HC Deb 24 February 1954 vol 524 cc383-5
43. Mr. Benn

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the statements made by Mr. Peter Bostock, formerly engaged on policing duties in Kenya, details of which are in his possession; and if he will institute an inquiry into the allegations of brutality by British forces contained therein.

40. Mr. Paget

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will institute a public inquiry into accusations made against the Kenya Police by an ex-officer of the Kenya Police, Mr. Peter Bostock, a copy of which has been sent to him by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton.

Mr. Lyttelton

I have seen the article by Mr. Peter Bostock, and I by no means accept the implications in it. The writer spent less than two months in Kenya, and out of this time only 11 days in an operational area. During these 11 days, he took part in two sweeps and one ambush, and, according to his own signed report, each of these operations resulted in nothing to report.

On the general question whether there should be an inquiry into allegations of misconduct against the police and Home Guard, the House will be aware that Colonel Young has agreed to take over temporarily from the present Commissioner of Police, who is retiring. I am not prepared to take a decision on this matter until after Colonel Young has taken up his duties.

Mr. Benn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, when these horrifying stories come out of Kenya, written by those who have at one time or another been on the spot, they do an immense amount of damage to the campaign which the right hon. Gentleman himself is waging, and that the impression of the Government's sincerity would be made very much greater if the right hon. Gentleman himself took immediate action when such reports are published?

Mr. Lyttelton

The action which we have taken is to prosecute on every occasion those against whom these charges have been preferred. There is another question which I would bring to the attention of the hon. Gentleman, and it is that continual inquiries into cases which do not appear to have anything like the same significance only serve to delay the reorganisation that we hope will take place.

Mr. S. Silverman

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's reference to the length of time that Mr. Bostock spent in the country before making the statement, can he say whether Mr. Bostock's report differs very substantially from the report on the same matter by six hon. Members of this House?

Mr. Lyttelton

The six hon. Members of this House have made recommendations with regard to the police which do not include an inquiry, and I would regard the result of their labours, for which we are all very grateful, as an entirely different thing from an unsubstantiated account by this ex-assistant inspector of police.

Mr. Silverman

I did not ask the right hon. Gentleman about a request for an inquiry. I asked him whether, in fact, there was any substantial difference between statements made by Mr. Bostock and the statements made by six hon. Members of this House. If it is true, as I quite believe it is, that the statements made by hon. Members of this House are of greater authority, it is difficult to see whether they are of the same kind.

Mr. Lyttelton

The hon. Member must answer that question himself. He can read the article written by Mr. Bostock and the White Paper and come to his own conclusions.