HC Deb 19 June 1958 vol 589 cc1302-3
32. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what facilities are given to the African Members of the Kenya Legislative Council to visit detention camps in Kenya; and under what conditions they are allowed to interview detainees.

Mr. Profumo

All visits to detention camps in Kenya and the conditions under which detainees may be interviewed are at the discretion of the officers in charge or the Commissioner of Prisons, and no special facilities are given to Members of the Legislative Council.

Mrs. Castle

Does the hon. Gentleman not consider this situation entirely unsatisfactory? Is it not wrong to leave to the discretion of prison officials and the Commissioner of Prisons the question whether Kenya Members of Parliament should be entitled to exercise the same sort of rights as Members of this House of Commons exercise automatically? Will not the Under-Secretary look into the matter again with a view to raising the whole status of Members of Parliament in Kenya, as well as allowing independent supervision of conditions in detention and prison camps?

Mr. Profumo

No, Sir. The privileges of Members of the Legislative Council are matters to be determined by local ordinance under Section 46 of the Kenya Constitution Order in Council. I think we can leave Members of the Legislative Council to look after themselves.

Mr. Callaghan

Is the Under-Secretary going back on the assurance given by his right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary on Tuesday that he would convey to the Governor, whatever may be in the discretion over there, our view that an improper impression would be created unless Members of the Legislative Council were allowed the same facilities to visit these prisons in view of their isolation from civilisation?

Mr. Profumo

Of course, I am not going back on any undertaking given by my right hon. Friend. If the hon. Member reads my right hon. Friend's Answer, he will see that my right hon. Friend added that he intended to leave this matter to the discretion of His Excellency the Governor. I will draw this to my right hon. Friend's attention, but I do not subscribe to the Socialist theory that the gentleman in Whitehall is always right.

Mr. Paget

The question here has nothing to do with the gentleman in Whitehall, nor with whether there should be a discretion. There is a discretion but the question is how the discretion should be exercised. Surely, as a matter of practice, Members of Parliament, if they are to be treated as responsible people, ought to be able to go and see public institutions, unless some of them behave particularly badly when they get there, in which case it might have to be said that they could not go again. However, in the ordinary way and as a general rule, they ought to be allowed to go.

Mr. Profumo

What I am trying to tell ton. Members is that my right hon. Friend is in complete agreement with me that this is a matter which should be left to the discretion of the Governor, and I am not prepared to go further.

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