Mr. Creech Jones:
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether African labour in Kenya will be conscripted for use in private European employment; what classes of work Africans will be required to do; whether it is proposed to move Africans from the reserves to work in the European Highlands; whether penal sanctions will operate; what proportion of men will be removed from the native areas; and what arrangements made for their wives and dependants;
(2) whether steps will be taken in Kenya to implement the report of the recent committee which inquired into the question of legal compulsion of African labour; whether compulsory labour will be applied to men and women of European and Indian origin; and what steps have been taken in Kenya to test the alleged shortage of African labour on European farms and to secure the most economic use of the African labour available on the farms?
I welcome the opportunity which my hon. Friend has afforded me of making a statement on this subject; but as it is of considerable length I will, with his permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
I think it would be better if my hon. Friend would study the statement.
Following is the statement: —
It has proved impossible by normal means to secure sufficient labour in Kenya for the increased production campaign which was launched at the request of the Minister of State in Cairo to assist in providing supplies for the Middle East and so save shipping from the United Kingdom or elsewhere. A Committee, whose membership included one of the members of the Legislative Council representing native interests, the Labour Commissioner and Archdeacon Owen, has examined the figures of a special Labour Census held in December, 1941, and has reached the conclusion that the two main reasons for the present shortage of labour are:—
The Committee has unanimously recommended the introduction of a system of compulsory labour for Africans, of which the principal features will be:—
These proposals have been approved by the Secretary of State. It is understood that the immediate shortage of labour for agriculture is in the neighbourhood of 22,500, but it may not be necessary to recruit up to the full extent of the shortage.
The Governor has powers to call upon all British subjects or British protected persons between 18 and 50 to perform compulsory service. These powers have been, and will be, exercised in regard to non-Africans as necessity arises.