HC Deb 30 March 1885 vol 296 cc996-7

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been directed to the report of Western Pacific Commission of October 16th 1883, in which the following passages occur:— The present arrangements for the control of British subjects, and the administration of justice among the Islands of the Western Pacific are highly unsatisfactory; Any considerable delay in placing upon a more satisfactory footing the control over British subjects in the Western Pacific will be perilous, and in all probability attended with calamitous results; to the published reports of German officials on the labour traffic carried on under the British flag, e.g. that of the German Consul at the Marshall Islands:— I have made the most exact inquiries, and have arrived at the conclusion that the laws which have been enacted, and which are specially stringent for vessels from Fiji, are simply evaded, and that the labour traffic in New Britain and New Ireland is, with few exceptions, clean slave trading, as bad as any that was ever carried on in Africa; that of Captain Karcher, of the German Navy— The labour traffic is nothing else but slave trading. In it the captains of vessels not only buy persons from the chiefs for firearms, and even breech-loaders with ammunition, but they entice persons on board who come alongside in their canoes to trade and then detain them, or even simply kidnap the crew of a canoe met with on the high seas; whether Her Majesty's Government are prepared to accept the repeated offers of the German Government to come to An "understanding for the common or identic control of the labour traffic" in the Western Pacific; whether it is intended to station a British man of war amongst the islands from which labour is recruited during the labour trade season, i.e. from May to October of the present year; and, what other steps, if any, Her Majesty's Government intend to take to carry out any of the recommendations of the Western Pacific Commission?


Yes; Her Majesty's Government are aware of the statements to which the hon. and learned Member refers. An Anglo-German Commission, consisting of Dr. Krauel, the German Consul General in Sydney, and Mr. Thurston, the Colonial Secretary of Fiji, both of whom are now in London, is about to consider this question, and to make recommendations for joint or identical action by Great Britain and Germany for the control of the labour traffic. Her Majesty's ships will give all practicable assistance to the High Commissioner in supervising the labour traffic and preventing abuses in it, but cannot be permanently stationed at any particular places. Until the Anglo-German Commission has reported, it will not be possible to decide how far and in what manner effect can be given to the recommendations of the Western Pacific Commission.