§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.1706
§ In reply to Sir HENRY WILLOUGHBY,
§ Mr. FREDERICK PEEL
said, that the object of the Bill was to correct some anomalies in the present law, and to facilitate emigration from China to the West Indies. The West India Colonies and Guiana desired to have labour imported from China. Not only had there been great mortality in vessels which had gone from Amoy to British Guiana and other Colonies, but speculators had employed Chinese crimps, who had practised every species of deception on their fellow-countrymen. If the emigration were to continue, it was indispensable that it should continue under Government control, with a Government agent, and from a Government port. No Native should be allowed to embark on any vessel without its being ascertained where he was going to, and without his entering into a contract. But, unfortunately, the Passengers Act, though it applied to Hong Kong, did not apply to other ports in China, as no others were in British possession. The Passengers Act required that fifteen superficial feet should be allowed in vessels which crossed the tropic for each emigrant; and the object of the present Bill was to empower the governors of British Colonial possessions to reduce that allowance to twelve feet, which it was thought might safely be done in the case of Asiatics. There was every reason to believe that the reduction might be made without injury. There had long existed an extensive emigration to the Mauritius from the East Indies. In 1850 and the three seasons which had since elapsed, no fewer than 8,000 Coolies had been sent to the Mauritius. The Passengers Act did not apply to that emigration, which was regulated by enactments of the Indian Government. The allowance for each passenger was twelve feet, and there was no reason to believe that Asiatics from China would require more space than those from India. The Passengers Act was intended to apply to the emigration of Europeans to Australia and New Zealand. The expense of transport was greatly increased by granting a space of fifteen superficial feet to Chinese passing to the West Indies; and he apprehended that if the power were not given to reduce the space, the emigration would go from Chinese ports without the Government having that control which it was desirable they should have.
§ Bill passed through Committee.
§ House resumed; Bill reported, without Amendment.