§ Mr. O'GRADY
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he was aware that about two-thirds of the British-Indians who were domiciled and resident in the Transvaal before the war had either left South Africa or been deported; whether that was owing to their less favourable treatment in the Transvaal Colony than in the late Transvaal Republic; whether the deportees included a number of British-Indians born in South Africa, and in some cases in the Transvaal; and, if so, would any steps be taken 1659 by the Secretary of State to represent to the Transvaal Government that the British-Indians thus treated were subjects of His Majesty, whose rights as such should be respected?
The HON. MEMBER
further asked (1) whether the hon. Gentleman was aware that on the 11th April, 1909, a mass meeting of all sections of British-Indians took place in the Transvaal to protest against General Botha's statement that many Asiatics were content with the present conditions in the Transvaal as affecting themselves; and whether, having regard to the fact that the British-Indian population were now reduced to half normal and a third of the number 12 months after the war, the rest having fled the country or been deported, representations would be made to the Transvaal Government with a view to mitigate the treatment that was being imposed on these British subjects; (2) whether the hon. Gentleman was aware that on 14th April another 16 British-Indians were deported. from Mozambique for India; whether included among the number were old residents in the Transvaal of 11 and 15 years; and, if so, whether in view of the Registration Laws, which were not intended to apply so as to expel lawfully resident Indians in the Transvaal, representations would be made to the Transvaal Government that such British subjects might at least enjoy the benefit of the Law.
§ Colonel SEELY
I will answer my hon. Friend's three questions together. Complete figures for the British Indian population in the Transvaal are not available. It appears from an estimate furnished to Lord Milner in March, 1899, that there were about 5,400 to 5,600 traders and hawkers in the Transvaal at that time. a later estimate made after the war put the total number of Asiatics at over 15,000, before the war. At the time of the British occupation the official estimate was that the Asiatic population barely numbered 2,000. Up to the 5th March, 1903, 4,902 permits had been sanctioned, but a large number of Asiatics entered the Colony without authority and the total of the Asiatics at that time was put at about 10,000. It is natural that there should have been some diminution in the number, as a proportion of those who left the country on the outbreak of the war must have been unable or unwilling to return. The figures published on page 35 of 1660 Cd. 4327 show that 9,158 applications to register under the compromise of January, 1908, had been received before August, 1908, and these covered practically every adult male Asiatic in the country, whether legally or illegally resident, and that of these 7,773 had been granted in addition to 600 who had previously registered. The Secretary of State has no information as to the mass meeting or as to the specific cases of deportation alluded to in the question. The action of the Transvaal Government is doubtless taken in pursuance of the law on the lines explained by the Secretary of State in another place on March 24th, and as at present advised, he sees no reason to make representations on behalf of persons who would appear to be breaking the provisions of laws which have been duly enacted and have received the Royal Assent.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
Is it not the fact that this law was never intended to apply to Asiatics domiciled in the Transvaal or South Africa generally]
§ Colonel SEELY
No, Sir. If my hon. friend will put down a question on the specific legal point, I think I shall be able to satisfy him that the law has been strictly observed by the Transvaal Government. Of that I think there can be no doubt.