HC Deb 09 March 1955 vol 538 cc428-30
19. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Mau Mau adherents have surrendered since the surrender terms were announced in Kenya on 8th January; and in how many instances charges against members of the Forces, the police, and the Home Guard have been withdrawn since that date.

26. Mr. Collins

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Mau Mau supporters have now surrendered under the amnesty; and, of this number, how many are held in confinement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Between 18th January and 5th March, 147 Mau Mau adherents have surrendered. All of these are held in confinement. No charges against members of the Forces or police have been withdrawn since 18th January; charges against three members of the Home Guard have been withdrawn by the prosecution.

Mr. Brockway

Does not the right hon. Gentleman now think that a wiser approach might have been made to the whole question of surrenders, in view of the fact that the Africans lost trust in those offers after what happened in the "General China" negotiations last year? Does not he think that it would have been better to have had preparatory talks, through the agency of a trusted European and a trusted African, so as to win the confidence of the African people, and will he not even now revert to that proposal?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As I have explained on other occasions, there was no central organisation which was approachable, and an approach of that kind was really not feasible. Instead of harking back to the limited success of previous experiences, I think that much the best thing we can do is to look to the future with confidence. That is much better than looking back to the "General China" episode which, I regret, failed in its object.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I do not wish for a moment to hark back to past happenings, and I also regret what has happened, but may I ask the right hon. Gentleman about the future? As I understand it, the surrender offer is open until April. If, at the time it closes, there is no prospect of an end to the emergency in the near future—and since time is running out—will not the right hon. Gentleman consider going to Kenya himself and making contact with the African leaders in order to discover how, in the short time remaining, it may be possible to secure the full support and co-operation of the people? Will he also consider whether he should not go there, in the time available, to see what further can be done to make this surrender policy a success?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that at all times I hold myself in readiness to pay another visit to Kenya, when I feel that it would be to the public advantage. With regard to making contact with the responsible leaders of the Africans, they have been co-operating with us loyally in this matter, and they approved of the surrender terms. I think that that is a sufficient answer to that part of the supplementary question.

Mr. Griffiths

I appreciate all that the right hon. Gentleman has said, but there is less than a month remaining before the surrender offer closes. I do not ask him to reply now, but will he not consider whether a good purpose would be served if he consulted the African leaders as to what steps could be taken to make the surrender terms better known to Mau Mau? In view of what happened before, might it not be possible that, if the co-operation of the African leaders is secured, the success that hon. Members on both sides of the House all desire may be secured?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

It cannot be too often pointed out that the co-operation of the loyal African leaders has already been secured, and they, as much as we, have every cause to realise the harm which is being brought to their country by the Mau Mau atrocities. I am prepared to consider going to Kenya at the appropriate moment, but I do not think it would help if I added further to my answer at this stage.

Mr. Collins

In view of the obvious difficulties of the situation, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether men who surrender or are taken prisoner during the military operations will have the amnesty applied to them?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The conditions under which people who surrender would come under the protection of the amnesty offer were made quite clear. I do not think that it would be wise for me to go into details of how individuals would be affected, but anybody who surrenders in consequence of the surrender offer would not be penalised for offences committed before the relevant date—which is, I believe, 18th January. For offences committed after that date, however, a surrender cannot be held to have been in consequence of the surrender offer.

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