HC Deb 29 July 1907 vol 179 cc476-8

I beg to ask the-Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any official information showing that there is now an abundance of native labour for the mines on the Rand.


In his statement at the opening of the Transvaal Parliament on 14th June General Botha said that "the supply of native labour is and has for some time been in marked excess of the demand," also that "owing to the large supply of natives from other sources the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association has for some time stopped recruiting in the Cape Colony, and numbers of labourers recruited have been sent back without obtaining employment." Dr. Jameson stated in the Cape Parliament on 27th June that in the Cape Colony "the present position was that recruiting operations had been entirely stopped, there being at the moment a sufficient supply of labour to meet the requirements of the mines, but it was anticipated that active operations would begin again in August next." He referred to a scheme for facilitating and increasing the supply of labour from the Cape Colony to the Rand which the two Governments have had under their consideration. The Cape Ministers find there is a widespread prejudice against the Rand as a centre of employment among Cape natives, which is not accounted for by aversion to underground employment, and which they desire to remove. They consider that there is no reason why the supply from the Cape Colony should not be materially increased, provided that it is possible to avoid sudden changes in the terms and conditions of employment offered by mine owners, and that any changes which become necessary are brought gradually into effect.


asked whether the arrest of the development of the Transvaal did not account for the present supply of native labour, and whether there was a sufficient abundance of labour to replace that of 50,000 Chinamen when they were repatriated.

MR. BONAR LAW (Camberwell, Dulwich)

asked whether General Botha's statements were not made in the course of a debate in the Transvaal Parliament and were denied by Members sitting on the opposite side in that Parliament.


The Question on the Paper was whether the Colonial Office had any official information showing that there was now an abundance of native labour. In reply to that Question I have read quotations from speeches of the Prime Minister of the Transvaal and the Prime Minister of Cape Colony.


Can the right hon. Gentleman consider that statements made in debate, all of which were denied at the time, constitute official information?


Yes, Sir, I think we are certainly entitled to attach some importance to the statements of the heads of self-governing Colonies.


asked whether Dr. Jameson's statement in the Cape Parliament was not made in reply to a question put after notice.


I believe that was so.


asked the right hon. Gentleman to reply to his Question as to whether the plentiful supply of natives was not due to the stoppage of development work in the Transvaal, and whether the right hon. Gentleman had any reason to think that there would be an abundance of labour after the repatriation of the Chinese.


That is not the Question on the Paper. I have my own opinion on the matter the hon. Gentleman refers to, and I shall be prepared to supply an Answer to a Question on the subject if put in the proper form on the Paper.

MR. FLAVIN (Kerry, N.)

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he can find a Colonial Premiership for the hon. Gentleman?


May I ask, Sir, whether the supplementary Question I asked was not derived from the Question?


I thought the Question sufficiently cognate to allow it to pass; but if the right hon. Gentleman has no information at his disposal he is quite right to ask for notice.