SIR ROBERT POWLER
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether Her Majesty's Government is aware that in Trinidad it is the custom in the cocoa plantations for the Native Authorities to be engaged under six years' contracts, which entitle them to payment only at the end of the six years' when the trees have reached maturity, the payment then being for the number of trees that bear fruit, and that this arrangement resolves itself into a form of slavery, causing unnecessary hardship to the cultivators if they remain on the estates where they have taken service, and serious loss to them if they go elsewhere before their term of six years is concluded; and, whether the Government will call for a Report on the subject, and direct the introduction in the Trinidad Legislature of such proposals for a change in the law as will protect the native cultivators from extortion and injustice in this respect?
§ BARON H. DE WORMS
A custom has prevailed for many years in Trinidad for contracts to be made for the plantation of land with cocoa, in consideration of the contractor occupying the land for six years, and being paid by the owner at the end of the term a certain sum for every tree planted by him which is in full bearing. Complaints have been recently made that this system has, in some instances, caused hardship to the contractors; but it does not appear to be in any sense a form of slavery. A Bill to amend the law on the subject has been recently introduced in the Colonial Legislature with the approval of the Secretary of State.