HC Deb 02 May 1907 vol 173 cc1056-8
MR. WALSH (Lancashire, Ince)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether another shipment of coolies left China a few days ago with the object of work in the Transvaal mines, including about 250 for whom no licences were issued; and, if so, whether, in view of the promise made in July, 1906, of the arrest of importation before the Transvaal Assembly was established, he will inform the House by whose authority licences are still being issued and recruiting going on, and what system of supervision, if any, exists at the ports of shipment; and whether, seeing that a large number of the last shipment are unlicensed, His Majesty's Government will take steps to prevent their landing at Cape Town or their despatch to the Transvaal mines. ‡ See (4) Debates, clxxiii., 528–9.


The last batch of Chinese coolies reached the Transvaal early in January, since when no further coolies have left or can leave China for South Africa.


What was the date at which 250 unlicensed coolies were admitted? Will the correspondence on the subject be laid?


It is true that the number of coolies imported in the last shipload was increased by 259. This was due to an error, which caused great annoyance to my noble friend Lord Elgin and also, I suppose, to the authorities in South Africa. The question of the immediate repatriation of these 259 coolies who had been imported without licence was the subject of considerable correspondence between this country and South Africa; but, after careful investigation of the whole circumstances, and in view of the very large expenditure that would have been incurred by chartering a special ship to repatriate 259 coolies, the Secretary of State decided that it would not be possible to persist in the request that we had made to the Governor of the Transvaal to make a special repatriation. The telegrams which passed on the subject are, I think, ripe for publication, and will, I think, show the House the earnest effort we have made to abide in strict detail by all we have said to the House of Commons from time to time, and I will ask my noble friend whether he will not consent to their being laid before the House.

MR. SCOTT (Ashton-under-Lyne)

If these coolies had been sent back on whom would the cost have fallen?


said he presumed that, as the Government had made the mistake in calculation, the cost of repatriation would fall on the Government.


Even if these coolies are not licensed?


I presume that these Chinamen will not come under the Ordinance at all?

MR. T. CORBETT (Down, N.)

Is the whole future of Chinese labour in the Transvaal not to be left to the new Transvaal Government?

MAJOR SEELY (Liverpool, Abercromby)

asked whether these 259 coolies would be returned with the next shipload.


hoped the return by shipload would scion be beginning. The ships would be filled with Chinese returning on the expiration of their contract; whether they would include these identical coolies he could not say.

LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)

asked on what date these 259 coolies arrived.


It was the last shipload, at whatever date they entered.

MR. CROOKS (Woolwich)

Have they been allowed to start work under the conditions of the Ordinance?


said no objection had been made to the coolies proceeding to work.

Several other hon. Members rose to put questions.


Order, order. Notice should be given of any further Questions.