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Kenya

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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

Mr Motsamai Mpho

4.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies on what grounds Mr. Motsamai Mpho, a British-protected person from Bechuanaland, was refused permission at Nairobi to proceed as a delegate to the Pan-African Conference at Cairo, and was returned to Bechuanaland handcuffed and under police guard.

Mr. Mpho arrived in Nairobi on 20th March by Central African Airways. The East African Airways Corporation, however, declined to book him on to Cairo, his ultimate destination, because he had neither a passport nor a visa for the United Arab Republic. In these circumstances, Mr. Mpho had no claim to an in-transit pass, without which his entry into Kenya was illegal. He was therefore served with a Notice to a Prohibited Immigrant under the Kenya Immigration Regulations, 1957, and required to remain on board and return by the aircraft on which he arrived. He was only in Nairobi some 45 minutes and at no time there was he handcuffed or placed under police guard, nor was he handcuffed when he arrived in Bechuanaland.

Whatever the circumstances and whatever the technical excuse, is it not clear that this conference in Cairo was held with the good will of the Government of the United Arab Republic and that they would immediately have admitted him into that country, even if he had been without a visa? In view of the representative character of this conference, which was even attended by an observer from the Conservative Party, is it not a great mistake to have prevented a representative from Bechuanaland from attending?

No. I am bound to say that I do not agree with that. With respect to the hon. Member, I cannot accept that it is the merest detail to put on the Order Paper statements about people being handcuffed and under police guard where that is not so; I cannot accept that it is not a matter of great importance. It should not be done without the closest investigation by the hon. Member concerned. It seems to me quite clear that if somebody arrived with only a local travel document valid within the Protectorate, and with neither a passport nor a visa, then the action of both the airline and the Kenya Government was entirely correct.

Does not the Government of Bechuanaland have a certain responsibility here? Did this gentleman apply for a passport and for a visa in Bechuanaland and had he difficulties in getting them there?

I cannot answer that without notice, but I will gladly go into the matter. The only travel document which he had was a Protectorate Administration native's travelling pass, and clearly the East African Airways Corporation, in my view rightly, thought that that could not possibly be accepted as taking the place of both a passport and a visa for onward transit to Cairo.

On a point of order. In view of what the Minister said, am I entitled to make this personal statement—that a month ago I sent him a letter from Mr. Mpho including the statements which are made in the Question and asked him to make an inquiry. I have had no reply to that letter.

Public Meetings

8.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will propose to the Governor of Kenya that the ban on public meetings be lifted.

19.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the present restrictions on the holding of political meetings in Kenya; and what changes are proposed.

Any person wishing to hold a public meeting must first apply for a licence to the local district commissioner who, if he is satisfied that the meeting is not likely to prejudice the maintenance of public order, is required to issue the licence. Some time ago, district commissioners were advised to bear in mind, when considering applications, that there was a grave danger that public meetings might so exacerbate the already high political feelings that breaches of peace might occur. But with the formation of the new Government this danger seems less acute, and it is the hope that applications can now be granted much more freely.

Is the Secretary of State aware that only yesterday in the Legislative Council in Nairobi the Minister stated that the ban would be lifted and that I had, therefore, hoped to be able to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the change? If district commissioners still have power to prohibit meetings, will the utmost influence be used so that the African leaders may guide public opinion in Kenya against violence and against continued oath taking?

There is something of a risk either way, in allowing public meetings and in stopping them, in the present situation in Kenya. I am, of course, aware of what was said in the Legislative Council yesterday, and it is the fact that the Government have decided, with the agreement of all Ministers, consisting of people of all races, that this ban should virtually disappear and that public meetings should be permitted.

There will be a general welcome for the statement which the Minister has just made. Will he bear in mind, in the existing circumstances in Kenya and against the background of anxieties of the kind frequently expressed from the benches behind him, that in politics, sometimes, if one shows too much fear and distrust, one creates the very conditions which one fears and that, although there may be risks either way, there are sometimes important benefits to be gained by taking risks on the side of creating good will?

I do not dissent from that, provided that the hon. Gentleman is prepared to recognise the other side of the coin, that there are risks at present in having a more flexible policy in relation to public meetings. Either way, a risk has to be taken. The decision of the Government of Kenya is that the lesser risk of the two is, in effect, to allow public meetings.

Mr Jomo Kenyatta

11.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will now make a further statement of his policy on the release of Jomo Kenyatta.

No, Sir; the Governor made the position in regard to Kenyatta's release very clear in his statement of 1st March.

Does not the Secretary of State know, particularly after his recent talks with Mr. Nyerere and others, how strong the feeling throughout the Continent is? Is he not aware that Mr. Kenyatta—as he is now officially described by the Government—denounced violence in much rounder terms than were used by that distinguished Commonwealth statesman Archbishop Makarios when he was in similar circumstances, and that public opinion, including white European settler opinion, in Kenya was, if reluctantly, reconciled to Mr. Kenyatta's release some months ago, when the Governor made a very unfortunate broadcast? Will the Secretary of State look round the Commonwealth, learn from history, and accelerate what is an inevitable process which can do nothing but help the Government in reaching a peaceful solution in Kenya?

I have always thought it a fallacy to compare Mau Mau with other even violent nationalist movements such as Eoka. There were elements in Mau Mau, as the House knows very well—though it may not wish to allocate responsibility—which set it quite aside from comparisons of that kind. Of course, all these matters were taken carefully into consideration by the Governor and myself before we reached this decision.

Agricultural Development, Masailand

12.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to promote agricultural development in Masailand.

Her Majesty's Government have made, and are making, considerable sums of money available under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act for the Kenya Government's agricultural development programme as a whole. I am asking the Governor whether he can provide details of those parts of the programme which relate specifically to the Masai areas, and I will write to the hon. Member when I have his reply.

I thank the Secretary of State for that Answer. Will he suggest that the Governor might have a word with the Paramount Chief of the Masai, who is particularly interested in extended help and advice in cattle raising? It was said at one time that the Masai were not very receptive to such guidance, but the Paramount Chief assured me the other day—no doubt, he said the same to the Secretary of State himself—that his people would benefit very much from extended advice if this could now be provided.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. The attitude of the Paramount Chief and, indeed, of the people of the Masai Territory is as he describes it. I will certainly bring the point he makes to the attention of the Governor.

Land Prices

14.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what was the nature of the consultations he had with Mr. Michael Blundell on the problem of land prices in Kenya since the general election in Kenya.

My discussions with Mr. Blundell, and, indeed, with the Ministerial delegation as a whole, ranged over the entire field of the country's development needs.

They included general discussion of projects which would have a bearing on land prices.

But this problem as such did not call for specific discussion at this juncture because we are concerned primarily with the total amount of finance that would be available for development in Kenya, and not with detailed projects.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people in this country hope that the visit of the Under-Secretary of State to Kenya at this moment will lead to a rather more realistic approach to this serious problem?

I could not accept the last line or so of that supplementary question. It is certainly of value that the Under-Secretary of State is in Kenya at the present time, and I have asked him to look specifically at this point.

Law And Order

15.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a further statement about the preservation of law and order in Kenya in view of the murder of Mrs. Swanepoel on 14th May.

The Minister for Internal Affairs in Kenya made a full statement yesterday, and I am placing copies in the Library of the House.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are now two distinct organisations in Kenya, one called Nyahunyu and the other called the Land Freedom Army, composed of ex-Mau Mau detainees, which are engaged in stealing arms, training for violence and drawing up lists of people to be murdered? Are we to stand aside as we did with Mau Mau until these subversive organisations have power to spread their influence?

No, Sir. As the House will see from the Answer which I am making to a Written Question today, on a comparison between now and 1952, the number of police in Kenya is about twice as high as it was before the emergency started. The statement that the Minister of Internal Affairs in Kenya made yesterday puts the matter in perspective. It shows the growth in crime, not merely over the last month or so, but over the last few years—a phenomenon known to us in this country as well—and it shows quite clearly that the impact of crime is not directed against Europeans and Asians but that the overwhelming number of victims of the crimes are Africans. It is natural and wholly right that we are concerned, above everything else, with the safety of people of our own blood and who have come from these islands, but I am sure that we must see the problems of law and order in Kenya as a whole and not in racial terms.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the Minister of Defence and Internal Security used these words yesterday in the Legislative Council in Kenya:

"There was no evidence that crimes of violence against Europeans and Asians had been committed for political or subversive reasons since the emergency. In every case that had been brought to court personal gain or a grievance was found to be the motive."

That is perfectly true, but again, with respect, the hon. Gentleman is falling into the mistake of taking one sentence out of a very carefully balanced survey of the situation at present. There is a grave situation in regard to law and order in Kenya. I have never under-estimated and I will never under-estimate it, but it is not confined to a particular type of attack.

Will my right hon. Friend agree that, in the statement which the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) quoted, the Minister of Defence referred to the distressing number of oath-taking ceremonies? Many of these ceremonies involve a murder oath. I had a reply from the Under-Secretary of State only on 20th April saying that there had been no prosecution in respect of any illegal society's activities this year. Since then there has been a number of murders. Is it not his duty to suppress the illegal societies which are, in fact, a revival of Mau Mau?

My right hon. Friend has quoted an immensely important passage from the Minister's statement which, again, with respect to both sides of the House, one must read as a whole and not take individual parts from it. Of course, it is true—there must be no question about this—that the Government in Kenya, fully supported by the Government in this country, are determined in the name of law and order to act against any form of illegality, whether it takes the form of oathing, crime, illegal society or otherwise. The Kenya Government will have the fullest support of Her Majesty's Government in this.

Detainees

18.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many persons still remain detained under the former Emergency Regulations in Kenya; how many of these were detained without a trial; and what is the longest period of time any of the latter have been detained, at the latest convenient date.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this information will be warmly welcomed, because, when this Question was asked before, there was a very large number of people detained. The very least that I can say is that the Question has served a useful purpose.