Mau Mau Detainees, Hola Camp (Deaths)

Oral Answers to Questions — Kenya – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th April 1959.

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Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North 12:00 am, 9th April 1959

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the deaths of 11 Mau Mau detainees at Hola Camp, in Kenya.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) if he will make a further statement on the deaths of 11 detainees from Hola Camp, Kenya;

(2) whether he will place in the Library a copy of the inquest proceedings on the deaths of 11 detainees from Hola Camp, Kenya.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

As the inquiry into the cause of these deaths is still being held, I am unable at present to add to my reply to the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) on 26th March.

I will place in the Library a copy of the inquest proceedings when the magistrate has announced his findings.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

While not wishing in any way to prejudge the findings of the inquiry, may I ask the Secretary of State whether he agrees that it is clear that the original explanation that these men died after drinking contaminated water was wholly inaccurate and misleading? Does not this whole incident lend considerable support to the demand of the Opposition for a judicial inquiry into conditions in camas in Kenya?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

I think that the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, despite what he said by way of introduction, tries to anticipate the findings. In answer to the second part of his supplementary question, I do not believe that an independent inquiry is justified. As I have said, the Attorney-General of Kenya will consider whether further action is necessary when the magistrate's findings are made known.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

Is not it clear from the evidence given by Kenya officials during the inquest that the control by the prison department in Kenya over what happens in these camps is inadequate? That has always been the basis of the demand made by the Opposition on the need for a full, independent inquiry into conduct in the camps, because we fear that the Colonial Secretary himself is not being kept properly informed on what is going on there.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

It would be quite improper for me to answer that point until the magistrate's findings are received.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

In view of the great anxiety about this, could not the right hon. Gentleman undertake to make a statement to the House when he receives evidence of what further action is considered necessary?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Well, there is no need to speak like that about it.