HC Deb 06 July 1961 vol 643 cc1619-20
Mr. F. Harris

I beg to present a Petition. Because of my known personal associations with Kenya, I have been requested by Kenya landowners, holding freehold or leasehold grants under the provisions of the Crown Lands Ordinance, 1915, to present to the House of Commons this Petition with over 3,800 signatures. Against each signature details are given of the property held. I understand that this is the first Petition which settlers of a British Colony have found it necessary to submit to the House of Commons.

The Petitioners state how they originally came into possession of their titles granted by the Governor of Kenya on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen and her predecessors. Many of the Petitioners were encouraged by the British Government to settle in Kenya under the Discharged Soldiers' Settlement Scheme at the termination of the 1914–18 war, and others emigrated to Kenya under the auspices of the European Agricultural Settlement Board established by the Kenya Government.

The Petitioners explain how they have spent considerable sums in developing their property and this has now resulted in a European agricultural investment alone in Kenya exceeding £70 million. This investment has been made in reli ance upon the continuing validity of titles granted by the Crown and the ability of Her Majesty's Government to maintain peace and good order in the Colony.

It is recognised that Kenya will eventually become an independent State under African majority rule. On numerous occasions African political leaders have been asked their intentions in recognising the validity of titles of land and property once independence has been granted, but as yet, regrettably, no satisfactory assurances have been given. Such lack of confidence arising has made European property virtually unsaleable and considerable hardship is being caused, including hardship to widows and old people who cannot dispose of their property. Furthermore, the present titles are no longer regarded as security by banks and other financial concerns. It is felt that such property may be confiscated by a future Government without any or adequate compensation, and all this has, unfortunately, meant the slowing down of agricultural development to the detriment of all peoples in Kenya, with a serious effect on Kenya's economy, which can unhappily be seen in increased unemployment affecting all races, particularly Africans.

This Petition has been beautifully prepared, and I hope that hon. Members will take the opportunity of seeing it at the Journal Office.

The Petition concludes with the Prayer that such proper and immediate steps are taken in the premises as will remedy the present lack of confidence in land titles which is causing untold harm to the economy of this Colony and Protectorate and to the welfare of its peoples and in particular

  1. (a) that it be acknowledged that responsibility for such titles rests with Her Majesty's Government;
  2. (b) that in pursuance of such responsibility immediate steps be taken to restore the confidence of title holders by firm and effective guarantees for compensation in the event of expropriation whether by sequestration or by circumstances which render the quiet enjoyment of such titles no longer possible;
  3. (c) that in the case of such title holders who wish to dispose of their assets urgent steps are taken to restore free negotiability in land so that such land may be acquired, utilised and developed in the interests of the general economy of the said Colony and Protectorate.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, etc.

To lie upon the Table.

Back to