HC Deb 05 March 1952 vol 497 cc418-9
31. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will institute an inquiry into the circumstances under which 30 families of the Meru Tribe in Tanganyika were evicted from tribal lands in the Engare-Nanyuki, Ngabobo and Leguruki areas, in view of the report by a Nairobi barrister, of which he has been provided with a copy, stating that homes were burnt, household utensils were broken, cattle slaughtered or taken away, crops destroyed, and old persons and a baby of three days died during the forcible transference.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)

I have received from the Governor a report on the measures it was necessary to take to move these people in order to complete the scheme of land settlement in the District, of which particulars were given to the House by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State on 5th December last. The people concerned declined to move voluntarily. After the occupants and their belongings and some livestock had been compulsorily removed it was unfortunately necessary to burn their huts. Hut owners will of course be compensated for this destruction.

The report states that one man died as he was about to get on to a lorry which was removing people from the area. He had volunteered to move when his hut was visited. Later investigation showed that he had been ill for some time and a post-mortem showed that he had been in an advanced stage of tuberculosis. Two cattle died from East Coast fever during the move.

I am writing to the Governor to ascertain whether there have been any events subsequent to his report which would justify the allegations referred to and I will write to the hon. Member as soon as I have received a reply.

Mr. Brockway

Whilst thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask him whether, in view of the fact that this report on the events by a barrister and the official Government report agree that death did occur during these evictions, he will be prepared now to ask for an independent, impartial investigation into the circumstances of these evictions?

Mr. Lyttelton

I must await a report from the Governor before taking further steps.