§ 3.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
Some months have passed since there was a full discussion of Kenya affairs either in the House itself or in Committee of the whole House. We direct attention to Kenya problems this afternoon because we are conscious of great public anxiety about many affairs relating to that Colony and because the House of Commons has a very real and direct responsibility for many affairs in that territory.
There is no desire on our part to embarrass the liberal elements in Kenya today nor to attempt to score cheap party political points. We discharge our duty as an Opposition in directing attention to the difficulties that exist in the territory and in probing the Government in the hope that changes may take place or that further information about those affairs may be forthcoming.
It is unfortunate that in so short a time we cannot range over the whole field of Kenya policy. Perhaps it is unfortunate that some of the fundamental issues in East Africa, and particularly in Kenya, cannot be dealt with because we have not yet had the promised debate on the 1088 Report of the Royal Commission on East African Affairs. That was a very important and provocative document. We are aware, of course, that the Government have been obtaining the views of the three East African Governments and have also promised a White Paper summarising their own views on the recommendations of the Royal Commission's Report. None the less it is most unfortunate that a year has passed since the publication of this Report and that we have not been able to discuss its recommendations yet. We are aware that certain of the proposals are receiving the active attention of some of the Governments in East Africa. We can only hope that matters will not go too far before we have an opportunity of expressing our views on some of the recommendations of the Report.
In the course of my remarks I shall fasten on some of the difficulties and problems confronting Kenya at present. I would point out that I am aware, as is the Opposition, of the difficulties which have confronted the Kenya Government over the past few years. The Opposition and the rest of the Committee are relieved at the ending of the Mau Mau insurrection and are fully appreciative of the courage and endurance which has been shown by the inhabitants of all communities in Kenya since 1952.
We are aware that if the picture is to be looked at as a whole it is desirable that we should see some of the good work which is going forward at present. There are big projects of development and the creation of new services which undoubtedly will do a great deal for the Africans in the territory. The Mombassa water scheme, the Swynerton agriculture plan, the African land settlement proposals, including a great deal of work done in the conservation of land and consolidation of lands inside some of the reserves—all that is work of great promise which we regard as of very great importance. It is work which will give lasting benefit to the African population as well as to the other communities.
This afternoon, I want to direct attention to certain political aspects in Kenya today and to ask a number of important questions relating to future political progress. I think I should first make it clear that it is unnecessary to discuss the 1089 causes of the Mau Mau insurrection, because they have received the attention of the House on a number of occasions in the last year or so, but it is important that we should grasp what are the political concessions which have been made since the emergency was declared. Those advances in the political field have been accompanied by a great deal of indiscriminate repression. All of us have reservations about what has happened in connection with certain of the work and detention camps. Although it must be admitted that a big proportion, even of the Kikuyu tribe, has remained loyal in allegiance to the Kenya Government, there has been a belated admission of the right of Africans to share in the government of Kenya.
There have been concessions recognising the rights of Africans for direct representation in the Legislative Council. Efforts have also been made to find a suitable basis for the African franchise, about which I shall say something more in a moment. At the same time, a prohibition has been imposed on Colonywide political organisation among the Africans, an act of discrimination which undoubtedly the Government justify because the trouble which has occurred had its origin in the Kikuyu. Restrictions have also been imposed on the political rights of the Kikuyu in some of the advances which are now promised.
It must be said that not only does direct representation of Africans in the Legislative Council marks some real political progress, but also that the granting of suffrage, individual voting rights, individual franchise, to the great majority of Africans is of great importance. Undoubtedly, the majority of Africans will be able to vote at the next General Election. Probably 60 per cent. to 70 per cent. of the African population will have qualifications to vote in that Election, but I think we should make it clear that we have very strong reservations about the basis of the franchise. To build up a fancy franchise, a system peculiar to the Africans alone, and the incorporation of new principles in determining the basis of the franchise, together with the introduction of a very complicated system with an undemocratic procedure, is, in my judgment, somewhat illiberal and unnecessary in all the circumstances.
1090 It gives an African up to three votes as a maximum, according to the qualifications of the Africans. This introduction of qualifications seems to us on this side of the Committee to be essentially undemocratic. It is contrary to the whole principle of democracy as we understand it. With the adoption of this system, following the recommendations of the Counts Report—a system which, I ought to say, was not suggested by the Africans, but was suggested to the Africans, although finally endorsed by them—one can only hope it will be treated as an intermediate step and as a basis for a move towards the establishment of the common vote.
It is clear that after the events in Kenya in the last year or so a generous gesture on the part of the other communities is called for, in all the circumstances. It seems desirable that, if confidence and good will are to be restored, an effort should be made to bring together the leaders of the political parties for the purpose of working out a political development plan over the next few years. It is not sufficient to say that there is a suitable arrangement and that nothing should be done to alter existing arrangements until 1960. If the leaders of the respective sides, the respective communities, are willing to discuss political changes, then changes can be discussed. One would hope that the Government would take the initiative in bringing the respective leaders together to discuss some future political development plan.
I suggest that the representation of Africans in the Legislative Council should be increased and increased at an early date. I gather that there are many elements in Kenya today who would welcome the enlargement of African representation. There are 5½ million Africans in Kenya as against 50,000 Europeans, yet in the Legislative Council only one seat is awarded on the basis of I million Africans and a seat may go to the Europeans on the basis of only 3,500. That terrific disparity, that tremendous inequality, is something which cannot be defended now.
It seems to me that the case for increased representation is overwhelming at present, particularly since there has been so much regret on the part of those who have hitherto stood in the way of African advance at the failure of many Africans to realise their responsibilities 1091 towards the Government in their own territories. It is important that this concession should be made, and it is long overdue.
I had hoped that the Government would take the initiative towards making a start with a common franchise, with geographical constituencies. Undoubtedly, it would have to be on a restricted scale at first and would provide for the safeguarding of certain of the minority communities. If we are to ask the people of Kenya to think in terms of Kenya, and not merely in terms of their individual communities, they must be brought together not only to work together, but also to vote together and not as communities. They must vote and work as members of the Kenya Colony. Accordingly, the time is ripe when a common register might be instituted and a start made in that respect.
It seems extraordinarily unfair that we should not make some changes in the compromise introduced, at a time of great difficulty, I admit, by the Secretary of State's predecessor, about the balanced communities in the Government of Kenya. To concede to the Africans only one Minister out of six, to concede two Ministers to the Indians and three to the Europeans, seems to be grossly unfair. By agreement, it might be possible, as many of the liberal elements in Kenya desire, to adjust the Ministries in such a way as to permit two Africans, two Indians and four Europeans, giving equality between Europeans and non-Europeans in the Ministries.
There is another political difficulty where the present system needs some modification in its operation. At the moment, the basis of political organisation for the Africans may not be Territory-wide. If the Africans organise politically at all, they must do so only on the basis of a district or of their tribe. It seems to most of us who have watched this scene over many years that the sooner we can get Africans to think in terms of Kenya as a whole and the community as a whole, the better, and that to insist that political organisations must be based only on the tribe or on the district merely fortifies those regrettable communal tendencies which have been so evident in Kenya since the beginning of its history. A 1092 great effort made in Nairobi was stultified on this ground.
This kind of thing can only intensify the resentment of Africans, especially when the fullest freedom is permitted to Europeans and Indians in the forms which their political organisation may take, whereas this freedom is denied to Africans, despite the fact that only a comparatively small minority of Africans have been concerned in the Mau Mau troubles. I therefore deplore the restriction which exists on African political rights.
Of course, there are tribes—the Kikuyu, the Meru and the Embu—who are denied the normal political rights of assembly and of political association. Although many members of these tribes have remained loyal to Britain and their Government, they are not permitted the normal exercise of political freedom. The situation in the past has been dangerous in certain parts of the country, but it seems that the people who most require political experience, among whom it is most desirable that political maturity should grow, who feel that they ought to have greater political expression than they have had in the past and among whom a political awakening is taking place, are the very people specifically excluded from the exercise of political rights in the changes recently contemplated.
Do not let us forget that the Africans are the great majority of the population and have a deep and abiding stake in the life of the country. Facilities should, therefore, be created whereby they can play their part and express themselves in the political life of the country and gain the necessary experience in order that their responsibility may grow.
I submit that, after what has passed in Kenya, the time is ripe for further political advances, but I would add that it seems necessary that those political advances should be accompanied by agricultural and economic changes. It is no good handling political problems in a watertight compartment; they are part of a general problem in Kenya—the malaise which has come over the African population. An attempt ought to be made without delay to deal with some of the special problems of resettlement, some of the problems of land tenure, the question of village settlement and even the very 1093 acute and difficult problem which exists in the European Highlands of the resident labour system. That system ought to be brought to a speedy end.
Likewise, there remains the discrimination against the Africans in regard to access to land in the Highlands which has been administratively shaped for the European community. The Royal Commission on East Africa recommended that race discrimination with regard to the European Highlands should now be modified and that Africans of competent farming qualities should be admitted to the farming or holding of land in this vast area. It does not call for special legislation. It can be done by administrative order; indeed, it is by administrative order that this land has been exclusively partitioned on behalf of the Europeans.
The time has long been ripe for this change, because no other Measure by the Kenya Government has created so much feeling and added so deeply to the bitterness and the resentment of the Africans as this disqualification from holding land in areas where good land exists and which are important to the Africans because of their crowded reserves.
§ Mr. C. R. Hobson (Keighley)
With reference to the occupation of the White Highlands—and I am not departing from what my right hon. Friend has said— would my right hon. Friend restrict this to individual ownership by each of the races?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I have always taken the view about land in any part of Kenya that it should be held by lease and should not be individually owned. At the same time, I think the leases should be of long duration.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
The question of fragmentation is dealt with in the Royal Commission's Report, and is a subject which should receive the attention of the House at a very early date. I do not intend now to be drawn into a discussion of the land problems of Kenya, the problem of land tenure or the problem of the consolidation of holdings. It is important for the economic development of Kenya that the whole system of land tenure should be overhauled.
1094 I now pass to consideration of questions relating to law and order in Kenya. It is extraordinary that after three and a half years of the emergency there are still 46,000 persons in detention, that the release from the detention camps is still extremely slow, and that last year no fewer than 12,000 persons were brought into the camps.
These persons are detained without charge and not as the result of an order by a court. They are just swept up because some of them are suspected of disloyalty. Both innocent and guilty are in the camps, and the innocent, refusing to confess to any offence, are treated as if they were guilty of disloyalty and were subscribers to the Mau Mau oath. Surely, after three and a half years, a better method might have been evolved for screening people and discovering the disloyal or guilty and separating them from loyal subjects. Surely a method based on human rights and elementary justice might have been devised for dealing with disloyalty which has spread as a result of the Mau Mau trouble.
People have been swept up for detention willy-nilly. Innocent as well as disloyal have been held together for days, weeks and months, and large numbers of innocent people still remain in the camps. That kind of practice has entailed a great deal of hardship and distress for women and children. Children have been left without adequate protection when their mothers or fathers have been put into detention camps. Children have been swept up with the rest without the knowledge of their parents, causing their parents very great anxiety. Women and children have been returned to the reserves without adequate means of subsistence. All this is quite apart from the fact that many innocent persons have been detained in custody for very long periods and are still there.
I wish to draw attention to a further problem, to which some notice has been given in this House and to which some Press attention has been given, and that is the position of girl juveniles in the prison compounds for women in Kenya. The facts cannot be disputed, because they have been authenticated. I possess documentary evidence to support what I am about to say.
There has been no proper segregation of the girls who have been swept up, in 1095 spite of the fact that they are juveniles, except where parents have been swept up with children. In the prison compounds the girls have mixed freely with criminal women. They have received no proper training, education or instruction. In some cases, they have been sentenced to solitary confinement for misdemeanours. It is a system which would not be defended by any hon. Member.
Over and above that, there are cases of appalling cruelty. Many of the girls are aged eleven or twelve, though some are younger and some older. A girl of eleven was sentenced to seven years' hard labour for taking an illegal oath. A girl of twelve was given a life sentence for consorting with people with arms. I am sure that no hon. Member dare for a moment justify such treatment of young persons. A very strict inquiry seems to be called for into the treatment of young persons and children. I will leave aside for the moment the problem of the children, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) will. I hope, if he catches your eye, Sir Charles, have something more to say.
To swell the population in the detention camps—there is no other obvious reason—women who have served their sentence for a crime are not given their freedom, but are transferred to detention. The majority of women who have served prison sentences are now in detention not as a result of an order by a court or a judicial inquiry into their cases, but merely at the instance of the person responsible for women prisoners.
In September, 1955, 227 women were detained in camps and works compounds out of 387 who had served short sentences in prison, and 45 were detained out of 58 who had served long sentences in prison. Why should these people not be given their freedom when they have served the sentences imposed upon them by the courts? Also, in the women's prisons men are employed as warders, which seems to be a very unsatisfactory state of affairs.
Carrying the problem a stage further, I would refer to the public anxiety which still exists about the administration of justice in Kenya. As we all know, strictures have from time to time been passed by judges or members of the bench about 1096 the procedures adopted in Kenya during the past few years. Undoubtedly, reforms have been made. Nevertheless, I suggest that the Colonial Secretary did little to allay anxiety when he replied to charges brought by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) some months ago.
They were charges which certainly reflected upon the administration of justice in Kenya because of the cruelty and barbarism practised upon innocent victims with official connivance, the disposition to give preferential treatment to Europeans compared with Africans and light handling of cases in the courts, and instances of the security forces falling short of the high standards that we expect in securing law and order in a community.
We have not yet had any adequate explanation of the resignation of Colonel Young from the important post which he occupied when he was in Kenya. I think it can be said that confusion still exists as to where the authority of the administration of the police lies. The police force still remains subject to the district officers and administrative officers who have final responsibility for good government and law and order. It is important that, as was recommended by the Kenya police inquiry, as quickly as possible the police force should be put on a somewhat similar basis to that of the police force in this country, and a measure of independence assured against the dominance of the Administration itself.
There is a further factor which is also causing anxiety, namely, the range of capital sentences on persons who are arrested on capital offences. No fewer than 1,015 persons have been executed up to the end of March this year. Of course, many of them have been guilty of the most revolting cruelty, but hundreds have been executed for being in possession of arms, for consorting, or for being present when a murder was committed, or for administering oaths. I plead with the Secretary of State that representation should be made to modify this vicious system of imposing the capital sentence for a whole variety of charges. I believe that the Chairman of the Kenya Committee of the Friends Services Council was right when he wrote in The Times the other day:There is no question whatever but that grave injustices and oppression have arisen in 1097 Kenya. Nor have they been excusable on the plea either of incompetence or the overwhelming pressure of events.That view, whether we like it or not, is widely held.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies(Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
Will the right hon. Gentleman read the whole of that letter? It is important. That extract does not give the complete picture.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I would not have quoted this sentence unless the sentence could stand on its own feet, by itself. The other parts of the letter relate to some matters which are quite distinct and apart from this. The Chairman of that Committee, before saying what he wishes to say about certain statements by Miss Fletcher, makes this preamble, that there is no question whatever that grave injustice and oppression have arisen in Kenya. Therefore, I am completely justified in quoting the sentence as it is. In view of what I have said, there seems to be urgent need for some inquiry into the whole procedure of administering justice in Kenya, and such inquiry should include the question of the absence of the jury system in the African courts.
As for the emergency procedures adopted since 1952, a commission or a committee should be sent from this country to inquire into such matters as the grounds on which detention orders are made, methods of screening, the system of appeals to the Advisory Committee, the treatment of internees in camps and in villages, and the proposals that those classed as very black should continue to be detained after the emergency is at an end. I urge that some such inquiry should be made along these lines, as well as an inquiry into criminal procedure with the further object of discovering whether a jury system can be brought into the ordinary procedure of the courts.
I now want to refer to trade unionism in Kenya and, first, to a recent incident in which the Government threatened to cancel the registration of the Kenya Federation of Labour. The Labour Department in Kenya has done very good work indeed on behalf of organised labour and has been extraordinarily helpful in its suggestions, and its officers have been very forthcoming in assisting the unions in the difficult task of organisation.
I appreciate the weaknesses of colonial trade unionism and the confusion which 1098 often exists in the minds of trade unionists as to the objectives for which the unions are created. But undoubtedly, in this case, the Government were concerned with preventing the trade unions from becoming political organisations on a Kenya-wide front. They had prohibited the Colony-wide political organisation of Africans, and presumably they were anxious that the trade unions should not be organised in such a way as to take the place of the political organisation which could not now operate.
But I must say that it was an extraordinary request which was made to the Kenya Federation of Labour. It was suggested that they should exclude from their consideration, their propaganda and their work, subjects such as these embracing the extension of education, including technical education; they were required not to discuss the problems of immigration, political rights, social legislation and the economic structure of their own country. All these subjects were excluded from the consideration of the Kenya Federation of Labour.
I suggest how utterly ridiculous and stupid such a requirement was. How can it be expected that a federation can operate if it is proscribed in this way? How has it happened that people in Kenya remain so profoundly ignorant of the struggle of trade unionism in this country for its rights and its recognition? There is also—and this is almost as bad—the failure on the part of the authorities to have consultations with the federation or any of the unions before it takes action of the kind to which I have referred. Without consultation these new proposals ought never to have been imposed. By their nature they are both illiberal and unjustifiable.
I hope that with the intervention of Sir Vincent Tewson, the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, the air is now clear. I also hope that in future there will be proper consultation between the federation and the Government authorities, and proper recognition of the scope of trade union interests and action as well as of the importance of encouraging trade unionists to think in terms of their country instead of thinking only in terms of their tribe or district.
I must add a word about immigration policy. Here again, one is profoundly disturbed because it seems that the policy 1099 may be directed towards the encouragement of immigration of one race and the discouragement of another. I suggest that it would be folly to bring in from outside people demanding exclusive privileges, who will make, by their presence, the solution of the social, economic and political problems of Kenya all the more difficult, or make more difficult the solution of the problem of the European Highlands by closer settlement of Europeans in that particular area.
It is quite true that more skills are required in Kenya in the professions, in trades, and in commerce. If these gaps are there, then it is all the more necessary that training should be speeded up and a bigger expansion of trade and technical education made possible. I admit that in Kenya, in recent years, very important advances in technical and trade education have taken place. But immigration, I submit, should be carefully regulated and selection of immigrants made in order to serve not merely the short-term needs of Kenya but also the long-term needs. In any case, it ought not to be just that type of immigrant who will intensify the racial struggle and make political and social development there all the more difficult in the days to come.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North-West)
Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting to the Committee that British people should be stopped from going to Kenya?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I have never suggested that there should be any racial discrimination in the matter of immigration. The regulations for which I myself was responsible were not hinged on the question of racial discrimination.
I suggest—I think the Committee will agree—that there can be no final devolution of authority to the Kenya Government until a firm democratic basis of government is established in that territory. European opinion with very great respect to the Europeans—is still in Kenya assertive and sometimes rather aggressive. There is resentment and it is often cynical about the efforts of this country to have some voice in Kenya affairs.
I submit that we as a House of Commons have a very real responsibility towards political and social development 1100 in Kenya. We must not capitulate before an active minority, as we did in the case of Central Africa when the Federation was founded. We cannot withdraw from our responsibilities until the foundations of a democratic society are well-laid, and all communities play their active part in the political life of the territory. Further, while it is important that the three East African territories should cooperate and be associated, none the less policy ought not to be directed towards the creation of a federation of these three territories. One is conscious that if that effort were made it would arouse the most bitter opposition of the Africans in Uganda and Kenya, as well as in Tanganyika.
I conclude by saying that our policy should be directed towards improving social standards in Kenya, spreading education there, stopping racial discrimination and bringing about the fullest co-operation and understanding of the four communities involved in the political and other fields of that country.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. John Hare)
I have very great respect for the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones). I go further. I say that the Colonial Territories owe him a great deal chiefly because, when he was Secretary of State for the Colonies, he refused to toe the party line. When I was sitting on the benches opposite, I formed the impression that he was a man who did what he thought best and defended his actions because they were right and just, and not merely because he sought to give pleasure to those who sat behind him. Therefore, I am sorry that today, perhaps, he did not always quite keep to his high standards. He spoke for something like 55 minutes and he had only five minutes of praise to give to the Administration which has overcome the hideous menace of Mau Mau. The remaining 45 or 50 minutes were spent in criticism.
I entirely sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman's regret that we have been unable this afternoon to discuss Kenya with the benefit of the reports from the various Territories and my right hon. Friend's comments on those reports dealing with the Royal Commission. I am able to announce to the House that these 1101 despatches from the three Territories are now with the Colonial Office, and we hope to be able to publish a White Paper before the Recess with my right hon. Friend's comments. It may, therefore, be possible to arrange a debate on the Commission's Report by arrangements made through the usual channels.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I take it that the right hon. Gentleman and the Government will recognise their responsibility here. This was a Royal Commission appointed by the Government to report to the Government and Parliament, and it is for the Government to find time for a debate.
§ Mr. Hare
The right hon. Gentleman knows better than I do that these are matters which are better arranged through the proper channels. My right hon. Friend and myself very much welcome the opportunity today to discuss the affairs of Kenya. As we have a certain amount of time at our disposal, I do not intend to limit myself to dealing only with the emergency because, too often, am afraid, those outside who read our discussions in this House on Kenya are left with the impression that the whole Colony is in a state of turmoil and all the energies of the Government of Kenya are being directed to the suppression of a violent revolt against its authority. I think that this impression is very unfair to the Kenya Government and to those many officers working outside the emergency areas who are energetically pursuing the task of the economic and social development of the people of the country. So the first point I would make is that the refusal in Kenya to abandon the constructive tasks of Government, even at the height of the emergency, is a feature of these recent troubled years to which far too little attention has been paid.
As the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with some part of the results of the emergency, may I first say a word about the emergency? The most striking thing about Kenya today is that while the emergency is not yet over, the end is at least in sight and militant Mau Mau is affecting the life of the Colony less and less. The latest estimate of terrorist strength is not much more than 1,000, compared with 1,750 only three months ago. There are now only five major leaders at large as against about fifty a year ago.
1102 I think the House will agree with me that this success reflects the greatest credit upon the leadership and imagination of General Lathbury. He has ceaselessly adapted the use of military forces to the very rapidly changing nature of the campaign. This campaign, as the House knows, largely consists of special operations against limited and exceedingly elusive targets in very difficult country. In this context also I should like to pay tribute to those who had been and still are engaged in these hazardous operations. This year these have led to the award of three George Cross Medals.
However, with 1,000 terrorists still at large, and even though they now receive only negligible support from their own people, the emergency cannot yet be considered over. Pressure and vigilance must be maintained in order to remove as quickly as possible the remaining threat to the community, that community being African, Asian and European. I do not think I need remind the House that the vast majority of those who have suffered from the Mau Mau terrorist movement have been the Kikuyu themselves.
There have been allegations, both in this House and elsewhere, and the right hon. Gentleman has this afternoon made them, that the rule of law has broken down in Kenya. I cannot accept this, and I should like to give some of the reasons why. Nobody has ever denied that at the height of the emergency conditions in the troubled areas amounted to a state of civil war. Large armed gangs, often a hundred strong, roamed the countryside murdering and pillaging. In fact, the extent of the terror is only just being fully revealed as the bodies of the victims are discovered,
Some things undoubtedly occurred in the heat of battle and under the strain of the brutalising influences of the prevailing conditions, which were deplorable and inexcusable. There were, indeed, a few isolated cases of brutalities and atrocities on the part of the Government's Forces. But I do emphasise that, whereever possible, the offenders have been brought to justice, and it has been brought home repeatedly and forcibly to all concerned that abuses and malpractices will not be tolerated.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Surely. that is not so. We had a period during which they were not isolated 1103 incidents. There was a competitive reign of terror, and an indemnity was passed to excuse all the people who had taken part in it. True, very admirable action has been taken since then, but until January there was a competitive reign of terror, and everybody was excused for what they had done in it.
§ Mr. Hare
I am saying that every action is now being taken to see that those incidents are not repeated. That is what I have said. I think what I said is well within the recollection of the House.
I repeat that we are taking rigorous steps to eliminate opportunities for such abuses by the strengthening of the system of supervision. Many hon. Members on both sides will know of this, and I think it is fair to quote as an example the inquiry conducted by Sir Vincent Glenday into screening camps. A copy of his report is in the Library of the House. But the vital principle has certainly not been abandoned that in the detection of crime and in the bringing of offenders to justice the police are responsible to the law and subject to the sole authority of the Attorney-General, who is himself independent of the Executive in this regard. This is a most important point, which many people do not appreciate.
Authoritative criticism, again voiced by the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon, has been expressed against the criminal procedure code in Kenya, under which members of the European community are entitled to trial by jury, a privilege not extended to other communities. It has been suggested that if the jury system is to be retained in Kenya there should be a change to multi-racial juries in cases from all communities heard by judges.
This is not an easy question, and it requires the most careful study before any changes are decided upon. Again, I think the House would like to know that a comprehensive study of the criminal code has been initiated in Kenya, and is being pursued as fast as other pressing demands upon the law officers there permit. Until these local studies have been completed, I am not prepared to state a view on the future of the jury system in Kenya.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about rehabilitation. As the House knows, as detainees respond to rehabilitation they 1104 are released either to restricted residence in their own villages or to an open camp on one of the new development schemes. This method of rehabilitation has proved very successful, and no evidence has come to light of any released detainee rejoining the gangs. The detention camps and works camps have been laid out on the advice of the medical authorities.
Wide currency has been given to the allegations made by a former rehabilitation worker in Kenya, Miss Fletcher, to whom the right hon. Gentleman referred, regarding conditions in some of the camps and, in particular, regarding the treatment of young persons, young girls.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not confuse this matter. I was referring to young persons in the prison camps and the prison compounds. I did not refer to young persons in detainee camps.
§ Mr. Hare
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I think he was referring in fact to the points made by Miss Fletcher in various articles which she has published in the Press.
I should like to make three points regarding these allegations. First, this lady brought none of these matters to the attention of the authorities of Kenya when she was in their employment.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I really cannot allow that statement to go unanswered. Before Miss Fletcher left Kenya she saw not only the persons with whom she had been working, but she saw also the Chief Secretary and gave him the information which she has used in this country, and warned him that unless something was done she would be obliged to inform the British public of what she had discovered.
§ Mr. Hare
I regret to say that my information is precisely to the contrary, that she made no communication to the Chief Secretary or to anybody else on those matters. I am perfectly prepared to investigate that, but I should not have made that statement unless I was sure of my facts. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is not true."] I have said that I am perfectly prepared to investigate it, but my information is as I have just given it to the House.
The most striking allegation which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned alleged 1105 that a girl of 11 and a girl of 12 had been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Those allegations, as far as my information goes, are utterly untrue.
§ Mr. Hare
May I just finish, because what I have to say deals with this particular point. Third, what I have just said is backed up by representatives of the Churches and of the Society of Friends in Kenya, who, I would submit to the House, are closer to these matters than many people in this country.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
With reference to the second point made by the right hon. Gentleman, I have here a statement signed by the Commissioner of Prisons, indicating the prison number of each of the two children concerned, the nature of their offences, the period of their imprisonment. There can be absolutely no dispute whatsoever as to the truthfulness of the statement which Miss Fletcher made.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
There has been a series of circumstantial charges made by a lady who had very special advantages for finding out the facts, more intimate and special advantages than had many others. She has made these charges, and all we are having, apparently, is a refutation from the very people against whom the charges have been made. Surely that is not enough.
§ Mr. Hare
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) is jumping to conclusions. I am making three points on this important series of charges. A number of hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies probably wish to make reference to these charges, and this is one of the main points with which my right hon. Friend, who is to wind up the debate, intends to deal. I thought it would be only fair to hon. Members opposite that I should give them some indication of the facts in our possession.
§ Mr. Bevan
Surely this is not playing fair with the Committee. We have been trying to discuss this matter in a very dispassionate fashion. We had no intention of taking a Division this evening but that may not remain the position unless we get a satisfactory answer. We desire to have this investigation made in a proper way. We do not want once more, as we have seen before, the Colonial Secretary to mount a verbal escalator at the end of the debate and provide us with no reply at all. The Minister of State is replying for the Government now. He knows what the charges are, and we should know the Government's answer now.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Is it not a fact that the two young ladies must have been in an open court with a British judge at a certain moment in time? Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us when they were in court, who was the judge and what were the sentences?
§ Mr. Hare
I cannot give details of the court or the name of the judge. What I can say is that these allegations are untrue. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] So far as the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is concerned, nobody wishes to have an escalator speech at the end of the debate. The right hon. Gentleman is very good at it himself and I gather that he will be winding up for his side of the Committee. I assure hon. Members that my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary will deal in great detail with all the charges. I have said that they are untrue.
§ Mr. Bevan
On a point of procedure, Sir Charles. This really is not fair. Kenya has not been debated in the House for a long time. I was hoping that the Secretary of State himself would open for the Government today so that we could have an authoritative answer. This is not good enough. The charges are known, they have been published in newspapers and they have been canvassed upstairs. All the circumstances have been present to the minds of the Government and they have had a long time to consider them. They were asked Questions in the House, and the right hon. Gentleman said that he would make inquiries and let us know. Now is his opportunity, but, apparently, we are to debate during the whole of the evening before we know the Government's answer to these charges. 1107 That really is not good enough. If it is persisted in and we have the same sort of answer at the end of the debate, we shall have to divide.
§ Mr. Brockway
The right hon. Gentleman indicated earlier that he would give way to me when he had finished the point he was making. Is he now prepared to do so?
§ Mr. Brockway
When the right hon. Gentleman says that the charges that children aged 11 and 12 are in prison in Kenya are untrue, is he aware that I have in my possession the actual official records from the prison concerned, giving dates, which at a later stage I hope to have the opportunity of reading to the Committee?
§ Mr. Hobson
On a point of order, Sir Charles. It is obvious from the interchange between the two Front Benches that information is available concerning the allegations by the lady in question. How can the Committee debate the matter effectively and arrive at a conclusion when this information, on the admission of the Treasury Bench, is being denied to the Committee?
§ The Chairman
I cannot see how the Committee can arrive at a decision, but it is not a point of order.
§ Mr. Hare
I do not wish to treat the Committee with any disrespect. I have given way on a number of occasions, I have listened to all the points which have been raised and I have given the 1108 assurance that my right hon. Friend will deal with them.
There are a lot of things I want to say which give a proper basis for this debate, and I want to get on with it. The release of detainees is at the rate of approximately 2,000 a month. This corresponds with only 850 six months ago and 600 twelve months ago. To meet the need to provide homes and employment for those who are released, various schemes have been launched such as the Mwea/Tebere irrigation project, the forest resettlement project and the land consolidation measures in the reserves. Several pilot schemes for the return of Kikuyu, Embu and Meru to the farms of the Rift Valley province are now in operation and the first signs are encouraging. These measures will take time to make their full contribution, but the impetus of their development is increasing and land consolidation, in particular, is having encouraging results in enhancing the productive and carrying capacity of the rich lands of the Central Province.
Hon. Members will be aware of allegations which have been made about the malnutrition of African children in Kenya and the lack of care for women and children, particularly of the women whose husbands have been detained. The problem of the care of women and children can be divided into two parts: the particular and temporary problem caused by the displacement of families during the emergency, and the long-term problem of ensuring the welfare of the children.
During the height of the emergency there was considerable population movement of the Kikuyu back into their land unit. Many of them had lost touch with their clans of origin, and relief works were therefore organised by the Provincial Administration, who did much to attempt to relieve distress. Nevertheless, it can be understood that when the Civil Administration still had its hands full with the progress of the emergency and the Medial Department was again taxed with problems arising from the emergency, it was necessary to find workers who could devote their whole time to the relief of distress. So in April, 1954, the first two field workers were sent out to Kenya by the British Red Cross at the Government's request. There are now, I am glad to say, eighteen field workers, of whom all but three are working in the Central 1109 Province. It is hoped that shortly the numbers engaged outside the Central Province will be considerably increased.
Whilst attending to the individual cases of distress, the Red Cross workers also had to face the larger problem of subnutrition among children. A survey has recently been conducted by the Medical Department with the co-operation of the missions and the Red Cross, and the resulting figures are still awaited. Until they have been carefully examined it is not possible to give any forecast of the findings. Experience shows, however, that much of the sub-nutrition which has been found among Kikuyu children is due not to the emergency, but to ignorance of proper diet on the part of the parents. The right hon. Gentleman laughs, but this is true. It is one of the results of closer administration that subnutrition has come to light. For example, it has been noticed that thin and undernourished children are frequently the children of well-fed parents. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman knows about it. I did not know he had had personal dealings with it.
§ Mr. Hare
I am glad to say that the response to a campaign to combat ignorance and selfishness on the part of many of the parents has been encouraging and much voluntary help has been forthcoming. I express my very real thanks to the Red Cross and to other volunteers who have been doing splendid work in this sphere.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
We all agree with that. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what are the lowest wages now paid on European farms? The Colonial Survey shows that the African cost of living has risen by 325 per cent. since 1939 and there appears to be no minimum wage on the farms. Wages in 1952 were as low as 14s. a week.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
The right hon. Gentleman has made a serious allegation about ignorance among the Africans being responsible for malnutrition. I am prepared to pay a glowing 1110 tribute to the work which is being done by the Red Cross, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Government are not setting an example? I visited a Government orphanage in the Nyeri district in the presence of the District Commissioner, Mr. Pedrazza, and the sister in charge, in answer to a question, replied that no milk of any kind was given to the children unless they were ill.
§ Mr. Hare
I think the hon. Lady ought to try to make that point in her speech, and that it is not relevant to an interruption.
At this stage it would, perhaps, be appropriate if I paid a tribute to the Governor of Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring, as well as to all those who have worked with him unremittingly during the darkest days of the emergency not only to restore law and order but also to rehabilitate those who have been tainted by Mau Mau. Even at the worst period of the emergency, which was in 1953, the Governor was insistent on the need to push forward with rehabilitation measures and to provide the machinery which would be needed to bring back into the life of the country all those who could be redeemed from the path of violence.
I myself paid a short visit to Kenya in the middle of 1954, and I can personally testify to this. His vision and determination are finding their reward in the rising rate of reabsorpton and in the feelings of confidence and hope for the future, which are much strengthened as the emergency wanes.
In September of this year, there will be elections in Kenya in which the Europeans and Asians will be electing representatives to the Legislative Council, and, as the Committee knows, it is the Kenya Government's intention to hold African elections by March of next year. Much detailed work is now being done in preparing for these elections on the basis of the report which the right hon. Member for Wakefield mentioned of the Commissioner, Mr. Coutts. This was accepted by the Legislative Council in February after certain modifications, which have been made by the Government of Kenya. These modifications were designed to broaden the base of the franchise while at the same time respecting the volume of evidence given to the Commissioner that, in these first electoral experiments, the African people 1111 wished to see arrangements made which would return as their representatives men of quality and responsibility.
In view of these forthcoming elections, I would, with great respect to the Committee, suggest that none of us today should try to say anything which might adversely affect the continuation of cooperation between the races in the Government of Kenya, which is, as the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale knows, Her Majesty's Government's declared policy. I think I can speak for both sides of the Committee when I say that we all sincerely hope that after those elections there will be in the Legislative Council in Kenya representative members of all the races who will give their whole-hearted support to the concept of multiracial Government, and who will carry on and consolidate this experiment, which has hitherto met with so much success.
As regards constitutional changes, which were mentioned by the right hon. Member for Wakefield, one of the terms of the reconstruction of the Government brought about by Lord Chandos—then Mr. Lyttelton—as Secretary of State was, in effect, that neither the Governor nor Her Majesty's Government will make proposals for constitutional changes before 1960 My right hon. Friend does not, however, regard himself as inhibited from considering agreed proposals put forward by representatives of all races in the Legislative Council. The representative members of the Legislative Council have, in fact, for some time been considering certain proposals in regard to the composition of the Legislative Council, but these have not yet been submitted for consideration by the Governor, and therefore my right hon. Friend and I can say no more on that point today.
I should like to remind the Committee, if a reminder is needed, that the state of emergency has, in fact, affected only a quarter of the population and approximately one-fifth of the total area of the Colony. The economy of Kenya is based on agriculture, both European and African. The development of African farming is based on the Swynnerton plan, of which the major objective is the establishment of planned family holdings throughout the more thickly populated African districts, where four-fifths of the African population live.
1112 For this purpose, the support of the landholders is required, firstly, to bring together the scattered fragments of land into single holdings of reasonable size, and, secondly, to have these holdings surveyed and planned by the Agricultural Department. Three years ago, when the Swynnerton plan was drawn up, it was uncertain whether this support from the landholders would be obtained, or whether, on the contrary, there would be widespread opposition. Today, these uncertainties are disappearing, and in many parts of the Central Province Africans have given enthusiastic support.
I am glad to say that in the Central Province already 20,000 acres of land have been consolidated, of which 7,600 acres has already been planned. These plans include hedging and fencing, cattle sheds, water supplies, soil conservation, the use of manure and compost and the production of cash crops. A genuine and lively interest in farming is now very evident in a great many of these areas, and this is very encouraging indeed. Steps are now being taken to extend these operations, which have been proved in the Central Province, to other parts of the country, notably the Nyanza Province, where similar problems have been created by the growth of the population.
Unfortunately, in the last few days, and this is an illustration of the difficulties we meet in this matter, we have had news that the efforts being made to secure the support of the population for these measures have met with a slight setback—in Nyanza Province—illustrating yet again the patience and perseverance which must be employed in winning support for policies which affect the ownership and distribution of land. It is my hope that these suspicions will be overcome by patient explanation.
The crops on these planned holdings include high priced cash crops, such as coffee, tea, pyrethrum and pineapples, and the acreage under these and other crops is expanding rapidly. Many people seem to be under the impression that Africans are not allowed to grow coffee. There are 25,000 Africans owning over four million trees of coffee, and the coffee grown by Africans is of high quality. At the Royal Show in Nairobi last year, African-grown coffee carried off the first prizes.
1113 In the European areas, with the advice and assistance of the Agricultural Department, the planning and development of mixed farming areas goes on steadily on lines basically the same as those described for the African areas. The object of this policy is the more intensive use of land and the bringing into production of areas hitherto undeveloped through lack of capital or knowledge of the farming methods most effective in the marginal lands of the European areas. The key to the expansion of the European agriculture is livestock, but large sums of capital must be invested to bring land and livestock up to full production.
Before the 1939–45 war, there was comparatively little industry in Kenya, but since the war there has been a spectacular increase in industrial activity. Anybody who has been to Nairobi can see this for himself. It is significant that in 1954, for the first time in the Colony's history, the proportion of the geographical net income attributable to the manufacturing industry was as great as the proportion attributable to European agriculture. A great part of this development has been in industry closely linked with agriculture.
The needs of a rapidly growing consumers' market are largely met by expanding industries, the products of which include such commodities as hurricane lanterns, pressure oil stoves, nails, furniture, matches, ready-made clothing and so on. The Government are taking every possible step to encourage and accelerate the development of industry, which has already provided opportunities for wage-earning employment for large numbers of Africans. Some 140,000 Africans are employed in industry and commerce today, and their wages and conditions of employment are steadily improving. [HON. MEMBERS: "What are they?"] I have explained the various difficulties of industry—
§ Mr. Hare
I hope the hon. Member will make that point in debate. I do not wish to keep the Committee unduly. However, there are one or two other things I want to say. I am trying to answer some of the things the right hon. Member for Wakefield raised in his speech.
In the field of labour, the Kenya Government's policy, publicly stated on numerous occasions, is to foster the development of trade unions and staff associations. I am very grateful for the generous tribute which the right hon. Gentleman paid to the Labour Department of the Kenya Government. These are early days for the trade union movement in Kenya, but I am sure that the recent visits of Sir Vincent Tewson and Mr. Walter Hood of the Trades Union Congress have been an encouragement to the orderly development of genuine trade union activities. In particular, Sir Vincent Tewson's assistance in achieving a satisfactory settlement of the differences which arose between the Kenya Government and the Kenya Federation of Labour has been warmly appreciated by my right hon. Friend and myself.
I cannot, without making this speech much too long, do justice to the vast subject of education, which is the key to advance and on which the future of Kenya will so much depend. I hope that in the debate this topic will not be neglected. Its importance, obviously, will grow as we move into a future where resources can be released from the battle for security to strengthen the agencies of progress.
I will conclude by saying that we cannot regard the period of emergency in Kenya as yet at an end, but we can say with confidence that it is a phase of the history of that country which is now passing behind us. The forces of evil have almost been routed. While it is right, therefore, that we should look to the future, in forming our expectations and hopes we should not lightly forget the grim and very recent past.
Mau Mau, with its savagery and horror, will leave a deep scar in Kenya, but may 1115 be out of this evil good also will arise, though those who live there will not readily forget the years of unrelenting anxiety. Nearly 600 members of the security forces were killed. Nearly 2,000 civilians, the great majority of whom were African victims of African barbarity, lost their lives. The uppermost thought in the mind of the Government of Kenya and the people of that country must be that things like Mau Mau cannot be allowed to rise again.
While we must rigorously advance on the new problems of the happier future we cannot afford complacency or abandon caution, but I can assure the Committee that the Government of Kenya are approaching the great tasks that lie ahead of them in a spirit of confidence for the future and with the determination to provide a secure and satisfying life for all the people of the Colony.
§ Mr. Bevan
Before the debate proceeds, may I make an appeal to the Secretary of State? He will know that all the principal organs of public opinion in Great Britain have welcomed this opportunity for discussing the situation in Kenya. He will know also that those allegations to which reference was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) are considered very seriously. We understand that the Government have a reply. I am quite certain that my hon. Friends, and, indeed, hon. Members in all parts of the Committee, are perfectly prepared to give the right hon. Gentleman a second opportunity at the end of the debate if he wishes, but, surely, it would be desirable to put the Committee in possession of the Government's reply now, because if it is true that the Government have an effective answer to those allegations, it would dispose of them and the Committee could go on to consider the future, which is more important. We do not want to spend time on allegations if they are without foundation. We would much rather discuss education, the future of the constitution of Kenya, and a vast number of other things very much more important for the future. Can we dispose of the allegations now, or is the right hon. Gentleman merely waiting to score a cheap debating point at the end of the debate?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman's intervention could have been made without that rather unworthy innuendo at the end of it. So many hon. and right hon. Members appear to want to take advantage of this debate to talk about that theme, as was shown by the number of people who interrupted my right hon. Friend during his speech, that I want to hear precisely what all the detailed charges are, and then I will reply. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there are plenty of opportunities of cross-examining me after this debate is over. Next Wednesday and the Wednesday after colonial affairs are high in the list of Questions.
I understand that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) has actual prison records and documents with individual names. I have been at pains to try to identify the prisoners to whom those charges relate. Had hon. Gentlemen been really anxious to help me in this task of elucidation, would it not have been better and more helpful to have handed those documents to me before the debate, rather than to whip them out of their portfolios during the debate? I do not want to hide anything whatsoever. However, those documents of specific charges with individual names, if there are individual names, could properly and best have been used if they had been handed to me or to my Department at any time in the last week, instead of hon. Members waiting until the debate to whip them out, in the hope, no doubt, of catching me unawares.
§ Mrs. Castle
I have a copy here, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all we have is what is copied from the official prison records and is, therefore, just as much available to him—indeed, much more—than it is to us? Would he answer this question? If he says that these facts are untrue, is he telling the Committee that the Government of Kenya have informed him that their own prison records giving the particulars, the addresses, the ages and names of the young girls concerned, are wrong and false? If the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to ascertain the facts he is not in a position to answer the debate.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
As I said before, I want to hear precisely what all the charges are. To answer now, half-way through, 1117 would be an absurdity, and to have three Government speeches in a short debate like this would be an abuse.
§ Mr. Paget
There are a great many of us who are very anxious indeed to deal with the very important questions which we take very much to heart, but here is a specific charge, that three little girls have been sentenced to prison. If they have been so sentenced, it is clearly against the ordinance and illegal. The documents are there. Could we not get rid of this matter instead of spoiling the debate with this sort of nonsense? Then we could come to other things and the future.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well that it is not only one question, but a whole series of charges, on all of which I hope to be able to make comments. There is no suggestion that if I dealt with three cases in particular that would clear this matter away altogether. I am too old a Parliamentary hand to be deceived by a suggestion of that kind. At the end of the debate I will answer any charges made during the debate, and I await with interest the form which the charges may take.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
The Minister made a most extraordinary speech. He complained that there were criticisms, but what did he expect? Did he think there would be none? Does he think no criticism can be made of the Government's handling of the situation in Kenya?
§ Mr. Dugdale
I am sure that all my hon. and right hon. Friends will join with me in paying tribute to the work of the district officers, and we on this side think that they have done their work the more creditably because of the grave difficulties the Government have imposed upon them. They have a very hard task to perform—made harder by the Government's handling of the situation—but to say that there should be no criticism seems to me quite intolerable, and the only reason the right hon. Gentleman said 1118 so was that he was totally unable to answer it, and so, apparently, was the Secretary of State.
We have heard a good deal about Miss Fletcher, but it is a remarkable thing that the Government were quite unable to answer the charges of Miss Fletcher when originally Questions were asked about them in the House. The Secretary of State himself has said that Questions can be asked next week and the week after, but he was totally unable to answer those Questions a week ago.
I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) will agree with me when I say that at the time when we had experience of the Colonial Office it was perfectly capable of finding out the answer to questions, in an infinitely shorter time, and I am sure that the Secretary of State could have answered these questions long before this.
I am not going to say definitely that all these charges are proven. It would be absurd to say at once that one agrees with all the charges, but I had the pleasure of meeting Miss Fletcher and I was very much impressed, not only by her honesty and sincerity but by her common sense and her ability to investigate problems. It seems to me that there is some likelihood that at least some of the charges, if not all, will be found to be proven. It is something that they were made. because until they were made the Secretary of State for the Colonies was apparently entirely unaware of the conditions in the prisons to which they refer.
I will not refer specifically to the charges relating to the girls of 11 years of age. I hope that one or two of my hon. Friends will be able to deal with them and will have greater details to give to the Committee, but it appears that there are children of 11 and there have been in the past children of 7 and 6 years of age who have been in camps on their own without their parents. Today I understand that no children under seven may be kept in such conditions, but apparently it was not until complaints were made by Miss Fletcher that this alteration was made. The Government here did nothing, nor did the Government in Kenya, until attention was called to these facts by people like Miss Fletcher who went out to investigate the position. That in itself is one subject for criticism.
1119 It is very probable that the Secretary of State will reply that we on this side of the Committee do not understand Mau Mau and do not know of the terrible oaths that are taken. There was an exhibition in the Library some time ago showing the kind of things done by Mau Mau, and none of us would say that they were anything but quite revolting. But the first two oaths are not to betray Mau Mau and not to divulge Mau Mau secrets. It is one thing for a grown-up person to take those oaths but quite another for a child to say, "I must not give away secrets of a certain organisation to which my parents belong." Is that a crime for which that child may be sentenced to seven years' imprisonment?
It seems to me a gross miscarriage of justice that when crimes of that kind are perpetrated by children they are sent to prison on these charges. Are these very young children now kept separately on their own or are they allowed to mix with the much older toughs? Some of the criticisms were that they were not only mixed with the toughs but shackled to them. I hope that that practice never happened and that if it did it has now ceased. I have my doubts as to whether it never happened, but I hope that the Secretary of State can assure us that nothing of that kind occurs now.
I know that we all agree that it is much more serious that children should be in prison, but in the case of adults, even of those people who are accused of such terrible crimes as many of the Mau Mau have committed, we on this side of the Committee believe that it is quite wrong that the ordinary course of justice is altered simply because there are greater crimes and there is a crisis.
I quote the example of what Mr. Justice Cram said. He, after all, must surely be treated with some respect, even by hon. Members opposite. This is not a criticism by my hon. Friends but by a judge in Kenya. Admittedly it was said in April of last year, but that was some considerable time after the emergency had begun. He said;
People are taken by armed men, without warrant, detained, and, as it seems, tortured until they confess to alleged crimes, and then taken to trial on the sole evidence of these confessions.1120 This is a very serious charge indeed for a judge in Kenya to make. I should like to know whether these kind of conditions still apply and whether the Government can say that people are no longer taken in this way and that confessions are no longer dragged out of them in the manner described by the judge.
I think that all of us in the Committee will agree that prison warders have an extremely difficult task and that the warders in this country perform it admirably, but I think that the position is rather different when we have prison warders of one race and prisoners all of another race and there are the conditions of tension and turmoil that exist in Kenya today. In conditions like that, it is vitally important that there should be adequate control by the Government over what is done inside the prisons. I am not at all certain that the Government in this country has such adequate control. It is left, as obviously it must be, to a great extent to the local Government, and the local Government very often have in their employ warders who might be guilty of things of which warders in this country would never be guilty. We must have a full examination of what is done inside these prisons.
I understand from Miss Fletcher that even my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) had the wool drawn over her bright eyes when she went round one of the detention camps. She wanted to see how the screening was done. I understand from Miss Fletcher that arrangements were made that every-body should be given a holiday on that day so that no screening should be done.
§ Mr. Dugdale
That should not be allowed by the Government. The people who do that kind of thing should be brought up very sharply indeed. They should be told that in future anybody who pays a visit to a prison must be allowed to see conditions as they are and not entirely false conditions created for the day.
I agree that the warders' task is difficult, and not only in Kenya are there such difficulties. As the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs knows, I have sent him details of conditions alleged to prevail in other prisons outside Kenya, for example, in Salisbury, which are very 1121 grave indeed. In Kenya it appears that there is abundant evidence that the conditions in prisons are not all that they should be.
I hope that this next charge made by Miss Fletcher can be disposed of. It is appalling. It is said that a man described as a rehabilitation officer says that he is sorry that lunatics are being sent away from the detention camps because it is much easier to put suspects in with them for a week or two, after which the suspects are in a condition to confess to anything. He says that it is much easier to do that than to have to depend, as he would otherwise, merely upon a light diet and a good thrashing. That is alleged to have been said by a rehabilitation officer. I do not know whether it is true, but it should be definitely answered by the Secretary of State. It does not inspire a feeling of confidence in the prison service of Kenya if it is true. I suspect that most of the people so employed in prisons have little experience of rehabilitation work. The best work has been done by visiting organisations, such as the Red Cross, and others who have had experience of that kind of work.
I come now to the question of the resignation of Colonel Young. The Government, quite rightly, in March, 1954, seconded Colonel Young from the position of Commissioner of Police in this country to do work in Kenya. He worked for nine months and then resigned his office. We have never been told why Colonel Young resigned. I understand that Michael Scott, in a sermon in St. Paul's Cathedral recently, mentioned this and asked once again for information as to why he had resigned.
It is thought that Colonel Young resigned because he objected to Europeans not getting sentences which they should get and that charges against Europeans have even been withdrawn under influence. I do not know whether that has happened, but it is a serious charge. I understand, too, that Colonel Young has at any rate not denied that this was the reason he resigned. I hope, therefore, that the Secretary of State can tell us what was the real reason which brought about the resignation of Colonel Young, whom he had himself appointed a short time before.
§ Mr. Hale
if I may interrupt my right hon. Friend, may I point out that the 1122 Minister without Portfolio in the Kenya Legislative Assembly was reported last week as describing Colonel Young as an indiscreet policeman who has stabbed Kenya in the back? When a responsible Minister makes an attack of that kind on a distinguished public servant, he should be entitled to give his side of the case.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Not only should Colonel Young be entitled to give his side of the case, but the Secretary of State owes it to him to make a statement as to what happened. That should be done, and even if he is today Commissioner of Police in this country, Colonel Young should be entitled to reply to that charge dealing with his tenure of office in Kenya. Unless that is done, there will be a feeling of grave injustice surrounding this case.
Numbers of us have made grave charges. Miss Fletcher has made grave charges. If even half of those charges are proven, it is a serious matter and it means that the detention camps and prisons in Kenya, for which this Government are responsible, have many features bearing a close resemblance to those in the Iron Curtain countries. We cannot talk too much about justice in the countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain until we are certain that there is justice in those countries for which we are responsible.
I realise the difficulties. It is not a question of running a kindergarten. I know there is an emergency. I know that it is hard to keep the course of justice right during an emergency. But, after all, let us remember that the emergency in Kenya is not the only emergency in a British Colony today. My hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) called attention to the fact a week or so ago that, although there has been a great outcry about two executions in Cyprus during the present emergency, there have been I,000 executions in Kenya.
What about the question of detainees? Let me give the figures for three places where there is still an emergency. Early this year, 1956, the number of people detained in Cyprus without trial was 297. In Malaya it was 683. In Kenya it was 43,513. That cannot be right. Conditions in Kenya cannot be so much 1123 worse than conditions in those other countries. This means that the administration of justice in Kenya is conducted on a different basis from the administration of justice in those other countries. The Secretary of State must reply to these allegations if we are to be satisfied that there is not grave injustice in the administration of justice in Kenya.
In conclusion, I shall refer to the statement made by the Minister of State about malnutrition—
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
Before the right hon. Gentleman goes on to that other point, I hope he is not suggesting to the Committee in his remarks on prisons that those hon. Members of this House who had the privilege of being in Kenya have not had the fullest opportunities of seeing the detention camps and the prisons. I myself, without any restrictions, saw them all, and I had the opportunity of crossexamining the detainees in the camp which I visited. [HON. MEMBERS: "All?"] The hon. Gentleman the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), a colleague of the right hon. Gentleman, was there when I was. I think he will confirm that he had the same opportunity, as did other colleagues of mine sitting behind me on these benches. It simply would not be fair for the right hon. Gentleman to convey the impression that there was not a fair opportunity—
§ Mr. Dugdale
I am ready to recognise that hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies have been round the detention camps, but I was saying that it is difficult to get a clear idea of them from a single visit, especially from a visit which it is known in advance will take place. That is the important point. I know myself that when I was at the Admiralty I paid particular pains to visit detention quarters without notice—and those were British detention quarters. That was not done in the case I have mentioned.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Robert Grimston)
If the right hon. Member does not give way, the hon. Gentleman must sit down.
§ Mr. Dugdale
A number of my hon. Friends and also hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to speak, and I want to bring my remarks to a conclusion in order to give them an opportunity of doing so.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I hope the hon. Lady will be able to give some information about the girls who, we hear, are in prison. Perhaps she will speak about that matter. I want to say something about malnutrition, because I think that the remarks of the Minister of State were extraordinary. The right hon. Gentleman said that malnutrition was due to the ignorance and selfishness of the parents. Has the right hon. Gentleman himself ever tried to live on £3 a week, let alone £3 a month, which many of them have to do? It is extremely difficult. It is intolerable for the Minister to say that these people are suffering hunger because of the neglect of their parents, when he knows perfectly well that they are suffering it largely because of the present conditions in Kenya.
The facts we have heard today, both from Miss Fletcher and from other sources, give cause for grave anxiety. The number of detainees, the conditions of the detainees and the difference between the detention position in Kenya as compared with other Colonies—all these give cause for grave disquiet, which can only be removed by a searching inquiry into the whole system of justice in Kenya. I hope that such an inquiry will take place. If it does not, we on this side of the Committee will not rest content unless we can be assured that justice is being carried out in Kenya in the way that we feel British justice should be carried out in every Colony.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. C. W. Armstrong (Armagh)
I shall not attempt to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), who raised a 1125 large number of points with which my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary will no doubt deal in due course. I want to look for a moment at what I believe to be the bright side of the emergency, or as I would prefer to call it by the more human, Irish description, the troubles in Kenya; because there is a bright side.
I am thinking, for instance, of the work which is has been possible to do in the Kikuyu Reserve on soil conservation, on the making of villages and on the consolidation of fragmented holdings. In former days this kind of work was very often hindered, if not prevented, by mischievous propaganda suggesting that, if people co-operated, when the work was finished the land would be taken from them and handed over to Europeans. Because of the Emergency Powers, it has been possible to press on with all these developments, and the speed of development is astonishing. I imagine, for instance, that the development in the consolidation of holdings is far faster than the Royal Commission would have believed possible.
The moral is that when we know what should be done we should not allow ourselves to be hindered by criticism which is often ill-informed, if not mischievous. If we press on with these developments, I believe that the people concerned will see by the results that they are worth while. For instance, in the consolidation of holdings it is no longer a matter of trying to persuade the Kikuyu that it is for their benefit; it is now a matter of trying to find enough surveyors to meet the demand to carry out these consolidations fast enough. Similarly, I believe that one of the great values of the Royal Commission Report is that it is a review quite above any suspicion of favouring one section of Kenya's people at the expense of another and that it shows us the road along which we can press with confidence and with an easy conscience.
I want to say a little about the integrated or the united society for which, I suppose, we all hope in Kenya. The first thing to bear in mind, perhaps, is that the difficulties which exist in Kenya also exist in many other countries, and that they are quite independent of colour and many of them quite independent of race. They are difficulties which arise, for instance, in India, in Egypt, and in Persia, and which arose much nearer 1126 home in Ireland—problems, for instance, of poverty, with contrasts in wealth and lack of capital; problems of lack of education, with contrasts in culture and lack of talent; problems of land hunger, with contrasts in size of holdings and much misuse of land.
But, unhappily, in Kenya all these contrasts are sharpened and crystallised by colour. I often wish that all who live in Kenya could in these matters become colour-blind, so that men of all races, according to their qualities and their abilities, could work towards the common end. As it is, all races have their distinctive contributions to make—the immigrant races their skill and their capital, and the Africans, for the present, mainly their labour. As time goes on, Africans also will acquire skill and capital, and surely it should be the aim of all of us to help the Africans as quickly as possible to acquire both skill and capital, because in a developing country there should be room for all.
I think we also need to bear in mind that as a solution to the difficulties of a multi-racial society, co-operation is an experiment and a new attempt at solving the problem. Of course, there have been many multi-racial societies in history before. Almost throughout history the pattern has been domination by one race, and some of these dominations have brought great benefits to the human race. The Roman Empire, the Mogul Empire in India and the British Empire in their great days all brought peace and justice and good government to great areas of the world.
More recently, the solution of the tensions of a multi-racial society has much more often been separation. We think of Scandinavia, the Low Countries, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Palestine, Ireland and India. We see the same solution pressing on the countries now coming to self-government.
In Kenya, both domination and separation have been rejected; and they have been rejected, I think, with the assent of the majority of the Europeans who live in that country. At the same time, it is fair to realise that for a once-dominant race to plunge into the solution of cooperation with races far more numerous than themselves is a daunting experience, and it is fair that we in this country 1127 should do nothing to make that plunge more difficult for them.
Perhaps I can best introduce what I now want to do, which is to try, if I can, to put a point of view which I think is inclined sometimes to go by default in this House—the point of view of the ordinary working, perhaps rather inarticulate, European settler in Kenya. I should like to quote to the House a remark once made to me by the wife of a retired bishop who had served for many years in other parts of the world and had retired to England. As it happened, they had not served in Africa. At home function she was making conversation with me and she asked me what I was doing. This was before I became a Member of Parliament. I said that I was a farmer in Kenya. She looked at me a little sorrowfully and said, "What a predicament for a Christian man".
Of course, there is the view that no European has any right to be in Africa at all—at any rate, no right to be there to exploit the resources of the country for profit; but I understand that that is not the point of view held by either party in this country. I think it is true to say that both parties when in power have encouraged European settlement in Kenya.
How does this look to the European settler. whose point of view I am trying to put? I think his inspiration in Kenya is much less profit from what he is doing than a sense of achievement in winning undeveloped land to a state of tamed production. With that sense of achievement comes a sense of passionate attachment to the land which he is winning, and very often a great sense of comradeship with the Africans who have helped him to achieve what he set out to do.
What are the conditions in Kenya for the European striving in this way? He does not live in a Welfare State. As far as they exist at all, he has himself to provide the services which we take for granted in this country. He has to build the roads, make the water supply, provide the medical attention for his labour and provide the schools. On the other hand, he pays taxation, Income Tax and Surtax, higher than in any country in the world except this country and India. Therefore, the immigrant races in Kenya in fact supply the surplus taxation which 1128 must go to pay for the development of the country in the interests, quite properly, of all the races in it.
For example, in the year ending June, 1955, there was paid in Income Tax and personal Surtax—the taxes paid not by Africans but by the immigrant races—£8,750,000. There was paid by Africans in poll tax £650,000, so that in fact over 90 per cent. of the direct taxation in Kenya was paid by the immigrant races. That is quite right and proper. It may be said that it is an indication of the poverty of the African, but the point I am trying to make is that surely it disposes of the argument that the European in Kenya is merely an exploiter and merely an incubus to be shaken off as quickly as may be.
I think that the ordinary European in Kenya is much more aware, much more conscious, of his duty towards the development of the country in which he lives than ever occurs to people living here in an already fully developed country. When the European in Kenya tries to safeguard his position, I do not believe that he is thinking in terms of dominating anybody. He is thinking only in terms of safeguarding his position, so that he may go on earning his livelihood making his contribution to the development of the country in which he lives in peace and under a fair and orderly Government.
I know that in all countries where people are not as advanced as we are it is very difficult to help without causing a sense of resentment, even of humiliation, and so no doubt it will be in Kenya; but I believe that in Kenya we have a great fund of good will on which to draw born of the working together, of Africans and Europeans, to common ends. I think, for instance, of the Capricorn Society with its African members. I think of the African families helped by those devoted Red Cross workers to whom allusion has been made. I think of the many thousands of Africans who work with their European officers in all branches of the Administration and the many thousands of Africans who have been helped by them. I think of Africans who have worked, quite often for their whole lives, helping one farmer to develop one farm and, last, but by no means least, I think of the many young Africans and young Europeans who have spent many weary hours on patrols and operations 1129 fighting together against the Mau Mau which threatened to destroy their country.
I believe that if all these people can go on working together and can resist the bitter and often selfish criticism of the extremists on both sides, there is still indeed a happy future for Kenya.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
I should like to express from this side of the Committee appreciation of the speech of the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong). I remember when the hon. Gentleman made his maiden speech on the subject of Kenya and how impressed we were then. That impression has been deepened by the spirit in which he spoke today.
I assure the hon. Member that if there is criticism of the régime in Kenya there is also appreciation of the terrible tension which the lonely farmer, protecting his farm at night and working through the day, guarding his family under the conditions of the last four years, has continually had to face. I have met such men. I assure the hon. Member that we understand the tension of those terrible years. I assure him also that we have in mind the fact the the greatest sufferers from Mau Mau have been members of the African Kikuyu tribe. Not one word will be said, or ever has been said, from this side of the Committee which in any way defends the violence or the atrocities of Mau Mau.
I want also to acknowledge immediately the good features there have been during the last four years. There are not only the schemes to which the hon. Member referred, though we must bear in mind that many of those schemes have been carried out by prison labour, forced labour or detained labour. There are not only the big schemes referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones). I have in mind just one little community project in Kenya in which seems to me to be concentrated the whole hope for the future. It is at Machakos, under the Community Development Department. I refer to the agricultural development there, the model houses, the tractors and the repair sheds for tractors, the well-cared-for cattle, the efforts to maintain health, and the formation of women's clubs—and, goodness knows, if any country wants a women's 1130 revolution it is Kenya. These things are in all our minds, and I assure the hon. Member that we are as conscious of them and as disturbed by them as can be any hon. Member opposite.
I suggest that the Minister was not quite fair when he complained that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield made a speech in which five minutes had been appreciation and forty-five minutes had been criticism. We express our appreciation, but it is most important that hon. Members should be vigilant for liberty and justice in the Colonial Territories. It is most important that we should accompany our criticism by constructive proposals of the character of those made by my right hon. Friend.
I admit at once that, in the emergency conditions of the last four years in Kenya, incidents have occurred in the atmosphere of violence for which we cannot make the Government or the Administration in Kenya responsible. I shall suggest, however, that the Government themselves also have some responsibilities. I do not propose to develop the criticism of the administration of justice; the series of trials which have shocked hon. Members and a large part of the British public, and the criticism which was made of Colonel Young and his dismissal when he criticised the police system and its relationship to the Administration in Kenya.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I hope the hon. Member will correct his use of the word "dismissal". That is not an accurate description of Colonel Young's departure from Kenya.
§ Mr. Brockway
I thank the right hon. Gentleman, and I will readily correct my statement. I should have referred to the resignation of Colonel Young—may I say, under pressures which would make it difficult for him to retain his position?
In addition to that criticism of the Administration, I want to draw attention to certain broad facts for which the Government of Kenya and the Secretary of State have a direct responsibility. The first is the appalling fact that, at this moment, over 40,000 Africans in Kenya are detained without trial. A few years ago a case of detention without trial would have aroused the libertarian sense of many Members, but now it can mount to the huge figure of 41,000, many of whom have been before the courts; have 1131 been found innocent in those courts, and are yet retained in detention. That is a feature of the conditions in Kenya of which none of us with any sense of liberty can be proud.
My second general charge against the Administration concerns the appalling figures which the right hon. Gentleman gave me this week in relation to the execution of 1,015 Africans in Kenya in the last four years, of whom only 297 had committed murder. By majorities the House has carried decisions against the retention of the death penalty for murder in this country, but in one of our Colonies over 1,000 persons have been hanged, of whom only 297 had been charged with murder. Even in the first quarter of this year, despite the easier conditions in Kenya, 44 Africans were executed, of whom only eight were found guilty of murder. At the height of the Mau Mau difficulties, in the third quarter of 1954, of the 223 executions which took place, only 24 were in respect of persons found guilty of murder. That is an appalling commentary upon our administration in that Colony.
The third point to which I want to draw attention—which may not seem a very serious one—is the practice of having manacled prisoners in Kenya prisons. In 1954, the number of manacled prisoners was 2,818. They can be kept in leg-irons for up to three months. I have seen them in East African prisons chained foot to foot, and hardly able to shuffle about. That is an inhumanity of which this country, the Government and the House of Commons ought to be utterly ashamed.
The next matter to which I want to draw attention has already been referred to more than once in the course of this debate. It concerns the charges brought by Miss Eileen Fletcher. First, let me say that Miss Fletcher's own record is such that it deserves the serious consideration of the Committee. She has served for 14 years in responsible Government posts. For two years, during the war, she was in charge of welfare and education in a camp for 3,000 displaced Poles in Uganda. For one year she was in a rehabilitation camp for ex-prisoners of war, and for four years she has been engaged in psychiatric social work. With that kind of record, no one who brings 1132 charges should have them lightly dismissed.
Miss Fletcher went to Kenya in December, 1954, was appointed rehabilitation officer by the Kenya Government, and became a staff officer in charge of the rehabilitation of women and girls in Mau Mau detention camps and prisons throughout the country. She resigned after seven months because of her dissatisfaction with the conditions. Earlier in the debate, the Minister of State remarked that she had not made complaints to the authorities in Kenya. There is report after report from her; there is letter after letter from her to the responsible prison authorities in Kenya, complaining of the conditions in the detention camps and prisons. It was only because she could not secure the improvement of conditions for which she asked that she resigned after seven months' service, and even then she agreed to continue her work for another five months because of the difficulty of finding a successor.
I find it a little ironical that in the document it issued replying to Miss Fletcher's charges the Colonial Office should have said that Kamiti prison, for which she was responsible, had all the facilities for an approved school, including qualified teachers, daily sewing and knitting classes, and daily games. It was Miss Fletcher who initiated those schemes. It was in August last year, when she resigned, that she was informed by the commandant that those schemes would have to stop. In November of last year those schemes were not being applied to women or child prisoners; they were being applied only to detainees. When the right hon. Gentleman replies, I ask him to tell the Committee when the schemes which have been described—concerning teachers, and an approved school—were reintroduced after Miss Fletcher's departure from her post.
I shall take the actual charges made by Miss Fletcher and give the replies issued by the Colonial Office since then. First, there is the charge that children of eleven and twelve years of age are in prisons in Kenya. The Minister of State—or it may have been the Secretary of State himself; I think I caught his voice from the Gallery when I visited it—complained, and asked why, if we had the facts in our hands, we did not send the 1133 right hon. Gentleman those facts, so that he could reply to this debate?
I wish to say this to him. The essential facts were published by Miss Fletcher in an article which appeared in Peace News on 4th May. I have in my hand a reproduction of it in pamphlet form which has just been published. There are given the ages of the children and the offences for which they were committed one after another, making a long list. When I saw that list I wrote to Miss Fletcher asking her for dates, for prison numbers and for the details of the prison records. If I could write to Miss Fletcher in that way, the right hon. Gentleman could have written to the responsible officer in a similar way.
I made that request last week. I have received the information this week, and I propose to read to the Committee the facts which are now in my possession.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
I have just come into the Chamber. It may be that the hon. Gentleman has already given the information, but may I ask when exactly did Miss Fletcher resign?
§ Mr. Brockway
I have already given that information. She resigned in August of last year, but she retired from the job in November of last year.
Now may I give the facts as I have them in my hands? First, the charge that children of eleven and twelve are in the prisons of Kenya. I have in my hand cases with the prison number, the date of admission, the age and the offence. I propose to read three of them to the Committee. This is at Kamiti Prison.
The first case is prisoner No. 13222/J. Admitted, 21.9.54. Age 11. Kikuyu/Nanyuki. Charged with taking illegal oath, two counts. Two years hard labour and five years hard labour. consecutive.
The second case is Prisoner No. 12795/J. Admitted, 20.8.54. Age 12. Kikuyu/Kiambu. Pagan illiterate. Charge, consorting. Sentence. Governor's pleasure. Maximum security.
The third case is—
§ Mr. Brockway
I am asked to explain the sentence "Governor's pleasure. 1134 Maximum security." That enables me to deal with a point which I had intended to raise later.
In the prisons of Kenya the sentence "Governor's pleasure. Maximum security" is always referred to as a life sentence. The prisoner remains under that sentence. It can be reviewed every four years, but if, after review, the prisoner is not released and there is another four years, it is, in effect, a life sentence. I have official prison documents which refer to these prisoners as "lifers" and as "life imprisonment convicts".
The third case is Prisoner No. 7966/J. Admitted, 12.6.54. Age 12. Kikuyu/Fort Hall. Pagan illiterate. Charge, consorting with armed persons. Sentence. Governor's pleasure. Maximum security.
The second charge which Miss Fletcher has made is that juveniles in Kenya are put to hard labour. That charge also is denied in the statement issued from the Colonial Office. The Nairobi Government said, on 25th May, that none of the girls is doing hard labour, and that was confirmed in this country. I realise that under prison conditions "hard labour" has very little meaning. When one is in prison, in an English prison at least, hard labour makes little difference. I give this statement as it was given to me by Miss Fletcher.I have seen girls carrying pisé blocks which are quite heavy and young women carrying bowls of mud for brick making. A prison visitor complained of them having to cut up large tree roots.This is confirmed in a report from the senior African rehabilitation assistant, dated 27th June, 1955. initialled by the commandant of Kamiti Prison, which states that100 long-term juvenile convicts continued their work of mud brick constructions, and pisé houses in the prison.In addition to that, which surely is hard labour for juveniles, there is the stark fact of the official prison record of a child of eleven being sentenced to seven years' hard labour.
I take the third charge, which is that of solitary confinement. Miss Fletcher has made the charge that 14 girls were kept in solitary confinement for 16 days for singing Mau Mau hymns. I have experienced solitary confinement myself. I know the effect upon the mind. These 1135 girls were shut in tiny huts with only a glimmer of light and were kept in those huts for 16 days. I was not surprised to hear that Miss Fletcher said that as they left those huts she will never forget the expression of terror which was on their faces.
But I have more than Miss Fletcher's statement. I have in my hand a copy of a letter from the commandant, C. B. Alison, from Kamiti Prison, dated 12th May, 1955. It is a letter to Miss Fletcher. It states:I regret that 14 of your lifers"—observe that the term "lifers" is used—have been sentenced to solitary confinement for singing Mau Mau hymns overnight. They will not be with you for 16 days I am afraid.Yours sincerely, C. B. Alison.The next charge is that of unaccompanied children in detention camps. The occupants of the detention camps are swept up in a mass raid, men, women and children, in houses and in streets. In those conditions, one is not surprised if a child is caught up when it has no parents accompanying it. The criticism is that these unaccompanied children are allowed to remain in detention camps. I have the figure for the Gilgil Camp, dated 12th February, 1955. In that camp there were 476 men, 114 women and 217 children. Of the 217 children 31 were unaccompanied by any adult.
There is the case of the Langata Detention Camp, where Miss Fletcher found a boy of four and a boy of seven who had no relative in the camp. I want to quote her again. She said:They had been swept up and put into this compound with 330 juveniles, some aged 17, many of whom were real toughs. There were several such children and I took the matter up with the District Commissioner and asked that they should be released and taken to the place of safety run by the Red Cross and that in future any unaccompanied child under eight should be sent there direct and not to a camp. He was most reluctant to agree and it was only after much discussion on my part that he agreed to it for children under seven instead of eight as I had asked.So, in detention camps in Kenya, we have children of eight swept up in a mass raid, without parents, without relatives and allowed to remain in camps when the Red Cross has an excellent service to which they could be transferred without difficulty. I make those charges and say that the denials which have been issued 1136 by the Colonial Office have entirely failed to meet them.
Although some hon. Members may doubt it, I have a constructive mind and I intended to conclude my speech with constructive proposals for the development of Kenya. I refrain from so doing, only because I do not want to take an unfair amount of time in the debate. Ever since I was in Kenya, in 1950, I have had the vision of it becoming an interracial society where—to use the phrase of the hon. Member for Armagh—one would be "colour blind" and think not of European and Asian and African, but of human beings. That is still my great desire, but in recent months, when the Government have felt themselves on top of the Mau Mau situation, the concessions which were offered a year or two ago have been whittled down.
One of the most disappointing reflections of that is a comparison of the speeches which Mr. Michael Blundell is delivering today and those which he delivered two years ago. To Europeans of progressive mind and good will in Kenya, I say that if we are really to achieve an inter-racial society there they have to go far beyond the point which they have at present revealed in the concessions which they will make to human equality.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) will agree that it would be useless and inappropriate for me to try to answer his specific and detailed charges as they should clearly be answered by the Secretary of State when he replies. In so far as the hon. Member's speech consisted of specific charges, it is only fair to add what a sensible and wise decision it was for the Secretary of State to resist pressure from the benches opposite and to delay his speech until the end of the debate. Had he made the opening speech as asked, the charges for him to answer would have been made afterwards. If, as has been said, in response to the intervention of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), the charges were already known and my right hon. Friend could have replied to them in an opening speech, then I do not know why we have been listening to the speech of the hon, Member for Eton and Slough.
1137 I have not the slightest wish to detract from any work which Miss Fletcher has done in the past, nor say anything against her. I have not had the pleasure of meeting the lady and I do not know the value of her charges one way or the other. However, in view of the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) a few minutes ago, it seems something of a pity that, if she was aware of these alleged illegalities, as opposed to mere general charges—and she retired only in November—she did not seek to let the Secretary of State know immediately she arrived in the country that the illegalities were occurring.
For, whether they agree with his policies or not, all hon. Members will agree that there is no one more amenable to meeting people about colonial matters than my right hon. Friend. Had Miss Fletcher made her charges at once instead of waiting until May, my right hon. Friend would have investigated them long ago.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
It should be on the record that before she left Kenya Miss Fletcher met not only the prison authorities, but those of the Colonial Secretary and made these charges.
§ Mr. Bennett
That is a subject of dispute on which I can give no decision one way or the other. I was merely saying that she should have taken those steps as soon as she arrived in this country instead of writing articles in a newspaper six months later.
It is always easy for one to form a wrong or misleading impression from the sort of visit to institutions or camps which is all that the limited time of the Member of Parliament will often afford. Like some hon. Members opposite, I have visited camps in Kenya and I think that I am not incorrect in saying that the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) and I went to one particular camp together with some other hon. Members as well as others from various parts of the Commonwealth. The rehabilitation work of this camp was run by gentlemen belonging to the Moral Rearmament faith about which as such I say nothing today, one way or the other, but the hon. Lady will agree that they were doing very gallant work.
We were conducted through the camp and we saw no signs of brutality or 1138 abuses. As we passed various enclosures, attempts were made by the detainees to hand us written petitions about some problem or protest which they had to make. I asked the supervising officer whether I was able to take them and read them, or whether there was some security reason against doing that. He said that I could take them, read them and make what use I liked of them, provided that I informed the authorities of any security content which they might have.
He left me alone to walk around the camp and I collected some of these petitions and protests. I went through seven or eight enclosures collecting petitions and in no single instance had they anything to do with any form of alleged ill-treatment. In every case they were attempts at nationalistic justification of Mau Mau, and declared, for example, that the White Highlands should be given up by the white man, or something like that. They did not deal with anything other than the political situation regarding Mau Mau.
There is a difference between spontaneous visits and notified visits to a camp, between those visits which are arranged and those when we go unannounced ahead on our own. Although I had no chance to go to a camp without warning, I did, having had some legal experience as a barrister in this country, take a special interest in the administration of the law. Without any pre-warning, I went to a court of law with some other professional friends. We saw Mau Mau suspects being tried for a capital offence, the possession of arms. I was certainly impressed on this spontaneous and unexpected visit at the way in which the trial was carried on.
It concerned five young Mau Mau men who were found by the Home Guard, hiding in long grass. Among them they had two large pangas and one gun. The evidence by the African Home Guard seemed conclusive. The weapons were there and the accused did not deny that they had the weapons. The point was which of them had them. A very clever Indian lawyer was briefed for the defence, and he so confused the African Home Guard by his cross-examination—the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) would have admired it—that in the end the Home Guard made contradicting statements as to who had the 1139 guns and who had the pangas, or who had had any weapons at all.
The result was that all five suspects were acquitted after a very fair trial. We could not have had anything better in a trial in this country. The accused were only saved by an extremely brilliant advocate and in view of the prima facie evidence, nothing else could have saved them.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Could the hon. Gentleman say how many of the 1,015 men hanged had legal representation?
§ Mr. Bennett
I do not pretend to have those figures. The hon. and gallant Gentleman can probably obtain them much better at Question Time than from me. As a matter of fact, in the three trials that I saw legal representatives were there. I understand that they are always there to cover such serious charges, but I may be quite wrong.
Speaking more generally, I am sure that at the very beginning of this emergency there was a general feeling in this House that if Mau Mau had to be suppressed, as it had, it was much better that it should be done in some other way than just by European soldiers and police sent from this country; that is, by enlisting the anti-Mau Mau majority of the Kikuyu tribe. There is a general feeling that that was the right way to do it; not by developing white-black warfare but by marshalling the forces of law and order of any colour against Mau Mau.
When I was last in Kenya I saw ample evidence that that was the right decision to make, but it did leave itself open to certain disadvantages and abuses. We had to form security forces at very short notice from extremely primitive and in many cases illiterate and backward Africans. To get law and order enforced by such individuals in an area of vast size in difficult conditions, meant that it was inevitable, taking into account the feelings of revenge that existed in Africans who had been the victims of Mau Mau, that there would be abuses.
Yet what struck me most about the whole conduct of the emergency by the local African forces was the almost incredible restraint that they have shown. Many thousands of their friends and relatives had been butchered by the Mau Mau. I would not have been surprised 1140 if there had been far more widespread retribution and revenge carried out than has been the case. I include, of course, the white settlers, but if that is true of those who have had the benefit of education and civilisation, how much more true it was of primitive Africans whose wives and children had been slaughtered under particularly unpleasant circumstances.
Reference has rightly been made today to the brighter side of the picture. As one goes round the Kikuyu country we do happily see good coming out of evil in the settlement of ancient land problems. I would like to pass on to my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary a plea that was made to me by several people in Kenya. I am not trying to lecture the Committee, but it is worth while putting the point on record again that the Kikuyu tribe is only one-sixth of the people of Kenya, and there are other tribes who have not joined in Mau Mau. The suspicion was aired to me by them that at the end of the fighting there might be more concentration upon improving the lot of the Kikuyu than of the other tribes who did not give trouble.
I make a serious plea to my right hon. Friend that while we must not, of course, neglect any opportunity of advance for the Kikuyu both socially and economically increasingly as the emergency comes to an end, that should not be done at the expense of those others who have been loyal to law and order from the start of the emergency. Indeed, if any preference is shown, it should be shown to those tribes who have not resorted to Mau Mau rather than to those who have.
Various remarks for and against have been made today about the behaviour of the bulk of the settlers in Kenya. I would like to add a tribute. This follows upon my earlier remarks about the restraint shown by the African Home Guard. It is remarkable, considering the excesses that have been committed and the tribulations that have been suffered in Kenya, not only by the settlers, but by people who have gone out from this country to administer law and order, how very good they are to forget it all and to work towards racial co-operation in the future. There could be no better tribute than that they are doing so to the settlers of Kenya. Incidentally, although I have used it, "settler" is all too often a misleading 1141 term, because these people are frequently just as entitled to be there as anyone else, by race, birth and any other test that one can think of. I pay my tribute to them that throughout this emergency they have behaved as one would expect, like the best sort of British citizen.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. C. R. Hobson (Keighley)
A disappointing feature of the debate is that neither the Secretary of State for the Colonies nor the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs had gauged the proper feelings in the Committee. It was incumbent upon the Secretary of State to give answers in an opening speech from the Treasury Bench to the very serious allegations which have been made by Miss Fletcher. The charges appear to be documented and they have been referred to by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway). We have not heard a full answer, and if they are not answered we shall have to say that it is a disgrace to British justice. I leave it at that.
I have my own feeling about this business. I believe that answers can be given. I seriously suggest that both right hon. Gentlemen were in duty bound to give the information, after the intervention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan).
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I thank the hon. Member for giving way. He is always scrupulously fair in matters of this kind.
I would certainly have responded to that suggestion if I had thought that it would have expedited the debate and helped the Committee. I wanted to hear the various charges. I hope I shall be able to deal with all of them to the satisfaction of most people. There may be some that I cannot, but I would rather hear them all and deal with them. I trust that this is not my last appearance here; in a week's time I can be subjected to intense cross-examination on any case. I feel that neither I nor the Government of Kenya have anything to hide. I only wanted to hear what all the charges were.
§ Mr. Hobson
I readily accept the point of view as expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, but I still believe that it was a mistake in Parliamentary tactics. We will leave it at that.
On the general question of Kenya, I should like to see the Committee discuss- 1142 ing this matter with unanimity of purpose. Listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong), I found myself in complete agreement with every word he said. It was most noticeable that on neither side of the Committee was there a single intervention during that speech, which was based on experience of farming in Kenya.
The most astonishing thing about this beautiful country of Kenya is the resilience of the economy. It is a tribute to the inhabitants of that country, despite the bestial savagery of Mau Mau—now nearing its end, thank God—and also a tribute to the lone farmers, men and women, who were the first to face the onslaught of that terror. It is also a tribute to the loyal Kikuyu and, of course, to the security forces. When speaking about the loyal Kikuyu one cannot forget the horror and tragedy of the Laeri massacre—greater than St. Bartholomew's Eve—of which, I regret to say, very little was mentioned in the popular Press of Britain at that time. No doubt there was a common opinion abroad that Mau Mau was a kind of Boy Scout movement which wanted freedom for Kenya. It was not until the late publication by the Colonial Office of the bestial filth there that there was a full appreciation of the situation.
We have had some very interesting information from the economic point of view today. I was interested to learn that light industry now equals agriculture in terms of the national economy. That is very important because Kenya is not rich in raw materials. I think that there has been a fairly thorough geological survey and that the only important mineral deposit known at the moment is Keiselgore. New cement works and new oil refineries have been started and there is the present construction of seven or eight deep-water berths in the Port of Mombasa. That portrays confidence in the economic future of the Colony.
I wish to ask whether consideration is being given by the Cabinet to the use of Mombasa as an alternative to Trincomalee. That is worthy of consideration. I do not know what arrangements may have been made or what discussion may be taking place, but if Trincomalee is to be left, Mombasa would make an admirable harbour for defence purposes in that part of the Indian Ocean and, eventually, of the Pacific.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Is my hon. Friend aware that the two Arab members walked out of the Legislative Council and were most uneasy because of the suggestion?
§ Mr. Hobson
I am not aware of that; it is certainly information to me. I put the point of view forward in reference to the economic development of the port and the hinterland.
Investment taking place in Kenya indicates faith in the future. It has been favoured by the high prices obtained for coffee and tea. There is still a very urgent need for new capital, but before new capital can go to Kenya in the amounts we should desire, political stability has to be presupposed. It is very interesting that as a result of Central African Federation there is political stability in that area. There is no doubt about there being a flow of capital to a far greater extent than when those countries were independent. It also presupposes law and order, and I am glad to say that they are well on the way to achieving that.
When the Minister replies to the debate I should like to hear what is to be done about the Tana Valley development. That would bring many thousands of fertile acres under cultivation. Money would be needed for that. Capital is needed for the development of water and water supply. In Africa, water is often the rarest and most valuable commodity. The problem of Kenya is the problem of Africa. We are jumping 700 years in 70 years—that is the dilemma. It is passing from a tribalised, sub-divided economy to an exchange economy, and that is not very easy for a primitive people to do. There are 40 tribes and 40 different languages. If we were not there to hold the ring, those tribes would fight each other. It is only because we are there that there is peace, let there be no doubt about that.
I cannot understand people who have any real knowledge of the Colony assuming that because there are differences of language and differences of custom we could have a sort of peaceful Switzerland, isolated in that part of Africa. It is not like that. It is not the fault of the inhabitants, but because they have to be brought along, and it is a question of the speed at which they can be brought along. We have nothing to be ashamed of in 1144 our mission in Africa. 1f there had not been British tutelage there would not be talk of self-government today. Those who have farmed there know that the tribes have even to be kept in separate shambas on their farms.
I believe that there are very few detribalised Africans; there may be a few here and there. That brings me to the question of the need for education, above all, of technical education. We do not want to make lawyers and economists; we want to train craftsmen and men who can become farmers. Those are the sort of people lacking there today. There is a great shortage of teachers and that is a cause of difficulty. Not only is there a great shortage of teachers, but also of finance. As we have heard in the admirable speech of the hon. Member for Armagh and speeches by other hon. Members, there is a limit to the extent to which Kenya can be taxed. Already, with the exception of this country, Kenya is paying more in taxation than any other country and it has not got the Welfare State.
I have been at pains to get information about African teachers and African education officers. I find that at present there are 12 African graduates, nine assistant education officers engaged in administrative duties and 30 African district officers. Obviously, great progress has got to be made, but that will take time. I hope that the Government will make that matter their top priority. I am one of those who want to see the African advance. I want to see him fill posts of responsibility.
May I say a few words about trade unionism? I speak as a life-long member of a great trade union—just as my father was a member before me—the Amalgamated Engineering Union, which has members in all parts of Africa, including Kenya. The genuine trade unions in Kenya should be encouraged. Admittedly, it is not always easy to prove the bona fides of some organisations which call themselves trade unions. Their membership is very indeterminate. It is very difficult to get a detailed report of each union and the past is marred by many unions which have been discredited among reasonable Africans.
Having said that on the negative side, there is a much more pleasant picture to draw. In the railways and the docks 1145 there are very efficient African trade unions where the work is being done voluntarily. Local committees and shop stewards' committees are functioning. I have been in the railway shops at Nairobi and in the marine shops at Kisumu. I have seen work done by the big docking firm at Mombassa and I have been present at meetings where Africans and Arabs have sat down together and dealt with grievances as they occurred—and done it intelligently. Questions of "dirty money" and of allowances for travelling to work are being considered in a way to which we are accustomed in this country.
That is the sort of trade unionism which must be encouraged. Where I fall out with some of the white settlers over there and some of their organisations, certainly the most vociferous of them, is on the question of the treatment of genuine trade unions. It is all very well to point to the trade unions which have lapsed for reasons into which we need not go today. After all, that is also the history of the Gold Coast. The T.U.C. has plenty of information in its archives. Nevertheless, there are these genuine trade unions which must be encouraged and to which every help must be given.
Every employer, large or small, could see to it that the rate for the job was paid irrespective of the colour of the person doing it. There is no reason that that should not be done. It is only in that way that advance will be made.
I am also concerned about the position of the white trade unions out there, and when people visit Kenya it is just as well for them to bear in mind that these trade unions, too, ought to be consulted and their views obtained. I recommend anyone visiting Nairobi to go to the Railway Club, controlled by a great trade unionist and an old member of the N.U.R.
These unions have their grouses, one of which is that the railway is a Government concern. As a result, they cannot stand as candidates for elections and are deprived of their political rights. I do not know what some of my right hon. and hon. Friends who are members of the railway organisations in this country would say if that were the position here.
This situation could certainly be considered, and if it were changed it would bring important advantages, because it would bring to the white community a 1146 far more liberal approach to the problems of trade unionism. The general conception of how the Africans should develop would be more liberal, and in my view the future of the country would be much easier if that were done. I hope that in his reply the Colonial Secretary will have something to say about it.
I do not want to speak at great length, because many other hon. Members wish to speak. African representation and the common roll are all matters, I think, where we have to work gradually. They cannot be done in a hurry. As I have said in the House and in Committee before, I am very suspicious of these educated Africans from limited strata who assume to themselves the right to speak as though they have in their destiny the potential rights of millions of their fellow citizens.
I should like to see democracy built up from the bottom. I have always felt that my interests as an old trade unionist were far better held in the hands of the lads who came from the shop floor, whom my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) once described as those people with dirt on their shoes, than in the hands of people who have been over here and obtained education, because there we have the making of the perfect class society. It is far better that democracy should be built up from the bottom.
Considerable help and encouragement must be given to the Africans, particularly at district council level, where excellent work is being done. From these people we shall eventually get members of the Legislative Council who are able to speak as true representatives of the African people and who will be able to take their part in developing Kenya, which is one of the finest countries I have ever had the pleasure to visit.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Pannell (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
I fully agree with a great deal said by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson), particularly his comments about the tempo of political advance which is practicable in Kenya. In the short time during which I shall detain the Committee I want to deal with the political situation and the constitutional developments in Kenya.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) 1147 has urged a broad advance on the political front, with universal adult suffrage, a common roll and geographical constituencies, in the true spirit of democracy, as he said. But there is no set pattern of democracy applicable to all territories alike; it has to be adapted to the changing and different conditions of individual countries. As the Coutts Report points out, it is only since 1928 that universal adult suffrage has been in force in this country. That is within the life-time of the great majority of hon. Members and certainly of all right hon. Members. Even in Europe today there are countries which have not universal adult suffrage—for example, Italy, Portugal and Greece. A country which has recently emerged from colonial tutelage. Pakistan, having once adopted universal adult suffrage, has recently suspended it. It is a comparatively new political development, and in my view it is still on trial.
It is a common practice to take West Africa as the pattern of development for all other Colonies, and I think that that is a grave error. Those who, like myself, have spent many years in the West African territories sometimes think that the tempo of political development there has been much too fast. There is no drawing back, of course; we must hope for the best. Nevertheless, it is not necessarily a precedent for other territories, and certainly not for Kenya. The West African territories have homogeneous populations. They are countries which are not suitable for white settlement. They are definitely the black men's countries and they must be regarded in quite a different light from those in which Europeans can and have settled.
In Kenya, where the Europeans have settled and thrived, although they are numerically inferior and vastly outnumbered by the Africans, the contribution which they have made to the economy of the country is out of all proportion to their numbers. The same is true of the Indians in the trading sphere. It would be inadmissible for us to introduce a political set-up which would prejudice the interests of those non-Africans.
§ Mr. Bevan
We shall not have time later to discuss these complexities, but 1148 surely the historical precedent should be modified. Whilst it is perfectly true that democracy came piecemeal in this country and elsewhere, the real problem today is that these people are living contemporaneously with democracies, which was not the situation in Great Britain in the nineteenth century.
§ Mr. Pannell
I concede that there is some merit in that argument. At the same time, it must be admitted that the evolution of political development in this country took place over several centuries, and we cannot try to do in these Colonies in a few years what we ourselves took centuries to achieve, although, admittedly, those peoples of whom I am talking will, by following our example, proceed much faster than we did.
The Report of the Royal Commission on East Africa has been mentioned but not at any great length, and I think that I am in order in referring to certain aspects of it. That Report pointed out that Kenya, in common with other East Africa territories, is in great need of economic development, for the improvement and extension of roads and railways, for the improvement of water supplies and, above all, for the improvement of education.
Many millions of pounds will be required for that purpose, as also will be skills which are not to be found in the territory. Indeed, the Report says that the necessary capital will not be found to any degree within the territory itself but must come from outside It emphasises, quite rightly, that Kenya will not attract the capital necessary for its development unless there is a period of political stability; unless that capital is guaranteed against the effects of political upheavals.
It is the policy of this Government, as is was that of its predecessor, to advance the Colonial peoples along the road to self-government. It is also the desire of all parties to advance the standard of living of the backward peoples and there is, I submit, a certain incompatibility there. If we advance too quickly along the political road in Kenya we will certainly prejudice its economic development.
The African who seeks increasing control of his own affairs tends to resent the incursion of European enterprise. He 1149 feels that it limits the possibility of his own control over the affairs of his country. The Dow Report made it quite clear that if, in considering these matters, priority is to be given to the political rather than to the economic consideration it will be very difficult to maintain even the present standard of living, and that it is probable that the disadvantages attendant on a growing population—such as the present malnutrition and other like matters—will be intensified unless we squarely face the fact that economic development must
take priority over political considerations. I think that it is incumbent on us to place this choice clearly before the leaders of African thought. Are they willing to limit their political ambitions in the true interests of the people whom they claim to represent, or are they determined to sacrifice the well-being of the people on the altar of national pride?
The Dow Report also makes criticism of the non-Africans. It says that the non-Africans, and particularly the Europeans, must be prepared for some measure of retreat from their entrenched positions. It urges that in the economic sphere the sole criterion for the appointment of an African to any position of responsibility should be ability. I do not quarrel with that. That should be the true criterion. The Report urges that we should do everything possible to prepare Africans for these positions of high responsibility; and I do not think that anybody will quarrel with that.
It would be fatal, however, if Africans were to be put into positions of responsibility not because they were able to measure up to that responsibility, but merely because they were Africans. In the political sphere, on which the Report does not touch in this connection, it is even more important to see that we have the right men for the right jobs and that we are not so misled by ideological considerations as to place Africans in positions of political responsibility before they are fitted to assume them.
In this Colony, as in others, we have a sacred trust to safeguard the interests of the people and to lead them steadily along the road of social, political and economic development. We must not be misled by false ideologies. Let it not be placed to our charge by future historians 1150 that, in pursuit of a false ideal, we overlooked the compelling circumstances of the situation, and abandoned these people to anarchy as happened fifteen hundred years ago when the Romans abruptly left these shores.
I do not think that that analogy is altogether inapt. We rose from a primitive economy and enjoyed the benefits of Roman rule for many centuries, and the abrupt departure of the Romans led to a period of anarchy and great distress in this country. We have a duty to these Colonies which we must discharge. Let us not be deterred from discharging it by ideological considerations born of false theories and nurtured by misguided sentiment.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
We have listened with considerable interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. N. Pannell). Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), being Welsh, I am, I suppose, one of the survivors of the people whom the Romans left behind. Whether or not that is a credit to the Romans, I am not sure.
I should like to follow some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Kirkdale, partly because I think he put a completely false choice as the one which faces the leaders of African opinion in Kenya. First, however, I should like to draw attention to one or two other matters. Like so many of us, I feel that with the few opportunities we have for debate on this subject we have to take a great deal for granted on the positive side in Kenya and other Colonies. That is not because we are not appreciative of the work which is done there. For example, I was extremely pleased to see recently a very good tribute paid to the workers in the health service in Kenya.
We are also encouraged by the relative buoyancy of the Kenya economy in the circumstances of the last few years, and a very encouraging speech was recently made by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Vasey—who is known to many of us—when he introduced his last budget in Nairobi. On the other hand, one can see that the financial stringencies in this country, and the high rate which has to be paid for capital on the London market, make things even more difficult in a country like Kenya. and further 1151 attention should be given when we discuss the Finance Bill to the question of taxation of companies in these underdeveloped countries. There are matters of this kind which are of extreme importance to a Colony like Kenya, and if I do not go into these questions in great detail this evening it is only because there are other matters for which this is one of the few opportunities for discussion.
I am not going to make any comments on the various charges which have been put very fairly and clearly by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway). I would just say to the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs that I have in my hand a letter which has been smuggled out of Manda Island detention camp. For obvious reasons, I cannot tell the right hon. Gentleman how it has come, but it has quite recently come into my possession. I will write to him on the various smaller points of detail, but I should like to draw attention to two matters which are mentioned in this letter, and I will, therefore, read a sentence or two.
This letter is from one of the hard-core prisoners, as they are called, at this camp, and he writes:We request you please to try to see that our families and relatives are not compelled to write to us requesting us to admit falsely that we have taken Mau Mau oaths in order that we may not be exiled.This is not the first time by any means that we have heard that pressure is put upon families of prisoners to urge their relatives in these prison camps to confess. I do not believe that that procedure is in the interests of justice or of good government, and I hope that if action can be taken to stop this repugnant practice, it will be taken.
There is another matter of principle which I ought to mention. It was referred to in this letter. That is the request which had been made, so the letter says, that visits might be made by African representatives in the Legislative Council. These people are detainees. They are said to be hard-core prisoners, but they have not been tried in a court of law. It seems to me that they surely have the right of access to African Parliamentary representatives. I am quoting, and I have not checked the allegation. but if 1152 it is true that African representative members do not visit these detainees, then I think that facilities should be given to them to do so and that they should have free access. That is all that I wish to say at this point on this matter of detention camps.
I should like to turn to another subject, which is the constitutional and political development in Kenya which is exciting so much attention at present. As we all know, there are to be elections in September for the European and Asian members, and next spring for the African members. It is a pity that the discussions which are taking place on the composition of the Legislative Council, the franchise, and so on, should take place under the shadow of elections. Being politicians, we all know how difficult it is to be entirely objective when we have to face electors in a few months' time.
I think many of us in the Committee are not happy about the proposals in the Coutts Report for the election of African members. I will say at once that there are several matters in the Government's proposals arising out of the Coutts Report with which we are in agreement. We are very glad that there should be provision for direct secret ballot, for example. Experience in Northern Nigeria has shown some of the difficulties and disadvantages of the kind of indirect election which might be advocated. We are very glad, therefore, that that suggestion was not contemplated in Kenya.
We are, however, very much disturbed by the acceptance in Kenya of the principle not merely of a qualified electorate, but of a multiple vote. I cannot believe that this idea of a multiple vote is one to which we should subscribe. I can understand that arguments can be made in favour of it in a society in which admittedly there are persons at very different stages of development from our own, but surely one must take a statesmanlike view and not consider only the immediate present.
Apart from the undemocratic character of the multiple vote, the major disadvantage is that it so obviously leads to possible manipulation in the future, and, therefore, it is bound to create distrust. It seems to me that, for that reason, the Government of Kenya would have been well advised not to have adoped this idea of a multiple vote. As was pointed 1153 out very cogently by Mr. Mathu in the debate in the Legislative Council in Nairobi, the idea of a multiple vote was not a spontaneous idea of the Africans themselves.
It was put to them by Mr. Coutts, the Commissioner. Mr. Coutts said that having put the idea into the head of the Africans, they were, on the whole, favourably inclined. We all know the situation in which politeness, to say the least of it, might lead people not to argue too vehemently against an idea which obviously the person from the Government wanted them to accept.
I think it is extremely unfortunate that this principle of the multiple vote should have been adopted. I think there are difficulties even about the basic qualifications which have been decided upon, but, as they have been decided upon, I do not want to waste time by going into them in too much detail. However, I should like to underline one or two objections to them.
I should like to quote a sentence from the speech of the Chief Secretary in Kenya, in introducing the Second Reading of the Bill. He was discussing the income and property qualifications. Those are not uncommon in various countries at the beginning of elected representation. But, of course, the Chief Secretary rightly put his finger on one of the great objections to them when he said:If the standard is to be maintained this figure of £120 per annum may have to be varied in subsequent elections.Just that has happened in Southern Rhodesia. Various reasons have been given—the fall in the value of money, and so on—but those reasons have not convinced the Africans in Rhodesia, and they certainly will not convince the Africans in Kenya that the real reason for altering the figures has not been to keep them out or to give them fewer votes.
I feel that if we are to have a democratic concept of government, the sooner we reach universal franchise the better. I grant that in conditions in Kenya, especially with the very small number of African representatives in the Legislative Council, and with an electorate which is still largely illiterate, it may not be so easy to decide to have universal franchise with no qualifications for voting other than the requirement to be 21 years 1154 of age. I recognise that, with enormous constituencies and large numbers of electors, it is not easy for the electors to be able to get near enough to the candidate in order to know a great deal about him, and that there might be a kind of demagogy which would be undesirable. But surely the cure for that is to have more African representatives, so that it is possible to have small constituencies where the candidate can be known personally and individually by the electors. That is the real cure—not all these complicated qualifications.
We are asking the people to choose somebody to represent them—somebody whom they can trust to express their point of view. That is all that the democratic process is. When they get to a more developed stage we may say that they must choose between the political ideology and policies of the different parties. That is perfectly true. I would, however, suggest, with all due humility, that a great many of us have been sent to this House of Commons without the people who voted for us knowing very much, if anything at all, about the ideologies and policies for which we stand. A good many of them I am sure have voted, not necessarily for us as individuals, but for the leaders of our parties as individuals, and they have made a personal judgment of the qualities of the people for whom they are voting. That is the essence of it for the great majority of the people even in an advanced country like this.
It seems to me that the sooner we can get adult sufferage in Kenya the better and the more healthy it will be. There will be far fewer causes for suspicion and far fewer opportunities for people who wish to exploit political discontent to do so. There is a happy hunting ground in all this business of complex qualifications for irresponsible politicians to stir up suspicions and unrest.
Having said that, I would like to go one stage further. We have in Kenya not a mono-racial but a multi-racial community. One of the difficulties at present is that the persons elected to the Legislature, by whatever means, are elected solely by members of their own race. We are seeing already what we had every reason to expect, that when it comes to an election the fact that the fate of the 1155 person standing for election has to depend exclusively upon the votes of members of his own race means that, willy nilly, he must place the emphasis in all his electoral appeals upon the exclusive interests of that race.
That is why we got the speech of Michael Blundell, at Nakuru, last March, which has aroused so much disturbance and distress among his colleagues of other races in Kenya. Michael Blundell felt himself obliged to make that speech. I believe myself that he is a strong enough man not to have been obliged to say some of the things which he did say at Nakuru and that it is a great pity that he felt he had to put on record commitments which I think will prove very dangerous to the future to racial harmony in Kenya.
But one can recognise the facts of political life. A man has to be elected to the Legislature to survive at all. Therefore, I submit that particularly now that there are elected Members as Ministers who must be responsible for the welfare of the country as a whole and not merely of their own community, it is essential that we should proceed as soon as possible to some form of common roll. Unfortunately, one of the things to which Michael Blundell has committed himself is to oppose any form of common roll. That, I think, is fatal in Kenya, because until we get a situation in which there is the possibility of Ministers, in particular, but also of other Members, being elected by the franchise of all races it will be quite impossible for them to do other than play up to the extremists of their own race. It cannot be otherwise, if they are to survive at all.
Therefore, it seems to me that we must accept these facts of political life and work towards meeting them. I would suggest that while at present a universal common roll would be unrealistic, we should consider that side by side with communal representation, which I think should be on adult suffrage for all within their own communities, there should be some provision for additional people elected by the franchise of all.
To that additional franchise at this stage I would not myself object to having qualifications of property, education and income, all reasonably high. In fact, if we adopted the Coutts suggestion for a common roll I would not object to it. I 1156 think that then we would have the possibility of a far healthier political development and give genuine multi-racial political expression in Kenya a chance of success.
Something of this kind must be adopted soon—we have not much time; time is against us not for us. I would have wished that it had been adopted before there had been any election of African members. I think that it is a grave mistake not to have done something now if we are to have direct election of African members. The moment we have these directly elected African members they will be accused of inconsistency if they support a common roll and they will have to regard themselves as battling directly for their own communities. There will be a hardening of the communal position, much harder than it is now, when only Europeans and Asians are elected.
I feel that it is urgent that attention should be given to this and that one should show some political courage and imagination. I believe that we in this House of Commons who, after all, stand above the battle, should try to help the people in Kenya who are so directly involved in their own personal political fortunes that it is very difficult for them to be objective in this matter. I think, therefore, that initiative and encouragement should really come from this House of Commons and that we should urge politicians in Kenya of all sections and of all communities to sit back and consider how best they can meet the situation which I have tried to describe.
They are all, I was going to say, paying lip-service, but many of them are paying very much more than lip-service to the idea of multi-racial Government. Most of them are sincere in hoping that it will come about, though, of course, some openly disagree. But hope is not enough; we must find the correct means. I think that if we have at least a proportion of the members responsible to the community as a whole there will be a chance of real political progress in Kenya. The plea which I make today is that we should not be satisfied with the present proposals and that we should realise that time is against us. We should urge our friends in Kenya of all races seriously to consider proposals on the lines that I have suggested.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Major Patrick Wall (Hull, Haltemprice)
I hope that the hon. Lady for Flint, East (Mrs. White) will forgive me if I do not follow her in her well reasoned and objective speech, although I shall probably deal later on with one or two points she raised.
I should like to begin by referring to other points of view which have been expressed from the benches opposite, particularly the accusations which have been made the main subject of this debate, the statements made by Miss Fletcher. I have no particular knowledge of this lady or of the truth or otherwise of her accusations, but, as an average sort of person, it does strike me that if this lady, with her high qualifications, is of the stuff that Florence Nightingale was made of, as is alleged, it is very strange that she did not take the trouble to represent these matters strongly to the Government of Kenya, or, when she came to this country, to my right hon. Friend.
§ Major Wall
I know that hon. Members opposite have disputed these facts, but are they really alleging that my right hon. Friend is trying to muzzle this lady? 1t seems to me that she did have these opportunities, and it was not necessary for her to make all these accusations in a newspaper.
§ Mr. Hale
My hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) has the documents showing that she had written to people in charge of these detention camps. She made all these complaints and went on making them until, when the innovation she herself had introduced ceased, she was forced to resign. She could not do much more than that.
§ Major Wall
I disagree. There are other points of view. I would remind the House of an article printed in The Times a few days ago which referred to the charges of the lady in question and to a letter from the Secretary of the Christian Council of Kenya, and a gentleman who represents the Friends' Service Council in Kenya. It states that they wrote a letter to the Friends' Service 1158 Council in London saying that articles written by Miss Fletcher contain'Striking inconsistencies.' They add: 'It would appear that she has picked up odd scraps of gossip and remarks thrown out by European officials in moments of exasperation, and has quoted them as if they were typical of the general attitude.'I quote that to show that there are two points of view. No doubt the Secretary of State will clear the matter up later on.
Reference has been made, particularly by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), to these accusations and charges. Here again, it does seem to me very surprising that the House should have been kept quite a long time while the hon. Gentleman read out details of these charges, with the names, addresses and numbers of persons, when, if the hon. Gentleman had wanted immediate action taken, it would have been much better for him to have gone straight away to consult the Secretary of State, taking his proofs with him in his hand.
§ Major Wall
The trouble about this kind of charge is that it receives such undue publicity. It does great harm both in Kenya and in this country, because to a person who is not very interested in East Africa, it pictures the East African territory as being subject to a reign of terror, which even hon. Gentlemen opposite holding the most extreme views would not suggest. It disguises the good part of the picture, the loyalty of the African during the Mau Mau rebellion, particularly the loyalty of the Christian Kikuyu—loyalty not only to the Government, but, what is more important, loyalty to their Creator. It disguises the courage of the farmers, to which tribute has been paid by hon. Gentlemen on the benches opposite. It disguises, or tends to disguise, the background of these events in Kenya.
We have heard of a large number of people being detained, and of a large number of people who have been hanged. Surely, the reason for this lies in the Emergency Regulations, and no one, I imagine, would suggest that the extreme penalty has been exacted without trial. Surely, it is the duty of administrators in the Colony to fulfil the law, and those Emergency Regulations are part of the 1159 law which, together with the loyalty of the Africans and the courage of farmers and settlers, have enabled the emergency to be got under control.
We tend to forget these things. We tend to forget also that the emergency has done one good thing, in that it has speeded up the development of racial partnership. I know that a large number of people in this country felt when the former Colonial Secretary produced his plan that the more extreme European opinion in Kenya and in other territories in East Africa would say it was impossible to make it work and would do their best to frustrate it. Now, in this House, we all speak of advancing from that plan. Surely, that is the kind of thing to underline, rather than the wild accusations that have been made.
The Coutts Report has been referred to. I do not want to discuss it in detail. There are, however, two points I would refer to. First of all, it will enfranchise 60 per cent. of the loyal, adult African population. That is surely a step forward. Secondly, there is the question of the additional vote, which has been referred to already by the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East. I would merely say that it does ensure that the more responsible people in the community have a larger stake in it, which I think she will agree is a good thing.
§ Mrs. White
But, surely, if that principle applies at all, it should apply to all communities, irrespective of any such qualifications.
§ Major Wall
I would agree with the hon. Lady; possibly it has an even wider application than merely in Kenya. However, I do not want to enter into that discussion now.
We must look forward to the time, which may soon come, when the African will have a larger representation, both in the Legislative Council and among the Ministers. But, though I agree with the hon. Lady that time is not on our side, I believe that there is a danger in too much speed. All races are essential to Kenya; the three races have a vital contribution to make to that country. The great danger is fear, fear of the Europeans that they will be swamped by Africans. fear of the Africans that they may be 1160 exploited by Europeans, and the fear of Africans that the Indian middleman will take their trade from them. Fear can only be eliminated by time. The races must learn that each has a contribution to make. If we try to speed things up too much, we may increase rather than diminish that fear.
I am sure that hon. Members on both sides, whatever they may feel about the Capricorn Africa Society, would wish well of the convention which is to take place this month in Africa, with the object of a society with a common patriotism and a common citizenship. But the Capricorn Society does emphasise the danger of too much speed, and it stresses that the vote must be earned and must be used responsibly by all races, not only by Africans. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will go a long way in agreeing to those principles.
I do not want to spend too much time on the political aspects of this matter, because the vast majority of Africans in Kenya are not interested in, or do not understand, the political side. What is far more important to them, and, to my mind, the most important development since the emergency was got under control, is the consolidation of land which has taken place in the Kikuyu reserves and elsewhere. This has been referred to already, but I make no excuse for referring to it again. Miss Fletcher has been referred to on numerous occasions, but I, personally, think that land consolidation is far more important a subject for the future of Africa, and should receive more frequent consideration.
It has been possible to make a start in the Kikuyu reserves, because of the Emergency Regulations; the expropriation of land of Mau Mau leaders has enabled villagisation to take place and put Africans in a position voluntarily to agree to the consolidation of these small lots of land spread all over the reserve. I am told on good authority that this consolidation of land into plots of from half an acre to twenty acres is doing three things. It is producing—if you like—the African capitalist, the fellow who employs two or three people to farm some twenty acres. It is enabling farm planning to take place and to be effective; and, what is more important, it is making it possible for the African to realise that farm planning is essential and effective. Further, it will, I 1161 hope, lead to the establishment of cooperatives in the area; they are vitally important, particularly in the running of these smaller half to two acre plots.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
While in no way dissenting from what the hon. and gallant Gentleman is saying about land consolidation, I would ask him whether he is aware that we must go very carefully here, because the Luo peoples have, on two occasions in the last week, rebelled—if I may use that term—and have had meetings dispelled, particularly at Mombasa.
§ Major Wall
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised that point. I did say that these matters had been done under the Emergency Regulations, but that they were voluntarily entered into. I think he would agree that, as the success of this scheme is apparent to the African, other tribes will wish voluntarily to follow. In fact, there is a danger of some tribes saying, "The Kikuyu are doing pretty well out of this and something more ought to be done for us."
I come now to the important subject of African administrators. I am sure the House will agree that the future of Kenya depends upon the African administrators even more than upon the African politician. All hon. Members of the House who had the privilege in the last few days, or last year, of taking these gentlemen round the House of Commons will agree that they have reached a very high standard. There is, however, one point I wish to make. I am told that African administrators have a lower standard of housing in the cities and towns of Kenya than their European opposite numbers of the same rank. I would suggest that that is wrong. It may be that it will take time to put it right, but surely it is essential to the multi-racial objective that all people employed by the Government in positions requiring education and a real sense of responsibility are given the same standard of accommodation.
I believe that we have a long way to go, but that we have made a good start. Some may say that Tanganyika is further ahead than Kenya, and may feel that the object to be aimed at is that parity between the races enjoyed in the Legislative Assembly of Tanganyika. But, surely, the main fact is that ten years ago very few people in this country would have 1162 prophesied that Kenya would have gone as far along the road to multi-racial partnership as it has. We must remedy injustice where we find it, no matter to which side of the House we belong; it is our duty as Members of Parliament. In doing so, however, we must be very careful not to undermine confidence either in the Administration of the Territory in question or in the integrity of this country.
Our propaganda in putting over the successes we have achieved in East Africa have been very poor. We are criticised mainly from two sources, by the Soviet bloc, whose record of forced labour hardly entitles it to contribute any criticism, and by Egypt, in the "Voice of the Arabs." Egypt claims to have had a civilisation for five thousand years, whereas the civilisation in Kenya, apart from the coastal strip, is probably only 150 years old, and yet the people of Egypt do not enjoy a much higher standard of living than the people of Kenya. I am talking, of course, of the natives or the working classes. Criticism from Egypt also, therefore, comes very badly. We can be proud of the progress which has been made in East Africa. We still have a long way to go, but I believe that the success of the experiment of inter-racial partnership is of vital importance, not only to this country and to Africa, but to the whole of the Commonwealth.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
Every Member of the Committee will deeply regret that it has been 15 months since we have had a full-scale debate on Kenya. It is clear from the trend of the debate that there are so many points to be raised and which ought to be raised that, obviously, we cannot cover them adequately in the time available to us.
When the hon. and gallant Member for Haltemprice (Major Wall)—and we would support him in this—refers to the need for establishing common patriotism and citizenship in Kenya, we must recognise that it is impossible to hope to progress towards this goal until we have begun by establishing the status of the African as a human being. That is why it is important today to give priority to the allegations made by Miss Eileen Fletcher and to their implications concerning the status of the African as a 1163 human being in Kenya. All the rest follows from that.
It is no good having the land consolidation or the economic progress which, we freely admit, is taking place; it is no good having constitutional reforms and no good hoping for an advance towards multi-racial government unless we clear up once and for all the question of whether we can say that in Kenya today the Administration and those who serve it are really treating the African as a human being, with the equality which should go with that. It is because I am not satisfied on this that I want to return to the points which were made so brilliantly by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway).
I have not met Miss Eileen Fletcher. I have deliberately refrained from meeting her, although I have read with interest what she has written, because, as hon. Members know, I have recently been to Kenya and visited many of the camps to which she referred. I wanted to be able to give my own first-hand experience without being accused of any kind of collusion with Miss Fletcher.
The Colonial Secretary has asked us to put before him any kind of evidence to show whether Miss Fletcher's allegations, in general or in particular, are fair. What is equally important with the precise accusations she has made about individual cases is the general atmosphere in Kenya particularly on the rehabilitation side, in the administration of the detention camps, in the administration of justice and in the general treatment of the African as a human being.
I want to let the Committee know what my experience was. It has been said by more than one hon. Member opposite that if Miss Eileen Fletcher had come back so infused with moral indignation about what she had seen, she could have gone privately to the Colonial Secretary. I do not want to be unfair to the right hon. Gentleman, but some of the Answers we get in the House to Questions which we put to him, in good faith, do not encourage us to go to him with these little problems.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Perhaps if the hon. Lady came to see me personally she might get a more favourable reaction.
§ Mrs. Castle
I do not know whether I shall be making any breach of etiquette, but I intended to tell the Committee, not from malice but as important corroborative evidence, of a private conversation I had with the Colonial Secretary before going to Kenya. I frankly admit that he was very charming—he can be an extremely charming man—but what was important to me was what he told me would be my treatment when I went to Kenya.
It is extremely interesting that when Members on this side visit Kenya, and go with anxiety but are accused of going with prejudice, they make reports on their return which are a great deal more circumscribed and moderate than those we have had from Miss Eileen Fletcher. a full-time official who was employed inside the Administration. That is a great reflection on the desire of hon. Members, on both sides, to report fairly what they have seen.
There is, however, another explanation, and this, I think, is the answer to hon. Members opposite who have been saying, "We have been round the camps but we saw nothing wrong." That answer is that it is extraordinarily difficult for a Member of the House of Commons, when visiting Kenya in an official capacity, to have the same opportunities that Miss Eileen Fletcher had to get at the facts.
Now, I come to my conversation with the Colonial Secretary before I went. I informed him I was going—I gathered he might find out I was there if I did not tell him—and I said that because of my anxiety I would make certain inquiries into the administration of justice and the operation of detention camps. Personally, the right hon. Gentleman was extremely charming, but at the end of a pleasant 10 minutes this is what he said to me, "I must warn you that when you get there, the Governor will not feel it possible to allow you to talk to any detainee alone, and in this I must support him." Being a woman, I do not always jump all my hurdles at once, so I just let that one lie until I got there.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The hon. Lady is recalling for the benefit of the Committee a conversation we had some months ago. To the best of my recollection, I said that should the Governor refuse to allow her to see any detainee it was no good 1165 appealing to me to over-rule the Governor, for I would support him completely.
§ Mrs. Castle
We will not argue very much about it, but I rather gained the impression that the Colonial Secretary was preparing to support the Governor not only in retrospect, but in anticipation. That is the difference.
I did not go to Kenya primarily in my capacity as a Member of the House but, as everybody knows, on behalf of the Daily Mirror, thus getting rather more freedom than an official delegation would get. On my arrival, I saw all the appropriate official people and signed all the appropriate books, remembering my good manners if nothing else. I was then duly warned that I should only be allowed to go into camps with permits, that I should be accompanied on all my visits by Mr. Gregory Smith, an ex-Provincial Commissioner who is now an adviser to the Prisons Department, that I must travel in official transport and go with official interpreters, and that I should not be allowed to see anybody alone.
That was the beginning of a very long battle. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. J. Dugdale) has said that Miss Eileen Fletcher had remarked on the way in which, at certain detention camps, the wool was pulled over my eyes. I am perfectly well aware of that, because I had sources of information while I was there which I do not intend to disclose to this Committee, because I do not want to get anybody sacked. I knew that the wool-pulling operation was being organised.
So I began a long, three weeks' battle to obtain what I thought were the essential facilities if I was to do the job properly at all, and that was to be able to talk in privacy to the people,who were detained. It is really no good Members of Parliament going along, surrounded by a horde of officials, and with the camp commandant in charge summoning the chaps before him, and saying, "Now talk to the hon. Lady, and tell her the truth." Really, we are not children. That is not the way to get at the facts.
I remember that the first battle was at.Athi River Camp—
§ Mr. F. Harris
If the hon. Lady did not want to have anybody present, and if 1166 she does not speak Swahili, how would she have been able to converse with the detainees?
§ Mrs. Castle
There were plenty of African people who said, "Do not go with an official interpreter. Take one of us, because the detainees will not be able to speak in front of an official interpreter." I had plenty of interpreters ready and anxious to do the job for me, but, of course, I was not allowed to use them. Not only was I not allowed to have a private interpreter and had to have the official interpreter from the Prisons Department, but for a long time I was not allowed to talk to detainees alone at all.
I remember going round Athi River Camp, in the middle of this battle, with the very charming gentleman in charge. who took me on a conducted tour. When I was outside one of the compounds, I said, "I want to go inside the compound and talk to the men," because I knew that this facility had been given to previous visitors, not Members of Parliament, to the Colony. I was told that that could not be done, and I asked, "Why not?" I had already told the Governor that I wanted to talk to people alone. I was told by this officer, "We cannot allow any woman inside the compound." I said, "This is a new one. I must remind you that I am here not as a woman, but as a Member of Parliament," to which the commandant replied, "I am afraid that I can only use the evidence of my eyes."
It is true that, at the end of that three weeks' battle, I did bring the Governor round to the point of granting me these facilities, but it was really very childish of them to refuse in the first place, because I was very anxious only to get at the facts. When I did get the facilities that I wanted, then I often found evidence which corroborated some of the things which the officials has said, rather than the opposite. At Ranzani Camp, for example, where I did see the prisoners to whom I referred in my last speech on Kenya in this House, facilities were freely given me by Captain Terry, the Commandant, of whom I formed a high opinion as a man of very high character. This kind of attempt at secrecy really does not pay.
In the meantime, I went to the Kamiti Women's Camp, to which Miss Fletcher has referred so fully. I had had many 1167 complaints from Europeans and Africans about conditions in this camp, and I did make a fighting effort to go there, because I wanted to know more about the condition of some of the detainees. I wanted to take with me an African lawyer—the only African lawyer in practice in Kenya today—who had a client in the camp and who had right of access.
If I had the time to tell the Committee about the amusing game, in the best Edgar Wallace style, which we had to play to try to get into the camp together, hon. Members would think they were listening to a fairy tale. All I can tell them is that I was told by one of the officials in the Prisons Department—and a lot of things are said privately by them which they would not and dare not say publicly—that, so terrified was this camp over the coming invasion of an African lawyer and a woman Member of Parliament, three Europeans were posted at the gate for three days to keep us out if we turned up. I was told, "Everyone from the Governor downwards is trying to keep her out."
I was also told, by someone whose evidence I accept as being thoroughly reliable, that the whole staff of the Kamiti Women's Camp was called into the Commandant's office before my visit and told, "This woman is coming on some inquiry. You know what they are like. Keep your mouths shut. When she asks questions, answers only 'Yes' or 'No'." This is the kind of atmosphere in which a Member of Parliament has to try to establish the truth, and it is a stupid waste of time, because even on official figures there is enough evidence available to give us cause for serious anxiety about the atmosphere in which some of these camps are run.
When I finally went in, accompanied by my African lawyer, I was forcibly separated from him at the gate. He was shown into one room while I was taken into the official's room and saw the officials separately. I put certain questions and I received the official answers, and the official answers themselves corroborated a great deal of what Miss Fletcher has written. They corroborate the fact that among the 1,159 women convicts on the prison side of the camp, 66 per cent. of these women were imprisoned for pass offences, and I shall come back to this point in a moment. I think this 1168 is a figure which this Committee ought to ponder as being of very great importance on this whole question of prison administration.
On the other side of the prison—the detention camp side—there were 1,733 detainees with their children, a number of whom, I was told by the officials, had been transferred from the prison side. All their sentences had been completed, and they had been transferred on the word of the woman rehabilitation officer who is in charge of the rehabilitation side of the camp.
These women were being arrested in the streets of Nairobi because they had not got a pass, or they had been arrested somewhere else for having tried to see their husbands without a pass, or because for some other reason they did not possess a pass. They had not been arrested for a crime, they had not been arrested because they had been found to be consorting with Mau Mau, but had been arrested simply on the fact, with which we are so familiar in South Africa, that they had not got a pass.
They are taken before the District Commissioner's Court, given sentences and are sent to Kamiti women's prison, and when they have finished their sentences, somebody on the detention side of the camp, without any training in prison administration—an amateur—can come along and say, "Oh, no; these women cannot be let out; they must be transferred to the detention side until we say they are fit to go."
I received a visit after my return, from someone whose name I cannot give, for obvious reasons, and who told me that the procedure was even meaner than that, because what happened was that a woman rounded up for not having a pass often had a fine levied upon her. She obviously would not have the money with which to pay, and had to be put in prison while her friends raised the money. When they had raised it and paid the fine, she was then transferred to the detention camp side and the fine was not even repaid. That was described to me by a European official as a "typically mean trick."
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Could the hon. Lady give me, either in a letter when she writes to me, or when she comes to see me, a single factual illustration of this particular and very big charge?
§ Mrs. Castle
I can only say to the right hon. Gentleman that he must take my word for it. He will appreciate the difficulty in which I am placed. I do not like this cloak and dagger stuff any more than he does, but it is his procedure that has forced us to adopt it.
That is why we in this Committee ask for an independent inquiry. If we have not official information the right hon. Gentleman cannot complain if we have to come to him with hearsay information, even that given us by officials, who take their jobs in their hand to come to see us privately. They do that because they say, "Do not 'phone the camp because every telephone is tapped, and they are spying." I can say only that the Committee and the right hon. Gentleman must take my word for it. I cannot prove it without getting somebody into trouble, and I do not intend to do that.
If the right hon. Gentleman does not like taking my word for it, there is a remedy open to him. As has been said from the Opposition Front Bench today already, what we ask for is an independent inquiry, sent from this country into the running of the camps, into the operation of the Emergency Powers, into the use of detention orders, into the treatment of detainees. If that body of inquiry, with the full authority of this Committee behind it, with full powers to see people privately, even to command them to appear to give evidence were sent out, we might be able to establish the facts. Failing that, the right hon. Gentleman's only remedy, if he does not want to accept my statements, is to call me a liar, or by some other term more appropriately Parliamentary.
I discovered some interesting figures about releases. I discovered them from officials in that room. The right hon. Gentleman can corroborate them with Mr. Gregory Smith, my guardian angel during those three weeks. I asked what the rate of releases was. I was told that there had been only 137 releases from the camp in the previous 15 months and that new detentions were being made at the rate of 100 per month. That was last November, when we were told that the worst of Mau Mau was over and the crux of the emergency had past. Yet here were the round-ups going on at the rate of 100 a month, and the releases, about which I have an official 1170 signal here, which Mr. Gregory Smith got for me, and which the Colonial Secretary may see if he would like to, were only 137 in the previous 15 months. We must have our sense of proportion wrong if at this stage of the emergency that state of affairs can be defended.
I asked about the children in the camp. I was told frankly by the officials that there had been an alarmingly high death rate of children of three years of age and under. The figures came to me through the agency of Mr. Smith. From January to October last year, among the 400 children of three years and under in the camp, the deaths averaged 20 a month. They told me they agreed it was a shocking figure. I want to give them full credit for that. They also pointed out that by October the figure had started to drop and was down to six, and they hoped it would go lower.
In the private talk with the prison officials to which I have already referred, I asked what was the explanation for the high death rate at the beginning of the year and of its having dropped. I was told, quite simply, "Now there is a doctor in the camp who really cares." The doctor had begun to demand medicines and proper diet. Somebody came along who cared. There are many officials in Kenya who do care. I met a number of them—such as probation officers, and that wonderful woman, the Red Cross worker, Miss Priest, with whom I went round the villages. These are devoted people—dedicated workers. We cannot pay too high a tribute to those individuals, but is it not wrong that the fate of thousands of human beings should depend on the accident of a person getting into the right job, when things have been so bad for so long?
I would confirm again what Miss Eileen Fletcher said about the living conditions in the camp. They are bad. I went into one hut in which 24 women had to live and sleep. It measured 30 ft. by 11 ft. They slept on the bare ground with a blanket over them, often with their child by their side.
I was told, "These conditions are probably better than those they enjoy outside." That is a very severe indictment of us. That is not very much to our credit. Let us face it. In Kenya, poverty is the rule and not the exception, and the Europeans tend to become 1171 hardened, and to say of the Africans, "They live like animals. They are better off inside." That is said by individuals who genuinely believe it.
I had a talk through an official interpreter with some of the women. Six had been there three years, three for two years. One, whose name I have, and which I will tell the right hon. Gentleman if he wants to know it, said to me, "I took the Mau Mau oath and I confessed, and I have recorded my repentance talk. I have been here three years, and I should like to get out."
I was told by the officials there that only one detainee had asked to appeal in the last two years. I asked the woman, "Have you not appealed?" She replied, "No, because I appealed when I was at Athi River, and I was told it was too early to appeal, and I have not appealed since."
I say in all seriousness to the Colonial Secretary that, whatever may have been excusable at the height of the emergency, the stage has now been reached where we need a thorough review from outside of the whole of the necessity for these detentions and of the spirit in which these places are being operated. There are many people in the Rehabilitation Department in Kenya who are doing an excellent job. I formed a very high opinion of Mr. Asquith, a devoted and dedicated man, who is in charge as a permanent official. However, nobody denies that the living conditions in the prisons and camps are bad.
It cannot be denied, because it is revealed in the Annual Report of the Prisons Department. I have a copy here. The Colonial Secretary knows as well as I do what is in it. It says:Prisons face heavy task of improvement.that prisoners have been sleeping in tents and aluminium huts to relieve overcrowding. It admits thatovercrowding continued throughout the year.Incidentally, in this Report is full corroboration of what my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough said about the use of leg-irons. It says:Leg-irons were used as a means of restraint in 2,832 cases.Here is something else that the Report says: 1172The general lowering of recruiting standards made necessary by increasing difficulty in obtaining recruits, and the urgency of the situation, inevitably resulted in warders having to be posted to stations with inadequate training.I was told that there is no real prison service in Kenya in the British sense of the term. There is no one high up in the department with real prison experience in this country. On the prison side of Kamiti Women's Camp there is no real rehabilitation, no teaching of the women how to keep their children clean, and no training of them for jobs to which they could go. They are, in fact, herded like cattle.
Recruitment, I admit, has been a great problem, but if there has been difficulty because of shortage of staff and because of overcrowding is it not all the more imperative that we should review the whole policy of the detention orders? Is it not all the more reason why we should review the necessity of the pass system? I ask that because, for many Africans, family life is being broken up completely, by the very fact that the men are kept in Nairobi while the women are sent back to the villages. That is why venereal disease is on the increase, as I have said before. When a man wants to see his wife, a simple, human necessity, he has to get a pass.
I say, in full recognition of what I am saying, that we are beginning to get in Kenya at this moment the continuation now of controls which were introduced for emergency purposes, purely for the sake of control. It is part of the attitude of "baasskap," white domination, to which Father Huddleston referred as it is in South Africa, in his very moving book.
I should like the Colonial Secretary to read what Father Huddlestone had to say about the pass system and how, before we know where we are, if we are not careful, the pass system is introduced, not for security, but because it is the symbol of white control. As Father Huddlestone points out in his book on the dangers of the pass system:It is not the crime that matters; it is control. And to have that control, why, that is proof of supremacy—that is baasskap'.There are many Europeans in Kenya who do not realise how instinctive this has become with them and how there has to be a conscious effort of will to recognise that the African has a right to 1173 move freely in an African country, unless there is the most severe emergency which makes it necessary to enforce control.
My accusation here is not primarily about the past. Heaven knows, what Miss Fletcher has said about the past has been fully borne out from all kinds of reputable sources, but I am concerned about the present and the future. It is not mud from the past that we on this side of the Committee are bringing up, it is the urgent problem of the present. The accusation that I make is that we are now in danger in Kenya of continuing controls for control's sake, and if we do that multi-racialism is dead before we start. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh, but I will give an example. This came to me from the Acting General-Secretary of the Kenya Federation of Labour, Mr. Ochwada, who said that many Africans complain to him about the heartless way the pass system is operated and is being used for purposes other than security.
He gave the name of one, Wambugu Maina, who was painting a white man's house. The white man came home and objected to the work that he had done. They had an argument, in the course of which the painter said, "If you do not like my work, give me the sack at the end of the month." The white employer had a different idea. He took the painter to the District Commissioner's office, asked the painter for his pass and then went to the Labour Office with the pass book. When he came out, the pass book had been cancelled, which meant that the man's right to work in Nairobi had been taken from him and he would be forced to go back to the reserve.
The painter, who was a member of the Building Workers' Union, took the matter up with the Kenya Federation of Labour, which went to the Labour Commissioner in the Kenya Government and said, "This is not the way to treat one of our members". He said, "I cannot do anything about it. Go to the district officer. He has the last word." The district officer said, "I am satisfied that it is contrary to the public interest for this man to continue to work in Nairobi." I say quite seriously that this kind of thing is going on where controls are used in the name of security but really for control's sake.
1174 There is so much that I should like to say and so little time in which to say it, but I should like to give another illustration. We have heard about the policy of villagisation. It can be a good policy to the benefit of the African if it is intended to get him into these village units in order to provide communal services. Although the villagisation policy started in the worst possible conditions, because it had to start as a security measure for rounding up Africans for their own protection against Mau Mau and to prevent their giving help, nevertheless it can be transformed to good purpose if the emphasis now changes.
We know that Mau Mau is practically stamped out. The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs told us so today, but as recently as May new Emergency Powers were introduced by the Kenya Government called the Emergency (Kikuyu, Embu and Meru Villages) Regulations, 1956. The powers given under those regulations to administrative officers of control over African lives is absolutely scandalous. The regulations are dated Ist May of this year when, we are told, only five Mau Mau leaders were still alive and on the loose. The regulations give the administrative officer power to… direct that any person or any class of persons … shall reside in a specified village …and that they shall not leave that village without permission. They give power to direct where Africans must graze their cattle and give power to confine Africans to any areas the administrative officer thinks necessary.
In the current issue of "Kenya Newsletter", the official hand-out, we are told that this is part of the tight against Mau Mau. I challenge that and say that it is the continuance of controls for control's sake. If we are not careful, we shall be no better than the Russians. I read in the Observer last Sunday a powerful article about labour camps in Russia, which we have all criticised in the House of Commons. I read how at last there is an easing up in the camps for political prisoners there, but as I read the article I thought that there were striking parallels with the situation in Kenya where people are detained for political reasons without trial and are under compulsion to do a great deal of the construction work about which we now boast. Many of the villages have 1175 been built by the forced labour of women who had to neglect their children, many of whom have died from malnutrition because of the forced labour which their mothers had to carry out. The position has been eased now, but we have done this and forced labour is still going on in this way, though on a reduced scale.
I went to Mwea to see the development scheme which is being carried out there to settle Africans on 40,000 acres where it is hoped to grow rice. The canals are being dug by 1,800 detainees from two nearby camps. Is there not a tremendous bias in favour of keeping these detainees in detention until that work is done? What difference is there between that and the Russian labour camps? These people are political prisoners. I could not help being struck by the final paragraph in the Observer article on the Russian camps which said thatcertain groups of prisoners regarded as specially dangerous were detained in special isolation campswhich the writers calledannihilation campsWhat else is Manda Island, to which the "irreconcilables" in Kenya are sent? For all we know, it may be an annihilation camp. It is an isolated camp, surrounded by swamps from which, I was told, these "black irreconcilables" cannot escape because they would be eaten up by crocodiles. Has any hon. Member been to that camp? There are camps in Kenya into which the Nairobi Press is not admitted. Is it not time that an independent body of inquiry from this country visited them? Are we satisfied that this is all that we can do about the situation in Kenya? Is this all that we can do about the so-called irreconcilables? Are we going to adopt the Russian method of keeping the hard-core irreconcilables in an isolated camp indefinitely?
The emergency is at an end and we now must have a positive, constructive attitude for the future. We must substitute government by consent for government by control, and that involves a review of all the arguments that Colonel Young put forward about putting the police on an independent basis and making, as he wanted to make them. the African constables and police force the servants of the people. I remember that Colonel Young said, "I want a police 1176 service, not a police force." Lies have been told about Colonel Young in Kenya and in the House of Commons. It has been suggested that the Africans do not support him. That is not true. I have read speeches by Mr. Mathu, the African representative in the Legislative Council, expressing the distress which Africans felt when Colonel Young resigned and the feeling that something was being covered up which ought not to be covered up.
We must have a new feeling for the future. When we on this side of the Committee express anxiety we are not expressing prejudice, but the belief that there is a new opportunity in Kenya which will come to fruition only if we have the courage to act with vision and give expression to the kernel of multiracialism, which must be government by consent and the 'recognition that the Africans are human beings with fundamental human rights as people.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North West)
The hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) is a very good speaker indeed, but unfortunately there is no time to follow the points she has been making. She is, however, very quick to forget that Kenya has been going through nearly four years of emergency when some 2,000 people have been murdered. Had she visited Kenya a year or two ago, when conditions were as bad as they then were, she might have had a different story to tell this evening.
Her speech was typical of the speeches which have been made on these very important matters affecting Kenya from the other side of the Committee. But for a few exceptions, she gave no praise at all of any note to all those who have done a first-rate job in restoring peace and law and order to Kenya under the most trying conditions. It was typical of the speech we heard from the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) that his thoughts were concentrated on the I per cent. of the population which has been against law and order and not on the other 99 per cent. of the population of Kenya, Europeans, Asians and Africans alike, whose safety and security for their future and, indeed, whose whole future is dependent on what we, the British, do in Kenya.
1177 I should like to join with him in regard to one important point he made to the Colonial Secretary in his reference to the police, when he said that the police should be independent of the Administration. Anyone who has studied this subject in detail will fully agree with that view. It is wrong in principle that the police should be controlled as they are by the Administration. They should be free to get on with the job which we should expect them to be able to do, just as in the case of the police in this country.
I ask the right hon. Member for Wake- field to read his words tomorrow in HANSARD, especially his reference to immigration. I tried to interrupt him, because the inference which I got from what he said was that he would strictly control the immigration into Kenya of British people. If that is his view, it is a rather new policy coming from the Opposition. Would he do the same thing with regard to Africans coming to this country from Kenya? Does he propose to restrict Africans coming to this country as well as the Europeans going to Kenya to help to develop the country?
The Minister of State especially referred to the benefits to come to the economy with the continued development of Kenya and the fact that Kenya is mainly dependent on its agriculture. We can all subscribe to that. He also specifically referred to the great development of light industries in Kenya, especially over the last few years, and tribute certainly should be paid in this direction, too. I feel that the Government—and I ask the Colonial Secretary to think about this in due course—could help a, great deal more in the development of such industry in Kenya.
Kenya, like most other countries, needs to develop its export markets and is at present endeavouring very hard to do so. It is entirely wrong that in trying to develop those markets Kenya should have such difficult problems to face as the very high cost of shipping freight from Mombasa to England—far more expensive than bringing goods from South Africa and vice versa. I strongly recommend that the Colonial Secretary and his officials should get together with the Kenya Government to see in what ways the Governments can intervene to assist further in helping the development 1178 of such industries in Kenya for the benefit of all races of that country.
I should like to join in the admiration of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong). Unfortunately, we first met in Kenya under very unusual and unpleasant conditions before he became a Member of the House. In fact, we had a road accident together arising out of which I got to know him very well indeed. There is no doubt that he speaks with great knowledge of his subject, and the House is indebted to him for what he has told us this afternoon. I should like to join with him in one particular sentence. He said that we would all wish to become colour-blind and work together as one with the colour issue in Kenya put on one side. I agreed wholeheartedly with this view, which he expressed on this important aspect of our problems.
I agree that this has been a useful debate, and it has been helpful to have had this opportunity of discussing these important matters. Until a few months ago, a large body of opinion in this country, including many hon. Members who are critical on these occasions, often —through lack of knowledge of the subject of Kenya and the problems of all its people—failed to recognise the task being undertaken in Kenya, namely, to restore law and order for the benefit of all the people of Kenya, not only Europeans, but Asians and Africans alike.
Men of all races have worked together to achieve this restoration of law and order. Africans and Europeans have gone out on patrols together and fought side by side under the most trying conditions and have achieved most successful results. I do not think that it is fully realised in this country how Mau Mau was terrorising the people, the African tribes themselves, and that of these the greatest sufferers were the loyal Kikuyu.
In many respects, the circumstances were similar to those now operating in Cyprus, where thugs are acting in this way. It should be strongly emphasised that the Administration, the military and the police have combined together most successfully in Kenya. That is why criticism has now largely died down. Anyone who knows Kenya really well realises that, particularly over the last few months, one can justly and sincerely say 1179 that because of such efforts happiness has been restored to large numbers of the people in Kenya and that the shadow of fear has receded.
Although tremendous publicity in the last few years has been given to the number of criticisms, very little indeed has been said about the first-class job being done by the Administration to receive the results to which we have now arrived. We are definitely indebted to the Europeans, the loyal Asians, and particularly the loyal Africans who have pursued a most difficult task, remaining loyal under such terrorising conditions. Most of all, we are indebted to the loyal Kikuyu, whose example of bravery in some of these terrible conditions has been quite outstanding.
I have been to Kenya many times, and I have had an opportunity on my visits to judge the situation fairly closely. One definitely recognises that the situation has much improved. I now want to see Kenya go ahead again so that the fullest benefits possible can come to its people from these improved conditions. I asked the Colonial Secretary a few months ago—and he agreed—that when the emergency is officially over that there should be an inquiry to see what led up to it in order that the people of Kenya are not placed in this same position again and to ensure that such similar difficulties can be avoided in the future.
I know it has not been the intention of the Government that Kenya should feel the full effects of our credit squeeze and other measures which have been taken here to deal with our financial problems. Nevertheless, Kenya has felt many of these actions. The result should not be that the progress which we all desire to see following the end of the emergency is retarded. We want Kenya to have improved and more stable conditions as soon as possible. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Members of the Government have often said that it is not their intention that our financial problems should affect Kenya, but the banks have not unnaturally stepped in and have put their own house in order. The result has been, particularly since February last, to create additional problems and difficulties for the people of Kenya.
1180 Also about two-thirds of the troops have now been withdrawn from Kenya. Troops spend and cause money to circulate. The financial effect of their withdrawal has been felt already. There have been proper cuts in the administration, all with a corresponding drop in spending power. Kenya should not suffer too quickly from these actions of our Government, but needs all the time it can get so that its people can adapt themselves once again to peace conditions.
The Minister of State referred to the Swynerton plan. I would also like to refer to it, and in doing so I must disclose my own interest in the pineapple industry. The growing of pineapples is carried out in the main by Africans in the Kikuyu Reserves, by the very people whom we want to help on to their feet again. Our former Colonial Secretary often referred to the Kenya pineapple industry, and so has the Minister of State again this afternoon. The Kenya pineapple is considered to be of excellent quality and can be sold successfully in world markets under competitive conditions. Such an industry, however, takes several years to develop. For instance, Africans take five or six years to get it into full production. We have now reached the stage where the industry is trying to market all its pineapple, but the Africans may soon find considerable difficulties.
Such production has to be exported if it is all to be disposed of, and if supplies cannot be taken up the pineapples will just rot. I have already referred to the difficulties of excessive freight charges from Mombasa to London. The industry also has the burden of the high cost of ingredients and packing materials. Tins in Kenya are the most expensive, while sugar and other such items are often much more expensive than in other countries. Nevertheless, Kenya so far has been able to market the pineapples that the Africans have grown. England is its biggest market, and in 1955, 3,000 tons of such pineapple were imported by this country, which is about 5 per cent. of England's total consumption.
The Swynerton plan can be quite disturbing in many ways when we consider its full implementation because of the enormous quantities it proposes should be produced, and such quantities will be everincreasing. Our country imports pineapples from Australia, Malaya and South Africa, and now we are also permitting 1181 large quantities of pineapples to come in from Formosa. This is one of the most competitive pineapple imports. In 1953 there were no such Formosan imports, but in 1954 they were 4 per cent, of the total, and in 1955 they had reached 12 per cent. of the total, double that of Kenya.
The Formosan pineapple comes in very cheaply, so it must be based on a low cost-structure. I make a strong appeal to the Government to face this situation, if they seriously believe in trying to improve the lot of the Kikuyu and other such people in Kenya. Otherwise, we shall not be in a position to implement the Swynerton plan it will remain nothing more than words unless it can be physically implemented. I have taken this matter up direct with the Colonial Secretary and he has replied that it is being considered. I sincerely hope that it will be taken much further than consideration. Unless there is considerable compensation to England by way of high exports of our own to Formosa, I cannot see the point of endangering the Swynerton plan on this important matter. We are today freely bringing pineapples in from Formosa at very cut prices to the real detriment of Kenya.
Like many other hon. Members, I am personally a great lover of Kenya and an admirer of all its peoples. I am most anxious that they should all get a square deal and an opportunity to go ahead, as I am sure every other hon. Member too wishes. I finally plead with the Government, "Do not call off the emergency too quickly". [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah"] We all, of course, want to see the end of the emergency, but let us be absolutely sure that all races and all the authorities too in Kenya are agreed that the time has come to say that the emergency is officially at an end. We do not want to expose the people of Kenya to more trials and tribulations, bearing in mind what they have gone through in the last four years.
§ 8.28 p.m
§ Mr. Leslie Hale. (Oldham, West)
It is always strange to listen to the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. F. Harris). I do not want to quarrel with him, because I did so once before and I must not do so again. When he talks of Kenya and says "all races", his remarks seem to refer only to the white 1182 population. He said, "Do not call off the emergency because we do not want the people to be unhappy." What about people who have relatives in detention? What about those who have suffered under these repressive laws?
§ Mr. Hale
No, because the hon. Member has spoken and I have promised to sit down in a very few minutes. I will not give way, not out of discourtesy at all, but because I know that other hon. Members still want to speak in the debate.
I do not intend to pour fuel on the flames of controversy, but the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) once said that the use of recrimination about the past is to enforce action in the present. In many ways that is the only use of recrimination, the only justification of recrimination. We always find that a colonial debate becomes an unbalanced debate. Most of us welcomed the speech of the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong) today because he was saying something which a lot of us would like to say, but if in fifteen minutes we have to call attention to major grievances we cannot spend time in passing compliments. That is why sometimes speeches appear to be biased or one-sided or lacking in fairness.
I would say to the hon. Member for Armagh that he was a litle lighthearted about Income Tax rates in Kenya, where certainly the tax is very much less than it is here. The hon. Member was a little vague about wage rates in Kenya No one else has mentioned wages, which always seem to me the most important thing of all when considering the happiness and welfare of a community or the chance of a community to get on. After all, the man who got £50,000 in Kenya in 1953, at the height of the emergency, still retained £15,000 after paying Income Tax and Surtax. Let us not forget that before the emergency broke out Mr. Havelock said they were not gathering coffee beyond a certain quantity because taxation was too high and it was not worth the time taken to gather it. He never thought of giving increased wages, but wanted to save on taxation. They were making so much money that it was not necessary to gather more coffee.
§ Mr. Armstrong
The hon. Member referred to some remarks of mine on the question of wages. Wages of which I have had personal experience have increased 300 per cent. since the early days of the emergency.
§ Mr. Hale
I will give a figure in a moment. What I want to speak about tonight, if I get to it in the few minutes I intend to speak, is the difficulties we have in getting colonial debates. At Question Time the other day I made a suggestion that a day should be allocated for Colonial Questions. Sometimes the truth comes out even in an affidavit and sometimes it comes out in Parliamentary Answers, which is not very often. I am not making any personal attack on anyone, but the practice of the parties is not to be too full of information. The only two junior Ministers I can remember who were full of information got the sack in about a fortnight. Something has to be done about this question. There is complete inadequacy of information about colonial affairs. The Library is very excellently staffed, but it just has not got the books. It has not got the requisite information about colonial matters.
This morning, before I came to the House, I turned up HANSARD to see what was happening in this House about Kenya before the emergency commenced. Nothing was happening about Kenya before the emergency commenced. May I recall to the Committee that Her Majesty the Queen was living in a rooftop cottage in the Kenya jungle when she heard the tragic news of the death of her father. That was in a peaceful Kenya which for months had been surveyed by local M.I.5 officers to make sure that everything was all right, but Mau Mau had come in in 1947, I have the authority of the Kenya Member for Law 1184 and Order for saying that this trouble came out of the suppression of the Kikuyu Central Association.
The hon. Member for Armagh very rightly referred to the difficulties of the settlers, and I agree with him. We have little time to pay tribute to the settlers in Kenya in the difficulties they have had to face in remote farms and the horrors of the situation, but let us face one thing quite frankly. There is an extreme element among the settlers. There is a lunatic fringe which really speaks in the terms of the Oregon Trail. The voice of the extreme settler of Kenya is the voice of the remote settler in the west of America, in pioneer days. They still say that they take no notice of the law and, "The law is only made for the people who work for me." They still talk of kidnapping the Governor and marching on the Governor's house with threats. They still threatened to murder my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), or they still demanded the deportation of my hon. Friend and myself from the Colony. They still make those speeches.
I quoted today from the speech of a responsible Minister who referred to the Commissioner of the City Police, who went out to Kenya and did a good job—indeed, to be fair to him, he did a good deal to defend some of the Kenya police against the attacks made upon them—as "an indiscreet policeman who stabbed Kenya in the back." Yet the Commissioner defended the work of the police out there. He pointed out the great difficulties under which they were working and said that one man who had been severely criticised had been investigating about 59 cases of murder in two months. Despite that, he was called an indiscreet policeman who stabbed Kenya in the back—and that is the sort of voice being heard from a very small section in Kenya which seems to exercise power.
Before I return to the main point of my speech, I want to make one remark which may be controversial—one remark which may arouse some opposition. I will say it with all the moderation at my command. I believe in a multi-racial society in Africa; I believe that the Europeans have a great contribution to make in Africa; I believe that there are distinguished civil servants in Kenya doing medical research and social work, devoted 1185 service in difficult circumstances, at moderate salaries for the cause of racial unity. But some one has to say this at some time and some one must make it clear that this is the will of the House: if 4,000 settlers in Kenya, in a country as big as France, determine to stand in the way—I hope they will not—of the legitimate advancement of five million Africans, then those settlers must get out of the way. It is time some one said that, and perhaps it had better be said at the moment by some one as irresponsible as I am until it can be said more judicially by some one whose words will carry more weight.
I said earlier that I was referring to what was happening in this House about Kenya in the few months before the emergency was declared. At such a time it is always very difficult to decide what course to take. It is quite likely that the Colonial Secretary himself has not much information at the time. In fact, at that time very few Questions were asked about Kenya. One was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Accrington (Mr. H. Hynd); it received only a Written Answer, because it was not reached in time for an Oral Answer. He asked about the price of coffee and about wages. He was told that the price of coffee had risen in three seasons, from 1950-52, from £170 a ton to £370 a ton. That was the price paid to the farmer. The wages paid on the coffee farms, which were supposed to be the highest wages of all, had risen from about 4s. 3d. a week to 6s. ld. a week in the same period. It was said that that excluded housing and food allowances, the housing allowance being a bundle of sticks from which one could construct a hut.
My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), who made an excellent speech and has now left the Chamber, seemed to be under the impression that the laws relating to passes were a product of the emergency. That is not so. There have always been pass laws.
If we refer not to what was happening in this House but to what was happening in the Kenya Legislative Assembly at the same time, we find that the Member for Law and Order in the Legislative Assembly, who did his very best to see that justice was administered impartially and who has since left that place to go to another, was calling attention in the 1186 Kenya Legislative Assembly to the fact that 10,000 Africans were homeless in Nairobi every night. They had nowhere to go and nowhere to sleep. If an African had a hut to which he could go or if he could share a bed with another African, he was not included in that number; the 10,000 were the men who slept out in the streets every night. They were working at industrial wages and they had left their wives and families in the Kikuyu location. They had to find some means to maintain such establishments as were possible for them and to get food as they could.
Those were the conditions as they were described not by me but by the Member for Law and Order in the Legislative Assembly. If we are to learn anything from this, and if we are to learn what we ought to do now, we must see what happened, because in these circumstances we always have a difficult decision to take: either we must try conciliation. which may be risky, or we must try repression.
It is within the recollection of the Committee that when we came back to this country in November, 1952, it was still being said by the Colonial Office and by the Kenya Parliament that this was a small local outbreak which would soon be suppressed. It was still the theory that suppression could put an end to it in a few months. The right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in office, the noble Lord the Viscount Chandos, was offhandedly dismissing any suggestion that there was a widespread grievance in Kenya.
The Government decided on repression—and where do we go from there? In all the tragic history of repression, there are few examples more glaring than this. It would have taken a great deal to satisfy the grievances of the Irish people, whether in 1798 or in 1916, and we waited 120 years to do it. It would have taken so little to satisfy the grievances of the people of Kenya. They complained that their food was the highest-priced in Africa, and not subsidised. They complained that they could not have trade unions and that their wages were miserably low. There are only 200,000 registered employees on the farms today.
We, from this Legislature, have been paying £6 million a year to subsidise the repression. We could have settled those grievances for a few hundred thousand 1187 pounds a year to subsidise their food and meet those other grievances. Those steps were open to us, but the Government said, "Oh, no, we can finish this in a short time." They found to their cost that they could not. The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) has dealt very ably with the Coutts proposals; so ably that I have nothing more to say on that subject.
Where do we go from here? This is where we come again to the effects which, historically speaking, have been found in all this series of repression through the centuries because, when we finish the repression there is no one left to negotiate with. I would say from the heart, "Get people round the table now and hammer out a solution while you can. See if you can win the confidence of the Africans." Some time or other that has to be done. The longer we keep on with the policy of repression and restriction the more difficult it will be to get them round the table—but there is no one to come round the table.
Here, again, I come back to one Question which was put at the time I have referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough. He asked if the then Secretary of State would receive a small deputation consisting of four hon. Members—of whom he was one, and my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East and I were others—and two distinguished Africans. The Secretary of State said that he would not receive such a deputation.
My recollection of Acheng Oneke is that he was a charming, young, educated African pacifist who had come to work at the League of Nations and who was as keenly political as I was. The moment he gets back to Kenya he is arrested and put on trial with Jomo Kenyatta. The Court of Appeal said that there was no evidence against him and allowed his appeal. He was arrested the day after and has been detained ever since. I believe that he is the sort of man with whom we should be negotiating.
I want, too, to refer to Mr. Odede who, as we remember him, was a very moderate political leader. In fact he was criticised by his own followers for his moderation. He was subjected to the same sort of attack that I sometimes make on my own hon. Friends—but not the 1188 ones at whom I am looking at the moment. He was arrested. I do not want to criticise the Colonial Secretary. He has made some courageous decisions in Africa and has made a good job in Uganda, and I have no desire to be unduly critical of him. He will, however, understand that the dilemma facing the genuine moderate in such a situation is that if he talks moderation he loses the confidence of his own people, and if he does not talk moderation he is arrested and detained. This is the story of Archbishop Makarios and of many Irish leaders in history.
In the last few weeks, Kenya has been sending out publicity to say that it is the most prosperous of all the Colonies in the world—and so it is. Prices are enormous. Productivity is high. I pay great tribute to them for the way that they have managed to carry on in the face of these difficulties, and to develop and expand their productivity. But it is a rich Colony. It can afford to pay decent wages. If we want people to respect human life, we must make life worth living. If we want to inculcate that respect in them, we must give them a decent standard of life.
It is not easy on the Kikuyu reserve. Perhaps some of the land reforms will help. But there is no excuse for paying those working the farms wages varying from 4s. to 8s. a week at the most, with the cost of living going up to 325 per cent., since the outbreak of war and when farmers are selling their coffee at eight, nine and ten times the amount which it fetched before the war.
§ Mr. Hale
I will not give way. I said I would not, and the hon. Gentleman has not listened to half the debate.
Next, why not have trade unions there? The trade unions are now an accepted part of the governmental system of this country. I often think that they are too much of an accepted part, and play too great a part in the direct negotiations on political matters, but I would not like to express that sentiment out loud. However, they play their great part, and the Trades Union Congress has had distinguished representatives in Kenya during these last few 1189 weeks. We have constantly urged recognition of the trade unions in Kenya. When the first general union out there, rather on the lines of the Tunisian union, made its first pronouncement, it came under the condemnation of the Government. It was regarded as political, and why?—because it concerned the cost of living. One is entitled to negotiate for so many shillings a week, but one is not entitled to say what those shillings will buy. Can there be any greater nonsense than that?
We have talked of co-operative farming. This could be the salvation of location agriculture. A co-operative farming officer was appointed, and he had an office, but the authorities forgot to give him any training, and after a week or two he was transferred to some other duties. When we met him out there he was doing another job. Why not start such a scheme? The Secretary of State could do this. He could go out there now and, by the force of his personality and by the authority of his position, could say "Some of these things have got to be done. The British public conscience will not tolerate the continuation of this state of affairs. The British public purse has contributed to maintaining you in this emergency. We now see you in your prosperity. This repression cannot continue."
This matter affects not only Kenya but the world as a whole. Our attitude in Kenya has a considerable effect on American opinion. But that was not the point that I wished to emphasise. Our attitude to the people of Kenya has its repercussion in Tanganyika, Uganda and the adjoining territories. At this moment a real struggle has started for the soul of Africa. The liberal conscience of Britain is becoming heard more than it has been for a long time; people are evolving a new conception of human rights and there is a new demand for human dignity. We cannot afford to allow a small body of settlers by a policy of repression to lose the fundamental moral integrity of Britain which is tied up in this struggle.
§ 8.50 p.m
§ Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)
I listen to the opening of debates on colonial affairs rather sadly, because it always seems that a great political controversy between the two main parties is 1190 about to develop. Yet, in that curious way which the House of Commons has, even though controversy does rage as between a few speakers, there are a few lights which break into the rather dark atmosphere. I was interested that the speech, which was made with so much general approval in the Committee by the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong) and which, after all, did represent Government policy, was praised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway).
The curious thing is that if the hon. Member for Eton and Slough does, in fact, support the policy which was advocated by my hon. Friend the Member for Armagh, he obviously must be unaware that in Kenya, in exactly the same way as the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), the hon. Member for Eton and Slough is regarded as a destructive force. As I listened to their speeches. I wondered whether either of them realised what tremendous harm they were doing to the moderating and helpful forces in Kenya. That, I think, is on the disappointing side of this debate today.
I have only a very few minutes and, like the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), I have a lot of things to say. I have known the Secretary of State for the Colonies for many years, and I am quite certain that he stands for all the good things and for proper and sound administration. I am waiting for him to reply, to the charges that have been made by Miss Fletcher and to the charges made by the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn.
I want to ask my right hon. Friend one question about something which rather puzzled me during the course of the debate. A great many documents have been produced in the House of Commons. Some of these documents have been read out in great detail. I should like to know from my right hon. Friend whether the same procedure which governs the obtaining of information by Members of Parliament in this House through the appropriate Minister, which is supplied to him by the Civil Service, applies in Kenya, because it seems to me that quite a number of documents giving information, which I quite agree the House is entitled to have, should have gone through the normal channels, in which case there could be no doubt that all the information contained in those documents would 1191 have been available to my right hon. Friend.
I would like to know about the protocol for obtaining information, because if Members of Parliament who belong to what I call the destructive forces in the set-up among hon. Members opposite can obtain information, I might like also to make my inquiries in my own way, without going through the normal channels. I should be grateful to have an answer on that point.
I, too, have paid some short visits to Kenya. It seems to me that in the House of Commons we tend to forget to say how much sound and good work has been started there. Some reference has been made, I am glad to say, to the community development centres and the work which has been done among the Kikuyu women. I have seen some of that work and, like everyone else, I have been very impressed by the devotion of the officials connected with it. I think that from time to time, so far as the social work for women and children is concerned, we tend to talk of the big political problems and to leave some of the smaller though most important matters undiscussed and unreported.
I would say to my right hon. Friend that I have always held—and I am not trying to ride one of my old hobby horses—that a little more emphasis should be placed by the Secretary of State on the women's side in colonial affairs. I should like to see a little more evidence that women of experience, knowledge and enthusiasm are consulted at top level. I feel that sometimes the affairs of women do tend to become submerged beneath the many important problems which I fully recognise have to be undertaken by the Secretary of State. I was very pleased indeed to be able to visit some of these community development centres, and to see the work that was going on there, to meet the women from the tribes, and, as far as I could, not speaking the language, to get an impression of how much they appreciated the work which was being done for them.
Quite frankly, I do not believe the implications of the charges which were made, either by Miss Fletcher or by the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn. 1192 I hope that the Secretary of State will refute those charges up to the hilt.
I realise that there are two very important speeches that the Committee wants to hear, and there is only one other point I wish to make. I have something to say about the emergency. The impression which is created in my mind, and which will, I know, be created in the minds of the general public and of moderate people in Kenya, is that as soon as things begin to go right, the revolutionary spirits on the other side of the Committee try to stir the pot and blow up trouble. I say that with all the emphasis I can command. I have detected it already in this debate.
Some hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn, have said that the emergency legislation must be withdrawn without delay. Do not detain, they say; do not control; do not keep the emergency running too long. We all know about that; but there is something of which I wish to remind hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
I do not necessarily blame them for some of the things which have been said, because I realise that a great many people on both sides really know very little about the mind of the African or the minds of primitive peoples. That is abundantly clear from some of the speeches which are made. There is something which I have never heard said in this House, and I myself have been waiting a long time to say it. The former Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Labour Government, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), was led right up the garden path by Jomo Kenyatta. [Laughter.] it is no good hon. and right hon. Gentlemen laughing. It is true.
§ Dame Irene Ward
It is true. It was reported from Kenya. It has been well known in this country that Jomo Kenyatta and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly were very great friends and saw a great deal of each other. The right hon. Gentleman was guided in many of his ideas about Kenya by Jomo Kenyatta. All I am saying is that if men like Jomo Kenyatta, who now finds himself convicted of being one of the inspiring figures behind the creation of Mau Mau, was able 1193 to pull wool across the eyes of the colonial administration of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly was the head—
§ Dame Irene Ward
No; I have got only one minute to say what I want to say now, and I shall not give way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I am only saying that if the right hon. Gentleman could be so misguided by Jomo Kenyatta, I am not in the least surprised—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I shall not withdraw. I intend to finish my speech.
§ Mr. Griffiths
On a point of order. The hon. Lady made a reference to myself, Sir Charles. I thought I was entitled to ask her for the usual courtesy of the Committee in allowing me to make a comment.
§ The Chairman
I did not hear what was said; but I understood that the hon. Lady promised to sit down at five minutes to nine, and it is now nine o'clock.
§ Dame Irene Ward
I did not begin my speech until shortly before nine o'clock, Sir Charles. All I am saying is that wool was pulled across the eyes of the right hon. Gentleman by Jomo Kemyatta and that he should not let it be pulled across his eyes again.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I want to begin by referring to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) in opening the debate. He was followed by the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs, who chided him for devoting only five minutes of a speech of 55 minutes to praise of praiseworthy activities in Kenya. That was a most unfair reference, and it was rather stupid. To talk about five minutes out of 55 reminded me of the man who bought his library by the ton. Some people can say as much in five minutes as others can say in 55 minutes.
There is, however, a further point and an even more serious one. We ought not to be chided all the while because we do not waste the time of the Committee in giving out bouquets and handing out prizes. That is not our function. If the Colonial Secretary looks back over his recent speeches, he will find that he has wasted a good deal of the time of the 1194 House in handing out bouquets all around him. It is our function to try to focus attention on the things that are wrong. If we start a catalogue of the things that are all right, we will never reach the things that are wrong. Therefore, we ought not to be chided in that way. I shall not spend my time in giving praise where praise is due to people in Kenya, but I shall ask the Committee to consider very seriously the situation at which we have arrived, especially in the supervision of colonial administration.
Very grave difficulties are arising in different parts of the world. We are faced with a very serious crisis in Cyprus. We may have very great difficulty in Singapore. Trouble is starting in Aden and may develop, and trouble has not been altogether removed in Kenya. It has been borne in upon me and upon my hon. Friends that the time has now arrived when the House of Commons should gravely consider an overhauling of our constitutional relationship to colonial administration. I am not making this a criticism of the holder of the existing office, nor am I making it a reflection upon his predecessors, on either side of the House; but I seriously suggest that a situation has developed in the colonial dependencies which is getting out of hand.
The House of Commons has now not got a sufficiently tight grip of the situation. We are always after the fact. Crises are arising that we are unable to catch hold of in time. The speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), who has just left the Committee, is evidence of that. If we do not hear of anything untoward happening, no one pays any attention. If there is trouble, we are told to shut up until it is all over, and when it is all over we are told to shut up because it is all over.
The fact of the matter is that there is a grave breakdown in communication between Parliament and what is happening in the Colonies. We have been considering this for some time, and we are going to make certain proposals to Parliament for revising the constitutional machinery. Not only is the constitutional machinery itself out of date, but we are also proceeding on certain fictions which were useful in the past but which are now entirely outmoded.
We often talk about the Government out there when we are hiding behind a 1195 fiction. We know that it is not the Government out there at all but that the final responsibility lies here. This fiction of the Government out there is resurrected all the while in order to conceal the responsibility of the central Government. We talk about the people on the spot knowing more about it than people here. All that that means is that we get our information from highly prejudiced people on the spot—on both sides—and we are quite often unable to check the sources of information. The fact is that the Library on the Colonies is hopelessly out of date. We cannot even get source papers. Again, I am not attacking the Colonial Office, nor any of the officials, who are, within their limits and powers. most courteous and attentive, but I remember that when I wanted to get the Coutts Report and went to the Library, I was sent a copy from the Colonial Office very promptly, but they wanted it back within a few days because it was the only copy they had.
Let hon. Members in all parts of the Committee consider what that indicates. It indicates an almost frivolous sense of irresponsibility about what is happening in the Colonies, because if we are to keep abreast of what is occurring we should have access to all the information, and we certainly should have access to documents as soon as they can be made available. We cannot get them. Ordinances are made and promulgated affecting the lives and liberties of people for whom we are responsible, and we do not hear about them until some months after they are in operation, and until there is some protest from someone in the Colonies about them.
This may have worked all right in years gone by, but it is no good now. The Colonies are awakening. People are moving towards, they hope, the realisation of self-government, nationhood and higher standards of citizenship and of living. They demand that we who exercise the power shall exercise that power intelligently and in time. Therefore, I seriously suggest to hon. Members in all parts of the Committee that the time has now come for us to make one more of those constitutional adaptations for which our constitution is famous.
Our constitution is flexible. We are not caught within the confines of a written Statute. We can do what we like with 1196 it, change it about and adapt it to changed circumstances, and I am hoping that when we come to make our proposals to Parliament they will have a friendly reception. The purpose of the proposals will be to bring the Colonial Office under a more continuous examination. That is not being said merely in order to try to score party points. I am merely trying to suggest that there has been a slow accumulation of facts of which we ought now to take note.
We are not really trying to do our duty by the 70 million people who depend upon us in the Colonies merely by putting down Questions every six weeks, when many of them are very rarely reached, and especially when, after long centuries of experience, we have produced a whole lot of Ministers who are all excellent at the art of parrying and dodging the Questions when they arise. That is the first important point that I want to make.
My second important point is this. I hope that it is not necessary for me to repeat what has been said, because most hon. Members who have been present during the course of this debate will admit that, from both sides of the Committee, the debate has achieved a higher standard than most colonial debates to which I have listened for a very long time.
It is not necessary for me to repeat the excellent speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway). However, that speech has to be answered. The case really has to be met. It will not be sufficient for the Colonial Secretary to cast doubt on the bona fides of Miss Fletcher. It will not be enough for him to repeat some of the statements of his hon. Friends who said, "Why did she not say what she did earlier? Or why did she not say what she did more clearly? Or why did she not say it in Kenya? Or why did she not say it to the Colonial Secretary?" All that is unimportant. The question is, is what she said true?
The Colonial Secretary will not be doing himself justice nor the reputation of this country justice if he attempts to fob the whole thing off by casting doubt on the ability or on the industry or on the reputation of this witness. The facts are stated with too great circumstantiality to be dismissed in that way. Therefore, 1197 I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is either prepared to make a full reply tonight to those charges or is prepared to undertake an investigation which can be relied upon. That investigation does not mean merely conveying to us what the Kenya Government say in rebuttal of the charges. That is not enough. We must have a better investigation than that.
Furthermore, very great damage has been done by the allegations that Colonel Young has not been able for some reason or another to give the reasons for his resignation. It is far better that the whole thing be brought out into the daylight. He was sent by the Colonial Secretary from here to help in the crisis in Kenya. He resigned after seven or nine months. He is attacked by a Minister in the Kenya Legislature in the rudest possible terms. He has not, I understand, had an opportunity to reply. Until he is able to give his evidence, the reputation of the Kenya Government for the administration of justice in Kenya is under a cloud.
There are those two main points affecting the administration which we must ask the Colonial Secretary to deal with tonight. One of the reasons why we have not decided to divide the Committee on this occasion is that we thought it undesirable ourselves to come to a conclusion before the evidence had been properly examined. It did not seem to us that in a grave matter of this sort we ought to reach a conclusion when, perhaps, there was another side of the case; but the other side must be presented, because if it is not satisfactorily presented we shall have to return to it on another occasion.
For it is not good enough that we should accept responsibility in this Committee for the detention of thousands of people in Kenya under no charge whatsoever. It really is not good enough to bring people before the courts of justice on charges which are dismissed by the courts and then immediately to take the people who are declared innocent into detention and to keep them there indefinitely. This is an outrage, and I am quite certain that if it were known by our people, if our people were more familiar with the facts, they would not allow it to go on any longer. They are not familiar with the facts, because Parliament has not the constitutional means of 1198 focussing attention on the facts. This is our one opportunity for some time.
A lot has been said about Mau Mau, about the atrocities committed by Mau Mau, and no one on this side of the Committee would pretend to do other than express the utmost abhorrence of them. Mau Mau, however, originated somewhere, in something. It did not come out of nothing. One would have thought that the administration of Kenya had no responsibility for Mau Mau, but, after all, Mau Mau has been growing in Kenya for 30 years. The situation in Kenya was becoming increasingly intolerable. We had created in Kenya the social context in which those extremes were almost inevitable. We talk here as though the administration of Kenya, as though the seizure of land in Kenya and all those things were not responsible at all for Mau Mau, but I have before me a description of this situation that appeared in The Times of Saturday, 29th January, last year. I want to read it to the Committee. The Times said:Before the Europeans came, African tribes moved freely across the countryside. No doubt, if the most fertile land became overcrowded the weaker brethren were driven off into less attractive areas. All this changed when the European arrived. He did not, in general, dispossess the Arican of land, as is sometimes said. He settled and developed the more attractive and unoccupied spaces. But he wrought a revolutionary change in fixing and stabilising the tenure of land. International boundaries were established; European freehold was introduced. The Africans were confined to but also protected in their tribal reserves. Agriculture, which had been flexible, became rigid; and, in a matter of half a century, when some tribes, such as the Kikuyu in Kenya and the Meru in Tanganyika, have increased, while others, such as the Masai, decreased, a series of pressures, political and economic, built up. Because the population tended to increase most rapidly in the most fertile areas, and because in these areas there are also great strips of European-owned farms acting as barriers to tribal expansion. resentment tended to rise against European land ownership. This is the principal explanation of the Mau Mau movement.[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] This is confirmed over and over again by students of the situation in Kenya. The only people who defend the situation in Kenya are the beneficiarles of the system, and we have heard some of them this afternoon in this Committee. The Times went on to say:The tragedy is that Mau Mau broke out before the royal commission was appointed, 1199 let alone had time to report. It is the persistent tendency to postpone facing the inevitable which has led to so much trouble and unhappiness in the past.That is The Times last year. It is not us, not these revolutionaries, not these extremists who are stirring up trouble, not those who are poking at resentment when it is inclined to die down, to use the expression of the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Member for Tynemouth. Mau Mau broke out against that background.
Now we have another opportunity. It is said that the crisis is receding, that a new atmosphere is being created. I hope that is so. I hope that we are going to take advantage of the new opportunity, but I must say that I was very depressed by some of the speeches today. The hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. N. Pannell), for example, could have made the same speech if he had been in the Parliament of 1830. [An HON. MEMBER: "He did."] Maybe the hon. Member did. He spoke about the necessity of extending the franchise very slowly and of not being ideological in the growth of democracy, of remembering that democracy takes different forms—
§ Mr. N. Pannell
Does the right hon. Gentleman refute the conclusions of the Dow Report, which said that the choice was between rapid political advancement and economic prosperity?
§ Mr. Bevan
Of course I dispute it. The hon. Member reminds me of an occasion once when I spent a weekend with Mr. H. G. Wells. There was a Conservative Member there of a cast-iron type whom Wells cross-examined about his ideas on education. When we were going upstairs to get ready for the evening he said to me, "You know, I have written about them often, but I never thought they existed." The hon. Member reminded me of that this evening. He does not seem to understand that other people really do not like to hear themselves described as inferior. [HON. MEMBERS: "Vermin."] I must say that is really an old one now. In any case, hon. Members ought to do their best not to deserve the epithet.
In putting this case to the House, we say that, for our part, it is essential that as far as possible the constitutional development of the Colonies should arise 1200 from common agreement in this House. It would be extremely undesirable if every time there was a change of Government in Great Britain there was also a change in the constitution of the Colonies. But that has its corollary, which is that although the Government have the final responsibility they should, as far as possible, seek to carry the Opposition with them. In this matter they are not doing that.
We do not like these proposals. We say quite frankly that we expect the Colonial Dependencies to be able to look forward not so much to multi-racialism as to democracy. As my right hon. Friend said at the beginning of the debate, we set our faces against any proposal for complete self-government in any of the Colonies until there is complete democracy in them. We do not believe in relinquishing the democratic rights of this Parliament to an undemocratic constitution in any of the Colonies. Therefore. we insist on reserving to this House the final voice on the constitutional development of any Colony until that Colony has achieved complete democratic self-government. That is our position.
Our second point is that when we are making constitutions for the Colonies we should make them of a kind that will lend themselves to easy democratic development. In part, we accept the argument that the crisis in Kenya has made the local circumstances unfavourable to the immediate extension of democratic government there, but we wish to see a constitution under which the Africans in Kenya can look forward to having democracy within a foreseeable space of time. That is why we do not like these proposals. We do not like this weighted franchise. We do not like votes handed out as prizes for the establishment.
Democracy would never have arrived in this country if the critics of the Government had been denied the franchise. The voice of Charles James Fox would never have been heard here at all if the only people who had the vote were those who supported the establishment. In such circumstances, one can never get progress or a broadening of democracy or of the constitution because, quite naturally, those who hold the franchise will extend it only to those who support them.
1201 That is suggesting that votes be awarded like Sunday school prizes and awarded by appointed officials to those who have received a civil or military decoration, or have been certified by the provincial commissioner as having performed outstanding service to the community. On the basis of such a constitution I should have been denied the franchise most of my life, because I am certain that until recently—it may be up to the present day—hon. Members opposite would not think that I deserved one vote, much less three votes.
The Government should set their face against that, because it will create all kinds of prejudice and lead to the possibility of corruption and to a distrust of the constitution by a large number of Africans and will therefore not build that basis of co-operation in Kenya which we all desire to see established. As my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) said earlier, we want Africans to have an equality of franchise among themselves. They want to see a common roll established, and I will explain why.
If two elements in a constitution are running together, the Africans will say quite properly that their representation is too small. For example, it is suggested on the present basis that each European member will represent about 3,500 persons, each Asian member about 25,000 and each African nearly one million. Does any hon. Member think for a single moment that that constitution will stand examination for long? It is not one in which Africans will repose any confidence. Certainly there could be qualifications in the meantime, not subjective but objective qualifications which can be measured. I would rather have a qualification measured by income per year than than by a medal, because it is easy to give a man a medal in order to give him a vote and not so easy to give him property.
If we had a common roll running pan passu in the same constitution with communal representation, and it the Africans said that they wanted more communal representatives, another argument would be to say that it is far better to broaden the basis of the qualifications, so that one instrument would operate against the other. We want the common roll eventually to broaden and broaden until it absorbs the communal roll, because that 1202 is the only way in which we can have democracy. The only way in which we can extinguish the communal roll is to have the common roll competing with it in the same constitutional apparatus. That is why we think that in these existing proposals there is a very grave danger of freezing existing antagonisms and providing an opportunity for inflaming them very much more.
I know that on some of these matters the right hon. Gentleman's mind is open, and that he is prepared in the course of the next few years to meet representatives of the different communities in Kenya to see whether agreement can be reached. Meeting them means that they must be free to meet him. He must be ready to free some of them from detention and to create a better atmosphere in Kenya. We can assure the right hon. Gentleman that what we have heard this evening has disturbed many of us very deeply indeed. We are not prepared to leave the matter where it is.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) has given me and the Committee notice that he and his colleagues propose at a fairly early date to submit certain proposals for a change in the constitutional machinery concerning our dealings with colonial affairs. My colleagues and I, and the House of Commons as a whole, will, naturally, examine with an open mind any proposals that are made. I share with the right hon. Gentleman a feeling that the system of Parliamentary Question and Answer in this field is not altogether a satisfactory way of exercising and showing the interest of the House of Commons in this matter.
I would like to remind hon. Members of one aspect of the matter, which is that about 90 per cent. of the Questions that are addressed to me have to be telegraphed to Colonial Governments for their comments. It would be the first fruits of a constitutional revolution if I could be given an early warning of the Questions which hon. Gentlemen wish to ask.
I agree that there is room for some hard thinking on constitutional matters. One of my most distinguished predecessors, Lord Milner, said once—and if it was true then how much more true is it today— 1203 that any Secretary of State for the Colonies is prevented from giving all the attention that he ought to give to long-term and imperial problems because he is constantly distracted by the temporary and the local. One of the advantages of being in Opposition is that there is time available for reflection and hard thinking. I wish the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale plenty of time in which to engage in that reflection. I am seriously interested in what he said, and we will, of course, give it the most careful consideration.
One of the first fruits of this examination by the Socialist Party will not, I hope, be to endorse one of the remarks which the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale made, that the main duty in these debates—I think he said—is to concentrate on what is wrong. That is a little unfortunate when we are dealing with a Colony like Kenya, which is almost on the verge of a new test of multiracial government, because everything said here is listened to with intense interest in Kenya. If there is undue concentration on what some hon. Members think has gone wrong, and if the things which they think have gone right are not mentioned because it is not their duty to mention them, that has a very disquieting effect in Kenya and may help to lead to some of the observations which are reported from time to time from Kenya by hon. Gentlemen with regret.
I hope that I shall not be accused of merely being genial and polite when I say that it has been an interesting debate. It has been, as always on these matters of Kenya, a debate inspired by much passionate sincerity, which has not been confined to the longest speeches or those delivered with the most vehement oratorical flourishes. This is a very important moment in the history of Kenya, with immense opportunities for the welfare of that great territory at this very exciting time. How much I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong) that what we all need in these matters is a little bit of colour-blindness; not colour-blindness which leads us to believe that there are no differences between races, for that would be futile, but the colour-blindness that leads us to recognise—once more I quote Lord Milner—that the firm ground of civilisation, and not the rotten and indefensible 1204 ground of colour, should be the proper qualification for citizenship.
There have emerged in recent years in Kenya many fine leaders of the four races living in Kenya. No one will ever forget the Arabs with their great historical past, their great present and their future importance. I should like to pick on one or two individuals who have done so much to help to bring Kenya to its present state, but in the political field it would, on the eve of an election, be a little unwise for a Secretary of State to pick on particular individuals and give them a meed of praise.
I think, however, that I would be entitled to mention one friend of many of us here who, alas, is leaving—he tells me it is his irrevocable decision—leaving Kenya politics and Kenya itself—Mr. Patel, a member of the Council of Ministers. I, like many others, deeply regret his decision to leave Kenya towards the end of the year to go to Pondicherry. One cannot quarrel with the strong inner urge which impels him to change the course of his life, but Kenya will suffer greatly and the Council of Ministers, in particular, will suffer greatly from the loss of his valuable advice.
The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) followed on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Armagh, who referred to our unanimity of purpose. This unanimity of purpose was, I think, shown in a number of other speeches as well. We are meeting to discuss the affairs of Kenya at a time when the security forces and the law-abiding people of Kenya have achieved the most immense success, and at a time when the economic development of agriculture and industry has gone forward by leaps and bounds.
In the last year alone the African cash income from agricultural sales, including livestock, was up by more than £¼ million on the year before. Last year, also, the building plans for Nairobi City were nearly twice what they were the year before. They were £8 million. As to the finances of Kenya, by shrewd management and the buoyancy of the revenue, they did not, for example, call on the United Kingdom for as much money as we had expected and they are entitled to face the future with modest optimism.
The hon. Member for Keighley, rightly concentrating a part of his speech on 1205 economic development, asked me something about the Tana River project. The Kenya Government are investigating the development of irrigation for agricultural projects. In 1954—the year before last—my irrigation officer, Mr. Lacey, went there and he has advised us that certain agricultural experiments should be launched to test the potential value of these projects. Those are under way and an experienced officer from the Sudan has been appointed to direct the pilot scheme. I very much agree with hon. Members who have said that it is essential that there should not be a concentration of economic development on the Kikuyu reserves alone. I think nothing could be more important than that.
The rough yardstick is that for every ld. spent on the Kikuyu reserves 1½d. should be spent on development among tribes who have steadfastly supported the Government. Among the Kamba around Machakos the most striking schemes are under way and among the Luo and others in the Nyanza Province there is a drive which is gaining strength. Here the test which is of the greatest importance is to win the confidence also of the local people.
Had I a longer time in which to speak, I would have dealt in considerable detail with the detention situation and shown something of our hopes and ambitions in the matter of annual or monthly releases so that as soon as possible Kenya shall be brought back in this respect as in others to something approaching the normal. I am afraid that time does not allow for that because, in addition to other matters, I want to answer some of the charges which have been made in connection with statements made by Miss Fletcher about Kenya this year
Those are not the only charges made against the Government of Kenya. A number of hon. Members have also referred to Colonel Young. I do not propose to add to the agreed statement I made, a statement agreed with the Government of Kenya and Colonel Young. I feel sure that many hon. Members will agree with me, and I suspect that Colonel Young would also agree, that he who is a serving officer should be spared further embarrassment caused by the use of his name for political purposes.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I cannot give way. I have 20 minutes in which to make my speech. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] Hon. Members cannot have it both ways; either I answer their speeches, or I give way. I cannot do both.
I turn to the speeches which have been made about certain charges brought by Miss Fletcher on her experiences in Kenya. I do not propose to engage in any controversy whether this lady relied too much on gossip and chance observations; I have strong views on that matter and I read with interest in both the English Press and the East African Standard certain very qualifying observations which were made by people who have every right to speak and who are very closely associated with the Christian Council of Kenya and the Friends Service Council in that Colony, but I am afraid that time will not allow me to deal with that subject in any detail. I will, therefore, start straight away by picking up the various charges which have been made. [HON. MEMBERS: "There is plenty of time."] There is not plenty of time, since the debate automatically comes to an end at 10 o'clock.
Miss Fletcher observed that because she could not accept the conditions, which she goes on to describe, it was impossible for her to continue her work with the Government of Kenya. I am told—and I believe this implicitly; and I would point out that the Ministry of Community Development is headed in Kenya by an African, Mr. Ohanga—that she offered her resignation after seven months because she would not agree to live in Kamiti, the main prison and detention camp for all Mau Mau women, where housing had been provided for her. There is no record whatsoever of her ever having brought to the notice of the Ministry which employed her the alleged conditions of which she now complains. She had a long interview with the Chief Secretary before her departure in which she made vigorous complaints, but they were vigorous complaints about purely personal matters and she made no reference whatsoever to maltreatment of detainees or juvenile offenders or any of the matters to which she has now given publicity in her article.
1207 Miss Fletcher criticises the round-up of Africans in Nairobi and says that it was indiscriminate. But hon. Members will recall that it was one of the first fruits of the Parliamentary delegation which visited Kenya and that special efforts were made to look after the dependants of those taken in custody after an operation on a very large scale. Young males under 18 were brought together in a camp for about 1,200 in an approved school where they are taught trades and given ample physical recreation and sport.
Miss Fletcher also deals with the detention of convicts after they have served their sentences. This is a complicated but vitally important matter into which I would be very glad to go into detail on another occasion, but I would remind the Committee that if someone has served a sentence for an offence of which he has been convicted, it does not then follow that from the security point of view in Kenya today—and this was still more true a year or more so ago—it is safe to allow him to return home to his own district.
Miss Fletcher quoted Mr Justice Cram, saying that the Kikuyu Home Guard is an illegal body. In this, the judge was quite in error, as my right hon. Friend has pointed out. Sir Vincent Glenday's Report followed after that.
Had my Questions for oral answer been reached in the House today, it would have been possible for me to have replied to all the questions I was asked, but perhaps it would be quickest if I give the answers which I should have given to the three Questions in the name of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway). Under Kenya legislation no child under the age of 14 may be sentenced to imprisonment, and there are no children under that age in prison in Kenya. Any young person over the age of 14 may be sentenced to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, under Emergency Regulations or other laws for such periods as those regulations or laws may provide. In practice, the hardest work for prisoners of this age, from 14 to 18, is cultivating vegetables.
During the past three years 21 boys and 16 girls under the age of 16 have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment varying from under six months to life. Only in exceptional cases do courts order 1208 imprisonment. Male convicts under 16 years of age are normally sent to approved schools, but no approved school exists for female convicts and they are sent to the women's prison at Kamiti, where they are segregated from the other prisoners in a special compound which has all the facilities of an approved school. Any person may be detained under Emergency Regulation 2, and there is no minimum age at which a child may be so detained. In practice, one boy aged 12, and 30 boys aged 13, are at present detained in camps for detainees which are run as approved schools.
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough produced prison records purporting to bear on their face the exact ages of certain children concerned. I have no quarrel with him for doing that, and I fully believe that he sincerely thought that that was a fair record. On 19th May last I was informed by the Governor of Kenya that 21 young girls were serving prison sentences at Kamiti under the apparent age of 16, of whom he said that seven were 15, eight were 14, five were 13 and one was 12 years of age.
Eleven days later, on 29th May, the Governor telegraphed me to say that these ages he had given had been wrongly quoted owing to "inaccuracy in the prison records." He goes on:All have now been medically examined and their approximate ages are medically certified to be 15 in three cases, 15½ in one case. 16½ in one case and 17½ in one case.All these young people were circumcised women and were regarded as adult members of the Kikuyu Tribe. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough was quite entitled to be misled, I think, by what is actually a prison record error.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not use arguments of that kind. No court in Kenya can sentence to imprisonment anyone under 14 years of age so that that, by itself, is a sufficiently good indication that there was an error on the document. To make doubly sure of that, this morning I myself spoke on the telephone to 1209 Sir Barclay Nihill, who confirmed my view that no court could have sentenced anyone under 14 to imprisonment at all.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
He would, indeed, if it had been the fact that a court had sentenced someone under 14 and the Commissioner had received him. It would be an improper act. But the fact is that they were not under 14, and I can only ascribe the error in the documents to the tragic amount of work that faced people at that time.
§ Mr. Bevan
With all due respect, this is much too serious. Whether he did, in fact, commit an offence or not, he thought that he was illegally imprisoning these people because he signed a document which states the ages of the children, and they are all under age. Therefore, on his own showing, he stated that they were illegally imprisoned.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I agree that this is a very important matter, but that seems to me to be a less important aspect of it than the others. What I certainly will do is to write to the Governor about that particular point and, if I am asked to do so, I will publish his reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
Is not the important fact this? What were the ages which were given in court when the judge sentenced these youngsters? We have been told this evening that in court they were sentenced as being over 14 years of age, but that when they got to gaol the governor stated in his records that they were not 14. How does the discrepancy arise?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Owing to an error in the prison records. In a matter of this kind, where the good faith of the Secretary of State and, what is really more important, of the Government of Kenya, is involved, I would ask hon. Members to believe definitely that the story that I had given is the true story, a regrettable mistake—
§ Mr. Bevan
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way 1210 again. There is one more question that I must put in fairness. If this be the case, if an error has been made, Miss Fletcher herself was entitled to believe that the ages which had been certified by the Commissioner were, in fact, the right ages. Therefore, her evidence was given in good faith.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Certainly. I expressly said that I did not want to make any charge against Miss Fletcher. Even if I had not got the proof, I was not going to do that anyhow. I fully accept that that is so.
I am quite prepared on future Wednesdays, or in any other way that may present itself, to deal further with these particular cases, and if I now pass from this matter it is only because there are other matters with which I want to deal, and not because I feel that I have dealt with every aspect of this problem.
§ Mr. Brockway
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, in the last few minutes, has been replying to accusations which I have made—
§ Mr. Brockway
Further to that point of order. Is it not the ordinary custom, when an attack and charges are made by an hon. Member, to allow him to put a question to the Minister?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Hon. Members have raised various other points with which I would like to deal briefly, but with which I certainly cannot deal adequately, considering their great importance. I entirely agree with hon. Members who have said that in the educational development of all races in Kenya lies the best hope of a happy mutual development. In general, Kenya has maintained 1211 and has been accelerating the rate of development within the annual targets for education laid down in the Beecher Report, which the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale knows very well.
During 1957–60 it is hoped to accelerate development so as to provide by 1960 in Kenya a four-year primary course for every African child whose parents wish him to go to school. The intermediate school system will also be extended, and by 1960 there should be 500 more intermediate schools than the number recommended in the Beecher Report. It is hoped that we are now well on the way to a plan whereby an eight-year course of education for every African child will eventually be possible. [Interruption.] I should have thought that hon. Members opposite who are now talking would have been reassured to know that children of that age were not in gaol.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The hon. Member for Keighley and others also raised the question of trade union development.
§ The Chairman
I have already said that if the Secretary of State does not give way, hon. Members must resume their seats.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
As I was saying, hon. Members have raised the question of trade union and political advancement for African and other races in Kenya. I do not think that time will allow a long argument or discussion on the Coutts Report and the plans for the franchise in Kenya, but I should like to say to the right hon. Gentleman, with great earnestness, that I hope that on the question of the multiple vote and the qualifying plan for Africans in Kenya he will not use his great influence, either here or elsewhere, to get it condemned out of hand. It is an imaginative attempt to meet the present stage in African development.
It has the support not only of Mr. Coutts, the Commissioner, who was accompanied in every district by an African representative member and who depended largely on African advice wherever he went—it has not only his 1212 and their support—but the support of all African members of the Legislature. It is a matter which is worthy of far longer discussion than we shall be able to give to it tonight, but I cannot leave him in any doubt that I regard the central feature of that scheme as being a wise and sensible one and fully in accord with the need of Africans in Kenya at the present time.
I very much hope that the smooth reception that that plan has now had will be continued in the future, and that in the elections which will take place in Africa, which will enfranchise a large number of Kenyans for the first time in this way, this scheme will prove the merits which I believe it possesses. I am sure that the thought of all of us will be with the people of all races in Kenya who, some this year and some in the early part of next year, will be arriving at another stage in Kenya's constitutional development. I say quite frankly that I think that the multiracial system of Government inspired by my predecessor, Lord Chandos, was one of the most imaginative efforts that could have been made to meet the problems of a plural society. Those who have seen that scheme working will, I think, agree that it has had a remarkably good start.
I hope that the opportunity will arise for more discussions on this most important matter, but I would like my support of this scheme and Her Majesty's Government's support of this scheme to be recognised here and in Kenya, for we have arrived at this conclusion only after a great deal of thought, and it is a conclusion to which we are now firmly attached.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) and several other hon. Members raised other questions about, for example, wage rates and other vital matters in Kenya, and my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) raised the problem of the women of Kenya, which, I recognise, is of the first importance. I will write to both hon. Members because both their contributions were, I think, of very great interest and there are points which I would like to make about them.
Finally, I should like the good will of this Committee to go out to all in Kenya, whether in the administration or in the Services or in business life, agriculture 1213 and industry, and to offer a word of congratulation on the very remarkable improvement in Kenya's position today from when we last debated it some months ago. Above all, I think that we are entitled to say how lucky we and the people of Kenya have been in having Sir Evelyn Baring as Governor. It is a curious but rather satisfactory thought that this representative of a very great family bears the name that was born by a previous Evelyn Baring, who, a generation or more ago, did so much for the people of another part of Africa as his son is now doing for Kenya.
I echo the words of Lord Cromer's biographer:The stars were indeed gracious when, at the beginning of great troubles, it occurred to the British Government to entrust the conduct of its policy to the hands of Sir Evelyn Baring.I hope that I carry with me the whole Committee in congratulating him on the work that he and those under him have done during the last few difficult years.
Whereupon Motion made, and Question, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again—[Mr. E. Wakefield]—put and agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.