§ Motion made, and Question proposed,; 'That a sum, not exceeding £28,920, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1906, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, including a Grant in Aid of certain Expenses connected with Emigration."
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
rose to call attention to the Transvaal Constitution. The Colonial Secretary the other day made a speech in which he taunted the Opposition with not having brought on this Vote earlier in order to discuss this particular question. He thought the taunt was very unworthy of the right Ion. Gentleman, as there were very 622 good reasons for not pressing it on. One was that the matter of time did not arise. The whole question had been practically taken out of the power of the House to deal with by the issue of Letters Patent. Then he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would allow him to say that, though they dissented from the proposals he made, hon. Members on the Opposition side desired as much as he did to avoid any action that might accentuate friction in South Africa, or tend to jeopardise the settlement of this very difficult question. They, quite as much as the right hon. Gentleman himself, desired the peace and prosperity of South Africa, and they equally desired with him a satisfactory settlement. He regretted very much that the question had been taken out of the purview of the House. He would have thought the Government would have welcomed the assistance and criticisms of the Opposition on that very important question. They had not been so singularly and uniformly successful either in their anticipation, or action, or results in South African affairs, as to justify them in arrogating to themselves omniscient wisdom with regard to South African matters. Moreover, this House had exceptional claims to consideration in this matter. Nobody could deny that the last election turned largely on the question of the settlement in South Africa, and that the Government were given a majority because it was supposed by the electors that they would be better able to bring about a rapid and successful peace and a good settlement after the war. The House ought under such circumstances to have had an opportunity of discussing this question in a friendly way.
Being now challenged he was bound to say that in two material matters the policy of the Government was not one in which he for one was able to concur. The first was the decision which the Government had come to in regard to the Orange Free State. There the problem was a. much simpler one than in the case of the Transvaal; and if any forward steps were to be taken at all, it should, in his opinion, have been the Orange Free State that should have taken precedence, for there 623 they had no complications in regard to mining or Chinese labour, and the State had for many years been accustomed to absolute self-government of the most constitutional description. While he was in office they never had any trouble of any sort or kind with the Orange Free State. In this connection, he regretted that Lord Selborne had declared that the Government could hold out no promise as to the time when the care of this colony would be taken in hand, and that reform might not take place for years to come. He did not think that would tend to the smooth or satisfactory working of the new Transvaal Constitution.
The other point in which he entirely dissented from the decision of the Government was that instead of giving to the Transvaal responsible government they were going to give it representative institutions. He and his friends were not in a position to say whether the time had arrived when the Transvaal was fitted for complete self-government. But it would have been far better, if necessary, to have waited for a further period in order to grant, as one step, complete self-government rather than representative institutions. The Government had always said that they intended to treat the Transvaal on the basis of a self-governing colony, and that the Colonial Secretary was bound by the pledges of his predecessor. But the only pledge given by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham was that at some time or other the Transvaal should have full responsible government. The Colonial Secretary had spoken of the risks of giving full responsible institutions to the Transvaal; but whatever steps were taken in this matter there were risks. The unfortunate thing about South Africa was that there were risks in any course of action which might be taken there. In his opinion, however, there was less risk in giving a full Constitution to the Transvaal at the proper time than in carrying this proposal of representative institutions and then subsequently granting a Constitution. He was glad to think, in respect of the racial difficulties, that a large section of British sub- 624 jects in the Transvaal were in accord and in co-operation with the Dutch, and this agreement and co-operation would do a great deal to help the future government of the country. He feared, however, that the grant of a. representative system, instead of reconciling the Dutch, might alienate the British, and thus there might spring up a common antagonism against this country, who, after all, would still remain responsible for the country. A good feature about the proposal of the Government was that it would not need any very revolutionary step to move from the present position to the next step of full self-government.
The substantial difference between a constitutional and representative government was that in the one case the Executive was under the control of the representatives of the people, and in the other case the Executive was irresponsible and could neither be made nor dismissed by the representatives. Having quoted from Sir Charles Bruce in condemnation of a system of hybrid Constitution which existed in so many Crown Colonies, he pointed out that there were drawbacks and dangers in. the representative system as compared with complete self-government. Under it the Executive had the power of the purse, though in the minority, while the representatives in the majority had the pow to refuse the proposals of the Government and to criticise the subjects brought before them. The minority could prevent the majority from having their way, and the majority could similarly block the proposals of the minority. On the one side there was power without responsibility on the other responsibility without power. This position of affairs was not calculated to smooth the working of Government institutions as. a whole. There was also the serious danger that such a Constitution must almost certainly lead to friction, justifying or even compelling delay in the granting of fuller powers. Finally, instead of self-government being given spontaneously and received gratefully, it would be given grudgingly, under pressure, and received without favour.
625 He hoped, however, that those interested in this question, would do their best to utilise the Constitut on which had been granted to the Transvaal, to make it successful, and would take a share in its administration and control. He would advise them to do so for this very good reason—that the more they showed themselves desirous of taking part in their own government, the sooner and easier it would be to give full self-government to the Transvaal. Those who sat on the Opposition side of the House still retained a profound belief in the healing virtues of responsible government and liberty. They thought that when the time had arrived for a step to be taken in that direction it should have been the step of granting a complete Constitution to the Transvaal. Such a Constitution would have ensured that liberty, equality, and fraternity which was best calculated to bring peace and prosperity to the Transvaal.
§ MR. PEEL (Manchester, S.)
said that the hon. Member who had just spoken had indulged in gloomy prophecies as to the result of the Constitution now granted and the delay in granting full responsible government to the Transvaal, though at the end of his speech he seemed rather to regret the statements he had made and had expressed the hope that the different races in South Africa would do all they could to work this Constitution in such a manner as would make responsible government possible in the near future. In the course of the hon. Gentleman's observations he had, however, omitted two considerations from his criticisms, one being that neither the Transvaal nor any of the colonies in South Africa were inhabited only by two white races. In the case of the Transvaal there was a vast population of a different character, which rendered all analogies based on the experience of other colonies, where that fact did not exist, entirely alien to the particular problem which had to be considered. The hon. Member made a useful and kindly admission which went far to dispose of the criticisms he had made, because he admitted that the Constitution as at present laid down would require very little change, and all that would have to be done in order to give full responsible 626 government would be to alter the relations of the electoral to the Executive parties. But the hon. Gentleman, went very far when he assumed to bring a general criticism against the whole system of what might be termed half-way houses to colonial Constitutions, and said that he would be willing that the present conditions should exist a little longer, if in the end responsible government was granted to the Transvaal. That was contrary to the chief precedents in colonial government. On questions of this kind they ought to be very careful how they departed from what was the usual course in granting a Constitution. The hon. Gentleman's criticisms seemed to imply that the system of half-way house representative government was likely to be permanent, but as a matter of fact it was introduced by his right hon. friend the Colonial Secretary as a temporary system; introduced merely to give these peoples in the Transvaal an opportunity to learn to work a responsible Constitution when it was granted to them; a Constitution which it might fall to the lot of hon. Gentlemen opposite to grant.
Although the hon. Gentleman had criticised the action of the Government in with holding from the elected body several great questions, notably that of the railways which were controlled by the Inter-Colonial Council, he should not suggest that the Inter-Colonial Council ought to be abolished. The advantages of that body were obvious; they had co-ordinated the railways of the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, and they had stimulated other portions of South Africa in their desire to combine other railways and work them together in one general system for the country. That must eventually come. It was only a question of time. There had been some changes in the composition of the Inter-Colonial Council which dealt with these railways, and as the Constitution of the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony broadened, a broader basis would be introduced into the control of these railways, and that broadening process would go on pari passu with that of the Constitution.
His right hon. friend the Colonial Secretary had laid it down that the 627 natives should not have votes under the new Constitution, and that to safeguard the native races of the country special legislation was to be passed in the Colonial Legislature, legislation relating to native rights and interests. If he might venture to make a suggestion, he would suggest that that was not enough, because it might be that insufficient legislation, or legislation which was not of the proper kind, might be passed to deal with native interests. It had also to be remembered that there was a certain amount of native representation in Cape Colony, and although he would not say that it had worked well, there was a means of communication between the dark races of South Africa, and a certain feeling of annoyance might arise from the fact that while they had no voice in the affairs of the Transvaal, their fellow races in Cape Colony had some means of influencing the authorities of that colony. He would therefore suggest that there should be one or two gentlemen in the council itself to definitely represent native interests. I hey should ascertain what the wishes of the native races were, and influence, so far as they could, the council in those matters. That was a matter he ventured to press on his right hon. friend. He strongly deprecated many of the statements made that because of some technicality in connection with the guarantee, those who guaranteed the £30,000,000 would repudiate their guarantee when elected to the council. He believed that they fully recognised their obligations, and that their guarantee would be taken up. It would be, he thought, most unfortunate, if they were to suggest that these men, after taking advantage of a bargain or arrangement of that kind, would go back upon it. It seemed to him inconceivable that men who wished to start on a new representative career, shortly to emerge into full responsible government, should seek to repudiate the responsibility and obligations they had voluntarily taken upon themselves.
§ MR. FULLER (Wiltshire, Westbury)
said that it was his last wish to approach the subject raised by his hon. friend in a controversial or Party spirit, but he 628 wished to echo the opinion expressed by his hon. friend that a certain resentment was felt in certain quarters at the boast which the Colonial Secretary had made, that because his colonial policy in South Africa bad not been challenged by the Opposition in that House that therefore that policy was approved of. He reminded the right hon. Gentleman that apart from the reasons given by his hon. friend for not raising the question before, there was a third reason which had not been given. The first reason given for not raising this question before was that there was no urgency, and the second was that the whole matter had been removed from the purview of that House. But the third reason, which had not been put forward, was their desire and endeavour to criticise these matters in such a way as not to prevent the peace, prosperity, and safety of South Africa being achieved by anything that might be said either in or outside that House.
While he agreed generally with the views expressed by his hon. friend, he thought the Orange River Colony would be fortunate if it was allowed to go by one step from Crown colony government to full responsible government. He was at a loss to understand why the Government had embarked on the policy embodied in the proposed Constitution. There had been no demand whatever for this "halfway house" policy from either Boer or Briton in the colony. There had been no great grumbling against the policy of Crown colony government. The Dutch population were accepting the inevitable in no unfriendly spirit, and were looking forward to the time when responsible government would be given, but as the result of the introduction of this proposed Constitution the white population of the Transvaal had divided itself into two hostile camps, and political agitation, which was practically unknown until November of last year, had greatly developed. He thought, therefore, that on all grounds it would have been better to have deferred the settlement of this question until some future date, and then to have granted full responsible government. If the future of South Africa was to be assured as an integral portion of the British Empire, it was absolutely essential 629 that the active co-operation of the Dutch population should be enlisted in the government of the country. So far as could be judged, this Constitution would not secure the co-operation of the Dutch population, and he believed that if such a system of government were imposed upon the Transvaal it Was bound to fail in the long run. The policy was not Lord Milner's, but had been imposed upon the Colonial Government in the Transvaal by the Government at home. That was evident from the speech of Lord Milner in reply to a deputation from the Progressive Party at Johannesburg on January 10th last, when he said—Entirely apart from any personal opinion, I have received instructions from the Home Government to make what suggestions I can and to throw what light I can upon the execution of what is their settled policy—which is to introduce here a representative Legislature elected by the people, with an Executive which will continue for a time to be appointed by the Crown.Whether or not the Government received advice from Lord Milner, they had no right to refuse to take the fullest responsibility in the matter. It was only necessary to read the Blue-books to see that both parties were in agreement on many matters, including the electoral areas, the basis of the franchise, and, in substance, as to responsible government being the only possible future government for the colony. Practically the only difference between them was as to when responsible government should be granted. He thought, therefore, the Government should have deferred the settlement of the question until the psychological moment, agreed on by both Parties, arrived, when full responsible government could be granted. The dangers involved in the proposed Constitution were very real. By setting up a nominated Executive, practically at the mercy of an elective Assembly, they were running the risk of bringing the whole Government to a deadlock. Mr. E. P. Solomons, at a, public meeting in Johannesburg, said—The result of the proposed Constitution will be that you will create ill-feeling amongst our personal friends; there will be disruption amongst the English section of this community, and there will be the alienation of the Dutch population. Once the disruption and alienation occurs, it will take years to bring then into the position which they formerly occupied.630 Then, speaking of the Progressive Party, he said—Are these men going to take this responsibility for the sake of one solitary year? —his point being that the Progressives were anxious, after a little delay, to a; rant responsible government. That being so, it would have been only sensible, wise, and statesmanlike to have deferred the settlement. It was too late to ask the Government to hang up the matter. The Constitution would soon be in operation; but, in the interests of peace and the future of the colony, he earnestly urged the Government to grant full responsible government at the earliest possible moment.
§ Mr. WORSLEY-TAYLOR
(Lancashire, Blackpool) thought that all would agree that this matter should be treated as outside Party controversy, and that nothing should be said that would tend to jeopardise the harmonious working of the Constitution. It had been said that there was no demand for this proposed Constitution, but from the very first page of the Blue-book he found a reference to a most powerful association, containing the leading men in the Transvaal, the first two articles of which were the maintenance of the British flag, and the immediate fulfilment of the promise of the establishment of representative government on liberal and fair terms with a view to clearing the way for the granting, as early as might be expedient, of the freest and fullest form of responsible government.
§ Mr. FULLER
said he distinctly stated there was no agitation for that particular form of Constitution before November, 1904.
§ MR. WORSLEY-TAYLOR
did not think the date was very material. One of the sections of the terms of peace provided that military administration should at the earliest possible date be succeeded by civil government, to be followed as soon as circumstances permitted by representative institutions leading up to self-government. This measure of representative government was in accordance with the section. It was justified by the history of the case 631 and by the Vereeniging Treaty, which was submitted to the burghers and ratified by them.
With regard to the general circumstances of the country, he wished to point out that there were two races in South Africa. Whether the Boers were in a majority as to population, or whether they would have a majority of voters he could not say; but even if they were not in a majority they would have a minority so powerful that by allying themselves, with another party they would dominate the situation. Since the conclusion of the war they could not shut their eyes to the fact that some of the Boer leaders had shown themselves hostile, and many of them had abstained from co-operating in any of those measures which had been brought forward to restore prosperity to the country. Good work had been done under Lord Milner of a civil, economic, and municipal kind in which the Boers might very well have co-operated. That the new Constitution was very generous to the Boers nobody could deny, for although not long ago they were in arms and made war against us, there was not a single thing under the Constitution which was now being granted to our fellow-countrymen in the Transvaal which was not granted to the Boers as well. There was no other nation on the face of the earth which would have treated a community of that kind so generously.
There was another matter which to his mind was one of great moment, and that was the opinion of the Progressive Association. He did not want to go into names, or introduce comparisons, but nobody would deny that there were amongst the members of the Progressive Association men who were recognised as leaders of public opinion in the Transvaal. It included men of all shades of opinion, men who fought for us in the war, eminent constitutional lawyers, men who had done most useful municipal work, prominent commercial men, and leaders of the mining community. The members of the Progressive Association had declared against granting responsible government, and they asked that the terms of the Treaty of Vereeniging should 632 be carried out in their entirety. He ventured to say that if the Government had disregarded an appeal of that kind from the people on the spot they would have been doing wrong.
Since the promulgation of the new Constitution there had been a greater advance towards co-operation on the part of the Boers than had been displayed during the whole of the time that had elapsed since the war. He noticed that in a speech delivered the other day, General Louis Botha said that they must show the Government of this country that they were loyal. For his part, said General Botha, he intended to turn over a new leaf and make a new start, and it was the duty of all Boers to do all they could to help Lord Selborne to carry on successfully the government of the country. He was glad to read statements of that kind from influential Boer leaders, and they ought to do all they could to encourage them to co-operate under the new Constitution, and not discourage, them by adverse criticism of it. The Boers were now registering themselves as voters in order to be able to exercise their rights and functions under the Constitution, and for such reasons as these he hoped we might draw the inference that they intended to co-operate loyally with their fellow-countrymen under the new Constitution, which lent itself to a gradual approximation to that fuller form of responsible government which they all desired to see introduced at the earliest possible moment. It was so drawn that members of the Executive could be chosen from those who were elected. It was, therefore, possible under the new Constitution gradually to approximate very closely to the fuller form of responsible government. He hoped that before many years were over they would find all parties in the Transvaal joining together and saying to this country, "Now that we have proved ourselves able to co-operate with you under this Constitution in bringing prosperity to the Transvaal we ask you to grant us responsible government." Then, and not till then, would any Government be justified in granting that full measure of responsible government to which the new Constitution, which had been recently promulgated, was the stepping stone.
§ MR. BLACK (Banffshire)
said he was sure they all welcomed what the hon. Member had said in regard to the sincerity of General Botha's intentions, but if such evidence meant anything at all it ought to lead to quite a different conclusion to that which the hon. Gentleman opposite had drawn. Such declarations rather led to the conclusion that instead of introducing elements of difference and friction the Government should at once accept such professions of loyalty as real, and grant complete self-government to the Transvaal.
He had risen more to point out that the present condition of affairs in South Africa was a complete and absolute condemnation of the policy of the Government as stated by the right lion. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham whilst he occupied the position of Colonial Secretary. What did they find? The forecast made by the late Colonial Secretary had been completely falsified. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham stated that the real reason for embarking upon the war was that unless they did so and rejected the proposals of President Kruger it would be necessary to maintain an armed force in South Africa of 25,000 men with the inevitable result that our whole Army system would be thrown into confusion. As a result of the war they found that they were still maintaining an armed force of 25,000 men, for they were keeping up in South Africa a constabulary numbering 5,000, and 20,000 British troops. For what reason were they being maintained? Because they could not trust the people. In South Africa there was a white population of 250,000 men, women, and children; and out of that total about 50,000 were capable of bearing arms. Therefore, they had one soldier or policeman for every two men in the Transvaal and Orange River Colony. Not only this, but the expenditure upon the constabulary was about £1,000,000. What did that mean? That every man, woman, and child (outside the Rand) in the Transvaal and the Orange River colony was subject to a charge of £4 a head, or £20 per household. The total cost of Government in all its departments in this country was £3 10s. or £4 per head. Therefore, in South Africa 634 they were subjected to as heavy a charge for police alone as the whole expense of governing these islands. In addition to this charge on the people of the new colonies, the people of this country had to maintain those 20,000 troops at a cost of £4,000,000, and that was a large proportion of the whole outlay upon our military establishments. They thus found that we had obtained no relief through the war from the burden of maintaining a large force in Africa, and he ventured to say that the form of Constitution now proposed by the Government would not give them relief. They would still require to govern by force and not by reason. The Government could not take their courage in both hands and go forward and trust the people. He, therefore, supported the hon. Member for Poplar in urging that every consideration of policy and economy pointed to an early grant of self-government instead of the intermediate stage, which almost, by universal experience, led to friction and to the delay of the consummation of self—government under the British flag which they all desired.
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
said there was a certain degree of unreality in this debate, for the Transvaal Constitution had been promulgated irrespective of the opinion of the House, and without their having an opportunity of considering it beforehand and offering their judgment upon it. He ventured to say that the course which the Government had pursued for a considerable time in regard to the House of Commons had diminished the power of the House. However, they must say something in regard to the new Constitution of the Transvaal, because it greatly affected this country. He did not propose to refer to precedents, although the Colonial Secretary in his covering despatch to Sir Arthur Lawley had laid considerable stress on precedents. He believed it was true that in many, if not most cases, responsible government had been preceded by a form of purely Crown government. But in all cases—certainly in Canada, Cape Colony, and, he thought, in some of the colonies of Australia—friction had become extreme, because there was an irresponsible Assembly without the power of expressing opinons, while alongside of 635 it there was a Government which was responsible, but responsible only to itself. He did not wish to dwell on these precedents, although some things had been said by distinguished statesmen in the past warning the Government of the danger of the course taken in this case, namely, the half-way course. After all, they should not be governed by analogy. What they had to do was to use common sense and to see whether partial self-government was advisable and what were the proposals of the Government which were now to be carried into effect.
The Legislative Assembly had four-fifths of elected members—he did not say anything of the franchise at the moment—and therefore they could carry, if they had a mind to do so, any rote they thought proper. But what had they withdrawn from it? They had withdrawn from it the salaries of all the servants of the State. In other words, they might object in the strongest possible manner to the conduct of one person or another, but they would not have an opportunity of discussing it on the Estimates because those salaries were taken out of the Consolidated Fund. They could not remove a single member of the Administration, however strongly they might disapprove of him. In that way they could not enforce any active administration at all. That was a very serious matter. That meant that the constabulary could act as it pleased. The power of criticising the constabulary was withdrawn from the Legislative Assembly. The revenue and expenditure of railways were withdrawn. The railways were the greatest source of revenue in the Transvaal, and the railway management had been giving rise to great dissatisfaction in recent months, as everyone who read the papers on the subject was well aware. In addition to that the Governor could not pass any law relating to Asiatics or natives without referring it home. There was an express power reserved which he thought was unprecedented. The power was reserved to the King in Council, notwithstanding the grant of this quasi— Constitution, to disallow any laws which the council thought fit to pass, over-riding the Legislative Assembly by the mere issue of an Order in Council. If that was 636 according to precedent well and good, but, whether it was so I or not, it was surely against the rule laid down more than a hundred years ago by Lord Mansfield, who said—The Sovereign need not grant a Constitution unless he thinks fit, hut once he grants a. Constitution that Constitution is irrevocable.That law had been abrogated by the form of this Constitution.
What could the Legislative Assembly do? They could discuss grievances, and they could point out the defects of Ministers. They could stir up dissatisfaction and discontent all over the country. He did not say they would do it. But they could not invoke a. certain remedy fur the purpose of removing grievances. That was a situation-which must necessarily lead to friction. It was contrary to the interests of this country, and also to the real interests of the Transvaal, that this state of things should be set up. In the first place what were the interests of this country? Under the new Constitution we should continue to be responsible for the government of the Transvaal. He noticed that one of the planks of the Progressive Association was that Party politicians in this country were not to interfere in the affairs of the Transvaal. He was perfectly certain that nobody wanted to interfere in the affairs of the Transvaal, but we must look into them and prevent them from being a constant source of expenditure to this country.
He noticed that the Colonial Secretary, in a speech the other day, said in substance that almost all the millions which had been spent on the great works which were being carried out had come directly or indirectly out of the mines. The right hon. Gentleman could not have been correctly reported, or he did not mean. it in a literal sense. The Blue-book stated that the expenditure which had been incurred for these very purposes came out of the guaranteed loan. He thought that was very likely what the Colonial Secretary referred to. That was money which was advanced by this country. they had spent £3,000,000, roughly, on new railways; £4,500,000 had been advanced by way of loans; £4,500,000 had been spent on charges in the way of repatriation; £2,200,000 637 had gone for land settlement; nearly £1,500,000 on other public works; and £1,500,000 on the improvement of railways. All that had come out of the guaranteed loan—that was to say, the money which was provided on condition that £30,000,000 would be contributed by the Transvaal towards the cost of the war. That was not all. There had been in addition to that, since the war concluded, a sum of upwards of £20,000,000 spent out of the pockets of the people of this country which was not to be repaid. The late Colonial Secretary, answering a Question which he put to him two years ago, said that between £15,000,000 and £16,000,000 would be spent, and he understood the present Colonial Secretary to say, in the debate last year, had been spent, to repair the mischief which had been wrought through the devastating war. He was making no complaint about that, for there were many things which we were under an absolute obligation to do for the purpose of repairing the mischief. But we were still paying about £4,000,000 a year for the garrison in South Africa which consisted now of 20,000 men. Ten years ago we had less than 4,000 men there. The present garrison of 20,000 men represented nearly one-tenth of the adult population of the Transvaal. We would have to keep up that garrison as long as there was not peace and goodwill in the country. That was one of the reasons why politicians in this country were bound to take an interest in the affairs of the Transvaal.
It would be a good thing to have responsible government in the Transvaal for the sake of that country itself. He said this because in this country and in the House they did not possess the necessary knowledge, and the information was not accessible to them, to enable them to settle the difficult questions which arose in the Transvaal. There was, to begin with, the matter of Chinese labour. That was a question of infinite difficulty. From some points of view it was a matter which should be settled in accordance With opinion out there. It was a question which could not be settled according to opinion here. So it was with regard to the Asiatic question. So it was with 638 regard to railway rates and Customs charges, which made the cost of living out there three times what it was in. this country. Were the gold mines to pay only 10 per cent.? That was a matter which had to be settled, as well as other kindred things, by opinion out there and not by us. Every one of the subjects he had referred to were withdrawn by the Constitution from the decision of the new Legislative Assembly. All these things were reserved. for the Executive Government, and the consequence was that we should not get rid of the responsibility, and, what was much more important, the people of the Transvaal would not be able to settle these matters according to what they themselves thought was right. He had no doubt that Lord Selborne and other Ministers who might be sent there would desire to do their duty, but what was the use of having a Constitution which did not command the support of the people to be governed. Power should be bestowed on the people themselves, because they knew where the shoe pinched. That was an elementary fact in human government which had been forgotten. We should not satisfy these people until we gave them responsible government.
He had said nothing at all about the Orange Free State. What he was putting forward was the goal which was professedly aimed at by the Colonial Secretary. When he said "professedly" he did not say that the right hon. Gentleman was affecting it. It was the goal which was provided for by the Treaty of Vereeniging. Why was nothing to be given to the Orange Free State? He did not know whether it was a fact, but it was said that in the Transvaal there was not a majority of Boer voters, while in the Orange Free State there was a majority of Boer voters. It was said that that was the reason that nothing had been done for the Orange Free State. He hoped not. Let them think for a single moment what that meant. It meant that a great part of the manhood in the Transvaal at the present time was there by reason of the mines. He did not know how long the mines would last. Probably they would be temporary, but there was likely to be for a long time 639 to come a preponderance of men who went there for the purpose—the legitimate purpose—of making their way in the world and returning home. They did not take their families there, and they did not rear families there. They were largely single men. The Boers had their families there. They were proverbially a prolific race. They were increasing enormously, and bad been doing so far the last century.
It was essential for us to consolidate our position in South Africa and to follow out the old policy which was carried on before the misery came arising out of the Jameson Raid. South Africa could not be governed successfully except with the consent and goodwill of the population. It was true that the Boers had fought and had been beaten; but how long would the memories of their struggle last? There were a class of memories not likely to fade away in three, four, five, ten, or twelve years. There were memories on hoth sides which, so far as the combatants on both sides were concerned, they were entitled to be proud of. He was speaking not of the politicians, but of the men who fought in the field, and who risked their lives. Lord Kitchener himself had said that if be were a Boer he would be proud of these memories. Now, as he understood human nature, that was the frame of mind in which they could best approach the Boers, in a spirit of confidence and trust. And that was the reason why he said that when the Government was going to give the Transvaal a new Constitution they should have granted responsible self-government. That would have been the best for South Africa, for the Boers, and for all concerned.
THE MASTER OF ELIBANK (Edinburgh, Midlothian)
asked if the High Commissioner had the power to appoint to the Executive Council men who had been elected to the Legislative Assembly? If so, he thought it would considerably facilitate business in the council if he were to appoint two or three of the leading citizens to the Executive Council.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. LYTTELTON,) Warwick and Leamington
said that the High 640 Commissioner had the power to appoint elected members to the Executive Council, but that appointment by the High Commissioner would necessarily vacate the seats of the elected members of the Legislative Assembly, as in the case of Ministers here, and their re-election would, therefore, be necessary.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said that he had very little to add to what had been said by his hon. and learned friend as to the Constitution granted to the Transvaal; but he had some Questions to ask as to the present condition of the natives. That was of very great importance, especially in regard to land and education. There had been a desire on the part of a large section of the whites to prevent the natives from having any permanent interest in the land—particularly on the part of the squatters and the leaseholders. In the Report of the Land Commission, two of the members were dissatisfied with the view of the other Commissioners, and held that it would be to the interest of the native population and of the country if a permanent land tenure were given to the natives on holdings which they could work for themselves, instead of being obliged to work on the farms of the white men. Now, there was nothing more to be desired than that in the Transvaal there should be a native peasant proprietary. Under such conditions they would acquire habits of industry and thrift. In that way there could be bridged over the necessary passage from tribal conditions to those to which they must ultimately come in order to take their place in the general social economy of the country. He was anxious to hear some statement of the policy of the Government from the right hon. Gentleman on that point, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not accede to the wishes of those who desired that the natives should be prevented from acquiring land in their own country. His belief was that the natives were better off in regard to the acquisition of land under the old Boer Government than under the present Government.
Similarly in regard to education. He found from the Report of the 641 Commissioner of Native Affairs that the natives paid in direct taxation £280,000 a year. That was a large sum; it was more than they had paid before the war. Let him say, in passing, that the natives were worse off now than before the war. One of the flimsy pretexts for the war was that we were going to do so much for the benefit of the natives. So far from that being true, the natives were now, as he had said, worse ft While the natives of the Transvaal paid £280,000 in direct taxation, the sum expended on native education was only £5,000. That was a very much lower sum than was spent in the other colonies. In Cape Colony, with self-government, the amount contributed in direct taxation by the natives was £105,000, and the public expenditure on the education of the natives was £47,000. He put it to the Committee whether it was not dealing unfairly and unkindly with the natives of the Transvaal to spend only £5,000 a year on their education when they contributed £280,000 in direct taxation? The character of the education was of very considerable importance. It was desirable that that education should not merely be an education in the elements of reading and writing and some knowledge of English, but that the natives should be taught some industries. Nothing would do so much for a backward race as to give them industrial training. There should be a few places where that industrial training could be given—a training which had been found to be so extremely valuable in the Southern States of America. The natives were in a vast majority in South Africa; and when they began to learn to speak English or to arrive at a common dialect they would begin to realise their power and be a far more important element in the country than they were at the present moment. That was all the more reason why we should do more for them now, and endeavour to lead them by a friendly hand.
In regard to the Constitution given to the Transvaal, his hon. and learned friend the Member for Dumfries Burghs and the hon. Member for Poplar had pointed out that if they were to discuss that Constitution properly it ought to have 642 been discussed before that Constitution was settled. They showed how very restricted was the scope left open to the Legislative Assembly and how little that Legislative Assembly could do with effect; how many opportunities there would be for friction; and how much temptation there would be to oppress the natives. That had been found to happen in other colonies where the same experiment had been tried. Let him recall a remark made by the hon. Member for Manchester in connection with the condition of the natives. He said that there would be a considerable advantage in having in the Legislative Assembly some person, not necessarily having a vote, but having a voice in the deliberations where native questions were concerned, and capable of giving expression to native sentiment. There were precedents for that in other colonies.
Although he did not intend to traverse the points of the Constitution which fell short of a system of responsible self-government, there were two points on which he must say a word. One was the provision for giving votes to British soldiers. Could anything be imagined more absurd than to give the electoral franchise to the British soldiers stationed in the Transvaal?
§ MR. LYTTELTON
said that he had stated, in answer to a Question, that the Letters Patent were not designed to give the soldiers a vote, and that the Transvaal Government had been instructed accordingly.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
said that there were cases in which soldiers not living in official quarters would have a vote.
§ MR. BRYCE
said that that was quite a different matter. That was the case in this country and was not open to the exception he had taken.
The other point to which he wished to direct attention, was the provision in 643 regard to the use of language. The late Government in the Transvaal always permitted the use of Dutch in the Volksraad. What possible objection was there to allowing Dutch to be used in the Legislative Assembly? Was it not quite certain that the Lieutenant-Governor, if he was a man of sense, would give that permission? But why should it be thought necessary for a Boer to ask permission to speak in Dutch? The two languages were used in the Legislative Assembly of Cape Colony. There was nothing that had had more effect there in bringing the minds of the two races together, or in removing old jealousies, than in giving permission to use Dutch. It never did any harm. In point of fact, nobody supposed that this provision in the Constitution would have any possible effect in the way of preventing the use of Dutch for many purposes. This question of language was not new. It had existed in many countries: it had never put down the language of either race and had invariably produced friction. He had heard it said that the Danes would have secured Schleswig if they had not endeavoured to put down German.
Lastly, he could not understand why, when a Constitution was being granted to the Transvaal, a Constitution was not also granted to the Orange River Colony. The Colonial Secretary confined himself to saying that they could not do two things at once. The Orange Fiver territory was simple compared with the Transvaal. It had a homogeneous population, there was no capital interest in it, the people were quiet and law-abiding, and the relations between the Dutch and the British, friendly before the war, were friendly now. There was, therefore, no reason to think that the same difficulty would occur there as in the Transvaal. Lord Selborne the other day intimated in a speech that the granting of a Constitution to the Orange River Colony would be a matter of a very short time. Did the Colonial Secretary think that if there were any difficulties and dangers now they would be less serious in four or five years? The concession of a Constitution to the Orange River Colony would have a healing and encouraging effect both there and in the 644 Transvaal. It would be taken as a pledge of the bona fides of the Government, of their willingness not to do things by halves, of their belief that there was a desire both in the British and the Dutch element to come together and to work the Constitution in harmony. It would have been, moreover, an encouraging sign of the spirit in which the Government approached this problem. This spirit of timidity and distrust of the people would inevitably do harm, while the concession of a Constitution to the Orange River Colony would, he believed, have done good. However unsatisfactory might be the position in which this question had been left, he thought that the Colonial Secretary would recognise that it was the wish of the Opposition in making these criticisms to say nothing which would add to the difficulty of working the Constitution he had granted to the Transvaal.
§ MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)
asked, the Colonial Secretary to tell the Committee whether he would be able to take steps to see that all receipts signed by British officers were paid. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham had explained the view that the Government took of this question; but it so happened that there was evidence available to show that some of the receipts, no doubt accidentally, had not been paid, and it was desirable that, a definite pledge having been made to meet these receipts, they should be honoured.
§ MR LYTTELTON
Some of the ritics of the Constitution given to the Transvaal appear to think it never ought to have been granted at all, whilst some think it ought to have been granted, and others think it ought to have been granted in a different form to that proposed. It is not unnatural when hon. Gentlemen opposite hold these diverse views that the conclusion they have arrived at is not altogether cogent. But I desire to recognise that there has been no dissent at all from the proposition laid down by the hon. Member for Poplar when he expressed the hope that all the British representatives in the Transvaal would cooperate in working the Constitution in a 645 generous and loyal spirit. I agree with the advice that the hon. Member has given that it would undoubtedly lead sooner to responsible government being granted if the present Constitution were worked in a cordial spirit. Having said that generally, I will deal in a few words with the Questions put to me.
The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last referred to the question of native policy. Let me say at once it is agreed on all sides that in the evidence and Report of the Commission appointed under the chairmanship of Sir Godfrey Lagden we have a document of the greatest possible merit and importance. It was the result of the most laborious and assiduous inquiry, and it has been welcomed by the Press of the country, Radical as well as Unionist, in a cordial and warm spirit. It would be very un-desirable that Downing Street should dictate to the new Parliament, about to be created, the policy it should adopt, acting, as they probably will act, through the advice of that Royal Commission. I think the right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the effect of reserving native questions to the Constitution. Unless an Act passed by the Legislature of the Transvaal dealing with native affairs was approved by His Majesty's Government in the course of two years it would not become law. Until it is disapproved it is the law, but unless it is approved it will cease to be the law at the end of two years. The provision does not reserve the subject from the consideration of the Transvaal Legislature, but it merely gives an opportunity to the Government to protect, if necessary the natives, for owing to the treaty the natives have no means of representation at the present time and of protecting themselves. The Royal Commission gave particular attention to the subject of the education of the natives as well as to representation. I am certain that both questions will be laid to heart by the Legislature. It would be premature on my part to express any view as to the policy of the Government until we know what is to be the policy of the Transvaal Government upon the subject and the report of the High Commissioner on it. With regard to this question of native races the light hon. Gentleman gave, I 646 think, figures which would be misleading if it were not explained that he ought to have accompanied those figures with the statement that there are a great many more natives than white people in the Transvaal; that the proportion of natives to whites is very large indeed.
As to the use of the Dutch language, it was never intended for a moment to depart from the example of Cape Colony as to the permission to speak Dutch within the Assembly. I think that it is an extravagant and exaggerated anticipation to suppose that any Dutchman who wishes to use Dutch in the Parliament to be created will be prevented by any British Government from doing so. It is the intention of the Government that Dutch should be spoken by Dutchmen when they desire to address the Assembly, and there is not the least doubt that the rule followed in the Cape will be followed in the Transvaal, and that every facility will be given to those who desire to speak the Dutch tongue in Parliament.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
In Cape Colony permission is not needed; the right is conferred by a statute passed in 1882.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
The hon. Member is quite right; but there is no difference in substance, in my judgment, between the statute and the permission given by the Speaker of the Assembly.
As to the Orange River Colony, it is the fact that the burden of passing this Constitution and of bringing it into operation is very heavy indeed. But I adhere to what I stated in my despatch, not that it is impossible to bring the two Constitutions forward at the same time, but that it is not an easy or desirable thing to do. I hope we shall get some experience from the criticisms which will necessarily arise on the new Constitution, so that the Orange River Colony may get the advantage of those criticisms, and if there are holes to be stopped up we may stop them in the Constitution when granted to it. But there is a more important reason than that. The Orange River Colony has not asked for this Constitution at all. There has not been a single 647 petition or inquiry from that quarter at all. I have been advised that they do not require this Constituton, and that they would not be thankful for it if they got it.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I am coming to that. I agree that they wish there to be no interval before ultimate responsible government is given. His Majesty's Government have never for a moment swerved from their original policy that responsible government could not be given at the present stage. Therefore, if the majority of the Colony do not wish for this proposed Constitution, but are entirely satisfied for the time being as between the two alternatives before them, there is no reason why it should be given to them.
I come now to the justification of the course which has been determined upon. I ought perhaps to notice three or four points made by the hon. Member for Dumfriesshire. He complained that there had been no Parliamentary debate upon this Constitution. That is true, but no Parliamentary criticism has ever been allowed upon such a Constitution in the history of the Empire. It is not denied for a moment that there are certain important matters reserved from the jurisdiction of the new Parliament. We consider it right, prudent, and just that certain matters should be reserved. There has been no concealment of the fact, aid I do not regret our decision. One of the points is with reference to the salaries of officials. It would have been absolutely useless to have had an Executive responsible to the Government unless it was placed beyond the power of the Parliament to withdraw their salaries. Then there was the question of the railways. The railways are common to both colonies, and it is hoped that in the future there will be an amalgamation of the trunk lines in the self-governing colonies as well as in these two colonies. It would be a deplorable and retrograde step to annihilate the power of the Inter-Colonial Council to deal with the question of the railways of the two States, and to disintegrate the whole question 648 by placing each railway system under the control of the State in which it happened to be The object of Lord Milner from the first has been to create a system of railways throughout South Africa which would be under one board, and the Inter-Colonial Council is an admirable machine for inaugurating that policy.
Then let me reassure my hon. friend with regard to what he thinks is the utter powerlessness of the Assembly. They have the power of legislation and the power of Supply. They can refuse Supply except in the matters which are reserved, and they have the initiative and control in the matter of legislation. The hon. Member would be untrue to all his traditions if lie did not think there was a substantial difference between the power of an Assembly, four-fifths of which is elected by the people and one-fifth nominated by the Executive, and the recent nominated council. The hon. Member for Westbury asked why this Constitution had been introduced at all. One reason is that there was a strong demand for it by the most influential people in the country. In the next place, there have been strong denunciations in this House of the nominated council which existed, I believe indeed that, had it not been for the disfavour with which that council was regarded by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and their strong expressions of that disfavour, that nominated council might have continued longer. With a large proportion of the Dutch in the Transvaal anxious to catch up any criticisms made in this House of the existing Government there was naturally produced a dissatisfaction and a withdrawal of confidence, which but for these criticisms would not have occurred.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I could give many instances, but one will suffice. All through last year His Majesty's Government contended that the majority of the nominated Assembly were in favour of Chinese labour, and that that majority represented the feeling of the country. That was not the opinion of the Opposition. They said the nominated Assembly 649 was no test at all of public opinion. When such a position is taken up, whether it is right or wrong, it is expedient to replace the nominated Assembly by an elected Assembly if we desire to test beyond question the opinions of the country. It cannot be denied that an Assembly elected on a democratic franchise does represent the country.
Then there is another point. It would be a serious thing if the weight which might be placed on some of the words of the hon. Member for Dumfries were placed on them. The hon. and learned Member suggested that the great expenditure on the development of the Transvaal had been advanced by this country. I traverse that statement altogether. Where does he get his authority for saying that we have spent £20,000,000 in this way since the war?
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said that two years ago the right hon. Member for West Birmingham said that £15,000,000 had been spent by this country on the Orange Free State since the war, and last year the right hon. Gentleman put the sum at £20,030,000 or £21,000,000. Hansard would doubtless bear out bis statement.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
My memory is not the same as that of my hon. and learned friend. There has been a £3,000,000 grant to the burghers, £2,000,000 has been spent by the Transvaal itself, and £5,000,000 has been advanced out of the guaranteed loan for the purpose of repatriation. Altogether £10,500,000 has been spent in restoring our late enemies to their homes, reconstructing society, and enabling the burghers to procure building materials, stock, and so forth. But £5,000,000 of that has come out of the guaranteed loan, a considerable portion of which it is hoped may be recovered from the burghers themselves. My hon. and learned friend is really unintentionally using a misleading expression when he says that that money has been advanced by this country. The interest on that £5,000,000 is paid by the Transvaal Government; it is secured on one of the best securities in the world, viz., the railway receipts and the assets of the 650 Transvaal; and it is an absolute illusion to suppose that this country will ever be called upon to bear a sixpence of that charge. As far as the British taxpayer is concerned, the alleged £20,000,000 over and above the £10,500,000 of which I have spoken is completely unsubstantial.
Now I come to the justification of the course we have pursued in reference to this Constitution. In the first place, the granting of the Constitution was a wholly natural course. It was in conformity with, and in pursuance of, the terms of peace, and these terms were emphasised by formal and distinct declarations made by my predecessor, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and by myself. Those promises of a representative Constitution before a responsible Government was granted, were given, I think, on three separate occasions, and were received by this House with silence of unanimous assent, for not a dissenting voice was raised. Obvious prudence, I think, was recognised. From the first it has been the policy to grant this Constitution, in consonance with the uniform policy throughout the Colonial Empire. Canada had representative government for more than fifty years, the Cape had it for nineteen years, Natal for twenty-seven years, and the various States of Australia had it for different terms. If hon. Gentlemen were to look at the history of our own country, they would find that we had representative government, as distinct from responsible government, for many years. It is comparatively modern. I think, I am within the mark in saying that at any rate it was not until the eighteenth century that it was decisively settled that the Ministers of the Crown were not King's Ministers only but Ministers of this House. That is the Constitution, in substance, which is now given to the Transvaal. The Ministers are responsible to His Majesty; they are not necessarily responsible to the Transvaal Assembly. I think I am right in saying, though I confess it is a matter of opinion, that whilst this has been our I invariable practice with regard to the Colonial Empire, whilst it was the practice for many years in England that the only method of influencing the Government and redressing grievances by the 651 British Parliament was by the refusal of Supply, no such generous provisions as I submit we are making in the Constitution of the Transvaal have ever been made by any other country. We, who are 7,000 miles away from the Transvaal, have granted them a Constitution on a far more liberal scale than has ever been done by other countries and one which is in conformity with all the precedents in the Empire.
If you take these facts, if you take the terms of the treaty of surrender and the specific pledges given by my right hon. friend and by myself, and if you take the history that I have ventured to set forth to the House, what reason is there to be found for departing from pledges so specific, or from a practice so uniform, and giving to the Transvaal straight away, as is argued on the other side, responsible government upon grounds of trust? So far from there being grounds for doing this, the reasons are all the other way. Society has scarcely been reconstructed there. You have had for nearly a hundred years friction between the races, culminating in a desperate struggle, which lasted for three years. You have in the Transvaal, in almost equal numbers, members of two races, different in language and different in history, you have further the most important and serious fact, absent in Canada and in every other of the great self-governing Colonies, a native population outnumbering many times the white population of the country. You have troops stationed in the country numbering some 20,000 men, and it would not be human nature—and it is really preposterous to neglect the fact—that the Boers should entertain very cordial feelings towards the Government of this country at the present moment. When you have a difference of race, and when you have had a recent war, with all the feelings naturally resulting from it, are these the conditions and is this the soil in which you ought to plant a novel and hazardous experiment? I venture to say nobody responsible for the government of that country would have given it responsible government. If right hon. Gentlemen opposite were responsible at this moment I feel certain that they would 652 not have ventured as patriots to have done so at this time so near the great war, with confusion still existing, and with feelings of bitterness which necessarily must have been, aroused if they were to gather together in two opposite camps the two races, the Dutch and English, who it is our great hope will ultimately settle down in peace and amity.
Is it fully realised what responsible government means? It means a struggle for the Treasury Bench. It means Party government. It means two Parties, one wishing to retain power and the other wishing to gain power. That is what Party government is in effect, and surely were this Party struggle to be facilitated by the granting of a Constitution such as hon. Gentlemen opposite require, the result would inevitably be a Party vendetta which would deepen and emphasise and stereotype the differences which exist. What has happened already? It is no use uttering smooth things. Let me tell the House what the truth is, earnestly desiring not to be the least provocative or to stimulate any angry feeling in the colony. What has happened there? Already an organisation which consists entirely of the Dutch, called the Het Volh, has been started. It is managed by a committee of seven. I think Generals Botha, Smuts, Delarey, Beyers, and Messrs. Esselen and Wolmerons are the members of it. The constitution is that all the members of it shall obey the regulations and obligations of the association, but the obligations are nowhere defined, and any district ward or association which differs with the central committee—and if these differences are deemed to be antagonistic to the general interests—can be dissolved by a stroke of the pen of the central committee. Of course, no Briton belongs to that association. I ought to mention that General Beyers, a member of the central committee, which has exercised what I call autocratic powers with regard to the management and control of the association, made a speech recently at Petersburg.
§ MR. FULLER
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that that speech was repudiated by all the Boer leaders.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I think the hon. I Gentleman should allow me to state the facts in my own way. I was going to state what I believe to be the fact. He said—If things were not altered, his people would act like the man who threw himself down behind a big stone and used his rifle to defend himself. If the Government does not treat us fairly it will lead to another war in South Africa.It is perfectly true that that was repudiated by certain gentlemen, but I do not observe that General Beyers has ceased to be a member of this autocratic committee. I do not read that speech in order to provoke any feelings of passion. I wish to say at once I think it would be very remarkable if in the Transvaal even at this date, three years from the war, generals who are not always prudent in the use of language should not allow their real feelings to escape them; but I do venture to think you must take note of those facts, not in any censorious or Pharisaical spirit, but as prudent men. You ought to think of these things before you gather into two separate camps the Boers on the one side and the British on the other. You ought to consider whether the members of these two camps are in such a mood as would be likely to lead to disastrous consequences. Somebody has asked if we are not in point of fact doing that by granting the Constitution which has been granted, whether there is not under that Constitution opportunity for the outlet of racial and Party feeling. I do not think so. The great object which everybody who is dealing with this matter should have is the obliteration of the racial spirit. I do not say it is possible for years from now that that racial spirit should be obliterated; but have the Government contributed towards the obliteration of that spirit, or have they increased it?
I will give the reasons why I think the granting of government, in the form of the Constitution we have granted, should tend to the obliteration of the racial spirit. You have already, in the agitation for responsible government, Dutchmen acting with Englishmen. If you give responsible government, Dutchmen would draw themselves up in a phalanx on one 654 side and Englishmen on the other. [Cries of "No, no."] That is exactly what occurred in Canada for many years. In my opinion that would be the result. But there is a wonderful binding power in political co-operation. I often think of the surprise and pleasure which the noble Lord the Member for Ealing and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon must feel when they hear the constant eulogies which are passed upon them by hon. Gentlemen opposite at the present moment. We used not to hear those tributes a few years ago at all. But, as I have said, political co-operation leads to strange and warm friendships, and I am told that already in the co-operation which takes place between Dutch and Englishmen against the Government there is to be found the seal of friendship. But you want to take away that nexus. At present you have got a Government against which from time to time the vote of Dutchmen and Englishmen will unite, and in that very circumstance, in the free play of the political game, you will have, I am sure, fruitful opportunities for obliterating that racial spirit which we all deplore and which we wish to see obliterated. In my opinion if, instead of having a Government which would, in a certain sense, be independent of Party, you were to have a Government which was an ordinary partisan Government, either a Government of the British on the one hand, or a Government of the Het Yolk on the other, so far from giving that opportunity for political co-operation to arise you will most inevitably accentuate the racial line which already exists. I think it is right to mention the difficulties and the obvious dangers which attend the granting of responsible government. I rejoice that no one opposite has for a moment carried the sense of criticism to the extent of saying that he thinks it desirable that that work should be undone, and I am entirely grateful for that attitude taken up by the Opposition.
Let me say that, having dwelt on some matters inauspicious for the future, there are matters which I am sure give us good ground for hope. A great work of material reconstruction is being done. A great work of education is being done. You have twice the number of 655 Boer children being educated that were ever educated before. You have got great systems of railways constructed, in course of construction, and arranged to be constructed. You have great public buildings rising up all over the country. You have municipal freedom already granted and in full operation. You have 1,300 miles of roads already made, and you have enterprises of experimental farming, afforestation, and irrigation. Each of these great works is employing Briton and Boer together in a common task of reducing the forces of nature. Far more placating and far more cohering in their nature are the peaceful pursuits of agriculture even than those of politics, and I feel that in those works which have been undertaken and on which the money of the country is being spent—on those topics men will get together and will forget the differences which in the past have separated them. But, whether that may be so or not, what I do hope for and look forward to is that, though it is now obviously impossible that our Dutch fellow-subjects shall ever recover isolated independence, they will have the opportunity in future alongside of Britons to prove which is the better man, to prove by natural and peaceful emulation who can do the best for the country and who can ultimately at any rate strike the most definite and the most successful blows in order to make this State which has been in the past, no doubt, the scene of great and deplorable disasters, in the future a prosperous State under the British flag.
SIR H. CAMPBELL. BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I do not think that in the whole course of my Parliamentary experience I have ever heard a more unfortunate speech than the one to which we have just listened, or a speech more gratuitously, more wantonly unfortunate in its necessary effect. The right hon. Gentleman is here to defend a certain Constitution which he is giving to one of our new Colonies. He has made a rather lame excuse for not giving it to the other as well; but in order to make things nice and easy in the Transvaal, and to induce that suppression and obliteration of racial spirit which he declares to be his main object, he led off 656 by saying that it was not in human nature that the Boers should be well disposed towards us, and some of the proposals he was making were novel and hazardous experiments, and that probably there would arise in that country a political vendetta.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
If the right hon. Gentleman quotes me I hope he will quote me accurately. I said that if a Party Government were set up at this present moment and under these conditions, these things were likely to happen. I think so still.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
It is most unfortunate that it should be said here that they would happen. You have your new colony in such a condition, apparently, according to the right hon Gentleman, that if you give them a fair and free Constitution, with responsible government, these are the things that will happen, And the right hon. Gentleman tells us that the way to avoid these dreadful consequences would be to have a restricted Constitution, which he is, apparently, reluctantly, and certainly timoroursly and hesitatingly, giving to the Transvaal. I take exactly the opposite view. I think there is only one way to gain the confidence of the population of the Transvaal, Briton and Boer, and that is to take the people of the country with you and to show that you trust them in all respects. And that is what is being demanded at this moment, not by the Boers only, not by this dreadful society to which he has referred, but by a large portion, if not the majority, of your own British fellow-subjects in the Transvaal. And when the right hon. Gentleman says that the way to get rid of all these feelings is to bring the two races into co-operation, they are in co-operation atthis moment in denouncing the Constitution he has given. [Some MINISTERIAL cries of dissent.] Yes, that is so, and therefore it is unnecessary to wait for that co-operation. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that he will satisfy the demands, I will not say of the Boers—put the Boers on one side—but of the British in the Transvaal by the sort of Constitution which he offers, a Constitution where the representatives of the people will be restricted, on the one side and on the other, as 657 to their powers, and in which there will be nominated Government representatives who can do pretty well what they like with most things that men concern themselves with. And the right hon. Gentleman thought that that would satisfy the British in the Transvaal! If there is any truth whatever in the information which filters through to this country, not from. sources prejudiced against the right bon. Gentleman, but even from those which generally support his policy, that is precisely what it will not do. And it never has done so in previous cases.
The right hon. Gentleman used the most extraordinary argument I have ever listened to. He says that we must go back through all the stages upon which full responsible government has been developed, and that it will not do to confer responsible government immediately upon a country which at present has no representation at all, except representation by grace and favour. What the right hon. Gentleman would like to be done with the Transvaal is exactly the sort of Government of which he is a member, permeated by the same spirit, following the same course, having a few representatives, of course, and a nice system of election—a very good system of election in many respects, with no plural voting, for instance, and based on the number of electors, and not. on the population. Having got this Assembly, with this representation, take no notice of it, give it as little power as possible, let it discuss things, let it amuse itself with debates, but let the power remain in the hands of the Executive Government. That is precisely what the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have been seeking, and are seeking, to establish in this country. We need not go any further into that question, because we can deal with it on the occasion of our own affairs being discussed.
But the right, hon. Gentleman says that this intermediate form of representative government is necessary. It is as though you were to say that, when a grown man requires a suit of clothes, he should begin by wearing all the clothes that he wore when a boy. Then, when he has made himself comfortable in these, he would be gradually admitted to the larger and more suitable 658 garments. It reminded me also of children in a nursery who are obliged to munch away through dry slices of bread before they are allowed to have any jam. It is an absurdity to go back in this way upon stages through which we have passed. It may be very well, in dealing with our Colonies, that we began our relations with them by conferring upon them this sort of half-and-half representation. But that was in days when there was only a half—and half system of representation, in many senses, in this country. We had a limited franchise here, and the Colonies with which we were dealing had no representation whatever. But now that we know what representation is and what responsibility is, what is the reason for our doing the thing by halves if it is to be done? And has it been successful in past history? Is it a model that we should follow? Or is it an example to guide us in the other direction? Here is what Lord Durham said in his celebrated report on Canada on the application to Canada of the very system which the tight hon. Gentleman thinks necessary and proper for the Transvaal. He says—It is difficult to understand how any English statesman could have imagined that representation and irresponsible government could be successfully combined.And in another place he says—It was a vain delusion to imagine that, by mere limitations in the constitutional act of an exclusive system of government, a body, strong in the consciousness of wielding the public opinion of the majority, could regard certain portions of the provincial revenues as sacred from its control, and could confine itself to the mere business of making laws, looking on as a passive or indifferent spectator while those laws were carried into effect or evaded, and the whole business of the country conducted by men in whose intentions and capacity it had not the slightest confidence. Yet such was the limitation placed on the authority of the Assembly of Lower Canada. It might refuse or pass laws, vote or withhold supplies, but it could exercise no influence on the nomination of a single servant of the Crown."'That was the condemnation passed by Lord Durham on the experience of Canada. The state of things in those colonies to which this preliminary form of representative government was given may have justified that course being taken at the time. I do not say. But now that we are told that it is a danger 659 to give in the Transvaal the full responsible government, which certainly a huge majority of the inhabitants, including, if not a majority, a very large proportion of the British inhabitants, demand—when we are told that that will be dangerous, and also that the present system, of setting up a few representatives and face to face with them men supporting the Government in all they do, and possessing power over the most intimate affairs of the community, would be a system of harmony and one likely to lead to the success and prosperity af the colony, hat surely is a thing which this House, if it retains any atttachment to its old powers, of which it has been recently so greatly robbed, will surely not hold to be correct.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition began his speech by saying that in the whole course of his Parliamentary experience he had never heard any speech so unfortunate, so unnecessarily and wantonly unfortunate, as that of my right hon. friend. It reminds me of the time when I occupied his place, and when the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his friends continually found that the statements which I made were really of unheard of and unprecedented depravity. But the right hon. Gentleman opposite went on to explain that he applied this language to the speech of the Colonial Secretary, because he had pointed out that if responsible government were given at the present moment—which the Government are not prepared to do—it would lead, in his opinion, as indeed it would in mire, to an exaggeration of the racial feeling which must always prevail under such circumstances as exist row in the Transvaal. But that is a statement of fact, or, at all events, of argument which cannot do anything to provoke special irritation or anger either here or on the other side. But if it be wrong—I do not think the majority of the House will hold that view—permit me to say that then similar language ought to be applied to almost every Gentleman who has spoken on the other side of the House, because they have declared that this unfortunate result would follow if the Government 660 policy is adopted. I do not object to their holding that opinion and expressing it; but I cannot possibly see why it may be right for them to say that racial differences would be provoked by a particular form of Constitution, and at the same time wrong for my right hon. friend to say they would be promoted by a different form of Constitution.
We are really engaged on a more than ordinarily interesting and important discussion. Under existing political circumstances, to which the Leader of the Opposition has so frequently appealed during the course of his speech, there is, I think, a particular interest felt here and in the country as to what is likely to be the policy of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends if he were to come back to office, and that feeling is evidently shared in the Transvaal also. Those who have read the interesting discussion of that association, Het Yolk, to which reference has been made, must be aware that some of the leaders of that association, some of the committee which guides its whole deliberations, went so far as to say that indeed it was hardly worth while to discuss the questions which they had before them, and that they had better wait for the advent to office of a Liberal Administration. I say, therefore, that both in the Transvaal and here it is a matter of serious interest and importance to know what is the opinion, and what will be the policy, of hon. Gentlemen opposite, if their present ambitions are speedily fulfilled.
It is curious, as it seems to me, that even now there appears to be a division of opinion on the other side. It is true that I think everybody who has spoken on the other side has objected, as one would expect, to the particular proposal of His Majesty's Government; but the opener of the debate, the hon. Member for Poplar, and most distinctly the hon. Member for Wiltshire, who made a most interesting and moderate speech, said that they would desire that nothing should be said here and no argument used which would in the slightest degree interfere with the success of the representation now afforded to the Transvaal Although they themselves thought it was 661 not the best form which such representation should take, they would do nothing Toy word of mouth or argument in this House to introduce any obstacle to the success of that proposal. And I gathered from the speech of the hon. Member for Wiltshire that really his complaint was not that the Government had not given responsible government, but that they had given this substitute for it. The speech of the hon. Member was conclusive as to his opinion that it was hardly worth while to create what I think he called an interregnum, and that we had better wait till the time came when we could give full responsible government, and—here is the point—I gathered that in his opinion that time has not yet come. That is most important. There is a great deal to be said, in my opinion, for the view of the hon. Member for Wiltshire; but permit me to point out that his view, and I think that indicated by the hon. Member for Poplar, is quite a different thing from what we have had indicated in the clearest terms from the Leader of the Opposition—that in his opinion self-government in the shape of full responsible government ought immediately to he granted to the Transvaal.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I did not say so. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh."] What I said was that if you move in this direction you should not stop short at the kind of Constitution as now proposed, that that would probably give rise to friction and difficulty, whereas the proper course was to take the people with you and proceed with that responsible government which would avoid those difficulties and give contentment and satisfaction. I did not say that should be done immediately. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh."]
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Well, then, really, what was the meaning of the whole of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman to which the House has just listened? Will he explain his quotation from the Earl of Durham? Will he explain his statement about children and their clothes? Will he explain what was the force and meaning of the whole of his argument, if it did not point directly to an immediate 662 grant? I have heard a great deal about the obscurity of the policy of certain leaders in this House. But I have never heard anything more obscure—[OPPOSITION cries of "Oh, oh !"] I do not object to hon. Gentlemen opposite emphasising the points of my speech, but I hope they will not interrupt me altogether—I say I have never heard anything more obscure than the policy of the Leader of the Opposition. He speaks one way, or what all the House understands to be in one direction, and then gets up and puts a totally different interpretation upon his words. I wonder what General Beyers will make of the policy which has been indicated to-night by the Leader of the Opposition? At any rate, I am glad to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that he did not intend to argue in favour of immediate responsible government. I understand now he is against immediate responsible government. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Then he is neither for nor against it. Really I think I will leave the right hon. Gentleman and come to the hon. Member for Wiltshire, of whose meaning I have no doubt at all.
The hon. Gentleman said that, instead of now granting representative government, which does not entirely satisfy anyone—I think the words he used were that it was no use at all—it would have been better to wait for the time when we could grant full responsible government. To that I reply we were bound by our pledges. I admit there is something to be said for that line; but we could not take it, because it must be remembered one of the conditions of the peace made at Vereeniging was that civil government should take the place as speedily as possible of military government; that we should give some form of representative government which should remain until the time came for the full form of responsible I government. We could not wait—we were obliged to substitute some form of civil government—and in our opinion we were justified in substituting representative, although not responsible, government. I confess that I should hesitate very much to criticise the action of the Government, for the reason that, having 663 had a large experience of office, I know that outside opinion, while very often suggestive and useful, is very often ill-informed. I know exactly what I believe to have been the state of affairs in South Africa two years ago; but I do not know what has taken place there since then, and consequently I do not know how far a judgment that was correct two years ago would be correct now. Therefore it is with some hesitation I say that in my opinion the Government have gone too far.
The hon. and learned Member for Dumfries Burghs went so far as to say that there is nothing to choose between the existing form of government in the Transvaal and the form of government which it is now proposed to create. Why, under the new Constitution, the representatives, four-fifths of whom will be elected by popular vote, will have the power of the purse. Accordingly, if the Boers secure a representation in accordance with their numbers, and if even two or three of the British representatives who may be returned in accordance with their numbers join with them, they will have absolute power over civil Supply, save in regard to some matters, I admit, of considerable importance which are reserved. There is no doubt, therefore, that the power to be given to the population of the Transvaal is considerable. We must all hope that they will make good use of it. But it is not the fact historically that every population of the people to whom representative government of this kind has been given have made good use of it.
It is a curious anomaly that, while the arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite tend in the direction that full responsible government is the specific remedy for every difficulty in a colony or possession, the moment this power or authority has been given to a colony the Liberal Party has carped at their abuse of it, and has asked this House to interfere. I remember in the case of the Constitution granted to Western Australia, that matter was discussed in this House and we granted to Australia full representative government. Again and again there have been debates in this House as to the treatment 664 of the natives by the Government of Western Australia. But let us understand that it must be one thing or another; that if you give full responsible government to the Transvaal it would be absolutely useless and most dangerous or mischievous to interfere, either by speeches or action in this House, with their treatment of the native population, Chinese labour, or any other question on which you hold strong opinions, but as to which they differ from you. Therefore I consider that if you hold yourself bound—as I think we are bound to a certain extent—to protect the natives of these great territories against particular legislation, you must not give responsible government until you are prepared to surrender altogether that right of claim or pretension. That is one of the things which the Government have to consider when it is pressed upon them that they should at once give responsible government to the Transvaal. What we promised is that we should advance by stages. The next step will probably be full responsible government.
Objection has also been taken that the same government which is now being given to the Transvaal has not been given to the Orange River Colony. I think that the experiment—because, after all, every step of this kind is an experiment—might have been far better tried in the Orange River Colony. It is quite true that in that colony there is an enormous majority of the Dutch or Boer population. But they have shown by long experience that they are most capable and moderate administrators—under the admirable rule of President Brand they set an example to the whole of South Africa—and, although I think there is some danger in this experiment, it is in the Orange River Colony that I myself would have been inclined, in the first instance, to take the risk. The risk lies in this—you may give a Constitution to-morrow, but having given it it is almost impossible to take it away. If there should be a mistake you cannot go back. Look at what happened in Cape Colony in the early days of the war. What I believe to have been at that time a majority of the representatives of the colony came to me 665 and asked me to suspend the Constitution which this country had given to them. I did not feel it possible to grant their application, and I incurred a very great deal of unpopularity at the time. I think experience has shown that I was right. But I only refer to the matter in order to show that those who argue in favour of the granting of a full Constitution may live to regret it, or, at any rate, that we may choose the wrong time to grant full responsible government which can never be recalled. I do not think my right hon. friend the Colonial Secretary had any alternative to introducing the Constitution which he has proposed. It is too early to give full responsible government. It was incumbent on us to keep our promise to give representative government. But there remains the question whether too much has been given, as I am inclined to think, or too little, as some speakers on the other side have suggested. I regret that a feeling has been introduced into this debate which was not there before the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. It is absolutely true to say that before the interposition of the right hon. Gentleman the debate was conducted without a spark of political or Party feeling on either side.
§ MR. HERBERT SAMUEL (Yorkshire, Cleveland)
said he rose not to continue the debate on the Constitution but for the pupose of moving a reduction of the Vote of the Colonial Secretary in order to draw attention to the present aspects of the Chinese labour question. It was six months since a word had been said in the House on that subject, which had attracted and was still attracting great attention in the country and among hon. Members in that House. If it had not been debated during that prolonged period it was not because the subject of Chinese labour had lost interest for them, or because their opposition had in any degree abated, but because they had not thought it right to recur again and again to a subject and take up the attention of Parliament until there were new facts to call attention to and new points to be made. There were now many new points to bring to the attention of the Committee, many matters, unforeseen by those who opposed 666 the introduction of Chinese labour, had come to light, and very many which were not only unforeseen by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary and his supporters, but the possibility of which occurring was loudly denied.
One of the things unforeseen by hon Gentlemen opposite was the increase in the supply of Kaffir labour during the last year. Whatever the cause might have been, the fact remained that the supply of black labour had increased by nearly 40 per cent., and there were now more Kaffirs employed in the gold mines of the Rand than before the war. Last year the Colonial Secretary persuaded that House by a Party vote to consent to the Transvaal Importation of Labour Ordinance, basing his case on the alleged fact that there was an overwhelming economic necessity, that the mines were suffering from a shortage of labour, and that that shortage amounted to 30,000 labourers as compared with the supply before the war. The whole of that shortage had now been made up, for in May of last year the number of Kaffir labourers in the mines was 77,000 and in May of this year it was 106,000. If the Colonial Secretary had foreseen that within twelve months the supply of Kaffir labour would have been equal to the supply before the war, would he have embarked upon an enterprise distasteful to the people of this country and repudiated by the almost unanimous voice of our colonial fellow-subjects? If he had only allowed the question to wait awhile, natural economic causes would have worked, the improvement in the treatment of the Kaffir labourers would have had its effect, and the mines would have obtained an ample supply of labour. Could the right hon. Gentleman see his way at least to suspend the further importation of Chinese coolies until the new Constitution was in force and in full working order? That surely might be done, since the main ground put forward for the importation no longer operated. The supply of Kaffir labour during the past twelve months had increased by 38 per cent.; adding the Chinese, the supply of coloured labour had increased 667 by 87 per cent., but the supply of white labour had increased by only 27 per cent. Thus experience had shown that those who continually argued that with an increase of coloured labour there would be a proportionately increased employment for white labour were absolutely wrong.
The increase in white labour had not kept pace even with the increase in black labour alone. A year ago there were 175 whites employed to every 1,000 coloured; the number now was only 115, a reduction of nearly one-third in the proportion. The causes of this reduction were two: first, that the unskilled whites who were formerly employed in considerable numbers had been dismissed or employed otherwise; and, secondly, that machines which gave employment to whites had been discarded in favour of hand-drilling by Chinese labourers. It was true that a certain number of whites had been taken on as supervisors of the Chinese, but their wages had in many cases been reduced by about one-third. The substitution of hand-labour for machine-labour was one of the most important points in the whole controversy. Various reasons were given for the substitution. It was said that the machines caused dust, and that they were uneconomical. But by the elaboration of a system of spraying the unhealthiness caused by the machine drills had been completely removed, and the drills were found quite economical so long as there was no Chinese labour available. The real reason for the change was to be found in the fact that the English population had a comparatively high standard of living, while the Chinese had a low standard; that English labour was comparatively dear, while Chinese labour was cheap.
The Colonial Secretary was wrong also in his prophecy as to the large field of employment which the Ordinance would open to English workmen who chose to emigrate. The right hon. Gentleman, speaking on March 21st, 1904, held out the prospect that if only they could raise the production of the mines to the point which it reached before 668 the war a large field of employment would open for emigrants from this country. There were now a. record number of stamps at work, and the gold production was larger than at any previous point in the history of the country, and yet, according to the Emigration Returns for last year, while there was a net outward movement of 127,000 persons from this country to British Colonies and the United States, to the Transvaal alone there was no emigration, and from South Africa there was a net inward movement. For the first time in the recent history of South Africa there was no emigration to that country. It was the only British colony to which there was no balance of British emigration last year, and in the Monthly Circular of the Emigration Information Office in connection with the Colonial Office, published this month, English workmen were strongly warned not to go to the Transvaal, whether as miners or in any other capacity, as there was no demand for them.
Then as to the position of the Chinese themselves. The House were told that they would have their contracts thoroughly explained to them both in China and in South Africa; that they would go of their own free will; that they would understand the conditions they would have to observe; that they would live in idyllic garden villages, surrounded by their wives and families; that they would prove themselves to be peaceable and industrious people, and that if they found themselves dissatisfied with their conditions of work they could terminate their contracts, and, paying their own passages both ways, return to China. He was perfectly convinced that large numbers of these coolies did not understand the contracts under which they made their engagements. According to information he had received, very many of them were completely ignorant as to the class of work they were undertaking and the conditions of life they would have to undergo. In proof he might quote from a private report drawn up by a Chinese gentleman, of the highest possible testimonials, who was connected with the Immigration Department in the Transvaal. In that report this gentleman stated that he was at 669 Durban when the first batch of Chinese arrived, and in the course of his duties he was careful to question the labourers. To his great surprise more than 50 per cent, of the men did not know what their work was to be. They understood that they were to do hard work, but the nature of the work was absolutely misrepresented to them by the recruiting agents in China. A similar report was presented with regard to subsequent batches. Then he had two letters giving the position from the point of view of the Chinese coolies themselves. One of the writers committed suicide and left the letter behind him; the other attempted to commit suicide but was prevented. One stated that they were helpless; to return to China was impossible; he pitied those who were to remain, and asked his compatriots at the conclusion of their three years service to take his bones back to China. The other said—I expected to work under the sun, but I have to go into deep tunnels under ground. Three long years, foremen beating us right and left. Who would not die?Then as to the wives and children. At the present time there were 41,340 coolies in South Africa. The number of Chinese wives in South Africa was two and the number of children twelve. Ariot occurred at a mine in April last because, as the right hon. Gentleman had explained, leave of absence from the compound had been temporarily restricted. No coolie had been able to avail himself of the benefit of the provision enabling him to terminate his contract and to go back to China, because, of course, it was beyond his power to repay the mineowners for their original outlay and for his passage home.
In one respect the mineowners had been in a considerable difficulty in regard to the employment of these coolies, because, in consequence of the assurances given in that House, there had been inserted in the contract of employment a definite minimum wage. In order to compel the coolies to do a definite amount of work for the minimum wage the employers had resorted to various methods. The white foreman was given the right to withhold the coolies' pay, but that practice was put an end to. Then the coolies were charged before the magistrates with not doing a sufficient day's work, and 670 they were fined and imprisoned. The custom was to post up statements, in Chinese characters, of these convictions, just as in this country the names of people who were convicted of travelling without a ticket were posted on the stations by the railway companies. Another method adopted was the system of promiscuous flogging. The system had prevailed widely, and was resorted to constantly in order to induce the coolies to do what was considered a reasonable day's work. But the worst method of all adopted was in respect of the minimum wage. In the early debates the House was assured by the Colonial Secretary that this wage would be at least 2s. a day, subsequently altered to 1s., rising to 1s. 6d. He held in his hand a copy of a new contract, dated March 23rd, which the coolies had been required to sign. It superseded the contract signed by the coolies in China and on the faith of which they took employment in South Africa. It provided payment at the rate of a halfpenny per inch, or sixpence per foot, for drilling, and the minimum wage was neither 2s. or 1s. 6d., as the right bon. Gentleman had said, but a halfpenny.
§ MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
They were pressed to sign it, though not, of course, under the coercion of troops.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
Do I understand him to allege that a halfpenny represents the minimum wage of 1s. 6d., or what does he mean?
§ MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
Yes, that is what I say—a halfpenny per day. This contract was made in connection with the New Comet Mine. Some of the coolies refused to sign it, and a message was sent to the manager to say that the coolies must sign it. So much pressure was brought to bear on the Chinese that 671 they at last signed the contract. It was this contract that had caused the first riots among the Chinese. He was rather surprised that the right hon. Gentleman thought that he ought to have given him some notice in regard to this point. He had no desire to be discourteous. He would, however, remind the right hon. Gentleman that not long ago he put a Question to him as to the cause of these riots, and he replied that this riot had originated in a difference with regard to wages and the terms upon which these coolies were to be put upon this work. The new contract which the coolies had been pressed to sign provided for a minimum wage of one halfpenny and a maximum of 3s.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
The hon. Member, I think, is rather misleading the House. An average day's work in the mine is thirty-six inches, and at one halfpenny per inch that works out at 1s. 6d. As a matter of fact, many coolies do much more. Therefore, so far from it be ng true or accurate that halfpenny represents 1s. 6d., in point of fact the coolie received 1s. 6d. for a fair day's work and many of them earned more.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
If the coolie does not care to accept the terms which the hon. Member has referred to, he is entitled to receive the minimum of 1s. 6d. per day.
§ MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said they practically had no choice. Their riots had been suppressed. 1,250 of them had been in prison for desertion, rioting, and other offences against the Ordinance. The riots at the New Comet Mine had not been isolated instances. Month after month there had been riots and disturbances on a large scale owing to the dissatisfaction of the Chinese coolies with their condition. He had received letters from the white miners' organisation vehemently protesting against the whole system of Chinese labour. A deputation of white miners had waited on Lord Selborne praying him for protection against the danger to which they might 672 be subject in the mines from the coolies. These disturbances were the inevitable outcome of the system of attempting to govern people after depriving them of their liberty. The number of imprisonments was increasing. In April it was 378, a number equivalent to a rate of 4,503 a year. If such a method of employment were attempted in this country, however excellent were the buildings in which the miners were housed, however generous the diet, however great the economic necessity, and however powerful the financial interests concerned, the indignation of a freedom-loving people would sweep it away in a moment.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries, Wages, and Allowances) be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the Secretary of State for the Colonies."—(Mr. Herbert Samuel.)
§ MR. BRIGHT (Shropshire, Oswestry)
said he was sure the Committee had listened with great interest to the exhaustive speech of his hon. friend. He himself approached the question on wider and different grounds. The introduction of Chinese labour in South Africa, influencing as it did the conditions of white labour and black labour, was equally disastrous to the interests of South Africa and of this country. As compared with the time before Chinese labour was brought to South Africa, he found that there were about 3,000 more whites employed now in the mines; coloured men had increased by 30,000; and the number of Chinese introduced was 35,000. Before the entry of the Chinaman in May, 1904, there was one white man to six coloured, and now there was one white man to nine coloured and Chinese. But if they took the newcomers who had arrived since the Chinese came, they found that there was one white man to about twenty-one coloured and Chinese. Sir George Farrer stated on 31st March, 1904, at Dreifontein, that for every seven Chinese employed there would be one white man employed. They now found that the prophecy had been entirely falsified, as the mineowners, prophecies always had been falsified. According to the Government's own 673 labour journal for July the introduction of Chinese labour had not increased, but had tended to diminish the employment of white people in South Africa. The building trades in Johannesburg were in a state of stagnation, and—In spite of the large output of gold the local supply of white labour was more than sufficient.His hon. friend had spoken of how the Chinamen were recruited. They were what was called in connection with shipping "crimped." He would read an extract from a perfectly non-political source to show how Chinamen were decoyed into coming. It was from Reuter's correspondent at Hong-Kong under date October 22nd last year—From information which I specially sought while in Kwangsi Province, there seems no doubt that the Viceroy of the two Kwangs has inquired whether captured rebels would be accepted by the emigration authorities. The reply was in the affirmative, providing that the men came voluntarily. The Viceroy has since issued a proclamation, but the Kwansi freebooters prefer to remain away from any possible chance of capture. They believe the action of the Viceroy is a ruse to take them prisoners. Some little time ago a number of men in chains were sent to one of the recruiting stations, but were refused admittance, and a strongly-worded protest was made to the Viceroy. Since then this official has refrained from despatching men, and it seems improbable that he will be able to secure any.That was the sort of thing that had been going on. They were brought to South Africa under false pretences. He distinctly said that if the British public had known that the war was going to end in indentured labour in the mines for the benefit solely of the mineowners, there would have been no war at all. At the bottom of all this had been the attempt to get cheap labour. In April, 1904, The Times in its commercial supplement said—With regard to Chinese labour, it is certainly unfair that the mining companies should be compelled to pay a minimum wage of a shilling a day, which is increased to 50s. a month after the first six months. Under the existing arrangement a Chinese coolie can do as small an amount of work as he sees fit, and the company by which he is employed must pay him his stipulated wage whether he has earned it or not.The mineowners looked after their own interests and they wanted labour, black yellow or white, as cheaply as they possibly could get it.
674 His hon. friend had referred to the practice of flogging at the mines. Replying to a Question which he himself put on this subject, the Colonial Secretary declined to admit that there was flogging, but since then further information as to flogging had been furnished by his hon. friend the Member for Morpeth. Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe, representative of the South African Trades Councils, Chorley, Lancashire, had written a letter, from which it appeared that the practice was unfortunately pretty prevalent. There was no doubt that the introduction of Chinamen was gradually eliminating white men from the mines. The mine-owners were now introducing black convict labour, and he wanted to know how that came about. In the last Blue-book it was said that the number given did not include 690 coloured convicts. He wanted to know by what authority and on what terms these convicts were employed, and how that entered into the idea of the good government and treatment of the natives. The fact was that this indentured labour, whether of Chinese or native blacks, was absolutely wrong, contrary to humanity, to Christianity, and to all our principles of liberty. All the great Empires of the past had fallen from their failure to deal fairly with the inferior races. It was that which destroyed the Roman Empire and the Spanish Empire, and which would also destroy out Empire, if that policy were continued to be pursued. He could quote the great authority of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham who, speaking in defence of the Majuba settlement, in one of the greatest speeches the right hon. Gentleman had ever made, said on July 25th, 1885—Then as to slavery, he had no doubt that it would be put down. The indentureship, it might be admitted, was almost as bad as slavery, and they had made a stipulation that that should be done away with. But while they denounced indentureships amongst the Boers, they must remember that it had existed for years and still existed in some of their British Colonies. He had himself called attention to the fact that hundreds of children had been separated from their parents, and especially also to cases where the widows and orphans of men killed in the wars had come under the abominable system of indentureship, and with no guarantee whatever for their treatment or future liberty. It was a bad practice whether accepted in the Transvaal or in the Colonies; 675 they had tried to put a stop to it in the Transvaal, and they hoped that this example would have due weight elsewhere, so that the shame of the system might no longer attach to the British name in any of their Colonies.He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that the system of indentured labourers, wherever it had been introduced in our Colonies, was contrary to our ideas of liberty and was to the disadvantage of both the inferior and superior races. The superior race invariably abused its power and received as much damage as it gave to the inferior. It was one of the greatest curses from which this country had suffered. It was the apotheosis of might as against the rule of right.
§ SIR BRAMPTON GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
said that he had never yet had an opportunity of speaking on this question, although he had been very anxious to do so because he was interested in all questions relating to native labour, and because he had had considerable experience in South Africa, and knew something of the subject. He did not wish to address himself to the condition of the compounds, because he believed that improvements had been made in them on account of the constant attention paid to the matter in this country. But there was a great deal of cruelty perpetrated on the Chinese labourers; and the employment of Chinese at all in the mines was directly opposed to the promises made by the Government supporters at the last general election when it was said that the Transvaal was a white man's country. At that time he said that the Transvaal was a white man's country, but not a good white man's country. He pointed out that it was not an agricultural, but a pastoral country, where no rain fell for five months of the year, and that the Boers then went into the bash in waggons, with their herds, in order to get food for their cattle. He said that although that might suit the Boer farmer it would not suit the British farmer. Now because he had used these words—which had been used since by the present Colonial Secretary, the whole of his constituency was placarded with bills containing vile lies. All these placards were sent down from London, and were not issued by the local Conservatives. He thought he might speak 676 of his own Conservative constituents as Napoleon did of the British soldiers: the Conservatives of North Norfolk are the best in the world; happily there are not many of them. He did not mind being called a little Englander. He was proud of his country. He was born and brought up in little England, and what little public work he had done he had done for little England.
Every Tory candidate had told the electors that the Transvaal and the Orange River Free State were the most splendid countries for white men—that they were perfect El Dorados for farmers, labourers, and artisans; and Lord Roberts in a speech said that those who had served their country in the field were to be given the first opportunity of obtaining employment in these countries, and that he hoped it would not be long before they would be able to avail themselves of their privileges. He, himself, remembered one member of the Yeomanry who had actually taken with him to Southampton a plough which he was going to use when he had settled in South Africa after the war ! If ever there was a mandate given to a Government in this country it was that at the last general election the British Government was to find a new field for the British workman.
They were told by no less important a statesman than the late Colonial Secretary that the war was a miner's war. It was not a miner's war, but a mineowners' war, a Stock Exchange war, a contractor's war. He had gained the experience in South Africa twenty-five or thirty years ago that it was contractors that made wars. When Ministers received correspondence about British Indians not getting their rights in South Africa, and that the natives were not being treated fairly, they should read a good deal between the lines. What the writer meant was that he had some damaged oats or lame horses to sell. White men were returning from the Transvaal by hundreds, and there were monthly warnings in the Board of Trade Gazette that no miners or artisans were to go out to the Transvaal at present, and that no man 677 was allowed to go into the Orange River Colony or the Transvaal without a permit. Had the white men in this country believed that that was to be the result of the war they would never have allowed £250,000,000 to be spent on that war and at a cost of the loss of 23,000 British lives. When he was born the battle of Waterloo was twenty—five years past. The people talked with pride about the great Waterloo campaign, and the Duke of Wellington was looked upon as the greatest hero in this country. It was only a very few years since the South African War had ended, but they did not t ilk about it now with much pride. Lord Roberts had a great reputation before that war as a gallant and successful general. He was, perhaps, the most popular general in all England, but now his reputation was practically gone. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!" and "No, no!"]
He did not want to say anything against the Chinaman. It was a very great pride to us that in 1819 we acquired the island of Hong-Kong, then occupied only by a few fishermen. There was now there a great city with 230,000 inhabitants attracted from every surrounding country, because they could get good government under the British flag. There they had an opportunity of rising in life. The Chinaman had really made that island when they were allowed to have businesses of their own, and to have every privilege that a British citizen could enjoy. Under free conditions Chinamen were improved, elevated, and civilised by their contact with whites, but under the conditions of their life in South Africa they were only lowered and degraded. The real reason for the introduction of the Chinese in the mines in South Africa was, as Lord Milner had stated, that the mine-owners did not want white men out there. The Chinese labourers wanted their own overseers, and now white labour had decreased in the mines. Some months ago 2,000 English navvies who had gone out to work on the railways in South Africa were sent home because it was said that they were of no use and would not work. He had read the report of the resident engineer in South 678 Africa, in which it was stated that it was impossible to pay these navvies their wages, and it was because of that that the men struck and did refuse to work. Would anyone in England be able to get workmen to continue in work if it was quite impossible to pay their wages? Under these circumstances a strike was the only means by which the workmen could obtain their rights.
§ And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this evening.