§ 3.55 p.m.
LORD OGMORE rose to call attention to the political and security situations in Kenya, with special reference to the reported activities of the Mau Mau society, and to the emergency legislation lately passed in the Colony; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I venture to bring before your Lordships this afternoon the situation in Kenya, which appears from the Press and radio reports to be one of gravity. We hear that over forty people have been murdered, including two white women and one or perhaps more settlers, and that two of the three Kikuyu chiefs have also been assassinated. A campaign of terror has been waged in which there have been brutal beatings of Africans, attempted murders, suicides, three attempts to burn churches or missions, over twenty cases of but burning, and killing and maiming of cattle. The object, we are told, is to drive the white people from Kenya and to attack the Christian religion. Africans have either voluntarily taken or in many cases been forced to take certain oaths. They have taken or have had to take an oath in these terms:
If I am asked to bring the head of a European and I refuse, this oath will kill me.
If I am called at any time during the night and do not go, this oath will kill me.
If I reveal any secrets of Africans who are Mau Mau members, this oath will kill me.
If I am called during the night and I am naked I will go naked.
If I see anyone stealing European property I will not tell about it, instead I will assist him to hide it.
If the members agree to do anything, whether good or bad, and I refuse to obey, this oath will kill me.
I will always say that the land belongs to none but the Kikuyu.
§ To meet this situation the Government has enacted emergency legislation providing for restrictions on freedom of association, and on speech, meeting, writing and movement. It is enacted that printing presses are to be licensed, and all societies with more than ten members are to be registered. Provincial commissioners have power to deport to restricted areas persons who they are satisfied are members of secret organisations. A curfew has been imposed 1092 in districts adjacent to European communities. Public meetings have been banned, security forces have been reinforced, armed police have been increased and there has been a strengthening of the special police organisation. A Home Guard has been created and, I presume, though I have not seen a statement to this effect, the Kenya Regiment has been mobilised. Police have been brought in from elsewhere. The Lancashire Fusiliers have been flown into Nairobi, Her Majesty's cruiser "Kenya" is now lying at Mombasa, and the ship's company have been ordered to take duty in the town as and when required. All officials of the Kenya African Union have been arrested and sent to the Northern Territory and also many other leading Kikuyu personalities in the Kikuyu reserves. Few young men are to be seen, and thousands, we are told, have moved off to the Aberdare range of mountains, driving cattle and goats before them. The terrorism continues and almost certainly every day there are fresh outbursts somewhere or other of these frightful happenings.
Before dealing any further with this part of the problem, I should like to refer to the curious attitude of the Government in this matter. Previous to the last month or so, though one would have thought that the danger might have been foreseen, there was an attempt to allay public concern. Mr. Davis, the Member for African affairs, who I may say from my own personal knowledge is an excellent officer, came over here to see the Secretary of State for the Colonies in September. Speaking of these emergency regulations which I have mentioned, he said—and I quote his words:
They are not needed now so much, but they are a safeguard against future subversion.
Then there was the very leisurely replacement of Governors. The present Governor's appointment was decided upon in 1951 and was announced in April of this year. Sir Philip Mitchell, the retiring Governor, retired in June of this year, and Sir Evelyn Baring, the new Governor, left for Kenya at the end of September. So that during the latter part of June, July, August and September—during three crucial months, as we now know—the Colony was without a Governor on the spot. I am not suggesting for one
moment that this was in any way the fault of Sir Evelyn Baring. Obviously, he would want to get to his post as quickly as possible.
§ I should like to know from the Under-Secretary what the reason for the delay was, but I would hazard a guess that it was the obsolete, archaic financial system under which the Colonies are run. In other words, neither the Colony nor the Home Government would pay the salary of the new Governor for three months. I should be very surprised if that was not the fact, and if it is not, perhaps the noble Earl will tell us. It seems extraordinary that in a position of so much danger and complexity as this the new Governor was not allowed to go to his post because no one would pay his salary for three months. It is disappointing, because the same sort of thing was inclined to happen in the early days in Malaya, and we had hoped that the lesson had been learned by both the Colonial Office and the Colonial Governments.
Then we have the official spokesman, who I think must he a near relative of the Cairo spokesman during the war, because he continually blows hot and cold. At the end of last week we were told by him that "the situation is more than disturbing." At the beginning of this week he said, "It is on the whole stable and gives no cause for alarm and despondency." How the situation could have changed over the week-end, with terrorist activity still continuing in this way, one fails to understand. I am not making any Party point of this at all, and to prove that, I should like to quote from the Daily Telegraph, which is a paper not unduly critical of the present Government. On October 22 it said this in the leading article:
Some of the credit for the Kenya Government's belated initiative must go to the white settlers, who, seeing the issue dearly from the start, have prodded the officials without mercy or cease.
According to that, I am sure, quite unbiased authority, it seems that the Government have been a little lax in the manner in which they have tackled this problem. Then we are told that a Royal Commission are to be appointed, but month after month goes by and the names are not announced. We learn now that the Commission are not to start their work until January next.
§ The position of the Kenya African Union is a peculiar one. All officials have been arrested, but the Union is not proscribed. That must give great satisfaction to the members, but it leaves the Union rather in the position of the Cheshire cat, with only the grin left. Finally, there is the curious incident of the Secretary of State and the missionaries. I am sorry that the Secretary of State said in a statement in another place that to some extent the missionaries were to blame for this problem. I do not consider that that is so. I think that that is an unfortunate statement to make, particularly with regard to the Kikuyu. Many of us know something of the difficulties that the missionaries have had and recognise the fact that there is now a definite attack on the Christian religion. It is an easy thing to blame the missionaries. It is often done, even by those who should know about the work our missionaries are doing, particularly the fine work they are doing with regard to education and health. I do not think it helps to make statements of that kind.
§ I should now like to turn to the Kikuyu, because the present agitation or terrorism is chiefly confined to that tribe. Many of your Lordships know them well, but some of your Lordships may not, and I should like you to look at them for a moment. Out of between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 people in Kenya, the Kikuyu have a population of some 1,000,000. In their area there is a tremendous pressure on the land because of the constant increase in population, at the rate of over 2 per cent. per annum, and because of the tsetse fly, which, in this part of Africa, as in others, is the real ruler. The tsetse fly area covers a band of Africa twice the size of the United States, and a very large part of Kenya is under the tsetse fly. That is why so much of the high land is cultivated while good land on the lower parts of the country—all the way from Mombasa to Nairobi—is uncultivated. The high land is subject to great erosion because of bad agricultural methods on the part of the Africans, because of over-crowding, and also because of ancient tribal customs, whereby the men of the tribe hunt and protect the tribe in war and prepare the land up to the planting of the seed. We have taken from them the first two responsibilities, and there is not enough 1095 work in the third. The women are very hard workers. It is very difficult in this area, as we found in the Fort Hall experiment many years ago, to get African men to take up new methods of agriculture, as they regard agriculture as work women should do and not men.
§ The Kikuyu have increased enormously under British rule, largely because we have protected them from their ancient enemies, the Masai, and the Arab slavers, who used to come up from Zanzibar. I think that the underlying difficulties with the Kikuyu and with other African tribes is that Western civilisation has been, I will not say imposed upon them, but brought to them too suddenly. In this country we had hundreds of years to get used to new methods and ways of thought. I feel sorry for the Africans who have had to "concertina" into a lifetime the experience we had over many hundreds of years. There is no doubt at all that the traditional tribal customs, whereby a man always knew his position in society, have entirely changed. Where once he knew that he was a big fish in a small pool, now a man is only a small fish in a very large pool whose edges he cannot see, or even imagine. I mentioned the same thing a year or two ago in regard to Basutoland, when the diretlo murders, or medicine murders, as they were wrongly called, took place. I believe that those arose from the fear of insecurity of certain chiefs, who found they could not stand up under the pressure of modern conditions and reverted to the old magic and witchcraft to reassert their power and position. Some of the same tendencies are behind the difficulties among the Kikuyu, but on a much larger scale.
§ The young men are unable to get fresh land and so they drift into the towns, particularly into Nairobi, where they become unemployed—there are at least 10,000 unemployed Africans in Nairobi. Poverty stricken, they seek or are found by bad company, and become criminals. There has been no clear demarcation in official minds, so far as we can learn, between the Kenya African Union, which is a reformist body believing in the inevitability of gradualness; the Mau Mau, which is a terrorist body; and between the ordinary criminals who are cashing in on the situation which has been evoked 1096 by the Mau Mau organisation. If the Under-Secretary is able to tell us, it would be most interesting to know just where the lines of demarcation can be drawn. In other words, in a varying degree the causes of the unrest, it seems to many of us, are political, social and economic. The Kikuyu are, of course, an intensely political tribe. A few years ago I addressed a very large baraza—a gathering—near Kiambu, in Kenya, and Jomo Kinyatta and many other leaders were present. I have never addressed an audience in my life when there was such an intensity of interest, not particularly in what I was saying but in the fact that there was a meeting and they were present, and that their future was being discussed. Certainly we are often led to wonder whether there is African opinion. I feel there is no doubt that among the male members of the Kikuyu tribe there is definitely a strong African opinion on these matters.
§ Kenya differs considerably from the other Colonies, except perhaps the two Rhodesias. There are 30,000 white colonists there. There are Indians and Arabs. On the coast, at all events, if you have to put up a school, a housing estate, or even a wash-house, you have to put up four. The number of races there, of course, adds greatly to the problem. The white settler element is highly criticised in certain quarters, but they have been an active element, and they have played, and are playing, an important part in the economy of the Colony. I am certain that were it not for them Kenya would starve, because what surplus there is for the towns comes largely from the European farms. The African farms are on a purely subsistence basis. I am sure that we shall all agree that all these communities have a great part to play. They depend upon one another and statesmanship is necessary to ensure that they do so harmoniously.
§ I have tried to set out the problem as I see it. I should like now to make some suggestions to Her Majesty's Government, if I may, as to the action which they should take. First of all, and most important in the immediate future, we trust, of course, that they will do what is necessary to restore and preserve law and order. They must use what force is necessary for this purpose, and they must use it properly and wisely. Let us be under no illusion about this: nothing can 1097 take place properly unless law and order is restored. They must settle the financial problem arising out of the emergency. In Malaya, to some extent, we were lucky, because the terrorist campaign there coincided largely with the great increase in commodity prices, particularly of rubber and tin. But that is not the case in Kenya. I can visualise the fact that the Kenya Government must be handicapped financially in dealing with this matter. I am glad that the Secretary of State has gone to Kenya, because this is the sort of problem with which he can help. They may omit to take what steps they should take merely through fear of the resulting financial obligation.
§ The Government must then settle the police problem. The force may have to be considerably extended. As we found in Malaya, it is necessary to be careful about fitting in the newcomers (if there are any) to the existing pattern. There again, the Secretary of State can help. Then I would say that we must not postpone action on progressive measures. We must resist the temptation to say, "This is all right, but we cannot think of it until the emergency is over." I am glad to say that the Government have resisted that temptation in Malaya, and so has General Templer. General Harding, in his address last week to the Somerset Light Infantry (I think it was) made this point quite clearly. So the military realise this situation in Malaya. I hope it will also be realised that the same rule applies in Kenya: that education, agriculture, health and housing have to be dealt with, and the necessary improvements catered for in order to tackle the real problem underlying this compaign. The Governor made a statement yesterday to the Legislative Council on what I venture to suggest are absolutely the right lines, and he did make this point clearly. I hope that public opinion in Kenya will accept what he says in this matter.
§ Then, I think, Her Majesty's Government should strengthen the hands of the moderates, who are having a most difficult time at this moment. It is important that we should do so, because the information I get from Africans, some of whom are closely in touch with Kikuyu opinion, is that they are very anxious for a settlement; that the broad 1098 mass of Africans desire a settlement along the right lines, and want to go back to peaceful conditions. Therefore, I ask Her Majesty's Government to consider the suggestions made by the Legislative Council members, and also by the newly-formed Executive Committee of the Kenya African Union. I see from a despatch to The Times to-day that this latter Executive is no longer confined to the Kikuyu. That is probably a good thing, and I hope that we shall help them and support them in every way. It may be necessary to arrange for the moderate opinion—Mr. Mathu and the others—to address meetings, which they cannot do at the moment. I think it is desirable as soon as possible to screen those who have been arrested, because there is reason to suspect that some, at least, have no sympathy at all with the Mau Mau. We want in some way to calm those Africans who are frightened. I am told—again perhaps the Under-Secretary of State will be able either to confirm or deny it—that the Africans who fled to the Aberdare range have gone there because they are frightened, and not because they intend in any way to set up a sort of base. In any event they would be incapable of doing that, and with the rains coming on, it would not be a particularly healthy spot. I suggest that the leaders of the communities—Mr. Blundell, Mr. Patel and Mr. Mathu—and perhaps Government representatives, should meet round the table and have a discussion as a sort of conciliation group to see whether the communities can form a proper basis for future action.
§ We then come to the question of the 400 independent schools, with a school population of 62,000 children. For years this has been a vexed question in Kenya. I think the Government should make up their mind what they are going to do. If these schools are subversive and not educating the children, then close them down. If they are doing a good job, then keep them going; give them financial support and all the assistance that is necessary. But it is no good keeping on these schools and muttering that they are subversive. One must take action one way or the other, and I think it is time that the Government of Kenya made up their mind to take the necessary action. I think, too, that they ought to consider 1099 a Commission of Inquiry. The Royal Commission which is belatedly going to Africa next year has a very wide field to cover, ranging over the whole of East African problems—it may be too wide a field for this particular purpose. I should have thought there was enough to do to decide on Kenya matters, rather than taking in Tanganyika and Uganda as well. The Government should also, where possible, relax the Emergency Regulations as soon as practicable. They affect societies and individuals who are innocent; they may alienate moderate opinion, or make it more difficult to take the action which they would like to take; and they may affect other tribes. I am sorry to say that the Philippines in the United Nations attacked the position in Kenya with the ignorance and intemperateness we have learned to expect from that quarter. I have suffered myself a good deal from the Philippines, and I am not particularly surprised, although I am sorry, to see that they attacked the Kenya Government in the United Nations.
§ Then we have, lastly, the problem of these multi-racial communities. It is a most difficult problem, especially where races are at such different stages of development. I think we must persevere and try to insure a co-operative spirit in partnership. It took us a long time to do it in this country. Whenever I go abroad and speak to Colonials, they talk about the English. I say: "Well, I am not English, and I can sympathise with you. But you must remember that their good points far outweigh their bad." I do not know whether they would say that about me and my race. I tell them, too, that it took us a very long time—our brothers the Scots and us and the English—to settle down, and that these matters cannot be done in five minutes. It takes a long time. We must have patience, and we must realise that where you have multi-racial communities you cannot expect quick results. Finally, may I sum up and say that I submit to the House that it is necessary for the Government to take action to restore and preserve law and order, and that this action must he prompt, vigorous and thorough? In addition, this action must be accompanied by a real attempt to discover and, if possible, to satisfy, the underlying discontent of which this is a symptom. I beg to move for Papers.1100
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, my intervention in this debate will be brief and, I hope, to the point. Of course, we are all united in our detestation of the savage crimes of the Mau Mau and of the organised brutality of that secret and subversive society. But other than to add that I hope that the Government in its action will be swift and unflinching, and unhesitating in its firm decision to restore law and order, I do not propose to say any more about the crimes. In that respect I echo the feelings of the noble Lord who moved this Motion. After all, murder should be no stepping stone to power or to further political responsibilities, and secret, subversive and criminal societies are no new thing in Africa. The country is fortunate in having a Governor who is fully capable of handling the situation. To save the noble Earl who is to reply to the debate, may I say in passing that in my personal experience there have been many occasions when a Colony has paid two Governors at the same time, if circumstances warranted that action. I am quite certain that no mere financial reason of that kind can have been at the back of any delay—if there was one—in the appointment being actively filled. It remains for us to give the present Governor our complete confidence and support and not to embarrass him in any way. Those of us who have been on the receiving end of a job of this kind know how inimical it is to the cause of law and order to have intervention—inevitably half-informed intervention—even of one's own friends.
I wish to say one or two words about the background of these disorders, and once more to enter a plea against excessive speed in forcing races, who only yesterday emerged from savagery, along the untried roads of Western democracy. I am not trying to use the present emergency as an excuse for denying progress to the Africans. I am saying, and saying it with due thought and consideration, that the present emergency underlines only too clearly the dangers of giving responsibility, or of encouraging the idea that responsibility can be given, long before the recipient is capable of using it or undertaking its duties. In short, I am trying, to underline the necessity in these matters for a little sociological common sense. There is, if I may be allowed to 1101 say so, no true analogy with Malaya, because in Malaya we are dealing with races with a far longer access to culture and civilization, and whose general position is not comparable with that of the Africans, as I shall hope shortly to point out to your Lordships with greater force.
Nature has herself set a speed limit on the pace at which the adolescent races can absorb the complete change in outlook, habits and social structure involved in integrating races, which really belong to the time B.C., in the political and economic life evolved by 2,000 years of Western progress. After all, you cannot swallow 2,000 years of progress in the course of a generation or so without suffering from severe indigestion. I say once again that the true friends of Africa are in Africa—they are not in this country. Race relations cannot be decreed by doctrinaires from office chairs or armchairs in this country. I suggest that they have to be evolved in the day-to-day contact of living together in the country of their domicile, whatever may be their colour or race. In my opinion and experience, that is the only way to produce amicable relations between races: by their living together and finding out on the spot a way of evolving amicable compromises for the difficulties that arise.
I take it that all your Lordships have read the recent articles in The Times and elsewhere by Sir Philip Mitchell. He draws, with inimitable skill and unrivalled knowledge and, indeed, with deep sympathy, the complex problems which have arisen to haunt the Administration of Kenya—problems inevitably aggravated by the very success of European enterprise and skill in agriculture, commerce and industry and, may I add, unnecessarily complicated by the irresponsibility of high thinking and loose talking in this country. It was, I think, Elspeth Huxley who said very wisely that Time takes his revenge for all the councils to which he is not called. If you reflect how far we have brought these Africans—the Kikuyu of whom we are talking—in a bare fifty years, and their immensely improved lot today you get a better perspective of present discontents. But let us be reasonable. There are discontents and maladjustments in every land on earth, and nowhere is a more honest effort being made to deal with them than in Kenya—the agrarian problem, the urban housing problem, the social problems 1102 arising from the weakening of old tribal restrictions, the need for soil conservation and skilled husbandry and so on. The basic fact of the situation to-day is not that the African has been held back by racial discrimination but that he has travelled too far too quickly; and gross misrepresentation of the facts by men like Mr. Fenner Brockway cannot conceal the dependence of the African, not only for the preservation of his present standards but also for the hope of better ones, upon an expansion of European guidance and enterprise and, may I say, control.
The key to a high wage economy, of the necessity for which we read so much, in Africa as elsewhere, is hard, efficient and skilled work; and no starry-eyed theorists can evade this necessity. The African in Kenya, may I say too, sets a higher value on leisure than is customary with Western races. We are told that in our economy to-day there is no room for the idle rich. I should be inclined to agree with that statement and to say, with equal emphasis, that there is no room for the idle poor. Nowadays (and this is a lesson that, especially in Africa, we have to teach) a higher standard of living, and everything they want, can come only from skilled and harder work. The Kikuyu African is unused to a money economy. Indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has said, he needs industrial opportunities to earn a living otherwise than by peasant cultivation, with all the consequent changes in social structure that this involves. But in the main event the destiny of man in East Africa will depend on his treatment of the land, land development, utilisation and conservation, with all the skill and capital investment that such a programme involves. I remember the words of a Nigerian chieftain who said, "I conceive the land as belonging to a vast family, of whom many are dead, few are alive, and countless numbers are still unborn." That Nigerian chieftain had, I think, the whole root of the matter in that simple sentence. That is the altitude which we have to inculcate in Africa: that the resources of the country are not there to be wasted and abused, as the land throughout Africa has been, by the African, but that they are there as a trust, to be utilised by human ability and handed on to their successors. That is 1103 the lesson which, by example and precept, the European has been teaching in Kenya. But there is a long way yet to go.
I think that insufficient credit has been taken for our achievements in Kenya. Perhaps I may be allowed again to quote Sir Philip Mitchell. He emphasised this aspect in a speech some six years ago. He pointed out that fifty years ago, when we arrived, there was not a road, nor a railway, nor a wheel; not a school, nor even an alphabet; no equipment save hoes, knives and axes: not a hospital nor a shop nor a business; no peace, nor any means or desire to enforce peace. Since then, as he says, we have been doing our best to emancipate them from insecurity, superstition, ignorance and ill-health, and to bring peace and safety to their land. The progress has been amazing, but the work is still less than half done. Are we then to abandon it, and to let it all sink back into jungle at the bidding of impatient idealists who talk blandly and blindly of self-government and do infinite damage to the cause they profess to uphold? There is surely no merit in ignoring the inescapable facts of the present situation. The European settlers who have made Kenya their home are the main authors and architects of its present successful economy. They come of a race with a long tradition of responsible self-government and a great national talent for its exercise. I suggest that they should be given more power to exercise it, not less. It is vitally to their interest to help the Africans on their road to an effective share in civilised government.
The only hope, as I see it, for a peaceful future in that country lies in what is called qualitative democracy, not in quantitative democracy—the principle of Cecil Rhodes: equal rights for all civilised men; in other words, the aim of Sir Godfrey Huggins in Central Africa, which is the slow evolution of a multiracial society in which there will be parties no doubt differing from each other, but divided from each other by considerations of policy and not of colour. One cannot but deplore the attitude of certain sections of the Press of this country: on the one hand, an almost hysterical exaggeration of present troubles and, on the other, an affectation of disbelief in the very existence of the 1104 Mau Mau at all. Strange though it may seem, for calm and unruffled wisdom one has to leave this country and go to Kenya. The Kenya Government has a difficult, but not an impossible task, unless it is made so by interference from this country.
I should like, in concluding, to refer to the sort of interference that I mean. I read in the Press that two gentlemen who are members of the executive committee of a non-Party organisation, which calls itself the Union of Democratic Control, are proceeding to Kenya on the invitation of the Kenya African Union for a visit lasting from October 28 to November 9. Their published statement reads as follows—I should like to read it because it is so emblematic of the folly of the attitude of certain people. These are the words:The visit has three purposes. First, we desire to learn the facts of the present situation in Kenya and what steps can be taken to remove the causes of unrest; secondly, we desire to strengthen the hands of the great main body of African opinion, which is strongly opposed to violence and is eager to advance, along constructive educational, social, and political lines, to racial equality: and thirdly, we desire to meet people of good will, of all races, who believe that the only effective solution rests in a common understanding, a sincere effort at the fullest measure of racial co-operation and a progressive approach to full democracy.These gentlemen go on to say that they hope while in Kenyato see the Governor and Ministers, members of the four races in the Legislative Council, representatives of the leading organisations, including the Churches, and to visit districts in Kenya which reflect the economic, social and political problems as related to the present unrest.Not a bad programme for twelve days' work! I feel it difficult to take it seriously, especially as I see that they are to take in Uganda for three days on their way back.
But one has to be serious about these apparently foolish things. All these incantations about "a progressive approach to full democracy" have no helpful meaning at all in this background. They are just the mumbo-jumbo of the interfering doctrinaire. Let us grant that they may mean well, but the probable results of such unqualified intervention are hound to be pernicious. It may be that they have been led astray by the recent history of West Africa but, as we have repeatedly said in this House, there is no analogy 1105 whatever between the circumstances of West Africa and those of East Africa. It is quite impossible to apply anything that is happening on the outside to East Africa.
We are also, I think, entitled to remember that the political representatives of the Africans, the unofficial African Members of Council, failed in their hour of trial recently. It is no good the noble Earl, if I may be allowed to say so, suggesting that the European Members of Council meet these gentlemen at a round table and hammer out some suitable solution of the difficulties, when these are the very men who have shown that they cannot face the responsibilities of the position which they occupy. They refused to be associated with any responsibility for the, powers taken by Government to legalise resolute action in this emergency—and that despite the fact that the chief sufferers from the Mau Mau activities were people of their own race. I do not want to condemn them too harshly or too hastily, but I do suggest that it is necessary for African leaders to realise that, if they claim a position of leadership and responsibility, they must be capable of shouldering responsibility and showing leadership before they can claim any advance of that kind. I am confident that the Kenya Government will use their powers wisely. I have no fears for them. But I am apprehensive lest people in this country should be misled into leaving their work—"our work," may I say?—half done and a very solemn trust unfulfilled. That indeed would be a tragedy and a betrayal—the tragedy of a people that decided to drown in words what it had achieved by deeds, and lost its faith in the moment of its greatest challenge.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will agree that the Kenya Government are acting wisely and in a far-sighted fashion in not waiting until law and order have been fully restored before putting in hand measures of social improvement. The new Governor's announcement, which we read in the Press this morning, about immediate steps to improve housing and social services, and to help the African farmers, indicates that the policy of the Kenya Government is to remedy grievances as well as to put an end to violence. I think, judging from what we have already heard 1106 this afternoon, that it is the view of your Lordships that these two policies—social reform and redressing grievances, and the restoration of law and order with all the firmness required for that purpose—should march hand in hand. Of course, any opinion we may express about the present situation must be qualified by a very limited knowledge of the facts, and any remarks we may make will, as the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, said in the earlier part of his speech, be intended to be helpful and not to make the present situation more difficult or add to the really tremendous strain under which people in Kenya must now be living.
I should like to make one comment, following in the footsteps of my noble friend Lord Ogmore. It does appear to us and to a good many other outside observers that this reversion to a primitive form of nationalism and tribal superstition and violence among the Kikuyus might possibly be checked by rallying the reasonable elements in the tribe and trying to restrain the fanatics. It is clear that the only people who would have a chance of doing this with success are their fellow Africans.
I am reinforced in this view by the Nairobi correspondent of The Times. I dare say your Lordships read the report in The Times newspaper this morning. In the course of that report, if I may quote his words as coming from some body on the spot, he says:One of the most urgent needs here is undoubtedly the formation of a responsible African body to whom sensible Africans can look for leadership.There is now apparently a committee of the Kenya African Union composed of these moderate men, which might serve this purpose. It was reported earlier, I think sonic time last week, that the African members of the Legislative Council have offered to visit the disturbed areas in the Kikuyu reserve. They have already appealed to Africans to give up violence and to refrain from reprisals. I do not see the weight of the complaint of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, against the African members of the Kenya Legislative Council. Quite clearly, their position in relation to their own people must be very delicate, and I hope that that factor will be taken into consideration. It is difficult to see how much further they could go than to declare publicly that they are against these Mau Mau 1107 acts of barbarism, and to ask the members of the Kikuyu tribe to co-operate with the forces of law and order and to help to restrain the more fanatical of their members. But it is surely worth an effort to re-establish this moderate African leadership. One cannot, of course, guarantee that their intervention would succeed, but it surely would be worth trying. I cannot help thinking that their efforts will be facilitated by the social improvements which the Government, of which, of course, several of these gentlemen are members, have decided to put in hand.
I think it would be generally agreed that this is an occasion when we should consider the long view of policy. We must try to ascertain the root causes of this African discontent; and having done so, to decide what action should be taken to remove the hatred and distrust which have provoked these outbreaks of violence against the European community. Hence the very great importance of the Royal Commission which I understand is shortly to be appointed, to inquire into land use and other economic problems. I hope, as does my noble friend Lord Ogmore, that there will be no unnecessary delay in appointing the Commission. I hope it may be able to start its work before January, although that is the date we have been given at the moment. I hope also that it will be able to complete its work with the least possible delay, because every day that is wasted aggravates the evil which the Commission will examine and set out to remedy. I, too, should like to express the hope, as the members of the Commission have not yet been appointed, that the personnel will not be entirely British, but that if possible a person of other than British origin with suitable qualifications may be included.
For my part—this is of course a personal opinion—I cannot help regretting that the terms of reference of the Commission will be limited to matters connected with the standard of living and conditions of employment in East Africa. This limitation will prevent the Commission from considering many burning issues which are causing friction and discontent, and which must be settled in the long run if Kenya is to progress on a basis of racial co-operation. I hope your Lordships will allow me to give one or two examples of what I mean. So far 1108 as I understand—if my information is incorrect I hope the noble Earl will put me right—the Commission will not be able to deal with the question of land use in the so-called White Highlands. This Crown Land is leased exclusively to Europeans, but I am informed that some of it is either unoccupied or not properly cultivated and developed by existing tenants. If this is the case, it would surely be right to turn out the bad farmers, as we do in this country. Any land available for development, either because it is not occupied or because it is badly farmed, might be offered to African farmers. A gesture of this kind would surely show everyone that white farmers do not desire to monopolise this area of extremely fertile land. It would have an excellent psychological effect—I am not, of course, under-estimating the economical effect—by lessening the sense of injustice about land use which embitters many Africans.
May I at this point ask the noble Earl a question about the squatters, who I believe have occupied pieces of land in the White Highlands? Has it been considered whether any of them might be offered a legal title to any portion of land in that part of Kenya? If not, what is the policy in relation to these people, who at the moment have no legal title to the land they occupy? Another matter which I feel would be outside the Commission's competence is education. The Africans regard education as the key to equality of opportunity. They feel that too little money is being spent on African education, and that consequently they are denied the chance of acquiring the qualifications needed for skilled employment and for entering into the professions and the Government service. The fact that this grievance exists, whether or not it can be justified, is surely a sufficient reason for inquiry into the whole problem of the provision of educational facilities for the African population.
Your Lordships may have observed in yesterday's Times an article by the well-known authority on Africa, Miss Margery Perham, in the course of which she pointed out that the problem we are facing in British Africa is primarily one of political psychology rather than of material need. I share that view, in all humility, because I do not believe that the problem we want to solve can be 1109 solved entirely by improving social conditions. Of course, that is clearly part of the problem, and a solution must be found for this problem of raising opportunity and improving social conditions. As Miss Perham pointed out, in India and many Asian countries the standard of living is much lower than it is in Kenya, and yet these wretched conditions of life are not accompanied by outbreaks of violence. What has happened is that, for better or worse, we have indoctrinated British Africa with our own ideas of political and social equality. This striving for equality is at the root of African nationalism. Africans will distrust Europeans so long as they believe that their rule means permanent inferiority of status. They are rejecting partnership—the word "partnership" has a rather unfortunate association in many parts of Africa—because we have failed to convince them that they will not always be a subordinate partner.
How are we going to persuade them of our good faith (because that is the important thing) that we really intend that the present unequal partnership—which is inevitable when two races mix, one having reached such different levels of social and cultural development—will eventually become an equal partnership? In my view, we can prove this only by deeds, not by words. It is no good talking of partnership unless we are prepared to practise it. There must be a gradual lifting of the many varieties of racial discrimination. It is the humiliation and resentment caused by colour bars, whether they are social, administrative or in the law itself, which produce the dangerous and exclusive type of African nationalism which we must guard against in time to come. If the spirit of nationalism in Africa is to grow along healthy lines of racial co-operation, as we all desire, it must be recognised by the other communities as a force to be encouraged rather than checked. Discriminative practices seriously wound national pride, and they should be terminated at the earliest possible opportunity. Political activity should be directed into instructive and constitutional, channels. An adequate and a growing place should be found in Legislative and Executive Councils for members of the African community. Indeed, this is being done. But it is noticeable that the representation of Africans in 1110 the Kenya Legislature is smaller in relation to the African population than in the neighbouring territory of Uganda. This matter will no doubt be considered by the committee of its own members, under an outside chairman, which the Kenya Legislature decided to appoint within, I think, a year from last March. I hope that agreement between tile communities to appoint this committee will not be delayed by the present disturbances.
What I should like to emphasise, in relation both to this racial discrimination and to constitutional advance in East Africa, is that these are ideological issues and in the long run issues of no less importance to tranquillity and racial co-operation than the material issues with which the Royal Commission will deal when it is appointed. The suggestion I wish to make, and which I hope the Government will consider, is this. I believe that what we really need is a Royal Commission with the wide terms of reference of the Royal Commission of 1938, which was sent out, as the noble Earl will remember, to the West Indies—the Moyne Commission, as it was called, after its Chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Moyne. Your Lordships will recall that the Commissioners on that occasion were authorised to take evidence about any matter connected with social and economic conditions in the whole of the British Caribbean. A Royal Commission with this scope of inquiry would be able to cover everything it might consider relevant to the economic and social progress of our East African territories, and to the furtherance of racial co-operation in that great area. It would no doubt include among its subjects of inquiry the problems of education, land use, racial discrimination and constitutional development to which I have already alluded.
I hope the Government will consider this proposal from a wider standpoint than that of Kenya alone. We have to remember that this outbreak of racial violence in Kenya is the most serious outbreak of this kind in any British territory since the war. The future of race relations in East Africa is not a matter that will affect only the local communities and their relationship with the United Kingdom; it is a matter of profound concern to the whole British Commonwealth, and to the outside world. One day these African territories will reach the stage of self-government. The choice, 1111 whether or not to sever the Commonwealth connection, will rest with an African majority. Among our greatest sources of strength and usefulness is the fact that we are a multi-racial Commonwealth, and it would be a disaster if the Commonwealth were to begin to break up and disintegrate on racial lines.
To the outside world, race relations are causing increasing anxiety. One has only to look at the General Assembly of the United Nations which is now in session for proof of that. I do not share the view expressed by some members of the United Nations that there is an immediate threat to peace from this quarter, but I think your Lordships will agree that in the long run there is a very real danger of war if race relations, generally, continue to deteriorate. It is surely our duty to the Commonwealth, and to the rest of the world, to do everything in our power, before it is too late, to promote friendly co-operation between the races and communities in East Africa, and I hope that the noble Earl will ask his colleague, the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, when he returns from East Africa, to give serious consideration to the possibility of an inquiry that will cover all sources of friction and discontent in East Africa and which will make recommendations which, whether they are followed or not, will, at any rate, be the recommendations of an impartial body which will have done its best in the interests of racial harmony.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, I shall detain you for only a very short time. I think each one of us, in any part of the House, believes it to have been absolutely right for the Colonial Secretary to have flown out to Kenya, at this juncture, to confer with Sir Evelyn Baring. These two men bear primary responsibility for the solving of those pressing problems. But in the last instance, responsibility for the good guidance, and governance, of the people of Kenya rests on the people of Britain, through the British Parliament. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, professed himself to be somewhat mystified by various communiqués emanating from the Kenya Government. If he is mystified, how much more mystified 1112 must many of the people of Britain be, in endeavouring to see the dimensions of this problem, in view of the vast number of conflicting stories which they have heard! Taking the words of some publicists, the Communists have endeavoured to make out that there is no such thing as Mau Mau, in spite of the fact that the blood of no fewer than forty-six East Africans of different races has been spilled in the last two months. They say, rather quaintly: "It cannot be so, because there is no such word as Mau Mau in the Kikuyu language." There are some extremely powerful and well-known bodies in this country, and outside it, whose names are not to he found in the Oxford dictionary. One is N.A.T.O., a second Toc H and a third, perhaps, the T.U.C.
Then there are what I may call the slightly lesser extremists who have written of the "hysteria" of the settlers in queueing up to buy firearms to protect themselves and their wives and children. In fact these same settlers have behaved with most commendable coolness. There is in the minds of many a curious distrust of what the Briton overseas may be doing. It is a compound of the reading of inaccurate history and the curse of over-simplification of what we would all agree to be a most difficult and complicated problem. I think it is very widely believed in this country that the land which is farmed in the White Highlands was actually wrested from the tribesmen of the Kikuyu. I think it is also believed, though probably by fewer, that opportunity for advancement of all kinds, social and political and such, has been purposely blocked since the war. On this assumption, some people in this country are being tempted to argue that Mau Mau is a natural outcome and one to which a moderate man might subscribe.
The facts are known to all of us here. The land of the White Highlands was completely empty when the white settlers were granted it, with the solitary exception of small pieces of marginal land near Nairobi. The advancement of Kenya since the war, and before it, has gone on steadily. To say that it has not does far less than justice to a very great Colonial Governor, Sir Philip Mitchell, to four hard working and distinguished Colonial Secretaries whom he 1113 served, to the multi-racial Legislature, and to a devoted and highly efficient band of Colonial civil servants. To blame the Government of Kenya for not being superhuman may be a possible thing to do, but it is no more sensible than it would be to blame the medical profession because they have not yet succeeded in curing cancer or even rheumatism.
Mau Mau is one of the diseases of Africa. It is a secret society which lifts the curtain on the old dark clays before the white man came. As I say, it is a disease. Some of the societies, like the Hyena Society, the Baboon Society and, last of all, the most widespread and sinister, the Leopard Society, have been going on, if not for hundreds of years, at any rate for generations. Societies that have sprung up in recent years have in nearly every case come from relapsed Christians. Often they have been based on a misreading or re-writing of the Scriptures, hut, whatever their origin, their observance has taken the form of blasphemous parodies of the Christian ritual, as indeed does the Black Mass itself. No amount of reforms, no amount of concession, will ever affect the man who voluntarily joins such a society as this, in the same way that no offer of a high standard of living, however high, will ever change the mind of the really convinced intellectual Communist. The revulsion of the ordinary decent African tribesman against Mau Mau, and all secret societies like it, is just as great as that of any member of your Lordships' House, as noble Lords who have spoken to-day have already said. So the first objective must be to restore the rule of law, one of the greatest gifts we ever brought to the African Continent. We must make it clear that we will take every step to restore it and, having restored it, to maintain it. Though I am entirely in sympathy with what Lord Ogmore has said about strengthening the hands of the moderates in every respect, yet we should make the gravest error if we were to make any apparent concession which could be construed as reacting to the terrorism of Mau Mau. If you appear to react to the threat of arson, mutilation and murder, you strike at the very basis of the rule of law. There always have been murderers and there always will be murderers, but let it never be said that we tried to traffic with them.
1114 The second objective is the steady advancement of Kenya, which inevitably will be somewhat slowed up by the present problem. I think we all read with great interest Sir Evelyn Baring's speech to the Legislative Council. I think there were some who believed—for it was the first time such a speech had been fully reported in The Times—that this was the first Governor's speech that ever carried a really strong content of social and economic reform. Actually that process has been perfectly steady and continuous, but there is a very long road to go. It will do no harm for the world to know that the Colonial Service is an instrument of perpetual change and not one of obstruction; that the people who live in Kenya, surprisingly enough, know a little bit about Kenya and that it is not the sole preserve of wandering publicists.
There are two mighty problems to solve. Other speakers have referred to them. One is concerned with the land and the other with the city. In the British Colonial Empire there are many places, such as Malta, Mauritius, Barbados, and the Ibo district of Nigeria, where the pressure of population on the land is so great that the whole question of supporting life is becoming more and more difficult. In the African territories the population is advancing far ahead of production, at a speed which means that in most territories it will have doubled itself in thirty years' time; and it is far from clear where double the food is coming from. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, was concerned because the Royal Commission are to confine themselves to the use of land. If they consider the other subjects he suggests, the Report will take so long to write that much of it will be irrelevant when produced.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord does not wish to misrepresent me. I was not suggesting that the terms of reference of the Royal Commission which is about to be appointed should be changed or that the Commission should cover the ground I have mentioned. What I was suggesting was that another Royal Commission should be appointed to discuss the wider issues which this Royal Commission would not be authorised to touch upon.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
I am obliged to the noble Earl for his explanation; I entirely misunderstood him. I thought 1115 he suggested that these further spheres should be added to the already enormous subject of land utilisation. It seems fantastic, in a country as vast as Africa, that there should be a shortage of land. I remember a most interesting speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, about two years ago, in which he described how many visitors, seeing a vast African plain dotted with thorn bushes, would suggest that the bushes should be cut down and the ground planted—only to find that in no circumstances would anything but thorn bushes grow. If science is able to neutralise the tsetse fly and make available the sterile land which is so much of East Africa, more of the land will become usable; but that is only part of the answer. We have to accustom ourselves to making much better use of the land we have. I was in Kiambu about two years ago, and went round with the District Commissioner, and I say without the slightest disrespect to the Kikuyu people, who at that time were loudly asking that more land be made available to them, that because of the way they are handling their land they are producing from it only about one-tenth of what their land could produce if properly put down to agriculture. That is one of the great problems.
The second is urbanisation. The economy of Kenya, as of so many of our Colonies, has been tied to the products of the soil. Not only does that leave it wide open to the buffets of boom and slump, but to the fearful catastrophes of nature, such as locusts and drought. I think that everybody agrees that the only wise step for broadening the basis of the economy of this Colony is to attract to it as many secondary industries as possible. In Nairobi, which has an extremely interesting industrial area growing up on its edge, and it is growing apace, this development is bringing with it its own kind of industrial revolution. It is beginning to have what there has never been in those latitudes of Africa before—an urban proletariat, about which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has already spoken. When the Africans no to the cities, they may do so in such numbers that the new urban population will far outstrip any possibility of keeping pace with them in the building of houses. They lose their own tribal loyalties and there they end, with a vacuum of loyalty which evil men will 1116 do their best to fill. I shall weary your Lordships no more, but before I sit down I should like to say this. It is my firm conviction that no one race alone can hope to see Kenya through her problems. It will be done only by the good will of moderate men of all races. On that we must rely, and for that we must hope.
§ 5.17 p.m.
My Lords, one part of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, is very familiar. No doubt it was expressed in this Chamber at the first signs of the revolt of the British Colonies in North America; and we have had it again and again—on India, Ireland, Egypt, and every other Colony where we have had this sort of trouble. It is always: "We must not give way to violence." The result is that we have been too late in our measures of reform, and we have paid the penalty. The sentiments of the noble Lord are unimpeachable, familiar and fatal. I have in my hand the Hansard of the Kenya Legislative Council for the proceedings of September 25 and 26. To read the English newspapers one would suppose that the whole of Kenya is up in flames, that there has been a complete breakdown of order and that the country is in chaos. But listen to the words of the Member for Law and Order himself, who was over here himself and had just returned to Nairobi.
Mr. Davis. He said:To read some reports in the Press, particularly in the overseas Press, as I did in London last week"—that was when the Member for Law and Order was over here—one might easily gain the erroneous impression that there was a widespread disregard of law and order throughout the Colony. That is not so. It would be equally misleading to believe the reports which suggest that there is no subversive activity or intimidation in the Colony at the present time. The truth, as is so often the case, lies between the two extremes. There is a degree of unrest and tension in certain parts of the Colony, but not to such an extent as to justify panic.That was the Member for Law and Order, speaking only a few weeks ago.
§ LORD OGMORE
I am sorry to interrupt, but when the noble Lord was asked for the name he said Mr. Davis. Mr. Davis is the Member for African Affairs, not the Member for Law and Order.
I should now like to quote from the remarks of Mr. Awori, one of the unofficial African Members of the Legislature, speaking in the Council the next day, in which he quotes a statement of the Commissioner of Police. This is what the Commissioner of Police is reported to have said, without any contradiction:There is always a certain amount of secret society activity in this part of Africa. We have a special branch to keep watch for it, but the Mau Mau is not the great threat so many people make it out to be. We believe the robberies and assaults which take place are the work of ordinary criminal gangs which have no connection whatever with any secret society.The conclusion which I reach—and I hope your Lordships will agree with me—is that there has been a great deal of sensationalism and exaggeration about the unrest and violence, and that it has been made the excuse for these repressive measures by a certain section among the white settlers who want at all costs to prevent any kind of constitutional advance in that Colony. That is the danger, as I see it, and it is a terrible danger indeed. If we attempt indefinitely to sit on this safety valve, and always say that we cannot pander to crime and murder, as we have said again and again in similar cases, then we shall have the most serious trouble there, and I tremble for the consequences.
I should like to break off for one moment to make a comment on what was said by my noble friend Lord Ogmore, in a speech which I am sure delighted all your Lordships, and certainly delighted me, and by the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, about the tsetse fly. I have been hearing for some years of a means of preventing the ravages of the tsetse fly. What progress are we making? How much money is being spent on research? Is there a joint effort with the other parts of Africa affected, under different sovereignty, for a combined attack on this terrible pest? I would hazard a guess that if about one-tenth of the money and energy we have spent on developing nuclear fission in order to produce the atomic bomb had been devoted to dealing with, and finding a method of preventing, this loss from the tsetse fly, the problem would have been solved.
That is only one example of what I fear has been a great lack of imagination, leadership and progress on the part of the Colonial Office for generations. We 1118 have been most unfortunate—I say this with great respect to the present incumbent—in not finding great men to be Colonial Ministers. The Colonial Minister of the greatest Colonial Empire of the world should be a very great man. I can think of Joseph Chamberlain; I can think of the Ninth Duke of Devonshire—these were great Colonial Ministers—and I can think of my right honourable friend Mr. James Griffiths, who I believe would have done great things if he had been longer in that office. But apart from those, I have missed the great constructive work that one saw, for example, at the beginning of this century in North Africa under the leadership of such a person as Marshall Lyautey. I have missed (and I am sure your Lordships have noted it also) the presence of great constructive minds and great leadership at the Colonial Office in the political incumbents of the past. Needless to say, I have the greatest confidence in the noble Earl who is to reply to this debate—he might be the fourth if he were the Minister. But there has not been the energy, drive and imagination in the Colonial Office that the situation has required.
Let us make no mistake about it: this matter in Kenya is only one of many examples of a trouble that is already afflicting great parts of the world; and there will be more of it. It was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, and I am sure he realises the causes of it as well as any of us. Over most of Africa, in Asia Minor, and in large parts of the Continent of Asia itself, you have this revolt against poverty and racial discrimination, and particularly against the latter. In the more advanced communities it takes a different form. It has been one of our troubles in Persia; it has been one of our troubles in the East—although I believe we have avoided it by timely action in West Africa, despite the obvious differences between East and West Africa. The French are having this trouble in their well-managed colonies in North Africa; the Dutch have had it in the East Indies. It is the revolt of the Asiatic, the African, the Arab and the Indian against white European domination. In some cases it is unreasonable. In some cases it takes the form of blind xenophobia. In other cases it is more responsible: the people, or their leaders understand that the process must be gradual, and that the European can offer 1119 great help and guidance in this period of development and transition. What we must guard against is alienating those more moderate elements, wherever they are to be found, who can co-operate with us, with whom we should sympathise and whom we should assist, and who can assist us.
That brings me to the arrest of the leader of the Kenya African Union, Mr. Kinyatta, who I am informed by those who know him and know his work (I have not had the pleasure of meeting him, and I can only believe what I am told) has had no connection whatever with the Mau Mau outrages and is, in fact, one of those far-sighted Africans who could be a great leader. He is at present under arrest without charge, and he should be brought to trial. That is a demand which my colleagues in another place, and I believe my colleagues in your Lordships' House, support as a minimum.
This problem of resistance to racial discrimination, as I say, takes different forms, but it is very widespread, and I venture to prophesy that by the end of this century every vestige of white racial discrimination will have disappeared from all these countries. How are we to help forward this double movement for racial equality and for the alleviation of extreme poverty, without disorder, breakdown and disaster? That I suggest is the great problem which faces all Parties in this country and in all the Colony-owning nations. It will require the wisest statesmanship, wide vision, tremendous patience, and care, and, above all, courage. The mistakes made are not peculiar to this country—I admit that—or to any Party. Here in Kenya we have this immediate manifestation of the apparent increase of lawlessness which we all agree must be dealt with at once. But if this is made an opportunity, and not an excuse for retarding progress and constitutional development; if this is made an opportunity to find out the real grievances which must exist amongst Africans in Kenya, and to seek to remedy them, there may be a happy outcome from this very unfortunate situation.
§ 5.30 p.m.
My Lords, I, for one, welcome the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, at this time, even if it is not possible for Her Majesty's 1120 Government's representatives to answer the many points which have been raised in the debate in your Lordships' House. I welcome it, nevertheless, because it may serve to ask and get answers to certain questions, and help the Secretary of State to elucidate in Kenya itself some of the points which certainly puzzle me and. I think, puzzle many of your Lordships, about the outbreak there—a problem to which no adequate answer has yet been given for the very probable reason that no adequate answers exist here in London to-day.
The Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore—and I propose, as strictly as possible, to confine myself to that Motion—is:To call attention to the political and security situations in Kenya with special reference to the reported activities of the Mau Mau Society and to the emergency legislation.…The first question which I should like the noble Earl to answer, if he can, is one designed to put this outbreak in its proper perspective. The Press and the representatives of public opinion, both in Kenya and in this country, have painted the picture either as one of a reign of terror throughout the country or as a sporadic outbreak of gangsterism of no particular political significance. As other speakers have said, the truth probably lies between the two. But in order to elucidate that point, there are certain questions which I, for one, consider pertinent and should like to ask.
We have been led to believe that the Mau Mau is a secret society among the Kikuyu. It is perfectly obvious that there are a large number of Kikuyu who are completely opposed to Mau Mau and anything to do with it, and the proof of that resides in the murder of two of the principal chiefs. When the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, spoke about the desirability of collecting African moderate opinion together in order to withstand and oppose the Mau Mau movement, he was, of course, perfectly right. But it is also clear from what has happened that the Mau Mau, or the instigators and leaders of this secret society, regard that moderate element among their own people as possibly their own principal enemy, and that is why they have concentrated on two of the three principal chiefs and have murdered them. I should like to know whether this secret society 1121 is, so far as Her Majesty's Government know, limited to the Kikuyu people only, or whether there is any evidence of its having spread to any of the many other racial groups in Kenya and beyond the borders of Kenya. That is very important. If it is limited to the Kikuyu and, as we know, obviously limited to only a small part of them, the organisation can surely be dealt with by police measures and ought to be dealt with—pace other speakers—by police measures as being a manifestation of a small group of people who are terrorists and gangsters and who do not, therefore, represent the large body even of Kikuyu opinion, with whatever grievances, real or exaggerated, they may have.
The second point, and very much allied with it, is the question which, frankly, puzzles me very much. As the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, has said, secret societies are endemic in Africa, and have been endemic in all African peoples, so far as we know, from the beginning of European contact with them. They are, perhaps, as the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, I am sure will confirm, more particularly powerful and widespread in West Africa, and though they have existed and do exist in other parts of Africa, they have never assumed either the political, social or economic prominence which they have in West Africa. Is there any evidence either way to show whether Mau Mau is a spontaneous local manifestation in the form of a secret society, or whether it has any affiliations with secret societies in other parts of Africa or among other racial groups in Africa? I repeat that if it is limited to the Kikuyu, or to only part of the Kikuyu, obviously police measures—emergency police measures, if necessary—are the appropriate remedy.
In that same context of ideas I should like to ask for elucidation of another point which has certainly puzzled me very much. So far as one can gather, both from correspondence from Kenya and from the Press, this outbreak of terrorism and gangsterism of Mau Mau appears to be rather sudden. What police evidence is there of this society before, say, the beginning of this year? Was it known? What were the police reports—if the noble Earl is in a position to disclose them—which were made to the late Governor, Sir Philip Mitchell, 1122 before he left, and to the Acting Governor in the interregnum between the two Governors? Was the police force adequately equipped—and I will come to what I mean in a moment—to find out what was going on? By "adequately equipped," I mean, was the police force up to strength? Was there sufficient police personnel, African and European, to deal with ordinary, everyday affairs in Kenya, including an outbreak or a recrudescence of gangsterism, and was the machinery available to the police adequate and sufficient to obtain information? In particular, were the funds which were available to the police department adequate to do its work, or is there any evidence that the police department was starved of funds?
At this point, I must interject that I have a personal experience and knowledge of the fact that, over the last few years, the Kenya Legislature has been inclined to be parsimonious in expenditure in many directions, notably in the payment of salaries to people who were wanted and who were unwilling to serve there at the rates of remuneration which were offered by the Legislature. The same point arises, but indirectly, over a question which was, I think, referred to in the first place by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and by other speakers—whether the delay in the arrival of the second Governor, Sir Evelyn Baring, was in any way connected with the difficulty of salaries. I am sure it was not, but we should all like to be reassured that that was the case.
The main point about which we have to clear our minds concerning Mau Mau is—what is it? Is it a new thing? Is it a sudden thing? And why have we not had, or why have the Governments of Kenya and this country not had, adequate warning of what appears to be a sudden flowering of a terrorist organisation? Incidentally, if the noble Lord is in a position to reply to this point, it would naturally be of great interest to your Lordships and to the general public to know whether any of the old subversive organisations with which many of your Lordships were extremely familiar in the past, such as the Watch Tower Organisation, can be traced at ad in this present manifestation. That the police force can cope with gangsterism and terrorism on a small scale I have no doubt whatsoever. The police force in Kenya certainly enjoyed in the past a first-class reputation, 1123 and to-day it is under the command of one of the best police officers in the Commonwealth. I happen to know him personally, and I know that his wide experience, not only in Africa but in many other parts of the world, well qualifies him for the appointment which he now enjoys. I am sure that he and his officers will succeed if they are given the equipment and material with which to make success possible.
That brings me to a second group of points. I should like to ask whether the Governor and the Government of Kenya are to-day endowed with adequate powers to stop the growth of this filthy disease which has infected part of the Kikuyu people. Have the Government there any particular powers to remove from Kenya temporary visitors from all parts of the world who are calculated to produce in Kenya subversive and unpleasant results? In other words, can visitors be removed under the present powers? If they cannot, I suggest that Her Majesty's Government should consider enacting such legislation as is necessary to have them removed—or, indeed, prevented from going there. If it is true that the Mau Mau secret society really owes its origin to economic and sociological problems, which I am personally inclined to doubt (that is not to say that there are not economic and sociological problems which have got to be dealt with), I think it is only fair to say in this House—and I feel sure the noble Earl who is going to reply for Her Majesty's Government would also say—that terrorism is riot the best method of achieving progress.
Those of your Lordships who have lived in Kenya will know that any race or group of people against whom a secret society or a small body of people in Kenya have directed their particular activities must naturally go in fear. Even those who live on the edge of a great city such as Nairobi (I do not know how many of your Lordships have lived on the outskirts of that town, as I have, and have had a house with a garden running down to the forest reserves into which anybody could come by day or night and which it is physically impossible for the Kenya or any other police force to guard) must live in terror of their lives. That there has not been a panic—and I do not believe there has been a panic—argues very much 1124 for the sanity of those people who are in that position.
But may it not also be said, not only to the Africans—who, I am sure, deplore as much as do your Lordships and all of us in this country this outbreak of terrorism—but also to the Indian and the European elements in Kenya, that those who have the better education must be wise enough also not to be infected with reaction but must remain in that same liberal-minded frame in which they were, in spite of what is going on? That is very important. I asked my noble friend the Leader of the House how I should say what I wished to say, but he was not able to find a Parliamentary equivalent. I should like to say to those right-minded people, of whom Kenya is full, that in spite of what has happened we beg of them not to become bad-minded. The word I used when I spoke to the noble Marquess was not "bad"; it was another word which your Lordships may, I think, be able to suggest. That is the advice which I am sure everyone would give them; and that is of the utmost importance for the restoration of order and the progress of that Colony.
I regret also that what may be interpreted as a criticism of missionaries should have found a place in the Press of this country. If some missionaries have merited criticism, one can only say that, as in every other walk of life, there are among missionaries the good, the bad and the indifferent. May I draw your Lordships' attention to something which appeared in The Times to-day? It is a message which was timely and happily phrased. It is a message from Rome, to the effect that Monseigneur John McCarthy, Apostolic Vicar of Zanzibar, has:… in a pastoral letter, warned the faithful under his care against secret societies in general and the Mau Mau in particular. He emphasises that the Mau Mau has assumed an anti-religious and especially an anti-Christian character and that for this reason 'whoever of the faithful becomes a member of it is liable ipso facto? to the penalty of ex-communication'.If other churches were to take an early opportunity of saying the same thing to those under their care, I am sure it would have a very considerable effect; and that is true, perhaps, of very large numbers of true and superficial Christians who exist in Africa—and not only in Kenya.
1125 There is one last point which I should like to make. If this is really a manifestation of an economic or a sociological ill, I would express the hope that even if the terms of reference of the Royal Commission are not widened as much as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, suggested, they should at least be widened to take into consideration the whole question of land tenure, and not only land tenure in the White Highlands.
This may not be known to all of your Lordships, but it arises directly out of a remark made by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. He understated what Sir Philip Mitchell said in his speech of some six years ago about the progress of Africa and Africans. Without going into historical and anthropological subjects on which it is mach too late to touch, it is nevertheless worth remembering that the progress of Africans in Africa is approximately sixty years old. It is also a very curious and interesting historical fact that in spite of the contact which Africans had over many thousands of years with highly civilised outside peoples, it was not until sixty years ago that they showed even by imitation any particular desire to copy or to learn. It is perfectly true that until sixty years ago neither the wheel, the plough nor the alphabet was known anywhere in Africa, nor had any African race anywhere attempted to make a pictographic or ideographic alphabet—and that in spite of the contract with traders and commerce dating from the historic time of the Egyptian dynasties, through the forests and up the rivers and on the coast; contact with the China trade on the coast round Mombasa; contact for centuries with the Moslem world, both in trade and by settlement on the coast, and contact with the Portuguese. It was not until sixty years ago, mainly by contact with the British, that the African showed any desire to learn to read or write, make a wheel, use a keystone or use a plough. The progress in those sixty years has admittedly been immense, but it has been by the assimilation of what to Africa is obviously an extraneous civilisation. It is within the Africans' own organisation that unfortunately little progress has taken place.
Your Lordships may wonder what on earth this history lecture has to do with land tenure. It has very much to do with 1126 land tenure there. Land tenure in Kenya is still, as many of your Lordships may know, largely communal tenure; it is not individual tenure. Under the system of communal or tribal tenure, agricultural progress is practically impossible. It is practically impossible, because if a Kikuyu with a piece of land wished to improve that land by building a house, and putting in irrigation and a terrace, he would be liable to lose possession of the land. The land, being a piece of land under communal ownership, reverts to the community. He cannot get out of his community or his group compensation for the capital he has put in, or the worth of the capital or anything else. It is one of the gravest, most difficult and most intractable problems in Kenya to-day. The African within his own branch of the communal organisation has made no progress in sixty years, in spite of the assimilation of outside conditions.
That is one—not the only one, but one—of the reasons for the land hunger among the Kikuyu to-day. It is perfectly true there is land hunger. That land hunger, however, is not necessarily remedied by giving more land to the Kikuyu for subsistence farming and for improving the product of their agriculture, which cannot be improved under the system of communal tenure. If there were individual tenure in the land which is farmed by the Kikuyu, the product of that land could at the moment more than support the existing population. I do not say it would do so in thirty years' time, but it could to-day. The cure for that is a modification of tribal custom and law, and not, in the first place, the allotting of other land which may or may not be more highly farmed but which, if allotted, would produce only subsistence farming. That is not the answer to overpopulation; that is not the answer to under-nourishment. It is not the answer to what has been created into a controversy between the settlers farming in certain parts and the Kikuyu farming in certain other parts.
Nor is it true to say, as so many people do say and think, that the White Highlands are the best of all the land in Kenya. That is by no means the case. A great deal of the land of the Kikuyu in the neighbourhood of Nairobi is as good as, if not a great deal better than, the vast majority of the land in the White 1127 Highlands, but it does not produce the same crops or the same out-turn, and it will not so long as it is farmed as it is now, which will always lead to overpopulation. If the economic and the sociological difficulties in Kenya, with which we are all only too familiar, are at the back of this Mau Mau upsurgence, that is a subject which the Royal Commission ought to tackle, and ought to tackle now; but it is not the answer to say that there ought to be Kikuyu settlement in the White Highlands. It is nothing at all to do with the question. It neither is an economic answer nor is it justice. Take the case of other overpopulated parts of the world. What are the efforts that are being made in India to cure over-population and improve agriculture in areas which are overpopulated? Not to go and get other bits of somebody else's land and take that because it has not been properly farmed. Let us get the perspective of this matter right. In the first place, let us get right the perspective of the Mau Mau, what this outbreak means, and what the cures are, and not go back and say: "All this is merely the result of a lot of dissatisfaction because the white farmers are farming in Kenya." Indeed, they are producing the food on which most of the African population in the cities is at the present time living.
I should like, in conclusion, to ask the noble Lord questions in addition to those of which I think he has taken note, because I have had an opportunity of talking to him about them before. I should like to ask whether the Royal Commission's membership will be announced in the near future, and whether even if their report is not complete in measurable time they can be invited to address to, I imagine, the Governor of Kenya an Interim Report dealing with such points as may affect the Mau Mau outbreak. I say "may" because I should like to be assured that this Royal Commission will confine its activities to the terms of reference which are given to it, and not indulge in recommendations for constitutional reform which will, in the first place, delay the Report and, in the second place, be likely to engender false hopes and disappointments.
§ 5.58 p.m.
My Lords, I have listened, as have your Lordships, with close interest to this debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. May I say that during the last several years I have been closely concerned with an engineering development in Kenya. Such work, which relates to the production of cement in the Masai Reserve, from deposits of limestone discovered by Mr. Cull, brought me into close discussion with the then Governor. Sir Philip Mitchell, and the members of the Government. I should like to take this opportunity of joining with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, in paying high tribute to that most able administrator, Sir Philip Mitchell. Your Lordships will realise that the setting up of a large enterprise of such nature in a Native Reserve is no simple matter; many difficult questions are involved. The Government's first consideration, very properly, was the interests of the Masai. To see the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the Chief Native Commissioner, the District Native Commissioner, and several from that remarkable body of men, the District Officers, in action, filled me with great pride and an unshakeable conviction that the interests of the Masai, or for that matter any or all of the other tribes, could not be in better hands. The Masai, whom I like and came to know quite well, are a happy people. I lived in and went through the length and breadth of their Reserve by day and by night, sometimes alone. I would not do so in Hyde Park at night.
The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, referred to Sir Philip Mitchell's recent articles in the Press. I think he might have quoted with advantage one phrase so that we might keep the issue of to-day in its proper perspective. What Sir Philip said, in substance, was that the British sphere of influence covers an area equivalent to that of Europe, and in this frame the Kikuyu tribal area is the size of Suffolk. The noble Lord also stated that at certain times unwise things had been said. I should like to ask the noble Earl who is to reply in a moment, whether he can give some guidance in this matter. When I was in Kenya, I came into touch with a leading figure in the commercial field there, Sir Edgar Vincent, who is the 1129 Kenya Member for the East African Central Legislative Assembly. Very recently in Nairobi, Sir Edgar made a statement from which, with your Lordships' permission, I quote the following words:The alarming encouragement given to subversive factions by certain members of both Houses of Parliament during their visits here. …Perhaps the noble Earl will be able to give some guidance in respect of this matter, about which he must know a great deal more than I do. It seems to me that Sir Edgar hits the nail on the head and his remarks are reinforced by the noble Lord, Lard Milverton.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ LORD BADEN-POWELL
My Lords, with the greatest respect to the noble Lord who has just spoken, out of his turn, I will occupy your attention for a very few minutes. I was somewhat disconcerted when, only a few hours ago, I was approached to add my voice to this debate. Apparently it was felt that with my experience in Colonial affairs, in Central Africa and Southern Rhodesia in particular, and my police experience, I should have some useful contribution, albeit very brief, to make to this debate. We are deeply indebted this afternoon to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for initiating this most interesting debate, and to other noble Lords who have spoken. For some years I had the honour of serving in the ranks of the British South Africa Police in Southern Rhodesia, and I feel that, although Southern Rhodesia is far removed from Kenya, there must be a considerable similarity between the general work of the Kenya police and the force in which I had the honour to serve. I regret that I have little or no knowledge of Kenya, beyond the fact that I have paid two extremely brief visits to that most wonderful Colony. My father, when he retired from public life, went to live there; I have a number of relatives living there, as well as many friends. But as I have just explained, my knowledge of the Colony is not as extensive as I should wish.
We have heard it said that a "policeman's lot is not a happy one." I fully believe that in Africa, and particularly in Kenya at the present time, that rings very true. As may well be imagined, in Kenya, as in other parts of Africa, the duties of the police are very varied, and difficult to perform effectively. European and 1130 African members of the force have to cover vast areas of country in the execution of their duty. I can well recollect how in Rhodesia we used to patrol on horseback these enormous areas of the countryside. This necessitated many lonely patrols, often with nothing to do—but equally often with quite a lot to do. So, too, in Kenya have these police patrols vast areas of country to cover, in which the same difficulties may confront them at almost every turn. Fighting crime is an extremely difficult job at the best of times, but when you are dealing with Africans, whose mentality is perhaps not the same as that of people with whom we are accustomed to deal in the normal course of events, your Lordships can appreciate that the difficulties are enormous.
The bulk of the Africans, many of whom live in the widely scattered native reserves, are childlike in their mentality. They need careful, but extremely firm handling. Quite often it is difficult to obtain from them statements bordering anywhere near the truth. You find that they will hedge, they will lie, without any argument at all. You will find that they will never give one another away. It is extremely difficult to gain the full truth from them. In the case of the present Mau Mau terrorism in Kenya, it must be an added burden, and I think a very difficult one, on the police to endeavour to gain anything like the information needed to be able to stamp out this vicious and quite unnecessary evil. I remember that on one occasion in Rhodesia we had the first vestiges of a similar form of unrest. Art unruly section of the community decided to start up some sort of—I will not say terrorism, but something definitely semi-seditious. We nipped it in the bud while the going was good and before it was allowed to grow too big. I feel that had there not been quite the vacillation that there must have been in Kenya, and had more active and energetic action been taken earlier, this absolutely vicious problem which at present confronts us would not now be in existence.
Knowing; their mentality, I think perhaps that, taken by and large, Africans are not capable of careful organisation in a body such as the Mau Mau. So it is perhaps questionable as to who are the authorities behind the vicious reign 1131 of terror which the Mau Mau are at present conducting in the unfortunate Colony of Kenya. It is a very simple matter for Africans, with their great knowledge of bushcraft, to disappear into the mountain regions or into the dense jungle. They can get right away, out of all knowledge of the authorities. In spite of the fact that the movements of Africans are supposed to be controlled, they can still find their way right off the beaten track. I think there is something in the so-called "bush telegraph" of the Africans. They seem to have an amazing knack of being able to tell if any authority is coming anywhere near them when they are having one of their secret meetings. I remember a personal incident, when on one occasion in Rhodesia I was on a long patrol to a mine some ninety miles away from the police station. When I arrived at the mine three days later, on horseback, the manager told me that he had heard from his Africans the very moment I left the police station. That, I think, is some indication, just in parenthesis, of the operation of the so-called "bush telegraph."
The position, as I understand it, of the Mau Mau at the moment is somewhat analogous to that of the Matabele in Southern Rhodesia, who rose in rebellion in 1896. The Matabele had their headquarters, their hide-out, in the Matoppo Hills, near Bulawayo, in just the same way as the Mau Mau seem to be getting together in remote places in Kenya. The Matabele rebellion is, of course, a matter of past history. They rose in revolt when the European settlers first took over what is to-day the Colony of Southern Rhodesia. In the case of the Mau Mau, who are operating in the midst of a highly civilised community, it is a rather different story, perhaps, but I feel that there is some analogy between the two.
Very much of what I was going to say, particularly in regard to the police in Kenya, has already been said by the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, and that will enable me to shorten my remarks very considerably. With regard to the matter generally, I think that, perhaps, there must be a certain similarity between the Mau Mau terrorists and the so-called Amalaita gangs in Johannesburg. These Amalaita gangs have been carrying out a regular programme of murder, violence, robbery and 1132 disorder over a period of many years. The police have been endeavouring to crush them, but it is still difficult to know whether or not they have had any marked measure of success. In the case of the Mau Mau, no doubt only when the ringleaders have been rounded up, and the whole thing crushed, will the people of Kenya be able once more to live peacefully and happily, and the police in that unfortunate country resume their normal job.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF MUNSTER)
My Lords, I feel that every member of your Lordships' House will feel grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for the manner in which he introduced the Motion which stands in his name on the Order Paper this afternoon. Other noble Lords who followed have. I think, without exception, intimate knowledge concerning Kenya, and therefore were able to speak from first-hand information. In any event, I feel sure that your Lordships will have been much impressed with the whole standard of our discussion this afternoon, which was certainly very high indeed. On October 16, and again on October 21, I made a statement in your Lordships' House similar to that which was made in another place by my right honourable friend on the general situation in Kenya. The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, who leads the Opposition and who followed me on the second occasion, assured me that Her Majesty's Government could expect co-operation and support from the Opposition, in any action which might be taken to restore law and order, and to enable law-abiding citizens to go about their peaceful avocations. That statement was repeated again, not in identical words, but with the same meaning, by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. And let me say at once that the statements made, both in this House and in another place, have been received with much satisfaction by the Government of Kenya, as well as by Her Majesty's Government at home.
I suppose it was only natural that the House would require at an early date a debate upon the whole situation in Kenya, but I hope your Lordships will not think me discourteous if I am not able to reply to all the questions which have been addressed to me to-day. As noble Lords 1133 will know, my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary left yesterday afternoon for Kenya, where he is to study at first hand all that is happening, and where he will consider, with the Government of Kenya, plans for the future development of the Colony. I would, however, make it clear once again that the Colonial Secretary will not discuss the present measures, which were taken with his prior knowledge, and indeed with his full approval, and which have been brought into operation entirely to deal with an unusual situation. I should not like it to be thought for one moment by any noble Lord in the House, including the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, that these special ordinances were passed other than merely to try to give extra power to the Government to destroy this terrorism which has arisen in their midst. I hope the House will permit ma, on the return of my right honourable friend from Kenya, to make another statement dealing with the various subject matters which have been discussed during his absence in Kenya.
I think it is only natural that the members of the House should be interested to know something of the activities of this terrorist organisation which is absolutely and solely responsible for the present troubles in Kenya. Let me say here, in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, that so far as we are aware, to all intents the Kikuyu are the only tribe who have been associated with the Mau Mau terrorism. But it should not be thought that the tribe have all taken the oath to this organisation, for many of them, I have no doubt, are still loyal to authority and order. But there is no doubt whatever that the Mau Mau is one of the most powerful of the known secret societies in Kenya, which came into prominence a few years after the end of the war. As was pointed out by the noble Lord who moved the Motion, every member of the organisation is required to swear on oath that he will undertake a number of important things, and each one of those is directed in some form or another to destroying all form of law and order other than Mau Mau. For instance, he is asked not to disclose the workings of Mau Mau to Government or to any European. He is asked not to inform against a fellow member of the organisation, not to sell land to any European, not to assist any European; 1134 and, finally, he is asked to chase the Europeans from Kenya. Other conditions, of course, have been attached to these oaths, as mentioned by my right honourable friend in another place, which I need not repeat here. So far as we are aware, the ceremonies at which the oath is administered usually take place after dark, in an extremely barbarous fashion.
Let there be no mistake or misconception in anyone's mind. This organisation is pledged to put an end to all lawful government, and to murder, destroy or liquidate persons who are opposed to their principles. It is, therefore, obvious at once that it is far worse than any spasmodic outbreak of gangsterism, which the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, seemed to think it might possibly be. It is also noticeable that Mau Mau have concentrated their attacks upon Africans who hold official positions as chiefs and headmen, in an obvious attempt to break down all forms of administration. We thought—and I suppose every member of your Lordships' House thought as well—that this challenge of Mau Mau had to be met with a strong hand, for a body which will resort to murder, and to other brutal and inhuman crimes, as a means of securing its aim, is obviously challenging lawful authority; and no Government worthy of their name, whatever their complexion, could possibly allow the lives of a great number of law-abiding citizens, Africans, Europeans and Asians, to be placed in danger. I think the House will be interested to learn that the Indian and Pakistan communities have shown their support for Government and, moreover, many hundreds of Africans have volunteered for extra duty.
It is sometimes said that Mau Mau is a demonstration of African nationalism, but it does not seem to me that a return to the law of the jungle by an organisation whose background is associated with many of the evils of tribal witchcraft, as has been pointed out to-day, is the kind of nationalism which would commend itself to any of those who may be seeking the political advancement of the African, more especially in a multi-racial community where confidence and partnership between the races is essential. I have heard it said (fortunately it has not been mentioned in this House to-day) that the action which Her Majesty's 1135 Government, together with the Kenya Government, have taken to put down these acts of terrorism is merely designed to hide political or economic grievances which are current, or may be current, within the Colony. We are all aware, and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is just as well aware as I am, that there are both political and economic grievances in existence, but the activities of Mau Mau can only aggravate them and in no sense whatever can they act as a cure.
I have also heard it suggested (articles have appeared in print, and this was the basis of Lord Ogmore's complaint to-day) that there has been complacency on the part of Her Majesty's Government and the Government in Kenya in dealing with this outbreak. I would ask the House to bear with me for a little time while I study the full facts of the case. I think they will indicate clearly that the Government were not lax and that no spirit of complacency existed at all. There is no doubt that early action was taken to deal with this outbreak of terrorism which, unfortunately, gradually increased month after month. A short time ago, the activities of Mau Mau did not appear to be such that the body could not be controlled. But on August 17 the acting Governor, Mr. Potter, reported a deterioration of law and order in the Kikuyu areas and that the introduction of special legislation was contemplated to deal with it. A copy of the proposed legislation arrived in this country from Kenya on September 8, and a few days later, the Attorney-General, Mr. Wyatt, and the Chief Native Commissioner, Mr. Davis, came to London to discuss the matter with my right honourable friend. On September 16—that is eight days later—the Secretary of State's comments were sent to Kenya; and the proposed Bids were published in the Colony two days later. On the 25th of the same month the Legislative Council began their discussion on these ordinances, and all of them, with the exception of the Societies' Bill, were assented to by the Governor on October 3. So that from September 8, when the original copy of the proposed legislation arrived in this country, it was barely a month before it had become law.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, may I say, on behalf of the Daily Telegraph 1136 and myself, that the noble Earl has not quite got our complaint, which was not that the Government were lax in the time in which legislation germinated, but that they did not bring in legislative and other measures early enough?
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I think if the noble Lord had listened to what I had said, he would have heard me make the statement that the Acting Governor in Kenya was satisfied up to August 17 that the powers which he had were sufficient to deal with these acts of terrorism, which had, unfortunately, started to increase. It was not until after the middle of September that the number of murders started to rise and that a large number of European-owned cattle were slaughtered and mutilated. As your Lordships will remember, it was at the beginning of October that the Senior Chief Waruhiu was murdered. On September 27 the new Governor of Kenya left for the Colony, and on his arrival there he immediately carried out an extensive tour of various parts of the Colony. His own personal investigation confirmed to him that Mau Mau terrorism was carefully planned and centrally directed, and that its object was to destroy all authority other than Mau Mau. Although up to that time intensive police action had kept the situation in urban areas under control, law and order in the native reserves had undoubtedly deteriorated. I have been informed that at all times there are very few police in the native reserves, and most of the administration is carried on by African chiefs, headmen and sub-headmen. These men are not hereditary chiefs and office holders but are appointed by Government, and therefore are Government servants.
It was not very long before Mau Mau directed their attacks upon these men, and the number of headmen and sub-headmen who have been murdered or reported missing during September and October is alarmingly high. It was obvious to everyone that if these attacks were to continue much longer, there would be a serious risk of a breakdown of the administration of the native reserves. The Governor came to the conclusion that the ordinary process of law proceeded too slowly and that the lack of time would allow opportunity for those who were behind outrages to organise widespread disturbances in which large 1137 numbers of innocent people might well have been killed. Therefore, it was decided, with the agreement of my right honourable friend and of Her Majesty's Government, to declare a state of emergency and to arrest what were believed to be the ringleaders of Mau Mau. The Governor was satisfied that the military forces were adequate to control the situation as it then was, but that additional reinforcements from the Middle East, and from Tanganyika and Uganda, would enable him to display an overwhelming show of force so that all forms of violence would be seriously discouraged. It was under these changed conditions that it was decided to bring in these reinforcements.
So far I have endeavoured to give your Lordships a brief outline of the situation which has led up to the present trouble. I feel that I must now endeavour to reply to some of the many questions which were addressed to me. One of the charges which was levelled against Her Majesty's Government by the mover of the Motion concerned the interregnum in the departure of Sir Philip Mitchell and the arrival of Sir Evelyn Baring. The noble Lord, who quoted the dates, was accurate in his detail. Sir Philip Mitchell left Kenya on June 21, and Sir Evelyn Baring arrived in Kenya on September 29, and took over the administration of the Government on the following day. The Chief Secretary had been administering the Government up to that time, and he had certainly shown a considerable firmness and discretion in carrying on the Government. I do not think it could be said—I agree with other noble Lords, including Lord Milverton—that money is the sole concern in this matter. It is obvious that if it were really necessary and urgent that a Governor should arrive in a Colonial territory the day after the outgoing Governor had left, arrangements could quite easily be made to meet that situation. But for many years there has been this interregnum. While these interregna in themselves are not unusual, or even at times disadvantageous, my right honourable friend has now issued instructions to secure that the intervals between the departure of one Governor and the arrival of his successor should be no longer than the public interest demands.
§ LORD OGMORE
Does that imply that in this case public interest demanded that the Governor should be there earlier? And if it was not for financial reasons—in other words, if no one would pay the Governor's salary as from the middle of June—why did the Governor not go out immediately Sir Philip Mitchell left? It was always the practice in India that an incoming Governor went immediately the outgoing Governor left. In any case, I agree with the noble Earl that it is a highly desirable practice that there should not be these interregna.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
As I say, I hope there will no longer be these interregna, and it is the effort of my noble friend to reduce them to the barest minimum. But I do not think that the work and activities of the Chief Secretary at that time would have made any difference whatever, because the special ordinances, which were afterwards promulgated before the arrival of the new Governor within the territory, would have received the sanction of the Legislative Council whether he had been there, or whether he had not.
I should now like to come to the question of the appointment of the Royal Commission. I hope that in the course of a few days it will be possible to announce the name of the Chairman of the Royal Commission, and also the terms of reference. Therefore, I ask the House not to press me to speculate upon what those terms of reference may be, other than to tell your Lordships that the Royal Commission will consider, among other things, systems of land tenure, and will also, at the same time, consider the urban population in the various territories concerned. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked me what were to be the financial arrangements for the expenses that would be incurred in this outbreak of terrorism which has unhappily arisen. At the moment, I should not like to give him a full statement, in case of any inaccuracies. But the matter is now being seriously considered, and I hope that before long a statement may be made upon this question.
A number of questions of some importance were raised by my noble friend Lord Rennell. Part of the information which he required concerned the Kenya police. I am told that at the beginning of 1952 the Kenya police force, with a total 1139 strength (excluding the Kenya police reserve) of just over 5,600, was almost up to establishment. Since then—that was about the end of August—the establishment has been increased by a total of 1,000, of which approximately 10 per cent. will be European. I have not at the moment any further information which I can give the noble Lord as to how the recruiting is progressing, but I will certainly see that the noble Lord is in possession of the facts in due course. I might add that the Kenya police reserve, with a total strength of 3,500, is also up to establishment. My noble friend asked, further, whether the Governor had powers to remove temporary visitors to the Colony. The principal immigration officer, who in this case may be the chief of police as well, might, if he had reliable information which would justify him in so doing, declare a visitor a prohibited immigrant and cancel his visitor's pass. Naturally, the visitor must then leave the Colony. The noble Lord, Lord Rennell, and the noble Lord, Lord Sempill, will observe that the Governor has sufficient powers to deal with that subject as well.
Finally, I should like to deal with what I think was the last matter addressed to me—namely, the observations that were made in another place by my right honourable friend in dealing with the missionary societies. I believe it is obvious now that my right honourable friend had no intention whatever of criticising the missionary societies or the activities of the Kenya Government. But he has stated that it remains important to understand that if the African is denied emotional outlets he will find them in other ways, including membership of secret societies. A large number of observers have testified that this aspect is an important part of the social problem, and it must be included in any survey of the causes for unrest. I regret that I have not been able to reply to all the questions which were addressed to me, but I hope to make a further statement to the House on the return of my right honourable friend from Kenya. May I add this? It must not be thought that during this time of unrest and anxiety all social and economic improvements will be postponed. On the contrary, it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government, and of the Government of Kenya, that the existing plans should be imple- 1140 mented, and that other improvements should not be jeopardised by this outbreak of violence.
I hope that this debate will have impressed upon all law-abiding citizens of the Colony—as I believe it will—the determination of Her Majesty's Government, and indeed, of the whole of your Lordships' House, to maintain law and order; and further that, in spite of all the difficulties and complexities of the situation, our policy is to continue to improve, by social and economic measures, the lot of all the peoples within the Colony. Naturally, we shall all, irrespective of Party allegiance, hope that the present outburst of disorder may quickly subside and that lawful authority will be restored. While we shall do all that is humanly possible to protect lives and property, I cannot, of course, guarantee that further violence will not be experienced before this unhappy chapter in the history of Kenya is finally closed. But I can again assure the House, and the citizens of the Colony, of our determination to stamp out the disorders which have been caused by Mau Mau. I have no doubt that my right honourable friend will be discussing with the Governor all the points which have been brought up in the course of to-day's debate, and I will certainly see that the views which have been expressed by noble Lords from all parts of the House are conveyed to my right honourable friend as early as possible, and certainly during the course of his stay in Kenya. I feel sure that it will be of immense satisfaction to the inhabitants of the Colony to learn that the whole of this House is united in the support of the policy which we intend to pursue to reestablish the security and happiness of that land.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in to-day's debate, and I am particularly grateful to the noble Earl who has replied for the Government. Whether my noble friend Lord Strabolgi is right or not when he says that Colonial Ministers are great men, they are at least very busy men. The noble Earl is, I believe, the only Minister now at the Colonial Office. I can well understand how fully his time must be occupied, and he has certainly given us his attention to-day. I hope that this debate will have 1141 had the effect that he thinks it will—that is, to support all men of good will in Kenya—and I trust that the message which goes from this House will be received by them there and will strengthen them in the work they have to do.
It was quite clearly shown that all noble Lords who have spoken believe that we must be firm in restoring and preserving law and order, but that we must also ensure that a progressive policy is pursued. It is most important, as nearly everybody (except, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Milverton) has pointed out, that moderate opinion be fortified. Lord Milverton, unhappily I thought—he has explained that he could not be here and apologises to the House—suggested that moderate opinion had run away from its responsibilities. Noble Lord after noble Lord has pointed out that moderate opinion has been assassinated for standing up to its responsibilities. The noble Lord, Lord Rennell, said that two moderate chiefs had been assassinated. The noble Earl, Lord Munster, also said so, and pointed out that headmen had been assassinated. Mr. Mathu stood up and attacked the Mau Mau. Therefore I think it is unfortunate to say that men of moderate opinion have not shared responsibility. They have not only shared responsibility, but have lost their lives doing so. I cannot think of any greater test than that.
The noble Lord, Lord Rennell, spoke in a very interesting way about the fundamental questions, and I hope that after the Secretary of State returns from Kenya we may have a debate on those questions. It would be most interesting to discuss some of the sociological problems that have to be faced in places like Kenya, but I do not think the present is a suitable opportunity. The wheel and the alphabet were mentioned, and when that debate takes place I hope to put forward what I believe is the reason why the Africans did not evolve either the wheel or the alphabet—a reason which does not at all reflect on their intelligence but has an entirely different basis.
I am afraid that the public in this country takes an interest in the Colonies only when something goes wrong. If any of your Lordships ever speaks to a public meeting on the Colonies, you realise that 1142 fact. I have mentioned it before. Their eyes glaze when the word "Colonies" is mentioned, and those near the door take the opportunity to slip out. In this regard, the Press of this country is far ahead of public opinion. It is no good blaming the Press, because when I was in the noble Earl's position I found that the Press very often gave more space to Colonial matters than public opinion warranted. It is our responsibility as a House of Parliament to enlighten and lead public opinion in an interest in Colonial affairs. I have nothing left to add, but before asking your Lordships' leave to withdraw this Motion I should like, on behalf of noble Lords on this side of the House, and I am sure noble Lords opposite would like to join in, to send a message of support and sympathy to all men and women of good will in Kenya, to whatever race they belong, whether they are officials or unofficials, whether they are soldiers, sailors or police. I believe if that message goes out it will do a great deal to reinforce them in the difficult task with which they are faced. With that, I beg your Lordships' leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.