§ 2. Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
asked the Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether the Pekin Syndicate, although a British company, is controlled abroad; and whether His Majesty's Government has received any allegations with reference to the treatment of the labourers in the mines of this syndicate?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Edward Grey)
I am aware that the syndicate is largely representative of foreign capital and interests, but as I understand that half the board of directors, including the chairman, are British subjects, I presume, that the syndicate cannot properly be described as controlled abroad. Allegations of the nature referred to in the second part of the question have reached His Majesty's Government arid have formed the subject of correspondence with the representatives of the syndicate. The reply of the latter is now under consideration. At the same time, I must point out that the allegations respecting the treatment of labourers consist of a statement that there is preventable loss of life because the European staff employed is too small to exercise proper supervision and not sufficiently experienced. It is impossible for me in addi- 262 tion to the ordinary work of the Foreign Office to undertake in the case of British companies all over the world outside British Dominions the- detailed work of expert investigation and control that is exercised by the Home Office in the case of mines in Great Britain.
§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, by the Report of the Putumayo Committee, that there is no particular desire at all on the part of the Foreign Office officials abroad to convey to the Foreign Office information of these atrocities, and no particular desire on behalf of the Foreign Office to investigate them?
§ Sir E. GREY
I do not admit that at all. That is not the case. I have already endeavoured to point out that this is not at all a case like the Putumayo atrocities. That is an exceptional case which involves something quite different from a case where it is a question of preventable loss of lives, owing to inexperienced people being employed in the mines. That is not on all fours with a case like that of Putumayo.