§ MR. BAYLEY (Derbyshire, Chesterfield)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has received the Report asked for from the Governor of Lagos as to the alleged impressment and consequent suicide of a native trader from Abeokuta, and as to the employment of compulsory labour in that Colony; and whether effective steps have now been taken to prevent the unauthorised exaction of such labour by officials in Lagos and its protectorate?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
The Question refers to one of those numerous reports which 1227 come from West Africa, which, turn out on inquiry to be absolutely groundless. The Governor has reported that, as the result of inquiries, it has been ascertained that the suicide of an Abeokuta trader, reported in one of the local papers, never occurred. With regard to compulsory labour, he has reported that in October last it was found necessary, in order to provide transport for the West India Regiment, in connection with the recent operations, to call upon the native chiefs to provide carriers in accordance with native custom, but this was only a temporary expedient, and each man received the full wage of 1s. 3d. a day. He adds that, when the men returned to Lagos, and were paid off, they expressed their desire to serve again on the same conditions, as soon as they had spent the wages which had accrued to them.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
rose to ask whether the charges in another case were equally groundless, but Mr. Speaker ruled that notice must be given.