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Hola Camp, Kenya (Report)

Part of LONDON COUNTY COUNCIL (GENERAL POWERS) BILL [Lords] (By Order) – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1959.

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Photo of Mr Roland Robinson Mr Roland Robinson , Blackpool South 12:00 am, 27th July 1959

By innuendo and suggestion the hon. and learned Member implied that these men might be innocent. He must face the realities of his own speech. There have been so many allegations. It has been suggested that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies was not prepared to come to the House to answer these allegations. There are few Ministers who come to the Box as repeatedly as he to answer unfounded allegations from the other side of the House.

In facing up to the problems of Hola, we must all agree that there is regret and sorrow on all sides of the House that these lives have been lost. That is abundantly clear. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] There are some hon. Members opposite who are too eager on all occasions to impute dishonourable motives. We on this side of the House and people generally will treat them for what they are worth.

It is fair to say that the aim of our policy is to lead to the preservation of human life, not to its destruction. With the troubles at Hola, therefore, we should first ask, what can we learn from the tragedy of Hola? How can such mistakes be avoided in the future? How can we make the work which we are doing in rehabilitation in Kenya more efficient and at the same time more human? That is the attitude which was taken by the Secretary of State and mentioned in his despatch to the Governor of Kenya on 2nd July. I feel that as long as the Government are tackling the problem in that way, they must be on the right lines.

It is essential that we should get the position at Hola into perspective. In my opinion, Hola may well be the end of an era. It is the end of the war against Mau Mau in which force has been pitted against force for a number of years. We should remember that Mau Mau gave the worst example known in generations of man's inhumanity to man. Some of these Mau Mau men were reduced to the lowest depths of human degradation and beastliness. There were many, many murders of both white and black men, although it was the black man in Kenya who suffered more from Mau Mau murders than the white man.

When the battle was on, the Government and the whole House were committed to the use of force. These people were taken to detention camps by force, and at one time 80,000 were in the camps. That has been reduced to under 1,000. It is fair to say that every opportunity is given to these people to improve their situation. As Mr. Goudie says in his Report, they have the opportunity to move from the closed camp to the open camp, then to restricted areas and then, possibly, to their homes. We should remember, however, that some of them cannot possibly be permitted to return home. It is well known that one man at Hola has confessed to no fewer than thirty-five murders, and it is therefore obvious why the Africans in the area from which he comes do not want to see him back among them. We have to consider the position of the Africans as well as ourselves.