§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
I beg to move, "That this House do now adjourn."
We have now to discuss what is perhaps the most shocking event that has occurred in the history of our Commonwealth and Empire. I say that advisedly, because at the time of the Indian Mutiny—an event which seems most comparable with this massacre— India was not part of our Commonwealth and Empire. It is perhaps significant that, as a result of the Indian Mutiny, we altered the Government of India.
What happened on this occasion? At about nine o'clock on Thursday there was a diversionary attack by lorry-conveyed members of the Mau Mau on a police station some 20 miles from Uplands. This attack, which dispersed the defending forces, was carried out with resolution. The police post was stormed and arms, including machine guns, were captured, as well as ammunition. About an hour after this attack no fewer than three columns converged simultaneously upon the settlement at Uplands. Their arrival was timed to coincide with the absence of the male population on Home Guard patrols. Those patrols had probably been diverted by the original attack on the police station.
This second attack demonstrated discipline. It was a selective attack upon the houses of the families of the Home Guard and of the servants of the Government. Those houses were burnt down and the women and children ruthlessly massacred. Anyone who was concerned with Commando operations will realise the organisational difficulty of bringing three converging columns to a perfectly synchronised attack, which is what occurred on this occasion. This operation was on a military scale and argues highly competent central direction and planning. Since that occurrence, screening of the local inhabitants has taken place. Apparently local people have identified a large number of men who are said to have taken part in this attack.
As a lawyer I am always suspicious of. "That is the man" evidence. I shall 1109 have something to say later about police methods adopted in Kenya. I shall not be altogether convinced even if this identification is corroborated by a quota of confessions. I find it hard to believe that an organisation which carried out and controlled this attack could leave the— I almost used the word "troops"—the people which it used for this purpose, to be collected and screened in that immediate locality. An organisation which could carry out an operation of that kind could also have carried out their evacuation to the Mau Mau hide-outs.
It is now for us to consider the causes of what occurred and how they may be met. As the Secretary of State for the Colonies agreed at Question time, this is a new situation calling for new action. We have first to consider where the responsibility lies. I would say, first, that we cannot lay the responsibility upon the Kikuyu. The whole justification of our presence in that Colony, as in any other Colony, is that the Kikuyu are irresponsible; that they are people incapable of governing themselves; that they require protection and guidance. It is never for the protector and guide to place the blame for what goes wrong upon the colonial people, any more than it is right that a parent or a schoolmaster should place upon his children the blame for mischief which he ought to have controlled.
I would say first that the responsibility lies upon the white settlers. They have been a governing class. They have failed to secure the loyalty of their servants, their tenants and their retainers. For a governing class to fail to secure that loyalty is a formidable indictment. I would say next that responsibility lies upon the Government of Kenya. Mau Mau came suddenly and unexpectedly on the Government, which argues a shocking failure in their intelligence service.
At one time it was said that there was difficulty in finding in the whole Colony two people who could speak the language of the Kikuyu. These facts, ignorance of what was happening among the Kikuyu and ignorance of their language, argues a regrettable lack of interest in these people who are our wards.
Thirdly, I say that responsibility rests in some measure upon the Minister. Though I consider it to be a false impression. He has in this House created an 1110 impression of indifference to African interests and African liberties—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I say that may be a mistaken impression, but it is an impression which has been created, and which has done great harm in Africa. We understand the right hon. Gentleman better than do the Africans. It has perhaps been an error in manners, but it has resulted in serious consequences.
Finally, I would mention failure to make economic provision for the people. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman in believing that the primary cause of Mau Mau is a failure in personal relations, while not going so far as he does in saying that economic causes are irrelevant. So much for the causes of Mau Mau. But what are the causes of its growth, which has been so alarming that they can now carry out this military operation?
Mau Mau began last summer with sporadic attacks on cattle. By September there were murders. By 20th October, when the right hon. Gentleman made a statement in the House, it had reached, as he recognised, the proportions of a national resistance movement. He then said of it that its purpose was to destroy all authority save its own. That is as good a definition as I can give of a national resistance movement.
What have we done? Since then we have made almost every mistake available to an occupying or colonial Power faced with a national resistance movement. I recall a conversation which I had with a very experienced and, as I thought, wise German commander. He talked to me about resistance movements, and his success had a grim tribute paid to it in the transportation of the population of the Crimea to Siberia, which occurred afterwards when the Soviet forces came back.
What he said was, "Hitler was always saying to us 'You must make the inhabitants more frightened of you than of the guerillas.' I believe that that is profoundly wrong. Terror is the coin of the guerilla. The purpose of the guerilla is to create chaos and anarchy, and terror is the foundation of chaos and anarchy. As one creates terror so does one build up what the guerilla is seeking to create. The only answer to a resistance movement is to obtain the support of the people, and we can do that only if we 1111 provide protection for those who support us, and if we provide them with justice and the means of living when they are under our protection."
If those maxims are correct, then since October we have done almost exactly the opposite. We have failed to protect the Africans who support us. Chief after chief has been killed. There was Chief Waruhiu, who had been threatened. There was Chief Nderi. We failed to protect one chief even in hospital, so that the Mau Mau could kill him there. There was a councillor of the Council of Nairobi who, having asked for police protection and having been refused it, was killed in the streets of Nairobi. Finally, there was this massacre which occurred while the local Home Guard were out. and when no steps at all had been taken to protect their helpless dependents.
We have failed. We have allowed the Mau Mau to demonstrate their power and our impotence. That is the first failure. The second is our failure to appeal to African opinion. The right hon. Gentleman said at Question time that African leaders are not forbidden to address their followers—
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
I am sorry to interrupt this travesty of what I said. I did not say anything of the kind. I said that the Kenya Government would sympathetically consider any application by an African leader to address a meeting, but no such application has been received. The hon. and learned Gentleman would do well to confine himself to the facts.
§ Mr. Paget
What else was I saying? I said that at Question time the right hon. Gentleman had said that African leaders were not forbidden to address their followers, and that applications would be favourably considered. What use is that? Here are men who risk their lives if they attack Mau Mau. Is it enough to say that applications to do so will be favourably considered? It was the Government's duty to make every effort to persuade them to do so, to build up an alternative African leadership to Mau Mau, instead of adopting an attitude in which they did everything in their power to discredit the Africans who 1112 would help. They treat them in this sort of manner.
Instead of trying to bring people round to their support they have done everything to antagonise them. They have gone in for collective punishment in a situation which was not like that in Malaya. General Templer went in for collective punishment in Malaya in a situation which he controlled. The Government have gone in for collective punishment in a situation which they did not control and in which they could not protect. That is the one way to antagonise a population and make them enemies.
Finally, we have indulged in what I think can only reasonably be described as a competitive terror in this area. I wish to refer to some of the ordinances which have been issued. One provided:Any person who … fails to stop after being challenged by an authorised officer, may be arrested by force, which force may, if necessary to effect arrest, extend to voluntarily causing death.Authorised officers are:… any administrative officer, any forest officer, any game officer, any subordinate officer within the meaning of the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance …Included are special constables who, without police training, have been enrolled from among the youngsters. They are men who I have heard reported from two sources have been heard in the bars of Nairobi hotels swanking about how many Kukes they have "potted." That has been the attitude of undisciplined police who have been causing terror.
I should like to read a letter which was published in the "South London Press" from a detective named Tony Cross. He was a detective in the Streatham force and he is now a member of the Kenya Police Force. In a letter to his former colleagues he said that he polices 30 square miles in the heart of the Kikuyu country and that he inherited 50 prisoners without records of their crimes. He says:As to Mau Mau activities we have three home guard sections each about 50 strong and they go out and bring in the information. Some are pretty good, and we go out and raid and knock a few off. Don't ask me why … just because the home guard say they are bad men. Anyway, after persuasion they usually confess something. I inspect all prisoners and if they are a bit dubious I refuse to have them. The next morning I am usually called to a dead body, and proceed normally.1113If you are on patrol and find some men hiding in the bush you call on them to stop and if they don't they are shot, or rather shot at. These boys are rotten shots, so I grab the first bloke's rifle and have a go. Compared with coppering in London, this really shakes you. There seem to be no judge's rules, cautions, etc., but I am gradually getting some proper policing. I am sure that all this Gestapo stuff never got anybody anywhere.That is a letter from a member of the Kenya police who had served as a detective in the London police. I agree with him. These Gestapo methods, as has been proved by one resistance movement after another throughout Europe, get nowhere in face of this sort of problem.
I have not previously intervened in debates about Kenya. My grandfather was a distinguished colonial governor. I have been brought up in an atmosphere of government, with an intense feeling, which he felt and which was the basis of our Colonial Service, of responsibility for the protection of the natives whom we govern, and also in the profound belief that the man on the spot should be supported until the time came for him to be removed. I intervene now because I think that time has come. The Government have failed and they should be removed.
The Kenya constitution ought to be suspended. Until we establish a new Government we shall not gain the confidence of the people. That Government, by their weakness, their failure and their irresponsibility, as evidenced by their police methods, have lost the confidence of the people. We shall not regain that confidence until we substitute for that Government strong government.
I would urge upon the Government to recall General Templer from Malaya. The nut there seems to have been just about cracked, and the situation is in hand. Let them bring General Templer, who has proved himself in Malaya, to Kenya. Give him the power. Let him have political officers. Tell him not merely to pacify the country, which is essential, but also to build up there a proper foundation for an effective Government.
Let his instructions include the Devonshire Declaration made by the Government of 1923, which is to this effect:Primarily, Kenya is an African territory, and His Majesty's Government think it necessary definitely to record their considered opinion that the interests of the African natives 1114 must be paramount, and that if and when those interests and the interests of immigrant races should conflict, the former should prevail.Let that be given to General Templer or whoever is sent, and placed in his instructions.
Tell him to start with a clean sheet, to form a new Government and to make it strong; and, by their resolution, by their justice and by their interest in all native populations that have been neglected, let them re-win for Britain the confidence of the people, who have to trust us. The Government, I feel, should go. They have allowed Mau Mau to build themselves up to a size when they could carry out this operation. This is the time for drastic, quick action, and it must mean a new Government.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
There is one matter on which the whole House will be united tonight, and that is our abhorence of the methods of Mau Mau. The mutilations and the murders which it has committed must have horrified everyone with a shred of human feeling, and these have reached their climax in the events of last week, which have led to our discussion tonight.
May I say that I am particularly disappointed in the emergence of Mau Mau, because I have been identified with the African cause in Kenya, and I have seen that movement concentrating upon education and taking a series of constructive steps in preparing its proposals. It was a shock to see even a proportion of the Kikuyu tribe reverting to these methods of barbarism. In an earlier speech I recognised the strain which there has been on the European settlers—those men in the isolated farms who must have their guns at hand day and night, and who live under constant anxiety for their wives and children—but I think we shall do well to remember tonight that the African victims of Mau Mau have been many more than the European victims.
I think I am right in saying that, up to this moment, eight Europeans have been murdered, while the number of Africans who have been murdered must by now have reached the figure of 250. While I want protection for the isolated European farmers, the Africans in the native reserves, with the danger of attack from the surrounding community never absent, require protection even more than the isolated European farmers.
1115 My first criticism tonight would be to emphasise the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), that that protection has not been provided. In the instance of the Larhi location, where the families of the members of the Home Guard were massacred, the members of the Home Guard on that occasion had all been called away, and it was in their absence that their unprotected families were massacred. In the case of the attack on the police station, the lives of three policemen were lost and a large store of munitions was seized, while less than three miles away were the Lancashire Fusiliers, and such little co-ordination was there in methods of defence that the European armed forces were entirely ignorant of the attack, which lasted some time.
I say to the Secretary of State for the Colonies that the first condemnation must fall upon the Government of Kenya, and upon his representation of that Government in this House. I am not surprised that, among the population in Kenya, there is now a loss of faith in that Government. There is the demand by the white settlers for associations of responsibility in that Government. I welcome the demand for self-government in Kenya, but when that self-government comes it must not be self-government by one race but by all the races.
The drawback of the policy which has been pursued by the Kenya Government and supported by the Secretary of State for the Colonies is that, from the beginning of the Mau Mau emergency, despite what he has said in this House, there has been the tendency to outlaw and to repulse the efforts of African representatives to co-operate against Mau Mau and against violence.
I would urge tonight that, when we ask whether there should be African co-operation or not, the dividing line should be on this simple issue: Are you opposed to the methods of Mau Mau and of violence? That has not been the dividing line which has been drawn by the Government of Kenya. The dividing line which has been drawn by that Government has been to say that they will accept co-operation from the Africans only if the Africans themselves endorse 1116 100 per cent. the policy of the Government. But if the Africans are critics of the Government or have been leaders and have voiced the grievances from which the African people suffer then they are outlawed and their co-operation is refused.
The African people are seething with grievances. Their leaders would not have represented them if they had not criticised us. They have their land problem. There are 1,200,000 Kikuyus on 20,000 square miles of cultivable land looking at 12,000 Europeans on 12,000 square miles of land. There is the serfdom of their condition among the European farmers. They sign three-year contracts and their wages are between 3s. and 4s. 6d. a week. They are not allowed to leave the district without passes from the manager. At the end of three years they have no alternative but to renew the contracts because there is then no land in the reserves and the conditions in the towns are worse.
There are 10,000 homeless Africans in Nairobi every night. They receive a wage of 56s. a month, when the Medical Officer of Health for Nairobi says that 60s. a month is the lowest figure on which one human being can be kept healthy. Then there is the humiliation of the colour bar. I have been in Nairobi with men much more cultured than myself, and I have seen restaurant after restaurant and hotel after hotel refuse to serve them because they were coloured. I was ashamed, and they were humiliated. When one has that sense of frustration can one wonder that it turns to bitterness and sometimes to viciousness?
Not only are there those practices of normal times, but there is now this practice of collective punishment. A European is murdered, and for 25 miles around every African, men, women and children, is moved, their huts burned down, their cattle seized, and they are dumped into already congested African reserves. With the men arrested, the women folk are left unprotected. The Government may by these methods destroy the Mau Mau organisation, but they will only increase the bitterness which is the cause of Mau Mau.
I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Government of Kenya to seek the co-operation of Africans who feel 1117 even more deeply than I do about the grievances which I have described, but who are opposed to the methods of Mau Mau and to violence. I was astonished by the statement twice made by the right hon. Gentleman in answer to Questions which I put to him in the House and once when interrupting the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton, that on no occasion have the Africans in the Legislative Council offered to speak and to denounce Mau Mau at meetings.
The right hon. Gentleman was in Nairobi at the same time as myself. The members of the Legislative Council made that offer to the Governor during the right hon. Gentleman's visit. That offer was refused on the ground that those leaders were not then prepared to denounce their predecessors who had been arrested. I believe they rightly said that they were not prepared to denounce the leaders of their organisation until those leaders had been found guilty. But because they adopted that attitude way back last November, the Government of Kenya refused to accept their offers to act against Mau Mau.
I will now bring the matter more up to date. The right hon. Gentleman says that they have never offered to denounce Mau Mau. I will quote from the—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Before the hon. Gentleman continues with this particular argument, I think he should at least do me the justice of quoting me accurately. What I said was that no applications to address meetings had been received. The Kenya Government do not allow assembly on a large scale in the present state of the Colony. Therefore, in order to get a meeting, an application has to be made. It is quite true that one statement was made in the Press, but it was not accompanied by an application.
§ Mr. Brockway
I will try to be moderate in my comment on what the right hon. Gentleman says, but, honestly, if the right hon. Gentleman is going to excuse the failure to secure African cooperation on the ground that they had not presented a signed chit to the Governor saying, "Your Excellency, we would like to address a meeting of our constituents of the Nyanza Province on such a date," 1118 then I know of nothing which more condemns the Government of Kenya or the right hon. Gentleman.
These men are members of the Legislative Council; they are Members of their Parliament as we are Members here. On 3rd February last Mr. Awori moved in the Kenya Legislative Council that African Members should be free to hold meetings with their people. That Motion was opposed by the Kenya Government, and was defeated by 24 votes to 13. On that occasion, Mr. Awori said that African Members found themselves in a most difficult position. When they came there they were supposed to speak on behalf of five million Africans, but when they left the Council they could not speak with them. If the Government had no faith in them then it was quite wrong for Africans to hold seats in the Council. Mr. Awori said:If you do not want our co-operation the consequences will fall on the Government. You will regret it later.Those are prophetic words; but let me bring the issue right up to date. The tragedy which we are discussing today is that which occurred last Thursday night. "The Times" of last Saturday published the following report:Mr. Awori said, ' This is definitely the work of Mau Mau gangsters and has shown the necessity of even stronger resistance against Mau Mau.' He added that peace loving Africans were not going to compromise with murderers, who might use the cloak of fighting for African freedom yet murder innocent women and children. Events had shown more than ever the necessity of the Government's allowing African leaders to speak to the people personally, and he was still prepared to go out into the reserves and forests to do so.I say to this House and to the right hon. Gentleman, that to withhold cooperation from the leaders of the Kenya African Union and the African people because those people rightly denounce the social, economic and political injusties from which they suffer, and when they are more deeply hurt by the methods of Mau Mau and this violence than we are, is a gross betrayal of all the responsibilities of Government.
I hope very much that we shall regard the shock which will be aroused by the events of last Thursday as providing a new opportunity. I should like to see the right hon. Gentleman and the Governor in Kenya inviting inter-racial co-operation to deal with the issues which now 1119 face that Colony. I should like that racial co-operation to be based not only on plans to defeat Mau Mau but on a series of reforms which would remove the social, economic and psychological frustrations which are the causes of Mau Mau. I say to the right hon. Gentleman that it is not impossible. On the day when I arrived in Nairobi, Mr. Michael Blundell, the leader of the European group on the Legislative Council, said that I ought not to be allowed to enter the Colony. He denounced me as a Communist, as having attended Communist conferences throughout the world and as having been arrested in Poland as a Communist. I have never attended a Communist conference in my life and I have not been arrested in Poland as a Communist or anything else.
I mention that to show the psychology when I arrived in Nairobi. But before 10 days had passed, Mr. Michael Blundell was sitting round the table with us, with three other representatives of the European group, with the Indian representatives, with the Arab representatives and with the African representatives. There we discussed a programme of reforms. That programme of reforms was endorsed in general by those at that round table conference of the four races, with the exception of one of the European representatives.
I say to the right hon. Gentleman that if my hon. Friend the Member for Old-ham, West (Mr. Hale) and myself, private Members of this House, could achieve that in 10 days, with all that psychology against us, then the right hon. Gentleman, if his real purpose in this House is to bring about inter-racial cooperation, should use the authority which he has here, and use it far more effectively, to bring about that result in Kenya. This is the only method by which we will stay the civil war which is now taking place among the Kikuyu. It is the only way in which we shall bring about racial co-operation. I plead with the right hon. Gentleman to apply this method before it is too late.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) has once again made a passionate appeal for associating leading Africans with the problem of 1120 winning over the African population against Mau Mau. I recollect that on previous occasions when he made similar appeals the names with which he made some play were, in the first case, Mr. Mathu, and, in the second place, Mr. Odede. He knows as well as I do the problems which now surround those two individuals. It is true that they are quite different problems, but they are ones which any Government must clearly bear in mind.
The hon. Member's judgment of these matters and his use of the names of leaders of the Kenya African Union would be more convincing if, in fact, there was precedence for reliance to be placed upon them for the purpose which he has in mind. I should have thought that his case would have been much stronger if in making his point he had used the names of the type of men who carry weight with African opinion and who represent the sort of influences which we wish to see spread among the Kikuyu. His case would have been much stronger if he had used the names of the loyal chiefs who have played a gallant and a practical part, at the cost of their lives in many cases, in meeting the hideous menace of Mau Mau.
I find it difficult to follow entirely the logic of the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), because, in the first place, he was strongly critical of the Government in Kenya for not following religiously the normal processes of the law and then, towards the end of his speech, he posed as his solution of the crisis the complete abrogation of the present form of constitutional Government in the Colony. It may be that the Government in this country and the Government in Kenya are subject to criticism because they have been too closely attached to using the normal processes of colonial government, but surely that is, at any rate, an error on the right side. A complete abrogation of political forms as they have been developed in Kenya over this period should not be adopted except as a last resort.
As I listened to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton I felt that this House was under considerable difficulties in debating this matter without complete information. It is all very well to rely for evidence upon chance conversations 1121 at the Nairobi bars, or the correspondence columns of the "South London Press" or even the leaders in the "Tribune." But in a matter of this seriousness, when speeches made in this House will clearly have an effect for better, or more probably for worse, on the situation in Kenya, it seems to me that this House would be only in the right in trying to ensure that before it discussed the matter it had the fullest information at its disposal.
I do not find it at all curious, for instance, that the Kikuyu in the Mau Mau were able to execute a military operation of the sort that took place at Uplands. After all, many of them were trained in the Army and saw service in Burma for months and years in the last war. There is nothing extraordinary in the fact that those who wished to turn those experiences to ill-use should be able to do so. In fact—and here perhaps is the change in the situation which exists —we are facing a situation of civil war in the first place, a native war in the second place, and, in the third place, an organised revolution against the Government, led by what is clearly a centrally directed organisation.
One of the most important questions —on which, I hope, it will be possible to get more information in due course— is who exactly is at the back of that central organisation. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton was very liberal in his distribution of the blame both here and in East Africa. He said, first, that the settlers were to blame for failing to secure the loyalty of the Africans who worked for them. My experience has been that the loyalty of the Africans—Kikuyu and others—is directed particularly towards the settlers with whom they have been associated and whom they have known as friends, in some cases for very many years. The persons who do not evoke loyalty from the Africans are very often those who have recently gone to live among them.
It would be unfair to the vast majority of the white community in Africa to accuse them of failing to exact that loyalty from the other races with whom they are associated. We have the evidence of the last war—and I do not think that the bulk of the African peoples in Kenya have changed—that the sense of comradeship between the white settlers 1122 in Kenya and the Africans was stronger that it was between the Africans and those of us who came from the United Kingdom and were new arrivals to the Territory.
Blame was attached to the Government in Kenya. It is true that when a great crisis like this develops in a small and poor Colony like Kenya it is frequently found that the machinery of government is inadequate to deal with the crisis. It may be that a modicum of blame attaches to the past, but it is very easy for us, here, who are now blessed with after knowledge, to apply that blame too viciously and too directly to those who were able, as they believed, to dispense with some of the elaborate machinery for the maintenance of law and order because they felt that in their Colony there was an atmosphere of peace and contentment.
If the hon. and learned Member for Northampton read the Kenya Report for 1950, he would find that there was no reason for Her Majesty's present Government or the present Government in Kenya to have realised that this outbreak was imminent. It came suddenly, and it is extremely difficult in these cases to get more warning.
§ Mr. Alport
Yes, but I would point out that the censure by the hon. and learned Gentleman must be directed at the present Governor who in fact, was not responsible for the particular matters which have been put forward by the hon. and learned Member.
The next matter to which the hon. and learned Member referred—and the hon. Member for Eton and Slough repeated it —was the failure to deal with the economic conditions existing in Kenya. Let us be quite clear about this question. The economic conditions in Kenya are no worse than those which exist in other Colonies in Africa. I entirely agree with those hon. Members who say that there is an urgent need to raise the economic conditions and the standard of living of African peoples as a whole. We should 1123 all agree with that. But it is wrong to single out an incident, desperate and sad as it is, in a single tribe in a single territory, and to assume that the particular community involved was in a different position from others.
§ Mr. Brockway
Is not the difference between Kenya and other Colonies—particularly Uganda—the fact that in Uganda Europeans are not allowed to own land, while in Kenya they possess much of the best land?
§ Mr. Alport
That is not relevant to this point, for the Africans in Kenya own relatively—I am not going to argue the figures—as much land as they do in Uganda. The point that some hon. Members do not seem to realise is that relative to Uganda, Kenya is a very poor Colony. There is considerable mineral wealth in Uganda and there is very much better land available for certain types of primary products, and Uganda has always been known to be a much richer territory than Kenya. It is, therefore, most improbable, to say the least, that it would be possible to raise the standard of living—even with the best will in the world—and to ensure that the economic progress of a poor Colony like Kenya was exactly the same as that of a rich Colony like Uganda.
The one point which I want to take up with as much vigour as I can is the use by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton of the phrase "national resistance movement" in relation to Mau Mau. We have had national resistance movements in the past. The Maquis in France were a national resistance movement and there were other movements of that type, but does the hon. and learned Member really think that Mau Mau, with the methods they have used and the organisation and inspiration which are behind them, are comparable with those other movements in Europe? As in so many cases, the use of words and the giving of titles are most important. They are apt to blind public opinion to the real significance of what is happening in Kenya at the present time.
Mau Mau is primarily an organisation intended to enrich the organisers as much as possible. It is they who get the advantage of the money taken in for administering the oath. It is they who employ the thugs from Nairobi to carry 1124 out the robberies which have taken place in European and African quarters. The hon. and learned Member is doing a grave dis-service by giving such an appellation to this movement.
In East Africa, and in Kenya in particular, we are facing a position which will require new action. One of the most important things which must be done is to ensure that in Kenya and in East Africa generally there is a far more stable basis for law and order than has existed up to the present, and I would urge my right hon. Friend to use all his influence to ensure that East Africa becomes, as it was to become under the previous Government—but did not, because for some reason plans were changed—a military base, which will ensure that if trouble arises again there will be a quick means of dealing with it.
That military base should not be simply a European one; it should also include, as was planned in the past, an adequate African element. During the years which are to come in Africa—and we must consider not only the short-term interests but the long-term interests as well—it is vital, in my opinion, that there should be a basis of order and stability such as would come from a development of that sort.
There is no hon. Member who has not heard the news of this last outrage in Kenya with horror and dismay and who does not realise what it means in terms of day-to-day living for Africans, Europeans, Asians and all those who support the Government and law and order. But I also believe that there is no hon. Member in the House who is not determined that law and order will be restored to Kenya from now onwards and who will not give to my right hon. Friend and to the Government full support in carrying that out.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I am sure we all join with the last words of the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport); indeed we heard almost with dismay of the outrage last week. I intervene for only a short time in order to ask a few questions and to make a few comments. In the debate so far we have used the term "civil war." Indeed, there seems to be every danger that we are rapidly reaching a stage in Kenya which amounts to civil war.
1125 I was in Kenya a little under two years ago, and at that time there was no indication from any quarter that a movement of this kind existed, or, if it existed, that it was a movement which within two years would create this terrible situation in Kenya. The right hon. Gentleman was there much less than two years ago. I am sure that he, too, has felt that one of the problems which needs to be investigated is how it came about that a movement of this kind could grow to these proportions without the Government at home and the Government of Kenya being aware of it.
We had a debate on Kenya last July in which the Secretary of State spoke. It was our usual annual colonial debate, but we devoted it, in the main, to the problems of Kenya, and the Secretary of State spoke about those problems. During that speech there was no indication at all that there was any trouble of this kind—that there was Mau Mau or any possibility of this outrage. Had he been advised of it, I am sure he would have told the House that there was this very great danger. Indeed, when this trouble first began, those representatives of the Government of Kenya who came to this country indicated in their public statements that this was a movement of a very few people, of a minority of the Kikuyu. We have now been told by very responsible people that a stage has been reached at which something between 80 and 90 per cent. of this tribe have taken this oath and at which it is believed that this movement was responsible for the horrible massacre of last week.
I come to the points which I wish to make. It is quite clear to me that the massacre of last week was part of an attempt which is now being made by Mau Mau to terrorise and kill all those among the Africans who are loyal and active in support of the Government and against Mau Mau. That seems to be quite clear. I asked a supplementary question when the Secretary of State made his statement this afternoon, and I hope he will tell us something further about this matter later.
Among these active, loyal Kikuyu are a number—I do not know the number; it must be hundreds and it may be thousands—who have taken all the very great risks of joining the Home Guard— how horrible are those risks was shown 1126 quite clearly by the events of last week. Correspondence from Kenya in the "Manchester Guardian" and other papers has been quoted to us, and there is a feeling that these men who are taking all these risks are not adequately armed to meet the danger which confronts them. I hope the Secretary of State will deal with that problem when he replies.
I mention the next point because it is rather important. To what extent it has been a question of deliberate policy and to what extent it has been a question of voluntarily leaving the Highlands I do not know, but there has certainly been a movement away from the Highlands. There were a quarter of a million Africans working on the farms in the Highlands. I do not know how many are left now, but very large numbers of them—certainly thousands, and it may be tens of thousands—have left the Highlands and the farms and have crowded into the reserves.
One of the major problems of Kenya, and it may be one of the deep-seated, root causes of Mau Mau, was the continuing congestion and overcrowding of the reserves, with all its consequences. If, three or two years ago, or even 12 months ago, before this outbreak occurred, the reserves were so terribly overcrowded, what must the position be now, with the outpouring into the reserves of the thousands of rootless proletariat? This afternoon the Secretary of State said this movement was due to the fact that the Africans were told by Mau Mau—I paraphrase what he says, and if I paraphrase unfairly no doubt he will intervene—"If you stay on these white Highlands and on these farms, and if you do not go back to the reserves, you will lose your share of the white Highlands when the share-out takes place." I do not know whether that is true.
I have received what I think is the fourth issue of a news letter issued by the East Africa Women's League. Other hon. Members have received it, too, and no doubt the Secretary of State has received it. The issue contains a deeply impressive letter written by the wife of a settler describing the life and the terror which falls to their lot in the isolated farms. The letter is related to this problem which I believe is very much aggravated by the continual flow of Africans into the reserves.
1127 It is a deeply impressive letter which I hope hon. Members will read and which I should like to see published. It sets out all the problems and all the terrors which they face. She says:But there is a third factor which is to me far more painful and difficult to contend with than either the fear or the boredom, and that is the atmosphere of suspicion in which we must live. Continually, on the wireless, by our Elected Members and other leaders, by our own E.A.W.L. Headquarters, we are reminded that we must not—repeat must not— trust our Kikuyu servants.In warning people in the Highlands that they must not trust their Kikuyu servants, are we not contributing to what I think is one part of the problem—and I am not putting it too high: by this policy we are playing right into the hands of Mau Mau and aggravating every possible problem. I asked the Secretary of State to deal with that aspect, and he gave a short reply this afternoon to a supplementary question.
I shall not speak at length, because I have discussed previously all these problems and their underlying causes; but I should like to come to my main point and to what I think has been a mistake of policy. I put this forward with diffidence and with humility, but I believe that from the beginning we made a great mistake in policy in Kenya. It seems to me that the essence of wise leadership would have been to isolate Mau Mau from the Africans and the Africans from Mau Mau. After all, it was reported to us by responsible servants of the Kenya Government that when this movement broke out it was among a tiny minority. None of us can believe that tonight. Are we, therefore, to understand that the net result of our policy is this: whereas, less than 12 months ago, when this outbreak took place, Mau Mau could command the allegiance of only a minority of the people of the tribe, they now dominate it and that even up to 90 per cent. of the tribe have taken the oath?
It may be said that it is due to the fact that they are able to terrorise the people of the tribe, and there is no doubt that there is a good deal of truth in that; but there is another aspect, and that is that from the very beginning we have left them to Mau Mau. I urge again what I have urged before: it seems to me that one of the first things that we 1128 should have done in Kenya was to support and strengthen the hands of the responsible African leaders who could have won the Africans away from Mau Mau. That seems to be the essence of the problem. Instead of that—I do not think anyone can deny it—the effect of what we have done is to leave the people leaderless.
I wish to come again to the question of meetings, a matter which I raised earlier. The Africans are a people who love to come together. Their very life is built on that. They are continually together. Yet we now leave them entirely to the leaders of the Mau Mau, to the terrorists, and they are never able to see or hear their own responsible leaders. It was several months before Mr. Mathu, a member of the Executive Council and a member of the Cabinet, was allowed or was asked to broadcast to his people, but eventually he was permitted to do so. The Secretary of State referred to that this afternoon, and repeated his remarks in an intervention.
It may be that the African leaders have not made a request to be allowed to address meetings—I do not dispute it for a moment if the right hon. Gentleman says so—but I should like to repeat something that was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), that recently there was a debate inititated by the Africans in the Legislative Council in which the terms of the Motion debated sought to enable them to speak to the African people and offer them constructive responsible leadership against Mau Mau. Yet the Kenya Government advised the Legislative Council to reject the Motion, and it was rejected. Why should it have been rejected?
There were Members of Parliament asking the Legislative Council to approve a Motion to enable them to go and speak to their own people and to rally them behind the responsible Government against Mau Mau, and yet the Kenya Government advised the Legislative Council to reject the Motion. I cannot understand it. The Secretary of State has told us about the reasons the African leaders have not been addressing meetings. I know there has to be a limit on the size of the meeting and I appreciate the security problems, but if an important reason is said to be that the Africans 1129 have not asked to be able to do so, here was an instance of them asking collectively (in the Legislative Council, and yet the Kenya Government advised the Legislative Council to turn down the request.
I wish to plead with the Secretary of State again. Why should we wait until the Africans ask to be allowed to go and address their people? Why do we not encourage them, support them and stand by their side? If we do so, we shall offer alternative leadership to these African people.
I should like a conference of representatives of all the races concerned. I should like to see joint leadership being offered to all the people in Kenya— Africans, Asians and Europeans alike. I should like us to take all the steps that are possible to bring all the races together so that we might provide an alternative leadership to that of Mau Mau. What is the alternative? That is what worries me. What I am afraid of is not the danger that this might become a struggle between all the responsible, loyal, peaceful people in Kenya and the Mau Mau, but that it might become a racial conflict.
If it becomes a racial conflict, which of us would dare contemplate the future of that Colony? The hon. Member opposite who said that this is not one of the richest Colonies in Africa was right. In many respects it is one of the poorest in its resources. It has a very big task to build up its resources. We know perfectly well that there is no future for anyone in Kenya except on the basis of racial co-operation. What future would there be for the settlers?
We know what is happening now. What would happen to the farms in the white Highlands without the 250,000 Africans there? It is true that the settlers bring the capital, the skill, and knowledge and the technique, and have established European agriculture in the white Highlands, but unless they can get Africans to work with them there will be nothing but desolation. The Africans are going away, and I do not know what will happen. Who can contemplate what will happen?
If this situation is to harden and deepen into a racial conflict, then there is nothing 1130 but a very bleak and unhappy prospect for Kenya. It is essential for us to avoid any policy, wherever it may stem from, which may harden the present tendency for this trouble to become a battle between whites and blacks. We must encourage every possible movement to make it a battle of all the responsible people, Europeans, Asians and Africans, against the terrorism.
Last week many of us had the privilege of listening to and discussing and arguing with Mr. Michael Blundell, the leader of the Europeans in Kenya. I wish to make a suggestion to the Secretary of State as an alternative to a suggestion which I made when we were discussing this matter earlier. I then suggested that an all-party delegation should go from this House to Kenya. I still think it was a wise suggestion, for it would have established contact on an all-party basis with all sections in Kenya. However, it was rejected. Mr. Michael Blundell has been over here and we have had the opportunity of meeting him. of discussing and arguing the problems with him, and of listening to his point of view and of putting ours.
I suggest to the Secretary of State that he should invite representatives of the Africans and the Asians to come here as well. It may seem a small tiling, but I beg the House to accept the viewpoint that in everything we do and say, all the emphasis must be on bringing the whole of the people together. We have had the opportunity of meeting Mr. Blundell—I was very glad to renew my acquaintance with him, because I had met him in Kenya—and now that we have heard the European leader and he has gone back, it is important for us to say that we are anxious also to hear the African leaders and the Asian leaders.
Let us maintain the right relations with all the races in Kenya. I hope it is not too late still to urge that we ought to avoid like the plague any step of any kind, economic, political or military, which will finally transform this trouble into a bitter struggle between white and black. We today ought to take every possible step to encourage all the people in Kenya to make this a battle of responsible people, working together in strict co-operation, to destroy Mau Mau.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
I am sure that the whole House joins with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) in the emphasis he laid on the importance of avoiding anything that might make this conflict into a racial war. I think, too, that the anxiety which he has expressed, and which all of us share, over events in Kenya has been increased and deepened by what has happened recently.
We all know that at the beginning of the trouble in Kenya there was a breakdown in the intelligence services advising the Government as to what was taking place inside the country. We had hoped that the reorganisation of those intelligence services that was carried out recently would have changed the situation; that the Kenya Government should now be more familiar with what was happening among the Kikuyu. I am bound to say, however, that recent developments have aroused in my mind concern about the reorganisation of the intelligence services and the general set-up for tackling this insurrection. It seems they are not yet in the shape they should be.
There has been a tendency from the beginning, particularly in the Press and among public opinion, to underestimate the gravity of the Kenya development. I am not one of those who sees a Communist under every bed. But it is quite clear that the leaders of the Mau Mau insurrection have understood and adapted, at any rate a good deal of the Communist revolutionary technique which has been applied to insurrections in other parts of the world. Of this I am sure: that if we do not succeed in bringing the movement under control very soon Communist influences will eventually take hold of it and grow.
One of the questions we have to ask ourselves is: are we tackling the insurrection problem from the right point of view technically? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) emphasised the importance of assuring protection to the loyal African elements, and that is the key to the matter. Have we got the right kind of organisation and forces to meet this danger? To put the matter in simple form: is the Army the right instrument for suppressing guerilla warfare? I must say, as one with slight experience of guerilla warfare, that I rather wonder 1132 whether regular formations like brigades, battalions and even companies are the right kind of formations for dealing with a trouble of this kind.
What I am going to suggest is rather outside the scope of this debate, but it has to do with the matter. We have a cold war developing and insurrectionary undertakings in different parts of the world. Should we not therefore contemplate the formation of some new corps, something between the Commandos and a gendarmerie that would be equipped and divided into the right size of squadrons and units to cope with this kind of activity?
Let me mention another technical subject, that of collective punishment. It is a very difficult subject. Having seen collective punishment carried out by the Germans in the occupied territories of Europe, I would say, studying it simply as a technique for the restoration of order, that there is one fundamental principle which we must bear in mind. Any collective punishment which deprives a man of his means of livelihood and yet leaves him at liberty tends to drive him into the hands of the insurrection party, whoever they may be.
A man can be imprisoned, or confined within certain limits and punished, as General Templer is doing in Malaya, or he can be dealt with as the Germans and Russians do and his life taken away, but if his means of livelihood is taken from him and his home burned down, there is a tendency and temptation to find a new home among the rebels.
Having voiced these anxieties and criticisms over what is happening in Kenya, I should like to turn to what was said by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway). First of all, I should like to say, since it has not been mentioned yet, that I thought it was regrettable that in this very important debate the hon. and learned Member for Northampton should have made a gratuitous, unfounded accusation against the alleged indifference of my right hon. Friend, which has nothing to do with the debate and for which he has not produced a shred of evidence.
He made one main constructive point in the sense that it was new. He said that the settlers were in the position of 1133 ruling classes in Kenya, and he deduced from that that the present constitution should be suspended and all power concentrated in the hands of the Government. I thought he was wrong when he said the settlers were a ruling class. Certainly, from the Marxist point of view he was wrong. As I understand, the essence of a ruling class is not only their privilege but their responsibility.
The weakness and the difficulty of the situation in Kenya is that, though the settlers undoubtedly have privilege and economically constitute a privileged class, they have not got political responsibilities. One of the reasons for the tension there and in some of the other Colonies is because there are two classes separated economically, glaring at each other, as it were, across the barrier, with the scales held by an administration which is responsible to neither. If, eventually, things could be brought to a point where they form a homogeneous community in which the ruling classes economically also have responsibility politically the racial conflict may become less grave than it now is.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
If the hon. Member is thinking in Marxist terms it seems to me he is falling into error. Not only have the settlers in Kenya privilege but they have power, and my hon. and learned Friend was pointing to the fact that we have a class in Kenya which has privilege and power and certainly has no responsibility.
§ Mr. Amery
I will meet that point. It has not got responsibility at the moment. At the moment, it has not power in the sense of controlling and ruling the country in the sense of directing the operations against Mau Mau.
I think it is a mistake to refer to the settlers as ruling classes in the way the hon. and learned Gentleman did, and I think it was a mistake to deduce from this that the Constitution ought to be suspended. What I would say is that, not necessarily at present, when the emergency is going on, but eventually, when we come to try to settle the long-term problems, there is something to be said for giving much more power not to the settlers only but to all the different communities on the spot; to try to create a Government which will be more responsible to the people on the spot than it is today.
1134 The hon. Member for Eton and Slough spoke of the importance of overcoming the deep-rooted economic and social problems of Kenya and of the colour bar. He will remember that these difficult and intractable problems are not easily solved. It was surely not through lack of goodwill that it was not solved in the six years when the party opposite were in power. It was a very difficult and intractable problem then, and it is not possible to meet and solve this particular emergency by producing out of the hat, like the conjuror producing the rabbit, a solution of the particular problem presented by the insurrection.
It is difficult to see an easy solution to these matters. Anybody who has seen guerrilla warfare from the guerrilla point of view knows what tremendous advantage the guerrilla has against the forces of law and order, particularly in a country where the means of subsistence are not hard to come by. The hon. and learned member for Northampton, who initiated the debate, did us a service in giving us a chance to make our views known, but he drew the wrong conclusion, in casting blame on the Government of Kenya, on my right hon. Friends here, on the Army, the police and on all concerned.
That is the wrong approach and is not helpful. This is not a political issue between the parties here. There are loyal Africans supporting us, and some of them have laid down their lives. There may be others who are wondering whether to support us actively themselves. This terrible blow, which has fallen not on the white settlers but on our African fellow-subjects, this atrocity, may convince many who are wavering today of the need for drawing together with the Government and helping them pursue a more active policy to suppress Mau Mau. It may be that out of this disaster will come a new chance for all concerned.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
Many hon. Members will agree with a number of the points put forward by the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery), but will regret that he did not make some of them a little earlier. His view on collective punishment is one with which many of us would have heartily agreed, but his comments come a little belatedly when this particular method of dealing with the trouble is being regarded 1135 in Kenya as doing more harm than good. His comments, drawn from very valuable experience, might have been made with rather better effect some three or four months ago.
§ Mrs. White
The columns of "The Times" are usually open to the hon. Gentleman, I believe.
It is very useful for us to have this debate. Every hon. Member is convinced that affairs in Kenya are entering a new and very serious phase. It is no longer purely a matter of small numbers of persons operating in small gangs. We are entering a phase of organised guerilla warfare, of quasi-military operations. It is right that we should have this debate because it is clear that there is considerable lack of confidence both in this country and, as I hope to show in a moment, in Kenya on the steps which have been taken to deal with the situation, and doubts whether the Government and the forces in Kenya are fully apprised of the difficulties of the task and adequately organised.
I am not a military expert in any sense of the words, but if I were a loyal Kikuyu and if I had been told only a week before this massacre, for example, by Mr. O'Hagan, Provincial Commissioner of the Central Province, in Nairobi on 19th March, that three teams of loyal Kikuyu were touring certain districts to assure their fellow-tribesmen that now, with protection, they had a chance for a change of heart, and if, within a week, this massacre occurred, I should have doubts that, far from strengthening my resolve to join the forces of law and order, might very much weaken that resolve.
One cannot help wondering how anyone could give the kind of advice which Mr. O'Hagan was giving to Africans in view of the events, not only of the massacre at Lari but also of the attack on the police post on the same night. How could one pretend that conditions were such that loyal Africans could reasonably be encouraged to come forward when one has a position in which a large amount of ammunition and store of arms was available, and in which we were told there were only six police 1136 constables on duty—five, I think, resting —and in which two lorry loads of attackers had managed to drive 40 or 50 miles, it is suggested; when, according to the regulations which are nominally in force in Kenya, there should have been somewhere along those roads police posts, road blocks, and so on? After all, this attack was not right up in the Aberdare Mountains, and it seems to me that purely on grounds of organisation there is serious cause for concern.
I have said that it is not only in this House that there is lack of confidence in this matter. I shall read a passage from an editorial in a weekly newspaper printed in Kenya written before this latest disaster. The last issue available, 20th March, of the "Kenya Weekly News" says:Reports still persist of muddle and inefficiency in the battle against the Mau Mau. Every settler who returns to his farm on leave from the fray seems to have a similar and depressing tale to tell. It is a tale of waste of money and of opportunities, of the lack of a common policy and of over-all direction; of highly-paid 'dugouts' in jobs for which they are no longer mentally or physically well-equipped; a tale which always leads to the conclusion that there will be no near end to this business without a radical change of policy and of practice.That is not a "long-haired Socialist" speaking, but the editor of a well-known paper in Kenya. I believe, from letters I have received and from other publications I have read, that it represents a fairly strong body of opinion in the Colony itself.
It is pointed out that the state of emergency has now been on between five and six months. Before that, there were several months of unrest. It has been suggested by Major General Hinde that at least another six months will be required to get anywhere near restoring law and order. Only now, apparently, are steps being taken to give the kind of training at which I think the hon. Member for Preston, North was hinting. A number of times in this House we have referred to the deficiencies of the intelligence service which appear to be once again demonstrated. There are complaints of vacillation in Government policy.
There is also the question of collective punishment which was employed despite very strong criticism from this side of the House, and we are now glad of some 1137 support from the other side. There are stories of treatment by the police which, when it is meted out very often to persons who are, in fact, innocent, can hardly have the effect of making them enthusiastic supporters of the Government. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to give the House further information about the methods and the criticisms which are being made on the more technical side.
After all, as we have proved in this country, it is not brutal and brutalising punishments that cure crime; it is the certainty of detection—in other words, the organisation of the police and military forces, as the case may be. To adopt methods of collective punishment or third degree treatment by the police is far from being a substitute. It has the worst possible effect, whereas adequate and thoroughly efficient organisation would be a much better encouragement to loyal Africans to come to the side of the Government.
We are particularly concerned by the position in the reserves and by the drift of people from the European settled areas. The Secretary of State suggested that this was largely due to the encouragement of the Mau Mau leaders themselves, but there appears already to have been in Kenya a diversity of official voices on this matter. The police and the military authorities have been encouraging the settlers to get rid as rapidly as possible of their squatter labour. The civil government, on the other hand, have been aware of the extreme difficulties which have resulted from this, including the threat of famine, and have, I understand, been trying to exercise a more moderating influence. What they are trying to achieve now, in the most difficult of circumstances, is the settlement of the squatters in villages, which has been urged from this side of the House for some time past on quite different social grounds as being desirable.
Two things are needed if we are to master this situation. Both points have been emphasised in one way and another by previous speakers. The first is a much more competent direction of the operations. This lack of confidence, both here and in Kenya, is not without foundation, I am quite certain. Until one has real assurances of that kind, we will not get the real co-operation of the Africans. 1138 There will, in addition, be the gulf between a number of the settlers and the administration in Kenya, which also appears to be widening. This in itself is a serious problem.
I agree again with the hon. Member for Preston, North that that gulf exists and is bound to widen until and unless there is a more responsible Government in Kenya; and this must be on a multiracial basis. It is extremely unfortunate that the constitutional discussions initiated by my right hon. Friend have, no doubt necessarily, had to be postponed, but even in this emergency it would be worth while to start those discussions again.
I say that not only from the point of view of the Africans, but also from the point of view of the Europeans and the Asians, who have very great interests in the present state of affairs in Kenya. It would be in the interests of all three races that discussions of that kind should once more be started. One of the hopeful signs of the situation is that people like Mr. Michael Blundell and some of his associates have been prepared to continue discussions on economic and other social measures although the emergency has been continuing. I should have thought that if those matters of wages, and so forth, could be discussed, so, also, could the political issue. Unless the full co-operation of all sections of the community in Kenya can be obtained in this matter, the outlook for progress and development in the Colony is very dim indeed.
I hope we shall have from the Government spokesman tonight reassurances on these points and recognition that it is not just fractiousness on our part, as is sometimes suggested by the Secretary of State, which makes us bring up these matters. We are very much concerned with what is going on there and I think the House is entitled to have reassurances both on the technical matters and on the political issues which are at stake.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
We are grateful to the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) and other speakers on this side of the House who, since the opening two speeches, have kept the debate on a reasonable level, but there were certain points in the hon. Lady's speech with which I could not fully agree.
1139 I think she did less than justice to the loyal Kikuyu in saying that because of the terrible events of the massacre they would not tend to line up and help deal with the emergency, but would rather be discouraged. I am sure that they would react in just the same way as she would if there were lots of burglaries. I am sure she would find out how to join the special constabulary and not take the advice of a former Solicitor-General on her own Front Bench to see if there was a burglars' club she could join. I am sure that loyal Africans are the same, and will do their best in the emergency as it exists.
The hon. Lady spoke of the amount of work to be done. Quite often people do not appreciate the enormous amount of work to be done by a relatively small body of manpower, not only in fighting the emergency, but also in moving and re-settling thousands, and possibly tens of thousands, of Kikuyus moving back to the reserves.
I regretted very much some of the remarks by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) in opening the debate, but I should like to support what he said about this operation being clearly very well planned. Knowing very little about the planning of such operations, I believe that it was not planned by any African of the type of which I have heard in Kenya at present. The timing of the two raids to distract the attention of those who might have been guarding this particular settlement was obviously very carefully and closely planned. As my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) said, there are many Africans who could carry out such a raid, but I think that the planning of such an operation was a different matter and as time goes on we shall have to see how the planning of such an operation might have been carried out. In Kenya, after all, we are in a state of war. It is not just some sudden emergency, but a state of war resulting from a long period of preparation.
I repeat what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, that there was, I believe, a shortcoming in the intelligence service in Kenya. The greatest shortcoming probably was among the district officers. As I said in a similar debate last November, I do not blame 1140 them because I think that with the mass of work that has been given them, particularly since the war, the district officers are more and more taken from their primary job of knowing their people and are given all sorts of paper work and office work to do, arising from the vast growth of central Government. What we have to do, and I know that many administrations throughout Africa are trying to do it, is to relieve the district officer of this over-burden of paper and get him back to his primary job.
I regret very much the disgraceful attack made on my right hon. Friend to the effect that he is indifferent to Africans. Thank goodness we had him with his firm policy, to deal with these situations as they arise. I shudder to think what would have happened if certain hop. Members opposite had had to deal with these matters. I thought it was a disgraceful and unwarrantable attack, unsupported by any evidence.
The hon. and learned Member went on to talk about the failure to make economic provision in the past. I do not wish to raise the temperature of this debate or to introduce party feeling. But surely more could have been done about that during the 6½ years while there was a Socialist Government. More could also have been done about the settlements in Nairobi, which everyone agrees have grown up to the great detriment of people of all races living in Nairobi.
The situation, which the hon. and learned Gentleman described as different from that in Malaya, is not in my opinion all that different. I did not understand quite what line he was taking about that, but I know, despite the attacks made upon him by certain hon. Members opposite, that General Templer has by his policy obtained a control over a large part of Malaya. But do not let us think that the battle is over there yet.
I would say a word in support of the "young constables" referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton. I am reminded of what was said by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) on another occasion about "brash" young men dealing with this emergency—and "swanking about in bars" or elsewhere. It was astonishing for the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, who is a lawyer, to call 1141 purely hearsay evidence to support his argument. I think that the hon. and learned Member and others should go and see what these young men are facing every night—the tortures and the attacks on people of all races.
§ Mr. G. Lindgren (Wellingborough)
I know from his general attitude to the House that the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) would not wish to make an incorrect statement. I believe that the statement which he attributes to my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), who is a lawyer, was made by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway).
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
I was referring to a debate some months ago and reference was made to a "brash" young man—
§ Mr. Wigg
That is a little unfair to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who, when he was reading a statement made by a police officer, was in fact reading a statement reported in the "South London Press." The Secretary of State was sufficiently interested to instruct a senior police officer from Scotland Yard to go to the police station to get the original letter. My hon. and learned Friend was making no allegation but was repeating what was said in the letter.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
That is a different point from the one I made. If the hon. Member looks at HANSARD tomorrow he will find that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton talked about "young constables" swanking in bars about the number of Africans they had shot. I can assure the hon. Member that that is the point with which I was dealing.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), the former Secretary of State for the Colonies, referred to the Kikuyu being leaderless. I would say to him that there are other leaders than politicians. Many leaders still exist among the Kikuyu in the tribal areas. In particular there are their chiefs and others to whom they look for guidance. I think it wrong to say the Kikuyu are leaderless because some members of the Legislative Council with a knowledge of English and other attributes are not doing what the right hon. Gentleman thinks they should; 1142 or that there are not other leaders doing their best to give a lead to their people.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Those representatives have not got on to the Council. An African on the Executive Council was appointed by the Governor. Those on the Legislative Council are appointed by their own people.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
That is not the point the right hon. Gentleman was making. He gave the impression, even though he did not mean it, that he regretted the members of the Legislative Council were not taking the lead, and he thus implied that the Kikuyu were leaderless. The point I am endeavouring to make is that there are other leaders among the Kikuyu in Africa and in this country, in addition to members of the Legislative Assembly. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that these loyal chiefs and leaders among the Kikuyu are doing a tremendous amount of work. Many of them have paid with their lives for the loyalty they have shown in trying to protect their own people from the murderous element of the Kikuyu.
Relatively few people realise the enormous task which the forces of security have to face, and how large is the area of the Aberdare Mountains. Those forces are doing their utmost to see that order is restored in an area which has been described as being only as large as Surrey but which, in the conditions of Africa, is very large indeed. In such an emergency, as we found in this country in 1940, a very large organisation is required to arrange quickly and efficiently a competent security system with all the forces, the police, the Regular Army, who I am glad to see are being strengthened, and the Home Guard.
Everybody in Kenya would agree that there are many shortcomings, but we should pay tribute to what has been accomplished in the past few months rather than try to stress those shortcomings in this House. I am sure that all hon. Members will support Sir Evelyn Baring, the present Governor, the Administration and the efforts of all races— all races are co-operating and suffering from Mau Mau—to restore once again law and order in what must again be a happy part of Africa.
§ 8.57 p.m.
Sir Leslie Plwnmer (Deptford)
We are not only discussing the dreadful and frightful disaster of last Thursday but also the appalling consequences which may flow from it. Statements have been made about young Europeans swaggering about the bars of Nairobi and boasting of the Africans that they have potted. I do not know whether that story is true. I happened to read it in a newspaper, just as did my hon. Friends. But what happens in conditions like this when the passions of young men are aroused by the dreadful happenings in the country is that some of the more hotheaded and irresponsible may use phrases which do not redound to their credit, and which do a great deal to exacerbate the hatred which the Africans are showing to anybody who exercises law and order and authority.
One of the terrible consequences of this situation is the possibility that people may be actuated by revenge instead of a desire to try to get a clean sweep in Kenya". Some doubt has been cast on the letter from Tony Cross, the ex-detective from Streatham, which he wrote to his friends at the station house. That letter is written in most moving terms. It is not couched in official language. It is not the report of a detective to his inspector detailing an account of the night's work. It is a letter written in language that his friends will understand.
Therefore, it is all the more convincing. This fellow writes this private letter home using the phrases that detectives use to each other in the canteen. He describes a situation where revenge is the motive instead of the preservation of law and order. On all sides of the House hon. Members can understand the emotions of people caught up in this dreadful web of murder, assassination and mutilation. We must resist this attempt to use the situation for purposes of revenge, and I think it is the duty of the Government here to see to it that every restraint and influence is put by the Government of Kenya on the people in the Home Guard.
There are some sinister phrases now appearing in our newspapers from correspondents in Nairobi. For instance, there is the sinister phrase to the effect that prisoners were shot dead while trying to escape, which is a familiar phrase which we remember so clearly from 1939 onwards. Then there are sinister phrases 1144 about men jumping over cliffs and out of windows to escape, and may be they are true; but there is growing up in this country today an unhealthy feeling that something is not quite right with the forces that we are using. When a detective writes home to his friends here and says, "I do not like the situation that is going on and I do not like to go out and have to pick up dead bodies; I do not like this institution of a Gestapo," we must listen to what he has to say, for he speaks with the voice of honesty and in terms with which nobody could quarrel.
There has been some discussion by the hon. Members for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) and Colchester (Mr. Alport) on the point that this is a carefully organised campaign. I am sure it is; it is a campaign organised in the teeming slums of Nairobi; it has been born out of the hovels behind the Swamp Road. It is born out of the grievous sense of dissatisfaction, the grinding poverty and continuing despair which Africans have. In my time here, I have urged that one of the best ways in which we might try to meet this situation is by raising the wages of the Africans. These Africans' wages have been referred to by my hon. Friends the Members for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) and Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), who produced in this House actual contracts between African squatters and Mr. Michael Blundell, whereby these Africans got 12s. a month.
§ Sir L. Plummer
There was every evidence of it, because they were signed by the employer's agent, finger printed by the employee and attested by the district commissioner or other legal officer whose duty it was to approve them. At least, I have not seen that anybody has yet denied their legality.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)
Does not my hon. Friend recall that, when my hon. Friend produced the contracts in this House, they were passed across to hon. Members opposite, who did not question their authenticity?
§ Sir L. Plummer
There is nothing peculiar about these contracts; they were the ordinary run of contracts for labour at that time throughout the whole 1145 country, and nobody has argued against them. These are the forms used and the standards laid down, and the defenders of this low wage economy have been saying that if we raised the wages of the Africans we should upset the economy of the country; that is to say, the low wage economy of the country which is based on 12s. a month for the squatter plus a few cents a pound to his family for picking pyrethrum, and 56s. a month for Africans who work in Nairobi.
§ Sir L. Plummer
I did not employ on the same terms, but I was constantly under pressure by the Government not to increase African wages because, if I did so, it would upset the economy of the country and would make it difficult for other employers to get labour. This theme was constantly being urged, and I honestly do not believe that it is to the benefit of this country or the African people for us to deny that we are running the country on the basis of a low wage economy. It is the very nerve and nub of the situation we are facing.
It has been argued that in trying to raise the wage of 12s. a month for the squatter and of 56s. a month for the town worker we shall upset the economy of the country and place a burden upon it which it cannot afford. But the present state of affairs is costing the country £500,000 a week. That money is going down the drain, and is a dreadful burden on the country.
§ Sir L. Plummer
I meant to say £500,000 a month, which is a tidy sum of money. While I do not agree with the view that every penny spent in a war could, if saved, be spent on social services, I do believe that part of that £500,000 could be used to raise African wages to a level which would enable the Africans to keep themselves and their wives and children in health and decency. That would go a long way towards making it clear to the Africans that the Government want to defeat Mau Mau not only with military weapons, but with the economic weapon of enabling people to increase their standard of living.
§ Mr. Alport rose—
§ Sir L. Plummer
I am afraid I cannot give way to the hon. Gentleman. I have been interrupted enough, and I want to finish because there are several other hon. Members who wish to speak.
Sir Philip Mitchell has described the life of the African in Kenya—and I hope it does not upset hon. and right hon. Members opposite—as being short, dark and brutish, but the African endures. The lot of the African is not a happy one. It is a hard and dismal one, and it is not being made any better by the present situation, and the African will not accept the position that he will get nothing at all out of this situation.
I beg the right hon. Gentleman to see that motives of revenge are not used in Kenya, that caution is used and exercised in seeing that the forces of law and order conduct themselves with absolute propriety at all times, and that immediate steps are taken by this Government and by the Government of Kenya so to raise the economic life of the people of Kenya that they will recognise and accept that this House and this country are concerned about them.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Reading, North)
If I do not follow in detail the remarks of the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer), it is only because they appear to me to have little relevance to the Motion we are now discussing. We have had these economic diatribes and the production of contracts in this House many times before.
I thought that the purpose of this debate was to discuss the very serious issue, as presented by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), of the massacre of a large number of loyal Kikuyu. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton suggested how protection could be given in the future to Africans loyal to the Government. He also made some criticism of the Kenya Government and said that he thought it ought to be replaced. At least, that is how some of us interpreted his speech.
When it comes to a question of confidence in the Kenya Government, I am not at all sure how much hon. Members opposite should claim to have this interest 1147 at heart when by their speeches and their actions in recent months they have done nothing to contribute to the establishment or the maintenance of confidence in that Government. Some of the speeches we have heard can hardly be calculated to raise the prestige of the Government there or to hold in check the forces at present running riot.
I was a little surprised by the arguments put forward from the other side of the House on the subject of affording protection because, as far as I could see, the accusation that we are alleged not to be affording sufficient protection is tied up with the accusation that these young police officers whom we are using are inexperienced and incompetent to carry out their tasks. There are, altogether, only 40,000 whites in Kenya. Unless constructive suggestions are to be made about sending a large force from this country, then, if these allegations of inexperience or incompetence are true— which I do not accept at all—I should like to know how the hon. and learned Member for Northampton suggests that we draw from that small number of people in Kenya experienced officers able to carry out these duties and able to step into the breach in an emergency. If those experienced people are not available, I do not know how the hon. and learned Member imagines they are to be trained up to the mark in time.
§ Mr. Bennett
Nobody on this side of the House or anywhere else, and no one in responsible government, has suggested putting automatic weapons in the hands of people to be used to shoot at sight. Nor has anything been said to justify the use of the expression "Gestapo" which was used earlier in this debate. If there is criticism of these officers, who, of necessity, have been recruited for this work, where is the hon. and learned Member going to find experienced officers at short notice unless he advocates that a large force of police should go out to Kenya from this country?
When one considers their small number, the greatest possible tribute ought to be paid to the gallant way in which 1148 something like 50 per cent. of the adult whites of that country are engaged in constabulary duties. When one considers the size of the Colony it is a magnificent achievement, and it should not be belittled in this House by attacks on their alleged inexperience.
A suggestion was made that we should secure the services of General Templer from Malaya. I could not see the relevance of allegations contained in the hon. and learned Member's speech in the light of that suggestion. General Templer's efforts have been successful precisely because he has been able to follow a strong policy, and the establishment of law and order is his primary purpose. If the criticism of hon. Members opposite is that the Government have not been sufficiently strong in enforcing law and order in Kenya then I cannot follow the arguments of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), which appeared to indicate that we had been far too strong in Kenya.
§ Mr. Bennett
If the accusation against us is that we have been weak and vacillating then, whether that accusation be true or not, it is not an accusation which we should be receiving from the hon. Member for Eton and Slough and his hon. Friends who have used such words as "Gestapo" against us. Whatever else the hon. and learned Member for Northampton thinks about the Gestapo, presumably he would not think it weak and vacillating.
§ Mr. Bennett
As another, even if not such a distinguished lawyer as the hon. and learned Member may say, that is a very gallant attempt to tie up two completely opposite attitudes.
What we have been trying to do in Kenya—and our efforts have not been helped by this and previous debates—is to try to establish law and order before we come to any question of economic or other concessions. It would be fatal to 1149 the preservation of law and order if we were to make economic and other concessions precede the establishment of law and order. That would be an encouragement to everybody elsewhere in our Colonial Territories to start a revolution in order to secure concessions from the Government.
If economic or political concessions are due they can best be granted—not only by this Government, but by the Government and citizens of Kenya—when the situation is quiet and law and order has been restored. It is precisely that which both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the Government of Kenya are doing their very best to achieve. I cannot see that the criticisms against them have any relevance to that task; in fact, they will tend to make the task of the Secretary of State and the Government of Kenya even more difficult that it has been up to now.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
The terrible massacre which has given rise to this debate has naturally raised very widespread doubts about the effectiveness and the general basis of the Government's policy in the emergency and crisis in Kenya. It is impossible for any Government to guard against every act of terrorism which occurs in what is, in effect, almost a civil war, but this massacre is the latest item in an appalling list of failures to protect loyal Africans as well as whites in Kenya.
What is even more significant is that it is a further instance of the fact that Mau Mau has steadily kept the initiative ever since this trouble started. If we are to regain the initiative, as we must do, it is essential to discuss not only the immediate measures but the whole approach which gives rise to the particular measures upon which the Government decide. It is in regard to the approach to the problem, which decides all the tactical and immediate points, that the Government are open to very considerable criticism.
We face here by far the most extreme instance of the root problem of East and Central Africa, which are the most difficult parts of the world at the moment. We have two problems superimposed one upon the other. Elsewhere these problems can usually be dealt with separately, 1150 but here we have to deal with them together. On the one hand there are the whites who, if they were elsewhere, could look forward naturally to increasing self-government, until they became a fully self-governing country like Canada or Australia; and on the other hand there are the Africans who, elsewhere, could look forward to increasing self-government of the type to be found in the Gold Coast.
If our policy breaks down we are faced with a continuous double danger. On the one hand there is danger of the "Boston Tea Party" type, with a violent assumption of power by the white settlers, and on the other hand there is the danger of Mau Mau. Those two dangers are always present in the whole of East and Central Africa. We must avoid both, otherwise we shall be landed with a war of races which will mean the end of our position and the end of all hope in Central Africa.
If we are to avoid both those dangers we have to recognise them. We must not fix our eyes wholly or exclusively on one or the other of them alone. We must recognise that both dangers exist and also that all these races are Africans. They are white Africans and black Africans. It is a great mistake to talk about European and Africans. It poses the problem quite falsely. We have to win the co-operation of the moderate opinion of all races involved to a far greater extent than we have done, and that requires a positive and urgent policy.
This massacre has shown that important changes of policy are now necessary to achieve these ends. The Government in Kenya must be in closer touch with all races. At the moment they are clearly not in very good touch with the Africans. There have also been steady complaints from the leaders of the white settlers that the Government in Kenya have been isolated from the Europeans. Many moderate European leaders have been put in a very difficult position, where they have had responsibility without power, without knowing what is happening or being able to influence the course of events.
I agree with the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) that we should give greater power to the local government in Kenya. At the same time, 1151 the Colonial Secretary ought to instruct the Governor to set up at once a council of all three races, and to associate that council very closely with the inner running of government. It should not be just an advisory council but should be very close to him and based on trust— because one cannot govern without trust; and the people of all three main races should be closely associated with the very centre of government.
This Government, with greater local power and in closer touch with the communities, must be based on moderate opinion. That means that we must be ready to break with the extremists in both races, both amongst the Europeans and amongst the Africans. The massacre which caused our debate seems from all accounts to have caused a great revulsion of feeling amongst many Kikuyu and many other Africans; but, as "The Times" reported in its accounts of the massacre, there is a danger that it will provoke some extremists among the Europeans to demand harsh action. The Government in Kenya must withstand that. They must withstand the demands which are likely to come from the more extreme wing of the Europeans for harsh measures to meet these problems.
In all these races—among the Africans, the Europeans and the Asians—there are many moderate men, and it must be the task of the Government, with far greater success and vigour than they have shown so far, to gather these moderate men around them and to base themselves much more closely upon these men. The Government in Kenya and this Govern-must must show much greater readiness to tackle the fundamentals of the problem. The Secretary of State has, I think, far too much given the impression that the fundamentals do not matter, that they are long-term and distant and that one must worry only about the immediate military and similar measures.
The immediate military measures are of vital importance, but the tackling of some of these fundamental problems is overdue. They must be tackled quickly. I do not believe that if we settle a few economic problems we shall find a remedy for all our difficulties. Indeed, I do not think that economic problems as such are at the root of our difficulties. It is far more a question of social problems.
1152 As Sir Philip Mitchell said in his admirable despatch, the whole of East Africa is going through a social and economic revolution. If hon. Members read that despatch, knowing what has since happened amongst the Kikuyu, they will find it very striking how often Sir Philip quotes instances from the Kikuyu—long before anyone had dreamt of Mau Mau —as examples of this social and economic revolution at its strongest and worst. Undoubtedly that must have been one of the underlying causes of the trouble which has arisen.
This great social revolution started 50 years ago, as Sir Philip says. These people have been torn out of their own culture and their own discipline. Under their tribal law they had a great system of discipline, but all that has been destroyed and nothing has been put in its place. They are in a vacuum. It is in those circumstances that this great problem arises, although there are always local reasons as well.
Obviously, this great social problem cannot be solved in a short time. I think it will be with us for a generation before we have fully solved it. But that is not a reason for saying we can delay. This revolution has been going on for 50 years and has hardly been noticed. It is long overdue for vigorous tackling, and we should not delay at all in tackling the more fundamental aspects of it at the same time as we go ahead with the immediate, military and police measures.
I think there are three things, in particular, upon which we should concentrate. Although in a sense they are long-term they would begin to yield results relatively quickly. The first is a far greater drive in the building of schools. I think the growth of the Mau Mau schools, which, after all, was an important part of this movement, could not have occurred had there not been a shortage of schools. They were filling a need, a need left partly by the missionaries and partly by the public authorities. If we are to fight Mau Mau with success we must fight it in the schools as well as with bullets.
Then there is also the vital need for an increased policy of improved housing in the towns. Many Kikuyu now live in the towns. Their housing is appalling. It is no good saying that the housing is no worse than the old tribal housing, 1153 because the Kikuyu are making comparisons not with tribal conditions but with what they see in the towns. The awful housing conditions, plus the vision which they now have, because they have seen how one can live in a town, have, in this case, as in so many other peasant revolts in history, been one of the causes of the trouble.
There is another problem for the Government to face. They must bring all the pressure they can to bear in favour of a gradual relaxation of the colour bar. As long as that problem is not tackled— I do not mean anything dramatic; I mean that there must be steady progress towards its solution—we shall not get away from this sort of problem in Kenya, and elsewhere in Africa. This is particularly so in the towns. The colour bar is not nearly so important in the countryside, but it is important in the towns, where the people crowd together; and, above all, between the white Europeans and the educated coloured Africans.
The most dangerous thing of all in Africa today is the isolation of the educated African from everybody else. Because of his education, he is cut off from his own people, and because of the colour bar he does not form proper relationships with people of his own culture and education. This relaxation of the colour bar will be difficult to achieve, but if it is not done, there is no solution to our problem, which will get worse and worse in one part of Africa after another. We do not want sudden dramatic solutions, because they cannot be found either; we want a steady pressure which will get this relaxation proceeding faster than if it is left without any pressure at all.
Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite may say that these things are too long-term; but there is one immediate thing which should be done. It has been mentioned by a number of my hon. Friends. There should be a much more active drive to win African opinion over to our side. It seems that at this moment there is a better chance of that than at any time since Mau Mau started. There has been a great revulsion of feeling against the atrocity in which women and children were killed.
The Colonial Secretary told us today about rumours which were spreading and causing great trouble and difficulty. I 1154 agree that rumours are hard to cope with, but it is no good sitting down and doing nothing about them. The only means of coping with them is to have an active policy of propaganda. There is no doubt that one of the things that helped to turn the tide in Malaya was the decision to embark on an active, co-ordinated and vigorous propaganda campaign to spread not lies but the truth about the things which were happening. If we want to change the situation in Kenya we must do that.
We must make full use of loyal, friendly Africans who are eager to cooperate. We were very disappointed about the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman to that. He said that applications would be considered but that none had been made. In such a circumstance, the Government ought to ask the Africans to help. They should be asking the African leaders to speak to their people and should be offering facilities.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) said, Mr. Awori, an elected leader of the Africans, said, after the massacre—this was quoted in "The Times"—that he himself was still ready to go into the reserves and forests to speak to the people. That was a public statement made by Mr. Awori. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us why Mr. Awori has not been encouraged to go into the forests and the reserves to talk to his own people?
The terrible massacre presents us with a very great crisis in Africa, and a very great challenge. It may be a turning point for all our endeavours in this part of Africa. Mau Mau is not only a Kenya phenomenon. If it is not properly handled, Mau Mau will spread and reproduce itself in different forms elsewhere in Africa wherever basic conditions exist like those in Kenya. Mau Mau might spread right across British East and Central Africa, but on the other hand, the reactions against Mau Mau following the massacre could be used, if a vigorous bold and constructive approach were made by the Government along the lines that have been suggested this evening.
As many hon. Members have said, out of this massacre good may come if we know how to use the reaction it has caused. This will only be possible if the Government do not falter and if they do 1155 not show themselves feeble and unimaginative. It is only possible if the Government will, with greater boldness and greater trust in all moderate opinion of all loyal Africans, press forward with a more progressive policy—not a wild Utopian one—directed to proper ends, namely, to improve conditions in Africa. If this is done, then out of this atrocious thing we have been discussing this evening good may yet come.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
The thanks of the House are due to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) for the temperate tone of his speech, so sharply in contast with those of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway). My first task should be not only to assure the House about our objectives in Kenya, but to try, as far as I can to show that those objectives are common to all hon. Members in every part of the House.
Some criticism has been made of my lack of sympathy. The hon. and learned Gentleman was at it again and he talked about me ignoring the progressive movements in the Colonies. I am not going to attempt to meet that. It is quite untrue and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite can go on saying it as long as they like. I can say with the utmost sincerity that what we are trying to do in Kenya is to build a society of all races, to raise the economic conditions of the country, including wages, and to see that all races co-operate together in the country where they can go on living and educating their children as they wish, as, indeed, they can in Kenya. That is our objective and let no one have any doubt about it.
But it does this objective no good whatever to make the kind of malicious, mischievous and intemperate speech such as that delivered by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton. He threw the blame chiefly on the white settlers in Kenya. The white settlers there are under great pressure at the moment. We want to see this whole situation dealt with calmly and I will try to do it in that spirit. I have very few notes and if I miss any point which hon. 1156 and right hon. Gentlemen opposite want me to take up I hope they will interrupt me.
I think that the main tenor of the debate is designed to show that Government policy in Kenya is now in rags and tatters, that it has failed and we have to retrace our steps. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick used the phrase that we must regain the initiative from Mau Mau. That is not at all the kind of phraseology that I should use. Let us go back and see what the facts are. On 28th January I used these words in the House:There is evidence that the area under Mau Mau influence is being reduced. These developments, and the closer policing of the Kikuyu districts, have, however, driven some of the Mau Mau leaders to more desperate measures, and the danger of savage attacks-by gangs may even for a time increase."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th January, 1953; Vol. 510; c. 1014.]I spoke of what had been happening; that the area of Mau Mau activities had been compressed and that the leaders had been driven, by such measures as-combing the edges of the bamboo forests and closer policing of the Kikuyu areas, to take these new measures and to resort, not to sporadic assassinations but to more or less organised raids and so forth, by large bodies of men. That is what has happened. This is—
§ Mr. Paget rose—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I really cannot give way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I allowed the hon. and learned Gentleman a great deal of latitude. He made a most intemperate speech and has done a great deal of harm. He must at any rate let me develop the first part of my argument before I give way. I will give way later. No, I will give way now.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Nothing of the kind. I only said that the compression of this terrible Mau Mau into an area of Kenya and closer policing were following a very common mathematical formula and causing these particular activities to be much more intense than they were. That is what has happened.
1157 Nearly every argument that has been used this afternoon, and some of the arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I heard about Malaya. The hon. and learned Gentleman had only one constructive suggestion to make in his speech, and that was to move General Templer from Malaya, to cancel the Constitution of Kenya in every respect, and to set General Templer in sole authority over all these matters. The hon. and learned Gentleman coupled that argument with the rather peculiar one that the Government was rather too authoritarian and he actually read a number of extracts from the regulations, of the drastic nature of which he complained. I ought not to devote very much time to the hotch-potch of inconsistencies which he delivered.
There was one other thing he said. He referred to the Mau Mau movement as "a national resistance movement." Could anything be more fantastic when, as a matter of fact, out of the whole population of Kenya only one-quarter are Kikuyu and out of the 1,250,000 Kikuyu, or thereabouts, a very large proportion are loyal? A very large proportion of those who have taken the Mau Mau oath have done so under intimidation. To describe this as "a national resistance movement" and to relate that term and all that it means to us to what happened on Thursday is unworthy both of the intentions of the hon. and learned Gentleman and of his profession.
What we want to do is to build a common society in which inter-racial cooperation is raised to the greatest point that we can. Of course, these are difficult matters. It is very difficult at this moment, when Europeans are under great pressure and live under conditions of terrible strain; when nobody knows, when the dogs begin to bark at night, what will happen. There is great difficulty in bringing them in. We have the great difficulty in getting co-operation from the Africans because they themselves, as the figures will show, are rent by intestine strife.
It is customary for hon. Gentlemen to describe the inhabitants of Kenya as just "Africans," but do hon. Members think it is easy to get co-operation among the Masai, the Luo and the Kikuyu at this moment? Has it ever occurred to them 1158 that the term "African" is entirely misused in this context? They say "Asian." Are they not aware that it is very difficult to bring the Asians together, the Hindu and Moslem populations? These vague phrases—"Let us bring all the races together now"—are a little difficult.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Surely the Secretary of State knows that all the races, including the Asians, such as the Hindus and Mohammedans, are all represented on the Legislative Council.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The Moslems are solidly behind the Government of Kenya at present. But let us have no argument about our objectives. What I have to think of, what Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Kenya have to think of, is what we are going to do now. With all due deference, all the speeches to which I have listened show a complete lack of reality. We have to deal with the threat now. I heard all these arguments over Malaya and yet the previous Government allowed the Malayan situation to get into an almost irretrievable position, not from lack of good intentions —they were full of those.
All their intentions over the long-term problems of Malaya—racial co-operation and internal government—I share, but one must have more than good intentions in this world. We have first to deliver freedom from fear to the inhabitants and, in doing that, we have to make it quite clear that they are fighting for something. There I agree entirely with what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick has been saying. They have to see an objective, an ideal for which they are struggling, but our first duty is to deliver peace and order. We must do that. No suggestion that has been made this evening impinges on the immediate problem, which is, first, how are we to protect the loyal Kikuyu, secondly, how are we to build up racial co-operation in the present circumstances, and, thirdly, how we are to suppress what is a terrorist organisation.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich) rose—1159
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I am entitled to a hearing on this occasion. What are we going to do now? The only constructive suggestion, other than the general ones I have mentioned, is that we ought to bring the responsible African leaders into play. There, again, the phrases used are completely misleading, because that is exactly what we are doing. What do hon. Members opposite think of those Africans who, all over the Kikuyu areas, are leading the resistance groups—now I am using the correct phrase—against the Mau Mau? Those are the responsible African leaders and everything they are doing is being helped by the Government. I have messages from them here with which I will not trouble the House, but these are the men who are doing it.
The responsible African leaders to whom the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) was referring were, of course, one or two political leaders. What has happened over them is that time and again they have been told by the Government that if they would define the constituencies or the meetings which they wished to address, security arrangements would be made if it were possible. Not surprisingly—I am not throwing a brick at them—those applications have not been made.
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to imply that we are deterring these African leaders from getting into touch with their people. I have a recent telegram here, about three weeks old, saying that Mr. Mathu had been offered the opportunity of addressing his constituents in the Kikuyu reserve and he may yet do so. Arrangements have been made for himself and one other to tour the settled areas of the Southern Rift Valley to talk to Kikuyu labour on European farms. The object of this it to try to dissuade them from the voluntary movement back to the reserves. They have just returned from such a visit.
I must make it clear that I could not approve, nor does the Kenya Government ask me to do so, of an unlimited right of assembly in these circumstances. The only result of that would be inevitably a large increase in the number 1160 of murders. I do not quite know what line the hon. and learned Member would take then. So utterly unrealistic is the approach to all this that the solution of an incident last Thursday is put forward of making assembly unlimited and without check.
But I give this pledge to the hon. and learned Gentleman. If any African leader wishes to address his constituents, the Government of Kenya will do their very best to make conditions under which that is possible. That has been the condition for many weeks, but we are dealing with a community in which very great risks have to be run.
My duty, for the remaining quarter of an hour, is to tell the House where we are on restoring peace and law and order, which, I think, is our first duty. Does any right hon. or hon. Gentleman opposite disagree with that?
§ Mrs. White
The right hon. Gentleman was not present while I made a few remarks. The tenor of some of the remarks, from this side of the House, at any rate, was precisely that the Government in Kenya are not effectively dealing with the very problem of law and order and that there is, therefore, lack of confidence both among the settlers in Kenya in their own Government and in this House.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The hon. Lady is exactly making my point. I hope, therefore, I am correct in assuming that in the remaining short time the House would wish me to address myself to what we are doing to restore law and order.
I have already tried to say that we have common objectives. The point to which I shall address myself now, and with which, I think, the Opposition agree, is that we must attempt to restore law and order, which means also the protection of the loyal Kikuyu.
The duty of Her Majesty's Government, of course, is to be satisfied that the resources and organisation are adequate; and I say, in parenthesis, that we must be satisfied that they are being employed for the right objects. The military forces are, at present, about 5,000 or 6,000 and, as the House knows, are being reinforced by two battalions, a brigade headquarters and also an infantry brigade signal headquarters. In all these matters of an incoherent impalpable sort of war, the matter of communication is prime. The result 1161 of these reinforcements will not only be two further battalions who must be used, not only in offensive operations against the Mau Mau, but also in defensive operations of trying to protect what I may call, for want of a better word, the loyalists.
In addition to that, we want a very much better system of communications and, therefore, the extra brigade headquarters and the signal headquarters troop will attend to that. The plan is to have a brigade headquarters at Nyeri for the Central Provinces and one at Nakuru for the Rift Valley. I mention this because the reinforcements were a result of the visit of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, his appreciation coinciding with our own that the movement was becoming more violent because it was being compressed. Therefore, we think that these reinforcements are necessary. The object of the extra reinforcements is to be able at one and the same time to carry out active operations against the Mau Mau gangs and also to provide extra defence for the loyal Kikuyu.
There are in Kenya altogether 12,000 police, of which about 8,000 are regulars and 4,000 are reserves. Thirty-five new police stations have been established and 150 police posts are being built, of which 50 are now occupied. This, again, is part of a policy to try to police these areas more closely; not in the main to hunt down gangs, but to provide protection for the loyal Kikuyu.
I must say a word about the Home Guard and how they are armed. The right hon. Member was particularly concerned about this question, as we are. I say, quite frankly, that no Home Guard we can organise or arm can be expected to act without full aid from both the military and the police. If we tried to form such a force we would fail. I say, equally frankly, that we must arm them as well as we can, but it will have to be done gradually. If we armed the Home Guard, which has just been formed, for instance, with automatic weapons—which I think an hon. Member mentioned—we would run the risk that, with the lack of training in the Home Guard those weapons would fall into the hands of Mau Mau.
That is not a risk any hon. Member opposite, or on this side of the House, would wish to run. So we must aim at 1162 building up the Home Guard and equipping them with better and better equipment as their training warrants. In the early part of their training the Home Guard tend to be vulnerable. We will use all our endeavours to see that they are protected as well as our forces can ensure that and reinforcements will help them.
As the House probably knows, the whole of the intelligence system has been reorganised as a result of a visit by Sir Percy Sillitoe, last November. He has left behind an officer, Mr. Macdonald, who has done most devoted work in the field of intelligence. To prove that the Mau Mau have not wrested the initiative from the Government but rather the opposite, I would point out that the kind of information which is coming forward has greatly improved. A trickle is beginning and, of course, in all this type of guerrilla warfare or para-military operations intelligence is valuable. It is almost impossible to conduct a campaign to restore law and order unless it is backed by every effective intelligence and it has not been effective. It was not effective and it is not easy to improve on that in a short time.
In the last few minutes I wish to go back to where I began about these objectives. We all had the advantage of talking to Mr. Michael Blundell last week. There is no doubt that his ideas are extremely liberal and his intentions in all these matters are such that we can all support. He sees, as I do, the necessity of trying to get together as early as possible another racial conference which the right hon. Member promised, a promise from which I do not resile in any way. I do not want it to come together at a time when I know from information that it would be likely to fail. I believe, as the right hon. Member said, that the horror of this last incident has possibly given us a new opportunity of looking forward to such a conference and I again pledge myself to this extent: if I thought there was any chance of useful results and not merely further quarrelling emerging from such a conference. I would do my best to see that it was called together.
The right hon. Member asked a question about an article concerning suspicions of their Kikuyu labourers and squatters entertained by some Europeans. 1163 It is no good supposing—[Interruption.] I hope I am not interrupting the conversation on the Front Bench opposite. Perhaps, having moved a Motion of censure, the hon. and learned Member is deciding whether to divide the House. The terms on which the hon. and learned Member for Southampton moved and the hon. Member for Eton and Slough supported the Motion were in the form of a vote of censure and it would be curious if they did not divide the House. Perhaps we shall hear about that later.
I was dealing with the suspicion which the European employer is said to entertain against his Kikuyu squatter. That we cannot help. The most effective way of doing it was by this method, which the hon. Member for Eton and Slough condemns, of having cards containing the photograph of the man and his previous employer and place of employment. That has been very much criticised, but the object is to try to restore the confidence of employers that when they take on someone new they are not taking on a Mau Mau terrorist. It appears to me to be a simple measure to meet the very point which the right hon. Gentleman was ventilating when he read out the rather moving words of the lady in East Africa.
With the extra reinforcements we have, and the reorganisation of the police and intelligence service we can look forward to compressing and containing this terror. I do not take such a gloomy view about the immediate future as do some hon. Members opposite. I make no prophecies. It will require a much less impalpable situation to make any such promise. We cannot even talk about the numbers of the Kikuyu who are infected by this disease. All these things are difficult to assume. But I am sure that we are getting better information; that we are building up an increasing number of resistance groups. They receive a set-back because of such occurrences as the ghastly incident of last Thursday and we must do everything we can.
It is a matter of military and police organisation and intelligence to prevent those who are beginning to believe in our good intentions for the future of Kenya from being murdered in their beds, or what is worse, having their wives and 1164 children murdered while they are out trying to defend the cause of law and order.
I fear that some of the things which have been said will do no good in Kenya. That remark does not apply, as I need hardly say, to what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly or by his right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick. In all these debates on Kenya hon. Gentlemen opposite have paid lip-service to the cause of suppressing terrorism and have then proceeded to exacerbate the situation, as did the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, by intemperate remarks and criticisms of the settlers and the Kenya Government, and, so far as possible, of Her Majesty's Government.
We shall get this terror down. We shall restore peace, not with the object of one race or another dominating the situation in Kenya, but so that Kenya may be built up by all races and have a prosperous and a peaceful future.
§ Question put, and negatived.