HC Deb 09 May 1904 vol 134 cc756-7
MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has received any official information to the effect that the charter for the steamer to convey Chinese coolies to South Africa has been cancelled owing to the prevalence of plague at Hong-Kong; will he state whether Chinese coolies awaiting shipment at Hong-Kong are quartered in Chinese houses, or have arrangements been made for keeping them apart from the infected population; if so, will he state what kind of accommodation is provided, and in what part of Hong-Kong it is situated?


The answer is in the negative. I am informed by the Officer Administering the Government of Hong-Kong that intending emigrants on arrival at Hong-Kong during last fortnight have been accommodated in ordinary Chinese lodging-houses in Kowloon, of which a number have been hired and placed under special medical inspection, a permanent isolated depot I is being built four miles from Kowloon I and isolated temporary accommodation I will be ready in two days; all emigrants who satisfy emigration officer and pass strict medical examination will be sent I there pending shipment; those rejected I being sent home.

SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has received any information respecting the alleged outbreak of plague among the recruited Chinese labourers now collected at Hong-Kong; whether he is aware that plague usually begins to increase at this period of the year; and whether, under these circumstances, he proposes to take any steps to postpone the introduction, of indentured Chinamen into the Transvaal.


I received a telegram from the Officer Administering the Government of Hong-Kong on Saturday stating that one case of bubonic plague had occurred in a lodging-house partly occupied by emigrants—the patient was a rejected emigrant; and that there has been no other case among emigrants up to the present time. I believe this is the case. So long as the medical advisers of the local Government do not regard the conditions under which the Chinese labourers are introduced as involving undue risk, and subject to such precautions as they think necessary. I do not, as at present advised, propose to interfere. I may add that the langth of the voyage from China is largely in excess of the period of incubation of the disease, and this very greatly reduces the risk of the introduction of plague.

MR. BUCHANAN Perthshire, E.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether, owing to the outbreak of plague at Hong-Kong, the charters for the steamers on the point of starting with Chinese indentured labourers for the Transvaal have been cancelled.


No, Sir.