HL Deb 27 June 1907 vol 177 cc8-30

rose to call attention to the state of affairs in British East Africa and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, before bringing the case of British East Africa to the notice of your Lordships House, may I ask for that indulgence which your Lordships are wont to extend to those who address your Lordships' House for the first time? There is one point on which I think that we interested in British East Africa will find ourselves in complete agreement with the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies. We wish the country to pay its way and not to be dependent on a grant-in-aid. I believe, my Lords, that this desirable end can be easily obtained, and more easily than the advisers of His Majesty's Government seem to think. At present the country is not making the progress which it should make, and I am very much afraid that it is in danger of reverting to the state from which it has so lately emerged. The reasons for this are not obscure. The community is in a state of intense dissatisfaction, which has shown itself in many ways; it is a disease eating into the country and showing its presence by various symptoms.

Several petitions concerning the present situation of the Colony have been presented both locally and at home. They comprise: first, the colonists petition to the Secretary of State: secondly, the petition to individual Members of Parliament of last year; thirdly, a petition presented to Colonel Sadler by many. business men of Nairobi praying that owing to the delays in obtaining his signature to deeds and documents that when on tour he would appoint someone who could execute them for him; fourthly, a petition requesting the removal of certain persons connected with what is known in East Africa as the Wehrner Case.

This last petition was one which your Lordships will doubtless consider extraordinary and needs some explanation, but it was the! result of a serious case which left feelings of doubt as to the competence of the local tribunals; and if the petition itself went too far, I venture to consider that it was perfectly legitimate to draw the attention of the Secretary of State to the matter in question.

A man named Wehrner was convicted of the murder of a native and sentenced to death. This sentence was commuted by the then Commissioner, the late Sir Donald Stewart, on representations made by the jury, to a life sentence. The local Court of Appeal upheld the conviction, but, on applying to the Privy Council for leave to appeal, the then Lord Chancellor, the noble and learned Lord Halsbury, in allowing the appeal, said it was not a case of ordering a new trial as, in their opinion, no trial had been held, and what the jury had said did not amount to a verdict of guilty. The conviction was quashed on appeal, and The Times, in a leading article, spoke of the original trial as having the appearance of a mockery, followed by a string of irregularities. Those strong comments caused this rather extraordinary petition to be presented to the authorities.

Now, my Lords, I will come to the question of the means available for the enforcement of law and order. At present there are two battalions of King's African Rifles, a body of native police, a few white police, and a volunteer force. To make this question as short as possible, I will simply say, my Lords, as far as the military force are concerned, that the battalion recruited in British Central Africa is, I believe, a first-rate force, but the East African Battalion is composed of men from various parts, and I think that the companies composed of local Masai and Kikuyu tribesmen might well be spared, and in this way some money saved to the Treasury, while by the exercise of a little tact the Volunteer force, now I fancy largely existing on paper, could be much increased and, if properly organised, be made a most efficient force.

The white police should be increased and the native police re-organised. The native police, my Lords, have the power of arresting a white man, and this power is strongly resented. It has, I grant, never to my knowledge been used, but— I speak under correction — in no self-governing Colony is this allowed, except possibly under most exceptional circumstances. In another place, a statement has been made that only general complaints have been received against the black police, but I surmise that these general complaints must have been more than occasional. In the local papers on 12th January this year was reported a strike of Kikuyu police in Nairobi when the troops were sent for and the strikers overawed. A more serious report appeared a fortnight later when two native police were said to be seen by two settlers robbing native women by force, and reported; the next day both these men appeared on duty and one of the Colonists who reported the case was assaulted the following night. It is this same tribe of Kikuyu who are locally said to be in a state of unrest, and I fear that, owing to letters received during the last few days, there is good reason to believe this report has some foundation.

I may add that on 2nd June the London Standard published a telegram that a child of six had been criminally assaulted during the absence of its mother. I believe the offender was arrested, but I do not know whether the noble Earl the Secretary of State has any information yet as to how this miscreant was dealt with. I can assure your Lordships that the inhabitants of the country, whether white or black, will have no guarantee of the proper enforcement of order until we have a sufficient force of mounted white police.

I come now, my Lords, to the Report of the Land Commission appointed late in 1904 by Sir Donald Stewart. This Report was presented in May, 1905, and was signed by a Member of your Lordships' House, Lord Delamere, two of His Majesty's Judges, and a prominent settler in the country. Eighteen sittings were held, and forty-four persons of all classes examined. I regret that this carefully prepared Report has not met with more response from the Government.

My Lords, may I, as briefly as I possibly can, sketch out the disabilities and difficulties under which British East Africa is groaning as regards this most important question? First, there are the great delays in granting land. I have heard more than one person say it is no use going to East Africa, you cannot get any land, and, although there is any quantity of vacant land, the occupation of which would bring prosperity to the country, this statement is almost true. I will quote a passage from the Report, referring to applications— At present an application is referred backwards and forwards from one Government Department to another. It gets pigeon-holed in one place and then, after being at considerable pains dug out, it is as often as not forwarded on to another office, there to suffer a like fate. This method of dealing with applications has caused great loss and irritation. Then, my Lords, I come to the all-important question of system of tenure, or rather lack of system of tenure, for system there is none. We have no security of tenure of any sort, and no freedom of transfer, and without these two things the country cannot go ahead. Transfer is only allowed with the per-mission of the Governor. May I quote again from the Report— But the mere fact that the power exists to deprive a man of his freehold cannot but have the effect of diminishing the value of his title, etc., and possibly preventing the land being put to the use to which it is best suited. Again, the rule as it exists at present, not only has the effect of preventing a person who is unable to develop his holding selling his interest therein to someone else who is able to develop it, but also prevents him from raising money on it by loan or mortgage and obtaining the capital which is necessary to enable him to turn his farm to account. The position of affairs at the present moment, if not relieved, can only have one. Dermination. A settler without sufficient means, though having an interest in a potentially valuable property into which he may have put his whole capital, will be ruined because the law prevents him either from developing or parting with it. This situation, my Lords, has not been relieved; it is more acute than ever.

The noble Earl, the Secretary of State, apparently does not seem to have grasped the Committee's suggestions with reference to removing the restrictions on the transfer of land. They ask that—

Title and tenure should be made as secure and the terms for settlers as easy as possible, having due regard to the observance by them of the general conditions and obligations for development." My Lords, in reply to this, Lord Elgin observes— The evils of allowing land in a new country to be transferred freely without any regard to the intention of the tranferee to utilise within a reasonable time the resources of the land are not confined to the period of depression which inevitably follows a time of inflated speculation, but have a wider scope. I cannot see that the Committee ever suggested that the Government should allow land to be transferred without an obligation on the new owner to utilise within a reasonable time its resources.

I think, my Lords, a sound view to take of land transfer is that Government is justified in imposing reasonable conditions for development when granted in the first instance. The simplest condition to impose is the expenditure of a certain sum of money on a certain area of land of a particular class. But there is no reason why this land should not be transferred at any time, provided the condition remained an obligation on the purchaser to spend either the full amount or the balance which remained unspent by the first owner.

The fear of the noble Earl that the East Africa Protectorate may follow in the footsteps of Australia is, in view of the prosperity of that country, rather a difficult one to understand. I fancy those interested in East Africa would rejoice at such a calamity. The fact that several of the Australian Governments— Have been driven to re-purchase at higher rates, with a view to closer settlement, lands which were originally alienated for insignificant sums "— rather points to the fact that the holders of these large areas must have provided the Governments, by their enterprise and speculation, directly or indirectly, with the means of re-purchasing alluded to. The operation of the present system in East Africa is most injurious, as, while it does not prevent the capitalist with money at his command from developing his property, it prevents the small industrious settler of limited means from raising further capital upon his land and the improvements he has already carried out upon it, as he can give no security which would be acceptable to any bank or business man.

The noble Earl has referred the Committee to the history of Australia. My Lords, I have followed the noble Earl's advice, and I venture to suggest that the Torrens Act is worthy of consideration by the Colonial Office. It appears to me that it would safeguard the Government and give those in East Africa what they chiefly ask for. May I quote one more paragraph from the Report— Many of the complaints which have been laid before them, and much of the irritation which has been felt in the past can be removed at once by a stroke of the pen; but, at the same time, the Committee believe that the interests of the country will best be served if a somewhat more liberal policy in connection with the land is adopted by the Government in the future. This, my Lords, does not mean granting more land or cheaper land to an individual. The cost of carrying out such recommendations as the Committee have suggested would not be small, but it must be remembered that, at the present moment, the whole development of the country is checked and the Government is daily losing revenue, both directly in rents, and indirectly in general revenue, owing, as the Committee believe, to the immediate want of action on the lines of these recommendations which they have felt it their duty to make. My Lords, I cannot leave this subject without a pissing reference to the railway management. Although the railway showed a considerable profit last year, I cannot help thinking that this profit should be very much increased. The complaints are numerous and almost universal, comprising high rates, delays in transit, insufficient passenger trains, unnecessary time taken by passenger trains, obsolete rolling stock, and staff consisting of too many Indians and too few Europeans in the lower grades. I do not wish to express an opinion on the justification or otherwise of these complaints, beyond saying that they are so general as to call for a thorough inquiry.

Now, my Lords, I come to the most serious statement yet made by the local Press regarding the welfare of the country. It was in reply to a letter from a man who wished to settle, asking for information, and was to the effect— That until the Administration cleans up its hearth, no white man should give this country a thought. My Lords, what an advertisement for East Africa. I fear I must, to a great extent, agree with that statement, except as regards capitalists and those who can afford to wait. I believe that very little would suffice to place British East Africa on such a footing as would permit the due development of her great natural, agricultural, and pastoral resources. I will venture to suggest to the noble Earl that an independent Commissioner or Commission should be appointed thoroughly to investigate the general affairs and state of the country for the purpose of suggesting a remedy for the better administration of the Colony.

I must apologise for having taken up so much of your Lordships' time, and I hope the noble Earl will be able to present your Lordships with Papers. I would especially ask if we might have the Report from the Commissioner of Lands, if such a Report is in existence, and possibly the noble Earl could let us have the Railway Estimates for 1907–8.

Moved, "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty for Papers relating to British East Africa."—(The Lord Hindlip.)


My Lords, I desire to support Lord Hindlip. I am very glad he has taken this subject up, and I am sure your Lordships will welcome the fact that he has spoken for the first time in this House, as he is one of those who have bought property in British East Africa, and therefore can speak as one who has been on the spot and knows from having seen how things are going on what are the actual facts of the case. I desire to speak really more of the state of the Land Laws. There are three documents available by which one can judge of what is going on in the East Africa Protectorate, and the wants and wishes of the Colonists. The first is the Report of the Land Committee appointed by the late Sir Donald Stewart, and published in 1905; the second is the despatch of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated 23rd March, 1906; and the third is the petition of the Colonists' Association of British East Africa presented to Parliament in July of last year. The Protectorate of British East Africa has not experienced a gold rush. If there had been a gold rush the country would have developed more quickly, and there would have been money available to pay for many of the officials, duties, and work necessary in a new country. The colonists and settlers are essentially agriculturists, and land and the cultivation of land is their means of livelihood. I must draw attention for one moment to the Land Committee to which Lord Hindlip alluded. The Report is unanimous, and a fact to be remembered is that there were two Judges of the country on the Committee. The Report avoids all reference to the past and causes which have led to the existing state of affairs in the land office, and the consequent check on the general development of the country. The Committee deal rather with what they think will remedy the existing state of affairs. What is the existing state of affairs of which this Committee complain? On page 2 of their Report they say— Strict covenants are inserted in leases, and assignments or transfer of interest is only allowed with the permission of the Commissioner. The Report also says— Many leases have been granted for short terms and in townships with the most stringent building clauses attached; and at the end of the term it is required that all buildings put up shall become the property of the Government. Property qualifications have been required for persons desirous of taking up land. In cases of breach of covenant of a lease the land is liable to forfeiture to the Government, without any compensation whatsoever for any permanent improvement which may have been made to it. If the Protectorate is to be considered as one vast estate with the Government acting as a private landlord it is doubtful whether it is best for the development of the country. There is no representative Government as yet in the country, and it is open to question if the present state of affairs, namely, the Government as a private landlord and a settler as his tenant, tends to develop a new country in any way or to help the work of settlement. The Report goes on to say that the existing system is largely due to a desire on the part of the Government to check speculation. Over-speculation in land we all know is bad for any new country. We have experience of that in its grossest state in the United States of America. But the Report says— These evils are outweighed by the fact that an impetus is given to genuine business and capital is attracted where the greatest possible security is given to title and the greatest possible freedom to transfer of interests in land. Let me now state what the regulation is that the Land Committee complain of and their recommendation on the subject. By Article 9 of the Crown Lands Ordinance of 1902 if a man buys land and does not occupy it for twelve months, the Land Commissioner gives notice that if he does not appear within six months and show he is going to develop the land it is forfeited to the Government, that is to say, the Commissioner. If a man pays down money for land he would naturally not let his money lie idle. But if after spending money on experiments in crops and buildings he finds that he is unable to work the land to his satisfaction, and he naturally wishes to part with it to the highest bidder, under the Article I have mentioned it is open for the Government to step in and take the land from him without either returning him the original purchase price or giving him compensation for any permanent improvements he has made. It is not to be supposed that the Government would do this lightly and insist on the strict letter of the law. But the fact remains that the power exists to deprive a man of his freehold, and that must diminish the value of his title. We can all understand that this very strict Article of the Crown Lands Ordidance is to prevent the locking up of large areas of land.

Let us see what the Committee recommend on this point. They are very clear about it, and they recommend that the area of land should be limited, that leases should be granted instead of inserting covenants in a freehold which the purchaser is liable to be deprived of. That seems perfectly reasonable and fair.

Then one word with regard to the small settlers. The Report says that the area of homesteads should not be so large, and instead of a settler acquiring a right to 640 acres mostly by pre-emption he should be given 320 acres outright with no right of pre-emption. If a man takes up a small quantity of land and has a right of pre-emption for a large quantity, he very often finds that he cannot deal with the large quantity properly, but if he is given a small quantity outright he knows what future is before him, and he is not likely to spend his money or his capital in useless development.

With regard to the land and survey offices they are working as a combined department, with a very inadequate staff, the result being unsatisfactory. Instances occur again and again in the course of the evidence of persons who have applied for land and have received favourable answers to their applications, waiting for months and months in the country and spending their time and capital doing nothing and finding themselves at the end of that period apparently no nearer to obtaining their object than at the date when they first applied. The Committee recommend that there should be a permanent Land Board, and this I think is the most practicable and sensible suggestion in the Report. They recommend that the Commissioner for Land should be Chairman of the Board, that the second member should be the Commissioner for Agriculture and Forests, and the third the Commissioner for Native Affairs, these three to form the permanent ex officio members, having power to add to their number two or more assessors of local experience appointed with the approval of His Majesty's Commissioner. There you have a permanent Board, and His Majesty's Commissioner, who practically has the right of vetoing any other appointments, would see that the co-opted members were proper, sound people who understood their business.

Then with regard to the survey. The duties of the Director of Survey should be kept absolutely and entirely distinct from those of the Land Board. That is the recommendation of the Committee. Further, the Report goes on to say that the present system of survey is practically valueless and leads to delay and muddle. Of course, the ideal plan would be a trigonometrical survey of the whole country. But there is no necessity for going to that enormous expense at once, there being no reason why a proper survey should not be made in the districts where it is most required, and when that proper survey is made even in those parts, as Lord Hindlip has suggested, and as is suggested in the Report, there is no reason why the Torrens Act should not be applied. I do not think I need tell your Lordships what the Torrens Act is. Your Lordships are doubtless aware how simple the obtaining of a certificate is with all the details of mortgage and encumbrances of the property marked upon it. On the whole, I consider that the recommendations of the Committee are sensible and moderate.

But the Answer of the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies claims one's attention. The noble Earl recognises the care and ability shown in the compilation of the Report, and agrees that a survey should be taken in hand at once. Estimates, I believe, are provided in the year 1907 for carrying out the same. May I ask the noble Earl what has been done? I am aware that an officer has been appointed to carry out this survey, and I hope with sufficient staff. The noble Earl states in Paragraph III. in his despatch— I have decided to take no further action in regard to those proposals"— that is the Land Committee's proposals— pending the report of the officer whom it is proposed to appoint under the title of Commissioner for Lands. That officer has been appointed and has been out nine or ten months, and the Protectorate is anxiously waiting for his Report. One would think that an interim Report might have been furnished by now. In Paragraph 4 of the despatch the Secretary of State says— While regretting the delay in dealing with these questions, I trust the material addition to the staff of the Survey Department and the appointment of an Assistant Crown Advocate will enable the existing system of land settlement to be worked at once with better results. I must draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that the whole of the Land Committee's Report points out that there is no system at all, and that delays and loss of money to intending settlers is the result of the present state of affairs. In another paragraph of his despatch the noble Earl says— On page 3 they (the Committee) write, 'All restrictions on transfer and forfeitures without compensation should be abolished as far as possible. Title and tenure should be made as secure and the terms for settlers as easy as possible' "— that is in the Report, but now we come to the saving clause— having due regard to the observance by them of the general conditions and obligations for development. On this particular paragraph the noble Earl delivers a lecture upon the evils of over-speculation in Australia. But I cannot find that the Land Committee say anything in favour of speculation; in fact, they rather deprecate there being anything that would lead up to it, and they have suggested certain safeguards. The Secretary of State says— I shall be unable to assent to any legislation which facilitates the holding of land in large areas for speculative purposes, either by permitting large grants of land without adequate securities for its development, or by permitting the holders of smaller areas to part with their holdings without imposing on the transferee a similar liability to make use of the land. As I said before, I cannot find anything in the Report of the Land Committee that warrants the suggestion of the noble Earl. In fact, I say that the Land Committee's Report and its recommendations have been damned with the faintest of faint praise, and that many months after it was issued.

I must allude for one moment to the petition of the Colonists' Association of British East Africa. I will only refer to what they say about the and laws, but they deal with many other subjects. On page 5 of the petition they say that— The imperfections of the land and transfer. laws arc serious, retarding settlement and impeding the progress of the country, and after one year's delay on the part of the Colonial Office it is a serious injustice to this Protectorate that reforms in the land laws should be retarded still longer. That petition was presented to the House of Commons in July last. The Colonists' Associations speak of the magnificent possibilities offered by British East Africa for white agricultural and pastoral settlement.

I have no doubt that my speech will be marked as a doleful complaint. I cannot help it being a complaint, as the documents are not very cheerful reading. But there is a gleam of comfort in the "Colonial Reports (Annual). East Africa 1 rotectorate" for 1905–6. On page 61 we read— It has been the constant aim of the Government to remove these disabilities —that is to say the disabilities which the settlers have suffered from certain provisions of the land laws which do not meet with their general approval— where they were found to exist, and though it has not been possible in so new a country as East Africa to concede all that the more advanced views of the Colonists would seem to demand, there can be no question that a great deal has been and is being done in the direction indicated. But these disabilities have not been entirely removed; I do not suppose they can be, but the Colonists complain that they have not been removed sufficiently. As that Report is for 1905–6 and was issued to both Houses in March, 1907,. I hope the noble Earl will tell us what is being done up to the present time, as, most of the recommendations of the Land Committee Report having been set aside, the settlers in this Protectorate seem to be in much the same circumstances as they were before any Report was made, any petition presented, or any despatch written.


My Lords, I rather gather from the remarks of the noble Lords who have spoken that they were not aware that last year we agreed that a Legislative Council should be appointed for British East Africa. That Legislative Council has been appointed, and therefore the Protectorate of East Africa has now become the Colony of East Africa under a Governor in the ordinary form. The Protectorate of East Africa was until about two years ago under the administration of the Foreign Office. The administration was assumed in 1895, I think, and continued under the Foreign Office until 1905, but it is since 1905 that the Office which I have the honour to represent has been responsible for its administration. I, therefore, speak only with regard to that limited period, but-even taking the history of the seven years, I think your Lordships will readily agree that in a country like this, of such vast extent, almost entirely unsurveyed, and with what I think the noble Lord rather put in the background, a very large-native population, there are considerable questions which have to be faced, and considerable caution has to be exercised in making the arrangements under which the government of the country is carried on, particularly in the question of land.

The noble Lord who spoke first I quite admit showed me great courtesy, because he came to me last year to consult or to confer with me with regard to some of the difficulties which he has now mentioned and at my request he deferred bringing the matter forward in this House on that occasion. But the noble Lord has now made several criticisms—I will not put it more severely than that—of the administration which is now going on. I cannot agree that the administration is so defective as the noble Lord has represented to the House. I believe that looking to the necessarily limited staff, especially for so large an area of country, the administration has been effectively, and I am sure honestly carried on, and I rather deprecate the bringing forward of some of the cases which the noble Lord has mentioned to-night without at any rate giving me some notice in order that I might at once deal distinctly with the propositions which he has made regarding them. He mentioned a case which I understood him to say had attracted some attention, but in regard to which I am entirely unable to give an answer offhand. All I can say in regard to it is that, if he desires to pursue the matter further, if he will give me the particulars, I shall be quite prepared to deal with it.

The noble Lord seemed to think that the only thing to be done, or the chief thing to be done, was to introduce a white police, and to carry on the administration of the government of the country more by the agency of white men than of the black men who are now employed both in the King's African Rifles and the police. There is one great obstacle to our accepting the advice of the noble Lord, and that is that the expense would be absolutely prohibitive. It would be perfectly impossible to employ any considerable number of white mounted police in East Africa except at a cost which would very seriously increase the already considerable grant-in-aid which the taxpayers of this country have to pay. Besides that, it is the opinion of our officers on the spot that for many purposes the white man is not so effective as the black man, in consequence of the difficulties of climate.

I acknowledge that the greater part of this discussion turns upon the subject which the noble Earl who spoke last dwelt upon exclusively, namely, the land question. I think noble Lords have not given me quite the position which I should like to take up as regards the Land Committee's report. I do not think I rejected the Land Committee's Report; in fact, I think I shall be able to show that I did not do so. But I did criticise it from one particular point of view, as to whether it is expedient in the interest of the country that land should be held in large areas by single individuals or combinations of individuals, and whether there is to be free transfer in regard to those areas. I called attention to the analogy and the example of the Australian Colonies. I think it was rather an ingenious argument of the noble Lord that if the Governments of the Australian Colonies have found it necessary since that time to re-purchase lands which they had allowed to pass out of their control in this manner, that is an evidence of the prosperity of the country, and, therefore, of the satisfactory nature of the policy which they adopted at the time. But I do not quite see that that is an argument which will hold water. After all, the Governments of the Australian Colonies were in possession of the land originally, and that they should have to re-purchase the land in order that they may again distribute it in a manner more desirable in the interests of their country seems to me to prove that the first and original distribution was not on correct lines. I admit that this question of the transfer of land is one which has been debated. I could, if necessary, give examples of the difficulty arising not only in Australia, but also in Canada, where I believe the development of Ontario was impeded by the great grants of land there, and also some difficulty has arisen in Natal from the manner in which land was held. All I have done in this despatch is to say that we cannot agree to the holding of land for speculative purposes. That is the distinct position which I put forward. I may be allowed to quote it. On the general tenor of this Report I would observe that while I am as anxious as the Committee can be to encourage the settlement and development of the Protectorate by persons either of large or small capital, I consider the evils of unrestricted speculation in land much more serious than the Committee appear to regard them as being. Therefore I proceeded later in the despatch to say— With these examples before me I fear in the interests of the future prosperity of the Protectorate I shall be unable to assent to any legislation which facilitates the holding of land in large areas for speculative purposes.


The Committee have never recommended that.


No. I am obliged to the noble Earl for reminding me of that point. The Committee, no doubt, did not recommend it, but they did say they were in favour of the free transfer of land. Of course, this is a debateable point. They take one view of the effect of allowing free transfer of land, and I venture to take the other.

Then as to the practical part of the Committee's Report, I have not, as I think I shall be able to show, been unreasonably obstructive. The only reasons for postponing decisions on the practical matter raised in the Committee's Report was not this particular dictum, but the condition of the administration of the Protectorate itself. I pointed out that I considered it was necessary to appoint a Land Commissioner, and that I should wish to have the Land Commissioner's Report in order that I might deal with the Committee's Report itself. I think that was a reasonable and prudent course of action, and it is the one I have pursued. In May, 1906, I was fortunate enough to secure the services of a gentleman whom I had known myself in India as a distinguished Civil servant, Colonel Montgomery. He had held a high position in the Punjab Civil Service, and was willing to assume this post in the East Africa Protectorate. Colonel Montgomery was, therefore, appointed Land Commissioner, and he has been in the Protectorate. I am glad to inform the noble Earl that I have Received his Report—not an interim report—which I shall be perfectly willing to lay on the Table. I have not only received his Report, but I have answered it, and in that despatch I have dealt with a good many of the points raised by the Land Committee and commented on by the noble Lords who have spoken. In the result we have directed that a new Ordinance should be drafted for our consideration dealing with the whole of the land question. I will not go into details, since it is for the local Government to draft the details and submit them to us. I might mention that we have approved, and do approve of the appointment of a Land Board on which there shall be representatives of the settlers. I hope the noble Lord will therefore see that in the question of the administration of the land in this territory we have really no object in view in the Colonial Office except that it should be administered on lines which are just, not only to those who go out and are willing to invest their money in land in that country, but also to the country as a whole, because as I have already remarked, this is not a country only of the white man. In one of these petitions there is an assertion that it is a white man's country. I cannot imagine a statement that has so little foundation. We have not an actual census, but the population is estimated at 4,000,000. Of these, about 25,000 are Asiatics, principally from India, and 2,000 are white men. I think your Lordships will agree that for the administration of territory inhabited in that manner we, and now the local Government under us, have responsibilities towards the natives which we cannot possibly forget.

The noble Earl asked me to say what we really had done. As far as the Colonial Office is concerned, we have been in charge of the administration for about two years. I have before me a summary of the subjects we have had to deal with in the course of that time. In the first place, we have had to undertake the definition of various boundaries, especially the boundaries of German East Africa and Abyssinia, and in the second place we have had to consider the staff and provide for the increase in the staff so far as our funds would admit, especially for dealing with the questions arising in connection with settlers—first of all the Commissioner of Lands of whom I have spoken, and we have also made additions to the survey. I am afraid I cannot give the actual additions, but I can supply them if the noble Lord wishes to have them. The survey is now a distinct Department under an able officer, Captain Smith, and as the proper survey of this country is one of the most important elements on which we can proceed to allocate land, we shall certainly do everything in our power to expedite their proceedings. The next head, I think, is the law, of which I have already spoken. We have considered representations of the settlers, and the local Government is engaged in drafting amending ordinances on that subject. In agriculture we have appointed a gentleman who was Assistant Director of Agriculture in the Transvaal to report on the whole subject. That Report we are still awaiting, but in the meantime he is assisting the Department and the Department is assisting him.

Then I come to a matter which interests some noble Lords, and that is the question of forests. We have in this dominion extremely valuable forests from two points of view. They have large intrinsic value of their own, if and when they can be properly developed, but they are also of immense value with regard to the water supply of the country. Any action taken by the Government to deal with these forests in a way to bring about their destruction might be absolute ruin to many, if not all, of the interests of this great dominion. I do not hesitate to say that it is incumbent upon us to be extremely careful in any step we take for the effective working of these forests.


Could the noble Earl tell the House, since he is discussing the question of forests, whether the Government have assessed the approximate value of these forests, and whether it is true the Government have already granted concessions to certain firms to work them?


I have had an estimate given me in a Report.


Could you give it?


I think I should prefer not to give the actual estimate, but it was a very large sum indeed. We have not arranged any concessions yet, and that is the reason I was making a caveat with regard to the matter just now. Perhaps I ought not to be so precise as that. There had been concessions of forests granted before I assumed office, but we have not in regard to a special forest which no doubt the noble Duke has in mind granted any concessions as yet. We have called in the aid of an expert, Mr. Hutchings, who has been the head of the same department in Cape Colony for some years, and he has made reports on certain of these forests, and we have now appointed him chief conservator for the Colony. I have no doubt that under his direction we shall be able to meet the views of those who wish to work the forests, and yet to keep them, as is absolutely essential. We have also endeavoured through the assistance of a gentleman from the Geological Survey to investigate further water supplies, which are very necessary in certain parts of the country. I am afraid that so far we have not got much more than negative results, but even so, that prevents expenditure which might otherwise be incurred through ignorance of the circumstances. Again, in Nairobi, we have considered a scheme for the improvement of the sanitation, and though that scheme in its complete form is a very large and costly one—one that we cannot face all at once—we have in the present Estimates provided a sum for an instalment of the work that is so necessary for this place, where there is a certain European population.

Noble Lords asked me about the railway. The Uganda railway is a subject which has attracted a good deal of attention from time to time. On this occasion I think I can mention it, in one direction at any rate, from a satisfactory point of view. I can give the receipts for the last three years. In 1904–5 the net receipts were £2,639; in 1905–6 they were £55,676, and in 1906–7 they were £76,150. I think if there were any railway directors in the House those figures might make their mouths water in some respects. Then I should like to notice that we do not overcharge our customers, as I find that the rates imposed on most grains and seeds average about a ½d. per ton mile. I should also say that in order to develop this traffic still further, additions have been made and further additions are contemplated to the steamers and wharves on the lake from which a great deal of the traffic comes.

Then, one word as regards the natives. In the course of these years we have settled one large tribe, the Masai, on a reserve, and that is of great importance because it opened up a valley called the Rift Valley, which is suitable for the occupation of white men, to that form of occupation. We have had disturbances in the Nandi country, but those have been got over, though I am sorry to say they involved an expedition. But the people are settling down, and they are now paying hut tax regularly and without demur. We have inserted in these Estimates for the first time some grants for education through the missionary societies, who have done good work in that direction, and we have arranged that a Secretary for Native Affairs should be appointed.

With regard to the position of white men, there is this to be borne in mind. In 1906 an ordinance was passed, which provided for trial by jury for Europeans in certain cases, and an additional Judge was appointed to prevent delay in the proceedings. With regard to the police affairs, we have had some reorganisation. We have appointed new officers, and we have defined the duties of the police under a new police ordinance. We have also provided for a small white police force. It is impossible to have a large force, but so far as it was possible to go we have not disregarded that wish which was expressed by the settlers.

Now there is one other thing I have to say in regard to the position of this country, which is not perhaps quite so satisfactory. We are still dependent on a grant in aid. As in the case of the railway, so in regard to the general revenue there is a satisfactory increase. In 1905–6 the receipts were £270,000, and in 1907–8 our Estimate is £557,000; but, on the other hand, our expenditure has increased from £418,000 to £803,000, which means that there is still a charge for a grant in aid on the taxpayers of this country of £150,000, in addition to the sums which we have to provide for the interest and sinking fund of the Uganda railway. The position I would like to put before your Lordships is this. This is a country which is still in the earlier processes of development. When that is the case we cannot expect to move so rapidly or so surely as we can in later stages; but I think what I have laid before your Lordships—and I have done it as freely and as frankly as I could— will show that we are moving, that we have great hopes—I would almost say great expectations—that as this moves on we shall endeavour to meet the wishes which have been expressed by the noble Lords who have brought this matter before the House. But I wish to insist once more that in our administration of this country we cannot look only to those who, no doubt greatly for the benefit of the country, have gone from Europe and settled, and taken possession of lands which they can make the best use of, but we must bear in mind and exercise the greatest caution in order not to over look the interests of the great populations which the course of events has entrusted to our keeping.


We all listened with interest and pleasure to the statement made by the noble Lord who introduced this subject to that House. He speaks with authority upon this question, for he is himself a pioneer and is probably the only Member of this House who can speak on these matters with knowledge derived form personal experience on the spot. Therefore, we listen with attention to whatever he has to say on the subject. I do not think the noble Lord has any reason to be dissatisfied with the statement which he has elicited from the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The noble Lord naturally expresses what may be termed the local view of those who have settled in this part of the British Empire. But there is another point of view which we cannot leave out of sight— that which I suppose will be described as the Downing Street point of view. Although hard things are very often said about those who hold the Downing Street point of view it is none the less necessary that that view should be held by some people, because while these undeveloped regions are under our management and control we must regard ourselves as trustees, with very responsible duties in regard to them. In this case we are dealing with a region of great extent, with large undeveloped resources, which have had necessarily to be administered by a very small staff. The Secretary of State has not spoken at all too strongly of the obligations under which we are to do nothing in regard to this particular Colony without bearing fully in mind the interest of the great native population already there. We owe that to the native tribes; it would be a grievous hardship on them if we allowed them to be crushed out of existence before the influx of European settlers. And we owe it to ourselves, because if these races, some of which are very warlike, are treated with insufficient consideration, you may depend upon it the settlers themselves will suffer for it in the end. I therefore fully admit that in dealing with the land question as it presents itself in British East Africa we must proceed with the utmost caution. That I think is the explanation of those particular provisions in the Land Ordinance to which the noble Lord referred as bearing hardly on the settlers. If we were dealing with the tenure of land in a settled country, it would be different. But these are reservations made with reference to the transition period during which the Colony is being opened up to settlement. Therefore while, on the one hand, it is most desirable that we should spare no pains to draw settlers to the country and make the terms offered to them as attractive as possible, on the other hand I believe the noble Earl to be right in holding that we must be careful how we alienate permanently large areas of good land, or even of country covered by forests, in our endeavour to obtain the introduction of a European population.

The noble Earl is, I think, right to set his face against what he has spoken of as unrestricted speculation in land. Nothing can be more unfortunate than that a comparatively virgin territory should be handed over to become the sport of such speculation. This particular Colony is now opening a new chapter; it has passed from the Foreign Office to the Colonial Office, and it now becomes a Crown Colony with a legislative council of its own. I was glad to hear from the noble Earl that he has been able to secure the services of an eminent Indian official to take charge of the most important question of land survey.


He is the Land Commissioner.


I think the noble Earl is entitled to say that he desired to await the full informa- tion which he will receive from that source before he committed himself upon some of the points to which the noble Lord behind me has drawn attention.


I said that that was the reason why a request for delay appeared in my first despatch, but I have since received a Report, which I have answered and am prepared to lay on the Table.


I am glad to be corrected by the noble Earl. There is, I understand, to be a Land Board with representatives of the settlers upon it. I think, therefore, the noble Lord behind me may take it that the representations which he has made to-night, and which have been made by those who are acting with him, are sure to receive the full attention to which they are entitled.

I will only say one word more to express the satisfaction with which I heard the noble Earl's reference to the Uganda Railway. That undertaking has been a frequent subject of debate in and out of this House. Many hard things have been said about it. It was in the first instance a political railway, and we do not always expect political railways to pay. It was constructed with extraordinary rapidity, and in the face of great difficulties, with very insufficient surveys. All the dice, so to speak, were loaded against it, and I am glad to know that in spite of that it is prospering and I believe it has a great future before it.


May I thank the noble Earl for promising to present to the House the Report of the Land Committee? I would also associate myself with the noble Marquess in saying that I have no reason to be dissatisfied with the reply of the noble Earl. We in East Africa do not at all wish to disturb the natives; on the contrary, we look upon the natives as a most necessary adjunct to the development of the country; we cannot develop the land without their help.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.