HC Deb 17 December 1906 vol 167 cc1019-20
MR. FELL (Groat Yarmouth)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies why, as an inquiry is now pending into the whole question of the recruitment of Kaffir labour for the Johannesburg mines in the Portuguese territory, it was thought expedient to put pressure on the Portuguese Government to make effective the licence for recruiting natives granted to the group of mines controlled by Mr. Joseph Benjamin Robinson; and whether under the circumstances, the Government will withdraw the pressure and suspend any action under this licence until the results of the inquiry are known.


The reason is obvious. The Robinson group of mines naturally expected that the licence issued was issued to enable them to recruit effectively. His Majesty's Government see no sufficient reason for departing from the attitude they have taken up in the matter up to the present.


I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction felt by the shareholders in all the other groups of mines working at Johannesburg at the privilege granted to the Robinson group of mines alone to recruit Kaffir labour in the Portuguese territory; and on what ground the group named was especially favoured, to the detriment of the shareholders in all the other groups of mines.


I am aware that those representing the interests of other mines are dissatisfied. The Robinson group applied on the ground that they wished to dissociate themselves from the Witwatersrand Native Labour Asssociation, and it was only at a later date that the other groups applied for separate facilities and proposed to break up the association, after the policy had been adopted of inviting the Portuguese Government to grant facilities for the Robinson group, and to accept the principle of holding an inquiry before any further change was made.