HC Deb 13 March 1906 vol 153 cc1092-3
MR. O'GRADY (Leeds, E.)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the action taken by the Governor of Demerara in the recent labour troubles; whether he is aware that the Governor instructed the employers not to negotiate or concede the claims of the transport workers and general labourers, promising, in the event of disturbance, the intervention of armed police; and whether, in future, steps will be taken to prevent the interference of His Majesty's representatives in the Colonies in negotiations between workpeople and employers respecting wages and conditions of employment.


It is hardly possible conveniently or indeed intelligibly to deal within the limits of an ordinary question and answer with the issues raised by the hon. Gentleman. I have therefore laid Papers before Parliament in which the Governor's action in discouraging compliance with demands for higher rates of wages, his reasons for acting as he did, and the Secretary of State's opinion of his policy are extensively set forth.


Has the information been obtained from official sources or did the Colonial Office take care to ask the views of the men's leaders and of the employers?


The information fills a very extensive Blue-book and I think the hon. Gentleman will find it presents a tolerably complete view of these unfortunate occurrences.

MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)

Has instructions been given that nothing of the kind must again occur?


Yes, Sir. I think the hon. Gentleman will find on reading the Blue-book that the position taken up by the Government from the beginning has been to warn the Governor to be careful only to intervene on grounds of the public safety and not to use the forces of the Crown for the purpose of adjusting wages disputes between the workers and their employers.