DR. RUTHERFORD (Middlesex, Brentford)
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the position of the British Indian trading community of Ladysmith, Natal, several of whom are threatened with ruin by reason of the threatened refusal of the licensing officer to renew their store licences under the powers conferred upon him by the Natal Traders Licensing Act of 1897; and, whether, seeing that the licensing officer is the appointee of the town council, which is largely composed of merchants and storekeepers in competition with British Indian traders, he proposes to take any action in the matter.
I beg also to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the agitation against British Indian traders in Natal, and the danger to those British subjects from the power of local town councils to refuse renewal of trading licences according to The Natal Traders Licensing Act, 1897, which the Secretary of State for the Colonies warned the Natal Government would lead to serious steps unless the provisions of the Act were applied moderately and impartially; and whether he will address the Natal Government on the matter.
§ MR. CHURCHILL
I will answer these Questions together:—A Bill, the effect of which would have been to exclude Asiatics from trading licences, was recently introduced into the Natal Legislature, but leave to introduce it was refused. With regard to the Act of 1897 the Secretary of State is already in communication with the Natal Government. Inquiry will be made as to the case of the particular traders referred to.