§ Mr. MOREL
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will take steps 1631W to review the incidence of direct taxation upon the native population of Kenya, which in effect involves the able-bodied male population in work upon European farms and plantations for three months out of the year; and will he take steps to secure that the principle be adopted that at least one-fifth of the direct taxes paid by the natives shall be returned to them in technical education, medical service and agricultural instruction?
I cannot accept the suggestion that a native cannot pay his tax toy working on his own account. Active steps are being taken to extend native education and increase native agricultural production, but I do not think any fixed percentage can be laid down. The proportion suggested by my hon. Friend was very nearly reached in 1922, and, if veterinary services are included, was exceeded.
§ Mr. MOREL
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he can give or ascertain the figures as to the decrease of the native population of Kenya during the past 20 years; if he is aware that the prolonged absence of the male population from their homes under the Registration of Labourers' Act and the Masters and Servants Ordinance, and the interference of these measures with the capacity of the native population to grow adequate supplies of foodstuffs for its own sustenance, are in part responsible for this decrease; and if he is aware that the population of British West Africa, administered under the supervision of his Department, is steadily increasing while the population of Kenya has steadily declined?
There are no accurate figures for the native population of Kenya 10 or 20 years ago. The population was estimated at 1,220,000 in 1901, 3,000,000 in 1911, after the transfer of two well-populated provinces from Uganda, and 2,483,500 in 1921. The apparent reduction between 1911 and 1921 is attributed to an overestimate in 1911, which has been corrected by improved methods of computation. If there has been any actual decline, it is attributable to the mortality among native carriers in the War, and is relatively slight. As there is no reason to suppose that the population has steadily declined, the other parts of the question do not arise.