HC Deb 28 October 1953 vol 518 cc2801-5
Mr. Lyttelton

Today the situation in Kenya is much better than I feared it might be but it certainly falls short of what I hoped it could be. It is still one of danger, but it is improving.

The main areas of the Kikuyu Reserve, except part of Nyeri, show solid progress. So does the Rift Valley. In most areas security is once again the responsibility of the civil administration and police.

Success against the gangs causes some transfer of the trouble to other areas. This tendency has led some terrorists to fly from the Aberdares to the Mount Kenya area and to Embu and Meru. It partially explains events in Nairobi, where some of the gangsters have taken refuge.

The Government of Kenya have made Nairobi into a special police district, with a Commissioner of Police for Nairobi, and are increasing the number of administrative officers in the city. Some drastic action has had to be taken, but it has received the spontaneous approval of leading Africans.

The Kikuyu Reserves are being more closely administered; in the Fort Hall area, for example, there are six district officers where there used to be two. By the end of the year the expansion of the police should relieve the Army of their present police duties and make it possible to keep the police much longer in districts where they are well known.

The rooting out of Mau Mau from the minds of the Kikuyu is a formidable task which assumes an ever-growing importance as the measures to establish peace and order become increasingly effective.

In the Reserves, we see the future leaders of the Kikuyu emerging. They have shown themselves to be men of great courage in the face of constant danger. These are the men to whom the Governor will look for help in the schemes to make better use of the land in the Kikuyu tribal reserve, and on whom the Governor will rely in the development of local government.

Outside the tribal area a successful scheme of rehabilitation for Mau Mau adherents has been set up under two Europeans and 16 members of the Kikuyu tribe on the Athi River.

On European farms the Kenya Government is to set on foot a more secure system of employing Kikuyu labour; labour will be employed on contract and housed in compact villages.

In land questions successful efforts are being made in North Nyeri to reform the system of land tenure and to discourage land fragmentation.

In reconstructing the life of the Kikuyu tribe as a whole, we must demonstrate to the Kikuyu that we aim at their political as well as their social and economic advancement.

But let me repeat that against the hard core of Mau Mau we shall be unrelenting. The Governor has announced measures under which Mau Mau leaders will forfeit their rights in land for the benefit of the tribe as a whole. The Governor was urged to do this in a petition signed by African leaders in all three Kikuyu districts. He has declared also that the more fanatical leaders will be excluded indefinitely from the Kikuyu Reserves. The Kikuyu cannot, of course, enjoy any greater claims on available Government resources than other tribes who have remained loyal throughout.

For Kenya as a whole the Governor, in his speech on 20th October, which I would commend to hon. Members' attention, announced extensive plans for agricultural development. In addition schemes put forward by the Committee on African Advancement include assistance in setting up African traders in business, adult education and rural training. I have already announced that Her Majesty's Government will stand behind the Kenya Government financially if need can be shown. The Kenya Finance Member is coming to London next month for discussions.

In the meantime there is encouraging progress to report. The biggest scheme for African settlement is already two years ahead of the programme laid down in the ten-year development plan. It covers 450 square miles at Makuomi and 900 families have already moved in. The Government have recently made a loan of £10,000 to the sisal factory at Machakos which is run by the African District Council and which is now producing between 50 and 60 tons a month of good fibre. Coffee production by African smallholders is being given every encouragement. This year African growers are expected to produce 400 tons which at the current price of about £500 a ton will make a welcome contribution to their cash earnings; this production should increase annually.

In short, whilst the measures to restore peace and order are having an increased success, the longer-term problems, social, economic and political, both for the Kikuyu and for the whole Colony, are being resolutely tackled.

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I ask the Secretary of State whether it is clear from the statement that he has made, for which we are grateful, as well as from the address of the Governor and the importance of the speech made by General Erskine a few days ago, that the state has been reached in which the economic, social and political developments are assuming a predominant importance: and, in view of that, whether he will reconsider, in consultation with the Governor, the desirability of removing the ban on the formation of responsible African organisations covering the whole of Kenya as part of the process of rehabilitation, and whether he can indicate when it is likely that we shall have a report from the Royal Commission?

Mr. Lyttelton

I cannot answer the second part of the supplementary question put by the right hon. Gentleman for the moment, but if he would like to put a Question on the Order Paper, I can make inquiries. I have not heard lately.

With regard to the first part of his question, we have all along, throughout the emergency, tried to retard as little as possible all the social and economic schemes which, as the security of the Colony advances, we hope to be able to push forward more quickly. There is no ban on the formation of responsible political bodies who represent Africans, but they have not at the moment emerged, and I think that it is highly desirable that they should before many months have passed.

Mr. Griffiths

May I ask that, if there is a growth of the movement among Africans to form on a non-party basis a responsible organisation, no barrier will be placed in its way?

Mr. Lyttelton

That entirely depends on whether such a body is a responsible body. It depends on that and on nothing else.

Mr. G. Brown

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, first, that it is absolutely right that the real leaders of the Africans must now be found in the reserves, where they are emerging, and must be built up as they are found and not left unsupported? Secondly, will the right hon. Gentleman meet the Finance Member with a good deal of willingness when he comes here, because the present financial position of the Colony is a very serious matter so far as political warfare there is concerned? Thirdly, will the right hon. Gentleman give some real attention to Nairobi where, I think, there is a good deal of reason for thinking that some very dangerous things are being done? Fourthly, will he ask for an inquiry into the organisation of the Kenya police, which I have reason to think is not nearly as good as that of the rest of the security forces?

Mr. Lyttelton

I think that to most of the supplementary questions I shall be able to respond very sympathetically. I do not know whether I can remember them all. With regard to the police and Nairobi, which the right hon. Gentleman rather coupled together, there has been a re-organisation, but I am far from saying that everything is perfect. I am, however, sure that the making of Nairobi into a separate police district was a highly desirable move.

With regard to finance, I shall be as sympathetic and as forceful with my right hon. Friend as the circumstances permit, and the right hon. Gentleman can be assured that I shall do my best. In reply to the first question regarding African leaders, I believe, and I think the Governor believes, that the development of locational councils with wider representation and greater powers, in which we can expect to see these leaders emerge, is probably the answer to the re-organisation of the Kikuyu tribal life.