HC Deb 20 July 1955 vol 544 cc362-3
34. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if a decision has yet been reached on a modification of the charges under which persons can be sentenced to death in Kenya.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

In the light of the improved situation the Government of Kenya have decided, with my full support, to reduce the number of capital offences. The effect of the amendments, which have come into force today, is to revoke two Emergency Regulations (3A—Acting with intent to further terrorism and 8AA—Trafficking in firearms, ammunition and explosives), and to reduce to life imprisonment the penalty under a third (8F (1)—Extorting supplies for the purposes of terrorism). I will place revised copies of the Regulations in the Library as soon as possible.

Mr. Brockway

Whilst welcoming that statement, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is not aware that some of us have been pressing for this modification for many months? In view of the withdrawal of the surrender terms, will he see that it is applied immediately?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

If the hon. Gentleman had listened—as I thought he might well have done on a matter of this importance—to what I said, he would have noticed that the amendments have come into force today. I think that a word of gratitude and understanding is needed for the Government of Kenya who, faced with their terrible preoccupations, have kept this under constant review and have been able to make the announcement which I have given the House today.

Mr. Stokes

I understand the right hon. Gentleman's reference to the trafficking in arms, but does that also mean that people will no longer be condemned to death merely for being found in possession of a few rounds of small-arms ammunition?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well the practical action taken in regard to a few rounds of small-arms ammunition, but the unlawful possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives is not included in the list, nor, in the view of the Kenya Government, could it be so included in the present state of emergency. But the Government of Kenya, which have shown throughout a realisation of the need to keep the regulations under constant review, will, of course, continue to do so until this unhappy business is altogether at an end.

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