§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Bowles
While we were interrupted for a few minutes I reduced my speech, and I can now bring it to an early close.
I was referring to an old tribal custom about marriage, and another which to my mind is having a very serious economic effect and certainly a serious effect on population matters is that of children. 1253 There were certain customs associated with children. First of all, when a woman had a child in the first year or so it was regarded as skin, blood and bones and it did not very much matter if it died in the hut. After what was called the second birth ceremony, the parents were frightened of the family spirit if the child should die in the hut. The child's spirit always remained in the African hut until it found another home.
The result of that was that after the second birth ceremony, if a child got ill through teething troubles or had serious illness like fits or any other of the illnesses due to the changing over from milk feeding to solid food, the mother, for the reason that she did not wish the child to die in the hut, took it from the warm hut into the cold. It would very likely die from pneumonia and exposure. That was an unfortunate tribal custom, but it did—and I suppose people can understand this kind of belief—provide a way of keeping down the birth rate. At that time I think the death rate amongst children was about 60 per cent.
Another thing that happened was it was regarded as wrong that a woman should have a child until the first one had been weaned. That was a process that went on for two years, and, therefore, in the natural course of events it was unlikely that a woman would have more than one child in three years. That has gone by the board as a result of the impact of modern civilisation on these native people, for the Europeans have introduced different views on the matter. Formerly, because of the second birth ceremony, and the general view that no woman should have more than one child in three years, the birth rate was curbed, but now with better hospitals and health facilities both birth mortality and the ordinary mortality rates are very much improved. That has meant a considerable increase in the population.
I would like to sum up what I have said. I ask for more tolerance on the part of one race towards another. I speak on my own responsibility when I say that I think there was plenty of room there for improvement three years ago, but I believe there has been great improvement since. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, who has been out there recently, if he met somebody other than officials, might have seen an 1254 improvement upon what I saw then. I have seen signs of improvement in visitors to this country since my visit, great improvement, so far as tolerance is concerned.
I hope that my right hon. Friend's suggestion of an all-racial conference can start, be maintained, and bring about results, and that the inquiry of the Royal Commission can be carried out in a friendly way among the various races that will give evidence before it. That is the kind of solution for which Kenya is so urgently calling at the present time.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Sir David Campbell (Belfast, South)
In rising for the first time to speak in this House I crave the indulgence of hon. Members. I did not mean to speak so soon after taking my seat in the House. My reason for doing so is that during my 21 years' service in East Africa I formed a very deep affection for the peoples of East Africa, and I trust that I gained some experience of their problems.
I have been told that the two essential requirements of a maiden speech are that it should be short and that it should be non-contentious. I shall certainly make a short speech, Mr. Speaker, and I shall endeavour to make it non-controversial on this subject which, I trust all hon. Members will agree, should be approached in a non-party spirit.
I believe that all Members of the House and a great majority of the public of the United Kingdom agree in their desire to assist in the social, moral and economic advancement of the African peoples. There appears, however, to be considerable disagreement as to the method to be adopted in achieving that advancement and as to the timing of its progress.
No one would wish and no one would be foolish enough to attempt to stop the African's advancement towards a higher standard of living, a greater share in the control of his own affairs, and ultimate self-government, but there is a tendency for certain people with the highest ideals, which we all share, to regard this problem as in the nature of a 120-yard race over low hurdles. It would be much more appropriate to regard it as a steeplechase over many and difficult obstacles which can be overcome only by a sane and 1255 sober approach, and not by what one might call "rushing our fences."
We cannot stop a river finding its way to the sea, but we should control its course so as to avoid sudden devastating floods which can do untold damage and suffering in the land through which it flows. I do not suggest for a moment that we should unduly delay solution of the present pressing questions in Kenya, such as industrial relations, development of land and soil erosion. I do not suggest that we should curb unduly the natural desire of the educated African to achieve or to accelerate progress towards self-government, but I invite the attention of hon. Members to the fact that this problem does not affect only the educated African. It affects millions of primitive and still in some ways almost savage peoples.
I say "peoples" because the African population of East Africa is not homogeneous. It consists of a very large number of tribes differing greatly in appearance, habits, social customs and language. They differ more widely than, for example, the inhabitants of South Italy differ from the people of Yorkshire. I regret that there is one common bond. The very great majority of the tribesmen of East Africa still have a deep and unshakeable belief in witchcraft. We owe a duty to these primitive peoples, which is to continue to educate them to improve their economic position.
As for the educated African, it is for us to see that he gets an opportunity to use well and properly, and, if possible, in the service of his fellow-Africans, the energy and knowledge which he has gained. We should also take care that he has scope to realise his proper ambition.
I have said that we all agree in desiring the advancement of Africans. I trust that we all equally agree on the absolute necessity of doing everything in our power to support the Kenya Government in suppressing the present abominable outbreak of savagery. Opinions may differ as to the underlying cause of the outbreak. When the outbreak is suppressed and when the women and children of all races in Kenya no longer go about in jeopardy of their lives, then will be the time for a thorough and careful investigation into the root cause of the 1256 Mau Mau outbreak. In the meantime, I trust that no one, either within this House or outside it, will say or do anything which will render more difficult the task of the authorities in Kenya and, I would add, of the loyal, and moderate Africans, who are gallantly assisting the authorities.
I would end by referring to the most valuable and important document which has been made available to us, Sir Philip Mitchell's Despatch on "Land and Population in East Africa." As a man with a lifetime experience of East Africa and its problems, as a man with a deep love of all the inhabitants of East Africa, irrespective of colour or race, Sir Philip Mitchell has given us a most comprehensive and wisely drawn picture of the problems which require investigation.
A Royal Commission has been appointed and is about to function. Let us pray that great good will follow from their investigations. In the meantime, let us do and say nothing which may jeopardise that investigation or alienate the good will of the many persons of all races in Kenya who are anxious to work together in bringing prosperity and happiness to that land.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I think I am echoing the sentiments of everyone who has listened to the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Sir D. Campbell) in saying that we consider that the House is all the richer for the advantage of having the hon. Member with us. He was one of those civil servants for whom we have the greatest respect, because of their devotion towards those whose care is entrusted to them and he spoke from a depth of great experience. I sincerely congratulate the hon. Member upon his speech which was short and instructive and from which I benefited. In particular, he said that this should not be treated as a party matter. We all realise in this House that the Colonial Empire is the responsibility of all hon. Members.
I have scarcely ever heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llannelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) deliver a better speech than he has done today, although he has delivered so many remarkable speeches in this House. And I have never heard the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies in better Parliamentary form. It does not follow 1257 however, that we agree with either of the right hon. Gentlemen, though it is only right that I should pay tribute to them.
I wish, however, that in his opening speech the Secretary of State had not suggested that the opening words of the right hon. Member for Llanelly, and the opening words of this Motion, were not a sincere expression. There is not one of us who does not desire to sympathise most deeply with all the people of Kenya at the present time, not only the Europeans but the loyal Africans. We can well picture the terrifying anxiety, especially of those in the lonely farmsteads. Cruelty and violence are always wicked, but the acts that have been committed by the Mau Mau are indescribable in their frightfulness, in their savagery and barbarism.
We all sincerely agree that Mau Mau and similar societies should be eliminated. The right hon. Member for Llanelly not only said they must be, but that they will be eliminated and I am sure that is the express wish of everyone in the House. These barbarous crimes must be suppressed so that peace and order shall again be established.
We agree upon one further point, namely, that the suppression should be done by lawful action. Where we may possibly disagree is where the line will be drawn as to what is necessary to suppress this, and what goes beyond what is necessary. For example, the matter that most concerns my colleagues and myself is the punishment of innocent people in order that this crime may be suppressed.
The Secretary of State rightly began that part of his speech by saying that he abhorred the punishment of the innocent. It is not the first time that the right hon. Gentleman has said it and I believe that it is the view of Her Majesty's Government not only here but also in Kenya. However, I fear that when they say that this may be the most humane way of suppressing this form of crime, The remedy may be worse than the disease.
There is nothing that embitters people more than undeserved punishment, especially that which is inflicted not only upon innocent men but upon innocent women and children. We have all been shocked to read in ancient history the horrible things that happened when, because a city had been defended, the victor 1258 put everyone within that city to the sword, even the women and the little children. We have said, "Well, that was in the past, we shall not find it in this age." Unfortunately, we have done so.
I am old enough to remember the South African war. I recollect that when I was fortunate enough to go to Cambridge in 1904, I was joined there by a number of Boers who had fought against us. There was not one of them who objected to what had happened in the war itself, but, equally, there was not one of them who did not speak bitterly about the way in which the women and children had been taken away from their homes and put into camps, a method which was described by the then leader of the Liberal Party as methods of barbarism.
What we were afraid of at that time was not merely that the punishment was excessive, but that it would leave a bitterness which nothing would eradicate. Unfortunately, that fear turned out to be true, that bitterness still remains and they remember it much more strongly than anything else. I know, therefore, that in spite of the statements uttered in all sincerity by the right hon. Gentleman, and in spite of the attitude and statements made by the Government of Kenya that this will only be used in small areas, that they dislike using it, that they have only used it twice and then in very small areas, nevertheless I wish it had been found better not to use it at all and to use some other method of getting at the criminal himself without punishing those who may be innocent.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman seems to be opposing communal punishment purely on the grounds of its inexpediency. Surely he should oppose it on the grounds of its unrighteousness and its wickedness.
§ Mr. Davies
I was coming to that, if the hon. and learned Member will allow me to make my own speech in my own way. I was pointing out that example first.
Perhaps this will satisfy the hon. and learned Member. Punishment of the innocent is not only a wrong which we all hate. Punishment of the innocent is immoral, and what is immoral can never be politically right. Therefore, I say that 1259 I hope this form of punishment will not be used again.
"The Times" this morning, in its leading article, tried to draw a distinction between an area where the population were themselves in the main part of an unlawful assembly, and an area where the population, in the main, were loyal but did not assist in finding the criminal. It thought that perhaps the second case was one where this form of punishment should not be used.
I fail to see why any distinction should be made. The punishment of the innocent is wrong, whatever be the circumstances, and certainly it should not be used even where, to use the words of the right hon. Gentleman, it may turn out to be the most humane method at the moment. I emphasise that because of the bitterness that undoubtedly that form of punishment leaves behind it for a very long time.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Is not all war collective punishment? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman developing a pacifist argument?
§ Mr. Davies
The hon. Member might lead me now into another debate, but at the moment I am dealing with Kenya. I assure the hon. Gentleman that he is not alone. I should think that every other Member of the House hates war just as much as he does, and he should not take it unto himself that he is the only one who hates it.
There is this also to be pointed out. These people are being punished because they do not help in finding the criminal or because they do not give information. Why should that happen when, according to the right hon. Gentleman, loyal members of the Kikuyu tribe, who are loyal and who are anxious to suppress Mau Mau, run a very grave danger if in any way they make their position clear? They might easily, apparently, suffer great harm and even run the danger of being murdered.
This is the position, apparently, under this collective punishment. If they do not come forward and give information, the Government punish them. If they do come forward and give information, the Mau Mau punish them. What are they to do?
§ Mr. Davies
Which is the devil and which is the deep sea is another matter. I sincerely trust that this form of punishment will not be used again. I gather that the Government of Kenya, disliking it as much, I think, as I do, practically have come to the conclusion that it is not a form of punishment which should be used.
I turn now to the legislation. I dislike intensely the Emergency Regulations that have been issued. They have been issued this year 1952. They have been issued in respect of this situation which has arisen now, but they are issued under the Emergency Powers Order in Council of 1939, an Order in Council which was passed at that time to deal with an entirely different situation; namely, when we were fighting for our own safety, lives and liberty, and were standing up against the threat of Hitler and all his myrmidons. It was something that we were prepared at that time to agree to, but it is said that these Regulations have been made now, in 1952, under a wartime Regulation which was made as long ago as 1939.
The powers given under that Order are extraordinarily wide, as wide as could have been devised at the time when the whole world was in danger of being defeated by a lunatic. There is power to arrest and detain a person without trial, without charge, or without anything, and keep him there for any length of time. There is prohibition of all public meetings, prohibition of publications and power to take possession of any property. All of these are dependent upon merely this: that the Government of Kenya come to the conclusion that they are necessary for the safety of the whole of Kenya.
§ Mr. Rankin
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that the Regulations issued under the 1952 procedure are even more vicious than the Regulations under the 1939 procedure? While the latter gave the right of appeal to persons who were detained, that is not permitted in the Regulations now introduced.
§ Mr. Davies
I think that the hon. Gentleman is right, although I should not like to be absolutely certain. I have only 1261 read the Regulations as they have appeared in the Library, and I should like to know whether the hon. Gentleman is right. The right hon. Gentleman referred to Regulation 18B and said that one of the Regulations was rather similar to it.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The comparison I made was between 18B in this country in the war and 17D in Malaya. I said that they were the same thing.
§ Mr. Davies
I do not think so. Although I dislike 18B and protested against it, at any rate, under 18B, after a man had been detained he would be brought up before a tribunal presided over by one of our most learned judges.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
—for those detained under this thing—that is, the 18B people. The same process of review, to which I referred, for people who cannot be brought to trial will be instituted in Kenya, but there has not yet been time for the necessary period to elapse.
§ Mr. Davies
That is exactly what I wanted to know, whether even these people have the same advantages as was given in this country under 18B. I certainly agree that that makes a difference, because I understood that they were merely detained at the will of the Government simply because they came within the scope of the Regulation.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman something further? One objected very strongly to 18B, even with the condition that people were brought before a judge and two other assessors sitting with him. We said all along that the right thing was not to hold people in this way, but that if they had committed a crime the right thing to do was to charge them with it. Surely the case is all the stronger when, as here, our own people apparently, according to the right hon. Gentleman, are attacking the Government and are anxious to bring it down.
If that is true, they are guilty of a crime, so why, therefore, should they be detained merely under a form similar to 18B? Why should they not be brought before the court like anybody else and 1262 charged with that? If they are guilty they will be punished: if not, then they must be released. But the powers given to the Government, and even to district officers, by these Regulations are far and away greater than I should imagine are required to bring back peace.
One is anxious not merely about the restoration of law and order. One is more anxious about the future of the people of Kenya as a whole. Obviously, in Kenya for all time the peoples will be drawn partly from Europeans—in the main from this country—partly from Indians, partly from Arabs and, in the main, from Africans. What we should be anxious about is that all these people should live together in peace and harmony. One cannot expect peace and harmony if there is in the hearts and minds of any section of these people envy or jealousy which will, of course, lead to hatred. One cannot get peace and harmony if people think that they are not being treated justly or fairly either politically or economically.
I wish to deal with one matter mentioned in the early part of the speech of the Minister. He referred once again to his statement that he believed that the organisation called Mau Mau was a political organisation; that it had not arisen from anything to do with the economic position of the people of Kenya; and that it was an anti-Christian, anti-European organisation which was determined to get rid of the white man. That may have been in the minds of those who started this organisation. Nobody would have any sympathy with them. But would they have had the effect that they have had and the support that they have had, unless there was something else far and away deeper than that which had moved these other people maybe not to join them in their crimes, but not to expose them to punishment because they committed these crimes?
I cannot understand what has been happening and why these matters were not attended to long ago. They could not have arisen within the last 12 months or within the last five years. Something has been going on for a considerable time. The Minister made a very strong defence on the charge brought against him that he had not acted quickly enough since he received the despatch of Sir Philip Mitchell. But I noticed in that 1263 document—and I take it that this was in the original despatch—a paragraph which deals with the growth of population and local overcrowding.
It is the growth of population which has led to overcrowding, to land hunger, to poverty and probably to low wages. All these matters have led to the economic difficulties which now confront us. In the despatch there is the heading:Growth of population and local overcrowding.Then the document says:I have previously written about these matters, and would invite you to refer in particular to my despatch No. 109 of the 11th September, 1945.What has happened about that despatch? The document then refers to despatches of 17th April, 1946, and 2nd June, 1950, and to other documents that have been written since 1945.
In view of this, I think that we are all to blame that we did not take up this matter much earlier. Not only can I say that perhaps the present Government, who have been in office only a very short time, might have acted much more quickly, but the same must apply to those who preceded them. It may be that this matter goes back as far as 1933.
These are the matters which, without a doubt, have led to dissatisfaction and to poverty which, in its turn, leads to jealousy, envy and a desire for betterment which cannot be obtained. And then, of course, comes violence which we all detest. These are the matters which I feel ought to be dealt with promptly instead of waiting for a Royal Commission to deal with them.
I now come to the saddest feature of all, and that is this question of the colour bar which persists. As the Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) have said, we have uprooted the ancient beliefs of the African. His old traditions, his old customs have gone. The old respect for the headman has gone and new ideas have been accepted. We have preached Christianity throughout Africa, but the trouble is that we have not acted up to the principles of Christianity in our relations with the African. We have treated him throughout as if he were a being different from us, even though we realise that the African was there when we went 1264 there and that we cannot possibly live in Africa without the assistance, the co-operation and even the good will of the African.
What is said nowadays when trouble arises, as, inevitably, it will arise, when a distinction is drawn between one man and another merely on the ground of colour? Though the coloured man has received the same education and training, a distinction is drawn between him and the white even with regard to wages. What is said nowadays when this arises? It is said that the time has come when we should have a partnership between the African and the Englishman or the European. Not much has been stressed about partnership in the past.
It must be realised that the African, wherever he may be, has a high sense of his own personal dignity, and I am sorry to say that for generations that seems to have been flouted by the European, wherever he may be. It was said to me recently by one who has had an even longer experience than the hon. Member for Belfast, South that what the African seeks far more than anything else is fellowship. I wish that we would regard that as our guiding light in order to bring peace and harmony. The trouble is that not only is the colour bar introduced as between African and European, it is introduced as between the Indian in Africa and the European.
The Indian comes to this country and he is allowed to go to any school. The great Prime Minister of India himself went to the same school as our Prime Minister, and what an honoured pupil of that great school he was; but an Indian who goes to Kenya is not allowed in the same school as a European. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister has said that he is anxious to see an end to the colour bar. I am sure that he is sincere. The best way in which to put an end to it is to bring these people together as quickly as possible. I should have thought that the best way of removing the trouble was to bring the children together in the same schools. I cannot imagine anything which would embitter a boy more than to find that he was treated on a different level from another boy merely because of his colour. He will grow up with a feeling of inferiority complex which is bound to make itself felt somewhere. 1265 I know that the right hon. Gentleman is concerned sufficiently about this matter to be considering the experiment of starting nursery schools in which they shall all combine, but what is happening now is that white boys and girls are kept separate, as if some—to use Kipling's term—were of a "lesser breed." Nothing is more likely to cause damage throughout the whole of Africa than a policy of that character.
We are anxious that there shall be this fellowship and a realisation that Europeans, Asians, Africans and Arabs must live together in this place. We shall only get that when they respect one another and realise that other people equally respect them. At present, we have not got that situation. It ought to be the aim of this Government and of their successors and everybody else to bring about that true relationship between human beings which will lead to peace and good order throughout Africa.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
I would not have ventured to intervene in this debate save that I have had the experience of being the Chairman of a Royal Commission in Africa and know something about the problems which beset such a body. I begin by saying that I am sure the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) is right in saying that it is a mistake to attempt to put too much on the shoulders of a Royal Commission.
A Royal Commission is of necessity a body which will take a long time to consider these problems, and it is necessarily rather limited in its outlook. Here, and here alone, lies responsibility; here is the body which must consider these matters. I have been struck, as I always am in the House of Commons, by the enormous range of knowledge and experience possessed in the House. I have been sitting between two hon. Friends, one of whom was for eight years resident in Kenya and, I believe, leaves for Kenya tomorrow morning. The other, my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Sir D. Campbell), who delighted us all with his maiden speech, has returned to this country after 21 years of service in that part of the world.
1266 I am sure that we here must accept to some extent the reproach made to us all by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) that these events are because we have failed. not because any particular Government has failed, and certainly not because a Government which has been in power for only 12 months has failed. I thought the defence of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary was massive and convincing. On the question of Sir Philip Mitchell's Despatch, any of us who have had anything to do with government would know that receiving a document like this is a matter which requires long and careful consideration in the office and then long and careful consideration by those who will be affected by it—by the Governors of other territories. After that is all over and the green light given to go ahead, they are the ones who will have to operate such changes if they are made.
From my experience, the right hon. Gentleman was most expeditious in the collection of the personnel of the Royal Commission which is about to go out there. These are not appointments which can be made simply at the drop of a handkerchief. The best men are always the busiest. They have to withdraw themselves from other engagements and commitments, and they are not easy to get. I think that the collection of the Royal Commission to the extent which has been indicated to the House this afternoon, is certainly an indication that no time has been lost in getting it together.
Of course the Royal Commission can deal with those things which are referred to it, but it will not be possible to deal with many of the wider subjects. These we must review here in this House. My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast. South said a very true thing when he said that this is not a 120 yards hurdle race but a steeple-chase with many gigantic and tremendous obstacles which we shall not get over easily and which it may well be we shall not get over at all. We are dealing with the impact of Western civilisation on a very primitive society. That is the real and fundamental problem on both sides of Africa.
I happen to know West Africa rather better than I know East Africa, of which I have had little personal experience. In East Africa the impact was tremendous on a more nomadic, and more or less 1267 empty country. The impact there was far heavier than on the closely settled and, in some ways, highly cultured peasant States of West Africa. We are dealing with a country which, as Sir Philip Mitchell indicated in his despatch, has a possible annual population increase of 2 per cent. That means that the population may double itself every 35 years, within the lifetime of some of the younger Members of this House. In their lifetime they would see five million people in Kenya territory become 10 million. The problem of how that is to be dealt with will tax the utmost resources of everyone of us here and in the African territories.
A dangerous fallacy I seem to observe in the debate is the continual reference to "the African people." The proper phrase was used by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South, "African peoples." They are widely different and, in many cases, hostile. This trouble is affecting one section and one section only, the Kikuyu. It is interesting to note that if it were economic pressure alone which was causing the trouble one would expect it to affect all the peoples; but that is not so. If is affecting one particular section, and not merely that particular section in that particular area but one of two tribes which live very closely and are intermingling and interlocking.
One tribe has not been mentioned this afternoon, but it is of vital importance. It is the Masai. One of the things which brought us into East Africa was the warfare between the Masai and Kikuyu. The position of the Masai was very different then from what it is now, while the position of the Kikuyu was also very different.
§ Mr. Fenner Brockway
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman would not suggest that the Masai are suffering from the same economic problems as the Kikuyu?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
That is what I am saying, the Masai have themselves worked out a system of agriculture, which I am going to refer to, a pastoral system, which has insulated them from many of the problems of the Kikuyu, although they have many problems of their own. The intervention of the hon. Member reinforces what I have said; this is a matter of peoples.
1268 This is the problem of the multinational State. In the 19th century we grappled with and solved the problem of the mono-national State, sometimes by the extermination of other elements within its boundaries. That seems to me a poor way of solving the problem. That was the blunt axe which fell on India causing the separation, with Pakistan on the one side and India on the other, and the Punjab carved into a partition which made the whole land flow with blood. That surely cannot be our solution in East Africa. The problem of the multi-national State is a new problem, the problem with which we are grappling in Malaya and the problem with which we and other people are grappling in other parts of the world.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
It is quite clear that we were a multi-national State in Britain. We have succeeded in coming to a modus vivendi one with another over a long period of time, but only over a long period of time. We also have had the advantage, and the disadvantage of incomers. If the Roman Senate had been reviewing affairs in Britain, as we are now reviewing affairs in Kenya, some very bitter things might well have been said about the conduct of the members of the Legions. Yet everyone admits that we are better off for the Legions having been here, and for all their efforts in making roads and for the cities and the laws which they brought with them. So also is East Africa better off, and not worse off, for the members of the European community. If the Africans drive out or exterminate the Europeans, they will be by so much weaker, and will be by so much lessening their chances of prosperity just as, if we had succeeded in exterminating all the foreign elements in our country, we would be very much weaker as a people.
§ Mr. Rankin
Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman allow me? Is he suggesting that, because the Highlands were never conquered by the Romans, they are the worse off for that?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I will answer the hon. Gentleman in one sentence: Where are the Highlanders going just now but to lands which have been occupied 1269 and settled by people who underwent the Roman tradition?
Therefore, do not let us ignore the part which immigrant elements have played in building up States. Let us remember that much of what is being said tonight could have been said about the colonisation of other parts of the world, and yet, had this resulted in the abandonment of those enterprises, the world would have been so much the poorer. What we have to find here is a way in which these new experiments will be successful; not abandon them because they are too difficult.
Of course, there has been delay in the desired progress, but I do not think the supporters of the Motion can entirely dissociate themselves from at least a share in the blame that comes from delay. There has been an accusation about collective punishment. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery eloquently pleaded that theme. But my right hon. Friend was able to quote the fact that such punishment was supported by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, in their period as a Government, with occasional minority protests, and not only supported, but imposed, reimposed and defended. They cannot bring an accusation now against my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. No; what we want to do is to place the country in such a position that it is not necessary to impose these punishments, and that is what we are seeking to do.
We know that these things are deplorable; as the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) indicated, all measures of force and violence are deplorable, but it is very easy to bring this matter to a reductio ad absurdum, that no compulsion should ever be attempted at all. This is an assembly of government, where the process of government is carried on, and, if we do not believe in government, then let us get out of the House of Commons. The House of Commons exists to govern, and it must, therefore, accept the responsibilities of government, amongst which are some rough and ready measures which none of us would like to impose if we could possibly get away from them.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I certainly will. The difficulty about multi-national States is not to be solved by simple reliance upon majorities only. I think that, where there is no clear majority in the State, the State will need to adopt a different form or organisation to the organisation which it adopts when there is a clear, homogeneous nation. These minorities have a fear that each of them will be attacked and digested by the others, either singly or in combination. The Africans fear that we might try to force our authority on them. There is also—and do not let us ignore it—the fear of the settler that, either here or elsewhere, plans may be made for his complete liquidation or extrusion from the land which, after all, he is doing his best to cultivate, from a place where he rightly knows that he has things to teach to those amongst whom he is living, which, without him, they will not learn.
It is not a simple question of majority rule and universal suffrage which, at some foreseeable date, should be imposed throughout the whole of Kenya. A majority consisting of one tribe, which, it may be, would try to vote down or eliminate the other elements, is not a matter of practical politics. Let us take the case of the Masai. They will not admit that position. They have, after all, lived as conquerors in that land not so long ago; they are strong, and might well attempt to bring it about again, and it may well be a successful attempt.
My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South mentioned the difference between the two nations. But do we realise how different they are? I myself was chairman of a committee of investigation, the technical part of which was carried out by someone whose name will be well known and respected on the other side as well as on this—Dr. (as he then was) John Boyd-Orr, now Lord Boyd-Orr, in conjunction with Dr. Gilko, the head of the medical service in East Africa. Actually, the Masai man is not only five inches taller and 23 lb. heavier than the Kikuyu, but is also 50 per cent. stronger, in his muscular strength, tested by a dynamometer. He is not going to accept the position simply that because there are perhaps 10 times more Kikuyu, therefore the Kikuyu are to be allowed to wipe him out of existence or absorb him into their tribal system. 1271 The hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) said some rather rash and violent words about some slang abusive terms which he had heard used by settlers about the Kikuyu. He might well have heard hard phrases used about Europeans if he had listened round African camp-fires. He might have heard further that abuse of other people is not confined to that of settlers about the Kikuyu. I have heard some pretty rough things said about me in Clydeside at the time of a General Election. I really do think that it is unnecessary and undesirable, and below the level of this great debate, to bring in phrases like that, which might do infinite damage and cause an infinite embittering of the position. Actually, the Masai think their ways are best; no doubt the Kikuyu also think their ways are best, and is one to be surprised that the Europeans may also think that their ways are best? Our task is to endeavour to bring them together.
The constructive suggestion which I am making is that we make a mistake if we believe that, by melting all these peoples down and making an amalgam of them, we shall bring peace and prosperity to the peoples of Kenya. After we made this scientific investigation, the Colonial Office was terribly preoccupied by the disputes between Jew and Arab, and, later, a great many of these investigations came to an end with the war. This was a great pity. Because a higher standard of living, of course, can only come from a higher standard of production, and that, in turn, can only come, in the case of the Kikuyu, from a higher standard of health. The figures given in the first World War of the call-up for carriers indicated that, of 16,700 Kikuyu men called up, 10,900 were immediately rejected as unfit, and, in their march to Nairobi, only 100 miles, another 17 per cent. had to be dropped out.
People speak about wages, but the wages are, in many cases, inevitably commensurate with the effort. A man who is as unfit as that is not able to put out the amount of effort which will produce the adequate economic quantities of products out of which the wages can be paid. It was a great pity that these researches into the public health were not proceeded with further, because I am sure that the Kikuyu economy based, as hon. Gentle- 1272 men know, so largely upon starch, as compared with the Masai economy which is based so largely on proteins, produced a race with certainly a lower power of work and an inferiority complex out of proportion—
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The Scots eat more than porridge—[Interruption.] I am merely saying that the high starch intake of the Kikuyu is at least co-related with the high rate of sickness I have given which causes an inability to produce the immense amount of continuous effort which modern industry or mechanised agriculture demands. If we cannot get the production we shall not have the supplus out of which to secure the higher standard of life we desire.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The hon. Member says we need Socialism. But these tribes are socialist tribes. However, they are flocking away from Socialism into a form of capitalism because it gives them better results. It provides no solution for these troubled conditions if we consider the Africans as a race of private enterprisers who are being over-run by the hardy Socialists of the White Highlands. Hon. Members should not try to transplant the conceptions which we have in this country solely and just as they stand to the plateau of East Africa.
I speak here as an unrepentant negrophile. I speak as an admirer of the Gold Coast; I speak as one who had the honour of being Chairman of the Commission which founded two university colleges; in Accra and Ibadan. I bring this forward, partly through vainglory, because I am very proud of it, but largely because I do not wish what I am saying to be regarded as the meaningless bletherings of a blimp who is unable to recognise the great good there is in Africa and the great abilities there are in the Africans. John African must have his house; he must have the place where he lives, "John African lives here"; and for that place at any rate I would be wholly in favour of apartheid. I am sure the West African apartheid is a good thing. It is a good thing that white men are unable to build there or buy land and that there is a careful separation maintained by the Government between 1273 white and black. That is, we have there the possibility of a monolithic black State.
But there are areas in which that cannot possibly apply. Sir Walter Raleigh said—and it is one of the truest things ever said—that there is no more shameful thing in life than to desert a plantation. By a plantation he meant a colony where our own people had gone out to settle. People speak of the Indians in East Africa, but Nehru has not deserted the Indians. Gandhi did not desert the Indians. We do not find deputies in the Indian Congress saying that everything the Indians do in East Africa is wrong, and that everything the Africans do is right. They defend there own people and respect them and stick up for them. We too must remember that after all the settlers are men we ought to understand and do our best to respect. They are certainly living under conditions of great strain and tension. Yet if Englishmen, Scotsmen, Welshmen and Irishmen had not gone out to live in these conditions elsewhere in the world, we in this country would be in a poor way today, and this Chamber of ours would have few and mean things to discuss.
This is another step in a great adventure in which our race is continually engaged. I believe it is an adventure in which our race can succeed; not merely an adventure of material things, but an adventure of the spirit. I believe we have things to show to the African which the African will not receive from others. It is true that with Western civilisation we carry disease, death and problems. But disease, death and problems were not introduced into East Africa when we landed there. They existed in East Africa long before we came, and if we went away they would still remain.
This is a new thing. We are trying to resolve the problem of the multi-national State. Let us brace ourselves to it. Certainly let us continue to discuss it and to argue about it and try to expound it here in various ways on the Floor of this House. Because here is where the responsibility lies and to this place again it will return. We cannot shuffle off our responsibilities, either by saying it is the fault of the other fellow, or the fault of the last Government, or the present Government. Nor can we expect a Commission which will come down from heaven and give us the solution to all 1274 these problems. This is the anvil on which to strike the iron. The iron is hot; well, that is the time to hammer it. Let us strike, then, and hammer out here a ploughshare which will till the world.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilfred Paling (Dearne Valley)
One of the remarks made by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) was that he thought the speech of the Colonial Secretary was both massive and convincing. I quite agree that it was massive; I am not sure that it was convincing.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said another thing with which I agree. He hinted—I hope I am interpreting him correctly—that the Commission would be a long time coming; that it might be a long while before they made their report, and that the responsibility rested with this House. I agree with that. If what the Minister has said tonight, when he admitted all the disabilities apparent in East Africa and Kenya in particular—the difficulties of wages, racialism, lack of education and the rest—means that he proposes to deal with those things without waiting for the report of the Commission, so much the better for the people of Kenya and East Africa generally. But I am a bit doubtful even about that. I have been in this House a fairly long time and I have heard the Tories give lip-service to that sort of thing time after time. The details quoted tonight by the right hon. Gentleman show that they have not much—
§ Mr. Hale
Would my hon. Friend allow me to say that these were precisely the proposals which the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) and I put to the European, African, Asian and Arab Members of the Legislative Council three or four weeks ago, and which the Colonial Secretary rejected peremptorily in every statement he made.
§ Mr. Paling
The right hon. Gentleman has intimated that he will accept them. If he will I hope he will go on with them. But the history of the Tory Party does not give me much confidence in that respect. They have made promises and paid lip-service to this time after time, and, in view of the fact that we have been in Kenya for over 50 years, the statements he made tonight will make pretty sorrowful reading, and indicate that little or nothing has been done. 1275 He was also rather scornful about our Motion, about collective punishment and the rest of it, and went on to point out that we on this side have been guilty of the same thing. If we have, I still argue that two wrongs do not make a right. My right hon. Friend and the Colonial Secretary were right when they argued against collective punishment. There is no justification for it. The innocent ought not to be punished because somebody else is guilty, and that is what it amounts to. I doubt whether the results achieved are worth it. It is quite true that if one uses the kind of force that has been used in this instance one may quickly suppress a disturbance, but if one creates an ill-feeling that may last for years and years, it is a disadvantage to administer collective punishment rather than individual punishment of those who are guilty.
The things which the Colonial Secretary did in order to suppress this disturbance were pretty formidable. When any Member of the Tory Party—particularly a Member of the Tory Government—gets up and says he is in favour of law and order, I am frightened. I remember that they were in favour of law and order in 1926. I remember that they patted our miners on the back because they played football with the police and because they were quiet. They were good people and sporting people so long as they were quiet while they starved to death; but the moment they rose up in indignation because of the hardship imposed upon them, and were guilty of an infraction of the law, all the might of the Tory Party and the Government came down upon them. They are doing the same thing with the Kikuyus in this instance.
We had the Navy there; we had the Army there; we had the police and the Air Force there—all armed with modern weapons against people who, at the best, were armed with spears. One would have thought that that was a pretty formidable challenge which was sufficient to suppress the disturbance.
§ Mr. Paling
The hon. and learned Member might be able to sort it out later on.
1276 One would have thought that that was a pretty formidable armoury and that the disturbance would have been suppressed in that way; but scores of things were done in addition. I believe that 13,000 people were put in confinement. That is the minimum number, and my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough indicates that there were many more. Women and children were torn from their homes without any preliminary planning being carried out. What happened to those people I do not know. There was a suppression of meetings everywhere and the taking away of the cattle and even the bicycles of the Kikuyu people.
That is a pretty formidable list, and when the Colonial Secretary tries to get away from his ruthlessness by saying to the Labour Party, "You are another," it is not quite good enough and it is a pretty poor argument.
Now I want to deal with the question of the land. I have heard the land problem in Kenya being discussed ever since I came into this House. I notice that my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) put down a Question this week on the subject. My mind goes back to the 1920s, when a Colonial Secretary—a Tory—made a statement to the effect that the interests of the natives in their country should be paramount. The Tory Party have been in power most of the time since then. Are the interests of the natives paramount? They have not been paramount at any time. Would the Colonial Secretary have been able to read out that list of disabilities if that policy had been carried out? The interests of the natives have been ignored and I suspect that his promises tonight will go in the same direction.
Before he sat down he accused this party of comforting the Queen's enemies. That is another of the things the Tory Party are always fond of saying. What we are more concerned about is comforting the Queen's friends who, because of their lowly position in these backward countries, need our support more than anybody else. The support of the Tory Party has nearly always gone to those who were already strong. I throw the challenge back in the right hon. Gentleman's teeth.
This land question is a paramount one. A week or so ago I sat in my house 1277 looking at the television. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) appeared in a programme with a representative of the white settlers and a representative of the Africans, and they were discussing this question. The white settler had evidently been very well briefed. He put forward the same argument, that the Kikuyus ought to have been thankful that we went to Africa because we gave them more land than they originally possessed. That is a curious argument when one remembers that we have no right to be in Africa from the point of view of being natives of that country, and yet we go out there and tell the natives how much they shall have of the land that they have been born and bred in and which belongs to them.
§ Mr. Paling
The land question remains the biggest problem. One has only to read the report issued by Sir Philip Mitchell—which is a very good report—in order to understand how important it is. While it may be true that the Kikuyu were given back or were allowed to have practically all the land they previously occupied, it is also true that their population has increased enormously. At the present time there are about one million Kikuyu. I think the whole of these Africans, with the exception of those in the Northern Territory, occupy about 52,000 square miles. Just over 30,000 Europeans occupy 16,000 square miles.
§ Mr. Paling
There are about 3,000 settlers, and they have the best land. I admit that the African system of cultivation is behindhand and that something has been done by the settlers to try to improve it, but one thing the settlers have been adamant about ever since they went in is that the White Highlands belong to them and in no circumstances are they going to give up any of it.
§ Mr. Paling
It is the Africans who do the work in the White Highlands. Can one wonder that the Kikuyu are upset and feel strongly about this particular issue?
Because of the nature of the land and their method of cultivation, they are 1278 utterly impoverished and they have to send their menfolk out to work in Nairobi and other places. Their menfolk go out and are separated from their wives and families for long periods. Can that be a good thing for a society like that? Can it be right to have a system of industry which separates the family in such a manner?
That is bad in itself, and in addition the Kikuyu and the Africans generally so love the land that, in spite of the fact that they have to go out to earn, they always try their utmost to retain some small portion of land at least among their tribe to which they can return in their old age. Is there any wonder that people living in such conditions feel keenly about such matters? The Colonial Secretary stated—or rather, he indicated, because he seems to be trying to draw back now—that the Mau Mau trouble has nothing to do with economic circumstances. That is the very last word. Hon. Members opposite had better realise the position. If the Colonial Secretary will deal with the problem I have put to him, all honour to him; but I doubt whether he will. We shall see.
I come next to the question of wages. Hon. Members opposite have mentioned this also, and the White Paper itself is pretty good on the point. I admit that this is a low wage economy. May I refer hon. Members to a Question reported in HANSARD on 18th June this year?MR. H. HYND asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what negotiating machinery exists for regulating the wages of African workers on the coffee plantations in Kenya.MR. LYTTELTON: Wages of African coffee workers are negotiated at an annual meeting of the representative planters and growers and chief headmen from labour producing areas, under the chairmanship of the District Commissioner concerned.
§ Mr. Paling
Where is the trade union? Who negotiates for them? Is there any wonder that wages are low, even for such an economy as that, when there is no direct representative to argue their point of view?
§ Mr. F. Harris
Does the right hon. Gentleman know what happens to the funds which have been collected by the trade unions in African society?
§ Mr. Paling
My hon. Friend the Member for Accrington (Mr. H. Hynd) asked another Question. He asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies,what was the price per ton of coffee in Kenya during each of the last three years; and what were the rates of wages for African workers on the coffee plantations during the same period.MR. LYTTELTON: The average prices per ton paid to producers during the last three completed seasons have been £161, £350 and £374 respectively. The minimum monthly rates of pay for permanent employees (excluding the value of housing and rations) were 17s. in 1950, 23s. 68 cents in 1951, and 24s. 25 cents this year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th June, 1952; Vol. 502, c. 101.]
§ Mr. Paling
I do not think I can be accused of discourtesy if I do not give way. I have given way four times.
Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)
The hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris) must not interrupt if the right hon. Gentleman does not give way.
§ Mr. Paling
I am not complaining. Look what happened: the price has risen in three years from £161 to £374 per ton—an increase of nearly 130 per cent. In the same three years, wages have risen by about 40 per cent.
§ Mr. Paling
What kind of a fair deal do hon. Members call that? The Colonial Secretary admits that wages are low and says he will do something about it. We shall see what he does—and, again, I very much doubt it.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
Could the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what wages were paid to the Africans on the Kongwa groundnut scheme?
§ Mr. Paling
I dare say equally as good and probably better. Let me deal with another matter—the trade union aspect. There is a tendency at the moment—and I think it is bound to come—for people to have to leave the land. It is a peasant system which neither produces enough nor offers enough land in the future to go round. In any event, I am pretty certain that the number of industrial workers will increase; the industry there 1280 will need workers. If that is to be the case, I am very anxious that there should be sufficient trade unions to look after the interests of these people.
I am old enough to remember when trade unions were not very popular with hon. Members opposite. I suspect that they have not been too popular with the Europeans in Kenya, either. I have a little note here from the Colonial Report, Kenya, 1950, which reads:Trade unionism was at a very low ebb at the beginning of the year due to the influence of a small clique of Asian and African agitators who were endeavouring to obtain control of the existing unions through affiliation to a Trade Union Congress so as to control all organised labour for political ends.That reminds me of my early days. I went up to Doncaster in 1912, when I was a young Socialist, and at the first meeting I started to talk Socialism. Immediately a few of the Tories and Liberals who were in the unions at that stage got to their feet and protested against politics in trade unionism. We have it here, in Kenya, 40 years later. The Report continues:The detention and subsequent deportation of the leader, and the dissolution of the Trade Union Congress, led to a general strike in Nairobi, in April, which lasted for some ten days.
§ Mr. Paling
Shades of David Kirkwood. I think that in spite of their professions, at least a minority of hon. Gentlemen opposite might welcome the dissolution of the Trades Union Congress even now. This is what happened, and it merely shows the necessity of a strong trade union movement in Kenya if all these disabilities which are being discussed tonight are to disappear.
Here is another quotation, relating to the colour bar. It is from Mr. Leakey's book, which has been quoted at times today. He writes as follows—and I quote it because I do not think it is possible to better the language:Yet another problem to be tack led is the vexed problem of the colour-bar. There are many Africans in East Africa today, not a few of whom are Kiyuyu, who are just as capable of proper behaviour in hotels and other places as most Europeans, and who are better mannered than some of these. It is virtually impossible, today, for an East African native, although he may have spent three years at Oxford or some other British university, where he suffered from no disability due 1281 to his skin colour, to have a meal in a public hotel or restaurant used by Europeans, even if he is accompanied by a European friend. This is a stupid attitude and one which is a source of much discontent. Clearly any hotel or other place should be able to reserve the right of admission, but the discrimination should be not on a basis of skin colour, but on behaviour.My last word is about education. If the country is to be partially industrialised, we need skilled labour. There are a few of them today, and one of the reasons why there are so few is that education does not exist, except in a very small way. I think it is still the case, even in the education of children, that the question of fees and the cost of uniforms enter into the matter. Is it not time, after 50 years' occupation of this country, that we should at least put into operation as good an education project as it is possible for us to do on behalf of the children first, and second, on behalf of people who need technical education, whose skill will be wanted if the country is to lift the standard of life for its people?
I have listened to the Colonial Secretary. He says he will remove all these disabilities. I hope that when he comes to deal with them he will deal with them with the same energy, the same vitality, the same speed, the same ruthlessness as he showed when he tried to suppress Mau Mau.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Wood (Bridlington)
I do not know how large a contribution towards an improvement in the situation in Kenya, which we all so much desire, will have been caused by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wilfred Paling). I can assure him I have not brought any books to read, but he could have read three or four pages about the colour bar without getting us any further at all. I like the colour bar no better than he does, but the mere fact that he reads long diatribes against the colour bar does not, I think, advance us very far. I hope that he will forgive me if I do not follow him. I really did not know he was capable of it, but I certainly could not imitate his manner nor rise to the high level of his style. I shall begin straight away by saying something about the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths).
1282 I am bound to admit that it is an extremely impressive thing for a young Member of this House to see how the politely worded Motion of the Opposition could turn into such an eloquent and easy to listen to indictment of the Government. I, personally, regret very much indeed—I regret it more than anything else he said—the fact that he announced, before he heard the Colonial Secretary, that he would divide the House tonight. I fancy that it is quite possible that if he had heard my right hon. Friend first he would not have come to the same decision as he did.
I gain some satisfaction from the fact that the terms of the Motion show that there is a great deal in common between the two sides of the House on this issue. Certainly, none of us can possibly disagree with the first sentence of the Motion. We cannot help, all of us, being conscious of the strain and peril not only of the European settlers, but also of the Africans in Kenya who are anxious to maintain law and order and try to resist the outrages of the Mau Mau. There cannot be anything but grief for the chiefs who were murdered; nothing but admiration for the courage of Mr. Mathu; and nothing but admiration for the kind of courage vividly portrayed in those letters from a settler in Kenya published in the "Sunday Times" two days ago.
I do not think many people on this side of the House would quarrel with the expression of grave concern in the second sentence of the Motion. We cannot help feeling grave concern about the infliction of collective punishment in Kenya or anywhere else, but I cannot help feeling myself that there are many occasions—we have all had to face them—many occasions on which we have to try to choose the lesser of two evils. When the Liberal Party's leader was speaking the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) pointed out the difficulty of war. Now, it was quite plain to all of us in 1939 that we had to choose what we believed the lesser of two evils. War is certainly evil; war is certainly immoral; but it was, I believe—and I believe most of us believed—the lesser of the two evils at that time.
We have to choose between collective punishment of the population in a certain area as the lesser of two evils in this 1283 particular case, and, as I see it, by refusing to adopt this method of collective punishment we should have been exposing innocent people, just as innocent as the people we are punishing, to graver and additional risks of being probably murdered. That, I believe, was the situation we had to face when we decided that this collective punishment was possible.
I will leave out for the moment the next part of the Motion that regrets the delay in setting up the Royal Commission, and the question of the interim report. I cannot help feeling that my right hon. Friend has given an extremely reasonable reply to that desire. Then there is the desire for something to mitigate grievances. Well, I do not think anyone who has any sort of knowledge of the Kenyan situation can deny the urgency of lessening existing grievances.
There has been a good deal of argument as to whether the Mau Mau is the child of grievances or whether grievances are the food on which it thrives. Whatever is right—I do not know whether one or the other is correct—but whatever is right about that, it is surely not in doubt that the grievances do exist, and, therefore, I do not think any of us on this side of the House would quarrel for one moment with the suggestion from the Opposition that we must—in fact, my right hon. Friend outlined the kind of methods he was going to use—take all the steps we possibly can to mitigate grievances. But, as he pointed out and as other people have pointed out, too, there is no doubt at all that the present outbreak of violence by Mau Mau will very seriously delay the application of any remedy, because we have to spend time and money in overcoming it.
I spoke, at the beginning, of the responsibility we in this House of Commons bear for the situation in Kenya and for the lives of those people who live there. We bear it as Members of the House of Commons. We bear it on behalf of the 50 million people who live in the United Kingdom. We bear it because, 50 years ago, the Government of this country took a decision to encourage white people to settle in Kenya. That decision, as I see it, has imposed on all of us a solemn moral duty to use all our wit and our imagination, our ingenuity and energy and courage, to find 1284 a solution to the various grave and difficult problems which face us there at the present time—to help Kenya, first of all, to solve her seemingly intractable economic problems, and, secondly, to try to bring about a continual development of the racial relationships between Africans, Asians and Europeans.
As I see it, it is not only a moral obligation. It is an obligation because the growing acuteness of the economic situation in Kenya is, to a very large extent, the indirect consequence of our presence in Kenya. Sir Philip Mitchell, in his excellent and lucid despatch, pointed out the removal of various checks on population which had resulted from European settlement in Kenya. If we can claim the credit, as I believe we can, for removing these population checks, such as disease and tribal warfare, we must, at the same time, be prepared to face the consequences.
We know the consequences. They are starkly represented in the fact that the population is 5½ million now and will be 11 million in the 1980s. We must face this situation, which is gradually becoming clearer. I am quite certain that if we only have the will we can offer to Kenya in the future a rising standard of life, a standard far higher than she could ever have achieved if we had not gone to Kenya.
§ Mr. Hale
I have been listening to the hon. Member, as I always do, with great interest, and so far I agree with nearly every word he has said, but I ask him how Kenya can achieve this rising standard of life in the light of agreements which are being signed in Kenya this moment for the employment of resident labourers at a wage of 3s. a week, in a country with a high cost of living?
§ Mr. Hale
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman should ask that. I have the agreement in my pocket, and the landlord is Mr. Michael Blundell, the Leader of the Europeans on the Legislative Council. It is an agreement for 3s. a week seven days a week, and keep. Women and children must work, too, and sons of 16 must be prepared to work or get the sack. I have the agreement here if the hon. Gentleman wants to see it.
§ Mr. Wood
I think it would be better if, when I have finished my speech, the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) were to try to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and then to explain the agreement.
We can do much economically if we have the will to promote that rising standard of living for the years ahead. But we can also do much more. As I see it, we are offering, and will continue to offer, freedom from bondage and spiritual fear; a bondage to which many are, unfortunately, at present subjected; and freedom from a bondage which would never have been known in Kenya if Europeans had not gone there.
Returning to the part of the Motion which I left out just now, regretting the delay in appointing the Royal Commission, this is the only potential point of substance between the Opposition and the Government. I should like to underline what was pointed out by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), and to draw attention to the very strong defence against this attack which was put up by my right hon. Friend. At 10 o'clock, as at present arranged, we are told that the House will be divided. As I see it, an Opposition vote on this Motion, when the two sides of the House are so very largely agreed, would be interpreted as a vote of censure against the policy being pursued by the Government—the policy which, to a very large extent, would be pursued by the party opposite if they were in power.
A Division tonight would be an attempt by the Opposition to try to placate the intemperate opinion in the party opposite; an opinion which, in the last few months, has continually slighted whatever my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary has said. Such an assault by the Opposition might give a passing temporary satisfaction to the Left wing of the Socialist Party, but I do put it to the House that peace and prosperity in Kenya are far more important than any possible party manoeuvre which either side might wish to carry out in the House.
I beg hon. Members opposite to reconsider their decision and to see whether this Division cannot be avoided. Nothing would so strengthen the forces that are trying to establish law and order, and nothing we can say tonight is more likely to bring a peaceful situation in Kenya, 1286 than sending out from this House a message that we are all united behind the policy the Governor and the officials in Kenya are pursuing.
This House, in the very short time I have been a Member of it, has, on several occasions, risen to really great heights, and at a time when we are too often bitterly divided on party lines about things that are much less important than we like to think them here is a chance for us to achieve that deep underlying unity which binds both sides of the House together, and to send out a message which will do a great deal to bring peace and happiness to people living thousands of miles away.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
The Colonial Secretary made a very different speech today from the one he made when he was in Kenya, and has announced a very different programme. I do not know whether the visit of the Governor in last few days has persuaded him to alter his mind and to give attention to the economic problems of the Colony. Certainly it is rather surprising that he has only just decided to adopt precisely tile policy that my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) and I were urging upon him, upon the Governor and upon Members of the Legislative Council a month or so ago.
It is well to remember that the tragedy of this delay is that, when we left Kenya on 12th November the correspondents of all the London newspapers were leaving too; they said the trouble was over. There had been only one crime in the preceding fortnight, and most of those correspondents, experienced men like that distinguished correspondent of the "Observer," Mr. Colin Legum, who has written so ably and brilliantly and with such deep knowledge of this problem, were coming home; the crisis had ended; it was all over.
And then the right hon. Gentleman denied all hope of early economic reform. The time has come when we ought to speak quite frankly about this matter. I always listen to the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) with very sincere respect, as I think most hon. Members do, as one of those who the House knows speaks with deep sincerity and genuine moral courage, and I am really sorry to 1287 find myself in complete opposition to some of his views today. I do not say this in a critical sense, but he did rather adopt some of the McCarthyism that we have had from the Colonial Secretary, and I am sorry about that; this gentle sneer, "Of course you are much more concerned with the murderers than the murdered "; this gentle sneer that there are some people who think the whites are always wrong. It is a fairly commonplace sneer to which we are accustomed now, and we do not mind it.
I ask the hon. Gentleman to remember that my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough and I were viciously, savagely attacked. My hon. Friend was the subject of a most brutal attack in the Legislature by the Leader of the Unofficial Members. We suffered the indignity of having people trooping round Nairobi seeking support for a petition that we should be deported from the Colony, at a time when they were welcoming the Lancashire Fusiliers, some of whom come from Oldham. They were happy to have the Lancashire Fusiliers. In that time we made no reply of any kind. My hon. Friend, I know, has since then had letters of apology from some of those who attacked him, letters expressing appreciation of his attitude. But it is pretty thick that today we should have these sneers that we have been trying to stir up trouble and have been contributing to the controversy, when he have leaned over backwards, I think too far, not to make controversial statements.
Reference has been made of the Report of the Devonshire Committee, which sat in 1923, primarily to consider Indian settlement in Kenya. This is what it said:Primarily Kenya is an African territory, and His Majesty's Government think it necessary definitely to record their considered opinion that the interests of the African natives must be paramount, and that if and when those interests and the interests of the immigrant races should conflict, the former should prevail.It goes on to say that the interests of other races must be safeguarded. No one disputes that. When I said that on the 14th November, the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs popped up and said, "Oh, no. I must correct this. The word is 'inhabitants.'"
He was quoting from the United Nations Charter. But this was a solemn promise of the Government. Let us try 1288 to think what has happened in the 29 years since then.. I do not want to detain the House, and so I will content myself by referring to one single problem. Let us see how it has been dealt with. I have had a number of questions on the Order Paper about the Devonshire Regulations since then. The Secretary of State for the Colonies has constantly dodged them. First, he referred me to a statement of my right hon. Friend, and then, in a written answer today, he referred me to some provisions made in 1920, which has very little to do with the implications of the proposition. It says, "Of course, we want to safeguard the interests of other races, too." It goes very little further than that.
Let the House consider the real facts about the situation so far as the employment of African labour is concerned. The document from which I have quoted is not an isolated document. I have had dozens of them. Most of them, at the moment, are in the possession of my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer). I want to say, quite bluntly and seriously, that I wonder sometimes how many people are being misled by information which is vague and misleading. When I and my hon. Friend were in Kenya we asked the Chief Secretary in Kenya for a good deal of information, which he was good enough to supply. I should like to express my sincere gratitude to the Governor of Kenya and to the eminent civil servants we saw there for the readiness with which they gave information.
Under one heading—the question of agricultural wages—this is the statement:In agricultural areas no resident labour can be employed below a reasonable wage and the cultivation of land, average two acres, forms part of the contract. In addition to cash wages, fuel, housing and food is provided. Inspections are carried out to ensure that conditions of employment generally in agriculture are reasonable.I have in my hand a contract which is in printed form, with merely typewritten insertions in the blanks. It is made under the resident labourers' order. It is witnessed or attested to by a magistrate or an attesting officer for the protection of the native worker, and it is dated 21st July, 1952. It is a contract for three years, which cannot be terminated by the worker. He signs on for three years. It provides that he shall have a piece of 1289 land of not more than 2½ acres in extent. It does not provide any home, but it does provide that the occupier shall supply him with building materials with which he can build his own house.
It does not provide him with any food; it specifically says, "No posho." It restricts the crops he can grow on his little bit of land for his own subsistence to maize, potatoes and other vegetables. It refuses to allow him to own any cattle of any kind—any donkeys or goats—and says that he can own up to 15 sheep, if he can afford to have them. It provides that if he has a lad who has attained the age of 16, that lad must work for the employer or be ordered to leave the premises and go elsewhere. The contract can be extended up to five years. The name of the employer is Mr. Michael Blundell, the leader of the European members of the Legislative Council.
§ Mr. F. Harris
Does the hon. Gentleman know when that was drafted? That was drafted under the Socialist Government when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) was Secretary of State for the Colonies. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, it was, it was drafted under the Socialist Government.
§ Mr. Hale
That is a most shocking intervention. My right hon. Friend is quite capable of defending himself. He has a record in colonial progress second to none in the history of the Colony. As the hon. Gentleman has interrupted—and I have apologised to him for an attack which I made on him previously—and as be is interested in Kenya, perhaps he will tell us what wages he pays?
Most of us here have a sense of genuine personal loss at the death of the right hon. Gentleman who was Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Conservative Government. Most of us had for him an enduring and sincere respect for his abilities, for his essential gentility and for his brilliant humour. He would never have made the speeches which the Secretary of State for the Colonies has made in the last few weeks. He could not have made them.
The Secretary of State must remember that in this country of ours where we have a Conservative Press, bitterly anti-Labour, there is scarcely a newspaper in the country which supports 1290 the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman at all. He has been denounced for his policy and for his smug, self-satisfaction with a static situation, and when he has talked about ruthless punishment, he has been denounced by almost everyone who understands the position in Kenya.
§ Mr. Fenner Brockway
Is the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris) aware that this Ordinance was dated 1937 and not during the period of the Labour Government?
§ Mr. Hale
In view of what has been said from the Chair, I will not proceed further on that point, and I know that other people want to speak. I have not the slightest doubt that every party has made bitter mistakes in colonial affairs; everyone has made shocking mistakes—all of us. It may be that one has a good deal better a record than another, but it can never be a defence of doing something wrong to say that someone else did something wrong before.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
On a point of order. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris) to dispute your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker?
He is not disputing my Ruling. My Ruling has gone across the Floor of the House, and it is not going to be disputed.
§ Mr. Hale
I have not yet mentioned the wages clause of this agreement. The wages clause provides that the worker shall be paid for every 30-day ticket. I do not know whether that means 30 days of work or 30 consecutive days with, say, 26 days of work. But for every 30-day ticket he is to get 12s.—12s. in a Colony where the cost of African living has gone up to 300 per cent. and increased by 50 per cent. within the last three years. This is 12s. a month. It provides further, that if he has a lad of 16 or over, who works on the farm, he too can earn up to 12s, without any land or food or extra accommodation.
That is not the worst of them. I have one, made in 1949 with an additional 1291 provision, and it involves the same landlord. It says:All women and children to work when required by the owner.That is typed in. The Minister of State said that my speech was unhelpful when I was trying to put the facts without putting them in any spirit of antagonism. I was waiting in the hope that an announcement would be made of the economic reforms which we have suggested. We had had a meeting which was private and to which I have never referred, but to which reference has been made by other people and at which members of all parties in the Legislature were present. We were promised and we expected that an announcement would be made.
I think the time for being moderate in this matter has gone. It is time that people spoke up for what is right and what they sincerely believe. That work agreement imposes a condition of things as bad as anything in the wicked days of slavery when Wilberforce was campaigning against it. It is time that some of those on the benches opposite who are interested in farms in Kenya and who have shares in these companies and in the land told us what they are doing about it.
I said with deep sincerity and deep conviction before, and I spoke without preparation and came to the House unexpectedly and found an unexpected opportunity, that there is a real fear that the time is coming when every African will begin to hate every European. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is not true."] There is nobody who knows that it is not true. None of us who go out there Can fail to be impressed by the gravity of the situation. We talked to Christian missionaries there, and I have been talking to them in London this morning. Let hon. Members talk to them and they will find a deep and abiding fear that Africa is marching with the majesty and inevitability of a Greek tragedy to what is for us a disastrous end.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies today made an adroit speech. In Parliamentary terms it was quite a clever speech. Had it been about transport or some matter of small local controversy one might have congratulated him upon an able Parlia- 1292 mentary performance, but it was a shocking speech in relation to the gravity of the situation. I say to the right hon. Gentleman, and I am sorry that he is not here when I say it, that some of the remarks which he made and some of the answers to questions which he gave, whether deliberately or not, have certainly created a wrong impression among hon. Members and certainly have not conveyed the facts.
We have been told in the last few hours more than once that coffee growing and sisal growing are now permitted to the African. It may be that the regulation has been repealed, but the Minister of State knows, and I know, that in substance that is not true and that the Africans are not growing coffee and sisal, because there are no local facilities for marketing and no possibilities of sale. The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs may know what happened to ex-Chief Koinange. He farmed adjacent to the European Highlands and he planted coffee. Officers came and took up every tree and destroyed them. He fought that case up to the Court of Appeal and he won, on the ground that the order was unconstitutional. Then they said that this was a separate case and did not apply to anybody else and that any other African who grows coffee may still be treated in the same way and may have to face the cost of going to the Court of Appeal before he can establish his right.
During the war the senior chief was asked to help with cutting timber which was badly needed. I think that I am right in saying that a sum of £22,000 was spent on a cutting mill to help with the work. When the war ended the senior chief was told that he could use it no more. It is standing there derelict to this day. I have not the slightest doubt that the Minister of State will say that there is no regulation to prevent an African cutting timber. That does not matter; the Africans have no facilities.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies referred to Mr. Mathu and the courageous speech he made. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly referred to Mr. Odede. He is a brilliant African and a Christian and a nominated member of the Legislature. He has been prohibited from speaking to Africans ever since this trouble arose. The same applies to Mr. Awori 1293 and Mr. Nurumbi, one of the ablest men we met in Kenya. The Minister of State does not seem to appreciate the growing concern among the Asian population about what has happened. We cannot afford to alienate the sympathies of the people of Asia by supporting this colour bar policy and a policy of reprisals which is shocking decent people of all races out there. We have got to call it off. There is no question but the situation is getting much worse.
I said that the right hon. Gentleman had said things to the House that conveyed the wrong impression. The original statement made in this House and elsewhere referred to the great number of murders of Europeans by Mau Mau, but when we got out there we were told that there had been one. When we asked for the official figures from the Government we were told there was one. The right hon. Gentleman has made reference to Sir Philip Mitchell's speech in July, but in June he was calling attention to the danger of secret societies and the possibility of the outbreaks of violence. Having done that in a speech from the Throne is it not surprising that he made the final speech he did?
We have had no explanation of the delay in dealing with this document. My right hon. Friend made the point that it was really a shocking thing to conceal the document and delay its handling. We had a debate on Kenya on 17th July. No reference was made to it and hon. Members opposite were allowed to put down an Amendment to our Motion in which they urged that the land situation should remain in Kenya as it always had remained, that the European highlands should be protected and that the areas should be allocated as they had always been, all in complete ignorance of the fact that the Governor two months before had written urging these reforms, urging the fullest enquiry and calling attention to these matters.
I say that the House was wilfully deceived on that occasion, and if it were not wilfully deceived it was gross negligence on the part of the right hon. Gentleman in not giving the information to the House at that time. If he had done so it would have made a real difference. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) referred to Lord Boyd-Orr. I was 1294 always interested in one thing that he said when he was talking about war and want. He remarked, "The first thing you give to a poor, depressed and poverty-stricken people is hope." I believe if these people had been given hope in the period of months that was allowed to elapse during which Sir Philip Mitchell's despatch was sent, and during the six months after Mr. Mathu had put a Motion down in the Kenya Legislature urging the appointment of a Royal Commission on land, these troubles would not have occurred.
The great fact is that for 29 years the people of Africa have been told that it is the policy of the British Government that the interests of the African native should be paramount; for 29 years they have seen that ignored and neglected; for 29 years they have waited with patience for some action to be taken; for 29 years these grievances have been known and Government after Government, Labour, Conservative and Liberal, have been warned of them. Go into any large library and look at the books on Kenya from Macgregor Ross to Norman Leys and Negley Farson every one of which is a warning about Kenya. They are all of the type of "Crisis Coming in Kenya," "Clouds Over Kenya," warning all of us—and I have as much responsibility as anybody else—that this problem ought to be tackled and action ought to be taken.
It is very late now. It is very difficult now. I say to the Minister of State there can never be any case for postponing doing right because somebody else is doing wrong. There can never be any case for postponing reforms which will apply to 75 per cent. of the country in which there is no trouble because there is trouble in 25 per cent. of it. I do not believe there is a Member on the Government Benches who would get up on a platform, I do not think there are many who would want to do so, and try to defend the condition of things which exists in Kenya. Some very difficult and dangerous things have happened there is the last week or two.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
If the hon. Member means that there is not an hon. Member here who says that everything is right or perfect in Kenya, of course he is right; but if he means that there is not an hon. Member on this side who would get up and say that he 1295 believes that Englishmen in Kenya have a record to be proud of, I can tell him that every one of us would do so.
§ Mr. Hale
I would refer the hon. Member to the conditions on some of the European farms, and say that there is nothing to be proud of there. The editor of the "New Statesman" related that he was told by a white coffee farmer in Kenya that he had made £60,000 out of his farm. A society in which a man can make £60,000 out of coffee while labourers upon adjoining farms—they may not be on the same farm, and I do not suggest that—are getting 3s. a week, is a damnable and evil society, and does not deserve to be defended.
§ Mr. G. B. Drayson (Skipton)
Is the hon. Member aware that East African coffee growers round Moshi have made £1½ million in the last year, the Africans themselves?
§ Mr. Hale
It is incredible, but the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Drayson) has actually made my next point for me. I was going to say that conditions were not so bad in Tanganyika. It is also said that in Uganda there are not so many white settlers. There is a very small white population, who are not dominating the whole economic power of the Colony today. Therefore Uganda has been enabled, under its distinguished Governor, to make very real progress in the last two and a half years, since some of my hon. Friends went there.
The Minister of State and the Colonial Secretary have to make up their minds. This is an intolerable state of affairs. There is overwhelming evidence that the power exercised by the white settlers upon the Legislature and upon the Governor is the predominant power in Kenya, and there is overwhelming evidence that it has been exercised for the wrong reasons. Would the Minister of State tell us why one very distinguished member of the Legislative Council, whom 1296 we met at that Conference when we propounded our proposals, has resigned in the last fortnight? What was the reason given for that resignation by a man whom we saw apparently keen on progress and on reform and keen to help to solve the situation? Would the Minister of State like to tell us, or are the facts too bad to relate?
§ Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)
The reason that Mr. Neep gave for his resignation was ill-health.
§ Mr. Hale
That was, of course, the reason that the former Minister of Transport gave for his resignation. It is a very convenient reason to give. His health must have deteriorated very rapidly, because we saw him apparently in the full bloom and flush of youth at that meeting.
Now that he has given the House an assurance that at last economic reforms are in contemplation. I implore the right hon. Gentleman to pursue them with the utmost vigour and sincerity. There is no difficulty in a subsidy on posho. It is given in every other country where this is the staple meal and the price has gone up nearly eight times since 1939. The total sales are only 1,200,000 bags a year, so there is not a stupendous expense involved. That would give 10,000 homeless in Nairobi their best encouragement.
There is no difficulty about the introduction of trade unions. That would be the biggest single step which could be taken. I can give an assurance that the T.U.C. would be willing to help in every way in organising useful trade unions in Kenya which would protect the standard of life of the people. The question of title to land is no doubt a more difficult problem, but there is no difficulty about the minimum wage in a country which is highly prosperous and is paying minimum wages which are a scandal throughout the world.
Those are three things that could be tackled now and which should be tackled now. If they are tackled, we on this side will forget the past. We on this side will forget the blunders, dilly-dallying, delays and loose statements to which we have been subjected in the last few months. We shall be willing to support Her Majesty's Government in any sincere efforts they make to improve the standard of life of the people of Kenya and to restore harmony and peace to this Colony.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Reading, North)
In the few minutes I have before the final speeches are to be made, I shall have to limit myself to one or two specific points.
The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) accused some of us on this side of the House of being amused. Speaking for myself and those around me, I can assure him that we were anything but amused. I mean that in all sincerity, as the hon. Member himself was obviously speaking with sincerity. For my part I should not like to have on my conscience the possible consequences of having made the kind of speech which he has just made. I cannot imagine a greater justification for what the Secretary of State said earlier about the danger that can follow from making strongly partisan speeches at such a critical moment.
Several times tonight the point has been made that because the record of the previous Government in improving conditions in Kenya was not very wonderful. it is not right for us to point that out, because two blacks do not make a white. That may or may not be so, but the record of the previous Government is extremely relevant when a Motion is put down censuring us for conditions which exist today when we have been in office for only a year. That gives us every right to point out those facts.
We have had several criticisms of wages from the hon. Member for Oldham, West. We have had criticism about the colour bar, about collective punishment and about land. In every instance the record of the previous Government is in no way different or more positive. Nor have we gone back in any way on the progress that was being made in any of these fields under the rule of the previous Government.
As to the colour bar, the claim on that side of the House that they alone dislike it is grossly untrue. We share that dislike to the full but we realise that it is impossible to impose a change by law. It must come from the understanding of all the people that it is an undesirable social practice. We cannot pass laws which will command the respect of a community by making an attack upon one section of it. That will not cure the colour bar, it will only make it worse.
1298 As to the apparent delay over the Royal Commission, that was explained perfectly by the Secretary of State. Yet we have heard nothing about an older recommendation for the appointment of a Royal Commission on Health and Population in His Majesty's Dependencies in Africa in 1947 by the British Medical Association. It is rather interesting to see what happened to that recommendation for a Royal Commission, the wording of which is in many respects similar to that of the report by Sir Philip Mitchell, which has been quoted so much today.
These documents—the precise and the actual full recommendation—dated 1947 and 1948, respectively, were sent to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, then Mr. Creech Jones, on 16th February, 1949. Receipt was acknowledged by an official of the Colonial Office on 22nd February, 1949. On 18th November, 1949—that is, 10 months later—the British Medical Association sent a reminder to the Colonial Office asking whether they had any further communication on the subject.
On 5th December, 1949, an official of the Colonial Office replied as follows:I am directed by Mr. Secretary Creech Jones to refer to your letter of 18th November, 1949, about the population problem in East Africa and to state that the memorandum on this subject prepared by the Kenya Branch of your Association"—that is, the British Medical Association—has been carefully studied. Mr. Creech Jones is unable, however, to add at present to the reply he gave to Mr. Ivor Thomas, M.P., in the House of Commons on 9th March, 1949. A copy of the relevant Question and Answer is attached.In that answer, Mr. Creech Jones said that he saw no possible reason for the appointment of a Royal Commission on population and other problems in Kenya. That was in 1949. Therefore, when we talk about delays it should be remembered that that former Minister of the Crown said that he saw no reason whatever for the appointment of such a Commission; and yet today we are attacked because we have not immediately got a Commission formed and at work.
Everything that has been said here tonight proves conclusively the final remarks of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies that, whether hon. Members opposite like it or not, we on this side, and, I believe, a majority in the country and, certainly, 1299 many of our friends overseas, believe that this issue is being treated as a party matter. This is, moreover, a particularly bad form of party conflict, because we are getting into the state when hon. Members opposite are becoming known to racial extremists in our Colonial Dependencies as their supporters in putting forward extremist points of view.
§ Mr. Bennett
I wonder what will happen if and when the unfortunate day should come when hon. Members opposite again take over Government, and how hard they will find it to get on with the moderate elements in the Colonies whom they have abused and insulted and are abusing and insulting at the moment.
§ Mr. Bennett
The whole of this subject should be dealt with in the House in the way suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), by forgetting party differences and in trying to send out a message of general support to the people over there who are trying to maintain order and to restore peace and prosperity and to save lives while we are talking about it over here. I hope that hon. Members opposite will not divide the House tonight, but will let the voice of Britain and not of divided parties go out from the House this evening.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I say at once, in answer to the hon. Member for Reading, North (Mr. F. M. Bennett), that we propose to divide the House on the Motion so ably moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths).
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
We shall do so to show that we are not satisfied with the way the Secretary of State has handled this grave matter in the 13 months that the Government have been in power. We still think that he has been guilty of inaction and delay when urgent action was required. We think that he has overstepped the acceptable limit of misjudgments and mistakes during the period of 1300 crisis since September. Above all, we think that his whole approach to the Mau Mau problem and the present state of Kenya has been wrong.
Since we shall divide the House, perhaps it may be as well that I should restate very briefly some things on which the House is not divided. As every right hon. and hon. Member who has spoken from these benches has declared, we are against Mau Mau. We abhor the terrible forms in which it has been seen in Kenya in recent months. We believe that in the situation developed last September emergency Regulations and emergency police action have been required.
We give our full support to the police in the very dangerous and very difficult work which they have been called on to perform. We are glad that, so far, civil measures have been taken and that there has been no recourse to martial law. We all sympathise very deeply with the anxiety of the European settlers on their farms. Throughout these months the strain on them and their wives and families must have been intense. None of us could read the account of their position, published in the "Sunday Times" the other day, without feeling that everything conceivable must be done to bring the terror to an end.
We all agree with the leader of the elected European members of the Legislative Council, Mr. Michael Blundell, in admiring the spirit of the Kikuyu who have stood out against the Mau Mau and support his demand that none of these brave Africans shall be in any way prejudiced or penalised by the general measures which may be required. On all this we are united. Our vote tonight will not divide the House on these issues in the eyes of Africans or of other nations of the world. We have moved this Motion because we are dissatisfied with what the Secretary of State has done and because, in this debate, we want to throw a searchlight on his state of mind, on what I hence call his whole approach to this problem of Kenya, and its effect on the policy which has been pursued.
Let me say at once that the Minister made a better speech tonight than he has made before. I think he has moved a great deal in the last six weeks. It shows the power of Parliament to educate a Minister in his job. In so far as it was better, it is a great success for our Parlia- 1301 mentary pressure, for our stream of Questions, for our insistence on debates and for the Motion which we have put down today. But that somewhat better speech does not wipe out his failures up to now.
I begin with the Royal Commission. Almost everyone who has spoken about the subject until today, or who has written of it in the Press, has regretted or denounced the delay in setting it up. There has been a kind of chorus in the Press, in "The Times" the "Spectator," the "Economist" and many more. The Secretary of State declared today, as he has declared before, that there has been no avoidable delay.
I agree with everything said by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), in his very powerful speech just now, about the failure of the Secretary of State to publish this despatch. If this despatch had been published, if it had been known to the House, as it should have been known, on 17th July, there could not have been this long delay in setting up the Royal Commission. We declare with all the emphasis at our command that this Commission should have been set up long ago.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock
There is an important paragraph in Sir Philip Mitchell's despatch to which I would call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman on page 6, paragraph 19:Here I may repeat what I wrote in my despatch No. 44 of the 17th April, 1946. …and he sets out the position there. Why then, is it not reasonable to ask, did not the previous Government set up a Royal Commission when the facts were well known in 1946?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
My right hon. Friend assures me that Sir Philip Mitchell never proposed a Royal Commission in those days and, of course, all through that time studies of these problems were going forward under the guidance and inspiration of my right hon. Friends.
Let the House consider these facts. The Secretary of State had the whole substance of this proposal for a Royal Commission before him on 16th November last year. He admitted this afternoon, in answer to a question from me, that no substantial change was proposed by the Governors at all. He had their full agreement on 17th April. He had had five months already to consider the substance of the proposal they put forward.
1302 On 17th April the road was absolutely open to him to collect his Commission. It has taken him eight months, and I do not believe that we should have had it now but for our recent pressure and the Motion which we have put down today. Surely, in half that time, in four months, he could have got the Commission together. The Governors said in their despatch that it was urgent, and that they wanted to see the Commission at work before the end of 1952. It is now the end of 1952, but the Commission is not at work, and it will not be at work for some time to come.
Suppose the Secretary of State had announced his Commission in August of this year, as we believe he could have done. That might have been a very powerful factor in checking Mau Mau, or at least in much reducing the active or passive support which it received. Of course, the Secretary of State scouts that suggestion. He said the other day, and again today that it is an entire misapprehension to ascribe any of the present troubles to the delay over this report. But that evades the point. If a strong Commission, with an African member, able to command the confidence of all the races in Kenya, had been appointed, would it or would it not have had a steadying effect? The Secretary of State says not: but he is almost alone in that opinion.
"The Times" said this morning:A speedy beginning of the work may be an important factor in restoring the confidence of the people in the good intentions of the British Government,and it adds:—there is good reason for the protest today's Motion contains against the delay in announcing the names of the Commissioners.The "Spectator" said that the spectacle of the Commission at work would create hope and confidence as the delay in starting it is creating disillusionment and distrust. I wonder if the Secretary of State remembers—but, of course, he does—the moving broadcast made by Mr. Mathu on 1st December.
In his appeal to his African people, to the Kikuyu, he spoke of the Royal Commission, and he said it was coming to investigate the needs and troubles of the black people, including the land problem, and he added:Think a moment in your hearts, and you will agree that the Commission set up by our 1303 Gracious Queen Elizabeth will not agree to listen to our needs and troubles while Mau Mau goes on doing these awful things.Has the House forgotten the Commission of Inquiry, with two African members appointed to investigate the tragic happenings at Enugu in Nigeria three years ago? That Commission was a major factor in bringing peace and order and in stopping further shooting. Even now, everybody, like "The Times," looks to the Royal Commission as a major factor in our hopes for law and order. How much more if it had been appointed in August?
But, of course, the attitude of the Secretary of State to the Commission really springs from his view of Mau Mau as a whole. He thinks the Commission has to deal with long-term problems of land, industry and the economic regeneration of Kenya. Mau Mau, he said on 7th November, has nothing to do with that. He said, in an answer on which he put a gloss today, but which will stand in HANSARD as he said it:… Mau Mau is not the child of economic pressure. The only point at which Mau Mau infringes on economics is that its promoters make money out of it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th November, 1952; Vol. 507, c. 459.]We agree that Mau Mau is a reversion to barbarism. It is the unholy alliance of dark and ancient superstition with the apparatus of the modern gangster. We agree that it feeds on a perverted nationalism.
But does that mean, as the Secretary of State has said to us, that it does not feed upon economic discontent?
What did Mr. Mathu say in that broadcast? What was his central point?We cannot attain more land by violent methods.What did Sir Philip Mitchell say about the Kikuyu Territory? He put them first on page 2 of his despatch. He said, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Paling) said in his powerful speech:The pressure of the population on the land in the Kikuyu territory is more than it can properly bear"—these are Sir Philip's words—even if the standard of farming were to be greatly improved.The Kikuyu Territory is near Nairobi, near the settlers land. They see the way 1304 in which the European settlers live. They compare it with their own desperate poverty, which is increasing every year. As my hon. Friend said, there are a million of the Kikuyu population in their Reserve with, on the average, 500 to the square mile. Their total land is 2,000 square miles. Next door there are 3,000 European farmers, with a quarter of a million Africans working on their land. They have 12,000 square miles in their Reserve.
The Secretary of State quoted Dr. Leakey's book "Mau Mau." As I read Dr. Leakey, the only Englishman born and brought up among the Kikuyu, and an elder of their tribe, he says that the whole purpose of Mau Mau in the eyes of the people is to recover their lost land. Many thousands of the Kikuyu drift into Nairobi only 20 miles away. Last July the Member for Law and Order said in the Legislative Council that every night in Nairobi there are 10,000 destitute Africans in the city without a bed, who cannot get homes or jobs, and who are a fertile seed bed for crimes of every kind.
Has the Secretary of State seen the Mau Mau hymn read out in court at Kapangunia the other day?What shall I do,What shall I do to be free from my sorrows?That was its refrain.
Why, after 60 years of British civilisation, are so many simple Africans turning to bloodshed to drive out the British? The Secretary of State argued that Mau Mau could not be economic, because Mau Mau first attacks the African leaders who are striving to raise the standard of their living. He asked why does Mau Mau do that? I would ask him why, in every satellite country, the Communists first destroy the Social Democratic Party? It is because they must get rid of those who can bring economic progress, who can relieve poverty and hardship by peaceful, democratic means. I say to the Secretary of State that only the blind can fail to see that Mau Mau gets its strength, its wide support, from the grinding poverty, the economic and tribal chaos in which the Kikuyu live.
We think that until today the Secretary of State has shown the same myopia about wages. I admit at once it is a very difficult question. We thought the first 1305 thing to do was to build up the trade unions. As my right hon. Friend said, during our tenure of power the trade unions in the Colonies increased immensely. But let us consider the wage situation which the Secretary of State said had no influence on the Mau Mau movement. He told us the other day that the average rate for the Kenya African is 25s. a month, with a food allowance worth 20s. Let us be generous and call it 12s. a week. My hon. Friends have shown that there are wages in Kenya lower that that.
In answer to our Questions over recent weeks the Secretary of State has admitted that higher wages are sometimes not paid when they should be. He said it was a difficult problem and that he was going to talk to Sir Evelyn Baring about it; but has he said once throughout these recent weeks that he is now going to make a great and concerted attack upon what Sir Philip Mitchell calls the low wage economy of the country? Not once has he said that.
Sir Philip Mitchell says that that is what we must now do. Mr. Michael Blundell said so in his statement in the Press yesterday. The Secretary of State says that low wages have had nothing to do with the present crisis. An African member of the Legislative Council has said that a rise of 30 per cent. might prevent a great deal of the effectiveness of Mau Mau. The Secretary of State, asked to comment on that, said that a rise of 30 per cent. would spell economic disaster for Kenya. I do not believe it. Would a rise from 6s. to 8s. a week—or from 12s. to 16s. if one includes food—really mean ruin, when one thinks of the margins made by many of the larger industries and farms?
What I do say to the Secretary of State is that wages of 12s. a week, with the cost of living rising very fast, spell economic, social and political disaster for the countries where they obtain. Even primitive peoples will no longer tolerate the kind of poverty they used to know. In the middle of his despatch Sir Philip Mitchell gives a devastating analysis of the low wage economy in Kenya. He says that it is based on a grossly… wasteful use of unskilled, often undernourished and generally unhealthy labourers … from whom nothing but an excessively low standard of industry was expected.1306 He called the wages "uneconomic." because they cannot keep a man and his family on a reasonable standard of living. He says that they are subsidised in various ways—by the missions, by the relief services, by vile housing and by the deterioration in the health of the worker and his family.
Why do not the Africans work better? First, because they are not trained. But largely, as Sir Philip says, because of malnutrition and disease. That is why Sir Godfrey Huggins lays down a minimum diet for all labour contracts in Southern Rhodesia. On 12s. a week a man cannot buy enough to eat for himself and his family. Has the Secretary of State ever seen the horrible disease of hook-worm? It destroys the power to work more than anything else. It used to be a major curse in the Southern States of the United States of America. In 1950 a village in Kenya, which was healthier than most villages, was examined at the end of the dry season, when hook-worm should be at its lowest, and every single individual was found to be infected.
How does one get rid of hook-worm? First, one needs a cure, which, happily, is now quite easy, and then one needs floors to one's houses and shoes for one's feet, neither of which the African worker can possibly afford to buy at present. A low wage economy is in itself a disaster. As Sir Philip Mitchell says, we used to have it in Britain, and our nation still shows the marks of that disastrous epoch.
I know that it is a long and difficult problem. I am not saying that it could have been cured in the last 13 months, and I hope that the Minister of Housing and Local Government will not try to ride off on that. What I am saying is that we bitterly regret the Secretary of State's approach to this vital problem throughout the last 13 months. We think he ought to have given a different reception to Sir Philip Mitchell's original despatch; that he should have given it to us sooner; that he should have taken swifter action; that he should have said very quickly that he was determined to carry out the great purposes which Sir Philip set forth. Those are the main reasons why we have put down this Motion for debate today. 1307 I am glad that the Secretary of State said what he did about collective punishment. He went far further than he had ever gone before and he came near to saying, as we say in our Motion, that, even when he thinks it necessary, he views it with great concern; indeed, he said he abhorred it. He went near to saying that its long continuance may embitter race relations. He left me very glad that we had put this passage into the Motion which we have moved and that we have so evoked his declaration.
The right hon. Gentleman went through the later constructive parts of the Motion—co-operative farming, the cost of living to the African, the extension of free education, the creation of new industries, the provision of better houses, the democratisation of local government. He talked with scorn about our "platitudes." But on nearly every point he said that he is going to do at least a part of what we demand; and it has taken our Motion to make him say SO. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, he has never said it before in the last few weeks when we have debated this issue.
But although he said it, in his Amendment he proposes to strike it out. We think it far better that these proposals for constructive remedies for the present situation, for quick action to be taken by the Kenya Government, should stand among the firm decisions of our House of Commons. Of course, we realise that all these things cost money, and I know that it is not very easy in the present day conditions to get a Kenya loan.
I know that the Colonial Development Fund, to which my right hon. Friend added £20 million, has now all been earmarked. But with this emergency in Kenya, we say without hesitation that our Government here ought to find the money needed to attack the economic evils which exist. If we have the right to debate Kenya as we have, and to settle policy, we have duties, too. We think that the Government ought to guarantee a loan and, if need be, to make a generous grant.
But material progress alone will not solve the problems of Kenya today. I want to say two more things to the Government before I conclude.
While Mau Mau terrorism continues, as it does now, they cannot hold the 1308 inter-racial conference on constitutional reform to which my right hon. Friend secured agreement 18 months ago. But I hope they will hold it very swiftly when the terror ends. There will be many people who want to put it off, but I hope the Government will resist them. It is just because the situation has been so dangerous in Kenya that constitutional reform is still more urgent. The Government must try to hold this inter-racial conference very soon.
Secondly, I hope that both in that conference and in all other ways the Government will use their influence and will speak most plainly about a subject on which hon. Members on both sides of the House have spoken—the colour bar. The Secretary of State said that Mau Mau is a racialist movement; and so it is. But whose was the colour bar? I am glad that he has said quite plainly today that he and the Government are against the colour bar. I hope he will go on saying that, and I hope he will do more. I hope he will do everything in his power—and it ought to be a lot—to persuade the Europeans in Kenya that the colour bar must go. I know how difficult it is to break down a colour bar. Nobody knows just how difficult unless he has lived in mixed communities and seen it.
Kenya, it is said, has made some progress: the Governor invites all races to his parties; there is an inter-racial club in Nairobi; there is even an hotel open to all races somewhere up country. It is a very faint beginning. The truth is much nearer to what some of my hon. Friends have described today. On the colour bar Her Majesty's Government and the House of Commons can only stand on the principle of the full equality of all races. That was written into the Charter of the United Nations by the Foreign Secretary and by the Leader of the Opposition seven years ago. In the Commonwealth, as my hon. Friends have said, there are nearly 500 million people of the coloured races who all recognise our Queen Elizabeth as their head.
It may not always be easy for the Government to talk about this thing. I urge upon them strongly that it is right. Milton wrote these words:Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do ingloriously to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple: 1309 whoever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?If in all their dealings with this problem the Government stick to the principle of the equality of races, as our Labour Party have always done, they will not go wrong.
There is a grave crisis in Kenya today. It needs strong police action, with British justice. It needs strong economic action, with ample funds. It needs social and constitutional reform. It needs the break down of the barriers that have kept the races apart. It is a dangerous crisis, but every crisis is an opportunity as well. There are signs today that the strain of recent weeks has brought the Europeans and the law-abiding Africans closer together than they have ever been before. In that fact lies our brightest hope. In that hope we shall ask the House to uphold the Motion we have moved today.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
The terms in which this Motion has been drawn, together with the attack made upon the administration of the Colonial Secretary, make it a Motion which, if pressed to a Division, is tantamount to a vote of censure. It involves, therefore, the whole of the Government. Consequently, it has been thought proper that the final reply should be made by a member of the Cabinet.
This in no way reflects upon the skill of my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs. He has already proved himself at home and in the Colonial Empire a most able and efficient Minister. But, as I say, since this debate transcends ordinary Departmental discussions, this course seems proper, both out of respect to the House and in regard to the importance of the occasion. Perhaps the reason why it has fallen to me to reply is that I had the good fortune to have a year's service at the Colonial Office.
No one can have listened to this debate, or, indeed, to recent debates on recent events in Kenya, without some conflict of emotions. On one hand, there is a sense of crisis and disappointment that such tragic, such horrible events should take place in a territory which has made such wonderful progress in so short a time. Then, on the other, there is not an unnatural surprise that so great a deterioration should develop so rapidly.
1310 But perhaps the most dominant feeling throughout has been the sympathy which we feel for those of all races who are suffering so greatly. Our hearts go out—and I do not think we ought to be ashamed of such feelings—first to our own people. We know the many splendid men and women, young and old, of all ranks and occupations, whose lives may be in constant danger, but whose spirits are unbroken and unbreakable. We have read very many moving stories of their trials only the other day in the Press and elsewhere, and it is a source of pride to us that they have shown themselves worthy of the highest British traditions.
Many tributes have been paid to their courage and steadfastness, and I was grateful that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), with whom we do not always agree, has been generous enough to recognise the tolerance as well as the courage of their leaders.
By contrast, the bitter diatribes of the right hon Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wilfred Paling) and the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) seem as outmoded as they are ungenerous; they are a survival from a type of mind that takes pleasure in denigrating the British planter and settler, whether in Malaya, Kenya, or elsewhere. These self-inflicted wounds have done a great deal of damage to British power and prestige for many years, and I hope that we shall soon reach the end of this kind of degenerate eccentricity.
A somewhat different attack upon the European population—perhaps it was not so strong as an attack; perhaps criticism—was made by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles). It was based, I thought, on the rather slender evidence of casual conversations during his recent visit. Perhaps they were pulling his leg. He told us how the settlers sometimes made rather critical observations about the Africans. But what seemed to shock him still more was that they appeared to have rather a low opinion of Parliamentary institutions in general and of the House of Commons in particular. Well, one does not have to go to Kenya to hear that. One can hear it almost any night in the "local."
As my right hon. Friend pointed out so convincingly, we must be careful to 1311 give our own people not merely sympathy but support. If we have confidence in them, it is just as necessary that they should have confidence in us, for in my experience it is more important that the troops in the front line should trust the generals at headquarters than that the generals should trust the troops.
Our sympathy is equally sincere for the Indians and the Arabs, who have been equal victims in this terrorism. Under British rule, Arab and Asiatic peoples have prospered in Kenya. They have both contributed to and shared in this prosperity. There is a very long tradition of friendship between British and Arab peoples all over the world; and when we speak of the Indians, Hindu and Moslem alike, we must remember that they are linked with us, and take pride in it, by the double tie of a long connection and their membership of the Commonwealth.
But because they are, in a sense, the most tragic sufferers from these events, we feel especial sympathy for the African peoples, both of the Kikuyu and of other tribes. They have undergone the monstrous attack of these deluded fanatics to an extent far greater than the European population, for the victims have been, as so often happens in such outbreaks, their own moderate and respected leaders. Kenya and the Kikuyu people have already lost many such men. We honour their example of loyalty and of courage, and we salute their memory.
Four races are threatened by this outbreak of barbarism—four races for whom, I gladly admit, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) worked so hard during his period of office to bring together. Let us hope—at any rate, let us conduct ourselves here—that when the crisis is over the result may not be embitterment or an increase in intolerance, but rather an increased sense of comradeship, as of men and women who have passed together through the annealing test of fire.
While we recognise the gravity of the position, do not let us exaggerate it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly told us, in a previous debate, that we had a solemn duty to prevent this from becoming a racial conflict. That is true. Although I am bound to say that the bitterness of the attacks upon Africans makes one wonder whether this reversion 1312 —for that is what it is—to atavism, is not really something different—a protest, conscious or unconscious, against the recent admission of light into darkest Africa—and, therefore, something in the nature of a reaction to barbarism rather than a groping forward to the future.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to refer to the danger—and I have his words—of "destroying "the last chance we have in Africa. That is mere rhetoric—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Except on its Northern coast, under the Roman occupation, or in the Valley of the Nile under the ancient Egyptian civilisation, or where in some places Moslem influence has penetrated, the dark Continent of Africa has, until recent years, had no chance at all. We all know the ancient tag, "Something new is always coming out of Africa," but that has really meant something monstrous, something mysterious, something not new but horrible and obscenely old. This is not our last chance in Africa, nor is it Africa's last chance. It is, after countless centuries, Africa's first chance. Let us not be ashamed of it. To whom does Africa owe it but to the British pioneer?
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
May I at once say that the rhetoric of the phrase, "The last chance in Africa" was not my invention. I did not think of it; I quoted it. It is the title of a book, which I recommend the right hon. Gentleman to read, by Negley Farson about Kenya.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I gave way to the right hon. Gentleman, although I thought that he might have allowed me to finish a phrase. I say that we owe it to the British pioneer—[Interruption.]—I will finish my phrase—whether planter, trader, settler, administrator or missionary. The fact that a phrase is quoted from the title of a book—although it appeals to me in one of my activities—is not an excuse for its misuse.
After centuries after centuries of stagnation Africa, it is quite true, is in the throes of revolution; but it is we who have been the revolutionaries. Why, in the lifetime of men still alive there was not in Kenya a railway, of course, not even a road, not even a wheel, not, of course, a school, not even a alphabet, no plough, no shop. [An HON. MEMBER: "No colour bar."] I will come to the colour bar. There was no business undertaking of any kind, except the slave trade. 1313 Naturally, the impact of modern civilisation, to which to accustom ourselves we have had centuries, has set up tremendous stresses.
Faced with these tumultuous changes, with much that has been gained something also has been lost. A primitive system of land cultivation may have served to keep people whose numbers were always being kept down by external attack and by slave raids and, of course, by disease. That form of primitive agriculture, of course, cannot meet the needs of a protected and therefore expanding population. It must be radically changed in order to expand productivity and to serve the new conditions.
In the same way a tribal system breaking down, as where an urban population comes into being, a system of superstitious but nonetheless potent sanctions and taboos, weakened but not altogether replaced by nobler conceptions, a monetary and wage system introduced quite recently in place of older methods of exchange, and, last of all, the inevitable tendency which, alas, cannot be avoided in any system, to adopt and spread some of the vices as well as the virtues of the newcomers; all these developments, singly and all of them together, are bound to lead to prolonged travail and suffering before something new is born.
At the same time, we must not exaggerate the area of the trouble. Kenya is a large territory and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies told us today, and we were very glad to hear it, that three-quarters of it is at peace. Even in the affected areas the trouble is to some extent localised. Nevertheless, where it has broken out, it is a serious menace and therefore it must be mastered. The general work of progress must not be delayed; but that progress cannot be fruitful except in an atmosphere of peace.
In the first half of the first sentence of the Motion before the House, the Houseextends its sympathy to all races in Kenya in their present ordeal.—The Government, of course, welcome this declaration; but since in a moment of crisis action is the best expression of sympathy we equally welcome the second half of the sentence. That is where we are asked to state that this House… reaffirms its support of lawful action to eliminate Mau Mau and to suppress barbarous 1314 and violent crimes against both Africans and Europeans and to re-establish peace and order.All that we accept.
Then the Motion goes on to refer to many other matters—matters quite properly raised in debate and on which the House on all sides, and in its collective capacity, has a perfect right to be informed, to make suggestions and to express criticisms. All these matters, some of them in the long-term and some of them in the short-term important, ought to be raised and debated. Incidentally, I was glad to observe that two suggestions made in the former debates have not been included in this Motion, although I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly referred to one today. I refer to the proposal that public meetings ought to be freely allowed even in the conditions of the moment, and also the second idea, that a committee or commission of hon. Members of this House should now make a visit of inspection.
Of course, as my right hon. Friend explained, the appeals by moderate leaders and the right of the chosen leaders of the Kikuyu people are very valuable and we know that they are being used. But I think we must trust the local administration to find the means, and the most successful timing for these methods. I do not see how general political life by public meetings of any size without any control can be possible in the areas affected, at least at present.
As for Parliamentary visits, I should have thought that there again most of us would agree that timing is very important if they are to be helpful. Whether or not such journeys may in future be strictly necessary, I am quite certain that at the moment they are premature. The House has, of course, every right to inquire about, and if it so desires to criticise emergency measures such as collective punishment. It is a fact that these, by their very nature, may embrace innocent as well as guilty people. We should discuss the appointment of the Royal Commission, and make suggestions as to its working and the timing of its report.
Nor is it in any way irrelevant to deal with all the other questions that are raised. I see detailed in the Motion a very large number of questions, co-operative farming, reduction of the cost 1315 of living, the extension of free education, new industries, housing and local government. All these are very important and interesting topics. Even we may recognise some of them, especially the last two, as being pertinent to our own insular form of private warfare.
But there is no coherence or theme running through this hotchpotch of suggestions. Moreover, phrased as it is, with its strange mixture of respectable sentiments, its censure of the Colonial Office and the Colonial Secretary and suggestion for long-term study, the Motion, whether by negligence or intention I cannot tell, would, if it were accepted by the House, be a vote of no confidence in the administration.
But what follows from that? It follows, in spite of all the protestations of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in this as in the previous debate, in spite of all the talks about not wishing to turn a national emergency into a party advantage, that the House finds itself in a position from which I still believe the great majority of the Members of the party opposite would wish it to escape. Why has this happened? Because whether by inadvertence or design, a Motion has been put upon the Order Paper which no Government could accept and continue to govern. If that is what hon. Members opposite want, then we know where we are. They want to exploit the national difficulty for party advantage. If that is so let us cut out all that cant and humbug.
I had intended to take a more generous view, and I must say that my more generous view survived the naïve speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly, who said at the beginning of his speech that whatever happened in the debate his party were absolutely determined to vote for the Motion. So we are in this position. He was the prosecutor. He brought in the indictment, and he said that he would find a verdict whatever might be said on behalf of the accused.'I'll be judge, I'll be jury,'Said cunning old Fury.I do not really believe that that was really the true purpose, at any rate of hon. Members who sit above the Gangway on the other side of the House. I have not so much hope of those who sit 1316 below the Gangway. I think the real idea was a proper one, namely, to ventilate certain supposed grievances and to make valuable suggestions, such as there are in many parts of this Motion. I honestly believe that there are many hon. Members opposite who are far more interested in the future than in the past and in making useful contributions towards a better future. I think that really represents, apart from the position we have got ourselves into, the real wish of the House of Commons.
After all, we have had quite a sufficiency of matters on which we have, without great injury except to our health or temper, trod through the Lobby night after night in nearly equally balanced numbers. Here, I should have thought, was a matter on which general agreement, if it was at all possible, or if not, at least the highest common factor of agreement, might diligently be sought.
Now I must say quite frankly that in my opinion—and I believe it will be the verdict outside this House—to every count and every single item in the attack made upon him my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary had made not only a spirited, but an absolutely convincing reply. He has explained the procedure about the publication of Sir Philip Mitchell's despatch. He has told us the reason why such a despatch involved not merely the interests of Kenya but the interests of all the three East African territories. He informed the House about the obviously great problem of getting a suitable membership for the Commission for a task at once so prolonged and so arduous. I think we may congratulate him upon the names which were given to the House and were clearly received in all parts of the House with the greatest agreement.
With regard to the actual measures necessary to preserve and restore order my right hon. Friend explained the difficulties, and he vindicated the decision taken by the authorities on the spot. He used these words when he spoke about collective punishment, and I am glad he used them, "I abhor collective punishment." At the same time, he told us that those punishments had been effective mostly, if not entirely, against those whose innocence was suspect, and that if they were not accessories to crime they were at least 1317 guilty of neglecting the first duty of every citizen and subject, if any order is to be kept, of participating in the pursuit of criminals and of aiding the forces of order in their punishment.
Nor are these measures, distasteful as they are, without respectable precedents. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hitler."] Much more respectable than that—the right hon. Member for Llanelly. I was not sure whether the party opposite were quite certain of the things he had done in his time of office. They certainly did not seem to like them being read out. The right hon. Member for Llanelly tried to throw a lot of stones at my right hon. Friend, but he had forgotten the composition of his own house. It was glass, not very clear glass, not transparent but translucent, but certainly glass, and he and his Friends have lived in it for the last six years.
I was not quite so sure what was the position of the Liberal Party in this matter. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) made, as always, a very moderate, attractive and moving speech. I was not quite sure what was going to happen, but when I opened the Sunday paper this week, I said to myself, "Well, the Liberals will be all right anyway." I read the heading:Liberals support mass punishment. The Liberal Party Quarterly Council reject a resolution condemning collective punishment in Malaya.Then I read what seemed to me about as good, about as fair, and about as sensible a statement on this matter as could be read. It was made by Sir Andrew McFadyean. He said that:… the use of force in this way was so repugnant and they would all like to avoid it. But, every moral dilemma was a conflict of duty. It might be necessary, on occasion, that our efforts involved some little suffering to the innocent, but they were a form of protection of the victims of blackmail. In so far as they were penalties, they were falling on the kind of people who, through terror, had made themselves accessories after the fact and accomplices in deeds of murder.I venture to recall those words because they come from a source which I am sure the right hon. and learned Member will regard as one at least worthy of attention.
§ Mr. C. Davies
I am wondering whether the words quoted were in the minds of the men who recalled what happened in the South African war. I recall the bitterness that has since ensued.
§ Mr. Macmillan
It was for that reason that I repeated the word "abhor" used by my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. I am certain that, if they are ever to be repeated, every effort will be made to ensure that they do not inflict lasting hardship, for everyone is alive to the danger of turning vacillating neutrals into enemies of law and order. I do not think there is much on that point which has not been elucidated in the debate.
My right hon. Friend today has made a full, complete and absolutely convincing reply to that part of the Motion which is a Motion of censure. In his year of office and in many parts of the Colonial Empire he has earned, and is continuing to enjoy, the confidence of the House and of the nation. Of course, I know that what he said was rather a shock to hon. Members opposite, because it was not quite what they expected when they started this debate. They expected a rather easy victory for their champion. They thought it was something of a walkover, a kind of Roman holiday.
What happened? My right hon. Friend—I know it was not quite fair of him—actually answered back. He tried a fall with this doughty opponent and he threw him finally, heavily and firmly to the ground. If there was any butchering it was the right hon. Gentleman who was the victim. The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) tried a little gallantly to come to his aid, but he is a light-weight in such a match as this. He was wise enough to say that he was not satisfied with the debate. I am not surprised at that.
All this is understood in our House of Commons, for in our House of Commons and in Parliamentary life we understand the battle of debate and we accept that. But the right hon. Gentleman, in opening the debate, used a phrase which struck me. He said, "The eyes of the world are on us." If that is really so, what should this House do at this moment? I venture to put this before my fellow Members, and I do so with absolute sincerity: all the inhabitants of Kenya, at least in the affected districts, whether official or unofficial, are carrying a heavy burden today. What is the message that ought to go out from here? Should it be a confused message or a clear message? Should it be the story of a squalid party wrangle, or the proud call 1319 of a united people, speaking, perhaps, with different emphasis—that is natural but with a single voice? I cannot believe that there is any doubt what we ought to do.
The House has discussed, as it has a right and a duty to discuss, the immediate history of this affair and the present means of handling it. Members have asked for and have obtained explanations from the Government. All kinds of views—different views, diverging, perhaps, in method, but certainly converging in purpose—have been expressed on both sides of the House. The House of Commons will have performed its historic duty as watchdog of liberties and guardian of minorities—liberties even if they are abused, and minorities even if they are misled. It will have preserved its tradition of always being able to discuss the deep causes and ultimate remedies of social maladies as well as their immediate symptoms.
I beg the House, even at this late hour, to be content with this: there should be no Division tonight. That message would be far the best message that could go from us, one of unanimous sympathy for their trials, unanimous, resolute determination not to be mastered by the forces of disorder, but making it clear also that sympathy and support in the struggle to reimpose order are not in themselves enough, and that it is our duty and our
§ intention to join with them, with all the races in Kenya, to promote by all means in our power the political, social and economic progress of the whole territory. Thus, and thus only, can they—British, Asiatics and Africans together—resume the confident march towards their future.
§ This is, therefore, my plea to the House. We appeal constantly for unity in Kenya. We are asking four races, different in character, to unite. How can we make that appeal effective? Is it not possible that we should ourselves practice a little of this that we preach? If the Opposition withdraw the Motion, we will send out a united call. If not, I say let each man do his duty in his heart and conscience as he may understand it.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Mr. Speaker—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] May I have order, so that I may be heard?
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. P. G. T. Buchan-Hepburn)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 278; Noes, 301.1325
§ Proposed words there added.
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 against both Africans and Europeans and to re-establish peace and order. 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.