HC Deb 30 April 1963 vol 676 cc882-4
10. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what arrangements have now been, or are being, made to assist the resettlement in the United Kingdom or other parts of the Commonwealth of British citizens compelled by changed circumstances to leave Kenya.

16. Sir A. Hurd

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has now received from the Governor of Kenya a roll of the elderly people and hardship cases in the European community who need to be assisted to leave Kenya and establish themselves elsewhere; and what action he is taking to help them.

Mr. Fisher

I have received an estimate of the number of the elderly people and hardship cases who, in the Governor's view, need to be assisted to leave Kenya. This matter is being considered in consultation with other Government Departments and voluntary organisations, and I hope that it will be possible to make a statement before long.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Do the Government accept a general obligation to our fellow countrymen in Kenya, many of whom were induced to settle there by the Government?

Mr. Fisher

I do not know about a general obligation; we are considering a particular category of elderly people and hardship cases. It is that category that we are looking into, and to which I have referred, and we shall certainly try to deal with them.

Sir A. Hurd

Can my hon. Friend say how many individuals are concerned, and whether it is a fact that the Republic of South Africa is offering these people free transport and resettlement costs if they will settle in the Republic? Is it not primarily our duty to see that British citizens have the chance to return here, rather than go to a country outside the Commonwealth?

Mr. Fisher

I have heard of the South African initiative in this matter. It would apply only to those who wanted to go there. Other people can come back here and be treated, if they come here, exactly as other United Kingdom citizens are treated. As to the numbers, I think that about a hundred would probably be a fair estimate.

Mr. Bottomley

Whilst it is acknowledged that we have an obligation to help those British citizens who helped to build up Kenya, may I express the hope that the Under-Secretary will not help those who left this country to dodge their obligations?

Mr. Wade

Does the Under-Secretary agree that this is not merely a question of assisting these people who wish to do so to come to this country but of providing advice and financial assistance when they arrive here? Can he say what will be done in that respect?

Mr. Fisher

We shall certainly help in any way we can, and we are calling in the voluntary organisations to assist us. I think that what hon. Members have in mind is that we should have some sort of resettlement plan here for these categories of people when they return, and that, in effect, is really what we are doing. We have now assessed the size of the problem, and we are trying to work out details of the best way to deal with it.

Mr. F. Harris

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that, with every possible respect, there seems to be a feeling that there is far too much hedging by the British Government on these issues—something felt strongly not only in Kenya but here? Would not my hon. Friend be much more forthright in telling us exactly what the Government intend to do, particularly for these compassionate cases?

Mr. Fisher

I do not think that I can be more categoric at this stage. It is a very difficult matter, which requires detailed and careful consideration. It also entails providing money from the pocket of the British taxpayer, and I think that I should be given a little more time—as we have only now got the assessment of the size of the problem—to work out a way to deal with it.

Mr. Turton

My hon. Friend says that there are about a hundred such cases, but is he aware that in Kenya there are far more than that—indeed, many hundreds? Will he look again at the size of the problem, which appears to many to be far bigger than he has said?

Mr. Fisher

There may be some confusion as to the precise category about which we are talking. There are four different categories of people in Kenya, and I am referring only to one particular category—the security risk farm cases. But, of course, there are security risk residential and smallholding cases, people who are destitute and cannot afford to meet the cost of their passages home, and others of that type. I do not want my right hon. Friend to think that the cases to which I have been referring are the only ones. We realise that they are not.

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