HC Deb 30 November 1965 vol 721 cc1208-10
8. Mr. Frederic Harris

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether she will increase the present grant to the Government of Kenya for the purchase of small European mixed farms.

Mrs. Castle

No, Sir.

Mr. Harris

If, subsequently, political pressure in Kenya built up to cause the need to accelerate the acquisition of such farms, would the right hon. Lady be prepared in due time to reconsider the matter with her Government colleagues?

Mrs. Castle

The Question refers specifically to the grant. I should point out that the aid which I have just negotiated with the Kenya Government is in the form of interest-free loans. We estimate that the fact that the money is interest-free makes it equivalent to a grant of 50 per cent., as compared with the former grant of 33⅓ per cent. As for the future, I have undertaken to review the position at the end of the four years for which we have currently negotiated aid.

Mr. Fisher

I understand, of course, having tried, the difficulty of getting money from the Treasury and I appreciate the interest-free aspect, but would the Minister agree that, from the Kenya point of view, this is a somewhat disappointing settlement and that there could be real danger to race relations in Kenya if progress were too slow? Further, would the right hon. Lady bear in mind that a lot of this compensation money comes back to the United Kingdom in the end?

Mrs. Castle

It is a question of balancing the different needs of Kenya, and it would be quite wrong to devote all aid to the transfer of European farms when, as the hon. Gentleman says, the money comes back here. I want to see that the money is invested in Kenya in agricultural development—land consolidation and general development, as well as just in land transfer. That is what we had very much in mind in negotiating our recent agreement with the Kenya Government, which provides for the continuing transfer of the European mixed farms at a rate of 100,000 acres a year, which we are satisfied, in the light of the Stamp Commission's Report, is sufficient to contain any political unrest whilst leaving some money for other development.

21. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she will make a statement about the continuation of the scheme for purchasing small European mixed farms in Kenya and the continuation of the scheme for buying out compassionate cases.

Mrs. Castle

I have nothing to add to the Answer which my hon. Friend gave on 23rd November.

Mr. Wall

Is the right hon. Lady aware that her recent decision to cut by four-fifths the resettlement grant to Kenya will mean that it will take some 13 years for those who wish to sell their farms to do so? Is she also aware that the Kenya National Farmers' Union delegation has described this action as a complete betrayal and has said that it is not wholly surprised at Rhodesia's action, in view of the failure of Her Majesty's Government to act honestly towards her subjects in Kenya?

Mrs. Castle

Of course I am aware of the statement, but I think that the fears expressed have been exaggerated and I am confident that the reception of our proposals inside Kenya will be much better than the impression given by the hon. Gentleman.