HC Deb 09 March 1904 vol 131 cc572-3

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India if all indentures under which labourers from British India are employed in various British possessions contain provisions for repatriation; whether these provisions have always been strictly enforced; and, if not, will he state in how many instances labourers have been allowed to become free settlers, with the number thereof in each colony.


Except in the cases of Indian labourers in Mauritius and in the Straits Settlements, all indentures under which such labourers are employed in British possessions contain clauses regulating the grant of return passages to India. But if my hon. friend's Question is to be understood as referring to compulsory repatriation, then my answer is that this is in no case provided for in the indentures, except in Natal, where the labourer is bound at the cud of his term either to re-engage or to return to India. I have no reason to think that I the various provisions contained in the indentures of labourers in the different colonies are not strictly observed. As to the number of labourers who have settled in British colonies, I have no complete statistics; but I believe that it is considerable.


Is it not the fact that Indian coolies in Natal are allowed to re-engage and stay in the country on paying a poll tax?


I must ask for notice of that.