§ 11.6 a.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) was kind enough to inform me in advance of a number of colonial questions which he would be raising in the course of his speech. Some of them touch also the Commonwealth Relations Office, and my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will be winding up and will deal with those questions. The House will expect of me chiefly a statement about Kenya, and if in the course of that statement I do not cover all the matters of which the right hon. Gentleman has already informed me, they will be dealt with by my hon. and learned Friend.
First, it is necessary to look back a little longer at the picture of Kenya. I say without any equivocation that it is a history of progress upon the economic, the social and the political front. I begin with the last of these three, because recent progress on the political front has doubtless been due to the confidence which the right hon. Gentleman inspired during his visit to Kenya about 18 months ago. Memories of that visit are still green and appreciated by all races in Kenya.
457 One of the visible results of that visit was an agreement between all communities to hold a conference concerning further political advance or alterations in the Constitution. I do not think that at this moment it would be wise to hold that conference, because I think it would certainly lead to a breakdown, which would be bad, but I assure the right hon. Gentleman that all communities agree that that conference should be held. Perhaps he will be content if I say that this attitude is entirely that of Her Majesty's Government and that we will merely wait for the moment when conditions might lead surely to success. Among other steps of a clearer kind will be the appointment of an African to the Executive Council for the first time. That gives a very short summary of political events.
With regard to economic development, in the 10-year development plan, which was revised in 1951, an expenditure of no less than £40 million—that is, in the years 1946 to 1955—was foreshadowed. Of that sum, about £37 million was, or will be, from loans to Kenya or from revenues. Great advances have been made in human health. Perhaps it is worth remembering also that rinderpest, for example, has been almost eliminated from cattle by a system of free inoculations.
If we look to education, the sums spent upon African education have shown a very startling advance. From quite small beginnings, they had already risen during the time of the former Government to £400,000 in 1951. That has become £700,000 in 1952, and it will be £1,200,000 odd in 1953.
These are startling advances, and hon. Members may perhaps wonder why they have been so startling. The main reason is that the prosperity of the Colony has greatly increased. I think the price of maize is something like nine times what it was in 1938, and this is one of the economic advances which have made possible these large expenditures. I know it is easy to say that these sums are not enough, but, on the whole, the Colony has to support its own social services. Hon. Members should also be reminded that the amount raised by taxation from Africans is negligible, so that practically the whole of this burden is borne by the other two races.
458 I claim that these statements I have made spell only one thing, progress on all fronts since the war, and that the picture which is sometimes painted of the frustrated African being kept down from national advance by grasping Europeans and Asians is an entirely false one. Indeed, a year ago the prospects seemed fair, but the picture has changed. If anyone was inclined to be lulled into a sense of complacency, that complacency has been destroyed. Across the page of Kenya's history has fallen the shadow of witchcraft, savagery and crime—in short, the Mau Mau.
What action have we taken, faced by this menace? First of all the Governor of Kenya proposed some emergency legislation, the details of which are known to the House, which I approved with certain modifications. The reason why this emergency legislation was necessary was that witnesses would not come forward. More than 100 witnesses to crimes disappeared before the charges could be investigated by the courts. No one, in short, would testify, and if witnesses will not testify the rule of law is paralysed. Judge and jury, prosecutor, defendant, counsel, all depend upon evidence, and when it is not forthcoming the rule of law and the processes of law are paralysed; in fact, they become useless.
Hardly had these emergency laws been approved here, and passed, than there was a renewed upward surge of crime, and the tragic climax of this surge was reached in the murder of two out of three senior paramount chiefs, Nderi and Waruhiu. This time it became quite clear that further measures were imperative, and I authorised them very quickly as soon as the extent of the crime became clear. But I thought at that time, and I believe I had the approval of the House, that when these situations occur a personal visit is necessary. I am not at all happy to see any normal process of law suspended unless I can visit the scene and acquaint myself with all the evidence. I may say here that in going to Kenya at that time, after I made my last statement, I had the encouragement of knowing that I had the support of all sides of the House in attempting to suppress this movement.
I do not want to weary the House with a recital of all the representative bodies—individuals, chiefs, headsmen, provincial commissioners, district officers and 459 commissioners, and so on—whom I saw. But from this study I think it is clear—it was not clear to me before I went—that Mau Mau is not the child of economic pressure. The only point at which Mau Mau impinges on economics is that its promoters make money out of it. A substantial fee is charged for each oath that is administered and collected by the man who administers the oath. In effect, Mau Mau is the unholy union of dark and ancient superstitutions with the apparatus of modern gangsterism.
As my statement that Mau Mau is not the child of economic pressures has been received with incredulity by certain people, not here but elsewhere in the world, I will give one reason why I make that statement, in the hope that the House will think that is a sufficient reason. Everybody here knows that the greatest impact of the atrocious crimes that Mau Mau has committed have fallen upon Africans. It would be a curious page in history if the body impelled, as suggested, by poverty, to improve economic conditions should emerge and carry out its mission by murdering the law-abiding element in the population. Those who think it really has direct economic causes might as well suppose that a trade union should seek to improve the level of wages and the standard of living by murdering members of the working classes. Death and the standard of life are curious bedfellows in an organisation.
I need not elaborate the point, however, and I shall come back later to the economic background, which is quite a different thing from the direct father of this. Let us be clear on this point: that Mau Mau is a secret society and feeds, not upon economic discontent, but is something far more sinister. It is the enemy of both white and Asian. It is the enemy of the law-abiding African. It is anti-Christ and it feeds, not upon economic discontent, but upon perverted nationalism and on a sort of nostalgia for barbarism.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, may I ask him a question? If the Mau Mau is out for power itself over the Kikuyu tribe, would it not try to terrorise those more moderate Africans even though its real aim was against the Europeans? Do I make my- 460 self clear? Surely the struggle for power by the Mau Mau would involve terrorism against moderate Africans even if it were directed against Europeans on economic grounds?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Certainly it is a hypothetical question. But the point I was dealing with was that Mau Mau is not economic in origin. No doubt the desire for power exists. However, that only reinforces what I was saying. I thought the hon. Member was about to correct me upon the matter of emphasis but I find from his question that he merely wishes to reinforce my argument. That is just the point, that if the causes are economic, the last thing would be to terrorise those who work—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members are now aware of the argument, and I may as well repeat before I go further that I have a lot more reasons than the one I have given that it is not directly economic. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I can only give my own opinion, but hon. Members are equally entitled to theirs.
There is, of course, quite clearly the need for some political body to represent African opinion, but the hopes that the Kenya African Union could fill this rôle have been shaken by finding that many of the heads of the K.A.U. were deeply implicated in Mau Mau. Furthermore, it has become quite clear that the term "Kenya African Union" was somewhat of a misnomer, because the society became entirely dominated by the Kikuyu. I say, with a very great sense of responsibility, that it is quite idle to suppose that today we can give K.A.U. a clean sheet. It has not been proscribed. On the other hand, I must make it quite clear that if evidence is forthcoming that K.A.U. is implicated, deeply implicated, in Mau Mau, we shall have no hesitation in proscribing it. The Governor and I have talked this matter over very deeply.
Now I want to turn aside—
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the leaders of the K.A.U. are active in Mau Mau. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] He has arrested all the leaders. [HON. 461 MEMBERS: "No."] Surely, all the leaders have been arrested, and is not that proof enough that, if the right hon. Gentleman has got the evidence against them, he could bring them to trial and proscribe the organisation?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I am coming to the matter of trial, if the hon. Gentleman will be a little patient. With regard to the K.A.U., certainly, I would not accept the statement that all the leading people in K.A.U. have been arrested. Some of them have been, when there was proof of their implication, but, at the present moment, the hon. Member will understand that while we have suspicions of those particular leaders who have been arrested, nevertheless that has not, up to date, made us proscribe the K.A.U. The matter is still open.
I want to turn aside from that subject—and this follows from the hon. Gentleman's question—to the matter of those who have been arrested upon suspicion, because, let me be quite frank, that is what has happened—they have been arrested upon suspicion, even including Jomo Kenyatta himself. It would be clearly improper of me to go deeply into this matter while investigations into the cases are proceeding, and I think the House will agree that I should wait before making any further statement until the investigations have been completed.
But something more than that is necessary for the House at the moment, and I would say with complete sincerity that I am as reluctant as anyone here to see anyone detained upon suspicion, but, equally, the House will realise that the Governor of Kenya and I myself have to carry a very heavy responsibility for the public safety.
Our predecessors in the Labour Government are only too familiar with this harsh duty when public safety is assailed. It will be remembered that, under the last Government, and in my opinion quite rightly—and this is a statement of fact, not an opinion—a regulation was approved in Malaya—17D is its number—which gives power of detention without trial. At the end of last year, about three or four months after I came to the Colonial Office, the total number of those detained without trial under this regulation, which was approved quite rightly by our predecessors, amounted to no fewer than 2,663 persons. Today, only 462 63 of that number remain, so that the total of 2,663 has become only 63. We have reduced the numbers by more than 2,000. I am only quoting these figures to show that, in these matters, I am as anxious as any hon. Member in any part of the House to see that the minimum number of people are detained upon suspicion without being brought to trial.
Before I leave the Mau Mau, I want hon. Members to realise the appalling ferocity of these crimes. I am having placed in the Library a number of photographs which illustrate these crimes, and, in spite of their horror—and they have what I might describe as a haunting horror—I think it is necessary, in order that hon. Members should see to what depths of bestiality the members of Mau Mau have plunged, that they should go and have a look at them, not as a matter of satisfying mere curiosity.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I have not got the figures with me, but I have made them public. I think the hon. Gentleman will see them in HANSARD. These photographs are not only of one or two crimes, but they include cases of the multilation of cattle.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
That hardly seems to me to be relevant to what I am saying.
I warn hon. Members that, although Kenya is now quiet, the country is not settled, and I think this horrible poison runs pretty deeply through the Kikuyu tribe. The mere arrest of those whom we suspect of having instigated these crimes will not, by itself, be enough to bring Mau Mau to an end, and I see some months of unrest ahead, whether many or few being dependent on whether, in particular, the law-abiding Africans support the Government wholeheartedly and come forward as witnesses where crimes have been committed. It is true to say that the confidence of the law-abiding Africans has shown a marked increase since the arrests, and since a state of emergency has been declared, and even the faint-hearts are now beginning to pluck up their courage.
463 This is the point at which I feel I should pay tribute, as I did when I broadcast, to the restraint shown by Europeans and Asians under great provocation. The imagination of all of us boggles at the idea of what would have happened if they had acted with any less sense of responsibility, or if they had allowed instincts for reprisals to gain the upper hand. In all this, the Kenya Police Reserve, the King's African Rifles, the police and the Lancashire Fusiliers have shown once again the value of discipline and humanity in dealing with these outrages.
This tribute must also be given to those law-abiding Africans, the chiefs and headmen, who, under the threat of murder—and many of them have been murdered—have gone on with their work, with Government work and with cultivating their farms and fields. Even so, it would be idle to underrate the effects upon them of the curses and incantations of witchcraft, which still have a sinister effect. It is very difficult, here in Westminster, to realise the powers of darkness wielded by the witch doctor, which still have a real and terrible potency over the African mind, and that witchcraft is still one of the forces—[Laughter.] I really think that there is little at which to be amused. Anyone who knows something of these matters will know that this is a very serious statement, and I see no reason why it should be greeted with hilarity. I say that the powers of darkness wielded by the witch doctor still have a very terrible potency over the African mind, and no one who has studied these things will deny the force and truth of that statement.
Before turning from this picture of Kenya's present discontent, I wish to state quite clearly that we shall restore freedom from fear to the peoples of Kenya, and I make that statement all the more confidently because of the attitude of hon. Members opposite, who have supported us in what has been done, and for which I thank them. I hope they will continue to support us so that the law-abiding Africans will realise that they are dealing with a united British people.
I now turn to the economic problems which face Kenya, and I do not underrate them. They are serious, and I think few would dissent if I picked out, as I did recently, the three which appeared to me to be most important.
464 First of all, land. The Royal Commission, its Chairman and its terms of reference have been announced. I am hopeful that we shall be able to recommend the names of members of the Commission to Her Majesty quickly enough to secure that it begins its work with the utmost speed.
I think that it is necessary particularly to remind Africans that this survey which deals with the very complicated question of land tenure in particular must necessarily take a long time, perhaps a full year. Those who have had to deal with these matters or have studied them will realise that a false step over land tenure can affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Africans. Impatient as I am and as are all those who have studied the question, we must not jump to conclusions until exhaustive studies have been made.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
Will this-Commission merely deal with the economic problems and not at all with the constitutional problems?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The hon. Member will have seen the terms of reference. The Commission's work lies almost entirely in the economic field. But perhaps it is just worth reminding ourselves what is the idea of examining land tenure. Here is an actual case in my mind now. There is a chief with 43 direct descendants—most of them are his own sons—who is now cultivating about 80 acres of land. Under the present system of tenure, those 80 acres would be divided equally among 43 direct descendants of the chief and one would reach an agricultural unit which would make efficiency of cultivation and good husbandry impossible. But everyone should understand how complicated it is to impose a new system of land tenure on what is, after all, a primitive society.
Perhaps, to give this part of my statement the right balance, I ought to say that my belief is that, whatever one does, there will be one day—there may not be at once—insufficient land with present standards of cultivation to satisfy the needs of the rising population of Kenya. Why is it rising? It is because of improved health which the European and Asian have largely brought, because of the peace and freedom from tribal warfare which British rule have brought and the great achievements in agriculture made possible to the African through the 465 agricultural advisory service. I do not want to go any more deeply into the land question because it is the task of the Royal Commission, but I have tried to put it in as objective a way as I can.
I come now to the question of wages. The feeling has been voiced by Africans, and by others, that with one stroke of the pen we should raise the basic wage all over the country in all industries, and in agriculture in particular, by some given percentage. Thirty per cent. is often mentioned. I am convinced that a sort of overcoat action of that kind would spell economic disaster. I think that wherever the work warrants it higher wages should be paid, and I do not think that they always are paid. But, if hon. Members are inclined to think that one can make a sweeping statement that all wages should be increased, they should revise their views.
Such rises, wherever they could be given, would be evidence to the Africans of the hope, expressed by everyone of all races to whom I talked, that it would be possible to see a higher level of African wages. But there is not only a great difference in the work that is given, but also a great difference in the attitude to work. Everybody familiar with the Kenya scene will know of many instances of extra money offered for overtime and so forth being refused. The African very often places as high a store on leisure as perhaps I do myself.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Exactly. I said just now that one day, whatever we do with regard to productivity or the fertility of the soil, there will be insufficient land to support the rising population of Kenya. The answer to that problem, of course, must lie to some extent in the promotion of local industries. If we are to avoid the well-known pitfalls, those industries should be based first of all on the primary industry of agriculture to which, in Kenya, I would add the building industry, because so many bricks are burned locally that obviously that could be added and put side by side with agriculture.
That is not to say, of course, that other industries should not be encouraged, and we all hope that the Shell Company will in fact build the refinery at Mombasa. There must be also a great increase in the transport 466 available, and we have a very ambitious programme in this direction. It is very little use creating new developments if trade does not flow smoothly afterwards. The railways and harbour administration, under the High Commission, have very far-reaching plans up to the end of 1956 to improve the ports and railways at a cost of about £30 million. This will need a huge volume of equipment from this country and our help in paying for it.
I turn to the third of the economic subjects—though that may be a misnomer—and that is education. If we are to look to higher wages we must look to higher education. It is encouraging, even exhilarating, sometimes touching, to see how largely education looms in the African mind. To him it is the key to the future, and although perhaps he expects more from it than the experiences of our distracted century would seem to justify, nevertheless it should be a binding force to bring the races together as a first thing and it should provide the skill, above all the technical skill, in farm, forest and factory to enable the African to earn higher wages and to live at a higher standard.
I remember my friend the late Oliver Stanley always saying that there is no way to bypass the challenge of the 20th century for the African. The African cannot withdraw into the jungle. He has to come out or go under. In this Continent we have great ambitions for Kenya, and it is indeed sad and frustrating to feel that the present discontent, however good our will, must act in some degree as a brake on this progress. I do not say this with any idea of artificially punishing or restricting economic or social development in Kenya.
Even in the Kikuyu Reserve, as I speak there are many instances of developments proceeding under handicap. But it is important to know from this House that all those who are threatening law and order are doing it at the expense of some progress. I have said, and I repeat, that every pound spent on more troops and more police must be, and it cannot otherwise be, a pound less to spend on the peaceful pursuit and search for prosperity in the Colony.
We have wide plans for the vast territories of Africa, and we want to let everyone know that in Kenya we are not 467 to be turned aside by a band of terrorists. We are in this country to develop it and not to exploit it, to develop it for everyone. Above all, we are in the country to stay. Let there be no doubt about that. We have made great progress already, particularly accelerated since the war, and this for the moment has been retarded.
We shall deal with the terror. We shall restore freedom from fear and we shall restore the Queen's peace. We shall go on building up the country once this emergency is over and the danger is past, and we will do what we can while it exists. We shall go on with our task of helping the races to work together and, if we succeed, new horizons will open up for all three races in Kenya.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman one question? He was referring to the economic aims. Could not something be done immediately about a simple process of taxation? Whereas a White settler pays £11 16s. 6d. per year tax on £900, an African earning 55s. a month pays 25s. poll tax which is 200 per cent. higher. An immediate demonstration of our good will there could do something towards an economic solution.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The hon. Gentleman must study the matter of taxation by and large. Although the number of Europeans and Asians is negligible compared with the total, all the taxation by and large is raised from them.
§ 11.40 a.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I am sure that hon. Members in all parts of the House would like me to thank the Secretary of State for the Colonies for coming to the House after only just returning from an exhausting journey. As one who has had experience of these matters, I have some idea of how exhausting such affairs can be, working from morning till night and travelling by air. We are indeed very glad that the right hon. Gentleman has given us this statement about Kenya this morning.
Before I speak about the problem of Kenya, there are two other matters that I desire to raise. I will mention them only briefly. The first relates to the reference in the Gracious Speech to the fact that at the end of this month we 468 shall have a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I should like to have an opportunity of discussing very fully one day the relationships in particular of those Colonies that are at the half-way stage between a Colony and a self-governing Dominion to these Commonwealth Conferences. There is now in one of them a Prime Minister; there are Ministers, and it is a problem of very great importance which must be examined. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, who is to reply to the debate, will indicate that some consideration is being given to it.
In past years the Colonies have been represented by the Secretary of State or by one of his Ministers. The stage is being reached where these Colonies, which are well on the way towards self-government, with their own Parliaments, Cabinets, Ministers and Prime Ministers, will seek a way of being directly associated with Commonwealth Conferences. This is indeed a problem to which we ought to give consideration.
There is a reference in the Gracious Speech to Central African federation. We have discussed that at considerable length on more than one occasion in the House, and indeed there will be further opportunities of doing so. I content myself this morning with asking three questions to which I hope we may have a reply. I will state these three questions as I have written them down in my notes.
The first question is this. Do the Government propose to make any effort to bring representatives of Europeans and Africans together in Central Africa before the adjourned Conference meets in January? Second, is it proposed to invite the representatives of the Africans from the three Territories to be represented at the Conference in January, and if so, may we be told the terms upon which they will be invited to come?
The third question is this. Have the Government given any consideration to the suggestions, criticisms and modifications that were suggested in the draft scheme in the debate which we recently had in this House? Most of those suggestions, incidentally, came from this side of the House. Have the Government considered them, and is it the Government's intention to propose at the forthcoming 469 Conference any amendment to the draft scheme to seek to meet those objections and criticisms? For the moment, I leave that problem, to which I have no doubt we shall have to return.
I turn to Kenya. Let me say at once, as one who had the privilege and the joy of visiting that country, that what is happening there is indeed a very great tragedy. It is a very great pity it has happened. Our prime duty now, I think, is to find out why it has happened, and to find out the causes. Whether they be directly economic, no great event of this kind can be ascribed to any specific direct causes. We have to find out the indirect underlying causes. I affirm, speaking for myself and for my right hon. and hon. Friends that, faced with a situation of this kind, it is indeed the paramount duty of Her Majesty's Government and of the Government of Kenya—as it is in all the territories for which we have responsibility—to take all the steps that are necessary to restore order and peace. We have supported and continue to support that.
To repeat what I have already said—I shall devote myself to it in some detail—it is very important indeed for us to seek to understand why this has happened, to ascertain the causes and seek to root them out. About the steps that have been taken to deal with the immediate emergency, there are one or two questions that I should like to ask the Secretary of State. It is, of course, essential in circumstances of this kind that the Government shall be clothed with power and with such power as for the time being sets aside the normal processes of law, but all of us regret that those steps have to be taken, and there is on each one of us a duty to watch with vigilance and care how those powers are administered.
We had to take powers of this kind during the war, but all the time we had the advantage of a vigilant House of Commons. We kept watch on them. We developed our own ways of ensuring, so far as that was possible in the circumstances of the war in which we were fighting for our lives, that these extraordinary powers given to the Executive were not abused.
When the Secretary of State announced that a large number of ordinances had been promulgated and had received his 470 approval, I asked him whether he would kindly place copies in the Library, which he has done, and he was also good enough to send the copies of the ordinances, which I have had examined. In the main, they are ordinances which will lapse automatically at the end of a year, and I hope that circumstances in Kenya will have improved to such an extent that we shall be able to remove them long before 12 months have elapsed.
But there are one or two of them which are of a character which, I think, is almost unprecedented and, therefore, I should like to direct particular attention to them. There is, for example, Ordinance No. 35 which makes admissible as evidence statements made on oath by an undisclosed witness, subject to two safeguards: first, that no one shall be convicted on the uncorroborated evidence of a single undisclosed witness; and secondly, that the sentence in such a case is confirmed by the Supreme Court.
The Secretary of State has this morning told us what he had already told the House—namely, the reason it had been found necessary to have an ordinance of this kind which confers enormous and very dangerous powers upon the Executive. The reason given was that witnesses were being terrified. I admit the force of that reason. At the same time, I am very disturbed about this, as I am sure we all are. It is so open to the abuse of victimisation and people venting their spleen on one another. All that is very dangerous indeed. I therefore ask that this be very carefully watched.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I am not sure whether the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned this fact, but convictions by the magistrates' court have all got to be confirmed by the Supreme Court.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I did mention that. I appreciate that the sentence in such a case has to be confirmed by the Supreme Court. What would seem to be one of the weaknesses is that all that the Supreme Court is called upon to confirm is the sentence, and I wonder whether it would be an extra safeguard to ensure that the Supreme Court has power to decide whether it is safe to act upon the corroborated evidence of an undisclosed witness. As I understand the ordinance—the Under-Secretary of State is a lawyer and no doubt can look up the matter—when a case goes to the Supreme Court, 471 the Supreme Court has no authority or jurisdiction to examine whether this evidence has been corroborated. The Supreme Court has to take this as having been proven in the lower courts; all that the Supreme Court can do is to confirm or lower the sentence. I think that such a safeguard would strengthen the position.
Let me make one other suggestion about this to the right hon. Gentleman. The Secretary of State confirms these ordinances. That makes him responsible. He is responsible to the House, and that makes us responsible. It is very important, whilst this emergency lasts and whilst these powers are being used, for us to take every possible step to see that there is no danger of them being abused in such a way as to lessen the authority and prestige of law and the judicial process in Kenya.
I suggest—I hope that the Secretary of State will consider this—that there should go to Kenya, I hope, in the very early future, an all-party delegation from this House, selected from Members with knowledge and experience gained during the war in watching emergency legislation of this kind at work. They might be accompanied by officers who also had some responsibility for administering legislation of this kind. They would be of help and guidance to the Government and the officers in Kenya in administering powers of this kind, and they could report to the House and keep us in touch with what is taking place. I hope that this suggestion will be taken up as seriously as it is made, in a desire to see that while we use these very great powers we take every possible step to see that they are not abused.
There is one other ordinance to which I want to refer and in which I see no relevance to the emergency. Indeed, it is not one of the ordinances which automatically ends in 12 months' time—it is permanent. It is the Societies Ordinance, which gives the Registrar power to issue licences for the formation of societies of persons and makes unlawful any political organisation which does not bear the stamp of approval of the Registrar. Indeed, it goes even further than that. It enables the Registrar to ban existing organisations. This is a permanent ordinance, and I ask the Secretary of State to reconsider it. It has, in my 472 view, no relevance to the existing circumstances that confront Kenya, and it seems to me as if it has just been slipped in during the process of carrying out these emergency regulations.
Let me particularly call attention to one of the provisions in this Societies Ordinance. I hope that this will be noted as being very important, because I want to ask some questions about it. It has been approved by the Secretary of State and by the Government. One of the provisions is that the Registrar may refuse to register a local society where he is satisfied that such local society is a branch of or is affiliated with any organisation or group of a political nature outside the Colony. What has that to do with the emergency? Why has it been put in?
I am proud and privileged to be a member of my own party. It may be that in course of time—I hope so, because political parties are apt to develop and to include members of all races—political parties will be formed in Kenya, as elsewhere in the Colonies, on the lines, it may be, of political parties in our own country—a Labour Party, for instance. My own party is affiliated to a Labour and Socialist International. This ordinance, which is permanent, would prevent any political party or political association in Kenya having any kind of association with a like body anywhere else in the world. I wonder whether this includes the United Nations Association—that is a political body.
We have given our support to all the measures that are necessary, subject to what I have said about the need for our taking care and exercising vigilance, and to the emergency regulations while the emergency lasts, but I give my opinion very definitely that this Societies Ordinance has no relevance to the existing emergency. It is a very dangerous one, and I hope that the Secretary of State will consider withholding his approval and asking for its revocation.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
Will my right hon. Friend enlighten the House, because some of us are not informed upon the matter, by telling us who is the Registrar who has these powers? How is he appointed?
§ Mr. Griffiths
The Registrar will be appointed by the Governor and the 473 Government. He will be a Government official.
The Secretary of State has not spoken about it this morning, but one of the things about which many of us are deeply concerned is why this outbreak caught everybody off guard. It seemed to me that it has done so. I was in Kenya 18 months ago. I never heard a word at all about Mau Mau. On 17th July this year, we had a debate in the House which centred very largely around the problems of Kenya. The Secretary of State and the Minister of State took part in the debate, as did many other hon. Members on both sides of the House. There was no mention of Mau Mau. No one seemed to know of its existence. Indeed, there seemed to be no threat of any trouble whatsoever in Kenya, and yet within a few weeks we have this sudden outbreak, with all its savagery that the Secretary of State has described.
Until June of this year, the Governor of Kenya was Sir Philip Mitchell, with an almost unrivalled knowledge of East Africa and with many years of distinguished service as Governor of Kenya. As far as I know, when he left there seemed to be no hint of any difficulty or trouble. Sir Philip Mitchell was in this country during the whole of the period when this trouble broke out. I do not know whether the Secretary of State saw him and whether his guidance and advice were sought, but this outbreak blew up suddenly. Indeed, even when the officers from the Kenya Government came to see the Secretary of State they gave statements to the Press here which seemed to be reassuring, and then, suddenly, there was this violent outburst of disorder and violence which has created the serious situation which we are discussing today. The Secretary of State has not said anything about that, but it is a matter to which we ought to direct attention.
Before I come to the economic and social problems, I want to say a word about the detentions. It is true, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that we have this power in Malaya. I do not object to his saying what we did when we were in office. I accept full responsibility for what happened in Malaya while I was Secretary of State, but I doubt very much whether it was wise to link up Kenya with Malaya. Are we to convey the 474 impression to the world and to Africa that this is a second Malaya?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The right hon. Gentleman is unjustified in saying that I was linking them up. I merely gave figures on the very narrow point of detention without process of law. I must make it quite clear, as I have done in the past, that I do not draw any general analogy of any kind between the situation in Malaya and that in Kenya.
§ Mr. Griffiths
It is very important that that should be said. As regards the matter of arest and detention, we have not this morning had any statement of the number of those who have been detained, but they are a very large number. I ask the Secretary of State to consider bringing them to trial wherever possible. This is very important. It is much better to bring them to trial, because otherwise there will all the time he the suspicion, particularly in regard to Jomo Kenyatta, that the arrests have been made for political and no other reasons.
The right hon. Gentleman will remember that when he announced that Jomo Kenyatta had been detained, I asked whether he was detained as President of the Kenya African Union or as an individual because it was alleged that he had some association with the activities of Mau Mau. I gathered then that the Secretary of State told us that he was detained because it was alleged that he had—or it was suspected that he had—some association with the activities of Mau Mau. He is a considerable figure of very great influence. For that reason, if he is detained for a period and eventually released without having been brought to trial, without charges having been made against him, without having been found guilty or not guilty, we may be building up a grievance that will last for a long time indeed.
I am sure that the advisers of the Secretary of State, with their very long experience in this field, will indicate to him that from everybody's standpoint such a state of affairs is not desirable. I urge, therefore, knowing all the difficulties, that it is of great importance from every possible standpoint that he and others detained shall be brought to trial.
I pause to say a few words about the Kenya African Union and what the Secretary 475 of State said this morning. It is of the utmost importance that there should be at this time men in authority of a responsible political organisation to which Africans can look for leadership. I ask every Member of the House to realise what will happen if we are to leave these millions of Africans without an organisation, without leaders, with no one to whom to look. Have we not learned the lesson? Who is it who fills vacuums in the world? This is of great importance. We ought to do all we can to see that this vacuum is filled at once.
I read with great pleasure—indeed it is one of the few things that have given pleasure in what has been the tragic story of Kenya—the statement made by Mr. Odede—I hope I am pronouncing his name correctly. I try to pronounce these names as if they were Welsh, and I find that I am generally right. That is an advantage of the Welsh tongue as compared with the poorer English language.
Mr. Odede, the new President of the Kenya African Union, has made a statement which is quoted in the newspapers today. He not only repudiates Mau Mau, he refers to the fact that there are unscrupulous people who use Mau Mau. Those are courageous words for a man to use in the circumstances which exist in Kenya. He makes certain suggestions, he puts forward certain proposals, he may make certain demands.
I urge very strongly indeed that the Secretary of State should think twice and thrice before he proscribes the Kenya African Union, in view of this statement and the offer of help by the President, as announced in the Press this morning. Suppose the next thing that happened was that the Union were proscribed and banned. To whom could the Africans then turn? Who, then, would lead them and advise them?
The task of leadership of the Kenya African Union undertaken by Mr. Odede is shown in the statement reported today of what he proposes to do and intends to do. His statement is that of a real, courageous leader. He deserves our support, encouragement and moral backing. It may indeed be the turning point if we give this new leader our backing. I urge the Secretary of State very strongly to do that.
476 I urge the right hon. Gentleman to consider one other thing. I can quite understand that public meetings have to be banned for a period, but I should like to see opportunities given to this new President of the Kenya African Union to visit, advise and speak to the Africans, to steady them and rally them and create that confidence that can come to people only if they feel that they belong to an organisation in which they can put their trust.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that, if he reads the statement of Mr. Odede, he will see that Mr. Odede agrees that public meetings should not immediately be restored? That is part of the statement.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I know; I accept at once that he says that, but all I am asking is that, supposing next week or the week after he asks to be allowed to address public meetings, consideration should be given to that when the time arrives.
I come to the economic and social problems, and I should like to begin with a reference to the Royal Commission. I hope that the members will be appointed very soon, and that the Commission will begin its work at once. I urge the Secretary of State to consider the importance of appointing members of non-European races to the Royal Commission. My own view is that the effectiveness of the Royal Commission will be largely determined by the reaction to the names when they are published. If the names inspire confidence that there is to be a thorough, fair, full and competent investigation, the Royal Commission will not only start its work with a great advantage, but the very announcement of the names can be a steadying influence in East Africa.
On the other hand, if the names create disappointment, the Royal Commission will lose that steadying influence, and even the effectiveness of what it may report in 12 months, or two years' time might be lost. I hope, therefore, that the Secretary of State will consider very carefully indeed—I hope that this will be the desire among Members in every part of the House—the importance of the names of the Royal Commission carrying conviction and confidence to the people of all races in Africa.
477 The Secretary of State has paid tribute, as I do also, to the Europeans, Asians, Arabs and Africans for the steadiness which the large masses of all races have shown. The large mass of Africans, if I may use that phrase, are on our side, not on the side of Mau Mau. How very important it is, then, that the names of the Royal Commission shall instil confidence and hope. I leave that point with the Secretary of State, together with another point that I wish to mention about the Royal Commission.
It has a big task; it has to cover East Africa. It is obvious that it should be given time to make a thorough investigation and make a report which may prove to be the foundation of the future building up of all these territories in East Africa. But there are urgent problems, and I should like the right hon. Gentleman to consider, with the Chairman of the Royal Commission, whether it might not be possible for the Commission to concentrate on some of the more urgent problems in Kenya and to consider the desirability and practicability of issuing an interim report on some of the most urgent problems, and then go on to consider the longer-term problems.
I turn to the problems themselves and the underlying causes. I shall not quibble over words with the Secretary of State about whether Mau Mau and its activities and the outbreak of violence are directly due to economic conditions. I notice that he said in Nairobi, if he was reported correctly, that it was the work of what he called common or garden agitators. I do not know what that phrase means.
I have the very great privilege of having some responsibility in a trade union, and, if the House will permit a personal allusion, I should like to recall some advice given to me at the outset of my work. There are people who exploit every grievance. Of course, there are agitators—and they are not always on the Left. We may call them by other names when they come from the Right. I have known employers take advantage of opportunities as well as others. I always acted on this sound advice given to me by my old chief when I started my work. He told me, "My boy, if there is trouble, if there is a strike, do not be led away by the fact that someone used the opportunity to exploit it. Find out why he was able to induce the men to do it. The main thing is not to find the agitator 478 but why it was possible for him to agitate people. Always get to the underlying causes."
It is important for us to recognise the truth of that. The right hon. Gentleman says that unscrupulous people have exploited this situation—but there was something to exploit. It is the something which they have exploited that we must find out.
I wish to mention three problems. I spoke about them on 11th July. Here are the three: land hunger; the rootless proletarians in the towns; race relationships. About each of these I should like to say a few words.
First, land hunger. The Secretary of State was right—the problems of land hunger are to some extent accentuated by the progress we have made in the development of our social services. I have said it elsewhere—I said it at our conference the other day—that in these under-developed areas of the world, where two-thirds of the human race live, the fact of the matter is that progress in modern medicine and the development of social services is saving lives quicker than we are developing resources to feed the mouths. No one can go, as the Secretary of State has been, as I have been, as some other hon. Members have been, to see this problem without realising that here is a problem indeed. I called it the explosive racial mixture when I spoke in July. It still is. Indeed, it is a very urgent problem.
The Secretary of State today said, "Look at this land, divided up by primitive custom, cultivated by primitive methods of agriculture, with the standard of life forever going down. The soil gives less and less, and the number of mouths gets more and more, and there is serious overcrowding." It is a very difficult problem indeed. I urge—and I can only repeat what I said in the debate in July—that there should be the most rapid acceleration of plans for the spreading of proper methods of cultivation. Let us stick to that and carry it out with ever greater speed. That is the way to answer Mau Mau—not to fall back, but to go on.
That is the first thing. The second is that there must be more adequate provision of agricultural credits there, to which I attach very great importance. It is arguable, but I think myself that it is 479 very important. I have heard hon. Members—on both sides of the House, I think—say that what we have to do is to make a move from peasant subsistence agriculture to new farming. My own view is that I do not think that that is the immediate solution, and I will give my reasons why.
The Secretary of State talked about persons dividing up the land in little strips. That is the primitive custom and tradition, which is very deep, and all of us know perfectly well that if we violently upset the old primitive conditions and customs on the land, we get into trouble. Here is a problem. At the same time we cannot stop still, doing nothing. We must help. How can we, therefore, introduce better methods without immediately disturbing the old, primitive system of owning the land? There is only one answer—co-operative producers.
I had the very great privilege of going to Uganda, and I found there that the African cotton producers for years had had a grievance. They provided the cotton while another race owned the gins. They wanted to go into the ginning part of the process. How were they to get in? The Uganda Government purchased 25 gins to be made available to co-operative producers and enable them to make a start as ginners.
I am very certain that through co-operation it will be possible to link up smaller pieces of land into that larger area which is required for the introduction of better methods of cultivation, and without immediately disturbing the primitive methods of holding, to which the Africans are deeply attached and to upset which would result in another Mau Mau. I therefore urge that this should be done.
There is another thing I see in this morning's papers—that the European elected Members have suggested that the Kikuyu Reserve should be treated as a special area. With that I agree, if we mean that it is to be treated as having special problems, as we have treated Development Areas and Special Areas at home; but I hope that the Secretary of State will reject the suggestion that was made that in this special area the provincial commissioner should be endowed with special powers. That, I think, would 480 be a very grave mistake indeed. In whatever we do we shall be successful only if we evoke the co-operation of the Africans themselves, and I hope that that will be borne in mind.
Now let me say a word or two about this problem of the rootless proletarians. One of the consequences of overcrowding on the land is that the Africans are drifting away from the land. There is no livelihood. So they drift away into the towns—thousands of them into Nairobi. How many unemployed Africans are there in that city? Would it be too much to say 10,000?—living on their wits; driven from the land because it is overcrowded; going into the town to try to get a livelihood.
They are going in large numbers, but even Nairobi, with all its development—an amazing chapter in the African story it is, when we compare the present size of Nairobi with what it was only 50 years ago—even Nairobi with all its development cannot absorb them all. So they are torn from the soil, they are torn from their tribe and from their chief—homeless, jobless, living on their wits, an easy prey to crime. I hope very much that really urgent steps will be taken to deal with this problem, for it is of the greatest importance and the greatest urgency.
Finally, there is the problem of race relationships. How very glad I was to hear from the Secretary of State and to read today of the statement made by the European elected Members that they stand by the agreement into which they and I entered when I was in Kenya 18 months ago. There have been other voices. I am glad that those other voices have not prevailed. I am glad they are sticking to the agreement. I understand that at the moment in these circumstances a meeting may prove futile and fruitless, and, indeed, may be a disaster; but I urge that at some time a conference of all the races to consider their constitutional development in future should meet—as soon as the moment becomes appropriate.
I should not like to tie myself to a date, but I would say that, when it becomes appropriate, a gesture of that kind would go a long way to restore some racial harmony in Kenya. I hope, too, that members of all the races will realise how very important it is that they should seek to come together more frequently than they do.
481 The Secretary of State said that he thought this Mau Mau movement was an anti-European and an anti-Christian movement. Let me say this about this great Continent of Africa, with all its problems and all its worries. We took civilisation to Africa. Once we started, there was no going back. The African cannot go back to the jungle. I am sure the Secretary of State will agree with me that he should not be driven back, either. We cannot stop, once we start this process. It may take a long time to reach, and there will be set-backs—this is a dreadful set-back—but once we start, once we take Christianity there, there is only one end. What other end can there be to Christianity except that all men are equal? We took a new teaching to Africa. We must seek to live up to it. Better not take it than not live up to it. We cannot live up to it in a day or a month or a year, but we must show we are on the way.
I have talked to some of these Europeans, and I realise that these European farmers are isolated, far away from this island, from their wives and their families. I have been thinking of them as well as of others, and it has been as terrifying for me as it has been for planters in Malaya, living far away, in areas with no telephone and no post office, with no policemen nearby, surrounded by all this. I have talked to them, and I have every sympathy and a great regard for them. They have their rights, too.
I remember saying to them one day at the close of the evening, "Please think 50 years ahead." When the whites came to Kenya 50 years ago—and when I say "whites" I do so not with offence but with respect—Africa was the bush, primitive, savage, with witch doctors. Now we have had a going back, as the Secretary of State has described it.
On the other hand, one sees the other African, as I saw him. One day I went to Makarere College and spoke to African students. It was exactly like speaking to university students anywhere else; there were the same questions and the same political arguments. Two days afterwards I was in Nyanza Province and saw dances in the bush. In 24 hours we moved thousands of years and saw the two types of Africans. There are the Africans in the bush, but there are also the Africans in the study room.
482 I said to Europeans, to Asians and others, to all of them, "Please remember in another 50 years' time your grandchildren will live with a different kind of African. Our mission will have brought success and he will be civilised. We hope that at that time he will have built his own democratic institutions, and how they behave to each other in 50 years' time will depend upon the memories which you leave to your children now."
I plead that at a time like this, when the tendency is to throw up one's hands and say one is defeated, that we should say, "No, we are not defeated. We will put this terror down. We will take all steps to put it down, but we shall not be diverted from our goal, which is to build in all these territories democratic institutions to take their place in this Commonwealth."
§ 12.23 p.m.
§ Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)
I am sure that I am speaking for my hon. and right hon. Friends, and for many hon. and right hon. Members opposite, when I say that we welcome very much the point of view expressed by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and the support which he has given to the policy and action taken by the Secretary of State. I think that nothing is more important at the present time than that it should be seen, not only in this country but also in Africa, that this House of Commons is united in its determination to do two things.
One is to prevent Africa or any part of Africa from losing opportunities for advance and progress and the betterment of life there owing to the sudden and, apparently, irrational outbreak of violence and crime which will do, and perhaps has done, great damage to the prospects of the future. And not only that, but at the same time it should be seen that we are uniting in ensuring that that continent is free from fear for the future, and determined to take any action which is necessary to achieve that end.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Llanelly in saying that what is most important at the present time is that we should get the diagnosis of the problem correct, because if we fail to get that diagnosis correct, then I see no reason why we can expect to take the right action to prevent it for the future. What is the problem that lies behind the Mau Mau? I think that any hon. Member 483 would be more than normally courageous to pretend, even though he has had a lifetime of experience in Africa, that he understands fully the working of the African mind, and it is with the greatest sense of diffidence that I would put forward any explanation at all.
I suggest that what has happened in the Kikuyu tribe is that there has been literally a mental breakdown on the part of a large section of it, and that the reason for that mental breakdown is twofold. On the one hand, as the Secretary of State has said, a nostalgia for a past which, as is so often the case, has been glorified and embellished by stories that very often bear little relationship to the realities of the past. On the other hand, it is because of the strain upon the minds, point of view and loyalties of this tribe, due to the impact of their experiences during the war years and the impact of many influences from outside that continent and country which have come as a result of contact with Western civilisation.
The Secretary of State has mentioned the problem of urbanisation and the problem of changing over from subsistence agriculture to that of wage employment. There is the problem, too, of the defeat and break-up of their old tribal religions, of paganism, with its sinister and dark background on the one hand, and their inability to accept and, on many occasions, to make the right interpretation of the moral code and faith of Christianity.
This mental breakdown, therefore, must be understood as something that is particularly and peculiarly African. After all, this is not the first time when an example of this breakdown has been seen, because we were warned some months ago—indeed, some years ago—not only that the Mau Mau existed in a relatively quiescent form, but that a similar type of organisation, the Dini ya Msambwa, had caused violence and crime in a different part of Africa. There is undoubtedly a connection psychologically between those two movements. Therefore, we have got to be prepared for the same sort of reaction to happen with others.
What is vitally important—and I hope the whole House would agree with this—is that when this strange collapse of the structure of the African mind takes place, usually on a tribal basis, we should 484 do everything possible to help and encourage the moderate and responsible members and representatives of the African tribe to defeat that slide-back into barbarism themselves. An attempt was made, for instance, about five or six years ago by Government action to prevent certain practices which were contrary to Christian religion and contrary to our ideas of ethics and civilisation among the African tribes. This action was defeated primarily because of the impossibility of getting the willing co-operation of responsible Africans.
In my view, it is quite clear that the responsible African leaders in this case are not so much those who have achieved, in one way or another, positions in organisations like the Kenya African Union. Responsible African leaders are the acknowledged elders of the tribes, the chiefs who are appointed by the people themselves, or who are appointed by the Government as the result of their long and loyal service to African affairs in the tribal areas.
It is not right, in my view, for the right hon. Gentleman to hold out as a single example of leadership within the African people the members or organisers of any particular political group or union, because the real leaders are the men who have carried the burden of responsibility in the tribal areas, many of whom have been the target of the assassin and the murderer because of their loyalty and responsibility in the past.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I singled out the Kenya African Union because the Secretary of State made reference to it. Of course, there are other leaders and organisations which are very important, and I know them and have a great regard for them.
§ Mr. Alport
I am very glad to have that interruption from the right hon. Gentleman because it is most important that we should establish and maintain the responsibility of African leadership which it has been our policy to build up and train over the last 50 years in East Africa and for a longer period elsewhere.
Let me turn, therefore, to the other suggestion as to a possible diagnosis of this problem. It was, I think, put by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) in an article which I prefer not to comment upon, except to say that his diagnosis, so far as I can make out 485 from that article, was that it was due to poverty; but he knows as well as I do that poverty has been the story of centuries in Africa, that poverty has been the experience of African people ever since the beginning of time, and that it is quite wrong and quite inaccurate to suppose that these particular occurrences are due to poverty. Poverty is known in Africa and has been the experience of every individual there right back into history, and now suddenly to come and blame this outbreak on the existence of poverty bears neither any relationship to fact nor is it a responsible point of view.
§ Mr. Wigg
I assure the hon. Member that my diagnosis is not exclusively based on the argument of poverty. If I am fortunate enough to catch the eye of Mr. Speaker, I intend to prove to the House and, I hope, to the country, that a large measure of the responsibility for what is happening in East Africa lies in the incompetence of the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Alport
I do not propose to refer in detail to the vituperative and irresponsible article of the hon. Member for Dudley, because it is quite clear that it was written from ignorance, and I do not want to be drawn into a personal discussion of the merits of his case and particularly of the merits of the action taken by my right hon. Friend. All that I can say in reply to him is that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly, whom we take to be the authoritative and the authentic voice of his party on these matters, has supported by right hon. Friend in the action which he has taken, and that, we feel, is the real view of the party opposite.
It is perfectly clear, therefore, as the Secretary of State has said, that the problem of the Mau Mau is not due to economic forces. That will not on this side of the House, or in the House as a whole, prevent us from doing our best in every circumstance to improve the standard of living in Africa as a whole. We will not allow action such as we have seen demonstrated by the Mau Mau to prevent us from carrying out what we believe to be a vital social task. After all, this is a task to which we set ourselves not only in this generation but in previous generations in the colonisation and development of Africa.
We shall also find, as indeed we are finding, in the process that new social 486 problems arise, and I believe that there is only one way of dealing with these social problems. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly to say, "Look 50 years ahead", but as the late Lord Keynes said, "In the long run we all die", and what we have to do in Africa is to try and deal with each social problem as we see it arising. We shall have our work cut out in dealing with them without thinking in too much detail of what will be the position in 10, 20 or 50 years' time.
No one in this House, I think, at present fails to realise the problem of urbanisation in Africa. It is not a problem of Nairobi alone, but of the West Coast and Central Africa, and even South Africa, for that matter. A most valuable speech, made by the Bishop of Johannesburg quite recently, seemed to apply not only to the difficulties of that great city but might apply equally to Nairobi.
We have to find some way of coping with this problem—the problem of the great masses of Africans being drawn, not because of unemployment in the reserves or lack of foodstuffs in the reserves, but being drawn as by a magnet, as our own people in this country were drawn in the last century, to the towns from the country, by the excitement of the urban life in contrast with the placid and uninteresting life of the rural areas.
That is something which will go on. I believe that one of the great advantages in the proposal, which I have only seen in outline, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly has seen it—the proposal of the leader of the elected Members in the Kenya Legislature that the Kikuyu reserve should be treated as a special area—is that it will not only include treating this problem in a special way, because it is a special problem, but will try to ensure, in the sense in which the right hon. Gentleman referred to it, that that is an area to which should be drawn industry, as being near to the place in which the Africans live, so that it does not cause the Africans to live out of their area and go into the urban districts.
If that is the sense in which, as I believe, Mr. Blundell referred to his idea of the Kikuyu reserve becoming a special area, I think that there is an immense amount of constructive work to be done along those lines. I hope that my right hon. Friend will take advantages of the 487 suggestion and imagination of Mr. Blundell in this case.
I hope that it will not be thought that this is merely a problem of the Kikuyu. This problem is not confined to one tribe, it touches all tribes in Kenya—the Kamba, the Luo, the Nasai—who are looking on the Kikuyu problem as a test case. We must insure that their level-headedness, which, indeed, has been very remarkable in this period, is not forgotten in the future. They must be shown that their problems are really understood, and that the Government are prepared to take action to help them, equally with the action that is taken to attempt to help and settle the Kikuyu area.
I said earlier on that I believed that the most important thing is that we should get the diagnosis right. We have in this House agreed fully to support—I think that I am interpreting the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly correctly—the action taken by the Government in order to maintain law and order in Kenya at the present time. We realise that it will be the subject of criticism from various quarters. I hope that in no circumstances will that criticism be allowed to deflect us from our intention of restoring law and order in Kenya.
I noticed, and I was surprised to notice, that some very critical remarks were made on this action by Mr. Nehru, and I think that it is only right that we should remember when there is criticism of this sort that in fact in India at the present moment there are many more people in confinement without trial than there are in any other part of the British Commonwealth. There may be perfectly just reasons for that, and I am sure that there are, but frankly it is not right that the Indian Government should criticise us in circumstances which, they must know perfectly well, give us every justification for taking the action which has been taken.
This is a debate which will range over the whole sphere of colonial problems. I would merely say one word on a subject which affects not only Kenya but other parts of Africa. I believe with great sincerity that many of the problems of Africa at the present time arise from the existence of a spiritual vacuum amongst the millions of people in that continent. 488 That spiritual vacuum can only be replaced and filled by Christianity. It is vitally important that we should realise that this assault which has taken place on Western civilisation in Kenya—by a group which we call Mau Mau—is primarily anti-Christian.
The development of British and European rule and administration in Africa is esential if the mission of Christianity to fill the spiritual vacuum to which I have referred is to be fulfilled. When considering the various types of African nationalism which appear in various parts of that continent we must therefore be very careful to make certain that they are not cover for an attempt to destroy the moral progress which Africa is undoubtedly making with the help of the Christian missions in Africa. Those spokesmen of the Churches who, on various grounds, have opposed Central African federation are doing a great disservice to the Christian objective in Africa.
I am extremely interested and encouraged to realise that they do not fully represent the opinion of organised Christianity. I now realise that the leading representative of the Methodist missions in the Rhodesias is a strong supporter of federation. I also realise that the Church of England—and I have very good evidence for saying this—is in favour of federation. The Scottish Churches, which have played a big part in the missionary effort in Nyasaland, are beginning to alter their view, which was opposed to federation, and are now more in favour of it.
This point should be properly understood, because the Churches have a great part to play in the future of Africa. They can help as much with dealing with the problems of Mau Mau as with those of urbanisation in other parts of that country. Indeed, they have an essential part to play, and the fact that I seemed to see their influence being used against the progress and development of Central Africa struck me with great alarm. I realise now that my impression was wrong, and the fact that leading spokesmen of the Churches are behind federation surely gives us encouragement and a new prospect of bringing to a successful conclusion what, to me, is an essential enterprise in the development of Africa when the Conference meets next year to consider the draft scheme.
§ 12.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
I join my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) in expressing sympathy with those people of every race, including our own, who are confronting this appalling problem in Kenya, and I express my admiration particularly for the public servants who are going about in danger of their lives and are still doing their duty fearlessly.
I agree with my right hon. Friend that we should not be deterred in our policy by this Mau Mau outbreak, and that we should go ahead even though our efforts to improve the position in Kenya are hampered for the time being by these terrible outrages. Some people have said that Mau Mau was not heard of until recently. That is not correct. Mau Mau was prominent in 1950. With other secret societies, it has existed for years. The existence of these secret societies was well known.
The other day, at Question time, I asked why Mau Mau had suddenly sprung into action at this moment. I asked what it was that had caused these outbreaks. They came along suddenly in various districts. Was it because of inspiration from outside? I should like the Under-Secretary to give us an answer to that question because, as the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) said, it is very necessary to diagnose the cause of this disorder.
Anyone who has lived among primitive peoples knows that one cannot deal with them or judge them in the same way as if they were educated and advanced people. At one time in my life I was connected with Nigeria, and I remember an extraordinary case which occurred there. A secret society, not for political but for religious ends, decided that a child must be sacrificed and murdered. The members of the society drew lots, and it fell to one man to murder his own child. He did so much against his will, as was proved by the evidence. He was tried and convicted for murder and sentenced to death, but the Governor of the Colony at that time—Sir Hugh Clifford—gave him a reprieve, and I gather that after three or four years in prison the unfortunate man was released. Technically that man was guilty of murder, but morally it would be hard to say that he was. He was just an ignorant 490 man, a member of a secret society, and he had to carry out the rules of that society in which he believed completely.
I am shocked at the awful atrocities committed by Mau Mau, but to some extent I have pity for the rank and file who carry out these atrocities. What I want to know is why it has not been possible to get at the ring-leaders. Is it because the whole thing is so secret and the oath so binding that the Government cannot get any evidence against them? The ringleaders in this well organized conspiracy must be well educated and competent people. They cannot be primitive people. Who are they? Why has it not been possible to find out who they are and to give them their deserts? It is on them and not on their unfortunate dupes that justice should fall with a heavy hand.
The debate today has ranged over the subject of the motive behind these Mau Mau outbreaks. As the hon. Member for Colchester said, we must try to diagnose this motive as best we can. In recent years, especially since the end of the war, there seems to have been a revolt against white rule all over the coloured world. In the last few years one quarter of the world's population from Eastern races in Indonesia, India. Ceylon, Syria and the Arab States have revolted against white rule and have freed themselves from the tutelage of the white peoples. Naturally that has had an enormous repercussion in other parts of the coloured world.
We are told that one of the intentions of Mau Mau is to get the Europeans out of Kenya. I have no doubt that that is correct. That is part of the colour problem and part of the colour feeling which is as deep as life. That seems to me to be the principal reason. As the last speaker said, the Africans have known poverty in the past which was far greater than it is now. Poverty has always existed there. I have no doubt that poverty is only one of the underlying and numerous causes of these outbreaks.
This Mau Mau has made the people of this country more conscious of this terrible racial and colour problem than it has ever been before. Today we have heard from the Colonial Secretary, as well as from others, the attempts that are being made in Kenya and elsewhere 491 to improve the material lot of the people. By all means go ahead, but the problem is terrific. I said three years ago in this House that it is terrifying, because the problem is not merely to lift the standard of living of these people, but to keep them alive. We have 80 million odd people in our dependencies, and many of them are on the subsistence level and many of them below it. Haw are we going to remedy that sort of thing?
The population problem is dreadful. It is not merely that the West have introduced medical treatment to these primitive peoples, but there is their extraordinary fertility. They have various religious customs in connection with this. The Mohammedans have polygamy. We know what that means to the birth rate and population problems. I do not know of anybody I have ever met, including many colonial administrators, who can see a way out. When we were in India we realised that the population problem was a great task for the Administration. We did not solve it, and the population under our rule went up from 150 million to 400 million. It is still growing much more rapidly than when the rate was 150 million.
Now Mr. Nehru set up a Commission to go into the problem. They have reported, and their report is the same as those reports which the British Administration produced in other years. It agrees that the population question is terrifying, and Mr. Nehru has recommended birth control. Any one who knows the religious customs of India would agree that it is a brave man who recommends birth control to its people.
The debate today has turned on the material side of this problem, and there has been some consideration of the material remedies to be applied. I venture to suggest that even though we carry out material schemes for the improvement of education and the lot of the people in these territories, it will not solve this question. Anyone who has lived in these countries knows that this colour question is profound and that though we may give the people material improvements and better living, they are still wedded to the one idea of getting rid of white rule. It is a political problem, and if the political problem is not solved there will be no peace no matter what material prosperity we bring.
492 In that connection, I go back to a country where there was no colour problem. In the second part of the 19th century the British tried to kill Home Rule in Ireland by kindness. Money was spent on all sorts of improvements, and various successive governments in those days became much more lenient and abolished a lot of abuses which then existed. It had no effect because the people wanted Home Rule, and we know the sequel. That occurred in a country where there was no colour problem, between the English and the Irish. Yet nothing was solved until the constitutional question was tackled.
What machinery have we got for tackling this constitutional problem in the Colonies? The Colonial Office carries on as best it can, and then when some trouble arises a Royal Commission is appointed. Sometimes it is too late and sometimes it is time enough, but the problem is not looked on by any expert body at all. Commissions ad hoc are appointed from time to time, and I suggest that that is not the right way to do it. The problem exists and it has got to be solved.
The proper way to administer a Colony is not to deal with the problems as they occur. We have to do that, but we have got to do more than that. We must exercise imagination and foresight and prevent the big troubles occurring. These troubles will occur unless in all the Colonies provision is made to solve constitutional problems, either quickly or gradually, according to their state of advancement.
What is the general policy of all parties in this House? It is, gradual advance to self-government. That sounds very well until we examine it. Take the question of the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya. The tribe numbers one million people, or one-fifth of the total population of that Colony. They are the most politically advanced of the lot. Are we going to give self-government to the Kikuyu tribe alone, or to all Kenya? We have set up boundaries where formerly they did not exist, as for instance in Kenya, part of which was in Uganda at one time, and then there are the Rhodesias, and other territories too where we have carved out boundaries and changed them from time to time.
Having established these Colonies, our proposal is to give them self-government 493 gradually. That is all very well, but these countries consist of plural societies, and the problem of dealing with plural societies is very difficult. We meet the same problem in Malaya, where there are Chinese and Malays, and it also exists in various Colonies elsewhere. The problem of devising constitutional advance under those circumstances is one of the most difficult things to do, but it has got to be done.
Again, if we look around our colonial possessions, we see little Colonies dotted here and there over the seven seas. There is a little township like Aden, or a group of islands like the Seychelles. According to the policy of all parties here, it is our desire to give them self-government as quickly as possible. Are we going to give self-government to the Seychelles with a population of 30,000 or 40,000? Are we going to set up a Dominion there, or even an independent state with its own navy, army and air force, a House of Lords and a House of Commons? The whole question has not been gone into, but it has got to be solved, because it is my conviction that no matter what we do economically we will not give any satisfaction to the many peoples concerned until they see that the constitutional problem of each territory is being tackled.
Again, look at the theory of self-government for all these territories, big or small. Supposing that self-government came to any one of them, even the biggest, and if we leave, who succeeds us? Communist imperialism is now the pseudo-champion of all coloured peoples and is ready to move in, though not in the crude way that Hitler did with tanks and men, but through boring from within. Therefore, any Commission which goes to examine this great constitutional question is faced with a most difficult task, but it has got to be solved.
Then again, in all these Colonies there are some people who have been educated and who now are dissatisfied. Naturally they wish to rule themselves. Some of them are genuine patriots and deserve the good wishes of everyone. Others are self-seekers who do the maximum amount of mischief and hope, through that mischief, to climb to positions of power.
Let us consider the question, in Tanganyika, of the Wumuru Tribe who were not able to live on the land which had 494 been allocated to them. They were in a dreadful state, so the Government decided to move them—it is quite a common thing for tribes in Africa to be moved—to a reserve which, I believe, was twice the size of the one they lived in. The Government tried to make it a pleasant place and laid out great expenditure on it, such as a regular water supply, which in the drier parts of Africa is a godsend. This new reserve was far superior to anything they had ever known, and their material needs were met in a way which was never anticipated before. What happened?
There was a body called the Moru Citizens' Union, which set up opposition for the whole of the scheme which was for the good of the Wumuru people. The Government had to bring in an ordinance and pass it to effect compulsory removal of this tribe to the new area. Those are the sort of pseudo champions we have got to deal with, and they will spring up and do mischief unless some sort of constitutional procedure is arrived at for each and every Colony.
I suggest, therefore, that now that public conscience has been awakened by this Mau Mau business and the people of this country have been led by recent happenings to realise the existence of these Colonies and their problems, the time is ripe for the setting up of Commissions, one for each territory concerned—not all at once, of course—to examine the constitutional problems of each Colony on the spot. The Commission should be composed, as my right hon. Friend said, not merely of people sent out from this country, but of a few people from this country who have a thorough knowledge of the colour question and who, preferably, have lived in some of those countries, and in addition local people of every race.
Such a Commission should not go out to work in a leisurely fashion and take a couple of years in carrying out their task and making recommendations. They should have a five-day week and keep at the thing and not drop it as they come up against, as they are bound to do, seemingly intractable problems. It should be a full-time Commission and, if it is difficult to get people of the requisite ability, I suggest that they be paid. I know that it has been the custom sometimes to send people on dangerous missions and to undertake to pay something to their 495 widows if they are killed in their task. The time has come when these people, with their valuable knowledge and great ability, should be paid, if necessary, in order that the proper people should be sent.
Another item of our policy of self-government is equal rights for all civilised men. This is one of the keys to the settlement of the constitutional problems in Africa. It is a Cecil Rhodes dictum. I think that it is the right policy to adopt, but it is idle to think of giving votes to primitive people when they do not understand the meaning of the vote. As people become educated, however, and not as they acquire property, they should have the vote and get the same rights as those who are equally well or better educated.
Our policy of partnership also is a good one. We know that several leading Africans advocate African rule for Africans. They want to impose a black colour bar instead of the white colour bar which is imposed in South Africa. Our policy is partnership, and it will be very difficult to draw up a constitution for any of these territories unless real partnership can be established between black, white and brown. But unless this is done, there be not be peace in the Colonies.
That leads me to the machinery at home. At home, there is the Colonial Office, and overseas we have the Governor and his staff. In modern times, the Governor and his staff are very overworked. There is so much pressing business going on that they do not have time to attend to the bigger things, such as the overhaul of the constitutional system in the Colonies. At home—I have worked in the Colonial Office—the Ministers hardly have time to eat their meals. They cannot attend to these things, which require weeks and months of patient work in order to try to hammer out a policy. I urge, therefore, that in addition to sending out the Commissions, there is need for reexamination of the whole system at home.
One hon. Member has referred to Colonies which are halfway houses between democratic and bureaucratic government. That is true, and they are moving every day, yet at home they are divided between the Colonial Office and 496 the Commonwealth Relations Office. Most of the problems arising in the Colonies and Dominions are of the same kind, and in my opinion all these overseas territories should be administered by one Department.
Take, for instance, the sterling area problems. These are not divided according to whether a country has democratic or bureaucratic government—they are intermingled. Everyone who knows the importance of Malaya in the sterling area problems realises how important that country is to Canada and to the rest of us. Similarly with defence. Not one of these Colonies could attempt to defend itself. The people who are asking for self-government never give a thought to defence. They expect us some how or other to defend not only the whole world, generally, but to defend them, particularly. The defence problem is common both to Colonies and to Dominions.
As far as the backward areas are concerned, it is obvious that if anything is to be done economically, there must be a great expenditure of capital. This is not a problem concerning one individual Colony or Dominion vis-à-vis a Colony. It affects the whole of the British Commonwealth and Empire, and even more than that. It is necessary, therefore, to tackle this constitutional problem on the spot by expert Commissions, and I suggest to the Colonial Secretary that it is high time to consider also the machinery at home for dealing with these vast and troublesome problems.
§ 1.7 p.m.
§ Mr. William Teeling (Brighton, Pavilion)
We have all listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid), who has put forward some extremely constructive suggestions for the future. Whether they can be dealt with immediately is another matter, and I hope that the hon. Member will forgive me if I do not myself go into them now except to say one thing. He said that he could not understand why we had not got hold of prominent ring leaders in regard to Mau Mau and had them arrested. I suggest it is quite possible that some of the brains behind the organisation are not actually in Kenya or even within the British Empire. Therefore, it is not entirely our responsibility to arrest them.
§ Mr. T. Reid
Can the hon. Member suggest who outside the British Empire is responsible for starting this trouble? Has he any definite knowledge?
§ Mr. Teeling
I shall come to that. Besides my right hon. Friend who has just returned from Kenya, I think I am the only Member of Parliament who has been there within the last three or four weeks and is now back in this country. I am even one ahead of my right hon. Friend in that I have had a long talk with Mr. Jomo Kenyatta, and that only a few days before he was arrested.
Whether Mr. Jomo Kenyatta was telling me one thing and would, perhaps, have told the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) something else, I do not know. At any rate, the whole tone of the debate—and, I am sure, of all the efforts that are being made in Kenya—is to bring about peace amongst everybody there as quickly as possible. Therefore, I should like to say what Mr. Kenyatta said to me. It is of interest that he said it in the presence of Mr. Mathu, who is still the most prominent African Member of the Legislative Council.
Mr. Kenyatta interested me particularly when, to start with, he assured me that he was quite convinced that the whites had come to stay in Kenya, and must stay in Kenya as well as the Asians. Furthermore, he said that as far as he was concerned, he was not against the White Highlands remaining as a white area as long as all that area was developed by the the whites. He was quite definite on that. He was equally frank in saying that he had been in Moscow and had been there for some time, but was not convinced that the system of Russia was in any way suitable for Kenya.
I remember Mr. Mathu interrupting and saying that, after all, the only thing the Kenya Africans know about is democracy, that it was the only thing they had ever tried in their country, and that therefore they must go on working on those lines. Both of them stressed the fact that they considered there was outside influence working in the organisation of the Mau Mau. They pointed out, as the hon. Gentleman has himself just pointed out, how efficiently it is run in many ways, and that it seemed to them that a good deal of the guns and ammunition and other things they had were coming from outside areas.
498 That was the line Mr. Kenyatta took. Whether he knew himself who the people were, or whether he was connected with them, no doubt the Government know and are dealing with. Naturally he was keen on equal rights for the Africans and he wanted, if possible, to get into touch with the elected Members, that is to say, Mr. Blundell and his friends. He said he was as anxious to keep in touch as much as he could with hon. Members of this House.
It may well be that he would be saying something quite different to Africans. If that is so, it is worth while that they should know what he said to me in the presence of Mr. Mathu. Now he has been arrested, and it has been rather suggested today that there are practically no Africans left of any influence running their organisations. Well, Mr. Mathu himself is definitely doing that, but whether he is a particularly good man or not, I do not know.
My hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) spoke before me and pointed out how, as far as he could see, the Kikuyu tribe have gone right back to the old days and that their minds have, in a sense, cracked. It is an interesting thing that many of the recent atrocities have been committed not only by the young people but that, to a large extent, by the older men and women who were responsible for hacking to pieces one or two of the police, and so on.
My right hon. Friend has made a speech today, as he has made statements outside this House in the last few days, showing that we want to do everything we can to come together with the Africans and Europeans and Asiatics in Kenya. If, from Mr. Kenyatta's statements, it is possible for him, and others linked with him who are still at large, to work together with us, then the outlook for the country is optimistic.
In this country we have a wrong impression of what is going on in many ways, and that is partially due to the Press. I should not like to bring this matter up if it were not for the influence of certain newspapers in other parts of the world, but I will take one instance from "The Times". I am quoting now from the "Kenya Weekly News" which pointed out that:The Times' of October 25 stated:—'At Nakuru, 100 miles north of Nairobi, concentrated attempts are being made to start Mau 499 Mau oath-taking ceremonies on farms near the township. In this area a European woman, alone in her house except for her small daughter, found an African attempting to break in. She shot and killed him.' The District Commissioner of Nakuru then stated in reply to this that there are no recent reports of Mau Mau ceremonies near Nakuru. The facts of the specific incident referred to are as follows. A Maragoli, suffering from typhoid and delirious, escaped from hospital. He attempted to break into a house, apparently to steal clothes. The woman in question heard him and shouted for help. A member of the 'Home Guard,' just coming off duty, heard the cry, saw the Maragoli and shot him. It was an unfortunate incident, and nothing whatever to do with Mau Mau.If a paper as responsible as "The Times" finds it can make that mistake, one can imagine that possibly others are doing it, too. In saying this, I do not want in the least to underrate the appalling position with regard to Mau Mau and the Kikuyu tribe, but I do not want people to be completely pessimistic about this.
As regards Christianity, there is no doubt that Mau Mau is a very bitter attack on Christianity presumably because they see it spreading so strongly, especially in Uganda and in other parts near to them. We also know that the Roman Catholic church, and the Protestants as well, came out months before the Government strongly in opposition to all Mau Mau rites. In fact, the Roman Catholics have excommunicated anybody who has had anything whatever to do with them.
It has been suggested today in the papers that we might segregate the Kikuyu tribe. Something like that may well have to be done. That brings me to the point as to whether democracy is the solution for which we ought to be working. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Swindon said that we should study more thoroughly the possibilities of constitutional development. We must not forget that democratic countries like Belgium and France have not gone in for a system of complete voting for the people in their colonies. They have worked out a system which might well be as suitable as the one we are trying to work out.
There are Europeans in Tanganyika and Kenya who have suggested that we might get people elected according to their interests or trade or their knowledge, as in the corporate State. Whatever we do, we must not take it for granted that 500 what the African wants is necessarily ordinary voting by democratic methods. Indeed, if I may switch for a moment to the question of Tanganyika, there the problem is about to be solved by the "777" system, that is, seven European, seven African and seven Asiatic Members of the Legislature, with presumably the voting arranged accordingly. I believe I am right in saying that the African Members of the Legislature do not want that unless the Indians and Europeans have it. They prefer to keep to their own tribal customs and ways.
All these things should be considered because Tanganyika, especially in the northernmost part, around Arusha, has similar problems to Kenya. For instance, there are at present thousands of Kikuyus around the Arusha area. Whether we shall have any trouble with them I do not know, but we certainly ought to pay a good deal of attention to Tanganyika at present. We do not want a second Kenya problem developing there and we could do a lot to improve the situation.
For instance, we could pay a lot more attention to the influence of the Europeans. I have seen in "The Times" and elsewhere that there is a vociferous European minority which disapproves of this new "777" system. I do not think it is a vociferous European minority. It is the only European voice that can be properly heard. It is a body called the "European Council," and this House ought to appreciate the fact that it represents the voice of the Europeans in Tanganyika.
There are about 18,000 in that country at the present moment of whom 50 per cent., some 9,000, are Government servants and therefore can take no part in such an organisation. Another 3,000 belong to business firms which have given instructions that in no way should their European staff take any active part in any Government or European political organisation in the country. That brings the number down to 6,000, and, if we cut out those Europeans recently arrived,—for the European Council will not allow anybody to be a member unless he or she has been a year in the country—and the numbers of children and people under 21, that brings the figure to about 4,000, and there are actually 3,500 members of the European Council. In future, when we are talking about 501 Tanganyika, I think that we ought to remember that fact and listen to their representations.
If I may say something in regard to the future of these territories, first of all, I would say that I hope something will be done to try to increase the influence of the High Commission steadily each year by giving it more authority and power. It is, of course, the case that the three Governors are in control of it, but the administrator who works under them should be a person of very great force and initiative, and I hope that that will always be borne in mind, both now and in the future.
While I was out there, we read in the newspapers from Strasbourg that a resolution had been passed that something should be done by the European countries with colonial interests in order to develop these countries from the point of view of food and minerals. We have today in this House been considering the problems very much from the point of view of the Africans almost all the time, but we have also to think, not only of the Europeans actually in the country, but also of the rights of people from all over the world who may go to these areas in Africa.
We must consider whether far more could not be done to get the most out of these African territories for the world generally. That can only be done through more exploration, and perhaps through the development of civil aviation, which has helped so much in getting rid of the tsetse fly. One of the things that will have to be done is to give more security of land tenure to those settlers, white and others, who have got the brains and the capital and who are coming from outside Africa and want to go there in order to develop the country for the benefit of the world as a whole. We know that the Tanganyika Government and its excellent Governor make themselves responsible for introducing people who will see that the natives will not be robbed or maltreated. But if it could be made possible by less red tape for more money to be brought into the country in order to develop the production of foodstuffs and minerals, it would help the Africans infinitely, and the same is true with regard to Kenya.
Even though the Kenya leaders are today imprisoned, everything should be 502 done to develop still more these territories of Africa. If the Africans are to be educated more quickly—but not too quickly—we should obtain the very practical help of the Churches about these matters. They are not so keen on Africans going to universities and learning the sort of things that are suitable for London University, but are far more interested on more money being spent on practical education for the young up to a certain age. If more money can be spent on that, and less spent on university education, when you send people back, and especially the women, to areas where they become unhappy and where the women seldom have a chance of finding husbands, we shall get more chance of steadier, if slower, progress.
I sincerely hope that this House will not send out a Parliamentary delegation, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly suggested, in the near future, and not, at any rate, to Kenya. I have only just returned myself, and while I do not know whether it is the case that anybody particularly disliked my visit, I do know that many people told me how much they disliked the previous visits of other hon. Members. Nobody had any very kind words to say for these Parliamentary delegations from this House—not that there was anything wrong with the hon. Members who comprised them. It seemed to me from what I was told that the people did not think that anything very much ever came out of these visits, and I found quite a strong feeling amongst all people born and bred in Kenya on this subject.
When they are gradually developing some kind of Parliamentary system amongst themselves, and when they are voting amongst themselves and efforts are being made on both sides to promote the idea of friendship, they do bitterly resent the patronising attitude adopted by some people who come out from this House with no local knowledge but just because they happen to be Members of Parliament.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Since the hon. Gentleman has referred to Parliamentary delegations, of one of which I was a member, will he tell the House whether any of the people who expressed this dislike were among the African, Indian, or Arab populations, or whether they were included in the white population?
§ Mr. Teeling
They were not only members of the white population. I think that two were Indians, and one was an African.
§ 1.26 p.m.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
I was extremely grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) this morning for his very moving speech. I think the truth was in it, and it struck me what a tragedy it is, not only for this country but for Africa, that my right hon. Friend is not Secretary of State for the Colonies at the present time. I am quite sure that, had he been Secretary of State over the last few months, there would have been a very different story today.
My right hon. Friend certainly did me, and I think the House, a great service, when he stated very clearly the two principles upon which the Labour Party has grown up. The first is a hatred of terrorism. Indeed, our belief in social democracy all through our history has been based on opposition and detestation of terrorism, or anything remotely resembling it.
The second principle that my right hon. Friend made clear was that we believe in the ballot box, in persuasion, reason and the exercise of democratic functions and thus we are opposed to political repression. It is our hatred of terrorism and our belief in democracy that governs our actions, not only abroad in the colonial sphere, but also at home.
Having said that, I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend speaks for every hon. Member of the Labour Party in this House and outside when he supports the Government in any legitimate and justifiable action which they take to put down terrorism wherever it raises its head. But we reserve the right to ask whether the action which the Government have taken has been right. We have to ask ourselves whether there has been any failure, either on the part of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, or anybody else who holds responsibility to this House, for the events of the last few months.
Let us, first of all, deal with the Secretary of State, because, as my right hon. Friend stated, he came to this House on 17th July last in order to survey the colonial field during the past year. In that debate, Kenya was mentioned, and 504 the Secretary of State hinted that there was to be a far-reaching inquiry into the social and economic problems which confront the Kenya territories, The right hon. Gentleman said that he could not then say too much about his proposals but that he hoped to make an announcement in a month. He said not a single word either about Mau Mau or the disorders in Kenya. Yet, we find that, on the 16th October, after this House had reassembled, the Secretary of State made a statement, and, for the benefit of the hon. and learned Gentleman who is to reply, I will give him the reference. It is to be found in column 390 of HANSARD of the 16th October.
The Secretary of State said:Early this year Mau Mau attacks began in the Nyeri District and then spread to the Kiambu and Fort Hall Districts in the Central Province.Then he went on and said:The situation became progressively worse."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th October, 1952; Vol. 505, c. 390.]If the Mau Mau troubles started early this year and they got progressively worse, why did not the Secretary of State tell the House of Commons on 17th July what was happening? I suggest that the answer is that he did not know that they had started on that date. And on 16th October he had to justify to the House of Commons the positively alarming situation and therefore had to paint the picture as black as it could be. But, unfortunately for him, there are other witnesses.
I have read with great care, as I hope other hon. Members have read, the debates in the Kenya Legislative Council in the last two weeks. There we find a statement made by the Commissioner of Police in July that the country was quiet. Indeed, he allowed his police officers to go on leave. Now, of course, it is quite true that it might be possible for things to be absolutely quiet in July and suddenly to blow up. Those of us who have any acquaintance with Africa know that witchcraft is only just below the surface there. It happens to be called Mau Mau in Kenya now, but we remember the Baboon Society and the Leopard Society in West Africa. It is true that life in Africa is nasty, short and brutish. Witchcraft is beastly, and its practices are horrible and ought to be put down. But they are not new.
505 It may be called Mau Mau today, but tomorrow it may be called Go Go or Ba Ba. It may be out of sight of the District Commissioner and the police, but the secret society with its witchcraft and revolting practices is there all the time. It is endemic, it is part of the African way of life. We have stopped it in some places and limited it in others. Occasionally it gets better, and occasionally it gets worse. It has got worse in Kenya. But we should notice that it has not got worse over the whole of East Africa.
I do not rely on Socialist sources for my evidence. No less a person than Lord Sempill, speaking in another place, quoted a statement by Sir Philip Mitchell. Lord Sempill pointed out that the area of British influence in Africa is the size of Europe, yet the disturbed area in that frame was roughly the size of Suffolk. So we have a rather different picture here from that presented by the Press. We have the certainty that in recent weeks there have been the gravest disorders in quite a small area.
Before I leave that point, I want to quote from the Commissioner of Police. He has something to say on this point, and I hope that we shall hear from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Under-Secretary for Commonwealth Relations what the Secretary of State for the Colonies has to say about it. The Commissioner of Police, on whom the responsibility for law and order rested, was quoted in the Kenya Legislative Council on 26th September as saying:There is always a certain amount of secret society active in this part of Africa. We have a special branch to keep watch for it, but the Mau Mau is not the great threat so many people make it out to be. We believe the robberies and assaults which take place are the work of ordinary criminal gangs which have no connection whatever with any secret society.
§ Mr. Teeling
How can the hon. Member read all that with the pastoral letter from the Roman Catholic Bishop, dated 16th May last, excommunicating Mau Mau not only locally but all over the country, saying that it had spread considerably?
§ Mr. Wigg
I am endeavouring to elicit information from the Under-Secretary. If Mau Mau was active in the early part of this year and was a serious problem, why did not the Secretary of State for the Colonies tell the House of Commons on 506 17th July? The Government cannot have it both ways. I am prepared to give the Secretary of State the benefit of the doubt when he says that Mau Mau only recently blew up. But if it blew up in May, he stands condemned first on a charge of misleading the House of Commons, but secondly on a more serious charge.
Sir Philip Mitchell, a Governor of great experience, returned to this country on 21st June. His successor did not arrive in Kenya until 29th September. Let hon. Members just imagine what would have happened if my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly had been Secretary of State for the Colonies and on the day that Parliament re-assembled it was known that we had concentrated a force of six battalions and a cruiser—I will come back to the cruiser later—to put down an outbreak against law and order and we had left the Colony from 21st June to 29th September without a political head. Just imagine what the Prime Minister would have said about incompetence and so on. And I would have agreed with the Prime Minister if he bad said those things to my right hon. Friend in those circumstances.
But that applies now. What possible defence can the Secretary of State put up to explain the fact that Kenya was without a Governor during that period? Will the Under-Secretary for Commonwealth Relations tell the House on what date it was that the Secretary of State decided that Sir Evelyn Baring should proceed to the Colony? He was certainly available, because he had been in this country for many months. Did the Secretary of State also consult Sir Philip Mitchell and Sir Evelyn Baring before he took the drastic step of deciding on this concentration of troops and naval force?
I believe that the truth is very different from the spectacle presented and the story told in the Press. My version of it is something like this. There has been without doubt an outbreak of violence, probably organised and stimulated by the secret society which we call Mau Mau, but it was confined to a very small area in and around the Kikuyu Reserve. It comes about because of the growth of Kikuyu.
Over the years we have introduced to Africa the gift of law and order. We have restrained the attacks of the Masai on the Kikuyu and in consequence the 507 numbers of Kikuyu have increased by 2 per cent. every year. Their land is quite exhausted. Their cultivation is the murdering of land, not husbandry. There is a terrible problem there, and nobody here should minimise it. I have a tremendous sympathy with the settlers, the people who have gone to isolated places and have turned a barren waste into a paradise. But that does not prevent me from wanting to take steps in their interests which will bring about a friendly, peaceable and prosperous Kenya.
The illusion has grown up that Kenya is a rich country. It is not. It is terribly poor. It has no vast reserves of indigenous materials. They may be there, but nobody yet has found them. It has land and a rather shiftless labour force multiplying at a rate which it is impossible to avoid.
I also note that, as a friend once said to me, a high altitude and a low latitude do not seem to make for political sagacity, and it does not seem to me that there has been much sagacity in Kenya in the last few weeks. In addition to the absence of a political head, another tragedy occurred. Mr. Cavendish-Bentinck was away on a Parliamentary delegation in Canada. He is a wise man, a high Tory, if hon. Members like, but a man of vision who realises that if the black and white nations are to live together they have to live in harmony and friendship. He was missing, and his place was taken by a crowd of men who are not so politically wise and experienced, and by a Secretary of State who is quite incompetent and who ought to be sacked. That is the combination which has brought about this disaster.
Let us assume that it became necessary to move the troops—and they are a pretty substantial force. Great Britain has not got unlimited numbers of troops that she can send around without any regard for other commitments. There is a concentration of nearly six battalions in Kenya at the present time, and there is a cruiser at Mombasa. What for? Does the Under-Secretary or any Member of the Government suggest that the Kikuyu have got submarines? Why was Her Majesty's Ship "Kenya" sent to Mombasa? So far as one can discover, there is no record of any incident in Mombasa. What did the men do when they landed? It was most interesting. They behaved exactly 508 as the Tory Party have always behaved when they throw their weight about. They marched through the streets in order to show force.
§ Mr. Alport
Will the hon. Gentleman admit that one of the things that always give a sense of security in times of insecurity is the availability of the Navy on the spot, and that is symbolic as far as Kenya is concerned as it is anywhere else? Quite obviously the hon. Gentleman is accusing this party of resorting to force, but he admits from his own statement that it was not in any way a display of force because it was not effective.
§ Mr. Wigg
I am talking about the arrival of the cruiser, which I think is extremely interesting. All I have done so far is to point out that we have now got six battalions, which is a pretty considerable force to deploy. In addition, we have the cruiser. If there had been any suggestion of Mau Mau activities in Mombasa or in the coast area, I would not complain. Does any hon. Gentleman opposite suggest that there are any such activities in those places? If anyone does, I suggest that he reads the reports of the debates in the Kenya Legislative Council, including the speech from the member for the Coast. He said that the application of the emergency measures was quite unnecessary in the coast area for everything there is quiet.
Was that in the interest of this country or of Kenya which, after all, has got to sell its products in the markets of the world to try and paint the future too black? It wants to borrow money. Was it in the interests of anybody—British, African or Asian—to make out that the problem was much worse than in fact it was? We sent the cruiser there because that is the way the Tories always behave. It had no relevance to the situation at all. It is also going to cost somebody some money. I presume that this is either going to be paid for by the Kenya Government or else we are going to get a Supplementary Estimate and the British taxpayer will have to pay it.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)
On the question of cost, I should like to know if the hon. Gentleman has been to Mackinnon Road and seen how many millions of pounds were lost there under the Socialist Government and how desolate it is today.
§ Mr. Harris
With the greatest respect, that is not true. Even two to three years ago they were building roads at tremendous expense at Mackinnon Road—roads which are utterly wasted now and are completely in a desert.
§ Mr. Wigg
I do not want to be taken off into a discussion on the erection of a base at Mackinnon Road. The hon. Gentleman's interruption is irrelevant. I am saying that there was a clear failure at home to appreciate the nature of the breakdown and its extent, and this action of moving a cruiser points to the fact that there was panic and ignorance. The responsibility for that rests squarely upon the Secretary of State. I charge him not only with keeping Kenya without a Governor, but also that when he did realise what had to be done he did not take the right steps.
I am not the only one in opposition to the Secretary of State. There is an opposition in Kenya. I agree with the hon. Member who said that it is not right to talk about a vociferous minority as if they were all "Blimps." Such a thing is not true. There is a liberal tradition amongst many of the white settlers in Kenya who want to do the right thing and who are very worried about the action that has been taken. I think they will be even more worried about the visit of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The first unofficial speaker in the debate in the Kenya Legislative Council was Mr. Neep, who said precisely what I am saying now. He said that there has been a breakdown of law and order. He said that Mau Mau is engaged in bestial activities. He said: put it down and use the whole authority of the State to deal with it, but apply those measures where the breakdown has occurred.
If the Secretary of State had come to the House and had said, "Since I spoke last July something very bad has happened. Africa has returned to its old bad ways in the Fort Hall area and we propose to take certain measures in the Kikuyu Reserve," I am quite sure that everybody in the House, in the country and in Kenya would have been wholeheartedly behind him. But he did not do that, and the reason he did not was that he got panicked. He was panicked 510 by elements in Kenya who lacked the wise guiding hand of the late Governor, Sir Philip Mitchell; they lacked the advice of Mr. Cavendish-Bentinck, and they were deprived of the guidance which he would have got from the new Governor.
The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) referred to an article of mine as vituperative. I have on previous occasions been charged with being vituperative in dealing with colonial matters. I remember the case of Mr. Nkruma. I remember it with some pride, because I raised my voice against his imprisonment and said to my right hon. Friend who was then responsible, "Let him out. Your action now is consolidating his political strength. He will win the next election." It has come true.
I say this to the Secretary of State. Compare the action of the Tory Party and the Tory Press with the action of the Labour Government in handling problems on the Gold Coast. Who has been wise? The Gold Coast today is absolutely quiet. Mr. Nkruma was derided and scorned, and those of us who defended him and said, "Give him a chance" were abused and vilified. Mr. Nkruma speaks today for a united Gold Coast. The Government need somebody who enjoys the confidences of the African and to whom the African will listen. Nkruma is such a man. Kenyatta might be.
But today in Kenya there is a complete breakdown. This is the greatest tragedy of all, and I think it was very well brought out in a report by a special correspondent of "The Times" on 30th October. He said:It is principally a battle of information, and on the whole, information has been harder to get since the declaration of the emergency than before.He went on to say:The completion of the police chase would have been much easier if there had been a clash in which large numbers of Mau Mau had put up a resistance and been rounded up.I wish to comment, not on that last sentiment, but on the first. The reason why there has been a breakdown of information is that the Secretary of State and a great number of hon. Members opposite really do not understand the working of democracy, and I say that with very great respect. They think of democracy purely in terms of putting a vote on paper. They do not see 511 that in a democratic society there is the passing of information from those who govern to those who are governed, and the passing of information back again.
They also do not see that any society which goes in for repressive measures will be forced, in the very nature of things, to rely upon the informer and upon secret police. It was not only because Hitler was wicked and that Nazism was vile that the Germans organised the Gestapo. Any society which goes in for one party only has to find some way of learning what the people are thinking and how they are going to react, for otherwise the time will come when an almost complete breakdown takes place.
Through the genius of my right hon. Friend and Mr. Creech Jones, we worked out something for the Gold Coast which brought confidence in the British Government to the West Africans. But after a year of office the Secretary of State has now produced a complete break in Kenya and the Government now must rely upon the informer, and sometimes the information may not be worth the amount of money which passes.
Unless the situation is rapidly to deteriorate until the number of battalions rises to eight or 10 and we have British troops permanently in Kenya, some means must be found to enable the Secretary of State—or his successor, and I hope that comes about quickly—to communicate with the Kikuyu. At present that is impossible, and the reason for that is that the only man to whom Kenya will listen is in detention. We have achieved in Kenya what I warned my right hon. Friend about when Nkruma was in prison in the Gold Coast. Today Jomo Kenyatta is the only man to whom the Africans in Kenya will listen.
I believe that Mr. Kenyatta was on the way out, that his political influence was declining, at the moment the Government decided to arrest him. He is now in detention. What is to happen? Does the Government propose to leave him there for ever? Even if they do that, in the course of time he will die, and then the ghost of Kenyatta will haunt them or successive British Governments. If they are trying to let him out, then every day that they keep him in detention his authority grows.
512 It is no good the Secretary of State saying that Kenyatta was arrested on suspicion. The Commissioner of Police said that there was always a certain amount of secret society effort at work and that the special branch kept a keen watch on it. Does anybody believe that Mr. Kenyatta could have been carrying out activities of which the Commissioner of Police was unaware? Every telephone call must have been known and every letter must have been opened. If the situation has been deteriorating over the last few months, the Government were right to take that action. Therefore, if the Government arrested Mr. Kenyatta they must have evidence against him.
I support my right hon. Friend entirely. The minimum demand made by the Labour Party is that Kenyatta must be brought to trial or, if not, he must be released. That must happen in the interests of the Government themselves. The quicker they clear up this mess the better it will be for everybody. That stands out beyond any shadow of doubt. If there is any evidence or proof that Kenyatta has been guilty of sedition, conspiracy or any association with Mau Mau, the Government have all the powers they want and they should try him and let him suffer the penalty of his actions if he is guilty, but if he is not, then the Government should let him out.
I know that Mr. Kenyatta is not liked. I can understand that he will not be very popular among white people in Kenya. I can understand that they do not like the Kenya African Union. It is said that Kenyatta is a wild, untidy and arrogant fellow, and that he is a political vagabond. But that is no reason for arresting him and putting him into detention with no charges against him. As to his character, Mr. Kenyatta has been in this country and numbers of my hon. Friends know him very well indeed. He is known to have lectured for the Workers' Educational Association, and there is no doubt that he was a kindly person. People change in character, but certainly when he was in Britain Mr. Kenyatta was influenced by no other consideration than the good of his fellows.
There was a letter in the "Daily Telegraph," which I am sure is accepted as a very respected source, from Mrs. Elspeth Huxley, who is reactionary 513 enough for anybody. She wrote of Kenyatta:I heard him speak, however, and was greatly impressed by his powers—not so much of oratory, as of holding a meeting spellbound and subjecting the mass-will to his own.One cannot put a man in prison for that. If we could, what about the Prime Minister? What has been said about Mr. Kenyatta is surely equally true of the Prime Minister.
Mrs. Huxley went on to say that Mr. Kenyatta suffered from an overweening personal ambition. She said:An overweening personal ambition is the base. Added to this is that mysterious ability to compel others to believe and follow. There is the same gift of words, the same instinctive skill in twisting truth.…That is a fairly accurate and precise definition of the Prime Minister. Surely we do not want to keep Kenyatta merely because he resembles the Prime Minister.
There is no doubt that the Government have got themselves into a terrible mess. The simple excuse for it is that the Secretary of State did not read the documents which were put in front of him—I am being charitable—and whilst he was on his summer holidays Mau Mau blew up. Something else also blew up. The Secretary of State made a statement in this House on 17th July that he would set up a Royal Commission to inquire into the question of land tenure. My right hon. Friend had also taken certain steps when he was Secretary of State to obtain all-party agreement in Kenya on the subject of a new constitution.
These two proposals frightened some of the settlers and they decided to take action. They demanded that action should be taken to suppress political organisations such as the K.A.U. They went too far, not only for the health of Kenya but also for the political reputation of Great Britain. Let hon. Members make no mistake about it. We have handed over a weapon which will be used in the cold war. Our actions in Kenya have to be justified not only in the House of Commons but throughout the world, and the Government have completely misunderstood this.
The major responsibility for the more immediate events rests with the Secretary of State. He has completely and lamentably failed in his duty. If there were no other reason than that the Colony was left without a Governor from 514 21st June to 29th September, it would be sufficient to justify the demand that he should resign, but there are additional reasons. It seems to me that he was never cast for this job. His job is, perhaps, increasing the Bank rate to 6 per cent. or handling problems at the Board of Trade. He has never shown any signs at all of understanding the human problems and the long-term problems which face us in the colonial field. I hope that he himself will take the first step which is necessary to get these things put right and that tonight we shall receive the glad tidings that he has resigned his office.
§ 2.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Billericay)
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) in his, if I may say so, characteristic speech. I am quite certain that the allegations and the charges he has made against my right hon. Friend will receive a very full and effective answer from my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
I should like to widen the circle of the discussion a little. Earlier stages of this debate have emphasised the need for an expansion in the economy not only of our own country but of the Commonwealth as a whole. There have been a number of speeches this morning, I thought an admirable one by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), which emphasise how necessary it is for such expansion to take place in the Colonial Empire, not only for those who dwell there but for the larger world outside.
There is still an awful lot of loose thinking, if I may put it that way, on the subject of colonial development. There are still a lot of people who think that it is just a matter of finding capital resources and pouring them into the Colonies as though these territories were like fruit machines—so much capital going in and so much groundnuts coming out. That is not the situation at all. As we should have learned from bitter experience in recent years, there are many obstacles to speedy economic development of the Colonies. There is the lack of transportation. No single factor is holding up the develpment of underdeveloped territories today more than the lack of adequate communications.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)
Surely that is just one of the very few points where money really could do the job. When it is a matter of increasing agricultural production, there are psychological problems to be faced, but in order to build roads one spends money and builds roads.
§ Mr. Braine
I do not dispute that for a moment. I am just trying to set out in perspective the obstacles in the way of development, and lack of transportation is undoubtedly one of them. If I remember aright, my right hon. Friend this morning said something about what was being done in this sphere in East Africa. That is the first obstacle.
Then there is the lack of local skill and experience. There is lack of knowledge of the extent of resources. The right hon. Member for Llanelly said earlier that we ought to find out a great deal more about the extent of material resources in the Colonial Empire. I agree. There is disease, which debilitates man. There are pests which ravage crops and decimate cattle. In some cases there is too much rain, in other cases too little water.
There are, of course, human limitations. There is the fact that if economic development concentrates too much attention on production for export to the detriment of food production, grave social consequences will follow. There is the fact—I am sure hon. Members opposite will agree with me here—that economic development cannot be separated from social development and that the way in which a particular economic project is carried out has its social repercussions. Nowhere are those social repercussions more charged with danger than in backward territories with their primitive societies.
There are, in my opinion, two urgent requirements. One is better transportation. If a railway is extended, a road built or an airstrip laid down, economic activity is advanced in a thousand and one ways. Transportation comes before everything else.
The second requirement, to which I intend to address myself, is the need for more knowledge about the Colonies and their human and physical resources. For this reason, I wish to draw the attention to what is being done in the field of 516 colonial research. It is ironic that so little is known of the labour and achievements of that great army of British scientists and research workers labouring in the great research institutions in this country, in the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, Trinidad, and in countless agencies all over the Colonial Empire, labouring night and day to overcome some of the problems I have mentioned, particularly in the field of agricultural production. It is these people who more than anybody else will make it possible for capital to be invested profitably at some later stage, and who are making possible the expansion of the wealth and productivity of the colonial people.
Let the House consider for a moment the work of the Colonial Products Research Council, whose task is to review the whole field of colonial production and to advise what colonial raw materials are likely to be of use to industry. I have in mind one particular case. Last year, it was my privilege to visit the West Indies. I visited the Sugar Technological Laboratory set up in Trinidad, where Professor Wiggins of the Imperial College has been engaged in research into the economic uses of sugar by-products.
He has already demonstrated that cane-wax can be produced from the residues left after the process of sugar extraction suitable for industrial purposes. This is of significance to this country because at present we derive the bulk of our industrial waxes from non-sterling area sources. Here is a waste product in the British West Indies, which if it can be developed—I have not the slightest doubt from what we now know of the work of Professor Wiggins that it can be developed—will undoubtedly add substantially to the wealth of the British West Indies.
There is a tremendously wide range of uses for sugar by-products; they can be used to produce fertilisers, paper, even blood plasma and building materials. Such development would add immeasurably to the wealth of the British Caribbean area, which has been dependent for so long on a few main crops for export and has been, therefore, particularly sensitive to fluctuations in world trade.
Then there is the Anti-Locust Research Centre, which has been operating together with the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering and other bodies in perfecting 517 techniques for controlling locusts. There is the work on insecticides of the Colonial Insecticide Research Unit at Porton, the Imperial College Field Station at Silwood Park and the Colonial Insecticide Research Unit in East Africa. Substantial results have been achieved in the battle against tsetse and mosquitoes—enemies of man and beast. This House should be proud of the fact that in recent years we have managed almost completely to eradicate malaria as a killing disease in Cyprus, British Guiana and now Mauritius.
Then there are institutions in East Africa, Northern Rhodesia and Malaya which are finding out ways and means of increasing the fish diet of the colonial people. The list of such agencies is immense. Their work is yielding substantial results.
In Trinidad last year I saw something of what had been achieved as a result of the training of agricultural specialists and the research work done at the Imperial College. It was possible on one estate to see cocoa grown as it has been grown for the last 30 years, and then alongside it to see the results of introducing new disease resistant and higher yielding strains.
What is that translated into concrete terms? The average yield of cocoa over Trinidad is about 100 lb. per acre; the average on the best estates is somewhere between 300 and 400 lb. per acre; these new, high yielding cocoas are going to yield over 1,000 lb. an acre. Those scientists and research workers in laboratory and field who are making this possible are the real heroes of the twentieth century. They are the Frobishers and Drakes, if you like, Mr. Speaker, of this new Elizabethan Age. They are going out on uncharted seas and are coming back with rich prizes, benefiting not only our own and the colonial peoples but the whole world.
The reason I have raised this matter is that since 1941, £11 million has been allocated to colonial development and welfare research schemes, and although, of course, not all the money has been spent, no less than a third of what has been allocated has gone, quite rightly, to agricultural, forestry, and animal health research schemes. That money has been very well spent, but the Acts under which this money is made payable expire in March, 1956. Of necessity, a great deal 518 of colonial research is long-term. I am advised that the uncertainty which this position has already created is having a rather unfortunate effect upon long-term research. Indeed, in the Report of the Colonial Research Council for the year 1951 to 1952, it is said:This is not only rendering the planning of long-term research impossible, but is also a most adverse factor in the way of recruiting research workers for the Colonial territories. The Council sincerely trust that the position will be clarified at the earliest possible date.The position ought to be clarified soon, and I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will take an early opportunity to say something about it.
I emphasise once again that, if we are going to think, as we must in the months which lie ahead, in terms of expansion, in terms of utilising in ever-growing measure the human and material resources of the Colonies, then attention has to be paid to this particular field of activity, and the needs of this gallant band of scientists and research workers must not be neglected.
§ 2.13 p.m.
§ Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)
Perhaps the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine) will forgive me if I do not follow the argument he has produced, except to say that, of course, we have had many magnificent successes in the work we have done in agricultural scientific research, but we have also had some dismal failures—swollen shoot, and sudden death in Zanzibar, for example—and it is necessary, though we may sometimes dine out on our successes, to direct our attention to the difficulties which face us and will face us in the future.
The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) said that what we had to do in Kenya was to get a true diagnosis of the situation, and I agree with him. He says that, no matter if one lives a long time in Kenya, it is almost impossible to understand the working of the African mind. I agree there is some truth in that, but one does not have to be very long in Kenya before one understands the working of the African belly. It works exactly the way ours works, and if we do not put food into it, it complains; and begins to suffer from a sense of dissatisfaction; it becomes a nuisance, and it presents a problem which has got to be faced.
519 One of the disturbing things about the speech of the Colonial Secretary today was that he appeared to show a good deal of complacency about the general situation in Kenya. Quite clearly this Government will stamp out the Mau Mau terror. They will handle the situation with a great deal of energy, but I am afraid they will drive it underground unless they understand its root causes. It is not the first secret society there has been in Africa. The African takes to secret societies as a superstitious escape from economic problems too great for him, and derives satisfaction from them—just as a good many people in this country get a good deal of satisfaction in dressing in funny clothes and also going to secret societies. Unless we know why people go to secret societies, their minds become quite astonishingly difficult to understand.
The Colonial Secretary oversimplified the issue when he said that the Mau Mau has not got its roots in economic causes. That is not the main cause, I agree. There are other causes, political and social and, to some degree, psychological; but to say that the cause of the trouble does not lie in economic causes is to evade the issue altogether.
The right hon. Gentleman was complacent about the general development of Kenya. He produced a figure of £40 million over a 10-year period to be spent on development—under 15s. a year per head of the African population, that is all; and a large part of the money in the African fund for the development of the African settled areas is not going to be spent in 1952—£1,250,000 out of that fund announced by Sir Philip Mitchell in his farewell speech to the Legislature will not be spent this year. It is fantastic that, at a time like this, the Kenya Government are not spending the sums that were allocated to them for this purpose.
I do not think that it is necessary for me to repeat the pledges of support that this side of the House has given to the Government in the necessity for stamping out Mau Mau, for clearly we are going to stay in the country, and while we stay in the country we are going to see to it that there shall be no repetition of the murders and other vile things that are happening today.
What, however, are the people in Kenya themselves saying are the reasons for the 520 development of Mau Mau? I should like to quote the member for Law and Order, a member of the Kenya Cabinet, who said in the Legislature on 10th July, reporting on interviews he had had in the prisons and in the prison quarries with Mau Mau prisoners:They vary a great deal in type. Some are young, strong, healthy, sullen and distrustful, who will not talk. Others are hangers on and followers. Some are very intelligent and clever, politically conscious, and convinced that they have a grievance. Those that will talk say that they are not opposed to Europeans as such, but they have grievances with regard to land and associate these with Europeans.This is the member for Law and Order speaking. He is saying, in effect, that the economic conditions of Kenya have produced the principles of Mau Mau-ism, and it really is not good enough for the right hon. Gentleman to come back from Kenya and to deny the very words of the member for Law and Order in the Kenya Government.
We do not solve this situation by sending battalions and sending warships. If this economic problem is as acute as I propose to show it to be, it has to be solved by strong and courageous political and economic action. We cannot hide Mau Mau-ism. We cannot hide the causes of Mau Mau-ism. In cold water flats in Harlem and in the hot, tropical parts of the British possessions, coloured people, coloured races, colonial peoples are discussing what is going on in Kenya today.
When I was in Africa I was staggered by the way in which decisions taken in this House of Commons were, only a few weeks later, being discussed by quite primitive people. The sending of battalions and the sending of warships may have the temporary effect of putting down the trouble, but in the eyes and minds of other colonial peoples and coloured peoples throughout the world, this Government, which needs the friendship of other peoples, is not really tackling the problem. Showing the flag is not enough. Encouraging people to seek martyrdom is not enough. We can only kill Mau Mau by understanding its economic reasons and by tackling the political and economic problems that are facing us.
What have we done? We have arrested 100 leaders of the Kenya African Union, and we have got them in a concentration 521 camp somewhere. A very large number of these fellows are moderates, particularly those living in Nairobi. But they have no means of communicating with their members. What is the reason for it? Is it that they are in some way concerned with Mau Mau, or that some of their members whom they are representing are concerned with Mau Mau? I do not think we had better accept that argument in this House, otherwise we would be proposing fairly drastic action against Mr. Arthur Deakin next time some members of his union start an unofficial strike.
It is not Mau Mau that is stalking the land of Africa. It is poverty that is stalking the land. It is the fact that men cannot live on the reserves and are forced to hire themselves out as day labourers to European farmers. They do not like doing that because the standard of living is not good enough, so they go to work in the towns. I have said before in this House that Africa offers almost the last opportunity for unrestricted exploitation of primitive peoples, and in Kenya that exploitation is virtually unrestricted. The friend of the African is the member for African Affairs in the Kenya Government; the friends of the Africans are the district labour officers. Those are the only friends they have got. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I will produce the statistics that prove those conditions. I may say that I support these statistics, for I have with my own eyes seen the human problem, and I have literally stepped over these human problems.
Mr. Blundell, the leader of the European elected members in the Kenya Legislative Council, had this to say in a speech which he made on 10th July of this year:Members may not know that in this city every night there are thousands of Africans inadequately housed, inadequately fed, cold, with nowhere to go, herded together. There is the seed bed for the whole of the crime and lack of order which is taking place in this city. Sixty-five per cent. of the crime in Kenya takes place around Nairobi.The member for Law and Order, the same gentleman to whom I referred before, said this on the same day in the same place:Costs of essentials have risen steadily, and I think it would be an unwarrantable assumption to say that the wages of the very poor, those on the poverty line, have risen in the same proportion. The best information I have 522 been able to obtain is that every night in this city of Nairobi"—every night—there are 10,000 Africans who are bedless. An equal number is, from time to time, out of work and without any money. When you have a substantial proportion of the population who are workless, penniless and sometimes bedless, then you have a fertile ground in which the seeds of crime can germinate.Those are not my words. They are the words of a European leader and of a Government Minister. When the Secretary of State for the Colonies says that Mau Mau is the African's worst enemy—and I am now quoting him—that it is an attempt to shake the very structure of the tribes, that it outrages tribal custom and defies tribal authority, he might well add that unemployment does those things, too; keeping men bedless does those things; keeping men penniless does exactly those things.
§ Sir L. Plummer
It did, certainly, and if we are not careful it will do it again.
Visitors to Nairobi have seen the shutters and the grills on the windows of almost every European house. It is a city where every European and Indian is on the qui vine against the assaults on property and assaults on the person. The Kikuyus show a fiendish ingenuity in being able to get their burgling tackle through these obstacles. These crimes have gone on for a long time; they have been constantly with us, and the tragedy today is that, because of the propaganda that has been going on in this country about the Mau Mau, there is in the minds of the people of this country a view that all crimes are Mau Mau crimes.
In fact, the word "African" is disappearing from the headlines of our newspapers; they do not refer to Kenya any more; they call it "Mau Mau"—perhaps because any discussion of the African's problem is considered fairly boring. The fact is that there is now great confusion in the minds of our people, and the Government have not made it clear that the area in which Mau Mau terrorism is going on and the incidents are but a trifle of the general position of crime which is born in the poverty of the country.
The Kenya Government have published statistics of crime throughout 523 Kenya. They are disturbing but they showed signs of going down. There were 30 murders in the first five months of this year in Kenya. I guess that that is more than one gets in the Greater London area. But other crimes had begun to go down, and the Government were feeling that they were making some progress in that direction. The member for Law and Order had to get up in the Legislature on the same day that I have already quoted, and say:It is possible that because there have been one or two serious offences against the person which have been given unusual publicity, that an impression may have got abroad that there has been an unusual wave of crime of this nature. But the figures refute it.The facts are that crimes against property are the crimes that are increasing, and these are born out of this poverty which must be faced. The African is struggling desperately against an inexorable increase in the cost of living, which has risen more against him than it has against the European and against the Indian.
Based on the figures of 1939, the cost of living for Africans in the years 1948, 1949 and 1950 was 207, 217 and 231 respectively. The figures for the Europeans and Indians for the same years were 185, 192 and 203 respectively, so that the cost of living in the last three years has done up by 24 points to the Africans and by 18 points for Europeans and Indians—to such a degree that Mr. Blundell has to admit that the standard of living which the Africans are supposed to accept is a direct incitement to crime.
Wages are now 48s. to 50s. a month, and a bag of posho, which lasts a man and his family a month, costs 52s. It is no good saying that if wages are increased by a percentage we shall create economic chaos in the country. There is economic chaos for the African as it is. How long can we expect to have a friendly, co-operative, docile population in the country when we have got conditions as terrible as they are today?
African housing in Nairobi is a disgrace to civilisation, despite the magnificent efforts put in by Sir Philip Mitchell, and it has had deplorable socialogical effects. Today there are 83 male Africans in Nairobi for every 17 women and so the African is denied the civilising and law-abiding influence that 524 a decent African woman wants to provide. Why is there this situation? Because if the African goes to the town to get a job he cannot get a decent place to live in, and if he gets a decent place to live in, he does not get enough money to send for his wife and children.
In the face of these facts, vouched for by the Kenya Government and its representatives, it is too much to suggest that Mau Mau is something that is born in vacuo by a bunch of gangsters. It is born out of the grinding poverty which it is our duty to tackle immediately. We do not need a Royal Commission to be appointed to find out that a low wage economy produces disastrous political, economic and social results.
It is a tragedy that all this took place while Sir Philip Mitchell was out of the country and before Sir Evelyn Baring went there. I should like to ask whoever is to reply to this debate whether he will clear up a point raised in another place as to whether the decision not to have Sir Evelyn Baring in Kenya soon after Sir Philip Mitchell left was one taken in the interests of economy, to save £1,000—a quarter's salary for a Governor. I ask that question because the noble Lord who replied to this point when it was raised by a friend of mine in another place said that that was not the sole reason. Was it partially the reason? Is the desire for cuts in expenditure which is being pursued so vigorously by the back benchers opposite being put forward as some excuse and do the Government say, "Here is an opportunity for saving £1,000; let us leave the situation without a boss in charge." Was that the reason?
As the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) has said, it was a great pity that Cavendish-Bentinck, that wise and capable administrator, was not in the country, and I think that it is a thousand pities that able and brilliant civil servant Sir Andrew Cohen was not in the Colonial Office a few months ago, because I think he might have given some good advice.
Battleships, soldiers, the police and the auxiliaries and the gun-toting Europeans are not going to be enough to solve this problem, because it is rooted in economics. What we have to face is that we are in a fight against Marshal Poverty and Generals Hunger and Crime 525 and the staff which they have set up in Africa.
Perhaps this is the time for right hon. Members opposite who in the past have had such fun out of the vicissitude of the groundnut scheme and some of the failures and difficulties of schemes launched by the Colonial Development Corporation to ask themselves whether it is better to support schemes like that, with all their difficulties, designed for the improvement of the standard of living of the colonial people and our people, and to recognise that these bring more human happiness and possibilities of progress to the people of the earth than all the bombs, bullets and bayonets that are being rushed to Kenya at the present moment.
§ 2.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
I was going to try not to refer personally to the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer). I think that for a man who has had the greatest chance in the last half century to reduce the poverty in Africa which he has mentioned, and whose personal qualities produced such a corresponding failure, it is disgraceful to make the sort of remark with which he wound up his speech.
§ Sir L. Plummer
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to interrupt him for one moment, may I say that criticism from his side of the House I regard as praise?
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
The failure still remains. To those of us who are doing our best to restore, however inadequately in different parts of Africa, the harm done by the collapse of the groundnut scheme and the harm that was done, not just to his party but to the cause of overseas development all over the world, I think his name and the groundnut disaster is going to take a long time to fade into history.
I should like to say, in the interests of those who have worked in the last hundred years in Africa, that there were a lot of people charged with the welfare of Africans before the arrival of trade unions—the district labour officers, the administrators and others whose permanent charge and first duty is to see that the interests of the Africans are maintained. As for the charge of 526 failure of this Government to give information, complacency and so on, I would point out that on many occasions it has been stated in the last month or two that the area affected by Mau Mau in East Africa is equivalent to an area the size of Surrey within Europe.
The debate today has ranged very largely over Kenya. I do not want to take up too much time on that question, but I want to say how much, I am sure, all of us welcome not only my right hon. Friend's speech but the support given to it in general from the other side of the House, and in particular by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths).
I think that all of us who have been interested in these problems on the long term realise that this is not just an immediate problem. We need for the rest of our lifetime the use of all the imagination and energy we have in looking at these problems. The land question will be looked at by the Commission going out. Education, I hope is one of the points that that Commission will study in connection with land, because I feel myself that in Africa—and, indeed, in this country—agricultural education has been neglected. I think that there is a great deal that could be done in educating the population better in farm schools or some other ways to tackle this overwhelming problem of how to reduce hunger.
I think that equally the education of women is something which has been largely neglected in the last few years; neglect probably is too strong a term—it is shortage of money and shortage of teachers. Among the educational points to be noted, I would put the study of the history of Africa in the last 100 or 200 years. Many people talk as if it started in 1945 or 1925, or some such date as that. If people could realise the staggering advance in a lifetime of many Members of this House that has taken place throughout Africa—[Interruption.] An hon. Member shakes his head. I had no doubt that if Dr. Livingstone, who is probably in a happier place, could come back today he would agree with me that the most astonishing advances had been made in health, wealth and happiness all over Africa as a result of the efforts of missionaries and commercial people, in addition to the efforts of Government officials.
527 I should like to put in this respect to my right hon. Friend, in the setting of East Africa, the point that we should press on with the development of the High Commission by considering the appointment of a deputy to the present Governor of Kenya, who in his dual function as High Commissioner and Governor of Kenya has a great deal of work to do. He needs time to study and time to think.
I remember staying with the Governor of Kenya in his house at Nairobi at the same time as the hon. Member for Deptford. I have put this point before, and I should like to follow it up. I think that, apart from the Secretary of State and other distinguished visitors, efforts should be made to relieve Colonial Governors of running a sort of hostel for peripatetic visitors. It was most generous of the Governor to put me up, but he need not have done so. I think that with the introduction of air transport it is imposing an intolerable burden on a lot of these Governors. Even 20 years ago, when I saw it arising myself, one realised that this problem was going to reach a stage in which possible action will be needed from this country, because, for obvious reasons, local Governors themselves cannot take action.
I want to follow up certain points made by the right hon. Member for Llanelly. He raised the whole subject of the human problem and human nature. These questions of population control and over-urbanisation are ones which we have to study constantly in this country as well as throughout Africa. They are fundamental problems which do affect what is going on in Kenya. Again, hon. Members on this side of the House have advocated producer co-operatives ever since I came into the House. We believe that if greater use had been made of such methods during the last six years, in addition to having individual farmers and certain companies which can be of use mainly for plantation crops, we might be further forward today than we are in solving this problem of food.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The hon. Member may be glad to know that during the six years of Labour Government the number of co-operative societies in the Colonies trebled.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
I agree that a lot has been done, but if the funds of the 528 groundnuts scheme had been put towards a land bank how much further forward would we be? I support the suggestion which has been made that we should develop transport, which today is clogged through excess of production in certain areas.
§ Sir L. Plummer
Is not the hon. Member aware that in connection with the groundnuts scheme almost £8 million was spent in building docks, harbours, bridges and roads, and that they are still there. The country has been opened up as never before, and all those facilities are being used.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
The unfortunate thing is that is was done through the groundnuts scheme, instead of through funds being made available to the local government, who would have been able to use them better than they were used, when they were diverted to putting the groundnuts scheme ahead of other productions in other parts of East Africa, for political reasons.
Now I turn to Malaya. In the rush of events in one area one is sometimes apt to forget what goes on in other parts of the world. As this may be the last chance we shall have for some time to debate these problems, I want to say how much those of us who are interested in the long-term aspects of these problems appreciate what has been done in the course of the last 12 months, since the visit of my right hon. Friend and the appointment of General Templer and Colonel Young to Malaya. I know that there is a tendency sometimes to speak of one or two individuals and to forget the people who are working in these territories the whole time, but I think it is no disrespect to the latter to say that those two individuals have done an outstanding job in setting right some of the chaos there.
Two points have been brought to my attention which are worth mentioning. The first is that at Tai Ping there is a Government rehabilitation centre which has achieved remarkable success. Communist sympathisers are given a six months course and are then resettled in civilian life. Only one out of 750 students—if that is the right term—had gone bad after the course by the middle of last summer. The extension of this system should be considered and publicity given to the success of those individuals who are responsible for this effort.
529 The other point is one of those which, relatively small in themselves, taken together add up to a considerable result. The Sakai—the aboriginal inhabitants of Malaya—who are living in the most remote districts, have had a welfare scheme operated for them by Mrs. Goldsbury, the wife of a police officer. She started an individual and personal effort in welfare and hospital work, and she has had quite a remarkable success. These people, owing to the way they live in the remote areas, know possibly more than most what is going on and can help so much in long-term plans.
I mentioned those two points because so often those who live in the distant parts of the Commonwealth and Empire sometimes feel that their efforts are not heard of and appreciated here; and no reference to Malaya would be complete without a tribute to the most gallant and successful tour of the Duchess of Kent. I would ask my right hon. Friend to consider in due course whether the best co-ordination of the police services is being ensured by the present system, or whether it would not be worth while, at least for the duration of the emergency, to consider putting Singapore under Kuala Lampur for the purposes of police administration.
Now I want to turn for a moment to one or two points raised by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid). He and I have agreed about many things in the last few years. I want to follow up the suggestion he made, which was also mentioned in an article in "The Times" the other day by Miss Margery Perham, that we should, as time goes on, get a closer association between the Commonwealth and Colonial Empire.
In due course we are going to see the building of a great new office on the site of Westminster Hospital, and many of us feel that a great deal could be done to bring these two Departments together in that building. If one may take a parallel from George Orwell, one can say that today, while all these oversea territories are self-governing, some are more self-governing than others. Only those who have spent a considerable time in studying constitutional changes realise the degree of self-government which is to be found in so many of these territories overseas. That does not mean that they can be viable economically or can stand on their own feet from the point of view 530 of defence. We cannot even do the latter; we have to enter into wider agreements. But I think that we can pursue steadily the idea of bringing together the two wings of the Commonwealth and Empire, and I hope that this suggestion will in due course meet with a not un-favourable reception wherever it might be considered.
In connection with this matter, as Miss Margery Perham said, the suggestion of a Commonwealth service is one that could be pursued, particularly on the economic side and the veterinary services and education. We are going to have a greater call than ever on fairly senior individuals as advisers or as technical instructors in helping to run, for instance, the Gold Coast as it is developed. But do not let us believe that we are going to produce the necessary people unless we have those who have been through the basic training for 10 or 15 years, without which they will be unable to acquire the basic knowledge to become advisers at the age of 35, 45 or whatever it may be.
We have to give these people a chance to learn their jobs. As time goes on, I think it will be found that whatever we may feel about democracy, one way or the other, the maintenance of a competent and incorruptible Civil Service is of prime importance in all these territories, whatever we may be accused of—and I am quite prepared to stand the charge of being reactionary on this ground—we cannot, I am certain, afford to drop this standard of administration.
I should like to mention in that respect the question of further regionalisation. I believe that the zoning of the Commonwealth services for various purposes may be necessary in the interests of regionalisation. Again, I mentioned the expansion of the High Commission in East Africa—the question of land in East Africa must be dealt with on the basis of looking at Tanganyika as well as at Kenya. The boundaries there established were artificially set up in the nineteenth century as a result of European politics.
It is generally agreed that the day of the small economic of other units is past. I would urge upon Her Majesty's Government that just because one area of the world is quiet that is no reason why we should not take the opportunity of 531 pressing on with regionalisation—in the West Indies, for example: while in the Seychelles or some of the other places which were mentioned by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Swindon, local changes in constitution could equally be made.
It would be wrong if we left this debate without saying, particularly from this side of the House, and I hope from the other side, a word welcoming the Commonwealth Conference which is to take place at the end of this month. I believe that this is going to be one of the most significant conferences of history. It gives the greatest opportunity for the development of teamwork within the Commonwealth and Empire. For example, as the situation develops, we have clearly got to ask for the help, in policy making as well as material, of Canada in our approach to the dollar problem and United States co-operation. Equally we have got to seek the help and advice of Australia and New Zealand when dealing with the problems of the Southern Pacific. We welcome any help and advice, whether from Governments or individuals, in these territories overseas, which will enable us to solve the problems which today face us.
I think that a debate such as this tends to put things out of proportion when only some of the remarks are published in the Press reports overseas. I do not think we need ever forget that whatever faults we may have the Commonwealth and Empire has been the greatest practical international co-operative effort ever seen in history. People of all races, colours and creeds have managed to work together within its framework. If we have done nothing else, we have avoided war between units of the Commonwealth, and for that alone I believe that all the effort made and disputations we may have had are worthwhile. I hope that next year will see a great step forward in Commonwealth co-operation.
§ 2.54 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
The colonial debates which we have rather tend to wander over a very wide field. After all, we have under our control something like 52 dependencies, with little in common. Indeed, perhaps the only thing they have in common is the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who 532 has to look after them all. We are glad to see him back again, if only that we can ask him questions about Kenya, the Mau Mau and other subjects connected with East Africa.
The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) was right when he said that if we made our contributions as shortly and clearly as we can, it would be helpful because there are others waiting to speak. So I want to pick up something which he said about the Commonwealth Economic Conference and tie it up with our balance of payments problem.
One Member on the other side of the House, judging from his remarks today, has some old-fashioned ideas about the economy of the Empire. He seemed to think there was wealth unbounded, particularly on the continent of Africa. It may interest some hon. Members to know that the Empire is comparatively poor, and I believe that Africa is marginal in agriculture. If we look at the statistics of the Empire, it will be seen that there are very few basic foodstuffs indeed which make any contribution to our food larder here at home. I admit that Malaya, with its tin and rubber, and West Africa, with its cocoa, do make a big contribution to our balance of payments problem. This has enabled the present Government, and indeed the last one, to put up a good fight in the battle of the dollar gap.
I think that our dollar balance in the Empire is somewhere about £160 million. For example, Malaya gets us something like £110 million worth of dollars from the United States, West Africa earns about £40 million, East Africa about £10 million and the only part of the Colonial Empire in debt is the West Indies, which are on the wrong side of the ledger by about £6 million.
That is why I want to make a plea that we should invite to the Commonwealth Economic Conference the only African Prime Minister we have, Mr. Nkruma. After all, the Gold Coast earns something like £30 million in dollars. We have invited the Prime Minister of the only self-governing Colony, Southern Rhodesia, and the Gold Coast is a quasi-Dominion. As I think Miss Margery Perham says, it is not a question of economics governing the Empire but of political psychology. If we had the African taking his rightful and legitimate place 533 alongside his colleagues in what the hon. Member for Banbury quite rightly said is the finest political organisation which has ever existed in the history of man, then we should be moving in the right direction.
We talk glibly about this federation of peoples of different races and creeds who are bound together under the Queen. We should invite those other people who have different coloured skins to take their seats in the Council of the Empire. I plead with the Secretary of State to think again on this matter. We put questions on the subject as long ago as July, and we got some very dusty answers from the Prime Minister. We should like to see a new approach to this problem, and we believe that it would be for the benefit generally of the Commonwealth.
My second point has been touched on by other hon. Members, and it is the question of hunger. Something like 60 per cent. of the world's population are literally on the verge of starvation. The yoke of starvation is nothing new in history. I would here suggest that we, as a white society, have done something to contribute to starvation in Africa. We know of people who have gone to Africa, have taken plantations and have stripped the soil. They have created dual native societies, because alongside the old tribal society, which many of us regarded favourably and which Lord Lugard tried to include within the Empire, there are also the displaced and the dispossessed.
My right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State for the Colonies mentioned this matter of the urbanisation of the African people. My figures may not be correct, but I am willing to gamble that there are something like double figures in thousands of Africans who are homeless and jobless on the outskirts of Nairobi. The Secretary of State, if I understood him aright, said that this atavistic cult, with its deep and dark origins, had little direct connection with social or economic factors. Candidly, I do not believe it, because it is only in soil of that kind that these manifestations come to light. We have built a little over a thousand houses in Nairobi during the past few years. We need to build many more indeed to provide these dispossessed peoples who are our wards—we are their guardians—with a roof over their head.
534 What is even more important is that, because of the legacy from the past of white alien Imperial societies, there is a legacy of suspicion. Let it not be forgotten that we have had slavery in Africa and elsewhere. The biggest single factor that we have to contend with in Kenya and other places is this suspicion between the two peoples, the African and the European. Because of that slave society in the past, we do not as yet get their full confidence. Until we get that co-operation it is somewhat naive to expect that we shall build our multi-racial, multilingual society that we hope to create.
In that context of suspicion, which often is mutual, due to a past unhappy history, often of exploitation, let me look for a few moments at the Kenya scene. I am not this afternoon calling for the resignation of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He has not been sacked yet, although my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) was somewhat anticipating that event.
Mau Mau can be explained but it cannot be defended. There is no one upon these benches, any more than there is on the opposite side of the House, who wishes to defend it; nor, I think, does the Kenya African Union or Jomo Kenyatta do so. All of us who want to build up this co-operative Commonwealth of ours would in no way defend what the Secretary of State termed "these bestial atrocities" that have been occurring on the highlands of East Africa. Hence, few will question the emergency powers, but I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions, because many of us are most disturbed about the way in which the situation has developed.
The Secretary of State will, I think, agree that to solve the problem we must enlist the co-operation of the Africans themselves. Therefore, while I echo the complaints from this side about the absence of, or the hiatus in, government when for something like 12 or 13 weeks there was no Governor in Kenya, it is even more important to place emphasis upon what we have not done—our sins of omission, so to speak, towards the Africans in Kenya.
We have arrested many of their leaders. I cannot see why we should not release them unless we have definite evidence against them. If we have evidence against a man like Kenyatta, he should 535 be haled before the court. If he is under suspicion, let us know what it is and sentence him if need be; but if not, let him go back and let us work, through him, with his own people.
Newspapers have been proscribed. Those newspapers are the only media whereby we can get across to these millions of people. Let us use these media of communication to the people. Democracy is not simply a matter of voting in a ballot box. The Government have to make their views known to the people below and also must find out what the people below are thinking about them, before we can work together as a team in this somewhat difficult context in East Africa.
We have closed Kikuyu schools, or we intend to do so. How many schools are affected, and what is the size of the school population? Where are we to put them? My opinion is that something over 60,000 African youngsters will be without education if this action is carried out. The needs of these Africans must be met if we are to solve the situation. We must do something positive for the jobless and the homeless.
The Kenya African Union had the confidence of the people. Let us enlist their leaders. When one talks about having the confidence of the people, it is difficult to explain our action when we cause to be sent a gunboat from Colombo to Mombasa when there is no unrest on the coast. By common consent, the localised activities have been at Kiambu and near Fort Hall, in a country where there are something like 5 million Africans and over a million Kikuyu. Many of us on these benches feel that there was little need to do some of these actions, which enormified the situation and created almost an anxiety neurosis among many people there. They had an unsettling effect instead of having a balancing effect upon public opinion and morale in the Colony.
Again we have good, statesmanlike Africans, such as Mr. Mathu, on the Legislative Council. When we forbid them to meet more than three others of their particular clan, it is difficult to use those so-called good Africans as a means of communication to the masses of people beyond Nairobi. We must think again on this matter of association and the 536 numbers we allow the African leaders to meet.
The Secretary of State spoke of the sinister aspect of Mau Mau. I agree that it is a most unhealthy and unsettling thing to find, almost for the first time in the history of Africa, Africans attacking their own chiefs. When we find that happening, it means that there will be a great gap, because no longer can we have indirect government, such as we have in many parts of the Empire, by using the chiefs to help us govern their people.
These chiefs are nominated and, I take it, paid by the Government of Kenya. It is disturbing to find as an alleged explanation of these actions that many of the Africans think the chiefs we have appointed are, to put it vulgarly, stooges—I should hate to use the Nazi term of Quisling. There is a feeling that these chiefs have been leaning to one side, and it is vital that we have Africans as chiefs in whom the people below have confidence. If we are to achieve that, we ought at once either to convict the people in gaol or get them out, co-operate with them, and so use them in building up a healthly Kenya society.
Lastly, I find the position frightening not merely politically but also in regard to food. The only Province in Tanganyika which is self-supporting is the Southern Province. Elsewhere, Kenya is importing food. This tendency, which is serious, is also developing in Central Africa. I have no time to go into the type of agriculture I would favour, but I am at one with my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) when he speaks of peasant co-operatives about 3,000 acres in size. That is the way out. I am not much in favour of large mechanised schemes. I need not go into past history there. As a solid basis I am thinking of peasant agriculture in not too large units and with "vets," agricultural officers, and other technicians helping the native economy.
What is happening to the Africans themselves? Someone spoke of a vacuum in their society. What happens to the Africans when they leave their own society? Either they have jobs as house boys or they work in the mines. Far too many of them are becoming squatters on the edges of the towns, an unhealthy, almost a vicious, element in society. This is not only a social crisis. We are also 537 facing a biological crisis owing to increasing population, less food and many lawless elements in society.
As the right hon. Gentleman said in an earlier debate, when people speak of investing money in these territories for roads, railways and the like, it is difficult to see how this can be done when it results in deficits and not services. We must accept some help from others and, if we speak in terms of a world plan for mutual aid, we shall need help from America and from the Canadians, because North America is the only part of the world in which we can find sufficient money with which to finance and develop the back ward areas, particularly in Africa.
May I conclude with one quotation on the subject of the development of our African possessions? I think it will tie up with what I have said on African co-operation with American financial help, and with the need for us to work with the Africans and give them our technicians and the like. The quotation is from a book, which I commend to the House, entitled "The Geography of Hunger" by a Brazilian named Josué de Castro. He says:If Europe wants the help of Africa for her economic recovery, she too must adopt a policy of mutual interests, and grant Africa the right to a decent living. And the most fundamental right of any people is the right to an adequate and balanced diet. So long as this is denied the people of Africa, they will hardly co-operate wholeheartedly in the plans laid out by Europeans. … Elspeth Huxley says that, 'in spite of many obvious benefits derived and others promised, they have shown increasing distrust of the White Man's intentions, and growing reluctance either to believe what he says or to play their full part in working with him toward economic prosperity'.We must work together with the African people; otherwise, I feel that there is no future for the white settlers, either in Kenya or anywhere else in the Dark Continent.
§ 3.12 p.m.
§ Captain Robert Ryder (Merton and Morden)
The debate has ranged very largely on the question of Kenya, but what I have to say will take us in rather a different direction, and may seem somewhat out of context, but we are after all debating the humble Address, and I should like to make reference to the expression contained in the Gracious Speech regarding an ever closer co-operation with the members of the Commonwealth.
538 I should like to call attention to what I feel was the notable contribution to the cause of Commonwealth unity which was made by the Canadian Government in inviting delegates from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Associations from every Parliament and almost every Legislature in the Commonwealth to their capital at Ottawa for the conference which we had there, and which I was privileged and fortunate enough to attend as a delegate from this House.
I think we all felt that it was a most valuable conference. We were able, not only to the best of our ability to do our best to put forward our own country's point of view, but we were also able to listen to expressions of opinion from every political party from almost every part of the Commonwealth and the Colonial Empire, including some of the places which have been under discussion, today.
Not only was the Conference itself of supreme value, but we were also, thanks to the Government of Canada and to the Provincial Governments, taken on a very extended tour right across to the Pacific Coast on the far side of Canada, which gave us an unrivalled opportunity of meeting, under the very best possible conditions as we travelled, most of the leading persons in the political parties over there and of hearing at first hand what their feelings were and being able to discuss our problems with them.
I cannot but feel that an exchange of views in this manner must be a great help in leading to better understanding throughout the whole of the Commonwealth and Colonial Empire. I feel that we are indeed very indebted to the people of Canada for sponsoring this Conference and this tour. We were all greatly impressed with the efficiency with which this very complicated journey was managed, and it was undoubtedly a very expensive tour to arrange for so many people. There were upward of 90 delegates, and the hospitality and consideration extended to us impressed us all.
We were also all greatly impressed with the immense industrial developments which we saw taking place in Canada. There is no doubt that Canada will be a most powerful country in the near future, and this is a matter in which we in the United Kingdom can rejoice. In certain ways one perhaps may say that Canada is a lucky country, but it is not 539 only the luck of the draw. Anyone seeing what we saw would agree that the Canadians are showing immense energy, initiative and enterprise and technical ingenuity in the development of hydroelectric power and mineral resources and that Canada deserves all the success that is coming to her.
When I saw all this I felt, however, that there was some danger that all these resources may become in some way isolated from the rest of the Commonwealth by some invisible but nevertheless effective barrier to Commonwealth trade in the shape of the difficulties of trade between the dollar and sterling areas. I feel that that really is far the most important subject which I imagine will be discussed at the forthcoming Conference, but time is too short to pursue this further.
Having indicated the great hospitality and generosity shown by the Canadians to us when we were over there as representatives of this honourable House, I should like to point out that next year, Coronation year, will provide us with an exceptional opportunity for extending the hand of friendship and hospitality to many peoples who will be visiting this country from all parts of the Commonwealth and Empire. It is an occasion when we can do much good or else do much harm if the hand of hospitality proves to be insufficient.
Here is a chance for us to show how we can manage things with efficiency and with a true spirit of hospitality. I am most perturbed when I read accounts of excessive charges being made for accommodation. Many of these accounts may be completely unfounded, but the harm is done. I want to know what the Government propose to do to protect the good name of this country in this respect and to provide adequate supervision to make sure that every possible use is made of the accommodation in this country and that the visitors who come here will feel that they are not being exploited.
Undoubtedly many loyal subjects will come from very far off at great personal expense to themselves. When we consider this I do feel that we should do all we can to make sure that they are adequately and amply provided for. All too often we think of the Commonwealth too much in terms of trade, finance, in 540 terms of dollars and sterling areas, and we sometimes overlook the enormous importance of the sentimental ties which hold the Commonwealth together. When this great event, the Coronation, takes place, I ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to give special attention to the facilities for our visitors from the Commonwealth and the Colonial Empire.
§ 3.20 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I should like, first of all, to add my tribute to that which has already been paid by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I pay tribute to his courage, both moral and physical, in going out to Kenya with as great rapidity as he did.
But having said that, I should like to ask why we have this Mau Mau outbreak at this moment. Let us not forget that only 18 months ago my right hon. Friend went out and got racial relations on to such a good footing in Kenya that all parties were meeting together to bring about a general agreement to reform the constitution, and see whether they could get agreement on the proportions of representatives from each race who would sit in its Legislative Assembly and on a general policy for racial equilibrium in Kenya.
Why has all this altered? In the first place, the Government are to blame for having had an interregnum between Governors. Why did they have this interregnum? I hope that the Under-Secretary of State, when he replies, will explain. I have heard it said also that some elements in Kenya thought that the change-over in this country from a Socialist Government to a Conservative Government was a suitable opportunity to be somewhat tougher in their general outlook, and that this had an effect on African opinion. Whether that is so or not, what we are concerned with now is what action to take.
The first action which should be taken, I suggest, is to end the emergency as soon as possible. Obviously, it cannot be ended at once. Obviously, the regulations have got to go on for some little time. But let us be quite clear, as other hon. Members have said—the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) for 541 example, and the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) in what was, if I may say so, a very fine speech indeed—that not all atrocities are Mau Mau atrocities.
Do not let us continue the regulations on the assumption that whenever there is a murder it is a Mau Mau murder. There will be other murders in the future in Kenya, as there will be in this country, and they will not all be Mau Mau murders. Let us, therefore, end the regulations as soon as we possibly can.
My next point relates to the speed-up of sending out this Royal Commission. I ask the Under-Secretary to pay attention to what my right hon. Friend said when he asked that not all the members of the Commission should be white. I would add that none of the members should come from East Africa. In saying that, I am voicing the opinion of Mr. Odede, the new Chairman of the K.A.U. It is very difficult indeed for one who lives in East Africa to be impartial on the problems of East Africa. In order to be quite certain that we get impartiality, it would be wise that no member of any race living in East Africa or having recently lived in East Africa should be on that Commission.
I hope, too, that the hon. Gentleman will agree with my right hon. Friend that we can shortly have an all-party mission of Members of Parliament who will be able to go out there and examine for themselves, as the Secretary of State was able to examine for himself. The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Teeling) seemed for some reason to object to the idea of an all-party mission; but he himself has had the advantage of going to Kenya under other auspices, and I do not see why he should object to other Members of Parliament going out as well.
The one thing which is absolutely necessary is to help the civilised Africans. The Secretary of State said that the alternative to witchcraft is education. My right hon. Friend said that there are Africans in the bush and Africans in the study room. I want to be certain that we use not only negative measures in coping with this outbreak of primitive barbarism and witchcraft, but positive methods as well.
Hon. Members have talked about the need for economic measures and for 542 improving conditions of life, which are admittedly very bad in many parts of Kenya, but we want also to show that we welcome the civilised African as he has not always been welcomed in the past. We should not keep him out of civilised society. When a man has been educated he should not become an African "intellectual" who is looked down upon by the Europeans out there. Let us make sure that he is welcomed into their society and that, having been educated and having left witchcraft and turned over to Christianity and civilisation, he is welcomed by both Christianity and civilisation. Let us make no mistake about this; if we do not welcome him into civilised society he will go back into the bush.
§ 3.27 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. John Foster)
The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) asked me a few questions, apart from the subject of Kenya, and I propose to deal with them first.
He referred to the forthcoming Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and asked what would be the position of the Colonies with reference to it. The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) also referred to that point. The Gold Coast and Nigeria have nominated an official to be an adviser to the Colonial Secretary for the Conference. That system was in being under the previous Government. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that, with constitutional developments in the Commonwealth, the exact position with reference to any conference must be a matter which is under review.
The right hon. Gentleman has obviously raised an important point. The development of the Commonwealth is a continuous and dynamic one, and it is obviously a point which any Government, this one included, will bear in mind in considering the various aspects of constitutional development. However, for this Conference the practice which obtained under the previous Administration is being continued. It is obviously a matter in which the views of members of the Commonwealth and others who have to come to the Conference will have to be considered.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
It was for that reason that I raised the matter. If an opportunity presents itself, this might be discussed with other representatives of the other countries in the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Foster
A note will be taken of that suggestion.
The right hon. Gentleman asked questions about federation. He asked what meetings were being arranged or pressed for by the Government in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia with regard to the forthcoming conference on federation. At first there was a reluctance by the Africans to come to any meeting at all, but since then there have been signs that the reluctance is disappearing, and meetings are taking place and will take place in both territories. In Northern Rhodesia, already certain individual Africans have expressed their willingness to meet representative Europeans and discuss these questions. The Governor has reported that certain meetings have been successful in clearing away misconceptions, and I think we can take comfort from the fact that the basis of discussion is widening and the willingness to discuss is growing.
That is the situation both in Nyasaland and in Northern Rhodesia. It can be said that in Nyasaland, for example, the meetings take the form of round table discussions, and a moderate movement is growing up in which there is an anxiety to discuss the actual details. The right hon. Gentleman remembers that the difficulty, when we were discussing the matter in the previous debate, was that the Africans were saying, "We will not have anything to do with it. We will not discuss it; we do not want to know what is in the White Paper." That was an unreasonable attitude. They did not know to what they were objecting until they could examine the details of the proposals.
The next question which the right hon. Gentleman put was, on what basis, if any, were Africans being invited to the forthcoming conference? The position is that my right hon. Friend has expressed his willingness that Africans should come to the next conference. Delegates are being invited, and it is hoped that delegates will come.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me on what terms they would come, if they came. It would be on the terms that 544 they are not committed to anything. They can examine the proposals and they are quite at liberty to make constructive suggestions to the Secretary of State, which will be considered by the conference as to whether they will be put on the agenda of the conference and discussed. If constructive proposals are made they will undoubtedly be before the conference, which will take place in the early part of next year.
The last question which the right hon. Gentleman asked was a short one, but the answer could be a long one—I will try to avoid that. He asked what consideration Her Majesty's Government had given to the constitutional suggestions made in the debate on the last occasion we discussed federation, most of which, the right hon. Gentleman said, came from his side of the House. We paid the greatest attention to all the suggestions made by the right hon. Gentleman and his colleague who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench, and in our view there are certain of them which should certainly be on the agenda of the conference.
We do not think it is the part of Her Majesty's Government actually to propose amendments to the previous scheme, but we think that the suggestion that was made, for example, with regard to reviewing the constitution, is one that should be considered by the conference and that several of the other smaller points, such as that about the power of the Governor in dealing with discriminatory legislation, made by the right hon. Gentleman during the debate, should be put before the conference and included on its agenda.
A speech was made, on the first day when we debated the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech, by the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes), in which he raised three or four points on federation. I can deal with them in a few minutes, and I think it would be right to do so now. The hon. and learned Gentleman wanted certain assurances from Her Majesty's Government. He wanted an assurance that there was no question of amalgamation. There is no doubt about that. The Government have given a solemn assurance that in these proposals for federation the question of amalgamation does not arise.
That is linked with the second assurance which the hon. and learned Member wanted, namely that the protectorate 545 status of the Northern Territories would be preserved. It is precisely for that reason, in order to preserve the protectorate status of the Northern Territories, that it would be impossible for Her Majesty's Government to agree to an amalgamation, that is a complete fusion of all three territories.
Then he asked for an assurance that in respect of land tenure, with regard to their land holdings, the Africans would not be prejudiced by federation. That is provided for in the draft scheme, where the question of land is reserved to the Territories. He wanted an assurance about political advancement, and that is also provided for in the checks and balances and divisions between the federal and the territorial functions, and by the fact that political advancement of the African in the three territories can go on. I think, quite shortly, those are the points which the right hon. Gentleman raised today, and also the points which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen. North raised last Tuesday.
I then pass from that to the situation in Kenya and, following the chronological order of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, I should like to deal with the one or two legal points that he raised. He first of all raised the point about the Court of Appeal, and he pointed out the ordinance which referred to the Court of Appeal, where the Court of Appeal had the right to review the sentence when the evidence had been given by a witness whose name had not been disclosed. Well, looking at the ordinance, and taking the best advice we can, it does seem to us that the position is that the Court of Appeal, having power also to quash the sentence, has the power to review the evidence. I think that meets the right hon. Gentleman's point.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
If it is right. If it is not, will the hon. and learned Gentleman look at it again?
§ Mr. Foster
Certainly. If it is not right we shall naturally have a look at this point, but I think that is as far as we can go today. It looks as if it is right, but one hesitates to give—not my legal opinion, for I am not a lawyer any more—but to give an opinion without mulling it over for considerably longer. But it looks as if that is the position.
546 With regard to the position about the registrar, the right hon. Gentleman raised the point that the external affiliation of a society gave the registrar power to reject the registration of the society. He pointed out that either the Labour Party or the United Nations Association might have a branch party in Kenya, and then the registrar would have the power to reject it. First of all, the registrar is responsible to those higher up. The right hon. Gentleman must not assume that the registrar will act in a lunatic way. That does not meet his legal point, that he has the power, but we will look into that. It is obviously a point, but it may be that it is sufficiently met by the control which exists over the registrar, and we must assume that the Government will act in a reasonable way on this point. The right hon. Gentleman knows, of course, the mischief that is being aimed at, because it may be that some external association—say, for instance, the Communist Party, for the sake of argument—may be controlling a society inside Kenya, and it may be desirable not to register that society.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Government had control over the registrar. Is he telling us there is some appeal from a decision of the registrar? Is there any provision for that? That is one of the points about this societies ordinance which is rather concerning us.
§ Mr. Griffiths
At the same time I think there is an appeal to the Governor in Council. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman look at the other point? This is permanent, and it is a dangerous one to make permanent.
§ Mr. Foster
We will certainly look into that. The force of the right hon. Gentleman's argument is obviously appreciated.
Then the right hon. Gentleman and others raised the question of the appointments to the Royal Commission. My right hon. Friend is hoping in the near future to announce the appointments to this Royal Commission, and he has taken note of what has been said. Obviously, it would not be proper or possible to 547 anybody to give assurances ahead of time as to the composition of that Royal Commission.
Then there is a point which I think falls a little bit on one side, but with which I should like to deal. The right hon. Gentleman, in advocating various remedies in Africa, referred, as did others, to the possibility of improving agricultural co-operation as opposed to individual farming. Co-operatives are one method of improving farming, and they have been recognised as such.
Certain progress has been made in co-operation, but it should be realised that it is not a universal panacea, nor is it altogether easy to bring in on a large scale. It has an important part to play, obviously, but group farming, which involves a change in the nature of the tilling of the soil, is very alien to the African tribal customs. It is also a very radical change in their tribal habits, and therefore, as in other things, one has to move carefully. It will be one of the main problems of the Royal Commission to investigate the possibility of increasing the amount of co-operation, and also its impact on the tribal habits or the tribal agricultural conditions of the various tribes.
I should like to come now, speaking in a general way, to what I call the temper of the speeches which have been made in criticising the action of the Government in Kenya. I think that the speeches of the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) are the ones which stand out most in their critical attitude towards what has happened. I think also the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) comes partly in this category. It is rather different from the attitude of the right hon. Member for Llanelly. For instance, the hon. Member for Dudley made a very intemperate attack, I should have thought in bad taste, upon my right hon. Friend—a very different approach from his two right hon. Friends, who both started by congratulating my right hon. Friend for his action and admiring him for his enterprise, courage, and so on, in going out to Kenya.
Let us see if we can agree on certain basic things. I think the whole House, even the hon. Members for Dudley and Deptford, would agree that Mau Mau 548 had to be stopped. I see them nodding, so they agree with that. I should have thought it was clear that Mau Mau could only be stopped by taking energetic and strict methods. I see the hon. Member for Dudley nodding in agreement. The hon. Member for Deptford ended his speech with a purple passage in which he imputed to this side of the House views which we do not hold. His purple passage at the end was that we cannot cure Kenya by bombs and violence or by cruisers, and he gave the impression that we believed we could.
§ Mr. Foster
I will deal with that in a minute. I want at the moment to deal with a point of view of the hon. Member for Deptford. He said by implication—although he did not come out with it; he put it in the negative—that the way to cure the disorders in Kenya is not by soldiers, bullets and so on. No one believes that is the best way of stopping it.
§ Sir L. Plummer
I said that if the hon. and learned Gentleman would face the economic cause of the trouble he would not have to deal even with bandits, bullets and bombs. The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to divorce my remarks from the economic situation that exists in the country.
§ Mr. Foster
On that ground of argument, the hon. Gentleman is entitled to his opinion, but I do not think that he is entitled to give the House the impression that we believe that economic ills can be cured by bullets. That is where he went wrong. It is easy for the skilled orator to move from one part of his argument until in the end he gives that impression. There is not a word of truth in that impression which he tried to give.
No one on this side of the House believes that we can cure poverty by bullets, and if no one believes that there is no point in having a great purple passage designed to meet a view which no one holds. We know it all. There are a lot of skilled orators on both sides of the House and we can recognise the technique, but it is a great pity when it goes out to the world that the Tories want to cure poverty by bombs and bullets and that the hon. Member for Deptford stands out against that view. That is what I object to.
549 What about the cruiser? if the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) had moderated his case and said, "I agree with troops being sent and energetic measures being taken, but I do not agree that a cruiser was altogether necessary," that would have been all right. We do not agree with him, but it is a point in debate which is within a decent framework. What does he do? He imitates soldiers or sailors going to Nairobi by swinging his arms. What is the point of that?
§ Mr. Foster
If the hon. Member had put it on a less heated plane and not imitated sailors going through Nairobi, saying that the Tories always believe in a great show of force and so on—
§ Mr. Foster
The point is that when we have very serious disorders, as I think we agree there were, there is a danger of their spreading. One hon. Member pointed out that other tribes were looking to see what was going to happen, and therefore it is very necessary if one is to take energetic measures to take them 100 per cent. The point of sending the cruiser and the battalions was to stop the spreading of this unrest, to show that we were in control of the rest of the country, and to give heart not only to the Europeans in danger but to the millions of decent Africans being terrorised in different parts of Kenya. That is the point. The hon. Gentleman is entitled to say, "I think that you used too much force." I would not agree with him for a moment; but he is not entitled to say that the Government do it for the fun of the thing.
§ Mr. Archer Baldwin (Leominster)
In the opinion of most Africans in Kenya the arrival of the troops in time prevented what might have been a very bloody affair.
§ Mr. Foster
Let us finish with this point by saying—in answer to the point made by the hon. Member—that in the view of the Government, the Secretary of State and the officials in Kenya it was necessary to send the troops and the cruiser, as we did.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I would point out to the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) that he spoke for 35 minutes. He must be patient and endure the reply.
§ Mr. Foster
The Governor was consulted. [Interruption.] There was no other way of getting his agreement except by consulting him. The intemperateness of the hon. Member has been shown by the exchanges in the last few minutes. I think he has made my case. The position about the growth of Mau Mau was that when my right hon. Friend came down to the House it was thought that the ordinary forces of law and order would be able to take care of the disorders.
The hon. Member will probably remember that in his statement my right hon. Friend gave an account of all the measures which had been taken to deal with Mau Mau. After mentioning the situation which had arisen early this year, he said that it had become progressively worse and that reinforcements had been brought in, arrests made, a curfew imposed, and magistrates given enhanced powers. He said that on 16th October. My point is that those were the measures which were taken locally and it was thought that they would be sufficient to deal with Mau Mau. The extraordinary measures became necessary only later on, when it was found that the forces of law 551 and order which were locally available were not sufficient.
§ Mr. Foster
I think that we are at cross-purposes here. My point is that the measures taken locally, apart from the extraordinary measures taken outside, were put into force before 16th October, when it was thought that ordinary forces of law and order would be able to take care of the situation. On 17th July it was supposed that local people could deal with Mau Mau, and there was no need for my right hon. Friend—the situation not having deteriorated to that extent—to lay special stress on that. It might have excited certain elements in the Colony if he had painted a pessimistic picture. At that time it was thought that Mau Mau could be safely contained by ordinary measures.
§ Mr. Foster
That makes my point. Between July and October things got worse and these local measures were taken. The hon. Member cannot complain about what my right hon. Friend said on 17th July.
With regard to the fact that Sir Evelyn Baring did not go out there until September, the situation was as I said, that it was thought that local measures would take care of the trouble. This was a Governor who was new to the Colony, and there is always a period of preparation during which he has to make himself acquainted with the problems of the Colony. He does that in this country. If he went out entirely unprepared he would not be fitted to govern the Colony.
§ Mr. Foster
The hon. Gentleman laughs in a sardonic way. The Governor was not appointed a year ago.
§ Mr. Foster
The hon. Gentleman is being rather ridiculous in trying to make the point that a man who does not know that he is going to Kenya has been in this country for a year. Apparently he should be learning about every Colony in case he is appointed to it. I suppose he should also be learning about other countries, in case the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs appoints him? That is a ridiculous point. The time to learn about Kenya is after he is appointed. Nor has the new Governor any kind of panacea. There is no magic in getting him out unprepared. He has got to have proper preparation, and here is the place where his preliminary briefing must take place.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Was any consideration given to asking Sir Philip Mitchell to stay on during the interregnum?
§ Mr. Griffiths
No, he was coming back in June. He had retired in June. Was there any indication then that the situation was going to be such that he ought to stay on until the new Governor arrived?
§ Mr. Foster
Not according to Sir Philip Mitchell. The situation bad not deteriorated, and so that position did not arise.
In the five minutes given to me, I should like to deal with the question of the restoration of freedom at political meetings. This point was raised by the right hon. Gentleman and was answered by my right hon. Friend in an intervention, but one hon. Member did not catch it. The point is that Her Majesty's Government do not like a situation where political meetings are prescribed. The leader of the Mau Mau in Africa, Kenyatta, is being kept under observation and is being carefully watched. As my right hon. Friend said, Her Majesty's Government apply these extraordinary measures with great reluctance. One must remember that law and order depend on the co-operation of the population. It has always been the case that there cannot be proper testimony, evidence, rules about corroboration and trial by jury unless an impartial jury can be got from the local population. Therefore, unpalatable measures are only taken when the general population are either 553 intimidated—as is the case here—by agitators, extremists, murderers and torturers, or is unto-operative.
The situation with regard to Kenyatta is that he is under suspicion. In a situation where he is under suspicion, it is necessary to put him out of harm's way because there is the suspicion that he is behind the activities of Mau Mau. Of course, were the population co-operating fully, and if the rule of law obtained, one would not tolerate a person being in preventive detention without his being brought to trial, but in this particular situation among the extraordinary measures taken are those to put a person in detention when under suspicion.
I end my speech by stating that my right hon. Friend has taken note of the suggestion about an all-party delegation to East Africa, and also to state that owing to lack of time I have not the opportunity now to make any comments on the question of agricultural research and the police in Malaya.
§ Debate adjourned.—[Mr. R. Thompson.]
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.