HC Deb 28 November 1906 vol 166 cc58-9
MAJOR SEELY (Liverpool, Abercromby)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether His Majesty's Government intend to continue payment for the repatriation of Chinese indentured coolies at their own request out of Imperial funds after self-government has been given to the Transvaal and until all the indentured coolies have left that country.


The institution of a system of State-aided repatriation of Chinese coolies was designed to mitigate the objections which might justly be urged against the conditions of their employment, by affording at all times a ready path of escape from these conditions. So long as those conditions prevail His Majesty's Government would desire that the means of escape should be preserved unimpaired; and there is no intention on the part of His Majesty's Government to-withdraw the support they have given to them. But the arrangements for terminating the existing system of Chinese labour in the Transvaal as expeditiously as possible must be considered as a whole when that Colony is endowed with responsible government; and no single part of those arrangements can be determined separately in anticipation.


Are we to understand that even after self government has been given, so long as the conditions of Chinese labour may be regarded as servile, the Government will pay from Imperial funds the expenses of those who desire to go home?


The State-aided repatriation on the part of the Imperial Government is intended to be coincident with the existence of the evil conditions out of which the policy originally arose.

MR. ALDEN (Middlesex, Tottenham)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that at a meeting held in Johannesburg on 22nd November it was resolved, by 5,000 to 3, that the proper course for remedying the evils incident on Chinese labour was to repatriate the Chinese coolies on the expiration of their contracts; and whether the Government has signified its approval of this method of dealing with the question.


I have seen such a statement in the newspapers. The policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to Chinese labour has been fully made known both in method and intention. It is not always necessary for official comment to be made on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Colonies upon the resolutions or proceedings of public meetings; such a practice would involve an extension of our duties which could scarcely fail to be laborious and inconvenient. Least of all need such comments be made now when the grant of responsible government is about to afford a regular and effective expression to public opinion in the Transvaal through the agency of a representative Assembly.