HC Deb 12 February 1959 vol 599 cc1328-30
25. Mrs. White

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the outcome of his discussions on constitutional proposals with the Governor of Kenya.

44. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now state what decisions were reached in consultation with the Governor on his recent visit to London regarding constitutional developments in Kenya.

Mr. J. Amery

The Governor was in this country for financial discussions.

My right hon. Friend and I naturally took advantage of his presence to discuss the political situation in Kenya, but our talks were confidential.

Mrs. White

The talks may have been confidential, but a statement has been issued by the Governor simultaneously with those talks. We welcome it as far as it goes, but does not the hon. Member realise that until we have from Her Majesty's Government a statement of the ultimate political objectives of Kenya we are not likely to cause either the Europeans or the Africans to face the realities of the situation? Will not he therefore make representations to his right hon. Friend, as soon as he returns to this country, that such a statement is most urgently required?

Mr. Amery

I cannot add to what has already been said about this matter, beyond saying that my right hon. Friend does not foresee the time when the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government can be relinquished in the Territory.

Mr. Brockway

In view of the increasingly critical situation in Kenya, will the hon. Gentleman accept the proposal which has been put forward by all the elected groups except the European group—it has been put forward by the Africans, the Indians and the Asians—that there should be a round-table conference to try to bring about a solution to these constitutional problems?

Mr. Amery

I am not sure whether there is not a later Question dealing with this matter, but we have already made it clear that we are prepared to consider informal conversations, and if those open up the prospect of success we shall not exclude the possibility of a further conference.

Mr. Wall

Can my hon. Friend say whether, in these constitutional proposals, the introduction of the common roll principle has been considered, particularly for the cross-bench members?

Mr. Amery

Perhaps my hon. Friend would put down a Question on that matter.

Mr. Bottomley

In view of the present deadlock, will the Under-Secretary of State ask the Secretary of State to consider sending out a constitutional commissioner for the purpose of consulting all parties in Kenya, with a view ultimately to calling a round-table conference, and so thereby laying down the principle that the true meaning of the word "democracy" is that the majority shall rule?

Mr. Amery

The right hon. Gentleman's suggestion is an interesting one and we shall certainly consider it, but I am not prepared to endorse it this afternoon.

29. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the Kenya Government's statement on 26th January, when he proposes to initiate the preliminary consultations between all concerned in Kenya with a view to the round-table conference upon the present constitution of Kenya Colony.

Mr. J. Amery

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 5th February, 1959, to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) and my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall).

Mr. Johnson

Does not the Under-Secretary know that even his own senior Minister, the Colonial Secretary, is weakening upon this issue? Does not he feel that it is inevitable that we shall have to have a conference, either this year or in 1960? Why cannot the Government do something sensible before it is too late and give the Africans some earnest of what their future will be in this inter-racial society? Why cannot he have a conference and say that their future will be a democratic one?

Mr. Amery

The hon. Member will be aware that this is an extremely difficult problem, and not one to which a simple answer can be given.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the hon. Member aware—as I am sure the Colonial Office is—that all of us who have association with and friends in Kenya are deeply concerned about the developing situation there? It is very dangerous and very explosive. Does he realise that the present constitutional deadlock is adding to that explosive situation, and that the time has come to do two things—first, to make a clear statement of what is to be the ultimate objective of constitutional development in Kenya and, secondly, to hold a round-table conference, perhaps with a constitutional expert present, to resolve this deadlock in Kenya while there is still time?

Mr. Amery

It is precisely because we are aware of the dangers of the situation that my right hon. Friend and I do not wish to give a hurried answer in respect of a very serious problem.