HC Deb 27 November 1906 vol 165 cc1418-20
* MR. MACKARNESS (Berkshire, Newbury)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the refusal of the Portuguese Government to afford facilities for recruiting in Portuguese territory in Africa to the Robinson group of mines is interfering with the experiment of employing white labour on a large scale in those mines; whether he has information that the mine owners of the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association have been influencing the Portuguese authorities in their refusal to help the Robinson mines; and, if so, what further steps His Majesty's Government propose to take to prevent the mine owners in question from continuing to impede the employment of white labour.


It is not correct to say that the Portuguese Government has refused to grant facilities to the Robinson group of mines. As explained by the Secretary of State in another place, certain difficulties have arisen which have caused delay, but negotiations are proceeding and the Portuguese Government has expressed a desire to meet the wishes of His Majesty's Government. Under these circumstances it may be hoped that any attempt to interfere with any experiment for the employment of white labour will be frustrated.


asked whether it was not a fact that on July 31st the hon. Gentleman himself stated that the Portuguese Government had met His Majesty's Government more than with diplomatic promptness, and that orders had been actually given to the Governor-General of Mozambique to give these facilities to the Robinson group. What influence had intervened to make these orders nugatory?


A misunderstanding appears to have arisen. The licence for which we made an application to the Portuguese Government was intended to be an effective licence to enable another body of mines to have equal facilities with those enjoyed by the Robinson group. But it was construed to be a licence applicable only to the particular gentlemen in whose name it was granted; and as it was impossible for a single individual to carry out the work of a recruiting agency, we have been forced to the conclusion that the licence did not carry out all that we hoped would follow from it.

MR. LYTTELTON) (St. George's, Hanover Square

asked whether the hon. Gentleman would lay Papers upon this subject.


I will ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will allow Papers to be laid, though I think it would be better to await the termination of the negotiations now in progress before laying Papers on the subject.