HC Deb 29 April 1953 vol 514 cc2147-52
Mr. Lyttelton

I will now with permission answer Questions Nos. 32, 33 and 36.

First, the plans of the military and police in dealing with Mau Mau, secondly the plans for dealing with the advancement of Africans, the economic future and the expansion of Kenya's natural resources, and, thirdly, I wish to give a very short account of recent events.

The security forces are faced with three main problems: first, the armed gangs, operating in the Rift Valley Province and in several districts in the Central Province; second, thugs or assassins carrying out the murder of informants, police officers, and loyal citizens in Nairobi City; and, third, mass attacks on loyalist Kikuyu in the reserves.

The restoration of law and order remains primarily the responsibility of the police and its reserve supported by the military forces and by the Home Guard. The control of all operations in the Colony remains with the Governor. To enable him to see that decisions on all aspects of the emergency are taken and carried out speedily, the Governor has set up an Emergency Committee, under his Chairmanship, composed of the Chief Secretary, the Members for Finance and Agriculture, the G.O.C., East Africa Command, General Hinde and Mr. Blundell.

He has also given General Hinde, who now has the title of Director of Operations, authority over all officers of Government in carrying out the Governor's policy for dealing with the emergency. Every step is being taken to protect loyal Kikuyu and for this purpose district officers are organising increasing numbers of Home Guards, in the reserves, on the farm and in the forest areas, which must play an important part in this protection.

I now turn to the wider outlook in my second heading. If Kenya cannot meet all the additional costs which these measures involve from her own resources, I shall be ready to discuss with the Chancellor of the Exchequer the question of financial assistance from Her Majesty's Government. It would, of course, be for the Kenya Government to establish their needs but any grants made by Her Majesty's Government would not be on onerous terms or such as to hamper proper development, including the provision of social services.

In addition, it has been decided, with the concurrence of the Chancellor, that in order to promote further development, the Colonial Development and Welfare money allocated to the Kenya Government should be increased by £500,000 against suitable schemes.

As the House knows, the Governor has set up a Committee on African Advancement over which the Governor himself presides, which is considering a wide range of problems. These include African wages and incentives; African housing in town and country; financial assistance to African traders and farmers; land for African settlement; compulsory African education in urban areas; elementary technical education for Africans; African apprenticeship schemes; development and financing of African local government; level of African pensions, and research schemes in African areas. The fact that the Committee is reviewing these subjects does not mean that no action has already been taken by the Government.

The Governor, with my approval, announced on 10th April that as soon as the present acute period of the emergency was over and the situation permitted it, constitutional talks would be held within a few months. In the meantime, there would be no constitutional changes or increase in the number of portfolios held by non-officials.

I now turn to a short account of recent events. Members of a newly established so-called Central Council of Mau Mau were recently arrested. Police investigations revealed that after other leaders had been detained, a group of Africans (all but one being Kikuyu) had established a so-called Central Council to direct Mau Mau both in the city and in a number of districts throughout the Central Province. They set out to direct the campaign of terror particularly in the reserves. About 10 days ago the Kenya police arrested 15 members of this Central group and seized documents.

There is strong evidence that the Uplands massacre was planned by this group, and 260 Africans have now been accused of those murders. The first trial, involving 26 accused, began on 13th April, and the hearing will last three to four weeks. A second trial involving 73 accused was due to begin yesterday, Tuesday, and about 18 further trials will follow. This illustrates the strain on both the police and the administration of justice.

Other operations of importance were the clearance of the Mathari and Kario-Bangi areas near Nairobi. The evacuation of these areas had been ordered by the Supreme Court. Gangs of armed thugs were known to be using these areas. Twelve recent murders have been traced to them as well as numerous attempted murders and robberies with violence. There was evidence that a Mau Mau "court" had been functioning in Kario-Bangi and sentencing loyal Africans to death. In this area, last Friday, 6,000 people were held for questioning, and 530 of these detained.

The police and the Administration are finding alternative shelter for those who are not wanted for crimes or are not required for further screening. I propose to pay an early visit to Kenya to consult with the Governor and again view the situation at first hand. I hope I may express the deep sympathy of the House over the murder of two members of the Meloncelli family, but I cannot supplement the Press accounts of this terrible crime.

Mr. J. Griffiths

While associating ourselves with the sympathy expressed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in his last reference, may I ask him two questions? First, I think it is right to set up the emergency committee and to associate the leaders of the Europeans with it, but would it not be advisable and desirable also to associate with that committee a representative of the Africans and of the Asians in the Legislative Council? Is it not desirable to maintain and to symbolise in this committee the racial unity which is so important in Kenya?

My second question is with regard to the further sum to be allocated from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether that is for specific objects, and, if so, will he give some details?

Mr. Lyttelton

I will answer the second question first. I said in my statement that it was against specific schemes, though as this has only recently been done I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman details. The £500,000 has to be against specific schemes of which I should be glad to give details when I have them.

In answer to the right hon. Gentleman's second question, it is, of course, highly desirable that in the emergency all races should be associated. That has not been possible at this juncture with regard to this emergency committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Because suitable representatives cannot be found at this moment. But the Government of Kenya have this very much in mind, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that there are going to be no further additions to the non-official portfolios until the Inter-Racial Conference which he promised—and I stand by that promise—has been held.

Mr. Brockway

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions. First, will he make an effort to secure the cooperation of African and Asian leaders who have the trust of their communities? Does the right hon. Gentleman really mean to say that there is neither an African nor an Asian Member of the Legislative Council who might be brought on to the emergency committee?

My second question is whether the right hon. Gentleman will now consider, and more particularly when he goes to Kenya, whether it is desirable to continue policies which are only driving more Africans into sympathy with the Mau Mau movement? Will he particularly consider the points which I have put in my Question No. 36 today? For instance, houses are being destroyed as collective punishment. Is it not the case that in the neighbourhood of Nairobi 6,000 houses in an African settlement have been destroyed and the population—

Mr. Alport

On a point of order. Have you not asked the House to be as brief as possible with supplementary questions, Sir? Hon. Members on this side forwent their supplementary questions, although some of them would like to speak on this subject. When a number of hon. Members want to ask supplementary questions is it not possible to keep them as short as possible?

Mr. Speaker

It is a very reasonable request that supplementary questions should be short and not made the occasion for long statements.

Mr. Brockway

The points to which I referred were in my Question to the right hon. Gentleman, and he ignored them.

Mr. Lyttelton

The hon. Member has asked a number of supplementary questions. In regard to the 6,000 houses, I have already explained the reasons. The Supreme Court had ordered evacuation of this area and the houses, of course, were cleared. The reason why they were cleared is that this was a centre from which the assassins were trying to operate. The hon. Gentleman has also suggested that the policy being pursued in Kenya is driving more and more Kikuyu into the arms of Mau Mau. There is absolutely no justification whatever for that statement. If there was a scintilla of truth in it, how does the hon. Gentleman explain the ever-increasing number of Home Guard?

Mr. Nicholson

My right hon. Friend said that there would be a grant-in-aid from the Treasury which would not be upon onerous terms. Does that mean there will be no strings attached?

Mr. Lyttelton

I meant that the terms would be such as not to hamper the Kenya Government in dealing with the emergency.

Mr. Hale

Will the right hon. Gentleman please reconsider his statement that there is no African or Asian in Kenya upon whom the Government can rely to participate in the emergency committee? Does he not realise that this is an affront to the great Commonwealth of Nations? As he knows, there are many distinguished Indians in Kenya. Would he not correct Ms statement at once, and give me an answer to Question No. 33, in which I asked him what economic reforms had been instituted in Kenya since October, 1952, and what further reforms were contemplated? Has any step been taken to give a subsidy on posho or, if not, is any step to be taken?

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I support my hon. Friend in asking the Secretary of State to correct his statement, as I am sure he would not like a wrong impression to go out? It is vital to get the co-operation of Africans and Indians. Will he reconsider the matter?

Mr. Lyttelton

It is not for me to reconsider it. This emergency committee is an entirely advisory committee and is concerned only with the course of operations. It is advising the Government, and it has not found two representatives willing to serve. I will certainly look into the matter when I get to Kenya. I cannot do anything at present.

Mr. J. Johnson

Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly answer my Question No. 32? Is there any chance of the Minister thinking again and convening again the Inter-Racial Conference of which Sir Alfred Vincent was Chairman? Would this not be a helpful and hopeful gesture to loyal Africans who are backing us up in the fight against Mau Mau?

Mr. Lyttelton

The hon. Gentleman has had repeated assurances from me that as soon as I am satisfied there is a reasonable chance of the Inter-Racial Conference reaching results it will be convened. He surely must know that in the present state of affairs in Kenya the convening of such a conference could only lead to frustration and failure. That is what I have in mind.

Mr. Noel-Baker

While everybody welcomes this extra £500,000, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind, apart from the present emergency, the need for development of all kinds, which means that the Kenya Government must, in the near future, require very large sums of money. If he should propose the granting of interest-free loans, the right hon. Gentleman will have full support from this side of the House.

Mr. Lyttelton

The right hon. Gentleman is not doing full justice to my statement, in which I said that the £500,000 is from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. He will remember that I also referred to grants-in-aid, for which the Kenya Government will be required to establish their need, and it will not be granted on onerous terms.