§ 12. Mr. Turton
asked the Secretary of State far the Colonies if he will make a statement on the progress of land settlement in Kenya, on his proposals for agricultural development and on the assurance of the agricultural economy of Kenya.
§ 17. Sir A. Hurd
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if the outline plan he has proposed to the Government of Kenya for the settlement of Africans on land to be acquired from European farmers will be administered by an authority broadly enough based to be independent of political parties in Kenya, so that the arrangements will command the confidence of ail concerned regardless of the party in office.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
By the end of last month over 200,000 acres had been purchased or approved for purchase for African land settlement in Kenya. Her Majesty's Government are prepared to finance the expansion of the present scheme up to a total of about 1 million acres of predominantly mixed farming land; and the Kenya Government have been invited to put forward proposals for high density settlement at the rate of about 200,000 acres a year. When this scheme is nearing completion, we would be prepared to consider providing assistance for a further extension. The new scheme will be administered by a Central Land Board, which will include one member from each Region and one from the Central Government, with a chairman chosen in such a way as to ensure his independence. We hope that this plan will not only provide smallholdings for large numbers of African farmers, but will also help to stabilise land values.
§ Mr. Farr
I thank my right hon. Friend for that encouraging reply, 203 which I think is a real step forward towards stabilising land values in Kenya. Will he give an assurance that all of this fund will not be channelled into the purchase of mixed farms but that some money will be allocated for the purchase of specialised farms, ranches and plantations?
§ Mr. Sandys
The money will not necessarily be used exclusively for mixed farming land, but that is the overriding need.
§ Mr. Turton
Will my right hon. Friend agree that the value of this policy depends a great deal on the speed with which it is carried out? Will he do all he can to accelerate the implementation of this policy? Particularly, can he say Whether he is making any special provision for the Settlement Board European farmers to whom Her Majesty's Government owe a particular obligation?
§ Mr. Sandys
I should be glad if my right hon. Friend would table a separate Question on the second part of his supplementary question. In answer to the first part, it is, of course, our intention to try to speed up this process to the utmost. As things are now going, it looks as though we shall have managed to resettle about 5,000 families by the end of this year, but, if the plan is carried out as we hope, over the next four years about 70,000 further families wild be settled in this way.
§ Sir A. Hurd
While warmly welcoming this project, which some of us have discussed for many months, may I ask my right hon. Friend to keep in mind all the time that its success depends mainly on the confidence which Europeans and Africans have in the integrity and impartiality of the Board? It is most important to have a broad-based Board and the right men to tackle the job from the start.
§ Mr. Sandys
I think that we have fully recognised that. It is one of the reasons why the Board is to be composed in the way that I indicated. The intention is to obtain a chairman, who will occupy a very important position, from outside Kenya.
§ Mr. Healey
I also welcome most warmly the right hon. Gentleman's state-meat and hope that he will use his influ- 204 ence with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to extend this programme as soon as possible. May I ask two questions? First, can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that in operating this programme he will be guided by the same principle as his predecessor, namely, that the interests of African agriculture will take priority over other considerations? Secondly, can he say what plans he has for increasing agricultural training for Africans in order to keep pace with the new responsibilities which will be placed on Africans by the scheme?
§ Mr. Sandys
Naturally, we will do what we can to ensure that people are fitted for the responsibilities which the scheme will lay on them. We fully recognise the high importance of securing a rapid land settlement of large numbers of African families. On the other hand, it is our intention, and it is right that it should be so, to carry out any of these schemes in a manner which will be fair to all sections of the population.
§ Mr. Brockway
I also welcome this scheme. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there has been a good deal of disappointment among Africans and Europeans about the extent of its immediate application? Is not this a very happy occasion when the compensation needs of the landless Africans and the European farmers coincide? Should not the greatest opportunity be taken to extend this scheme as rapidly as possible?
§ Mr. Sandys
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that there is no conflict in this between the interests of the Africans and the interests of the Europeans. I certainly endorse the hon. Gentleman's hope that we shall make as rapid progress as possible.