HC Deb 30 July 1962 vol 664 cc32-4
Mr. G. M. Thomson

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to maintain the employment of 2,000 Kenya teachers who are threatened with dismissal on Wednesday due to lack of public funds to pay their salaries.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

I have asked the Governor for a report on thus matter.

Mr. Thomson

Will the Minister bear in mind the fact that this dismissal affects almost the entire teaching force in this area? Is he aware that there have been crop failures and floods in the area, and that these have led to financial difficulties? Will he intervene personally, in view of the importance of education in a territory like Kenya, to make sure that its financial difficulties are not solved by closing all the schools?

Mr. Sandys

I know as little about this matter as does the hon. Member. I understand that the decision in question was taken on Saturday night. I took the first possible opportunity to ask for a report from the Governor. I understand that the financial difficulty arises from the fact that, in the expectation of independence, the inhabitants are refusing to pay their rates.

Mr. Healey

As we are now approaching the Recess, will the Secretary of State recognise that many hon. Members on both sides of the House are seriously concerned about the administrative and economic future of Kenya, unless Her Majesty's Government give more help than they are now giving? Is it not the case that the Government have reduced development aid by £1 million, and that the assistance given to agricultural settlement is largely at the expense of development aid? Will not the right hon. Gentleman have a serious look at the question immediately so that he can assure the House, before the Recess, that something is being done by Her Majesty's Government to ease the situation?

Mr. Sandys

That is a much wider question, than you, Mr. Speaker, would have allowed as a Private Notice Question, but on the issue which has been raised I think that since we have entrusted to the Government of Kenya wide powers of internal self-government it would be a grave mistake to try to intervene in the matter before they have had a chance to grapple with the problem.

I doubt whether they have even received a report from the area concerned: the decision was taken only on Saturday night. We must leave them to try to sort out their own affairs in the first place. It is a responsible Government that we have created in Kenya. If the situation should be found to require some assistance or intervention by Her Majesty's Government, that is a matter to consider quite soberly and quietly, when we have seen what the Government of Kenya will do and what the local authority, whose primarily responsibility it is, will do.

I understand that another meeting is to take place and that no dismissals will take place for, at any rate, one month, according to Press reports.

Mr. Wall

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the present talks which he is having in London with Kenya Ministers cover all forms of economic aid, including education?

Mr. Sandys

The talks have not yet begun.

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