HL Deb 17 February 1927 vol 66 cc133-56

LORD ARNOLD rose to call attention to the demand made by Lord Delamere and others for an elected European majority over all Parties in the Legislative Council of Kenya Colony and Protectorate; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is now nearly two years since the last debate took place in this House upon Kenya Colony. Since that time affairs in the Colony have, on the whole, been quiescent, and in particular it is a source of satisfaction that what I may call the Indian problem has not of late been the cause of any special anxiety. It is, therefore, I hold, all the more to be regretted that in recent months a demand should have been put forward by Lord Delamere, and others, for an elected European majority in the Legislative Council of Kenya. I need scarcely say that this change, if it were made, would be one of the highest constitutional importance. It would practically amount to handing over the control of the Colony to the white population.

A manifesto urging this proposal for an elected majority was reported in The Times on December 29 last, and also I have a report of a speech of Lord Delamere made recently in the same sense at Nakuru. It may be said that what is asked for falls short of responsible self-government, for although there may be an elected European majority in the Legislative Council yet that majority cannot necessarily carry its measures, because the Colonial Office here at home would have the power of disallowance. AS your Lordships are aware, that power enables the Secretary of State in London to veto measures of which he docs not approve, even although in a Colony like Kenya those measures may have been passed by a majority of the Legislative Council. Nevertheless, I do not think that the practice of constant disallowance could be continued for an indefinite period, and I am sure that if there were an elected European majority in Kenya measures would be passed which would frequently call for disallowance.

It is true that without an elected European majority disallowance in the past has been by no means unknown in Kenya, as I will show in the course of my remarks, but there is no doubt that given an elected majority in the Colony the need for disallowance would arise much more often, and disallowance would, in future, have to be by what is, in effect, direct veto. I submit, indeed, that a position would be created which would lead to the grant of responsible self-government for Kenya. In short this grant of an elected majority would be going much more than half-way towards self-government. Of course, Lord Delamere knows that perfectly well, as will be seen from the passage which I will read from the speech which he delivered at Nakuru. I will quote from the report of his speech:— As to possible criticisms of Kenya's demands for representative government, Lord Delamere stated that Southern Rhodesia was promised an elected majority when the Census showed that the white population was 14,000. He also anticipated deadlocks between the exercise of financial control by the Legislature and the Colonial Office, but declared that such deadlocks were a necessary corollary to the interim period before complete self-government. While expecting in the first instance the control of native policy to be exercised by the High Commissioner and on behalf of the Colonial Office, Lord Delamere urged that nothing be done now which would prevent Kenya in future having full control of all its subjects. I shall have occasion to refer to this passage in a few moments. Meanwhile I will only remark that the prospect indicated by the words about deadlocks is not encouraging.

Happily, the historic White Paper of 1923, which laid down the policy of the Conservative Government of that year, that is, Mr. Baldwin's first Government, rejected in most deliberate and emphatic terms the idea of granting any form of self-government to Kenya within any period of time which need be taken into consideration. In view of this pronouncement there ought to be no question of the demand made by Lord Delamere being acceded to or encouraged. I should like, if I may, to read to your Lordships a few words showing how clearly and unmistakably the position was laid down in 1923, not only in regard to self-government but also—and this is most important—in regard to such a demand as that for an elected majority, which is, of course, the demand now made.

What did the White Paper say? It said this:— His Majesty's Government cannot but regard the grant of responsible self-government as out of the question within any period of time which need now be taken into consideration. Nor, indeed, would they contemplate yet the possibility of substituting an unofficial majority in the Council for the Government official majority. Hasty action is to be strongly deprecated, and it will be necessary to see how matters develop, especially in regard to African representation, before proposals for so fundamental a change in the Constitution of the Colony can be entertained. Those words, which gave the considered view of Mr. Baldwin's first Government, are most definite and they have been broadly confirmed by Mr. Baldwin's second Government, that is, the present Conservative Administration, because as recently as December 6 last Mr. Amery, in reply to a Question about Colonies not possessing responsible self-government, said among other things this:— … constitutional changes that have been made in the last few years have resulted in the grant of a considerable measure of representative institutions to several Colonies and it does not appear that at the moment there is any instance in which a further extension of such institutions is desirable. These words of the Secretary of State for the Colonies are themselves an answer to this demand made by the Delamere Party in Kenya.

I think I have made it quite clear that the weighty pronouncement in the White Paper completely rejects for a very long time any idea of self-government, and it is scarcely less emphatic with regard to the possibility of substituting an unofficial majority in the Legislative Council for the Government official majority—and that, of course, is what the Delamere Party's proposal comes to. The most that the White Paper says in regard to that is this:— Hasty action is to be strongly deprecated, and it will be necessary to see how matters develop, especially in regard to African representation, before proposals for so fundamental a change in the Constitution of the Colony can be entertained. It will be seen that the condition is that we must wait to see how matters develop, especially in regard to African representation. But what is the position about that? No step whatever has been taken regarding a native franchise for the Legislative Council and no African has been nominated for the Legislative Council, but even if some advance in these ways had been made the White Paper does not promise an unofficial majority; all it says is that it will be necessary to see how matters develop before proposals for so fundamental a change can be entertained.

And in addition to that, the paragraph begins with the words:— Hasty action is to be strongly deprecated … Yet within only three years of that ruling, and with no advance whatever towards a native franchise, we have this demand put forward by Lord Delamere and others supporting him in Kenya. I gather from the speech made by Lord Delamere at Nakuru, from which I read a quotation, that in part he bases his demand for Kenya upon what has happened in Southern Rhodesia. With your Lordships' permission I should like to look at that because it is a matter which I think merits careful consideration, and I will proceed to show that the two cases are not analogous. I will take first the populations. The number of whites in Kenya is put at about 12,500. I think that is probably placing it quite high enough. That includes, I believe, some hundreds of Government officials. It includes also any visitors who happened to be in the Colony on the day when the Census was taken, and a good many visitors are at times in the Colony. However, put it at 12,500. That has to go against a white population in Southern Rhodesia, according to the last figures which I have, the Census of 1921, of 33,621. Then take the number of Indians In Kenya, I believe, it is 26,750 and in Southern Rhodesia probably about 1,500. Then take the native population. The native population of Kenya is about 2,500,000, and the native population of Southern Rhodesia is about 800,000. Therefore it comes to this, that the number of whites in Kenya is only about one-third as many as in Southern Rhodesia, the number of Indians is about twenty times as many as in Southern Rhodesia, and the native population of Kenya is about three times as large as the native population of Southern Rhodesia.

Judged, then, by all relevant population tests at the present time the position of Southern Rhodesia is widely different from that of Kenya. The proportion of whites to natives is much greater in Southern Rhodesia than in Kenya, and the number of Indians in Kenya is immensely larger than in Southern Rhodesia. Since 1923 Southern Rhodesia has had self-government, and in the speech which I quoted a few moments ago Lord Delamere said that when Southern Rhodesia was promised an elected majority the white population was 14,000. Let me look at that. In the first place, I should make it clear that Southern Rhodesia was under the British South Africa Company right up to 1923, I think, when self-government began to operate. Next, according to my researches, in order to find the period when the white population of Southern Rhodesia was only 14,000 it is necessary to go back as far as 1907. However, though Southern Rhodesia was under the British South Africa Company, it had a Legislative Council and it was, I think, in 1907 that the elected members of the Council were given a majority, but I believe it was 1911 before that was ratified by Order in Council. By the time 1911 was reached the white population in Southern Rhodesia was about 23,000. Moreover, as Southern Rhodesia was under the British South Africa Company, the case is not really analogous to that of Kenya.

Let me pursue for a moment the numerical comparisons. In 1907, when the white population of Southern Rhodesia was 14,000, the native population was about 700,000, whereas in Kenya to-day the white population of 12,500 has to be put against a native population of about 2,500,000. Even as long ago as 1907 the proportion of whites to natives was much higher in Southern Rhodesia than it is in Kenya to-day. It is also important to consider that our Colonial policy has changed since 1907. At that time the rights of the natives were not given nearly as much consideration as they are, I am glad to think, given to-day. In the intervening years the outlook has altered very greatly, the moral conscience is more aroused, conceptions of responsibility have advanced, and it does not in the least follow that what was done in 1907 would be done now; in fact it would not be done now. In those far-off days there was no White Paper with its charter of trusteeship for the natives. All this is very relevant to the question at issue. I think it goes to invalidate Lord Delamere's suggested analogy.

Moreover, there is another important point of view. Let me look at the Indian problem. The number of Indians in Southern Rhodesia has always been less than in Kenya. In 1907 there were practically no Indians and even to-day, I think, there are only about 1,500 against 26,750 in Kenya. I submit that this demand of Lord Delamere's ought to be rejected on the ground of the Indian problem alone and quite apart from anything else. Your Lordships are no doubt aware that this question of Indians in Kenya has been one of great difficulty and anxiety in the past and that not so very long ago the problem seemed to be almost insoluble. Fortunately, however, owing to its wise and tactful handling, particularly by my right hon. friend Mr. J. H. Thomas when the Labour Government was in office, the various matters at issue were gradually composed. As a result the Indian problem has now for a year or two been quiescent, or relatively so, but if the various compromises which have been reached are to be departed from—and you can scarcely have a greater departure than that which is proposed in this demand of Lord Delamere's—I am afraid the effect so far as the Indian problem is concerned will be highly injurious. The good work which has been done would be undone; in fact, any kind of encouragement by the Colonial Office to the demand of the Delamere Party might easily have very harmful consequences. It Would be a wanton thing to upset the comparative peace as regards Indian matters in Kenya which has at last been reached after such arduous and persistent efforts.

I come next to a point of great importance, which is in itself, I think, sufficient and final. It has to do with the question of the franchise. In Southern Rhodesia there are equal franchise laws. There is no bar of race or colour. All the inhabitants of that country, whoever they are, British, Indians or natives, who can qualify for the franchise, are entitled to it by law. Do the Delamere Party propose that for Kenya? Nothing of the kind. There is no equal franchise in Kenya, no Indian and no native can vote with or for Europeans for the Legislative Council. I do not think I am misrepresenting Lord Delamere and his friends when I say that they are absolutely opposed to anything of the kind. Yet in Kenya there are 26,750 Indians as against some 12,500 whites and 2,500,000 natives. I say the more this demand is examined the more extraordinary it becomes. There is to be no equal franchise and the demand of Lord Delamere really becomes one for handing over Kenya Colony to a small privileged class. That is what it comes to. I am myself unable to recall any case in our Colonial history in which an elected European majority has been granted in such circumstances.

There is another point of substance which differentiates Southern Rhodesia from Kenya. Southern Rhodesia is contiguous to the Union of South Africa and the Union of South Africa has complete Dominion self-government. Southern Rhodesia, therefore, is in an area where self-government is predominant; it is, in fact, the chief form of government. How absolutely different is the position of Kenya! So far from it being in an area where self-government is the chief form of government, where self-government is almost the rule, there is nothing of the sort to be found for thousands of miles, and to give Kenya self-government—and that is what really this demand for an elective European majority is intended to lead to and would soon lead to—would be to make an exception of Kenya amongst the vast territories of our African Dependencies. What are those Dependencies? Apart from Kenya; they are Uganda, Tanganyika, Nyasaland and Zanzibar. To give Kenya self-government, or partial self-government, would be to create in one of our East African Dependencies a system of government not really capable of being extended to our other territories in that part of the world. I submit that on such grounds alone this demand of Lord Delamere's ought not to be acceded to. I think it becomes abundantly clear that the suggested analogy with Southern Rhodesia breaks down again here.

I pass now to another consideration and it is this—whether Kenya can, in the usual sense of the word, be regarded as a white man's country. It is only in the highlands, speaking broadly, that the white population can live and the altitude of those districts is in many places so great that the effect upon the health and nerves, especially of the women, is such that it is by no means wholly good. But leaving aside health considerations, it would seem that the vast majority of white settlers in Kenya require a certain amount of money if they are to live there successfully. Therefore, taking everything into account, I submit it is the case that the conditions in Kenya are not such as to make it a white man's country in the sense in which our Dominions are. If that is so, and I do not think it can be denied, that it is an additional strong reason for not handing over the control of the country to a small white population which must always remain numerically insignificant in relation to the total inhabitants of the country.

Even if things were different from what they are, even if these considerations which I am advancing did not apply—and I think they do apply and abundantly—I say this demand ought to be rejected because of the past record of Lord Delamere and his friends in relation to the inhabitants of Kenya. That record is not such as to inspire confidence as to impartiality and fair-dealing between man and man. Attempts have again and again been made to pass legislation which would have been strongly resented by the Indians and by the natives. If it had not been that the Colonial Office has repeatedly stepped in to stop them being carried, measures would have been passed which it seems impossible to defend from the point of view of fair and equitable treatment for the Indians or the natives. In addition to that measures which would have been of benefit to the natives have been successfully obstructed.

Let me give some instances to illustrate what I have been saying. Clauses, allowing for segregation of races, in a Public Health Bill, were passed by the Kenya Legislative Council with two dissentients, but disallowed by the Secretary of State and deleted from the Bill by the use of the Government majority. Next, a Government Motion to segregate Indians in Nairobi was passed by the Legislative Council with one dissentient, but negatived by the Cabinet findings in the Kenya White Paper of 1923. A clause in an Income Tax Bill gave Lord Delamere an opportunity to move an Amendment, which was carried, that all commercial accounts should be kept in English. What would have been the effect of that? It would have closed down all roadside trade by Indians with natives. This was disallowed by the Secretary of State and deleted by the official majority.

An act of administration, based on Motions in Council, for halving the value of the cental coins of the country was approved with one dissentient in the Legislative Council. This was first approved, but a few days later was disallowed by the Secretary of State. A Bill to raise the duty on imported wheat from 10 to 50 per cent. ad valorem and on wheat flour from 10 to 100 per cent. was disallowed by the Secretary of State—who was, at that time, Mr. Winston Churchill—but he did allow elevation to 30 per cent. and that was effected by the official majority. A Bill to allow the principal medical officer to license approved Indian sub-assistant surgeons of meritorious service to practice in the Colony after retirement from the Service was wrecked by an Amendment by Lord Delamere substituting the word "European" for the word "person." This was rectified by the official majority acting on the Secretary of State's orders. There are two further instances I would give. A Land Tax Bill, during its passage through the Legislative Council, appeared to discriminate in favour of old established settlers against new settlers and provided for assessment for tax by local boards, to all of which the Secretary of State objected. This was thrown out by his orders. Finally, a proposal by the Government for a measure of employers' liability was obstructed and withdrawn.

Leaving aside these instances—I have not time to develop them and all they imply—I submit that the Colonial Office ought not to hand over its responsibilities in connection with the fundamental problems of the land and the reserves and the general question of natives and the supply of labour. The past record of events regarding these various matters makes it most desirable that in the interests of the trusteeship of the natives, so clearly laid down in the White Paper, control of the Colony should not be taken out of the hands of the Colonial Office. In view of certain words in the White Paper—they are very few—I do not see how the Colonial Office can contemplate doing that.

There are two passages on page 10 of the White Paper which make this quite clear. The first passage is this— But in the administration of Kenya His Majesty's Government regard themselves as exercising a trust on behalf of the African population, and they are unable to delegate or share this trust, the object of which may be defined as the protection and advancement of the native races. The second quotation is this:— As in the Uganda Protectorate, so in the Kenya Colony, the principle of trusteeship for the natives, no less than in the mandated territory of Tanganyika, is unassailable. This paramount duty of trusteeship will continue, as in the past, to be carried out under the Secretary of State for the Colonies by the agents of the Imperial Government, and by them alone. In view of these words I think there ought to be no question of the Colonial Office yielding up any of its responsibilities.

I have pointed out that Lord Delamere himself expects deadlocks in what he calls the interim period of this elected majority. Moreover, in view of all the circumstances and certain past happenings it seems clear that to yield to this demand for an elected majority would be simply to invite trouble. Certain events in the past give rise to grave doubts whether Lord Delamere and his friends would be prepared readily to acquiesce if their wishes were denied by the Colonial Office. I would like, on this point, to call attention to what happened in the Colony in 1922 and 1923. About that time there seemed to be certain indications of a probability that the Colonial Office might be giving favourable consideration to a scheme for granting the Indian community in Kenya some elected representation. At once the white settlers in Kenya, or many of them, were up in arms and meetings of protest were held in various parts of the country. At many of these meetings resolutions were passed indicating a hostile attitude.

At Nakuru, at a large district meeting at which Lord Delamere himself was present, resolutions were passed which I should like to read to your Lordships. The report of the meeting says they were passed unanimously. These are the resolutions:— That in the event of the Government of this Colony acceding to the political claims made by the Indian community, the White community will take such action as they may consider proper and necessary to prevent any legislation with that object from taking practical effect. That any action to be taken shall be such as to solve decisively the Indian problem in this Colony, shall be complete in its nature and effect, and shall, by its thoroughness, indicate in the clearest manner, not only that the White Community declines to be made a pawn in the game of Indian politics, but that in their internal politics they refuse to be dictated to and over-ridden in their opinions by those at home, who are obviously ignorant of, or indifferent to, all local conditions. That such action as may be taken shall be of a persuasive character as far as possible, physical pressure only being resorted to in so far as it may be required, to show that the persuasion being exercised is intended to be acted upon. That for the effective carrying out of the intentions of the White community of this district as expressed in the preceding resolutions, a committee consisting of one representative from each sub-district be appointed to consider and formulate details of a programme designed to effect those intentions, and to co-operate with similar committees representing other districts of the Colony. That the White community of this district bind themselves to support the Central Committee in any steps that they may consider necessary, and to carry out or to assist in carrying out, any instructions issued by them with the object of effectively accomplishing any programme they may adopt. The report of this meeting says that a resolution was also passed protesting against the appointment of the Hon. W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore as Under-Secretary for the Colonies. There is much that might be said about those remarkable resolutions and about the words "physical pressure," but I must pass on. I think I have said enough to show that the events of 1923 do not foreshadow a pleasant state of things if there came a real clash between the Colonial Office and some of the white settlers in Kenya.

In conclusion I should like to look at the matter a little more generally. Your Lordships may ask: How is it that this demand has been put forward, seeing that any extension of self-government was so definitely vetoed as recently as 1923? How is it that in these circumstances the Delamere Party even makes an attempt to get that decision reversed? I will try to answer that question. In my view the explanation is to be found in two circumstances: first in the fact that the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Amery, has already in his brief term of office given way to Lord Delamere and his friends in one or two vital matters, and they seem to think that there is no limit to what they can get if they press hard enough; and the second circumstance, as I regard it, is that one of the impelling motives behind this agitation is the expectation, held not only in this country but abroad, that before long the present Conservative Administration will be replaced by a Labour Government, and the Delamere Party know perfectly well that what they are now pressing for will not for a moment be sanctioned by a Labour Government and accordingly they say that they had better do all they can now, while there is still time.

I have pointed out that Mr. Amery has already given way to Lord Delamere and others on one or two vital matters, and in that connection I wish particularly to refer to the question of conscription in Kenya—the Bill for the Defence Force, as it is called. It is a Conscription Bill. This demand for conscription in Kenya has been made by Lord Delamere and others for a very long time, but, it has been left to the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Amery, to give the proposal, in effect, his sanction. It is true that the Bill has not yet passed, and I am glad to note that there has been a great deal of opposition to it amongst certain sections of the white population in Kenya. But Mr. Amery, in fact, sanctioned it in advance, and the proposal has also been supported by Sir Edward Grigg, the Governor of the Colony. I do not intend to discuss this question of conscription in Kenya, though there is a great deal that might be said about it, and, if I did, I should have no difficulty in showing that there is no necessity for such a measure, and further that there are weighty objections against anything of the kind. I will merely say that Mr. Amery has taken upon himself a grave responsibility in going as far as he has gone.

Before I sit down I should like to say a word regarding the Governor of the Colony, Sir Edward Grigg, to whom I have already referred and who, I understand, is on his way home. I should like to ask the Government a few questions. What is the Governor's attitude in relation to this demand for an elected European majority? Is he coming home to support that demand? Nay, more, is he coming home to press that demand? I have a report of a speech made by the Governor, I think on November 30 last, in which he refers to a resolution that he had received from the Convention of Associations urging that the time had come for a further step to be taken towards self government in Kenya. He goes on to say that he understands that this view is widely shared and adds that it has his instinctive sympathy. I confess that I am surprised that the Governor should say this, having regard to all the circumstances and to the emphatic pronouncement in the White Paper of 1923. It is true that the Governor goes on in his speech, as well he may, to suggest that difficulties stand in the way, but that does not alter the fact that he used the words that I have quoted. This speech of Sir Edward Grigg is on record and no doubt they have it at the Colonial Office. I should like to know if he is coming to press this demand, made by the Delamere Party? I think that is a perfectly fair question, and I shall appreciate it if the noble Earl, when he comes to reply, can tell us quite definitely where Sir Edward Grigg does stand in this matter.

At the same time, although I ask for that information, let me put matters in their true perspective. I submit that the views of the Governor, whatever they may be, do not affect the fundamental facts of the situation. All the relevant facts and considerations are already known to the Colonial Office and have been known to the Colonial Office for a very long time. Accordingly, although the views of the Governor will no doubt be listened to with interest and with respect, they cannot really throw any new light of any importance upon the problem and they cannot provide any ground for altering the policy that has been laid down in the White Paper. There is nothing of any importance about Kenya which the Governor, who, after all, has been there only a short time, will be able, for instance, to tell Mr. Ormsby-Gore which Mr. Ormsby-Gore does not know already. Mr. Ormsby-Gore has been to Kenya. He was there not long ago and, in conjunction with his colleagues on the East African Commission, he has written a long and exhaustive Report about East African matters, including Kenya. I do not say that I agree with all that is in that Report, but no one can deny that it shows great knowledge of the various problems. Having regard to all these considerations, it really will not do for anybody to suggest that the views of the Governor are of any vital import. However, with the object of elucidating the position, I should be glad—this is in respect of my Motion for Papers—if the noble Earl will be good enough to undertake to lay upon the Table any correspondence between Sir Edward Grigg and the Colonial Office regarding any change in the direction of self-government for Kenya. I beg to move.


My Lords, the demand that has been put forward by Lord Delamere and to which Lord Arnold has referred in the course of his remarks, is contained, as I think he is probably aware, in an Election manifesto. I want to make it perfectly clear at the outset of what I have to say in reply to the noble Lord that this manifesto of Lord Delamere is an absolutely unofficial document and that Lord Delamere in issuing it—as your Lordships are aware, Lord Delamere is a member not only of the Executive but also of the Legislative Assembly—has done so entirely upon his own responsibility and as a free agent. The Secretary of State, Mr. Amery, has no information whatever as to the support that Lord Delamere's proposals have met with, or are likely to meet with, in the Colony of Kenya, beyond, of course, the newspaper reports that have reached this country and have been seen by all concerned.

The Governor, Sir Edward Grigg, is at the present time in Europe. I believe that he is at this moment on his way to Switzerland for a very short holiday, and I am given to understand that he will reach this country in about ten days' or a fortnight's time, and when he does arrive there is very little doubt that he will have a certain amount to say to the Secretary of State for the Colomes in so far as political development in Kenya is concerned. The noble Lord asked me a question just now, in the course of his remarks, as to what Sir Edward Grigg's attitude was in regard to Lord Delamere's proposals. I am afraid I cannot really answer that question because we have no information at the present moment officially from Sir Edward Grigg as to what his attitude is. When he comes here he will very likely put forward proposals which may or may not involve a change in the Constitution of Kenya. If he does put forward such proposals they will, of course, receive the most earnest and careful consideration of the Secretary of State for the Colonies and his advisers.

Let me make this further point in regard to any proposals that Sir Edward Grigg may have to make in regard to any change in the Constitution of Kenya Colony. If he does put forward such proposals, they will naturally require not only earnest and careful consideration, but consideration which will probably extend over a fairly protracted period and, further, if these proposals do involve any change in the Constitution, it will, as Lord Arnold has rightly pointed out, affect the terms on which the whole Indian question was settled in 1923. If that position does arise it will be obviously a matter for a Cabinet decision. In the circumstances which I have explained to your Lordships the only statement which I can make at this moment on behalf of His Majesty's Government is that they adhere to the principles as laid down in the White Paper, to which the noble Lord has referred and which is known as the Kenya White Paper of 1923. In view of what I have said, and in view of the fact that Lord Arnold has made a Motion for Papers, I hope that, as there is no information at this moment to give him, he will not press that Motion.


My Lords, the subject to which the noble Lord, Lord Arnold, has drawn attention, in his very careful and lucid speech, is one of far-reaching interest, extending far beyond the mere question of Kenya and its life. It is not at all unnatural that he and many others should wish that subject to be again discussed at the present time. Nearly two years have elapsed since there was an important debate in this House upon the matter, and it is not unnatural that at this moment we should have a further discussion about it. But it would be futile and foolish were we to ignore the fact that a discussion like this—if I may say so with respect—especially a speech like that of the noble Lord, must inevitably, whether it is justifiable or not, be fraught with an element of danger, if not of mischief, in Kenya itself. Kenya and its settlers have, as it has always seemed to me, in very difficult circumstances had rather more than their share of a kind of limelight exposure on all that they do and say and of criticism of action on their part without recognition on the part of the critics of the difficulties of their situation or their public spirit.

I would like to emphasise the public spirit, which many of the leaders have shown throughout, as patriotic citizens and as settlers and citizens in that region, together with a great desire for its welfare and at the same time an intention that the progress of the Colony should be profitable to themselves. That is perfectly right as they are developing their properties on a great scale. It has been done, we must, all admit, with a very great deal of public spirit. Further, there is a sense on the part of those in Kenya—of course it does not apply at all to the noble Lord—that many of those who criticise them are really incapable of weighing all these questions, owing to lack of that information for which we are all waiting, and which to some extent they have but which most of us in this country do not possess. Nobody desires more than I do that the administration in Kenya and the British population there should work in complete harmony. It would be a happy condition of things if for a time they were free from a criticism in England which, if not unfair, is often very ill-informed and therefore indirectly, though not intentionally, unfair. I admit of course, as the noble Lord has pointed out to-night, that some of those who are leaders among the settlers in Kenya have said and done things just now and before this which, however excellent their intentions may be, are certainly fraught with a very considerable risk of arousing suspicion here at home. Among these not least is the revival of a proposal, not made now for the first time but which has again received forcible expression from Lord Delamere, that the British population in Kenya should be granted an unofficial majority in the Legislative Council.

I have noted how the noble Lord called attention to the exceedingly important fact that that speech of Lord Delamere was remarked and commented on by the Governor himself. If I may say so, I do not think the quotation we have heard is altogether a fair one because the noble Lord did not complete it. Sir Edward Grigg's speech to my mind mentions what has been put forward and then proceeds to show, in a very emphatic way, how great the difficulties would be. The noble Lord referred to it, but there are two ways of doing it. It was really to this effect: "It is not that I am not in sympathy with self-government, it is rather my instinctive sympathy with self-government that makes me realise how difficult it is." I will read his words:— I have recently received a resolution from the Convention of Associations urging that the time has come when a further step may be taken towards self-government in this Colony. I understand that that view is widely shared and that I may, in the near future, receive representations from other sources to the same effect. Well, gentlemen, that has my instinctive sympathy. Instinctive sympathy with self-government"—that is not an unnatural thing for anyone to say— But if I am to do my duty by you, if I am to do any true service to the Colony, I think I am bound to tell you that difficulties stand in the way, in order that all of you who hold those views may realise what you have to face. I am not helping you or doing you any service unless I present the facts to you without equivocation. You will realise that the difficulties are considerable. If you read the statement by the late Secretary of State (Mr. Thomas), which was printed in this morning's paper, that statement illustrates the suspicions regarding this Colony which are very widespread although entirely unfounded. The tone and gist of that speech are very different from what I had gathered from the quotation given by the noble Lord.

I admit the importance of that having been said by him and I realise the difficulties of our situation. Any demand from men who occupy the position of leaders amongst the settlers in Kenya is of very great importance, and is entitled to consideration from all who realise what have been the efforts made, and what has been the work done, by many of those settlers, on behalf of Kenya Colony. Of course that work has been profitable to the settlers themselves, but it is certainly profitable to the Colony too, and I think that while we give full attention to it we have to realise that the kind of statement which Lord Delamere is said to have put forward—I do not know the completeness of all he said—is fraught with immense danger if we are to take it as something now in process of being accomplished. Any premature advance from Crown Colony Government towards what may be called representative government is always fraught with a great deal of peril. Any student of Colonial history will remember, to take an extreme instance, what happened in Jamaica, what terrible troubles there were for years and years, owing to what now seems to us all to have been a premature endeavour to give representative government before the Colony was ready for it.

Undoubtedly in Kenya the difficulties are enormous, as Sir Edward Grigg says, and as no doubt he will be ready to say again to His Majesty's Government when he comes to England. In the first place, it is proposed to give a majority in the Council to settlers very many of whom have only been a very short time in the Colony. Much the larger proportion of them, I think I may say, have come into the Colony since the War, and they really are not people who have yet acquired a claim to be citizens of the country in the sense that it enables them to judge of the whole position and to be wise deciders of what its policy ought to be. In the next place it is possible to reflect that they do not speak without bias, because such problems as labour problems which may have to be faced by the Government are problems on which they cannot possibly be unbiased. Further, I would say, supporting what was said by the noble Lord, that the forecasting of such a change as this comes at a time which I venture to think is singularly inopportune. A plan has at all events been ventilated, if nothing yet has been done, for federating, or bringing into some union of action, all the various Colonies and States, mandated territories, Protectorates, and so forth in Africa. It would be quite impossible to take one of those Colonies and change its Constitution, and at the same time to go forward with the consideration of how it is possible for them to work together. You might give one a Constitution quite inapplicable to some of the others, and, I think, possibly inapplicable to itself.

An important point which must be remembered is that this proposal synchronises rather unfortunately with the suggestions, if we call them no more, in favour of a conscripted force, additional to the King's African Rifles. It is not a very happy combination, to ask for an elected majority at the same time that they ask for a greater military force to be placed under their control. There is the further difficulty that we have the complications of the Indian question running across Kenya politics, and that is a question which cannot possibly be left out of consideration. The main importance of all is the fact to which the noble Lord has called perfectly clear and fair attention—namely, that any definite action for changing the Constitution in the way proposed would be running definitely counter to the Duke of Devonshire's Memorandum of 1923, which is as follows:— His Majesty's Government cannot but regard the grant of responsible self-government as out of the question within any period of time which need now be taken into consideration. Nor, indeed, would they contemplate yet the possibility of substituting an unofficial majority in the Council for the Government official majority. Hasty action is to be strongly deprecated, and it will be necessary to see how matters develop, especially in regard to African representation, before proposals for so fundamental a change in the Constitution of the Colony can be entertained. That was said only a very few years ago, and it is important, for it seems to me that the proposals which are now made do directly contravene what we had taken to be an established principle, which had been laid down and which would be followed and acted upon.

But I think it would be a great pity, to say the least, if we were simply to try to bang the door and turn down a proposition made by men so responsible as some of those who have spoken on behalf of the settlers in East Africa. If we were merely to take a negative attitude, and to give merely a negative reply, I think we should be missing what we ought to be aiming at, and what we are entitled to look to. The real danger, I think, in East Africa at this moment, is not so much the conflict of ideals between one section and another as a common lack of detailed and adequate knowledge of what are the facts; and I cannot forget that in the debate which took place two years ago the Lord President of the Council, the Earl of Balfour, made a speech in which he gave us all immense encouragement to believe that money was to be spent upon, and efforts devoted to, the development of completer knowledge of the facts in Kenya and the adjoining Provinces and Protectorates, far beyond anything which we possess at present.

If I am not mistaken it has been definitely settled that a portion of the £10,000,000 loan sanctioned for Kenya, although primarily intended for transport, may be devoted to the acquisition and development of more local knowledge than we now possess. I should find myself out of my depth if I tried to deal with financial problems, but the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, did promise that money should be found, if it were possible to find it, out of that £10,000,000 loan, for this kind of investigation. I believe at this moment we need it exceedingly, and that that kind of knowledge is lacking to a degree which is lamentable when we are trying to deal with such a subject. You cannot get accurate statistics. At this moment we have conflicting and even contradictory statements from those whom we should expect to be able to trust with regard to such questions as to the number of the native population in the reserves, as to the availableness of the native population, and how far they are being taken away from their own work if they are taken to work elsewhere, and so on. We want that information, not from the settler, or from the opponents of the settler, but from impartial, centrally organised inquiry, such as I think I may say we were definitely promised some little time ago.

When, a little later than that, what is known as the Schuster Committee made its Report it said: We further strongly recommend that a liberal contribution to research work affecting the development of such countries as the East African Dependencies should be approved as a suitable object for the application of some part of the funds [at the disposal of the Empire Marketing Committee]. The knowledge which will be gained from scientific research, properly directed, must inevitably be one of the most important factors on which the full realisation of these potentialities will be dependent. In his speech on the occasion I referred to the noble Earl behind me referred to the tsetse fly question. That is not a mere question of natural history, but it affects the whole question of policy that may be followed with regard to the development or non-development of particular areas. But the moment we endeavour to investigate that with any thoroughness we find that we lack local knowledge of an adequate sort, impartially acquired. I hope that we shall be told—as we have not been told to-night—that that inquiry is going to go on—an inquiry not merely of a general kind but carried out locally. Much depends upon it. The facts at present are hazy and even contradictory, and we want to know a great deal more than at present we know about it. If I understand it aright—but here I speak under correction—the allocation of that money is in the hands now of a Treasury Committee. What is happening? Is it being used for getting for us the sort of information which would make all the difference to our capacity for handling problems of extreme difficulty?

I am very largely in sympathy with much that the noble Lord said in introducing the subject. I ant very glad that it should be again debated, and I shall be intensely anxious, when the Governor comes home, that the opportunity should be taken of letting us all know what additional knowledge is being put in our hands from impartial or official sources, which will really tell us fairly what are the facts of the problem with which we have to deal, and whether money is adequately being expended in obtaining that information.


My Lords, I was not aware that the most rev. Primate was going to raise this aspect of the African question on the present occasion. I think it is not only an important aspect of it, I think it is the most important aspect of it, and, if I may speak for myself, I should say that the most rev. Primate has done us a great service this afternoon in indicating that the problem before our Colonies in Africa is not merely a constitutional problem, it is not merely a question of how you shall distribute the powers of government as between the Home Government and the Colony itself, or between different sections of the population in that Colony. The constitutional question is undoubtedly of great importance, and I need say nothing about that, because it has been adequately dealt with, as far as it can be dealt with at the present moment, by my noble friend Lord Clarendon. But that was the only point touched on by the noble Lord who initiated this debate, and he was quite within his right limiting the point on which he wanted to ask for information. I should not have risen to speak had it not been for the appeal, the unexpected appeal, made to me by the most rev. Primate.

I do not think we can adequately discuss that this afternoon. I should be sorry to attempt, without notice, to deal with such aspects of it as may be supposed to fall within the limits of my office, but if either the most rev. Primate or any other noble Lord cares in the future to ask any Question about what has been done, or is being done, with regard to those aspects of the question which were not raised by the noble Lord, but which were raised by the most rev. Primate, I should be very glad to give an answer—not, of course, an answer covering the whole ground, because these investigations are in course of being pursued and it is impossible to say what the result will be; but if noble Lords desire to have information as to how far we have been using the machinery for civil research with regard to this most important group of questions I shall, of course, be glad to give them any information I can. I am not sure that it would not be desirable to put any such Question off for some time because work is now being done, and the longer the Question is put off the more full any answer that I can give would be.

I think that the most rev. Primate has done a great service to this debate in saying that you cannot deal with these African problems from the point of view of constitutional flowers alone, or, I would almost say, even chiefly. It is a most complex question, involving race problems, constitutional problems, agricultural problems, scientific problems, anthropological problems, the question of native population and native diseases, and the whole complex of problems which do not meet us in the same form in Europe, and have never been really studied in previous times, probably because the position of science in these investigations has never been fully appreciated before. The position of science is gradually being appreciated. Scientific research unfortunately is necessarily slow in its operation. It is not the less important on that account. But I shall be very glad whenever any noble Lord chooses to ask me what has been attempted, and possibly, in a more modest degree, what we hope to attempt in the future. I only rose to say that the most rev. Primate has opened quite a new field untouched by the Question put by the noble Lord, a field which, I venture to suggest, had better be discussed on another occasion.


My Lords, the most rev. Primate was a little critical of certain things which I said. I really had no intention whatever of misrepresenting the Governor. I thought I had made it clear that I had to inflict on your Lordships several quotations, and that I did not wish to make them too long. That is the only reason why I did not read the remainder of the passage. The most rev. Primate, while critical up to a point in two or three particulars, did give support to the view that the White Paper should not be departed from, and I think that expression of opinion, coming from him, is important.

The noble Earl who has just spoken has called attention to the fact that it is not very easy to discuss this question of constitutional change without reference to other subjects. I entirely agree, and there are many tempting by-paths down which I should very much like to have strayed, but I felt I was already making a sufficient demand on your Lordships' time and patience, and that it was better to confine myself, as far as I could, to the one point.

With regard to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Clarendon, I did not find the earlier part of his reply very satisfactory, because he told us that the Government had no official news as to what the Governor's opinions were. I confess I am a little surprised by that, because this demand has not merely been made by Lord Delamere, as the noble Earl said, but I think the manifesto is signed by six other elected members of the Legislature Council, and therefore it becomes a very important political event. I admit that I am astonished to find that apparently the Governor has not in any way communicated with the Colonial Office about it, although this happened as long ago as December. We are also told that there is no correspondence to lay on the Table. If there is no correspondence to lay then it is quite useless for me to press the Motion that correspondence should be laid. When the noble Earl came to the concluding part of his speech I was very pleased to find something which gave to me personally great satisfaction. In his concluding words the noble Earl said that His Majesty's Government adhered to the principles laid down in the White Paper. That is satisfactory and I am glad indeed to have elicited that declaration, because its implications are sufficient and final. In the circumstances I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Back to