7. Mr. POINTER
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to an appeal made to the Prime Minister praying for the cancellation of a phosphate licence in the Gilbert islands and for an impartial public investigation into the affairs of these Pacific islands; and whether he proposes to have such an investigation held and thus give the public access to the truth of the matter?
I have seen the petition referred to by my hon. Friend, but have been unable to advise that any action should be taken upon it. As stated in answer to a question in the House on 5th 1148 April, 1909, an inquiry was made by the High Commissioner in 1905 into the charges made by the petitioner, and the Secretary of State was satisfied on receipt of his report that the complaints had no solid foundation. I do not consider that any further investigation is necessary. I would refer the hon. Member to the despatch of the High Commissioner of 3rd September, 1908, published at page 14 of Cd. 4356.
Is it not a fact that the licence mentioned in the question was obtained under false pretences, and, that being so, is it not desirable to have an inquiry into the whole matter?
Mr. CATHCART WASON
Is the right hon. Gentleman perfectly satisfied that the conditions of employment of natives in these islands is satisfactory?