HC Deb 03 December 1964 vol 703 cc755-6
Sir G. de Freitas (by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what representations he is making to the Prime Minister of Kenya concerning the 24 hours' notice of deportation served last night on Mr. Richard Beeston, a British citizen who has been living in Nairobi with his wife and three children.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Arthur Bottomley)

Our Acting High Commissioner in Nairobi has seen the responsible Kenya Minister on behalf of Mr. Beeston. He has drawn particular attention to the shortness of the notice given. The Kenya authorities have, however, informed the Acting High Commissioner that they cannot alter their decision.

Sir G. de Freitas

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on the only other occasion that a British journalist was ordered to leave at 24 hours' notice, after representations the Government concerned changed their mind and gave him longer time? Can the Secretary of State hold out any hope, in view of the hardship which 24 hours' notice gives to a man with a family out there that at least the period will be extended?

Mr. Bottomley

It is our hope that Governments, in exercising their rights of deportation, will always pay due regard to the personal circumstances in each case. As I have said, our Acting High Commissioner has already raised with the Kenya Government the short notice given to Mr. Beeston.

Mr. Amery

Would the right hon. Gentleman represent to the Kenya Government that when we consider the freedom, not to say licence, with which the Kenya Press comments on events in this country, the Kenya Government risk making themselves a bit ridiculous if they take such very drastic action against a correspondent of great repute known to many of us on both sides of the House?

Mr. Bottomley

It would not be right for me to speak for the Kenya Government. The British Government, as is well known, firmly support the principle of freedom of speech and of the Press.

Mr. Amery

Will the right hon. Gentleman represent this point to the Kenya Government through the Acting High Commissioner?

Mr. Bottomley

I do not propose to add to what I have said.

Mr. Hastings

Is not this the feeblest protest made by any Government for a long time? Will not the right hon. Gentleman at least give an assurance that on future occasions his Government will stick up for our citizens abroad, be they in the Commonwealth or elsewhere?

Mr. Bottomley

I have already said that our Acting High Commissioner has made representations to the Kenya Government.

Mr. Fisher

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why Mr. Beeston has been expelled from Kenya? If he does not know, will he inquire, because on the face of it there seems to be no good reason why this correspondent has been expelled.

Mr. Bottomley

As I have said on another occasion in the House, the question of deportation is one for the Government concerned, and we do not interfere.