§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £39,285, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1914, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, including a Grant-in-Aid of certain Expenses connected with Emigration." [Note.—£21,000 has been voted on account.]
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt)
It is impossible to approach a debate on Colonial affairs without being deeply conscious of the sad gap left on the opposite bench by the tragic and untimely death of Mr. Lyttelton. I would not attempt to tread the field of appreciation so beautifully traversed by the Prime Minister when he expressed the feeling of the whole House on that event, but I should like to say on fins occasion that not only are the House and also the Colonies poorer by his removal, but that I, personally, have lost a generous critic, a kindly opponent, and a dear and lifelong friend. It is a melancholy satisfaction to me to remember that on the very night that his fatal illness commenced he encouraged me to continue the innovation I initiated last year of an annual review of Colonial affairs at the commencement of these Debates. Although I know hon. Members are anxious to raise various questions, which they will have ample opportunity of doing later, I do not propose to omit the review. I beg the Committee not to be unduly alarmed. I assure them I have no intention of repeating my outrage of last year, or of making anything like that draft upon their self-sacrificing indulgence. First of all, because my experiment met with a rather chilling reception. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no !"] At any rate, I remember some Members told me, more in sorrow than in anger, that my speech was more suitable for publication than delivery, and that it might fittingly be interred in a Blue Book, from which no one would contemplate its exhumation. I bear them no ill will; I expect they accurately represented the attitude of my 778 audience. But I would frankly confess that that speech was addressed to and intended for a larger audience than I could command in this House; it was directed partially to that small class in the country who understand and are interested in Colonial policy, but still more largely to those in our Colonies who are greatly and rightly interested in their own affairs, and are not displeased if, only once a year, their travails and triumphs, their sorrows and successes, should be brought to the notice of the Imperial Parliament. But there is another reason why I should not attempt to repeat my former speech on the present occasion.
Last year I gave the Committee a dissertation mainly on the progress of finance, railways, and tropical medicine in our Colonies over a septennial period. It would be otiose and useless to repeat that survey after the lapse of only another twelve months. But I still think it would be a pity if the Colonial Secretary contented himself—as in the past—by waiting merely for criticisms of disjointed details of administration and in replying to them, and to them only, deprived himself and the Colonies of any chance of giving a general conspectus of their advance and well-being. I propose, therefore, for a much shorter time than last year, to inflict myself on the Committee. But this year I should like to take a somewhat different point of view. I will eschew to-day all questions of finance, railways, and medicine, and I will with their permission, give them, so far as it is within my power, a picture of what has been the development—also within the last years—of the export and production of raw material within the Crown Colonies. I shall omit the great output of the self-governing Dominions—not because they are negligible, but because they are so great and notorious. Even the man in the street knows that we get meat, wool, and gold, as well as corn and fruit, from Australia; that New Zealand sends us mutton and wool; that Canada contributes meat, corn, and lumber; and South Africa, maize, hides, ostrich feathers, gold, and diamonds—even Newfoundland weighs in with its fish and provides wood pulp for our paper. I omit also the products of India and Egypt, because they do not come under my Departmental control, and I confine myself to what some people regard as the Cinderellas of the Empire—the Crown Colonies, which are in my opinion to-day producing and providing for you a volume 779 and variety of raw material which will bear favourable comparison with that of any other part of the world. With the exclusions and exemptions which I have already mentioned, I propose to give the Committee a survey of what has been the progress in production and export by those Colonies in the last seven years of all or most of the raw materials which are requisite to our Home manufactures and our competitive success. I would ask the Committee to remember that when I am stating progress and increases—which are practically unbroken—they are over a period of the seven years which cover the life of the present Government; but again, I would ask them to believe that I do so with no parti pris, but for the sole purpose of taking a period covered by a single administrative policy.
I will take, first, the larger and commoner products of the raw materials of the Colonies—and I do so with the greater political confidence, because I understand that, come what may, raw material is, in the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite, to be exempt from the fiscal experiments which they may attempt upon other requisites of our personal and national existence. Why the raw material of food (and therefore of wages) is to be taxed and the raw material of commerce is to be free, I have never been able to understand. Either the tax is added to the price—in which case most people agree that it should not be applied to food in an island with an insufficient home production—or the tax is no addition to the cost (as some people, I believe, still assert), in which case there is no reason why it should not be applied to raw materials. But this by the way, and I can assure the Committee I have no desire to drag them into an economic discussion which is more suited to a private Members' night or a vote of censure by the Opposition, if and when they were able to settle its terms. I want this evening, if possible, to adhere solely and closely to the commercial and not the fiscal aspect of the increasing yield of our Colonies in raw materials of manufacture.
Let us take first cotton, a staple of immense value and importance to many millions of our people in the direct spinning and weaving trade and many allied industries. Our main—indeed, for many years almost our only—supply of this came from the middle States of America and a few West Indian islands. India, in time of stress, sent her share, but many Members 780 will remember the prayer of the old Lancashire spinner in the cotton famine during the American War: "Oh, Lord, send us more cotton, but no more Surat!" Egypt for many years has contributed comparatively large quantities of a fine quality—almost equal to Sea Island—and the Soudan promises a great increase when she receives that assistance which she is seeking, which goes no further than a guarantee upon an unimpeachable security. But sonic of us have felt for many years that our great cotton manufacturing industry in England was too dependent upon the fluctuations in the United States, both of crops and of prices; we have watched with ill-disguised impatience and aversion the corners in America and the gambles in futures in this country, which have adversely affected our genuine industries and those dependent upon them.
To deal with and adjust these difficulties, it appeared to the experts in this trade that greater efforts should be made to promote the growth of cotton in our tropical Colonies. Under the auspices of Mr. Newton, of Oldham, and Sir Alfred Jones, there was founded in 1902 the British Cotton Growing Association. It was rather cold-shouldered by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and it was not till 1910 that His Majesty's present Government made a Grant to this excellent association of £10,000 for three years, and in 1913 renewed a similar Grant of £10,000 for another three years. The results in my opinion have fully justified the expense.
The British Cotton Growing Association have shown much admirable activity. Working in conjunction with the Colonial Office and the African producers, they have established ginneries, provided seed, proffered advice, organised cultivation, purchased or produced the lint and marketed the bales. Owing to their assistance and our own efforts, we shall in time become more independent of those accidental and deliberate interferences with the cotton markets of the world to which I have already referred. Many of our tropical Colonies are excellently suited to the growth of cotton—sometimes by natives themselves; always by native labour—and the profits of this new industry add not only to the prosperity but to the spending power of those who become at the same time the producers of our raw materials and the purchasers of our manufactures. In Ceylon experiments have been tried for several years but with- 781 out much success—perhaps owing to the capacity of that island for more valuable crops. In Cyprus there has been a great advance in cotton production. I must remind the Committee that my years of comparison are 1905 and 1911 or 1912, according as the figures are available, and I do not intend constantly to repeat these dates in making my statement. I shall occasionally vary my figures of comparative progress from quantities to value and vice versâ, but I hope hon. Members will understand that I do so, not for purposes of exaggeration or concealment, but merely in order to eliminate elements which would confuse a true comparison. In Cyprus the export of cotton has grown _from 473,000 lbs. weight in 1905 to 1,546,000 lbs. weight in 1912, or an increase of more than 200 per cent.
In the West Indies the history of cotton is a curious and interesting one. Until a few years ago cotton had practically ceased to be cultivated there; in the earlier times they had produced the best cotton in the world, which makes the finer counts and the most delicate materials. Then these islands transferred their activities to sugar and fruit (on which I shall have something to say later on); but recently cotton growing has been taken up again in many of these islands, largely as a result of the activities of the Imperial Department of Agriculture (provided and supported by the Imperial Government), which has given the greatest assistance with scientific advice and information as to soils, manures, and insect pests. Some hon. Members may know that the cotton boll weevil is one of the most noxious pests and that it is kept in check by the Bobwhite quail in the cotton belt of the United States. By the courtesy of the American Zoological Society I have been enabled to obtain some of these birds, which I am hoping to breed at my home in Oxfordshire, and if I am successful I propose to supply them to some of our cotton growing Colonies, where they might be naturalised. It is, however, in Africa that the great advance in production is being made. In West Africa the results have shown great fluctuations, and it is difficult accurately to estimate the success. But the export from the Colonies and Protectorates in this part of the world has increased in the period under review from 1,500,000 lbs. to 4,500,000 lbs. weight. In the East Africa Protectorate the export has risen from 46,000 lbs. to 366,000 lbs. 782 weight, and there are great possibilities yet untapped of future production in the valleys of the Tana and Juba rivers. In Uganda the advance is even more remarkable. At first production was limited by want of ginning facilities, but the Government and the British Cotton Growing Association and the Uganda Railway lent a helping hand, with the remarkable result that the export has increased from 96,000 lbs. weight to nearly 12,000,000 lbs. weight in 1911. There is only one other cotton producing tropical Protectorate, namely, Nyasaland. Here early difficulties IN ere encountered. There was a native disinclination to cultivate a non-edible crop; native types of seed were inferior, and better qualities were introduced by the Government and the British Cotton Growing Association. There have been severe fluctuations in prosperity; drought at one time and disease at another have retarded progress, but to-day cotton may be regarded in Nyasaland as the most promising of all its many products. A year ago some native-grown cotton sold at 1s. per lb., which will be an indication to experts of the quality produced. And the export has increased from 776,000 lbs. weight to 2,676,000 lbs. weight, or by nearly 300 per cent. In concluding my review of cotton, I can now give the Committee the figures of the export from our Crown Colonies and Protectorates. In the seven years it works out roughly—I do not pledge myself to its absolute accuracy—at an increase from about 18,000,000 lbs. weight to 35,000,000 lbs. weight, or nearly double. I ought, perhaps, to mention that the export of cotton seed—a matter of great importance in quality of crops—has risen from 24,000 to 154,000 cwts. in that same period.
Now let us turn to oil—I mean mineral, not vegetable. I direct the attention of the Committee to it not because of the quantity of its production, but because of the necessity of its increase. Of all raw materials, the scarcest within the Empire to-day is petroleum; but I say advisedly to-day. There are, I believe, great possibilities of future production within our own territories, and the essentials in the arrangements for its output are caution, rapidity, and forethought. Both the quantities and value of mineral oil exported from the Straits Settlements have been fairly constant in the last seven years, but these figures cover import and re-export from Borneo and other Dutch possessions, and are not, therefore, trust- 783 worthy guides. But in Trinidad (and perhaps some other places, which I will not name lest I should be regarded as a company promoter) the oil exported, which in 1909 was worth £37, had risen in 1911 to £33,000. In earlier years the petroleum deposits of Trinidad and Barbados were being exported only in the primitive or derivative forms of asphalt and manjak. But in later years the American company which works the celebrated pitch lake, and a British company, later in the field, has done some valuable pioneer work. The British company is said to hold the "world's record" for rapid drilling. Two years ago the first shipment of crude oil was made from Trinidad of 3,500 tons. By the end of March last the total production had risen from 202,000 barrels in 1911 to 880,000 barrels, the production for the month of March being 44.500 barrels. At that time seven companies were producing oil, and eight others had been closed down for various reasons. The inadequate production of oil, and the slow development of the industry, have been matters of great anxiety to the Colonial Office and the Admiralty—to the Colonial Office, primarily for the benefit of the Colony; to the Admiralty, for the purposes of the Navy; and to both, for the modern development of oceanic and Imperial trade.
I have kept steadily in view two objects—not always easily reconcilable—the rapid and economic development of the oil field, both for the Colony and for the Navy; the exclusion, so far as possible, of the great combines, which might either strangle production or inflate prices; the reservation to the Admiralty of full powers to assume possession of the product, even at the risk of a lessened price for the concession; and last, though not least, a security that the companies shall be registered within Great Britain or her Possessions, that their business center shall be similarly situated, that a majority of their directors shall at all times be British subjects, and that they shall not at any time fall directly or indirectly under foreign control. If at any time these conditions fail to apply, the Governor may cancel the lease. For many years Trinidad may be said to have muddled on, fumbling for oil which it did not find, or at least did not produce. The requirements of modern naval development are such that oil was required, and preferably—indeed, almost essentially—within the Empire. In its development I have worked 784 closely in consultation with the Admiralty, and have taken from them the provisions which they thought necessary to secure Imperial and naval control. I have aimed at giving no more monopoly to the new companies than was necessary to secure exploitation and production. Part of the oil field is freehold property, and therefore out of my control. In dealing with the Crown Lands, I have limited the area to be held under any one lease. Where a pipe-line agreement has been asked for, I have limited the grant of exclusive rights to pipe-lines in respect of which tile concessionnaires, by becoming common carriers, are compelled to provide facilities for those who might otherwise be unable to provide for themselves. Those who have failed to obtain concessions or the special facilities they desired will no doubt blame me for granting to their competitors or prior applicants leases which they themselves would have liked to obtain, but in every commercial competition it is difficult to arrange that the last shall be first.
The thanks of this House are due to the Legislature of Trinidad for the ready cooperation they have shown in putting us in the most favourable position to obtain oil fuel for the Imperial Navy and to eliminate the dangers of a foreign monopoly. It is unnecessary for me to explain all the steps which have been taken to this end, but I may mention that no pipe-line can be laid without the Governor's assent; that in time of war or national emergency, His Majesty's Government have the right of pre-emption of all oil produced, at a price to be fixed by arbitration; and that in emergency, to be notified by Gazette, the export of crude oil and its products is forbidden without its being first offered to the Government. The oil refineries must be up to a standard specified by the Admiralty, and the plant must be worked to its full extent when ordered by the Governor in case of emergency. What the Navy require is a large, a constant, and a dependable production. This I hope in consultation with the Admiralty we have been able to secure. We have lately made an agreement on the terms I have described with a group representing several important interests in the oil industry. It is called the British West Indies Petroleum Syndicate. Several important British companies, including the Burman Oil Company and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company are interested in this syndicate, and only one-fourth of the capital is held by the British 785 Company which is controlled by the Shell. The Standard Oil Trust have no interest in it; nor have Messrs. Pearson. I am on the point of making an agreement with another important group, representing different, but still British interests. They will take over several properties in the island, including one large area on which work has been Closed down. I am satisfied that they will have at their disposal ample means to develop all they acquire. Both these corporations will be subject to all the conditions I just now specified as to British control and naval pre-emption, with special clauses as to continuous and active development. I believe that under circumstances of some difficulty, and much pressure of necessity, we have made on good terms a greatly needed provision for the further security both of our Navy and our mercantile marine—the latter in peace and the former in war.
From mineral oils one moves naturally, though not scientifically, to those vegetable oils derived from either the ground nut or the oil palm which constitute so considerable and growing a product of our West African Possessions. In the last seven years their export from these West African Colonies alone have grown from a value of £2,400,000 to that of £5,300,000, and in quantity from 198,000 tons to 312,000 tons. It is an industry of great importance to these regions, for it is, and I hope will largely remain, in the hands, and for the profit, of the natives. The whole industry is capable of great expansion, but it is threatened with severe competition from other and non-British parts of West Africa. A large part of the natural production of nuts is now wasted and much of the oil from the pericarp is not collected or is damaged. For the advantage of this native industry I believe that modern methods of machinery are required for its immediate and ultimate development. It is only by a recent discovery that the oil palm is proving amenable to scientific treatment. Recent proposals for the extension of this industry have occupied some space, and for some time, upon the Question Paper of this House.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Recent mechanical discoveries. I do not know whether the implied reproach or insinuation which was thought by some to be conveyed in those questions is to be emphasised or justified to-day. If it is, I shall be prepared and 786 happy to deal with and to dispatch it. But with a rare and unnecessary indiscretion, I am prepared to give my accusers, if any, my answer in advance to their charge. But to do so I must take them for a few minutes through the history of the industry and its chemical incidents. The Committee is perhaps aware (or perhaps it is not) that the soap boilers of the world—irrespective of their politics—are tumbling over one another to acquire the raw material of their industry. They find that they can do this on a far larger and more advantageous scale in Liberia, the Cameroons, and the Congo than they can in British Possessions. But I am the officially-constituted protector of the natives in our own Colonies, and it is my duty to see that they are not—so far as I can prevent it—unduly damaged by this foreign competition, a sentiment which I am sure will commend itself to many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. For this purpose it appeared necessary to develop the use and treatment of the native-owned product of the oil palm, so as to avoid the very uneconomic waste which is taking place under present conditions. The nut of the oil palm is a diminutive kernel (here it is), surrounded by a pericarp containing also much valuable oil. The nut can be easily and economically and without damage exported to Europe for crushing, but the pericarp if similarly treated undergoes a chemical change.
The pericarp is bulky in proportion to its oil-yielding capacity, which renders its freight costly in comparison with its value but it possesses another quality which renders its treatment on the spot specially desirable. Like some classes of coal, its by-product is more valuable than its immediate material. If you attempt to transport the pericarp in ships to this country a process of fermentation takes place on the voyage and on delivery much of the oil has become slightly rancid and in the process has destroyed or reduced the percentage of glycerine which alone makes it commercially remunerative to, treat this pericarp. Scientific treatment upon the spot therefore becomes an essential to commercial success and to the conditions which alone permit of a full payment of the value of the fruit. If the natives of our West African Colonies were, by foreign competition, to be deprived of a market for the products which grow on the lands which they occupy, they would suffer a deprivation which would be disastrous in moral and material effect. 787 Some three or more years ago—before I was at the Colonial Office—a great mercantile firm, Messrs. Lever, with a high reputation for its treatment of natives in our Colonies and Protectorates, came forward with a proposal to develop this trade, for the advantage of the natives as well as itself, if it could be assured within a limited area, and a limited time, against the competition of others who might endeavour to profit by its commercial and mechanical enterprise. Looking to the danger to which our own Colonies were exposed by the competition of the Congo and other foreign possessions, and realising the disaster which would result to our own natives under such circumstances, I gave to Messrs. Lever—but not to them alone—such terms for the erection of costly machinery as would enable them for a few years to treat on the spot the pericarp of the oil nut in order to secure the glycerine as well as the oil, and to make the industry both living and remunerative, which, under the old conditions, it could not be.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Yes, for a few years. But, mark what the conditions were: Messrs. Lever were to acquire for and by themselves the site for their factory and machinery; all that the local Government give them by way of a concession is a prohibition to anyone else to erect similar machinery—of a very special type—within a radius of 10 miles from their centre for a limited number of years. But Messrs. Lever have no monopoly of the fruit or the labour within that area. The fruit belongs to the native, and he can sell it to whom he pleases. If at, the edge of that 10-mile circle someone, say the hon. Member himself, puts down a mill of his own he can draw on the native products of at least 5 miles of the circle of Messrs. Lever's concession with equal economic ease, and, beyond it, by the expenditure of a moderate competitive price. Messrs. Lever have no ownership of the land, of the products, or of the natives. So long as Lever's buy, they render a service to the inhabitants; if they cease to buy, Levers suffer. But the natives can sell elsewhere, or they need not sell atall; in any case there is free trade in oil nuts, and the market will be regulated by the competitive price of the product I cannot conceive conditions which, milder present circumstances, are more 788 conducive to the advantage of the native population. But I gather from the questions which for many months have been put to me that there is in the minds of the questioners some suggestion—not, I think, of personal corruption—but of undue advantage to a particular firm. If that is the case I would ask those who harbour these suspicions to answer me these three questions, and I shall be prepared to deal with them all.
First, is it suggested that the concession made to Messrs. Lever is bad in itself because it is detrimental to the natives or the Colony? Second, is the concession proper in itself, but improper to Messrs. Lever, because in the opinion and knowledge of hon. Members opposite, Messrs. Lever are by experience a firm which are not to be trusted with the treatment of subject races? Third, is it contended that a commercial firm, making a new proposal which is regarded by the Colonial Office as of service to the Colony, is to be deprived of the facilities for which it asks, because its principal was once a Member of Parliament and sat on this side of the House? I await an honest answer to those three questions, and I am prepared to deal with all and any of them, but I think T have suffered in silence and expectation long enough the innuendoes with which some hon. Members have enlivened their leisure. I fear I have been momentarily deflected from my commercial survey by a natural, or at least excusable resentment at an unfounded and unwarrantable suggestion. I will now return to my statistical muttons. In passing from this subject I may say that the export of palm oil and kernels (mainly from Nigeria) has grown in value in six years from £2,400,000 to £5,600,000 sterling.
We may now look at another vegetable oleaginous product—the nut of the Cocos palm, which has nothing to do with the cocoa of the breakfast, but is the familiar object of the village fair and the cocoshy. It has, however, more economic uses; the fibre outside the nut is used in making many familiar mats; the flesh is largely used—owing to scientific success in eliminating its essential flavour—in the production of a wholesome and excellent table butter, which many hon. Members have eaten without realising its country or material of origin. The oil derived from it is, however, of even greater commercial value, and the exports of these nuts, and of the dried kernel known as Copra has largely increased in recent years. The 789 West Indies are specially active in this trade; the value of their export has constantly risen. The Imperial Department of Agriculture in those islands is now devoting special attention to the cultivation and extension of the palm, and its introduction to islands in which it has hitherto been a stranger. In Jamaica the export of nuts has risen in number from seven to twenty millions, and in value from £28,000 to £98,000 sterling. In Trinidad the increase has been almost equally great, and the export is considerable from British Honduras, British Guiana, Ceylon, the Straits Settlements, and Federated Malay States. The increase in value in the seven years has been from £400,000 to £790,000, or nearly double. Copra, or the dried flesh of the coconut, is also a staple industry and export in many of our Colonies. In the Federated Malay States its export has grown from 46,000 cwts. to 160,000 cwts. In the Seychelles from 5,000 cwts. to 50,000 cwts., and in value from £3,000 to 257,000; and in these Islands it seems to afford a permanent promise of prosperity.
From the East Africa Protectorate, in the period of comparison, the export has doubled in quantity and trebled in price—from 16,000 cwts. to 32,000 cwts, and, in value, from £9,000 to £28,000. The abolition of slavery deprived the Arabs of the coast of the labour they had previously employed in this industry, but a commercial demand and economic conditions have restored its cultivation, to the advantage of the labourer, the owner, and the merchant. The export of Copra from our tropical Colonies has grown in value from £1,300,000 to £3,300,000. There is a subsidiary by product of the coconut, called Poonac—an oil cake and food for cattle, made from the refuse of the coconut and other oil-bearing nuts and seeds after the oil has been extracted, which accounts for an export to the value of £60,000 from Ceylon. But there are other nuts that ought to be mentioned in this connection—the ground nut of the Gambia, almost its sole export, which has risen in value from £170,000 to more than £500,000, and which constitutes a large part of the so-called olive oil of commerce and the salad bowl. The coconut with an "o" seems phonetically, but illogically, to lead us to the cocoa bean with an "a," though, of course, they have no sort of botanic or domestic relation to one another.
790 In some Colonies—though I am happy to say not our own—the cultivation of this "grateful and comforting" beverage has been associated with conditions of labour of which the force of the condemnation has been tempered only by the necessities of international courtesy. In our own Possessions the development of this industry has, I believe, been an unmixed advantage to the merchant and blessing to the native labourer. Whether from advertisement, medical advice, or natural inclination, our population has tended more and more to the consumption of a beverage which is at the same time a food, and, when undoctored, produces neither stimulation nor inebriation. But those who wish to avail themselves of its nutritive qualities undefiled will do well to avoid those hyphened mixtures which are credibly believed to be reinforced and invigorated with Kola and other nuts of medicinal properties or adulterated with inferior materials. In the product and export of the cocoa bean our Colonies have experienced considerable fluctuation; in Ceylon there has been a decline—possibly as a result of the development of rubber alongside of tea. In the Gold Coast and Nigeria the export has risen from 111,000 cwts. to 882,000 cwts., and it is extremely satisfactory to note in passing that this cultivation and its increase is almost entirely due to native industry and energy, and that the great bulk of the plantations are native-owned and worked. I only wish that I could say that their precautions against disease, which is very rife, were as satisfactory as could be desired. There is an unhappy tendency—which requires correction—for the native cultivator, when faced with disease or exhaustion of soil, to shift to pastures new and to leave his former holding infected and derelict. In the West Indies the export is increasing slowly—from 597,000 cwts. to 628,000 cwts., though the conditions of growth and of quality are improving, as shown by the price realised, which has risen from £1,405,000 to £1,716,000. The total export of cocoa from our tropical Colonies has in: the seven years under review grown from 790,000 cwts. to 1,595,000 cwts., or more than double.
The transition from cocoa to fruit seems not unnatural, and I will deal next with product, which has, to their great profit, become of increasing importance to the West Indies. The fluctuations of sugar—with which I will deal presently—long since rendered it prudent and desirable that the West Indies should have other 791 eggs in their basket, and they commenced to lay them in the form of fruit, much assisted in the earlier stages by the activity and generosity of the late Sir Alfred Jones and the encouragement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. It is probably no small service to the poor of this country to have made the banana the common object of the coster's barrow. It is essentially a food, as well as a minor luxury, with perhaps an unrivalled combination of starch and sugar, of fat, proteid, and carbo-hydrates. It has become more nutritive to the cockney infant than the early Victorian bloater. There is, of course, a wide difference—as even the gourmet of the pavement knows—between the banana and the plantain. Though eaten indiscriminately here, the plantain is best suited to cookery and the banana to raw consumption. I wish that more people realised that it is not ripe until, like the medlar, it is apparently rotten. But I must not become a West Indian Mr. Glasse! Jamaica has made great advances in the production of this fruit. In 1905 she exported £843,000 worth, in 1911 it had reached a value of £1,457,000 or not far short of double in only seven years. The Committee will realise that Jamaica and some of the other islands are subject to climatic dangers; they are in the hurricane belt, and Jamaica itself suffered from one of these visitations at the end of last year, which will for this year, and perhaps for some years to come, constrict her production, but for which she has been able to provide compensation and alleviation by the wise provision of an insurance fund against these recurrent calamities. Jamaica and British Honduras still claim and utilise the United States as their principal market, but Trinidad and Barbados chiefly affect the United Kingdom. Arrangements are in process of being made in transport facilities, which I hope will give an easier entry for these products of the West Indies to Canada. The export of bananas from the West Indies has risen in the last seven years from £880,000 to £1,500,000, and shows even now a capacity and expectation of expansion. There are, however, other fruits which should not be neglected in the consideration of West Indian prosperity. Limes, pineapples, oranges, and grape-fruit constitute no small part of their fruit export. Cyprus in the last seven years has doubled the 792 value of her exports of fruit such as oranges, pomegranates, and raisins from £31,000 to £62,000; and the total value of fruit exports from our tropical Colonies, in addition to the large figures I have already given as to bananas, has risen in those seven years from £611,000 to £689,000.
Sugar has caused much anxiety, both to our West Indian Colonies and the world at large. The permutations and combinations of beet and conventions have agitated markets and controlled prices. But production has progressed in spite of rainfall and politics. Those who thought at one time they would be ruined by conventions, have come to the conclusion that they will be saved by Intercolonial preference. We have just concluded negotiations by which, on the recommendation of the Royal Commission, Canada and the West Indies have made arrangements of mutual advantage which afford a market for the commodities of each. The result, if not the intent, of this agreement has been a lowering of tariffs on both sides with some approach to freer trade by each party to the convention. Sugar is still the staple crop in several and a large crop in most of the West Indies, but the introduction and development of other crops, such as fruit, has deprived it of its pre-eminence in some islands, and by distribution has given a greater stability to the gross export of these Colonies. The Imperial Department of Agriculture has rendered great service to the cultivation of cane, and it is estimated that the improved varieties and methods are yielding from 10 to 25 per cent. more than the earlier crops. Improved machinery has been introduced and the centralisation of factories has contributed to the economy of production. But in Trinidad, where six years ago sugar formed 56 per cent. of the total production of the island, it is to-day less in value and importance than cocoa. Fiji has enormously developed the industry of sugar and now exports—mainly to Australia—a crop of the value of £800,000, as compared with £540,000 six years ago. From our Eastern Colonies—Straits Settlements, Federated Malay States, and Mauritius—the value of the export is fairly stationary, though the quantity has increased. But conversely from the West Indies the bulk is somewhat less and the value rather more—it has risen from £2,500,000 to £2,800,000 sterling. But we must take in connection with this the by-product of molasses, which may be 793 converted either into a feeding stuff for cattle or a stimulant for sailors in the shape of rum. The profits and product of this commodity have also been growing, and to-day it represents a value of export from our Crown Colonies of £430,000 sterling, as against a previous export of £246,000, or an increase of £184,000.
From the minor luxury of sugar I pass to the minor vice of tobacco, which is a steadily expanding crop in our tropics. Ceylon and the Straits Settlements have increased their export from £380,000 to £780,000 in value, and in Nyasaland it is becoming, and has become, the second in importance of its products and exports. The amount exported has increased more than tenfold in the last seven years, from 199,000 lbs. weight to 2,147,000 lbs. weight, and in value from £3,300 to £53,700. At one time the bulk of this tobacco was exported to the Transvaal, but to-day a large portion of it finds its way to the United Kingdom. The exporters have still something to learn in their methods of baling and marketing whereby they could easily obtain even better prices. And it is unfortunate that the occasional showers of rain and sleet to which the Protectorate is subject produce a spotting of the leaf which deprives it of the extravagant price paid by manufacturers for those leaves which are suitable for the outer wrapper of the best cigar. On the whole, the export by our Crown Colonies of tobacco has grown from a value of £414,000 to one of £764,000.
If tobacco, as I am inclined to think, has passed from the stage of a vice to a luxury, and to some has seemingly become almost a necessity, rubber has acquired the elements of all three. From early youth to utmost age it accompanies and alleviates our progress through life. The later demands of traction have enhanced both its value and cultivation. The intelligent anticipations of financial experts as to its possibilities and production have, I believe, produced marked variations in the price of the commodity and of the shares which are supposed to represent its prospective value. In goods which are subject to the fluctuations of market gambles we shall be prudent if we test the progress of our Colonies in this industry rather by quantity than by price. Though an increased production, which lowers competitive prices and comparative profits, may not be satisfactory to the investor or speculator who has bought shares at the top of the market—perhaps in an estate 794 which can only pay a dividend upon boom prices—it is the production and export which makes for the prosperity of the Colony and the remuneration of the cultivating native. From this point of view the progress of our rubber-producing regions has been abundantly satisfactory. The West Indies, British Guiana, and Honduras seem well suited to the production of rubber, and with the increasing demand they are likely to claim their share of the market, but the greater cost of labour there, as compared with the East, may affect their ultimate success. Their export in pounds avoirdupois has grown from 27,000 to 29,300, but this is no true test of their future, as there has been in the last few years a large experimental planting of trees, none of which have yet reached the tap-able age. In West Africa the production is subject to somewhat sharp fluctuations in quantity and price, but over a series of years maintains a fair average in both. Uganda has been somewhat of a disappointment in this respect. I cannot give the figures of quantity, but the value of its export is no more than it was seven years ago, though in the intervening years it was higher than it is to-day. There are, however, many reasons which account for and have affected this state of affairs. The rubber production of Uganda has been mainly from the wild tree. (Funtumia elastica). As this became exhausted systematic planting of Para and other varieties had to be resorted to, and these have not yet come into bearing. And, in addition, the principal rubber areas, up to now, have been near the shores of Lake Victoria, and when this was discovered to be and was proclaimed as a "fly area" for sleeping sickness prevention, the commercial assets of that region were gravely impaired. Nyasaland is much more promising in this respect. Its export is pounds avoirdupois has arisen from 18,000 to 48,000, and this by no means represents its future capacities. Wild rubber—principally of the landolphia species—is diminishing by exhaustion, but plantation rubber, though extensive in area, is not yet sufficiently mature for mercantile production. The cultivated variety is mainly Ceara, though a good deal of Para is being grown near Lake Nyasa, and both afford much promise of future yield. The East Africa Protectorate has suffered similar fluctuations owing to the exhaustion of the wild and the immaturity of the plantation rubber, but has managed to maintain a fair average of exportation. It is, how- 795 ever, in Ceylon and the Malay Peninsula that the great development of this production has taken place. The price—varying as it does from market conditions—would be no true test. Quantities are not wholly reliable, because the statistics of the Straits Settlements do not distinguish between rubber locally produced and in transit, but I give the figures of weight of export as far as ascertainable and for what they are worth from Ceylon, and the Malay. Peninsula. In 1905 they were 6,500,000 1bs. weight; in 1912 they were 51,000,000 lbs.—a marvellous result of science applied to forestry, and this does not even include the rubber exported from the Malay States in that year. If the Committee care to know what this means in export price—though it is a wholly fallacious figure for statistical purposes—the value was in 1905, £665,000, and in 1912, £13,700,000. With rubber should be included guttapercha from the Malay Peninsula, where the export has grown in value by 50 per cent., and Balata from British Guiana, a substitute for guttapercha obtained from the sap of Mimusops globosa. The export of this material has grown in value from £40,000 to £140,000 in six years.
We may glance for a few minutes at the minerals of the Crown Colonies where their working is only in its infancy, but with much promise of maturing development. It seems idle to refer to gold in a statement which omits the Dominions of Australia and South Africa, but even the Crown Colonies contribute to that production which has so uncomfortably resulted in the depreciation of value of the one material which has no standard of price for comparison except itself or the rising cost of other commodities. The Gold Coast in the last seven years has increased its export of gold from (roughly) £600,000 to £1,500,000, and will probably exceed that figure this year. British Guiana continues to be a diminishing field. The fabled city of Manoa or Eldorado was its capital; it was the cynosure of mediaeval eyes and rapacious buccaneers. The whole of it (with Venezuela thrown in) was granted to a Harcourt ancestor of mine by James I., and he went out to take possession in a shallop of fifteen tons, but he returned home and surrendered his grant because the beer in his barrels had gone bad. It is a melancholy thought that but for the carelessness of a Jacobean brewer I might have been President of the Republic of Venezuela to-day. The 796 legends of the mythical Eldorado led to repeated expeditions in the succeeding centuries, but with continuous ill-success. Gold was first worked there in 1886 and twenty years ago reached its maximum export of £500,000 which to-day has fallen to £180,000. The gold fever has now passed from the Western hemisphere to Africa and Australia, which flood our markets with an output which makes the metal less precious than of old. In the baser metals tin has shown a buoyancy of production; the Malay Peninsula has increased the value of its export from £15,000,000 to nearly £21,000,000 sterling, and Northern Nigeria—only just being adequately developed for these purposes by the new Bauchi Railway—has grown in five years from a production of a value of £25,000 to one of £336,000, and of tonnage from 154 to 2,800. Iron in small and almost stationary quantities comes from the Straits Settlements; and copper and lead from the same Colony but in decreasing amounts. But some of the rarer minerals are interesting in their importance, if small in quantity. A deposit of mica has been discovered in the East Africa Protectorate, and from Nyasaland it has already been exported to the value of nearly £7,000. It is used for boiler packing and in electrical machinery, and where, as in Nyasaland, the mica plates are of large size and considerable thickness, it is of special value for those inspection holes of furnaces, for which it supplies the only material which is at the same time transparent and fireproof. Plumbago continues to come to us from Ceylon, but in rather diminishing quantities, probably due to its decrease in price. It is commonly known as black-lead (I suppose because no lead enters into its composition), and is in much demand for crucibles, lead pencils, and grate polishes. It is said to be useful as a lubricant in place of tallow for rifle bullets, and an earlier discovery of its qualities might have saved us the Indian Mutiny. An exceedingly rare and (if the term were permissible) new mineral called thorianite is discovered in and exported from Ceylon. It is a mixture of thorium and uranium, containing about 75 per cent. of thorium oxide. Its commercial value is something like £1,500 per ton, and it forms an essential element in incandescent gas mantles. Radio-active substances are nearly always associated with these oxides which come from the gemgravels of Ceylon, but I regret to say that 797 we have not so far made any discovery of that great curative mineral, radium. Scheelite and wolfram are two also rare ores which now come to us in increasing quantities from the Malay Peninsula. Their export has increased in value in the last four years from £378 to £79,000. They are ores of allied minerals and occur together. Wolfram is technically an iron-manganese tungstate, which is alloyed with steel to gain an added hardness, and is also used with sodium tungstate and starch for the fire-proofing of textile fabrics. Wolfram or tungsten is also the essential base of the new metal filament lamps which have revolutioned electric lighting.
Turning from the mine to the breakfast and the dinner table we can show great progress in quantities of products which are of the highest importance, both as necessaries and minor luxuries. The tea of Ceylon is famous the world over, and its export has increased in weight from 170,000,000 lbs. to 186,000,000 lbs., and the Straits Settlements have an export which has grown from 3,500,000 lbs. to 5,500,000 lbs., though this may—and, indeed, does include some of the product of China. Nyasaland is a new and interesting contributor to the teapot, with an export of 44,000 lbs. in weight; this only represents a small part of its production, the bulk of which is consumed locally, but from personal experience I can guarantee its quality and recommend its consumption here. This industry is only four years' old, and promises much future profit, but it must be remembered that tea planting requires the sinking of capital without return or dividend for five or six years—a form of investment not over popular with pioneer planters. Coffee is an even more interesting and progressive product of the Colonial Empire. I believe it is true to say that the uplands of Somaliland were the original home of the later, and more famous coffee of Mocha. From this Protectorate the figures of the export bear the appearance of a fever chart. The trade has been naturally affected by the condition of the country, but still more by the diversion of trade routes to and from the Djibouti Railway or Zeyla, according to the imposition or remission of transit duties, but, on the whole, the export trade is tending strongly upwards. In Ceylon and the Malay Peninsula coffee is being driven out by the upstart rubber. In the West Indies the quantity is small but increasing, and quality high— 798 especially in the choice brand of Blue Mountain coffee of Jamaica. From this island alone the export has increased n value by £20,000 in seven years, and British Guiana is entering the market as a new competitor. But other and newer African fields are challenging the old monopoly of Arabia.
East Africa exported no coffee till 1910; to-day her export is of a value of nearly £6,000, though she consumes most of her available product. Uganda, with a smaller present export, promises an even larger future trade. At present she also consumes a large part of her crop; the native, as well as the European, has begun to realise the excellence of the home-grown commodity. There is a great future for this crop in the two contiguous Protectorates, subject always to the fear of, and the actual damage wrought by, the dread coffee-leaf disease, which has unhappily appeared in each of them. The most stringent measures of prevention and eradication are being pursued, and I have recently sent out a trained mycologist to deal specifically with what, if neglected, might become a disaster. In Nyasaland coffee is a successful but a fluctuating crop, owing mainly to climatic conditions. In some districts it is being ousted by cotton and tobacco, which are less risky and speculative. From 1905 to 1909 there was little increase or variation in the export, but, from the fact that the export of 1911 exceeded by more than 100 per cent. that of 1910, we may safely assume that this industry is again upon the up-grade, and the activities of Central Africa are likely to produce a considerable influence on the coffee markets of the world. Tapioca from the Malay Peninsula is steadily decreasing in quantity owing to, its displacement by rubber, but sago from the Straits Settlements has nearly doubled in value and amounted to an export of close on £600,000 in 1912. Arrowroot, one of the principal products of St. Vincent, in the West Indies, has also doubled the value of its export—from £20,000 to £40,000. Spices represent a considerable trade from many of our tropical Possessions, amounting in 1911 to a value of over £1,500,000.
Vanilla from the Seychelles varies greatly in yield owing to seasonal conditions, and in the recent past, owing to the triumphs of synthetic chemistry, which, having destroyed indigo, tried to do the same to vanilla with the chemical product called vanillin, but I hope and believe without success. Cinnamon, cloves, and 799 nutmegs also come from the Seychelles, where they were introduced from Mauritius by the French in the eighteenth century. Great secrecy was observed as to their cultivation in these islands, the object being to destroy the spice monopoly of the Dutch at that time. On rumours of war between England and France in 1778 the French Governor of Mauritius gave instructions that, in the event of attack, the spice plantations should be at once destroyed. Shortly afterwards a French ship arrived off Mahe, but, fearing that the English might be in possession, hoisted the English flag. The spice trees, which had been surrounded by inflammable material, were at once destroyed by fire. In West Africa spice exports have risen from a value of £10,000 to £50,000 in six years, nearly the whole being accounted for by ginger, which has grown from £8,000 to £45,000 in value. Honey from the West Indies, mainly Jamaica, has more than doubled in value, and in 1911 stood at £26,000. Grains, apart from wheat, which comes almost entirely from the Dominions, represent a great trade of the tropical Colonies. They include rice, maize, carob beans, simsim, millet, and many other seeds.
In the Straits Settlements—again with the warning that a part of this is in transmit from Siam and Burma—the export of rice has grown from £2,900,000 sterling to £6,000,000 sterling' in 1912. British Guiana is now developing rice growing; seven years ago she exported none, but in recent years her export has averaged a value of £50,000. This promising industry is mainly the product of the East Indian peasant proprietors; there is a great area of the Colony suitable for rice growing, and great scope for further export to others of the West Indian Islands. The quality of the "Creole" rice is extremely good, but the Board of Agriculture has imported 100 varieties of rice for trial in order that their product shall be second to none in the world. Carob beans—chiefly used in cattle foods and cakes—come from Cyprus, and the export, mainly to the United Kingdom, has in six years doubled in quantity and more than doubled in price. In 1911 it stood at 1,000,000 cwts. and £183,000 in value. The export of maize from the East Africa Protectorate is increasing by leaps and bounds, its value which was only £6,000 in 1910 was over £43,000 in 1912. The last food I will mention is 800 fish of which a value of nearly £1,200,000 is exported from our Eastern Colonies, principally the Straits Settlements. I want to say a few words about a new Colonial industry—the production of whale oil—which is carried., on in the Islands of the Southern Atlantic, the Falklands, South Georgia, South Orkney, South Shetlands, and Graham Land. No export of whale oil is known to have taken place before 1906, but since that date it has rapidly increased, and by 1911–12 the output had reached no less than 60,000 tons or approximately half the world's production, and of a value when brought to market of over £1,000,000. To this must be added the whalebone and guano worth at least £60,000. There are at the present time in these islands 32 floating factories and 30 steam whalers operating under licences from the Colonial Office. In South Georgia alone in 1911–12 about 6,500 whales were killed, and nearly 6,000 in the other Dependencies. These figures are rather alarming in amount. Very little is known about the life history of whales, their period of gestation is doubtful, but certainly long; they have only one "cub" at a birth; their migrations are uncertain, but it is thought by some that those which frequent the Falklands in summer, winter off the coasts of Australia. I was not greatly surprised therefore when, in the autumn of 1911, I received representations from the authorities of the British Museum, and from the International Fur Seal Conference at Washington, that whales were in danger of extinction and that some protective measures should be enforced. After careful consideration I came to the conclusion that the only safe course was immediately to suspend the issue of any fresh licences, whilst not cancelling those which already existed, and to endeavour, if possible, to assemble an International Conference of all the Powers having whaling stations or waters, to lay down conditions which should be observed by all. These licences are annual. Of course the refusal of new licences has naturally given much dissatisfaction to those who have just awakened to the great profits and possibilities of this pursuit—but find themselves too late in the field. The only consolation I can offer to them is that my action is intended not to hamper whaling, but to preserve whales, and so in the future to ensure the stability of the industry. 801 I feel that out of compassion I must now bring my review to an end; not because I have covered all the ground I should wish, but because there are limits to human patience and House of Commons endurance. There are many other commercial products of our tropical Empire, which are well worthy of better knowledge at home, such as hides, fibre, drugs, dyes, mineral fertilisers, ostrich feathers, sponges, and timber; but they must wait for some other occasion, and those I have already dealt with at such undue length are sufficient to show how great and growing is our capacity of production. The Committee, I hope, will realise that this wonderful growth, both in quantity, value, and quality, is largely The result of the patient, painstaking work of those many men in and out of the Colonial Service, whose special duty it is to supervise and to improve the circumstances of their production. Arid one word in conclusion, and in this connection I would wish to say on the chemical and commercial work of the Imperial Institute. Great changes have taken place in its organisation and activities in the last few years. It used to be regarded by the public as nothing but the home of show cases of varying interest or dullness. It is known to-day, at least by mercantile men, to be a busy hive of scientific inquiries into new or promising products from all our Possessions. The greatest Dominions, as well as the smallest islands, stock its laboratories and suck its brains. It is ready at any moment to test and report upon coal from Nigeria, fibre from Mombasa, cotton or coffee from Uganda. Oils and dyes, tanning and perfumes are objects both of its inquiry and invention. Many new materials for old commodities—paper for instance—owe their discovery to the experimental work of its scientific staff. Great as its services have been in the past, I believe it has an assured future of even greater utility, and I warmly commend its work and its capacity to the appreciation of the public at home and throughout the Empire.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I beg to move, "That the Vote be reduced by £100."
I do not think it necessary to apologise to the House for taking this opportunity of bringing before it the very grave events which have taken place on the Rand and the circumstances now existing there. In the final dispatch from Lord Gladstone, published in the White 802 Paper issued last Tuesday, the following occurred:—I intend formally to draw the serious attention of Ministers to the lessons of the last week. I am sure they realise, as you do, that Imperial troops are not retained in South Africa to do the work which, since 30th June they have had to perform.I am going to ask the House in this Debate to support Lord Gladstone in the action that he is taking or has taken in drawing the attention of Ministers to the work which British troops have been called upon to perform in the Rand. What is that work? To maintain an industrial system which is brutal, inhuman, and could not be maintained if it were not for the presence of British troops in South Africa. You will see in these dispatches one from General Smuts to Lord Gladstone, which justifies the use of British troops, and states that they are necessary for the reason that the Colonial forces are so mixed up with the strikers that it would be impossible to use them. That is actually the case. They could get no large body of men among the troops in South Africa to do the work which British troops have to perform, because their sympathies are so largely with the men, and it is by Imperial forces only that this system can be maintained. What is the underlying character of this system which has caused this strike, this what I might almost call a revolution You will find it in the cable sent by Lord Gladstone on 13th July. He says:—Too soon to enter exhaustively on causes and merits of dispute, allowance must be made for miners, who only in recent times have realised the sacrifices which phthisis exacts. I believe this to be the main root of the trouble, but the strikers precipated danger incidental to strikes and far more formidable than the strike itself.There Lord Gladstone has put his finger on the root cause of all this trouble, the terrible ghastly conditions imposed on the men. The "Daily Mail" correspondent cables from Johannesburg at the time of the outbreak that at the bottom of the apparently reckless attitude of the men is the deadly nature of their employment. Many of them say openly that they will die an early death under present conditions, and that it is better to be shot in attempting to secure better conditions; this problem is not so much one of wages as an improvement in their general position, so that they may have a longer life than is possible in their present surroundings. From my own knowledge I do believe that that is in their minds. I know these men. I know that their one thought is of their wives and children, whom they are going to leave behind, and their endeavour is to get enough of the £34,000,000 produced every year in the 803 mines to keep them from going into the workhouse when the inevitable doom has fallen upon them. To show what these conditions are I intend, in the first place, to refer to the death rate which has taken place among the natives employed in these mines. So far back as 1906, Sir Lionel Phillips in the Johannesburg Chamber of Mining referred to the wrong of bringing men to their death from Central Africa. They not only brought them to their death from Central Africa, but they falsified the official returns so that the true death-rate was not disclosed. The way in which they falsified the official returns was not to include in them the deaths which took place in the detention compounds in which the natives are put before they are distributed to the mines. In the Union Parliament this matter has been discussed, and I want to refer to what Mr. Sauer said on this question, because it is absolutely relevant.
He pointed out that the death-rate among tropical natives in the mines was 71 per thousand and that that was a general rate. And then he went on to show that in the Witwatersrand native labour compound the death rate of natives in March was at the rate of 229 per thousand per annum, and in April it was 214. He asked whether the figures supplied by the Native Affairs Department included this, and he was told that they did not include it. He went on to review the death rate by including all these figures and he found that they added to the general death rate of 1910 by 22 per 1,000, of 1911 by 22.3, and of 1912 by 23 per 1,000 per annum, so that they brought the total mortality rate up to 97 per annum for 1910, 87 per annum for 1911, and 70 for 1912. Then he went on to give these figures, and I ask to House to pay special attention to them. For the last three months the general death rate with these figures included was January 115, February 117, March 118, and it dropped in April to 73 per thousand per annum. This House I hope will take the same view of it as the Union Parliament took when these figures were announced. The Parliamentary correspondent of the Rand "Daily Mail" refers to the statement made by Mr. Sauer, and says that after having considered the figures the Government have come to the conclusion that they could no longer permit the recruiting of these natives and that in. their opinion recruiting should be stopped on the ground that if it continued it would be little less than murder. I do not think 804 that it was anything less than murder. The Parliamentary correspondent says that Mr. Sauer's reading of the appalling figures made a deep impression on the House, and that the state of members' faces reflected their horror at the wholesale clearing off of natives in compounds. That was stopped, and I hope that the Colonial Secretary will not allow again recruiting in Nyasaland or any of the tropical territories under his control at the present time. In contrast to that death rate of 115 per 1,000 I will take the death rate of the natives in the employment of the Johannesburg Municipal Council, who are engaged in the unhealthy work of the sanitary department.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I will deal with the Chinese before I have finished. They would not submit to these conditions, and that was why they had to flog them and to treat them as they did. But because they would not stand these conditions the death rate among the Chinese was far less than among the natives. But the death rate among the natives employed by the Johannesburg Municipal Council at this unhealthy work was only seven per thousand per annum, while they are murdering these other men at the rate of 115 per thousand per. annum. What is the cause? They are sent down below and they are driven to their work forcibly, very often with the jambok, when the mines are still full of the gas after the blasting operations, and with bad ventilation and a great deal of dust. So much dust is there and so much gas that you can sometimes scarcely see the men at work, and if you look at the report of the engineers you will find cases of men dropping down from suffocation owing to the gas, and being dragged out and put under the tap of water to recover. That is how they murder, because they will not properly ventilate their mines. I point to those conditions amongst the Kaffirs, and I am sure hon. Members, or many hon. Members, if they would only put party out of this, would all agree to revolt against those conditions as inhuman and murderous. Terrible though as the death rate is amongst the Kaffirs, the subtropical and tropical Kaffirs, the death rate amongst British miners on machine drill is actually greater still. Details of the mortality among British miners on the Rand have been published by a well-known authority, whose statements have not been controverted, and he says: The total under- 805 ground working population is about 12,000 white working men. If the tropical death rate of seventy per 1,000 existed amongst those it would produce 840 deaths per annum. Those who have studied the question, and the Miners' Phthisis Board, state that the deaths among the underground workers would probably be from 1,000 to 1,200, and everybody who has followed the matter knows that their estimate has been enormously exceeded. It is common knowledge that in the last three months alone nearly 1,000 applications have been made to the board, and it is highly improbable that any great percentage of those are accumulated cases. Those figures correspond to a rate among the men at work of about 160 per 1,000. It is necessary to point out you have to allocate these to the machine men, because they are the worst and suffer most. If you allocate their proportion, undoubtedly the death rate amongst them is at least 300 per 1,000 per annum. That means and bears out the view held by the minors themselves, that it is absolutely almost certain death to work on machine drills in a Rand mine for three years. A prominent medical man in Johannesburg lately wrote to a local paper and stated that to go to work underground on the Reef is simply another way of committing suicide. Terrible though the death rate, called murder by the Minister of Native Affairs in the Union Parliament, among the Kaffirs, the death rate among the machine men is actually double that number. What is the reason? The machine man works the drills, and is put into a rise where the dust falls upon him. It may be said to be almost certain death. He generally will put a Kaffir to handle the drill while he stands more out of danger, but with the dust falling down and drawn into the lungs, the lungs become gradually coated with dust, and they virtually turn into stone. The secretary of the Miners' Association whom I saw there, a North of England man, a steady, reasonable man, used to carry round with him something that looked like a small pebble. It was a piece of the lung of a mate of his who died. When the inquest was held he got a piece of the lung and carried it around with him to remind him of the fate that was in store for himself. He was fatalistic about it, and died shortly afterwards. Owing to the ill ventilation of the mines, the miners are affected. Their condition is depressed owing to the lack of ventilation. That is one of the causes—
I would point out to the hon. Member that he must connect his remarks with something in the power of the Secretary of State to remedy, and not measures which lie with the Union Government of South Africa.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I quite realise that. Lord Gladstone has pointed out to his Ministers that British troops cannot be maintained to do the work they have done since then. I am trying to prove that the work they have done since 30th June is to force men to accept these conditions, and I am going to ask the Colonial Secretary to notify that under those conditions British troops will be withdrawn. I will go on to show that it was those conditions that led to the strike, and I now take the dispatches of Lord Gladstone to show how the strike started, and the conditions, and the real underlying grounds for the blucdshed that has taken place. On the 26th July, in Lord Gladstone's dispatch, we are told that the strike originated upon New Kleinfontein Mine, and what the men demanded was reinstatement of all men concerned, abolition of Saturday afternoon work, and certain working hours, not a very unreasonable demand, but it is not for us to discuss them. I come now to what I think is a most material point, owing to the use of British troops. Whilst negotiations were going on, and before any violence, at any rate of an extraordinary nature, had occurred, Lord Gladstone shows that the South African Government empowered the acting resident magistrate of Boksburg to promulgate the old Law No. 6 of the Transvaal. That law was first introduced in the clays of the Jamieson Raid to meet the conditions which arose from the seditious agitation of the mine owners, who are now demanding that it should be put in force against the workmen. This law prohibits the assembly of more than six persons. It was put into force as regards the district of Benoni. This law was promulgated before the strike had reached any dimensions. What did it mean? It meant, as all the land around Benoni municipality is mining property, an absolute denial to the miners to hold a meeting to discuss their own grievances and questions relating to the strike. They determined to hold their meeting, and statements have been made in the dispatch that a handbill was circulated amongst the miners urging them to come armed so as to resist unlawful action on the part of the authorities. 807 They determined to maintain the right of public meeting, and the Government gave way and permitted them to hold their meeting and withdrew the embargo. The British troops were not then there. That meeting passed the following resolution:—That this meeting of workers demands the recognition of the right of free speech and public meeting, and that it condemns the action of the Government in attempting to curtail or interfere with the liberties of the people. Further, that this meeting is in favour of calling a general strike in the interests of the workers, so that a general betterment of working conditions can be secured throughout South Africa.The organ of the Labour party draws special attention to the fact that inflammatory speeches were not made. The dangers and disabilities they would suffer under from a general strike were pointed out, but it was not in inflammatory or seditious meeting, and I could take any day from the newspapers more inflammatory speeches made by Privy Councillors opposite. What happened next? This is a significant thing. We come to 30th June, and we have a telegram from General Smuts to Lord Gladstone:—Very urgent. Owing to sudden and very serious development of strike on East Rand, I have found it necessary to ask General Hart to send 500 Infantry to Benoni to-night to protect mine properties and power stations, and to request hint to hold another 500 in readiness if required. Trust Your Excellency will confirm action.I think it is worth the attention of the House to know that those troops were already being entrained and on their way to Johannesburg before the sanction of Lord Gladstone was asked. Lord Gladstone on 30th June telegraphed, in reply to General Smuts:—Assume you have taken every precaution to avoid collisions between military and civilians unless absolutely necessary. Our troops under control of civilians.In his dispatch of 26th July Lord Gladstone stated:—The Kleinfontein mine strike and subsequent developments up till recently did not suggest the likelihood of any very serious trouble. No representations were made to me by my Ministers, nor, so far as I know, was any warning given to them either by employers or employed. On the evening of 30th ult., while at King's House, Durban, I received the telegram from General Smuts and the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, which I have already communicated to you by cable with my replies. Because of sudden and unexpected developments Ministers bad felt compelled to ask for military assistance. In the circumstances Sir Reginald Hart felt it to be his duty at once to comply with the request, and consequently at the very time I received the telegrams 500 Infantry were being entrained for duty on the East Rand. I was as yet unacquainted with the details of the situation.It has been suggested in this House, in the replies of the Colonial Secretary to me, that these troops were only permitted to go after Lord Gladstone being seized of the facts and recognising the danger that 808 existed there. Lord Gladstone himself states that they were being sent, before he knew anything about the details of the situation, without his sanction. He states in a dispatch:—I was convinced, however, that neither my Ministers nor the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief would have anticipated my approval even to this extent without the gravest reasons.And he also stated, further, that there was no serious disturbance up to this time. His words were that—Good humour had prevailed, but still the troops were sent forward.Lord Gladstone emphasised again and again the fact that the troops were only to be used for the purpose of defending property. He says again and again that they must not be brought into conflict with civilians. He says:—As the troops were on the spot I felt bound to accede to the requisition of the Government. But from the first I have said plainly to Ministers tint the troops should be used for the defence of milling and other property and that every effort should be made to avoid any actual collision with the striker. Having come to the conclusion that the circumstances justified the use of Imperial troops. I felt that it was better to err on the side of sending too many than too few.On 2nd July Lord Gladstone again gets a pledge from the Ministers. He says:—I sanctioned the dispatch of the second contingent of 500 Infantry. Ministers gave me the assurance that His Majesty's troops will be utilised primarily for the purpose of protecting mine properties. which owing to the sudden spread of the strike to a large and scattered area, are without sufficient protection.In his dispatch of 2nd July Lord Gladstone says:—No serious disturbances as yet.On 3rd July Lord Gladstone says:—The strike is extending gradually all along the Reef. On the whole, up to now, good temper prevails.On 3rd July a thousand more troops are sent forward. Now we come to the fatal day, Friday, 4th July. Lord Gladstone says in his dispatch:—On the following day, Friday, the 4th July, a mass meeting had been called in the Market Square in Johannesburg. At least 10000 men were expected to be present. My Ministers decided that it would be unwise to allow this demonstration to be held. They accordingly made it known that they had issued instructions to magistrates on the Reef that, as local authorities under Law No. 6 of 1894, they were to prohibit assemblies in terms of Section 9.When did they take that action prohibiting the meeting? To find that we must refer to Reuter's cable, which says:—Following a Cabinet meeting, the Government issued instructions to the magistrates at Johannesburg, Boksburg, Germiston and Krugersdorp, to forbid assemblies of more than six persons, and to close all premises licensed to sell liquor.Apparently in ignorance of the official warning, large crowds began to collect. Large numbers of strikers congregated in the Market Square. Cavalry were drawn up; foot and mounted police were present. 809 The meeting being prohibited, numbers went away from what would probably have been quite an ordinary gathering of men, and burnt the office of the "Star." The fact of their burning the "Star" office is significant, because the "Star" was the organ that had been attacking these men again and again, and had not given anything like fair play.
I have asked the hon. Member to connect what he has to say in this discussion with some matter for which the Colonial Secretary is responsible. It is for that purpose we are here. We really must not discuss matters for which the remedy lies with the Ministers of our Colonies. The hon. Member will recollect that in connection with Canada and other Colonies the question has come up before. We are here to criticise our own Ministers for actions which lie within their power.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
Were we not promised by the Prime Minister that this would be the opportunity for discussing the disturbances at Johannesburg?
§ Mr. DILLON
Were we not told that it would be competent on this Vote to discuss the action of Lord Gladstone, who is responsible to the Colonial Office, and, through the Colonial Office, to this House? As far as I have been able to follow the hon. Member, what he is discussing is the responsibility of Lord Gladstone, in employing the Imperial troops, for the action which the Imperial troops took.
Hon. Members will recollect, no doubt, that the point was raised several times with Mr. Speaker, who affirmed the old rule that censure of the Governor-General must be made upon a direct Motion. It is true that in this Debate criticisms can be levelled in regard to matters arising out of the presence of Imperial troops in South Africa. For that, no doubt, the Colonial Minister is responsible. At any rate he is the medium of the sanction given to the Government of South Africa that Imperial troops should be retained there for a period since self-government was given.
§ Mr. DILLON
Following on what you have laid down, does not the whole point turn on the question whether necessity arose for the use of Imperial troops, and on the nature of the circumstances which are given as the justification for the use of those troops?
I think the fact that the presence of the troops there may have 810 led them to be used in a way that was not anticipated when the sanction was given is relevant. If hon. Members follow that line they will be in order, and, without going into too much detail of local actions, they will be able to bring what they desired before the Committee.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
Is it not in order to discuss the causes which led to the employment of the troops, in order to see whether Lord Gladstone was justified in authorising their transmission from their ordinary barracks to the scene of the disturbances?
I think it is perfectly justifiable in making out a case to state broadly the facts of the situation. The only thing I deprecate is going into details which it is clearly not within the power of the Secretary of State to remedy. I have allowed the hon. Member for Hanley considerable latitude in which to describe the situation as he understands it.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I bow to your ruling, though I confess I do not quite understand it. In the first place, I do not think that I have suggested any censure of Lord Gladstone. When I desired to move the Adjournment of the House Mr. Speaker said that I could not do so because it would involve criticism of Lord Gladstone. The Prime Minister said later on that this question could be raised on the Colonial Estimates. I am proceeding on the principle that it is competent for the Colonial Secretary to do anything which it is competent for the Governor of the Transvaal to do in the matter of advising the Government of the Transvaal. As I have pointed out, Lord Gladstone said:—I intend formally to draw the serious attention of Ministers to the lessons of the last week. I am sure they realise, as you do, that Imperial troops are not retained in South Africa to do the work which since 30th June they have had to perform.I am asking the House to suggest that the Colonial Secretary should have inquired into the circumstances in which these troops were used, as Lord Gladstone is doing, and that we have a right, as they are our troops, paid for by us, to see that they are put to proper uses. I am supporting the action of Lord Gladstone in the contention that I am putting forward. This meeting in Johannesburg Market Square was broken up by the police under Law No. 6. Then the troops were called in to take up the work. The men went away, rioting took place, the "Star" office was burnt. Then the men returned in their thousands to hold their meeting. 811 Again the meeting was broken up. Again the men dispersed, they became a mob, more rioting took place, the police fired, and many men were killed. The statement of the Johannesburg correspondent of a Conservative paper points out another danger of using British troops. It tends to inflame feeling when you use British troops employed in a town where there is a large Dutch population, which has just such grievances as I have indicated, because many of the young Dutch seven years' ago were induced to go to the mines to take the places of men on strike. When you have a considerable Dutch population in Johannesburg, naturally the employment of British troops in conditions such as these would tend to inflame their minds. It would in any Colony under the Crown. On the 5th July the worst of the rioting took place. It is very difficult indeed from the dispatches to get any very concise or clear picture of what took place. I do not believe that any man in the town had in his mind a clear picture of what occurred on that occasion. What seems to be the fact is that general and indiscriminate shooting went on. Perhaps I may take the statement made by the Special correspondent of the "Daily Telegraph," in order that I may base my remarks on what is said on the other side. I will read one extract:—On seeing the rabble approach, and making in the direction of the entrance to the Rand Club, it at once became evident to those in command that the crucial moment had arrived for the enforcement of lawful authority. A police-officer harangued the crowd and advised them to go a way quietly. Thee declined. They began to hatter the door of the club, evidently bent on enforcing an entrance. Bottles were thrown at the club windows, and appearances boded no good to the club and its inmates. Seeing this, an order quickly rang out to the Dragcons: 'So many men dismount, front rank kneeling, rear rank standing; ready, present. fire!' No one fell, for the obvious reason that 'Blank' had been discharged as a warning to desist, but the crowd never halted, and impelled by shouting and numbers, and the goading of women, they came on to their doom and solemn lesson. Front the windows and tops of the Rand Club came a volley which acted like magic. Taken aback, the crowds halted, paralysed. Numbers of them had been stuck down, some dead, others badly wounded. Before they could realise rightly what was happening, or whether to advance or retire, the Dragoons had reloaded, substituting ball for blank, and mercifully aiming low, they poured in it volley which had the effect of scattering like so many startled sheep those who did not fall. They sought cover in every conceivable place, mostly in the nearest side streets. Those of the crowd who were mere curiosity seekers were sullen and angry, at times expressing their strong disapproval of the action of the military at what they termed 'shooting citizens down like dogs.' Whenever the people ventured too far from their places of safety a sharp volley would ring out reminding me of the rattle if the musketry at the final assault on Hart's Hill, when the Boers emptied their magazines and then fled.812 There, taking these two days' rioting, we can see the causes, as stated in the report. The cause was the proclamation at a late hour, and after it had been advertised to be held, of this meeting in Johannesburg, and its dispersal by the police; then, later, the dispersal by the troops, out of which arose the rioting, following which was the shooting. There arose out of the shooting the conditions which led to the virtual slaughter of the next day. I say that these conditions and this miners' strike arose out of the labour system which is sought to be imposed upon the people there: they were at the bottom it. I want hon. Members opposite who call themselves imperialists to give me their attention for a moment. What is at the bottom of this labour system? What is the cause of these events? It is this: That the men who own the gold mines of the Transvaal arc men who, in the first place, made money in Kimberley. They introduced there a certain labour system which is known as the Kimberley system. The natives were gathered into close compounds, and nobody was allowed to trade with them except, I suppose, the company. They had over them well-paid workers; but all independence was crushed out of that class. Nobody could live there except under the conditions imposed by the virtual owners of Kimberley. There were no trade unions and no political agitation of a democratic nature in Kimberley. The owners of the Rand determined to introduce the same labour system as in Johannesburg. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) went to the Rand—
Sir G. PARKER
I rise to a point of Order. May I ask whether we who are to follow in this Debate will be allowed to travel over this ground of the conditions of labour in the Transvaal, which are governed by laws passed by a Government over which we have no control?
That is the very reason why I twice endeavoured to interfere. The hon. Member will see that if other hon. Members were to follow the same avenue which he has opened out the whole day would be used, and very likely the point which he really wishes to reach would not be dealt with. I hope that all hon. Members who are going to deal with this particular matter will keep as much as possible to the issue which is within the cognisance of the 813 Secretary of State for the Colonies, and which the hon. Member is asking the Secretary of State to do something in. Of course, if I allow one hon. Member so much latitude I must allow all.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
What I wish to suggest is that the Secretary of State for the Colonies should withdraw the troops from the Transvaal, as they are being used there simply and solely for the maintenance of a system imposed which we cannot support. I am endeavouring to show a reason why I think they could very properly be withdrawn. I trust that is what the Secretary of State will do. I am coming to a conclusion, and if you, Mr Chairman, will permit me just a little longer to go on the lines I have traversed, I shall be glad. Otherwise, I cannot prove my point. I say they desire in the Transvaal to introduce a_system of virtual slave labour so far as the mines are concerned, with a few skilled men over the general body; they are determined to have no trade unionism and no political agitation on the Rand. I think I will bring myself into order by pointing out that these conditions are not things of the past. They are things of to-day. British troops are still there. A condition of crisis is still there. Why are they there? Because the miners during this truce have asked for a recognition of their trade unions, as the only way possible for them to compel a betterment of these murderous conditions to which they are subject. The mine owners have refused, definitely refused, to permit trade unionism to exist except on condition that the trade unionists do not enter into political agitation, and that it will be such trade unionism as they can assent to. I say that these conditions would not be imposed but for the presence of British troops. As General Smuts has shown, the presence of British troops is to prevent the rise of a democratic party in that country. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was on the Rand, we saw this attitude that I am pointing out, by the engineers presenting him with a memorandum, in which this appeared—it was, I believe, afterwards withdrawn:—There is no room for the trail of the serpent of Trade Unionism on the Rand.Later a great mining engineer, the general manager of the East Rand Mines, said, "The introduction of the Chinese would cut up trade unionism by the roots." A great development took place, but Mr. Cress, wells employment of whites was cut short 814 by the order of Eckstein and Company. The conditions in existence led to a well-known man, the consulting engineer of the Consolidated Gold Fields Company, leaving his great appointment as a Commissioner of Mines to join the Labour party. Why did Mr. Cresswell join the Labour party? Why did Mr. Monypenny leave his position as editor of the "Star?" This is a great Imperial question. If you allow the British worker to be crushed out of the Transvaal and off the Rand in the interests of cosmopolitan finance, you may as well withdraw the British flag out of the Transvaal. It is not for us, the taxpayers of Britain, to maintain Imperial forces in the Transvaal to enforce upon the workers these inhuman and intolerable conditions, to deny them liberty, and to destroy the hope of their country ever becoming, in anything more than name a British Colony.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I beg to second the Amendment. After the very elaborate and moving description by my hon. Friend the Member for Hanley of the origin and cause of the dispute on the Rand, and the unhappy developments of it, I will not waste the time of the Committee by again traversing the same ground. There has been growing up for years past on the Rand a feeling of annoyance and dissatisfaction at the methods of oppression which have obtained in the mines. Victimisation, the constant attempt to lower wages, the refusal to redress legitimate grievances, the penalties attached to trade unionism, and so on—all these things seem to have come to a sudden head in a dispute which is now happily ended. I propose to indict the Colonial Office, not for what it has done in connection with the dispute, but for duties undone. I will also ask for a full and impartial inquiry, not by the South Africa Government, which is already implicated, and is therefore in a position to require to find justification for its own action, but by the Imperial authorities, directed from the Colonial Office. I will suggest meanwhile, pending the decision to withdraw the troops from South Africa, that a memorandum or order shall be issued for their withdrawal from the neighbourhood of the Rand. One excuse and justification put forward for the sudden sending of the troops into the Rand district has been that the strike development there was sudden and unexpected. As has been pointed out, Lord Gladstone, the Governor-General, was not 815 even consulted as to whether troops should or should not be sent. It was taken for granted, either from his lack of character or from an easy-going disposition, that his assent might be assumed. So General Hart, on his own prerogative, and at the request of General Smuts, had the troops on the way to the Rand before the Governor-General was made aware of the fact. The justification put forward for that is that this sudden development of the strike was unexpected. The Governor-General himself makes that excuse on more than one occasion. But if the Government and the Governor-General were taken by surprise at the sudden development of the strike, and the labour dispute it only shows how badly in touch they were with what was going on. In the "Times" of 2nd July, under the heading, "Views of the Mining Houses" (in South Africa), this sentence Occurs:—We are dealing with labour troubles, and the possibilities of their spreading.The writer of that paragraph, evidently inspired, makes this statement:—Always provided, therefore, that the Government gives protection, it is thought that little damage will be done. Buildings may be affected, but some weeks ago"—This is the important phrase in the quotationSome companies took precautions to insure in London against this risk.Then there is a particularly sardonic touch—The gold will remain in the mines.Further, there is this—and it has a bearing on what I am going to say, and that is why I quote it—a very significant sentence:—One point that is important is that there is plenty of non-union labour available [to break the strike], provided that the Government gives the necessary protection.7.0 P.M.
I submit that those two sentences throw a whole flood of light on the reasons for the British soldiers being sent into the Rand. The strike at Bloemfontein had been going on, and it was obvious that developments were probable, and the Government and the mine owners hoped to repeat their victory of 1907, when on that occasion the British troops also broke the back of the strike, and they took their steps accordingly, and so the British troops were sent, as we see from the dispatches before us. The Governor-General makes 816 it clear that the troops were not to be used except for the protection of property in the mines or of persons employed in the mines. That was the primary object Lord Gladstone had in view in regard to the troops. They were sent to provide proper protection for the property of the mine owners and for the blackleg labour being employed to break down the strike. I could quote sentence after sentence from the Governor-General's own cablegrams if that is disputed. I suggest that the primary reason why the mine owners demanded the troops was that they might be able to break the back of the strike by giving protection to blackleg labour. Presumably the mine owners applied to the Government at Pretoria, which appears to have accepted their demand without challenge and to have requisitioned the troops from General Hart, who, in turn, responded without challenge and without any information sent to the Governor-General, and without investigation, and, as the Governor-General himself admits, without knowledge, he sanctioned the use of the troops to proceed to their destination. It so happened that they expected rioting and the destruction of property fifty miles round about Johannesburg. The Governor-General in his dispatch is most unfair to the miners in insinuating that the reason the miners came out was that they were coerced to do so. But, as he admits, when the miners were brought out of the mines they at once joined the procession and marched towards the next mine, the procession becoming a great snowball as it moved along, which disproved the assertion that these men were brought out by force against their will, and it is not gracious on the part of the Governor-General to try and make the men's case appear worse than it actually was. Subsequently I know he makes the excuse that the need for the troops was to protect the community against the native danger, and to justify what was done by the troops sent to protect the mines and the blackleg labour.
As has been pointed out, the real trouble rose from the prohibition to hold public meetings, first at Benoni and then at Johannesburg itself. The prohibition was to the effect that any person attending an assembly of more than six persons was to be liable to be fined up to and anyone speaking at such a gathering was to be liable to a penalty of £200. Why did not the Governor-General insist that if British troops were to be used to protect 817 property the right of free public meeting should be secured to the men on strike? It was not alleged that any disorder had arisen from these meetings. Where the men were allowed to hold them they passed off peaceably and orderly, and all the official information goes to show that if it had not been for the prohibition of the meetings there would have been no disturbance of any kind, and the presence of the troops there would have become ridiculous. Now the rioting at Johannesburg, as has been pointed out, took place after the public meeting had been prohibited. I do not propose to read all the correspondence as to the alleged provocation of the rioters. It has been said that they smashed windows, looted shops, and so on. I believe it is admitted they smashed certain shops where arms could be found—gunsmith's shops, and so on. But they did that for a purpose, and a very obvious purpose. They were about to be shot down because they wanted the right to hold a perfectly lawful meeting, which was prohibited two hours before. They were told if they attempted to hold a meeting they would be shot down. Many of these men are old soldiers who fought in the Transvaal War, and they were not going to allow themselves to be shot down like dogs without giving as good as they got. But that does not make them rioters or looters. There are miles of shops, and except in one case, where the owner is alleged to have fired on the people in the street, few shops were touched. I do not know of any except one case of a gunsmith's shop, and, therefore, it is most unfair to state that these men were rioters or looters, acting without a purpose, and purely for their own personal aggrandisement. There is this further word to be said, and then I pass on.
The hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Outhwaite) has told us of the behaviour of the troops upon the streets. The instructions they received from Lord Gladstone were that they were only to use their rifles when the situation was serious. The orders he forwarded for the guidance of the military specifically laid down that no more force was to be used than was required for the suppression of disorder. But not only from the reports which appeared in the papers from which a few extracts were given in the White Paper, but also from private correspondence which are accumulating, it is shown conclusively that after all fear of disorder was over potshots were taken at individuals. Perhaps I may in this connection read a passage 818 from a letter received from an English gentleman recently gone to Johannesburg who happened to be in the Rand Club at the time the disturbances took place. He is a mining engineer, but for obvious. reasons I withhold his name, though if the quotation is challenged I will show it to any hon. or right hon. Gentleman, and this is what he said:—Saturday afternoon from 2.30 to 4.30, crowd came into town and a formal demand at the Rand Club for all titled men. This led to a little fiasco. Troops at the time were at hand, and were called upon. Orders were given to lie down and fire to clear streets, and this was done not where the trouble took place, but amongst innocent and defenceless people who were shot down by the dozen. There was no warning. I heard none, neither did anyone by me. We heard or saw no Proclamation from anyone until it was over. At the time a lot of us heard volley after volley and did not know where they were coming from, until I went ten yards further looking towards the club at right angles, and so this dreadful murder went on. I was then in the midst of all, and no matter what street you attempted to cross down you would go. At my back one was shot dead, across the road two, within forty hours, fourteen. It really was too awful to describe and it was nothing but brutal warder.That is a description of what took place by a man on the spot. Other correspondence shows that men walking across the streets, going home or going to their business places, were deliberately fired at and shot down. Now I am sure that no one in any part of the House will contend that that kind of thing is justifiable. It may be said it is not true. If it is not true let us free British troops from the imputation by having a full and impartial inquiry into all that took place. My reading of the situation is this: The troops were brought up by the mine owners at their request for their own specific purpose of breaking down the strike. They expected riots on the Rand, round the mines generally, and, therefore, some plan had to be devised to incite the people to disorder. That plan was found in prohibiting the meeting in the Market Square, in Johannesburg, and thereafter shooting was indulged in, in circumstances of the most trivial character. It may be said that the burning of the station and the burning of the "Star" office were not trivial incidents, but these were matters for the police to deal with. The strike leaders had offered to supply a force of 250 strikers to assist in maintaining order. The Governor-General himself admits that the strike leaders all through did their best to preserve order. When the mine owners were given authority to enroll their servants, clerks, and officials, and others, as mine guards the strike leaders offered 250 strikers and more if required to maintain order, and to put down hooliganism. But that was 819 refused. They were strikers, and ipso facto rioters and dangerous fellows, because they were strikers, and so I say what took place was a matter for the police, and there were police and South African Rifles to the number of 2,660 present with an additional 1,681.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
In and about Johannesburg. I submit that the use of the British troops and the way in which they were used was not justifiable, and that the Governor-General in having permitted them to be used in that way without ascertaining the necessity for their presence, is deserving of censure. Here is a telegram addressed to the Member for Leicester, as follows:—Meeting of the delegates of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers representing Pretoria, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Pietermaritzburg. Durban, East London, Uitenhage, Saltriever and Capetown repudiates the statement made by Lord Gladstone anent the recent situation on the Rand, and requests the Imperial Government to give the organised workers an opportunity to lay a statement before them rebutting his (Lord Gladstone's) statements.It is very significant that we of the Labour party felt that that was the only proper course to take. We want a fair and impartial inquiry. The last speaker pointed out that action of this kind will go far to break down any belief in the impartiality of British rule. British troops are kept in South Africa and no one knows why. Various excuses have been put forward, but if it goes abroad that the real reason for them being there is to back up the mine owners and the millionaires of the Rand in their struggles with the workers, then it will not tend to the loyalty of those who are there. I admit that the Colonial Office cannot be accused of any direct responsibility, and the Colonial Secretary in his very negative attitude has protected both himself and his office from any charge of culpability in connection with what was taken place. I submit, however, that now the occurrence is over it is incumbent upon the Colonial Office to have a full and searching inquiry made by the Imperial authorities into all the facts of the case. Further, we call for the immediate recall of the troops from the recent disturbed area, a disturbance which all the evidence goes to show was carefully manufactured by those in whose interests the troops were sent, and finally, to consider whether at the earliest possible moment the Imperial troops can be drawn from South Africa instead of being kept there to support 820 mine owners in perpetuating a system of things in the mines which is a disgrace to our civilisation.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I think it will probably be for the convenience of the Committee if I state very shortly at once what is my position in this matter. I should deprecate a long Debate on this subject, especially if it is likely to become an acrimonious one, on the ground that grave conditions still exist at Johannesburg. To put myself within your ruling, it has been suggested that there are two courses I might have taken. I might have recalled the troops or I might have recalled Lord Gladstone or censured him. I shall hope to convince the Committee that neither of those courses was open to nit, General Botha has completely exonerated Lord Gladstone and assumed the full responsibility for the Union Government. No one would imagine that Lord Gladstone would wish to shelter himself behind the fully responsible Ministers with whom he has to deal. I do not propose to discuss or to criticise the action or the judgment of the Union Government in a matter of internal administration, by which I mean their dealing with the strike in its earlier stages. A situation arose suddenly and unexpectedly in which they were convinced that there was great and grave danger of disorder which might, and which indeed did, entail arson and destruction of life and property. In the exercise of their full discretion they called upon the only troops which were at that time available to assist the civil power.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I think if the hon. Member reads the papers carefully he will see suggestions as to people having been killed by gunshot wounds which could not have been inflicted by the police or military.
§ Mr. J. WARD
Were not shots fired from inside the clubs? It has been stated that women and children were seen to be shot from the club windows.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Under the common law of England, and I believe under the Roman-Dutch law of South Africa, the civil authority has the right and power to call upon civilians and soldiers also to come to their aid in an emergency, and that is what the Union Government did in the 821 exercise of their own judgment, and in a perfectly proper and constitutional way. Lord Gladstone concurred in the use of the troops on being informed as to the seriousness of the situation. But he telegraphed, as my hon. Friend has mentioned, to General Smuts, pressing that every precaution should be taken to avoid a collision between the military anal the civilians unless absolutely necessary, and he pointed out that under the circumstances the troops must be under the control of civilians. General Hertzog telegraphed that the troops would be accompanied by the necessary number of magistrates. Intervention had bean offered by independent people between the managers and the miners, but it had been unfortunately rejected by both parties. The situation got rapidly worse. Efforts were made to bring about a general railway strike. I telegraphed on 3rd July, as the House already knows, before there had been any conflict, to tell Lord Gladstone that I was assured his Ministers would bear in mind that it was very desirable to employ local South African forces in all matters connected with strike disturbances, rather than Imperial troops, which are primarily there for other purposes. Lord Gladstone assured me, in reply, that the Ministers were fully alive to this necessity, and he added that the attitude of the Government was one of strict neutrality, and Ministers would do their utmost to avoid any serious collision. It is not the fact, as was at one time stated, that the Union Ministers relied entirely or mainly upon the Imperial troops. At the very commencement of the serious trouble there were 1,500 police on the Witwatersrand, and that number was 500 in excess of the normal. There were 1,400 more police drawn from all over the Union, and a large number of special constables were sworn in. These disturbances unfortunately occurred—we do not know whether by accident or design—at the exact moment when, under the new South African Defence Act, the old voluntary force had been disbanded, and the new force was in process of formation throughout the Union. It was impossible to mobilise or collect this force with any rapidity, but in order to show the bona fides of the Union Ministers in their desire to use local forces, they did issue a proclamation for the mobilisation of the force in Natal and the Cape, though it was countermanded when the strike was believed 822 to be settled and the disturbances had ceased. The Union Government have always contemplated the use of their own forces in quelling riot and disturbance. This was very clearly shown in a memorandum issued explanatory of the South African Defence Bill. They said:—The force must be constituted of 2,500 South African Mounted Rifles.And they added:—A small paid force is required to provide a highly efficient and easily mobilised body of troops which can be rapidly moved to any spot where violence or disorder is apprehended.These new forces were only in the process of formation at that moment. The Union Government, in a grave emergency, felt that they had no alternative but to call for the aid of the troops which were available. The Committee must remember that the Rand extends over an area of somewhere between 50 to 70 miles in length, and this greatly adds to the difficulty of guarding property against explosion and arson. From an Imperial point of view it was the more serious because that area contained 250,000 natives in compounds with nothing to do except to watch the conflict between the white miners and the white police, and, if the railway strike had become a reality, within three or four days there would have been starvation from the failure of supplies and communications. With such terrible possibilities in view, the preservation of order may well have seemed to the authorities to have been not only of local, but of Imperial concern. It is not necessary to revive or review the unfortunate incidents which are always inevitable in any conflict between rioters and the civil Power when supported by armed forces, whether police or military, and both were employed on this occasion, and there is some reason for thinking that a greater part of the firing was done by the police. The whole matter which led up to these disorders, and even the conduct of the Union Government, is to be the subject of an immediate inquiry. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who by?"] By a Commission appointed by the Governor-General in Council, consisting of two distinguished and respected judges of the High Court, Sir Johannes Wessels and the Hon. Charles Ward. The terms of reference are to be extremely wide. First, they cover the steps taken to compose the differences between the miners and employers before the strike; secondly, whether the circumstances rendered it necessary for the Government 823 to take special precautions for the preservation of law and order and the protection of life and property; thirdly, whether it was necessary for the Government to use Imperial troops; fourthly, whether the conduct of the rioters was such as to justify the military and police taking forcible measures, including the use of firearms; and lastly, whether the forces used were greater than were necessary in order to preserve and restore order, and to protect life and property.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
It is not a Royal Commission. Two judges will conduct the inquiry, and the trade unionists and other people will no doubt tender themselves as witnesses.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
Is the right. hon. Gentleman aware of the recent decision given by these judges in the Federal High Court?
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I know nothing of that, and I never heard it suggested. In the meantime, I shall repudiate the suggestion that these distinguished Gentlemen are not to be regarded with every confidence. It is obvious that the Union Ministers will naturally wish to explain to this Commission their action and the grounds for the course which they took. And I think that we may be well content to await the decision of that tribunal before deciding on insufficient knowledge. But I am authorised by Lord Gladstone to say that Ministers wish it clearly to be understood that they did not ask for the military in order to coerce the miners on strike.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
There seems to be some misunderstanding in the minds of my two hon. Friends as to the reason for the retention of the Imperial troops in South Africa on the scale and in the numbers in which they are retained. There has been a great and progressive reduction in the number in South Africa throughout the last ten years. The Committee may not be aware how steadily this policy has been pursued by both parties in 824 this country, because, of course, it is not a party question. There is not a man of those troops in South Africa for the purpose of dealing with labour troubles in any way. In 1903 the military establishment retained in South Africa was 29,300. Under the direction of the late Conservative Government it was reduced to 20,000 by October, 1905. Since that time we have assumed the responsibility for desirable further reductions which we have reason to know were also contemplated by our predecessors. In 1908 the numbers stood at 15,000; in 1911, at 11,400; and to-day they stand at 6,900. In my opinion a finality has not yet been reached, and further and proper reductions may be possible in the early future. But let me at once dispose of the silly and ludicrous supposition, which is always cropping up, that these Imperial troops are now or have at any time been retained in South Africa for the benefit of shopkeepers. General Botha, equally with the Army Council, would repudiate that suggestion. But the Committee must not forget that the Governor-General of the Union of South Africa has a dual capacity. He is also the High Commissioner of Rhodesia, and he is responsible also for all the native Protectorates with which at present the Union Government have nothing to do. The High Commissioner is responsible to me and through me to Parliament for order and safety in all those great territories. It is essential for some years to come that lie should have some sufficient force at his disposal to deal with native troubles and to preserve peace, law, and order in these districts. We also maintain a garrison for the protection of Simon's Town, the harbour and coaling station of which is of vital importance to our Cape route to India, and to our Eastern and Southern Possessions. I hope I have shown the Committee that no British troops are being kept in South Africa for the purpose of dealing with these local disturbances, and that the troops now there cannot possibly be removed immediately. A progressive reduction has been going on, and certainly any total removal of the troops would be out of the question at the present time.
I would like to reply to some of the criticisms as to the recent use of troops in the Rand at the request of and in the discretion of the responsible Ministers of the Union. The Committee have now in their possession all Lord Gladstone's three dispatches, and the reasons which he gives for his assent to the demand which was 825 made upon him. I think most hon. Members will be satisfied that they are clear, full, and decisive. He sets out the circumstances which rendered necessary the intervention of the Imperial troops. He admits that it is the generally accepted view that the Union Government must deal with internal trouble with their own forces. He shows that, this being a period of transition, the local forces were not yet organised or available for duties which no doubt they will eventually be ample to fulfil. In reference to the Witwatersrand strike, it was not until the last moment that there was any suggestion or likelihood of serious trouble. Neither Ministers, nor employers, nor employed gave any warning of danger whatever. Suddenly, on the 30th June, the situation became so serious that Ministers appealed for assistance to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Sir Reginald Hart, who complied with that request. Lord Gladstone, being at Durban, left there for Pretoria the same night, and on realising what the Johannesburg situation was he confirmed the action already taken. He said definitely in his dispatches that in the light of the subsequent events he believes that any delay in sending the troops would have been disastrous, and that but for the presence of the troops the loss of life would have been much more extensive. Lord Gladstone fully associates himself with the action of the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief. He says that if he had been on the spot and conversant with the facts he would have taken the responsibility of sanctioning the immediate use of these troops. As to the situation which then existed, I would specially refer this Committee to Lord Gladstone's telegram to me of 26th July, No. 40 on the first Blue Book. That telegram is no doubt familiar to the Committee by this time. He states that the Commission had before them evidence that on the 29th June the strikers were asked to come armed to a meeting in order to resist any force which they might encounter.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I am not sure. At all events it was a handbill calling the meeting. There is also evidence of the suggested use of explosives by the rioters. I have been asked to-day what precedent there is for the use of Imperial troops for this purpose in a 826 self-governing Colony? There was a precedent, to which I drew attention, in the same district in 1907, when 1,400 Imperial troops were sent to the Rand to deal with an anticipated disturbance as the result of a strike. Happily they did not have to fire, but they were there to carry out any orders that they might receive from the civil authorities. I would put it to the Committee that in a question of this sort it is really not a matter of precedent, but a matter of fact. Could the Union Government deal with these serious riots, arson, and attempted murder with the local forces at their disposal? They could not. They drafted in additional police, and they swore in special constables, but to call out the new military forces would have taken a week, and it would have been too late. The whole of the fifty miles of the Rand as well as Johannesburg had to be patrolled, whilst the rioters could concentrate without notice on any spot, either by railway, tram, motors, or motor bicycles. The criminal and disorderly classes in Johannesburg, as we know, are formidable in numbers, and over all this hung the menace of a quarter of a million natives already idle, and who might soon be hungry.
Lord Gladstone believes that the Imperial troops saved the situation, which might have been infinitely worse, and which in his opinion would have resulted in far greater destruction of life and property. In my opinion, Lord Gladstone, in circumstances of great difficulty, acted properly; but I would ask those who think that he erred in judgment what do they suggest he should have done? If he had refused his Ministers the assistance of the troops he would have stood alone, unable by his own decision to use the Imperial troops, and with no one able to provide him with a sufficiency of local forces or police. He would have, by his own act, created that anarchy which it is his first duty to avoid. Probably there is no man in the House of Commons who more than myself hates and detests a too ready use of military forces in civil disturbance; but I have lived too long in affairs not to realise that there are rare occasions when it is not only permissible, but obligatory, and I believe that this was one of those occasions. I have been asked what, if any, action I intend to take, and whether I shall give any instructions for the present or for the immediate future. I think myself and South Africa fortunate in 827 having in Lord Gladstone a Governor-General who has behind him five years' experience in this country as Home Secretary, in which capacity it was his duty to deal with civil disturbances. He has the advantage of the advice of the responsible Ministers of a self-governing Dominion. I have complete confidence in Lord Gladstone's judgment. He and his Ministers are aware of the views expressed in my telegram of 3rd July, and I do not propose, with incomplete knowledge, to interfere with his discretion or any action he may deem it necessary to take on the advice he receives.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Before saying all that I think it is necessary to say on the subject which has last engaged the attention of the Committee—and it will be very little—I feel it would not be courteous to the right hon. Gentleman not to make some reference, though it will be a very brief one, to the statement with which he opened the Debate this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman rather implied that in making a new departure last year, and giving a very long statement in regard to the position of the Crown Colonies over which he presides, he had been told that it would have been better in a Blue Book. I do not think that was the view expressed even by the critics. Their view was that they would have liked to have had the statement in advance, so that they could have given an effective reply to the speech the right hon. Gentleman made, and I confess if I had had any desire to make any reply, that is a privilege I myself would greatly have appreciated. The experience of the right hon. Gentleman in that respect is inevitable from the nature of the speech which he made to-day. There were no fireworks in it, but there was an occasional and very pardonable attempt to make it a little lighter, in which he greatly succeeded. It was in the nature of the case something to have available for future consideration, rather than to attract attention and reply in Supply; and I am sure the interest which was taken in it by those who heard it, and will be taken by all who read it. will be a complete satisfaction to him, and a complete justification for the course which he has taken, a course which this year, I think, is more praiseworthy than it was last year, for, so far as I can judge, there is no one in this House, at all events no one who has any official position, who 828 would deliberately go to the trouble of making a prepared speech for his own pleasure. Therefore we may assume that it was a sense of duty which impelled him on this occasion. I thought, as he was speaking, of a great many points which interested me, but I am not going to go over the ground again, for after all it would be a very perfunctory way of dealing with these matters. There are only one or two things to which I would refer. The right hon. Gentleman quite unintentionally, as I thought, though he had notes on the subject, introduced what was regarded by hon. Friends behind me, as a controversial matter. He brought in the fiscal question. I do not share the feeling of my hon. Friends behind me. It is, I think, one of the follies, not only of the right hon. Gentleman, but of the whole lot of them, that they imagine when they are repeating one of the copy-book headings about the foreigner paying the taxes, they are repeating something so self-evident that no one can take the smallest exception to it. If it were possible I would really like to impress upon them—I think it is hardly possible to do so—what we all know of these things. As far as I am concerned, if I am ignorant of them, it is not from want of capacity, because there is no subject to which I have given more study. We all know that line of argument, and, if we disagree with it, it is not from ignorance but because we think there is another side to it. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that that is a view which is taken by the best economists all over the world. I am not going further into this, but since he mentioned it, I will take the liberty of saying this. He pointed out that in these Crown Colonies, which he described as the Cinderellas of the Empire—and it is well to remember that Cinderella had the best of it later on, and perhaps that may prove to be true of some of these Colonies at the finish—we have a great heritage. I am sure it is the wish of everyone that we should use that heritage to the best advantage, not only for the people who live in those Colonies, for it has always been the glory of British rule that we have thought of them first, not only for them, but if possible, if it can be done without injuring them, for the advantage of the people of this country also. I would throw out this suggestion, although I know hon. Gentlemen opposite will not agree with me, that on this whole fiscal question the difference between us is not so fundamental as they think. We think, at least 829 I do, that every case must be regarded on its merits, and cannot be decided by any theory or any principle. I say that if we can imagine the development of all these Colonies, and if we can have in contemplation that they and the United Kingdom, leaving out the self-governing Colonies for the moment, could be one vast area of Free Trade, would not that be something which would be the best way of developing these Colonies, and the best way also of securing for our people that they should get the greatest share in the development that takes place in regard to these Colonies? That, at all events, is my view.
There is only one other subject to which I shall refer, and it is rather disagreeable, but I feel bound to do it. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the contract he had made with Messrs. Lever Brothers. I do not profess to have examined that closely, but I did look over the correspondence, and without expressing any opinion which binds anyone else, I saw nothing in it objectionable. So far as I can judge, it was an honest effort to develop the Colony and in the best interests of the Colony. But the right hon. Gentleman went on—and we have heard too much of that sort of thing lately—to speak about insinuations and inuendoes. I think we have a right to be a little tired of that sort of thing on this side of the House. It may be quite true that party capital has been made out of it, but when we have an exhibition such as occurred in this House last week—the right hon. Gentleman is very mild in comparison—I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, and especially those who sit on that bench, to remember that the making of political capital will never succeed unless there is some foundation upon which it can rest, and it is not for them to taunt us as they do about a triumph for them after the speeches which we listened to on the subject and the speech which was made by the right hon. Gentleman and by Gentlemen opposite when that subject was raised. All I mean by that is this—I have no desire to dwell upon it—that we treated them fairly, and the least we can ask is that it should not be used as if it had been a great triumph for them and something of which the party opposite can boast.
Let me now say a word or two on another matter which is most interesting to the House. I have listened with great care to the speeches of the two hon. Members opposite, the Member for Hanley and the Member for Merthyr Tydvil in regard to 830 the trouble on the Rand. The hon. Member for Hanley appealed to us on this side of the House on the ground that if we had any real Imperial feeling we should take his view in connection with what is happening on the Rand. I am ready to say this—and I am sure that anyone who sits on that bench or on this would take the same view—there is nothing one hates more than these labour disputes, to begin, with, and, far above that, there is nothing one hates more than introducing the military to deal with civil disturbances. We should dislike it in this country, and we would not resort to it except in the last extremity, and I think we have a right to say that we dislike it still more when that force is used at the direction of a Government over which we have no control and the way in which it is used we cannot direct from this country. Therefore, the whole question is whether the situation was such as necessitated in the first place the maintenance of order in the interests of the whole people of South Africa. That is the whole question. If it cannot be shown that it was necessary, then I think the action, even of Lord Gladstone, was not justified. Was it necessary? I think we have got the answer in the speeches of the two hon. Gentlemen themselves. With regard to the Member for Merthyr I am occasionally amazed to think that a countryman of mine who, when you talk to him on any ordinary subject seems to have a full share of common sense, should take such an extraordinary view as he took this afternoon. He told us that it was a conspiracy on the part of the mine owners; that they wanted these disturbances; that when the strike did not occur they conspired and arranged to have the meeting prohibited, and get the men to riot, and when that failed, the conspiracy went further, and they shot them down. It really requires an imagination greater than is possible to see what object the mine owners could have in taking a course such as that, and still more, to believe that any people, however bad they were, would deliberately embark on a course of that sort. The hon. Member for Hanley said all the trouble arose because this meeting on the 3rd July was prohibited, and that if the meeting had been allowed to go on there would have been no disturbance and nothing would have happened. How does he know? How can he tell?. Lord Gladstone takes exactly the opposite view, and he holds that if it. 831 had not been for the troops, there would have been a disaster far more terrible than anything that has happened. If it is a question of assertion on one side and the other, let me point out two facts, as was pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman, that long before this meeting on the 3rd July, there was a meeting, I think, on the 29th June, and the men were invited to come to that meeting armed. If they come to a meeting armed, what are the arms for? Does anyone suggest that with arms in their hands, people excited by excitable speakers, does anyone suggest that if there was no force opposed to them, the arms would not be used?
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
This meeting was forbidden in Benoni under Law 6, and the men were asked to come to protest against that.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
There is nothing in the dispatches about that. So far as I know, that may be correct. At all events, that is not the point. The hon. Member's contention was that if the meeting on 3rd July had not been prohibited there would have been no trouble. The men had been asked to come armed, therefore, whatever the rights or wrongs were, that was a body which could not be trusted to keep order unless there was a force sufficient to maintain order.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I see that the hon. Member feels very strongly about it, and I do not blame him for that. That is his view. My view is different. I do not think that either the mine owners or the miners are angels, and I think what anyone in the position of Lord Gladstone, who is responsible to this Government had to consider at the moment was not what the rights or the wrongs were but whether or not it really was a fact that if these forces were not available, some terrible disaster might occur. The hon. Member for Merthyr blamed Lord Gladstone, because his instructions were that the soldiers were to be used to protect the property of the mine owners, and the men who were working in the mines. That is a crime in the eyes of the hon. Member. What else could any force be used for except to protect property, and the lives of people who are working? Is his view really that because 832 a strike is going on, that the strikers are to be at liberty to deal as they please with property of other people, and with men who are willing to work and not willing to strike. Is that his view? It seems to be, but it is not mine. In my view, it is the duty of any Government, the South African Government, or this Government, if a disturbance takes place of such a character as to make the employment of troops necessary, to go to the bottom of the cause most certainly; but the first duty is to see that life and property are protected for the time being, and to see also that if men really want to work in spite of the majority of their fellows taking an opposite view, that they shall be allowed to do so so far as the power of the Government can secure it. I wonder what these hon. Gentlemen would have had Lord Gladstone do? Here is a responsible Government. It is a Government which was set up, curiously enough, with all the good wishes of the very people who are now condemning it. I wonder what in the world their language would have been if it had happened to be a British Government in power instead of a Dutch Government. The hon. Member for Hanley said there were Dutch people among these miners, and if they were shot down by British troops what an effect it would have; but the hon. Member knows that the majority were English. Suppose they had not been British troops, but the general Boer population called out as special constables, and they were brought in and the Dutch men were shooting down the English men who were in the great majority, would the position have been better then? The real fact is our Government has no right whatever to interfere with the internal arrangements of the Union Government of South Africa, but if our troops are used, they have a right to demand that the circumstances in which they are used are such as to make it essential in the best interest of everyone there that order shall be preserved, and that there is no other way in which it can be preserved. I think those conditions existed. We did it at home two years ago, and we agreed to do it. I remember that the right hon. Gentleman who is now First Lord of the Admiralty, and was then Home Secretary, pointed out that the complete railway strike which was threatened, and which would have the effect of bringing starvation to large districts in England was a calamity which no Government could allow to go on.
833 8.0 P.M.
For that purpose he would use the troops, not only to preserve order, but, if necessary, to run the railways. He considered that it was a case where the supreme necessity of the State should come before everything else. Generally, the same condition existed in South Africa as existed in this country at that time. There were in South Africa 250,000 natives; they had no food to keep them going more than a week if the railways stopped. If this calamity had taken place, and the strikers had got control, can anyone picture to themselves what the position would have been in South Africa with these 250,000 desperate men, determined at all costs to get food, spreading all over the country? What these people against whom these soldiers were sent were trying to do was practically the same thing as in this country—that is, to bring the whole movement of society and of supply to a standstill. There was no suggestion in South Africa that the troops should be used to run the railways, but surely hon. Members would agree all the Government responsible in South Africa could do, if the troops were called for, was to allow the troops there to be used, as Lord Gladstone declared that they were used, in the best possible way—that is to say, that their presence in strength was used not to shoot down, but to prevent the necessity of using more violence than could possibly be helped.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
In this Debate we have listened to speeches from the other side of the House attacking a Government and attacking a Governor. At this moment I am not going to attempt to enter into that question further than to say this, that I could scarcely believe my ears when I remembered that the Government that hon. Members were attacking was the Government which hon. Members, such as he who spoke first this afternoon, welcomed when it was set up. Well, Sir, the Debates of 1903–4 were rancorous enough and severe enough in condemnation of my late right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary of that Government. I do not think that any condemnation of them was greater than the condemnation passed by the hon. Member who spoke first this afternoon on the present Government of South Africa. I would have intervened very early during the speech of the hon. Member if I had not thought that it would seem, as I had taken rather a prominent part in 834 the Debates of 1903–4, that I was wilfully trying to prevent the hon. Member from expressing his view. But I consider this Debate this afternoon an extremely dangerous one. I thought frankly that it was one that ought not to be permitted. Hon. Members, like the hon. Member who opened the Debate, undoubtedly thought very strongly, and only very great considerations could possibly have prevented us from strongly protesting against the nature of the Debate. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil suggested that a Commission of Inquiry should be instituted by this Government into the social conditions in South Africa, and into the action of a Government over which we had no control.
§ Mr. MORRELL
I think what the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil said was that a Commission should be instituted to inquire as to the use of British troops.
Sir G. PARKER
I am in the recollection of the House. The inquiry was into the conditions which led up to the use of the troops in South Africa, the social and industrial conditions there, and the application of Law No. 6. The hon. Member who opened the Debate this afternoon seemed to think that this House was entitled to pass judgment upon the use of Law No. 6. I do not think so. That is a law made by a Government which my right hon. Friend opposite, the Secretary of State for War, ushered in with very great satisfaction, and I think that Government has justified itself. That Government has passed this law, or has preserved laws which previously existed, according to its judgment. The place for the hon. Member, as it seems to me, is not in this House, but among his former friends in South Africa, where I have no doubt he would be welcome at this moment. He could then make his accusations in the presence of the Government, which would know how to reply to him if necessary. They are there on the spot, and no representative of that Government is in this House. I think that the defence which the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary made this afternoon of the South African Government was truly justified. Both hon. Gentlemen this afternoon said that the troops were employed, and that the proclamation of Law No. 6 was made before any disorder occurred, and that it is because of that violence took place. The House is a very thin one, I have no doubt that the interest of the Debate has declined, but I feel bound to 835 meet the statement of the hon. Member. It will be noted that in Telegram No. 40, the Governor-General says that the handbill inviting attendance at the Benoni meeting on 29th June contains the following passage:—The strike committee again asks' you to come and to come armed, if you can, in order to resist any unlawful force which may be used against you. If unlawful force is used we are ready to meet such unlawful force with lawful force.It is the case that the proclamation was not made until 3rd July for the meeting of 4th July.
The hon. Member for Gravesend is in possession of the Committee, and the hon. Member for Hanley must not so interrupt his remarks. The practice of the House and in Committee is that when a speech is made, we allow a speech to be made in reply without undue interruption.
Sir G. PARKER
I do not wish to misrepresent the hon. Member in any particular. I beg the Committee to take note of this, that on 2nd July Lord Gladstone used these words:—
"With regard to the mass meeting on 4th July, at least 10,000 men were expected to be present. My Ministers decided that it would be unwise to allow this demonstration to be held, they accordingly let it be known that they issued instructions to the magistrates, that is the lawful authority under Law 6."
Sir G. PARKER
It is the meeting of the 4th of July I was referring to. The hon. Member said there was no disturbance before the 4th of July meeting. Lord Gladstone in his communication to the Government says, on the other hand, that several acts of violence were reported, that numerous arrests had been made, and that in many cases the accused were in gaol awaiting trial. I have read these communications of Lord Gladstone very carefully indeed, and I must point out that although in this House I have found occasion to criticise Lord Gladstone when he was Home Secretary, and when he was in previous offices, I consider that these dispatches of his show him to have acted with the very greatest consideration and gravity of judgment, worthy of the highest traditions of the Colonel Service. Much 836 has been made by the hon. Member about the last statement of Lord Gladstone, that he pointed out to the present Government of South Africa that British troops were not there to be employed for that particular purpose. Throughout the dispatches Lord Gladstone has pointed out, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has said, that the use of the troops was absolutely necessary for the protection of life and property and for the prevention of great perils and dangers which might have arisen if this large native population on the Rand was reduced to starvation. The Government in South Africa is responsible for the welfare, not only of the natives, but for general Imperial interests, and could not do otherwise than what they did. Lord Gladstone acted on the advice of the responsible Ministers of the Crown, just as responsible as the right hon. Gentlemen who sit on that bench in front of us. The Debate has brought out very clearly that whatever may have been the conditions in South Africa, the representatives of the British Government acted with discretion, and the troops there were used only in the last resort. The hon. Member knows perfectly welt that although the new Militia is being formed, the forces of the Union Government of South Africa are wholly inadequate to meet any immediate need. As my right hon. Friend said, would the hon. Member have left the condition of affairs as it was when the meeting of 4th July took place, without adequate protection for the inhabitants, for property, and for the lives of the people generally? I do not think so, even excited as he is against the conditions of labour in the Transvaal, justified as he is in that.
Sir G. PARKER
Of course, I have no, reply to make to that at all. The Committee has had an opportunity to read the communication of Lord Gladstone, and that one communication which above all other strikes me as a most clear resumé of the whole position. In his telegram No. 32 he said:—Close investigation shows me that on 3rd July the total available forces of the Union were at least 5,000 men short of requirements for it situation rapidly developing in danger. You will note that from then first I laid it down that duties of troops should be limited to protective purposes except in absolute necessity.ߪStrike-breakers not under adequate protection were seriously assaulted. Detachments of 837 strikers sent to collieries, Pretoria, Durban, and other labour centres. Native attitude full of peril. Had authority not been maintained no hold on mine boys could have been retained. Reduced to idleness, massed in compounds, and brought to starvation by railway stoppage only too probable, with electric light cables cut, they would have broken loose, and the horror of the situation can hardly he exaggerated, and then every kraal in South Africa would have heard of the white man's impotence.Those who have been in this House longer than the hon. Member for Hanley know perfectly well the attitude that I have taken up on these questions, and know, also, that on Colonial affairs and on Foreign Office affairs those of us who have interested ourselves on this side of the House in this class of questions have tried to keep ourselves free from partisan feeling. To me it is extraordinarily painful to listen to a Debate such as we have listened to this afternoon, or a portion of the Debate such as we have listened to, in which rancorous and violent statements have been made against a Government that is not here to protect itself, using the conditions to which the hon. Member objects as a reason for blaming the present Government for not preventing the troops from being used when a position of peril and crisis occurred. There was nothing else to do than what was done. It may not have met the views of the hon. Member, but I am absolutely certain that the people of this country, whether they have faith in the Government of South Africa or not, while regretting the use of our troops, will say that, in the circumstances, the use of those troops was justified and justifiable. I do not want to say anything more on this particular question, because I believe that the Committee has satisfied itself, and that the Parliament of this country will take no further action except to approve of General Hart and of Lord Gladstone in the disposition which they made of the troops in time of peril.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies will perhaps regret to know that though I strongly approved of the review of Colonial affairs which he introduced last year, I cannot share to the full the encomium passed upon him by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. It is my misfortune not to be able to say that the right hon. Gentleman has fulfilled my hopes and expectations. Will the right hon. Gentleman think me merely hypercritical when I say I believe that he is not exactly on the right lines in that review? I think a review of that sort which is, in his hands so intensely interesting to me, was much better adapted to the Imperial Institute, the Royal Colonial 838 Institute, the Society of Arts, or some such institution. If the right hon. Gentleman will note my criticism, he will see that I am not making a criticism without offering an alternative. I feel that this review which the right hon. Gentleman has very wisely established can be made infinitely more useful than it has been made the last two years. I really do not think that all those statistics, all that information regarding production, agricultural and commercial production, of the Oversea Crown Colonies, is very useful to this House. A few of us appreciate it, and a few will read it. May I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that I think he would make that review much more effective if he took, as he did on one occasion this afternoon, a matter which is largely a matter of principle, and probably an interesting problem for the Colonies to solve, namely, the question of concessions? That I think to be the kind of problem which could be well reviewed—the problem of railways and railway management, which involves always administration either on the part of the local Government or on the part of this Government, and the problems of concessions which raise a very big political question indeed. The problems which beset these Crown Colony Governments are matters which not only interest them, but should interest us. I really do not think that the right hon. Gentleman, in giving us so much information on oil, cotton, and sugar, is exactly on the right lines. I think, if he will allow me to say so, he would get on the right lines if he showed how the problems of the development of cotton, sugar, and oil, etc., and how the financial and revenue problems, and the commercial and industrial problems, can be solved. I really do not think that to enlarge upon this information in the way of a scientific exponent of these developmets, agricultural or otherwise, for the purpose of instruction, are really best suited to this Assembly.
May I say, regarding the concessions, again, that I am not quite with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. I think the right hon. Gentleman should have gone a little further and made it clear to the Committee that the agreement was not open to the criticisms which have been levelled at it in the Press. I have read a great many, but I have never suspected for an instant that he or the Government were affected by political considerations in making the agreement with 839 Sir William Lever. I have yet to discover a Colonial Secretary, particularly a Colonial Secretary who has to administer territories outside his own immediate country who would sell himself or his office in order to give some reward to a political supporter. I do not believe that, but I believe that the agreement ought to be criticised in the light of the criticism which has been made outside. I would only repeat them in order to secure the right hon. Gentleman's reply to them, because I consider them very serious. One of the criticisms which have been made is that in the Gold Coast Colony, the agreement did not receive the full support of the Legislative Council. Indeed, the position was one which would arouse suspicion in the minds of those who carefully watch constitutional development, because the five official members supported the agreement and the four unofficial members opposed it. This has been stated in the Press, and it has also been stated that local opinion was against the agreement. I am not making the charge. I am putting the charges as they have been put in the Press, to which the right hon. Gentleman ought to reply.
Secondly, there were powerful associations which strongly criticised the agreement. There was the company of African merchants and the African Oil Company. It has been stated in the Press that the Company of African merchants had developed this extraction of the oil nut through machinery which was effective and it is unfair to grant to Sir William Lever and his company a monopoly over a vast area ten miles in circumference with a right to them exclusively to extract this oil with this machinery. The Manchester Chamber of Commerce, too, I believe, criticised the agreement strongly. The West African section of the London Chamber of Commerce also criticised it, and in reply to the criticism of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, concerning the exclusion of natives from the right to use whatever crude machinery they might have within the area of monopoly, the right hon. Gentleman replied that to allow the natives to operate machinery within the area would destroy the whole effect of the concession. The right hon. Gentleman must see that those who, like myself, have only that correspondence to read and the Report which is before us, must feel anxious, not about the motive winch prompted the making of the agreement, for of that we 840 have no doubt, but of the conditions of the agreement itself, and it is a question that this Committee ought very carefully to consider whether the conditions of the agreement are such as ought to be approved by this House. I think it serious that only the nominated members of the Legislative Council approved of the agreement, and that the unofficial members disapproved and that strong criticisms were made upon the agreement from the standpoint of the exclusive monopoly to Messrs. Lever and Company for the use of the machinery for a period of twenty-one years.
The right hon. Gentleman will naturally realise that we must feel some anxiety concerning such an agreement as that. Twenty-one years is a very long time. I agree that for any company of that sort to develop a Colony like Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast is a work which, though done for commercial purposes on the part of those who promote the enterprise, still is a good Imperial work. I do not share the opinion of so many modern critics of the dangers of granting concessions to great companies. The Hudson Bay Company is an example of a company which for several hundred years has held and developed territory, kept the natives in a condition of contentment, and finally given to a great Dominion a vast territory where law and order existed, and had existed since the time of Charles II. The East India Company is another example of territory and interests which would not have developed to the same extent as when private enterprise stakes its all. The Government does not stake its all. A Government comes and goes. If it makes a mistake to-day it leaves the next Government to rectify it to-morrow. In the same way with the Chartered Company of Rhodesia. I only refer to these statements because I want to defend the right hon. Gentleman against the attacks which have been made in regard to granting this concession at all. I believe throughout our Overseas Dominions, if there were more careful concessions made to private companies who stake their all to develop territory, happier results would be achieved than are achieved by the efforts of Governments themselves to develop railways and local industries. I do not believe in Governments developing local industries and railways. You have an example in Canada. The Inter-Colonial Railway has always been a failure, because it is run by the 841 Government. The Canadian Pacific Railway is a great success. It would not have succeeded, and did not succeed at first, because it was run by the Government. An hon. Member opposite laughs.
Sir G. PARKER
It is true. The Government acknowledged it, and said, "We have failed." Now we call in people who have far more at stake than we have, because they have their capital at stake, and if they fail they are out. We may go out of office, but we come in and reinstate ourselves. I put these things to the right hon. Gentleman, because I think it would do much, instead of making generalisations, however interesting and effective, as they were, to clear up criticism that is being made outside the House on these concessions, if lie would make quite clear what the conditions of the agreement are, and how the interests of the Colony and the interests of the natives are protected. I would like to give the right hon. Gentleman the opportunity of answering on that subject. Does he think the interests of the natives are being injured by this arrangement? I assume that he does not. But in view of the fact that the natives have in their crude way extracted the oi1, is it a fair thing to prevent them in this monopolised area from doing what they have done in the past? Does he recognise any force or validity in the criticism that this will go far to prevent the native development of native industries? He will not confer a favour on myself by answering these questions, because I would put in the way of the right hon. Gentleman and the Government every difficulty I could, but I am too much interested in the development of our Colonies to put one stone in the right hon. Gentleman's path, or to put one bit of grit in the wheels. I think the right hon. Gentleman knows that. In regard to this concession I hope he will find it possible to say, quite apart from his indignant rebuttal of indirect corruption, that there is criticism which he must recognise as made by responsible men who regard the agreement as one which is unwise as to the length of the lease, the smallness of the amount paid by the company—I believe it is £15,000—and the fact that no royalty at all is to be exacted from the company. I 842 have not made a particular study of this matter, and I do not know whether it would be wise to insist upon a royalty, but if a royalty could be got, and if the company could make the enterprise pay, I am all for getting a royalty. It would be infinitely better to get revenue of that kind than in the way I have deplored again and again. I think the West Coast of Africa should not be always a black spot in that respect. I have insisted at all costs that that was the only policy to pursue, and if he could have got in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the Gold Coast, revenue from such a source, it might have relieved the Government from the unhappy necessity of running local machinery and securing revenue from whisky supplied to the natives. The right hon. Gentleman may say that I might apply that policy to this country. My reply is that the native population is an undeveloped population, and that the vices which we introduce are not natural to the natives. The drink we introduce is not the natural drink for them, and, therefore, it has a very much more injurious effect upon them. I should like also to say that the right hon. Gentleman might have referred this afternoon to the complaints made in a letter addressed to him by the Aborigines' Protection Association in regard to flogging and punitive expeditions.
Sir G. PARKER
I will not develop that point. I will only say that I read carefully the representations made to the right hon. Gentleman, and that I do not agree with the suggestion that a punitive expedition should be made on the authority alone of the officer himself. We send an officer, whether a subaltern or a general, to perform his duty, and to do it on the responsibility of his life. Before we had Marconigrams we used to send an officer to some distant part to take responsibility there for his country, but to suggest that an officer ought on his own judgment and on his own responsibility alone to undertake a punitive expedition is a monstrous theory to which I feel sure the right hon. Gentleman would not assent. The case put by the Aborigines' Association is one that requires an answer from the right hon. Gentleman, considering the number of lives lost. I think he ought to be able to assure the Committee that these expeditions, so far 843 as his own experience goes, are only undertaken in times of real crisis. As to flogging, I am not going to say that that form of punishment ought never to be administered. I have myself seen a case in the Soudan, soon after the war, in which you could not have got carried out the services for which natives were employed except by half-a-dozen lashes. You could not take these people before a magistrate. You could not take them 400 or 500 miles to be dealt with in that way. I am only speaking of what I have seen. I have seen the result, and it was a very salutary result. There are hon. Members who have never got a licking in their lives, and they have shown the results of that. It is a very good thing, and there is no reason why we should be too sentimental about black men any more than we are about whites. I began my speech with criticism, and I hope that the hints I have thrown out will not be regarded by the right hon. Gentleman as entirely worthless. I believe the course which he has followed is in many respects a wise one, and I think it will give great satisfaction to the Crown Colonies of the Empire.
§ Sir W. BYLES
I am glad that the hon. Member (Sir G. Parker) made reference to the native question in the Crown Colonies and the Protectorates. It is on the subject of flogging I desire to make a few observations. The right hon. Gentleman gave us a brilliant résumé of the prosperity and of the increase in strength of our Crown Colonies, and I refrain from any comments upon his lucid and extremely interesting statement. He said very little, however about the treatment of the black people. The Committee cannot be too often reminded that the Empire of which we hear so many boasts from the other side of the House is a black Empire. We hear, too, of a great deal of flogging in the Colonies in the Southern Seas, but I think it is time to ask that the British flag should stand for British traditions and the principles of government which have made England renowned among the nations of the earth. I never had the privilege of travelling in these parts of the world, where I understand that the working classes are all black and the employers are all white. Therefore, I am not speaking from personal knowledge, but I read and I am a member of the committee of the Anti-Slavery and the Aborigine Protection 844 Societies, and I am supplied by them with many disquieting stories. What I always feel is that what England once did in freeing the slaves she must not undo by adopting other methods now. I would like to know a great deal about indentured labour. It always seems to me that the indentured labourer is the first cousin of the slave, and that the forced labourer is perhaps a still nearer relation. I confess that I am suspicious at the way in which our black Colonies and Protectorates are governed, and at the exploitation by traders and trading companies of the black population, and to some extent also at the quality and temper of some of the Governors and magistrates and agents, whom we send out dressed in a little brief authority. It is from my right hon. Friend that we must hope for some explanation of these things.
The first about which I would refer is the house system which obtains in Nigeria, and I daresay in many other places. It is a system which is established and continued by our authority and for which we are directly responsible. It is a method of domestic slavery. The slave is the possession of the master. He is a slave by birth, and has no freedom to enter into contracts without reference to his master, and no liberty of marriage outside the master's immediate dependents or slaves, and the machinery of His Majesty's Government is still used to recapture, arrest, and take part in restoring runaway domestic slaves. That is one point on which I would like a few words of reply from the Minister in charge of the Colonial Office. Another matter is an article which has been published referring to Southern Nigeria, and speaking of a number of improvements and far-reaching reforms in administration. Among these reforms are some great administrative changes in regard to the administration of justice in bringing the Native Courts into greater use. One of the most important innovations in this so-called reform is the greatly increased power which it is intended to confer upon district commissioners, and which is to extend to the power of life and death. This change we are told is intended and expected to help greatly in speeding up the civilisation of the country. It does seem to me that is a very dangerous thing, to endeavour to speed up the civilisation of the country by giving the power of life and death over these natives to some assistant commissioner or district commissioner. 845 These people are to be deprived of the right to a jury and the right to a trial by a judge of assize which they hitherto enjoyed.
I notice that already the death sentences in Southern Nigeria are appallingly large, larger, I think, in proportion to the population, than in any other of the Crown Colonies. In the last year for which I have figures, there were no fewer than seventy-four executions out of a population of less than 8,000,000. That is one to every 106,000. It was in this Colony that we had the public floggings which were referred to, I believe, last year. I do not think that the Report of the Colonial Office has ever been published. These were public floggings of clerks, native clerks no doubt, who were playing football in the market place. They were stripped naked and publicly flogged in sight of the residents, and it was generally stated there that this was because they refused to prostrate themselves before the magistrate. Whatever the opinion as to the efficacy of flogging as a punishment may be, the flogging of grown men, stripped naked, in a public place, is the sort of thing which we should be careful to refrain from encouraging. The only other matter to which I desire to refer is punitive expeditions, especially the one which was undertaken to avenge the death of the unfortunate Mr. Campbell, who met his death after conduct which, I am afraid, was provocative. At any rate, the result of that expedition was that 179 people were killed or wounded. I think it is carrying punitive measures much too far to make a murderous raid on the native population in order to assert the dignity of the white man, the white official. I agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken, that these officials should not have power to undertake punitive expeditions on their own responsibility, save where human life is absolutely in danger. If that is not the case, then they ought to refer to superior authority before they get power to do so, and no authority ought to be able to order a punitive expedition, if they are able to communicate directly with my right hon. Friend, without the consent of the Colonial Office.
I make no apology for referring to these matters, because we have under the control of this country a vast black population. It is a very serious problem, and a very serious responsibility how we treat those people. I have a letter here from one who has resided long in those parts 846 and knows well the natives, and which finishes with this sentence, "The feeling against us is growing, in volume and in intensity, and we are sowing seeds that will bring a terrible harvest some day." I do not like to hear those things about my country, and about the Government of my country. As well as vast increases in rubber and cocoa and various other products which we get from those black populations, I would like to hear that we are growing also in the respect of the black people, and that we are becoming beloved by them and respected by them more and more as the days go by.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I think that the Committee as a whole will agree with me when I venture to observe to the right hon. Gentleman that it is a matter of regret that the time allowed for this Vote is under the circumstances so short. I am quite well aware that that is not the right hon. Gentleman's fault. Circumstances have been against him I recognise. It was impossible, of course, for the question of South African affairs to be raised before the arrival of the dispatches. At the same time I think it is very unfortunate, and I hope that in future years Colonial affairs will be allowed to have a somewhat larger place in the Debates of this House than they have had in the last few years. Under those circumstances the remarks which I wish to make will not be ora rotundo, but rather in telegraphic style, and I will pick out a few points to deal with. The right hon. Gentleman began with an excursion of a somewhat provocative character into a matter of party controversy. Cabinet Ministers rush in where back benchers dare not tread. I am not going to follow the right hon. Gentleman into that except to say that I should not wonder but that it was really designed for his own party and intended to show that evil communications have not corrupted his good manners in regard to pure theories on the fiscal system, and that, in point of fact, the right hon. Gentleman was rather concerned with the position in which he finds himself as the representative in this House of the administration of a vast number of Dominions and Dependencies all up and down the globe, all owing allegiance to the British flag and all alike in this that they condemn with universal voice the fiscal system which obtains here. With that I leave that portion of the night hon. Gentleman's speech and I come to consider one or two of the details.
847 9.0 P.M.
With regard to the general tenor of the right hon. Gentleman's speech there are three observations which occur to me. The first is this, that while the right hon Gentleman showed a great deal of pride, justifiable pride, at the enormous growth and expansion of productivity all throughout the Empire and its Crown Colonies and Dependencies, and while lie paid tribute, as we all do, to the commercial foresight and prudence of those who have risked their capital to develop those enterprises, at the same time those people have had their virtue very largely rewarded in a pecuniary sense in many cases, but there are others without whose work the success of this matter would have been impossible. The foundations of this great and successful commercial enterprise lie in the work of those men of whom the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, spoke, I think, too lightly. It is to the patient, devoted, and unremitting toil of the servants of the Colonial Office, toil too often at the sacrifice of their health and too often quite inadequately rewarded so far as mere money goes, it is to the work of those men in the Colonial service this country owes a great debt of gratitude, and it is to them the enormous amount of commercial prosperity, in which the right hon. Gentleman gloried, is so largely due. In the second place, I should like to enter one little word of caution to some of those who may read that speech. After all it does not do to be too optimistic in these matters. The right hon. Gentleman spoke quite rightly of successful experiments in growing many different commodities all up and down the Empire. There is no doubt that things like rubber and cotton can be grown in a great many of our tropical dependencies, but it does not always follow that it is a practical commercial proposition to grow them, because, while the climate may be favourable and is favourable in many cases, rubber and cotton are things which are entirely dependent for successful commercial development on the presence of an adequate labour supply. You cannot grow them without labour. It is no use trying to imagine or leading people to imagine that a climate may be favourable for the development of industries if a labour supply is not forthcoming.
The third observation of a general character which occurs to me is when one considers all this productivity, of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke, has not 848 the time come when we ought to do a little more than we do at the present moment towards encouraging that on a really scientific basis. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the work of the Imperial Institute. He alluded to the work, the great work, of the Imperial Department of Agriculture in the West Indies, and no one knows better than I do the great work it has performed there. The time, I suggest, has come when we ought to put this question of tropical agriculture on something of the same footing as, fortunately, owing to the generosity of individuals and with the help of the Government, the question of tropical medicines has been placed. I think the time has come when we ought to do something towards developing a college of tropical agriculture for the purpose not only of studying and training men for the best methods of production in tropical countries, but also a college which would act as a tropical research department with some British institutions like the Imperial institute and the Tropical School of Medicine. I believe the Imperial Department of Agriculture in the West Indies is a sort of example which might be a very suitable nucleus for a college of the kind. If you had research in botany, micrology and other things, and men being trained in scientific methods of agricultural development, you would be doing a great and very useful work. I certainly hope the idea will not be scouted by the right hon. Gentleman, and that he will be disposed to lend a kindly ear to the suggestion I am making to him. In regard to whaling, the right hon. Gentleman has, I think rightly, decided not to issue any more licences; but I think he will fail in his object unless he is at the same time taking steps to limit the number of whales that may be killed under any one of the existing licences. Otherwise it is merely a temptation to those who, by the accident of circumstances, find themselves in the position of monopolists, to kill the largest possible number of whales, or at any rate a larger number than they do at present. Therefore, I suggest it would be well, if possible, to impose sonic limitation on existing licensees as to the number of whales they are allowed to kill.
The right hon. Gentleman said nothing with regard to railway development in the different Crown Colonies. It is true he made a full statement on that subject last year. There are, however, one or two 849 directions in which this work of development is actively going on at the present time, and about which it would be very interesting if the right hon. Gentleman could give us some information. For instance, in Northern Nigeria there is a railway and a new extension. The Nigeria report is late this year, and the ordinary Colonial Office Report does not contain a great deal of information about railway development. Railway development, however, is a very good test of how a Colony is getting on, and it would be very interesting if the right hon. Gentleman would give us some information on this subject. There is also a projected railway development in Southern Nigeria, I understand. Last year the right hon. Gentleman told us that a new railway scheme was being undertaken in Nyasaland. I shall be glad if he can tell us something about that also. Possibly this information could be circulated in the form of a Paper. I will say nothing about Nigerian administration, except that I do not entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the decentralisation of justice is a thing to be avoided at all costs—on the contrary, it is a great advantage in many ways that in dealing with a population of that kind your justice should be speedy, following quickly upon the offence. Natives understand that form of justice, and respect it very much more than the protracted forms to which we in this country have become accustomed by long association. In the article quoted just now it was stated that there was a scheme for altering the administrative areas in Nigeria. If the right hon. Gentleman could conveniently tell us something about that it would be of interest. I understand that it is proposed to make three Lieutenant-Governorships and to extend considerably the areas of the District Commissioners. I was hoping that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to say something about sleeping sickness, and whether any fresh development in the research work of the Commission has taken place. It is too much to hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to deal with all these matters, but that is another subject on which, if the right hon. Gentleman could accelerate the production of Papers, the Committee would be glad to have further information.
In regard to oil, both palm and mineral, in the concessions which the right hon. Gentleman has granted, he has laid himself open to the reproach that agreements 850 have been negotiated against which all the unofficial members of the Legislative Council have protested, and which have been supported in each case by the votes of the nominated members only. I am not criticising the right hon. Gentleman. I am not saying that he was not forced, by the position which the Admiralty rightly took up, to the conclusion of an agreement of that kind; but it is a little unfortunate that the Colonial Office should be driven into the position of having to rely solely on its nominated members in the Legislative Council. In the case of Trinidad there has been a great deal of local irritation because they were not consulted at all before the agreement was negotiated. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the prospect of dealing with a long standing difficulty and agitation in regard to the Municipality of Port of Spain. I am advised that the elective principle may possibly be gradually brought into operation in the near future. There is one other point upon which I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to say word, and which possibly the Committee may regard as something like King Charles's head. That is the question of cable rates to the West Indies. For, I think, eight years I have persistently made speeches on the Colonial Office Vote, asking the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors to do something towards reducing the excessive cable rates between this country and the West Indies. I do not Know whether the right hon. Gentleman has any comfort to give me to-night, but if after all these years he can promise some amelioration, these Colonies on whose behalf I have been speaking, will be grateful.
The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson) must have been very fortunate in the past. He has just told us that for eight consecutive years he has raised certain questions on the Colonial Office Vote. His experience is rather different from mine. It is two years since I had an opportunity of speaking on this Vote, and even now I have the opportunity only by promising to limit my remarks as nearly to ten minutes as possible. That in a Debate which ranges from making oil from nuts to the catching of whales is not a long time over which to spread oneself. With regard to the Municipality of Port of Spain, I have had many conversations with the right hon. Gentleman. A little while ago he cast upon the Legislative Council of Trinidad: 851 the responsibility, if not exactly of deciding, certainly of advising as to whether the Municipality of Port of Spain should be restored or not. The Legislative Council, after discussing the matter, have come to the unanimous decision that a step ought to be taken in that direction, and they have recommended that an elective council should be set up on the instalment plan; that is to say, the nominative members drop out each year, in 1917, the whole council will be of an elective character. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman, having cast upon the Legislative Council the onus of giving advice, will act upon that advice without any unnecessary delay. There is the wider question of the franchise of the island. So far as I am personally concerned, I think it is time a step in that direction was taken. At the present time, the council is a partly nominated one, coupled, of course, with the official representatives. These do not in any sense represent the people of Trinidad. It may be, of course, that in the days when the council was first constituted that it was of a far more representative character than now. When you come to look around on the Government of the Island of Trinidad, I think many very sore spots will be found. The national character of the Government leaves very much to be desired, and this also applies to what may be termed the local government—or the substitute for it—in the island. There you have a number of local Road Boards whose activities are confined merely to making, or rather to the up-keep, of the roads that have been made by the central authority. Each of these districts is under the control of wardens.
Anyone who reads the report will come to the conclusion that a serious alteration is required. Report after report makes the statement that the roads cannot be kept up from the money available, and dysentery, diarrhœa, typhoid, and many other diseases, are rife—are, indeed, rampant—in every one of these particular districts. All of this arises from the bad or impure character, or both, of the water supply. In the few minutes that I have at my disposal I cannot deal at length with any of these matters I am touching upon, but I do hope that so far as the Island of Trinidad is concerned, the right hon. Gentleman will not lose sight of the fact that representative Government must 852 be something more than a sham and a mockery. If you turn, for instance, to the question of the Government in Jamaica, it will be found that you have a hybrid Legislative Council, composed partly of elective members and partly of officials of the local Government. It is true that the elective members are in a majority, but it is also true that the Governor has the power at any time to increase the official element and make the members superior in number to the elective members. That, after all, is not a very good way, it seems to me, to govern a country like Jamaica. I want also to press this further point. Sir Sidney Olivier, the late Governor, when he was giving evidence before the Royal Commission which sat quite recently upon indentured labour, made a very prominent point of this fact that there were in the island 127,000 small cultivators out of a total population of about 860,000. I began to think that Jamaica was going along when I found that 127,000 persons were interested in the tilling of the soil. Imagine my surprise when I found that out of that number, and even going outside and taking in the general population, only 27,000 persons are included in the franchise of the island which elects the elective representatives to the Legislative Council. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that this hybrid arrangement in Jamaica may be all right as an experiment, but it ought not to be final, or even very much longer be continued. It ought to be looked upon as strictly a temporary measure, and we ought to advance beyond it as quickly as possible. The other point I want to raise is the question of indentured immigration. I ventured in this House three years ago to speak upon that matter shortly after the publication of the Report of the last Commission.
In all the Colonies under the British Crown where it is in vogue. I would draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that the Commission was composed of those either wholly representing the planters' interests or the official interest. It was so constituted that it could not by any stretch of the imagination come to any other decision than it did. Everyone who knew the composition of that Commission knew before hand the type of Report which would come. Labour was not represented, and 853 with the exception of men sent by the Trinidad Working Men's Association and by the East Indian community of that island no representative of labour even gave evidence before the Commission, or put before that Commission the views of the working men. How under these circumstances can you expect any other result than the one you have got? We have had seventy-five years in the West Indies of indentured immigrant labour. This to me is the supreme test: Here you have an expedient which was to be temporary. It was to help the planters out of the difficulty in which they were involved owing to the abolition of slavery, when this country of ours coupled with its good intentions and its good action as to the emancipation of the slave a total lack of guidance to the emancipated slaves, thereby causing friction between the old time planter and the old time slave, now converted into employer and employed. At least that was the relationship that was sought. For reasons which it is too long to explain to-night, the labourer would not work as a free man for the man he had to work for as a slave. There was a dearth of labour. We had the introduction of indentured labour with the set object of curing this. This to me, I say, is the supreme test: that after seventy-five years of this system of labour the planter is as much dependent upon it to-day as he was at the beginning.
I could, if time permitted, give other aspects as showing the working of the system, and other things that need putting right. You will find that the indentured labourers spend a great proportion of their lives during the first few years of their period either in prison, because they refuse to work, Or in a hospital because they are sick, or being fetched back because they played truant, and want to get away. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford mentioned as a tremendous grievance, as he thought, the death-rate in Southern Nigeria, or, rather the number of murder cases there. He said, I think, that they numbered one murder case to every 136,000 of the population. What would he think of the state of affairs amongst the indentured labourers of Trinidad, where there is, as the last Return (1910–11) shows, thirty-three murders in the island, twenty-six of which were amongst the East Indian population. This means twenty-six for every 110,000 of the East Indian population. My hon. Friend deplored, and rightly deplored, 854 one murder amongst 136,000. If he has just cause for complaint what about those who take up the cudgels for the East Indian labourer, the man who was wrenched away from his native soil and put down upon foreign ground, where everything is strange to him, where the conditions of labour are strange, and where very often he is working amongst conditions different from those that were represented to him would be the case when he signed his contract and became an immigrant. Many of these points but for want of time could be brought out. I have no doubt that those concerned do their very best in difficult work under very difficult conditions; but I submit when you take people away from the environment which is surrounding them at home, and put them on a foreign soil, there are bound to be complications. Just let me take one point as an illustration. If you look at the Returns you will see that the number of illegitimate children, or the percentage of them, amongst the East Indians, is put at 87 per cent. Eighty-seven out of every hundred children born in Trinidad are put down as illegitimate. That, in my view, is not the proper way to speak of the matter at all. These people have their own peculiar customs and manners, and if they do not conform to our European ideas of marriage, they are to be regarded as producers of illegitimate children. I submit that that fact is eloquent of much more when the officials come to brand children as illegitimate, born in circumstances which according to the native idea is equivalent to our marriage system, and produces anomalies in various directions at which we cannot be very much surprised. These facts ought to be taken into very serious consideration.
Let me make this suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman. Trinidad and Jamaica are agricultural communities. So far as I can see notwithstanding the introduction of oil and pitch, they are likely to remain so. Agriculture must be their first charge, and I associate myself with the hon. Gentleman who suggested the establishment of a college for tropical agriculture. I go further, and I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should take into his serious consideration whether the time has not now come in these islands in the West Indies, to settle once and for all, whether the tendency of the time has not proved that the concentration of a number of labourers upon one central estate should 855 be replaced by a system of peasant cultivation, and whether such a system is not much more suited to these islands. If that is so, I suggest he must also take into consideration the question of whether emigration should not in the near future cease, and the desirability of advising the responsible authorities to at once begin a reduction in the number of emigrants, and in Trinidad to reduce them, say by 200 per year, so that in twelve years the whole of the emigration shall have ceased, and in the meantime to prepare those responsible for agricultural industries there to accommodate themselves to a change whereby they will do away with immigrant labour in their agricultural system.
Mr. GEORGE LLOYD
I understand the Colonial Secretary Wants to answer the various points raised at half-past nine, and, therefore, I have only one minute in which to speak. I want to make it quite clear that we on this side of the House do really feel very much the way in which we are treated year after year upon the Colonial Office Vote. We have always attempted in every way to assist the Government on foreign questions and on Colonial matters, and not to embarrass them in any shape or form, but we are treated no better, and year after year there is no time given to us to raise important questions. To-day we have had a Debate which in itself is short enough. It only began half an hour after the usual time, owing to circumstances, I admit, over which the Colonial Secretary had no control. It concludes at ten o'clock, again owing to circumstances over which he has no control. But the fact remains that the Government do nothing to give us adequate time. Those of us who study these things with considerable assiduity wish to bring many matters of the Crown Colony Government and others before the Committee, but there is no time to do so. I venture to say it is not treating the House of Commons with respect that year after year this should happen. If it occurred only one year it would not be so bad, but ever since I have been a Member of the House, though that is not a long time, the same thing has occurred, and on no occasion does the Government seem inclined to give us fair treatment. This is not treating the Crown Colonies and the people working there in the interests of this country with that respect with which they should be treated. I have many questions to raise with regard to the conditions 856 in Africa, and in other Colonies, but there is no time. There are people in East Africa looking forward with interest to these questions being raised, but because the Government are pressed for time I have only one minute left to me. I venture to protest against that state of things, and I ask the Colonial Secretary that owing to this gross treatment and scandalous treatment he should grant us a further day, or a portion of a day, for the adequate discussion of these matters. This is not the first time it has happened, and I venture to suggest it would be only meeting us on fair ground to give us another few hours to bring forward the matters we have for discussion.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I think it is better to intervene now to answer some of the questions raised. I feel, in courtesy, I must try to deal with many of the topics raised. I should like to say at once as to the question of time, of course I do not control these things at all. This year it was impossible to take the Colonial Office Vote earlier owing to the troubles in South Africa, because it was obvious we had to wait for the arrival of Lord Gladstone's dispatches. We took this Vote at the earliest possible time, but it undoubtedly coincides with the twentieth day of Supply on which we have to close our Debate at ten o'clock.
Mr. GEORGE LLOYD
I quite understand the Colonial Secretary is not responsible personally for what occurred, but will he ask the Government to see that a few hours more are given another day?
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I am afraid than would be very difficult, but I will mention what the hon. Gentleman has said. The fixing of the day for any particular Vote lies with the Opposition and quite rightly. If they asked for the Colonial Office Vote earlier in the year I should regret it, because it would not allow so wide a field for discussion. At any time of the year, and on any day they require, they can have the Colonial Office Vote.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I shall endeavour to reply to some of the very numerous questions put to me, although I do not think I can hope to cover them all. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Gravesend (Sir G. Parker) thought I might have done 857 more in the restriction of the liquor traffic on the West Coast of Africa. I do not think I need answer his observations on the subject of the Lever Palm Oil Concessions, for he admitted himself he was not familiar with the circumstances, and it would be very easy for anyone who understands the facts to realise that from the speech he made. But I should like to say I have within the last year increased the spirit duties in many of our West African Colonies, and, what is more, I have extended the area of prohibition, which I believe will be of great. advantage to the natives. The hon. Member and also my hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Sir W. Byles) both spoke of punitive expeditions, and especially of the punitive expedition in Northern Nigeria in connection with the death of Mr. Campbell. That was not originally a punitive expedition, but was a search and rescue expedition, because it was not until after it, started that it became known that Mr. Campbell was dead. When the mutilated body was found, in my opinion the villagers responsible were rightly punished. Of course it is true they offered a very severe resistance. We must all regret the number of the casualties, but there is some reason for believing that those casualties have been exaggerated. Our force consisted of only ninety men. There were few casualties among them, and 1 believe not more than 2,000 rounds were fired, but nobody can be limited by rules when there is a collision between natives and troops. It is essential for the safety of others that the murderer of an Englishman should be swiftly punished. It is impossible when such collisions occur that troops should be halted until someone gets to a telegraph, perhaps hundreds of miles away, and consults me. The officer in charge must act upon his judgment and discretion. In reference to what my hon. Friend said as to Mr. Campbell's conduct it is not true that his conduct was provocative. There was some superstitious misunderstanding from the fact that he was marking the boundaries with flags, and he was quite unaware of the suspicion which this gave rise to, and had he marked them with stones I do not believe there would have been any trouble. However, as this unhappy chapter has been closed, I do not want to say anything more on this matter, and I cannot blame the discretion of those who were acting under such very difficult circumstances. It is well known that I am most anxious that 858 punitive patrols should be few and far between.
With regard to the flogging incident, the story has been told before. Two native clerks had been kicking a football through the stalls of the market place where they had created much disturbance and done much damage. The head men of the natives complained to the Governors, who issued a notice warning the people against these disorderly proceedings, and gave special notice that if the rules were broken again the disorderly people would be arrested and dealt with by the native Court. These two persons chose to disobey these orders and they were arrested. It is true that they were both under notice to leave their employment on the railway. They were tried by the native Courts, and were sentenced to receive ten strokes in the market place as a public warning to others not to break these rules. There is no truth in the story which has been constantly repeated that a Resident struck them over the shoulders with a cane nor in the suggestion that any of these natives had been ordered to practice prostration before the local officers. With regard to Southern Nigeria, I have stated in this House on more than one occasion that I was convinced that the House Rule Ordinance originally passed in 1901 had led to certain abuses, and was in urgent need of amendment. Amendments which did deal with what I believe were the most serious objections to the law were made by me last year or the year before; but I recognised that the whole question of the retention of the law in any shape requires early consideration, and this was one of the important matters which T remitted to the Governor of the two Nigerias, and I asked him to make a special report to me upon it. Sir Frederick Lugard has furnished me with a full report, together with his recommendations on this subject. I have not yet had time to come to a final decision on the details. Whatever steps I take will be calculated to remove the objectionable features of the old law without interfering unduly with the legitimate tribal authority of the native chiefs, which it is important to preserve. The hon. Member for North Down has bespoken rev friendship for a college for tropical agriculture. It is indeed a most interesting proposal, and may tell him at once that it has my sympathy, but that must not be assumed to carry with it any financial support which I may not find myself able to afford. 859 All these scientific inquiries have added greatly to the prosperity and the future development of tropical lands. There has been much discussion as to the location of the college, and as to whether it should be established in the West Indies, or whether it should be in Ceylon.
In regard to whales, I am afraid the suggestion to limit the number caught by each whaler would be difficult, but there is a practical limitation by the number of factories which can deal with only a certain number of whales at a time and we know pretty well what is the utmost catch that can possibly be dealt with. I have been asked questions about railway extensions in East and West Africa. I dealt fully with that question last year, and I did not intend this afternoon to touch it again. I will say, however, with reference to the Bauchi Railway I am happy to say that I have been able to extend it for another fifty miles, and I am taking it up the Bauchi Escarpment, where I hope it will be of further service to the tin mines, and possibly lead to the establishment of a sanatorium for West Africa. With regard to Nyasaland most important extensions of the railway are being made down the Zambesi. The contract has already been signed. This is more important in view of the fact that the Shiré river is becoming less and less navigable every year, and Nyasaland is becoming more and more productive every year. I think the arrangement made with a Portuguese Company for an extension from the Zambesi to Beira, and the arrangement of our own as to repurchase of the lands granted in former times to the Shire Highlands Railway, have been a real advantage to Nyasaland, of which the full fruits cannot be gathered until the railway is finally completed. I know there are other railway projects in the air, but they have not gone further than that, and I am not in a position to speak about them with any confidence at this moment.
Sleeping sickness has also been mentioned. The hon. Member who raised this question is probably aware that I have just appointed a Committee to inquire into the very vexed question as to what are the parts played by wild animals and tsetse flies in Africa in spreading trypanosome infections of man and stock, whether it is necessary to destroy the wild animals altogether or only in part, or whether it is necessary to destroy them at all. 860 I had the joy of securing the great services of the late Mr. Alfred Lyttelton, both as a lawyer, a man of Colonial experience, and as a first-rate sportsman, and I have been happy in obtaining Lord Desart as Chairman to take his place, and, if hon. Gentlemen will look at the names of the Committee, I think they will agree that it is an exceedingly strong one, composed as it is of the best scientists dealing with questions of medicine and natural history. The hon. Gentleman asked for a. little more information about sleeping sickness. If he is interested in the subject, he will perhaps refer to the publications of the Sleeping Sickness Bureau, which are most admirable in every way.
The hon. Member then made an appeal to me to do something for the West Indies in the matter of cable rates. He rightly said that they suffered very greatly from the present rates. The rates vary from the West Indian Islands to England and rice versâ from 4s. 2d. up to 5s. 6d. a word. That, I admit, is crushing to telegraphic communication and, indeed, to commercial development. I have been convinced of that for a very long time, and I have entered into some very careful negotiations with my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General (Mr. Herbert Samuel) to see what we could do in this matter. The hon. Member knows that it is not very easy to get money out of the Treasury, or out of any people who have to supply it for this purpose, but we have finally concluded an arrangement. At the present time, the West Indian Islands contribute a subsidy of £10,300 a year for the cable. It was quite unreasonable, in my view, to ask them for more, but if you were to get better terms more subsidy had got to be found. It turned out that we could get better terms by adding another £16,000 to that subsidy, and that has been found, half by the British Government and half, as I know by a telegram received this afternoon from Mr. Borden, by the Canadian Government. Now let me tell the hon. Member what we are going to get by that. Of course, all this is subject to the assumption that the West Indian Islands will be willing to continue their subsidy of £10,300 a year, as they obviously will be if they are going to get better terms. The rate at present varies from 4s. 2d. to 5s. 6d. per word, and by this new subsidy we are going to reduce the rate between the West Indies and the United Kingdom to 2s. 6d. per word throughout, which is a reduction of more 861 than half in some cases. The company are going to continue a deferred rate for plain language telegrams at half the normal rate.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Yes. They are going to reduce the Press rate to half the new ordinary rate without deferment, and that will be a great advantage both to the Press here and in the West Indies. The company also gave us an undertaking that they will retain an absolutely British directorate and management. Those are, I think, the facts relating to the telegraph, and I am quite sure that the hon. Member will think that his constant appeal has not fallen on deaf ears, and I believe that the West Indies will really be surprised at the excellence of the terms which have been secured for them, and the very great reduction that has been made. I ought also to say that the existing rates between the West Indian Islands themselves are to be reduced to half with a maximum of 1s. 3d. a word and a minimum charge of 1s. per telegram. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Pointer) referred to the question of an elected municipality for the Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. There was, as he pointed out, recently a resolution passed by the Legislative Council that the Port-of-Spain Municipality should have a restoration of its electoral basis. I have always said this was a matter which ought to be discussed and recommended to me by that body, and, having said so, I have no intention of shirking the result which naturally flows from such a suggestion, and I have already intimated to the Governor my agreement with the proposals which have been made.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Yes, the franchise which is to be used for the purpose of the qualification of the Members will have to be considered by a Committee with some other details, but I assume from what has taken place in the Legislative Council that the leaders of the community are convinced that the time has now arrived for a restoration of an electoral municipality. It is to become wholly elected only at the end of four years. It is to be a gradual process. The appointment of the chief Commissioner is to remain in the hands of the Governor until the fully elected council has been completed. The official members of the Legislative 862 Council were left to vote as they please, and it was carried by eight to five. I cannot, I am afraid, discuss the whole question of the constitution of Jamaica, to-night, but I shall bear in mind the hon. Member's views of which I have been very conscious for the last two years. With regard to the question of indentured labour, I believe that nothing can give more satisfaction, or give us really a sounder view of what the situation is than the step which has been taken by the Indian Government with my full concurrence. The Government are sending out an unofficial Indian gentleman of position, and he is going round all the Colonies in which we employ indentured labour in order to inquire into the whole case and into the circumstances of the labour. He does not report to me, but to the Government of India who are responsible for the indentured coolies. He will be speaking entirely in their interests, and I am quite certain that we shall be better able to judge the position and what our duties are to indentured labourers who come from India when we have obtained his report.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Yes, Mr. Chinmaulal. I think that I have now dealt with all the questions which have been put to me, or at least most of them.
Sir G. PARKER
May I ask if the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with the concession obtained by Messrs. Lever Bros.?
§ Mr. HARCOURT
No, I have not, and it was obvious to me from the hon. Baronet's remarks that he was not well acquainted with the circumstances of the concession which was given to them, or of the whole of the conditions; otherwise, he would never have made the remarks he did about the natives and their machinery. The only thing the natives are prevented from using is the depericarping machine, and they have never even heard of it. It is quite a new machine. But they can continue to use any machinery they have got for nut or kernel cracking.
Sir G. PARKER
I think the right hon. Gentleman is misrepresenting me. I did not put forward these criticisms as my own, I drew his attention to the fact that these things had been stated in the Press, and that I thought it only fair he should 863 give to the Committee his reply to those criticisms which were universal in a certain section of the Press.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
The hon. Member's Leader said he was satisfied with the conditions of the concessions, he only objected to the way in which I had introduced the subject to the House and not to the concessions themselves. The fact is that the natives in the places where the Lever and other concessions apply, are going to get a new market for their nuts. They are going to lose no land and no farms, but they will be able to sell their produce to men who are anxious to buy. It seems to me whether they are selling to Lever or to some competitor outside the circle, the whole project of these concessions will be an enormous boom to the purchaser.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I beg to withdraw my Amendment, as I accept the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that it is the intention of the Government to effect a further reduction of troops as soon as poossible.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
I think it is extremely unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman has left so little time for persons who have taken considerable interest in and trouble to investigate this Lever business, and who are prepared to talk upon it, to express their views to the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman challenged me with three questions which he asked me to answer. I would have been pleased to answer them but, unfortunately, he has left me no opportunity of doing so.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
The moment I challenged, the hon. Member left the House, and he only returned a short time ago.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
The right hon. Gentleman is not accurate, and I can call as witness the Chairman of the Committee, who told me that it was of no use in the least my trying to speak, as the right hon. Gentleman must get in another speech.
§ The fact is the right hon. Gentleman first made a long speech, then he was called upon a second time, and now he has just concluded his third speech. The first speech lasted an hour and ten minutes, the second occupied twenty minutes, and the third another half-hour. The Chairman assured me that he would try to give me an opportunity if he could, but I have been waiting for a long time, and the only thing I can say is that I have had to listen to the third speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I am not afraid of meeting him. He challenged me to answer his questions, and, although it is customary on these occasions for the Secretary of State to answer questions which are put to him by private Members I will reverse that custom, and I will answer his questions, I hope in a clearer and more satisfactory way than he is accustomed to do. I cannot, of course, do it to-night, but I may have an opportunity on the Appropriation Bill, and, if necessary, I will defer my holiday provided the right hon. Gentleman will agree to defer his, so that we can have this matter out.
§ Original Question put.
§ The Committee proceeded to a Division.
§ Sir GEORGE YOUNGER
(seated and covered): I desire to call your attention, Mr. Whitley, to the fact that this door (pointing to the door leading to the "No" Lobby) was locked some time ago, and that the door opposite has been open until just now. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Prime Minister has just gone through."] I was unable to get into the "No" Lobby while hon. Members were going into the other Lobby.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
The "No" Lobby door was locked the moment you gave the word, but the other door was open until a moment ago. It is a scandal.
§ Ayes, 272; Noes, 76.867
|Division No. 241.]||AYES.||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Armitage, Robert||Banbury, Sir Frederick George|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Arnold, Sydney||Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Barnston, Harry|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Baird, John Lawrence||Barran, Sir J. (Hawick Burghs)|
|Alden, Percy||Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Barton, William|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Beale, Sir William Phipson|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Henry, Sir Charles||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, St, Geo.)||Hewart, Gordon||O'Shee, James John|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Higham, John Sharp||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Hinds, John||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Boland, John Pius||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Boles, Lt.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Hogge, James Myles||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, North)||Holt, Richard Durning||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Brace, William||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Horner, A. L.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pointer, Joseph|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Issacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D.Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Joyce, Michael||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Keating, Matthew||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Hey wood)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kelly, Edward||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Reddy, Michael|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Kilbride, Denis||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||King, Joseph||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Clough, William||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Lardner, James C. R.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Leach, Charles||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cowan, W. N.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lundon, Thomas||Roch, Walter F.|
|Cullinan, John||Lyell, Charles Henry||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||McGhee, Richard||Rowlands, James|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Maclean, Donald||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|De Forest, Baron||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Delany, William||Macpherson, James Ian||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Devlin, Joseph||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Dickinson, W. H.||M'Curdy, C. A.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Dillon, John||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Sheehy, David|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Laren, Hon.F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)||Shortt, Edward|
|Doris, William||Manfield, Harry||Smyth, Thomas (Leitrim, S.)|
|Duffy, William J.||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Snowden, Philip|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Martin, Joseph||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Meagher, Michael||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Molloy, Michael||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Molteno, Percy Alport||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Firench, Peter||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Tennant, Harold John|
|Field, William||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Mooney, John J.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Morgan, George Hay||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Morrell, Philip||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|France, G. A.||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. A. (Ashburton)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson||Morison, Hector||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Glanville, Harold James||Muldoon, John||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K.||Munro, Robert||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Waring, Walter,|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Needham, Christopher T.||Webb, H.|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Nellson, Francis||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Guinness, Hon.W. E. (Bury S.Edmunds)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Nolan, Joseph||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Hackett, John||Norton, Captain -Cecil W.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Hancock, J. G.||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Whyte, Alexander F.|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Nuttall, Harry||Wiles, Thomas|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Calthness-shire)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||O'Doherty, Philip||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Donnell, Thomas||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Hayward, Evan||O'Dowd, John|
|Hazleton, Richard||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||O'Malley, William|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Gardner, Ernest||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Goldsmith, Frank||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Bird, Alfred||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Blair, Reginald||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Royds, Edmund|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)|
|Boyton, James||Grant, James Augustus||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Greene, Walter Raymond||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Gretton, John||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cassel, Felix||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Attrincham)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Cautley, H. S.||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, N.)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Hills, J. W.||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hill-Wood, S.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., South port)|
|Clyde, James Avon||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Kinloch Cooke, Sir Clement||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lewisham, Viscount||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Dalzlel, Davlson (Brixton)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Falle, B. G.||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Hunt and Mr. R. M'Neill.|
|Fell, Arthur||Mackinder, Haltord J.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
§ It being after Ten of the clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded to put severally the Questions, That the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in each class of the Civil Service Estimates, including Supplementary Estimates, and the total amount of the Votes outstanding in the Estimates for the Navy and the Army (including Ordnance Factories), the Revenue Departments and Civil Services (Excesses), 1911–12, be granted for the Services defined in those Classes and Estimates.