37. Mr. POINTER
asked whether natives of the Gilbert group in the Western Pacific are forced to labour on public works; and, if so, what are the conditions under which such labour is enforced; what are the conditions under which it is carried on; and what powers or orders give authority for it?
The natives of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, under the order of local native officials as authorised by the code of native laws, do a certain amount of weeding and cleaning of the villages in which they live. This work is necessary for sanitary reasons, and has always been freely and willingly done by the natives, and cannot properly be described as forced labour. Beyond that there is no forced labour in the Protectorate.
Mr. CATHCART WASON
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any forced labour in these islands?
I do not think so. If the hon. Member wants any further information perhaps he will give me notice.
38. Mr. POINTER
asked the reason why the export of phosphates from the Gilbert Islands fell from 210,151 tons in 1908 to 135,000 tons in 1911; and whether any sufficient reason has been assigned by the Island Government why the value of the phosphates do not accompany the tonnage of exports?
The export of phosphates from Ocean Island, of course, varies in different years, and I am unable to say why the amount exported in 1908 was considerably in excess of that of any previous or subsequent year. As the royalty paid to the Government depends on the amount, and not the value of the phosphates exported, the Government has not thought it necessary to require the values to be recorded.