HC Deb 09 September 1909 vol 10 cc1463-4

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what were the numbers of Chinese and Natives of Africa, respectively, who were now living in compounds in connection with the mines in the Transvaal; what was the mortality amongst the two classes of men; and whether arrangements had been made for the accommodation in the compounds of the wives of such men as wish to have their wives living with them?

The UNDER-SECRETARY for the COLONIES (Colonel Seely)

According to the latest figures available there were 5,370 Chinese left on the Witwatersrand on July 31st, and 175,895 coloured persons were employed in gold mining in the Transvaal in the month of June. No figures are available to show how many of these labourers are living in compounds. The conditions under which Chinese and native labourers live are, however, different, as I pointed out in an answer to the hon. Member for the Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire, on the 13th of July. During the quarter ended on the 31st of March, the latest period for which figures are available, the rate of mortality from all causes per 1,000 per annum was: Chinese, 15.959; natives, 35.408. Accommodation for native wives and families is not, as I understand, provided in the compounds. Chinese labourers were offered facilities for bring- ing their wives and families with them, but except in two cases advantage was not taken of the offer.


May I ask the hon. Gentleman why so many Chinese are still in. South Africa upwards of two years after the period fixed when they had to leave

Colonel SEELY

Because, as the hon. Gentleman knows, at the very end of this, as we regard it, degrading experiment, a very large number were brought—13,000, I think, was the number—just before the prohibition was made. The contracts will expire at the beginning of next year.


Would not the number of Chinese in South Africa be less, at the present moment if they had not been retained beyond the time fixed for repatriation on account of the shortage of native labour in the mines?

Colonel SEELY

This is the first time I have heard of it. All the Chinese are returned the moment their contracts have expired. If the hon. Gentleman has any information to the contrary I should be glad to have it.


I will put a question down.