HC Deb 05 June 1905 vol 147 c693

To ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any military expeditions have been recently sent into Southern Nigeria; and whether any complaints have been received from the natives with regard to the way in which the india-rubber industry is carried on, or that they are subjected to a system of forced labour.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Lyttelton.) No organised opposition to the administration of Southern Nigeria has been experienced since the Aro Expedition in 1901, and consequently there have not been since then any military expeditions in the protectorate. A series of patrols, consisting as a rule of small detachments of the Southern Nigeria Regiment with civilian officers attached, are sent through different parts of the country every year for the purpose of maintaining order, and the patrols have on some occasions met with opposition, but this has been of a purely local nature. No complaints have reached us from the natives of the protectorate as to the way in which the rubber industry is carried on, or that they are subjected to a system of forced labour. Under the Government regulations persons are prohibited from collecting rubber without a licence. Where the holder of a licence is other than a native of the district, he is required to pay a commuted royalty, half of which, in cases where the rubber is collected from native lands, goes to the natives and the other to the Government. Natives in receipt of such royalties are required to maintain nurseries for rearing rubber plants, but are not required to spend on such nurseries more than the amount received by them as royalties. Neither in this arrangement nor in any of the other regulations is there anything which can properly be described as forced labour.