§ MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland)
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the sugar and cocoa planters of Trinidad applied for 2,314 immigrants for the year 1907–8, and that the Legislative Council granted only 1,800;that the number of such immigrants now number 13,000 out of a population of 330,000; that, as a 1798 result of the annual introduction of such a number of immigrants, wages have been reduced during recent years, particularly on the cocoa estates, where wages, some years ago, were sixty cents per day as against thirty-five cents per day at the present time, the result being that a number of the native population are unemployed and in poor circumstances; and, seeing that there is no lack of labour in the Colony at the present time and in view of all these circumstances, will he consider the desirability of putting a check on the importation of such immigrants.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER of WORKS (Mr. Harcourt, Lancashire, Rossendale, for Mr. Churchill)
The Secretary of State is aware of the reduction in the number of Indian immigrants to be introduced into Trinidad during the coming season. The returns of June, 1906, give the number of indentured immigrants in the Colony as 9,924, and while about 3,000 have since been introduced, the indentures of some 2,400 introduced in 1902 have expired. The present number may therefore be assumed to be about 10,500. The Special Committee recently appointed by the Governor to consider the labour question in Trinidad reported that no general reduction in wages had taken place; any reduction that may recently have occurred on cocoa estates is doubtless due to the failure of the crop. The Secretary of State sees no reason at present for further limiting the importation of immigrants.
§ MR. SUMMERBELL
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that large numbers of natives are leaving the Colony now in order to seek work elsewhere?