HC Deb 14 February 1907 vol 169 cc304-5

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any progress has been made in the negotiations between His Majesty's Government and the Portuguese Government for putting an end to the monopoly for recruiting Kaffirs in Portuguese territory in East Africa enjoyed by the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association; and whether the Robinson group of mines have yet been granted equal facilities for recruiting.


The Portuguese Government, whose readiness to meet their wishes in the matter is recognised by His Majesty's Government, have agreed to the appointment of a joint Commission to inquire and report what system of recruiting and distributing natives from Portuguese East Africa will ensure the largest and most continuous supply of labour to the mines of the Transvaal, provided that:—1. Such natives are recruited voluntarily and are subjected to the most humane treatment (a) at the point of recruitment; (b) on † See (4) Debates, clxvii., 943. the road; and (c) at the point of employment. 2. That the conditions are such as are compatible with the satisfactory and economic working of the mines. 3. That no detriment accrues to the political interests of the Transvaal or of the province of Mozambique. On the day of the meeting of the Commission, which will be fixed at as early a date as possible, the Portuguese Government have agreed to denounce their agreement with the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association. I understand that Mr. Holmes, who represents Mr. Robinson, is at liberty to engage natives under the licence granted to him, and that the facilities accorded him have lately been extended, but it is not clear how far he; has yet availed himself of these facilities; and further inquiry on this point was made last week to which an answer may soon be expected.

Sir GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend)

Will the Commission sit before the Transvaal elections are completed?


I shall make the appointment as quickly as possible.