§ Adjournment (under Standing Order No.10).
§ MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)
said in rising to move the adjournment of the House it was not necessary for him to apologise for having interrupted the business of the House on account of the matter to which he wished to call attention not being sufficiently urgent or important. When anyone of His Majesty's subjects or indeed anyone in His Majesty's 593 dominions was subjected to ill-treatment this House had always in the past, and would continue in the future, to demand that the case should receive the fullest investigation. A body of fresh evidence having now arrived in this country with regard to the treatment of the natives in the mines the House would pardon him for bringing the matter forward. He was quite sure that, apart from any question of politics or of opinion about the particular kind of labour that should be employed in South Africa, in the minds of almost every Member of the House and of almost every one in this country there was a crowing sense of profound anxiety as to whether there was any truth in the persistent rumours and allegations that the natives were being treated unfairly, improperly, and in some cases cruelly. As the result of a question put in the Cape Parliament by Mr. Fuller, now a member of the progressive Government of that colony, the then Cape Government appointed a Commission to investigate why the natives did not go to the Rand in greater numbers to seek employment. At the head of the Commission was Mr. Brownlee, and sixteen native chiefs were chosen from the various districts. It was a friendly Commission sent by the Cape Government with the view of obtaining more employment for the natives. They proceeded to Johannesburg, and for some time were engaged in visiting the various compounds and railway centres. In due course they returned and each member of the Commission made out a separate report, the whole of which had been summed up by Mr. Stamford, whose statement was a most remarkable one. There was a unanimous opinion that there had been unfair and improper treatment in respect of the wages being paid at a less rate than was promised. Although there was a divergence of opinion between Mr. Brownlee and the chiefs as to cruelty, flogging, and other matters, there was no divergence as to payment of wages being less than what was promised. The hon. Member then quoted extracts from the Blue-book issued to the Cape Parliament to show that in every case almost this same complaint was made. Mr. Brownlee, who accompanied the Commission, said that, taking it all round, the treatment of the natives was generally good, but he qualified that by showing 594 that in many cases there was unkind treatment. That statement brought him to a point which had been mentioned on previous occasions, namely, that a little leaven of cruelty leavened the whole lump, and since the Witwatersrand Labour Supply Association came into existence there was no competition among mine-owners for labour, and therefore there was no incentive to treat the labourers better seeing that no more labour could be obtained by so doing. The shortness of labour was largely due to the cases of cruelty in the treatment of the natives—cases which he could not admit to be few in number. Having regard to the evidence of Mr. Stamford, assistantt chief magistrate, who forwarded the whole Report and summed up its conclusions, he said that misrepresentations with regard to wages were made by the labour agents; that occasionally wrongful deductions were made, and that assaults by European overseers and by the police were of frequent occurrence. Under these circumstances it was not likely that more labour would be obtained for the mines, but the question was whether this House, which was responsible for what had been done by these men, was to blame for allowing a state of affairs, which was not worthy of a great nation like ourselves, to continue. If these were the facts, they required more than ordinary attention from the Government and from the House.
If hon. Members had known of what was in this book, much that had been done in the last few months would never have been done. There was a general feeling of distrust in the House as to whether the conditions of labour on the Rand were such as ought to permitted under the British Crown, and the reason for that distrust was the terrible mortality in the South African mines. For the last year that rate averaged 80 per 1,000, and it was said that the cause was a sudden epidemic of influenza, but during the last six months it had increased to nearly 90 per 1,000. People were in the habit of reading the death rate of great towns in this country, and in some it was as high as 18 or 20 per 1,000, but what would be said if it rose to half those figures. That was 595 nearly 20 times the rate of mortality in English mines. What was the cause? There was no other employment in any part of the world which showed such a terrible mortality. One of the reasons was that the mines were not properly ventilated and another was that the sleeping quarters for the miners were unfit for habitation, and if it were true, as stated in the reports, that sick men were forced to work, that also might account for a good number of the deaths. It was evident that a state of affairs prevailed on the Rand which was a discredit to South Africa, and to this country, which allowed it to continue. Now they saw the whole sordid story. The only safeguard for these natives was that when the conditions became intolerable they need not go to the mines. But now this country was asked to enable the mine-owners to escape the necessary consequences of not maintaining proper conditions for their labourers. It was enough to make Members of the House of Commons ashamed of themselves. Hitherto complaints on this subject had lacked the support of the necessary statistics; but this Report supplied that confirmation. Members who voted for Chinese labour must now see that they were wrong, and he respectfully asked the House of Commons, even at the eleventh hour, to pause before taking any step to perpetuate this shame.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Major Seely)
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Oldham)
said that the importance of his hon. and gallant friend's Motion was aggravated by the proposal of the Government to introduce Chinese labour into the South African mines to replace the natives who had been driven away by the treatment which his hon. friend had described. The facts of this Blue-book were an absolute justification for any hon. Gentleman who had voted against Chinese labour. We had been confronted with a shortage of labour in South Africa, though there were enough natives to work all the mines many times over, and this Blue-book supplied the reason for it. There were enough natives to work all the 596 mines many times over, but they had a great reluctance to go, and this Blue-book, which had so fortunately and fortuitously come to hand, supplied the reason. As his hon. and gallant friend had told the House, a Commission was appointed in August of last year on the Motion of a gentleman who was now a Minister in Dr. Jameson's Government. The official representing the Native Department, who was placed at the head of the Commission, was a man of very high qualifications, Mr. Brownlee; and the headmen of the different tribes in the great native district under Cape Colony were selected by the Secretary to the Department of Native Affairs, who was assisted in his selection by Sir Godfrey Lagden and others. The Commission which proceeded to Johannesburg in September were afforded all possible facilities by the Government of the Transvaal for making themselves thoroughly acquainted with the whole state of affairs, and they recognised the fact in their Report. They were undoubtedly an observant body. One of the first things they noticed was that—At various of the compounds the boys complained of being hurried by means of the application by the native police of the gentle stimulus of cow-hide. That there is ground for the complaint I think there can be no doubt; and at the Geldenhuis Deep, where there are a number of Pondos employed, a native policeman in our presence began an impartial administration of this form of stimulation to the crowd which surrounded us, and when asked why he did it, replied that he wished thereby to show his respect for us and to remove the crowd which lie said he thought was causing us annoyance. Whether this practice is universal or not, what at any rate was noticeable was that almost without exception the compound police carried sjamboks, and at the Village Deep, where a number of boys from the Transkeian territories are employed, there were complaints of this hustling by the compound police.There was almost a touch of humour in the next comment—It will, I think, be readily conceded that under any circumstances an inquiry having for its object the elicitation of complaints against employers by employees, is one demanding a certain amount of delicacy of handling. This difficulty we felt in a more marked degree by reason of the fact that we were in a manner dependent on the courtesy of the people and authority of the Transvaal, and that the employers were always present, and the employees for that very reason were under a certain sense of moral restraint.597 Mr. Brownlee was no fanatic, and there was much in his Report which showed that he was not anxious to press the case unduly against the mine-owners. That he desired to state the truth, but no more than the truth, might be shown by one illustration. It used to be the practice to punish the Cape boys by putting them in stocks and dark cells. The new Government, to Lord Milner's credit, collected those stocks and burned them. Mr. Brownlee did not omit to mention this fact, and he stated that in his opinion the treatment of the natives at the mines was generally good. How far that expression of opinion was justified the House would be able to judge from the extracts his hon. and gallant friend had read. The Commissioners remained at Johannesburg for about a week, during which time they visited a great number of compounds and interviewed many persons. In particular, Mr. Brownlee had an interview with Mr. Macfarlane, the general manager of the Witwatersrand Native Labour Supply Association. The evidence was very interesting, and he hoped that his right hon. friend would see that this Blue-book was in the hands of every Member some time in the course of the next week. Mr. Brownlee said, among other things, to Mr. Macfarlane—I cannot get over an impression that the native police at the com pounds are in the ha bit of hustling boys and quickening their movements by a gentle application of cow-hide. I do not think the men like this.Headman Bungiso Sangqu stated—One word I would like to say upon a point which has just been touched upon, and that is, that under the heading of ill-treatment was the beating of natives, which was considered by the natives as a great insult.The instructive part of the interview was Mr. Macfarlane's answer. He said—With regard to the question of ill-treatment, have looked into that personally, and I have visited several mines where the complaints were most bitter, and I really feel satisfied that the mine authorities in one instance where they used a certain amount of corporal correction were entitled to do so. This particular instance was one of insubordination. The head man of the gang, after repeated warnings, continued to in the remainder of the gang to stop work, and disregard reasonable and proper instructions on the part of the mine officials. This was the most serious complaint that was brought forward to my knowledge, and, as I say it appeared to me as one which called for correction on the part of the mine officials.598 Mr. Brownlee's comment upon this was—That the administration of a certain amount of corporal correction by the compound managers exists will, I think, be admitted after reference to the notes of an interview which I had with the chairman of the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association. I do not think that any power of this nature should be left in the hands of compound managers.The right hon. Gentleman who a year ago was Secretary for the Colonies did a number of things during his tenure of office to which many people were able to give only a modified measure of support, but he carried the House as a whole with him when he was able greatly to reduce the amount of flogging which took place all over the British Empire. It was a question on which the right hon. Gentleman held very strong personal views. They were a survival of views which he held when he entertained other views upon many other questions. He did not know that he would go quite so far as the right hon. Gentleman did in this matter, because, having been out in that country, he could conceive of certain circumstances in which corporal punishment moderately administered was less cruel to these men, who were almost children, than cooping them up in prisons and dark cells. But there was one kind of corporal punishment which the House ought to condemn without the slightest reservation, and that was the punishment which was administered, not by the authority of the law, but at the caprice and will of any petty tyrant of an overseer. All this indiscriminate bullying and stimulating movement "by the gentle application of cow-hide" was a gross breach, of the criminal law, and ought to be proceeded against so that the guilty persons were punished in the most severe and exemplary manner.
Mr. Brownlee then came to what he considered the most serious complaint, one which the Commission found most widespread, and of the existence of the cause of which there seemed no reason to doubt, the complaint with regard to pay. The complaint was that the men had been paid at a very much lower rate than that which was promised to them by the recruiting agents. Mr. Brownlee said that in the great majority of the compounds visited this complaint was made, and that, although the Labour Association 599 authorities strenuously insisted that this state of things did not exist, he was satisfied that it did exist. The Labour Association existed for the purpose of regulating and distributing native labour; it regulated the rate of wages, and paid the labourers. The majority of the mines were affiliated with it, and had entered into an agreement to obtain labour only through its medium. It was the "tied-house" principle, but the association dealt with labour instead of with liquor. The Labour Association employed a larger number of recruiting agents, some of whom were paid by salary, but the great majority by a commission proportionate to the number recruited. It was true that the rules of the association had been relaxed so far as to admit of individual mines sending out their own recruiting agents, but that was subject to the stipulation that all labourers so recruited should be passed through the books of the association. Mr. Brownlee charged the Labour Association with habitually indulging in fraudulent and misleading promises to the men. A single instance might be given. One of the natives whom he interviewed said his complaint was that he was promised £4 a month for working above ground, and that he only got £2 10s. for working underneath. "Who promised you £4?" asked the mine manager. "The recruiting agent," said the native. "Oh!" said the manager, "he was only making love to you." The Native Labour Association apparently did a great deal of this love-making, and he (the hon. Member) asked whether they were not liable to an action for "breach of promise."
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. LYTTELTON,) Warwick and Leamington
thought the hon. Member was hardly correct in saying that Mr. Brownlee brought such charges against the Association as a whole.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said he did not pretend to be quoting textually; but he thought in view of Mr. Brownlee's further statement that the Commission received no complaint from any labourer engaged independently of the Labour Association, and the frequent complaint throughout the whole Blue-book that the men had been promised more than they 600 had received, he was justified in the general statement that the Association made fraudulent and misleading promises.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
The hon. Member is acute enough to see the difference between an isolated statement made by the agent of an association and authority given for such a statement by the association. I think the House is just enough to see that all of us are liable to have a bad servant. I do not think the House; would say that a man whose servant has against his orders misrepresented him is himself guilty of that misrepresentation.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said he had no desire to pursue the point. The House knew the enthusiasm which personal charges engendered in certain quarters, however little they were intended to wound or injure personally.
Mr. Brownlee continued—The second point in connection with pay which gives rise to complaint is this—that while the rate of pay offered to boys is £210s. per month for surface work, and £3 for mine work, these are not the sums for which they are contracted with the mines—the contract rate being Is.8d.and2s.per diem respectively according to the locality of the work Should a boy work every day in the month he may earn. £2 10s. or £3. Now, were this explained to the boys and they clear understood that they were paid by the day, pay would be docked for any day not worked, and the payments made punctually at the end of the month for the days actually worked, there would be no ground for complaint. But the boy is first told be is to get £2 10s. or £3 a month, and thinks he is a monthly servant. Then in the association compound be is told that he will be paid so much a day, and finally, in the mine compound he is told that he will be paid for thirty days work, the effect of this being that if through any fortuitous circumstances in any given month a boy has been able to work, say, only twenty-five days, he will have to go on and work five days into the next month before he receives his pay, and an element of confusion and dissatisfaction is at once introduced, while to make confusion worse confounded, the further element of notice becomes involved.There was another aspect of the Labour Association that deserved consideration. If the men were engaged independently by the different mine-owners competing for their services the popular mine would gain. But this association enlisted a great number of men, and disposed of them as it wished. Consequently, all human incentive on the part of those 601 who administered the mines was destroyed. No penalty attached to those who treated the men badly; no special reward was given to those who treated them well. Three mines were mentioned over and over again in the Blue-book as being particularly bad, viz. Geldenhuis, Village Deep, and Railway Compound.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
It is an establishment, at any rate. I do not pretend to have the expert knowledge of the hon. Member; but it requires no expert knowledge to understand this Blue-book.
§ MR. JOHN STROYAN
It does not want expert knowledge, I think, to know that a railway compound is a place where natives working on the railway are kept.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said that many of the mines had very peculiar names, and he was not at all satisfied that the hon. Member's interpretation was the correct one. The prejudice against employment in the mines was general because the natives did not know to which mine they might be sent. He made no general charge of inhumanity against the mine-owners. He had seen some of them fighting in the field, and no doubt many of them were perfectly humane. But the fact remained that, what with the influence of the Labour Association and what with the undoubted malpractices that wont on in certain special localities, the whole of the Johannesburg mines had got an extremely bad name, and that was why the natives would not go there. Was it not rather a sad thing that Johannesburg, the great spring of wealth, where all the gold rose to the surface of the ground and where they ought to be able to pay the best wages and offer the most attractive conditions, should be in the mind of the South African native a place of melancholy tribulation and hard work? If the House would permit him he would read extracts from the reports of one or two of those native chiefs who were the head men of the different tribes, and doubtless what they told the Commissioners they would tell their own people. 602 On page 22 of the Report a man named Langa said—First, the labourers at Johannesburg complained of the wages. They stated that the labour agents in the territories promised them certain wages, but they were paid a great deal less. On ascertaining the amount of wages paid we were informed by the labourers that they were only paid from £1 10s. to £3 10s. per month, whereas the labour agents had promised them £3 10s. and upwards. The employers admitted that they were paying from £1 10s. to £3 10s. per month and that if the agents had promised more, they did so without authority.Second, the labourers also complained of being thrashed by the Basuto and Tshangana (Shanguan) police who are over them, but we could not get to bear the reason.Third, they also complained of being forced to work when ill, and did not get proper care and treatment; and when their friends wished to take them home, they were not allowed to do so; consequently a number died at the Rand for want of proper care and treatment.Fourth, they also complained that they were forced to work on Sundays and stated that beyond its being wrong to work on Sundays, they required one day's rest out of the week.Upon another occasion in the House of Commons much indignation was expressed at the suggestion that the importation of Chinese labour partook somewhat of the nature of slavery. He never agreed with that, but what condition of things did these facts indicate. These people were tricked into their period of service, they were paid less than they were promised, they were thrashed, they were forced to work when ill they did not get proper care and treatment in illness, and when their friends wished to take them home they were not allowed to go, and they were forced to work on Sundays against their will without being given credit for overtime. He did not wish to be led into using any words which might excite the indignation of his right hon. friend, but if this state of things did not approach to the nature of slavery then they wanted a new word added to the English language. Here was the evidence of another chief on page 23—We visited some twenty centres in Johannesburg and different towns in the neighbourhood. We found that the labourers complained of being thrashed in some of the centres; some saying the treatment is good.They are also forced to work on Sundays against their will, and get no remuneration for that day.The real ill-treatment is the thrashing, and low wages and the days calculated as a month.They must not be thrashed. When they, have done wrong they must be fined according 603 to the penalty provided by the law for the offence.On page 25 it was stated—There are all sorts of complaints made by the boys—that they are sjamboked and bullied by these stupid indunas—and that when they are sick they are not allowed to go home.His hon. and gallant friend had read the very striking passage at the head of page 26, but on the next page was a statement that labourers proceeding to Johannesburg were also badly treated, that they were packed in trucks, and were not regarded as human beings. All these facts were corroborated by the assistant chief magistrate of that territory in a covering letter in this Blue-book. On the top of all came the death statistics, as a very grim and disquieting comment. Was there any wonder that the Cape Parliament passed a resolution with great unanimity and applause? What did all these facts come to? They seemed to him to provide a complete and discreditable explanation of the shortage of labour on the Rand. Could they wonder that the people would not go to work in the mines under those circumstances. He had ventured to read those extracts in support of the facts put forward by his hon. and gallant friend, and he did not think they required any further comment. They could all be read when the Blue-book was circulated to hon. Gentlemen in the House, and in the country, and he was sure they would be read with anger and with sorrow.
He would only venture to make two further observations to his right hon. friend and to the House upon the facts as they had been disclosed. His right hon. friend had been called unexpectedly to occupy a great position, and that he had filled that position in a manner unexpected even by his friends would not be contradicted by anyone on either side of the House. His right hon. friend had the reputation of being a liberal-minded man. He was once a Liberal, but he was now a Liberal Unioinist, which was not quite the same thing. He was quite sure he did not wish to signalise his tenure of the Colonial Office by any degradation of the standard was upheld or lowered in that House, of treatment meted out by officials and Therefore they were bound in all white men under his authority towards cases of cruelty and the invasion of the native races. With that in his mind the rights of subject races to be vigilant he would like to ask his right hon. Friend 604 whether he did not think that the facts-disclosed in this Blue-book constituted a case for action in South Africa, and for delay in some of the operations he was carrying out in that country. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman this question. He was ransacking the whole world for labour for the mines, he had been prepared to face extraordinary Parliamentary difficulties for the purpose, to take infinite trouble and cause infinite vexation and irritation, and he had not been afraid to-hurt the feelings of many people who had voted solidly for him and his policy for a long time and who, irrespective of Party feelings, regarded the importation of Chinese labour as a bitter affront to them. Before making a new experiment, sinister in its character and far-reaching in its consequences, might it not have been worth while for the right hon. Gentleman to ask his officers in South Africa to look beneath their own feet and see what was going on in the workings of the Rand mines? Might not the remedying of existing grievances and the meting out of a higher standard of treatment to these natives have afforded some solution of the vexed and tangled problems of the South African labour supply?
He would make one other remark in vindication of the course his hon. and gallant friend had adopted. A good many people said that the House of Commons took too much interest in subjects of this kind, and that they were inclined to be carried away by humanitarian considerations. They were told that the people who were interesting themselves in this matter were hysterical and maudlin. Those who reprobated humanitarian sentiment in others were very often people who had never seen a man flogged or killed. But the responsibility of the House in these matters was very great. They exerted influence and authority over the affairs of more than 400,000,000 people. Every official, from the highest to the lowest, from the Viceroy to the smallest Jack-in-office, in the whole hierarchy of the British Empire was influenced by the standard which was upheld or lowered in that House. Therefore they were bound in all cases of crueity and the invasion of the rights of subject races to be vigilant and emphasise these facts even if it 605 meant interrupting the course of Parliamentary business and causing inconvenience, especially when such facts were brought before them upon official information collected by men on the spot acquainted with the affairs of the locality, and embodied in formal State papers presented to a Colonial House of Parliament under the authority of the Crown. But if they were bound to be careful everywhere they must be more careful still in regard to the South African gold-fields, where more than 80,000 persons were concentrated within a very restricted area under conditions which were unusually artificial and almost unnatural. We were just as much responsible for what went on in the goldfields of South Africa as we should of if the compounds, instead of being thousands of miles across the sea, were in Regent's Park or St. James's Park. The labour of these men, and the conditions under which they lived, made an immediate and sensible effect upon the quotations of the share markets and upon the incomes of certain very rich people, and for that reason they should be doubly careful. We must not only regard the financial interests of these prosperous companies, but we must remember the human interest of the miner at the bottom of the mine. There was on page 29 in the evidence of one of the native chiefs, a statement which had a rather sad touch about it, for he said—The men do not know where to go when they are ill-treated or cheated. The officers there in charge do not seem to understand the natives or have any sympathy for them.'That statement was wrong, because there was always one place where they could bring their grievances, and that was to the British Parliament. Whatever answer his right hon. friend the Colonial Secretary might be able to make, whatever check this discussion might impose on his plans for the importation of Asiatic labour to replace the labour that was now being driven away, there was one thing he hoped the Motion of his hon. and gallant friend would establish. He hoped it would establish clearly that in all the wide dominions of the King there was no man so unfortunate and so humble as to have his ill-treatment beneath the notice of that House, and that there was no province in the British Empire so distant as to be beyond their reach.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
Mr. Speaker, we have debated upon three rather conspicuous occasions the policy of Chinese labour in South Africa, and the House has affirmed by considerable majorities, and increasing majorities, on each occasion, the necessity under which His Majesty's Government labour in countenancing and sanctioning the Ordinance which has been passed in the Transvaal. We are now asked, incidentally, by my two hon. friends, to embark once more in that debate. I do not intend to go back upon what has been already done, or to rediscuss questions which in this House have already been settled. If I were tempted to re-embark upon the matter, I could find a very sufficient justification for the policy which has been pursued in the two speeches, one made in my own hearing, in support of Chinese labour in the Transvaal made last year by my hon. friend who seconded this Motion. I do not deny the right to him of receding from the opinions which he entertained last year on this subject, and I should be ill-requiting the generosity with which he has spoken of me if I spoke with any bitterness of his change of opinion. All I will say is that if I were to ask for support of the policy of the Transvaal Government I could not do much better than invite the House to study the speeches made only twelve months ago by my hon. friend in support of that policy.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
It is perfectly true that I do not view the project in favour of the introduction of Chinese labour from the same point of view as many hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have distinctly stated, and I adhere entirely to that statement, that if you can prove that South Africa does not object, and if you can prove that the conditions are not inhuman, I should have no objection. But that is just what we have always asked in vain for my right hon. friend to do.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I ought to remind both the hon. Member and the right hon. Gentleman that a debate on the Chinese labour question would not be in order upon this Motion.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I did not intend to pursue it for a moment longer, but my hon. friend having characterised that policy as one of a sinister character, I thought it well to remind the House that he at one time was a supporter of it. My hon. and gallant friend who moved this Motion, doubtless impelled by an irresistible desire to vindicate the wrongs of the natives in the Transvaal, for which I give him full credit, has thought fit to read from the evidence in the Report of Mr. Brownlee all that the Report contains hostile to his own countrymen and not a single passage in favour of them. I am sure there is not a man in this House, even if he has feelings of hostility to the Government and even to the country in their policy, who would desire that it should go forth from the floor of this House that scandalous conduct had been committed by any one of their fellow-countryman when there lies ready at hand, and in the same volume, contradiction of those statements made by the natives themselves—no more, it is true, worthy of credence than those which my hon. and gallant friend has read, but still at least in an assembly of Englishman, it is desirable and fair that they should be read as well as those which besmirch the character and impugn the motives of our fellow-countrymen in the Transvaal.
§ MAJOR SEELY
I am sure the House will excuse me. The right hon. Gentleman is really making an accusation against me, imputing bad faith, which he would certainly not have made if he had been attending to my speech. The strongest part of this Report in favour of my countrymen, as he says, is the statement of Mr. Brownlee "that the treatment is generally good." Those hon. Gentlemen opposite who attended, which the right hon. Gentleman, no doubt being busy at the time, did not, will have noticed that I read out that particular passage, and I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he does not think he owes me some apology.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I was referring to the passages from the statements of the chiefs that were read out by my hon. and gallant friend. I think he read two passages, and he entirely omitted to read passages from three or even four chiefs who substantially said that there was 608 absolutely nothing to complain of in the mines.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
My ton friend the junior Member for Oldham says, "Read them yourself. "I will read them; but I put it to the Members of the House, and I put it to my hon. friends, for I am perfectly certain that on reconsideration they will feel it, themselves, whether it is their view of patriotic duty that in a case where evidence has been given on both sides, and when they appear here in their responsibility as, so to say, prosecutors and indicters of their fellow-countrymen in the Transvaal, they should read passages from the evidence in chief that is in favour of the prosecution, and should altogether omit to read the passages which are in favour of the defence. Is it right, and I appeal to the judgment of fair-minded men on either side of the House, that Members of this Party, sitting on this side of the House, should bring this case against their fellow-countrymen in the Transvaal as a matter of great public urgency which will not wait for a day, and obtain your decision, Mr. Speaker, on that footing, when I told my hon. and gallant friend, in answer to a Question this evening, that I was prepared directly to lay the Papers dealing with this subject before the House It was only last Saturday that I received from Sir Godfrey Lagden, who has done more for the natives than any man in this country, the final Report dealing with the whole of this subject. It was sent at my own urgent and immediate request after I saw in Mr. Brownlee's Report the charges that were made against the proprietors of the mines. It is surely wrong and not right to bring before this House only half a case, when by waiting a couple of days you can have the whole case. I told my hon. and gallant friend that the Blue-book would be published directly, and I assured the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Rushcliffe Division, a few days ago, that the Papers would be published at an early date.
§ MR. JOHN ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)
The right hon. Gentleman has been telling me that story for three or four weeks.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
Does the right hon. Gentleman wish to impute either negligence or ill-faith in this matter?
§ MR. JOHN ELLIS
The right hon. Gentleman has told me for weeks that the Papers would be published at an early date.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
It is a trifling matter. But perhaps the hon. Gentleman will suggest how, when I received this Blue-book only on Saturday last——
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I really do not very much care what he does suggest. Unless he is a greater expert at the printer's craft than the King's printers, I do not think he could reasonably suggest that material such as I hold in my hand, which was received only on Saturday last, could have been published before this week. But let the House consider, is it right, or is it fair, dealing with people 6,000 or 7,000 miles away, dealing with charges which are made and with regard to which, I agree, there is evidence on both sides—is it fair for hon. Gentlemen in this House, members of this Government, presumably supporters of the Government [OPPOSITION laughter]—well, I leave my hon. friends and appeal to the other side. Would fair-minded Members on the other side think it right on Wednesday to bring forward a case which would have been complete on Friday, but which would have had the demerit of containing the case of their own fellow-countrymen instead of only the case for the other side? Now, I will obey my hon. friend's injunction and read the evidence of the chiefs which they have declined or omitted to read. It appears on page 24, A gentleman of the name of Bondwayo says—On my arrival there (Johannesburg) I proceeded to the different compounds and there I saw that the natives were well treated at work, and that they were well fed. They only submitted to me two complaints—first that when they are sick they are not allowed to return home; and second, that when they are engaged here they are generally told that the wages were £3 or £4, and that when they get to Johannesburg their wages are reduced to £2 10s. per month.610 Hon. Gentlemen appear to be so little acquainted with the process of investigation that they applaud to the echo the statements of a witness which are apparently discredited by a man of his own country and his own bias. The next sentence is, and this is the judgment in the matter—I am prepared to tell all the natives in this district that the treatment of native labourers in Johannesburg is a very good one. As far as my own judgment, I could see no reason why people say they were badly treated.On page 27 another witness named Mtengwane Ludidi, after reciting complaints, gives his judgment in the matter. He says—The labourers have no complaint about the food they are getting. The people were well paid when the Transvaal was under the Dutch"—
§ MR. HERBERT SAMUEL (Yorkshire, Cleveland)
The right hon. Gentleman has left out an important sentence.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I will read the whole. The labourers claim that their' wages should be raised, and that those who fall sick should be allowed to go home, and that their friends should be allowed to take them—The people were well paid when the Transvaal was under the Dutch, and now that the English, who are our friends, have rule, they should be paid better still. I say myself the wages of the labourers should be raised. The native Europeans and Zulu policemen should not be allowed to ill-treat and beat the labourers.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I quite sympathise with hon. Members who interrupted me in the reading of that passage for in fact I was reading from the wrong page. I was reading the evidence of one of the witnesses for my hon. and gallant friend and not from a witness in support of the case I wish to put. I meant to read from page 32 instead of page 27. There we find the headman summing up his experience by saying—Personally I was much satisfied with what I saw and learned at the Rand, and now am trying to induce labourers to go there, and at our monthly meeting here, at the request of Oar magistrate, gave a résumé of our journey 611 which I trust will have a beneficial result as soon as the men can leave after planting their crops which have been delayed on account of the drought.I do not for a moment say that there were not allegations both ways; but in the dilemma well known to those who be I long to my profession, when there is a conflict of evidence it is better to go by the judgment of the Judge, and I am perfectly prepared to abide by the broad terms of the decision Mr. Brownlee gave. In substance, without boring the House by reading extracts again, his general conclusion appears on page 7.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
He says—The conclusion we arrive at is that generally the treatment is fairly good.That is the general statement. I quite agree there were statements made by Mr. Brownlee in regard to payment of wages, of misrepresentations by the agents of the Labour Association. I was really astonished to find that lion. Members opposite who are well acquainted with trade unions failed to see the difference between an authorised agency and an unauthorised agent. The hon. Member who spoke just now did not deal with the point, but I was astonished that trade union Members, who have contended that a union should not be liable for the acts of its agents, failed to see it. It may be that individual members of the Labour Association, human nature being what it is in eagerness to secure recruits, may have overstepped the bounds of fair representation—I daresay that may be—indeed complaints were made that it had been done. But I do not think it would have been possible for the Labour Association to do more than they did. You will find on page 17 the form of contract set forth. There is the name of the native, the name of his chief, and there is the agreement that he will proceed to Johannesburg to work in the mines for not less than six months at Is. 8d. a day for surface work and 2s. for underground work. Nobody can pretend that at headquarters there was misrepresentation; an agent might give a rose colouring to the terms offered when trying to get a native to enter into an engagement; but all the people at headquarters could do was to 612 draw up the form of contract and make the matter perfectly clear and to punish an agent when convicted of misrepresentation. This is the fair conclusion from Mr. Brownlee's Report, and he is in the position of Judge deciding between various parties giving evidence one against another. He is convinced that in certain cases native labourers were deceived by agents of the association; he docs not say for a moment that every possible precaution was not taken by the Association. Mr. Brownlee makes no charge against the association, none whatever. I do not think there could be a clearer form of contract than is found here in the Blue-book. I do not think any fair-minded man in the House will say it is possible to make it more clear. More than that, a special regulation was passed whereby when a native enters Transvaal territory a passport is delivered to him, and no passport is given to a native to enable him to proceed until he has satisfied the British official who has charge of the passports that he understands the contract and knows what wages he is to receive. That is precaution on the top of precaution, and I do not know what more could be done. Mistakes, and worse than mistakes, there will be; but all that my Department had to do was to see that every precaution should be taken against fraud. But in that country, as in this and all countries, fraudulent people live and, I am sorry to say, sometimes thrive.
The only other matter which was dealt with by Mr. Brownlee in his Report, and in which he found there was legitimate cause for complaint, is where he speaks of the striking of native labourers by native overseers, who carry sjamboks, and from time to time used them in a manner unfortunately too common in that country. Nobody defends that for a moment. Let me point out this to the House. Of course cases of assault occur every day in this country by the hundred, but they are against the law and they are punished by the law when proved; and that is exactly the case in the Transvaal. Assaults made by native overseers on labourers working in the mines are against the law; they are punished when they are discovered. They have been the subject of prosecution on fourteen occasions in the 613 past year, and in thirteen cases convictions were obtained. It has been enjoined on the mine-owners, though I do not think such an injunction was necessary, that they should be most vigilant in this matter, and I may say in connection with the enforcement of the law and the detection of breaches of the law that fourteen inspectors are engaged, I and that in the course of one year nearly 10,000 visits of inspection were paid to the mines. Of course, we are all human and offences will arise; but I think I may put it to any fair-minded man that not much more can be done than to have a law against the thing and to provide a large number of inspectors to see that breaches of the law do not take place, and that when breaches of the law do take place prosecutions shall follow. These are really the only two matters in Mr. Brownlee's Report in which, sitting as a Judge, and hearing conflicting accounts of natives, he himself ventures to say that there is any serious ground of complaint whatever. Upon all other matters before him I think he fairly sums up the case when he says that the treatment is generally good. I agree that the fact that natives do not go to the mines in very great numbers proves to some extent that they do not like the service; but the Portuguese natives go in large numbers. I believe that 80 per cent, are Portuguese, and I am told that many of them re-enlist after the first year's service.
I fully agree that the mortality in the mines is a very grave matter; and obviously any matter that is considered grave by men like myself and the Members of this House is considered grave by a man of the high character and humane disposition of Lord Milner. I ventured to call Lord Milner's attention to the subject of the heavy mortality in the mines. I knew, of course, that the matter would be engaging his attention; but I ventured to call attention to it not long after I came into office. I asked him for his judgment upon it, and his telegram of 27th February, which would have been published, had my hon. friend been less impetuous, in the course of a week, is to this effect—Your telegram of February 22. I entirely agree. The high rate of mortality in the mines, is the weakest point in our armour.614 [Ironical OPPOSITION cheers.] Certainly. No mining work can ever be a healthy employment.The death-rate ought to be enormously reduced. Very great efforts have been made lately in this direction. The majority of the mines have taken up the matter with energy.'So long ago as June, 1903, a Commission of doctors was appointed in the Transvaal, and they made a most valuable report, in which a number of most valuable suggestions were made, involving heavy expenditure on the mines, I an expenditure which has generally been cheerfully undertaken. The improvements recommended by the medical officers have been very widely adopted, though not yet universally. Unfortunately the results are disappointing so far. The medical experts are, however, unanimous that improvements have been effected and must tell in time. Now, I want the House to note this when they are considering this difficult question. No doubt one reason of the recent high mortality is that, owing to the extreme scarcity of labour, the mines have been recruiting any labour they can get, whatever the physique of the men. I ask the House to pause there. Humane men on all sides must deplore this mortality. They must see that when the greatest possible efforts are made to get labour, and when the natives are anxious to come and earn money, there is a liability for men of inferior physique to be brought into the mines, with the result that this deplorable mortality continues. I deplore it. I am sure every man in the House deplores it. I think the mine-owners, when they see its effect, deplore it also. [Ironical OPPOSITION cheers.] It seems to be a matter for merriment to the hon. Members oppsite. I think that most humane-minded men will feel that if the result of introducing Chinese labour is that men of full capacity and good health and good physique can replace these negroes, who come from tropical latitudes, and who for three months in the year, I am told, are practically unfit to work in the mines at all, on that ground alone, apart from other arguments which I have put forward on previous occasions, there is something to be said on the ground of humanity for the introduction of Chinese labour.
615 Now, I am happy to say that I am able to give to the House a more cheerful view with regard to this mortality, though I still admit that it is too heavy and ought to be diminished; and I believe it will be diminished as the result of the measures taken. The reports I have before me are not so deplorable as those quoted by my hon. and gallant friend. The Commissioner for Native Affairs in his annual Report dealing with the Commission of medical officers which was appointed to consider the question of mortality quotes their statement. It appears from it that the total annual death-rate, calculated on the basis of the aversge number of natives employed for six months, would be, not 90, but 57 per 1,000. Curiously enough, it appears that the death-rate among the natives employed in the Kimberley compounds, which are admitted to be admirably conducted, is practically identical—namely, 57.2 per 1,000 for the year 1902. Then there is a deduction to be made for accidents, which would put the rate at 54 per 1,000. I do not say that is satisfactory: but it is very much better than the figures given by my gallant friend, which I am unable to appreciate or understand. I cannot give the exact figures because they cannot be given, but I have been told by high authorities in this country who have come from South Africa—by the Bishop of Mashonaland for one, who is not friendly to the policy which I have had to advocate in this House—that the mortality in the kraals of the natives is enormously high. To compare, as was done by my hon. friend the Member for Oldham, the mortality among the miners, the picked labouring population of this country, with that in a climate which is not so healthy, and among a far more feeble and susceptible race, is not really to institute a fair comparison. But be that as it may, I called Lord Milner's attention to the subject most urgently, and the telegram which I have read to the House shows how fully he appreciated the fact that the mortality was too great and ought to be diminished No one can feel a doubt on the subject. If I only had the time, and the House had the patience, to digest this nook, which is entirely composed of tables giving the answers to questions put by the Commissioners to natives in 616 the Transvaal in all the mines, and the recorded answers, it would be seen what immense exertions have been made to carry out all the reforms which were suggested by the medical board and by Mr. Brownlee, and by every other scientific investigator whom they could consult.
In truth and in sincerity it is a pity this debate should have taken place. I assured my hon. friend that I would directly lay the Papers upon the Table, the book is in my hand, and it will be in the hands of hon. Members directly, before Saturday, when they will have ample opportunity, if they can find any holes in it, to criticise it. What I venture to deplore is that the time of the House should be occupied in discussing this matter when I believe no one in the House, except myself, is in possession of the whole case. I have spent all the time since the notice of this Motion in trying to get some summary of this book, which has only just been put into my hands; but I do not like to give the House my own impression of a document so hurriedly perused. I can only give the summary which is given substantially by the authorities in South Africa, who assert that the most sincere and most strenuous endeavours have been made by the mine authorities to put in force the requisitions that were made by the medical board and Mr. Brownlee, and that within the time that they have had to put those suggestions into force a really remarkably good result has been obtained. The death-rate in February was actually brought down to 35 per 1,000. I do not want the House to be misled: January and February are always good months, and, I think, March, in former years, when things were worse, the death-rate in February went down as low as 40 per 1,000. It is lower now than it has ever been before, however, and another good symptom is that for two months in succession there have been better records than previously. I do not think I can say much more, profitably, on the present occasion.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman could say what steps had been taken with regard to miners' phthisis, in view of the recommendation by Lord Milner's Commission as to working on the wet system.
I wish I could give those details. I have spent all the time I could since the notice of this Motion was given in perusing this Blue-book. I frankly own I have not read t he whole of it and though I have read a good deal about pneumonia, and though the supply of blankets and proper clothing to the native labourers when they first come to bank and have to go from the mine to the compound strikes me as a very important measure, I am not able to tell the House with accuracy whether the recommendation as to the allaying of the fine dust in the mines, which I know is a source of danger to the lungs, his been carried out. During the last three or four months there has been really poignant distress among the community in the Transvaal, and acute anxiety; and I do ask the House to agree that, considering the enormous improvement which has been made, this is not the occasion for any assembly of Englishman, without having seen the case which can be made, and which is made in these books, to pronounce one word of censure upon those whose case they have imperfectly apprehended, and who have been represented by me at a time when I was imperfectly informed.
§ * MR. JOHN ELLIS
said that nobody would deny that they ought to thank the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway opposite for bringing this matter forward. The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight introduced the question in a speech of great moderation and ability. Having himself looked through the Cape Blue-book he could say the hon. Member was absolutely fair in the quotations which he had read from the Report. The hon. Member for Oldham had been also absolutely fair in the particulars with which he supported his arguments. Where ever they sat he was sure that these two hon. Members would be distinguished ornaments of this Assembly. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary had attempted to dispose of the case by quoting documents which were not before the House. That was the pity of the matter, and who was to blame for that? 618 The right hon. Gentleman complained that the case had been brought on before the complete evidence necessary to arrive at a proper conclusion was forthcoming. His reply to that was that the Notice Paper contained a Motion relating to Chinese Labour in the mines which debarred any discussion upon that subject; and, if that evening had been allowed to pass without attention being called to the question of native labour generally, a blocking Motion would have appeared on the Notice Paper within the next few days, shutting out a Motion affecting the mortality and the treatment of the native labourers in the mines. The Colonial Secretary had dealt largely with the statement of Mr. Brownlee, who was, after all, a subordinate in the matter. The case had been summed up by Mr. Stamford, his superior in the following words—The enquiry I think clearly establishes that misrepresentations with regard to wages are made by the labour agents, that occasionally wrongful deductions are made, assaults by European overseers and the native police are of frequent occurrence.The right hon. Gentleman had not disposed of these two charges which amount to fraud and cruelty. The reports of the headmen in regard to these points were extremely strong. He had this to remark about the evidence of the natives: that it was a grievous pity that on every possible occasion the employer was present when the natives were questioned. These men ought to have been taken apart and encouraged freely to state what was in their minds. He contended when that was not done the evidence of these natives was vitiated. He was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not admit in his speech that there was a case for further inquiry.
The right hon. Gentleman had laid on the Table a belated Blue-book. As to his point that the information had only just been received, whose fault was that He had been in communication with the Colonial Secretary on this matter so long ago as February last, and he wanted to ask why the right hon. Gentleman had not given the House some information on this matter before Easter? The Blue-book was dated December. Even the telegram quoted by the Colonial Secretary from Lord Milner was dated 619 February. The hon. Member for Oldham stated that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham had done one very good thing—he had diminished flogging throughout British territories. He had done something more. The right hon. Gentleman had sent out Sir Richard Martin to investigate the treatment of natives by the British South Africa Company in Rhodesia, and his Report had done much good. The Colonial Secretary ought, following the example of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, to send out some person of high position and character, who was free of all assocition with these mine-owners, who were not all our countrymen, to investigate the matter of the treatment of the labourers from top to bottom. They were all glad to hear that the terrible mortality was being reduced, out they ought to have a good deal more information as to what was going on in the mines of the Transvaal. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman regarded this question of labour with sentiments of humanity, but there were men on the spot who did not govern their conduct by such sentiments, and who regarded the natives as mere beasts of burden, hewers of wood, and drawers of water. One of them said—"They are hewers of wood and drawers of water and as nearly beasts of burden as it was possible to make a human animal into." He was there as a Member of the House of Commons speaking the sentiments of his constituents when he said they could not limit the aspirations of human beings in that way. Man was not made for gold; gold was made for man. The right hon. Gentleman in one of his interesting dissertations had declared that men were better than minerals. That was a very happy phrase and that was the spirit they wanted to see animating the Government in this matter. They wanted that wherever the British flag was flying such conditions of labour should be imposed as would reflect credit on the country and the Empire. He feared the right hon. Gentleman hardly even yet appreciated the gravity of the question and the feelings of his countrymen, irrespective of Party, as to the treatment of the natives in the gold mines, and there-fore he rejoiced that the Motion had been brought forward, and he would go into 620 the Lobby in favour of it with the greatest pleasure.
§ * MR. JOHN STROYAN
said that having been associated with South Africa for a quarter of a century, and having lived in the country long before gold was known in it, he felt it his duty to make a few remarks. Quite unintentionally the position of the Witwatersrand Labour Association had been put before the House in a misleading light. It had been represented as a huge trust, an association to make money out of trafficking in the natives. It was nothing of the sort. The Native Labour Association was nothing more or less than a department of the Chamber of Mines, and was maintained at very considerable cost to the mines. He knew that the Native Labour Department had a good many enemies, and that they left no stone unturned to discredit it and to mislead the public as to its functions. Those enemies were the former native agents, touts who had been displaced by the association and who in consequence were now trying to disparage it. As a matter of fact it became absolutely necessary to form this association, so that the native should be honestly treated. Generally speaking, he asserted that the native received fairplay, and was told exactly what his wages and treatment would be. They had heard a good deal about the deplorable mortality but he was glad to find that the native mortality was being lessened, and the Native Labour Department had done most excellent service in this direction. He himself had seen thousands of natives come down to the mines for the winter from Portuguese territory and even from further north. They arrived in a half-starved miserable condition in the middle of the winter season, which rendered them—coming as they did from tropical climes—peculiarly susceptible to pneumonia. Hence the severe death-rate among them. But the Native Labour Department had arranged for half-way houses and shelters for the natives on their way to and from the Rand. Food and shelter were provided, so as to enable the natives to arrive in good condition on the Rand, thereby making them less susceptible to attacks from pneumonia than had been the case in the past.
621 He had known South Africa for twenty-five years; until eight or ten years ago he was intimately associated with mining work on the Rand, and was managing director of mines which employed large numbers of labourers. Their greatest trouble was to get natives and then to retain them; but it was an element of self-interest with those connected with the mines to see that the native was well treated. The native was like a child; if ho were discontented and considered that ho was being badly treated no amount of money would tempt him to stay in the mines. The mines were managed by British and American engineers, and he had yet to learn that the Briton was less humane abroad than he was in this country. The greatest care was also taken in the selection of the compound manager, who, among his varied qualifications, was expected to know the different native languages and customs. The compound manager was invariably an English colonist born and brought up in South Africa. It was essential that a mine should have a good name among the natives and it was equally necessary to also have a good man. If he treated them badly, or was unpopular with them, he was not allowed to remain long in the mine. They had heard a great deal about Hogging and ill-treatment, but he had never known of a case of flogging on the Hand. On the contrary, there were hospitals where the natives were treated with every attention and kindness, and on his visit to Witwatersrand last year he was pleased to see what immense progress had been made in rendering the condition of the people more comfortable. They were excellently housed, and when sick were well nursed. They had heard many fairy tales in the past and he anticipated they would hear them in the future. But he had thought that the improved travelling facilities which now existed would have been more taken advantage of by the general public to see for themselves what was going on in South Africa. Many people had, indeed, gone out to that country during and since the war but he certainly was disappointed that the actual position of the mining industry was not better understood in this country.
§ * MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said the hon. Member had painted a very rosy 622 picture of the mines in the Transvaal. Apparently he had not read the Blue-book.
§ * MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said that might be so, but the hon. Member's statements flew in the face of every page of the Blue-book. The hon. Member had told them that self-interest—if no higher motive—induced the mine-owners to treat the labourers with humanity and decency, yet by the Labour Ordinance they were going to import Chinese, and would thus remove the motive of self interest by rendering them independent of the Kaffirs, whether they were contented or not. No doubt many of the mine-owners and managers in the Transvaal were honestly desirous to do all in their power to improve the conditions under which the Kaffirs worked in the mines, but the fact remained that the efforts hitherto made in that direction had proved quite ineffective, and there was a damning indictment to be found on every page of the Blue-book which had been circulated that day. The Colonial Secretary had stated that the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight had shown a glimpse of fairness in quoting the statement of Mr. Brownlee, but what would be thought of the fairness of the Colonial Secretary in reading passages from the Blue-book and yet omitting from them vital sentences because they did not suit his purpose, which he only subsequently read when called upon to do so by interruptions from that side. And the right hon. Gentleman had quoted the evidence of a headman—Jerry Bangani—who was a labour recruiter himself. This man, since the outbreak of the war, had supplied some 900 labourers to the De Beers mines and for other works, and he had admitted that since the cessation of hostilities he had failed in his endeavours to obtain labourers for the Rand mines, because the natives were afraid of bad treatment and bad 623 food and of the method in which they were crowded in railway trucks to be sent to the mines.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
If I had read that passage I should have thought it right to read it also to the House. But this debate came on suddenly, and I have not had time to read all the Blue-book.
§ * MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
gladly and fully accepted the right hon. Gentleman's explanation. But the fact remained that this man's evidence was the only evidence in the Book which gave unqualified praise to the conditions in the mines. Mr. Brownlee said that the treatment of the natives was generally good. Hut he declared that flogging was frequent and that compound managers were accustomed without trial to imprison native labourers. He also said that some of the hospitals were small and provided little comfort for the patients; that many natives were called upon to do thirty-two days' work for thirty days' pay: that they frequently did not get the pay that they were promised when they were enlisted. If that was treatment which was generally good what would be treatment which was "generally bad"? Then they had the evidence of Mr. Stamford, the magistrate, which was to the effect that inquiries had clearly established misrepresentations by labour agents as to wages, wrongful deductions, and an unintelligible system of calculating time. He added, "the wages paid are undoubtedly less than before the war," and that as long as the native could obtain more remunerative work elsewhere, the supply for the mines was not likely to be augmented. Other extracts from the Blue-book showed that the natives were not allowed one day's rest a week; that they wore bullied and thrashed by the Zulu police; that they were fined for small offences by subordinate white officials; that they were not allowed to go home when ill; and that they did not know the inspectors who were appointed to protect their interests. And a still more extraordinary passage was that in which it was stated that some of the natives, after serving a period in gaol, to which they had been sentenced by the stipendiary magistrates for a 624 trifling offence, were not granted passes to enable them to seek employment elsewhere, but their services were sold for a period of six months to any agent who liked to buy them, and the men were compelled to undertake labour contrary to their will and health. If this were true, forced labour was added to the sentence of imprisonment. He had, when going through the Blue-book, marked the passages giving evidence of cases of ill-treatment and on going through the Blue-book again he found that there was not a single page of the book, except the few devoted to formal statements of contracts, and so forth, which did not contain marked passages. Here there was an ample explanation as to why the mine-owners were unable to get sufficient labour: and he thought that the hon. Gentlemen who opposed the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman had been absolutely justified in their action. There was one matter the Blue-book did not deal with, and that was the question of ventilation. It was owing to the neglect of ventilation, the overcrowding of the compounds, and the insufficiency of the hospital accommodation, that the abnormally high death-rate was due. He wondered if the House realised that, if this death-rate applied to the new labourer as it did to the old out of every 10,000 Chinese only 6,000 would survive at the expiration of six years' period of service. If 4,000 troops out of 10,000 were slaughtered in a battle in the present, war it would be regarded as an unprecedented holocaust. Yet this was the death-rate to which men engaged in a peaceful industry were exposed. The mine-owners ought to put their house in order, then they would get labour enough. The policy of the Government was to save the mine-owners from the effects of their folly by introducing a fresh supply of labour. Rarely had a case been more; completely riddled by criticism and destroyed by facts than the case of the Government in this matter of Transvaal labour, and he thought that the disclosures they had heard that night had completed the work of exposure.
§ * MR. BELL (Derby)
said he wished to say a few words in support of the Motion. The answer of the Colonial Secretary had 625 not satisfied him. Like some other Members of the House, he was speaking without having seen the Blue-book which his lion, friend and the mover and seconder of the Motion had had the privilege of seeing; but the extracts they had read were sufficient to satisfy him, at any rate, that then; existed in the Transvaal a great deal of cruelty. The Colonial Secretary, in his reply, had not in any way denied the facts as stated by the mover and seconder. He had been surprised by what he had heard from both sides of the House during the course of the discussion, particularly from the hon. Member opposite, who defended the conditions in the Transvaal with an ability which almost inclined him to resign his position in this country and see if he could not get a job in the Transvaal. The hon. Member put such a glorious aspect upon labour in the Transvaal that it must be a great temptation to the people of this country. He himself, and several other speakers, had recognised that there was a great deal of human nature about the natives. He had been unable to discover that there was anything in the black man that was not contained in the white man in this country. It seemed to him that the natives were not bad trade-unionists after all. The chief complaint and grievance was that they refused to work for half the wages that, formerly were paid for the same kind of work, and if similar tactics were tried in this country it would be found that even a British workman would not accept a reduction of from 30 per cent, to 50 per cent, in his wages, in the manner in which the natives had been compelled to accept, and he was positive that he would not tolerate the treatment from employers here that was meted out by employers in the mines in South Africa. But the peculiarity of the whole statement of the case related to the Native Labour Association. He was very familiar with the Free Labour Association in this country. It was managed in exactly a similar way. The recruiting agents were paid so much per head for the number of hands that they were able to provide for the employers when a dispute existed. If there was anything that aroused him it was the exploiting of labour for the greed of profit. He had endeavoured, he endeavoured now, and he hoped he should continue to endeavour, to regard 626 and consider the claims and rights of employers equally as much as the claims and rights of labour in all questions he had to deal with; and he believed that he had been given some little credit for endeavouring to be fair in matters of this kind. Whilst he desired to do that which was fair between employer and workman he was bound to confess that any such conduct as that described in the Blue-book would be the very kind of conduct that would arouse, his spirit, and lead him to favour a rising up against any such treatment by employers in this country, even if such action entailed the loss of the whole of the funds of the trade-unions. As the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary had frequently referred to "our fellow-countrymen in the Transvaal," he supposed they must regard the natives as their fellow-country-men as much as some of these Rand mine-owners, to whom the right hon. Gentleman also referred as fellow-countrymen. He was ready to stand up in defence of fairplay and justice for his fellow-countrymen, whether black, white, or yellow, whether Church of England, Catholic, or Nonconformists, in this or any other part of the Empire. They had made sacrifices in order that these people for whom they were speaking that night should be made fellow-countrymen, and having made those sacrifices both in money and flesh and blood, this House ought to go out of its way to defend and protect them from injustice and hardships such as they complained of.
He observed from statements made from one hon. Member that when the evidence was collected from some of the labourers it was obtained in the presence of the employer. That was a very improper way of collecting evidence. He knew from experience in this country that with evidence obtained in that way, however impartial or however fair the person might be soliciting it, or however fair the employer might be, however anxious he might be that the men should have free and full liberty to say what they desired to say, yet with evidence obtained in such a way there was a suspicion and a tendency on the part of the labourer not to say that which he desired to say owing to the presence of his employer. Whilst they found that in this country, how much 627 more likely was it that there would be a tendency of that sort on the part of the men subject to such ill-treatment as the natives were on the Rand. He hoped that the discussion that night would have the desired effect, and that the Colonial Secretary would not stay his hand until he had put a stop absolutely and completely to any such treatment as had been referred to. The manner in which the contracts of these men were broken by the employers was bad enough; but to be treated as it was reported they were treated, was unfair and very unjust; and he thought it was not very much to the credit, if it was not to the shame, of the British House of Commons to tolerate it. He was bound to refer to a statement of the Colonial Secretary with regard to his desire that the debate should not take place before the Blue-book was published. The right hon. Gentleman had read a telegram, dated the 27th February, and he was particularly struck with the fact that the House had not been acquainted with that telegram. That could not be on the ground that there was not sufficient time. He understood also that the Blue-book which his hon. friends had been quoting from that night was dated last December. He did not know how long it was since the Colonial Secretary obtained possession of a copy but presumably the right hon. Gentleman would be about the first person in this country to be supplied with a copy of it. If such were the case, there was no reason at all why the House should not have been in possession of the whole of the facts long before now. He presumed there must have been a reason for that and the reason was that they wanted the other discussion with regard to labour in South Africa cleared out of the way before giving the House all the facts contained in the Blue-book they were now discussing. That being the case he held that the hon. Member who brought on the Motion was perfectly justified in doing so; and he hoped the House would mark its feeling in regard to this matter by supporting it.
§ MR. SEELY (Lincoln)
said the Colonial Secretary complained that the Motion was not reasonable, as it was brought forward before the full facts and figures were before the House. The real reason for 628 urgency was this: the Motion dealt with facts that had only just come to the knowledge of the House with regard to these labourers. The Colonial Secretary was proposing to bring a large number of men 10,000 miles across the sea to work these mines, and the question how they were going to be treated when they got there was one which affected not only their health and comfort but the honour and good name of this country. The facts brought out did establish a considerable prima facie case as to there being grave doubts whether the natives were properly treated. The facts quoted by the Colonial Secretary hardly supported his own case, and it seemed to him that the wisest course for the right; hon. Gentleman to adopt was to delay the I importation of these Chinese labourers.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman is now entering on a question which is not before the House. He can only discuss the actual treatment of the natives in this particular mine.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
That was a matter which I and the House had to consider when I put to the House the question of leave. When that Question has been put to the House no question of urgency can afterwards arise.
§ MR. SEELY
said he agreed with the Speaker's ruling. The gravest element in the whole question related to the death-rate of these labourers. According to the Colonial Secretary the death-rate had been 57 per 1,000, but it had been reduced to 35. But, according to information his hon. relative possessed, the average death-rate was 80 per 1,000 per annum. Speaking as one of the largest mine-owners in the country, he said that such a death-rate was a discredit to the engineers and those who were concerned in the industry on the Witwatersrand, and it was the duty of the Colonial Secretary to see not only that everything was done to remedy such a state of things by engineering care and skill, but that no man was brought to these mines and compounds without full knowledge of the conditions under which they would live, and that they should be told that their chance of life was only twelve 629 short years. The seriousness of the question must be obvious to every hon. Member, and it should be the duty of the House to insist on the Government dealing with the grave matters which had been disclosed.
§ MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
said he understood the hon. Member for West Perthshire to state in his personal experience that none of the practices referred to by the hon. Member who introduced the Motion existed during the
§ time he resided in the Transvaal. He wished to know whether the hon. Gentle man's experience was recent or not.
§ MR. JOHN STROYAN
said he was referring to eight years ago. He had, however, visited the Rand three times since then and found the same condition of affairs as he had described.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 150; Noes, 213. (Division List No. 115.)631
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.||Gilhooly, James||O'Dowd, John|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||O'Malley, William|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Mara, James|
|Allen, Charles P.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Berwick)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Asher, Alexander||Griffith, Ellis J.||Parrot L William|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchhill||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Barry, R. (Cork, S.)||Hammond, John||Price, Robert John|
|Bell, Richard||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Priestley, Arthur|
|Black, Alexander William||Harwood, George||Rea, Russell|
|Boland, John||Hayden, John Patrick||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Brigg, John||Helme, Norval Watson||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Horniman, Frederick John||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Burns, John||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Roche, John|
|Burt, Thomas||Jacoby, James Alfred||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Caldwell, James||Joicey, Sir James||Rose, Charles Day|
|Cameron, Robert||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Jordan, Jeremiah||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Joyce, Michael||Shackleton, David James|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Kilbride, Denis||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Sheehy, David|
|Crean, Eugene||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Leamy, Edmund||Slack, John Bamford|
|Crombie, John William||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Soares, Finest J.|
|Crooks, William||Leng, Sir John||Spencer, Rt Hn. C. R (Northants|
|Cullinan J.||Levy, Maurice||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lewis, John Herbert||Sullivan, Donal|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Lough, Thomas||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Lundon, W.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Delany, William||Lyell, Charles Henry||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Tomkinson, James|
|Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Ure, Alexander|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||M'Crae, George||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Kean, John||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Kenna, Reginald||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Ellice, Capt EC (S Andrew's Bghs||Markham, Arthur Basil||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Mooney, John J.||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Emmott, Alfred||Murphy, John||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.|
|Evans, Sir Francis H (Maidstone||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Woodhouse, Sir J T. (Huddersf'd|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Young, Samuel|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Norman, Henry|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nussey, Thomas Willans||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Ferguson, R, C. Munro (Leith)||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary, Mid||Major Seely and Mr. Churchill.|
|Ffrench, Peter||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Arkwright, John Stanhope||Arrol, Sir William|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O.||Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Groves, James Grimble||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'derry||Percy, Earl|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon A.J. (Manchr||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W (Leeds||Harris, Dr. Fredk. R. (Dulwich||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Pym, C. Guy|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Randles, John S.|
|Balhurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Heath, James (Staffords, N.W)||Rankin, Sir James|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Helder, Augustus||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne|
|Bond, Edward||Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Renwick, George|
|Brassey, Albert||Hoare, Sir Samue||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hope J.F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)||Hoult, Joseph||Ridley, S. Forde. (Bethnal Green|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Houston, Robert Paterson||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Bull, William James||Howard. John (Kent Faversham||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Butcher, John George||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Campbell, J. H.M. (Dublin Univ.||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Rothschild, Hon Lionel Walter|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hunt, Rowland||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J.A. (Worc.||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Charrington, Spencer||Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Kerr, John||Scott. Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Keswick, William||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Knowles, Sir Lees||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Labouchere, Henry||Smith, James parker (Lanarks.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Spear, John Ward|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset)|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.)|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.||Stone, Benjamin|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Stroyan, John|
|Davenport, William Bromley||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chatham||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Lone, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J.G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hon Sir Jose ph C.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Doughty, George||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Tuff, Charles|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Duke Henry Edward||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Vincent, Col Sir C.E.H (Sheffield|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Macdona, John Cumming||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart||Maconochie, A. W.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Walrond, Rt Hon. Sir William H.|
|Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Welby, Lt.-Col. A.C.E. (Taunton|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Malcolm, Ian||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Manners, Lord Cecil||Whiteley, H. (Ashtonund, Lyne|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Maxwell, Rt. Hn Sir H.E. (Wigt'n||Williams. Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Forster, Henry William||Maxwell, W. J. H (Dumfriesshire||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Foster, Philip S (Warwick, S.W.||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Wilson-Todd. Sir W. H. (Yorksh.|
|Fyler, John Arthur||Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Wodehouse, Rt Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Milvain, Thomas||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Gardner, Ernest||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Moore, William||Worsley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby (Salop||Morpeth, Viscount||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Morrell, George Herbert||Wyndham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Morton, Arthur H. Alymer||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Mount, William Arthur||Younger, William|
|Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Murray, Rt. Hn A. Graham (Bute|
|Grenfell, William Henry||Newdegate, Francis A. N.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Gretton, John||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Sir Alexander Acland-Hood|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Parkes, Ebenezer||and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
§ Adjourned at fourteen minutes after Twelve o'clock.