§ 22. Sir Richard Glyn
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many holdings have been bought by the Kenya Land Commission in each of the six months up to the last convenient date; how many acres, and at what average price per acre, have been acquired in each month; and if he will give separate figures for purchases from owners of non-European stock.
§ Mr. H. Fraser
The Kenya Land Development and Settlement Board, which I assume my hon. Friend has in mind, was not set up until January this year. Since then it has bought six holdings totalling 4,549 acres at an average price of £14.35 an acre. All these holdings were bought in March, and from European owners. The scheme is very much in its initial stages, and the first target is the purchase, sub-division and farm planning of 180,000 acres.
§ Sir R. Glyn
Whilst thanking my hon. Friend for that Answer, may I ask whether he can tell us how the Lands Board is being administered? Would he agree that it is in the best interests of Kenya that agricultural production should be maintained at a high level, which can generally be best done with largish farms with modern facilities?
§ Mr. Fraser
Yes. We are seeing that there is no diminution, owing to this reorganisation, of the actual output of these acres.
§ 24. Sir A. Hurd
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress is being made with the land settlement scheme in Kenya for which Her Majesty's Government have made available £3½ million in loans and grants in the period to the end of March, 1964; and if he is satisfied that the Settlement Board has adequate staff and finance to carry out its task.
§ Mr. H. Fraser
As regards the first part of my hon. Friend's Question, I would refer him to the reply I have just given the hon. Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn).
The £3½ million which Her Majesty's Government have agreed to make available to the Settlement Board is mainly for land purchase, and the Kenya Government are currently negotiating with the International Bank and the Colonial Development Corporation for loans for development. It is hoped that these negotiations will result in sufficient funds being available during the initial period for the schemes at present planned.
A nucleus of experienced agricultural and administrative staff has been seconded to the Board; the remaining staff have yet to be recruited, but this will be done as soon as the necessary finance is assured.
§ Sir A. Hurd
Will the Colonial Office give high priority to this project, particularly in view of the great importance today of getting more responsible Africans settled on the land as yeoman farmers, and also providing an active market in land for those who want to sell their present holdings? Will my hon. Friend look again at the matter of staffing? There seems some evidence that the 1120 Settlement Board is very short of land settlement staff, and could get on better if it had some more competent men.