HC Deb 18 April 1907 vol 172 cc1139-40
MAJOR SEELY (Liverpool, Abercromby)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when the Anglo-French Commission dealing with the New Hebrides is to meet; whether amendments of the labour regulations will be made; and, if so, on what specific points.

MR. MACKARNESS (Berkshire, Newbury)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether in any future negotiations with the French Government about the New Hebrides Convention, or in any instructions which may be issued to British officials, the suggestions made by the Prime Minister of Australia, in his despatch of the 13th June, 1906, for the better protection of the indentured labourers, will be fully considered by His Majesty's Government; and whether special consideration will be given to those sections of the Convention which deal with the engagement of women and children, the hours of labour, the rate of wages, and the conditions of repatriation.


The Answer to both parts of the last Question of the hon. Member for the Newbury Division is in the affirmative. But I may point out that the Anglo-French Committee which is shortly to meet is not intended to deal with the Convention generally, but only to discuss certain details of working of the Joint Court. I may add, with regard to the last part of the Question, that it must be some time before any licences at all can be issued under the Convention, and before any such licences are issued it will be made quite clear by the instructions given to the British authorities that the points indicated in the Question will be thoroughly safeguarded as regards all licences issued by them. His Majesty's Government have already communicated with the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific with regard to the appointment of sufficient labour inspectors to ensure that abuses do not arise as regards indentured labour employed by subjects under British jurisdiction after licences have been issued.

MR. PIKE PEASE (Darlington)

Will the right hon. Gentleman lay a copy of the instructions on the Table of the House?


I undertake that the instructions issued by the Colonial Office will be laid on the Table of the House.