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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 Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire 12:00 am, 27th July 1959

After five years close association with the hon. Lady I can assure her that I can deal with her interventions at any time and that I am not in the least frightened of her.

The main burden of the speeches on the other side of the House has been to suggest that there was muddle in high places in Kenya which directly led to the deaths on 3rd March, that the Kenya Government made some sort of attempt to pull the wool over people's eyes and, having failed in that and being compelled to take some sort of action, that they have been driven to a policy of white-washing and of finding scapegoats for the mistakes of others. I entirely reject that fanciful picture. I say quite definitely that there was no attempt by anyone in high office to mislead or to attach blame in the wrong quarter.

In the last debate, I said that the first announcement by the Kenya Government on 4th March was a very unfortunate one and was, indeed a grave mistake. But it was a mistake made in good faith by people who were at that time baffled by the information which had come back from Hola. As I said before, if they were setting out deliberately to mislead—which, of course, they were not—they chose a most curious way to set about it.

When this affair goes into history, with all the lessons which we have learned, and I certainly have learned, from it, I hope that those who have lent support to particularly vicious suggestions will reflect on the damage they have done to a public service which has served the people of Kenya—[Interruption.]—Perhaps hon. Members will wait to hear what the particular charge was—to the damage they have done to a public service which has served the people of Kenya faithfully and well for a great many years. I refer to the suggestions which were made that those in authority were waiting for the results of the debate which took place in the House last February before, so to speak, giving Mr. Sullivan the all-clear to go ahead and do his worst, and to another suggestion that people were hoping in their heart of hearts that so much time would elapse that the decay of the bodies of these unfortunate men would make it impossible to carry out a proper investigation into the cause of death.

Those suggestions have been made. I think they are unworthy of comment or of detailed answer, but they do untold damage. The deaths at Hola occurred at a time when the Kenya Government were approaching a final phase in what was and is a massive scheme of rehabilitation which has brought tens of thousands of dangerous people back to a condition in which they can rejoin as free men the society they have done so much to endanger.

My last word is one of admiration—and I know him well—for the Governor of Kenya and for his servants who did so much to make this achievement possible, and who, faced with this setback, immediately and energetically set themselves to ensure that, as far as is humanly possible, a tragedy of this kind cannot occur again.