HC Deb 08 December 1954 vol 535 cc942-4
22 and 55. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) what steps he proposes to take, in view of the readiness last April of 1,000 Mau Mau adherents to lay down their arms, to renew negotiations to end the fighting in Kenya;

(2) the date of the withdrawal of the undertaking made in the General China negotiations that Mau Mau adherents who laid down their arms would not be subject to the death penalty.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The terms offered after the so-called "General China's" capture were withdrawn on 10th April, when all efforts to re-establish contact with the gangs had failed. The original surrender offer of August, 1953, remains open to individuals, and the Kenya Government are ready to consider any approach for a mass surrender from gang leaders and to discuss with their intermediaries how this can be effected.

Mr. Brockway

The right hon. Gentleman says that efforts to contact the Mau Mau leaders have failed, but is it not the case that 1,000 adherents of Mau Mau gathered together to lay down their arms, and in view of that evidence of intention among Mau Mau adherents to lay down arms, is it not time that negotiations were renewed in order to prevent loss of life among both Africans and Europeans in Kenya?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As the hon. Gentleman knows, there is no central terrorist headquarters to which Her Majesty's Government in Kenya can make an approach, but it is clearly known to the leaders of these brutal gangs that they can themselves come forward. If individual leaders came forward, it would then be possible to explain to them details of time and place for bringing others to surrender.

Mr. A. Henderson

Are the terms of surrender offered last year final? Is there any possibility of their being revised to make them more, shall I say, attractive to those who may be induced to surrender?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The terms of surrender of August, 1953, provided that any terrorists who surrendered voluntarily would not be executed for being in unlawful possession of arms and ammunition, or consorting with terrorists. It is essential that some latitude should be left to the Government of Kenya in the granting of clemency to criminals, but I am perfectly certain that they desire—a desire common to all of us in this House—to bring this terrible business to an end at the earliest possible date. I am sure that, consistent with their duty and the public interest, they will look constantly afresh at any possibility.

Mr. Alport

In view of the new situation which exists in Kenya, have any special efforts been made to draw the attention, not only of the Mau Mau leaders, but of the rank and file of the movement, to the existence of these surrender terms, to encourage, as far as possible in the present circumstances, a return to the situation which appeared to be so promising during the "China" episode?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Constant efforts are made, through broadcasting from low-flying aircraft and in other ways, to bring this home to them. But I will certainly, in consultation with the Government of Kenya, see how far further steps can be taken to bring home to the rank and file the possibilities in this field.

Mr. Paget

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all through the history of guerrilla warfare severities have always proved to be the worst possible weapon? Is it not really time that we should make an energetic effort to bring about a surrender, and offer, to use my right hon. and learned Friend's term, attractive terms? Surely it is time to say that there should be clemency.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I do not know whether the hon. Member knows Kenya well. If he did, he would agree that the realisation that it is necessary, in the present tragic circumstances, to have these penal sentences is shared by a vast number of Africans themselves.