HC Deb 17 July 1962 vol 663 cc204-8
6. Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on his visit to Kenya.

11. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement about his talks with political parties in Kenya.

Mr. Sandys

I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT the text of the statement made by my predecessor at the end of his recent talks in Kenya. From this it will be seen that the detailed drafting of the new Constitution is now being put in hand; and preparations for elections to the Regional Assemblies and the central Legislature are going forward.

Mr. Healey

I welcome the evidence of progress, however small, contained in the previous Colonial Secretary's statement and congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on assuming these heavy responsibilities. In view of the concern and uneasiness expressed in some East African newspapers at the change of responsibility for these problems, will the right hon. Gentleman take the earliest possible opportunity to visit Kenya himself to assure all the communities there that there is no change in Her Majesty's Government's policy on the Colony?

Mr. Sandys

I can give that assurance straight away without going to Kenya. There is no change.

Mr. Wall

Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that any future constitution in Kenya will be based on Che regional system, the framework of which was decided at the recent conference? Will he bear in mind that any such system can be successful only if the regions are given a high degree of local autonomy by the central Government?

Mr. Sandys

The question of the exact balance between the centre and the regions is of cardinal importance in this matter.

The following is the statement:

The next step in the constitutional development of Kenya will be the introduction of a new constitution and the holding of nationwide elections.

The constitution will be based on the Framework agreed at the Lancaster House Conference. The only variations from this will be those required to provide for a period of self-government during which control over External Affairs, Defence and Internal Security will be reserved to the Governor. A further Conference will need to be held before inde-pence to work out any remaining details.

I believe it is desirable, in the interests of public order and of the economy, to hold the elections as soon as possible. There has now been agreement on all the necessary matters upon which the preparations for elections depend, and their timing will be determined solely by the practical work required. This involves the drawing of Regional and constituency boundaries and the registration of voters. The franchises for Central, Regional and Local Government have been agreed. It was also agreed that Regional elections should be held first and that elections to the Upper and Lower House should follow with the minimum delay and should take place as nearly simultaneously as possible.

The Commissions charged with the responsibility for the boundaries should begin their work early next month. It is not possible to make all the necessary preparations in time to hold the elections this year, but they will take place as soon as it is physically possible to arrange them in 1963.

The further task is to complete drafting the constitution so that it will be ready to take effect as soon as the elections have been held. This involves filling in the details of the Lancaster House Framework. A great deal of this has already been done and enough decisions have been taken to enable drafting to proceed.

Certain particular points have been discussed during my visit on which, so far, there has not been complete agreement. I explained that it was my desire to see agreement reached on all outstanding points but, in any case where this could not be done, H.M.G. would have to take the necessary decision to enable constitutional drafting to completed. I explained that in the absence, therefore, of agreement on several points, I would propose to act in the following manner:—

(a) Education:

The question of secondary education was left open at Lancaster House. I am now satisfied that there is no overwhelming administrative objection to giving responsibility for secondary education to the Regions. Educational standards and certain educational institutions must remain under national control, and there are other details to be worked out but, subject to this, I would propose that secondary education should be the responsibility of the Regions.

(b) Health:

There clearly must be a division here. Public Health in general and such matters as the control of epidemics must clearly be a Central responsibility, and the Central Government must retain an over-all responsibility for general policy and the means of ensuring that this can be effectively discharged. On the other hand, there are a number of functions, e.g. clinics, that should be the responsibility of the Regions. The main outstanding point is the administration of the provincial and district hospitals. In principle, I am inclined to think that this should be the function of the Regions, but in view of the importance of maintaining the efficiency of the Medical Service, I explained that I could not make up my mind finally without further consideration of the problems involved. These must be seen against the background of considerable administrative difficulties that are. in any case, bound to rise with the implementation of the new constitution. If it appears that the needs of the health of the people demand this, I should consider that any transfer of pro- vincial and district hospitals to the control of the Regional authorities should be deferred either temporarily or permanently.

(c) Labour:

I think it is essential that registration and control of labour should be a Central Government responsibility. The basic rights of association in trade unions will be safeguarded in the constitution. Decisions on trade union registration are taken by the Registrar and can be challenged in the courts. The employment offices throughout the country will, I believe, be better run and less liable to accusations of partiality if they are run uniformly throughout the country by the Central Government.

(d) The Public Service:

I put forward a scheme designed to meet the Lancaster House agreement that the Public Service should be independent of political control and that arrangements must be made to meet the staffing needs, both of the Central Government and the Regional authorities. In the interests of maintaining efficient administration which is of vital importance, there must, I believe, be a single career structure for the Public Service with uniform standards and agreed pension arrangements open to all recruits. At the same time, the Central and Regional governments must have servants who owe their allegiance entirely to them. I propose, therefore, examining the practical possibility of a pool of Public Servants who will be posted either to the Central Government Service or the Regional Government Service and transferable between one and the other. Recruitment to this pool, discipline, control over conditions of employment, and, in particular, protection of the Public Service against political interference will be in the hands of an independent Public Service Commission, the chairman of which might be appointed by a Council of the Judges of the Supreme Court. I propose to work out the details of this system and send them to His Excellency the Governor for consideration by the Council of Ministers in the near future.

(e) Representation of special interests:

It had been proposed that arrangements should be made for communal representation in the Legislatures during the period of self-government until independence. This proposal was unacceptable to the Council of Ministers. In these circumstances, I do not think it can be pressed, but I propose to safeguard the particularly important question of the representation of special communities at the Independence Conference by reserving the right to invite representatives from them to the Independence Conference, in addition to the members of the Legislature who will be chosen to represent the parties therein included.

(f) Nairobi:

The special position of Nairobi under the new constitution has to be worked out in more detail. On the only point of detail raised I propose that a representative of Nairobi should attend all meetings of the National Security Council but not be a member of it.

The problem of landlessness is one of the most serious and urgent facing Kenya. Her Majesty's Government consider that a substantial expansion of the present high density settlement scheme is required. I told the Kenya Government that we would be prepared to finance such an extension if they would put forward to us practicable schemes for settling 1,000,000 acres of land in the scheduled areas, predominantly mixed farming land, at an annual rate of 200,000 acres. These figures would include the acres already settled. In the last year of the operation of such a scheme, we would review it and if we are satisfied that a further scheme on these lines was necessary and desirable we would be prepared, in principle, to participate in such an extension:.

As it is essential to maintain continuity and certainty of payment in such a scheme, I have agreed with the Kenya Government that it will be the first charge on the development monies made available to Kenya over the period when the scheme is operating.

The Commission for the Northern Frontier District will soon be appointed. I should like to make it clear that the purpose of this Commission is not to recommend particular courses of action, but to inform H.M.G. about the current state of public opinion and the wishes of the people in the six districts concerned.