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Law And Order

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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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.