HC Deb 10 April 1896 vol 39 cc671-2
*MR. M. M. BHOWNAGGREE (Bethnal Green, N. E.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether his attention has been drawn to a proclamation published at page 215 of the Natal Government Gazette of the 25th February last, in which, under the heading "Rules and Regulations for the disposal of Erven," or sites, "in the Township of Nondweni, Zululand," at Clauses 4, 13, 18, 20, and throughout the proclamation, words are used which will effectually preclude all the British Indian subjects of Her Majesty from acquiring or occupying land within that township for purposes of business or residence, while enabling others, who are not subjects of Her Majesty but because they are "persons of European birth or descent," to do so; whether similar prohibitory provisions have been in force with regard to another township called Eshave, since 1891; whether he is aware that only two years before that time, in 1889, British Indian subjects were allowed to purchase land in the township of Melmoth to the value of nearly £2,000; and, if so, whether any cause has been shown for now precluding them from the exercise of a similar right in reference to the townships of Eshave and Nondweni; and, whether, as such prohibition is an interference with the right of British subjects to acquire property in any part of Her Majesty's dominions, based merely on the question of colour, thereby constituting a direct violation of the gracious assurance given by Her Majesty to the people of India in 1858, he will take immediate steps to arrest legislation of this description by the Governments of Natal and other parts of Her Majesty's dominions in Africa, and order the elimination of all such regulations with regard to the townships of Eshave and Nondweni as preclude British Indian subjects from acquiring property therein?


The proclamations relating to the townships of Nondweni and Eshave do, as stated by the hon. Member, exclude those who are not of European birth or descent from purchasing or holding land, but the purchase of land by British Indians at Melmoth in 1889 does not appear to have been reported to the Colonial Office. I have been informed that a petition on the subject from the Indian community of Natal, dated March 11th, is on its way, and I propose to give the subject my careful attention when the petition arrives.