HC Deb 04 March 1912 vol 35 cc36-8

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether he can give any information regarding the origin and extent of the disturbances in Kingston, and what is the present position there; and (2) what is the strength of the Regular forces, Volunteer forces, and local police forces, respectively, available for the suppression of disorder in Jamaica; and how many of such forces are available in Kingston?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt)

I have received a telegram to the following effect from the Governor of Jamaica, dated 27th February: "In consequence of action taken by West India Electric Company in increasing tramcar fares, resented by public as breach of faith, disorders arose last Saturday in connection with car service in Kingston, taking form of asserting legal rights, and some arrests were made. On Sunday there were further disorders, but not of a serious character, and principally taking form of boarding cars by large number of citizens not evilly disposed. These disturbances gave encouragement to dangerous and criminal class of the city population to assault police and damage cars, and at midnight on Sunday they attacked cars and burnt one, and made assaults on police in various parts of city, injuring two officers and twenty-five constables. On Monday I gave instructions to police to take all necessary steps for protection of property and person, and to be prepared to use armed force to clear streets as soon as necessity should arise. On Monday night crowds of roughs, having accumulated missiles in house-yards, attacked company's power-house and police. Entering city with my aide-de-camp at 8.45 p.m., I found some policemen besieged by mob in a rum shop. Major Wyndham and self effected entrance and release of policemen, but were stoned without suffering appreciable injury. I proceeded to police-station, and pointed out to Inspector-General serious condition of affairs. Found he had already sent relief. I then left station. Shortly after mob attacked station, and police were sent out armed. It became necessary for them to use firearms and fixed bayonets. One youth killed, several persons wounded, a number injured (principally by mob). Order was restored; police have been reinforced from country. Cars are to-day running without molestation. I have no reason to expect further trouble, but every precaution taken. Damage not serious to property in city except broken window-lamps and a little shoplifting."

In a further telegram, dated 28th February, the Governor reported that order had then been completely restored in Kingston, and that there was no attempt at disturbance on the night of 27th February. In reply to the hon. Member's second question, there are in Jamaica approximately 600 men of the West India Regiment, 350 other Regular troops, 100 Militia Artillery, and 900 constabulary. Of these the West India Regiment, the Militia Artillery, and 300 of the constabulary are available in Kingston. There are also 900 rural police.


asked whether any of His Majesty's ships were at Kingston from the outbreak of disturbances on 25th February; and, if not, at what port the nearest of His Majesty's ships was upon that date, and how far such port is from Kingston?


None of His Majesty's ships were at Kingston on the date in question. There were two at Barbados, distant 1,040 miles from Kingston.