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Elections (African Members)

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action he is taking regarding the implementation of direct elections for Africans at the next general election in Kenya.

I would refer the hon. Member to my proposals published as Cmd. 9103. All unofficials accepting appointment as Ministers will be invited to subscribe to the statement of policy which promises a study by Government of the best method of choosing African Members of the Legislative Council before 1956.

Does the Minister not agree that it would be an enormous and vital psychological gesture if it were implemented? So far, Asians and Europeans have direct elections, but the Africans have not.

The hon. Member must be careful about using the word "direct." All that is promised is a study of how to broaden the basis upon which African members are elected. It may be by what are usually called direct methods, or by a system of electoral colleges, but the method will not be determined until a study has been made.

Has it yet been decided, in any of the steps taken to arrive at a decision in this matter, what precise organisation will consider this problem? I think the right hon. Gentleman said that it would be considered by the Government, but can we be told at an early date what arrangements have been made for setting up a body to consider this matter?

The promise I gave in Kenya was that the membership would be predominantly African, but they would require to obtain the services of an expert in matters of franchise and constitutional practice to assist with this. I am still in communication with the Governor on the subject.