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Surrender Negotiations

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 14 April 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a further statement regarding the situation in Kenya, including the surrender negotiations with Mau Mau leaders, the deportation of all Kikuyus from Nairobi, and the progress of constitutional reform.

There has been no major change in the situation in Kenya since my right hon. Friend's statement on 22nd March. Copies of a statement issued by the Government of Kenya on 11th April, giving a brief account of the surrender negotiations, are being placed in the Library. There can be no question of deporting all Kikuyu from Nairobi, though action will be taken against anyone who directly or indirectly support Mau Mau.

Amending Letters Patent, an amending Order in Council and Additional Instructions designed to give effect to the proposals for constitutional reform were approved by the Counsellors of State yesterday. The Order in Council is being laid before Parliament today. The Letters Patent will come into operation as soon as they pass the Great Seal and the Order in Council and Additional Instructions are expressed to come into operation on 15th April.

Is the right hop. Gentleman aware that many of us will welcome the second thoughts regarding the deportation of Kikuyus from Nairobi? Regarding the surrender negotiations, can he say whether it is a fact that there were large numbers of Kikuyus prepared to surrender but they did not do so only because of an unfortunate clash which occurred? In the case of the constitutional reform, when does the right hon. Gentleman expect that he will be able to make an announcement of the members of the new Council of Ministers?

Dealing first with the second part of the question, the following "unofficial" have already expressed their willingness to serve in the following posts in the Government: Mr. Blundell, Minister without Portfolio; Mr. Have-lock, Minister for Local Government, Health and Housing; Mr. Maconochie Welwood, Minister with an Agricultural Portfolio; Mr. Nathoo, Minister of Works; Mr. Patel, Minister without Portfolio; Mr. O'Hanga, Minister for Community Development.

With regard to the statement which the Minister has promised to put in the Library, may I ask whether it covers the point referred to in the Press that over 1,000 Mau Mau had come to surrender but that, unfortunately, shooting began somewhere on the edge, and that the Mau Mau then retired into the forest because they thought this was a trap? It is a pity this happened because otherwise this period in Kenya might have been shortened considerably. Does the statement make that clear? Will the right hon. Gentleman also convey to his right hon. Friend and to the Government in Kenya that they should not be deterred by this unfortunate failure from seizing any opportunity of surrenders by the Mau Mau so as to bring this affair to an end more quickly?

If I may take up the time of the House I would like to enlarge on what was said before. There were about 1,000 terrorists assembling in the forest as a result of these negotiations, but under the arrangements made at the previous meeting on 30th March, it was agreed that there would be no land operations in the forest area until a certain date, 10th April. Therefore, no patrols had gone into the forest and no one was aware that the terrorists were actually assembled.

On the other hand, there had been no guarantee given in regard to the reserves, where it was necessary to try to safeguard the lives of the inhabitants, and it was in the reserves that fighting took place because, on 6th April, a certain number of Kikuyu loyalists were killed, bridges and schools were damaged, and military action was necessary. Contact was made with the gang on 7th April and it was as a result of the firing, which took place within earshot of the forest, that the assembled terrorists thought they were being led into a trap. Of course they were not, there was nothing of the kind, but they thought so, and they dispersed.

In regard to the second part of the question, I will certainly bring the views of the right hon. Gentleman to the attention of my right hon. Friend. Naturally we are disappointed at the outcome of these negotiations about which we were hopeful at one time, but the Commander-in-Chief and the Acting Governor are satisfied that it would be no good continuing to try to bring about a mass surrender at the present time. The surrender offer of 24th August, 1953, will, of course, still remain open.

May I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that further information and say that we shall study the statement? I am sure that the House will join with me in paying tribute to the officers who did so much in establishing contacts. May I express the hope that the authorities on the spot will not hesitate to take every advantage of any opportunities that may come in the future to learn from the mistakes that occurred this time?