HL Deb 13 June 1961 vol 232 cc89-91

2.35 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any statement to make on the present political and economic situation in Kenya, in the light of any report that may have been made by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and with particular reference to the security position.]


My Lords, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary did not make a report after his visit to Kenya and Uganda which would call for a Government statement, but, in the light of his visit and other day-to-day information we regularly get from Kenya, I am glad to try, as the noble Marquess asks, to outline the present position there in the political, economic and security fields.

Taking the security situation first, to which the Parliamentary Under-Secretary paid particular attention, he has described it as fundamentally sound, but drew attention to three disturbing features—a general increase in crime, on which I would comment that it has not been directed to any one race; the theft of firearms; and the increase in two areas of illegal oath taking.

Security operations have been taking place in Meru, where the largest oath-taking ceremony occurred. The Governor has been assured of the fullest support from Her Majesty's Government in any measures which he may consider necessary to maintain security. He has a large and efficient police force at his dis- posal, and the determination of the mass of the people of all communities in Kenya to avoid the violence of the past.

With regard to the political situation in Kenya during the month in which the new Legislative Council has been sitting, the new Kenya Government has demonstrated its ability to govern and to maintain its majority. As to the economic situation, the Colony has unhappily this year suffered from an unparalleled drought, causing great hardship, and even famine, but the restoration of confidence remains the crux of the matter. Security, on which I have already touched, and the energetic tackling of the land problem are recognised by the Kenya Government as basic to the restoration of this confidence. For their part, Her Majesty's Government are giving very substantial support to help the Kenya Government carry out its policy. In the present financial year alone, £18½ million is being made available in grants and loans to support the current budget and the capital and agricultural development programme.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl for the trouble he has taken to give the House all the information he can with regard to the present position in Kenya. I am sure the House will be glad to know that Her Majesty's Government have, as I understand it, assured the Governor of Kenya that he may expect the support of Her Majesty's Government in any security measures that he thinks it necessary to make. I think that that will be very well received by everybody in all pants of the House.

The noble Earl said nothing about the future policy. Perhaps that was impossible, but I hope he will be able to assure the House that the Government, in all their policy, will act in full conformity with the recent declaration of the Colonial Secretary that the right course is to take constitutional advance at a pace appropriate to the economic circumstances of the country and to the needs of all races in it, and, I would add, to the essential requirements of Imperial and Western defence. Your Lordships may have seen the statement by Mr. Mboya within the last few days that if British military bases still existed when Kenya attained its independence, the Africans would break them up. If that be the attitude of the African leaders, will Her Majesty's Government make it clear at the appropriate moment (I have not given the noble Earl notice of this question) that in any settlement either the present bases or other necessary bases must remain under British sovereignty as in the Cyprus settlement.


My Lords, as regards the first part of the noble Marquess's question, I can assure him that what my right honourable friend said in another place is the policy of Her Majesty's Government and in that respect there has been no change in the years that I can remember. As regards the second part of his question, I should like to look at it and remember what he has said against the appropriate time.

Back to