§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £33,900, be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge, which will come in course of payment during the year, ending on the 31st day of March, 1910, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, including a Grant in Aid of certain expenses connected with Emigration."
§ Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
I have personally to thank the hon. Gentleman for the statement which he made in answer to a question put down by me, which, for the convenience of the House, has acquainted us in some little detail with the Amendments which have been proposed, and which have been agreed to in the conference which has recently taken place. We shall have a full opportunity of discussing the South African Bill when it comes down to this House, and it is not my intention, nor, indeed, should I be in order, to discuss its provisions at the present moment. I can only assure the hon. Gentleman of what, I think, is indeed well known to him and to most of my op- 1028 ponents, that we on this side of the House will approach that Bill with sympathy and with the welcome which is due to the energy, wisdom and patriotism of its South. African authors. It is with much smaller subjects that we have to do this afternoon, and I think I will pause to touch, not for any considerable time, upon one point, which I think it will be desirable to mention shortly after the full answer which the hon. Gentleman has given. There is one question at the present moment in South Africa, which, if it is not solved, or, at any rate, mitigated, will be in my opinion, a serious disaster, and will be an obstacle to the harmonious introduction into South Africa of the provisions of the Bill upon which so much hope is based. It is not a partisan question in this House at all, and I do not desire to make it so. I refer to the case which has arisen in connection with the education policy, promulgated in the Orange River Colony, and the dismissal of three British inspectors in that Colony. I trust, the House will believe that it is my desire to remove, just before we approach the consideration of the South African Union Bill—if possibly we can remove an irritating and formidable obstacle to the general agreement which prevails upon that subject.
I do not underrate for a moment the strong feelings, even the passions which are aroused by the question of language in South Africa. I think the late President Steyn urged at the Durban Conference, with great eloquence and force, the rights of the Dutch language in South Africa, and unless the reports have been misleading— I do not think they have been—the acceptance which was given to his views as to the equality between the two languages by all the British representatives at that convention was a source of deepest gratification to him and largely smoothed the passage of the Bill. I would refer also especially to the action of Dr. Jameson, in a proposal which he made for the restoration of the old name Orange River Colony, and to the admirable effect which that exceedingly graceful and tactful proposal produced upon all those who heard it. I think I am entitled to say, after having mentioned those two circumstances, so fruitful of hope and congratulation, that discord in connection with the Dutch and British languages was not what we expected of the Orange River Colony. That discord, however, has unhappily arisen, and I will mention in the briefest way what the cause has been. The cause has been the education 1029 policy of the present Administration. It observed may be contrasted with the policy which has prevailed in the Transvaal, and which has secured now the cordial assent of both races. The education policy in regard to the teaching of languages in the Orange River Colony has been demonstrated to be unworkable. I make that statement, not, it is true, on official information, as I have been unable to obtain it from the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I do not make it from conjecture. I make it from inquiries from the highest, most unbiassed, and most authoritative sources which are to be obtained in South Africa. I say deliberately that many of our Dutch fellow subjects in the Orange Colony, as well as elsewhere, dislike the policy, and have protested against it. One distinguished man, bearing a distinguished name, at present in this country, views the policy of the Government in this respect with disapproval. It is disliked by the Dutch. They wish the English language, which is really the great medium of business, throughout South Africa, to be thoroughly taught to their children. They wish also to have freely at their command the great literature of this country. If they dislike the weight that has been placed on the teaching to the Dutch of the English language, the English also deeply deplore the handicapping of their children in the race of life by insufficient instruction in the language which is their own, and which they desire that their children shall freely acquire.
This was perceived by the educational administrators in the Orange River Colony. They perceived that, if the Act of Parliament which was passed there was strictly enforced, it would result "in the closing down of the schools, and with that general desire to make things work well which characterises the Civil Service and the educational service they, with the strong approval of both Dutch and English parents in the Colony, worked the Bill with a great deal of latitude. The original circular from the Department of Education in October,1908, gave them the opportunity to do that. Things were not going badly when the Act was somewhat winked at and a latitude, which was not permissible if the Act were strictly read, no doubt caused a far greater acceptance of its provisions by those who came under its jurisdiction. But that policy was unhappily put an end to by a circular of February,?909, which definitely advised teachers and inspectors in that Colony that this latitude was not further to be 1030 observed, but that the Act of Parliament should be followed literally and accurately. The inspectors had no choice, and they put that policy into force. It is a strange thing that although the policy of this circular was in reality to further assist, as I presume the Government thought, the Dutch language in the Orange Colony, the indignation of the Dutch themselves at the policy broke out and expressed itself with great strength, they seeing, no doubt, that their children would be handicapped in the race of life were this policy to be continued. The House will scarcely believe that after enforcing that policy, for strictly obeying the circular which had directly called to their attention the necessity of literal obedience to the Act of Parliament, three inspectors have been dismissed under circumstances which I am perfectly certain were not only most repugnant to everyone, even of my opponents in this House. They were dismissed without being heard and without a complaint having been made against them. A meeting was arranged at the request of the Director of Education, at which they should hear the charges preferred against them, and should have the elementary right of every British subject to be heard before he is condemned. That meeting was in the first place postponed, in the next place it was abandoned, and before one single word had been said either of complaint, so far as I know, but certainly without a single word of attempted justification on the part of the inspectors, they were dismissed from their positions. Of these gentlemen the Director of Education in the Orange Colony—a man of high educational repute throughout the whole of South Africa—used these words:—They have served the Department loyally and efficiently for periods ranging from five to seven years, under conditions which required unusual tact and ability. I have no doubt that the explanation of any complaint against them will be found to be satisfactory.This explanation they have never had an opportunity of giving. There are the facts. I fully accept what was said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman when I asked him a question, that self-government having been granted to the Orange Colony, His Majesty's Government had, in such a matter as this, not the right to override the decision of the responsible Government. I think the principle of self-government of such vital importance throughout the Empire that I could never press any representative of the Crown upon that 1031 bench to say or do anything which could impeach the responsibility for their affairs which the grant of self-government gives to the members of that Colony. My motive this afternoon is not to impeach the grant of self-government or its consequences, but my desire is to call upon the Government, just before this question of South African union is brought before the House, to do something by way of persuasion, by way of representation, by way of influence, even by way of diplomatic pressure, to endeavour to obtain the removal of so grave a cause of disquietude. That would be the right of British subjects even if these occurrences had taken place in a foreign country. Manifestly after what has been done to earn their gratitude by the grant of self-government, and in view of the influence which that action should have on the minds of our Dutch fellow subjects in the Colony, diplomatic pressure ought to be exercised, and must be exercised surely, if right is to be done with a good chance of success. I say a good chance of success, for I believe from every inquiry I have made that this action is not liked, nay, is disliked, by many of our Dutch fellow subjects in South Africa. I believe myself that it would not be tolerated were this subject brought before the United Parliament in South Africa which is about to be created. Certainly I desire, by bringing forward this question not to censure the Government, but to place in as conspicuous a way as I can, on record the circumstances of the case, believing that they have only to be thoroughly known and appreciated in South Africa, and that there will be a strong opinion likely to take effect, and to operate in the South African Parliament which is about to be created, to remove the grievances, which no one, I think, can doubt are both substantial and real. I thought it desirable, as a statement was made just before I rose in regard to the South African Parliament, to make these preliminary remarks on this subject. I finish as I began, by the expression of the most sincere desire that this irritating source of discord may, if possible, be mitigated before the Act of Union is brought to completion.
§ Mr. H. J. WILSON
I rise for the purpose of drawing the attention of the Committee to certain deplorable occurrences in British East Africa, and also to what I think has been the deplorable manner in which they have been treated by the Colonial Office in this country. I say so 1032 with considerable regret, because it appears to me that if my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Seely) had not been sitting on the Front Bench, he would be foremost in his desire to draw attention to the question himself, and I feel sure that he would have put it before the Committee with a force to which I can make no pretension. Two officials are implicated in this matter and some natives. My chief complaint is against the superior official in respect of what has been done in the treatment of the case. It is a complicated story, and I have tried to the best of my ability to disentangle it. I will put it as briefly as I can before the Committee. I may say that the main facts are not disputed; they are practically admitted all round. That lightens my task to a certain extent. In the first case there was a native girl, named Wameisa, whose age is stated to have been 12 to 14, but who, I take it, at the time this occurrence was commenced, was younger than that. It appears that she was seen by a British officer named Heywood, who had conceived a desire to possess her. He told a native to get her for him, and he paid 40 goats for her, which, I understand, is about the usual price of a wife in that part of the world. He took her about as his concubine for some time, and then he came home to England, sending her back to her village. When he returned he sent for her again, and, being ordered to a more remote part of the country, she objected to go there. There happened to be at this time on the station another official commanding the district, named Silberrad. The first official told this girl to go and live with the second official, and as she objected to do so, she was sent home. The second official was not satisfied with that, and he tried to get her. Her brother says that he was threatened that if she did not go the village would be burned and the goats taken as in war. That particular threat, I understand, was denied, but it is admitted by the messenger that a threat was made, and what particular form it took really does not signify. A second attempt was made by this officer to get the girl, and it succeeded. On this occasion the acting district commissioner was travelling from Nyeri to Fort Hall. Passing through the village where this girl was, he told the chief, Wambugu, that she was to be ready on his return in two days' time. She says she was threatened again and told that if she did not go with him her people would be put in prison. At 1033 any rates she was taken to a hut, made to change her clothes, and put into this commissioner's room. He then made overtures to her which she declined. He says that he sent a message in the morning that she was not to go further with him unless she wished. She declares that the message was never delivered to her and that it was only because he was a Government official that she went next day to Nyeri. She remained there until Mrs. Routledge fetched her away. Mr. and Mrs. Rout-ledge are English people holding property in that country, and probably they are the only independent people within some hundreds of miles. I think a debt of gratitude was due to them for the part they took in this affair. My hon. and gallant Friend, answering a question in this House, used these words, "We are all very much obliged to the lady for what she has done."
§ Colonel SEELY
That was in reply to a question as to whether she had sheltered this girl and cared for her. I do not wish it to be assumed that that applied to all the circumstances of the case.
Mr. PIKE PEASE
I asked the question to which reference has been made. What I asked was whether these girls were to be given up?
§ Mr. H. J. WILSON
I do not know whether the question had reference to sheltering or not, but the answer had reference to the fact that Mrs. Routledge fetched the girl away from that man's house. I do think that it is a very sad thing, after all that has happened, and after the action of this public-spirited and independent lady, that she has not had adequate thanks. My hon. and gallant Friend has qualified the thanks which they deserve from the people of this country, from the Members of this House, and the Colonial Office.
§ Colonel SEELY
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, but I do not wish it to be assumed that I qualify the thanks which are due to the lady. The hon. Member put his remarks in a way which would seem to imply censure upon our own officials in' East Africa. The thanks which I expressed to this lady do not in the least imply such censure. We are most grateful to the lady for the kindness she extended to this girl. It was to that matter I confined my answer, but if it were to be taken as implying a reflection on our own officials that would be going beyond what is fair.
§ Mr. H. J. WILSON
I do not wish to misrepresent my hon. and gallant Friend in the slightest degree. There was a second case, and the circumstances, so far as I have been able to gather, were these. Mr. Heywood was at a native dance, and there he told the chief that he wanted a girl. Two were brought to him, and he selected one. Her name was Niambura. She did not wish to go, but the official gave her father "many goats." He took this girl about the country with him, at the same time as the former one, and, like the other, she was sent for by him when he returned from England. When he went to a more distant station she went with him, but left after a time, and came to Silberrad with a letter of introduction from Heywood. There is no doubt about the fact that he knew from the first that she lived with Mr. Silberrad willingly for a monthly wage. I ought to state that Judge Barth was sent to make preliminary inquiries. I do not know the status of a judge in that part of the world, but I suppose the object of making the preliminary inquiries was to report to the Government on the case.
Then we come to the third case of a girl 12 or13 years of age, who was the wife or concubine of a policeman under the orders of Silberrad. According to the report of Judge Barth, she was ordered to return to Nyeri for that officer's pleasure. She was fetched from her house by a policeman, and in the presence of a sergeant she was handed over to Silberrad's cook, and she slept with Silberrad. The policeman hearing of what had happened, went to the official's house and began to lead the girl away, but the Commissioner appeared, and, although it seems hardly credible, a scene or scuffle of some kind took place between the policeman and the Commissioner. The Commissioner was so annoyed at the policeman making resistance that he sent for the guard, and had him put in prison for endeavouring to protect his own wife or concubine, as the case may be. These facts are not denied as regards the main points. One of the offenders made two excuses. The first was-that there was no compulsion, the second was that in the third case he believed the girl was not really married to the policeman. I say that both of these pleas are the merest quibbling. The idea of compulsion on the part of an important British official who took this action among people practically under his sway and influence is one which will not hold. 1035 Whether this girl was or was not married according to some native custom does not seem to me to be in the least worth discussing at the present moment. I am not a lawyer; but it seems to me that serious offences have been committed, as set forth in the Indian Penal Code. I would direct the attention of the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies to two paragraphs in the Penal Code. Section 366 says:—Whoever kidnaps or abducts any woman in order that she may be forced or seduced to illicit intercourse, or knowing it to be likely that she will be so forced or seduced, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to a fine.That appears to apply to persons who are employed to secure these women. Section 173 says:—Whoever buys, hires, or otherwise obtains possession of any minor under the age of 16 years to the intent that such minor shall be employed or used for the purpose of prostitution, or for any unlawful or immoral purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to a tine.The facts to which I have referred appeared in "The Times" on December 3rd of last year, and on December 7th several questions were asked in this House in regard to them. My hon. and gallant Friend stated, amongst other things, in reply, that the official named was not a man of high rank, but was of a junior grade. This is to me a great puzzle, because it appears that he had the power of trying capital charges, of passing sentence of death, and, on confirmation by some higher official or court, it was his duty to see that the execution was carried out. I am assured that this person had tried capital charges, and had superintended the execution of one man sentenced by himself. Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will explain whether questions of life and death are entrusted to these officials of junior grade in this part of the world. He also discussed briefly the question of age, and objected to one of the girls being called a child. Judge Barth, in his report, uses two expressions; in one case he calls the girl a "child" and in another "a girl of tender years" therefore I do not see the use of discussing what the age really was. The clauses from the Penal Code to which I have called attention refer to girls under the age of 16 years. After all, what does it matter whether there was a particular and special form of compulsion? The circumstances all point to the fact that it was practical compulsion. Here we have a high Government official—I still call him that—dealing in this way with 1036 native girls, and scuffling at his kitchen door with one of his own policemen for the personal custody of one of these girls. To my mind it is simply abominable that this nation, this House of Commons, should be represented in a far-off dependency by such a man, with enormous power and influence—that he should be travelling about his district with his native pimps around him, and asking the chief, who ought to be the protector of these girls, to procure and bring an assortment of girls for his selection. It is very possible that the chief could hardly refuse the demand of a man in such a position. And when these public-spirited people, Mr. and Mrs. Rout-ledge, have gone to a great deal of trouble, expense, and inconvenience in bringing these things to light, instead of receiving the warmest thanks of everybody for their action, they are practically discouraged. It seems to me that the Governor, the judge, and the Colonial Office have combined to minimise the offence or offences. Even now we are not allowed to know the whole truth. We are not allowed to see the evidence or to have papers laid. It is said that some sort of despatch or circular has been sent out, but it is withheld from thi5 public at large. If it is a good and efficient circular the general public would be glad to see it, and I cannot understand why it should not be seen by the House of Commons and the public. In cases of this kind nothing is gained by secrecy. Secrecy only tends to make people believe there is something worse than appears on the surface. One of these men has been punished. How? He has been degraded in rank and sent to a remote district—to what is termed a "closed" district, where neither Mr. and Mrs. Routledge nor anybody else will be able to follow him or to know what he is doing. The other person, I believe, has had a reprimand, though I do not know of what sort. It is because, in my judgment, no proper action has been taken in the matter that I beg to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £100.
§ Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries, Wages, and Allowances) be reduced by £100 in respect of the Salary of the Secretary of State."
Mr. CATHCART WASON
The speech to which we have just listened is in many respects a most deplorable one. We have had the matter brought up on the floor of the House; there have been made a number of statements more or less true, but none the less objectionable on that 1037 account. The concluding remarks of my hon. Friend (Mr. Wilson) would lead the Committee to believe that the person to whom he alluded is still going about the country, carrying out his own wicked will, in what my hon. Friend called a closed district. While I agree with very much that my hon. Friend has said, I must say that, if it is possible to do so, the case has been very greatly exaggerated. There is no evidence whatever that any of the women referred to were either children or of tender years. It is purely a matter of opinion on one side or the other.
Mr. CATHCART WASON
There is not the slightest evidence that the man committed a breach of the penal code by either kidnapping or abducting these people. I do not rise for the purpose of extenuating the offence. The offence is a very serious one. All of us will admit that without hesitation. But I agree with my hon. Friend that it would be very desirable if all the circumstances of the case could be dragged into the light, as I believe that then many motives would be shown for the persecution of the individual whose conduct is in question. The position is briefly this: The Governor of the Colony, on the facts being brought to his notice, immediately sent Judge Barth to report on the matter. Judge Barth issued his report, and on that report the Governor and the Administration took immediate action and punished the offender, some people say, very severely. At any rate, he was punished; he suffered, and is still suffering, for his offence. Surely there is no ground for re-trying the case here after all that has been done in the Protectorate itself. What can we know about it except the hearsay evidence which is before us? There is no evidence whatever upon which the House of Commons can go, except Judge Barth's report. I deplore not only the attack upon the individual in question, but still more the attack upon the Governor and the Administration. The "Spectator," a journal of great repute, goes out of its way to assert that:—such cases are not exceptional and individual, but are typical of unsound and dangerous conditions prevailing in a particular AdministrationI believe that that is a gross calumny and absolute libel on our officials in East Africa. I speak with some knowledge of the country, having visited it twice, and spent a considerable time there. I know 1038 many of the officials, and I believe that they are as honest-minded and pure-living a class of people as you could wish. In the name of our common Christianity we might have let this matter drop. Even if we forget Him who wrote with His finger in the sand, and said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone," we might, at any rate, think of ourselves. Before we drag up this unfortunate man before the Bar of the House of Commons, we might think of our own morals; we might take our leading journals, from "The Times," downwards, and reads in the annals of the Divorce Court the sordid details which are issued every day for the education of the young. We might also study the morals of Piccadilly, and, when we had put those right, we might have some ground for studying African morals. African morals are not ours. In some respects they may be better than ours; in other respects, worse; at any rate, they are not the same. What would be deplorable in any country is not in Africa the very serious offence it has been made out to be. Are we going to try here this man who has been punished, and has suffered? This man has come home after this reprimand, and not only has he laid his sins at the foot of the Throne, but he has gone to an English lady and told her the whole story, and she has consented to be his wife and to go out to Africa with him, there to help him to lead a higher and a purer life, and to regain the position which he has lost. Is not it then too cruel to bring all those charges up again? Anyone who has got the smallest knowledge of native races knows that a white man, whether an official or a settler, once he has sexual intercourse with them loses all that legitimate influence among them which exists in ordinary cases; I believe there is not an official or a settler in East Africa who would not cordially welcome a law that anyone found guilty of this practice should be immediately deported from the Colonies. Such a proposal would command universal consent. That the offence is rare I believe with all my heart. I have seen a great many officials. Many of them are men living under conditions of great hardship. In many cases they are shut off from their fellows. They have not got any of the comforts, necessities almost, to which they might be entitled from their position in life, and as a rule as a class they leave very little to be desired; and they do not deserve such charges as those, which are injurious to the country at large and to the best interests of these classes.
1039 East Africa is to some extent an unfortunate country. I sincerely hope that the incident to which attention has just now been directed will not divert our attention from some other features to which I wish to call my hon. Friend's notice for a few moments. It is impossible to discuss this question of East Africa without also taking in that of Uganda. The two are almost inseparable. My hon. Friend the other day stated that he hoped the time would soon come when those countries would be united under one Protectorate. The present position is extremely unsatisfactory. We have spent millions of money in those two countries, 13 or 14 millions. We have gone to great expense inducing settlers to go out, and we are still spending very large sums of money in the country. In face of all that, the country is not progressing. It is very largely at a standstill, and no one can visit the country and regard it from the point of view of the ordinary British taxpayer with anything like satisfaction. Fifteen millions of money has been given, and there is nothing to show for it. We get no trade and no commerce from the country. We find that settlers in East Africa are told that the Government is doing everything it possibly can for them in the way of providing for them a first-class, well-equipped Agricultural Department which is second to none. We find that many of the settlers are dissatisfied, and leave the Colony after having spent very large sums of money there and a great many years of their lives. We must know the reason of this. We have got a country which everyone who has been there believes to be one of immense possibilities and immense prospects. We know that products of all sorts can be grown there. We know that the natives are an industrious, intelligent race, that in Uganda they are growing cotton with very great success, and that in East Africa they are growing wheat and a variety of other products. We know that white settlers there have introduced coffee, which is doing uncommonly well, as well as many other things, and yet in face of all those advantages the country is, so to speak, at a standstill. If we inquire into the reason of that it is not in any inherent defect in administration; it is because all this vast country, extending from the Mountains of the Moon to the Indian Ocean, is practically blocked at its exit. Settlers may grow produce, the Government may do what it can to help them, but then we find that through the exit being abso- 1040 lutely blocked the whole development of the country is arrested. Enormous quantities of the produce of the country which is grown on the shores of Like Victoria come down the line. It all goes in German bottoms to Germany, or in French bottoms to France. There is practically not a single particle of our produce from East Africa or Uganda that comes home direct to this country. If it does it comes home at a very costly rate.
The only possible means by which you can put this great estate of ours—because after all it is an estate belonging to the British taxpayer—on a satisfactory footing is to open this exit now, which is admittedly closed to British products and also to British manufactures. We cannot compete with the German and the French line. We have a subsidised line on which we are absolutely throwing away £9,000 a year, which is not I lie smallest value to East Africa or to a soul in the country or to our commerce. The subsidy is for the mail service, but our passengers and our mails all go by either the French or the German lines. Why on earth my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General (Mr. Buxton) persists in doing this has always been a matter of impossibility for me to understand. What are we going to do to remedy this? I can hardly imagine that my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Seely) will ask the House for a subsidy to put on a satisfactory steamship line direct between this country and East Africa and Uganda, but I think that this course might be adopted, that it might be laid down that the Suez Canal is not merely a source for collecting so much revenue from ships that go through it, but that we should treat the Suez Canal as a great highway, and that while it might not be possible to ask the House for a direct subsidy he might very well, if satisfactory conditions of contract could be arranged, give a refund of the dues paid in the Suez Canal by any steamship company that would bring our country and this great undeveloped land closer together. It is only by some means of this-sort that we can bring affairs in East Africa to a satisfactory conclusion at this time. Although the Government has made great efforts to develop Uganda, and has made unparalleled exertions, and with great success, to stamp out the sleeping sickness, which is now almost unknown, and has done much to encourage settlers, yet all those things mean nothing to the commercial development of this country as long as it is blocked by not having satisfactory 1041 steamship communication with Great Britain. My hon. Friend is a little bit heavily handicapped in having so much to do, and if his attention were specially directed to Grown Colonies they would be really almost sufficient for any one Government Department.
Now we have also got enormous interests, commercial and philanthropic, with which we have been connected from time immemorial, in British West Africa. There also we have got possessions; there also we can show a wonderfully good record; there also we have got at the present time a great country which is producing and sends home to our country vast quantities of material every year with great advantage to us and to them. Railways are being made, and the whole country is being developed in the most satisfactory manner. But one point to which I wish to direct my hon. Friend's attention for a moment is with reference to the Treaty of Abbeokuta. Hon. Members will recollect that when the chief of Abbeokuta came over here some years ago we gave him a great ovation, and entertained him profusely, and he went back to his country exceedingly satisfied with the treaty which had been signed between us and him. That treaty solemnly guaranteed the absolute independence of his country. I was recently told by people who had come over from that country that the little kingdom of Abbeokuta is almost a model, but on the other hand, like other models, possibly slightly extravagant, and that the cost may be a little more than a prudent governor would wish for. But even if it is, I entreat my hon. Friend religiously to observe the independence of these people. Everyone who knows natives knows that they are extremely sensitive and extremely touchy in matters of agreement if once come to. If even the smallest detail in a solemn treaty of negation has been in some way or other set aside they will attach very great importance to it, and may desist from doing their utmost to develop their own country as they are doing now. It is perfectly marvellous to sea what they are doing now, endeavouring to improve their agriculture by the importation of all sorts of machinery; and I think it would be a thousand pities if anything whatever was done to lead those people for one moment to think that we were not going most religiously to observe our treaty made with them guaranteeing their independence. I grant that there is a difficulty there of allowing the tolls to go on as they have done. They say it is the 1042 one thing in which they can assert their independence. I sincerely trust that nothing whatever will be done by the Government to hurry the matter and to give those people any idea whatever that the treaty would not be religiously observed.
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
I would like to emphasise what has been said by the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Cath-cart Wason) in reference to the question of direct British steamship communication with East Africa. This is a question which I have interested myself in in this House for the last seven years, and which I should now like to press on the hon. Gentleman who represents the Colonial Office. It was one of the special recommendations of the Steamship Subsidies Committee, over which I had the honour to preside, and in those recommendations the Committee urged—and I think it will be generally agreed—that all mail subsidies and subventions are granted to ensure speed and regularity of service, and, so far as they follow the lines of great commercial traffic, to encourage our trade and pioneer it into new markets. To this case particular attention was drawn, because from the evidence before us it was perfectly clear that at this point in our Empire Imperial communication required to be strengthened. The Committee was composed of men of both parties. There was no question specially of Tariff Reform or Free Trade, or views about carrying out Free Trade principles or Protectionist principles. We recommended that in a case such as this Imperial communication should be improved from a general standpoint, and we were backed up by no less a person than Sir Spencer Walpole, who gave evidence before us as secretary of the Cobden Club, and who, in answer to a question from the hon. Member for Pontefract, said, "If I thought it right to have a direct line to Zanzibar for Imperial purposes it would come within my principles and you ought to establish it. I confess I thought until I came into this room that there was direct communication there."
All who are well acquainted with this matter know perfectly well that there was no direct communication there. There was an effort since to make some sort of communication, but it very rapidly failed for other reasons than those connected with East Africa. There is no direct British communication with any of our Colonies on the East African Coast. No 1043 doubt an opportunity might have arisen when we laid down the Uganda Railway. We spent many millions of money on the development of the country, and much material had to be shipped to Uganda, though it was spasmodically brought there at monthly intervals, or whenever opportunity offered. But the occasion was not taken advantage of to establish a direct British line of communication to Uganda or the East Coast of Africa. I understand that the Uganda Government have now practically sanctioned, or are projecting, large railway schemes, for which, no doubt, further material will be required. Therefore, a fresh opportunity arises to establish a direct British steamship line to that country, and I trust that His Majesty's Government will not allow the opportunity on this occasion to slip. A steamship line could run with perfect advantage to the Port of Soudan, which would serve Kartoum; it could go on to Mombassa and Zanzibar, and draw material from Nyassaland through the Shire River. But it is not to the commercial side alone that I want to call the attention of the Under Secretary for the Colonies. There is a military side. The hon. Gentleman will recollect as well as I do that last December we wanted to bring two companies of the 1st Battalion of the King's African Rifles from Kyassaland to Somaliland, and that it was impossible to convey those troops in British ships, because there was no British ship there at the moment, and we shipped them on board the German mail steamship "Prinzessin." The ship had to land the troops at Berbera, and then went on her way. What was the result? Not only had we to do that which was decidedly undesirable, namely, to allow a foreign Power to know exactly what were the movements of our troops, and how many there were of them—a thing which in different circumstances might have been extremely disagreeable—but we had to pay a fine for the German mail steamer exceeding her mail contract time. We had to pay, I fancy, a further fine because of demurrage while she was landing the troops at Berbera, a port not on her course. Is not that a reason for establishing a British line to keep clear of all these foreign communications?
It seems to me that if a case of that sort arises, quite apart from the commercial side, it does afford an additional argument for getting some Government encouragement in respect of the establishment of a direct British steamship line. There are 1044 certain facts in this matter which cannot be ignored. Of course, tae German East African Line has special rebates to its customers which very seriously handicap the British manufacturer and trader I do not propose at this moment to deal with that. Full information will be found in the Steamships Subsidies Committee's Report, and further information in a recent shipping report. Let me point out that German merchants always get their goods systematically used in East Africa, and, owing to the conservatism of merchants, once they get a footing in the country it will be very difficult to oust them. If we look at the figures of British and German trade, they show that this contention of mine is clearly proved. From the last Consular Report I have obtained the following figures. I find that British exports to Zanzibar and Pemba in 1892 amounted to the value of £105,670. The British exports to Zanzibar and Pemba amounted in 1907 to £193,242, that is to say, an increase of 83 per cent. What about the German figures? According to the last report from our Consul, the German East African trade, including both imports and exports, in 1891, amounted to the value of £300,900; the German East African trade, both imports and exports, in 1907 were of the value of £1,815,327, or an increase of 503 per cent, since 1891, so that, while our British experts to Zanzibar and Pemba increased 83 per cent, between 1892 and 1907, the German East African trade between 1891 and 1907 increased 503 per cent.
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
I have not got all the figures, but if the hon. Member will consult the Consular Report, he will find there the indication of the kind of progress Germany is making.
§ Mr. JOSIAH C. WEDGWOOD
Does the hon. Member compare Zanzibar and Pemba, which were thoroughly settled in 1891, with German East Africa, which is just beginning?
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
I do not think Zanzibar and Pemba were thoroughly settled in 1891. I was there some years after 1891, and I should certainly say they were not thoroughly settled. But surely there is something wrong when we have this further fact, that in our own port of Mombassa there are practically only two British firms, whereas the remainder are 1045 foreigners, mostly Germans. At Mombassa, according to the very latest information, German homeward vessels are generally more or less full. So far as there is any room, the choice is always given to the German firms, very naturally, and the British firms have to wait until the German firms have had all their cargoes loaded. Germans get in addition a special rebate under the German freight arrangements. It frequently happens, I may say in the case of almost every German steamer, that British firms have their goods left on the wharf, because there is no room to carry them home. In Zanzibar, German trading firms are much more in evidence than British. That is the statement of the last Consular Report. In Dar-es-Salaam, the German capital of East Africa, it is remarkable that there is not a single British firm at all. Surely all these facts deserve some weight at the Colonial Office. If we could establish a steamship line out there, I think there would be no real difficulty about return cargoes, which I have sometimes heard raised as an objection. As the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Cathcart Wason) stated, cotton-growing is rapidly increasing in British East Africa, and I think there is copper ore to be got from the Beira Hinterland. There is coffee in Nyassaland, there is wheat-growing in Uganda, and I believe that coal is likely to be developed in Rhodesia. At any rate, Uganda and that part of Africa will grow almost anything, as will be testified by those who know the country well. I feel confident that His Majesty's Government will not refuse to assist, so far as they can, the increasing British trade in our Colonies, and prevent it going into the hands of foreigners. I know it is sometimes argued, "Why not let the Germans do it, because it is cheap, and if they can bring home British goods at a loss to themselves, so much the better for the British Empire." But are we sure of this? Are we so very certain that they do it at a loss? I have looked at some of the figures of the freights that are charged. I find in 1907 the German East African Line's average rate of charges from, I think, Mombassa, was £1 16s. a ton. Almost immediately after that came the collapse of the Dale Line, which only existed for a very short time, and collapsed in circumstances not connected with East Africa at all.
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
I gave the year 1907 as the year in which German freight charges amounted to £1 16s. a ton from, I think, Mombassa. Then came the collapse of the Dale Line in 1908. The German freights—the Germans having then got the monopoly—averaged, for British goods at any rate—I am not sure about the German goods—£2 5s. a ton, and in the present year the German freight charges average £2 15s. to £3 a ton, as the last Consular Report states. That cannot be good for British trade, and I should, therefore, like to direct the hon. Gentleman's special attention to these figures. It is to be remembered that at the present time we pay to the German East African Steamship Line £12,000 for the transport of British officials to and from the East African coast. We also pay £10,000 a year for the export out of British Government stores. That makes £22,000. We pay them something more, which I have not been able to ascertain, for the carriage of our British mails, and that is all we pay, as far as I know, apart from the military question to which I previously referred. But as the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland said, we pay £9,000 more to the British India Line for the Aden parcels mail, of which there is only a very limited use, because the vessels are slower than the German mail ships, and because it involves the transshipment at Aden of parcels from England with all the attendant delays, and, indeed, thefts which occur. That makes a total of £31,000, plus the carriage of mails by German vessels and plus the carriage of troops by German vessels; so that we are already paying for this very unsatisfactory communication in East Africa £31,000 a year. I would like to ask the hon. Gentleman whether it would not be much better to stop making these payments to the German East Africa Line and shift off that payment to help to run a British East Africa Line. I do not ask him if it is against his views on political economy to do so by way of subsidy, but let him do it by way of guaranteeing goods or guaranteeing passages to that extent. If it is true that the Uganda Railway is going to be so largely increased, would it not be possible to guarantee all the material for the new line? I do not want to hamper the hon. Gentleman by asking him unnecessary questions, but as I hope and believe he is trying to get some British line established in conjunction with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, I should be only too glad to hear that it is so. I have merely stated these facts and referred to 1047 these statistics with the view of improving Imperial communications in a way such as Sir Spencer Walpole spoke of, and to prevent trade from the East African Colonies being shipped first to Hamburg and having to come round to Liverpool afterwards. The whole thing seems anomalous and unreasonable, and if we want to develop British East Africa I hope and trust that His Majesty's Government will take to heart the serious facts I have suggested and give them favourable consideration.
§ Mr. J. C. WEDGWOOD
The hon. Member for Aston Manor (Mr. Evelyn Cecil) is perfectly justified from the standpoint of his politics in advocating a subsidy for an East African line of steamers. That is, of course, purely a protective suggestion to tax the community for the benefit of one particular Colony.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
Whether you call them subsidies or, as the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. C. Wason) says, a rebate on Suez Canal dues, it is purely a protective measure in the interests of one Colony. I think the hon. Member for Shetland and Orkney can hardly expect the Colonial Secretary to take very serious action at present in that direction. Even if my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Seely) is influenced by the hon. Member for Montgomery (Mr. Rees) and by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, I hope he will consider that of all the methods of bolstering up Colonial trade the worst is by steamship subsidies. It irritates every other steamship company, it drives "tramps" out of the market, it interferes with the liberty of commerce, and leaves nothing permanent behind it. If we are spending the taxpayers' money in developing railways in Uganda, we do have a tangible asset after the money is spent, and some day we may hope it may pay its way. The hon. Member for Aston Manor is right in one sense, namely, that the land in British East Africa is being retained in the hands of the State, and I think there is more justification for the spending of our money in developing our country by means of railways than probably in the case of any other Colony in our possession. If money is to be spent, it should be spent in some permanent way, or in a way from which there will be some permanent benefit, rather than in a purely transitory revolu- 1048 tion in the carrying trade of East Africa. The Colonial Office will probably look at it rather from the railway point of view than from the sea transport question. I hope that in any extension or expansion of the British East Africa railway system special regard will be had to developing those parts of the country which are still State property, instead of those parts which have been unfortunately alienated in large blocks to big settlers. [Mr. REES: "Down with private enterprise."] Obviously it is good sense on the part of the British taxpayer to develop his own rather than somebody else's property. The hon. Member for Holmfirth (Mr. H. J. Wilson) was replied to with rather unnecessary violence by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, but I can assure him that the hon. Member for Holmfirth had no wish to emphasise the morality of white settlers in any country in the world. We do not wish to do so because we believe in the liberty of the subject. It is not our business to interfere with people who choose to live in that sort of way, but the objection we have is that in East Africa British officials are using their official position to procure those girls. That is the sort of thing which cannot be tolerated under the British Crown. I have had myself the honour to serve two years in the Transvaal. I was in charge of a district in which there was a population of some 13,000 natives. The administration of the natives came always intimately under my notice, and the whole time I was there I never heard of such a case as that of an official living with a black woman. It is opposed to the most elementary sense of morality in those countries. I cannot believe the British official when he gets elsewhere is entirely different from what he is in South Africa; but, if it is so, how are we to explain the more or less silent support which the Colonial Office in this country have given to the manner in which Sir James Sadleir deals with this case in East Africa. They have sent out a circular to officials in East Africa. I had the privilege of seeing the circular, which was given to me privately; and I can only say it was a most unsatisfactory circular so far as I was concerned. This state of affairs, which has been revealed in East Africa, is the same sort of thing as the scandal in Germany. We do want a little more reprobation from the Colonial Office of that state of things than was visible in that circular. I have no doubt nine out of ten officials in East 1049 Africa loathe that state of things as much as we do. Surely it is all the more necessary the Government should show, however much that particular case may have been dealt with leniently—I think dealt with much too leniently—that in future the man will be dismissed on the spot. That circular was sent out six months ago, and I want to know whether anybody has been dismissed since, or is to be dismissed, or whether any offences have occurred since, and whether we are to assume that if any more cases of that kind occur the offenders will be dismissed. I think we are entitled to have that definitely from the Colonial Office to-day. I am bound to say, I think that the advent of Sir Percy Girouard in East Africa will do probably more than a good many circulars to control any bad state of affairs among officials in that Colony. He has done more than anyone else to put affairs in Northern Nigeria into their present excellent state. I believe if he has a free hand that he will put the East Africa Colony on the same healthy lines of progress as Northern Nigeria.
§ Mr. AUSTIN TAYLOR
I do not propose to pursue the question of policy raised by the last speaker in regard to subsidising the Mercantile Marine, but I desire to speak upon the question of a British steamship service in East Africa as a business proposition. Whatever may be the policy of particular Governments which come and go, the policy of regarding facts from the business standpoint is absolutely necessary for any Government, particularly for the Colonial Office, which has to deal so largely with the commerce and trade of our Colonics. It may not be generally known to the Committee, but I believe it to be a fact that there is no direct out-and-home service to East Africa under any flag whatsoever. There is certainly none under the British flag, and to German East Africa there is none. The manner in which the Germans have dealt with this question is very interesting. They hit upon a solution which apparently has not been adopted by any British line or by the Government on its own account. The German service to East Africa is worked on this basis; the German steamer that goes down the East Coast of Africa circumnavigates Africa, and goes via the south, and comes up the west side, thus making a complete round. The German boat that goes down the west side does vice versa, and makes a complete round by the East Coast. Thus you have a service as often, I believe, 1050 as once a fortnight, and certainly once every three weeks, which furnishes an out-and-home boat to the German and British Colonies not by a direct out-and-home ser vice with East Africa as its terminus, but by the somewhat ingenious service of going out one side of Africa and coming home the other. I am not able to state what the financial results of that line are to the Ger man Company. What is certain is that no British company has imitated it, and yet, I am inclined to think, it would be perfectly possible for any of the great British lines, which are now trading either to South Africa or to India, to adopt some such policy if it suited them to do so. I take it that they are business people, and that there are business considerations which make the great shipping lines trading to those parts ignore any overture that might be made to them to imitate the Ger man example. The figures given by the hon. Member for Aston Manor with regard to freights homeward were very remark able, and I do not know whether he quite understood them himself. I really wish he had given us a little more explanation. He told us that the rate from Mombassa by the German line had risen from £1 16s. in 1907 to £3 per ton in 1909. He seemed in a very shocked frame of mind, if I may say so, at this horrible charge upon British goods. I made a very hasty calculation, and I think the £3 per ton only comes to three-eighths of a pound on cotton. I do not know why that should shock him. I do not think three-eighths—
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
Yes, the increase, not the figure. The increase from 36s. per ton in 1907 to £3 per ton in 1909.
§ Mr. A. TAYLOR
Well, I understood that there had been competition in 1907 which has abnormally lowered the rates. Competition in shipping, like competition in everything else, lowers freights; therefore freights were at an abnormally low level. What I want to point out is that the freights finally settled this year are not, as far as I can judge it, a very abnormal charge, and are merely such a charge as would be made by any steamship company which finds itself more or less in the position of a monopolist. Let me point out very briefly the extreme 1051 difficulty which any Government is in which undertakes to deal with this question from a business side. I believe that the Committee on Subsidies reported in 1902. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman why nothing was done by his Government? They claim a monopoly of patriotism and Imperialist expansion.
§ Mr. A. TAYLOR
Yes; that is perfectly true, and since then I have obtained sufficient sense to recognise the impotence of a private Member to direct the policy of any Government. I was a very humble Member of the party opposite. Had they proposed anything practical for the benefit of this trade they would have had my support. They did not do it. If they did not do it I presume it was because the facts of the situation, from a business point of view, were such as to show that they had better leave the matter alone. May I just point out what are the facts in regard to the total amount of cargo going from England to East Africa. I believe I am not overstating or understating the facts when I say that the total amount of cargo going from here to British East Africa does not exceed something like 2,500 tons per month. Two thousand five hundred tons a month, at a moderate rate of freight, would not exceed about £4,000 per month in freight for a line of steamers outwards. The minimum expense at which a purely cargo steamer could go out and home would be, I make it, £7,000. There is a gap, even if you do with one steamer per month, of £3,000 to be filled before that steamer would pay her expenses. Therefore a subsidy of something like £40,000 per year is the minimum figure that would be required from the Government before you could even see anything like making ends meet on a purely cargo service. Does anyone suggest that any prudent shipowner would take a risk of that kind, dependent upon such a small quantity of cargo outwards, even if the whole were guaranteed? Where are you going to get the goods? That is the prior question which does not occur to the hon. Gentleman. First catch your hare, then cook it. But the trade of East Africa from this country does not come to such a figure as would justify any shipowner in putting on a direct line. As to homeward cargo the hon. Gentleman opposite did not say very much about it. I believe chat it is extremely undeveloped at present, and furnishes no solid con- 1052 sideration to any shipowner who desires to put on an unassisted line of steamers.
§ Mr. A. TAYLOR
As I pointed out, the Germans do not rely on East Africa alone but on the whole of Africa.
§ Mr. A. TAYLOR
I really wish the hon. Gentleman would look the situation calmly in the face, and seriously say if he means that the present Government should subsidise a line not to go TO East Africa merely, but to go right round the whole of Africa.
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
I am not prepared to confine myself to any particular way, but it is a thing we should attend to. I did turn to the homeward cargo question. The Germans do pay a dividend on their business trade, and I do not see why we could not.
§ Mr. A. TAYLOR
I do not know on what authority the hon. Gentleman says that the German East Africa Line pays a dividend. I very much doubt it.
§ Mr. A. TAYLOR
The only German line whose balance-sheet I have seen recently lost £800,000. It shows that German maritime expansion, though great, is not always so successful as, some people desire to mike out. But I rose partly in order to say, from a business point of view and as a shipowner, how extremely difficult this proposition is for any Government 1o face. The question of policy is entirely a matter for the Government of the day, although, of course, private Members have their own views on questions of policy. I would like to make one observation on that point, not by way of committing myself to any particular view on tariffs or subsidies—upon which my views are perfectly well known —but to point out the remarkable contrast between this country and America. The American nation, as everybody knows, never hesitates at a high protective tariff. They screw up their tariffs with callous impartiality against every nation in its trading capacity, but they are extremely sensitive upon the point of subsidies. Anyone who read the evidence before the Commission on the American Mercantile Marine will have realised that the Ameri- 1053 cans will go to any length almost in protecting particular industries to enable them to plunder the community behind the shelter of a tariff, but they will not tole-rate subsidies. That is one of those phases of human contrariety which are worth noting. As one of the witnesses before that Commission said to the chairman: "No, Sir, when a man in our country gets his hand into the Treasury he begins to be busy." I daresay the same thing would happen in England if the same phenomenon were to take place, but this Free Trade country has shown, to a certain extent, the opposite sentiment. I am only referring to the matter as a phenomenon of historic interest, that while this country has never, for the last 50 or 60 years, tolerated anything in the nature of protective Customs tariffs, it has strained a point of national sentiment to justify any Government where it came to a question of subsidies for the postal service by particular lines of Steamers, or for the development of particular Colonies, or for fast cruisers for the help of the naval service. I think the two countries are to be contrasted in that respect. Therefore, I do not think my right hon. Friend below me is to be blamed if he did for a moment consider the question of a subsidy to a line of steamers to East Africa, because everybody must lament the fact from a political and Imperial point of view that the ingenuity of the Germans has given them any priority, and that they have been able to do what no British shipowner so far has been able to do. I hope from a business point of view the difficulties may be surmounted, but I do feel that it is only right that the Committee should understand from a business man what the practical difficulties are: how great they have been found even by the Germans, the only maritime nation who have so far contributed anything to a practical solution of the question.
§ Sir JOHN KENNAWAY
May I address a few words to the Committee on this question, as having been from the first connected with that wonderful development which has taken place in East Africa and along that coast. I remember when there was no trade around that coast, and when we maintained a large fleet for the purpose of putting a stop to slavery. The whole of the interior of Africa was eaten up by the slave traffic and cruelty. Steps were taken which have given us an estate of very real value, and has opened up to us the opportunity of serving the people 1054 of Africa in a most marvellous way. We have been able to encourage the population, including that of Uganda, where they have shown more than any other of the African natives the power of self-development and self-government in Church and State. We nearly lost the country, but through the courage of Lord Rosebery that country was preserved, and we have expended very large sums of money, millions, upon the railway. It is now, I believe, about very nearly paying its way. I cannot understand how it is that with this great increase of population, and with the railway, that the amount of trade going from this country is so small. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman went into his arguments tu quoque. He asked why we did not do this? Why one side or the other did not do something else? It would be better to encourage my hon. Friend opposite in the great work which he has undertaken and which he is carrying out with very great success, or hopes of success, in developing our Colonial possessions, and in furthering the great interests of the country. We recognise the very severe competition of our German friends, but I cannot but hope and believe that we shall hold our own. We used to do something in subsidies. We of the McKinnon line did great service. The trade of that country is worth saving and encouraging, and I hope to-day's discussion will mean that something will be done in that-direction. A question has been raised as to the status and the character of our Civil servants out there. We send out young men, and they are not allowed to marry. I believe that that is a penny-wise pound-foolish policy. I believe that in doing that we have done things not only bad for the morality of the country and prestige of England, but also for the health of the members of the Civil Service concerned, and if they were put upon a different footing, though there might be an increase in salaries, yet there would be a general saving in the improvement of health and the morale of the Civil Service who do a great work under very difficult circumstances. As pioneers, we have happily in the English Civil Service men calculated to do good work, and if we put them upon a proper basis I believe they will do still better work, and increase the well being of the countries over which they are placed, and also improve the trade committed to their care. I should also like to express my gratitude to the Colonial Office for dealing with the question, or doing something in the way of dealing with 1055 the question, which arises in West Africa. It is a great scandal and growing sore, and there seemed but little hope of having something done. Reports were made to the Colonial Office by representative bodies of West Africans who came over here last year, and the Secretary of State listened to their reports, and appointed a Commission, which has investigated the question, and will soon give us a result of its labours. I believe and hope it will be found that evidence has been fully taken and fairly given, and that witnesses have been ready to come forward. I understand that difficulties which have hitherto prevented international agreement in regard to raising the rates of Excise and Customs duty upon liquor imported and sold, are on a fair way to being removed, and that we may hope to find Germany co-operating with us in this matter to a greater extent than hitherto. These are most vital and important questions for the House, and I hope the discussion this evening will tend towards a better solution of all these matters.
Mr. J. D.REES
Before referring to the subject immediately under discussion, I wish to repudiate the suggestion which I think was made in some quarters that the character of the gentleman whose case was brought before the House is in any way typical of the European in office amongst Oriental or coloured populations. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme handsomely stated that he did not believe that the standard in East Africa was in any way inferior to that of South Africa. I think it becomes me, as one who spent his life in the public service among Oriental races, to say that I believe the members of that public service are just as honourable, as upright, and moral in all their relations in life as any man in this House, and I personally deplore the fact that this gentleman, who committed a fault and was punished and went back to his duties a married man, absolved from all his past transgressions, should be haled before the House to-day as a malefactor, and that all these circumstances should be raked up to the pain and ignominy of himself and his wife. I wish the matter had been left to be finally settled by the Governor of the Colony, who is so competent to deal with the matter, and who knew the circumstances of the matter so much better than hon. Gentlemen in and out of this House, whose sympathy with native races, when roused, is too often im- 1056 moderate in character and expression as it is uninformed by knowledge and experience. I cannot help regretting that when it was suggested that there was any thing like compulsion of a minor, the fact was left entirely out of account that women of this age in these countries are on an entirely different footing from what a woman of similar age would be in this country. These attacks recall to me the rancorous attitude taken up in certain quarters whenever the conduct of Indian officers who are struggling with great difficulties comes be fore this House. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Cathcart Wason) began by taking the House to the Mountains of the Moon and speaking of the need for better communication between the Mountains of the Moon, the Indian Ocean, and—
§ Mr. REES
The difficulty of sending home the produce that came down to the Indian Ocean, and that brings me to a branch of the subject with which I am greatly interested. That is to say, the case of steam communication on the East Coast of Africa. I cannot entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Austin Taylor), who suggested that the Under-Secretary had too much to do nowadays, and that he should be relegated to the Crown Colonies and taken away from the Protectorates. On the part of the Protectorates I object entirely. We want to keep the right hon. Gentleman to the Protectorates. I was rather disappointed with that portion of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, in which he dealt with the point of the shipping upon the East Coast of Africa, and although he is an expert in regard to shipping matters, I think he hardly did justice to the very considerable trade of the Coast. I wish, as one interested in this trade, to lift up my voice in the same sense as did the hon. Gentleman the Member' for Aston Manor (Mr. Evelyn Cecil), who, I believe, is quite right in his view. I do not believe in pedantic fiscal policy when dealing with this question. I believe the hon. Member for Liverpool underestimated the amount of business done on that coast, and this is a subject on which I have had some personal experience. I believe there is a very great amount of trade upon that coast, and I regret extremely that the whole of it is going into the hands of the Deutsche Ost African Line. There is some- 1057 thing more than ordinary percentages to be considered. We want some Imperial percentage in this connection. We want to get the business in that part of the world into our hands. When this subject was before the House last there was an hon. Member who actually suggested that the British traders profited by the German subsidies because they got their rates and freights so much cheaper by the amount of the subsidy, as if the Germans were subsidising the line for the benefit of our trade.
Is it not absolutely elementary that they were doing this in order to wipe out their competitors, and that then, having wiped them out, they would put up their rates to such a height as to injure our trade and to benefit their own? And it is hardly conceivable that in this House, from a business point of view, a hon. Gentleman should be found to contend that the action of the Germans in giving a subsidy to this line, of steamers is something, which is beneficial to British trade. I am perfectly certain there is no quarter of the City of London where such a theory would be listened to for one moment. The hon. Member for Liverpool dealt with the question of rates at some length. I do not intend to follow him into figures—figures are not very attractive—but the hon. Member for Liverpool stated that he made a hasty calculation. I think it was a very hasty calculation, and I am not prepared to accept his figures, though I sit upon the same side of the House. I believe the traffic is much more than 25,000 tons, and I do not accept his state-meat.
§ Mr. A. TAYLOR
I never said 25,000. What I did say was 2,500 tons per month, or 25 hundred tons, which is the same thing.
§ Mr. A. TAYLOR
I must put my hon. Friend right. I said 2,500 tons. That is the same thing as 25 hundred, but neither of these figures is the same thing as 25,000.
§ Mr. REES
It is approximately correct, and much more correct than my hon. Friend's estimate of the trade of the coast. [An HON. MEMBER; "It is 30,000."] I am 1058 very much obliged to my hon. Friend for his arithmetic. The British East African Protectorate has been subsidised to an extent of £13,000,000, the cost, including interest, of the Uganda Railway, and in view of that, why should we be so shy in spending a little in the subsidy of British trade? I want to ask the Under-Secretary what is the present policy that is being pursued as regards labour from Nyassaland. We were told that the export of labour to the Transvaal from Nyassaland was stopped because of the terrible mortality among the natives of a tropical country immigrated into the Transvaal, but it seems to me that they are now going under some informal arrangement, I believe, in the Government of Nyassaland, primarily for the benefit of Nyassaland, and we want natives of Nyassaland, as far as possible, to cultivate the land of Nyassa. I am not aware of what policy is really behind this matter, and I shall be very glad if my hon. Friend will explain it. Permission was given for 3,000 coolies to go to the Transvaal. If that is so, it will require some explanation as to who authorised that policy. Indeed, I am told that in some of the villages at present there are hardly any men left, the whole of the population being women. We should deal with this question in a sympathetic spirit towards Nyassaland, as well as towards the neighbouring territory, which wants coolies for its own purposes. It really is to me quite impossible to discover what at present is the policy in the Protectorate and outside as regards its labour, and I shall be very grateful to my hon. Friend if he will deal with the matter.
There is another question to which I should like to refer, and that is, the bankruptcy laws of Nyassaland. When I asked a question to-day someone suggested that the bankruptcies might amount to one, or possibly two, a year, but they do not understand the great operations taking place in Nyassaland. Bankruptcies are, I am sorry to say, exceedingly common. Hindus come there to trade, and they carry on trade for a little time, getting their goods from European merchants in Nyassaland. They send their profits away to India, and then they fail, and do not pay for the goods they sold, and ha I been paid for. Those are disastrous circumstances for business going on in Nyassaland, in which, as the Under-Secretary for the Colonies well knows, I have personal interest, and I make no secret of it. It is very desirable that the bankruptcy law there should be made 1059 more stringent, and this reform is certainly called for in that Protectorate. As laws are more easily passed in countries where there is no Parliament, and are none the worse laws for that, I suggest to the Under-Secretary that he should urge upon the Governor of Nyassaland that it is desirable that some steps should be taken to protect European traders there in this respect, because the present law gives a great advantage to dishonest as against honest traders. I am not prepared to say, so far as bankruptcy laws go, that that is a state of things peculiar to Nyassaland. I believe it would be out of order, and at any rate it would be inconvenient to refer to the South Africa Bill, which was dealt with by the Under-Secretary at Question time to-day. But I cannot sit down without expressing the hope that the sympathy which has been expressed for the native races will not degenerate into an opposition to an arrangement which is so satisfactory to all the States, and which I sincerely hope will go through without any great opposition in this House.
§ Mr. P. F. CURRAN
I will not attempt to follow the methods adopted by the hon. Member who has just sat down, who, in my opinion, seems to have been using this Debate to some extent for the promotion of business interests. At any rate, from the nature of his speech that is the way it has appealed to me. The object I had in view in placing the Motion which stands in my name on the Paper was not to discuss the South African problem. I had an idea there would be great competition from various quarters of the House to take part in that discussion, but I desire to take advantage of this Debate for the purpose of calling the attention of the Committee to what I regard as an important and somewhat serious problem which comes within the category of Colonial administration—I refer to the position of the Legislative Council of Malta. We have information at our disposal which tends to show that there is no other Colony under British rule to-day which is governed in the same manner. The Legislative Council of Malta consists of 20 members—three of them are permanent officials, nine are appointed by the Governor, and eight are elected by popular vote. So that out of the whole 20 there are only eight actual representatives of the people of Malta sitting on that Legislative Council. My reason for raising this question to-day is first of all because some 12 months ago I asked the pre- 1060 decessor of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Seely) whether he was prepared to take into account the consideration of a revision of the constitution of that council. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had just returned after paying a brief visit to Malta, and he said the Government had the matter under consideration. Quite recently I put a question, and the Under-Secretary for the Colonies replied to the effect that there was no alteration contemplated in the Legislative Council, but some alteration was contemplated in the Executive. I think that was the nature of his reply. We are all of opinion, from information at our disposal, that the form of Government in that island is unsatisfactory. Malta, although small as compared with South Africa, is certainly an important part of the British Empire. We believe that the nature of the Government, if it can be called a Legislative Council at all, is creating a good deal of unrest, and perhaps I may say that it is against, the traditional policy which has been adopted in all the other possessions of the British Empire. With regard to the composition of the council, I will give the Committee a brief quotation from the "Statesman's Year Book" for 1909. Here it is stated:—The Government is assisted by an Executive Council, consisting, according to the New Letters Patent of 3rd June, 1903, of the Governor as President, the Vice-President, Lieut.-Governor, und nine officially appointed members, and eight elected members.That is to say, out of the 20 that form the Legislative Council there are only eight elected by popular vote. This was not always the case in Malta, because an alteration took place during the reign of the last Government. During the late Administration—about 1902—the then Colonial Secretary, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham—whom we all regret is compelled to be absent from this House because of long illness—for some reason or other formed a scheme for altering and revising the constitution of that council. Prior to that, I am given to understand that, while there were always a number of officially appointed persons, appointed through the Governor prior to 1902 the majority of the council were elected persons. As to the reason of the alteration I will leave the Committee to judge. During the reign of the last Government no efforts were made, as far as I am aware, to have any alteration made in this respect, but when the present Government came into power with its democratic traditions, and its reputation for popular forms of Government, 1061 the people who were suffering under the new method made representations to the Colonial Office, to the Governor, and to other quarters in order that the matter might be brought before the Government of the day. Up to the present nothing has been done to alter that condition of affairs. We believe that an alteration in the direction I have indicated would tend towards harmony in that island. I am quite aware that not only are the natives suffering under the present form of government, but even English residents in Malta recognise, and naturally recognise, the injustice of a legislative council composed in this manner. In my judgment it would be just as well for Malta that the Governor should have entire control without any council as to have 12 officially appointed persons, three of them permanent officials as against eight elected persons. Throughout our Colonial possessions there is a natural, and I think a justifiable, suspicion of non-elected persons. We have had some experience of them in this country, and we are likely to have some more. I ask the Government and the hon. and gallant Gentleman to recognise the importance of this problem, because of the importance of the island to this country. The defences of the country were discussed yesterday for a long time, and I would like to call the attention of the Committee to what the Statesman's Year Book says in regard to the importance of the island of Malta. Here is a brief quotation:—Malta is one of the most important ports of call in the world, and it is the best resort for the repair and refitment of the British and Mediterranean fleet. Its harbour is a naval station. It is small, too small for the fleet, but a new breakwater is being constructed this year.In my judgment the port is a very important one to this country, and it has long been under the British flag. On many occasions, especially when Sir George White was associated with the Colony, many matters of interest to the working classes were brought before some of the representatives of labour in this country. I am not going into that side of the question to-day, but I am prepared to say that if an alteration took place in the constitution of the legislative council, if the Government of the island was made of a more democratic character, in my judgment I should say all sections of the island would be much more content and more loyal to the British Crown than we find them to-day. There is a very important newspaper in Malta, which is not by any means a revolutionary paper, 1062 which gives business news, and, in fact, all classes of news, and exists for the purpose of appealing not only to the populace of the island, but to the British Government, to alter the state of affairs which exists today. I ask the Committee to remember the manner in which we are treating other parts of the British Empire in regard to self-government. There is a Bill which will come before this House at a later period, namely, the South Africa Union Bill, which will confer self-government upon a people who have been for a short period only under British rule. Therefore, I feel that what is being done in any part of the British Empire ought to be done in the case of Malta. Malta to-day has no Government at all. The Government is merely a farce, inasmuch as the permanent officials, with the appointed persons acting in conjunction, can always outvote and override any suggestions or schemes brought forward by the elected members. I would ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to take into serious consideration the promotion of a scheme for the revision of the council, making it more democratic. He will then be acting up to the traditions of his party in regard to democratic government, and he will also be doing that which will make the people of Malta more loyal and contented than they are to-day. It is a great coaling port, and the grievances of the workmen, especially since this new form of government was instituted, have not been recognised to the extent they were in years gone by, and, from the point of view of having labour's claims voiced to a representative body of the people, I would urge upon the hon. and gallant Gentleman to recognise the justice of the proposal I now make.
§ Mr. G. H. ROBERTS (Norwich)
I think all will admit that my hon. Friend has submitted a tangible matter for the consideration of the Committee. He has pointed out that a real grievance is entertained by the Maltese people respecting the present form of their constitution, and he has also pointed out that in his opinion, if this grievance is removed, the Maltese people will be more contented and loyal. I believe it is the tradition of the Maltese people that they are proud of their loyalty to the British Crown. Malta was incorporated into the British Empire at the express request of the Maltese people, and not by conquest, in 1798, and so satisfied were the British Government with the conduct of the people that in 1887 a constitution was granted to them by the then Tory 1063 Government, This constitution gave a majority of elected representatives to the Council of Government of the Island. The Maltese people are alleged to be given to a great deal of agitation, and I believe the then Colonial Secretary stated that Malta was not an ordinary Colony but a fortress, and that anything in the nature of determined agitation could not be permitted by the British Government. The agitation there arose mainly over the language question, and it has consistently loomed as a matter of great agitation between this Government and the Maltese people. The Maltese people have grave cause for agitation, and this was subsequently acknowledged by the British Government itself. An Order was made that English instead of Italian should be the official language after the expiration of a period of years. This caused great discontent among the people. They were supported by the Italian Government, and our Colonial Office subsequently withdrew the Order and the matter was settled. I simply instance that to prove that, in my opinion, the Maltese people had a grave cause for agitation, and that at any rate that wais tacitly acknowledged by our Government at home. Of course, in this Constitution the British Crown retained the right to legislate by Order in Council, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) in June, 1903, summarily altered the Constitution. He claimed it was not so much an alteration as a reversion to the pre-1887 condition. The Maltese people have strongly resented this alteration or reversion throughout, and they have certainly held hopes that when the Liberals came into office they would reverse the Tory policy of the late Government and restore the position to that instituted by the Conservative Government in 1887. A majority of non-elected persons on this Council deprives the Maltese people of any direct control of their own affairs, and I submit that they have made out a case for the consideration of the Committee this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, when at the Colonial Office, stated that disputes between this Government and the elected Members could never be settled, because the elected Members refused to pass certain estimates that had been submitted to them. I do not think that that can be admitted as a real substantial reason for the withdrawal of their 1064 Constitution. If we admit their right to take a share in the control of their own affairs, then we acknowledge they have a perfect right to criticise or to endorse or reject estimates that may be submitted to them. I do not think it will be denied that the Maltese people are deserving of participation in their own affairs, and I am hopeful the hon. and gallant Gentleman will be able to give us some assurance that this question is receiving favourable consideration at the hands of his Department. The Maltese people are a thrifty and very industrious people, and Malta, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, is a very important dependency of ours. I am sure we all prefer to know that the Maltese people are loyal and contented, and if they have, as we apprehend, a substantial grievance, it ought to be removed as a result of the attention of the House being drawn to it. They have, in our opinion, a great complaint, and I feel sure all will agree that they have a right to submit their grievance to this House and to expect that it shall receive just and suitable consideration. I trust the result will be that their grievance will be removed and the matter equitably adjusted, so that loyalty and content may once more be restored to this little military station of ours.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY for the COLONIES (Colonel Seely)
It may be convenient if I now reply to some of the points raised in the course of the Debate. If I might begin with the point last raised, I would say that I do not quarrel with either of my hon. Friends opposite, the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Curran) or the Member for Norwich (Mr. G. H. Roberts) in having raised this important question. The question of the Maltese Constitution and the contentment of the people of Malta is one of the highest concern, not only to this House but to the people of this country. Malta, as both hon. Gentlemen have said, is a country of the utmost importance to us. It is a great naval and military station, and it is a port of call second to none in importance in that part of the world, and, if we derive great benefits, as no doubt we do, from the strategical point of view, from the fact that Malta is an integral portion of our Empire, it is our duty to attend to the representations of the people of the island. Mention was made of the language question, and, in introducing it, my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow made one remark which will be received with absolute unanimity by every single right hon. and hon. Gentleman 1065 in this House. He said hew much we all regretted the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. We do, and we regret his absence more particularly to-day, not only because of the interest he took in this question, but also because of the peculiarly interesting occasion to which we referred at Question-time to-day in reference to the Union of South Africa. He was one of those who foresaw this happy solution, and said, if I remember rightly, that co-operation in South Africa would soon give place to union. The right hon. Gentleman was concerned in the quarrels—I think we must call them so—which took place on the language question in Malta, and, although many of us on this side of the House did not agree with his policy in many parts of the world, there is this to be said on the language question. It was assumed for the purpose of the controversy by many hon. Gentlemen here, of course in perfect fairness and in complete good faith, that the language of the people of Malta was Italian, whereas the language of the military and official inhabitants was English. That is a complete delusion, and it ought to be explained on every occasion as being a delusion. There is a great deal to be said on both sides of the language question, but it is always necessary to make it plain to those who do not naturally know the details of Maltese questions that whereas there are many persons of the official classes who speak English and many who speak Italian, the vast majority of the people of Malta speak neither, but Maltese. That, of course, introduces a complication into the problem which has made it more than usually difficult of solution.
§ Mr. CURRAN
There is a statement of authority that a plebiscite was taken of the people of the island as to whether they desired their children taught English or Italian, and the majority were in favour of the teaching of English.
§ Colonel SEELY
That is not an argument in favour of the Italian solution of the problem. We are, of course, dealing with questions which occurred some time back, and which, happily, are not now acute. I only referred to it because the hon. Gentleman himself did so, and because that is a part of the difficulty which might be solved, if such a solution were possible, by a complete democratic system of government. I am not here to say that the present system of governing Malta meets with 1066 complete satisfaction from the people of Malta. We know it does not. But at the same time I cannot say, on behalf of the Government, that we are prepared now to adopt what you may call a completely democratic system of government for Malta. It is not only that Malta is a great port; it is not because, as the Duke of Wellington once said, you might as well give a constitution to a battleship, but it is because the constitution of the island is such that the grant of democratic government would not, in the opinion of the Government, solve the difficulty. I am not in a position to say why that is so. I make no reflection on the people of Malta. On the contrary, the Maltese people have a great history, of which they are justly proud, and they have rendered us many services—among others, one of our best-known Governors is a gentleman of distinguished Maltese extraction. There are a great many considerations involved in this matter in addition to those which are military and naval. There is the difficulty of language; the fact that the official classes do not speak the same language as the people. But the Government are not only prepared to take a step forward—they have already done so. They are anxious to associate two elected members more closely with the Government of the island, and I may tell the Committee it has been decided by the Secretary of State that two unofficial members shall be placed on the Executive Council, at salaries of £300 a year, to enable them to give their time to these important duties. I do not mean to say that this is a complete solution of the difficulty, or that it will be accepted as such, but I do think it will be regarded as a distinct step forward in associating the people of Malta more closely with the government of their own affairs. I trust my hon. Friends will be satisfied with the statement I have made. The two new members will, I can assure them, be gentlemen who would have been selected by their colleagues on behalf of what is known as the popular party in the island.
I turn now to other matters, and, if I may be permitted, I will deal first, without discourtesy to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lyttelton), who raised a very important question—the education question of the Orange Free State—a question with regard to East Africa, a question, in its general aspects, of the greatest importance, which was raised by the hon. Member for the Holmfirth Division (Mr. H. J. Wilson), and has been referred 1067 to by other hon. Members. It is difficult to speak as fully as one could wish on a question of this kind: not in the least because there is anything to conceal—for all the facts with regard to this deplorable case have already been laid fully before this House. Nor is there anything to conceal, because it might come out that our officials are guilty of leading immoral lives, as a general rule. I believe that to be absolutely untrue. Speaking broadly, the statement made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood), who has himself been a Government official, and undoubtedly he is not biassed in this matter, takes a strong attitude on the question in favour of the views held by the hon. Member for the Holmfirth Division, represents the true state of the case. I am certain, from the information we have at the Colonial Office, that the officials who administer the affairs of different countries in the different Crown Colonies live decent, honourable, straightforward lives. The type of offence to which reference has been made to-day is isolated. I do not wonder my hon. Friend raised the question, because it is one of grave importance. The reason I do not like to dwell on it is because it seems so hard upon the man. The question has been raised before, it has been dealt with administratively, punishment has been meted out — it has been a heavy punishment—and the man is now endeavouring to lead a new and better life, as we all know. I cannot be a party to trying a man twice for the same offence. I cannot be a party to saying that the extent of punishment meted out to a man shall be measured by the publicity given to his offence, and, therefore, speaking on behalf of the Secretary of State, I must say definitely that we decline to reopen the question as it affects this particular officer. He has been punished for his offence; he is endeavouring to repair the past, and we cannot reopen the question because further publicity has been given to it. But, on the general question, one cannot be too strict in preventing irregular alliances of this kind. I will not speak on the question of morality. There is much force in what was said by an hon. Member below the Gangway that a Christian man should remember the parable about those who sin casting the first stone, but, leaving aside the question of morality, experience shows that the administration not only in 1068 our Colonies, but especially in India and Persia, suffers deplorably when these irregular alliances are contracted, and, for that reason, every effort has been made by the Executive under successive Governments to check the practice, and to stop it in India, Burmah, and other parts of the world. I am glad to think that these efforts have been successful, and that a system which at one time was common in the East has now practically disappeared, and the evil results which inevitably follow from these irregular alliances are now almost unknown, because the practice itself has almost ceased. But the very case we have been discussing shows how very dangerous it is. Allegations have been made to-day that the Indian Penal Code is very laxly administered, but, so far as our officials are concerned, the Government has taken a strong line on this matter. The offence was not proved in this case. There was a conflict of evidence, and it must be remembered that these cases offer opportunities for blackmail—
§ Colonel SEELY
It was punishment of an administrative kind, and was not intended to ruin a man's career. Had it been proved he would have been sent to gaol, but the answer is there was no proof, and had there been proof, the code would at once have been put into operation.
§ Colonel SEELY
Of course they did. A judge of some eminence in that country gave the matter most anxious consideration. The Colonial Office also gave it careful consideration, and the conclusion come to by all concerned was that there was no proof of the kind of offence alleged which would have brought this man under the Penal Code. We definitely refuse to reopen the case for the reasons I have stated. We will not try a man twice. I have only to say one last word on this very painful topic. Reference has been made in the course of the Debate to the action of the Secretary of State in consequence of this isolated case. The Secretary of State took a grave view, and he issued a confidential circular, copies of which have been shown to one or two hon. Members of this House. It was confidential in the sense that all instructions to officers on subjects of this kind must be so regarded. I am not at liberty to quote from the cir- 1069 cular or to lay it upon the Table. It would, indeed, be undesirable to do so, but those who have seen it—and some of them are conversant with the public service and the language generally used in it—have told me that they regard it as a very stern warning. Those not so well accustomed to this kind of phraseology have complained that the words used are not strong enough. But I can assure my hon. Friends that the words used, from the official point of view, contained language absolutely and positively menacing in its character. I was once told that if the Government desired to say a man was a liar their lordships would observe that "the circumstances did not quite bear out his statements," and so on. After all, that is a question of methods and circumlocution, but I can assure my hon. Friends that when we say that grave consequences may be expected to follow from a certain act everybody knows that such a warning of grave consequences can only end in one thing, and that is the closing of a man's official career.
I turn now to the question of shipping in East Africa, which has been raised by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of this House, and particularly by the hon. Member who presided over a Committee on this question (Mr. Evelyn Cecil.) Although he is a brilliant exponent of political fiscal views, he applied a perfectly impartial mind, regardless either of Free Trade or Protection, to this question. I will say at once I do not think one can discuss the question of the subsidy to the East African Line on grounds of Free Trade or Protection. The admirable speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool stated that very clearly. It is not a fiscal question whether you should or should not give a subsidy in a case like this. Of course, it involves the spending of money, and in so far as that it is a fiscal question, but I mean that it does not involve the subject of Free Trade or Protection in the least degree. If we propose to go in for a general system of subsidy, it might involve what is ordinarily called the fiscal question, but in this case the serious arguments used have been purely on lines of postal subsidy already given, and notably on the lines that our security demands, that British ships should not be entirely banished from any part of the world.
I have great sympathy with the view that British ships should not be banished from any part of the world, but on the general question of subsidies I confess myself 1070 entirely unconverted. I do not think a general case for subsidies is made out; indeed, I think the history of the last three or four years is overwhelmingly against subsidies as a general principle. The hon. Member for Liverpool made an opportune interruption on this point in reply to the hon. Member for Aston Manor, who pointed out that a German shipping company were obtaining a large portion of the trade of East Africa. The hon. Gentleman interrupted by saying that the only German company of that sort that he had seen the figures of showed a loss of £800,000 in the last year. It is the fact that no subsidies seem to be able to make a country successful in their maritime enterprises, and so much is that the case that many countries, notably France, which spends very large sums in subsidies, find themselves dropping behind in the race for mercantile maritime supremacy. If the argument is that on general principles you ought to give a subsidy because German ships are carrying British merchandise, I say there is no case. If it be true that there is more merchandise to be carried, then there is room for British ships, and British ships will soon go to carry it. It is necessary to remove a misapprehension on that point. British ships are carrying British goods to East Africa. It may be a surprise to hon. Gentlemen opposite to know that the overwhelming majority of Government cargoes, speaking from recollection, I should say to the extent of more than nine-tenths of Government cargoes, shipped to East Africa are shipped in British bottoms. Still, it is true that it is embarrassing to have British ships there so seldom and only going at irregular intervals.
§ Colonel SEELY
That is another question, and I will deal with it on another occasion. That would be a very much smaller matter, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will give us the advantage of his assistance in regard to it.
§ Colonel SEELY
I am glad it was not my hon. Friend's company. I thank it will be recognised, of course, that if an immense subsidy is paid to a company it is not so difficult to show a dividend, but 1071 there are special circumstances in the case of East Africa, because although it is true that British bottoms carry the Government cargoes, it is also true that they do not go there with any regularity. The problem is to get some arrangement by which British ships, or any ships for that matter, shall go with some regularity to British East African ports. I should like to say a word or two about the carriage of troops. That is one reason why we must view with concern the disappearance of the British flag in these waters; but it is unfair to carry it too far and to assert that the carriage of British troops by foreign ships must necessarily show that we must go in for a subsidy; because, suppose we had a subsidised monthly service at a cost of £40,000 a year, and supposing the ship belonging to that service had gone two days before the troubles arose in Somaliland, the troops would have had to be sent, and we should still have sent them, by the first available ship, which would have been the German ship. The truth is, we send the troops by the ships that come first and which you can charter first. I am not, however, in a position to make any definite statement about the matter which we are anxiously considering for the reasons I have given. I think it is true to say, moreover, that the complete disappearance of the flag from any sea is a serious inconvenience, apart from the fiscal or commercial question. I do not share the idea, however, that, the competition of a foreign country will monopolise the trade and drive away our ships; although there may be cases arise in which I, the enemy of subsidies, should be ready to say that it was desirable to take some steps in that direction. That has not happened yet, however; but we are anxiously considering the matter, for strategical and postal reasons. I do not think I can say more on the question of these subsidies, but I must say a word or two in regard to what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Honiton (Sir J. Kennaway). I should like to say how entirely I agree with him, speaking personally, in regard to what fell from him as to the undesirability of paying very low salaries to our officials in different parts of the world. But here, on the same day, we are asked, for the good of the Empire, to expend a large sum in subsidising British lines for various purposes, and we also have brought to our notice that one or two deplorable incidents have occurred which have brought into momentary disrepute a great service like the 1072 Colonial service, which bears so high name for purity and honour throughout the world.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite I think very truly pointed out that the two questions must be dealt with together, I mean the moral question and the question of salary; because if you pay a man in a small colony, far away from this country and he gets home but seldom, a salary so small that it is impossible for him to look forward to marriage and the happiness of children, then I say there is, and always must be, a danger that the moral level will not be so high as amongst those men who can look forward to marriage and the happiness of a family. We want money for this purpose, but the question is, Where is it to be got? There is only a certain amount of money in the till, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer tells me there is very little, and we cannot do all these things at once. In-the Colonial service, I can prove to this House that you could spend £40,000,000 this year with the greatest advantage, in developing our assets, in fostering commercial interest in various parts of the world, and pushing forward railways, but you cannot have it everywhere, and there is very little to go round, but if I were to choose, and if the Committee were to press me in which direction I should insist upon expenditure, I should say it would be better expended upon the salaries of these officials in different parts of the world than it would be in the payment of a subsidy to a shipping line, however desirable for other reasons that might be. The parallel of India and of Burma tends to show the advisability of not keeping the salaries too low. My Noble Friend has not taken any action yet, but it is being carefully considered whether the salaries should not be raised in some parts of the world in some ranks of the Colonial service. The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Rees) asked me why we were permitting labour to go from Nyassaland to the Transvaal mines? The labourers go from Nyassaland to the Transvaal because they want to go, and they want to go so badly that we cannot stop them, and the realson they wish to change is that they get higher pay. We have imposed most careful restrictions upon them, although these very restrictions at the very time when you are trying to stop them make it appear that you are taking the matter under State control. The same thing arises in regard to the drink traffic in this country, and it is because we are 1073 anxious to control the flow of labour from Nyassaland to the Transvaal, and because we realise the desire on the part of the people of Nyassaland not to lose suoh valuable labour, and setting that altogether aside, that there is such danger to health in the importation of people from tropical climates that we have laid it down that this importation can only be permitted under restrictions. As to the bankruptcy laws, it is a very difficult question, and I would ask my hon. Friend to give us some information as to the bankruptcies m Nyassaland to which he refers.
§ Colonel SEELY
How very shocking. But that condition of things arises in many different parts of the world. But there may be special circumstances in the bankruptcy law of Nyassaland which we do not know of at the Colonial Office, but I should be very glad, if the hon. Member will give me any information, to carefully consider the matter, with a view to making such Amendments as may be necessary.
I think I have now dealt with the points raised except the most important subject mentioned at the commencement of the Debate by my right hon. Friend the late Colonial Secretary. He asked me a question about Orange River Colony education, and said that the Act was unworkable, that as a consequence three inspectors, who had done their work well, had been dismissed, and the children of the Colony were being handicapped in the race of life. These and many other things, he said, in a spirit of great moderation but still of strong condemnation, not only of the Act itself, but of the Orange River Colony Government. It is not proper for me, as representing the Colonial Office, to take a side in a matter like this affecting a self-governing Colony, but since the right hon. Gentleman has put one side of the case it is only fair, as it has not been put by anyone else in the Debate, that I should put the other side of the case. The Act complained of has been administered, and was largely the result of the labours of General Hertzog, who, besides being a brilliant soldier, was a judge of the Orange River Colony, and a very highly educated man, before the late war. The right hon. Gen- 1074 tleman says the Act was unworkable, but is it? It did not work well, I admit, but the scheme of the Act is not entirely in fault. I am informed that it is similar in almost all respects to two other schemes which have worked well under similar conditions. Of course, the difficulty is that you have a bi-lingual country, a country where about five out of six children speak Dutch in their childhood and the remaining child speaks English; and, as often happens, of the five most will ultimately speak English no doubt, as is highly desirable. But the principle of General Hertzog's Act is that the children shall be taught all in classes together in the language which they best understand.
Say you have a class with 40 children, 30 Dutch-speaking and 10 English-speaking. The teacher will teach the children in the lower standards in the language which they best understand, and, as the Act was intended to be administered according to the information I have received, the teacher would teach them in Dutch for a time, and would then turn to the English children and say, "Do you understand that? Here is London, on the Thames, the capital of England," and so on, presuming it to be a geography lesson. The English children would say "Yes," and they would then pass on to the next part of the lesson. That is the kind of scheme, I am informed, which has worked well in Alsace-Lorraine, where a very similar problem presented itself. I am told Professor Rein, who has made a special study of this question, believes that this system of teaching the children all in classes together in the language they best understand, and as far as possible simultaneously, first in one language and then in another, is the best plan. I think the right hon. Gentleman, and most certainly the Leader of the Opposition, will find no fault with the wisdom of a Scotch professor, Professor Macalister, of Glasgow University. I am told he can be called in aid of this scheme, and considers that in a bilingual country this is the best system. I am told that in the Western Highlands, where Gaelic prevails, this system has been tried and has worked well, and that the attempt to make a bi-lingual people by teaching them as far as possible in both languages up to a certain standard, and then by teaching them some subjects in one language and some in another best suited to it, and teaching both languages as languages, as we are taught Latin and Greek or French and German, is the best system. It is not 1075 the Transvaal system and it is not our system, except in the place which I have named. I know there are many other educational experts in South Africa as well as here and on the Continent, who strongly commend this Act as being the best scheme under difficult circumstances.
So much for the merits of the Act itself. I do not say it worked well, but that may not have been the fault of the Act. No Education Act I have ever heard of worked well, though some of them must have contained elements of good. But the problem is very similar in South Africa to the problem here, where you have the Anglican and the Nonconformist child, and in conversations which I have had not only with General Hertzog himself, but also with the two inspectors who were unfortunately dismissed—and no one deplores it more than we do—and with Mr. Browne, of the Orange River Colony Legislative Council, who is also in this country, it is surprising to find the old phrases that we knew so well in the days of the Education Bill and the Education Bill before last, constantly arising. There are some who think' the parents' rights are the best solution. I naturally heard that with interest and with some favour, but that is not the system adopted, nor is it the system favoured in many parts of South Africa.
With regard to the inspectors themselves, it was no doubt a very unfortunate episode, but I think we may say this without laying any blame upon the inspectors, that the circumstances were quite peculiar. Here was a country where, although racial bitterness has well-nigh gone, some little must still have subsisted then, and many spoke Dutch, and were proud of it, and many spoke English, and were proud of it. General Hertzog had to produce a scheme, and he did it, but instead of being able to stay in the Colony and see the scheme through, he was bound to go, on a subject of even more vital importance to his Colony, to Cape Town, and Durban, and Bloemfontein, to attend the conference on Closer Union. While he was away, of course, the thing got out of order. It was bound to happen. When he came back he found that things had not gone as they would have done if he had been there. That explains, I think, how acute the difficulty became. It would not be proper to make any statement as to the merits of the case, but we are very sorry indeed that a, conflict should have arisen, and that these inspectors have found themselves deprived of their appointments, but while 1076 we cannot take sides on the matter, or express an opinion as to the rights or wrongs of their dismissal, we, as a Government, wish, if possible, to find them further and suitable employment. We trust that may not be necessary, because they will find it under private auspices. The reason they were dismissed, the right hen. Gentleman said, was because they worked the Act in accordance with the circular. I think he put the point too strongly, because there is something to be said on the other side. I know a story of an Austrian railway which was entirely brought to a standstill simply because the officials carried out the regulations. You could do that in any place, and tie right hon. Gentleman, who knows the Colonial Office, wll not dispute that if everyone in the Colonial Office, did his own duty and nothing but his duty, the whole business of the Office would be brought to a standstill in two days. A mass of boxes the height of this House would block the Secretary of State's room, and nothing could be done. So it is possible under any scheme, by carrying out things literally and not in a sympathetic spirit, to bring them to a standstill.
It may be said, "What business have we to interfere with a self-governing Colony?" We only interfere because the children are supposed to be hampered in their work. The self-governing Colonies themselves would have a right to complain if the children, in their opinion, were handicapped in the race for life by the system of education here. I do not say that is so. Having discussed the matter with all those who can give me information, I am not prepared to say for a moment that the Act is not a good Act, and quite as good as the Transvaal Act, but we deeply deplore the difficulty which has arisen, and we earnestly hope that some solution may be found.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
I stated the case on behalf of the educationists of the Orange Colony, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman admits, in an extremely temperate manner. I said the scheme of education which has been propounded there was unworkable, and had proved to be unworkable. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said not that it is unworkable, but that it does not work well. He has totally ignored the fact that it was as objectionable, from an education point of view, to the Dutch as it was to the British. I repeat that statement, which has not been contradicted, and I adhere to it. He 1077 entirely failed to make any excuse, or indeed any observation, upon another serious part of the observations which I made, which was that the inspectors had been dismissed without knowing what the complaint was against them and without having had an opportunity of being heard in their own defence. He says these gentlemen were unsympathetic and carried out literally the regulations of the Act of Parliament. I agree that unsympathetic administrators can, by applying very literally the words of an Act of Parliament, sometimes make it difficult in its operation. The case is absolutely different and absolutely contrary here. In point of fact, the inspectors and the educational authorities of the Orange River Colony found the Act was profoundly distasteful to a great majority of the inhabitants, and worked it an a lenient and liberal spirit. That was not to work it in an unsympathetic way, but to work it in the only way in which it could be made workable. Before that action they were lenient, liberal and sympathetic, and full of desire to assist the Government. For that act they were called over the coals, a circular was sent out pointedly calling their attention to what they were doing, and they were called upon literally to administer the Act. It was for obedience to that second circular, which they were bound to obey, that we gather they were dismissed, although no complaint was made against them, and they were never heard in their own defence. I have never heard a case more frankly admitted. There is no answer to it. I did not ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to interfere with the rights of self-governing Colonies; I asked him to do on behalf of British subjects in the Orange Colony that which we should have a perfect right to do in respect to British subjects living in a foreign country, namely, to use our influence, persuasion and diplomatic pressure, which we are bound to use on behalf of our own fellow-subjects, no matter in what country they may be.
I pass to a subject which I would have willingly omitted. It has been raised by the Amendment upon which we are engaged, and I am sorry to say that this discussion has revealed a state of things in East Africa which I think is deplorable, and which shows that the Government have dealt with it with very reprehensible weakness. Do not let the Committee consider for a moment that I am going to ask them to re-try the case against an official, 1078 or to pass upon him a sentence heavier than that which was passed by his Administrative Chief. I agree so far with the speech of the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Seely) that the case is now six months or more old. It certainly would be repugnant to me, as I believe it would to the Committee, to ask for further punishment of the offending official. Still more I desire to say that I never myself bring general charges against officials, and I should certainly never have dreamt of bringing general charges against officials in East Africa, whom we are proud to regard as English officials, and whom we believe, until the contrary is proved, to be high-minded and honourable men. But my complaint is against the Government for their weakness in dealing with this case, and let me inform the Committee that the facts are really not in dispute. I have carefully verified the facts which the hon. Member opposite (Mr. H. J. Wilson) brought forward in his opening speech. These facts have been established in their substance by a judicial inquiry conducted by Justice Barth, who has written a report of the matter. It has been said by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Cathcart Wason) that the facts have been exaggerated, but not a word of argument or a sentence was used to point out one single exaggeration. On the contrary, he went much further than anybody on this side of the House. He said he was in favour of deporting any white man in a tropical climate who lived with a black woman. Apparently the exception to that rule is an official who has lived with a very young woman when she has been taken away from her proper custodian by that official through the exercise of administrative authority.
Let me tell the House that anybody who has occupied a position at the Colonial Office is bound to call the attention of the Committee to the, I think, deplorable weakness in this case on the part of the Government. The admitted facts are that one in the position of acting administrator, who has the power of life and death within his jurisdiction—
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
At any rate, it is quite sufficient to say that if he has not the power of life and death he has very high jurisdiction in criminal matters. It was found against him by the judge—and I believe it is not denied by himself—that this acting administrator did procure to live with him a girl between 13 and 14. 1079 It is perfectly true that, being in a tropical country, a girl of that age would be as mature as a girl of 17 here. When she objected—and he admits that she objected to his advances in the first instance—he afterwards persisted. I should imagine that such yielding would be natural to the most powerful man in the district, seconded by one of the most powerful chiefs who had procured her to live with him. These are the facts as regards the first case proved against this gentleman. No one can deny the facts I have stated. They are found in the judge's report.
There is another and graver charge against the same official. There was a policeman who was actually under the command of the acting district administrator. The official saw the girl who was living either as wife or concubine with this policeman, and he conceived a desire to possess her. He did take her away from the man who was under his command. All that is found by the judge, who equally found that the policeman resented and objected to this conduct. This fact is not found in the judge's report, but it is stated to be in the evidence which has not been presented to this House. It has been stated by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, and it has not been contradicted by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Seely) that this policeman went to the official's house and claimed the woman who had been taken away from him. Some scuffle or quarrel took place, and the man who had been deprived of his wife or concubine was put in prison for having threatened violence to the official. These are the absolutely uncontradicted facts in this case, and I say that no one would be more reluctant than I should be to express condemnation of a man living under different circumstances, in a different climate, in a position of isolation, and the like. Very few men would desire to deal hardly with any man who lived what is called an immoral life or have the right to be hard upon a man for doing so. But the Committee know perfectly well that there is a vast difference between immorality and that conduct which uses high official position as against very young and very uncivilised girls to bring them against the will of those who are protecting them into his own custody and for his own enjoyment. I think I can say from my knowledge of my illustrious predecessor the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) that such conduct would not 1080 have been tolerated for 24 hours by him on the part of officials under his administration. I say myself that it is hypocrisy, it is almost monstrous, that we should pride ourselves on the laws which exclude intoxicating drink from the native population, and that we should be tolerating the seizure and corruption of young girls by officials, instead of visiting the offence with heavy and instant condemnation. I do not desire that this case should be retried. I do not desire that the man who has suffered the punishment of suspension for one year from his promotion should now be further punished, but if that is called heavy punishment, I leave the House to judge. He has been fortunate enough to incur only that punishment. I do say that the Committee should convey as emphatically as possible that conduct such as has been admitted here should not have been dealt with with the miserable weakness it was dealt with by the Colonial Office, and that if in future such an abuse of official position takes place, the person who so abuses his authority should no longer be left in a position to deal with the lives, or, if not the lives, at least with the liberties of the subjects of the King. My last observation in regard to this most painful and discreditable case is that it is worthy of notice that the Indian Criminal Code was in force, according to the Under-Secretary, in East Africa. This official, if the Indian Penal Code was in truth in force in East Africa, would have-been liable to punishment by imprisonment for ten years. Section 373 of the Indian Penal Code prescribes:—Whoever buys, hires, or otherwise obtains possession of any minor under the age of 16 years with intent that such minor shall be employed or used for the purpose of prostitution, or for any other unlawful and immoral purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years…and shall also be liable to a fine.There is the Act of Parliament which applies to the case. In recent years it has been used, I understand, so as to obtain the punishment of six months' imprisonment for a civilian who was guilty of an offence far short of this. What was done in this case by the Colonial Office leaves on my mind the unpleasant impression that if a man who is not in authority commits this offence, this Act should be enforced against him, but that as regards a man who is in authority, it is to be left unen-forced.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
I listened to the speech of the Under-Secretary with a good deal of amazement when he described 1081 the conditions under which the inspectors were dismissed. I referred to a paper which I had in my hand showing all the circumstances, and I cannot help saying that the statement made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman represents a good deal of ignorance at least.
The hon. Gentleman drew a picture of the education authorities in the Orange River Colony trying to work out under an advantageous system the educational destinies of the Colony, and he led the Committee to believe that the main question at issue was that the inspectors had not interpreted the regulations made by the Director of Education exactly or properly. He said that the law as passed represented as good a scheme as could be invented there for the education of Dutch and English children; and he led us to believe that these inspectors were dismissed because of their interpretation of a clause which he defined to the Committee. These inspectors were not dismissed for any interpretation of the clause which the hon. Gentleman quoted.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
In a Debate a few weeks ago the hon. Gentleman stated that he would on an early occasion make a full statement concerning the dismissal of these inspectors. I submit that he has given us no such statement. He said that difficulties had arisen. These inspectors were dismissed, not because of their interpretation of the clause to which the hon. Gentleman referred, where a class was to be taught first in one language and then in another, but because they interpreted the following clause in the circular issued by the Director of Education:—When a class is composed entirely of children whose mother tongue is the same the question of medium would present no difficulty. The children should be taught through the medium of their mother tongue, and the language which is not the medium should be resorted to in conversation, and gradually introduced and used up to and including Standard IV.That was the rock on which these three inspectors were hurled and lost their places. I will not say that the hon. Gentle, man wilfully misled the Committee, but I do say that he led us to understand that there was on the part of the inspectors a sort of general misinterpretation of the regulations laid down by the Minister of Education. These inspectors were dismissed because they interpreted the regulations concerning the teaching of Dutch 1082 children their own and the English language. The Dutch parents of the schools over which these inspectors had control objected to their children not being given opportunities to study the English language. The inspectors appealed to the Department for fresh instructions, and the very Minister who ultimately dismissed them said they were interpreting the regulations as they were intended to be interpreted. At an interview General Hertzog said the inspectors had interpreted the regulations correctly, and refused all concession. He and the inspectors were agreed, but protests came in, not from the British, but from the Dutch people, whose interests the inspectors were endeavouring to protect, for the inspectors regretted that they had to interpret the law as they did. It was from the Dutch people the protest came; it was the Dutch people who drove the Minister into a corner, with the result that the Minister turned upon the innocent victims. The hon. Gentleman shakes his head.
§ Colonel SEELY
I think that to go as far as that is really unfair to a Minister in a self-governing Colony who cannot possibly defend himself here.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
I am stating what has been categorically declared in the Legislative Chamber of Bloemfontein, where no reply was given to it. If the inspectors strictly interpreted the law, as it was their duty to do, they were doing an act of which the Government did not approve. If they did not interpret the law correctly, they were not doing their duty as inspectors. I do not make these statements in order to attack General Hertzog or any other Minister, but because, when this Education Law was introduced into the Legislative Assembly of the Orange River Colony, I asked whether this Government had given due consideration to the questions involved. I was certain that the Government had not seen the final draft of the Bill, and that the Governor had given his assent to the Bill without the final draft having been passed by this Government. It is the Government here that I blame. At a time when we were giving to the Colony responsible Government, it was most important that the language question should be very delicately and carefully dealt with. It was the duty of the Government to see that the last words added to the Bill came under their supervision before the consent of the Crown was given. Am I wrong in stating that the Government did not see the final draft, and 1083 that the hon. Gentleman (Colonel Seely) if he had seen it would have raised some difficulty as to the consent of the Crown being given? Because I notice in the report of the proceedings in the Legislative Chamber at Bloemfontein, an hon. Member said that in the Colonial Office the hon. Gentleman had stated "General Hertzog has, I hear, cut himself off in his new Bill from the intellect of his Colony." If the Under-Secretary for the Colonies said that in the Colonial Office to a Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Orange River Colony, he will understand why I made such careful inquiries when the Bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly and signed by the Governor, and why I was so anxious to know whether this Government had passed in review the Bill in its final form. I think I can state with certainty that the Bill did not pass through the hands of this Government in its final form before the assent of the Governor was given to it.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
I have not suggested that, nor do I think the Committee have in the least thought that I was suggesting it. What I would suggest is that the Government of the Orange River Colony might have been asked again to alter the Bill if the Government could foresee any such conditions as have arisen from putting the Bill into operation. I do not wish to say anything which would appear to attack the Government of the Orange River Colony, but I do attack this Government for passing a Bill which has proved, as the Under-Secretary stated, if not unworkable, at any rate not to work very well, in the interests either of the Dutch or of the British.
§ Colonel SEELY
Again I ask the hon. Gentleman, Have we any power to alter that I "What are we to do? He does not suggest the repeal of the Act. We cannot alter these matters here. He is going in detail into a matter which is really not worth while considering, as we cannot do anything except in one respect, and that the hon. Gentleman does not suggest.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
The Under-Secretary is perfectly aware that there are many instances in the history of Colonial law—take the Copyright Law as an 1084 instance—a law was passed by the Canadian Parliament; it came to this country, and the Government declined to give its consent. That has been done not once, but in 50 cases in the history of the Colonies. Does the Under-Secretary suggest that this Government retains no power of revision of legislation passed by a Colony, even a self-governing Colony?
§ Colonel SEELY
I think it is highly desirable, before anything more is said which may cause exacerbation of feeling, that I should intervene. In a case such as the Copyright Bill, where international relations are affected, of course we can intervene; but, as I stated at the time, and as I have said again to-day, the question of education in the Colony is not one in which His Majesty's Government can properly interfere, and the hon. Gentleman would not suggest that we should interfere. I deprecate discussions of this character which may cause angry feelings, at such a moment as the present, between the Parliament of this country and the Parliament of a self-governing Colony.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
Really the hon. Gentleman's remarks are very strange. I have said nothing that could possibly be interpreted as being an attempt to arouse racial feeling of any kind. I have merely stated the facts. The Under-Secretary undertook to tell the Committee what were the facts concerning the dismissal of certain inspectors in the Orange River Colony, and I disputed those facts. I have given the Committee the facts as they were brought out in the Debate at Bloemfontein, and as they are recorded in the papers which I hold in my hand. I have read from official documents, and I can only ask that the hon. Gentleman whose duty it is to instruct this House on Colonial questions, should, when he makes statements concerning a matter of this kind, give the exact facts. It is the exact facts which I have tried to give. I do not wish to labour the question any longer, but I must absolutely repudiate the attempt of the hon. Gentleman to cast upon me any desire to arouse racial feelings.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
I do not know what the hon. Gentleman means. Does he mean to say it is a point of constitutional right that this Government has not the bounden duty before a law is passed, particularly in such circumstances when a language question has been so delicate and 1085 difficult a matter, that when that Bill which will become law is presented to a legislature and passed it shall not carefully revise the draft of the last words of the Bill and enter its reasonable protest, if it thinks that that Bill will prove unworkable, or, as the hon. Gentleman says, will not work well? I say that this Government did not exercise that proper and careful supervision which it ought to have exercised. If it had done so this difficulty would not have occurred, because the regulations which were passed in the Bill by the Department were absolutely unworkable, and the people who protested against it, the Dutch people of the Colony, in harrying their Minister pressed him to make scapegoats of three officials. We can come to no other conclusion. We have no reasons given for the dismissal other than those alluded to. They dismissed those officials as having created the trouble, and that the officials were right is borne out by the Minute of the Minister himself, in which he says, giving them permission to teach English and to provide the school children with the English books, that this was not an interpretation of the law in the letter or the spirit, but was a departure from the regulations which he himself had issued. The hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I have spoken, not indignantly, but warningly, concerning the conduct of himself and the Government and the consequences that may ensue from it. Now I pass for a moment to the question of British East Africa. I will only say one thing regarding it. I do not wish to enter into the case that has been referred to. I regret very much that it is again before the House. The case has been dealt with; the man has begun work again in the Colonies. It is a bad business, altogether detestable to us all to discuss it. But I say this, that that incident could not have occurred if the man who committed this particular misdemeanour, this offence against the British Civil Service, had been certain that he would be treated with severity by those above him in authority, by the Governor, the Executive, and His Majesty's Government. That incident I do not say is typical, but I say that it is not solitary in that country, and it is an evidence of the certain laxity of administration which has made British East Africa during the last few years a point of anxiety for a great many people in this country, not to say a point of education in itself. We all remember that the late Under-Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Winston Churchill), with a British man-o'- 1086 war, went to British East Africa to make an inquiry into the general administration there, the relations between the natives and the white settlers, and between the white settlers and the Government, and between the natives and the Government; and also the conditions of labour, the labour regulations existing for the natives in that part. With a flourish of trumpets, quite natural and quite suitable, the right hon. Gentleman, as he now is, went to British East Africa. We all encouraged him, we all applauded him, and we all expected results. I have asked for reports in this House. We all have expected to see something, some statement of results from the visit of the late Under-Secretary. All that we have seen are beautiful pictorial impressions in a monthly magazine, pictorial impressions of East Africa painted in rainbow colours, with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may have achieved from his visit to British East Africa, we have yet to learn that the Colonial Office or this House has derived any direct benefit. I would ask the hon. Gentleman is it indiscreet to ask whether the late Under-Secretary for the Colonies offered any report on his visit to British East Africa which would give information to the Colonial Office on the solution of the problems under discussion, and which were agitating the public, native and white, in British East Africa? Was there any report upon the relations of the natives with the white settlers, or any report upon the relation of native labour or upon the relations between the white settlers and the Government?
Sir GILBERT PARKER
This reply of the Under-Secretary is not what you would call deeply impressive. He has told the Committee that there were reports upon many subjects. What I will say to the Committee to-night is this, that it may be that through Sir Percy Girard, an excellent administrator in British East Africa, we may have reforms there, but I believe myself that the weakness of administration—and there is no reason why we should not speak of it without offence—will not be cured by even the appointment of Sir Percy Girard to the position of Governor. I think that there ought to be a Commission of inquiry upon the questions which have perplexed this House during the career of the present Government sent to British East Africa. No solution has been arrived 1087 at. The same old agitation, apparently the same difficulties as existed years ago, still continue. They have cured nothing. The hon. Gentleman would have the support of every Member on this side of the House if the Government showed its determination to attempt to solve the problem by sending out a Commission of Inquiry, and of carrying out perhaps through the recommendations of the Commission, an amalgamation of the two provinces of Uganda and British East Africa. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool waxed eloquent against subsidies. In his view subsidies were an infringement of the sacred principles of Free Trade. The Under-Secretary with that careful ability of his to bridge over difficult chasms, and to pass from one side of a question to another with great ability has suggested that perhaps subsidies are not a form of protection, that they do not bring fiscal issues.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
It is perfectly true that we have subsidies, for instance by this cheap transit over the lines of railway of Nigeria for cotton grown there. That was done when the late Under-Secretary was Member for Manchester. I do not think, of course, that it has any relation to that particular circumstance, but it is a form of subsidising railways. We have a subsidy, as was admitted to this House by the late Under-Secretary for the Treasury, to the Canadian Pacific Railway for the carrying of mails, and he admitted and the late Prime Minister admitted in a Debate which they raised in this House that part of the revenue went to the general Imperial credit; and there is another instance in the British West Indies. If subsidies are not Protection in any form, then the question must be examined solely on its merits, and the Under-Secretary, the most complete Free Trader in the whole catalogue, has arrived at that position where he is willing to receive the compliments of a Protectionist, like myself, on his Protectionist principles, or, if he is not willing to receive them, at least I give them to him. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Austin Taylor) talked about the United States not having subsidies, but the United States has a system of subsidy which is very powerful and far more effective than giving a money grant. For instance, a British ship, or a ship of any 1088 other nationality, cannot carry a pound of cargo from the Sandwich Islands to San Francisco. All goods must be carried in American bottoms. [An HON. MEMBER: "Very few."] They have been found sufficient to carry all the trade from the Sandwich Islands. [Some laughter.] Do hon. Gentlemen laugh at that? I wonder if hon. Gentlemen know what the Sandwich Islands produce. They produce in the Sandwich Islands vast quantities of sugar. The trade between the Sandwich Islands which we used to carry and which was once entirely under our control has passed to the United States absolutely by the cheap policy of subsidising by prohibition. [An HON. MEMBER: "How much was it?"] In another form the United States practice prohibition by preventing British ships from coasting along their coasts. The hon. Gentleman suggests that that is not in itself a form of protection for American ships. The hon. Gentleman has said that the amount of subsidy which would be paid to a ship going to East Africa would produce practically no result—that, I think, there was £3,000 of loss on a ship going to British East Africa. But, while the German Government prevented ships carrying a single pound of foodstuff from Australia to Germany, I can remember when, for instance, the North German Lloyd Company established a line of steamers between Sydney and Samoa, and if we are to argue in respect of the success of that system of subsidies I maintain my illustration is absolutely pat. The whole German mercantile marine has been built up in the last 20 years on a system of subsidies. They never could have built up a strong mercantile marine except through a system of cartels and subsidies and Protection in other forms. I submit to hon. Gentlemen opposite who are reasoning men that the statement made by the hon. Member for Liverpool was not correct. He stated, I think, that there had never been a successful system of subsidies, and that no system of subsidies had ever built up a mercantile marine.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
It was that subsidies would not build up a successful mercantile marine. It is quite possible that for a number of years the system of subsidies would not assist very materially the trade. But to build up commerce with British East Africa I do submit this—and appeal to hon. Members who know British East Africa—that if there had been a more 1089 careful and better organised administration, a firmer policy in British East Africa during the last five years, commerce and agriculture would have developed. You cannot have a system of subsidies which of itself would develop trade. There must be co-ordination and co-operation by all ways and means of the Government and of private enterprise as well as the system of subsidies. I believe that subsidies in British East Africa would ultimately assist very materially in preserving British trade for British ships. Otherwise where is the logic of granting subsidies to railways and the passage of free material like cotton over railway lines, and of finding the advantage of commercial development in that, and not finding it in a subsidy for the passage of goods over the sea as well as over the land? I submit that the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary and hon. Members opposite have not proved their case. There is one other point I wish to make. About six weeks ago I asked the Under-Secretary whether at the present time women, children, and girls are being recruited in the New Hebrides for places outside the group. He said he did not think so, but he had no knowledge, though he would endeavour to secure information. I then asked him whether the French Government permitted the recruiting of women, children, and girls in these islands from places outside the group. I asked whether there were any regulations for preventing that. The hon. Gentleman said he did not know. I am not able to teach the hon. Gentleman much; he knows all, or nearly all; but I would refer him to the Convention, to the proceedings which followed the Convention, and to the arrangements which were come to by this Government and the French Government, and the instructions given by the French Government to their Commissioner that women and children, except accompanied by the heads of their families, should not be recruited for labour outside the group, and not permitted to leave the island for places outside the group except accompanied by the heads of their families. The question I wish to ask is: Are women and children recruited for places outside the group by French citizens with the approval of the French Government? The hon. Gentleman will again suggest that I am trying to raise international feeling.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
I am very glad that I can say something without causing exacerbation and anxiety in the hon. 1090 Gentleman. Are women and children and girls recruited in the New Hebrides for places outside the group, and, if they are, does this Government retain any responsibility concerning that Act? Can it, for instance, prevent this recruiting, by arrangement, of course, by understanding of course—because if there is no understanding between the French and the British Government concerning that main principle upon which we were so anxiously agitating two years ago, then all the promises made by the Government are null and void. I am asking the hon. Gentleman for information, because I should like to know whether these women, children, and girls are being recruited, and if they are, whether this Government feels that it has any power under the Convention entered into with France to prevent by agreement, by co-incident and agreeing regulations, such an act, which will be an offence against the very regulations issued by the French Minister to the Commissioner.
§ Mr. F. C. MACKARNESS
I rise to make an appeal in a very few words to my hon. and gallant Friend. I wish to take the opportunity of the presence of the Prime Minister of Natal in this country to discuss with the hon. Gentleman the possibility of mitigating the long sentence imposed upon Dinizulu. The Committee knows very well that we have a special interest and right to interfere in the case of Dinizulu, because he was restored by this country and established in an official position by the intervention of the Imperial Government, acting through the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) ten years ago. The conditions under which Dinizulu was restored was that he should not be deprived of his salary and position without the assent of the Imperial Government. However much I dislike to ask this House and the Imperial Government to interfere at all in the affairs of a self-governing Colony, this is a special case in which one has the right to do so. The facts can be stated in a few words. This Chief was accused by the Natal Government of the most serious charges known to the law in 1907. A large force was sent to arrest him, although he had demanded an inquiry into those charges, which he was not allowed to have, and although he came at once to surrender himself before the force sent to arrest him could do so. He was then for several months examined in secret before the Magistrate on charges of murder, 1091 rebellion, sedition, incitement to murder, incitement to sedition, incitement to rebellion, and conspiracy. At the end of several months he was committed for trial. The murder charges having broken down, he was committed on a great many very serious charges, in fact no less than 23 charges were contained in the indictment—charges of conspiracy, sedition, rebellion, incitement to rebellion, incitement to sedition, concealing arms, and some other charges.
The result was that after a very careful inquiry into these charges he was convicted on only three of them, and these were minor charges not involving any guilty mind. He was found guilty of giving food and succour for a few days to two Chiefs who had taken part in the rebellion, and to the wife and children of one of them. According to the findings he had done that out of feelings of charity, and with no hostile intent towards the State. For that offence he was sentenced to a fine of £100 and four years' imprisonment. He has already been in prison more than eighteen months, and he has two and a half years more imprisonment before him. I am perfectly correct in saying that not merely in the opinion of the Imperial Government, not merely in the opinion of Members on both sides of this House, but also amongst the best opinion in South Africa, a great injustice has been done to this man. I venture to appeal to my hon. and gallant Friend, by friendly discussion, which he knows so well how to arrange to carry out, with the Prime Minister of Natal, to represent to him that, now all danger is past to the Colony of Natal, and now that the Colony of Natal is going to enter into a Union under which a strong Government will be able to provide against any possible danger that possibly might have existed before from the position of Dinizulu, under those circumstances this chief might have the rest of his sentence remitted, and so put an end to a state of things which I think has not brought credit upon the Government of Natal and which would bring immense relief to everybody in this country.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I am very glad to hear that the Colonial Secretary recognises the fact that it is very important that the British flag should not altogether disappear from East African waters, and that any service provided there should be regular. If these two points are recognised by the Colonial 1092 Office I think we have gone far to securing that in which we on this side of the House are most interested. In the first place, I should like the hon. and gallant Gentleman, if he can, to give us some information as to what he is going to do with regard to exterminating sleeping sickness in Uganda. I understand that this disease exists all round the lake, and as I gather from the proposal of Sir Hesketh Bell that there is a large scheme for the migration of the people from this belt of land around the lake, and I should like to know how-far that scheme is in progress. Then to go across Africa to Northern Nigeria. The Committee is aware that some three years ago a policy of railway extension was undertaken there. A railway has been projected and is in course of construction from Lagos up to Zungeru. I think it would be of considerable public interest if the hon. and gallant Gentleman would give us some information later than that which we have had as to what progress is being made with the line, and what existing sections so far are open. Portion of the line was opened last August, and I think some information as to how it is going on would be of some interest. As to British West Indies and the question of cable communication, I would like to know how the investigation is proceeding. A Departmental Committee has been sitting for a considerable time, and I do not know that they have; yet presented any report. If they have, I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will be able to tell us of some of the points at which they have arrived. When we hear of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Henniker Heaton) asking for cablegrams at 1d. per word it makes the mouths water of unfortunate business people. It is not a question of pence. A cablegram to British Guiana costs no less than 7s. 0½d. per word. Another point is as to the recent discoveries of oil in Trinidad. No doubt the hon. and gallant Gentleman is aware of the details of those discoveries. I would like to know what action, if any, the Government has taken with regard to them. The Committee will surely see the importance of such a discovery in what is practically an impregnable harbour within half a mile of deep water, and within two days' sea of the future mouth of the Panama Canal. From a strategic point of view and from a political point of view it obviously carries enormous potentialities. I would ask whether the Government are keeping a watchful eye on the developments there.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I think it is only fair to my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir Gilbert Parker) to say that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Under-Secretary, if I may say so, really rather endeavoured to confuse the issue with regard to the case of the inspectors in the Orange River Colony. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said something about the feeling which would be aroused in that Colony by any attack made upon the Government of the Colony in connection with the matter. Surely the observation of my hon. Friend could not by any possibility have such an effect? What he said was that in his opinion those two in spectors had not been fairly treated by the Orange River Colony Government. I submit that the criticism which he made was perfectly fair and just and reasonable. No one really acquainted with the circum stances of the case could deny that those men did meet with somewhat harsh treatment, to use no stronger term, from the Orange River Government. The cases are on all fours with the cases which we have brought before the House during the last year or 18 months. I refer to the cases of men who were originally in the English Civil Service, and passed into the service of the Orange River Colony, and who, through no fault of their own, find themselves out of employment. I am sorry to say we have not been successful in get ting any redress. Owing to the unification of South Africa, I do not desire to say any thing which could in any way reduce the good effect which the unification will have, but just this, that at this triumph which is about to take place there will be a skeleton at the feast in the shape of these unfortunate men. No doubt, as hundreds of other things have happened since, cases of the kind are forgotten, but I believe a very great injustice has been done, and more injustice in this than in some of the other cases. I can only urge once again on His Majesty's Government to do every thing they can to mitigate the hardships which those men, who were formerly in the employ of the Government, have suffered. I do not go into the general question of the teaching of Dutch and English in the schools, but I think these men have not been fairly treated. I do think the hon. Gentleman attempted to confuse the issue by making the almost ridiculous suggestion that the criticism of my hon. Friend might cause a constitutional crisis—
§ Earl WINTERTON
Between this country and Orange River Colony I do not think anything of the sort would take place. There is the question which has not been referred to in any of the Debates for the past two or three years, and that is that of big game in Africa. I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will endeavour to carry out the suggestions in the very admirable paper published about a year ago, and adopt something like a uniform system of the preservation of big game in tropical Africa. At the present time there is no doubt of the fact that many different systems are very confusing, and really tend to defeat the object aimed at. In addition to a uniform system, the supervision should be more stringent than it is at present. It is exceedingly difficult and practically impossible in vast tracts of country for only one white man to afford proper protection. This is a most important question. Six months ago an enormous amount of damage was done on a gigantic scale by, I regret to say, an Englishman in a part of Africa which does not come under the Colonial Office, but under the Foreign Office. This Englishman, to the shame of himself and his country, collected a number of other desperadoes—I think that is not too strong a term—and slaughtered thousands of elephants of all kinds indiscriminately. I do not say that that directly affects my point, but it shows that there is in Africa as in other countries unscrupulous individuals who will take every advantage of laxity in administration. I hope the hon. and gall-ant Gentleman will give some attention to the subject. Big game in Africa forms one of the most valuable and interesting assets of the British Empire. We hold a unique position in that respect. We see what has taken place in North America, in the absolute destruction of certain species, and I think we ought to take the lesson and endeavour to see that in South Africa the rarest species of big game are properly preserved.
As to the question referred to by many speakers, and notably in the very fine speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. Lyttelton), in reference to British East Africa, it is obvious there can be no kind of justification for the action of either the individual whose conduct came under review in the House, or of such conduct by any person else. I am not attempting to say a word in justification of it. As the 1095 incident is now over, and as the punishment is given, I do not think it is desirable to say anything. I do venture to refer to one statement made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Under-Secretary. He, as I understand, in the course of his speech practically admitted that the Civil servants in equatorial Africa are underpaid. Their prospects are very small. They have to live in a very trying climate, and they have to sacrifice their comfort in many ways, and it is really hard to think that, on the admission of the hon. and gallant Gentleman responsible, that they are receiving inadequate salaries. I would add from my own experience that, in addition to the question of salary, the housing conditions are exceedingly bad in tropical Africa. In many cases Civil servants are provided with nothing better than tin-roofed houses. The only house suitable for a white man is that made of a native timber. A tin-roofed house is most abominable in which to compel a white man to live. The hon. Gentleman went on to say that he could easily spend 40 millions in improving the Civil Service.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I hope, at any rate, the hon. and gallant Gentleman will consider that this question of the grievances of these Civil servants is as important as any with which he has to deal. Those men who risk their lives, health, and prospects are surely entitled to better houses and a more adequate salary.
§ Mr. E. N. BENNETT
I wish to say, in the minute which is left to me, how much I regret that the Government should have put down on the day of the Vote of the Colonial Office a contentious Bill—
And, it being a Quarter-past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.