HC Deb 29 April 1953 vol 514 cc2117-21
6. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will ask the Governor of Kenya to report on the operation of the Emergency Regulation which gives any member of the police force and Her Majesty's Forces and any administrative officer, forest officer or game officer or subordinate officer within the meaning of the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance authority in a prohibited area to use force extending to voluntarily causing death in the case of any person who fails to stop when challenged, and in a special area to the use of lethal weapons in the case of any person who resists arrest or attempts to escape from arrest or fails to stop and submit to a search when called upon to do so.

34. Mr. Hale

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies for what reason, and under whose authority, Nairobi has been designated a special area; under what provisions instructions have been given permitting authorised persons to shoot persons who do not stop when challenged; and whether the request to stop has to be given in the language of the persons challenged.

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

Under Emergency Regulation 22b, which is available in the Library, if it appears to the Governor to be necessary or expedient that special precautions should be taken to prevent malicious injury to persons or property, he may by order declare an area to be a special area. The same regulation permits authorised persons to use such force as in the circumstances of the case may be reasonably necessary, including the use of lethal weapons to arrest any person who fails to stop when challenged. The request to stop is given in a language which the person concerned would certainly understand.

Special areas have been declared since the middle of January and in these 335 persons have been shot under the provisions of the Emergency Regulations when resisting arrest or attempting to escape. Of these 224 have been identified as persons wanted for murder and other serious crimes.

The Emergency Regulation referred to in the second Question has been amended and the authority which it gives to take, in a prohibited area, measures including means dangerous or fatal to human life is now restricted to members of the police force, of tribal police forces, of Her Majesty's Forces and Administrative Officers. Twenty-nine terrorists have been shot after being challenged and failing to halt in prohibited areas since the first of such areas was declared at the beginning of the year.

Mr. Brockway

While it is- recognised on both sides of the House that the police and Forces in Kenya have been acting under a very great strain and with great restraint, is it not also a fact that the European-controlled Press in Nairobi, as well as the Government in Kenya, have shown some concern about these powers being wrongly used? Is he aware that I have a number of statements from Nairobi, including one from an African policeman who declined an order to shoot a man in the back? In view of all those circumstances, will he ask for some report from the Kenya Government upon this matter?

Mr. Lyttelton

The hon. Gentleman has mentioned a case of which I have had no notice at all. My position in this matter and that of the Kenya Government is quite clear. Where we get evidence that any of these powers are being misused, the culprit will be visited with the utmost severity. So far, I have received some representations about this, but I have received no evidence.

Mr. J. Griffiths

While I recognise, as does my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), that the Forces and police are living and working under a very great strain in Kenya, was the Secretary of State's attention called to an editorial in "The Times" this week, not for the first time expressing some concern at the report of abuses of these powers? Since these tend to bring the forces of law and order into disrepute, will he make full inquiries and make a statement to the House at the earliest possible opportunity?

Mr. Lyttelton

I cannot undertake to make a statement to the House. I am in complete sympathy with the sentiments expressed in that article, but so far no evidence, other than rumours, has come to my knowledge. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, two circulars have been sent out by the Governor on this very point.

Mr. Griffiths

The Secretary of State has said that before, but, nevertheless, correspondents of considerable repute. whose reports are generally very reliable, continue to make these statements. That is why I urge the Secretary of State to consult with the Governor. I think a statement could be made both in this House and in Kenya.

Mr. Lyttelton

This is nothing new. I have been in close touch with the Governor on this very matter for, I suppose, six weeks. I share the concern which the right hon. Gentleman has expressed and that of reputable correspondents, but he must not expect me to pre-judge any cases until I have definite evidence. I have asked for that. I can only assure him that we shall follow it up.

Mr. Hale

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that Question No. 34 asks for the reason why Nairobi itself has been declared a special area in view of the statement in the Press that no new emergency had occurred there and that this was merely a question of tidying up or trying to follow suspected people from one area to another? Will he bear in mind, in view of foolish interjections from hon. Members opposite, that it is difficult for corpses to complain? Once a man has been shot on an allegation that he is resisting arrest, or on suspicion, or, having been challenged in a language which he may or may not understand, it is not easy to produce evidence to justify a complaint. That is one of the fears which we seriously entertain. Is it not unprecedented to make this great capital city an emergency area for this purpose unless there is some very grave reason for it?

Mr. Lyttelton

I resist the allegation that because people are shot no evidence can be forthcoming. If one believes statements made, evidence can be gathered from other members of the security forces and other Africans. So far, no definite piece of evidence, other than hearsay, has come to my knowledge. If the hon. Member will await my statement at the end of Questions about the situation in Kenya, I hope he will be satisfied with the reasons why Nairobi has been declared a special area.

Mr. Baldwin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Governor of Kenya and those who are advising him are quite capable of managing their own affairs without so much interference from Members of this House and that these allegations which are being made are only adding fuel to a fire which is already furious enough?

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