HC Deb 10 February 1904 vol 129 cc1336-8

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury †See page 161. when an opportunity will be given to the House of expressing an opinion on Chinese labour in the Transvaal Colony.


The hon. Member asks me whether any opportunity, other than the Address, will be given for the discussion of the question of Chinese labour in the Transvaal Colony. I regret that I cannot offer any other day. An opportunity occurs on the Address, and if that opportunity is not taken, seeing the length to which the debate has extended and the amount of financial business which has to be taken before Easter, I am afraid I cannot afford, out of Government time, any other opportunity.


I understand that the right hon. Gentleman adheres to the idea, which has always possessed the Government, that the Amendment on the Address will be a sufficient and seasonable opportunity of discussing this matter, notwithstanding that the undertaking of the Secretary for the Colonies was that the Government would give an opportunity for that discussion. I think that all one can do now is to say that, considering the information which is still withheld from us—I do not say unreasonably withheld, but still not in our possession—in regard to the regulations for enforcing the labour, and other matters, I hope it will be understood that, when these pieces of information now lacking are in our hands, and when the Government have taken action in the matter, it will be open to us, if we see fit, to move a vote of censure.


I understood that my right hon. friend had only given an assurance that an opportunity would be given to the House of expressing its opinion upon this question before the Ordinance was approved. I understand that the opportunity has been taken by an hon. Member opposite of raising the question on the Address. I am afraid I must confirm the answer I have given. Of course it is in the right of the Leader of the Opposition or any other Member on that Bench to claim a day for a vote of censure, which, of course, the Government will give at once.


Can the right hon. Gentleman not consider the advisability of postponing the final decision of this matter until the views in detail upon the subject held by Australia and New Zealand are laid before Members of the House? There is a strong feeling in Australia and New Zealand, and we are not in full possession of it.

[No answer was returned.]


Wait till Dick Seddon comes home again.