HC Deb 21 February 1907 vol 169 c1030

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will consider the necessity of extending the compulsory one hour of rest accorded to the indentured labourer recruited in the New Hebrides, whose work extends from sunrise to sunset.


The hon. and gallant Member is mistaken in supposing that the work of indentured labourers in the New Hebrides extends from sunrise to sunset. There is nothing in the Convention to prescribe such a day's work; and as a matter of fact, the natives work mostly from 6 to 10 a.m. and from 3 to 7 p.m. The intention of Article XLV. is to put an end to the existing possibility of abuses, by forbidding compulsory night work, and by securing a period of rest to the labourer during the day.


What guarantee is there against natives being compelled to work these long hours?


The High Commissioner has considerable powers for supervising the conditions under which the natives are employed, and those powers constitute an entirely new departure from the system of non-regulation which obtains at present.


Would it not have been better to prescribe two or three hours rest instead of one?


That is a Question as to a matter of opinion.