§ 3.15 p.m.
§ LORD WEDGWOOD rose to call attention to the difficulties facing British nationals farming in Kenya, with particular reference to the present 400,000 acre land purchase programme, and to ask Her Majesty's Government to make a statement on the future of the scheme. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in rising to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper, I do so for two very good reasons. The land purchase programme in Kenya is apparently running into trouble and, partly as a result, some of our British nationals are being deported; and it may be—though I hope very much it will not be so—that if things continue in the same way others may follow. I will be as brief as I can, and I appreciate that this Question comes at the end of a long day's business and a long week's work, and that there is much pressure on your Lordships' time. But this was the most suitable opportunity to raise these matters, which are of some urgency, before the House rises for the Summer Recess.
§ As some of your Lordships may be aware, I have had a direct connection with Kenya agriculture for 25 years and more, though I have no pecuniary interests in that country to-day. My sole aim in bringing these matters to your Lordships' attention is to air some of the difficulties which are facing British farmers in Kenya and to seek some greater understanding and response from Her Majesty's Government in handling what is undoubtedly a delicate but, nevertheless, not insoluble problem. As we are all aware, the old political order in Kenya altered for good at Lancaster House in January, 1960, when Her Majesty's Government announced their intention of leading Kenya to independence on a basis of majority rule. Consequent upon that decision, the economic order also changed, and the security of land values disappeared. From that date the value of a farmer's investment in land and its capital assets was much depreciated.
§ It is no part of my case to comment or dwell on the political aspects of that decision, except to remind your Lordships of the financial implications that followed 588 and how they affected land values. So virtually from that time on there has been no ready market for European-owned land at anything approaching the investment value of 1959; indeed, titles to land in the former White Highlands were no longer acceptable to the commercial banks as security for borrowings. This created an entirely new situation for British farmers, whose loans and borrowings remained exactly the same but whose assets were seriously reduced in value. Since that year, apart from limited sales at drastically reduced prices to African farmers, generally through the media of the Kenya Land Bank, there has been no market for ordinary mixed farming land—and by "mixed farming" I do not include ranching, coffee and other specialised plantation industries.
§ Various proposals were made to Her Majesty's Government for underwriting land values which were ignored, but assurances were always forthcoming of the continued desirability of European settlement and sound farming to underpin the Colony's economy. Furthermore, on the achievement of African self-government, the Prime Minister of Kenya, Mr. Kenyatta, met European farmers and assured them of their future and good treatment if they would stay in Kenya I and farm well. However, all these assurances from Her Majesty's Government and the Kenya Government did not take full cognisance of the rapidly expanding African population and the pressure building up for land.
§ There was put into operation, financed by Her Majesty's Government, the first one-million-acre resettlement scheme, under which European farmers were bought out in certain areas adjacent to African land units. This scheme had its anomalies, but by and large it was put through without too much unfairness to the European owners.
§ By 1965 it was recognised that a further land purchase scheme was required to cover those who wished to dispose of their farms and to enable the Kenya Government to continue to meet the unfulfilled demand for land. The present 400,000 acre scheme was conceived following the visit to Kenya of what was known as the Stamp Commission, which reported to Her Majesty's Government—a report which, incidentally, has never been made public. 589 Subsequently, terms were negotiated between Her Majesty's Government and the Kenya Government for an £18 million interest-free loan for the purchase of land and "other development aid" over a period of four years. Of this £18 million about £6 million was earmarked for the actual purchase of British-owned farms. I emphasise this as many statements have been made about the total sum of monies provided for land purchase, but the loan included large elements for African resettlement and other purposes not directly connected with the actual buying out of the former owners of the land.
§ At this point I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the varying viewpoints of British farmers in Kenya after the completion of the million-acre purchase scheme. There were, roughly, four groups of farmers. There were those who did not wish to sell their farms and go, and who intended to remain permanently in Kenya under the new African Government. Secondly, there were those who wished to sell and leave, but were unable to do so as they could not find purchasers. Thirdly, there were the Settlement Board farmers, mainly tenants, who had gone out as soldier-settlers after the last world war and invested all their capital under the direct sponsorship of Her Majesty's Government in 1946 and 1947. Lastly, there was the group of what was loosely termed the "compassionate cases", comprising, principally, the elderly and widows and those who, for one reason or another, were unable to continue farming but could not find a market for their farms.
§ As regards the first group—those who did not wish to leave—there is no problem except in cases where their land is definitely required by the Kenya Government. Under the present 400,000 acre scheme they do not have to accept an offer and are free to refuse it, though in some cases it may be difficult for them to continue indefinitely, and they have to weigh those considerations at the time of the offer. The second and third groups are those with which I am most concerned to-day—
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
a: My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question for information on that point? Is there any provision for the exchange of land, where land next door to African-settled land is 590 to be acquired by the Kenya Government? Is there any provision of arrangements for the exchange of land for land which could be held by Europeans?
I understand, my Lords, that there are no provisions: but that is subject to anything the noble Lord may say when he replies. Perhaps he has further information but, so far as I am aware, there is no provision for exchange of land.
I refer again to the second group of farmers—those who wish to leave but naturally cannot do so unless they get a fair consideration for their farms. As I indicated earlier, for the past seven years they have been, to all intents, economic prisoners of circumstances far beyond their control. It was to enable these farmers to sell that the present 400,000-acre scheme was initiated, as the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, pointed out to the House last month when replying to an earlier question of mine on the working of the scheme.
I come to the point where the trouble is really emerging, for it is in the terms and conditions of the agreement between the two Governments for the operation of this scheme and in the actual methods of implementation on the ground that there is so much disagreement, such great bitterness and sense of betrayal, leading to pressures which must inevitably force the British farmers into conflict with those who administer the scheme, and ultimately through them with the Kenya Government.
I wish to make it quite clear that the quarrel is not with the Kenya Government for requiring the land; their needs are fully recognised. The quarrel is simply with the terms under which offers are made to the farmers; offers which in some cases are fantastically below the real value of the farms, by any method of calculation. A number of offers have been refused and a number of others have been accepted with the greatest reluctance, and only under duress of circumstances. Efforts have been made by a number of individuals to obtain fairer treatment for their fellow Britons which have led, in my opinion, and there is substantial evidence to support it, to the recent deportation of at least two farmers in circumstances which we all know are thoroughly deplorable and must inevitably 591 increase ill-feeling. If unfair methods of valuation and the resultant offers continue in the next year of the scheme, which is due to start next month, there may well be further protestations and a repetition of recent events.
There are a number of pertinent facts which your Lordships should know, on which you may judge for yourselves whether methods of valuation are fair. The procedure is this. The valuer visits the farm and values everything on it—the land, the stock, the machinery, the lot. He then gives his figures to the Valuations Committee of the Agricultural Development Corporation, but those figures are not made known to the farmer concerned. The Government chief valuer then makes an offer based on the valuation which is never made known, which may vary, under the terms of the agreement, by as much as 20 per cent. either way; but naturally it varies only one way—downwards. This is a comprehensive figure with no breakdown of any figures for stock or the land. The farmer has 21 days in which to accept or refuse, and often a shorter period due to the vagaries of the post. Is it suprising that these methods leave much to be desired?
Yet another factor which the House may appreciate is that under this scheme payment may be made in London, whereas other potential farm sales are all subject to Kenya currency control, which restricts capital exports to £5,000 a year and £2,000 in each subsequent year. So your Lordships will realise that this factor is a very considerable one in encouraging a farmer to accept the offer, as he knows that it is indeed his last chance to get his money out of Kenya in one lump sum if he wishes to do so. The A.D.C. know this very well when the offer is made, and it is no stretch of the imagination to see this as a factor in their calculations.
There are many other disquieting features of the manner in which this scheme is being handled, but it would take too much of your Lordships' patience which I know I must not stretch too far. I should now like to bring to your Lordships' notice the report which has been prepared by Mr. Peter Trumper, references to which have been made in the daily Press, following his visit to Kenya in May this year to investigate the 592 workings of the scheme on behalf of some 150 British farmers in Kenya.
This report has now been made public and a copy has been handed to the Minister of Overseas Development. Mr. Trumper's conclusion, in his own words, is:I have reached the conclusion that the method used is tending to unfairness, in some cases to a serious degree".He goes on:What in fact is happening is that the farmers are getting less than a fair deal, both in terms of the procedures adopted and in terms of the offers made".It may be of some significance that Mr. Trumper was forbidden access to the Kenya Government chief valuer and his assistants to discuss the methods of valuation in use.
He then makes in his report a number of recommendations with which I find myself in entire agreement. Amongst them are that the Kenya Government valuer should disclose to a representative of the British farmers concerned the method of valuation which he is using; that a breakdown of figures should be given so that there is a fair opportunity for negotiation; that the valuer should give a single figure as his total valuation, and that this should be the amount of the offer; and that fresh offers should be made to those who have refused previous offers which they believed to be unreasonably low. I do not think that these are unreasonable recommendations, and I should like to know from the noble Lord when he replies whether Her Majesty's Government are prepared to make effective recommendations on these points before making available further finance, which is being provided by the British taxpayer.
There are two further matters to which I hope the noble Lord may be able to reply and of which I have given him advance notice. One concerns the third group of farmers that I mentioned earlier, the Settlement Board farmers. This country indeed has some special obligation here, more particularly so in that these men were directly encouraged to settle in Kenya after the last war by Her Majesty's Government—a Labour Government—and that, as tenants, they are in an even more vulnerable position than those who own their land and have at least some option over its disposal. These 593 farmers have contributed financially the years to the capital value of their farms, and they should be secured in their share of this capital in any future reconstruction which the Kenya Government may have in mind; and everyone coming under this British post-war settlement scheme should have the opportunity of realising his investment. This is a debt of honour which we cannot possibly ignore. Can the noble Lord reassure the House that these men will not be forgotten?
Finally, I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he will confirm what was stated in another place by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Overseas Development last August, that all those British farmers in Kenya who wish to realise their assets and leave will have the opportunity to do so during the last three years of the present Land Purchase Scheme.
My Lords, I have spoken at some length, but this is a complex subject to cover, and I trust that I have described, in however abbreviated a fashion, the salient points of what has become an unhappy situation. I trust that Her Majesty's Government will take due note of the anxiety felt by many of us over possible further developments, and will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that British nationals in Kenya will receive in future a fairer and a squarer deal over the sale of their land and other farming assets in Kenya.
§ 3.34 p.m.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, we are most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, for having raised this very serious matter before your Lordships to-day, and for having explained the difficulties and the problems arising out of the Land Purchase Programme in Kenya which, as the noble Lord has said, has certainly run into very considerable trouble. The noble Lord's extensive experience as a farmer in Kenya for so many years makes him an eminently suitable person to introduce this subject—which he has done with great objectivity—and I should certainly like to support him on the points which he has made. I was most distressed recently to learn of the arrest 594 over of these honourable men, these farmers, and of their deportation without money.
The noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, has himself referred to the report by Mr. Peter Trumper, which I think, as he says, is now in the hands of the Government As your Lordships may know, Mt. Trumper was instructed to examine the method of valuation used by Kenya Government valuers in pursuance of the Land Purchase Programme, and to give an opinion as to whether this method was equitable and consistent with the policy which was, after all, agreed between the British Government and the Kenya Government. The fact that Mr. Trumper was refused permission to meet the Kenya Government valuer is certainly distressing, and it is not surprising that this refusal led Mr. Trumper to the conclusion that the proceedings were not being conducted oil an entirely fair basis.
Mr. Trumper certainly gives good reasons for considering that the procedure falls short of the standards implied in the British Government's policy towards British settlers in Kenya, and it seems to have been less fair than the procedure which I understand was adopted in the million acre scheme. I gather, however, that in spite of these shortcomings the British settlers would have been willing to accept the present procedure if they had felt that they were being offered current market values; and I should particularly like to re-emphasise the point made by the noble Lord, that the farmers seem to be getting less than a fair deal both in terms of the procedures adopted and in terms of the offers made.
I hope, therefore, that the Government will look very closely at the recommendations contained in Mr. Trumper's report, particularly the recommendation that the Kenya Government's valuer should be instructed to meet a representative of the British farmers to discuss the method of valuation he is using and, if possible, reach agreement on a code of values to be used in the remainder of the programme. I hope that the noble Lord, although he is not in his place at the moment, will take note of what I am saying. It would certainly seem desirable also that the valuer should be instructed to give a breakdown figure in each case, in order to afford an opportunity for fair 595 negotiations. There would also seem to be considerable point in the valuer being instructed to give a single figure as his valuation, and that this should be the amount of the offer. It is, I believe, normal British practice that Government valuers should open negotiations by offering the figure which they believe to be right, and not a figure below it. It would also seem to make sense that fresh offers should be made to those who have so far refused offers which they believed to be unreasonably low. But I understand—and in this I think he has been very reasonable—that there would be no question of re-opening cases which have already been settled.
The noble Lord has made his case so well that there is nothing further that I think I need add, except to express sympathy for those who have suffered so severely in these circumstances. I ask the Government to give these matters their very serious consideration, and to take appropriate action in the form of positive representations on behalf of these farmers, whom we must not forget.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I should like to endorse what my noble friend Lord Bessborough has said regarding the Question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood. I do not want to bring any emotion into the subject to-day, but I have been in a country which gained its independence, and I know what Europeans feel in such circumstances. They wish to associate themselves with the countries for which they have formerly been responsible, and they wish, in a very large number of cases, to participate in helping them along the road to their own self-government.
It has been my privilege to meet the gentlemen, all three of them, who were deported by the Kenya Government, and I listened to the story that they had to tell. What one tries to do in circumstances of that kind is to assess whether the people who are giving an account of an event through which they have passed are doing so dispassionately; whether they are telling the truth; and whether they are representative of a community which respected them. So far as I was concerned the three gentlemen fell into all those categories. I 596 think the House should know of some of the circumstances through which those men passed. I should like to emphasise, in giving a very brief story of the circumstances, that they were most respected members of the Kenya European community. They were elected representatives; they had decided to stay in Kenya and to assist the Kenya Government in farming matters; and they had got into some sort of negotiations with the Kenya Government in which there were differing points of view.
I do not wish to enlarge on what happened after that, but, to put it briefly, in the middle of the night these men were faced with armed guards and told to pack their bags. Some of them (I am repeating all this from memory; I made no notes) requested permission to get into touch with the British High Commissioner and to consult their lawyers, but they were told that there was no time for that. When it was pointed out that it was unreasonable to request that they should go so quickly, they were told that if they did not go then armed force would be used.
Such circumstances as those—which I think should be on record in your Lordships' House—constitute a matter which we all greatly deplore. I have sympathy with those in control of the Government of this country in these circumstances; and I have sympathy for the men concerned. But in their case I think that a great deal more than sympathy is necessary. I think that we should become more respected if we were to lodge a grave protest with the Kenya Government about what has occurred. We should point out to them that the British taxpayer is contributing something like £18 million to this fund; and that while this country wishes to co-operate with the Kenya Government and to do all we can to help, there are limits to the insults we will stand; there are limits to the insults our nationals can be expected to stand from people who are not honourable and straightforward with us. If only we could use our voice in that direction, I think we should gain far more respect in Kenya and in other parts of the world.
§ 3.44 p.m.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, may I say that I recognise the sincerity and 597 interest of the noble Lord, Lord Wedge-wood, in raising this Question this afternoon. I think he puts his case with persuasion and moderation; and certainly what he said I undertake to consider further, after I have read in Hansard the exact terms that he used. I regret somewhat his initial sentences about the possibility of further expulsions from Kenya. The implications of what he said I thought were rather unfortunate. Certainly it is our hope that there will be no occasion for further expulsions—and certainly not by the methods used on this recent occasion. If I do not go further into this matter—although the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, dealt with it at some length—I hope it will be understood that it is simply because the terms of the Question did not relate to these incidents but to the question of land transference in Kenya, and, in particular, to the most recent scheme.
As the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, said, since 1961 there have been several schemes for the transfer of land in Kenya from European to African ownership. The British Government first provided £17¼ million for the so-called Million Acre Scheme. This was followed by a further £7 million to support other schemes. At the end of 1964, the new British Government agreed with the Kenya Government that the problems involved in land transference should be examined on the spot by an expert mission, which, as Lord Wedgwood said, was led by the Honourable Maxwell Stamp. After the report of this mission the British Government agreed in November 1965 that something over £6 million from an £18 million interest-free loan, should be used to finance the transfer of 100,000 acres a year for each of the following four years. It is this scheme about which the noble Lord now asks his questions.
The noble Lord is particularly concerned—as was the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough—about the method of valuation; and this I understand. When the new scheme was discussed between the two Governments it was agreed that a joint United Kingdom/Kenya working party of professional valuers, under the impartial chairmanship of the valuation member of the Stamp Mission, should consider this aspect of the problem and make recommendations. The outcome of this examination was announced in the 598 House of Commons in August, 1966. The two Governments had agreed that the basis of valuation would be current market values as assessed by the professional valuers of the Kenya Lands Department. Purchases were to be as previously on a willing buyer/willing seller basis.
The noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, has suggested this afternoon that the valuer should be instructed to give a single figure for his valuation instead of a range of prices within which negotiations could take place. I understand that the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, thought this was a reasonable proposal; but if that was done it would cut out the accepted principle of negotiation which they have agreed upon and I cannot see that this would necessarily assist the seller. The noble Lord also asks that the valuer should provide a breakdown of his figures. This would not be in accordance with the agreement reached between the British and Kenya Governments. Moreover, the valuations are now made known to the British High Commission so that they can satisfy themselves that the transaction is taking place in accordance with the agreed arrangements. I say that, although we regard the negotiations of individual purchases as primarily a matter between the farmer and the Kenya Government. Generally speaking, the purchase programme has proceeded satisfactorily and of 31 offers made 20 have been accepted.
Let me emphasise that the British Government have full confidence in the impartiality and professional integrity of the Kenya Government's valuers. We recognise that theirs is not an easy job, but we believe that they are, in accordance with the agreement reached between our two Governments, negotiating the purchase of these farms at what they have assessed to be current market prices. If in any instance—and no such case has arisen yet—the Agricultural Development Corporation as purchaser is not prepared to pay current market values so assessed, then the Agricultural Development Corporation is obliged under the agreement to refer that case to the British High Commission.
As the noble Lord has said, some farmers, dissatisfied with offers made to them, recently commissioned a professional valuer from Britain to investigate the situation on their behalf. The Kenya 599 Government raised no objection to this visit, although they refused to allow this private individual to discuss with the Kenya Lands Department the method and conduct of valuations. The attitude of the Kenya Government in this respect can be understood, for, as they say, their agreement was with the British Government and they were not prepared to discuss what had been agreed with any third party. The British High Commission at the time expressed the view that there was advantage in allowing Mr. Trumper, the valuer concerned, to see for himself the procedures that were followed from the standpoint of the Lands Department. We still believe that some of the difficulties might have been resolved if there could have been this discussion at a professional level. Nevertheless, the Kenya Government have not been prepared to vary their decision, but there is no reason to suppose that, if a representative of the British Government asked for a discussion of the scheme with the Kenya Government valuers at professional level, this would not be agreed. Moreover, discussions on the implementation of the scheme are continually taking place between the Kenya Government and the British Government.
The noble Lord has asked whether fresh offers can be made to those who have already refused offers. I think I am right in saying that the valuers are in all cases expatriate employees of the Kenya Government, British professional valuers. On the information available to us all valuations have been made in accordance with current market values arrived at by these qualified Kenya Government valuers.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, has tried to intervene twice.
My Lords, I think I am in order in asking the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, whether Her Majesty's Government realise that the fact that the figure of the valuations for the farm is not made known to the farmer is a considerable drawback in any subsequent negotiations over the sale of his 600 farm. Would the noble Lord agree with this?
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I certainly agree that if one is negotiating, it is always better to have the advantage of the full figures on which one's opponent, as it were, is basing his own side of the negotiations. But I would emphasise again here that if there is any claim of unfairness, the British High Commission, it is agreed, shall have the opportunity of seeing the figures and therefore judging for itself whether the particular valuation is on the basis of the agreed procedure. I was going on to say—I am sorry that I did not notice before that the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, wished to intervene—that under the scheme farmers who refuse an offer under the present programme are not ordinarily eligible for a further offer during the four-year period.
Maybe I can answer at this point another of the noble Lord's specific questions. He asked whether, under the Agricultural Settlement Trust, farmers should not all have the opportunity to realise their capital investment. The answer is that it has never been conceded by this Government or their predecessors that Agricultural Settlement Trust farmers had a valid claim to preferential treatment.
I was also asked whether I could confirm that all British farmers who wished to sell and leave Kenya will be able to do so. The noble Lord referred to the Statement made in another place. Mr. Oram's statement was, I understand, an "off the cuff" opinion given in answer to a supplementary question, and without up-to-date information. As he subsequently explained in a letter to Mr. Wall, the best possible estimate which could be made of the mixed farming acreage in the hands of British farmers at the commencement of the present programme was 800,000 acres. On the assumption that the land transfer programme goes as anticipated, some 400,000 to 500,000 acres will be bought out in the 1966–70 period. That is 400,000 acres under the new programme, and some 95,000 acres as the completion of the Million Acre Scheme. Of course, it is not known how many of the United Kingdom citizens will in fact choose to sell, but if towards the end of the current 601 programme problems still exist, there is provision for a further review of the situation.
The noble Lord was kind enough to refer to a Statement which I made in answer to a Question he put on June 20 about the purpose of the scheme, and he indicated that I had said that the scheme was for the benefit of the British farmers. It is true—and I do not complain of the noble Lord quoting this; he quoted it quite fairly—that I gave as my opinion that in the first place the possibility of enabling British farmers who wished to leave to realise their capital was a factor in the scheme. I said, I think, that that was the first and foremost priority. But having had the opportunity of further considering this point I have to say that I was going wrong in placing the emphasis in this way. Certainly the scheme we are now considering, this 400,000-acre scheme, could not possibly be justified to the British electorate as being a scheme to enable those who went to Kenya to realise their capital, and I must make clear that the 400,000-acre scheme is not designed to compensate British farmers.
My Lords, I never at any time used the word "compensate". It is I think a word which is generally in disuse these days.
§ LORD BESWICK
All right, my Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, is not using the word because it is not applicable, and he will therefore agree with me that the Scheme is not designed to compensate British farmers. Nor, of course, were the previous schemes. It is a programme directed at the development of Kenya's economy. The British Government are providing funds not only, and not primarily, for the benefit of their own citizens, but for the benefit of the economy of Kenya. For this reason it is necessary to ensure that the prices paid by the Kenya Government for European farmers' land are not excessive in terms of Kenya's economic potential.
Equally, I agree with the noble Lord that the prices must not be so low that a British farmer cannot willingly accept them. But the evidence suggests that this balance is being maintained, though there will always be arguments about figures in individual cases. Similar arguments, 602 after all, are not unknown in this country. In the last two seasons or so farming conditions have been favourable and profits satisfactory and thus there is clearly a possibility of farmers putting a higher value on their land than they would have done in, say, 1963 or 1964. But of course the farmer, if he does not like the price offered, is under no obligation to accept it.
My Lords I feel that the British Government, and the British taxpayer, can take some credit for generosity in their support of land transfer schemes in Kenya. Over the past few years they have provided, or undertaken to provide, some £30 million for this purpose in loans and grants. Equally, we should pay a tribute to the Kenya Government who are borrowing funds to buy out British farms and committing themselves to a large outflow of capital from Kenya. The noble Lord and his friends would be well advised to reflect that there is criticism in Kenya itself of this scheme. There are those in Kenya who argue that the prices paid for British farms, based as I say on valuation by expatriate valuers, are too high. Others increasingly argue that in Kenya's present circumstances a land transfer scheme of this nature is not the best way of using scarce development funds.
It has been to the substantial advantage of the British farming community as a whole that their interests and those of the Kenya people have so far coincided to the extent that the Kenya Government have felt able to pursue a programme of land transfer with funds made available by Her Majesty's Government for their development. I do urge the noble Lord to realise the need to be careful lest by excessive criticism of particular, priced paid we do arouse emotions—and land prices in Kenya, as noble Lords will know, have always been an emotional subject. The danger is that excessive criticism may lead the Kenya Government, forced by its own public opinion, to have second thoughts about this scheme. It would not be in the interests of farmers if we caused that Government either to drop the scheme altogether or to substitute something less satisfactory. So far as we are concerned, we support the 400,000-acre programme; 603 modifications may be made in it to ensure its more efficient implementation. Certainly I agree with that, and I say to the noble Lord that we are considering the Trumper report. There may well be points in it which we could usefully pursue with the Kenya Government. It is a private document; it has no official status. But, nevertheless, if there are criticisms that have an element of justification we are always ready to consider them. So with this readiness to consider any justifiable modification, I can say that our earnest hope is that the 400,000-acre scheme will successfully be implemented. I hope that nothing will be said here or elsewhere that will prejudice this hoped-for success.
My Lords, fore the noble Lord sits down, may I say that I am in some difficulty. I asked him a question about the assurance of the Parliamentary Secretary in another place that the scheme was designed to cover all those who wished to sell. Does the noble Lord now retract that statement? I understand that he has retracted to a certain extent what he said in your Lordships' House last time about the principal priority for the 400,000-acre scheme. I can understand the difficulty the noble Lord is in over that, but I should like to know whether he is also retracting the statement which was made in another place in August last year.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, so far as my own answer to a supplementary question is concerned, I have said this afternoon that, having looked at this matter again, although there was an element of truth in what I said, I was wrong in placing the emphasis in the way I did in the first place. So far as the statement made in another place is concerned, I have carefully quoted what the Parliamentary Secretary wrote to Mr. Wall, and if the noble Lord would be good enough to see in Hansard to-morrow what I said, he will see how far this is a modification of the original undertaking.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, the noble Lord was good enough to mention 604 in his speech that the present Kenya Government would not be prepared to receive a valuation under the Trumper report, but that they would accept any negotiation or contact with the British Government. Would it not be helpful if the British Government could suggest that somebody went to Kenya, particularly in view of that report?
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I think that the words I actually used—I have to be careful about these words so that there may be no further retraction—were that we have no reason to suppose they would not allow a representative of the British Government to discuss this matter. That is one of the points which I think must be considered in the general consideration of the Trumper report.