§ MR. J. F. HOGAN (Tipperary, Mid)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether Sir J. B. Thurston, Governor of Fiji, has arrived in England; whether Sir J. B. Thurston devised, and has continuously defended, the scheme of Native taxation that has been in operation in Fiji for several years past; whether he is aware that this taxation scheme was characterised at the outset by Sir William Hackett, the first Chief Justice of Fiji, as unvarnished slavery; and, also, that Mr. G. A. Beauclerc (clerk of Native taxes and Native accounts in Fiji) stated in a recent Report to the Governor that, owing to the continual exactions of the chiefs, for their own personal aggrandisement, added to the preparation of produce in payment of the Government tax, the Natives were kept in such continuous servitude that they had not time to provide sufficient food for their families or proper dwellings, and that the women, being similarly compelled to raise tax produce for the Government, were unable to bestow proper care upon the nurture and care of their infants, with the inevitable result of a large infantile mortality; and, whether, in view of this strong official condemnation, Her Majesty's Government contemplate any action in the direction of a radical alteration in the mode of raising the revenue in the Crown Colony of Fiji?
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
Sir John Thurston, who had a share in devising the Native taxation system of Fiji, has arrived on leave, and Her Majesty's Government will confer with him on that and other public questions; but, in saying this, I must not be taken as admitting the correctness of the view implied in the highly argumentative question of my hon. Friend, nor as implying that there is any intention of departing from a system which, as I have 1055 already stated, is believed on the whole to have worked fairly well.