HL Deb 26 July 1961 vol 233 cc1060-84

5.20 p.m.

THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE rose to ask Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are aware that the release of Jomo Kenyatta, a leader vowed to intimidatory practices, would be as disastrous to the other tribes of Kenya as to those of the Kikuyu tribe who proved their loyalty to the cause of law and order during and since the period of rebellion, and what steps they propose to take to avoid such consequences.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I rise to ask the Unstarred Question in my name on the Order Paper. The reason is because the Recess is close upon us and there have been various statements in the Press and rumours that we are within a short time of hearing the announcement of the release of the man who was convicted because of his management of the Mau Mau organisation. I feel that it is necessary to make a protest on behalf of those who feel bitter about it, not only in this country but also in Kenya. Therefore, I wish to put forward certain reasons why it appears to me that Kenyatta is not the man who should be given control of that Colony in some sort of high-up appointment, as is widely advertised.

The position is that his own people are solidly behind him, not only the so-called strong Government of K.A.D.U., the democratic side, representing the loyal tribes, but also K.A.N.U., the national side, representing chiefly the tribe of the Kikuyu, who were in opposition and refused to form a Government. That did not last long. Very soon both sides joined together and went in a deputation to Kenyatta and took his advice. Shortly after that, a delegation of both Parties was received. Altogether it is not a democracy; it is a coalition of people overwhelmingly supporting this curious man: an educated man, a travelled man, a man who has written a book and who has been given this extraordinary build-up, not only by his own people but by the Government.

There are many examples of this. One wonders whether the Colonial Office is really still in command in Kenya, because a group of foreign consuls were sent to visit this man. That is a most extraordinary thing, when you think that this country is supposed to be in command. By whose acquiesence or instigation did these foreign consuls go and interview this man, an ordinary man, without any special status? Another example is that Mr. Blundell, as was disclosed in part of the Press, went to see Kenyatta and then to a meeting of Africans, 2,000 of them, and is reported to have said, "I asked him whether he would like to be President" This man was a Minister and he told those 2,000 Africans, before any of u; here learned anything about it, that he had asked Kenyatta whether he would like to be President. It seems to me that that was certainly irregular and I should have thought perhaps unconstitutional.

Is it conceivable, I ask, that this man, with his background, which is certainly one of intimidation, can g ye Kenya any confidence of a happy future between all races? Some of the Africans are white, and look at the effect on the "high-ups". About three months ago, we heard that the senior civil servants were so averse to the proposal for the release of Kenyatta that they said that they could not go on if that were to happen. Now we know that 300 of them have given in their remission, have been promised a scale of compensation, and are coming home. Does it look likely that they, who know the country and have been interested in their work, feel that there is a happy future in store there?

We have also to protect those who were loyal to us in most difficult circumstances, the Kikuyu and other tribesmen in the employment of white men who went about their tasks and remained loyal. And there are the moderate, men, because not all Africans are wildly, frantically nationalistic. There are moderate men, who have had fine relations with the white people and like them, and the white people like them, too. But there is this dominant tribe. There are 11 tribes in Kenya, but there is a dominant one—the Kikuyu, a million and a quarter of them, who are more intelligent than the others and who are disliked by most of them I cannot help thinking that it will fare hardly for the other 10 tribes on the fringes of the country, remote from the capital Nairobi, which is also the centre of Kikuyudom, if such a man as Kenyatta, strongly supported by his tribesmen, were put in the chief power in that State.

There is also the question of land titles. Some of them were granted under a misunderstanding. When I first went there, the whole set-up of the country was as from India. The officials were from India. The rupee was the currency. The foremen on the railways, which after all were what made the country, were Indians. The set-up was from India and what our white people knew about English administration probably did not work there. The means of communication was the Swahili language, which is not the language of the tribes. Therefore, misunderstandings arose, and it is not surprising. In 1933 the Carter Commission reported, among other things, that the extravagant demands of the Kikuyu race were embittering relations between the races. The Carter Commission took an infinity of evidence; they produced a wonderful Report and made recommendations, many of which were carried out and which it was hoped would solve the bitterness of feeling in those who thought that What they had always regarded as their lands had been taken away from them.

Our chief hope, as I see it, is the suggestion emanating from Julius Nyerere, the African Chief Minister—that Heaven-sent man of common sense and imagination, surely shaping into the stature of a statesman—of retaining the services of the High Commission Territories, which are the three Governments working over a wonderful organisation embracing 2,000 White people and administering 21 services which are common between the three countries. Nyerere suggested that as we are going in for giving independence in other directions, why not give independence to the great block of those three countries under the High Commission?

I fear that Kenyatta, the leader of that wedge of Kikuyu, might not make for happy relations with the Buganda and Uganda States, and with Nyerere's country, Tanganyika. I find unthinkable the possibility of the hand of one of our Royal Family having to be put into the hand of such a man.

5.32 p.m.


My Lords, I apologise to your Lordships for speaking on two or three occasions this afternoon, but it so happens that, by coincidence, the Government have put down a number of matters in which I am interested. That is the reason, and not any undue tendency to inflict my views on your Lordships. On this Question of the noble Earl, Lord Albemarle, I should like, first of all, to raise a point of form. We have recently had the matter of what things can be put in a Question brought to our attention. I know that in this House we have nothing laid down, as it were, but the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House gave an indication about a month ago that tendentious matter should not appear in a Question. I feel that this Question as framed by the noble Earl, as I am sure he will agree on consideration, is rather tendentious, when it refers to a man as a leader vowed to intimidatory practices and then goes on about these other matters.


My Lords, may I say that I made research, but I could not find the noble Lord's interpretation?


I have said that I do not think it is clearly laid down, but we did have an indication from the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House, when the noble Lard, Lord Boothby, made what I considered a rude comment about London Airport. I understand that there is a Committee sitting at the moment, or about to sit, and I think they might well look into this matter, as it would be a help to us all in framing our Questions. As I say, I do not think there is any rule about it, but, in my view—I may be in a minority on it—tendentious matter should not appear in a Question.

As to the merits of this Question, I think the noble Earl has himself indi- cated in the course of his speech what the difficulty is. He has used the words (I took a note of them) that "Jomo Kenyatta has the overwhelming support of his people". I think the noble Earl said that twice. If a man has the overwhelming support of his people, then he is a difficult man for the Government—both Her Majesty's and the Government of Kenya—to ignore, when, as is the case, Kenya is approaching self-government. How can you ignore the views of such a man who has the overwhelming support of his people (if he has it; and I daresay he has a good deal, although I do not think he has the overwhelming support) at this stage, especially when he is still detained by the Government of Kenya?

The noble Earl has told us, quite frankly, that consuls have been to see Jomo Kenyatta. There are no embassies in Kenya, because it is a Crown Colony, and they have consuls; they are sort of embryo ambassadors. The Minister, Mr. Blundell, has also been to see him. Why do these people go to see Jomo Kenyatta? They do not go to see the ordinary detainee. There have been scores of thousands of detainees in Kenya, but this is the only one they have been to see. Why is that? Is it not an indication of the fact that this is a highly important detainee, and a man with whom the Government will have to deal in one way or another, and will, I believe, quite shortly, have to consider in other ways?

In my view—I make no Party point about this; it is not a Party point, because all sorts of Governments have been been concerned—we mishandled Jomo Kenyatta from the beginning. I bold no brief for him: he was convicted of a crime and served his sentence of imprisonment, and ever since he has been detained. I am not here to defend his character or anything else, but I believe that early on he was wrongly treated. When Jomo Kenyatta came back to Africa, he was one of the first intellectual nationalists, of whom in recent years since the war we have seen so many. The Government at that time, instead of bringing him in and making him share some of the responsibilities of Government, failed to do so, they kept him out. They suggested to him that, if be wanted to get experience in government he should go to the local native authority of the place from which he came and learn it there. That my have been good or bad advice, but it was not enough for a man who, as.he noble Earl has indicated, had been over here and written a book, At The Foot of Mount Kenya


He had been to Russia, too.


Yes, he had been to Russia, but a lot of people have been to Russia, both before and since, and it does not mean that they are Communists. I need not go through the people of the noble Earl's Party who have recently been to Russia. The point is that this was a special kind of man, who had been educated here, who knew and had met politicians here, who had travelled in Europe, and who had even been to Russia. I think it was a great mistake to say to a man like that when he came home: "You cannot come into the Legislative Council. You must go back to G[...]thunguri", or somewhere, and there join the local authority. They were, of Bourse, dealing with minor matters; they had no financial responsibility and very few other responsibilities at that time.

Be that as it may, that went on, and there arose a complete breach between Jomo Kenyatta and the Government. I first met him in 1948, I think it was. I was asked to go and address a large number of Kikuyu—thousands upon thousands of them—in Kikuyuland, in a sort of Roman amphitheatre, where the speaker stood down at the bottom, and there was range upon range of Africans going up the sides, almost as high as this Chamber, and there was Jomo in the middle of them. It was obvious then to anybody who had eyes in his head that Jomo Kenyatta had enormous power and influence among the Kikuyu. At that time the Kikuyu were an intelligent, active tribe. They were the most political tribe in East Africa. They were quite different from the others, and they were one of the original agricultural tribes in East Africa; most of the others were pastoral.

Jomo Kenyatta formed a training college and a series of schools. The Government's view at that time was that these were subversive, and they did everything they possibly could to decry them. My own view at that time—and I expressed it then; I am not looking through the telescope the wrong way—was that either you had to support these schools and the work they were doing or you closed them down. My view was that you should support them and give them a certain amount of funds, inspect them, and turn them into a really good educational system, or close them down. It was no good doing nothing about subscribing towards them and grumbling all the time that they were subversive. In other words, the Kenya Government got the worst of both worlds in their attitude. That is the background to much of this. Eventually, as we know, Jomo Kenyatta was very much implicated in the Mau Mau movement, or at any rate in the movement that led up to Mall Mau. I do not know how much actual implication in that movement or in the movements that led up to it was proved against him, but he went to gaol and ever since has been in detention.

If I may say so, I think the Colonial Secretary is right over this question, and I hope it will not embarrass him for me to say so. I believe the Colonial Office are taking the right course—in other words, they are being neither too hasty nor too dilatory. You have to consider opinion in Kenya and here. You cannot rush these things. On the other hand, you do not Want to be too dilatory. They brought Kenyatta down quite near to Nairobi where he could be seen by people who wanted to see him, and little by little they are giving the opportunity to people to see him. I have no doubt at all that, quite soon, perhaps in a few months, he will be released. I think he should be, and I will tell your Lordships why. 1[t is pretty obvious that the Government have the view that, by the end of 1962, in all probability Kenya will get self-government. It will not necessarily be independent at that time. The Government have never stated that, but I think that is the sort of period they have in mind—either the end of 1962 or the middle of 1963. It is essential, to my mind, that they release Jomo Kenyatta while the British still have control in Kenya. I think it would be most unfortunate in every possible way if we handed over to the young African Government, who will have full power and control, this enormous problem of Jomo Kenyatta. We put him into detention, and we should take him out.

I do not argue with the Government, because I have not the knowledge which they have, of the right timing as to when Jomo should be released. That is a matter for them, and I should not interfere. I never have interfered with the rights of a Governor to dictate policy of that sort. I would only say, as a matter of principle, that whatever we do we should release him before we hand over our power to the African Government which is to take over. If we do not, we may involve that African Government in very grave difficulties indeed. The recent statements of Jomo Kenyatta have shown that he is anxious to play his full part in the new Kenya. After all, a good many years have gone by, and while he has been in detention he may well have changed his mind on many points. I hope he will play his part—and a very important part it will be, do not let us forget, in the new Kenya. But there is just the chance that he, being a Kikuyu, will have difficulties with the Nandi, the Masai and the Coast Tribes. There is just that chance, and I do not think it is a chance we should leave to the new, inexperienced African Government that will take over from us. It is a difficulty we should face and which we should overcome while we still have responsibility.

5.45 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in his opening words, did not wish in any way to mislead the House, but I think he himself misapprehends the character of an Unstarred Question in your Lordships' House. An Unstarred Question, if I understand it aright, is just a Motion like any other in this House, except that the mover has no right of reply. In every other respect there are no differences between the two. Therefore, I believe that the noble Earl, Lord Albemarle, was entirely within the Rules of Order in tabling his Question. Indeed, I am sure that we should all be grateful to him for raising this matter this afternoon.

I must confess, if I may say so, that I was a little shocked by some things in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. There can, of course, be very few of us whose susceptibilities have not been sadly blunted in these days by all we have been through in the last few decades, and who are not rather less fastidious than we used to be. There are all too many of us, I am afraid, whose tendency is to acquiese without a murmur in things which would have led almost to a political crisis in earlier times. But it is surely salutary (and I would say this particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore) that we should sometimes he pulled up sharply and made to realise how far our standards have been deteriorating, and that we should be asked to consider whether, even now, a halt could not be called to that deterioration. This, I suggest, is a classic case when we may fairly ask the Government for reassurance, just when Parliament is separating for the long Summer Recess.

As I understand it, up to now—and no doubt the noble Earl, Lord Perth, will correct me if I am wrong—Her Majesty's Government have continued to reiterate, whenever questioned, that they have no intention of releasing Jomo Kenyatta; and I sincerely hope that there is no intention of altering that decision now. But we all equally know that the Government are under steadily increasing pressure to release him, not only from nationalist African leaders in Kenya itself, but also from certain quarters in this country. The case for doing so was deployed, I think, with admirable clarity in a leading article in The Times as far back as April 10 of this year. If I refer rather extensively to that article, it is not for the purpose of making an attack upon The Times, but merely because the article in question is, I think, the strongest and most detailed exposition that I have yet read of the case for releasing him.

First of all, the article pointed out—rather. I think, on the lines on which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, spoke this afternoon—that the fact that Kenyatta, who was a dominant African figure in the public life of Kenya, was still segregated or detained, or whatever you like to call it, was causing increased tension and bitterness, and seriously prejudicing the healthy advance of that country towards independence. It was admitted that his release would be unwelcome in both official and unofficial quarters, European and African, in Kenya, and also among wide sections of opinion here in l3ritain. But these people the article said are gradually becoming accustomed to the idea that Kenyatta's release is inevitable. After all, it claimed with some satisfaction, British Governments always do give 'way to violence.

What, it asked, about Archbishop Makarios? He was responsible for (to use the euphemistic phrase of The Times) "a campaign of armed violence against British rule"—Iwhich meant, in other words, that he was responsible for a terrorist organisation which led to the killing, not only of British soldiers, but of unarmed civilians, men and women, bath British and Cypriot, in circumstances of great brutality Yet,it was pointed out that he was entirely accepted, and to-day sits it the table in the odour of sanctity with other representatives of the British Commonwealth. If that is possible, so runs the argument, in the case of the Archbishop, why not in the case of Kenyatta? Why cannot he, too, join the company of leaders of this new British Commonwealtih, of which the Prime Minister has such high hopes that it will be much better than the old?

Of course there is that complication of the bestial oaths and practices connected with Mau Mau, but it is fair to say—and I understood this to be the view of The Times, and also, I take it, of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore—that Kenyatta's responsibility for these excesses, and I quote again, was at most indirect, whatever that may mean; and indeed the article goes on to say.: …it is open to assume,"— on grounds not stated: of course it is open to assume anything on grounds not Stated— that Kenyatta never intended such excesses". That is very much the wane type of argument that has been advanced to us to-day. In any case, it was said—and this was the conclusive argument: …it hardly seems right that a man who has … served his sentence for actions for which he was directly responsible should be held in restraint for ever fcr their indirect consequences. That is to absolve him a together from what I can only call the flimsy assumptions of responsibility for all the more horrid manifestations of Mau Mau. That is something which I simply cannot believe, and it also ignores, I think, one essential consideration. It is one thing to say that man has paid the penalty for his offences; it is quite a different thing to say that that man is suitable to be Prime Minister.

Why! my Lords, in this country, or indeed in any other decent country, a man who had been guilty of such offences as those for which Kenyatta was convicted would be hounded permanently from public life and would probably have had to leave the country altogether. Yet in this case, as we know, it is admitted by everyone that a primary purpose of releasing him would be to enable him to play a leading part in guiding the future destinies of his country. How is it possible to defend that? It could lead only, I should think, to a further steady degradation.of public life.

If we accepted Jomo Kenyatta, after all that has happened, as political leader of Kenya, then the large majority of decent citizens, Africans and Europeans, in that country could come to only one conclusion: that there was absolutely no point act which Her Majesty's Government were prepared to make a stand. Even The Times itself, in the leading article which I have already quoted, says this: Kenyatta … is not a leader on a par with other leaders who have made their peace and been received into the community of the Cornmonwealth.… The other African leaders of contemporary times have concentrated on leading their people towards the light. Kenyatta's movement was preoccupied with the darkness, and it was consciously recidivist and atavistic". And the article concludes … Were Kenya to become independent, with Kenyatta as Chief Minister … one clear consequence is that Kenya could not be a member of the Commonwealth… And yet, my Lords, if I understand aright, it is the declared policy of Her Majesty's Government to give independence to Kenya act a very early date.

My Lords, for these reasons which I have stated, I urge Her Majesty's Government, before it is too late, to give some consideration to the arguments which some of us have urged on them this afternoon. One thing more, if I may say so with very great deference: I hope that we shall not be told that the release is ultimately a matter for the Governor of Kenya and not for Her Majesty's Government here. No one, at any rate no one with Cabinet experience, could swallow that: he would know, and know certainly, that any decision of that importance must require and receive approval of the Colonial Secretary and the Cabinet. I hope very much that the Government will tell us in their reply that we who have spoken this afternoon are banging at an open door. I hope we shall be told clearly and unequivocally that there is no intention of changing the Government policy over Kenyatta. Indeed, I appeal most earnestly to them to give such a reply. But—and this is the last thing I want to say—if, in fact, there has been a change in Government policy, I hope equally that we shall be told this now, before Parliament rises, in order that we may immediately seek absolute assurances as to the security not only of Europeans in Kenya but of the many thousands of loyal Kikuyus against new perils and anxieties which these unhappy people must already most certainly see looming ahead.

5.57 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to intervene for a few moments as we are on the eve of a long adjournment, and matters may happen during the Recess which we shall have no opportunity of considering. May I say immediately that I am in full agreement with my noble friend who has just spoken, that of course all this is entirely in order upon an Unstarred Question. I wish to emphasise that, because there has been a great deal of consideration lately on what is or is not the right procedure in your Lordships' House.


My Lords, I was not querying for one moment that it was in order on an Unstarred Question; I was asking whether the form of the Question, that is to say, what might be regarded as tendentious statements in the Question, was in order; and I was suggesting that this is the sort of thing—because the Orders of the House do not help us very much—that the Procedure Committee might consider.


I see; it was the manner on which the noble Lord was lecturing my noble friend, and not the matter. In that case, I think I can leave it and say—


That is very offensive. I have been a Member of this House for eleven years, and I do not "lecture" anybody. I asked what I thought was a perfectly reasonable question, and the noble Earl, Lord Albemarle, made no bones about it. He did not think I was "lecturing" him. I asked whether the form of the Question was in accord with the practice of the House. I asked a question, and I should like the Procedure Committee to look at it. Tendentious statements in a Question are not desirable in my view.


I do not know why the noble Lord is so sensitive; I have often heard him very critical of persons. I was saying—and I gather it is quite true—that what the noble Lord was criticising was the manner of my noble friend and not the matter of the Question.

My comment is that we have here a Question which raises the future of Kenya. It has been said, I think, many times, both by the Government here and in Kenya, that the release of Jomo Kenyatta is a matter which must depend upon security in Kenya. Now I entirely agree with my noble friend that that, of course, is a matter which is primarily one for the Governor of Kenya. But the ultimate responsibility—and in a grave matter like this no action would be taken by the Governor without the fullest consultation with the Secretary of State—for Kenyatta's release must therefore be a primary and very important matter of Government policy for which the Government here would take the fullest responsibility. Any of us who has held office as Secretary of State would treat that as a matter of course.

I do not quarrel with the statement that this must depend upon security. I think it is very odd that to-day it is said punishment wipes all out. To some extent that is true, but in this particular instance I do not think one can fail to remember what was the whole attitude of this man as found in a court of law. It may be quite true, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, that he is a man with great influence in Kenya. Influence is exercised in African countries not as it is here, just by argument and by influence and by leadership; it is exercised through more sinister channels, very often by intimidation, by witchcraft, and by those strange appeals to what lies below the surface.

All that surely has to be taken fully into account, and I would say, let this matter depend on security. But what do we mean by security? It is a pretty wide question, and on that the life of Kenya depends. Of course, in the first place, security means the maintenance of law and order, which is the primary duty of any Government in any country. I would say to the Government, if I may, you are fully justified, in a country where for some years masses of British troops were employed and large numbers of Africans—much larger numbers of Africans than Et ropeans—were killed, in holding the man unless you are satisfied that security, in the.sense of the maintenance of law and order, will be maintained.

My Lords, I make no apology for travelling a little wide on this Question which my noble friend has asked. Security is not only the maintenance of law and order. Security, as surely we should know to-day in the economic situation of this country, is a matter of the country being viable, the country being prosperous, the country being able to pay its way. That is relevant to this matter for this reason: if in Kenya a situation is allowed to arise where people are uncertain of the whole of their future, then the security, in the sense of the economic security of the country, is jeopardised.

I do not think I have ever been a retrogressive person in the: administration of colonial territories, but one thing is quite certain in Kenya: the viability of that country depends upon the success of the farming of the White Highlands. Nobody who knows Kenya will deny that for a moment; it all depends upon that. The people there are anxious to-day. If the farmers do not farm, and farm in the efficient way in which they are doing to-day—and on their work I suppose 80 per cent. of the exports of that country, as well as its internal supplies, depend—if they are driven into expediency farming of cash crops and the whole rotation goes down, then, at a time when they can least afford it, the whole economy will go. Successful farming is equally in the interests of the natives, whether they be Kikuyu or Masai or Meru or whoever they are, as it is in the interests of the limited number of white settlers.

It so happens that I had to take responsibility for the whole delimitation of the White Highlands. I appointed an extremely able Committee under Sir Joseph Carter, the great Chief Justice, with two other members. That Committee made a Report (it is all in a Blue Book which was published) in which they delimited the White Highlands. They gave to the native tribes, the Kikuyu and to a certain extent the Meru as well, a larger area than had been expected, and they said that ought to be put into an Order in Council. But they said, "Although we have delimited it in this way, we should be failing if while we are giving this complete security for now and the future to the natives, we did not, or Her Majesty's Government did not, at the same time give an equal security to the white settlers." One can call them settlers; they are people some of whom have been in the White Highlands now for two or three generations. The Committee recommended that the area of the White Highlands in the occupation of the settlers should be given this complete security by being put into a British Order in Council, and that was done by an Order in Council which I think was passed in 1939.

I raise this matter because I believe it is vital to maintain with certainty and integrity the title of these men upon whom the whole economic life of Kenya depends, whether you do it by a new Order in Council here, or whether you do it by assuming a financial liability. It will fall upon you anyhow if the Colony goes bankrupt; I have had, as my noble friend has had, to administer Colonies when half of them were on the dole and had to be kept by the British Treasury. I have said what I have said because I think it is just as important to give that security of tenure, and not only of tenure but of viability and prosperity to Kenya, as it is to give a security of law and order. I do not ask the Minister of State to answer that point offhand, but, having myself had a rather peculiar responsibility in this matter in the past, some time before the war, I feel I should be doing less than justice to the whole of Kenya unless I took this opportunity of putting that upon record.

6.8 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to make what I hope will be a very brief contribution to this debate, I propose to keep closely to the wording and, I think, the meaning of the Question which was asked by the noble Earl. It would be easy to dilate on the Administration in Kenya, and so on, but I have no intention of wasting your Lordships' time on that. Before I say what I want to say, I should like, with reference to what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore said, to remind your Lordships that the influence of Kenyatta in Kenya—and it has been immense in the past, and doubtless is immense to-day—is not based on affection; it is not a case of following a great leader. The man is a man of great magnetic personality, but he rules by fear. That has been proved over and over again. The documents about Kenya are many, and I have read quite a number of them. I also had the advantage, if it was an advantage, of spending a month in Kenya, an intensive month at the height of Mau Mau troubles. I was invited to go there by the European Settlers Association to see for myself what it was like. I am sorry to say that I did see what it was like. I spent a most intensive month studying, so far as I could, and coming to some conclusions as to its causes. I do not propose to weary your Lordships with reflections on the past, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, did. With respect, I do not think that the hypothetical mistakes of the past have any real relevance to the future of Kenya. It is too late to do anything about that. I want to take the facts as they are to-day.

One thing we have to remember about Jomo Kenyatta is that he was the leader of the Mau Mau, that it was only after the return of Kenyatta to Kenya in 1946 that K.C.A. and all his other friends in the central organisation turned (and there is plenty of documentary evidence about this) to the venomous idea of Mau Mau; and slowly that appallingly vicious movement began. Again, it has been hinted at, if not actually stated, to-night, that Mau Mau, in its worst debaucheries and atrocities, started only after the arrest of Kenyatta. That is not true. It has been amply proved to be not true.

It is only two or three months ago that Mr. Norman Harris delivered a public address in London. He is a man who had been for ten years a member of the Legislative Council. He was until recently Minister for Information in Kenya. He knew Kenyatta in the earlier days and latterly, and he points out that in the earlier days of 1952, when Kenyatta was still dominant there, that case after case about Mau Mau and the oathing ceremonies were brought to the courts and it was impossible to get witnesses. Witnesses who had promised to come disappeared, and, as Mr. Harris pointed out in his lecture, over the next few years the graves of 6,000 witnesses were slowly identified throughout Kikuyuland, and all of them bore the marks of the familiar Kikuyu strangling cord. Those were the men that Kenyatta could not afford to have coming to court. If he had been a popular leader, that could not have happened. I say that only in passing.

Let us remember that he was convicted of being the leader of Mau Mau; that he appealed to the Supreme Court of Kenya; he appealed from there to the Appeal Court of East Africa, and from there to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. In each case the conviction was upheld. As the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said, one must remember the sort of man we are dealing with and talking about. As noble Lords may not place much value on my view of certain individuals, perhaps they will accept the view of a man whose friendship and concern for the African, whatever else one may think about some of his views, is unquestioned—I refer to Father Trevor Huddleston. In December, 1952, shortly after the arrest of Kenyatta, Father Huddleston wrote this: Mau Mau is a movement which in its origins and in its development is wholly evil. It is the worst enemy of African progress in Kenya. It has about it all the horror of the powers of darkness: of spiritual wickedness in high places. There can be no compromise, no common ground, between Mau Mau and the rest of the civilised world. It must be utterly destroyed if the peoples of Kenya are to live together and build up their country. My Lords, it is the originator and the leader of that movement whom certain people say they would like to see released and made the Prime Minister of an independent Kenya. I think the facts speak for themselves.

The other suggestion which is made, and has been hinted at to-day, is that Jomo Kenyatta has mellowed and changed in his outlook. All the evidence of those who are qualified to judge is quite the reverse of that. We are told by people who have seen him recently that today he is full of mental and physical power, and possesses in a high degree this almost mesmeric power, the magnetic personality which he has always possessed. But here again perhaps the comment of somebody who speaks with more authority than I do would be better. The Governor of Kenya on May 9, 1960, said this: In the light of my studies I should be compelled to receive with the greatest reserve any statements from Jomo Kenyatta of changed outlook or new intentions. We know very well what his old outlook was, and what his old intentions were.

In conclusion, my Lords, I should like to quote a sentence or two from an impressive address delivered by the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack to the National Liberal Forum on "Liberty and the Rule of Law". I was present and had the privilege of listening to that most impressive address. One of the statements of the noble and learned Viscount that I should like to quote is this: Some people argue that modern trends make liberty under the law archaic. There are many reasons why it is important to stand by convictions that liberty and the rule of law matter. We must not allow ourselves to drift with the stream of events and tendencies. My Lords, as a bewildered Back-Bencher who is a great supporter of Her Majesty's present Government, I ask the noble Earl who is to reply to this Question to put our misgivings and our bewilderment at rest by giving us some definite answer about what is being repeatedly stated in the papers: that Jomo Kenyatta's release is imminent, and that the British Government are going to agree to alter the Constitution of Kenya so as to eliminate the clause which says that no person who has been convicted and served more than a two-year sentence in prison can become a member of the Legislative Council. It seems to me quite unbelievable that that could be done, but it shows the extent of my bewilderment that I ask the Government to say that it is not and could not be so.

6.19 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, both former Colonial Secretaries to whom the House listens with special interest when a Colony is being discussed, and the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, and the noble Earl, Lord Albemarle—four out of five speakers in the debate this afternoon—have taken the view that Kenyatta should not be released, and have urged the Government by means of the arguments that they have used to support this view, to say that this is a policy to which they adhere. The opposite view has been expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. It is a view which I think deserves the consideration of the House and of the Government, and a view which I shall endeavour to support in my few remarks this afternoon.

I am sure everyone appreciates that the opinion which is so widely held, that Jomo Kenyatta should have the restrictions which still prevent him from taking part in the political life of Kenya removed, is not confined to any Party or any race. I read with some interest the Hansard Report of a debate in another place yesterday on East and Central Africa. I noted that there were two Conservative Back-Benchers, Mr. Berkeley and Mr. Fisher, both of whom know a great deal about Africa, who took the view that it was in the interests of Kenya that Kenyatta should be released from confinement. This view, of course, is also shared by some Europeans in Kenya, by Mr. Blundell, whom all of us who know him respect, and by the members of his Party. So it is not a view confined, either here or in Africa, to any one Party or any race; it is a view held by many persons of many different Parties and of different races.

I think it is fair to say that in Africa, certainly the bulk of African opinion, the overwhelming bulk of African opinion in Kenya, is in favour of release; and that was the view expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, with which I think the noble Earl, Lord Albemarle, agreed—I thought he did. If not, I am sorry; I misunderstood him. But if that view is correct—and I think it is—then surely the very great volume of opinion, both here and in Africa, is a factor that should be taken into consideration by the Government in deciding whether or not to adhere to their present policy.

If Kenyatta were released, then obviously one of two things would happen: he could use his influence either for good or for ill. The assumption of all the noble Lords who have spoken against his release has been that he would use his influence for ill. But, my Lords, on this assumption, if this were to happen—and no one can be certain that it would happen, although nobody could be certain that it might not happen—surely Kenyatta could be detained again, and those of us who thought the risk was worth taking would then be convinced that it was a bad risk. I think there is a tremendous amount of force in the argument used by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore: that if Kenyatta is going to be released he should be released while British authority in Kenya can still be enforced, while he cannot do any serious harm; and that this release should not be deferred until an African Government comes into power and we are no longer in a position to restrain them—because released he will be sooner or later, whether it is by us or by the Africans. I am sure that the lesser risk is for us to do it.

But now let us look at the opposite possibility. I do not think that even the noble Lords opposite could deny that there is a possibility that Kenyatta might use his influence for good. If he were to do so, there is no individual in Kenya who could do more for that Colony and for the whole of East Africa. In Kenya he would bring about political stability by bringing K.A.N.U., the biggest African Party, into support of the Government; and the Government of Kenya will continue to be unstable until it can secure the support of African opinion, which is mainly represented by K.A.N.U. with the largest number of African-elected members of the Legislature. He could do much more than that for Kenya. He could do more than anyone else to secure a fair deal for all the races, which is what all of us on both sides of this House desire. This would be the greatest service he could render to his own country.

I know that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, thinks that Kenyatta has not changed his attitude during his time in prison. On the other hand, he has made statements which suggest that his attitude may have changed. Those statements were referred to, quite rightly, by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. I myself believe that there is no good reason to suppose, from what we have heard of Kenyatta's views in the last few months, that he will not behave in a reasonable and sensible way and try to do what is best for his people and his country. He could do an immense amount for East Africa. He could take up the lead given by Mr. Nyerere for an East African Federation and put the weight of Kenya behind it. It is surely in a federal relationship between the East African territories that British East Africa would find the closest political co-operation and the best chance of economic progress and prosperity.

I know that the noble Earl, Lord Albemarle, took the view that this was a man we could not trust; that we could not take the risk of giving him political power. But, after all, my Lords, this is a risk we have often taken in the past, and a risk that has been taken with success. No fewer than three of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers at the present time have served terms of imprisonment owing to their instigation of violence or participation in violence against British rule. So a man cannot be ruled out simply for the reason that he has been involved in resistance or violence towards the British Government.

What I should like to ask the Government to do is this. I am not expecting the Government, and I would not ask the Government, to change their policy at the present time—I know that that would be a vain hope. But I do ask the Government to refuse to accept the suggestion of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that the door should be closed. I hope that the Government will not fetter their action in the future; that they will be free to change their mind, as I hope their mind will change at the appropriate moment. And I believe that it would be very reassuring to many of us if the noble Earl who is to reply could tell us that there is no rigid position in the Government's attitude to Kenyatta and that the Government are still entirely free to do what they think right in the circumstances and as they develop in time to come. But I hope very much—because I am sure that the sooner these things are done tie better—that the release of Kenyatta will not be postponed for any considerable time.

6.30 p.m.


My Lords, I do not believe the noble Earl, Lord Albermarle, would expect me to answer his Question in specific terms; nor do I think other noble Lords would expect me so to do. Before I try to deal with the debate as it has gone, I would just say to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that it is not for me, I think, to comment on the point that he has raised about the form of Question. In what I say, therefore, I am in no way judging what may or may not be in that point.

I will start by saying I understand very well the reasons which dictated the Question of the noble Earl, Lord Albermarle—and, indeed, the background or the reasons which all noble Lords have had when they spoke this afternoon as they did. I can assure him and all those noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon that I will draw to the attention of my right honourable friend and of the Governor of Kenya what they have said. It is perhaps worth recalling how, in his statement of May 10, 1960, and more particularly in his statement of a few months ago, in March of this year, the Governor asked everyone in Kenya to work actively to bring to an end the divisions and personal fears among the Kiku3u peoples and other people in Kenya, and to produce an atmosphere of stable political achievement on the Lancaster House pattern. Views may vary on just how far this has already been achieved, but I would join with my r gilt honourable friend in paying high tribute to the Kenya Government for the way they have operated the new Constitution and have tackled the complex day-to-day questions in Kenya. I feel, with him, that, on the whole, it is fair to say that Kenya has moved forward through the months since the Election with remarkable calm.

All the same, the noble Earl, in his Question, fears the consequences of Mr. Kenyatta's release, and on this I do not think that I can do more than refer him to the debate in another place yesterday, to which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has referred, and in particular to quote what my right honourable friend said during that debate in reply to a question about Kenyatta's release from restriction. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 645 (No. 155), col 262]: I have a duty to fulfil and so has the Governor. We shall discharge that duty in the best way we can, and I shall inform the House as soon as possible of any decision. I assure the hon. Gentleman that nothing except the proper considerations of law and order and the well-being of Kenya will enter into the considerations of either the Governor or myself. My Lords, I think that this answers the point raised by the noble Marquess: that the Government are not going to Shelter behind The Governor in this respect. This, of course, is something on which the Governor has his responsibility; so has the Secretary of State, and so have the Government. I believe that not only is this the right and proper form to be followed, but also that it bears out what has been consistently our policy in regard to this question of the release of Kenyatta or any other of the detainees. We are under obligation to review from time to time the restriction orders. Indeed, a little while ago the Governor said—and I quote him: It is not my view that Jomo Kenyatta should be kept in restriction indefinitely". But What are the considerations which come into this decision? As I have quoted, the considerations of law and order are paramount. However, as the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said, there is something further, which again was included in the statement of my right honourable friend—namely, the wellbeing of Kenya. In such considerations the Governor will be taking into account the sort of anxieties and views that have been expressed by your Lordships this afternoon, as well, of course, as the views of those out in Kenya, whether they are concerned with security, the Administration, the Government, the loyalists, as referred to in the noble Earl's Question, or what I would term the general opinion of those in Kenya.

My Lords, I do not believe that it is useful for me to try to deal in detail with the various individual points that have been raised this afternoon, with one or two exceptions. Frankly, I should be afraid lest, in expressing, perhaps, personal opinions in certain respects with regard to other views which have been raised, they could be misunderstood and misread. I would, however, touch on two points, the first being that raised by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, on the question of the disqualification of those who have served two years in prison in Kenya. As the noble Lord may know, there was a debate in the Kenya House a week or two ago, the outcome of which was a Motion calling for this law to be reviewed. My right honourable friend, being asked about what he was going to do—because it concerns him as well as the Governor—replied as follows in another place [OFFICIAL RFPORT, Commons, Vol. 644 (No. 152), col. 1443]: The Governor has forwarded the resolution in question for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. I will examine the record of the debate on it in the Kenya Legislative Council when available. Thereafter I shall consider, in consultation with the Governor, what action, if any, should be taken. The report has in fact just been received, and there is nothing more I can add to that to-day.

I would turn to the important point made by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, on the question of title to land. This was something which was touched upon yesterday in Question and Answer, and it is something as to which the Government are both aware of the anxieties of the settlers and are very much concerned. The position at the present time is, I think, rather encouraging. I say encouraging because when both Parties—that is K.A.D.U., the Government Party and K.A.N.U.—were over here a short while ago for the East African High Commission discussions, we took the opportunity of talking with them both about Kenya matters in general. The outcome of those talks was a joint statement in which they said that they would discuss, under the chairmanship of the Governor, questions concerning the Constitution and questions concerning the rights of property. Now I think that it is an extremely important thing that both these African Parties should be ready to go into this question of the rights of property, and it has also been said that all those concerned will, of course, be called in to the discussions at the right time. I therefore think we can hope that there is light on that question—when you get general recognition that this is something which must be dealt with.

My Lords, I must confess that when I saw this Question I was rather worried at the prospect of having to reply, but I think that the points of view that have been put forward from all sides of the House are of great importance and of great value. I think the best thing that I can do is to undertake to your Lordships what I have already said I would do—namely, that I will draw the attention of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, and that of the Governor, to the debate in detail, and tell them all that has passed here this afternoon.

House adjourned at twenty minutes before seven o'clock.