§ MR. EMMOTT (Oldham)
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the fact that during the last wet season in British Central Africa, extending from November, 1903, to the present time, cotton estates have been left to go to weed, and work on the railway almost stopped, because sufficient labour was not available: and will he say whether the reports which the Foreign Office has received from officials in that country indicating that there is a surplus of 60 labour, refer to the wet or the dry season; I and whether there is any objection to laying the reports upon the Table of the House.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARYOF STATE; FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Earl PERCY.,) Kensington, S.
The attention of His Majesty's Government has been called to I the facts alluded to by the hon. Member, and in reply to our inquiries His Majesty's Commissioner reports as follows: That labour in the Protectorate is always I scarce during the rainy season—from beginning of December to end of February—because during that period the natives cultivate their food crops. But it is not more scarce this season than it has been previously, and the emigration of a few I thousand labourers from the highland districts will not affect this periodical scarcity in the local supply. From March to November the supply has; hitherto exceeded the demand, and local employers of labour would secure more men by the offer of higher wages and better treatment. The hon. Member will find further information on the subject in; the Papers which have already been promised.