HC Deb 22 June 1954 vol 529 cc210-1
13. Sir R. Acland

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the announcement made recently in Kenya by Major-General Hinde in which he recommended a swill-tub where 100,000 Kikuyu could be put out of the way on public works projects for life; and whether this officer retains the confidence of his Department.

Mr. Head

Yes, Sir. General Hinde was expressing a personal opinion at what he believed to be a private meeting without the Press. He was stressing the military difficulties caused by the necessity of returning suspected tribesmen to the reserves, and the fact that from a military point of view some wider scheme of resettlement away from the reserves would much simplify the problem. His choice of words was unpremeditated and he was seeking a vivid metaphor. He considers that the word he used was unfortunate and misleading. I agree that this was a most unfortunate phrase. I would, however, add that I have great confidence in this officer, who is discharging heavy responsibilities at the present time.

Sir R. Acland

Whilst appreciating that it may have been unfortunate if the officer thought that that statement was private and it turned out not to be so, may I ask whether it is not a fact that from time to time a single phrase reveals the state of mind of the individual concerned? Does not this case indicate that the man using this phrase really ought to be brought home for duties in a place where Service men would understand if he suggested that a man should go to the swill-tub? Does not this indicate that he is not fit for work in Kenya?

Mr. Head

If everybody was sacked for using an unfortunate phrase there would be a lot of bye-elections.

Mr. Ellis Smith

That was a damp squib.