HC Deb 04 May 1967 vol 746 cc716-7
18. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Overseas Development if he will make a statement on the progress of the 400,000-acre resettlement scheme in Kenya.

Mr. Oram

As the reply is rather long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Wall

Is the Minister aware that the first valuations under this scheme have now been received and that, broadly speaking, they appear to be a minimum of 15 per cent. below the value expected on previous assessments? As the British taxpayer's money is involved, does the High Commissioner have a watching brief over the valuations arrived at by the Agricultural Development Corporation?

Mr. Oram

This is a complicated matter, not easily dealt with by Question and Answer. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the High Commission watches over this matter very carefully.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Bearing in mind the concern which used to be constantly expressed by hon. Members in regard to resettlement, does not the Minister agree that it has gone extremely well and that much of the tribute due should be paid to the Kenyan Government for making this possible?

Mr. Oram

Yes. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that things are proceeding very satisfactorily.

Following is the reply: As the hon. Member knows, this programme, which envisages the transfer of up to 100,000 acres a year for four years, is in three parts, i.e. land purchase by the Kenya Department of Settlement for low-density settlement; assistance to private purchasers through the Kenya Land Bank and the purchase of (or part-investment in) "transitional" farms by the Kenya Agricultural Development Corporation. Because of the urgent need to complete the purchase of land for settlement under the Million Acre Scheme, the Kenya Department of Settlement has not yet been able to make a start on the new programme of purchase for low-density settlement. The Land Bank, however, has allocated its share of the funds for the first year and it is expected that these will be fully utilised during the next two months. Under the Kenya Agricultural Development Corporation's programme of farm purchase enquiries of 46 potential vendors have produced 40 replies indicating a willingness to sell, subject to valuation. So far valuations have been completed and offers issued in 32 cases. Of these, 15, involving about 36,000 acres, have been accepted; eight have been refused or withdrawn while eight are still under negotiation or consideration by the vendors.