HC Deb 21 July 1904 vol 138 cc789-850

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £27.750, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which. will come in course of payment during, the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1905. for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies including a Grant in Aid of certain Expenses connected with Emigration"

* SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

I desire to deal with the question of the importation of Chinese labour into the Transvaal, and I propose to confine my remarks solely to that subject, because for many weeks I have been the object of attack, both personal and official, with reference to my attitude on this question, in office and out of office. I think I am entitled to make an explanation to the House of Commons of the real facts of the case. I care very little about the personal attacks, but there is an official question raised with reference to my conduct as a Minister of the Crown. I have been charged with being responsible, as Secretary of State for India, for one of the worst forms of Colonial Ordinances, dealing with the importation of Asiatic labour; and, as always happens in a time of controversy, the least responsible and the most ignorant of the critics made the greatest mistakes. I see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford in his place. He has criticised the action which I am alleged to have taken, but which, in fact, I did not take. He charged me with being responsible for an Ordinance which he spoke of as more cruel and more severe than the Transvaal Ordinance.

MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)

My words were "harsher and more unfavourable."


I accept the modification, but I think the local reporter rather strengthened the adjectives thin diminished their force. Now the favourite argument of the Government, whenever they are criticised on any matter, administrative or legislative, is always the tu quoque one— "You did it." If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there has been an abundance showered on the members of the last Liberal Administration. The facts of the case are very simple. Indian coolie immigration was started sixty or seventy years ago with the consent of the then Government. At the time there was a great deal of uneasiness about the success of the experiment, and complaint was so loud that eventually a Royal Commission was appointed to investigate the actual facts of the case in the Mauritius. As time went on the Ordinances were modified and improved. In 1891, when Lord Salisbury was in office, and Lord Knutsord Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Attorney-General for British Guiana conceived the idea that it would be an improvement if the then existing Ordinances in British Guiana were consolidated into one Ordinance. That was the Ordinance, the, authorship of which is attributed to, and the responsibility for which is thrown, on me. That Consolidated Ordinance, which passed 1891. consolidated nine Ordinances which extended over eighteen years, and the only alterations in the existing Ordinances were a few minor ones, which apparently the Attorney-General of the day did not deem to be of importance. I would like to remind the Committee that the British Guiana Ordinance was passed by the local Legislature, the Court, of Policy, in the year 1891, when Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister and Lord Knutsford was Colonial Secretary. But at that time the Indian Government had sent a Surgeon-Major Comins to investigate the general condition of Indian coolies in the West Indies. The Ordinance was suspended pending the result of that inquiry, and nothing was done apparently between 1891 and 1893, when the Colonial Office asked my predecessor for the result of Dr. Comins' inquiry. In 1892 Mr. Gladstone came into power, but I myself had nothing to do with the India Office until 1894. In 1893, as I have said, there was a correspondence between the Government of India and the India Office. In September, 1893, Lord Lansdowne sent home a despatch forwarding Dr. Comins' Report, and the Ordinance met with general approval. In 1894, when I was Secretary for India, I wrote my first despatch upon this question, and, as showing the extent of my responsibility, I may tell the Committee that all I then did was to forward to His Excellency a copy of a letter and its enclosures received from the Colonial Office stating that the Crown had approved of the Ordinance. Later on in December of the same year I wrote again to the Viceroy enclosing the additions which had been made to meet Lord Lansdowne's suggestions. My responsibility was purely formal and official and in no sense personal. But I do not wish to shirk official responsibility. Not only do I approve of the Ordinance but I think it was a very good Ordinance, and I am prepared to stand by it. I will go a step further and say that when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was at the Colonial Office in 1901 and passed the Trinidad Ordinance I think it was an improvement on the British Guiana one. I have no hesitation in declaring that if the Transvaal Ordinance had been what it is alleged to be, essentially the same as the Trinidad and British Guiana Ordinances, I would have had no complaint at all against it. Both those Ordinances were elaborate and complete. Why did not the British Government, or rather the Transvaal Government, adopt them? Why did they start something fresh? It would have been a very simple matter. I think I can suggest the reason. On 16th January last the present Colonial Secretary sent a telegram to South Africa in which he said— As it stands the draft Ordinance would apply to Indian labour imported. Its provisions being applied to British Indians would probably be objected to by the Indian Government. I have no doubt that when the right hon. Gentleman sent that telegram he had good ground for expressing that judgment. Lord Milner lost no time in replying. On the 20th January he cabled— We do not look to Indian labour for the mines. Why did not they look to Indian labour for the mines? The objection was not with reference to the character and competency of the Indian miner, for there are a large number of Indian miners in Natal already. There is an enormous and growing mining industry in India. The profits of the Mysore gold mines have teen enormous, and that has been done with native Indian labour. I am not certain but—I think the P.&O. do so—I believe some of the largest steamship companies coal in India. Where does the coal come from? From Indian mines and got by Indian miners. Therefore it is not a question of the quality of the men or the labour. There is something else involved. The real question is as to the treatment which the Indian Government insists upon for its Indian subjects, treatment which is satisfactory in the British Guiana and Trinidad Ordinances. But those are not Ordinances which Lord Milner and his colleagues in South Africa were prepared to accept.

Taking the draft Ordinance as originally drawn it is fair to the right hon. Gentleman as well as to the Opposition to say that that draft Ordinance underwent a considerable amount of alteration in its progress through Parliament, and in my opinion it was very considerably improved by the alterations made. Therefore I am not prepared to judge the Ordinance as now passed by what it was when originally introduced in and discussed in the House of Commons. There are certain points of importance inserted, but the essential dif1erences between the two Ordinances remain. The Ordinance for British Guiana contained 246 sections, and 200 of these sections were practically for the protection of the interests of the labourer. The Ordinance for Trinidad contained 276 sections—a complete code. The Ordinance for the Transvaal contains 35 sections; therefore there must be a great many questions left out which were inserted in the other Ordinances or there must be a power of condensation and administrative discretion in the one which is not apparent in the others. The right hon. Gentleman has given the House the regulations which he had called for in order to redeem his pledges to the House. There is a considerable difference between a regulation made by the executive act of the Lieutenant-Governor in his own chamber, possibly without Ministerial advice, and legislation which brings before the notice of Parliament the responsible action of the authorities. The British Guiana and Trinidad Ordinances were in effect Acts of Parliament. They could not be altered except by legislation, which involved public attention and public discussion, whereas the regulations are simply administrative acts. The whole gist and tendency of some of the most important considerations with reference to what is called "the proper control of the labourer" are left to the regulations. This was not the case in the other Ordinances.

One of the differences of which I complain had reference to the question of wages. The two preceding Ordinances required that there should be a minimum wage, and it was imposed by legislation. One of the complaints against the Transvaal Ordinance is that there is no minimum wage, and therefore the labourers will practically be at the mercy of the importer. The Colonial Secretary gave a pledge to the House with reference to the wages. The right hon. Gentleman on the 21st March said— I stand here and give the House my assurance that the Chinese will receive at least the amount I have specified, namely, 60s. for thirty days work. That was a distinct pledge given to the House. Then telegraphic communications followed between him and Lord Milner. Lord Milner fought very hard against the minimum wage and against the figure which the right hon. Gentleman had pledged himself in favour of. The light hon. Gentleman, in strict loyalty to his pledge, told Lord Milner, "I think it very desirable that the wages to be paid to the Chinese labourers should not be lower than those at present paid to the Kaffirs," which were, I think, 15s. or 50s. Then the right hon. Gentleman said, "the rates must be specified in the contract." Lord Milner replied that "only the minimum wage will he specified in the contract," which was $15 for thirty working days, with $1 a day far piece work. It was also said that all persons familiar with Chinese coolies were agreed that piece work was the only system by which work could be got out of the coolies; there was no difficulty in getting coolies Oil these terms, but "it is impossible to say exactly how their wages on this system will compare with the Kaffirs, with whom piece work is not, a success." The best calculation that Lord Milner could make was that the coolies would 'earn quite as much as the Kaffirs." At a later period the right hon. Gentleman replied very firmly, and in his despatch said that he could not "defend an arrangement by which the Chinese would be used to lower Kaffir wages current now and before the war." I think that this was a complete fulfilment of the right hon. Gentleman's pledge; but Lord Milner pressed for a minimum wage of Is. a day, and at last it was screwed up to 1s. 6d. I make no charge against the Colonial Secretary. I think that the right hon. Gentleman acted in good faith, and when he found that he could not get the mine-owners to carry out what he had promised the right hon. Gentleman frankly told the House the circumstances. But I find fault with the right hon. Gentleman Ministerialy. A Parliamentary contract is a serious document. The House of Commons attaches strong, and perhaps exaggerated, importance to Ministerial promises aid Ministerial pledges. We have illustrations of that in connection with the proceedings of the Private Bill Committee. If promoters do not carry out pledges given by counsel on their behalf proposals coming from the same quarters subsequently are rejected. What the right hon. Gentleman ought to have done was to overrule Lord Milner. The right hon. Gentleman is the Secretary of State and represents the Crown; Lord Miller is not the Secretary of State and does not represent the Crown. Lord Milner has no direct responsibility to Parliament; the Secretary of State has. In India the constitutional position is that, where the Viceroy and the Secretary of State cannot agree, the will of the Secretary of State must prevail; and we could not preserve Parliamentary Government on any other principle The House, when it accepted the right hon. Gentleman's statement about 2s. a day, accepted and affirmed it; and it ought not to have been altered without the sanction of the House. I blame the right hoe. Gentleman—and I am sure he will understand that I am making no personal imputation against him—for an error of judgment.

There are some points to which I wish to call attention in which the Ordinance is not essentially the same as the British Guiana one and where there is considerable difference. There is the point with reference to the residence of the labourer end his leave of absence. In the case of British Guiana the labourer is bound to reside on the plantation, but a plantation is not a compound. It is a large estate with the cottages scattered all over it. He is bound not to absent himself during working hours, nor to absent himself for such a time as would constitute a breach of the obligation of residence, but he is entitled to 48 hours leave once a fortnight. In the Transvaal the labourer is compelled to reside on the premises, and, as far as I can make out, their area is the premises attached to specific mines. He is allowed to go away, not as a matter of right, but by the will of his master, but he must not go without a permit. There is, however, no obligation to give it to him, but if it is given to him the length of time for which it is available is 48 hours. In British Guiana the labourer is entitled as a matter of right to have a permit once a fortnight and the master cannot refuse. It simply depends on the amount of work done during the fortnight. The labourer in Trinidad and in British Guiana has free access to the magistrate; he has not such access in the Transvaal.

Perhaps the greatest difference of all is the prohibition of the right to hold property. I will not trouble the House with the details of that singular prohibition, although it would be well to contrast them with the state of things in British Guiana. A labourer in the Transvaal is not entitled to hold any property, or to buy any property. It is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment to do so. Nobody is allowed to sell him property; the man is a pariah. I do not know if he can put money in a saving s bank. If lie is to save money out of his wages, and if he is to pay his passage of seven thousand miles to China, is he to put the few pounds he has saved into a hole? I hope my hon. friend the Member for Sheffield is in the House. He wrote in a jubilant letter the other day about the position of the immigrants in British Guiana, who were living under what he calls "the Rosehery Slavery Ordinance." He told us a few facts about the effect of that Ordinance, viz. that— On March 31, 1903, there were 15,027 indentured Asiatic immigrants on estates in the colony. 3. That in addition there were 58,111 East Indians not on estates—a total of 130,756. 4. That the proportion of females to males was forty-four and forty-five to 100 5. That on 31st December, 1902, the East Indian immigrants had £93,879 invested in the Government Savings Banks. 6. That ninety Chinese immigrants had at Georgetown and Berbice alone £7,418 standing at the same date to their credit. That on 31st March, 1903, 2,242 East Indians and twenty-six Chinese had £19,897 to their credit in the Post Office Savings Bank. 8. That 1,135 registered letters were sent during the year by immigrants to their friends in Asia, and that they contained Post Office Orders amounting to £2,107. 9. That East Indian immigrants own $384,000 worth of property, and Chinese immigrants $200,000 worth. 10. That transfers of property took place during the year in favour of 1,252 Indians and Chinese amounting to £22,700. Now that man is a citizen and a freeman. He may buy property and he may take his labour where he likes. He does not drink and he does not spend his money. These immigrants form a most desirable class in the community. There is enough in the Ordinance as to the right of personal liberty, and the right to hold property, to at once dispose of the allegation that the two Ordinances are alike. What is the prevailing principle of the Ordinances? The prevailing principle of the one Ordinance is an atmosphere of freedom, and the prevailing principle of the other is an atmosphere of slavery. In the one case the immigrants are welcomed and encouraged and permitted to acquire property; in the other case. they are treated as outside of the—I had almost said the pale of civilisation, and their condition is not consistent with freedom.

The right hon. Gentleman when he followed me in that debate asked whether I meant to say that what was going on under this Ordinance was the same as American slavery. Certainly I did not. I could not for a moment contend that he was introducing a state of affairs which could be likened to that which existed in America. But American slavery was a system that had matured after a long series of years, and it should be remembered that the appetite for arbitrary power is one that grows and becomes stronger and stronger. We have seen that again and again in the history of our West Indian Colonies. What have we done ourselves in the Transvaal? There are many applications of the principle of forced labour, and many illustrations of interference with personal liberty, but they are very different from the unhappy state of affairs which existed in the Southern States of America prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. The history of South Africa shows that our statesmen used language in the early stage of the matter; and altered it as time progressed. In the Sand River Convention under which the Orange Free State was founded in 1852, there was a condition which I want the House to remember. This was the creation not of a subject State; there was no suzerainty at all; it was an absolutely free State, and one of the conditions on which the British Crown made that concession was this: "No slavery is, or shall be permitted or practised." That was a condition of the convention, and it would have been a casus belli if it had been broken. I am not going to say anything of a controversial character, but though slavery was legally forbidden there was something very like it in the Orange Free State, or rather in South Africa generally, as between the Boer farmer and the native labourer. I do not know who was Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1852—I should think it was the Duke of Newcastle; but in 1881, when the Convention for the Settlement of the Transvaal Territory was made between Lord Kimberley on behalf of the British Government, and Mr. Kruger on behalf of the Transvaal, it contained these words, "The provisions of the fourth article of the Sand River Convention are hereby re-affirmed," but it added "no slavery or apprenticeship partaking of slavery will be tolerated in the Transvaal State." Slavery in an extravagant and outrageous form had not been practised, but slavery in its essentials of tyranny and cruelty was practised in the name of indentured labour, and those who followed the story of slavery in the West Indies know that there was a long controversy in this country on account of indentured apprenticeship which was allowed for a series of years, until the people of this country determined that indentured apprenticeship should be brought to an end. Then we come to the later stage in South African history, when the representatives of the Transvaal Republic came to London in 1884 when Lord Derby was Colonial Secretary. The new convention then agreed upon contained an article that no slavery, or apprenticeship partaking of slavery, would be tolerated in the South African Republic. The right hon. Gentleman would have been justified in going to war if that condition had been violated. It was an absolute condition, and we should have been bound to put an end to slavery.

The Chinese immigration is an apprenticeship partaking of slavery. It is not slavery in one sense of the word, but it is of the essence of slavery, and it has all its evil consequences connected with it. At this moment, if we had not taken the South African Republics and annexed them, this prohibition of indentured labour partaking of slavery would have been the law of the Transvaal, and now, having prohibited it, we are by means of Imperial power and under the sanction of this Parliament restoring it. One word more as to what is meant by "partaking of slavery." I have seen a great deal of controversy in the papers as to what is and what is not of the nature of slavery. There was a great lawyer in the 18th century, Mr. Hargrave, who was the leading authority on constitutional law. It was said of him by Lord Lyndhurst that no man ever lived who was more conversant with the law of England. He says "that the law of England will not permit any man to enslave himself by contract; it will not permit the servant to incorporate into his contract the ingredients of slavery; it will not permit him to renounce the rapacity of acquiring and enjoying property."

Is there any necessity in the Transvaal for recurring to this indentured labour? I would put that to the right hon. Gentleman. Is it involving larger issues than we are dealing with today? Well, his own figures, supplied week by week and month by month, tell us. We know that in 1898 before the war, and I think that was the culminating stage of prosperity, there were 82,000 natives employed in the mines. In 1903 they had gone down to 50,000. I will not ask questions as to the why and wherefore of that, although I have a strong opinion that it was on account of the wages question. At the end of 1903 the number rose to 73,000 and in February this year, and I think that is the last date at which the right hon. Gentleman has given the figures—the number has gone up to 78,000. They are increasing week by week. What about the output of gold. In 1902, it was £7,000,000, in 1903 it was £12,500,000, and in 1901 it will be nearer £16,000,000. What is the necessity of these poor starving mine-owners? A friend of mine in this House told me a very pitiful story the other day. He is a shareholder in a South African mine and he told me that he had a letter from the secretary of the mine announcing a reduction of the dividend. On inquiring what the reduced dividend was he told me that it was 90 per cent, for the half year, and my friend added. "I have had 150 per cent." I said. "You are an object for the charity of the House, your appeal ought to be made to them, get up in the House and tell them what you are suffering." I asked what the price of his shares was, and he said that the £1 share was selling at £17. I cannot see that everything is going to the bad and that the South African mine-owner has reason to get alarmed. It appears to me that both in regard to native and white labour the mine-owners are rushing into a panic. That is no reason why this House should sanction Asiatic immigration under the conditions of this Ordinance.

The circumstances under which these labourers are being introduced into South Africa are not circumstances which will be palatable to the British working man. The whole of these arrangements for mmigration are made by private licensees and not by the Government. In British Guiana and in Trinidad this work is done by the Government. It is done by the Government on behalf of the importer, and on behalf of those who are imported. In this immigration what is done is done by private speculators, licensed no doubt by the Government, but over whom the Government have very little control. In connection with that I would like to read to the House what was said by a leading, Conservative newspaper, the Standard, which is generally a strong supporter of the policy of His Majesty's Government. It says— But it is of no use to shut our eyes to patent facts. Whatever excuses may be alleged in its favour, the admission of the coolies has evoked deep resentment among the working classes of this country. The working-man voter does not like it, and his objection takes a tangible form at the polls. The question will have to he very carefully handled if it is not to cause further trouble. In its original form, the Ordinance was exposed to much legitimate criticism. As the result, various modifications were made, which, it was supposed, would remove many of the more disagreeable features. Unhappily, the impression has been permitted to prevail that these Amendments have not been carried into effect in the spirit in which they were sanctioned. The mode in which the first batch of Chinese have been brought into the colony has revived a good deal of the opposition which the proposal promoted at its inception. There is something extremely repellent to English notions in this immigration of a draft of labourers, under precautions and restrictions which would seem better suited to convicts than to free working men. The smuggling-in of the coolies under guard, their virtual inprisonment en route and the obvious denial to them of their personal liberty, may be necessary, but all these things have an ugly look. That is not an article in a Radical paper. That is not tile utterance of a paper which may guide those on this side of the House who are unable to rise above Party considerations. That is the deliberate criticism of one of the leading papers in the country, and a paper which has been the staunch supporter of the Conservative Party during the whole course of its existence. I repeat the allegation for which I have been blamed, the allegation with which the Colonial Secretary was so angry when he spoke last—that this proposal, even amended and improved as it is, is an apprenticeship partaking of slavery, which ought to have been prohibited by the Colonial Office, and which I believe will be rescinded by Parliament. I beg to move that the Vote be reduced by £50. Whereupon Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £27,700, be granted for the said Service." —(Sir Henry Fowler.)

MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

I venture to ask the indulgence of the Committee, and especially of my opponents, if I intervene very early in this debate to say a few words on the important question which has just been raised by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton. I do so because I think, in a certain sense, I stand between the two parties. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh, oh!"] I will explain what I mean. I have had, of course, a very considerable experience of colonial affairs, and I have, perhaps, more personal knowledge of the state of things in South Africa than most Members of this House. At the same time, this particular question of Chinese labour did not arise in any practical form during my tenure of office, and I am not committed to it otherwise than in the most general terms. I do not want to go closely into detail in connection with this matter, which I leave to the much more competent hands of my right hon. friend and successor. But I do want to be allowed, with all the earnestness of which I am capable, to put before the Committee a few general considerations on the subject. This is really a very delicate matter. We are dealing undoubtedly with the domestic policy of a great and powerful colony or colonies—in fact, with the whole of South Africa; and although we have, technically, a control over their legislation, I do not believe there is anybody in this House who would pretend that we should be wise to exercise that control in its fullest sense, or that we should be wise to Interfere in any decision which these colonies might arrive at, unless we could clearly show that some definite Imperial interest was concerned. In the debate which is now going to take place I plead, in the first instance, for moderation on both sides; and I beg the Committee to re-member that every word that is said here, even by persons who do not hold responsible situations, is very likely to be reported, perhaps imperfectly reported, there, and may do a harm which they themselves would be the first so deprecate. [OPPSITION cries of "Oh, oh!"] Let us in everything we say recognise their right to consideration and, above all, let us avoid saying anything which can hurt that independent feeling which makes its appearance from the ye first beginning of a British colony, whether it is a Crown colony or a self-governing colony, and which we on both sides of the House are bound to respect. Do not let us pretend to superior virtue, superior knowledge, which we cannot possess, but do let us give every kind of generous and reasonable consideration to what we may find to be the views of our kinsfolk and our fellow-subjects. [OPPOSITION interruptions.] I am not making an aggressive speech, and I venture to think that aggressive interruptions are out of place.

My right hon. friend the Member for Wolverhampton appeared, at all events at the beginning of his speech, to be chiefly concerned in defending himself against a charge of being personally responsible for the British Guiana Ordinance. I am not going to enter into that; it appears to me to be absolutely irrelevant to the present matter; it does not matter, in the controversy we are now entering upon, who was responsible for the British Guiana Ordinance or the Trinidad Ordinance. I am satisfied to note a most important admission, both generously and justly made by my right hon. friend, that those ordinances are good ordinances in the main, and that they have been valuable and beneficial, as he believes and as I believe, both to the colonies in which they have been passed and also to the people for whom our sympathy is now asked —that is to say, for the natives from other countries who have been imported to do labour in those colonies. It is true my right hon. friend has made one observation— I only notice it in passing—which I regret. He talked of what I think he said was a fact that wherever the dominant race came into contact with an inferior race in matters of this kind there had always been on the part of the dominant race cruelty and tyranny. I think that is too wide. Take the British race, for instance; they are much the same whether you meet them in the Colonies, or whether you meet them at home, and I do not think cruelty and tyranny are really characteristics of the British race.


I said there was a tendency.


Well I regret even that expression, because I think it is calculated to lie misunderstood in the colony. That is part of my point; I wish nothing to he said here which can possibly even be misunderstood in the colony. I was saying that the British race is much the same. I do not care what department of our domestic life you take you will find individuals of whose conduct you must disapprove, you will find in trade men who are tyrannical and even cruel, you will find in all classes in life exceptions of that kind. But you are not to condemn the race on that account; and you are not to suppose that the race, or the legislation of the race, will ever give any assent whatever to conduct of that kind. It is our unanimous object here, as the representatives of the people of this country, whenever proof is brought to us of any exceptional instance of this kind, so far as our power extends, to make it impossible, to put it down and to punish the offender. I do not think there has been in our history abroad any general cruelty or tyranny; and where there have been exceptions every effort has been made to correct them. No doubt such exceptions have occurred in connection with the introduction of foreign labour into our Colonies; and the result has been these ordinances, of which the right hon. Gentleman approves, and which have been distinctly designed to prevent the occurrence of such conduct. But let us bear in mind also that this system of the transfer of labour is of enormous importance to the Empire and is of the greatest importance to the inferior races of whom the right hon. Gentleman speaks. Take the case of India. India is a country with a vast population, the great majority of whom at present are obliged to live in very straitened circumstances, and to open to them a new field of labour under proper conditions is an enormous advantage to India. In the case of British Guiana, Trinidad, Mauritius, Singapore, the Malay Straits, and many other places that I could quote, foreign labour, either Indian or Chinese, has been introduced with the greatest possible advantage to both parties. The business, the commerce, and the prosperity of these States has been assured by the introduction of this labour, without which no enterprise was possible; and, on the other hand, the labourers themselves have achieved conditions of life which would have been absolutely impossible to them in their own country.

The right hon. Gentleman commenced his criticism of what has been done in South Africa by asking why we did not take Indian miners. There is a great deal to be said on that subject; and I myself would favour the introduction of our fellow-subjects as labourers, if it were possible, rather than the introduction of labourers from any other country whatsoever. But there is a practical difficulty. The House must bear in mind the situation of every one of our forty colonies is different. To attempt to apply a stereotyped rule, to do more than apply principles, would be fatal to the existence of such a multifarious Empire as ours. If we attempt to cut down our colonies to a Procrustean bed on which every one is to be of the same length, I am afraid we shall come to utter disaster. The case of South Africa is to some extent exceptional. South Africa is within easy reach of India; South Africa is inhabited at the present time by a million of white inhabitants. Nothing would be easier, nothing would be less surprising, if there was absolutely open intercourse between India and South Africa, than that South Africa should be overwhelmed by the introduction of Indian immigrants, against whom I say nothing in themselves, but who would simply sweep out of political existence the whole of the white inhabitants. A few years might very well see such an immigration of the underfed, over- numerous population of India as would altogether alter the character of South Africa, and once and for ever would preclude any idea of its being a white man's country. Now, although we do not feel that perhaps, every white man in South Africa is intensely conscious of that danger, and you must take that into account in considering this question. What has been the result? A considerable number of immigrants have come in from India. Their character and their action is criticised very severely by the white inhabitants of South Africa, as I myself was frank enough to tell them I thought, without reason. I thought these immigrants were as a rule sufficiently moral not to fear comparison even with the white inhabitants. They are extremely industrious, extremely sober, and extremely thrifty; they work for much lower wages than the white inhabitants, and, somehow or other, they have contrived to take a great deal of the retail trade which was hitherto enjoyed by white men. Therefore, I refuse to lend myself in any way to any denunciation of our Indian fellow-subjects, as men and as citizens. But I did sympathise, and I do sympathise, with the natural desire of the white inhabitants—which would be equally strong if they had to fear the immigration of Italians or of Frenchmen as of Indians—I do sympathise with their desire to keep this country for Britains and Boers, that is to say, for the two races which at present enjoy it. I recognise that they are entitled to take strong steps to prevent such an overflow of immigration as I have spoken of. These steps involve certain hardships upon existing immigrants in South Africa, and the Indian Government has always protested against it.

Now, I think the Indian Government is unreasonable. The Indian Government takes, as it ought to do, the interests of India solely in to amount. I think the Government of every nation should also occasionally, take into account the corresponding interests of those with whom it is dealing, whether they be foreigners or from other portions of the Empire. The Indian Government ought to appreciate this fact—that the people of South Africa will not have an overwhelming settled immigration of any other race upon that continent. But when we proposed to the Indian Government a large immigration of Indian coolies they took the same objection, and proposed to make conditions as to the treatment both of existing Indian immigrants in South Africa and with regard to future immigration. In my opinion, in these objections the Indian Government ought to have been overruled. Let me be clearly understood. They had a right to demand that fair consideration should he given to those Indians who are at present settled in South Africa, and who are our fellow-subjects there. But they had no right to do anything which would make it easy to produce this tremendous influx of further Indian immigration against which the South Africans protest. If the Indian Government had been overruled, then what I think might have been easy would have been the introduction of a large number of coolies on very similar conditions to those on which they are introduced in the West Indies, who would have done what I may call the surface work in South Africa. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we should ever have found from India any sufficient number of labourers who could safely work in the mines. I do not think they would have willingly worked in the mines, and I do not think their constitutions would have stood miners' work. But we might have employed a large number of coolies on the railways and the farms, and so on, and that would have set free, no doubt, a considerable number of Kaffir labourers who might have been employed in the mines. But, even then, I hold it would probably have been found that the labour would still be insufficient to promote the real and complete prosperity of the country, and we might have had to look for labour from other sources. We must go to China in that case. There is there the largest amount in the world of underpaid and ill-fed labour, ready to come for slightly better terms, and at the same time so attached to their own country that to them, at any rate, it is no hardship at all to make it a condition that they should only come to their new country temporarily, and that they should go back again when they have done their work. That complied with the opinion which I have explained of the South African population that labour of this sort should not be introduced permanently to remain. There is no reason why it should not be introduced in a form in which it is perfectly certain that the labourers will not constitute a permanent portion of the population.

Objection is taken to the Chinese, as I understand, partly because they are imported labour, and it is said it would be better to depend upon the native labour of the Transvaal. Does the House know that by far the larger proportion of the so-called native labour is already imported labour? I am told 90 per cent. of it; but at any rate the great majority of the native labour in the South African mines at the present time is imported labour, imported from Portuguese and other possessions; and it is certainly inconsistent and unreasonable, having depended so largely on imported labour, that we should take any objection on the ground that the new labour is imported. I do not understand that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton does object on so shallow a ground as that; but he seems to think that everything would have been satisfactory if the conditions of the importation had been exactly the same as in those two precious ordinances for British Guiana and Trinidad. Permit me to tell him that there he is taking a view which may seem reasonable to a man who has never been outside his own country, but which appears absolutely unreasonable to those of us who have seen the extraordinary difference in the conditions which prevail in Mauritius and in Trinidad, Jamaica, and other West Indian colonies. The coolie is welcomed there by the population, both as a labourer and as a settler. In Mauritius the whole character of the population has been changed by the immigration of coolie labour, and I believe at the present time coolie labour forms the bulk of the population. There is no objection to it from the Imperial point of view, and so far as I know there has been no agitation against it in these colonies. As to the introduction of coolie labourers, so numerous have they become that, while I was Secretary of State for the Colonies, I insisted that some representative of this population should be placed upon the Legislative Council, and a Chinese member sits, in consequence, upon the Legislative Council of Mauritius for the first time. There you have not got any of the difficulties which arise in South Africa, where the idea of a permanent settlement of the yellow race, or even of the Indian race, in the country, is odious to the whole of the white population, whether they be Dutch or whether they he English. I say, therefore, you are bound to take that into account. You should not apply to every country a stereotyped Ordinance which has worked exceedingly well, although you should apply the principle. The principle of these ordinances is that the governing authority should see that any contract that is made is made voluntarily, and in the second place that the contract, after it has been made, is strictly carried out by both parties, because Government interference is necessary, both in the West Indies and elsewhere, on both sides of the contract. Both parties may, at some time or another, wish to get rid of a profitable contract after they have enjoyed it for a certain period, but it is the business of the Government to see that the contract is carried out to the end.

What are the points of difference of which the right hon. Gentleman takes notice? As I understand him, he does not complain that there is no minimum wane in the contract which is signed by the Chinese. As I understand, there is. But he does complain that the minimum wage is not high enough, and he refers to a pledge which, he says, was given by my hon. friend. As to that I say nothing. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh"] It would be an impertinence on my part to interfere as to a pledge which I did not hear, and about which I know nothing. As I understand, there is no difference in principle between the British Guiana and Trinidad Ordinances and the present Ordinance under which Chinese labour is to be introduced into the Transvaal. Both have a minimum wage.


The minimum wage in Trinidad and British Guiana has to be the average native wage paid for similar labour.


Very good. Then it is not the principle whether there should be a minimum wage, but it is the detail what that minimum wage should be. You have no right whatever, in this country at any rate, to interfere in that business or to make wages for the Chinese, provided you have satisfied yourself that the contract on their part is an absolutely voluntary contract. If You can prove in any way that there has been deception practised on the Chinaman, or insufficient care taken to see that he understands the terms of the contract signed by him, by all means have that contract altered; but if he willingly agrees to leave a country where his wages are ld. a day to accept 1s. 6d. a day, it is no business of yours to secure for him 2s. 6d. The second point is that in the case of British Guiana there is not so stringent a condition as to residence. That is quite true; and the reason is clear. In the first place, British Guiana welcomes the coolie as a permanent immigrant, and is very glad when he decides to settle in the country, and thus saves the colony the expense of repatriating him. But the fact is that South Africa will not, admit those people as permanent residents. If the Chinese do not like that, why do they come? I can conceive it possible that many Chinese may be deterred from coming, because, while they would be glad to come there as small traders, and to do all kinds of work by which they would make even more money than they are likely to do in the mines, they would be unwilling to come there for the particular labour for which they are required. The choice is with them. You have no right to interfere with the conditions which the colony makes, or the conditions which the Chinaman is willing to accept. It seems to me that the distinction which is made is a distinction which is absolutely necessary in the state of affairs with which we have to deal, and is one that ought to be recognised by this House as well within the province of the Legislature of the colony concerned.

Then the right hon. Gentleman says that the coolies have not free access to a Court of justice. If that is the case, I am entirely with him that they ought to have such access; but I leave that to be answered by my right hon. friend the Colonial Secretary. That is the only point in which I feel the right hon. Gentleman has raised a serious question which this House ought to satisfy itself about. The right hon. Gentleman's fourth complaint is that the Chinaman has no right to hold property. What kind of property does he mean? If he means landed property or house property, that is a common provision in heaps of countries. I think there is a provision of the kind in many of the United States of America; and does the right hon. Gentleman actually tell us that the Chinaman becomes a pariah in South Africa, because he submits to the same conditions as the Englishman in the United States of America? On the other hand, if he means to say that the Chinaman cannot hold personal property, that clearly is a mistake. It is ridiculous. Tee Chinaman holds his wages, and arrangements are made for their transmission to his relatives in China if he so desires. But if he prefers to keep it in a bank, or in his pocket, or to bury it in the ground, he has absolutely the freest liberty to do it. The property is his, and nobody can touch it. I do not wish to say anything that could possibly be objected to; but it seems to me that when the right hon. Gentleman piles up objections of this kind, which have so little foundation, it is a kind of special pleading to which we ought not to be treated.

The right hon. Gentleman came to another point, with which he dealt with more moderation, but which has been treated in the country with great virulence; and I venture to think that that is most unfortunate, having regard to the interests concerned. He says very truly that the Sand River Convention prohibited slavery in the Orange River State. He then went on to make an extraordinary statement. He said that if President Kruger had imported Chinese labour, we should have had a right to go to war with him. Well, I have been accused myself of going to war without sufficient reason. But those who think that of me must thank Heaven that the right hon. Gentleman was not in my position. I can only say that, although I should have been justified in preventing slavery in the Transvaal, I should not have felt myself entitled to say a single word about the introduction of Chinese labour under proper conditions. On what grounds does the right hon. Gentleman say that the contract for Chinese labour is a form of slavery 1 He goes back to a distill guished lawyer of the 18th century, Mr. Hargrave, who said that the English law would not permit a man to renounce the right of acquiring property. I beg to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the sole object of the Chinaman and the Chinese Government in the whole of this business is that the Chinaman shall acquire property, and he is going to acquire property in three years upon which he and his family will live for ever after. He is going back to his own country, I will not say as a millionaire, but at all events in a pecuniary condition which will make him the envy of all his fellows. Can it be seriously argued that a voluntary contract of this kind by which both parties profit, by which the labourer at any rate profits enormously—the object of which is to enable the labourer to acquire property—is to be condemned as slavery under the dictum of Mr. Hargrave of the 18th century? The thing is absolutely absurd. The whole question of slavery is disposed of by the voluntary character of the contract. Of course there certain voluntary contracts which it is not lawful for a man to make. But it is not contended that there is anything in this contract which makes it different from any contract that may be entered into between employer and employed.

The right hon. Gentleman towards the end of his speech went into some more general considerations. He did not go into them at any length, but he was appealing rather to prejudice than to reason. He talked about the profits of the mines. Let us understand what that means. Certain mines have upon their original capital made enormous profits. Nobody denies that mining is a speculation, and that for one success there are a hundred failures. If mining did not offer these extraordinary chances no one would mine. But if you take the average of mining in South Africa it is not profitable at all. I do not hesitate to say that if you take the whole of the capital invested in South Africa, and take the returns from it at the present, I believe the owners of that capital would have done much better if they had invested it in Consols. But we are not interested in the mines at all, except incidentally. The right hon. Gentleman is enough a man of business, and has enough of general knowledge to know that it is not the mines that we are concerned about, but that it is the whole future of South Africa. There is not a man of any experience in this House, who regards this question impartially, who does not see that all that makes for the prosperity of a country and its development depends upon the capital invested in it. The mines are the one attractive feature of South Africa, and unless they are on the whole, or on the average, successful, or sufficiently successful to tempt further capital, none of the work we are trying to do to mike the country ultimately a great agricultural country as well as a mining country can be done. You cannot have railways and irrigation, to which I look to make what is very little of an agricultural country one of the greatest agricultural countries in the world, without a large revenue, and you must have an industry which can provide that revenue, and you cannot have that revenue without an industry which can provide it, and there is none in South Africa that can provide it except the mines; and, therefore, though I care no more for the mines than any hon. Member on the other side, I do care very much for promoting in every way I can the strength of that great instrument which I anticipate will ultimately benefit the country generally.

There is only one other matter to, which the right hon. Gentleman referred, and that also was a matter of prejudice. In the country we have been told again and again that the introduction of Chinese labour into South Africa is really the introduction of competition with British labour in that country. The right hon. Gentleman did not dwell upon it, he merely suggested that working men did not approve it. If they take their facts from the misrepresentations which again and again have been made to them, they will rightly disapprove of any system whatsoever which will injure British labour. But the right hon. Gentleman did not deal with that matter; he merely suggested it. He was too straightforward to say that any fear of this kind attaches to this proposal. Every man who knows anything about South Africa, to whatever politics he may belong, will, I am certain, say the same thing— that in that country, as in all countries in which similar conditions exist, white labour will not work side by side on equal terms with coloured labour. I think white labour is right. After all, we do hold our position by virtue of being the dominant race, and if we admit equality with these inferior races we shall lose the power which gives us our predominance. The white workman is right in not degrading himself to the level of the native, in ref using to work side by side with him excepting in a position of superiority as a foreman or ganger. But for every Kaffir or Chinaman employed in South Africa to work these mines you know perfectly well there will be a proportionate increase of British labour, I which will be taken from the best class of labour in this country. It is really a monstrous thing to play upon prejudice in the way some irresponsible people have played upon it.

Sir, I have said all I intend to say. I shall conclude as I began. The discussion will go on. If hon. Gentlemen opposite can point to any defects in the Ordinance under which it is possible for either cruelty or tyranny to be practised on the Chinaman let them be brought forward in the House of Commons and I am convinced the Government will do what I should have done if in their place—endeavour in every way in their power to remedy the matter by amending the Ordinance. But do not let us take upon ourselves a duty which does not belong to us. Do not let us take upon ourselves to dictate to our Colonies. My appeal is to both sides of the House. I have not discovered on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite any reluctance to intervene and instruct our Colonies—or anybody else—as to what is virtue and justice and right; but I implore them really to rise to the seriousness of this occasion and to understand that this is not the time for that sort of impertinent intervention, and that unless our Imperial interests are touched, or unless some practical defect can be discovered, we should allow the Legislative Council of the Transvaal and the people of the Transvaal to have a policy which it is perfectly well known the vast majority of them support.

* SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

said the right hon. Gentleman had kept his eyes completely on the Transvaal, and had entirely neglected the bearing of the matter on the Empire as a whole. They could not but regard the opinion of the self-governing Colonies, and of the South African Colonies themselves, which as a whole was as bitterly opposed to the policy which had been pursued as was the opinion of the Australian Colonies and New Zealand. In his most able defence of the introduction of Chinese labour from the Transvaal point of view, the right hon. Gentleman had put out of his view the bearing of the matter on South Africa generally, and upon labour throughout the world. He had contended that this House had no right to interfere in the wages question. That, however, was not the view of a single Member of the House when the question was first discussed. The Government themselves felt that under the circumstances they were bound to interfere in the settlement of wares in the Transvaal, and the complaint of the right hon. Gentleman who opened the debate was that the pledge given by the Government had been broken, and that the security which the Government and the Opposition had agreed ought to be given had been over-ridden by the action of Lord Milner and the authorities in the Transvaal. The right hon. Gentleman had put out of view all the rights which Members of this House were bound to guard—the rights of the overwhelming majority of the population of South Africa, viz., the natives.

It would not be in order to discuss the bearing of Chinese labour under such an Ordinance upon the conditions of labour throughout the world, but it would be in order to consider its bearing upon the conditions of labour in the Transvaal itself, and the injustice which this country was not only allowing but perpetrating by this Ordinance—for which we were really responsible—upon the Kaffir population of the Transvaal. Why did the House of Commons interfere? It was on behalf not of the Chinaman, but of our own subject, the Kaffir labourer, whom in the condition of opinion amongst some of the Dutch and some of the British we were specially bound to regard, with whose interest we were charged, and in whose defence we interfered again and again I with the recent Government of the South I African Republic. The right hon. Gentleman had gone so far as to declare that the Indian Government ought to have been overruled when they made conditions with regard to Indian labour in the Transvaal. There had never been a case in the whole of our history when stipulations laid down by the Government of India on behalf of British subjects emigrating from India had been overruled by the Home Government. However much the interest of the same Government in their diplomatic dealings had been engaged on behalf of the demands made by their allies for Indian labour, they had constantly been forced to uphold the view of the Indian Government. Over and over again, with the support of the Foreign Office, France had appealed for leave to employ Indian labour in some of her colonies the Indian Government had made stipulations which they would have made ten times over with regard to this Chinese Ordinance, and the Government had had to support those stipulations against the wishes of the Foreign Office and of the French Government.

He was not in a position to defend the differences between the Chinese Labour Ordinance and the Guiana and Trinidad Ordinances, because those with whom he acted in the Anti-Slavery society and the Aborigines Protection Society, although they had condemned the Chinese Ordinance far more strongly than any other Ordinance, had protested against points in all the previous ordinances, and had never been satisfied with the conditions those ordinances imposed. It was impossible to make Party capital out of the Guiana Ordinance question, which was immensely older than the date assigned to it. There was an Ordinance in Guiana, against which Lord Brougham protested violently, as long ago as 1836. In 1844 there was another against which the Anti-Slavery Society protested, and in 1871 there was a British Guiana Ordinance, not very dissimilar to the other, against which the Aborigines Protection Society protested. But all those ordinances were mere trifles as compared with Lord Milner's Ordinances and the principles which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had just laid down. The points at issue in the speech just delivered were enormously larger than the points of details against which protest was made on the occasions to which he had referred. The mere fact, which the right hon. Gentleman had admitted, that n the earlier cases the people brought in remained in the Colonies at the end of their term of service, were able to hold landed property, and in some cases to form the bulk of the population, made an essential difference between the two cases. The right hon. Gentleman had frankly faced that fact and endorsed the opinion taken by South Africa upon this subject. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had always maintained that the result of the departure from the principles this country had al. ways maintained in regard to the employment of Chinese labour in South Africa would be an increase in the employment of white labour, but there was no mention of this point in his speech. [Cries of "Yes."] He did not hear it. The right hon. Gentleman said this importation of Chinese labour in the long would develop agriculture, but he 'did not hear I him say that it would have any direct or immediate effect upon white labour. He had read carefully the circulars issued officially from the Emigrants' Information Office, and there was not a sign in them of any demand for white miners. On the contrary, in the latest circular, dated. July, it was stated, "There is no demand for white miners."

The Colonial Secretary induced the House to accept this painful Ordinance by promising not only a minimum wage but also other things, and in order to meet the views of the Opposition he said on 16th February— Chinese labour can be introduced …without presenting the aspect or the reality of slavery … A perfectly legitimate demand …The House will allow me to meet it shortly and, I hope, conclusively. I entirely agree that the provisions for the reception and accommodation of the wives and children … should be clearly made. I undertake that they shall be made … Manifestly it would be most wrong that they should go wit} out their woman folk. But then he immediately watered that statement down by adding, "if they wish it." Now they were being introduced at the expense of the employer, who did not "wish it."


said they might register them, and if they did not propose to take their wives and children with them at first they might send for them afterwards at the expense of their employers.


said that this promise was viewed by employers with consternation when it was made. This was a point of first class importance, in view of the comparisons which had been made with previous ordinances. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who gave a most unwilling assent to the proposal of the Colonial Secretary, made this his main point and showed that in 1852, 1854, and 1858, the matter was fully discussed as regarded British Guiana, Trinidad, and other colonies, and he said it received on that occasion— An amount of careful consideration it does not seem to me to have received on this present occasion. On the occasion of his first speech upon this subject, the Colonial Secretary had a little argument with him upon the subject of truck, and he complained that this Ordinance was a violation of the whole principle of truck, and was destructive of the rights of labour. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the House ought to Le satisfied on this point with his statement that the Transvaal had an admirable law of truck. What was the use of that law in face of the conditions of this Ordinance? Truck affected not only Chinamen hut also the natives who worked in the mines. What was the result of the recent inquiry into this question which had been held in South Africa? The complaints of the natives showed what they might expect from the Chinese. One of the main complaints of the natives was in regard to the truck shops. They were also puzzled by the month of thirty working days, and it was a great puzzle to them to understand how many days there were in a month as it was for hon. Members to understand Low many days there were in a Parliamentary week. The native counted his month by the moon, and he understood that it meant twenty-eight days, but he was now obliged to work thirty days per month, and Sunday labour was enforced by penalties in a way that would cause labour to suffer throughout the world. The Cap e Commission complained o the enormous mortality amongst the natives, which was not due in the larger part to the climate, although pneumonia might be traced to this cause, but to the truck shop conditions and the food, be, cause half the deaths were due to scurvy and dysentery. The natives recently employed came mainly from the Portuguese territory. There were nearly 60,000 Portuguese in the mines of the Transvaal alone; while there were only 18,000 from the Transvaal, the Cape, Natal, Zululand, Orange River, Basutoland, Bechuanaland, and Swaziland together. The reason native labour could not be obtained was because the natives knew the conditions of labour and they would not submit to them.

One of the reasons put forward in defence of the recent war was the treatment of the Indian natives in South Africa; but there was another side to this question which those who were favour of the war ought to remember. That treatment was now being continued and had grown worse, and it was now being affected by Transvaal laws, which were never enforced by the Transvaal Republic, although the present Government in South Africa were enforcing those laws in an aggravated form. Lord Lansdowne, speaking as an ex-Secretary for India at Sheffield, in November, 1899, said— India has a special interest in the Transvaal question. A considerable number of the Queen's subjects are to be found in the Transvaal. Amongst the many misdeeds of the South African Republic, I do not know that any fills me with more indignation than its treatment of these Indians. The harm is not confined to the sufferers on the spot. These poor people return to their country to report that the Government of the Empress is powerless to secure redress at the hands of a small South African State. Now they had gone further in this direction than anyone previously had attempted to go, and the result was that the matter had been brought before the Supreme Court of the Transvaal, and a judgment given by the Chief Justice of that Court supported the view that the British Government at that time took as to what was the condition of the Transvaal law, although it was not then enforced. On the 11th of May the Chief Justice of the Transvaal delivered judgment in the following terms— He had no doubt as to the meaning of the language of Law 3 of 1885. If the Legislature had intended to restrict Asiatics' trading operations to certain localities, it would have been giving with one hand and taking away with the other, as Asiatics were allowed into the country for trading purposes. The law gave the Government power to assign certain wards, streets, and locations for Asiatics to live in. This provision was for sanitary purpose s, and it is …clear that it did not give the Government the right to appoint certain localities outside of which Asiatics could not trade. The interpretation which the Transvaal authorities now seek to place upon that law is the one which the late South African Republic always advocated, and which the British Government always consistently opposed. It …struck his Lordship as remarkable that this Government without fresh legislation should put forward a claim which the Government of the Crown in England has always contended was illegal, and which in the past it has strenuously resisted. Two or three leading officials had been fanning this flame with inflammatory speeches just as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had done that day, and they had stated that this matter could not remain where it was, and the opinion of the Chief Justice could not be left alone. They had, in fact, pointed not indistinctly to further legislation upon this subject, and when the Colonial Secretary was asked whether he would veto such legislation, he said that he would carefully consider it. The House knew very well that that Legislation would not be vetoed, and the speech just delivered by the ex-Colonial Secretary was a clear invitation to those officials to go on with that policy and carry legislation which would be infamous under the circumstances. At the commencement of the war they declared an intelligent policy, and it would be monstrous and infamous, if after the judgment of the Supreme Court, legislation should be introduced into the Transvaal to go beyond that judgment. There was another point in connection with this matter. The Chief Justice, in that judgment, said that the immigration of British Indians to South Africa was permitted. It was not until lately that the Government had been making use of the Peace Preservation Ordinance to prevent the immigration of British Indian subjects to South Africa. In his opinion it was a monstrous use to make of that Ordinance. It had been used for many strange purposes. It had been used to prevent individuals from coming back whose presence in the Trans- vaal might have been obnoxious to certain people, but not dangerous to the State. But to use it to prevent British Indian immigrants entering the Transvaal as they had a right to do, because they were British subjects moving freely at their own cost, was a principle destructive of the unity of the British Empire. British Indians were ruled in every circumstance of their lives by the most rigid code of municipal regulations the world had ever seen. Not one of these men had a right to a municipal vote. They were asked to bow down and defer to the opinion of the white majority without waiting for representative institutions in a Crown Colony fur the government of which in these matters they were responsible.

MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)

said these matters were settled by a public vote of the electors. In this matter they had unanimously decided that they would not agree to the course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman.


said he would tell his hon. friend something which had a bearing on what he had stated. The Privy Council had decided that a South African Ordinance referring to "coloured" persons did not apply to British Indians, but to the native population. The Government of the Transvaal had overruled the Privy Council on that point, and, holding that "coloured" included Indians and all Asiatics, disfranchised British Indians in all local elections. He had nothing more to say on these subjects. While he did nut wish to divert the debate into other topics, he hoped the afternoon would not close before they had heard something regarding the Government of the Transvaal upon other matters, important as this matter was. The financial dealings of Lord Milner in connection with that Government, and the finance of the South African States, which had lately come under our control, was a matter that must be dealt with also in the course of this debate. The pretence was put forward first that South Africa was bankrupt and could not pay anything, and then at another moment that it was in a prosperous condition and could do anything. The ups and downs of Transvaal finance would compare, he thought, with the proceedings of some of the less reputable of the gold mines on the Rand. Some of these mines had reduced the average earnings in the way described by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The right hon. Gentleman had complained that it was not fair to instance companies which paid 120 per cent. The average profits of some people had been very high, but the average profits of the people who were swindled had been pretty low. Having studied Lord Milner's finance in South Africa he thought his methods had been worthy of the less reputable portion of South African financiers. There was one portion of his finance which had a close bearing on our finance. We had the prospect of obtaining at some time or other some of the money we had spent on the Transvaal if we kept our eyes open. But we should have to keep our eyes open if we were to obtain the money. We had to complain that promises made to this House on behalf of the Transvaal had been broken, that solemn assurances given by Chancellor of the Exchequer after Chancellor of the Exchequer had been distinctly violated, grid that these most strange methods of finance had been resorted to for the purpose of enabling the Transvaal Government to break their promises.

There was one branch of the matter of great imperial concern—he meant the question of the South African Constabulary and its finance. He would mention it briefly. Twelve thousand men were to be kept pup there, but that intention had been abandoned. The House would see the bearing which this had on the number of troops in garrison to be kept there at our cost. First of all it was said that 12,000 were to be raised for the constabulary, then 10,000, and the number now was 4,470. The original estimate of cost was £250 per man. The last solemn promise made to this House and adhered to by two Chancellors of the Exchequer was that 6,000 men would be kept up at the cost of the local exchequer, though, as he had said, the number had fallen to 4,470. The Transvaal Government had told the local Assemblies and the local Press that they were opposed even to this expenditure on constabulary. They thought it ought to be greatly reduced, and they counted upon our keeping up an enormous garrison at our own cost in order that they should pursue their policy, whatever it was, at our expense. He knew that the present Colonial Secretary believed in keeping the Empire together. He supposed the right hon. Gentleman thought that it could only be kept together by giving a fiscal preference to certain colonies. The right hon. Gentleman thought the Empire could only be kept together in South Africa by our doing everything, proposed by Lord Milner. On the Opposition side of the House they did not believe that, but they believed, notably in connection with the labour question, that it could best be kept together by adherence to the principles on which it been built.


said he fully believed that if better treatment in South Africa had been promised to their Indian fellow-subjects there would have been found a supply of labour quite adequate to the requirements of the Transvaal. A promise of fair treatment to Indians would have prevented all the agitation and difficulty which had been raised throughout the United Kingdom on the question of Chinese labour. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had urged as an argument against the importation of Indian labour that, because South Africa had to be retained as a white man's colony, a large influx of Indian labourers could not be permitted, as it would practically swamp the white people. He entirely differed from that view. There was no real danger of the immigration of Indians becoming overwhelming. The right hon. Gentleman had complained of the protest made by the Government of India against the harsh treatment of British Indian subjects in Africa. That was strange. The Indian residents in Africa wished to be simply safeguarded against unnecessary and unreasonable measures of ill-treatment and degradation, and among his many great deeds as Viceroy, Lord Curzon had done nothing more popular or just than this truly Imperial service of courageously standing out as he did for the rights of the King's Indian subjects. He had been surprised to hear the ex-Colonial Secretary say that the Indian Government should have been forced to abandon this attitude. He was thankful that it had never occurred to anybody to make the Indian Government abandon the position they had taken up. Lord Curzon demanded fair treatment only for the Indian coolie, and that the higher class of Indians who went to Africa for the purposes of trade should have protection against insulting and disabling legislation. It was because Lord Milner and the South African Administration refused to allow this simple demand that the whole question of labour in the Transvaal mines had become difficult, and given cause for so much agitation here. He felt aggrieved in connection with the question of Chinese labour particularly on the ground that, after giving British working men full scope for their energy, if additional labour was wanted in the Transvaal it should have been obtained from other parts within our own Empire, and he submitted that the Indian population had a legitimate and an inherent right to find such employment under the British flag. He believed he had the sympathy of hon. Members on both sides of the House when he contended that it was an abuse of the powers and authority that rested with the British Administration whether in Africa or any other portion of our dominions, to exclude Indians and prefer men of other nationalities for such fields of labour.

But apart from this question of labour, there were many other acts of injustice towards their Indian fellow-subjects which he was sure hon. Members would condemn. The tale of these hardships was so long that he could not hope to recount them at length, as many speakers were waiting to discuss other important matters; nor did his right hon. friend need to be reminded of them, as he was fully acquainted with these grievances. He thanked him for the sympathetic attention which he had given to his representations, but he was afraid the matter had been allowed to get beyond the right hon. Gentleman's control. Time after time, in spite of pledges which the right hon. Gentleman had willingly given, determined attempts had been made in South Africa, even with the countenance of the responsible administrators there, to oppress and tyrannise over British Indian subjects and trample under foot their few remaining rights. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, whom he wished to thank for his powerful advocacy of Indian interests, had referred to the judgment delivered a few days ago in the Supreme Court. When he asked the Colonial Secretary the other day in regard to the speech of Sir Arthur Lawley, in which he was alleged to have stated that the position created by that decision would not be tolerated, the right hon. Gentleman informed him that the report furnished was a mistaken one and that the speech did not bear the meaning which some people had put on it. He would, with the permission of the Committee, read a few words on this particular subject from Sir Arthur Lawley's speech on 18th May last. He said— The present Administration stepped into the shoes of the late Government, and they were determined to adhere to the old law. They understood that those men who had been allowed—largely, it must be admitted, through the intervention of the British Government—to build up vested interests should be undisturbed for the period only of their lives, whilst any new-corners—any traders who had not received a licence prier to the outbreak of hostilities—should be required to reside and trade in bazaars set aside for that purpose. The present decision of the Supreme Court had told them that the law under which they proposed to carry their intentions into effect did not so provide, and that they had no power to enforce his residence and trading in bazaars. That was the position to-day. He hoped that before long they would be in a position to introduce legislation which would accurately define the status of the Indian who was there now, and dearly define the disabilities under which any incoming Asiatic would in the future reside in the Transvaal. If that was not denying the full advantage to British Indian subjects of the decision of the Supreme Court, he did not know what those words meant. Sir Arthur Lawley said that this judgment would not prevent legislation being introduced to override it; but he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would give a promise in the course of the discussion that he would refuse his sanction to any such legislation. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary when he was going to solve this great problem of the status and treatment of British Indian subjects in Africa. This difficulty had arisen years ago in spite of pledges given to the contrary. As long ago as May 1843, Sir George Napier, Governor of Cape Colony, stated on behalf of the British Government in a proclamation on the annexation of Natal— There shall not be in the eye of the law any distinction or disqualification whatever founded on mere distinction of colour, origin, language, or creed, but that the protection of the law in letter and in substance shall be extended impartially to all alike. He did not want to take his stand on the strict obligation to abide by theoretical promises of this nature or to observe the letter of such proclamations. He could quite realise that in the progressive history of nations circumstances might require that expediency should modify their original intent; and he did not demand that all these promises made to British Indian subjects should be maintained under the creation of unforseen conditions in an entirely literal sense. What he asked for was that they should be treated with some semblance of fair play, and not be subjected to race hatred. But when they were victimised to mere capricious prejudices, which were looked upon with disfavour by the great bulk of the British nation, he wondered that British administrators could be found to give any encouragement to the indulgence of these prejudices. When this very question of the trading rights of British Indian subjects in the Transvaal under the old Kruger Government was adversely decided, the right hon. Member for West Birmingham said on 4th September, 1895, in a letter to the High Commissioner to the South African Republic— In conclusion I would say that whilst desirous loyally to abide by the award, and to allow it to close the legal and international question in dispute between the two Governments, I reserve to myself the liberty later on to make friendly representations to the South African Republic as to the traders, and possibly to invite the Government to consider whether when once its legal position has been made good it would not he wise to review the situation from a new point of view and decide whether it would not be better in the interests of its own burghers to treat the Indians more generously and to free itself from even the appearance of countenancing a trade jealousy which, I have some reason to believe, does not emanate from the governing class in the Republic. But since those words were written, since, in fact, British Administration had been established over the Boer territories, the position of their British Indian fellow-subjects had been made much worse, and they had lost right after right. Let it not be supposed that this ques- tion only involved the treatment of emerely a few Indians in South Africa. It was essentially a question which affected 300,000,000 of their fellow subjects in India, and he was sure that if this course was to be pursued it would build up a great platform of dissatisfaction among them. They already felt that absolutely unnecessary restrictions and disabilities were allowed to be imposed, day after day, in the Transvaal under the rule of Lord Milner. A promise had been made to him by the Colonial Secretary to bring this whole question to some fair solution and he was told that it was under consideration by the Cabinet. He would be satisfied with that, if it was to bring any solid result; but he was at least entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman to make a declaration that afternoon as to how far this great question had proceeded in the deliberations of the Government, and what representations were being made to Lord Milner and Sir Arthur Lawley to discourage the unreasonable prejudices which were entertained in the Transvaal in regard to their Indian fellow-subjects, and whether there was any likelihood of any relief being afforded in regard to the matter. If the right hon. Gentleman could not hold out any such hope, let it be known once for all that the Imperial Government were helpless in the matter, and that things in South Africa were to be left to the one-sided decision of the local authorities. The people of India should no longer be left in the enjoyment of the false hope that their rights would be secured by the intervention of British influence against local prejudice if they went to the South African Colonies. If matters came to that pass, statesmen might well pause to consider what would be the ultimate effect of giving grave cause for discontent to millions of His Majesty's Indian subjects for the sake of pleasing a few thousand colonists in South Africa. On this ground he contended the question was one of Imperial concern, which required His Majesty's Minister to see that some measure of justice should be secured to their British Indian fellow-subjects in South Africa, and that they should not be subjected to the hardships an humiliations now inflicted upon them by local legislation. They should be assured that they would be treated with equal justice and fair play in all parts of His Majesty's dominions. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would lee able to give some assurance, which would have a soothing effect on the people of India, that the grievances from which their countrymen in our Colonies had suffered for much too long a time would be removed.


said he had not intervened in these debates in respect of South Africa because he did not wish to give offence to Members of his own Party on this subject of Chinese labour. But so far as his own constituents were concerned they differed from him very widely on this question. He regretted it. During the time he had been in the House he had advocated Chinese labour as the only possible means of developing the resources of the Transvaal. He advocated it to the late Mr. Kruger in 1896, and also to the Chamber of Mines in Johannes-burgh in the same year. He had no interest, financial or otherwise, in South Africa, he was not speaking on behalf of the the mine-owners; and he thought his worst enemies would perhaps acquit him in that regard, after having spent two years in conflict with South African people at a very heavy expenditure to himself. He would not therefore come to this House to advocate an unpopular cause but for a conscientious belief in it. He wished to say that, in his opinion, the prosperity of the Transvaal depended solely and wholly on the mining industry—not only the Transvaal but the Free State and all South Africa, on the development, directly and indirectly, of the gold mines in the Transvaal. Within the last eighteen months they had only emerged from a great war, and more than ever before the development of these countries depended on the mining industry. He knew that hon. Members on his side of the House said that there was no deficiency of labour before the war, and that other industries besides mining could be developed in those countries without bringing in outside labour. It was one of the chief arguments that there was a sufficiency of labour in South Africa, provided the Kaffirs were properly treated and were well paid. He would like to read an extract from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth on 18th April, 1901. That right hon. Gentleman then said— How are you going to get any revenue out of the gold mines? You will not get it out of the gold mines, because, first of all, the gold mines will not give it to you. And if they will not give it to you, remember there is no other population from which you can rely to get any revenue at all Therefore, if they will not pay, you will not get it. But they cannot pay, and I will tell you why. The whole question of the development of the Transvaal is the question of labour. Now even in the flourishing times before the war there was an immense deficiency of labour in South Africa. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that— The Member for Mansfield in an article which appeared in the Nineteenth Century, tells us that the present labour in the Transvaal comes from Portuguese East Africa, and from nowhere else, and then he is reduced at last to say that you must have Chinese for gold-mine labour. It comes, then, to this, that the hope of gold mining in South Africa depends upon the introduction of Chinese labour, which has been rejected by every society of white men, whether in America or Australia. Now a very remarkable change came over the right hon. Gentleman when the question of the introduction of Chinese labour was mentioned. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton had stated in the course of the debate that statesmen altered their language as conditions developed. Well, this was what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth said on 24th March, 1903— But what is the urgency of the present occasion when we have to consider what is to be, done with regard to labour? There is a deficiency of labour now, but there was no deficiency before the war. Two and a half years previously the right hon. Gentleman stated that there was an immense deficiency of labour. On that occasion he contradicted the right hon. Gentleman, who replied that it was stated by the Industrial Commission in 1897, that they could get all the labour they required, but one of the chief questions before the Industrial Commission was the deficiency of native labour in South Africa. He absolutely concurred in the statement made by the right hon. Member for West Monmouth in 1901 that there was a deficiency of native labour in South Africa, but he did not agree with his statement in 1903. Seventy-two per cent. of the labour in the Transvaal mines came from outside the Transvaal itself. Long before this question of Chineselabour came up the system of native labour in the Transvaal was a system of forced labour. Hon. Members never gave a thought to the conditions of native work in South Africa; they were not aware of the way in which the natives were recruited. These natives were recruited under what was called the area system; a system under which areas were leased out to speculators and jobbers who had the control of those districts administratively. and who sent up natives, some of whom never came back, to work in the mines whether they liked it or not. From his own personal experience, Mr. Selous, who was perhaps more conversant with this system than anyone else, characterised this native labour as forced labour, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean had repeatedly argued the same way. The terrible mortality among the Kaffirs was entirely due, in his opinion, to the ignoring of climatic influences. These men, who had never a rag upon them from the time they were born, were brought from a tropical climate to a land where it was very cold in the mornings. They were savages, and had no idea of taking any care of themselves, and no care was taken of them, and so long as they were brought up to the Rand in that way this mortality would continue. He brought this same point before the late Mr. Kruger, but, unfortunately, neither the late Transvaal Government, nor the British Government, nor Lord Milner, had taken any steps to put a stop to this system of recruiting in tropical South Africa. It was notorious that the Kaffirs would not work in South Africa, and so lone, as they could subsist on the prolific bounty of the land without working no one had a right to force them to work in the mines for so-called civilisation, but really for the benefit of stock jobbers and gold mine-owners. This country was not entitled, in his opinion, to levy any charge on the Kaffirs in South Africa more than the cost of the administration that was given and of the protection afforded under their form of government. In Swaziland the tax was 40s.; in Basutoland 20s., and 20s. for each wife; and in the Transvaal 40s., and 40s. for each wife. That had not had the effect of making the Kaffir work, for the Kaffir did not work and would not work unless he were forced to work. That was a condition to which no one in this country desired to be a party.

What was the alternative to this condition of affairs in South Africa? He was opposed to the compound system and in favour of giving greater rights and more liberties to the Chinese than the Ordinance gave. But who were the people who had forced these restrictions and regulations on the Chinese? The trades union leaders. They had forced these conditions on the Chinese; they had complained that the compound system was not strict enough and they had asked that far more stringent regulations and rules should be imposed on the Chinese to prevent them competing with white men. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton referred to this question the right hon. Gentleman took care to make no mention of that fact. He asked why the Ordinance in this case was not the same as that in the case of British Guiana? The reason was because the men in the Transvaal would not have it. The complaint that coloured labour was displacing white labour and would do so still more was not justified. The Return asked for by the hon. Member for Camberwell showed that the number of white men in the mines was continually increasing. That Return, however, was of no value because the hon. Gentlemen omitted to ask for the numbers of the different classes of miners working in the producing mine and the non-producing mines. Had the hon. Gentleman been familiar with South Africa he would have known that there was a return by the Government mine inspector which gave the number of white men engaged in the mines. Before the war there was one white man to every seven Kaffirs, in May, 1904, there were 13,892 white men employed in the Transvaal mines, and the number had been steadily increasing from that time onward. But that was due to the development of the diamond industry. He had always contended-that the Premier Diamond Mine should have been worked with white labour, by the State for the benefit of the Transvaal but the House last year took no interest in that question. That mine could have been worked entirely with white labour, and if the Government had taken it over last year, and thrown it open to public pegging by white men, and had allowed white men only to work in it, there would have been no necessity for Chinese labour now. But it was allowed to be leased to a company, who were only working a part of the area, and whose profits had risen from £300 a month last year to £100,000 a month, with diamonds selling at 32s. a carat which only cost 2s. a carat to obtain. When fighting that question in to the House last year, he got no support whatever from the Liberal Party in his endeavour to get the mine thrown open to the public. They were in favour of a monopoly, as was also the Liberal Press, with the single exception of the Daily News. No one except Members of this House who did not know what they were talking about advocate 1 that the gold mines should be worked with white labour. No one in South Africa or any mining engineer in this country would ever suggest such a thing. Even Mr. Creswell, of whom a great deal had been heard, admitted that it was impossible to work the gold mines on the Rand entirely with white labour. There must be a percentage of Kaffir labour, otherwise the percentage of gold obtained would not be sufficient to pay for the working of the mines. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Wight opposed the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal on the ground that colonial sentiment was against it, but the Western Australian Government sanctioned the introduction of Chinese labour into Western Australia under conditions far more onerous than those in the South African Ordinance. Australia was a white man's country and South Africa was a black man's country, yet in 1898 Western Australia passed a similar measure to this.

Up to this point he had been entirely opposed to Members sitting on his own side of the House, but he now came to the point of disagreement with the Government and agreement with his hon. friends. When the question was first thought of and before it was introduced into Parliament he wrote to the Colonial Secretary in relation to the action the Government ought to take, and suggested to him that during the interregnum of Crown government it would be a deplorable and short-sighted policy for the Government to sanction the introduction of Chinese labour without first taking a vote of the people upon the subject. He failed to convince the right hon. Gentleman. Hon. Members might ask why, then, he did not vote against the Ordinance. Nobody felt more strongly than he did that it was for the people of South Africa to decide this question, but he was unable to come to the conclusion to vote against the Ordinance by reason of the misrepresentations that would be put forward in the country. For that and no other reason he abstained from voting on the question. Whether his views were right or wrong he claimed that consideration to which all Members were entitled, and he strongly objected to hon. Members like the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight, who knew nothing whatever about mining, coming down to the House of Commons and raising the bitterest partisan feelings. Whether the hon. Member was right or wrong on the moral and ethical side he expressed no opinion; people were at liberty to set up their own standard of morals and ethics.

On the question of wages, there was a very distinct pledge given by the Colonial Secretary as to the late to be paid. Time after time the right hon. Gentleman had stated that there was no intention or desire on the part of the Government to introduce any labour in South Africa unless it was paid at the same rate as Kaffir labour. He did not wish to tie the right hon. Gentleman down to the exact figure of 2s. a day, but the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly correct when he said that the rate was 2s. Lord Milner and the cosmopolitan crowd by which he was surrounded at Johannesburg had been able to bring sufficient pressure to bear to bring about a rate of wage for the Chinese which was lower than the Kaffir rate. In the Report of the Labour Commission the rates of wages were given as stated by several witnesses. The Chairman and Managing Director of the Witswatersrand Labour Association stated that the rate of wages for Kaffirs was 50s. for surface work and 60s. for underground. The question and answer on the subject were as follows— (Q.)—You tell us that boys receive 60s. per month. That is a standing wage, or is it piece work? (A.)—1t is the standing wage for all boys with the exception of raw boys coming from the east coast. The latter do not necessarily receive the minimum wage of 60s. but they do receive 45s. when they first come up, and later on they rise to 60s. The boys from the Northern Transvaal receive 60s. at the start. From a Paper appended to the Report, it would be seen that the average cost of native labour from January to June, 1903, was 2s. 7d. Sir George Farrar, who introduced the Chinese Ordinance into the Legislative Council, stated on 28th December— Now what were the wages paid before the war? 47s. since the war; up to 1902, 33s. In April of this year we went even higher; we paid surface boys 50s. and underground boys 60s., and to day the rate of wages is 54s. On 15th April Lord Milner telegraphed to the Colonial Secretary— Having regard to the cost of bringing Chinamen to the Rand, it seems to me that mine-owners must protect themselves to some extent. And he went on to make the extraordinary statement— The more I think of it, the greater appears to me to be the danger of fixing the minimum of Is. 6d. It is plainly quite unnecessary in order to get the coolies and its consequences will be very serious for all the industries of the country. A rate of 1s. 6d. serious for all the industries of the country when the Kaffir standard rate was 2s. Why had the Colonial Secretary been bullied by Lord Milner? Why had he given in to Lord Milner and the mine-owners, seeing that he had a stiff back at one time? The right hon. Gentleman would not deny that the rate was 2s. a day.


intimated that he was prepared to deny it.


asked on what evidence the right hon. Gentleman based his denial. According to the evidence of Sir George Farrar, of the recruiting agents of the Labour Association, and the evidence afforded by the interview between Mr. Brownlee and Mr. Macfarlane, even the inferior Kaffir received 2s. a day, while many got as much as £6 a month. Therefore, the Chinese were being brought in at wages which were under the standard Kaffir rate, and that, he submitted, was absolutely wrong. The Government had no right to bring into South Africa outside alien races to compete in the native market. The right hon. Gentleman had given a pledge that the rate of wages for the Chinese should not be less than those paid to the Kaffirs, and yet, forced and dragooned by Lord Milner, he had sanctioned a lower rate, although Lord Milner's policy in South Africa had been from beginning to end a ghastly failure, as the country was now beginning to perceive.

Under these circumstances it was very necessary that the Committee should know definitely whether or not the Chinese were going to do overseers' work. The many Questions which he had put to the Colonial Secretary had been treated as though the point were of no practical importance. The view of the President of the Mines Association was stated on 24th January last in these words— With regard to the introduction of the Chinese, they were now informed that they were bringing overseers with them. If such a state of things took place, after the public statements made by Lord Milner and Sir George Farrar, they could write those gentlemen down as being the greatest and most arrant liars of this age. He himself had cabled to South Africa to find out whether or not Chinese overseers were actually working in the mines, but his friend had been unable to give him the information because he could not get into the compounds to find out. The question was a very important one, and the right hon. Gentleman had not convinced him that the words of the Ordinance prevented Chinese overseers. Where they got one straightforward mine-owner the v would get a dozen rascals who would take every possible opportunity of squeezing out white men in order to work the mines more cheaply. Personally, he was not in favour of trusting individuals at all. He would rather have such safeguards inserted as would leave no loophole whatever. He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would give a definite pledge that no white man's job should be taken away by reason of the introduction of the Chinese. Such an assurance would give satisfaction not only in this country but also in South Africa. Many of his own constituents were miners, and basing his statement on the pledges of the Government he had assured them that so far as overseers were concerned the Chinese would not take away their work.

No possible equality could ever exist between blacks and whites. He believed that equal civil rights should he given to all civilised white men, and that whether men were black, yellow, or any other colour, they should enjoy the rights of citizenship when they became civilised men. But so long as South Africa existed they would never get the white workmen to assent to any equality what- ever between the two races. He implored the Government to remove this question from the British Parliament at the earliest possible date, and allow it to rest with the people of South Africa themselves. His statement last year that we had lost South Africa was received with cries of "nonsense," but he could assure the Committee that the position was never more grave than it was to-day. There was bound to be an alliance between the Boer party and either the capitalists or the workmen. He feared the Boers would like to throw in their lot with the capitalists, and then the workmen whom the capitalists were so anxious to keep out of South Africa might go where they liked. The majority of the people in the Transvaal were Dutch, and by reason of the deficiency in the native labour supply the British population instead of increasing was decreasing, and until there was a better supply of native and coloured labour that decrease would go on. He apologised to the Committee for detaining them at such length, and expressed his gratitude for the indulgence they had extended to him.


I do not think the hon. Gentleman need apologise for the speech he has made. It contained many most interesting facts. The facts which he vouched for of his own knowledge I believe were accurate; upon those from which he quoted evidence he must allow me to exercise my own judgment. Broadly speaking, I am entirely in agreement with my right hon. friend the Member for West Birmingham; for I have never been able to see that an Ordinance which gives the indentured Chinese many times the earnings they get in their own country, which returns them, consonant with their habits and wishes, at the end of the period of service, with sufficient money in their pockets to make them, as compared with their fellows in their own country, comparatively wealthy men, able to buy their own land and cultivate it —personally I have never been able to see that such an Ordinance can be other than a benefit to the Chinese. I never have disguised the fact that there are certain disabilities which this Ordinance lays upon them, when they are in Africa, which I do not think are altogether pleasant, and which I myself, were. I employing a man, should not like to impose. But these disabilities are imposed not by the will of their employers, but by the inflexible will and expressed desire of the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Transvaal [Cries of "No."], who insist that on those terms, and those terms only, shall these immigrations take place. [An HON. MEMBER: Where have they said so?] I will deal with that in a moment. Again, I am in entire agreement with my right hon. friend when he says that the Government and the House ought to welcome any criticism of the Ordinance which can show that the contract is not thoroughly understood by the Chinese, that it is not thoroughly well carried out by their employers, or that the labourers are not abundantly protected by every provision which ingenuity can suggest. The provisions which have been made have not been challenged, and therefore I need not deal with them again. The point which I address myself to is this, not whether this House would pass this Ordinance in its precise shape, but whether I have a case to advise His Majesty to veto the Ordinance as passed by the Legislative Council of the Transvaal.

The right hon. Gentleman who opened the debate referred to our own precedents for legislation in this matter. I frankly accept the fact that both Parties in the State are responsible for colonial legislation relating to imported indentured labour, which has existed for the last fifty or sixty years. Every detail of every Ordinance in the Colonies cannot be very strictly scrutinised by the Secretary of State for India or even the Secretary for the Colonies. It is unnecessary to say more on that part of the case, which I admit is the partisan aspect of it. But all that part of the case is entirely gone. The right hon. Gentleman says with perfect frankness that he entirely approves of the British Guiana Ordinance. It is far stronger than if, by some negligence, the right hon. Gentleman and Lord Ripon, and the hon. Member for Poplar, had passed this Ordinance in haste or per incuriam. The position deliberately taken up by the right hon. Gentleman is that he approves of the Ordinance which amended and consolidated no fewer than nine other Ordinances relating to the same colony and dealing with the same subject-matter. Therefore I am absolutely entitled on behalf of the Government to say that this Ordinance passed by a Liberal Government in 1894 does in truth and in fact embody the deliberate, persistent, consolidated legislation of forty or fifty years connected with the passing of British subjects as indentured labourers into a British Colony, with the approval of the Indian Government.

Going back for a moment, if I may do so, to the test which I in my responsibility have to consider—that is to say, what sort of a case would I have against the Transvaal Government if they said, "We desire this legislation. Our necessity is great for it." The native labour in the mines in the month of June was only 68,000, while there is not the slightest doubt that before the war there were 100,000 native labourers, and probably 110,000 employed. Before the war the country had few burdens and obligations, and I fully accept the right to criticise claimed by the right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs, of the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries, and of the hon. Member for Carnarvon. They have criticised the war from the beginning. They accepted the unpopularity which attached to such a position, and though I profoundly differ from them, their views were in accordance with their convictions, and they honestly maintained them. They are in a different position from those who accepted the popularity of the war, who supported it on this side of the House and on that at the time. I never believed for a moment, and I do not think anybody on this side of the House believed, that they would flinch from the consequences of a war which they believed to be just. But what is the position of those hon. Gentlemen who accept the popularity of the war and declare its justice, and then come down to this House and elsewhere and point out with lugubrious voices that its consequences must be faced, and faced manfully, by every one who has to deal with the colony which is the subject of the war?

Now, what is the position? The position is that, of course necessarily, the country which was engaged in a war of exhaustion has been largely devastated throughout, that immense cost is necessary to repair the ravages of the war, that a suspension of business has prevailed for a long time, and that immense repairs of the havoc of war are absolutely essential. To carry out these repairs the country itself has to make great efforts, but it has also had accorded to it by this country a guaranteed loan of £35,000,000 to pursue the work of development. It has also most loyally and patriotically undertaken to make a contribution of £30,000,000 to the cost of the war. The position is this: Upon that country, therefore, there is now laid a burden of £65,000,000. Are we, with our own record in this matter, to refuse the opportunity to those who have to earn this money which is absolutely necessary to discharge these burdens? Are we to turn round and say, "Yes, it is true we have imposed the burden in a period of great distress. We have allowed British subjects in British Guiana and Trinidad to come in under sometimes more onerous conditions than those in force in the Transvaal? "Are we who have rightly committed ourselves to that legislation to say to the Transvaal in a period of almost unexampled distress, in a period when the economic reparation of the country is absolutely necessary— are we, having permitted that legislation, having amended it, having consolidated it, and having allowed it to exist for forty or fifty years of our history, to say "No, we refuse you in your need similar legislation?"

I venture to think that such a position is impossible, and I will tell the House frankly why. We have often heard Englishmen called hypocrites, and I think everybody to whom it has been addressed has justly resented the charge, but how can we say that it would be otherwise than hypocritical to veto a proposal made by the Transvaall [Cries of "No, no; the Legislative Council," from the OPPOSITION.] If we were going to argue this matter with the working men of the Transvaal, what kind of a case should I have? I take the right hon. Gentleman's selection of the differences between the two Ordinances, because I know that his experience has been sufficiently long to make him select the strongest cases of difference he could find. I think the first difference he selected was that under the Transvaal Ordinance the labourer was bound to reside on the premises, while in the British Guiana Ordinance he was bound to reside on the plantation. Personally, I do not see very much difference. The premises in the case of a mine are the whole land adjacent to the mine, and not merely the mine in which he is employed. I confess I fail to see any substantial difference whatever between the obligation to live on a plantation and the obligation to live on mine premises. I admit that there are somewhat longer holidays permissible in the British Guiana Ordinance than in the Transvaal Ordinance. But when the right hon. Gentleman says that there is not free access to the Courts, I do not think he can have studied the regulations, which most carefully provide for free access by the labourers to the Courts. Particular care has been given to this point. Section 41 of the regulations provides that every labourer is entitled to proceed to the office of the superintendent for the purpose of making a I complaint against his employer or to enable him to have access to a Court of law for the redress of any injury. The right hon. Gentleman, if he thinks of it for a moment, will agree with me when I say that to ask a Chinaman to go into a Court of law totally ignorant of the language and the procedure would be a foolish and futile provision. Access is given to the person who is appointed under the sanction of his own Government to protect the China-man's interests, and he will protect him and bring his case into Court. There is a further provision that a substantial penalty will be inflicted on the employer if such access is not given. The right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that that is a far more effective and reasonable way to protect the Chinaman than is provided in the British Guiaan Ordinance.

The right hon. Gentleman drew a picture of the Chinaman, one of the shrewdest of men, being totally guileless and ignorant of what he should do with the money he earns. If the right hon. Gentleman will read the Ordinance he will see that there is nothing to prevent the Chinaman from earning money, nothing to prevent him from dealing with personal property in any way he thinks fit; and the restriction imposed by the will of the inhabitants [OPPOSITION cries of "No."] simply applies to land. Let me develop that for a moment. Is there really any substance in the argument of the right hon. Gentleman? You employ a Chinese coolie for three years; you pay him for a ten hour day. Is it not ridiculous to suppose that a Chinaman during his period of indenture will become a landowner?

Then there is the last point of the right hon. Gentleman. From the first I have always taken blame to myself for having made a blunder. The right hon. Gentleman said that there is a minimum wage in the British Guiana Ordinarce, while we have not provided properly for a minimum wage in the Transvaal. The minimum wage in the British Guiana Ordinance for time-work is not according to the current rate, but 1s. 1d. From the first, I admit, I said that there was no need to impose a minimum wage; and I stated quite strongly that the Chinese labourers would have 2s. a day.[An HON. MEMBER on the OPPOSITION Benches: At least 2s.] That was an error; but I made that statement in relation simply to the question of the possibility of undercutting the Kaffir. To that extent I regard the pledge as binding. I am sure that no rational man would desire, when the Chinaman was willing to come for a certain wage, and a wage much greater than that he received in his own country, that that wage should be doubled, although such doubling is not necessary to protect the Kaffir from being undercut. No one wishes that Kaffir labour shall be appreciated by the introduction of Chinese labour.


My contention is that the Kaffir is practically being undercut.


I quite accept that issue. Directly I found that my information was incorrect and that the Chinese would come for less than 2s. a day, I changed my policy and insisted on a minimum wage. That wage must necessarily be experimental. The minimum Kaffir wage is 45s. Lord Milner assures me that the average wage earned by the Chinaman will be 50s. I quite agree that that assurance may prove incorrect; but in order to protect the Kaffir against Any injustice or undercutting, it is now part of the contract that, if the Chinese as a whole do not earn on the average 50s. a month, besides board and lodging, then the present minimum wage of 30s. shall be raised to 45s. I ask the House to consider that as business men; and if they do not think that this arrangement affords sufficient protection to the Kaffir, then I am afraid that nothing I can say will persuade them. If criticism is to be made upon me at all in this matter of the wage, it might almost legitimately be said that I have taken more care of the Kaffir than really I was obliged to do; because though I hold strongly that you ought not to allow the native labourers to be unduly undercut by an alien invasion, yet I very much doubt whether it is not almost insulting to apply that provision in all its strictness when nearly 80 per cent. of the Kaffirs are not British subjects at all. That is the last distinction which the right hon. Gentleman drew between the British Guiana Ordinance and this Transvaal Ordinance; and these distinctions are so small that it would be impossible that they should carry such a heavy burden as affording to me justification for advising the King to veto legislation which has substantially obtained for years in other Colonies.

But the right hon. Gentleman might have drawn one other distinction. It is true at the end of the period of service, in one case three years, and in British Guiana five years, the Indian coolie is permitted to continue in the country while the Chinese labourer, by the unanimous wish of the working population of the Transvaal, is to be repatriated. As a lawyer I understand the doctrine of "relation back." But it is impossible to contend that that which is slavery during the whole period of service changes its character because of something which occurs at the end of the service. This Ordinance was desired by the people of the Transvaal.

DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)

Try the referendum.


The hon. Gentleman's interruption is more apropos than some have been. I am just coming to that.


I do not adopt the right hon. Gentleman's kind suggestion as to the argument I might have used.


Then the right hon. Gentleman sweeps aside the argument on which the hon. Member for Poplar has chiefly founded himself. As to the referendum, I have never concealed from myself that if this case had not been one I of great urgency it would have been most desirable to have a referendum. It would obviously show whether what we believe to be the will of the people of the Transvaal is their will. I and the Government are not at all afraid of that issue.


Then take that step.


But when he speaks in this debate I should like the Leader of the Opposition to say whether, in the event of this Ordinance receiving the sanction of the majority of the elected representatives of the Transvaal, he would advise the King when he comes into power to repeal this so-called slavery Ordinance.


The right hon. Gentleman means a fully-constituted, represetative, and independent Colony, and lie asks whether, if such a Colony did certain things, we should interfere to stop them? Let us see them in that position first.


If this was slavery or akin to slavery it could not find a place on the Statute-book, even though it was approved by a self-governing colony. But the measure of the indignation of the right hon. Gentleman is to be found in his answer to the question whether he would repeal this Ordinance if put into power. "If you put me there I will tell you." I prefer the attitude of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton. But the right hon. Gentleman and others who have interrupted me in the course of my speech and asked for evidence of the will of the Transvaal people will have an opportunity next year of ascertaining that will for themselves, because His Majesty's Government have decided to give representative institutions to the Transvaal. Do not let me be misunderstood. I use that phrase in the technical sense. Full self-government is called responsible government, but the decision of His Majesty's Government is to substitute for the present nominated element in the Transvaal Legislative Council an elective element. So that upon a question upon which you are to ascertain the voice of the country as a whole you will always have the machinery, by virtue of your elected members, wholly apart from the official members, for seeing whether or not the measure is consistent with and in harmony with the feeling of the country. When the question is put before those representatives elected from the country we shall see who is right and who is wrong upon the great issue—Does the country approve of the Ordinance? It will be very interesting also to know whether, if the decision of those representatives is in favour of the Ordinance, any modification will be made in the language we have heard in increasing force until it reached Chertsey, and whether it will in time assume the character of that language which is used when a general election is near.

MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)

Upon what franchise will the members be elected?


It would not be in order to go into details upon that; but I think that if the hon. Gentleman studies the matter he will see that there has not been any indisposition on the part of the Government of the Transvaal to make a very free and popular suffrage in local government. We have municipal institutions spread all over South Africa. There are twenty-three urban districts, and there are municipalities, for the first time of any power, in all the larger towns. I think, speaking from memory, the ratepayers' franchise is on £100 fixed property and £24 annual value, a very fairly popular basis.

I ought to refer to the evidence in relation to the hon. Member for Mansfield's speech. He read certain evidence, which is, I will not say out of date, but not nearly so recent as mine. The evidence on which I rely in fixing 50s. as the average wage of the Chinese labourer relates to the average wage of the Kaffir, and my authority is the report of the Government mining engineer for the six months ending December, 1903. It shows an average wage of £47 5s. 3¼d. per head for Kaffir labour.


Are they all adults?


I believe so, certainly. That is the average the Chinese have to earn in the first six months and it they do not earn it the minimum wage is put up to 45s. In regard to white labour I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I know no one, from the Member for Aberdeen downwards, who is acquainted with tropical countries, who has ever had the hardihood to say in this House that white labour will ever compete with Kaffir labour below ground.

MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)

What about West Australia?


I will not say what I think about that interruption. [Cheers and cries of "Why not?"] It illustrates the fundamental error that has been made by hon. Gentlemen on the other side in connection with this topic—an error extraordinary to any one with the most elementary knowledge of the problem—the confusion of New Zealand and Australia, which are white men's countries, and in which there is practically no aboriginal population at all, with South Africa, which contains a native population many times exceeding that of the whites.

The right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean was good enough to say that I had broken my pledge in regard to the women and children. The only pledge that I gave was that every facility should be granted to the Chinese labourers to take their wives and families with them if they desired to do so. The right hon. Gentleman did me the justice to read out that, and I frankly accept information and instruction at his hands if he will point out to me any way by which a man could be compelled to take his wife and family with him. I imagine that the right hon. Gentleman has considered that problem, but he is not ready with a reply to it. Provision has been made in the Ordinance that wives and children shall be taken at the employers' cost in the first instance, and that the right of every Chinaman to take his wife and family shall be pointed out to him clearly; and, in case a man wishes to find out for himself what the country is like and whether he would care to take his wife and family there, elaborate machinery is provided by which he can do that. He is allowed to register his wife and family at the port of embarkation, and then, if he finds the country to his liking, he is at liberty to send for his wife and children, who can be brought over at the employers' expense. I think the right hon. Gentleman did me scanty justice in saying that I had broken my pledge when I have not only made provision for what I promised but for a good deal more. Then, again, he conveyed to the House the idea that I had misled them by saying that the Truck Act, as we understand it in England, would not be applicable to the Chinese and they would be bereft of that safeguard. If he looks at the 24th Regulation he will find that the wages of every employee shall be paid monthly in the current coin of the realm or the colony, and no payment of wages to any labourer shall be of any force or effect unless the same has been made as aforesaid. Further, he will find that no employer shall deduct any sum in respect of kind from wages due.


As I understand it, great credit is taken for the food supplied by the employers being good food, but they are not to go beyond the boundaries of the Rand, on which the employers supply the food.


That observation seems to be a little like an afterthought. [Cries of "No," and An HON. MEMBER: It is the essence of truck.] It is surely rather imperfectly described by the word truck. [Cries of "No."] Well, I do not think I need discuss that. Any lawyer in the House would know that that last observation has nothing to do with the Truck Act. But if any hon. Member wishes to point out a method by which these regulations can be improved with regard to the Truck Act I shall be glad to hear from him. At present I say that the provisions which I have read out do incorporate the essential elements of the Truek Act into the Ordinance for the benefit of the Chinese labourer.

I had a challenge with regard to the subject of overseers. Again, if anybody can point out any means by which this provision can be strengthened in that respect I will most carefully consider it. But the present provision in the Ordinance is this. Chinese coolies are restricted to unskilled labour, defined as work usually done by the aboriginal inhabitants of South Africa. There is a penalty of £500 on anybody who employs Chinamen for any other work, and there is in default, I think, two years imprisonment. The whole case made by the hon. Member for Mansfield and on the other side is that you must keep places of trust for white men; and that is the demand of the white men who are employed in the mines in South Africa, as hon. Gentlemen opposite well know. But I am surprised to find that directly there is an idea that any Chinaman may get his head even an inch into better labour there is an outcry from those who denounce restrictions. I ask anybody on the other side, however, whether he could make a stricter provision than this which entails a penalty of £500 or two years imprisonment on any one who employs a Chinaman in any work except that done by Kaffirs, or, in other words, in any work usually done by white men. I go further. I dofy any one to suggest a better police for the enforcement of such regulations than these very men, the white foremen. If any one can do so I shall be glad to know.

MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

said the right hon. Gentleman had stated the other day that 580 whites now employed on unskilled labour would not be governed by the Ordinance. How were their rights going to be secured?


The point whether this work has been done usually by white men or by black men is a question of fact which must be decided by the colony, and I am not going to say, 6,000 miles away, that there may riot be one or two cases which are near the line. As a rule, it would be extremely easy to say "Aye" or "No" whether this work was generally done by blacks or whites, though it may or may not be that it is being so done merely temporarily, for a few days. But it is impossible for me here to foresee every possible case that may arise. All that anybody can do is to take the most scrupulous care that the law be such as the law in this case is—namely, that these men should not do the work ordinarily done by whites, but should be confined to the work ordinarily done by blacks, and make such provisions that the law cannot be evaded. I say it cannot be evaded when you have the best and most vigilant police to enforce it. I was delighted that my right hon. friend the Member for West Birmingham brought a new voice to this dreary topic, to illuminate it in the way he did.

I wish to say a word in conclusion on the question of Indian coolies, to which pointed reference has been made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean and by my hon. friend the Member for Bethnal Green. Nobody has had more constantly in his mind the extreme difficulty of the question than I have. You have on the one side immense countries, with thickly congested populations anxious to expand, to work, and to better their condition, such as India. You have in other parts of the Empire, such as Australia, vast unoccupied districts, or occupied only on the fringe by white men, where it has become the definite determination of those white men, both in Australia and New Zealand, and of late years in America and British Columbia, to exclude Asiatics from competition with their labour. I venture to say without fear of contradiction that if it were possible for 100,000 Asiatics to come here to indenture themselves under a form of contract they would be resisted by a cordon nine deep. But that is not the point; the point is whether you are going to insist that there should be an unfettered influx of British Indians into the Transvaal without any restrictions whatever. The Committee know that the working man here would not stand it. We have, however, to consider not only what is right and just to-day in this country, but also what is consistent with the national honour. With regard to the future, I myself am of opinion that you cannot coerce the inhabitants of a colony against their will to receive even British subjects, British Indians, if they are coming there with a desire to compete, with them in their work. And if the inhabitants of that colony absolutely decline to permit such competition, and if you attempted to coerce any colony in such a position, I believe you would lose it. But you may endeavour by every possible means you can to persuade them that such a policy is. short-sighted, inhuman, deficient from the Imperial point of view, and so forth; but you must stop short at persuasion; anything like compulsion is, in my opinion, absolutely impossible. That applies to the future situation of British Indians coming to the Transvaal; and if they choose to pass a law in the future which shall make it difficult for British Indians to come in, though I should regret it deeply from many points of view, I do not believe we could resist it. The case is far different in regard to those British Indians who came in during the time of the late Dutch Republic, on whose behalf Minister after Minister, from Lord Derby to my right hon. friend the Member for West Birmingham, has made repeated protests and repeated claims. Now that the decision has been given by the High Court of the Transvaal, which has granted to British Indians those privileges for which we have protested, to those privileges so granted I for one adhere. I think it is impossible for this country to take up any other position consistent with the national dignity and honour in regard to men who have come into the country, and on whose behalf we have made strong representations, and whose claim has been upheld by a judicial decision; it would be inconsistent with the national honour and dignity to refuse them those privileges—in other words, to say that they should not have under the King's flag that which the Boer Republic rightly gave them. In my opinion that is a matter which has only got to be placed clearly and distinctly before the Transvaal Government as it has been in despatches not yet published, and I am certain that the citizeas of that country, who value the honour of the British name as much as anyone in this House, will appreciate that the national honour and dignity is at stake in dealing with the British Indians who are resident there, and that they will freely accord that right to them.

SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)

said the Colonial Secretary had made in the course of his speech a very important statement in regard to the policy of the Government. He proposed to refer to that statement, and he wished at the outset to say that he was heartily glad to hear that the Government intended to bestow representative institutions upon the Transvaal. He hoped those institutions would be a reality, and he desired to warn the right hon. Gentleman against the great danger of allowing anything in the nature of gerrymandering with those representative institutions. He could not help expressing again his great pleasure that that step was going to be taken. He hoped it would prove to be a real step and a real advance, and if that turned out to be the case he was certain it would do nothing but good.

He was not going to say more than a Clock the few words about Chinese labour. They had already had about four days discussion upon this subject, and there were only about three hours left for discussing the whole financial condition of the Transvaal, which was in a condition that might justly be described as alarming, There were also other important questions about law and order in the Transvaal which had still to be discussed. He would only take up about three minutes more with what he had to say about Chinese labour. He agreed that in introducing Chinese labour they must have restrictions. That was obvious, otherwise they would have the country flooded with Oriental vices and insanitary conditions, and what was far worse, they would have an influx of cheap labour, so cheap that the native labourer could not possibly contend against it. He agreed with the Colonial Secretary that any proposal of that kind would e resisted in this country, because it would uproot their industrial conditions. The Colonial Secretary had disregarded the opinion of Cape Colony which had been expressed by unanimous Resolutions passed by both Houses before and after the general election had taken place. There was no question whatever about the unanimity of that opinion, and it was an extraordinary thing that they should now be told that such a thin line divided the opinion of the Transvaal and Cape Colony upon this question of Chinese labour. It was nothing of the kind. Last year the then Colonial Secretary told them that the opinion of the Transvaal was hostile to the introduction of Chinese labour, and it was said that within a few months it had changed. What had changed the opinion of the Transvaal? It was simply due to the mine-owners and capitalists threatening to interfere with the continuance of the mining industry which was so vital to Johannesburg and the Rand. [An HON. MEMBER: It was stern necessity.] Yes, stern necessity on the part of the employers of labour. That was the opinion expressed by several persons who were thoroughly familiar with the whole country and who had given documentary proofs in support of their views.

And it being half-past Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee Report Progress; to sit again this evening.