HC Deb 19 June 1913 vol 54 cc519-21

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been drawn to evidence regarding the prevalence of phthisis in the Rand mine, which indicates that the death rate amongst machine men from this cause probably approximates to 300 per thousand per annum, as publicly stated by a competent authority in Johannesburg; and will he issue a warning in relation to this matter from the Immigration Department in those districts of the United Kingdom from which the supply of machine men for these mines is chiefly obtained?

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

I have seen the terribly high figures of those affected by the disease indicated in the Report of the recent South African Commission. I will draw the attention of the Committee of the Emigrants' Information Office to the facts.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, if his attention has been drawn to the evidence given before the Transvaal Phthisis Commission that two-thirds of the natives affected by phthisis in the mines die on the Rand and that the remainder, when considered fit to travel, are discharged or repatriated but, of those who have long distances to travel, few reach their kraals; and, in view of this state of affairs, will he take steps to prohibit the recruiting of natives in all African territories under the administration of the Crown?


I have not seen the particular statement referred to. With regard to the second part of the question, I would refer to my answer to another question by my hon. Friend to-day.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been drawn to a statement made by Mr. Sauer, Minister of Native affairs in the Union Parliament of South Africa, in which the death rate amongst natives, recruited in tropical territory for the Rand mines, was characterised as little less than murder, having been as follows: January 115.1 per thousand per annum; February, 117.6; March 118.5; April, 73.4; will he state if during this period any natives were recruited for the Rand mines in territory under the administration of the Crown; and whether, in view of the fact that companies responsible are registered in the United Kingdom, he will advise the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry on the lines of that constituted to deal with the Putumayo atrocities?


Mr. Sauer, in quoting the figures referred to, said that the recruiting of tropical natives should be stopped, because the mortality was of such a character that, should it continue at that rate, it would be little less than murder. No passes for natives to proceed to the Rand mines from Nyasaland have been issued for the past, year, and recruiting of natives from Nyasaland for the Rand mines was stopped some time previously, and I do not think that any of the tropical natives employed at the time referred to can have been recruited in territory under the control of the Colonial Office. The mortality in question occurred in the Union, and is primarily a matter for the consideration of the Union Government, who have in fact shown their desire to deal with it effectually in the most practical manner. I cannot, therefore, accept the proposal for a Committee of Inquiry.


Is the mortality amongst these natives greater than that among the Chinese?


Notice should be given of that question.


asked the President of the Local Government Board if his attention has been drawn to the fact that miners who have contracted phthisis in the Rand mines are now compensated, and that many leave the country to die; and will he cause inquiries to be made as to, the result on the health conditions of those districts in Cornwall and Cumberland to which in the majority of cases these men return?


My attention has been drawn to this subject, and more than one inquiry has already been made in regard to it. I may refer to the Report by Dr. Haldane and his colleagues on the health of Cornish miners (Cd. 2091), to the minutes of evidence taken by the Royal Commission on metalliferous mines and quarries during the last year or two, and to an official inquiry made in the Transvaal Colony, the Report on which was issued in 1910. The subject will not be lost sight of, but I do not think any further formal inquiry in regard to it is necessary at present. The system of general notification of tuberculosis which I have recently put in force will throw further light on the matter.

Back to
Forward to