21. Mr. POINTER
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he 1s aware that the natives of the Gilbert Islands have been obliged to perform pub lic work for as long a period as the European authorities there have decided, even the necessary work of keeping their towns cleared being turned into a form of tyranny, and that for a few blades of grass or weeds found in their villages or on the roads natives have been given a month's imprisonment with hard labour; whether he is aware that natives have been kept for months at the work of pulling down or building houses, sometimes working the whole six days of the week, that they have been taken a distance from their villages to labour, and that families and little children have suffered from want of food in consequence; whether he is aware that chiefs who complained about forced labour, floggings, and other misrule were deposed; whether he is aware that this year there has been forced labour at house building for the Government; and, if so, what action he intends to take?
I have no information which would lead me to believe that my hon. Friend is correctly informed as to the statements in his question, but I will ask the High Commissioner to furnish a report on the subject.