HC Deb 02 September 1886 vol 308 cc1091-2
MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether his attention has been called to the recently published statements of the Rev. J. B. Gribble and of Mr. D. Carley, of Perth (Western Australia), as to the practical enslavement of Natives in Western Australia; whether he will cause inquiry to be made into the truth of the allegations that Natives are compelled by fraudulent indentures to sign agreements to enter the service of white settlers for specified periods; that they are frequently kidnapped, with a view to being thus "assigned" to settlers; that this "assignment system" is used for obtaining Native women for immoral purposes; that the Natives thus assigned are frequently chained, handcuffed, and subjected to other cruelties, and in many instances have been shot, on attempting to escape from the masters to whom they have thus been fraudulently assigned; and, whether he is in a position to state that, if these statements are substantiated, the Colonial Office will make immediate representations to the Government of Western Australia, with the view to promply secure legal and effectual protection for the Natives?

THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

My attention has been called to the recently published statements of the Rev. J. B. Gribble, which had been sent home by the Governor of West Australia. But he adds that in the only alleged case of outrage by a settler against a Native mentioned in those statements as to which he had then received information, it appeared that no white man was concerned in it, and that the offender was duly punished. He was making further inquiry into such other charges as required it; but I ought to add that the subject of outrages by settlers has for some years been the subject of communication with the Governors, and the general result has been to show that there had undoubtedly been exceptional cases of such offences; but that their existence as a system had not been proved. The Governor is fully alive to the importance of the subject, and has reported that he was introducing a Bill under which a Native Board and a system of protectors will be established, and provision will be made to surround the labour engagements of the Natives with every possible precaution. Within the last five minutes I have received a telegram from West Australia which states that the Bill has become law.