HC Deb 31 October 1956 vol 558 cc1422-4
44. Mrs Castle

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the proposed constitutional changes in Kenya.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

All groups in the Legislative Council have requested changes in the constitution. Because of their length, I am circulating details of these in the OFFICIAL REPORT, The immediate changes will increase the number of unofficials in the Council of Ministers from six to eight, by adding one African and one European unofficial Minister ; and will also increase the Legislative Council seats by four, two of which will go to new African Representative Members.

Special arrangements will be made for Arab representation in the Council of Ministers. I have agreed to take steps to implement the proposed changes. I feel sure that the House will welcome these changes and the fact that they are being made at the request of representatives of all races in Kenya.

Mrs. Castle

While welcoming the fact that an additional—

Mr. Grant-Ferris

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. A stranger is reading a newspaper in the Gallery, which I understand is out of order.

Mr. Speaker

I have no doubt that that will be properly dealt with.

Mrs. Castle

While welcoming the fact that an additional African Minister is to be appointed and two new African representatives are to sit on the Legislative Council, may I ask whether it is not a fact that, by the additional appointment of a European Minister and two more nominated Members of the Legislative Council, whom it is anticipated will be Europeans, the balance of representation between Europeans and non-Europeans will remain unaltered? Is there not an urgent need to give a relatively greater representation to Africans in view of their numerical preponderance in the country?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I think our best course is to leave this to the welcome co-operation of all races in the future of Kenya.

The following statement represents the agreement reached between all groups of elected and representative Members of the Legislative Council in Kenya on changes in the constitution : Experience has shown that amongst other modifications to the present form of constitution the following are both desirable and necessary :— 1. The non-Government side of Legislative Council needs strengthening in numbers. 2. There should be opportunity to appoint Ministers from a wider representation than single-member constituencies. In addition it is considered :—
  1. (a) that two extra African representative members should be appointed immediately and that these extra seats will help to meet the problem of constituencies in the forthcoming African elections.
  2. (b) that there should be greater unofficial representation in Council of Ministers by changes in its composition which will allow one extra European elected and one extra African representative Minister to be appointed immediately.
In order to meet these problems and to keep within the framework of the Lyttelton plan, the following recommendations have been made to the Governor :—
  1. (i) there should be created two extra seats for Africans, to which two representative members will be appointed immediately, and two seats for persons nominated by the Governor from names submitted by the Board of Agriculture and by the Board of Commerce and Industry respectively on the non-Government side of Legislative Council, also to be appointed immediately.
  2. (ii) the composition of the Council of Ministers should be amended to include four European, two African and two Asian unofficial Ministers, the extra African and European Ministers to be appointed forthwith. The Governor should appoint an Arab who is a Member of the Legislative Council to represent Arab interests in the Council of Ministers, who will therefore be at liberty to attend any meeting of the Council of Ministers and to participate in all discussions in that Council with the equivalent status to that of the Ministers drawn from other groups.
  3. (iii) the constitution should be amended forthwith to enable recommendations (i) and (ii) to be implemented.
  4. (iv) extra seats should be created in Legislative Council within the framework of the Lyttelton plan with the object of :—
    1. (a) correcting the disbalance in number between the Government and non-Government benches, and
    2. (b) providing an opportunity for Ministers to represent a wider section of the community than a single constituency as at present.
An examination should be made of the total number of seats required and method of selection. These seats will be created after the African elections in March and during 1957. One of the new seats would be occupied by an Arab. It is hoped that these changes will give a period of stable government to the country which will enable all races to work together for development and progress of Kenya. Without this the necessary confidence both locally and overseas which will encourage the economic expansion of the country to the great benefit of all races will not be created.