HC Deb 23 February 1965 vol 707 cc205-8
2. Mr. Longden

asked the Minister of Overseas Development how many more European farms in Kenya have been resettled by African families since the end of June, 1964; what is the average amount of compensation per acre; and how many more farms now remain to be resettled under the Million Acre Scheme.

Mrs. Castle

About 60 European farms have been resettled under the Million Acre Scheme since 1st July, 1964. Purchase of farms under this scheme is on a willing buyer-willing seller basis and no compensation is involved; the average amount paid was about £9 per acre. About 50 farms remain to be bought out under the scheme.

Mr. Longden

I thank the right hon. Lady for that reply, but can she give us some further information about the remaining small mixed farms, about 1,200, 1 think, which were not included in the Million Acre Scheme, about the remaining compassionate cases, 160 of these, I think, and about the remaining Settlement Board farmers, about 200, I think?

Mrs. Castle

I am not quite sure what the hon. Gentleman is referring to in the first part of his supplementary question. There are about 100 small mixed farms involved in the O1 Kalou scheme, the application in respect of which was made only recently. I have already announced that we are prepared to make an appropriate sum available for the purchase of farms in future on a compassionate basis, but, as those cases will have to be considered on their merits, it is not possible yet to say how many will be involved.

Mr. Wall

Is it not a fact that although the Million Acre Scheme has a year or more to run, the money has actually been expended and there will be no more purchases after January of this year unless the right hon. Lady introduces the second phase of the scheme and finances it?

Mrs. Castle

It is not true that the total United Kingdom commitment of £16½ million for the Million Acre Scheme has all been spent. There remain to be purchased about 50 farms under that scheme. The future scheme to which the hon. Gentleman refers is, as he knows, still under consideration.

13. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Overseas Development when the commission on land resettlement will return from Kenya; and when its report is expected.

16. Mr. Fisher

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what has been the outcome of her review of the extension of the Million Acre Kenya Settlement Scheme.

Mrs. Castle

The mission is returning from Kenya at the end of this week. I will review the position in the light of its Report, which I expect to receive towards the end of April.

Mr. Wall

Will the right hon. Lady bear in mind the vital importance of speed in this matter? What is at stake is not only the European farming community in Kenya but the stability of the economy. Is the Report likely to be published?

Mrs. Castle

The answer to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is, no. This Report will be confidential. I am fully aware of the need for speed and I have urged the mission, which is returning at the end of this week, to let me have the Report as soon as possible, but I understand that it has collected so much information that it will take a little time to process it all. We would all wish it to give very careful consideration to all the evidence it has acquired.

Mr. Fisher

Would the right hon. Lady agree, in principle at any rate, that the original scheme initiated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) satisfied a need both of European farmers and landless Africans and that extension of it is now desirable, if she can do it and it is recommended in the Report? If she decides on an extension, are there enough officers, both European and African, available in Kenya to advance this aid effectively and to organise properly the settlement of Africans on the farms?

Mrs. Castle

I appreciate the valuable role played by the Million Acre Scheme, and it was because there was clearly a problem remaining that I decided to send out the mission. The detailed point to which the hon. Gentleman referred is one which, I hope, will be covered by the Report.

Mr. Turton

Is the right hon. Lady also aware that there are other problems, including that of a number of farms which are now abandoned and could be worked if done on a common ranching system with help either by the World dank or her Ministry? Will she add that to one of the solutions which, we hope, she will announce when the mission has reported?

Mrs. Castle

I would rather await the Report and see how far it covers the whole problem in Kenya before making any further commitment.