help which is required so that they can do this job.
These are some of the things about which we are disturbed, but I propose, having regard to the fact that so much of our time was taken by other matters, to limit myself to a few further words. We are determined to suppress Mau Mau, but let me say very sincerely that the fact that all this has happened is a challenge to us. The fact that it has happened is, I fear, a measure of our failure. While we are resolved to eliminate it, let us, at the same time, face up to the challenge.
1224 Now I come to what is perhaps, in many ways, one of the frustrations which have created the atmosphere in which a movement of this kind could grow as it has grown, and that is the problem of the colour bar. It is a profound human problem, and I do not believe anyone can make an important contribution to it unless he does understand it, other than as a great human problem.
We have taken our civilisation to Africa, we have taken our religion to Africa; we have taken new ideas, revolutionary ideas, and we cannot stop now. Our coming and all that we have done has broken up their own society, and we have failed to integrate them into our own. What did we do? We took the Africans from their villages to work on our farms, in our factories, on our railways and in our workshops. We took their young people and provided them with schools and colleges, and we even brought them here. At this very moment. there are 2,000 students from Africa here in this country, hundreds of them in this city. We teach them our ways of life, we educate them and we give them our civilisation, and they go back to find the doors shut to them.
I have spoken most frankly to all sorts of people about this problem. I have spoken most frankly to those to whom I thought I was entitled to speak—people of the same colour of skin as myself, working in the mines of Rhodesia, to whom I thought I could speak as one miner to another. Here was a case where we had white people and African people both contributing to the economy of the country, but, at the same time, with a rigid colour bar cutting across the pits. My own union and the international union of miners are doing their utmost to bring both unions together to settle a programme of advancement by which that barrier can be broken down.
I know all the difficulties, or at least some of them, but when young men or women, trained and educated in the professions, go back to Africa and feel that they are unwanted, what do we do? We make them bitter, and we cause them to turn away from us. In many ways, this is the most important of all aspects of the problem. There are serious land problems, serious industrial problems and serious material problems in Kenya and elsewhere, but most serious of all is the human problem. 1225 It is given to us to have the responsibility and the opportunity, in Kenya and elsewhere, to bring these peoples to live together and build up their country as partners, and the last thing that we urge in our Motion is that we should take advantage of the suggestions and the offers that have been made by leaders of all the races of Kenya to come together in a round table conference.
My hon. Friends the Members for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) and Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) were recently in Kenya and met people at round table conferences. They came back to encourage us to believe that the round table conference would go on meeting, and give its support, not only in removing Mau Mau but to easing racial tension and, added to the conference which I set up 18 months ago, begin a period of racial co-operation in Kenya.
We wrote from this House to major Europeans, Africans, Asians and Arabs to say to them that we were glad to think that many of them want to come together to join in discussions and present a common front to the evils of Mau Mau, and to join in eliminating it. And to do much more than that; to join in a common effort to remove the hardships, grievances and frustrations from which it emerged and in the future to build together a finer and a better Kenya.
It is because we believe and feel these things; because we believe this is a policy which commends itself not only to our own party but to large numbers of people in our country who do not belong to our party; because we believe we speak for the best in Britain, that I have moved this Motion.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
I beg to move to leave out from "order" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:Meanwhile, the Government of Kenya should continue by all possible means to promote the social, political and economic progress of the territory. This House reaffirms its belief that these efforts can succeed only through common action by all races.I shall deal with this Motion, in the names of the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and other hon. Gentlemen opposite, under its four separate headings. I 1226 think there are four. The first is a general expression of sympathy and support. The second discloses fears about collective punishment. The third criticises the handling of Sir Philip Mitchell's despatch and the delay in the appointment of the Royal Commission. The fourth deals with long-term problems of a general nature.
The first sentence of the Motion runs:That this House extends its sympathy to all races in Kenya in their present ordeal and reaffirms its support of lawful action to eliminate Mau Mau and to suppress barbarous and violent crimes. …I accept those words. But, unfortunately, the unexceptionable first sentence will strike rather a chill note in the hearts of the law-abiding Africans, Asians and Europeans in Kenya unless the sentiment expressed in the second part of the sentence receives rather more support, rather more than lip-service from hon. Gentlemen opposite than it has yet done. I do not think it is even yet realised—not perhaps in this House, but in the country—what are the evil forces arrayed against peace in Kenya today.
I must give the House a few true examples of atrocities which have been committed within the last month or so. They will give a fair impression of the sort of terror with which we are today faced in Kenya—[An HON. MEMBER: "The big stick again, evidently."] It is really necessary when we examine the circumstances in which these measures have to be taken.
On 22nd October, senior Kikuyu chief, Nderi, was hacked to pieces by a mob of 500 Kikuyus, of all ages and both sexes who had met for Mau Mau ceremonies. On 28th October, Mr. Eric Bowyer, a European farmer in the Kinagop district, was murdered in his bath and his home looted after the assailants had killed two African children in his kitchen.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
That has nothing to do with Mau Mau, as the right hon. Gentleman knows. It is not relevant at all.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The hon. Member must contain himself. No doubt he will have an opportunity of making his own speech. I did not interrupt the right hon. Member for Llanelly on one single occasion, and 1227 it is a long-established custom of this House that when people are attacked by name they should be given at least a fair and uninterrupted hearing.
On 11th November a police raid upon a Mau Mau ceremony rescued two non-Kikuyu women who had been slashed about their faces and a small girl who was found with her hands tied behind her back. On 8th December an Asian shopkeeper in the Thika district was murdered by about 40 attackers. He died from multiple injuries inflicted with swords and knives. His wife and son were also slashed. On 12th December a loyal African in the South Nyeri Reserve was awakened early in the morning by a knock on the door and shot dead at point blank range when he opened it. At the same time, three armed men broke into the house of an African headman in the same Reserve, shot his wife, who fell to the ground, and then pumped several more shots into her body. They then shot the headman himself.
If these were plain murders or mutilations of cattle they would be bad enough. But the savagery with which these crimes are committed beggars description, and it is for that reason only that I have, with the greatest reluctance, placed certain photographs in the Library. How easy it is to extend sympathy and, while affirming support for other measures, do nothing but embarrass the Government of the day in Kenya, the police and the course of justice alike.
There is no one of whatever section of whatever party in this House or elsewhere who has not shown great sympathy to all races in Kenya. Here, at least, we have something in common. But, unfortunately for the Government, and myself as Secretary of State, who has some responsibility in these matters, sympathy is not enough. Action has to be taken. At the same time, we must keep these dreadful events in proper perspective. More than three-quarters of the total area and population of Kenya are peaceful. The troubles are confined to an area a little larger than the area of Surrey. Let there be no question in the mind of anyone that the terror will be stamped out, and that, when I give these horrible instances, they apply to a small section of the whole population. I wish to keep the matter in perspective. 1228 I am surprised to see the somewhat violent reaction of hon. Members opposite and some of their Press followers to my statement that the Mau Mau is not the direct child of economic pressure. All those with whom I have been able to consult, and who have spent their lives among the Kikuyu people consider this statement to be true. When I made it in a broadcast in Kenya this sentence was vetted by the Governor and by his advisers on native affairs. But, having said that, what I do not mean is that there are no economic problems and no grievances. Of course there are.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it would have been quite impossible for Mau Mau, a terrorist movement, to have gained such momentum unless it could feed the fires of its campaign of crime—imitating, if that is the word, some Communist technique here and there—with the fuel of some supposed, some feigned and some genuine grievances.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned this book by Dr. Leakey. I have read it, but I have not studied it closely. I have done more than glance at it. He opens Chapter 12 with these words:A great deal of publicity has been given to the suggestion that the Mau Mau movement 'is not the child of economic pressure or connected with any special grievances'"—those are not my words, I am quoting.It is true that Mau Mau, as such, is a terrorist organisation whose principal aim is to drive the white man out of Kenya. I do not believe, however, that the movement could ever have achieved its present position if the genuine grievances which I have outlined in some of my chapters had not existed in the minds of a large part of the Kikuyu population.That is not quite the emphasis that either I or my advisers would give to the situation, but, in fairness, I do not wholly disagree with those sentiments.
Let us be quite clear. We are faced by a revolutionary movement. It has to be suppressed before we can get a very quick advance upon the long-term economic problems, and we must recognise that. It is premature, when the law-abiding squatter or farmer goes in terror of his life in these particular areas, to talk to him about co-operative farming in these troubled areas.
Let me make it quite clear at this point that co-operative farming is the scheme of farming which the Governor and I think has a large, and possibly even 1229 decisive, contribution to make to the land problem in agriculture and the conservation and better fertility of the soil. There are very large areas in Kenya today where the land problem is particularly acute, and more acute even than in the Kikuyu zone, where there is no Mau Mau trouble whatever. There in this area, Nyanza Province, peace, good will, trust and prosperity between the races reign unchallenged. There we can push on unimpeded with the long-term measures, and in the Kikuyu areas, let me make it quite clear, we shall do all we can, the only impediments being those caused against our will by the emergency measures.
I hope that these words will do something to reassure hon. Members opposite. What we can do in the trouble areas during the emergency will, I fear, fall short of what we would like to do, but there is no justification for hon. Members opposite harbouring any fear, if they do harbour any, that we are going to soft pedal or consciously halt progress during the emergency. Where it is halted, it will be from necessity and not from design, and I give the House that pledge.
I now turn to the second part of the Motion, and I want, before I get into the subject of collective punishment, to make my position crystal clear, and I shall analyse what has been happening. I abhor collective punishment and the necessity for it. Collective punishment should never be imposed while there are other means of restoring law and order under the normal action of the police. That is the first thing.
The second thing is that when collective punishment is imposed, it must be imposed in a small area where the crime has been committed and where witnesses will not come forward. The right hon. Gentleman said in the course of his remarks that collective punishment applied to a whole tribe. I think those were his words, but I think it was an inadvertence on his part. I assure him that that is not at all what I think. I think that if it has to be imposed, it must be in a small area where the crime has been committed. It should not be imposed over a wider area than is absolutely necessary. In other words, we should aim to pinpoint collective punishment upon the particular community which has been responsible for the crime.
1230 Before I go any further, let me give the House some of the history of collective punishment, particularly during the tenure of office of the previous Labour Government. I am not in any way going to be provocative, and I. want to begin by saying that the instances I am about to give are not designed to show that the late Government were wrong in what they did. I think they had no alternative in the grim situations with which they were faced. But right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are not entitled to claim that the very severe measures which they took, for example, in Malaya and in Nigeria, were justified and that the measures which the Government of Kenya now find it necessary to take should be condemned.
I select the date of 15th February, 1951, to begin with. On that day, 1,600 of the inhabitants of Jenderam, in Selangor, were arrested, taken away from their village and thrown into a detention camp. In reply to a Question in the House of Commons—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I am not seeking to avoid giving any information, but I am now dealing with an official Opposition Motion. I can only deal with what was then done officially.
On 7th March, the late Mr. Cook, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, said:The 1,600 inhabitants of Jenderam, consisting mostly of Indonesians, Malays and Chinese, were detained under Emergency Regulation 17D, which provides for collective detention; they have been evacuated to a camp for screening after which those who can safely be released will be resettled. The reason for this action was that Jenderam had long been a hotbed of Communist activities. It had been a centre for providing supplies and recruits for Terrorist bands operating in South Selangor. No information whatever had been forthcoming from the inhabitants."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th March, 1951; Vol. 485, c. 60.]I consider that the stern action which the Government of the Federation of Malaya took was the only one they could take, and that it was justified by the situation with which they were faced. I do not want to make any small points, but it is remarkable that no further Questions were asked, either by Labour or Liberal Members, on that occasion. No expressions of disapproval, or even instructions enjoining caution were sent by the then 1231 Secretary of State for the Colonies, the right hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat.
No collective punishment of this severity has yet been visited upon any area in Kenya. Of course, mass detentions and mass imprisonment, which this was, are the most severe form of collective punishment, but if I turn back the pages a year or two I can give numerous instances under the last Government where collective fines were imposed with the connivance, passive or otherwise, of His Majesty's Government, as it then was.
Even this less severe form of collective punishment must be used only when all else fails. Regulation 17D, which is the equivalent of the old Regulation 18B here, remained on the Statute Book of the Federation of Malaya under the aegis of the last Government. Turning to the less severe forms of collective punishment, I can give numerous instances. In August, 1950, for instance, the Kalabari tribesmen in Eastern Nigeria attacked Okrika fishermen after a dispute about fishing rights, and killed 20 of them.
After a Commission of Inquiry, whose findings were accepted by the Government, the Kalabari were fined £20,000. Replying to a Question about this in May, 1951, the right hon. Gentleman, who was then Secretary of State for the Colonies, refused to ask the Governor of Nigeria to postpone payment of the fine for consideration of the evidence. He said:I would ask my hon. Friend to examine the evidence when the evidence is made available. He will then see what is the problem which has to be faced and why, so far, no other punishment has been found to be effective."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd May, 1951; Vol. 487, c. 1171.]Those words apply with redoubled force to the situation in Kenya today. I will not read out these crimes and the dreary record of collective punishment, but there are many others.
I hope that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite do not consider that I am accusing them of hypocrisy. I am not. I am only accusing them of having rather short and pliable memories. Depend upon it, there is nothing that interferes with a man's memory so much as crossing the little green rubicon which divides this side of the House from the other.
This is not a controversial matter. I want to revert to this collective punish 1232 ment which is a most important matter. I know this question is a very difficult one for hon. Members who have spent all or most of their lives in a community like our own where law and order are taken almost for granted, and where, again and again, we have instances where public opinion supports the police and the forces of law and order.
Some hon. Members will remember that Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson was shot dead on his own doorstep. I felt proud of my fellow countrymen, as I am sure we all did at the time, when a butcher's boy and a baker's boy, without arms, hunted down the murderer. It is difficult for people who live in a community like ours to realise what happens when all the processes of law and order break down, when people are murdered in public, slashed to pieces in public, before scores of their fellow citizens, and not only is no one prepared to risk his life to apprehend the murderer but no one is prepared to take the risk of giving information to the police or of testifying before the court when the murderer is arrested.
The Motion professes a sentiment which most of us feel, that it is dreadful that innocent people should be penalised; but what the Motion does not face, and what hon. Members opposite do not face, is what are the alternatives when the processes of law have broken down. Is the Government to sit by and do nothing? I say with every sincerity that I can command that in these conditions collective punishment, subject to the conditions which I have mentioned, is often the most merciful measure which is open to us. By it many innocent people have been saved from being murdered and many of those who have remained untouched by these terrible things owe their safety and security to the deterrent effects which collective punishment has had upon the wrongdoers.
I hope I am not over-labouring the point. I take it so very seriously that I hope the House will forgive me if I read an account of the course and results of collective punishment in the Leshau Ward of the Thompson's Falls District. This is written by the Governor:At the end of November a drastic communal punishment was imposed in the Leshau Ward of the Thompson's Falls district. This district is in the far north of that part 1233 of Kenya which is settled by European farmers, and Leshau is one of its sub-divisions. The farms are large and consequently the farmhouses are far apart. On these big farms there are many patches of very dense forest and in these it is possible for criminals to hide. The area has been the scene of a number of violent crimes culminating in a brutal attack late in November on an elderly couple named Commander and Mrs. Meiklejohn, who were practically cut to pieces by Kikuyu tribesmen. Commander Meiklejohn died, his wife, after showing the greatest courage in driving a car to the police station, has almost miraculously survived. Earlier in November armed gangs had three times in this ward broken into houses and stolen firearms; and on 12th November an African armed with a rifle had attempted to kill a farmer and his wife while they were sitting at dinner. During the same period three other raids were made and arms were stolen on farms close to the Leshau Ward. The Kikuyu are prepared to use the weapons they steal and between 20th November and 6th December cars have been shot at four times in the region near the Leshau Ward.In these circumstances, that is with a mounting number of crimes in a limited area, with no information being given by the Africans living near the scenes of these crimes and with a virtual certainty in the minds of the police and of the European farmers that these Africans have either actively participated or at least given some help to the criminals, the Governor of Kenya was faced with a difficult position. It was not a choice between whether Africans should be moved from farms in the Leshau Ward or should remain there; it was a choice between whether they should be moved in a controlled manner by the Government or whether the farmers, fearing for their wives, their children and themselves would move them in an uncontrolled way.I hope the House will take that point.In order to prevent the rising tide of violence in this area and in order to keep command of the situation, the Government moved all Kikuyu out of the Leshau Ward by stages into the Kikuyu reserves. The numbers of moved were 3,500 people and 8,000 head of small stock were confiscated. In Kenya today it is dangerous to forecast the future, but it can be said that from the date of this move up to the end of last week the whole Laikipia area round the Leshau Ward has been without serious criminal incident, and whereas in the past no information had been given in two cases, most valuable news had been received which has led to the police making a number of arrests.Before I leave the subject of collective punishment, I want to tell the House, in rather more detail than I was able to do on 3rd December, of the position with regard to the 13,000 people who had been detained between the start of the emergency and the end of November. First, 2,000 were released very quickly. Ten thousand were charged with offences under ordinary law and not the emergency 1234 regulations, and a large number of these were brought to trial before magistrates within 24 hours and given bail in suitable cases.
Of the remaining 1,000, more than 850 had been, and 159 were then being, tried under the emergency regulations. Thus, of the original 13,000, by the end of last month only 159 cases had not been settled by process of law. All these cases were before the courts, and by now most, if not all, will have been settled.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
Is the right hon. Gentleman now able to inform the House what was the total number of Africans who were rounded up for the purposes of screening?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I told the hon. Member before that I did not think I should ever be able to give him that figure. The operative figure is that of the 13,000 people who were detained. The figures which I have given do not take into account the 186 persons detained under the emergency regulations, some of whom are now being prosecuted at Kapenguria.
I next turn to the third section of the Motion, which, frankly, appears to me to be an attempt to raise prejudice and to darken counsel upon a subject about which at least the right hon. Gentleman should know better. It deals with Sir Philip Mitchell's despatch. Owing to an understandable—but, for my part, I must say regrettable—mistake, the despatch was dated 16th November whereas in its present form it should have been dated in April. It reached me on 17th April. Hon. Members are, of course, entitled to make what play they like with a misprint. I prefer to trace the course of events and to ask the House to follow me through.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
Before the right hon. Gentleman goes any further, will he say whether there were any substantial changes in the despatch between 16th November and 17th April?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Yes. Sir, a most substantial alteration. If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to the second paragraph on page 24 of the despatch, over Sir Philip Mitchell's signature he will see these words:I have discussed this despatch with the Governors of Tanganyika and Uganda …1235 and so on. On 16th November he had not discussed it with the Governors of Tanganyika and Uganda at all.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I was aware of that change, but I was asking the right hon. Gentleman if there was any substantial alteration in the analysis of the land and economic situation.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
No, Sir, but I am perfectly entitled to make the point—it is a perfectly good point; I will not take any small ones—that when a despatch says "I have already consulted the Governors of two other territories" when the consultations were not in fact completed for five months, the misprint is more than a formality and renders the thing entirely untrue.
Let us now go on to the course of events. In his capacity as Governor of Kenya, Sir Philip Mitchell addressed a despatch to me—not the one which is printed—on 16th November. I was impressed as I still am impressed, with the wide knowledge and statesmanship of the contents of the despatch, and after some consultations here I sent it on for study by the East African High Commission. At this time Kenya was quiet and no ripple broke the surface. [Interruption.] A personal attack is being made, and I am entitled to have an uninterrupted hearing.
§ Mr. M. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman if he thought I was interrupting him. I was merely having a word with my learned Friend the Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice).
§ Mr. Lyttelton
If the hon. and learned Gentleman was carrying on a conversation I entirely acquit him of any discourtesy.
When one is dealing with land and agriculture one is dealing with the very life blood of the African and the things about which he cares most. Sir Philip Mitchell's despatch of 16th November was addressed to me solely in his capacity as Governor of Kenya. Evan if we had been faced with a proposal to institute a series of wide agrarian reforms in Kenya alone it would have given pause to anyone who knows what is involved—though not to some hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. But the field of his proposed inquiry included the other two East African territories, as well.
1236 In December, therefore, I addressed a despatch to the Governor of Kenya in his capacity as Chairman of the High Commission, requesting him to arrange for this despatch to be discussed by his other two colleagues. It will not surprise those who keep in touch with these matters to learn that the Governors of Uganda and Tanganyika—as I think rightly—thought that they must consult with their closest advisers, both European and African, about the political effect of such an inquiry, as well as its effect on the agrarian problem itself.
At least, that is the advice which I received, and at the time I had the benefit of personal discussions with Sir Philip Mitchell, who was at pains to point out how delicate were the subjects involved. At this time Kenya was quiet. I say that no Secretary of State, and least of all the right hon. Gentleman who has spoken, would have ignored the advice of Sir Andrew Cohen, Sir Edward Twining and Sir Philip Mitchell on the matter.
The path of wisdom was to try to build up a public opinion which would accept the proposals for a Royal Commission. My colleagues in the Cabinet here, when they examined the despatch, closely considered the consequences of the announcement of a Royal Commission—dealing, I repeat, with agrarian reform, the most explosive of all African subjects—and its terms of reference, and they accepted my recommendations. The Royal Assent was obtained on 5th July.
It therefore remains for me to explain—if explanation is indeed required—why it has not yet been possible to announce the completion of the Royal Commission. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to ask his colleagues to read this Report. He has no doubt done so himself; but he might have gone on a little to page 23, paragraph 56, when Sir Philip Mitchell says:It must be admitted that it is likely to be extremely difficult to assemble the body of experts which the situation requires, but I feel sure nevertheless that, given time, suitable persons can be found. As a target date I would suggest that the Commission should aim to start its work before the end of 1952.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Sir Philip Mitchell is there referring not to the members of the Royal Commission but to the assembling of the staff in East Africa to prepare for the Royal Commission.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The final despatch was in the hands of the Secretary of State in April, when Sir Philip Mitchell was still Governor. In his despatch he urged that it was essential to us to assemble all his Staff out there. Was that step taken in April?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
This is a mere splitting of hairs. What I have read out is Sir Philip Mitchell's opinion about the time it should take to assemble the experts for the Royal Commission—the members of the Royal Commission—and he put the target date as the end of 1952.
The author of this despatch has been the subject of a Press smear. For example, the "Daily Mirror" said that the speech he made was fatuous. At least it was true of four-fifths of the country at the time and on the surface about the whole of the country. The actual words used by Sir Philip Mitchell wereYou even see it reported that East Africa is seething with African unrest. Of all unspeakable nonsense.That is what he said. I am glad that this despatch, with its wise and constructive approach to this problem, has been published at a time when these unwarrantable smears are current not only in the Press but elsewhere. I give the House my assurance that no avoidable delay has taken place in seeking appointments of men of the right standing and knowledge and experience to make a contribution to the delicate, difficult, obdurate long-term problem.
I am now going to make two points. The first is that however precipitate and ill-advised an action had been taken to appoint a Royal Commission without building up public opinion in all three Territories and seeking the best possible members, it would not have altered by one jot or tittle the history of the last few months and the reign of terror and crime which it records. The second point is that it was impossible, in the circumstances of our time—and I choose the word "impossible" carefully—to collect the necessary expert body more quickly than it has been done.
The difficulty in these times is to get men of this standing to devote 18 months of their lives, with a good deal 1238 of travelling and a long period of absence from this country, to all the commitments of this Royal Commission. The House is entitled to know—rather against the ordinary conventions—whether I have got all the appointments and what appointments have been approved by Her Majesty.
First, I wanted to find a chairman of great standing and ability whom I could recommend, particularly in view of the length of the investigation which would be involved. I am happy that in the end someone of Sir Hugh Dow's standing and experience agreed that his name should be submitted, and he has been appointed.
We wanted to find an agricultural expert, particularly equipped to give advice upon the advantages and dangers of mechanised farming and mechanised reclamation of land. This post is filled by Mr. Frank Sykes, one of the greatest experts in this country on these subjects, who has already in the past visited East Africa to advise the Colonial Office.
Next we wanted to find a man with a wide knowledge of how to combine peasant agriculture with the advantages of a highly organised plantation industry. We have found him. His name is Mr. Arthur Gaitskell. He is the brother of the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and has an unrivalled reputation in this field. I am deeply gratified that he should have accepted.
Next we wanted an African. The first African refused, but Chief Kidaha Makwaia of Tanganyika has accepted. The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt remember that he travelled to Nairobi in the company of this Chief and he will agree that his is an entirely suitable appointment. That appointment has been approved by Her Majesty.
Then we wanted a man with a profound experience of administration, land tenure and tribal customs in Africa. We have him in Mr. R. S. Hudson, at one time Secretary for Native Affairs in Northern Rhodesia. He has been appointed.
As a specialist in industrial relations, we have been fortunate in gaining the acceptance of Professor D. T. Jack, of the University of Durham. He has much experience of arbitration work and of courts of inquiry and wages councils in 1239 this country. He has also been Labour Adviser to the Government of India and has carried out investigations in Northern Rhodesia. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that no better man could have been selected in this field.
I have conditional acceptances from a distinguished economist who has specialised in colonial problems, and from a lady who is a sociologist with an unrivalled knowledge and experience of African affairs. I do not feel able to disclose their names, because their acceptances are conditional. By that I mean that they have expressed their willingness to serve if the necessary arrangements to release them from their present commitments can be made, and I am in close negotiation with the bodies concerned—in one case, a university—to secure their release. I hope, but I cannot be certain, that I shall succeed. There remains only one other place to fill, which I intend to fill with an industrialist; and I am doing everything I can to secure the appointment of the right man.
I conclude this part of my remarks by saying that I make no apologies whatever for any part of my actions relating to Sir Philip Mitchell's despatch. I make no apologies whatever for any so-called delay and I entirely reject the charge of incompetence which has been made. No Secretary of State with any sense of responsibilty could have acted in any other way.
There is one other point with which I will deal very shortly. The Motion seeks to ensure that the Government instruct the Royal Commission to make an interim report. I understand why these words have been added to the Motion. They are to excite prejudice and to suggest that so far from the Royal Commission dealing, as it must, with long term problems as laid down in the Mitchell Report, there are short term solutions for what may well prove to be ephemeral problems. The Motion would have lacked any pretence of logic if it had not had this imputation in it. It was doubtless put into the Motion to try to build up the false case that if the Royal Commission had been appointed six months ago, the Mau Mau outrages would not have taken place. It will be clear to the House that that suggestion has no bearing on the conditions of today.
1240 On the other hand, I shall tell the Chairman of the Commission that if in the course of his deliberations, and in his judgment and that of the Commission, the Royal Commission has some short term contribution to make, he will be free to publish, and we will be glad that he should publish, an interim report and that we would welcome any help of that kind; but it will not be under pressure or upon instructions.
I turn now to the last part of the Motion, and I apologise deeply for keeping the House so long. Nothing could be easier—it is almost a routine matter of political propaganda—than to set down a number of almost unexceptionable platitudes in the hope that the public may think that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite could carry them out if they were in power. I do not object to that manoeuvre in any way. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite have a prescriptive right to utter these platitudes and need not search their hearts as to whether they could carry them out.
What we want are some measures and suggestions, which, I hope, we shall have in the course of the debate, about how these results, whose aim. I think, is common to us all, can be more quickly obtained. It is a little infelicitous that the Opposition should have selected amongst their objectives the removal of the colour bar, because the area in question is one in which Government action has only a small part to play. I hope that the House knows where I stand on the question of colour bar: I do not believe in it.
Her Majesty's present advisers found the task of removal of the colour bar no easier than did their predecessors. The right hon. Gentleman made a point against himself, with a generosity which I admire, when he said how he himself, with all his mining and trade union experience, was unable to move the European miners in Rhodesia from the position which they had taken up over the years.
I believe that co-operative farming—one item that I pick out of the Motion—will be one of the means of raising the standard of African agriculture. We are at work upon it today in every part of Kenya, except where we are impeded by the emergency, and in many other parts of the Colonial Empire. We believe that 1241 our good intentions will be somewhat impeded if the co-operative agriculturists live in fear of their lives. The object is excellent but with little relation to the hard realities in the Kikuyu Reserve, but with great relation to the problem where the country is peaceful.
I have dealt with these three subjects as a catalogue of desirable, unexceptionable sentiments, but I want now to turn for a few moments to something more positive. First, grim as the situation in Kenya is, it is not without hopeful signs. The home guard amongst the Kikuyu is being formed in many places. Mr. Mathu has come out with a very courageous speech. He is free to call what public meetings he wishes and we will ensure him, by police or other action, the proper liberties of freedom of speech. But Mr. Mathu is not yet ready to hold a public meeting. The House may be able to guess the reason. This is a man who has come out in the most courageous fashion—we have to recognise the fact.
As other leaders appear, they will be given similar facilities, but I must repeat that there is no sense in the idea that public meetings can be authorised without proper precautions being taken, without our being certain, or reasonably certain, of the line taken by those who address them. Only African leaders in whose responsibility the Government can be completely satisfied can be entrusted at the moment to hold these public meetings without grave danger to the public safety.
These are encouraging signs, and I must pay—we all should pay—a tribute to the white settlers, mainly British, in Kenya and to the Asians. They have, I suppose, uttered some rash words—under but what provocation? Their actions, however, have been informed by a restraint, by a humanity and by a regard for the long-term aspirations of Kenya which must excite the admiration even of those who are inclined to think that the white man is always wrong.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Regarding the emergency, excellent progress has been made with closer policing and closer administration of the Kikuyu areas. Twenty extra police posts have been built and are now manned. The closer administration, which means more District staff, will be 1242 slower to complete, but we expect speedy results from these two measures.
I turn now from the present troubles to the longer and higher task which we and the Government of Kenya have in view. Having detained the House so long, I cannot traverse the whole field and so I leave out the question of land, because that is the subject of the Royal Commission. I pick out three desirable objectives, which are as close to my thoughts and to those of the Governor and Government of Kenya as they are to any hon. Member.
The first of these subjects is the raising of wage levels in Kenya. As there is a good deal of personal attack in the Motion, I am entitled to ask—I do not want to be offensive—why hon. Members opposite are so severe about it when nothing proved practical during the six years when they were in office.
§ Mr. Griffiths
That is not true. Before we came to office, there were only 20 trade unions in the Colonies. Wages and trade unions are closely related. Now, there are over 1,200 trade unions. We built them up during the six years that we were in Government.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The right hon. Gentleman is quite entitled to say that, and I shall have a word to say about it. I do not think that it is quite a full contribution to the subject to talk about industries when agricultural wages are the vital thing to which I am referring. Agriculture is the lifeblood of Kenya. I am in accord, and will continue the work that is done, with regard to industrial wages and machinery for conciliation and so forth, but as long as agricultural wages are not adequate we are really burking the question by saying that there has been any great advance since the war on this vital matter for Kenya. This matter should not be let go. With all the reservations about wages in a primitive society, I think that the present level should give us all cause for thought.
Coupled with the wages question is that of the price of maize meal. The Government of Kenya are now considering—and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham. West (Mr. Hale) is, I know, very much interested in this point, and he will realise where the administrative difficulties are in carrying it out—are now considering this question of the 1243 instigation of a number of "unofficial" European members.
The second subject which I wish to mention, which has some relation to the colour bar, is the system by which Africans and Asians in the senior Civil Service, with similar qualifications, receive only three fifths of the salaries paid to their European counterparts. This system was introduced—I think mistakenly—under the auspices of the party opposite as a result of the Holmes Report. I dislike the system, and I hope to live to see it abolished. But it does not mean—I must be quite candid—that we can get exact equality of pay between those who are resident in the country and those who have special obligations outside it.
There are two more things with which I have to weary the House. The first refers to local government. That is part of the Motion. My belief here, in Kenya, as in other parts of the Empire, is that the best means of building up self-government is from what I may call the parish level. This was not possible—I am not criticising—not possible in Kenya from the start. The creation of African district councils was in fact the creation of something like the English county councils, without those councils having their roots in what we should describe in this country as urban or rural district councils.
The Kenya Government have begun to put this right, and they have made a significant start. I was rather surprised to see this part of the Motion, but hon. Members may be interested to read the 100 or more pages of the Ordinance—I have it in my hand—dated 1st July to make provision for a system of county local government. They will find the answer to their anxieties and preoccupations in this document, if they will do me the honour of reading it.
The last subject is agriculture. There was a time when Africans, rightly or wrongly, were not permitted to grow vital crops—cash crops—such as coffee, tea, sisal, or pyrethrum. The reason for this embargo, if that is the right term, was that at the time it was felt—and the same problem arises in other parts of Africa—that the population must be made to concentrate upon subsistence crops. Whether or not that was right I do not know. At 1244 any rate, it is understandable and arguable. That situation has changed, and the growing of those crops is now permitted. Not only that, but the Government are assisting with coffee nurseries. It is hoped to plant each year an increasing acreage of African coffee—something between 1,500 and 3,000 acres every year.
§ Mr. Fenner Brockway
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"]— when this change was made?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I really think the hon. Member must allow me to get on. I have kept the House a very long time. In the Nyeri district, in the Kikuyu reserve—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I am not trying to take credit for anything. I am trying to tell what has been happening. Hon. Members are so extraordinarily touchy. If I mention progress by the Government of Kenya that took place at a time when hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power, I am the first person to take my hat off to them; but equally, if they accept that position, they must take the blame for the bad things that happened at the time when they were in office.
A start has been made in the Nyeri district with African tea, with the help of representatives of one of the main tea growing firms. These are interesting advances. There are still more interesting ones in the efficiency of farming, and premiums are given for good husbandry, of which I give one example. In Nyanza Province if a co-operative farming unit has 50 per cent. of the farmers pass the test, then the increased premium is given to all the members of the co-operative society. There has been great success in other parts by turning the members of tribes who were entirely pastoralists into mixed farmers.
Now I must end. I want to go back to what, I think, is the most important part of my remarks. I pledge my word to this House—and I can do so because I have received a pledge and assurances of this nature from the Government and the Governor of Kenya—that no intentional check, or no check intending to 1245 be a punishment, will be imposed on anybody in Kenya. I pledge our word that all progress, whether it is political, social, or industrial, or agricultural will be pushed on as fast as circumstances permit. It will be less rapid than we should have liked.
Now I turn for one short moment to the Government's Amendment. The sentiments and purposes which animate my colleagues and me can be seen in the Government Amendment, which seeks to leave out from "order," to the end of the Question, and to add:Meanwhile, the Government of Kenya should continue by all possible means to promote the social, political and economic progress of the territory. This House reaffirms its belief that these efforts can succeed only through common action by all races.I say that no personal attacks and no fatuous opposition will deter us from doing our duty to the Government and peoples of Kenya. We must extirpate crime and terror. We must act with true humanity, but from strength and not from weakness. We must inflict as few wounds as we can and leave as few scars as we can. We must help the Government of Kenya in every way in their difficult role of at once fostering progress and suppressing disorder. We must never lose sight of the fact that the future of Kenya can lie only in political advancement, expanded social services, and in agricultural and industrial development, and, above all, in peace and good will and co-operation between the races.
The actions of the Opposition—and I say it with regret—over the last month or two show that they are set upon the course of breaking down unity upon colonial affairs between the two principal parties of the State which we, when we were in Opposition, so sedulously fostered. Some of their leaders—I do not think all—seem determined to throw into the turmoil, the clamour and the clash of party politics all those causes which, at other times, they profess to support and to cherish, and to seek to try to draw political advantages from the dangers by which we are all surrounded. Many of the speeches and actions of their supporters—and again, not all—throughout these testing times in Kenya will, no doubt unwittingly, bring comfort to the Queen's enemies, and show little of that support for their own countrymen, Asians, and law-abiding Africans, which they 1246 profess. [Interruption.] Some of their leaders, I said.
I end on a note of confidence. These troubles will pass. Not quickly, but they will pass; and then these grim events, in the perspective of history, will assume their true proportions, as day by day Kenya advances towards enlightenment, prosperity and peace amongst its peoples.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Bowles (Nuneaton)
I think that the right hon. Gentleman was quite right in finishing off his speech by indicating what a really serious cleavage there is between hon. Members on this side of the House and hon. Members on that so far as colonial affairs are concerned. Before I get on to that I should like to remind him that some time ago, when he made a statement on the Kenya situation, and, I think, in that suggested that Mau Mau was not the creature solely of economic causes, I asked him this question, as to whether or not he had considered at all the question of the effect of the tribal marriage customs. He said he did not really know much about that. I quite understand. He had been at the Colonial Office only a little while.
Let me start by saying that there is a view held amongst the white settlers in Kenya that one of the most important causes of the economic troubles is this matter. Before 1900 there was a tribal custom that when a young man could persuade his family to allow him to do so, he would get married. When the wife was selected, and the husband's family decided whether or not she was likely to be an efficient and faithful wife, they paid in cattle, goats and sheep a certain number of heads to ensure marriage stability.
I gather from what I have been reading that that practice worked very well, but as time went on this custom broke down, and now when an African desires to get married he does not consult his family to the same extent, because families have been broken up more than they were 50 years ago, but the bride's father insists upon the payment of £100 as the price of the bride.
I understand—I know that some of my hon. Friends have worse figures than this—that the average wage for an African agricultural worker on a farm is £1 a month. It therefore takes eight and a half years, if he spends nothing at all, to 1247 produce the purchase money. This desire to get married does, I think, have a very serious effect upon the activities of people, and I believe that it is a great mistake to assume that all the crimes which have been taking place in Kenya recently are really due to Mau Mau. Some of these crimes, I think, are purely and simply ordinary armed burglary by Africans in search of wealth, so that they may find this bridal price. I do, therefore, suggest to the Minister that that is one of the things which has changed since the European settler arrived in Kenya. It is regarded by people who have accurate experience on the spot as being quite a serious matter.
I see that the Minister is seized of the point, and I think that if he takes further advice on the matter he will find that there is a good deal more in it than the House thought when I raised this matter before, and when my remarks were greeted with some laughter.
§ Mr. Bowles
No, but I think by hon. Members mainly behind him. The House seemed to think that I was changing the subject and had said something funny because they could not understand the point.
I think that we should attempt to get rid of that practice and that if protests were made to the leaders of opinion of the Kikuyu tribe a good deal might be done by their saying, "This is an old-fashioned custom, and we are not going to insist on it any more for your sons and for your daughters." I think that in that way a great cause of economic pressure would be removed.
We say clearly in our Motion that we vigorously condemn Mau Mau savagery and its organisation. I do not want hon. Members to think that I am not personally concerned with this matter. I have two of my closest and dearest relatives living in Kenya and, therefore, I hope that I am not saying anything irresponsible.
I am bound to say that when I was in Kenya, some three years ago, I was told by almost every white settler I met, "After all, these Africans are really monkeys just recently descended from the trees." [Interruption.] I assure hon. Members on my word of honour that that 1248 is a common opening gambit by white farmers and others in Nakuru and in Nairobi, and that seems to be the opening gambit of some hon. Members opposite who do not take these people seriously and who are inclined to regard them as only monkeys. I am not sure that the hon. Member opposite has not said that to other people.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)
If the hon. Gentleman is referring to me, I trust that he will take that back. I certainly never made such a statement in my life.
§ Mr. Harris
I will quite definitely swear that I personally have never heard that phrase used. Would the hon. Gentleman be good enough to withdraw it? It is a most unfair statement. I have never made such a statement.
§ Mr. Bowles
When I asked the hon. Member if he had said it himself, he said that he had not, and when I asked him whether he had heard it said, he said that he had not. The fact is that he has spent so little time in Kenya that he does not know.
§ Mr. Harris
The hon. Gentleman has made an accusation against me, and I asked that it should be withdrawn.
§ Mr. Bowles
I asked whether, when he was in Kenya, he had ever heard it said that the African Kikuyu were monkeys, and he said he had not.
§ Mr. Harris
The hon. Gentleman said that he would not have been surprised if I had said that myself. I ask that he be good enough to withdraw those remarks. It is an entirely unfair statement and he should withdraw it.
§ Mr. Speaker
I understand that nothing has been said that needs to be withdrawn. I understand from the hon. Member's own statement that the hon. Member who has the Floor of the House did not accuse the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris) of having said it.
§ Mr. Speaker
I thought that he said that the hon. Member might have said 1249 it. I do not know whether this is worth withdrawing, but I hope that the debate will be conducted with as little heat as possible. If something has been said which should be withdrawn, I am sure that the hon. Member will withdraw it.
§ Mr. Bowles
I will. I heard almost every white settler when starting a conversation, and knowing that I was a Member of Parliament, saying, "Don't worry about these Africans too much; they are monkeys recently descended from trees." The hon. Member for Croydon, North interrupted and said—
§ Mr. Harris
The hon. Gentleman definitely implied that I said that. It is only fair that this accusation should be withdrawn. Why should he not withdraw it? I have sworn that I never said it.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) might save us from a waste of time in this matter by withdrawing any such implication.
§ Mr. Bowles
Certainly, Sir. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the "East African Standard" of 24th March, 1948, where he will see quite clearly other evidence of what I am saying.
This is very important. The suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and, I think, of the Colonial Secretary was that we should try to get together the Europeans, Africans, Indians and Arabs in Kenya to see if some agreement could not be reached as to how the four could go on living peacefully together. I am bound to say that one of the great troubles which I found there was the antagonism to the Indians. The general cry, not once, was—I remember it clearly over three years ago—"After all, the Indians come here and do all the business and own all the shops and then go back to Bombay without paying any taxes at all." My reaction was that a good many people have gone out there who have ceased to pay taxes here.
On this monkey question, when one asks "who cooked the dinner or drove the car," one is told, "an African." When one asks, "Who is the person who drives the launch to the flying-boat," one is told, "an African"; "who fills the flying-boat with petrol"—"an African." Nevertheless, there is a great determination on the part of some—I will not say 1250 all, because there are some good whites—to try to denigrate these people and to say "They are just monkeys," when some of these people do every single thing on the farms where they are employed and are hard-workers on their own farms. I think that is a matter which should be carefully watched in the future if the plan of my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly is going to fructify.
I think that when my right hon. Friend in his speech today, and also the Colonial Secretary, said something about an early inquiry, there were cries of opposition from the benches opposite. Why is it that they are all so anxious not to have an inquiry? They are bound to have one now, inasmuch as the late Governor of Kenya has suggested it in very forceful language. But, quite frankly, they would rather that things went on without an inquiry, because as far as they are concerned they live very happily on the land as it is.
I also find that there is great dislike of this House of Commons by very responsible members of the Kenya Legislative Council. It was reported in "The Times" last Friday that the leader of the European elected members in the Kenya Legislature, Mr. Blundell, was alleged to have asked why Colonial Office officials should be terrified by "a twopenny-halfpenny thing like a Parliamentary question." I have heard many unfortunate and serious things said by many Europeans in the Colony about this House of Commons. As a Labour Member of Parliament, of course, I might have been a particular bait for them, but they did not like Mr. Oliver Stanley very much more than a Labour Minister.
I saw in the Press that when my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) and my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) were on their way there their presence was not wanted. It was suggested that their entrance should be forbidden if that could possibly be done. I am sure that I have not dreamt this—I believe that somebody also suggested physical violence as well. It is not good enough to suggest that Members of Parliament should be received like that. It is time that there was a certain amount of modesty and sense of responsibility among people who react like that. 1251 I do not think that they like the welfare State nor the policy that we on this side of the House would pursue. We would pursue a Socialist solution and not a capitalist solution in the exaggerated form one finds it there of the whites exploiting the blacks. I agree that there is a certain number of Kikuyu capitalists as well, but the main interest of the white settlers there naturally is exploitation and the avoidance of taxation in this country if possible. Therefore, I say that they are opposed even to the welfare State system, let alone to what we on this side of the House should do if we had the chance to go ahead now.
I could not speak Swahili, Kikuyu, Arabic or any of the Indian languages, but I have the impression from the many to whom I spoke that some of the opposition to any kind of co-operation would come from our friends who left this country as, so they are pleased to describe themselves, voluntary exiles from this "septic" isle.
The solution to this problem is not, as some people have suggested, a scheme designed to take land from the Europeans. That land is proportionately very small indeed, but I believe that there are large areas of land in Kenya which are not occupied and which are not being developed at all By modern methods of cultivation and an attempt to get away from the old tribal traditional methods we could help towards a solution of this problem.
I believe that it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly who read a quotation from Sir Philip Mitchell's despatch to the effect that the next 20 years or so would be a race between population and increased efficiency among Africans, particularly in their farming methods. The solution of this problem, therefore, is not an easy one, especially when Mau Mau is able to make use of this land problem with people who are disgruntled from other causes and to say to them, "After all, all this land has been taken from you."
Various proposals are mentioned in our Motion, and, naturally, all of us on this side of the House support them. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly said, it is a most disheartening thing—and I have seen it myself—for Africans who are equally able to do some 1252 job to receive half or less in wages or salary of what the white man receives for doing that job. There is no reason why it should be so. We believe in the rate for the job, and it is quite wrong that this racial colour bar should exist when it can only lead to great irritation and the kind of method which everybody is deploring at the present time.
A good many of the troubles have arisen from the increase in population. In the old days, before the people there became acquainted with European methods of cultivation the population was kept down in various ways and—