HC Deb 11 April 1956 vol 551 cc213-5
52. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the decision of the Kenya Government with regard to the cancellation of the registration of the Federation of Labour.

53. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what communications he has had with the Governor of Kenya regarding the cancellation of the registration of the Kenya Federation of Labour; and what steps he has taken in this matter.

58. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if a decision has now been reached regarding the continued registration of the Kenya Federation of Labour.

Mr. Hare

The Kenya Federation of Labour has now given an assurance that it is its intention to respect the legal requirements which its continued registration demands. It has also stated that its officers will not be permitted in their official capacity to participate in political activities inconsistent with the conditions of registration. The Registrar of Societies has informed the Federation that it is not intended to cancel its registration so long as these assurances are maintained.

Mrs. Castle

Is it not now quite clear that the Kenya Federation of Labour has always been within its legal rights in expressing opinions on such matters as African franchise, African education and other related issues, for doing which it has been recently attacked? Will the right hon. Gentleman not approach the Kenya Government and ask them in future to be more helpful to the trade union movement in Kenya instead of trying to persecute it in this way?

Mr. Hare

I do not accept the hon. Lady's suggestion that the Kenya Govern-anent have been persecuting the trade union movement in Kenya. I should like to take the opportunity of expressing my thanks to Sir Vincent Tewson for the part which he privately played during his visit. Now that we have arrived at a satisfactory solution, it would be a great pity for us to try to disturb it.

Mr. Bevan

How can the Minister suggest that a satisfactory solution has been achieved here when it was, in fact, as a result of intimidation? How can the trade union operate in this matter when so narrow an interpretation is placed upon its powers? It is a kind of blue pencil on the union all the time. It does not know what to do.

Mr. Hare

It is no use the right hon. Gentleman exaggerating the facts as they are. Kenya is under an emergency, and the law of the country has laid down in the Emergency (Societies) Regulation, 1956, that African political associations should be confined to district and local areas and not be Colony-wide. This is a part of regulations which are necessary as long as the emergency continues.

Mr. Bevan

I understood that it was an interpretation of the rights of a union on registration upon the formation of a union.

Mr. Hare

I think that the right hon. Gentleman is wrong. The Registrar asked for certain assurances from the Kenya Federation of Labour. Those assurances have been given in a letter and the Registrar is satisfied.

Mr. Johnson

Does not the Minister think it a pity that this shabby business was ever begun? It has taken the good offices and the goodwill of Sir Vincent Tewson to settle the matter. Will the Minister give the House an assurance that he and the Colonial Secretary will be eternally vigilant in seeing that a few European members of the Legislative Council cannot do this sort of thing again?

Mr. Hare

Again, I must assure the hon. Gentleman that, in the opinion of the Government of Kenya, these regulations are necessary while the emergency continues. I hope that they are temporary arrangements, but as long as this condition continues, and as long as the causes of it remain, so that trouble is liable to break out again, these regulations are necessary.

Mr. F. Brockway

May I ask the hon. Gentleman why the Federation of Labour in Kenya should not have the same rights as are enjoyed by the Trades Union Congress in this country and in many Commonwealth countries?

Mr. Hare

For the very good reason, thank God, that in this country we have not had Mau Mau.