HC Deb 22 February 1904 vol 130 cc631-71

Adjournment (under Standing Order No. 10).

* DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)

said he rose to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely— The promulgation of the Ordinance providing for the introduction of indentured Chinese Labour into the Transvaal before the Ordinance and its regulations have been discussed by the House of Commons in their complete and operative form. This was a matter of the very greatest importance, and one in which the British people were deeply concerned and the least they could ask was that it should have been treated by the Government or the Colonial Secretary with very great care and circumspection. He thought he was well within the mark when he said the reverse of that had been the act. The Ordinance itself had been hustled through this House with indecent haste, and the regulations they had not seen at all, and were not therefore able to discuss. But the regulations were at least as important as the Ordinance itself, and he could only find one intelligible reason why this thing had been hurried through in this manner. The whole thing was so repugnant to the sense of the British people that the Government got it out of the way as quickly as possible. This House commenced its sittings three weeks ago. and several Parliamentary Papers had been issued. One had been issued before the House met, but it was incomplete and had since the meeting of the House been re-issued. Four others containing 1,100 pages had all been issued since the assembling of the House. On the 4th of this month urgent representations were made to the Colonial Secretary to allow the House to discuss and settle this thing with a perfectly free hand, but the answer of the right hon. Gentleman was that he could not give any other opportunity than was afforded by the discussion on the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne, and they were confined to that discussion. That debate had been taken on the 16th or 17th. Let the House observe the position in which they were placed as the result of that debate. The Ordinance adopted on that occasion was confessedly based on the Report of the Transvaal Labour Commissioners, of which only an abridged and incomplete edition was. issued before Parliament met. On the 14th a full copy was issued, with a complete copy of the correspondence between the Colonial Office and South Africa. That correspondence contained what might be termed the first edition of this Ordinance, and that and the second edition, as he would call it, of the Ordinance were in the hands of Members but a few Parliamentary days before the debate opened. He desired to call attention to the striking changes n those two editions, and to the transfer of certain matters which were in the first edition of the Ordinance to the regulations, which they had had no opportunity of discussing at all, of the second edition of the Ordinance. His case was that the regulations, which were the vital machinery to give effect to the Ordinance, and were of equal or more importance than the Ordinance itself, had been promulgated without any discussion in the House. The first edition of the Ordinance contained some exceedingly valuable and humane provisions with regard to the accompanying of the abourers by their wives and children. Those provisions were contained in paragraphs 13, 14, and 15, of the Blue-book, number 1895, page 123. In what he termed the second edition of the Ordinance all those provisions had been dropped out, and were summarised in the regulations which they had never had an opportunity of discussing, although the Ordinance had now been promulgated.


The regulations have never been published.


I am aware of that. Shall we have an opportunity of discussing them?


said there would be the usual opportunities when they were laid on the Table of the House.


And in the meantime will the Ordinance be in operation?


The Ordinance will come into operation when these regulations are fixed and promulgated, and when they have been forwarded and satisfy me that they fulfil the pledges I have given to the House.


asked whether an opportunity could be given to the House to discuss the regulations before the Ordnance came into operation.




said that that being so, this opportunity was the only one of discussing this matter, and he therefore proposed to take it. These regulations, which were the most vital part of the whole thing, would not come before the House and would not be discussed, there was also a third edition of this Ordinance on 10th; February, six days before the debate opened, and the changes in that were material and were the result of representations made to Lord Milner. It was not certain now that the Ordinance had reached its final form and yet it had been promulgated. When the debate took place on the 15th and 16th the Government were showering Blue-book after Blue-book, of voluminous character, on the House, and the Ordinance and regulations were still in process of alteration. Apparently, although the Ordinance had been promulgated the regulations which went with it would be laid upon the Table of the House, but the machinery for the recruiting of coolies was now in operation in China, as the telegram of the 19th went to show. He was not certain now whether the Ordinance had reached its final form. The Chinese Minister had made some very valuable suggestions and had suggested that they should be included in the Ordinance. If he was met by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary the Ordinance would have to be altered again, but whether he did so or not the right hon. Gentleman certainly contemplated entirely altering the regulations to meet the Chinese Minister, and he desired to emphasise the fact that the regulations were far more vital than the Ordinance itself and that they were very far from being in their final form. He protested against the Ordinance or the regulations being promulgated before the House had had an opportunity of fully and fairly discussing them. The day after the debate closed a document was issued containing the correspondence from the Chinese Minister, in which various suggestions were made which, in the opinion of the Chinese Minister, were necessary, in order to prevent the immigrant being made a mere chattel or article of commerce. It was a singular comment upon Western methods of civilisation that we had to go to the Chinese Minister for suggestions in order to find a means of mitigating the barbarity of the proposals sent out by the British Government. He asked, if the Government were going to put these suggestions into the Ordinance, why were people recruiting coolies under the Ordinance at the present time They had not seen the final draft of th3 regulations yet, and in the Ordinance there was nothing but the heads of the regulations. When were they going to see these regulations, because he protested against the Ordinance being promulgated until they had seen the whole of them? He did not believe in leaving the whole of this matter in the hands of a Lieutenant-Governor who might be, and probably was under, sinister influences. He understood a conference was to be held with regard to the inclusion of these suggestions in the Ordinance or regulations, and he derived some little comfort from the fact that the Chinese Minister would be present at that conference. He protested against the House being hustled in this matter in the way it had been; the matter was too grave a matter and one which had already caused great consternation in this country, and on this account and on account of the facts he had brought to the notice of the House, he begged to move.

MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)

, in seconding the Motion for the Adjournment of the House, said that recently the Colonial Secretary spoke of the happy Chinese labourer, who was to be surrounded by every comfort that philanthropy could devise, and presumably that philanthropy was to be exhibited in the regulations which the House was not to be allowed to see. When it was discovered that the Chinese Ambassador had asked for the embodiment of certain important matters in the Ordinance the Colonial Secretary said they were minor matters and should be dealt with in the regulations. But he (Mr. Whitley) believed that the questions to be dealt with by the regulations were the very essence of the whole case and that the House ought to see them before they came into operation. He had put down five Questions which would have to be dealt with in the regulations, and the House would see that the way the Colonial Secretary dealt with these Questions would make all the difference between slavery and non-slavery. The first was whether these un fortunate coolies could be transferred or sold without their consent—whether it would be possible to have in a British colony agents putting up the cry in an open market, "Who bids for 5,000 Chinamen?" Surely there ought not to be any doubt left on that point. The second Question was equally vital. Were the managers of these compounds to be allowed to use the lash as a method of persuasion with coolie labour? The Government were over-ruling the opinion of the House and of the nation in the matter of this Labour Ordinance, and unless they were successful in the demand they were now making for an opportunity of discussing the regulations before the Ordinance became of effect, the House would be responsible for a condition of things from which a most vital provision was omitted. The third Question was—Were the wives and families of these coolies to be confined to the compounds with all the strict penalties and regulations of the labourers themselves? Presumably, they would. Then, would they pay for the maintenance of their wives and families or would they be at the charge of the importers or employers? If the latter, it would be quite possible for the importers to impose a prohibitive tariff. There was a very ominous suggestion in the Blue-book in the Report of the Commissioner of Mines who was sent to investigate this question of employing Chinamen. Mr. Ross Skinner said that it would be desirable to mix up these Chinamen in order to prevent any danger of their combining. Was this proposal to be carried out? The fifth Question was, would it be possible for the employer to have a truck system inside these compounds whereby practically the whole of the money paid to the labourers would be restored to the mine-owner in the form of charges for food of various kinds? Mr. Ross Skinner on this point stated that certain mines could only be worked at a profit even with Chinese labour, by reason of the profits made under the truck system. It would be possible to enumerate many other vital points coming under these regulations. This Motion was made in order to assert the claim of the House of Commons to dismiss an Ordinance providing, if not slavery itself, something alien to the wish of the country and approaching perilously near to that condition of things. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] No one could read the opinion of the Chinese Minister without a blush of shame. It had been left to the Chinese Minister to suggest that the use of the lash should be prohibited and that the sale of human beings as goods and chattels should be made impossible under the terms of the Ordinance. The House was entitled to an assurance from the Colonial Secretary that no single human being would be engaged under this Ordinance until the terms of the regulations had been fully drawn up, and laid before the House for discussion. He begged to second the Motion.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Dr. Macnamara.)

SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)

said he only rose to put a Question which he hoped the Colonial Secretary would answer. The jurisdiction of the Ordinance would obviously be confined to the Transvaal. The Colonial Secretary had pledged himself that certain things should be done in China. Certain regulations made by the Government here would have to be executed in China. By what authority and means would force be given to those regulations? A still greater danger to these imported labourers was what might happen to them on the high seas. Neither the Government of the Transvaal nor His Majesty's Government had any power to enforce regulations in regard to the victualling, sanitary condition, and treatment of these labourers during the passage from China to the Cape. At the time of a similar importation of natives of the Pacific Islands to Queensland the British Government passed Acts—in 1872 and 1875—for the protection of the islanders during the passage. By the Act of 1872 provision was made regarding penalties for misconduct on the part of commanders of British vessels and certificates of licences required by those vessels, and special powers were given to the Colonial Courts by Imperial Statute to punish any offence against the regulations. If there was at present no provision for the protection of the Chinese immigrants on the high seas, he asked whether the Government would suspend the operation of the Ordinance until some provision had been made by the Imperial Parliament for the humane protection of these Chinese emigrants there.

* MR. BELL (Derby)

said he wished to support the Motion. He represented a section of the community which regarded schemes like this with very great suspicion. He felt that everything that was possible should be done by the Government to remove the causes of that suspicion. It was quite possible that there were persons in this country who would like an Ordinance of this kind put into operation at home. Were it not that the working men here had the franchise and were organised in trades unions, there were some employers here who would do what the mine-owners were doing in the Transvaal. So far as his voice and vote could have any effect he was determined to do all he could to prevent such arrangements wherever they were to be carried out. He had been rather struck by the attitude and the suggestions of the Chinese Minister. It appeared that notwithstanding the discussion which they recently had in that House the Ordinance was so incomplete that the Chinese Minister was not prepared to accept it without suggesting fresh proposals for insertion. That was very significant. Personally he said that whatever confidence he might have in the representatives of His Majesty's Government at home he was not prepared to trust the authorities in South Africa so far as the framing of an Ordinance or the preparing of regulations in a matter like this was concerned. They should have the opportunity to examine every clause and every word for themselves. He had no doubt that the sympathies of the Colonial Secretary were in the right direction, but the mine-owners were the real Government of the Transvaal and they needed to make safeguards to ensure that they did not revert to the old conditions of slavery. Hon. Gentlemen opposite said "No."' Very likely some of them were of the kind of employers who would like to adopt a similar system in this country. They seemed very cheerful about adopting it in other parts of the British Empire.


You do not know what you are talking about.


asked why did hon. Members opposite support proposals of the description submitted to that House last week and which they were discussing that night. Was it, as had been stated by some of the Rand magnates, because they were afraid that white labour in the Transvaal would organise itself and combine for the purpose of dictating the conditions of labour, and also to obtain political power when it had the opportunity? If such was the case, he was one of those who intended resisting, in that House, and out of it, to the fullest extent of his power, their getting such an opportunity. They had in this country hundreds and thousands of labourers who would be glad to have the opportunity of going to the Transvaal and doing the work which was there to be done; and while they had to bear so much of the expenditure incurred there he thought they were entitled to find employment for their surplus labour at home before such a system as was now proposed was introduced in the Transvaal. They wished to know would the Colonial Secretary allow them to see the Ordinance when the proposals of the Chinese Minister had been considered, so that they might know whether they were adopted wholly or partially, and also what was the result of the conference which would be held next day and what would be there agreed to? He thought the people of this country, and at any rate the Members of the House, would like to know and take part in any official arrangement of that kind. The Colonial Secretary had been good enough to say that the regulations would be placed before the House after they had been adopted and that they might then discuss them. They might discuss them as much as they liked, but they could not alter them, and the messengers who were already out in China recruiting these Chinese would try and enter into some binding contract with these people, with the result that they would not be able to break it. He desired to see the completion of this business before any support of his was given, either in that House or in the country, to the proposal, and he heartily supported the Motion for the Adjournment.

* ME. MALCOLM (Suffolk, Stowmarket)

said the hon. Member who last spoke supported the Adjournment Motion on the ground that it was the duty of the Government to find employment for our own surplus labour instead of finding work for the unemployed of foreign countries in South Africa. He hoped that the hon. Gentleman would make it plain to those for whom he wished to find employment in the Transvaal that when they got out there they would find a cottage of four rooms costing £200 a year and board and lodging costing 9s. a day, while the best wages for white unskilled labour to be obtained would not be more than 10s. a day. With that paltry margin before them could the hon. Member advise his fellow-countrymen to go out and degrade English white unskilled labour. The hon. Member said it would not be possible to alter the Ordinance when once promulgated if the evils predicted for it should come to pass. But surely it was in the power of the Government to stop the Ordinance the moment it was found to be dangerous to the white or indeed any other population. He could assure the hon. Member that Members on the Ministerial side of the House were equally jealous with himself of the honour of the British in South Africa, and if the slightest taint of slavery should be found to attach to the Ordinance they would at once bring the matter up and vote against the Ordinance. The hon. Member for Halifax had mentioned the despatch of the Chinese Minister. That was only another illustration of the readiness of hon. Gentlemen opposite to take the opinion of foreigners against the opinion of their own countrymen. He would set against the opinion of the Chinese Minister on the slavery question the opinion of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was perfectly satisfied with the explanations given by Lord Onslow. The hon. Member had asserted that according to the Chinese Minister it would be possible for the lash to be used under the Ordinance. Well, he could tell the hon. Member that the infliction of corporal punishment was the last thing in the world calculated to make an unwilling Chinaman work. The Chinese Minister's reference was, in fact, to some treatment meted out to Chinese subjects by other Colonies in days long past, and such things were not in the least likely to happen in the Transvaal. The hon. Member for Camberwell referred to the Chinese Minister's letter as if it were quite unknown at the time of the debate: but if he would carry his mind back to the last evening of the discussion he would remember that an effective point was made by the hon. Member for Lincoln in which he quoted the very phrase contained in the Chinese Minister's despatch as to Chinamen being treated as chattels or articles of commerce. That was taken from the letter itself, which had appeared in the same morning's newspapers, and it was another example of the pernicious habit of giving public documents to the Press before circulating them to Members of the House. These documents primarily belonged to the House of Commons and should be first given to its Members. There was really nothing to justifiy the charge brought by the hon. Member for Camberwell. It had been further suggested that the regulations would probably contain something that was distasteful not only to the House of Commons, but to the nation at large, and which, if known, would cause the regulations to be disowned at once. He did not think that that was at all a proper suggestion to make. They on that side had, and hon. Members on the other, once professed the most complete trust in Lord Milner, and he had not belied that trust. To say that he was under sinister influences in the Transvaal was to make a most insulting charge. If hon. Members wished to be well served by Ministers of the Crown they must not make such insulting charges in their absence. Ministers were often charged with want of tact or want of judgment, but he had never known a Minister before to be charged with conniving at slavery. Lord Milner had, at any rate, rescued British subjects in the Transvaal from a state of helotry. As far as he could see there was nothing in the three points mentioned by the Chinese Ambassador that might not be granted. He agreed that the responsibility would rest with those who had to see that the Ordinance was properly carried out. The difference between the supporters of the Government and hon. Gentlemen opposite was that the Ministerialists believed that their fellow-countrymen in South Africa [would respect the honour of our flag in the future as they had done in the past, and that the Government of the Transvaal would be as great a success as in other British colonies.

* MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)

asked what opinion abroad had been regarded by the supporters of this Ordinance. The opinion in all quarters where the subject was thoroughly understood and known from experience had been put on one side; the views of Australia and America had been disregarded; and attention had been paid only to the opinion of a few nominees of the Government in the Transvaal and of those directly or indirectly interested in getting Chinamen into South Africa. There was any amount of labour in the mines that could be done by white men without their coming into contact with the blacks at all. The only difficulty was that contact, which was frequently as distasteful to the black as to the white, and which could easily be obviated. If the right hon. Gentleman absolutely prohibited black labour in the mines it would be the finest thing that could happen to South Africa. The Kaffirs could find ample employment on railways and on farms. The attitude of the Colonial Secretary on this question distressed him. His name stood for everything that was honourable in an English gentleman, and hon. Members could have no scruple in accepting his word under ordinary circumstance. He pledged his word the sacred word of an English gentleman that the yellow man would suffer no injustice, and that, under the regulations which he would publish, slavery would be unknown. But it was utterly beyond his power to fulfil a single word of these pledges. The most elementary knowledge of how things were managed in China would convince anyone that the regulations would not be worth the paper they were written on. Contracts would be made and coolies would be obtained who would be ready to accept any conditions, but they would not be free agents. The fear had been expressed that with a large white labouring population trades unionism would spring up, with the result that strikes and disputes would arise, but anybody with the least acquaintance with the subject knew that the most tyrannical trade union that ever existed was not a circumstance to the tyranny that over-rode the whole of the Chinese labour question. It would be a question not of trades unions, but of the secret societies which permeated China from one end to the other. But an even more serious matter was the proposed introduction of Chinese women into this unfortunate country. Not content with driving 100,000 Chinamen into the country, to the detriment of our own labourers, the right hon. Gentleman was going to introduce 50,000 Chinese women and so many thousand Chinese children. The right hon. Gentleman might salve his conscience with the thought that he had introduced so many thousands of women under the names of Mrs. Ah Sin and so forth, but they would not be the wives of the coolies. No Chinamen, except those of the highest class, ever took their wives with them. What was to be done with the women? Were they to be placed in the compounds, or were they to be let loose on the country to earn their living in any way that seemed good to them? The prospect for the unhappy country was an appalling one. The introduction of Chinese women would be ten thousand times worse than the introduction of Chinese labour. What had happened elsewhere was well known, but the Chinese in Australia and New Zealand were in the nature of accidents, for no Government had ever entered into such an immoral and hateful contract as this. He was not at all sure that this was not the outcome of the royal progress of the late Colonial Secretary or that it was not part of the price we had to pay for the loan which was not yet underwritten. He did not wish to hurt the feelings of hon. Members opposite; he did not speak of them as individuals; but he did say that, in their aggregate capacity, for them to support the Government in this infamous matter was an action they would always regret.

He strongly protested against this selling of flesh and blood for the sake of gold, not only to the present but the future ruination of South Africa for generations. The enlightened opinion of the world was against the Government on this question, even the people who were supporting the Government admitted that this was a bad business, but they thought it would be a worse thing if the Government were out of the office. He sympathised most sincerely with hon. Gentlemen opposite on this question, but he believed they were entirely wrong, and that the Government was wrong. The opinion of Europe, Australia, Canada, and America, was against the Government on this question, and he hoped that even at the eleventh hour the Government would repent. As happened in the days of Israel the unclean thing was in our camp and we could not stand against our enemies unless the accursed thing was removed from our midst.

COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, Bootle)

said it was not very often he troubled the House, but he thought it incumbent upon him to say a few words upon this question. He had listened carefully to the remarks of the previous speaker, and he was exceedingly sorry Mr. Speaker had had to call him to order for an interruption, because his indignation at the statements made by the hon. Member were such that he could not help interrupting. The hon. Member opposite had never seen a Chinaman, but he had. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh, oh !"] Hon. Members opposite would not put him off because he had got his line. He had seen the administration of Oriental races by the British in the East, and he was acquainted with the administration of India which included a good many Chinamen. There Chinamen were the admiration of those who could express an honest opinion upon them. Personally he was quite prepared to trust His Majesty's Government and the authorities in the Transvaal in dealing with the Chinese and their conditions of labour, which he thought would be for the benefit of the Chinamen themselves and British labour in South Africa. They had had the statement of the Colonial Secretary that the conditions of labour for the Chinese were such that the Chinaman would take them, while that labour had been refused by the white man. The conditions of labour in those countries were not the same as in this country, and they could not put a white man, a black man, and a yellow man upon the same parallel and expect them to do similar work. Work in the mines was divided into two main portions, namely, the supervising which could very properly he entrusted to white men, and the hard work of the labourer which could only be carried out by men of the yellow or black race because white men would not do that work. He asked the House to exercise their power of discrimination, and not bring their overwhelming force to bear upon a condition of things which they could not possibly judge. They ought to trust the governors and those placed in authority with the conditions which would govern the labourers. He knew something of Asiatic races, and he might say that the description given by the last speaker of those races was against all his knowledge, and therefore he could not accept what the had stated about them. He thought that in this case the House should put its trust in Lord Milner, because this was not a question of Party politics. They ought to accept the conditions drawn up by Lord Milner and by the Minister responsible to this country. He hoped the House would treat this question without bias, and judge it fairly on its merits.


said he had listened with some surprise and disappointment to the previous speakers. He understood that they were discussing the regulations for the introduction of Chinese labour into South Africa, and the principle of the importation of Chinese into South Africa had been accepted. They had now to decide what regulations should govern that importation. The speech of the hon. Member for Stowmarket had been a great disappointment to him, for he was some time a leader of a Party, and all the discontented people in the House followed his lead in regard to Army matters. They would see now that he considered the British soldier was very much like the Chinese labourer, and he was not at all surprised at the hon. Gentleman, after having taken such an interest in the British soldier, taking an equal interest in the collateral subject of Chinese labour. The very essence of this question was centred in the regulation. The importation was an important subject, but it was quite subsidiary to the regulations. What the Colonial Secretary said on the 27th January proved this fact beyond doubt, for he wrote that— The satisfactory working of the Ordinance, if it come into operation, will largely depend upon the regulations. Why in the world when they were discussing this subject should they have the Ordinance without the regulations which they had not yet seen? Moreover, the Colonial Secretary stated that— His Majesty's Government do not propose to arrive at a final decision until they have an opportunity of considering the law as passed. But the law depended upon the regulations. There had been some discussion upon a sort of understanding that there were regulations in force, but as a matter of fact there were no regulations, although there were some marginal notes. This was almost like passing factory legislation and giving a department power to deal with overcrowding, protection from machinery, and other vital questions. Although they did not know what the regulations were, they knew what the penalties would be for breaking those regulations. Dr. Jameson, in December, 1903, spoke distinctly against the importation of Asiatic labour. He wished to point out that the questions of inspection, punishment, and bonâ fide employer had not been touched at all. Would the right hon. Gentleman give them a pledge that these matters would be attended to. The Chinese Minister had dealt with the assignment, and he had stated that it was necessary for the employer to be a bonâ fide employer in order to prevent the immigrant being made a chattel or article of commerce. All their hopes now seemed to be centred in the Chinese Minister. He did not think anybody had a right to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury was in favour of the introduction of Chinese labour. He thought it was a pity that all these suggestions for improving the conditions should come from the Chinese Ambassador to the Colonial Secretary, and not from the Colonial Secretary to the Chinese Ambassador. The difference between the two appeared to be that the Chinese Ambassador was the heathen champion of Christianity, and the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench was the Christian champion of heathenism. The question was whether the House of Commons was to have a right to consider a vital part in this Ordinance. The law was not passed, he understood, until the regulations were in force, and why should they not have an opportunity of discussing the regulations? The success of the Ordinance depended upon those regulations. The House of Commons had consented to the Ordinance, but it would have been infinitely of more value if Parliament had received a detailed explanation of the regulations.

SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)

said the hon. Member for North Camberwell had stated that it was not the Ordinance but the importation of Chinese which had caused so much irritation in the country. Only two or three days ago the hon. Member for Camberwell held a meeting in Camberwell. [OPPOSITION cheers.] He was glad to hear hon. Members cheer that, because the whole point of this Motion appeared to be not to discuss the Ordinance but to bring forward a good electioneering cry. He understood that upon this question the eighty London Unionist Members were to be swept from their seats at the next election because they had voted for Chinese labour, and this was to be a sort of climax to the whole thing. The question of the importation of Chinese women and slavery and all sorts of things which had nothing whatever to do with the subject before them, had been introduced. The hon. Member opposite had said this was the only occasion upon which this question could be discussed, but he wished to point out that when the regulations were in force they could be discussed on the Colonial Secretary's salary, and if any of those evils which hon. Members opposite supposed would arise, did arise, they could then be discussed, and if they were so great as hon. Gentlemen seemed to think there was not much doubt that the Government would be defeated and the hon. Gentlemen opposite could then come in and alter the regulations. He should be extremely surprised if the Opposition came into power to see them attempting to prohibit Chinese labour. The fact of the matter was that this was a sentimental question. There was nobody on the Ministerial side of the House, any more than on the other side, who desired the importation of Chinese labour merely to import Chinese labour, but they recognised that the whole future of the Transvaal was bound up in the prosperity of the mines, and the commercial prosperity of this country was seriously at stake at the present moment in consequence. There was no doubt that an increase in the production of gold in the Transvaal would ease the commercial situation. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment to the Address upon this question knew what they were suffering from was want of money and good in the city, and the thing that would bring prosperity to the workmen, for whom the hon. Member for Derby was so anxious, was the influx of gold and capital into the country, and unless labour of this kind was introduced into the Transvaal to allow the mines to be worked it was impossible to have such an importation of gold. It was not a question of Chinese against white labour but it was Chinese against Kaffir labour. He hoped that when hon. Gentlemen opposite got up to speak they would limit their remarks to the subject before them, and he trusted they would not be treated to any more speeches which had nothing to do with the subject before them, for such speeches as they had heard that night would be more appropriate at the next general election.

MR. CROOKS (Woolwich)

said the last speaker had asked them not to moralise upon this question. When they remembered that there was no morality in those Chinamen he could understand what was meant. He once heard a man say that he had no objection to calling a black man his brother, but he objected to calling him his brother-in-law. The "moral" members of the House said it was impossible for South Africa to be made to pay without the introduction of, he would not call it slavery, but of indentured Chinese. He wanted to ask who watered the whole of this mining stock, so as to make it utterly impossible to realise dividends on the amount of capital invested in it. He had heard of a Member of Parliament—though not a Member now—who in the wonderful Chartered times made £36,000 in twenty-five minutes. That was a good profit indeed, but then they were asked to agree to the introduction of Chinese labour with the view of earning dividends for the poor creatures who had taken the shares at a price which enabled that gentleman to make £36,000 in this way. There had been a document issued calling attention to the virtues of the mining magnates. One mine which was originally promoted for £50,000, of which only £5,000 was paid up, was put on the market and realised £500,000, and it stood at this moment as being worth £2,250,000. If men asked them to introduce slavery in order to pay dividends he wanted to know where the morals came in at all. It was a question how much they could degrade the whole nation for people who had not got their money in an honest way. He held in his hand a letter, not from a Boer general who had been nominated to serve on the Transvaal Executive Council, but from a poor native in which he said— I wish to bring to your notice a question which is at present causing a state of ferment in South Africa—the proposal to introduce Chinise labourers to work on the Rand. The story told by the mining magnates is that it is impossible to get enough unskilled native labour for the mines. That is as black a lie as was ever told. There are thousands of natives in Johannesburg walking about idle, begging to be taken on. It was no doubt true that a large meeting of the people of the Rand had been held, at which a resolution in favour of Chinese labour was passed, but men were paid 15s. a head to attend the meeting. They could get them for less than that in England. He wanted hon. Members to get that into their heads, and also the people outside, who after all were a good deal more important than the people inside. It might be quite possible that hon. Members would not be swept from their seats for the opinions which they held at present, but it would not be the first time they had changed their opinions in order to retain their seats. They would bow to the desires of their constituents, and if a pro-Chinese cry would not go down, they would find another which would enable them to forget it.


Will the hon. Member give me a single instance in which we have changed our opinions to keep our seats?


said he was not concerned with the hon. Member and his opinions. If he were one of the hon. Member's constituents he would probably trip him up a little but not in this House. They had been told earlier in the day that the recruiting of Chinese labour had been going on. That was a serious thing indeed, having regard to the fact that the Ordinance had not been passed by the House. On whose authority was this being done? Was it on the authority of the Colonial Office or of those people who were an apology for a Government in the Transvaal? They were told that only unskilled labour was being recruited. He had documentary evidence to show that they were recruiting and signing on mechanics, carpenters, and different classes of skilled labour at the rate of £2 per month. He had received this information from a Chinaman, on whose authority he made the statement. He called the attention of a member of the Government to this matter the other day, and he was told that if an employer put an unskilled workman to do skilled work that was not properly classed, he would be liable to a fine of £500. He would put the case this way. Supposing an accident happened, and it was necessary to have a skilled mechanic to do the job of putting the matter right, would they shut the mine until a white man could be got? Supposing a Chinaman were engaged on that work, would the mine-owner or the responsible manager be convicted for allowing him to do skilled work. It would rather be said that he was deserving of high praise for having allowed him to do the work instead of stopping the whole undertaking. As a matter of fact, a Chinaman could do anything and everything that an Englishman could do. What they objected to in Chinamen was their mode of living. The mine-owners knew that directly they got the Chinese they would be able to do without white men. If the mine-owners could get a job done for 2s., they would not give 5s. They might love their country but they loved money more. When they were told the other day that the Chinaman was docile, intelligent, and industrious, he interjected that he was cheap. He would be honest. He would not have much chance of being anything else. He would be kept in a compound and a tunnel would be made for him to pass to the mine, and if he took his holidays they would give him a good bucket of medicine which would keep him honest. And over all this floated the Union Jack. That worried him more than any other thing. He was not one of those who went about the country talking of the valuable asset of the Union Jack. He was one of those who thought it was the sign of liberty and justice for the downtrodden of the world. He thought hon. Members who were going to vote against the Adjournment had an advantage over some other people. The ambiguity of their language enabled it to be interpreted in half a dozen different ways and that was exceedingly useful to the cultivated intellect. Those who were opposed to the Ordinance would require a lot of persuading that what was proposed was not slavery. He had in his possession an election bill which was issued in the constituency of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India at the last election. It called upon the electors to vote for the right hon. Gentleman and "freedom in South Africa." Hon. Members cheered that. The language was exceedingly ambiguous. Freedom for what? They had left it out. [An HON. MEMBER: The Rand.] There were white men in South Africa who, at any rate, expected something better than they were being offered. It seemed to him that what was proposed was freedom to the mine-owners to make as much as they could out of the whole thing. What guarantee had they that a proper class of men were to be brought from China? Who was to be the interpreter? He could fancy a man being brought before a Mandarin and told that he was to be an indentured apprentice to King Edward VII., and that he could go if he liked, and that if he did not go he would have his head cut off, or something of that kind. He wanted to know what measures were to be taken to ensure that none of these apprentices would be persons of disreputable character. They were asked to place their trust in the Government. The country trusted the Government three or four years ago, and the result was that we had incurred a war debt of £250,000,000, which had now to be paid off. He would not trust them in this matter. The Bishop of Bloemfontein, who had inquired into this matter, was of opinion that with improved machinery, native and white labour was sufficient to work the mines, but it was not sufficient to work them to earn dividends of enormous amount on watered stock. What was the original amount of the capital at which the mining companies were floated, and what was the capital they now stood at? When they got that information they would be able to say whether this was a matter in which they should sacrifice the sacred principle of liberty. He wanted to know whether what was proposed was in the interest of liberty and right and justice, or in the interest of the dividend-mongers.


I have some difficulty in knowing the case I am supposed to answer this evening. A great many speeches have been made, as they were made the other day, about "slavery," and the word "infamy" has been applied to the Government, to myself, and to Lord Milner. I think that Lord Milner can afford, and that I can afford, to regard accusations of that kind with absolute contempt. I always endeavour to suppose in this House that everybody who makes a charge, and a grave charge, honestly believes it; and severely though my credulity has been strained upon the present occasion, I will give a few words to the question of slavery, or so-called slavery. I will not attempt to define it in a pedantic way, as I think it was defined the other day, but I will ask the House to remember that the last instance of the carrying on of slavery by a civilised country was that of America. A man there who owned a slave could coerce him into doing any work that he liked against the slave's will. He could keep him for his whole life doing that work against his will, and without paying him for it. He could even compel his own son, born of a black woman, to be a slave, and he could sell either the slave or the family of the slave, and part the slave from his family. That is what slavery was when it existed in America, the last civilised country which carried it on. And the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton the other night, in a speech in which, I am sorry to say, the word conscience occurred, thought it right to charge this Government and myself with instituting slavery in the Transvaal. Misrepresentation is always depressing, but when it is made in connection with the word "conscience" it becomes positively nauseous. I mean those words; I know they are hard words, but I will make them good. I have said that the condition of slavery in America was a condition in which the slave was treated like a beast. Will any fair-minded man in this House, apart from Party questions, say on his conscience that this contract which the Government propose is one which treats its subject as a beast?

MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)

Yes; so the Chinese Minister thought.


I hope my hon. and gallant friend can be excused by his ignorance. [Cheers and counter-cheers, and Opposition cries of "Oh," and "Withdraw."]


Order! order. If the right hon. Gentleman had said anything that required my interference I should have called upon him to withdraw.


I expressed a hope that my hon. and gallant friend would not have said that the subject of this contract was treated as a beast unless he was ignorant of some of the conditions, at all events, of the contract which it is proposed that the Chinaman should enter into. I will endeavour to make good that statement, and when I have recalled the conditions of the contract to him I will ask him whether he still holds that opinion. What is the contract? I have given pledges in this House, a breach of which, if I should be so bass as to depart from them, can be visited on me by this as well as by that side of the House, with the condemnation which I shall be worthy to receive if I do break them. The Chinaman, I believe, receives wages in his own country at the rate of about one penny or twopence a day. It is proposed that he should receive at least seven or eight times that amount in the Transvaal. Until I heard the great learning displayed below the gangway opposite, I believed I had information with regard to the Chinese from the greatest experts which this Empire can afford, and they informed me that it is perfectly easy to make intelligible to any ordinary Chinaman a bargain which he is entering into. I think hon. Members opposite who know them, will admit that they are a highly intelligent race. But in order that there may be no coercion and no misrepresentation—and our experiences in this debate make it very necessary to guard against it—we have undertaken that there shall be a protector appointed in China, who is to be at the port of departure, or at a place convenient thereto, who is to go elaborately through the contract with the Chinaman, explain what he is to get under it, and explain precisely the terms of it, what he is to get out of it, and the conditions of labour which he is entering into. If, after the contract has been fully explained to him, the Chinaman chooses to embark upon the contract, chooses to earn seven or eight times the wages he can earn in his own country, in order that in three years he may return and be in a far better position than he was before, then he is at liberty to enter into the contract. That is the first step. The next step is that provision shall be made for a proper and sanitary method of transporting him from his own country to the Transvaal. My right hon. friend the Member for Cambridge University asked me a Question with regard to the Pacific Islanders Protection Act, which I think he represented as an Act passed in order to give proper sanitation to the Pacific Islanders. I have taken the trouble to look at that Act, and I see it is an Act for the prevention of kidnapping—for the prevention of the punishment of, and criminal outrages upon, natives of the Pacific Islands. That is my right hon. friend's idea of provision for sanitation!


That Act was passed chiefly in reference to the ships which conveyed the Pacific Islanders from their islands to Australia.


I have the Act before me. It is an Act for the prevention of the punishment of, and criminal outrages upon, natives of the Pacific Islands.

MR. JOHN ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)

There is a second Act.


There is a second Act which deals with kidnapping and the bond which the owner of the shipping must give. That is in the Schedule of the Act and provides for penalties upon the shipowner if he is unable to satisfy the Governor or British Consular officer that no kidnapping has been allowed in connection with any passenger carried. If my right hon. friend had been more careful; if he had given what the true principle of the Act was, he would have shown that. So far is it from this point having been neglected by the Government that an Act was passed in 1855, which I am informed by the officials of the Board of Trade is still in force, which regulates the carriage of Chinese passengers in Chinese ships from Chinese ports, providing for the proper equipment and manning of ships, including any ship from Hong-Kong, or any British ship within 100 miles from Hong-Kong, providing a given amount of space on board, and is, in fact, a sanitary Act of the kind the right, hon. Gentleman would have us suppose the Pacific Islanders Act was, and it is applicable to Chinese. So, then, first the contract has to be explained by the officer who has charge of the embarkation in a ship properly manned and equipped, then on the other side we have a protector also to see that all sanitary and all necessary medical comforts and appliances are forthcoming, and then, having proceeded so far on his way to what some hon. Members prefer to call slavery, the Chinese labourer can break the contract at any time he thinks fit, if the conditions which have been explained to him in China at his own home and again in the Transvaal prove to be such that they are disagreeable to him. [Cries from the OPPOSITION Benches of "Nothing of that in the Ordinance."] I am perfectly well aware of that. [Ironical cheers from the OPPOSITION Benches.] I am not surprised at that cheer, for it is the habit of some hon. Members on that side of the House to disbelieve the word of an English Minister. [Cries of "No, no !"]


rose to order. The right hon. Gentleman had, he said, made a serious imputation against a certain section of the House—that they were in the habit of disbelieving the word of an English Minister. It was an imputation that should not be borne by any Member of this House.


said it did not appear to him to be a breach of order.

MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)

said he desired to raise another point of order. He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary was entitled to refer to what was in the regulations, they not being before the House.


said he understood the whole discussion was upon what was or ought to be contained in the regulations.


The point I was dealing with when that interruption took place was this. Some hon. Member on the other side shouted out, when I was about to say that a pledge had been given that it was not in the Ordinance. Now I want to know whether, when a definite pledge has been given by a Minister, however unworthy, in charge of a measure for the time being, that a certain, thing shall be inserted in that measure, I ask you whether you believe him or not?


We have a right to know.


I do not care in the least whether the hon Member believes me or not; it is sufficient for me that there are Members of the House who will believe me. What I have said is that the regulations shall, if the Ordinance does not, provide for the things I have said in the House shall be provided for.


We have a light to see them.


I now proceed with the subject from which I was diverted by interruptions. Hon. Members must be familiar with those Acts of Parliament which lay down general principles and provide for the framing of regulations. sometimes to be laid on the Table of the House and sometimes not, to carry out those general principles in detail. That is the machinery which is adopted on the present occasion in a matter of difficulty and complexity. Some of the alterations which have been made on the face of the Ordinance have been made in order to give greater elasticity and flexibility, in order that we shall not bind ourselves for all time to a method which possibly may not be proved by experience to be the best. Members familiar with the Coal Mines Acts, Factory Acts, and similar Acts, are well aware that years and years after the principal Act has been passed regulations continue to be made under it. I think that that has been done as much as ten years after the passing of the principal Act.


That is a very different thing.


What is the present situation? It is that the House affirmed only four or five days ago the principle of this legislation. It affirmed the fact that there was a great shortage of native labour in the Transvaal, and that white labour will not replace that black labour. Those were the first two principles definitely established by our debate last week. [An HON. MEMBER: By closure.] The third was that this was a matter of the most vital urgency.




I know that the hon. Member does not agree with me, but that was what the House thought. If I have carried the House so far with me, if they agree that the matter has been decided to be one of great urgency and that regulations carrying out the Act may be propounded by the Lieutenant-Governor five or even more years after the passage of the principal Act, they will see that it would be perfectly ridiculous to ask that the operation of the Ordinance should be suspended for three, or four, or five years. The Ordinance gives power to make regulations continually, and they may be made, if occasion is necessary several years hence. The Amendment, then, would be an absurdity, because it asks us to postpone the passage of the Ordinance until that Ordinance and its regulations have been discussed by the House of Commons in their complete and operative form. Of course, if we are to wait for that, we may postpone the matter for years. I utterly repudiate what more than one hon. Member has said that we and our own countrymen in the Transvaal are treating this question on a level lower than the Chinese. I utterly repudiate that, whoever said it. [OPPOSITION cries of "Who said it," and "Name."] Several said it. I took down the words of the hon. Member for Camberwell— The Chinese Minister has to be invoked to mitigate your barbarity. Hon. Members, I observe, first deny that the expression was used, and then, when they are convicted of using it, they cheer it. Well, I say it is untrue—if that is a Parliamentary expression—that the Chinese Minister has to be invoked in order to mitigate the Government's barbarity. The suggestions made by the Chinese Minister were all anticipated by myself—[OPPOSITION cries of "Where?"]—and if hon. Gentlemen opposite think that Sir Arthur Lawley is not to be trusted, let me assure them that I have made provision, lest by any chance anything should be forgotten, that by regulation a transfer of the contract shall not be permitted without the consent of the labourer. I do not blame hon. Gentlemen opposite for not knowing the laws of the Transvaal, but I have been obliged to study them. Unless I am strangely mistaken, hon. Gentlemen opposite are utterly wrong, and the Chinese Minister was wrong, in supposing it was necessary to provide that corporal punishment shall not be permissible. I maintain, without any fear of contradiction, that the scheme of the Ordinance upon that point leaves the mine-owners without any power to inflict corporal punishment on the Chinese. Were they to do so the Chinese, as temporary citizens of that country, would have their remedy against them. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean the other day went out of his way to accuse me of being personally responsible for a violation of the Truck Act. It is not often that he is unacquainted with what he talks about, but I daresay he is not aware that by the law of the Transvaal the practices at which the Truck Act is directed are illegal. It is not intended to infringe that law by means of the Ordinance.


My point was simply that the whole compound system violates the whole spirit of our Truck Act.


I understand the Truck Act in a less liberal sense than the right hon. Gentleman. That Act cannot be infringed by this Ordinance unless the law already existing in the Transvaal is specifically repealed. One other complaint is made—that recruiting was going forward in China. Why not? Anybody has a perfect right to enter into preliminary arrangements in order to obtain these coolies, subject to the law which will be made to regulate this matter. No one in this House or out of it has the slightest power to stop it.


rose, and remained standing for a while amid loud and repeated cries of "Order" from the Government Benches and of "That is English courtesy" from the Irish Benches, but eventually resumed his seat.


continuing, said:—I do not suppose that many hon. Members are aware that before this session it would have been perfectly competent for any citizen in the Transvaal to have introduced Chinamen into the Transvaal. The only purpose of this Ordinance was that legal effect might be given to such restrictions as appeared desirable when they were introduced.


What was your predecessor's pledge?


Do right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite think that indentured labour under restrictions is a novelty in the British Empire? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, as a former Secretary of State for India, knows this practice very well, because coolies have left India under indentures, under, I suppose, his actual authority, and under conditions very slightly differing from those we are considering.


Not in compounds.


In the Trinidad Ordinance he will find that compulsory residence on the premises of the employer was prescribed for the coolies who were imported under indenture from British India. I trust I shall always be perfectly frank with the House, and I desire to say that it is true that there is more holiday for the Trinidad coolie than is proposed under this Ordinance, but the conditions are not widely different. They cannot terminate the contract as we propose that the Chinamen should be able to terminate it. I respectfully submit that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, who was Secretary of State for India, and who, therefore, was responsible, for the time they were in operation, for these Acts which regulated the importation from India of coolies' to the Colonies, should think well before he accuses this Government of instituting a system of slavery. I do not wish to embitter this discussion; but I do say this—that it is impossible to get really the true inwardness of this Amendment and of this discussion without ascertaining that hon. Members who support the Amendment decline to believe what is pledged here on behalf of the Government and what is pledged on behalf of the Transvaal Government and Lord Milner. That is the position which hon. Gentlemen opposite take up, and I venture to say that they cannot get out of it. If these pledges are to be believed, then what you require will be effected. If they are not to be believed, then you will have ample opportunity when the regulations are laid on the Table, as they shall be, of moving a vote of censure on the Minister who has broken those pledges. That opportunity you shall have. These regulations shall be laid on the Table. If they do not carry out our pledges, we shall expect, and we shall deserve, the censure of the House.

* MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)

In the speech which the Colonial Secretary has just delivered he has attached, I venture to think, a very exaggerated and a very unnatural interpretation to the fact that this House last week, by an attenuated majority, refused to pass a vote of censure on His Majesty's Government. My right hon. friend, in the course of his speech, acknowledged the invalidity of the claim he made by elaborately re-arguing the merits of the question and by endeavouring to demonstrate to us by imputation, that my right hon. friend the Member for Wolverhampton had in a former case practically legalised the condition of slavery. My right hon. friend says that nobody can charge this Ordinance with legalising slavery unless he is in ignorance of the facts; yet he points by way of substantiating his argument to the precedent which he says exists, and he spoke of Trinidad and other parts of the British Empire. Let me examine that contention for a moment in the light of the facts. In the first place, is there any immigration Ordinance anywhere in force in the British Empire which does not limit the number of days in the year on which the workman is to labour? There is no such limitation in this Ordinance. I ask another question. Is there any immigration Ordinance in force in the British Empire which puts no limitation whatsoever on the number of hours in the day for labour? There is no such limitation in this Ordinance. Is there any Ordinance in force in any other part of the British Empire which makes no provision whatever as to the rate of wages? If my information is correct, in practically all these Ordinances provision is made that the wages to be paid to the indentured workman are to be at the same rate, or at any rate in the same ratio, as the wages paid to labourers not under indentures in the district in which they work. Then, again, so far as my information goes, with the exception, if it be an exception, of [the solitary case the right hon. Gentleman has referred to, there has never been anywhere else in the British Empire a provision that the labourer must not quit the premises of his employer for more than forty-eight hours, and then only with a permit. Then, finally, is there anywhere in any other Ordinance in any part of the British Empire a clause parallel to the 11th Clause of this Ordinance, to which the Chinese Minister took, I think, just exception—a clause which enables the ndentured labourer to be sold without his own consent from one employer to another? I confess I think this is one of the least creditable things in the history of diplomacy that it should appear in a Paper presented to Parliament that an enactment of that kind, deliberately made by a British Legislative Assembly, and apparently to be sanctioned by the British Crown, has been protested against by the Minister of a foreign Power. My right hon. friend seems to regard the imputation of slavery as mere rhetoric and clap-trap.


My right hon. friend has asked whether any Ordinance in any part of the British Empire contains the power to transfer a contract. I find that section 199 of the Trinidad Ordinance states that if at any time there shall appear to the Governor sufficient grounds it shall be lawful for him to transfer a labourer during the length of his service from one employer to another.


Let me point out that there is a broad distinction between a thing done on the initiative of the Government and the thing done here on the initiative of the employer, although it may require the assent of the Government to carry it out. ["Oh!"] If the right hon. Gentleman challenges me on that point, why is he going to accept the protest of the Chinese Government? If the Trinidad Ordinance is sufficient security for the freedom of the labourer, why is he going to alter this?


My right hon. friend asks me a Question. [Interruptions.]


You would not give way to Seely.


Before this message came from the Chinese Minister I had already made provision that that should be with the consent of the labourer.


But, I am dealing with this Ordinance as it stands; and the 11th Clause, as it was presented for the assent of Parliament, in my opinion, completely transforms a contract of service into a status of serfdom, because it is of the essence of free service that the servant should have the power to exercise a veto on the transfer of his service from one employer to another. The right hon. Gentleman was indignant because he says we would not accept his pledges. It is not a question of believing in the good faith either of the Minister or any other servant of the Crown. I entirely protest against any such language. It is the case of the House of Commons abdicating its functions. Let us see your pledges, not in vague and in indefinite language, but translated into the language of the law, put into the Ordinance and into the regulations which we can criticise and scrutinise, accept or reject, as they commend themselves to our judgment or otherwise.

Let us come now for a moment—for this is the root and essence of the question—to the matter of the regulations themselves. What are these regulations? So far as the House is concerned, at this moment they are a piece of blank paper, but what do they deal with? Let me call attention to some of the matters which are left to the local Government by regulation to settle for themselves. I will quote three or four. The third is for the proper enforcement of contracts with labourers; the fifth is for the introduction, repatriation, and control of the families of labourers; the seventh, for the proper control of labourers; and the thirteenth, for preventing desertion from service by labourers. All these are matters which vitally affect the liberty of action, the comfort of life, and the ordinary daily existence of the labourer himself. You have given to the local authority of the Transvaal the power to make regulations on these vital matters, and (let the House not forget), by the 30th clause of the order, to enforce the regulations in the case of a labourer by a fine not exceeding £20, or imprisonment not exceeding six months. I say the House of Commons, in what everybody will admit is a question of extreme delicacy and complexity affecting vitally the liberty of the subject in that distant part of the dominions of the Crown, ought not to give a blank cheque to the local Ex-ecutive to make regulations of this kind enforceable by fine or imprisonment without having the regulations submitted to it. The hon. Member for Stowmarket said— I Cannot you trust the representatives of the Crown on the spot? Yes, Sir I am not going to make any imputations of any sort or kind upon them i But it is a fundamental principle, not only I of law, but of common sense, that you may not delegate a trust, and this House in this matter is itself a trustee. It is a trustee not only for the white population, which is the dominant class; it is a trustee not only for the black population, which constitutes the great bulk of the indigenous race; but it is a trustee for I everybody who under the protection of the Crown, with the authority and consent of the Government, and still more by its invitation and by its contrivance comes within the dominions of the Crown, and becomes subject to its laws and its jurisdiction, and you cannot without grave dereliction of the duty which this House has always assumed, and which up to now, I believe, it has continuously and diligently discharged—the duty of watching over the liberty of everyone from whatever part of the world he may come who is for the time being on British soil and subject to British control—you cannot, without a grave dereliction of that great and traditional constitutional function, hand over to the discretion of a local authority the power of dealing with a matter of this kind which vitally affects the fundamental liberties of the people.

How is this going to be done,? It is done, as we know, and as is not denied, in defiance of the opinion, so far as it has found articulate expression, of all the self-governing Colonies of the Crown. It is done in defiance of the opinion, as far as it has or can be expressed, of the great mass of the people of this country. There is not an hon. Member opposite who will not agree that if a proposal of this kind bad been made to the House of Commons twelve or even six months ago it would have been rejected by a practically unanimous vote and repudiated, scouted, and laughed out of existence. What is the change? Simply that people are in a hurry and will not wait for the natural operation of remedial forces in a country devastated by war and misfortune of every kind. I say with all confidence that a weaker case for an interference so grave and fundamental with the essential liberties of British subjects and people living under British protection was never before presented.


asked why, if the Colonial Secretary had made up his mind to alter the Ordinance in the respect he had mentioned, before the Chinese Minister suggested the alteration, no allusion was made to the circumstances in the reply to the Chinese Minister's letter?


What I stated was that I intended to instruct the Lieutenant-Governor not to consent to transfer of contracts without the consent of the labourer.


said he wished to ask another Question.


said that the hon. Member could not speak a second time.

Question put:—

The House divided:—Ayes, 156; Noes, 212. (Division List No. 9.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.) Delany, William Hardie, J. K. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Ainsworth, John Stirling Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway Harmsworth, R. Leicester
Allen, Charles P. Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.) Hayden, John Patrick
Ambrose, Robert Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.
Ashton, Thomas Gair Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herb. Henry Donelan, Captain A. Henderson, Arthur (Durham)
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Doogan, P. C. Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Ellice, Capt E. C (SAndrw's Bghs Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.
Bell, Richard Ellis, John Edward (Notts.) Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.
Brown, George M. (Edinburgh) Esmonde, Sir Thomas Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone) Jones, William (Carnarvonshire
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Jordan, Jeremiah
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Eve, Harry Trewlawney Joyce, Michael
Burke, E. Haviland Farquharson, Dr. Robert Kearley, Hudson E.
Burt, Thomas Fenwick, Charles Kilbride, Denis
Buxton, Sydney Charles Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith) Labouchere, Henry
Caldwell, James Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Lambert, George
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Flavin, Michael Joseph Langley, Batty
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Flynn, James Christopher Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.
Causton, Richard Knight Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Layland-Barratt, Francis
Churchill, Winston Spencer Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Freeman-Thomas, Captain F. Leng, Sir John
Crean, Eugene Gilhooly, James Levy, Maurice
Cremer, William Randal Goddard, Daniel Ford Lloyd-George, David
Crombie, John William Grant, Corrie Lough, Thomas
Crooks, William Grey, Rt. Hn. Sir E. (Berwick) Lundon, W.
Cullinan, J. Griffith, Ellis J. Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.
Dalziel, James Henry Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill MacNeill, John Gordon Swift
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton MacVeagh, Jeremiah
M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Power, Patrick Joseph Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants
M'Hugh, Patrick A. Reckitt, Harold James Strachey, Sir Edward
M'Kenna, Reginald Reddy, M. Sullivan, Donal
Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.) Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Redmond, William (Clare) Tennant, Harold John
Murphy, John Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)
Nannetti, Joseph P. Rickett, J. Compton Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)
Newnes, Sir George Rigg, Rchard Toulmin, George
Nolan, Col. J. P. (Galway, N.) Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion) Walton, Jn. Lawson (Leeds, S.)
Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Norman, Henry Robson, William Snowdon Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Norton, Capt. Cecil William Roche, John Wason, Jn. Cathcart (Orkney)
O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.) Rose, Charles Day Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)
O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Runciman, Walter Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) Russell, T. W. Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W. Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland) Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.) Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel) Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk, Mid.
O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.) Schwann, Charles E. Woodhouse, Sir J. T (Huddersf 'd
O'Dowd, John Seely, Maj. J. E. B.(Isle of Wight Yoxall, James Henry
O'Malley, William Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
O'Mara, James Sheehy, David TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Herbert Gladstone and Mr. William M'Arthur.
O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Partington, Oswald Slack, John Bamford
Paulton, James Mellor Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden) Soares, Ernest J.
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile Hall, Edward Marshall
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Cust, Henry John C. Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.
Allsopp, Hon. George Dalkeith, Earl of Hambro, Charles Eric
Anson, Sir William Reynell Dalrymple, Sir Charles Hamilton. Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x
Arnold- Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O Davenport, William Bromley] Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Dewar, Sir T. R (Tower Hamlets Hare, Thomas Leigh
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Dickinson, Robert Edmond Harris, F Leverton (Tynemouth
Bailey, James (Walworth) Dickson, Charles Scott Haslett, Sir James Horner
Bain, Colonel James Robert Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Heath, A. Howard (Hanley)
Baird, John George Alexander Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Heath, James (Staffords., N.W.
Balcarres, Lord Duke, Henry Edward Heaton, John Henniker
Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds) Darning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.
Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christeh. Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.) Hobhouse, Rt Hn. H (Somers't E
Bartley, Sir George C. T. Faber, George Denison (York) Hogg, Lindsay
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Fardell, Sir T. George Hope, J. F (Sheffield, Brightside
Beckett, Ernest William Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Horner, Frederick William
Bignold, Arthur Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Houston, Robert Paterson
Bigwood, James Fisher, William Hayes Howard, J. (Kent, Faversham)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Fison, Frederick William Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith FitzGerald, SirRobert Penrose- Hudson, George Bickersteth
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon Hunt, Rowland
Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.) Flannery, Sir Forteseue Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.
Brymer, William Ernest Flower, Sir Ernest Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)
Burdett-Coutts, W. Forster, Henry William Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh)
Butcher, John George Fyler, John Arthur Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.(Salop)
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Galloway, William Johnson Kerr, John
Cautley, Henry Strother Gardner, Ernest Keswick, William
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derby shire Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H. Kimber, Henry
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn) Knowles, Sir Lees
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich Gordon, Maj. E. (T'r Hamlets) Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A (Wore Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc) Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monmouth)
Chapman, Edward Goschen, Hon. George Joachim Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool
Charrington, Spencer Goulding, Edward Alfred Lawson, Jn. G. (Yorks., N. R.)
Clare, Octavius Leigh Graham, Henry Robert Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)
Clive, Captain Percy A. Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Greene, Sir E. W (B'ry S Edm'nds Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.
Compton, Lord Alwyne Grenfell, William Henry Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)
Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge Gretton, John Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S.)
Cripps, Charles Alfred Greville, Hon. Ronald Lonsdale, John Brownlee
Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth Pretyman, Ernest George Stock, James Henry
Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Pym, C. Guy Stone, Sir Benjamin
Macdona, John Cumming Reid, James (Greenock) Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Maconochie, A. W. Remnant, James Farquharson Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
M'Calmont, Colonel James Richards, Henry Charles Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G (Oxfd Univ.
Malcolm, Ian Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge) Thorburn, Sir Walter
Manners, Lord Cecil Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Thornton, Percy M.
Martin, Richard Biddulph Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield) Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh. Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Tuff, Charles
Middlemore, Jn. Throgmorton Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Milner, Rt Hn. Sir Frederick G Round, Rt. Hon James Tuke, Sir John Batty
Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Royds, Clement Molyneux Valentia, Viscount
Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.) Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool) Vincent, Col Sir C. E. H. (Sheff'ld.
Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow) Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander- Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H
Morrell, George Herbert Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles Wanklyn, James Leslie
Morrison, James Archibald Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert Warde, Colonel C. E.
Morton, Arthur H. Ayhmer Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J. Webb, Colonel William George
Mount, William Arthur Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.) Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunton
Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Seton-Karr, Sir Henry Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)
Muntz, Sir Philip A. Sharpe, William Edward T. Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute) Sinclair, Louis (Romford) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Myers, William Henry Skewes Cox, Thomas Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath)
Nicholson, William Graham Smith, Abel H.(Hertford, East) Wolff, Gustay Wilhelm
Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Smith, H. C (North'mb. Tynside Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart.
Parker, Sir Gilbert Smith, James Parker (Lanarks. Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Parkes, Ebenezer Smith, Hon. W, F. D. (Strand) Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley Spear, John Ward
Percy, Earl Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland- Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.
Platt-Higgins, Frederick Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lanes.
Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Stewart, Sir Mark J. M Taggart