HC Deb 15 May 1959 vol 605 cc1592-615

12.20 p.m.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

I want to deal with another subject which very much affects our relations with certain parts of Africa. You yourself, Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Church of Scotland, will know its long and honourable association with the people of Nyasaland. Indeed, it was in 1891, through the actions of the Church of Scotland, that this part of Africa came under the protection of this country.

David Livingstone is a man whose memory is revered both in Scotland and in Africa, and of himself he said this: In the flow of love that Christianity inspires, I resolved to devote my life to the alleviation of human misery. A book was written about him called "Livingstone the Liberator" and the author of that book said this of him, when he was writing about what was happening in the slave trade, and so on: It was surely providential that just at this juncture there should have arrived in Africa a man of such dynamic personality, so equipped in mind and body, so understanding of spirit, so self disregarding, so filled with a passion for justice and right. That same understanding of spirit, that passion for justice and right, has motivated the representatives of the Church of Scotland in Nyasaland ever since. Those of us who are members of the Church of Scotland know that from our very earliest days as children we have time and time again been told of the people of Nyasaland and of the work of the Church of Scotland there. Our interest has been long and deep in the welfare and well-being of those Africans in Nyasaland.

Last Sunday morning, when I was at church, our minister announced that there would be a petition in the vestibule on this very question of Nyasaland. In all the years in which I have attended the church that is the first time an announcement has been made from our pulpit about a petition being in our vestibule to be signed. It is just a symptom of the very strong feeling in Scotland at present over what the future of the people in Nyasaland is to be.

I do not want to say a word today which will worsen relationships in Nyasaland. Next week there is to be a debate on this subject in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The Church of Scotland has issued a report. It has been in the hands of our people for a long time, because the Church of Scotland believes in having informed opinion.

Another report was issued only last week by Sir Gilbert Rennie, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom for the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. There was a Press conference over this report. Sir Gilbert Rennie, in his pamphlet, calls attention to the appendix to the Church of Scotland report about the 1958 statement of the Blantyre Synod. He says that this statement is "definitely misleading and deceitful." That is very strong language indeed. He asks readers to remember that the affairs of that Synod have been in African hands for many years.

But what does the report of the Synod say itself? These are the words: As a Synod whose affairs have been in mainly African hands for many years and who are well-nigh completely independent in control of our own affairs, we feel the keenness of this tragedy of neglect in our national affairs. It does not try at all to hide that this Synod in Africa, the Blantyre Synod, was one which was in African hands.

Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)

Could the hon. Lady say in what part of the Gilbert Rennie report this comment is made?

Miss Herbison

I would ask the hon. Member to read it, because I have a great deal to say and I have been told that I have not very much time.

I say to Sir Gilbert Rennie that we of the Church of Scotland are very proud indeed—very proud—that the Africans are in charge of their own Synod.

In the Press, Sir Gilbert Rennie was reported as saying that a copy of his report would be placed in the pigeonholes of all Commissioners at the Assembly. I wonder whether he meant this as a threat. The Church of Scotland has nothing whatever to fear from this report of Sir Gilbert Rennie. That body is a fair-minded body and it would wish that any of those who are to take part in the debate next week, and those who are to reach a decision on this matter, should have in their hands all the relevant information. I am sure that in no hole and corner way will he have to try to get his report into the hands of these people.

Sir Gilbert Rennie is also reported as saying that missionaries were not qualified to judge politics in Central Africa, and he added: Let the cobbler stick to his last. Yesterday, there was a correction in one of our newspapers which said that before the word "qualified" he had used the word "best": the "best qualified".

Sir Gilbert Rennie is also reported as saying: Many of those passing resolutions in Presbyteries knew extraordinarily little about what was really going on. I would say that those statements show an arrogance of spirit, an arrogance of spirit which bodes very ill indeed for good relationships in Nyasaland.

As I said at the beginning, we in Scotland have known a great deal about Nyasaland for very many years. Those of us who have been actively associated with our Church have known what has been happening in that country, and those Presbyteries have had the great benefit of the experience of our missionaries who have spent long years of their lives in Nyasaland, and whose desire is to see that the relationships which were once there between Africans and Europeans are restored.

If we turn to the General Assembly report which will be discussed next week we can see, first, a quotation from the 1952 report of the Church and Nation Committee of the Church of Scotland, in which there was a résumé of the movement towards federation over thirty years. That was in the 1952 report. In 1952, in anticipation of the federal scheme, the report said this: There is no more important question today in the colonial field. In no part of Africa has the Church of Scotland closer or more intimate relations with the Africans than in these Territories. Economically and politically there is a case for federation, but at present it seems impossible to obtain the approval of the overwhelming majority of the people concerned.… There the Church of Scotland was showing that it realised that, economically and politically, there was a case for federation, but it realised that unless the majority of the African people wished it, it would not then be a success.

The report went on to say: Africans have seen ' entrenched clauses' ignored or deliberately broken… I do not know whether the Under-Secretary of State has read this report. He indicates that he has. All through it one can see that the Church of Scotland has tried to play its part in a way of which we can be proud.

The 1953 report of the Church and Nation Committee says this of the scheme for federation: It is a bold and imaginative scheme and may well become the pattern for the governing of a multi-racial State with peoples not only of different races but of varying levels of culture … In the minds of Africans, particularly in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, there is a deep fear of domination of the Federation by Southern Rhodesia and the extension thereby of the baneful effects of the colour bar. It is largely because of this fear that Africans have refused to co-operate … The Church of Scotland must assure the Africans, and especially those under its care, of its constant watchfulness and its sense of obligation to do all in its power to secure the recognition of the right of the African to his own land. Surely, no one in Britain would think that there is anything at all wrong in those two statements. If we believe in justice we must believe that it was the duty of the Church of Scotland, which knows so much about these affairs, to make its position perfectly clear.

The 1955 deliverance, issued after federation, said: The General Assembly notes with interest that, federation having been established in Central Africa, there seem to have been comparatively few signs of active opposition and that already the economic benefits of the new structure of government are beginning to be apparent. At the same time, however, the General Assembly view with misgiving certain trends in the racial policy of the Federal Government and urge that, by every means possible, the anxieties of Africans should he allayed and the ideal of partnership be translated into practice. All that the General Assembly was doing in 1955 was to urge that the ideals of good relationships and equal partnership should be brought into practice.

The Under-Secretary will be well aware that there are in Nyasaland 2,600,000 Africans and 7,000 Europeans. Later in the same deliverance it was stated: Within the last two years the power of the Federal Government relative to the U.K. Government and to the population of Central Africa has grown immensely. Parallel to this has gone a grave deterioration in African goodwill. Efforts to translate ' partnership' into reality have failed to be fast enough or to have sufficient appeal … The next comment is very important because it is of these actions that I shall speak in a moment. It is these that have caused the feeling of unrest and worry in the minds of Africans.

The deliverance says: The Government of the United Kingdom has made three great concessions which have increased the powers of the Federal Government, cut deep into de facto Protectorate status, and seemed to encourage groups in Central Africa which are critical of the British Colonial Office. These concessions are:—

  1. I. The Joint Announcement of 27th April, 1957, at London.
  2. II. The Constitution Amendment Act.
  3. III. The Federal Electoral Act."
These have caused very great worry in the minds of the people. I do not want to deal with them separately, because each has been debated in the House. Sir John Moffat, Chairman of the African Affairs Board, said, after the decision was taken in the House on 18th February, 1958: The African peoples were told in meeting after meeting of the safeguards which the Constitution contained for them. They were told that they would have their own spokesman in the Federal House and—mark this well—that they would elect their own spokesmen. We pledged our word … Must I tell them now that the assurances which I gave in good faith that they would elect their own representatives are false, and that the Federal Government … will see that European voters flood them out? When we consider, first, the original fears of federation and this example after example of the strengthening of the powers of the Federal Government at the expense of safeguards to the people of Nyasaland, we must realise that we have a great responsibility in the House for the troubles in Nyasaland at present.

There are steps which the Colonial Secretary could take immediately which would ease the tension in Nyasaland. Because of my great interest in this matter, I have been following very carefully all the statements that have been made on it in the British Press. The Reverend D. Steel, of Linlithgow, in a letter to the Scotsman, said: It should be possible for the Colonial Office to make clear to the Governor and to the Nyasaland Government that to proceed with the draft Bill and the communal fine and any other oppressive measures is an affront to the decision of Parliament to send out a Commission and, indeed, to the Commission itself. The Bill should be withdrawn and there should be a moratorium on the collection of the fine until the Commission has done its work and apportioned the responsibility for the present unhappy state of affairs in Nyasaland. Surely, that would be a simple thing for the Colonial Secretary to do.

The right hon. Gentleman has sent out the Devlin Commission to find the root causes of the trouble in Nyasaland. Surely, he is bedevilling the work of that Commission when he insists upon communal fines being imposed on people whose standard of life is so immeasurably low. The right hon. Gentleman must realise that he is sowing seeds of intense bitterness which might be very difficult to clear away.

Mr. A. C. McAdam, one of our missionaries in Nyasaland, has spoken about the Nyasaland emergency regulations which prohibit the publication of anything that is liable to incite people to violence. He asks why these regulations have not been applied to the only European paper in Nyasaland, the Nyasaland Times. He asks that because the paper published a description of the arrest of Dr. Banda. He quotes from that description I have no time to quote it now, but I am sure that the Minister has read it. He goes on: Could any report be more damaging to race relations? I am a white man and ashamed of it. I am a white man and the hatred against me is rising. I am a missionary and I am suspected with the rest now. An African told me the other day that unless I speak with as loud a voice as the Rev. Michael Scott I should pack in. Will the specials and the settlers never realise that Africans are human beings and that there are those of us who love these 'munts'? That statement by Mr. McAdam shows the deterioration in relationships in Nyasaland and calls for the deepest thought from the Colonial Secretary about why these relationships have become as bad as they are.

Besides ensuring that communal fines are not collected, I suggest that the Colonial Secretary should make clear the nature of the 1960 conference. The Church of Scotland is afraid that if Dominion status is decided then, even if attempts are made to introduce entrenching clauses, with the example of Southern Africa the fears of the Africans in Nyasaland will not be assuaged. If, at this stage, the Colonial Secretary could make it clear that no matters which are of the greatest importance to these people will be barred at the conference; if he will make it clear that our Protectorate status of Nyasaland will not be thrown away unless all the inhabitants—and I mean all—are willing to give up their Protectorate status, then he might find that there was an immediate lowering of temperature in that country.

As the Church of Scotland report has pointed out, it realises that economic benefits may come from federation—

Mr. Braine

indicated dissent.

Miss Herbison

If I had time I would deal with the kind of benefits that have come and how little they have touched the lives of the ordinary African. Even if we accept that there is the possibility of economic benefits, I say to the Under-Secretary of State and to the Colonial Secretary that if these benefits are achieved at the expense of the dignity of human beings, if they mean the loss of political rights, there is no justice in our claim as British people that we are different from totalitarian States.

Man does not live by bread alone. He has the godly gift of a precious soul. That soul, above everything else, must be guarded zealously. In the present sorely troubled state of Nysaland the Colonial Secretary has an instrument at hand. It is an instrument which, if he were to use it properly, could bring about much better relationships. It could restore that faith and that loyalty which has been gradually disappearing since 1953. That instrument is our Church of Scotland, and I earnestly pray that the Colonial Secretary and the Government will use it, and use it immediately.

12.45 p.m.

Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)

It is always a pleasure to listen to the hon. Member the Lady for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), and this morning she has rendered a service in focussing attention upon the problems of Nyasaland. But although there are causes for anxiety there, I am not sure that I agree with her on what they are.

I am, and always have been, a great admirer of the work of the Christian missions. I have seen the fruits of this work in many countries, particularly in Africa. David Livingstone, to whom she paid a tribute, was the boyhood hero of millions of young Britons. I recall that he went to Africa to sweep away misery and slavery, to bring light into darkness. He told us that his mission was to bring Christianity, but it was also to bring trade.

I suppose it is characteristic of his race that he was essentially a practical man who saw that if superstition and savagery were to be swept away, then the environment which made for these things had to be changed. Federation is the best instrument for inducing such change and I am not so sure that if David Livingstone were living today, practical man that he was, he would not have been a staunch advocate of the idea of federation.

The hon. Lady referred to the report of the Church of Scotland Special Committee and to the comments of Sir Gilbert Rennie upon it. She took exception to certain remarks made by Sir Gilbert in his pamphlet. It is pertinent to remember that Sir Gilbert Rennie is not only the High Commissioner of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, a distinguished public servant with long experience of administration in Africa, but he is also an elder of the Church of Scotland. So he is likely to have measured his words doubly carefully in this context. I think it cannot be denied that the report to which the hon. Lady referred, which Sir Gilbert Rennie has criticised, is incomplete in many particulars. Certainly, it does not mention some aspects of the problems which are bedevilling the situation and it produces a far from fair and accurate picture.

The truth is, though the hon. Lady did not say this that the Scottish missions in Nyasaland, in their zeal and desire to carry on the great work which they undertook even before government came to that territory, have long dabbled in politics. It may be difficult in this world for the living church not to dabble in politics. I make no comment on that. Let me say, however, that the Scottish missions opposed federation from the start. The party opposite knew this. It was known when the Labour Government launched the movement towards federation in 1951—

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)

What movement?

Mr. Braine

The hon. Gentleman knows I have very little time, but I will answer his point if he will permit me to finish my sentence.

That there were African missions was known when the Labour Government launched the movement towards federation in 1951 and insisted upon the inclusion of Nyasaland in any federal scheme embracing the two Rhodesias. The Labour Government knew that there was opposition then. It was made clear in Command Paper 8411, which I have not time to quote, but to which all hon. Members have access. The present Government inherited the situation—

Mr. Callaghan


Mr. Braine

I agree that some of my remarks are now embarrassing to the hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Callaghan

Not at all.

Mr. Braine

That is why he is heckling me from a sedentary position, but I will not be deterred and will not be drawn away from the burden of my argument.

Mr. Callaghan

Has the hon. Gentleman, first, any evidence that the Labour Government insisted upon the inclusion of Nyasaland in the scheme of federation they were putting forward? Secondly, may I say to him that his inaccuracies reflect upon himself?

Mr. Braine

On the contrary. The hon. Gentleman, whose knowledge of these matters is fairly recent, ought to know that the British Government, which was responsible then for the two Northern Protectorates, as it is now, took part in talks between 1950 and 1951 leading up to federation, that the inclusion of Nyasaland in the proposals for federation was a condition, that this was accepted and was not questioned at the time.

Mr. Callaghan

Will the hon. Gentleman say how it was that the Labour Government always made it clear that a condition of federation should be the consent of the Africans?

Mr. Braine

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that our responsibility for the Protectorates still obtains. The Preamble to the Constitution reads: Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should continue, under the special protection of Her Majesty, to enjoy separate Governments for so long as their respective peoples so desire, the said Governments remaining responsible (subject to the ultimate authority of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom) for, in particular, the control of land in those Territories, and for the local and Territorial political advancement of the peoples thereof … This Preamble is part of the Constitution. As is made clear in the Order in Council, it is legally and morally binding upon Her Majesty's Government. It is a major part of the agreement reached with Southern Rhodesia upon which the Federation is based.

Mr. Callaghan

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman is deliberately trying to distort the problem—at all events, I assume that he is not—and, therefore, he can only he confused. The question of Dominion status, and whether the Africans should be handed over to a new independent Dominion, is quite different from the condition which the Labour Government laid down preparatory to the discussions in 1950 and 1951, namely, that African consent should be obtained before a Federation was formed, Will the hon. Gentleman please try to stop confusing these two issues?

Mr. Braine

The only person who is trying to confuse the issue is the hon. Gentleman. He does not wish me to develop my argument, knowing that I am bound to sit down at a certain time.

I want to come to the point of Dominion status and to say something which, I take it, will command the approval of the hon. Gentleman, if he will permit me to proceed. The reason why, in 1951, and subsequently British Governments held that Nyasaland should be included in the Federation was clear. There could be no future worth having for the people of Nyasaland outside federation. At present, Nyasaland's expenditure is subsidised to the tune of £4 for every £7 spent by the Federal Government. If Nyasaland went out of the Federation its expenditure on education and health would be diminished. It would have to cut its suit according to its cloth, and its economic development, which has been rapid in the past few years, would be severely retarded.

If secession were to be followed by the political independence for which some African extremists clamour, no doubt Nyasaland could survive, but not as a Ghana or a Nigeria. because it possesses neither the economic nor the human resources to enable it to maintain and administer a viable, efficient and modern State. There is no question, therefore. about what is best for Nyasaland, though here I entirely agree with the hon. Lady that what we consider to be best for Nyasaland must, in the end, carry the approval of the majority of the people of that territory if our ideas are to have any chance of success.

The hon. Lady—I realise that time was short, and that is why I did not press the matter when she came to it—did not say very much about the considerable benefits which federation has brought to Nyasaland. There is no doubt that the economies of the three territories are complementary and that the main reason why they were brought together in the first place was that together they ensure an economically viable unit stronger and more capable of rapid development than would the three territories if they remained separate.

In the first six years after federation private investment in the territories was five times greater than in the previous six years. That has meant new employment opportunities in a land which has suffered in the past from the great evil, as the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) knows, of migratory labour. African earnings have risen by 130 per cent., and African savings are beginning to manifest themselves. All this is a sign of confidence in the future.

There have been marked improvements also in African standards of living. Since the Federal Government took over its medical services there has been a threefold increase in recurrent expenditure, a fivefold increase in capital expenditure on hospitals and dispensaries, and a sevenfold increase in grants to medical missions. Expenditure on African education, the instrument by which an improvement in the life of the people can be obtained most rapidly—which remains a territorial responsibility—has been trebled. There are 43 per cent. more children in the primary schools today and a fourfold increase in the number of children in the secondary schools. None of this would have been possible, or very little, but for the assistance given to the territory by the richer communities in the Federation.

There has also been a widening of opportunity for educated Africans in the Territorial and Federal Civil Services and in Government. In the sphere of government, though here we may disagree as to whether representation should be on a communal or a non-racial basis, Africans in Nyasaland today have a vote, which they did not have in 1951, and have representatives in the Federal Assembly where they can draw attention to the problems of their people in a way they were never able previously to do.

Frankly, I do not deny that there is African opposition to federation. The hon. Lady was correct in what she said. In some cases that opposition has been carried to the extent of violence. There has also been wilful misrepresentation of the benefits of federation, there has been some outright lying, and there has been considerable intimidation of moderate African opinion.

Mrs. Elspeth Huxley, writing from Nyasaland, in the Sunday Times of 12th April, 1959, referred to the situation in Nyasaland as follows: Intimidation by Congress Members has been widespread and ugly, and it has not been eliminated. 'Join us or we will come tonight and beat you up and burn your house ', is the usual form. Mr. C. J. Matinga, one of the Federal M.P.s, has had his house burned or damaged three times. The question is whether this opposition can be overcome. That presents an immensely difficult task, but it is not an insuperable one. A great deal of hostility springs from ignorance of the benefits of federation, misconception of the intentions of the British and Federal Governments and wrong-headed encouragement from certain elements much nearer home. The initial fault lay with the Labour Government in 1951, when, quite wrong-headedly, it expressly forbade administrative officers to explain the purpose of federation to the local chiefs. There is no doubt that that sowed considerable seeds of doubt in African minds as to the wisdom and rightness of the course which was being proposed. Since then, the issue has been made the subject of party politics here.

In a second article Mrs. Huxley makes the point that The distinction between shouting for what you want and seizing it, always a fine one, is finer in Africa than in Europe, and the knowledge of support from Britain, especiallly from those who may form the next Government, has dangerously encouraged extremists and made all nationalists less open to arguments of moderation. Nevertheless, I do not think that it is beyond our capacity to remove one misconception which runs riot in African minds. There is a widespread belief—the hon. Lady repeated it here today—that in 1960 Great Britain will hand over her residual responsibilities for the two northern Protectorates to the dominant white minority in Southern Rhodesia. I hope that my hon. Friend will make it perfectly clear that there can be no question of handing over those responsibilities until the conditions which are laid down in the Preamble to the Constitution have been satisfied. I hope that he will make it clear that the preservation of federation is far mare important than any question of Dominion status, and that pressure from Salisbury for Dominion status imperils federation. I hope that we shall have clarification on that point.

As the House knows, under the Constitution the Territorial Governments are responsible for education, land and all matters affecting the daily life of Africans. As things are going in Nyasaland—and the new Constitution is promised by April of next year—it is conceivable that within ten years, perhaps much sooner, there will be an African majority governing Nyasaland within the Federation, with an African Prime Minister, a possibility which Sir Roy Welensky himself has recognised.

African extremists, with encouragement from misguided persons inside and outside the Federation, are agitating to take their country outside the Federation and are clamouring for independence. The reason is simple enough. Anyone who knows anything about these men and who has listened to their pronouncements knows that all they want is power and prestige. That is not unknown among politicians, but if they succeeded the cost to the people of Nyasaland, for whom the hon. Lady spoke so eloquently, would be grievous. One thing about the Federation is that there is to be no lowering of standards of efficiency in administration or business. For those who like to be large fish in a small pond, that may be unpalatable. Not all the fault lies on the side of the Africans. Every time white extremists call for partition they reinforce black extremists and conspire to destroy the Federation.

Hope lies in the forces of moderation. I share the hon. Lady's wish, however, that the forces of moderation in the Federation would sometimes display a little more courage. If federation is to be saved, if Nyasaland is to be assured that there is a great future for its people apart from purely material benefits, then it is deeds, not words that are needed. I entirely agree with what Mr. Garfield Todd said recently, that what remains of the colour bar must be broken massively and immediately. Much more must be done, and done quickly, to remove the discriminatory pinpricks. For what may appear as pinpricks to Europeans may often injure and hurt Africans deeply and make nonsense of the idea of partnership.

A great deal can be done in that direction. Looking back over the past few years of the existence of the Federation, and remembering the conditions which obtained in 1951, the advance which has been registered since has been dramatic and exhilarating. Let us not jeopardise it now. By all means let us focus attention on these problems and make it clear that we shall not abandon our responsibility to the people in the two Northern Protectorates, but let us not pursue a course, as some wish to do, which would jeopardise the Federation. Because it stands for a noble ideal, that of partnership between the races, the Federation is probably the last best hope for us all in Africa.

1.5 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Julian Amery)


Mr. Callaghan

For how long will the hon. Gentleman speak?

Mr. Amery

I shall need at least half an hour to reply to all the points which have been made.

Mr. Callaghan

That does not leave me long.

Mr. Amery

The hon. Member did not let me know that he wanted to speak, or we would have been able to make an arrangement.

Mr. Callaghan

On a point of order. Surely it is not necessary on an Adjournment debate, or on any other debate, to inform the Government Front Bench if an hon. Member on this side of the House wishes to speak. Statements have been made by the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine), which, if I may use a term which is hallowed, were terminological inexactitudes of the position which the Labour Party has taken up over these matters--that is the nearest that one can get to saying that they were downright lies. I wanted a few minutes to rebut what was said by the hon. Member for Essex, South-East, who used to have a reputation in these matters but who has chosen to use smears. Why should I not stand up in my place when I wish to speak, like every hon. Member who wishes to address the House?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)

It is the custom in an Adjournment debate to call the Minister if he rises to reply.

Mr. Callaghan

The hon. Member said that if I had given him notice an arrangement could have been made.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

On these occasions, for the convenience of Members, there are generally arrangements about the times at which hon. Members shall speak on certain subjects.

Mr. Amery

I am sorry that there should have been this difficulty. The hon. Member and I have attended a number of debates on these matters and he has always consulted me about the times for which we should speak.

There are two subjects, that of detention and restriction and that of the wider issues raised by the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) in connection with the Church of Scotland in Nyasaland. T will try to deal with them in turn.

Difficult as it is to isolate them from the broader political issues which, as the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) pointed out, it would not be appropriate to discuss on this occasion, detention, or restriction, without trial is repugnant to all of us in this country. The concept for which we have always stood is freedom to live by no man's leave underneath the law.

At the same time, the first duty of a Government is to maintain law and order. There are situations when those two principles, the duty of the Government and the right of the individual, clash. Such a situation arises where the exercise of the law is paralysed by intimidation, and my hon. Friend the Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong) gave some very interesting instances of intimidation as he saw it practised in Kenya. We all know from our studies of the emergency in Kenya in 1952 and afterwards that there were frequent occasions when a murder was carried out and witnessed by scores of people, but it was not possible to get a single witness to come forward and give evidence, because of the intimidation which then prevailed. Situations when those principles clash also arise when, through their own channels, the Government have prior knowledge of conspiracies which may well lead to rioting or bloodshed, as we had in Nyasaland.

Where there are situations of that sort, with a clash between the principle of individual freedom and the duty of the Government, the problem is which should prevail. If the danger to the life of the community and the happiness of the majority is great, it will be generally accepted that there are situations in which detention is necessary. That is not a feature only of colonialism. As my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devon-port (Miss Vickers) pointed out, detention regulations are in force in other African countries not under colonial government, and we had powers of the same sort ourselves in the war—the 18b Regulation. Where detention regulations are necessary, plainly there must be safeguards against their use and provision for their frequent review.

Let me turn first to the problem of detention and restriction in Kenya. The House is familiar with the reasons for introducing detention regulations there, and I will not go back over the whole story of the Mau Mau emergency. I would, however, just remind the House of the size of the problem. We have come down from over 80,000 detainees to 1,091 at the end of April. That is already a reduction of very nearly a further 1,000 since we last discussed this matter in debate on 24th February when the figure was nearly 2,000.

I think it would be appropriate once again to salute the work of rehabilitation which has made it possible to bring down the figure of detainees to this relatively small figure. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough threw doubt on whether the confessions that had been obtained in the course of rehabilitation were really genuine or efficacious. I am bound to say that, after dealing with 78,000 cases. Those responsible for these matters have been able to form a fairly accurate judgment as to whether what they are getting is genuine or not.

Mr. Brockway

The hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) pointed out that among the new arrests under the new secret movement many of those arrested had been Mau Mau men who had been released after making their confessions. Does not that show that confessions in those cases are worthless?

Mr. Amery

Certainly not. We all know about the drunkard who says "Never again" and does it again. What it shows is that there is some virtue in the continuing power of detention. It enables one to protect the community against the dangers which would otherwise fall upon it.

Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)

Is it necessary for a detainee to confess before he enters the pipeline of release?

Mr. Amery

Not when he enters the pipeline. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the pipeline goes through several stages.

I would again emphasise the point which I made in the debate of last February that so successful has the system been that a number of convicted Mau Mau who were serving prison sentences have been taken out of prison and turned into detainees so as to facilitate their return to normal life. Of the few remaining, there are two categories. One in four are not acceptable in their home district. Either it would not be safe for them to go there or the local African authorities there do not want to see them back.

We get, in addition, what is known as the hard core, partly of Mau Mau thugs and partly of those more politically inclined. Plainly it is no good saying in these cases, "You should either release them or bring them to trial." The circumstances for which they are being detained and under which they are being detained were circumstances in which it was not possible to bring a charge because of the danger of intimidation of which I spoke earlier. That situation has clearly not improved. It is more difficult to establish these facts in open court years after the original occasion of the detention.

Mr. Stonehouse

Surely there is an important point here, because there are many people who have been detained for upwards of six years who are brought to court on charges made against them and are acquitted of those charges.

Mr. Amery

I do not think that the hon. Member's intervention affects what I said. There were in the early days of the Mau Mau emergency circumstances which made it necessary to detain even if one could not state in open court the charge on which the detention was carried out. I think that the standard which the Kenya Government have set themselves is a fairly simple one. It is that no one is an irreconcilable. But, at the same time, in their view no one should be released while he is not reconciled. I think that we all would agree with the first proposition. As I understand the hon. Member, the second proposition has been challenged today. He said that he would take the risk and would say that even if these men were not reconciled we should let them go back. I hope that I do not misrepresent the hon. Gentleman.

It was certainly the opinion of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Delegation which visited Kenya in 1957 that it would be a long time before some of the irreconcilable elements could be freed, and this principle was accepted by the official Opposition in the debate on 24th February. There might be differences about individual cases, but that some might have to be detained for a long time was. I think, accepted by both parties.

We are in a pretty difficult situation still in Kenya; we are on the morrow of civil war. There has been a resurgence of K.K.M. activity. While some are saying that it justifies taking a risk, I take the contrary view and say that this is not the time to endanger promising developments by injecting back into the life of Kenya elements whose presence would almost certainly give rise to a sharpening of feelings among all races.

I think that the wholesale release of Kenyatta and his associates would alarm many Africans and Asians as well as Europeans. It might destroy all the present prospects of harmony on which we set considerable hope. I cannot, therefore, announce any new policy or am, change in attitude where the release of the existing detainees is concerned. The releases will go on as fast as possible. but the Governor will not release people unless he is satisfied that he can do so whilst safeguarding the Kenya community. While we are all out for rehabilitation and are determined to safeguard the interests of the Kenya community, there is no need to impose needless discomfort on those who have to be restricted. Where possible we have been prepared to alter detention into restricted residence. This has been done for sixteen of those at the Takwa camp, including the persons mentioned by the hon. Gentleman and some of his hon. Friends.

Let me deal for a moment with some of the individual cases to which the hon. Gentleman referred. First, that of Ionic. Kenyatta. I would at the outset deplore the phrases which the hon. Gentleman used in regard to Kenyatta. I have not had the advantage of knowing Kenyatta as the hon. Gentleman has, but I do not think that one can get away from the fact that Kenyatta has been a very direct influence on the whole Mau Mau movement. When we think of the suffering and misery that was brought to the Kikuyu people, it is very hard to take a lenient view of Kenyatta such as the lion. Gentleman takes. Indeed, speeches of this sort can do considerable harm in Kenya, for a revival of the Kenyatta cult could do much to undermine the return to racial harmony which we are trying to foster.

There is one particular point which I would like to take up. The hon. Gentleman referred to Macharia's evidence at the Kapenguria trial and suggested that, because of the more recent perjury, this throws doubt on the validity of the whole Kapenguria procedure. I think it important to note that, at the recent prosecution of Macharia, the prosecution found that six other prosecution witnesses at Kapenguria had not been suborned and had given truthful evidence The trial judge said that three of these witnesses had provided "the most important piece of evidence against Kenyatta." Therefore, if anything, the recent proceedings reinforce the validity of the Kapenguria verdict rather than otherwise.

Where the case of ex-Senior Chief Koinange was concerned, we naturally recognised the problem presented by his age, but the House must recognise that among the Kikuyu his influence is very great. He would be a greater danger today, perhaps, than in the past. He is living quietly and in relative comfort in his place of restriction. I cannot either, I am afraid, at the moment announce any different plans for Oneko. As the House knows, he has gone from detention to restricted residence and is being joined by his family.

Mr. Stonehouse

Will the Under-Secretary confirm what he has just said, because I have a letter from Mr. Oneko dated 28th April in which he says that his wife has not yet been allowed to join him. Would the Under-Secretary confirm that Mr. Oneko's wife will be allowed to join him?

Mr. Amery

I said that he was being joined by his wife and family. They may not have arrived, but permission has been given for them to join him.

I come now to Northern Rhodesia, and let me make it clear that no one is under detention in Northern Rhodesia. The only cases concerned are cases of restriction. There are two persons who were restricted as a result of the 1956 incident in the Copper Belt, to which the hon. Member has referred. The hon. Member also reminded the House that there is a habeas corpus writ in respect of one of them. I think, therefore, that the matter must be regarded as sub judice and it would be wrong for me to give a detailed explanation of the reasons for their restriction.

Zambia, as the House knows, is an offshoot of the African Northern Rhodesian Congress. The Zambia leaders were determined to prevent if they could the recent territorial elections in Northern Rhodesia and to persuade all Africans not to take part in these elections.

The Governor was satisfied that they had conspired to make use of intimidation, force, violence and restraint against persons in the territory in order to induce or compel such persons to refrain from voting at or standing as candidates for the said election, and to commit acts under ten other heads including arson, malicious damage to property, corruption of police and other public officers, acts calculated to bring the Government into hatred and disrepute and acts calculated to promote ill-feelings between different classes of the population of the territory. Those were the grounds on which the Regulation was introduced which made it possible for the Governor to order their restriction.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) asked what evidence there was and how we knew that this had happened. The regulations are in force until July only and, under the Ordinance, the Governor has to appoint a person to inquire into the circumstances leading to the introduction of the regulations and to make recommendations.

Mr. Swingler


Mr. Amery

Would the hon. Gentleman allow me to finish what I am saying? Mr. Ridley is inquiring into the matter. Until the report of the inquiry is available the matter is again in a sense sub judice.

Mr. Swingler

Will the Under-Secretary give us the evidence? He has made allegations against the Zambia organisation. Do the Government possess evidence for this? If they do, why is it not available? I have Press cuttings of the speeches of Mr. Nkumbula and others advocating non-violence. Where is the contrary evidence?

Mr. Amery

If the hon. Gentleman had listened, he would have heard me say that we must wait until the inquiry which has been appointed has reported. It would be wrong for us or the Governor of Rhodesia to produce evidence independently until the inquiry takes place. The inquiry is now in progress.

Mr. Swingler

Will the Under-Secretary publish the report?

Mr. Amery

I cannot say any more than I have said at the moment.

The hon. Member raised the question of the provision of legal aid for persons under restriction who might wish to challenge the restriction. There is no provision for legal aid for them, but the regulations restricting them are in force only until July. As the inquiry is taking place I do not think there is an., risk of grave injustice on this score.

Mr. Swingler


Mr. Amery

I cannot give way to the hon. Gentleman. I have given way a great many times in the debate, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman will recognise.

I now come to Nyasaland. Let me first give the figures to the House, because I think the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North has got them wrong. Under the Governor's Detention Order 435 people are detained. Under the 28-day Order 163 people are detained. Three hundred and sixty-four have already been released, and two persons are restricted. Of the detainees 139 are held in Southern Rhodesia. The detainees have a right of appeal against detention, and an advisory committee exists for this purpose. The Governor attends as many appeals as he can. He has heard 155 appeals and the advisory committee has heard 49. Detention orders are reviewed and, as I have said, 364 detainees have already been released. The relatives of detained persons are looked after, and, where necessary, given help.

I come now to the problems of the Church of Scotland.

Mr. Callaghan

Has the Under-Secretary any information about when we may expect the Devlin Commission to finish taking evidence and, when it is likely to produce a report?

Mr. Amery

I honestly do not know. I think it would be wrong for me to appear as though I was jolting anybody, but I hope it will be quite soon.

The Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian, was established by the Church of Scotland in Central Africa and Nyasaland. The link between the two has been maintained by Church of Scotland missions in Nyasaland. It has been the deliberate policy of the Church of Scotland, and I think it is important that we remember this, to encourage the maximum autonomy of the Church of Scotland and to relinquish mission control of both church and schools as much as possible.

The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North spoke of the early work of the Church of Scotland in Nyasaland in 1891. Some of its work goes back beyond that. The Church came to Nyasaland before the State, and there was for a time what one might call a theocratic government in Nyasaland when the Church of Scotland really administered the country both in the political and administrative sense as well as in the spiritual sense. Its early leaders were men of great stature who have left a deep imprint on the land. Not unnaturally, as the Church of Scotland had been the Government before the secular Government came, there have been disagreements and tensions between Government and Church. The Church had a wide body of experience and its own sources of information and there were from time to time, though by no means all the time, disagreements between the two.

In the early days the main problem for the Church was that of winning people to Christianity and caring for health and education. More recently, through the development of Central Africa and the general approach of Christianity in Nyasaland with the Government taking more and more responsibility for health and education, the Church is itself up against the social and political problems of the modern world which are relatively new in Nyasaland.

Other factors have been at work. There has been a decline in contributions from the Church of Scotland to Nyasaland, and the Church has been faced with increasing competition from other denominations and secular political movements. All these things have led the Church quite openly to take up a position on political matters in Nyasaland. Many men have been drawn into the service of the missions who have a deep interest in the issues which are part of the daily political life of Nyasaland.

From the first the Central African Church, Presbyterian, has been against the idea of federation. No doubt it has studied the problem very objectively, but the conclusions it reached have been hostile to federation. This has been made quite plain both in its publications and in sermons and talks in Nyasaland.

In the process of opposing federation, for reasons which I will not go into in detail today, it has naturally found itself —I will not say in alliance, because I do not think it has been an alliance—but working for a common cause with the African Congress. It has openly campaigned on the issue of federation in churches and schools. I make no complaint about that. But when considering this Central African and Nyasaland problem it is important that we should all realise that the Church is not, as is sometimes the case in our own country, above or outside politics. It is deeply involved. If hon. Members wish, it is one of the parties to the debate. I make no complaint about that at all. It is not for us to define the role of the Church or what part it should play. We consider carefully any advice given to us by the Church, although I would echo the words of Lord Salisbury: While everyone must have the highest respect and admiration for the courage and selflessness of missionaries, I must say that I have never taken the view that the clergy at home or abroad are necessarily entirely reliable guides on matters of politics. All these things will be discussed shortly at the meeting of the Assembly, as the hon. Lady said, and more than one view is likely to be expressed.

The hon. Lady referred to Sir Gilbert Rennie as one of the elders of the Church, and we have three or four in the higher ranks of the Colonial Service. In the short time available to me, I will not go into the incidents she mentioned. They are matters which the Devlin Commission will be looking into.

Miss Herbison

It is true that the Devlin Commission is looking into them but, even at this late stage, would not the Colonial Secretary take a decision to put a moratorium on these fines, because that would be of some help?

Mr. Amery

I cannot agree with the hon. Lady. In the first place, we have reached the conclusion that this type of collective fine is best suited to the trouble and the system prevailing in the area, and, secondly, most of these fines have already been paid.

The hon. Lady concluded her speech with what I thought was a moving appeal that the Secretary of State should use the Church of Scotland in Nyasaland as an instrument to help in solving the problems of that country. I would reply to that appeal by saying that the Nyasaland Government believe that the Church of Scotland can help in a major way in our policy of promoting the all-round advancement of the African and the wellbeing and good government of Nyasaland. If the Church does that, its assistance and co-operation would be greatly welcomed.