HC Deb 26 October 1909 vol 12 cc829-30

asked the Under-Secretary whether his attention had been called to the high death rate amongst the indentured labourers of Mauritius and the Federated Malay States; and whether it is intended to lay the whole subject before the Royal Commission now sitting under the chairmanship of Lord Sanderson?

The UNDER-SECRETARY for the COLONIES (Colonel Seely)

The answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's question is in the affirmative. Lord Sanderson's Committee is considering the subject in all its bearings.


asked the Under-Secretary if he could state the rate per thousand of mortality among Indian indentured labourers in Ceylon, Mauritius, the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States, British Guiana, Jamaica, the Fiji Islands, and Natal during the year 1908; and whether the attention of the Commission inquiring into the conditions of Indian indentured labour in the Colonies has been drawn to this question, with special reference to the death rate in the Federated Malay States and other places?

Colonel SEELY

There are no indentured labourers in Ceylon. As to Mauritius, where the death rate on estates (presumably including indentured immigrants) is said to be 37.6 per 1,000, and the Straits Settlements special inquiry will be made, as I promised in my reply to a question relating to the Federated Malay States on the 4th of October. The rate of mortality of indentured labourers in the other colonies mentioned appears to be as follows:—

British Guiana 19.5 per 1,000.
Jamaica 16.4 per 1,000.
Fiji 20.5 per 1,000.
Natal 16.82 per 1,000.
The question of the death rate amongst the indentured population in each colony forms an essential element in the deliberations of the Committee which is at present inquiring into Coolie immigration, and it is receiving the careful attention of the Committee in each case.


Am I to understand that this inquiry will include the condition of affairs in the Federated Malay States?

Colonel SEELY

Oh, yes. The fact that the Federated Malay States cannot be described as a Colony would make no difference. Very careful consideration is being given to the whole matter by Lord Sanderson.


Is the Committee going to make any inquiry upon the spot, or are they making all their inquiries in London?

Colonel SEELY

So far it is not the intention to make inquiries on the spot. There will be inquiries from various parts of the world. I think it would not be advisable to send them abroad, because it would so delay their report.