Skip to main content

Kenya

Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 28 July 1954

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Mr Pinto

47.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what decision has been reached by the Advisory Committee on Detainees in the case of Mr. Pinto.

Mr. Pinto's appeal was due to be heard on 26th July. The Advisory Committee's decision is not yet available.

Will the Minister give this matter very careful consideration indeed? Is he aware that Mr. Pinto, while he has expressed the grievances of Africans, has taken a leading part in denouncing the violence and activities of Mau Mau, and will the Minister consider this issue very carefully?

I think I should be very unwise to comment on this matter pending the decision of the committee of inquiry.

If I will send the right hon. Gentleman information on the lines of my supplementary question will he forward it to the Governor?

I am always glad to receive information from the hon. Member, but, as I have said, it would be very unwise if I were to comment to the extent that he has done on this particular matter.

Parliamentary Delegation Report (Appendix)

48.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what organisations he has supplied copies, for the information of their members, of the unpublished appendix to the recent Report by the Parliamentary Delegation to Kenya.

Copies have been sent to a number of organisations and societies whose names I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT. They have also been placed in many libraries where they are available to responsible persons on application.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the political parties, and it is not the Labour Party, is widely distributing this document among its members? Is he also aware that the "Voice of Kenya" is supplying it to any person who applies for it, and that this document, which is supposed to be kept in our Library, is being widely distributed?

—been sent to a number of societies, and we believe that it should be given maximum publicity consistent with public decency and so on.

On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Government. Where are the Government? There are only two Whips and a junior Minister on the Government Front Bench. Surely the Government should be here?

I want to ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on this matter. A Parliamentary Delegation went to Kenya and presented a Report to this House. It had an appendix which is a private document and is restricted to the Library of this House. I have evidence that the Colonial Office sent this document to certain political parties for the information of their members and it is being widely distributed. I would ask for your ruling as to whether a document of this private character should be used in that way.

Further to that point of order. Is the House not aware that that particular document is not a secret document but was, in fact, produced by the information office of the Kenya Government and was distributed long before it was included in the proposed appendix to the Report?

May I ask the Minister whether this is not a breach of the undertaking given to the House? When the Parliamentary Delegation was compiling its Report it included this appendix as part of the Report. We were then informed by the Secretary of State that the Government had decided, for reasons which I can understand, that this part of the Report should not be published but that a copy should be available in the Library. Are we to understand now that, without any notification or without consulting anyone, that decision has been changed and copies have been given to certain individuals and private organisations? Is not that a breach of the undertaking given to the House?

I do not think any undertaking was given to the House at all. The Secretary of State merely announced that he did not propose to publish this document as part of the White Paper, and the reason for that was that the White Paper was available for purchase at railway stations and other places where young people of all sexes could have seen it and it was thought undesirable that they should read some of those facts.

But perfectly correctly, in the interests of prosecuting the campaign against Mau Mau, it was decided to send a number of copies of the document to such bodies as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, the Trades Union Congress, the Conservative Commonwealth Council, the Royal Empire Society and others. I understand that it has been supplied as well to a number of Members of Parliament who asked for a personal copy. That is perfectly consistent with everything that has been said.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, when those copies were supplied to these organisations, it was intimated to them that it was the view of the Government after due consideration that it should not be published, and has the Minister secured an undertaking from these organisations that they would not publish it?

It was not the decision of the Government that it should not be published. It was their decision that it should not fall into improper hands or be delivered to undesirable quarters. We were concerned solely with the interests of the young people.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one copy of this document was sent to the Labour Party and has been placed in the Library of Transport House? In the case of other political parties, the document has been sent for the information of their members, and is being distributed by those parties to their members.

Is the Minister aware that the details contained in that report were actually included in an article written by Sir Philip Mitchell and published in the "Manchester Guardian" about eight weeks ago.

Is not the explanation of the apparent discrimination clearly that there are no young people in the Conservative Party and, therefore, it would not fall into wrong hands or the hands of juveniles if circulated by that party to their members.

The following are the organisations:

To the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association for its branches overseas, the Conservative Commonwealth Council, the Labour Party, the Liberal Party. Trades Union Congress, Royal Empire Society, Royal African Society, the Imperial Institute, International African Institute, Royal Anthropological Institute, Fabian Society, Over-Seas League, African Bureau, Church Missionary Society, International Missionary Council, Conference of Missionary Societies of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Universities Mission to Central Africa. In addition, I have arranged for libraries in this country to receive copies which will be available to responsible persons on application.

Detained Persons

51

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many persons are now detained without trial in Kenya; and in what places and conditions they are detained.

69.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Africans are held in concentration camps, or villages behind barbed wire, in Kenya; and how many of them are used as labour for public and private employers.

About 40,000 persons are at present detained under Emergency Regulations. Of these, 10,000 are in Works Camps in the Central Province, Rift Valley and Narok, 7,000 are in detention camps at Mackinnon Road, Athi River and Manda Island, and 23,000 are in Anvil reception centres at Mackinnon Road, Manyani and Langata.

Conditions in the camps are governed by the Emergency (Detained Persons) Regulations, 1953. Accommodation is in huts or tents, piped water is laid on and hospital accommodation is provided. Those held in works camps are voluntarily employed at local market rates on public projects such as irrigation, bush clearing and agricultural betterment.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his very full reply, but I am shocked to learn that so many people are under detention. Will he be good enough to look into the third part of my Question—which concerns the conditions under which so many people are detained, and which I have learned are very unsatisfactory?

Our information regarding these conditions does not tally with that of the hon. Member. As a matter of fact, as my right hon. Friend said in his speech in the Kenya debate last week, a great deal of money has been spent on these camps and great care has been taken to ensure that they are well run. We have a good testimonial from the Church Missionary Society in regard to these conditions.

Can the Minister say how many of those 40,000 people have been detained without trial for a long period, or is he not aware that it is very disturbing and certainly not in harmony with what he called British ideas in the last Question?

There is another Question which is down to be asked on that point, and which I shall answer if it is reached. Briefly, the position is that these persons are held either under detention orders, in which case they have the right of appeal to an advisory committee which is, in effect, a trial—

At any rate, they have access to an appeal committee or, alternatively, they are in process of being screened and will subsequently either be released or detained.

Will the right hon. Gentleman state how long it is intended to keep these men in detention before bringing them to trial? Have the Government set any time limit in this question?

The work of screening is going forward extremely quickly, as the House was informed during the debate on Kenya.

Does not the Minister remember that not many weeks ago I was told—I think by him—that the whole screening process would be through in about four months? I did not believe it; I told him that at the rate it was going when I was there it would take about nine years. What does he really mean now? It is no use saying that the process is going on; we know it is. How quickly is it proceeding?

It is going on faster than was expected, and a great deal faster than the right hon. Gentleman suggested.

Will it be finished in three months? A few weeks ago the Minister told us that it would be completed in four months. He now says that it is going to be finished quicker than he expected. Are we to understand, therefore, that the screening is to be finished in three months? Surely I am entitled to an answer to that question?

If the right hon. Gentleman cares to put down a Question on that point—[HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] This Question deals with the conditions in the camps, which is quite a different question from that raised by the right hon. Gentleman. If he cares to put down a Question on the subject, I shall be prepared to answer it.

Owing to the unsatisfactory answers which have been given, I beg to give notice that I shall take the earliest opportunity of raising the matter on the Adjournment.

52.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what form of legal aid is given in Kenya to parties charged with serious offences which carry a penalty less than the death penalty.

There is no established practice in this matter, which is dealt with administratively, but in difficult or complex cases the trial judge may require counsel to be assigned to the accused.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that this should be put upon a satisfactory basis, so that these indigenous people can have representation, which at least gives them justice?

We must remember that a large number of persons are involved. When I said that it is dealt with administratively, I meant that it is done with the help of district officers or district commissioners, who in many cases are men whom the accused persons know and trust and who are able to help them.

Am I to understand from the Minister's reply that the Charter of Human Rights does not apply to these people? Are we to understand that coloured people can be treated in any fashion? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Did hon. Members listen to the Minister's reply?

It the hon. Member will read my original reply, together with the supplementary. I think that he will see that that is not so.

53.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Europeans, Asians, Africans and persons of other races, respectively, have died in Kenya while under arrest in Her Majesty's prisons or in places of detention during the last two years.

In the period 1952, 1953 and the first half of 1954: 402 Africans; no Europeans or Asians.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that conditions under which so many people die ought to be improved? Will he kindly give further attention to this matter?

I do not think there is any reason to believe that the number of deaths is in any way out of proportion to the number of persons detained.

Can the Minister state the principal cause of death? Can he say whether a great many died from tuberculosis contracted while they were under arrest?

We have asked the Governor by telegram to let us have that information. Certainly a number of cases are due to tuberculosis and malaria.

Will the right hon. Gentleman pursue this investigation quickly, as there is evidence that the incidence of tuberculosis is growing? Will he look at that matter in relation to the conditions existing in these camps?

We are watching the position very carefully, and we shall continue to do so.

Income Tax

54.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will ask the Kenya Government to increase the rate of Income Tax to the level of the United Kingdom, in view of the recent further grant of £4 million from this country.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that by having a differential rate of Income Tax between Kenya and this country we are, in effect, providing an economic subsidy for the higher ranges of Income Tax payers in Kenya? Does not he agree that that is not the best way in which the money of British taxpayers can be spent upon colonial development?

The Government of Kenya have already raised taxes this year by £2½ million, which represents 10 per cent. of their total revenue. Although the rates of tax upon the lower incomes are relatively lower than those in the United Kingdom, the persons with the highest incomes pay a rate which is three-quarters that of this country. People here are getting a great deal inure for their money in the way of old-age security, free education, and many other things which are not available in Kenya.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if the standard of living and the educational progress of the Africans are to be maintained it is essential that people in this young and growing country should not have a penal rate of taxation?

Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the Government regard this as the best way of helping to raise African standards of living?

Will the Minister state whether, if the Government intend to continue with this policy, they will consider making Kenya a grant-aided territory?

No. I think everybody understands the position. The economy of Kenya was perfectly sound and prosperous until the emergency. The emergency brought special charges and difficulties, but once it is at an end Kenya will be in a position to pay her way as she was doing before.

Is not what my hon. Friend said quite accurate, that these are subsidies by the United Kingdom taxpayers? Why should the wealthy taxpayers of Kenya pay a lesser rate of taxation than those here?

I made the matter quite clear. [HON. MEMBERS "No."] What the right hon. Gentleman said is not the case, having regard to the different circumstances of the two countries.