§ The number of members to be elected in each province, as provided in section thirty-three, shall be increased from time to time, as may be necessary in accordance with the following provisions:— 1606
- (i) The quota of the Union shall be obtained by dividing the total number of European male adults in the Union, as ascertained at the census of nineteen hundred and four, by the total number of members of the House of Assembly as constituted at the establishment of the Union:
- (ii) In nineteen hundred and eleven, and every five years thereafter, a census of the European population of the Union shall be taken for the purposes of this Act:
- (iii) After any such census the number of European male adults in each province shall be compared with the number of European male adults as ascertained at the census of nineteen hundred and four, and in the case of any province where an increase is shown, as compared with the census of nineteen hundred and four, equal to the quota of the Union or any multiple thereof, the number of members allotted to such province in the last preceding section shall be increased by an additional member or an additional number of members equal to such multiple, as the case may be:
- (iv) Notwithstanding anything herein contained, no additional member shall be allotted to any province until the total number of European male adults in such province exceeds the quota of the Union multiplied by the number of members allotted to such province for the time being, and thereupon additional members shall be allotted to such province in respect only of such excess:
- (v) As soon as the number of members of the House of Assembly to be elected in the original provinces in accordance with the preceding Sub-sections reaches the total of one hundred and fifty, such total shall not be further increased unless and until Parliament otherwise provides; and subject to the provisions of the last preceding section the distribution of members
- among the provinces shall be such that the proportion between the number of members to be elected at any time in each province and the number of European male adults in such province, as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall as far as possible be identical throughout the Union:
- (vi) "Male adults" in this Act shall be taken to mean males of twenty-one years of age or upwards not being members of His Majesty's regular forces on full pay:
- (vii) For the purposes of this Act the number of European male adults, as ascertained at the census of nineteen hundred and four, shall be taken to be—
|For the Cape of Good Hope||167,546|
|For the Transvaal||106,493|
|For the Orange Free State||41,014|
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE moved, in Sub-section (i), to leave out the words "European male adults," and to insert instead thereof the word "voters."
§ My object is to get from the Under-Secretary, or from the legal advisers of the Government, some definition of the phrase "European male adults," as used in this connection. Does it mean persons of European descent? Would an American, for example, be a person of European descent? What is far more important, would a person born in South Africa be of European descent for this purpose? Then, again, the words are that it should be "European male adults," and if this Bill is to go through without Amendment or alteration it is quite conceivable the Privy Council may one day hold that persons born in South Africa are not qualified to become voters under this very Bill. I want enlightenment on this point. I also wish to enter a protest against membership of the Parliament being based upon European "male" adults. Surely, in this connection at least, the claims of the white woman in South Africa might have been considered. Surely, also, the coloured people who now have the franchise might have had their claims considered. This is one of the indications which, to my mind, go to prove that it is not intended that the coloured people of the Cape shall be allowed to continue to enjoy the franchise. "European male adults" based on membership of the different Parliaments, means that it becomes a superfluity to retain the 1608 coloured voters. Has attention been given to the possible interpretation of these words? Cannot the Government, without risking the Bill, take out the word "male" from the phrase, so as not to thrust the white women of South Africa into an association with the coloured community, which may be construed in a manner which cannot be considered otherwise than most insulting?
§ Colonel SEELY
My hon. Friend has raised a very interesting point, which is new to me—the question whether Americans are included in the phrase, "of European descent." That point was touched upon in the House of Lords, and Lord Crewe said that unless they happened to be Red Indians they would be included. Then he raised the question whether a person born in South Africa might not be excluded by what, after all, is but a drafting error. I think we may trust to the South African authorities to see that they do not bring upon themselves the disaster of having no voters at all. With regard to the use of the word "male," I do not think we can here attempt to force upon South Africa a reform which we have not yet introduced into this country, and I may say, in all seriousness, it would be more difficult there than here, because in countries where polygamy obtains the question would have to be dealt with in a particular way. With regard to the phrase "European male adults" I think we must accept it in the form it now is, because we have agreed to a provision that the membership of Parliament shall be confined to persons of European descent, and that being so, we can hardly have as the basis a native population, especially in view of the fact that the natives are in effect, though not in law, excluded from the franchise. I hope the Amendment will not be pressed.
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
I do not propose to move two Amendments which stand in my name, but, instead I will ask a question. As I understand it there is no separate census of European adult males. The instructions given in the four Colonies for procuring the figures were not sufficiently-explicit, and, as a result, the numbers obtained from the census enumerators are more in the nature of guess-work than actual figures. It has already been decided in the Law Courts that "European whites," and other similar phrases, mean the same as "of European descent."
§ Sir W. ROBSON
I think the intention of these words is fairly obvious. The framers of the measure have carefully refrained from giving any precise definition. They have used the term "of European descent." It is an equivalent phrase for "European population," and obviously the words "European male adults" are used in the same sense. It seems to me the intention is that the words shall be construed by the South African Courts. It is left to the courts to say what, in the particular case, signification should be given to the words of the Act, and whether or no the applicant is of European descent. The first observation that an English lawyer would make is that there is no attempt to say what the words of "European descent," "European male adult," or "European population" mean, and "whether the word "European" is satisfied by entirely European descent or European blood without any admixture of other blood, or whether the words would admit of the admixture of other blood. You may have extreme cases of either view. For instance, you may have a candidate very far removed from the original strain and with some trace of non-European blood. It might be urged upon one construction that he was open to disqualification, but such a construction as that would have the effect of excluding a great many persons who are now in South Africa treated as being persons of European descent, and I think, though I am not an authority on the subject, many of these have been included in the Census of the European population. There is another construction. You might have a person who is clearly and obviously one of the coloured races, but who has gained by some remote ancestor some trace of European blood.
In such cases as those the courts are left to decide, and they will decide in accordance with the local signification of the words, "European descent" and the other words to which I am referring. In order that these extreme cases may be dealt with on their merits, the Bill refrains from anything like a precise definition, and the effect of that is that it is to be decided by the various South African Courts. There will be an appeal by means of the Appellate Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and there is possibly, but I cannot say with certainty, an appeal to the King in Council, that is the Privy Council; but it is provided in Clause 106 of the Bill that that appeal can only be brought when the Privy Council grants special leave to appeal, and 1610 that leave is subject to some qualification. The clause reads: "There shall be no appeal from the Supreme Court of South Africa or from any division thereof to the King in Council; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to impair any right which the King in Council may be pleased to exercise, to grant special leave to appeal from the Appellate Division to the King in Council." Then it goes on to say: "Parliament," that is the South African Parliament, "may make laws limiting the matters in respect of which such special leave may be asked, but Bills containing any such limitation shall be reserved by the Governor-General, for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure." This clause shows essentially the elements of compromise where sometimes one side get in a phrase and sometimes the other side get in a phrase, which more or less qualifies the original one.
It comes to this, however, this question must come before the local courts; there is an appeal to the highest of the South African Courts, and the Privy Council may then be asked for special leave to appeal to itself, and that may be granted, but the power of granting that leave is subject to any subsequent Bill that the South African Colony may pass, deciding on what subjects leave to appeal may be asked. And, last of all, if any Bill of that sort is brought in it is reserved for the signification of the King's pleasure. In the matter of Colonial Bills, the veto of the Crown is exercised upon the advice of responsible Ministers and of the House of Commons, and is exercised with sufficient frequency to make it a living veto, although it is in the case of the United Kingdom exercised with great rarity. In this case, of course, it is not a veto. That is not the right term, but the King may refuse his consent, and he will certainly, before he gives his consent, carefully consider the rights of a larger portion of his subjects in a matter of this kind. Therefore, that power of reservation is an important, substantial, and useful power. It is not for me to say how it may be exercised in future, but it is sufficient for me to point out that the power exists.
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
I do not know why the hon. and learned Attorney-General has told us these things on this Amendment. I do not know whether it is by way of reassurance, because I ventured to say, earlier in the evening, that the cited cases in South Africa are very much against the more liberal view and in favour of the 1611 stiffer construction of these words, and I am convinced that a friendly court here would be most certain to decide against them if they came before it. Take the case, which you might take, of a Royal personage, descended from the Russian poet Pushkin, who has negro blood in his veins, or the case of Alexandre Dumas in France. The judgments in South Africa would shut them out.
§ Sir W. ROBSON
I had no idea of giving any assurances as to what the Privy Council might hold, but only arose in consequence of the hon. Member's question and because I was desirous of explaining how the case stood exactly on the question of appeal. I had no wider intention in my mind.
§ Mr. REES
I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Member in charge of the Bill (Colonel Seely) has any reason to believe that European women in Africa have any wish for the franchise, but the hon. Member opposite, having brought the matter forward, I would say that I should think that, primâ facie, an English woman looking after her husband's interests on an African farm had no time for electoral and emotional extravagances. But I will not pursue the matter, as I want to ask a question. As I understand the hon. Gentleman's Amendment, it seems to raise the whole point of the colour bar again. He wishes to substitute for "European male adults" the word "voters," which would include Africans and Indians; therefore, I submit, Mr. Chairman, at the outset, lest I should be out of order, that on this Amendment I should be in order in making some remarks on this subject, more particularly arising out of what the right hon. Baronet said with regard to the position of India in reference to this matter. I was not able to get in before the last Division, but I consider this to be a matter of very great importance. I differ from my right hon. Friend, I am sorry to say, and I propose to make a few remarks now.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
That Amendment was proposed on Clause 26. We are now dealing with Clause 34, which is for a different purpose.
§ Mr. A. C. MORTON
I should like to have it made clear whether the word "European" in this case includes Ameri- 1612 can. If it does the Americans will not like it at all.
§ Sir W. ROBSON
My own view would be that the South African Courts would undoubtedly hold that "European" includes American.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH moved, in Subsection (£), after the word "adults" ["European male adults in the Union"], to insert the words "and other British subjects qualified to vote in the election of members under this Act."
§ This raises a very simple point, and it proposes to alter the basis of the franchise, and to bring into the quota as between the four Colonies inter se the coloured population of Cape Colony and Natal, who now have votes. I really see no reason at all why these coloured voters should not be reckoned in this process of quota, and why the apportionment should be arrived at by altogether excluding them from the calculation. There are four Colonies. In two, the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, there are no native or coloured voters, but in the other two there are native and coloured voters, and I submit it is only fair and reasonable that this proportion of native and coloured voters should be taken into account in making this quota. To exclude them from this apportionment is practically to say, "You are good enough to be voters in Cape Colony, but you are not good enough to be citizens in South Africa." I think that is a stigma upon the 22,000 natives in Cape Colony, and these words should be added in order to show that, as far as they are concerned, they have been recognised as equal to European voters in Cape Colony. Why should they be disqualified under the Bill?
§ Colonel SEELY
My hon. Friend raises this point in very moderate, but very cogent language. Of course, it is really the same question over again. We have it on the best authority that on the whole the Boers treat the natives well, but they do not regard them as their political equal, any more than we do in some parts of the world. They would be the first to admit that he should be so reckoned in years to come, when he has advanced sufficiently high in the scale of civilisation, but they do not admit it now. All the representatives of the Colonies agree on the method 1613 of apportioning the seats, and I am sure we cannot go back on that without obviously altering the whole scheme of the Bill. I am sorry I cannot see my way to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. HALLEY STEWART
I think the argument we have heard is entirely inadequate. The coloured man has already sufficiently advanced in the scale of civilisation to the number of 22,000. They are already voters, and you are proposing to disfranchise them.
§ Mr. HALLEY STEWART
But you ignore them entirely. They are not counted. Every man's individuality is absolutely ignored under the Act. He counts for nothing at all, and he gets no special representation. The representation is supposed to be on a numerical basis, but it is a numerical basis which is purchased at the price of saying these men are unworthy to be counted as citizens of this Empire. It is the same case over again in a different department, and it now calls for a new protest under new circumstances.
§ Mr. A. LUPTON
I think there is a great deal in this Amendment which is worthy of very serious consideration. It is a strong argument in favour of disfranchising natives, that if there are a great number of natives who are not counted for the purpose of apportioning the representation it lessens the powers of the European voters. The Europeans having got their relative power reduced, at present, say, by one-tenth, will have it reduced perhaps in a few years by one-fourth, and later on by one-half, because these voters will come in not counted, and therefore we, as whites, have comparatively little power compared with the white man in another province. There is another point of view. Suppose, for the sake of argument, it should be decided to give women the vote. If the Amendment is carried the women will be counted. It is a great hardship upon married people in Cape Colony that they who are prominent citizens, who vote not merely for themselves, but for their wives and children, as representative voters count for no more than birds of passage. It is a very serious matter indeed. It must be admitted now that this Bill has to be altered. If the Bill can be altered in one thing we have broken down the barrier of the 1614 unalterability of the Bill. If it can be altered so as to turn "European" into "European descent" it can be altered in the way suggested by the hon. Member (Mr. Ellis Griffith). I trust we have heard the last of the statement from the Government Benches that the Bill cannot be altered, because practically it is an admission that it has to be altered.
§ Mr. C. DUNCAN (Barrow-in-Furness)
I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to one point. During the recent discussion a very great deal was made of the fact that those people who at present enjoy the franchise in Natal were having their influence widened by, and through, the Union. It seems obvious to me that these people are not going to be counted, and if the Amendment is not going to be accepted these coloured people cannot be reckoned to have full citizenship. Therefore, if that is so, it seems to me, on the face of it, that the argument used with so much force and eloquence by the Prime Minister and by the Under-Secretary for the Colonies that the influence of the coloured people in Natal was going to be widened because of the Union is an argument that falls entirely to the ground. I think more is being taken away from these people than is being given to them, and that there is a good and strong case, even on the speeches made by the Prime Minister and the Under-Secretary, for this Amendment.
§ Mr. A. C. MORTON
I confess I cannot understand why this Amendment should not be accepted by the Government. At the same time, I cannot suppose that my hon. Friend will go to a Division on the matter, keeping in view the general difficulty which has been placed before us, namely, that the adoption of such an Amendment as this would tend to wreck the Bill. Personally I am not going to do anything in that direction, although I am not prepared to admit that the Colonial Office is at all infallible. When we remember the position of the Colonial Office in 1398, which led us into all our difficulties in South Africa, I hope no one will ask us to put too much faith in the Colonial Office or any other Office.
§ Mr. MORTON
I do not want to do anything to wreck the Bill. The native 1615 question must be settled, I suppose, by somebody. I do not believe that the provision we are now discussing is one which can never be altered.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is not speaking to the Amendment. He is just repeating what he has already said.
§ Mr. MORTON
I think if this cannot be put in to-night there is no reason why it should not be put in at some other time.
§ Mr. T. L. CORBETT
Can the Attorney-General assure us that all who have votes now among the natives of Africa will retain those votes under the new Constitution?
§ Sir W. ROBSON
I would point out to the hon. Member that Section (2) of Clause 35 says: "No person who at the passing of any such law"—that is, supposing that a law were passed dealing with this qualification—"is registered as a voter in any province shall be removed from the register by reason only of any disqualification based on race or colour."
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that the quota for the Cape of Good Hope is 167,546, that is to say, 13,000 less than the actual voters on the register. Of course, all the male adults in Cape Colony are not voters. Still, in deference to the wish of my hon. Friend I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
There are I no other Amendments in order, and therefore I put the Question, "That the Clause; stand part of the Bill."