HC Deb 30 June 1960 vol 625 cc1546-7
28. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the present minimum adult monthly wage in the rural areas of Kenya; and what are the average wages in the rural areas generally and in the rural areas surrounding Nairobi, respectively.

Mr. Iain Macleod

At present, there is no statutory minimum wage except in Nairobi and other major towns. But discussions on the question of rural wages have been taking place for some time between the Kenya Government and the employers and workers, and the Minister for Labour will shortly put proposals for minimum wage regulations in rural areas to his Advisory Board.

The average monthly wage for employment of all kinds in all rural areas is 99s., and in rural areas surrounding Nairobi 116s., but average agricultural wages are lower than this.

Mr. Swingler

Is not this a matter of real urgency? Has the right hon. Gentleman seen reports that there are jobs available in the rural areas around Nairobi but the wages are so low that it is impossible for workers to support themselves? When his own Labour Commissioner in Nairobi says that 180s. a month is the minimum that should be maintained to support a man and his wife, is it not deplorable that wages of 99s., about half that amount, are being paid?

Mr. Macleod

I do not think that we should attack the problem this way round. The Minister of Labour is putting proposals to his Advisory Board. I will remind the hon. Gentleman—I dare say he knows—that the Minister for Labour is an African, Mr. Ngala, who has an immensely important portfolio and who was, indeed, chairman of the African Elected Members Association at the Lancaster House Conference here. It is enormously important for us not to suggest that he is not doing or cannot do his job. I am quite content to leave the matter to the Kenya Government and in his hands, with his Advisory Board.

Dr. Stross

But does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the cost of food in Nairobi itself is probably higher than it is here, and this aggravates the problem for men who attempt, quite naturally, to find enough food and shelter for their families?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, it does, but this Question is not concerned only with Nairobi but with all the other areas. I dealt with the Nairobi problem a week ago.