§ 67. Mr. Edmund Harvey
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the "Memorandum on Wages" contributed by Archdeacon Owen to the Report of the Committee on the Conscription of African Labour for Essential Services in Kenya and to his plea for a Government subsidy to replace the hidden subsidy now provided by the labour on their reserve of the wife and children of married labourers; and whether any action will he taken in accordance with this proposal?
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan
Yes, Sir. I have read the memorandum. Under the system of Government guarantees now established the farming industry will, in effect, receive a Government subsidy; and the wage-fixing machinery should ensure that the African labourers will benefit from the improved conditions.
§ Mr. Harvey
Did not Archdeacon Owen suggest that an increase of fourpence a day in wages would suffice to bring in adequate labour, and would not that be preferable to the conscription of labour?
§ 68. Mr. Harvey
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what justification is there for imposing the same penalty of a fine not exceeding £5 or imprisonment for two months, or both, upon natives as upon employers, in the event of an offence under the provisions of the Kenya Defence (African Labour for Essential Undertakings) Regulations, 1942, in view of the disparity of the means of labourers and employers?
§ Mr. Macmillan
The reason for this provision is that employees would be concerned with single offences only, while employers would be concerned with offences in regard to batches of employees, each of which offences would be punished separately. In addition, a penalty not exceeding £50 for each offence is provided in cases where the employer is a body corporate.
§ Mr. Harvey
Is not a maximum of £5 exceedingly heavy in the case of a wage-earner who earns only a few shillings a week?