HC Deb 05 May 1892 vol 4 cc157-8
MR. SAMUEL SMITH (Flintshire)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the large importation of Chinese into Singapore, whence they are shipped to Java, Borneo, Sumatra, Queensland, and other places in the Eastern Archipelago, under contract as labourers, and that they have to work for the "agent" until the charges for their transport have been paid off; whether he is aware that last year 160,000 Chinese were thus imported into Singapore, of which number not 10,000 had the remotest chance of stopping on British territory, or where British law exists; and whether, considering the abuses to which the contract system is liable, the Government can see their way to put down this traffic and prevent Singapore from becoming a vast receiving and exporting centre for what differs little from the slave trade?


The Secretary of State is aware that a large number of Chinese immigrants come to Singapore, and that some, but only a small proportion of them, go on from Singapore to Java, Sumatra, and other places, under contracts of service by which they are bound to repay out of their earnings the cost of their passages. The Returns for last year have not been received, but it appears from the Returns for 1890 that the whole number of Chinese who arrived at Singapore was 127,936, of whom about 117,000 paid their own passages, and on landing were free to go where they pleased. I may add that in the same year 80,000 Chinese returned from the Straits Settlements to China viâ Hong Kong. A Commission has recently inquired into the subject in the colony, and the Secretary of State is expecting to receive the Governor's recommendations on the best means of preventing abuses which may arise from the system of contract emigration from China to and through Singapore.