HC Deb 26 October 1955 vol 545 cc175-6
6. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on developments in Kenya since July.

40. Sir T. Moore

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is satisfied with the progress made in Kenya in stamping out Mau Mau terrorism; and if he will make a statement on the present position.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am glad to report a continued improvement in the emergency situation, and encouraging progress in tackling the problems of rehabilitation and resettlement. Meanwhile schemes for economic and social development in the non-emergency areas are going forward with all possible speed. I am circulating a full statement in the Official Report.

Mr. Brockway

May I again thank the right hon. Gentleman in anticipation? While agreeing that the situation in Kenya has improved very greatly, particularly among the African population, who are now looking to constructive advance rather than to the methods of Mau Mau, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear two points in mind: first, their desire to see some land redistribution promised at an early date, and, secondly, their desire to have direct elections for the Legislative Council without the limitations which are proposed in the Coutts Report?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

There is a Question on the Coutts Report later. In dealing with the whole problem of land and population in East Africa, I am, as the hon. Member knows, in constant touch with the Governors of the three Territories about the most interesting and romantic Report published some months ago.

Sir T. Moore

Referring in particular [to the point in Question No. 40, does my right hon. Friend think this would be an appropriate time to pay some tribute to the courage and endurance of the settlers and soldiers alike during the last few trying years?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I lose no opportunity, I hope, of saying that there could not have been this improvement in the situation in Kenya had it not been for the courage and endurance of settlers and also for the attitude adopted by the African population themselves, who have been the chief victims of this terrible movement.

Following is the statement: In the last three months there has been steady progress in defeating the militant wing of Mau Maw In consequence it has been possible to release the bomber squadrons and to begin to reduce the military forces engaged. The transfer of the Reserves to control by the Administration and police has continued, and since the beginning of September the Army has been wholly deployed in the forest areas. Continuous patrolling and aggressive action by the security forces have brought about the dislocation and disorganisation of gangs into small fugitive groups, while closer administration and the system of defensive villages have cut off their usual sources of food and other supplies. Many groups have been driven by hunger to try to steal food in the settled areas, where they have suffered heavy casualties. Terrorist strength has been reduced by 1,500 since July, while thefts of stock for food have been cut by half. Morale is reported by surrendered terrorists to be extremely low, and the chief concern of the gangs is now survival. Every effort continues to be made to induce surrenders. Encouraging progress has been made in the formidable task of reclaiming Mau Mau adherents so that they can again take their places in the normal life of the Colony. More rehabilitation staff have been recruited, and the number of officers at work now exceeds 400. The total number of persons released from detention, is now 15,000, of whom some 12,000 have been set free this year. A notable feature of rehabilitation work is that none of those released is known to have rejoined Mau Mau. Important progress has also been made in the plans to resettle landless Africans. The survey of the Mwea-Tebere Irrigation Scheme, which is expected ultimately to absorb up to 13,000 families and on which 10,000 men are already at work, has been completed, and that for the Garsen Scheme is well-advanced. Work has begun on the scheme to resettle 5,000 families on forestry work. The development of villages, primarily for security reasons, has continued, and by the end of this month the whole population of Kikuyu and Embu districts, and part of that in Meru, will be housed in villages. Although village life is alien to the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru, there are signs that it is becoming more acceptable now that the improvement in the emergency situation is enabling better amenities to be provided. Already most villages have a school or hall which is the centre of social and welfare activities. Interest in the progress of the emergency and the future of the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru should not obscure the great work being done for the advancement of all tribes and peoples in Kenya. A comprehensive account of developments in this work would be extremely lengthy but an idea of its scope and magnitude may be gained from the following examples. The Swynnerton Plan for African agriculture, on which expenditure of £1,750,000 is planned for 1955–56, is now in full swing. In Ukambana, tsetse infested bush has been cleared so that 50,000 acres will be opened up for cattle-grazing, and four dams have been completed. Farm planning and consolidation is making good progress in Nyanza. In Machakos the initiative in tackling overstocking is being taken by the local district council. In trade and industry, the International Cooperation Administration (I.C.A.) has provided £100.000, subject to the provision of local contributions, to assist African industrialists and traders. On the recommendation of the "Assistance to Industry" Committee, whose report has just been laid in Legislative Council, an Industrial Development Board is being established. A Unilever margarine factory, operated by East African Industries, opened on 15th October. Tenders for the Nairobi African housing scheme are due this month, the Mombasa £300.000 African housing scheme is four months ahead of schedule and legislation is in draft for comprehensive housing schemes to be undertaken by African district councils. The plan for educational expansion continues to go forward, and in this field too the I.C.A. is helping by providing finance for adult literacy and for a new medical training school, for which plans are now in hand.
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