§ MR. SUMMERBELL
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether nearly 50 per cent. of those committed to prison in the Island of Trinidad were for breaches of civil contracts, and that such breaches are greatly due to the immigrants not being paid anything approaching the minimum wage of 5s. 2½d. per week promised; and, if so, what action he is prepared to take in the matter.
§ MR. HARCOURT
The number of persons committed to prison in Trinidad during the year 1905–6 for breaches of the Immigration Ordinance was about 35 per cent. of the total number of committals. This number includes persons committed for other breaches of the Ordinance besides breaches of indenture. The Governor of Trinidad recently made a careful investigation into the causes leading to this number of convictions, and came to the conclusion that the frequency of desertions was not due to the insufficiency of wages on estates, but rather to the facilities with which the indentured immigrants could obtain other employment or promises of employment both in the Colony and in the neighbouring country of Venezuela. The Secretary of State sees no reason for any further action in the matter.