HC Deb 05 December 1890 vol 349 cc647-8

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Sydney Presbyterian of the 2nd of August, 1890, states that the forcible recruiting of labourers in the South Sea Islands for Queensland still continues, and that recently a French schooner recruited a woman from Malo, leaving an infant behind; whether he is aware that the Rev. J. G. Paton, missionary, has stated that last year he complained of a vessel which called at his island, Amida, and got away a young widow, leaving her two infant children behind uncared for; and that it also got away three or four young men, one of them leaving his wife behind unprovided for; whether he is aware that the Rev. P. Milne, of Nguna, complained to the authorities in Queensland of a Brisbane labour vessel, the Eliza Mary, taking away, on the 28th of September last year, from his station three lads who were his hired servants from other islands, and afterwards other lads, 10 in all; and whether, after waiting long, an official reply came to him that the Chief Secretary of the Colony has fully approved of them all being so taken away by the Eliza Mary; and whether Her Majesty's Government is now prepared to adopt energetic measures for the suppression of this Slave Trade in the South Seas?


Through the courtesy of the hon. Member I have been supplied with a copy of the Sydney Presbyterian referred to. The first two cases mentioned have not been reported home; but it may be observed that the first is one of a foreign vessel, and that in the second it is not clear whether anything unlawful is alleged. As to the third, it is known that the Rev. P. Milne complained to the Queensland authorities, but not what the terms of the reply were. The Pacific Islanders Protection Acts of 1872 and 1875 make it penal to carry away a native without his consent, but in the above cases no violation of this law is alleged; and if any Queensland regulation, creating and providing penalties for other offences in connection with the labour traffic, has been infringed, such infringements must be dealt with by the Queensland Government. I may remind the hon. Member that, as I stated to him in July last, under a Queensland Act of 1885 the introduction of Polynesian labourers into the colony will cease after the end of this year.