HC Deb 14 April 1954 vol 526 cc1135-6
26. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reply he has made to the memorandum upon land matters which was addressed to him in January last by the Nyasaland African Protectorate Council.

50. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how much more land it is the intention of the Government of Nyasaland to alienate in the Southern Province for European estate development; and whether he will consider making available unused land for African farming under the Supervision of the agricultural department

Mr. Hopkinson

As hon. Members will be aware, my right hon. Friend intends to visit Nyasaland next month. While he is there he will take the opportunity of looking into land problems on the spot. He has, therefore, not yet answered the memorandum addressed to him by the African Protectorate Council; and I would ask hon. Members not to press for statements of policy on questions connected with land in Nyasaland for the time being.

Mr. Johnson

Will the Minister convey to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies that Africans are distinctly perturbed in Nyasaland because a habit is developing whereby the plantations are selling portions of their holdings to individual European settlers? This, to my mind, is a pernicious practice, so can the Minister convey to his right hon. Friend that something should be done about it?

Mr. Hopkinson

I will certainly draw that to the attention of my right hon. Friend, but the hon. Gentleman can be assured that he will review all aspects of the land problem in Nyasaland.

Mr. Sorensen

May I ask the Minister whether there could be a standstill order so that no further land is alienated on the one hand and, equally, that land which is not used, but which is available for African fanning, shall be so used?

Mr. Hopkinson

Those are all different questions into which my right hon. Friend is looking.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Can the right hon. Gentleman not give a guarantee that there will be a standstill order in this important matter? Four months have already gone by since the memorandum came, and it is natural that the African people should be very anxious.

Mr. Hopkinson

I cannot commit myself to that. As far as I know, there are no great changes going on at present, and my right hon. Friend will be out there within 10 days or a fortnight and will be looking into the whole question.