HC Deb 09 November 1908 vol 195 cc1688-9
MR. J. M. ROBERTSON (Northumberland, Tyneside)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that as recently as 10th October there were under detention at Barberton, in the Transvaal, seventeen boys, from nine to fifteen years of age, the children of some of the fifty-eight British Indians then in gaol at Barberton for not having applied for registration certificates before entering the Transvaal; whether these British-Indian parents were all holders of permits under the Peace Preservation Ordinance, 1903; and what has become of these children.


According to an official Report fifty-nine adult Asiatics, accompanied by seventeen minors entered the Transvaal at Komati Poort on 29th September. Fifty-eight adults were on 1st October convicted at Barberton of being prohibited immigrants, and sentenced to a fine of £25 each, or in default to undergo simple imprisonment for two months. The fact that they held permits under repealed legislation did not entitle them to enter. The children are presumably being cared for, but inquiry shall be made.

DR. RUTHERFORD (Middlesex, Brentford)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to an appeal signed by ten ministers of religion in the Transvaal, and addressed to the Transvaal Government, complaining of the treatment of a large number of Indians on their way from Delagoa Bay to their home in the Transvaal, and appealing for careful inquiries, and praying that the religious objections of Asiatics on certain elements of prison diet might be respected; and whether he proposes to take any steps in the matter.


No, Sir. I have not seen the appeal referred to. As to the dietary, scale I would refer my hon. friend to a full Answer on the subject which I gave to the hon. Member for Preston on Tuesday last.

MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Asiatics Registration Amendment Act of 1908, passed to validate the voluntary registration of certain Asiatics and to make further provision for Asiatic registration, was intended and understood by His Majesty's Government to supersede Act No. 2, of 1907, of the Transvaal; whether he is aware that since the sanction of the new law a number of British-Indians within the Transvaal have been prosecuted and sentenced under the old one, and that British-Indians claiming the right to re-enter the Transvaal are being kept out pending application for registration under the new law, while Indians within the Colony are being prosecuted and deported under the old one; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter.


The Act of this year was intended, and was understood by His Majesty's Government, not to supersede but to amend the Act of 1907, as is, I think, clear from the Governor's telegram of 24th August, printed at page 32 of Cd. 4327. Some Asiatics were registered under the old Act and others come under the new.