HC Deb 12 August 1907 vol 180 cc796-7
MR. O'GRADY (Leeds, E.)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to protect British-Indian subjects who are lawfully resident in the Transvaal Colony from the identical disabilities imposed upon them by the still unrepealed Law 3 of 1885 of the late Republic, against which protests were then urged.


It is impossible to deal adequately with the matters raised by the hon. Member within the limits of an Answer to a Question; but I may observe, first, that Law 3 of 1885 of the late South African Republic was amended in important respects in 1886. Secondly, that the Supreme Court of the Transvaal has put upon a very important section of that law a construction more favourable to the British-Indian than that which the Courts of the late South African Republic gave to it, holding that the law did not compel Asiatics to trade in locations. Thirdly, that the Asiatic Law Amendment Act passed this year is regarded by Lord Selborne as securing a permanent and substantial improvement in the position of Asiatics settled in the Colony by definitely recognising their rights in respect of residence, and by allaying the dread entertained by the European community of a large increase in the Asiatic population, and thus leading to a more favourable attitude on the part of the European community. Full information upon all these matters will be found in the Papers laid before Parliament; but it should be understood that His Majesty's Government have no power to protect British-Indians in the Transvaal from the operation of a law in force in the Colony.


I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the published draft Immigration Restriction Bill of the Transvaal, which threatens to inflict additional disabilities and humiliations upon His Majesty's Indian subjects; and whether he proposes to take any steps to protect them.


The Secretary of State has seen the draft Bill referred to by the hon. Member. It will be reserved for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure, but no statement can be made as to the action of His Majesty's Government with respect to it pending its receipt in the form in which it is passed by the Transvaal Legislature, when its provisions will receive attentive consideration.


Is it not the case that in some instances Bills are submitted by the self-governing Colonies to the Home Government before being discussed by the Colonial Legislature?


It is done sometimes as a matter of convenience. It all depends on the arrangement between His-Majesty's Government and the self-governing Colonies.