HL Deb 04 May 1965 vol 265 cc819-20

2.40 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 in recent discussions with the Government of Kenya equitable terms have been agreed, on which the remaining British farmers who so desire can transfer their farms to the Kenya Government for African settlement.]


My Lords, the British Government are now awaiting the report of the Mission led by the Honourable Maxwell Stamp, which was appointed to discuss with the Kenya Government the latter's request for further financial assistance to enable them to purchase additional areas of European mixed farming land, to examine the problem generally on the spot and to report to the British Government. As the noble Lord will appreciate, the Mission have a considerable amount of material to consider and the issues are large and complex. The Mission's final report is likely to be ready in July but they expect to present an interim report during the coming week. My right honourable friend the Minister of Overseas Development announced in another place on April 6 that it is her intention to enter into discussions with the Kenya Government as soon as possible after receiving these reports.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that helpful Answer. May we take it that it is the desire of Her Majesty's Government that equitable terms should be agreed, upon which the European mixed farmers can relinquish their holdings if they so desire, and that the matter is not going to be shelved once again?


My Lords, it is, of course, Her Majesty's Government's desire that equitable treatment should be meted out to everybody, and it is undoubtedly the desire of the Government that this matter should be dealt with as speedily as possible, not only for the sake of the farmers themselves, but also for the sake of the economy of Kenya.


My Lords, further to this, may I ask that Her Majesty's Government should consider particularly and especially the position of those farmers who served in the Armed Forces of the Crown, who were induced by schemes put forward, with either the knowledge or consent of Her Majesty's Government, and persuaded to start farming in Kenya after service in the war, who to-day are very worried about their position, and need financial assistance in the buying of their farms so that they may settle in a new country of their own choice?


My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that I have the greatest feeling for the cases of these particular ex-Service farmers to whom he has referred. I would remind him that my right honourable friend the Minister of Overseas Development has said in another place that she will bear their case in mind in considering the Stamp Report.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether his right honourable friend recognises that what these people wantis not merely sympathy, but help? Help is the only thing that is of any use to them. They get a great deal of sympathy, but they have not had much help.


My Lords, it is not for me to draw the attention of the noble Marquess to the reasons why in past years they have not had very much help. But I would make it perfectly clear that the reason for sending out Mr. Stamp and his colleagues on this Mission was precisely so that action could be taken rather than having pious expressions of sympathy.