§ MR. VIVIAN (Birkenhead)
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that at Johannesburg on Labour Day, April 13th, a demonstration of labour societies was held in the market place, consisting of several thousand persons, at which a resolution was carried that the mass meeting reaffirms its unaltered opposition to the importation of indentured labour, and urged the Home Government to take seriously into consideration the threat of some mine owners to close down the mines and throw over all construction work, thereby accentuating the present distress which existed long before the advent of the present Government; and whether the Government is aware that this labour demonstration against Chinese labour was preceded by a similar one in December, and another in October last; and whether these expressions of opinion by miners have been brought before the Secretary of State; and, if so, what action he proposes to take.
I beg further to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to a letter addressed by the General Secretary of 1469 the Transvaal Miners' Association to the Secretary of the Cape District Trades and Labour Council, in which the Transvaal miners allege that until the importation of Chinese coolies the British miners on the Rand received 25s. a day, but that at the Comet Mine, the first mine where the skilled miners had to work with Chinese in hand drilling, the wages were reduced from 25s. to 16s. 8d. a day; that the alleged increase of 5,000 white miners employed is due to white men being employed at 5s. a day; that whereas before the war there were 13,000 skilled men employed with 109,000 Kaffirs, to-day, there are not 13,000 skilled men employed with 147,000 unskilled labourers; and that the more Chinamen come the more skilled workmen will be out of employment; and whether the Government have received any of these statements.
§ MR. CHURCHILL
With my hon. friend's permission I will give an answer which embraces both his Questions. The Secretary of State has seen the account of the demonstration on April 13th, the resolution then passed, and the other expressions of opinion by the miners which are referred to. He has not seen the letter addressed by the General Secretary of the Transvaal Miners' Association to the Secretary of the Cape District Trades and Labour Council, bat he is, of course, well acquainted with the issues which it raises. There seems good reason for believing that the general trend of opinion among a considerable section of the British mining population in Johannesburg has, during the last year, become increasingly adverse to the continuance or extension of the system of Chinese indentured labour; and the growth of such local opposition must, I think, be regarded as of good augury by those who support the policy of His Majesty's Government.