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Registration (Fingerprints)

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 11 May 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that all males over the age of 16 in Kenya Colony are about to be forced to have their fingerprints registered, that this includes the white population; and why it has been thought necessary to do away with the present method of registration for natives known as a red book, which was an entirely effective method of registration.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) last Wednesday. The new system is a more effective and more generally acceptable method of registration.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this system, which is about to be put into effect, is bound to have the adverse result of lowering the prestige of the white population in the eyes of the native population, and is much resented?

I recently returned from Kenya, and I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that this arrangement was reached by a committee on which both Europeans and Africans worked. They unanimously recommended the policy which has been adopted, and which is being carried through by statute in the legislative council with the support of Europeans.

The right hon. Gentleman says that the arrangement was generally acceptable, but does he not agree that meetings have been held throughout Kenya lately at which majorities have voted against this step?

It is true that meetings have been held recently in a large number of places and that many protests have been made, but, on the other hand, Europeans in the Legislative Council are standing firm about the wisdom and rightness of the legislation they have put through.