HL Deb 14 July 1954 vol 188 cc1005-8

3.55 p.m.


My Lords, I apologise for having to interrupt the Committee proceedings for a few moments in order to make a statement on financial assistance to Kenya. On December 9 last year, my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary announced in another place that, although precise forecasting was difficult, the Kenya Government would need assistance of about £6 million if they were to maintain a reasonable level of liquid resources and continue to meet their obligations until the end of the United Kingdom financial year, 1954–55. He also said that if the present rate of emergency expenditure continued it was possible that more money would be required and that Her Majesty's Government would be prepared to review the position in good time.

Unfortunately, this has proved to be the case. The rate of expenditure has risen. Moreover, it was well into 1954 before the security forces were fully deployed and a more accurate estimate of their cost was possible. This showed that earlier estimates were below the actual cost. The present rate of expenditure is of the order of £1 million a month, of which about one-third represents expenditure on military forces and operations: the rest is the cost of closer administration, the increase in the police forces, the cost of detention and rehabitation camps, and emergency public works. Although direct military expenditure will not rise in proportion, emergency expenditure is expected to rise to about £1¼ million a month over the next six months.

The Colonial Secretary has again reviewed the financial position with the Minister for Finance and the Commander-in-Chief East Africa, and has consulted my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A further £5½ million will be required up to the end of March, 1955. This takes into account the extra revenue of £2½ million which the Kenya Government will derive from increases in taxation announced last April. It is expected that arrangements can be made by the Government of Kenya to provide for working balances by other means, and the sums do not therefore include any margin for this purpose. The expenditure during the last quarter of the Kenya financial year April 1 to June 30, 1955, which Her Majesty's Government recognise may continue at a similar rate, and which will be taken into account during the United Kingdom financial year 1955–56, is also not covered.

In these circumstances Her Majesty's Government will be prepared, subject to the authority of Parliament, to provide a further grant of £4 million and a further interest-free loan of £1½ million in the present United Kingdom financial year as a contribution towards the cost of Kenya's emergency. It is understood that this assistance will be called on only to the extent that it proves to be needed. This further assistance will cover Kenya's immediate needs, but it is evident that even after it has become possible to reduce the present military commitment, Kenya's financial position will remain difficult. My right honourable friend has made it clear to the Kenya Government that they will be expected to take all practicable steps to increase their own revenues in order to meet their continuing commitments. The British Government's help is required—and it has been given—to bring the emergency to an end. If that help were not given, not only would the measures against the terrorists have to be reduced, but the social and economic programme, which represents the constructive plan for Kenya's future, would suffer an unacceptable set-back.


My Lords, I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Earl for making this statement. We can all truthfully re-echo his hope that the emergency will soon be brought to an end; but in the meantime, so long as the emergency exists, it is unfortunately necessary to provide this extra money. Speaking for myself, on the spur of the moment, I feel that it would be a disaster if the money had to be found in such a way as to cut down the public services of Kenya, because were that done it would very likely accentuate the trouble. That is the last thing we want to do. Though I entirely understand what the noble Earl, speaking on behalf of the Government, has said, I only hope that the need for this extra money will soon come to an end.


My Lords, I do not know whether my noble friend can answer this question without notice: it would have been more reasonable to give him notice, but I did not know that he was to make a statement. Did the authorities in Kenya, before making this recommendation to Her Majesty's Government, consider the representations made, I understand, from unofficial European quarters in Kenya that money could be saved by greater use of the King's African Rifles, rather than European troops? Is the noble Earl aware that there is considerable criticism in Kenya at the use of European troops, some of whom are believed to be unsuitable for this particular type of jungle warfare, and that there is marked unofficial opinion there that more African troops should be used?


I am glad that the noble Earl has brought up the point. I cannot answer his question without notice, but I am perfectly certain that the Kenya Government are examining every conceivable means whereby they can reduce that expenditure.