§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £37,510, be 1146 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, 1915, 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.—£24,000 has been voted on account.]
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt)
In previous years I have followed the precedent, which I set myself, of taking this opportunity of giving at the beginning of the consideration of this Vote a general review of the progress and conditions in the Crown Colonies. I had intended—and, indeed, I had prepared—such a statement for this occasion, but within the last day or two, for the general convenience of the House, an arrangement has been made through the usual channels of communication that the day will be divided into two halves, the evening after 7.30 o'clock being devoted to Education and the earlier part to the Colonial Office Vote. I do not think under those circumstances, with the time at our disposal for criticism, that I have-any right to occupy the time, as I should do, for more than an hour, and therefore I omit it on this occasion. But I hope that whoever is at the Colonial Office next year—whether myself or my successor—will not depart from the precedent which has been set, which has shown itself to be a useful one, and which is departed from only on this occasion. I do not think I have any right to stand any longer between the House and the discussion.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
On a point of Order. It ought not to be assumed that we acquiesce in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he sets the precedent that the Minister in charge on these occasions should make a speech of an hour's length in introducing the Vote. I hope that that statement will not be taken as being agreed to.
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
Would it not be possible for the Colonial Secretary to circulate in some way the statement which he has prepared—it would be a great convenience for Members in all parts of the House?
§ 4.0 P.M.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
Concerning the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has just made, I think that the precedent which he set as to making a review of the progress and development of the Crown Colonies was a very admirable one, but I have, however, criticised the length of the speech. I thought it was much too academic, and that the Colonial Secretary, on more consideration, could give a more condensed review, which would be extremely gratifying to the Crown Colonies, and also would serve to educate Members of this House who are not too conversant with Colonial affairs. May I say I like to call the Crown Colonies by their old name. We are somewhat handicapped to-day in discussing questions on the Colonial Office Vote, because there are certain questions which it would have been very useful if we could have brought them before the House, but unfortunately we are prevented from so doing by the fact that they are, as it were, sub judice. There is, for instance, the question of the New Hebrides. That is now before a Conference embracing representatives from France and this country, and matters which this House might well consider, and will have to consider very carefully after the Conference has reported, ought properly to have been and would have been discussed to-day were it not for this circumstance. There is also the question of Rhodesia. Before many months have gone the question of the future of Rhodesia, especially as to its future Government and administration, will be a very acute one. We cannot discuss broadly the questions relating to Rhodesia, because the question of the land, which is closely identified with the question of Government, is also sub judice. Therefore that question is eliminated. I had intended to speak on other aspects of the Rhodesian question, but I have decided not to do so, for reasons which I need not enter into further than to say that I wish to devote myself to one subject only this afternoon. There is also a very grave question involving the relation of provincial governments to Dominion Governments, and of Dominion Governments to the Imperial Government. Then there is the question 1148 of the Japanese steamer now detained at Vancouver, which has brought Indian subjects demanding admittance to the province as British subjects. We cannot discuss that, though it is clearly a question which ought to be discussed in this House, since we could no doubt rely on the Colonial Secretary to throw light upon a question concerning which many people in this country are confused and anxious. We cannot discuss that question, because the matter is sub judice.
There is, however, a question which we are free to discuss, and I intend to devote my remarks to the question of Somaliland. The right hon. Gentleman stated to-day that he hoped to lay papers very soon concerning Somaliland. It is some weeks since the light hon. Gentleman stated that he would be able presently to lay papers concerning Somaliland. I think he must have anticipated that this Vote would come on this week, or, at the latest, next week, and I do not understand why he has not been able to lay papers, so that we could discuss the position in Somaliland, concerning which we are extraordinarily ignorant. I have been going through the OFFICIAL REPORT since the 24th February last, when a Debate occurred upon what was called a British defeat in Somaliland and the death of Mr. Corfield. I want to repeat now what I said then. I was not then prepared to discuss the British defeat in Somaliland, because there was no British defeat. The followers of the Mullah in Somaliland, when they are asked concerning that event, speak of it as a defeat for themselves, and they speak of Mr. Corfield in terms of which the right hon. Gentleman ought to be proud—proud that a man of Corfield's character served under him while he was at the Colonial Office. I hope that, even at this late date, the right hon. Gentleman will not only say that Corfield upheld the position into which he was driven by the policy which the Colonial Office had pursued, but that in most trying circumstances to the best of his judgment he upheld the responsibility to which he was committed with an honour worthy of a brave gentleman and a competent servant of the Empire. I hope that that belated commendation, which Corfield ought to have received at the right hon. Gentleman's hands on the 24th February, will be given to-day. The right hon. Gentleman can at least say that the Colonial Office are proud of a man whose mistake—if it was a mistake—was made because of the circumstances in 1149 which he was placed, and that, as Mr. Archer said in his report—It is apparent to me that he considered any other action than engaging the Dervishes impossible for the sake of our already much shaken prestige in the country.I pass from that with the hope that my words have not fallen unheeded on the right hon. Gentleman's ears. It is not too late to turn aside the criticism, which still stings in the minds of vast numbers of people in this country, that Corfield was abandoned at a moment when his memory should have been supported by the right hon. Gentleman. I want to know what the present situation is in Somaliland. We have had many policies—policies which varied under the late Unionist Government, and which I do not intend to defend. They were experimental; but from their experience the present Government ought to have come to a permanent and consistent policy. The present Government attempted the policy of having about 900 men from sixty to a hundred miles from the coast, based upon Burao, with the object of arming the friendlies, putting down raids, and preventing cattle stealing and marauding. That proved a failure, so they said. Then they send a very responsible Committee of Inquiry to Somaliland, consisting of Sir Reginald Wingate and Slatin Pasha, both men of wide experience, not only in dealing with natives but of the outposts of the Empire. They recommended the evacuation of the interior, concentration upon the coast, and distribution of arms to the friendlies. That was soon abandoned. It was found that the distribution of arms to the friendlies near the coast meant constant raids and difficulties, and the small Camel Corps stationed at Berbera had to issue forth and attempt to put clown these raids. Gradually the policy of the Government developed. Instead of having fifty Camel Corps they had seventy; then instead of seventy they had one hundred and fifty. Instead of staying at the coast, they pushed on to Sheikh; instead of staying at Sheikh, they pushed on to Burao; instead of staying at Burao, they permitted the Camel Corps to go further inland, in order to do—what? In order to protect the friendlies, as far as possible, but by no means to enter upon an engagement in which it might be feared they would be defeated.
It is not customary to British officers, if they have well disciplined men behind them and think that they can achieve a victory, to turn back, when turning 1150 back means loss of prestige to the country to which they belong. I am referring to this matter because after Dul Madoba there was a hasty retreat upon the coast back to Berbera. I have never been able to understand why. There was no retreat from Burao at all. Where were the-Mullah and his followers? They were cutting away as hard as they could from-Burao, from the punishment which they had had, when 300 of their number were killed or wounded. There was no danger but if there had been, what was to have-prevented the 700 men from India coming up to Burao and holding that post—and holding something more than that post: holding the prestige of the British nation, holding the respect of the friendlies, holding the Mullah in some sense of awe of the character of British and Indian troops—troops, at any rate, under British control and command. We have the Camel Corps—I fancy that is what was promised—of 500 men. We are going to have Indian troops—perhaps they are-there; I do not know; I want to know—of 400 men. That would be 900 men. I believe that 350 of the Camel Corps are stationed at Sheikh. I was told the other day by the right hon. Gentleman that there were no Camel Corps and no Indian troops at Burao. The Committee must see in what difficulty we are in in discussing these matters. It may be that I am making charges which the right hon. Gentleman can refute by saying, "I have information which goes to show so-and-so." That is the difficulty of the situation. We have no-Papers. I think we ought to have had by this time. If the right hon. Gentleman could promise Papers a few weeks ago, he could have satisfied us by now, if the resources of his Department are not exhausted, as I have no reason to think they are.
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what is going to happen when he re-occupies Burao? He said on the 26th March that Burao was to be reoccupied. To make the situation stronger there will be 500 Camel Corps distributed between Berbera, Zeila, and Bulhar. He will have Indian troops also at the same places. What are they going to do there? Are-they going to sit down and hold the post like a garrison, or are they going to use-it as a base, and move out, as Corfield did, with the approval of the right hon Gentleman, to attempt to preserve peace among-the friendlies, to put down small raids, 1151 to stop robberies and marauding, and to attempt to restore the confidence of the friendlies in British administration? And, to look no further than that, if that is exactly the position that existed at the time of Dul Madoba, what is going to happen? The Mullah's followers are in a position where they cannot be touched now—at least, I assume so. Will they not do as they have always done? When you have your posts established and in hand, and you have begun to make your little area, your little circle of protection, they will come nearer and nearer, destroying as they march, to the point where the friendlies have drawn in with their cattle within the circle of British protection, as they believe. The Mullah will come down in force into the area into which the friendlies have drawn with their cattle, and what is going to happen when the raids begin and the Mullah grows bolder and stronger? Will the right hon. Gentleman pursue then the same policy which was pursued in the case of Mr. Corfield? Will he say, "Now remember, just as soon as there is any danger of defeat you will fall back upon Burao; if you are in any danger there, you will draw back upon Sheikh, and then upon Berbera"? That will be a repetition of the indeterminate policy which has brought such trouble in the past. We will not be better off than in 1904, for since then we have had no triumph, except Dul Madoba. We had in 1904 the big defeat of the Dervishes. Since then we have been like a river stream, back and filling. We have not seemed to know exactly where we were, and since papers come to this House so seldom from that country through the right hon. Gentleman, we are always in a circle of darkness until the Colonial Vote comes, and then the right hon. Gentleman does his best to enlighten us.
I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will not beat about the bush to-day. I hope he will give a direct answer to my question, which is this: "What is the policy?" Is the policy to be the same as that pursued from Burao before? If that is so, then if with 800 men in 1908 we could not protect Burao and keep order amongst the friendlies, and prevent marauding, 900 men will not be able to do it to-day, no matter how strong, active and wise the Commissioner is, nor how brave the officer in command at Burao. A firm policy should be pursued. I do not think this nation is in the least disposed to establish posts in the interior of a country like 1152 Somaliland, which are only to be held tentatively and the holding of which is only experimental in its nature. To my mind only two things are possible; either a powerful garrison must be stationed at Berbera, Sheikh, and Burao, with a large force available to be sent down to the Ain Valley or into the Koath area, or else we should abandon the interior entirely. Does the Committee consider what the future of the country is going to be? In 1884 we occupied the coast for strategical reasons, in order, as Lord Lansdowne said, "To prevent anybody else occupying it." I think it was essential that we should be established upon that littoral.
I am not at all sure, looking back over the history of the last fifteen years, that this attempt to hold posts in the interior from which we retreated when any difficulty occurs is going to do anything but increase the disturbance and disorder that have existed there, particularly during the last twelve years. The right hon. Gentleman assured us with a smile of content that the Mullah was an old man, dropsical and under the spell of morphia, and that if we waited long enough, our fortunes would turn. The Mahdi had the same disorder and he lived long enough to imprison Slatin Pasha, to appoint a very powerful successor in the Khaliphite, give us great trouble for a long time, and make a great demand upon British money and British troops before he was laid low at Omdurman. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that when the Mad Mullah dies, there will be no Khalifa to follow him? I am inclined to think that these Dervishes whom the Mad Mullah has led will have a strong leader ready to take his place, to pursue the policy of raiding, disturbing, and breaking up the friendly tribes, destroying them, robbing them of their cattle, leaving them to rest again until they have acquired cattle once more, and they are within the protection of the British zone. Then again this successor will make a big effort to take off all the cattle, as the followers of the Mullah did at the time of Dul Madoba. What happened then was that all the cattle of the friendlies were swept away by the Mullah's party. Mr. Corfield seeing that British prestige would be badly hit unless an attempt were made to recover these cattle, made the attempt. It was an excellent attempt, and a successful attempt. If he had lived and had kept his troops at Burao, decimated 1153 though they were, I am absolutely certain that this House would have applauded. [An HON. MEMBER: "They do now!"] Yes, they do now—have applauded the action, though it might be regarded as a mistaken action—though I do not think it was mistaken—and one to be regarded as reflecting credit upon British administration.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the policy which is going to be pursued when Burao is occupied—I assume he will tell us that it is going to be occupied—will be simply the policy of protecting, when you can without the least difficulty and danger, the tribes which will gather in and around Burao, and when any trouble comes and the place is threatened, retreating down the coast with the friendlies struggling after and the Mullah's followers cutting them down? Or docs the right hon. Gentleman feel that now that he has a camel corps of 500 with 400 Indians the post will be strong enough to permit a wider protection being established? When the area of protection is endangered by the Mullah's followers, for the purpose of destruction, will those troops be ample to meet the Mullah and his followers? One thing is certain, that if that post is attacked by the Mullah's followers, and that post should be held by 600 or 700 men, or 500, that with the road kept open to Berbera by way of Sheikh, reinforcements could be brought from Aden quickly enough to deliver a smashing blow to the Mullah and his followers if they remain within that area of British protection. I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that we are not going back again to, shall I call it, a "shilly shally" policy, or to a backing and filling policy, to "I will and I will not" policy; whether we, at any rate, are going as far as Burao is concerned and the chain from Berbera to Burao to hold that line, to hold Burao, and to have some post in the interior which we can call our own. If there is no further policy, then we ought to retreat upon the coast and stay there, and allow Somaliland to look after itself and its interior; and forget our treaties, forget our obligations, forget all that we have promised, forget the distribution of rifles, forget the training and organisation we ought to have given to the friendlies, forget all and sit down at the coast and suck our thumbs Upon my word, I do not know what other policy ought to be pursued, unless we mean to hold the position that we have got in the interior, and 1154 gradually to extend our power until the Mullah is at last defeated. I look to the right hon. Gentleman to-day to give us a definite reply and make a definite statement.
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
I do not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman into the question of Somaliland. I wish to ask the Colonial Secretary to give the Committee some information on one or two matters of vital importance to the welfare of the natives, particularly in British East Africa. Some of us have been very, interested in the reading of the Report and evidence of the Native Labour Commission, and we are grateful to the Colonial Secretary for making that available in this country—at any rate to the Members of this House. While that Commission has undoubtedly made many recommendations of great value, I think one of its most valuable results is, to make quite clear to anyone who reads the danger that lies in front of us in regard to the attitude of a large number of settlers in British East Africa to the natives' right to their land and the question of native labour. It seems to me quite clear from the evidence of that Commission that a number of settlers have been constantly pressing on the Government to force the natives out of their reserves in order that there may be a more adequate supply of labour for the planters. It is a very natural economic demand on the part of the settlers, but the position of the native is a very serious one. It has been suggested that the taxation of the natives should be increased, so that they may be forced to spend a larger time in the year labouring for the white settlers. It has been suggested that they should be compelled to wear clothes, in order that they should be forced to buy them. It has been suggested that they should be compelled to do their share of work for the Government, and possibly that they should be farmed out to the settlers. I hope the Colonial Secretary will give us an assurance upon all these points.
But beyond that question of native labour there is the great question of the natives' right to their land, and their right to the existing reserves and to the land which has not yet been definitely assigned to anyone, and which forty years ago was, if the property of anyone, the property of these black natives, when we ourselves had no intention of going into the country. I think public opinion has not yet realised 1155 how serious the position to these natives is. In the eye of the law it has been made quite clear by the action that certain members of the Masai tribe have endeavoured to bring, in order to set aside the transfer of their land by chiefs to the Colonial Office. The question of the justice and expediency of that transfer was questioned by certain members of the tribe who were dissatisfied with it. There is no doubt they tried to question its legality, and the High Court of British East Africa decided that these natives, not being British subjects, had no right to bring the action at all in the British Courts. They were a foreign people whose chiefs had made a treaty with the British Crown, and this solemn treaty pledged the honour of the British Crown that these lands should be theirs for ever. They were told that they had no power to bring their case before a British Court, though they are brought before the British Courts again and again if their cattle stray out of bounds and cross the border, as they do in times of great drought. They can come before the Courts as defendants, but they are not allowed to come before the Court in any other capacity. Because of this quibble of the Status of British East Africa they are not allowed to come before the Court and urge their case against the Government. Surely this is a very substantial injustice. Are we to allow it to continue indefinitely by continuing this anomalous status of a protectorate when we all know we have no intention of abandoning the country, and when to all intents and purposes it is part of the dominions of the Crown. We are doing great injustice to a large number of the native population, because they are not getting a chance of maintaining their rights. It may be that this claim may not have been justified in the Courts, but at least those dissatisfied natives had a right to bring it, and we ought to see that that right should be maintained.
I hope the Colonial Secretary will be able to assure us as to this ultimate right of the native population, and that they will be given a position under the dominion of the Crown which they are not allowed by this quibble at the present time. One of the results of the native Labour Commission was that the Comimssioners felt they could not make a definite recommendation as to the native reserves, and there is great disagreement in East Africa as to whether these reserves are adequate for the native population It seems pretty 1156 clear they cannot be adequate if any considerable increase takes place in the population. I think we have a right to claim on behalf of these natives whose country this is far more than the settlers, that when new reserves are dealt with, the Government should see that land enough is left not for a bare minimum of the population, but to provide for an increase of the population, both in the interests of the natives and the ultimate interest of the Crown, so that we may not have a dissatisfied landless population, conscious that in distant days this land was the land of their people, and that owing to some legal arrangement entered into under the British Crown it was taken away from them.
Mr. GEORGE LLOYD (Staffordshire, W.)
The hon. Gentleman cannot be aware that under existing conditions there is no dissatisfaction amongst the East African settlers, and that the men for whom he was pleading so eloquently this afternoon are far richer than the white population.
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
The hon. Gentleman will see if he reads the evidence given before the Labour Commission that certain settlers maintain that the reserves ought to be cut down; they ask that the land reserved should be taken away, and that the natives should be compelled to come out and work. Have we a right to say that the natives should work for us? We have every right to induce them, by education, by improved economic conditions, and otherwise, to give more of their time to manual labour. I am entirely in favour of that, but have we a right to compel them, by taking away this land, which is morally theirs? I hope the Colonial Secretary will see that it is made quite clear that the British Government will uphold the unwritten rights of the natives, and will maintain them at whatever cost. I feel there is reason for pressing this now because there is before the Council a draft land Ordinance, and that Ordinance declares that all the land not already held by legal title should be Crown land. And it could be made perfectly easy by administrative act for this land to be taken away from the actual occupiers without compensation. I see a real danger—I do not say under the present administration, but we must look ahead—of measures taken now being made an excuse in years to come for a great act of injustice being done to these natives. I hope that 1157 the Colonial Secretary, when he speaks upon this point, will make it quite clear that in future, if reserves are delimited, regard will be had not merely to the actual population, but to the natural growth of the population, and that room will be left for them, and that he will trust to other measures, such as education, and a gradual pressure of economic causes when you have a higher state of civilisation, rather than forced measures suggested by some of the settlers to get the natives to come in and give their labour, as so many of the settlers in British East Africa desire them to do. I think we have very great reason to see that we take away this reproach now being made against our rule, that while we talk very much about shouldering the white man's burden, we take great care to secure for ourselves the black man's land.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
I desire to say a few words on another branch of the subject in connection with this Vote. I wish to refer to the constitutional discussion that recently took place in Tasmania, and to the public communications made in connection therewith. In Tasmania the Ministry was defeated, and they asked for a dissolution, and for the reasons given in the White Paper the dissolution was not granted. It appears that the numbers of each party in the Legislature were practically or almost equal, and the Governor decided he should not grant a dissolution on the ground that the party in power had recently had an appeal to the country. He then called upon the Leader of the Opposition to assume power and to form a Cabinet, and he asked the Leader of the Opposition to do so subject to one or two conditions. The leading condition was that the Leader of the Opposition who became Prime Minister, should agree to the dissolution of the House and appeal to the people, so that a new Parliament might be returned. That was the important condition. The Leader of the Opposition—that is, the incoming Prime Minister—instead of objecting to the condition which was laid down for his guidance, accepted it. He formed his Ministry, and after it was formed and sworn in they appear to have changed their minds, and they made a representation to the State Governor that it would be a breach of constitutional government for them to commit themselves in advance to a proposition of the character placed before them by the Governor, and, therefore, they wished to be released from their obligations which they had assumed. 1158 Now, the first Paper, signed by the Prime Minister, does not disclose the fact that he and the Governor had come to the conclusion to adopt this condition. That was kept in the background, and it does not appear until the Governor made his reply.
When the Governor made his reply he pointed out to the new Prime Minister that before he accepted office, and before his Ministry was sworn in, he, the Prime Minister, had agreed to this condition, and that it was one of the terms of arrangements under which he entered into his office, and that he, the Governor, thought, and still thought, that a new House should be elected. On the following day the legislative Assembly of the State passed a resolution which appears in the White Paper taking up the ground that the Governor acted unconstitutionally in the stand he had taken in making the suggestion to the incoming Prime Minister and condemning the arrangements that had been entered into by the Prime Minister and the Governor as being a departure from constitutional government, and in conclusion it asked that the question should be referred to the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. The correspondence was placed before the right hon. Gentleman, and he proceeded to make a communication upon the subject, and in that communication he points out that it is not the function of a Colonial or Dominion Governor to indicate to his Ministry what course of proceedings should be taken, and that he is bound to act upon the advice of his Ministers, to all of which, of course, very little exception can be taken, but I think it hits somewhat hardly upon the Governor. The Secretary of State for the Colonies says:—At the same time, while I consider that you should not have imposed terms on Mr. Earle. I recognise that he was entirely at liberty to decline the duty of forming a Government unless he was left with complete discretion as to the advice to be tendered to you. Instead of doing so, he decided to take office, and thus must be held to have accepted for the time being full responsibility for your action.Up to this point I take no exception, but the further remarks I will quote I think are open to some criticism:—He (the Prime Minister) remained fully responsible until the Ministry determined to advise in the contrary sense, when the policy of dissolution ceased to be authorised by ministerial advice, but became a matter of your personal opinion, that is to say, no constitutional means existed of giving effect to it without another change of views on the part of Ministers, or another change of Ministry.Although in the main that may be correct, still it does veil in a midst of language that once the Leader of the Opposition became Prime Minister and had assented 1159 to the conditions, he was bound by that in the future, and any renunciation later was a breach of a clear bargain made between the Prime Minister and the Governor. While that bargain subsisted surely the Governor was not open to reproach when he had frankly and fairly put before the Prime Minister the conditions upon which he accepted him as his chief adviser. If that was binding up to the time the Minister was sworn in, surely the departure from it, instead of constituting anything in the nature of a reflection upon the Governor of the Colony, was more a breach of the bargain openly made between the parties, as is proved by the evidence of the right hon. Gentleman himself. In this House we have to be extremely careful of the criticisms we make with regard to the Governments in our Dominions over-seas. They have their differences just as we have, and whatever criticism is made by the right hon. Gentleman in this paper, and whatever I have said, has been made in perfect good faith without taking sides.
I wish to say a word or two with regard to the policy of co-operation in the Empire. There is no doubt whatever that this is a matter that we cannot ignore whether we call ourselves great Englanders or little Englanders, because we are all interested in that vast space of the earth's surface and the enormous population which constitutes the British Empire. What we have to look forward to in the future is more serious co-operation in the development of this vast Empire which is our possession. In that connection I am not going to refer to any question that can be regarded as controversial, such as the fiscal question, but I do think that the subject of emigration is one which calls for greater care and supervision. In making that observation I do not mean for one moment that there should be any encouragement to people to leave this country but we know from experience that large numbers of our countrymen do leave this country and go abroad. We have an interest, and emigrants have an interest, in seeing that as far as possible they should settle under the British flag. At the present time supervision in that respect is practically non-existent, and surely it is compatible with the interests of this country and our great dominions overseas that some sort of supervision and oversight should prevail over the emigration that 1160 inevitably takes place, so that as far as possible the emigrants should go to countries under the British flag, and should not feel that they are entirely cut off from the Motherland. There should not only be a bond of sentiment but also some practical means of systematic communication kept up between those abroad and those remaining behind in this country other than the post or the telegraph. Whenever our people approach any of our great dominions for settlement I think there should be some co-operation between this country and those dominions with a view to seeing that those people do not arrive there as absolute strangers, in some cases practically stranded in a land that must be more or less strange to them. It would be far better if a friendly hand could meet them, and that they should be conducted or shepherded as far as possible and assisted in finding some means of livelihood and settlement in suitable parts of the country, instead of being left to travel haphazard, perhaps through thousands of miles of territory which is unknown to them.
From what I have heard in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa, the public officials there are quite willing to afford any assistance they can to make things as comfortable and agreeable as possible to those emigrants who desire to improve their fortunes, and I think many of these people might receive more friendly salutation than is the case at the present time. Our means of communication might be vastly improved. In the case of postal matters and telegraph communication there is room for vast improvement. Improvements in our lines of communication, whether by ship or telegraph or by post would materially strengthen the bonds of friendship and help to knit together more-perfectly and strongly the enormous Dominions which are under the aegis of the British flag. In that connection I think it would be a great deal better for this country and for our great Dominions if there could be some sort of reasonable and rational supervision of the news that is sent out from this country to our great Dominions all over the world. Hon. Members who have been abroad know these difficulties, and I have often been at a loss to obtain anything like an accurate idea of what is taking place in the United Kingdom whilst living abroad. How that is to be done I am not able to explain, but the necessity exists, and I do trust it will not be beyond the 1161 power of British enterprise and skill and forethought to devise some means by which better and purer news of what is going on here shall reach our great Dominions abroad. These are the only points to which I wish to call attention, and I commend them to the respectful consideration of the Colonial Secretary.
§ Mr. ALDEN
I think the hon. Member for Chertsey (Mr. Macmaster) touched upon a very important point when he referred to an Imperial news service. I think it is of the utmost importance that our Colonies should get accurate information as to what is going on in the old country. Perhaps the Colonial Secretary might do worse than institute a system of cablegrams with regard to important information which can be very easily obtained in this country in regard to news, which never does seem to percolate to other countries. I have been to most of our Colonies, and I know the information they get is of the most extraordinary character at times. I wish to bring to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the question of the native lands in South Africa. The Colonial Secretary knows quite well, and so do we, that it is impossible to interfere or do anything which might seem like interfering with the Government of South Africa. I happen to have been responsible for a Resolution passed unanimously in this House previous to the passing of the Act of Union, and in the discussion which took place on that occasion the Under-Secretary of State to the Colonies laid it down as one of the duties of the Imperial Parliament to protect in every possible way the interests of the natives in their land, and protect their rights and liberties in that respect. If we take away the land from the natives we take away his liberty. In reference to the Natives Land Act of 1913, I want to put two or three points before the right hon. Gentleman. In the Union of South Africa, blacks own about 4,500,000 morgen of land, and the whites own fourteen times as much land as the blacks, though, of course, they are very much smaller in number. The inequality is very noticeable in the Transvaal, where there are 300,000 whites holding 31,000,000 morgen of land, as against a total of 32,000,000 morgen, and the 1,000,000 natives only have 500,000 morgen of land which they can call their own. The Land Act of 1913 declares in its first Clause:—Except with the approval of the Governor-General, a native shall not enter into any agreement or transaction for the purchase, hire, or other acquisition from 1162 a person oher than a native, of any such land, or of any right thereto, interest therein, or servitude thereover.And secondlyA person other than a native shall not enter into any agreement or transaction for the purchase, hire, or other acquisition from a native of any such lands or of any rights thereto.5.0 P.M.
It has been said over and over again in South Africa that this Sub-section applies equally to Europeans and Whites as well as to the natives. There is, they say, no injustice. The European is estopped from this purchase of land, just as the native is estopped. All I can say in answer to that is that the fallacy is shown the moment you begin to ask what land the natives have to sell. The native areas are already overcrowded, and they positively have no land which they could sell. When once a native leaves his farm or is evicted or has to quit for any reason whatever, the Act does not allow him to purchase, hire, or to lease anywhere else for farming purposes except from natives, who have not the land to lease or to sell. He therefore must become a servant of the farm. There is absolutely nothing else for him to do but to become a servant of the farm, and in many cases, although I do not wish to say any word against the farmers in South Africa, it practically means that he has got to become a servant. This Act has already produced very great hardships. It has produced hardships to the people who were under notice to quit at the time the Act was passed, to the people who have actually since then been evicted from their farms, to the natives who were in search of land and who are wandering about with their families and stock and have nowhere to settle, and to the natives who have had to leave their crops un-reaped. There are many hundreds of such cases of hardship which have been inflicted under the Act which is being enforced on all sides. I do not wish to go into this question at very great length, because the right hon. Gentleman knows more about it than anybody in the House in all probability, and he knows the difficulties of the situation.
I want to put before him just one point with regard to what can be done. We call ourselves the protectors of the rights of the natives, and we claim that we have always, in season and out of season, insisted that those rights should not be infringed, and that no action should be taken against their liberties. The Imperial Government cannot, of course, intervene in the sense of asking the Govern- 1163 ment of South Africa either to rescind an Act of Parliament or to amend an Act of Parliament, unless it is their own wish, but I must point out that Clauses 1, 4, and 5 do operate most harshly against the native, and it might be possible, on the representation of the right hon. Gentleman, for the Prime Minister of South Africa to mitigate the hardships. I do not say that it would be possible to ask him to suspend altogether the operations of those Clauses until such time as the Land Commissioners reported, but certainly, if the Prime Minister could see his way to do that, it would do a very great deal to conciliate native opinion in South Africa, and it seems to me that it would be one of the most humane things that could possibly be conceived. Apart altogether from that, I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the fact that Mr. Dower, the Minister for Native Affairs, by the wish and on the instructions of General Botha, wrote a letter with regard to native lands, and to native affairs generally, to one of the deputation,—which deputation. I believe, is still in England—whether he will use that letter as a lever for obtaining some sort of definite native policy in South Africa. May I read to the Committee a portion, at any rate, of that letter:—When the time arrives for introducing such legislation it is the intention of the Government to make full legislative provision for such gradual expropriation of lands owned by Europeans within defined native areas as may from time to time be necessary for the settlement of natives on such lands under a regularised system, for the acquisition of land by natives within such areas, for the gradual extension of the system of individual tenure, wherever the natives are sufficiently advanced to appreciate its advantages, and for the good government and the local administration of affairs in native areas by means of native councils and otherwise.I say that this bespeaks a very wise and statesmanlike policy, and if only that policy could be, shall I say, recommended or approved of by the right hon. Gentleman, if he would intimate to the Government of South Africa that he strongly approves of that policy, and that he would wish to see it put into operation as speedily as possible, I believe that he would do a very great deal to create good feeling in South Africa, and he would certainly reassure the natives with regard to their future welfare. I do not think that I need say more on this subject, because the right hon. Gentleman is fully cognisant of the difficulties of the situation and of the needs of the natives, and I sincerely hope that he will see his way to take the step that I have suggested.
§ Mr. CAVE
The subject to which the hon. Member has referred is no doubt of importance, and no one can quarrel with the tone of the speech in which he has introduced it. I want to revert for a few minutes to a subject which was dealt with by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Mr. Macmaster), and that is the recent crisis in Tasmania. The Colonial Secretary, in his dispatch, has expressed the opinion that the action of the Governor of Tasmania has not been in accordance with constitutional practice, and I do not think that the statement ought to be allowed to pass without some comment, or that it ought to be taken that all of us agree with the right hon. Gentleman. The action of the Governor of Tasmania, in declining to dissolve Parliament at the request of the late Prime Minister, has not, I think, been censured or attacked. It is plain that his view was that before the House was dissolved it was right that the party which then had the majority in the House—namely the party led by Mr. Earle—should have the opportunity of declaring their policy, and that thereupon the dissolution should take place. No one, I think, has seriously attacked that decision. It was at all events inspired by the wish to give effect to the views of the majority of the House in Tasmania. The censure, if that is the word, or at all events the comment, is made upon the action of the Governor in making it a condition when he appointed a new Minister that an early dissolution should take place, and there it is that the right hon. Gentleman disapproves of the action of the Governor.
I speak with very great reserve, like my hon. and learned Friend, in commenting upon anything that passes in a Legislature of one of our Dominions, but I do just want to point out one or two things. When the Governor put to Mr. Earle this condition, Mr. Earle might very well have said I decline. I do not recognise your right to impose the condition, and I decline to form a Government on those terms." This Gentleman, however, after consulting the whole of his party, came back and said that he accepted the condition, and on those terms the new Ministry, the present Ministry of Tasmania, was formed. Surely there was nothing improper in that! The Governor is entitled to know before appointing Ministers what their views are upon one or the other subject, and, if he thinks that a dissolution at an early date is in the interests of the com- 1165 munity as a whole, I do not see anything improper in his obtaining from the incoming Minister whom he is about to appoint his opinion and advice as to whether such a dissolution should take place. Mr. Earle at all events accepted the condition of a dissolution, and took office on those terms. By so doing he accepted responsibility for a dissolution, and in effect must be taken to have advised the Governor to dissolve at an early date. What happened? Mr. Earle might have come back to the Governor afterwards and said, "I have made a mistake: I do not think that a dissolution is desirable." That did not happen. A Member of the House without notice moved what amounted to a censure of the Governor, and Mr. Earle, in spite of having accepted the condition, thought it right to support that Motion, and it was passed by the House, not unanimously, but with very little dissent.
I do not know what comment to make here upon the action of the Prime Minister of Tasmania, but we are concerned with the action of the Governor, and the comment of our Government on that action, and I do think, in view of the circumstances, that the right hon. Gentleman should have been very reluctant to pass any censure at all upon the Governor of Tasmania. He was put in a very difficult position indeed. He had, I think, reason for supposing that the action he took was in the interests of Mr. Earle and his followers, and that this would have been recognised, and that the terms on which they took office would have been accepted and carried out. At all events, he had the right to expect before he was censured by the House in Tasmania, that he would have some notice and some opportunity of knowing what was about to occur. Further than that he had been subjected to very bitter attacks by the Press of Tasmania. I am glad to know that a reaction has taken place, and that there is strong feeling in his favour in Tasmania at the present time; but, while they lasted, the attacks were very bitter, and I think that he was deserving of such support as could be afforded to him by this Government.
I venture to think that the right hon. Gentleman in his dispatch goes too far. He puts a dissolution in a Colony on exactly the same footing as a dissolution in this country, and he lays down the rule that the Governor of the Colonies can do nothing except on the advice of his Ministers, and he extends that to the case 1166 of a dissolution of Parliament. I believe that to be a new doctrine as regards Colonial Governments. It is obvious that there is a difference between the Home Government and the Government of a Colony. This is what is said on the subject in well known constitutional text books. When a dissolution is recommended in a Colony the Governor has a discretion in the matter. The responsibility rests upon him. He cannot shelter himself behind the advice of his Ministers, and he must exercise his discretion, having regard to the claims of the respective parties in the Colonies, and to the general interests of the inhabitants. I think it will be found that that is laid down by several constitutional authorities. At all events, I do not want to argue the question in any dogmatic way. It is one of great importance, and, personally, I do not want to pronounce a final opinion whether that view is right or wrong. I do think that the Colonial Secretary, in pronouncing a very dogmatic opinion the other way, has been a little hasty, and, having regard to the position of our Governor, he might have held his hand and not expressed his views so strongly. I desire to enter this caveat against the doctrine laid down in the despatch. I am not satisfied that it represents the right constitutional position, but I am satisfied that the Governor of Tasmania has done nothing whatever which should prevent him from receiving that support which our Governors usually obtain from the Home Government.
§ Sir A. SPICER
I desire to say a very few words with reference to the Native Lands Act in South Africa. I quite realise that in South Africa we have a self-governing country, and, therefore, one would be desirous to be very careful in what he said with regard to its administration and legislation. But this, at any rate, is the right place to express the views that are held by very large numbers of people in this country, who have devoted a good deal of time and money in doing what they can to educate and uplift the native races of South Africa. Those of us who know South Africa, are perfectly well aware that whilst it is now a country owned by the white races, it can only be properly and fully developed with the help of the native races, and the better educated they are, the better work they will be able to do for South Africa. This Native Lands Act was passed very hurriedly. Of course, we cannot blame South Africa for passing legislation hastily, seeing that we are accustomed 1167 sometimes to do the same thing in the Mother of Parliaments. Again, the appointment of the Commission, which is now inquiring into the subject and is taking evidence, is helping, I think, to produce injustice in some cases, so far as the natives are concerned, because the introduction of the Lands Act has led farmers to take action to enforce their rights. They have terminated the rent-paying agreements of former tenants, and, knowing that these are precluded from making new agreements for the hire of land, they have either rejected them or have demanded from them three months' unpaid service per annum, which has had the indirect effect of reducing a free people to a condition of service. I could give instances of that from well authenticated sources. I will refer to one only. It is the case of a chief and his people living on land which they and their fathers have dwelt upon for eight generations. The farm was recently purchased by a farmer resident in another province. He decided to terminate the rent-paying conditions previously in existence between the former owner and the natives, and to substitute labour conditions, under which even the chief, an old man, has been required to give service. The people were called upon to quit their houses, square buildings, timbered and thatched, and in connection with this the owner gave less than one month's notice in the following terms:—This is to notify I can lot you have the school building no longer. I bought the farm and wish to receive the same at the end of your school quarter.We desire to speak with all due respect of the self-governing Dominions of South Africa, but I think we may fairly ask the Colonial Secretary to help the Union Government to realise that there is a strong feeling in this country in favour of everything possible being done to secure just and reasonable treatment for the natives. One may fairly ask the right hon. Gentleman to use all reasonable influence with the Union Government to secure for the natives a fair quid pro quo for the loss of their former rights of land purchase, which would mean in some cases an extension of the native area, and if it were possible to suspend to some extent the operation of the Act until the Land Commission has reported. Having been connected with South Africa for a good many years, having travelled through it, and given a good deal of time to it, I desire to do what I can for the uplifting 1168 of the people of that country, and that is my reason for intervening in this Debate.
§ Mr. HUNT
I beg to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £100.
I want to ask the Colonial Secretary how it is that the Federated Malay States have been obliged to raise a large loan in London for public works, when, only a short time ago we were told that the States were presenting a "Dreadnought" to this country? His Excellency the Governor, in a despatch on the subject, said it was the Chief Secretary who first proposed that the Malay States should give this warship to Great Britain. This gentleman's name was Mr. Brockman. He was really a dependent of the British Government, and soon after he succeeded in getting the promise of this "Dreadnought" he—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I do not see how the Colonial Secretary is responsible for the matter to which the hon. Gentleman is now referring.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not think that the Colonial Secretary is responsible for the action of the Federated Malay States, and I do not see how he can answer for them in this matter.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not know. I am only clear about this, that the Colonial Secretary cannot answer for the action of the Federated Malay States in the question to which the hon. Member is now referring.
§ Mr. HUNT
Then, I suppose I cannot go on with this. I presume the Malay States will come before this House under some Vote, and if it is not the Colonial Vote, I cannot understand what Vote it is. Is it not a fact that the Colonial Secretary can intervene in a matter like this, and, therefore, would he not be held responsible? If he is not I do not know who can be.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not mind, as a matter of courtesy, and the Colonial Secretary offering no objection, allowing the hon. Member to develop his point, but it must not be taken as a precedent.
§ Mr. HUNT
It seems to me that the Malay people were never consulted in this 1169 matter at all. It was the Chief Secretary who made the suggestion to the Sultan of the four States, that a warship should be presented. What I want to point out to the Colonial Secretary is that this money was given for the warship at a time when it was badly needed for hospital accommodation, doctors and nurses, especially in the undrained areas, where men, women and children were suffering, and, indeed, dying, from disease and fever. The serious part of it appears to be that this is the first time the British Government has ever applied the old Roman system of tribute, and the effect must be very bad in India and the East. Apparently the Government wanted to save money, and so they extracted about two and a half millions sterling from the unfortunate Malay people, with the result that they have now had to try and raise a big loan in London for purposes of public works, such as hospitals and roads, which could have been supplied to a great extent cut of the money devoted to the purpose, as the First Lord of the Admiralty put it, of presenting a battleship to the British people. There are, I believe, only about a million people in the Malay States. They are poor people, and this must have been a very heavy tax upon them. It was imposed without their consent, and I say it was a very bad precedent indeed. I shall be glad to hear what the right hon. Gentleman has to say in defence of it.
There is another question which I hope I shall be strictly in order in putting to the right hon. Gentleman. It is. How was it that he agreed in this year's Finance Act to allow the interest on money invested within our Empire to bear a double Income Tax, even when reinvested in the self-governing Dominions or in India, for the purpose of still further developing British Colonies or Possessions. I am quite aware that the interest on Colonial investments when brought home already bears a double Income Tax, but, under the present Finance Bill, things are considerably worsened, because that Bill imposes a British Income Tax even where the money is left in the Colony for the further development of that Colony. If I may take a specific case, British capital is very much required for the development of Australia. Under the present Finance Bill the interest on British capital in Australia will have to pay British as well as Australian Income Tax, even if it is left in Australia. On the other hand, British capital employed in any part of South 1170 America, where there is no Income Tax, will only have to pay one Income Tax, and if the interest is reinvested it is very doubtful whether the British Government would be able to collect their Income Tax. Therefore, if capital is sent to South America, the interest on that money will not only not have to pay two Income Taxes, but will not have to pay any Income Tax at all, whereas in Australia it will certainly have to pay double Income Tax, and in all probability the British Government would have no difficulty in collecting the British Income Tax. That state of affairs is a very distinct injury to our great self-governing Dominions, and is bound to check the much needed investment of British capital in those Dominions. The money so invested is at a disadvantage with money invested in the United States, because although the United States now have an Income Tax, I understand that in some, if not in all cases, if a person can prove he is a British subject the American Income Tax is remitted. I asked a question on that subject the other day and the Minister did not deny it. I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman will say. If the Colonial Secretary is to be of much use to the great Dominions, he should surely see that British capital invested in those Dominions is not treated worse than capital which is invested in other countries. The people in our great Dominions are very much interested in this question, and it ought to be put right. People in this country should not be penalised for using their capital to develop our great Dominions or any other part of the Empire.
§ Mr. THEODORE C. TAYLOR
The right hon. Gentleman who now presides over the Colonial Office is one of the greatest of House of Commons reformers. I would ask him to-day to effect a little reform that would help to give more reality to our Colonial Office Debates in future than they have at present. He should endeavour to secure that the Colonial Office Reports, say for the year 1913, should be presented to this House before July, 1914. I cannot believe it is impossible that the Reports from our various Colonies should be printed earlier than they are. I notice that the 1912 Report for Hong Kong, dated 28th June, 1913, took the acting Colonial Secretary nearly six months to prepare, was printed last August and presented to Parliament just after the Colonial Office Debate. We had an eminent predecessor in the office the 1171 right hon. Gentleman now holds, the late Mr. Chamberlain. They say—I do not know whether it is true, but I have heard it more than once—that he made his office the only Government office whence one could get a reply to a letter by return of post. At all events, he brought a business spirit into that office which it has never since lost. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman who so ably presides over the councils of that office at the present day, who gave us the boon of a quicker voting system in this House, and so many things in the House itself that were good, could easily secure that the Reports from the Colonies should be presented to this House every year, so that Members could read them before the Colonial Office Debate comes on. I want to say another word in the right hon. Gentleman's praise before I proceed to criticise some things which have occurred in his Department.
I want to thank him for the very great reform he has effected in one branch of the Government in Ceylon, namely, the sensible course that was taken in appointing a Commission to report on the opium rice there, and finally his acting upon that Report as he has done and is doing, thereby greatly reducing the consumption of opium. By registering the users there, by taking the business into the hands' of the Government, gradually reducing it, with very little friction and with no injury but great benefit to the Colony, he is gradually, I hope, extirpating the vice there. The right hon. Gentleman told me two years ago that the recommendations of the Commission on Opium, which was appointed in 1908 and reported in 1909, were being fully carried out. One of the recommendations of that Commission was that an absolute end should be put to the opium vice in Ceylon. It has already been greatly reduced, but I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman when a final end is going to be put to it. We ought not to be behind the example of the United States in the Philippines, where they put an end to opium smoking in three years; and we ought not to be behind the example of China.
The right hon. Gentleman's immediate predecessor said that we ought to live up to the example of China. My opinion is that we ought to go ahead of China, which is steadily extirpating the vice. As to the other side of the right hon. Gentleman's policy, namely, the setting up of toddy taverns, I believe there is already an 1172 apprehension on the part of the Colonial Office that they went too far in licensing so many toddy taverns as they did. I have information showing that several licences were granted for the sale of toddy in places where they were certainly not wanted, and in other places where they are not only in excess but injurious. We should never forget that of the population of Ceylon, which is a little over 4,000,000, 2,750,000 are Cingalese, mostly Buddhists, against whose religion opium smoking is an absolute crime; and about 1,000,000 are Tamils from India, in whose case opium taking and alcohol drinking are against their religion. It is to our shame as a nation that we have introduced into Ceylon the two vices of opium smoking and alcohol drinking. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will continue his policy of assisting the leaders of religion there, for whom I have as much respect as I have for the professors of the Christian religion when they are genuine men, because I believe they are deeply anxious for the welfare of their people. May I give the right hon. Gentleman one hint? I have a good deal of information from Ceylon showing that he would considerably add to the value of his local excise committees if he would make them rather more representative. There are native institutions which might be more represented than they are on those committees, and which would enable them to get a better index of the real feeling of the people.
A word or two about Hong Kong. The last Report we have is for the year 1912, which is dated 28th June last year, and was issued in August, too late for discussion last Session. The opium-smoking divans or dens—that is, the opium public-houses in Hong Kong—were put an end to several years ago. When we asked that that sort of institution should be stopped, we also asked that an end should be put to the opium-smoking vice. The Government there have taken the selling of opium into their own hands. I believe the Colonial Secretary prides himself on the fact that, while the revenue has not declined, a much less quantity is being smoked, because it is being sold at higher prices. I feel very strongly on this question of Hong Kong. The Chinese Government are making enormous efforts to put down the opium-smoking vice in China, but it gives them very little encouragement when they see the colony of a so-called Christian Power is deriving a very large amount of its revenue by ministering to this vice. 1173 The total revenue for 1912 is about 8,000,000 dollars, of which just two-thirds comes from licences which, I believe, means, although the details are not given in the report—they should be given—that it is mainly derived from the Government sale of opium. The consumption of opium, if We are to judge from the year 1912, is going up. For the five years ending 1912 the opium consumption was: For 1908, 864 chests; 1909, 1,044; 1910, 782; 1911, 761; and 1912, 1,113. I do not know what it was last year. The population of Hong Kong is over 97 per cent. Chinese, who are constantly passing from and to the Chinese Empire. When we remember that this is a standing object lesson of our deriving revenue from this vice, and that the Chinese Government, although very much in need of money, and although it has the opportunity of deriving money from it, for the sake of its people is not doing so, it is high time that we absolutely stopped the opium smoking in Hong Kong as it is now stopped in China itself.
I asked the right hon. Gentleman some years ago to adopt in Hong Kong and also in the Straits Settlements, in regard to the Chinese there, the plan which is being carried out in Ceylon, and which the United States have carried out so successfully in the Philippines, namely, registering the smokers and preventing others from commencing the habit. He replied—I remember it quite well, and there is something in it no doubt—that there is this very great difficulty that the authorities there cannot tell the difference between one Chinaman and another. I suggest that we get Chinese officials, so long as we carry this trade on, the smokers there to be registered, and that this may be a check effected on these opium smoking gentlemen. The Chinese say that we all look alike to them, and I am sure they all look alike to us. We can tell the difference among each other, and they can tell the difference among themselves. I commend that idea to the right hon. Gentleman.
The proportion of Government income derived from licences, mostly opium and the rest liquor, in the Straits Settlements was 75 per cent. in 1911, and 77 per cent. in 1912. In other words the Straits Settlements, whose case has been put before this House over and over again in the last seven or eight years, and where we have been deriving half the revenue from the opium receipts, seem to me, unless there has been a great reform 1174 this last year, to be as bad as ever, and there is really no excuse for this, because although the Straits Settlements revenue is not in as overflowing condition as that of their neighbours, the Federated Malay States, yet in the last three years, 1910, 1911, and 1912, they have had very large surpluses each year, and indeed at the end of 1912 they had in one shape or another to their credit nearly 11,000,000 dollars. That is, they had in hand over a year's revenue. The Straits Settlements could very well afford to do without this revenue. The number of chests of opium consumed in 1912 was 4,107. Here again the Government are the farmers of the opium revenue. The total cash receipts for opium in the Straits Settlements for the year 1912 were overs,800,000 dollars, and the liquor revenue nearly 1,500,000 dollars. If we compare the total amount received for opium at the Government shops—over 8,000,000 dollars in that little State with a total revenue of 9,250,000 dollars, we see what an enormous amount of money, in proportion to the population and the money to be spent, is being spent on opium. I again strongly urge upon the Colonial Secretary that in the Straits Settlements and Hong Kong the Chinese, who are prevented from smoking opium in their country, when they come to pay us visits in the Straits Settlements or Hong Kong or the Federated Malay States, should not have the Government panderers to them for this vice. The report of the Federated Malay States for 1912 was only issued this year. This is another case of the reports being very belated. For years they have had an enormous surplus of revenue over-expenditure. They had 21,000,000 dollars surplus revenue in the two last years of which I have any account, 1911 and 1912. Here again the Government have taken a wise step in putting-down gambling. A great many people think that any Government Department that acts at all on moral lines must be acting purely puritanically. There are some people who will sneer at this. The Chinese themselves do not sneer at it, for the Government Report states that the better Chinese of all classes approve this very much, and they have had meetings at which they have approved of the Government's action, because one of the greatest weaknesses of the Chinese is gambling.
I should like to say a word about Borneo, which, I believe, comes under the Colonial Office. There is very great need indeed for the Colonial Secretary to make inquiry into the way in which the North 1175 Borneo Trading Company are using their powers in the way of tempting the coolies on the plantations there, when they receive their wages for the past months by means of gambling and drinking saloons and brothels, set up on the confines of the plantations to get money from these poor fellows. There is a great deal which wants inquiring into, but I am quite certain that the right hon. Gentleman will be surprised when he finds the facts—I do not say about the way the British Borneo Company themselves manage it, but the lax things which are going on there, to the great detriment of the poor Chinese coolies who work on these plantations. We have recently added to our Empire some other Malay States, which have to report to the Chief Commissioner at Singapore. We always have springing up in these Eastern States opium and gambling, and I recommend the right hon. Gentleman very strongly to look into the Kedah report for 1912. It is only a little State, but there is a report showing a large State income from opium smoking and gambling there. There is an opium farm in another State, Trengganu, let to a Chinese firm till 1917. The little State of Peril's has 39 per cent. of its revenue coming from opium. The smaller the State the more it escapes public observation and the more necessary it is that a keen eye should be kept on it. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he has done in Ceylon. I believe that he has fears that the system of registration could not be applied to the Chinese. I believe you could engage reliable Chinese officials, both in the Straits and in Hong Kong, to carry out the same very wise policy, as it seems to me, of registering old opium smokers, and giving them a time in which they are to cease smoking, and not allowing any fresh ones to be registered. That, of course, is only a temporary policy. In any case I press strongly upon the right hon. Gentleman that we have the same duties to these people, who are so dependent upon us and who are under our absolute rule through the Colonial Office as their Government has to them in their own country, to stamp out and absolutely prohibit after a very short time, if not immediately, the vice of opium smoking, which is against religion and everything that is good. All our self-governing Colonies without exception have stem laws against this vice. In Japan, as we know, it is sternly put down. In China there is one of the most heroic struggles 1176 that the world has ever witnessed of a nation struggling with a bad thing, and they are successfully struggling. In our Crown Colonies the right hon. Gentleman has adopted, very tentatively, as it seems to me in some cases, the policy of also putting down this vice. I cannot apologise for bringing once more to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman and of the House that which has been a very great blot on the national escutcheon of our country, and I again urge upon him with all the power I can, in the interests of humanity, to say nothing else, to put a speedy end to the vice of opium smoking in such parts of the British Empire as are under his control.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I do not think the hon. Member need apologise for the eloquent speech he has made in reference to the opium question. This is one of the occasions when party ties are not very closely held, and we are all interested in doing what we can for our Colonial Empire. It is unnecessary to say more on the opium question than the hon. Member has said. I cannot resist an allusion to one or two remarks made by the hon. Member (Mr. Edmund Harvey) and another hon. Member opposite with regard to native labour in South Africa. I think there is a great deal in all that they said. I have had the case of the natives in South Africa put before me also, and I am bound to confess that certainly the first of these gentlemen seemed to have forgotten, and the second seemed to slide over it very carefully, the fact that South Africa is a Home Rule country. I think it is rather a warning to us in this House in regard to legislation affecting another country. I see the hon. Member (Mr. Cotton). I wonder what would happen after Home Rule had been granted to Ireland if two hon. Members on the opposite side of the House were to get up and implore the Government to interfere with the legislation which a Home Rule Parliament might enact. One must accept responsibility for the full grant of Home Rule to South Africa, and though many of us may think that some of these native laws require amendment, I felt I could not make that demand in this House myself because having been responsible as a Member of the House for the granting of Home Rule to South Africa, we must realise that they are in all respects a self-governing Colony, and it would ill befit us to attempt in any way whatever to control what is now a free Colony.
1177 6.0 P.M.
I wish to say a word with regard to labour in East Africa. The question of labour in East Africa was also raised by the hon. Member (Mr. Harvey), and I think he will quite appreciate the fact, that a sufficient supply of native labour can best be obtained by good conditions on the part of the employer. We do not want anything in the nature of forced labour, and we want to encourage our Colonies in every possible way to make the conditions of labour as good as they can possibly be. Of course the Government itself should set a good example in the matter of the labour which it employs. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions in reference to forced labour in East Africa. I believe there are regulations proposed to be made either by the Colonial Office or the local government there affecting the question of forced labour. I am prepared to admit that in the present state of civilisation forced labour for the Government may be necessary for some time to come, but forced labour for private property, I want the Colonial Secretary to declare, as the Foreign Secretary has already declared, is a form of slavery, and as such cannot be tolerated. The Foreign Secretary has already made a declaration in this House to that effect, and I believe the Colonial Secretary takes the same view, and I should be glad if he would make that public in order that it may be known throughout the whole of our Colonies. But there will be for some time to come a certain amount of forced labour for Government purposes, I believe. I should like the Colonial Secretary to state for the information of the House and of our Colonies exactly what the conditions of this forced labour are to be. For instance, how many days a year are the natives to be forced to labour if they do not wish to do so? Is it one, two, or three months? What is to be their pay, and how far are they to be taken from their own villages to effect this forced labour? On the answers to these questions as to the proper carrying out of forced labour will depend whether we as a Parliament ought to sanction the use, in so far as it is necessary, of forced labour in East Africa.
I want to deal with a question which has not been dealt with this afternoon, namely, the establishment of liquor distilleries in Ceylon. That is a new movement within the last year or two on the part of the Ceylon Government, and I think it 1178 should receive serious consideration if it is to be carried out with the sanction of this House. If this House does not agree with the movement—and I venture to-think it will not agree—I think definite instructions should be sent out either that the whole system should be stopped or that no further progress should be made in regard to it. It is a system which we believe to be totally contrary to the licensing system of this country, and it is-one which should not take place in our Colonies.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Of course, I mean Government-owned distilleries. I believe the hon. Member would be against all liquor distilleries in Ceylon, although I personally could not go so far as that. But the question of Government-owned distilleries is quite a different one. In the first place, I wish to lay down that all the liquor laws enacted here have been restrictive rather than an encouragement of the liquor traffic, and I think that all our laws in our Colonies should be equally restrictive. There should be no possibility of the Government taking part in increasing the liquor trade, or encouraging alcoholic consumption in any of our Colonies. In 1912 power was given to the Excise Commissioner in Ceylon to establish, or authorise the establishment, of distilleries or breweries to be used under licence granted on such terms as the Government of the Colony saw fit. The Government are proposing under the provisions of this Ordinance to establish distilleries at the public cost, and then let them out in order that other people may distil in the Government buildings. A deputation waited on the right hon. Gentleman two years ago from the Society for the Protection of Native Races, which owes no party allegiance, but is composed of people on both sides of politics, and represents the Church of England and Nonconformist bodies who desire to save the natives in our Dominions from the contamination of the liquor traffic. After receiving that deputation, the right hon. Gentleman sent a dispatch to the Governor of Ceylon, in which he said:—I desire to add also that, in my opinion, the 'Contract Supply System' should be regarded as merely a temporary expedient, and that it is desirable that it should eventually be superseded by the system, which is in force in this country and in most parts of His Majesty's Dominions, of licensed distilleries paving an Excise duty on output.1179 The hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. Leif Jones) may not agree with me, but I am bound to say that I am not opposing the system of Excise distilleries as they are carried on in our own country. It may or may not be desirable from his point of view, but we do recognise the existence of licensed distilleries. I do not say that they should not exist in Ceylon. All I say is that they should not be built with Government money. We find that last year a definite statement was made by Mr. Allnutt, the Assistant Excise Commissioner in Ceylon, in which he laid down the position the Excise Department has in this matter. On 14th November, 1913—I am quoting from the "Ceylon Morning Leader "—he said:—Ultimately we shall have Government distilleries enough to produce the whole quantity required for consumption, but I cannot yet say how many distilleries we shall require…. But we shall have one distillery for each supply area not in it, each distillery supplying its own allotted area. Our distilleries will be erected by the Government and then handed over to the contractor or lessee, who will do the distilling on the same principles as we follow in our present distillery now.There is a distinct intimation that the Government are going to erect all the distilleries which they deem necessary for the distilling trade of Ceylon. The observation I wish to make on that is that if the Government are going to erect distilleries they will be bound, from the financial point of view, to see that they are a success, and that they bring in the necessary amount of money to pay for the cost of erecting the buildings. The only means of doing that is to see that a sufficient quantity is distilled, and that what is distilled is consumed by the people. I think that is perfectly clear. A certain portion of the revenue of Ceylon undoubtedly arises from these distilleries, and I wish to say that no Government, if possible, should have any partnership share in the control of the liquor traffic.
Many people in this country are supporters of what is known as the Gothenburg system. The objection which many of us have to the Gothenburg system is that is makes the Government, or the municipality, a partner in the sale of strong drink. I hope the Colonial Secretary will say that the Government of Ceylon is not to be made a partner in securing the success of these Government distilleries. The duty of the Government should be merely to control the liquor traffic, to see that it is kept in due bounds, and to take care that no undue inducements are given 1180 to the natives to drink. The Government of Ceylon should not have any interest in the profits arising from the distilleries. I submit that it would be impossible for the Excise Commissioners in Ceylon not to push, for revenue purposes, the work of these distilleries. If they push the sale of the output of the distilleries, we in this House, who have a responsibility for the government of Ceylon, will be taking a part and share in encouraging the consumption of spirits by the people of the Colony. I think we have distinct obligations in this matter as the governing Power. There are 2,225,000 Buddhists in Ceylon, and according to their religion it is a low and vicious occupation to manufacture and sell any kind of strong drink. You have more than half of the population condemning the manufacture of strong drink, and here is our Government, which we desire that they should look to as the best for the control of the natives, taking a part and share in what the religion of the people says is a low and vicious proceeding. Surely the Colonial Secretary will not wish to be tarred as the representative of a Christian Power with the contamination of those who belong to the Buddhist religion. Everybody knows that many Hindus take the same view as the Mahomedans, and that they are opposed to the sale and consumption of strong drink. It is no answer to say that all Buddhists and all Mahomedans are not good. We are in a measure forcing upon the Ceylon people the manufacture of a material which is opposed to the best interests, not merely of the Ceylonese people but to the tenets of the religion of nearly the whole of the natives of Ceylon. The Ceylon Government publicly claimed not long ago that they are the most powerful and the most genuine temperance organisation in the island. The acting Colonial Secretary, so recently as 7th May, 1913, made that strong statement, and at the very time he made the statement his Government was concerned in the new proposal for setting up Government distilleries in Ceylon.
I wish to say a word as to the increase which has already taken place in the consumption of liquor since this scheme was first set on foot. In 1897 the consumption of arrack in Ceylon was about 1,100,000 gallons, and the yield to the Government rose from two rupees per gallon in that year to 4.38 rupees in 1905, when they had a fixed minimum price. That fixed minimum price has already gone, and the Government appear to be encouraging the con 1181 sumption of liquor. I have said that if the Government owned the distilleries, they would be bound to force the sale. The consumption of arrack in 1912–13 rose to 1,445,000 gallons, and last year it was 1,554,000 gallons—a rise of 400,000 gallons in the last four years. This matter has been put before the Colonial Secretary. A deputation waited upon him some few weeks ago, and I am sorry that on account of other engagements I was unable to take part in it. I trust that the Colonial Secretary to-day will make a perfectly plain public statement as to the attitude the Government are going to take on this matter. I do not know how far it will be possible for them to revoke what has already been done in Ceylon, but it will be perfectly possible for the right hon. Gentleman to send a dispatch—I am sure I have the feeling of the whole Committee with me when I say that it is desirable that he should send a dispatch—stating that, at all events, this thing should cease until further inquiry has been made into it. I do not want at the moment to go further into it. There may be reasons which are not before us at the present time, but all the reasons I have seen will not hold water. To put it on the highest possible ground, we as a nation, and we in this House as representing the nation, are responsible for the good government of Ceylon. It is our duty as a nation to do nothing whatever which can in any way increase the consumption of a beverage which in Ceylon at least is detrimental to the native races. We are responsible, and we should do all we can to protect the people in our Dominions.
§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
I must congratulate the Colonial Secretary on having issued the statement in reference to the recent political crisis in Tasmania, and on the exposition of the constitutional position which it contains as to the powers of the Governor in the exercise of the prerogative of dissolution. It is a curious thing that I should differ from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) and the Member for Chertsey (Mr. Macmaster) as to this particular exercise of the power of a Colonial Governor to dissolve which is nothing more or less than the power of the Sovereign in these countries to dissolve. It is a power as we all know that has always been exercised, as has been confessed, since 1850, at the desire of the Prime Minister of the day. A Colonial Governor in exercising his discretion as 1182 regards dissolution has to remember that be is not only a Colonial Governor, and as such is in a analogous position to the constitutional Sovereign of these realms, but that he is likewise an Imperial Officer, and there might arise, though it has occurred very seldom, a case in which a Colonial Governor might find himself in a conflicting position, urged on one side by a Cabinet to dissolve forthwith, and on the other by Imperial consideration which impel him to the other course. But his position in that dilemma is this: immediately to consult the Home Government as regards his actions. What has happened in this case raises a question of Imperial moment, and not merely one of Colonial policy. The Prime Minister of the House of Assembly wished to dissolve. The Governor said "No." The Prime Minister resigned. The Governor sent for another gentleman to act as Prime Minister on whom he imposed a condition, which was unknown in this country since 1770, when George the Third endeavoured to impose conditions on his Ministers taking Office, that they should not introduce certain measures. Here is the constitutional doctrine bearing on the point, to which expression has been given by Sir William Ellison Macartney:—It is important, to bear in mind that the discretion of a governor with regard to the question of dissolution is, as in other instances of the exercise of the prerogative, much wider in the Colonies than that upon which by constitutional practice the Sovereign acts in the United Kingdom.That is a preposterous proposition that cannot be advanced. Here we have a constitutional Governor, appointed by Downing Street, taking up a position which would not be taken by the Sovereign of these countries. Therefore, I wish to say how much I approve of the dispatch of my right hon. Friend, and how truly I believe that it is the proper exposition of the constitutional law. He says:—While I consider that you should not have imposed terms on Mr. Earle, I recognise that he was entirely at liberty to decline the duty of forming a Government, unless he was left with complete discretion as to the advice to be tendered to you. Instead of doing so he decided to take office, and thus must be held to have accepted for the time being full responsibility for your actionAnd here comes a sentence which proves that my right hon. Friend had the hereditary constitutional leanings:—He remained fully responsible until the Ministry determined to advise in the contrary sense, when the policy of dissolution ceased to be authorised by Ministerial advice, but became a matter of your personal opinion, that is to say, no constitutional means existed of giving effect to it without another change of views on the part of Ministers, or another change of Ministry.1183 At present there has been no other change of Ministry, and Sir William Ellison Macartney still remains in that position. It was not my fault that this gentleman was appointed that position. I was early in the field and foretold what would happen. On 16th December, 1912, I asked my right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Colonies—Whether he is aware that Mr. William Ellison Macartney, the Deputy Master of the Mint since 1908, who has been appointed to the governorship of Tasmania was a grand master of the Orange Society, member of the House of Commons in the Orange interest for South Antrim from 1895 to 1903, and has filled the position in the Unionist Administration of Secretary to the Admiralty, from 1895 to 1900?And I also asked whether he had consulted the Government of the Colony before appointing him. My right hon. Friend's reply was terse and laconic:—I am satisfied that Mr. Macartney will, both in experience and capacity, make a suitable and acceptable Governor of Tasmania. Before I submitted his name to the King, I satisfied myself of the concurrence of the Government of Tasmania.May I say this, with all the gentleness of my gentle nature, that when my right hon. Friend has an important appointment to make, he should not go into the ranks of men who have done nothing but oppose him. He is going too far. It is an intense extension of the principle of the Sermon on the Mount, but it is not just to his own Friends on the Liberal side to see these gentlemen put into the best positions, and I rather think that in the constitutional utterances of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey and the Member for Kingston, they had at the back of their minds the case of Sir William Ellison Macartney, who was in this House through thick and thin a supporter of the late Government, and was appointed for these great services by the present Government. I hope that hon. Members on the Liberal side will like it.
§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
That shows that my hon. Friend is an innocent Member. Coming to another matter, I wish to say in a few words to the Colonial Secretary that he will have a great opportunity, in the interests of humanity and good will, between man and man, if he will take the chance that presents itself to him of considering whether the Charter of the Chartered Company is to be revised, or revoked, or modified, or placed in such a position as 1184 to make it more consonant with the requirements of the country. In October of this year the Charter of the Chartered Company will reach the time limit placed upon it, and when the time comes for the consideration of its revision or renewal, my right hon. Friend should consider the matter very carefully, and I think that he ought to institute a Committee of Inquiry into the administration of the Chartered Company for the last twenty-five years, and that this Committee should report to him, so that full justice might be done in reference to this great country, as to which our position is quite different from that which has been put forward in the plea made with regard to the natives of South Africa, who are, of course, as we all know living in a self-governing country. The country which the Chartered Company controls is not a self-governing country. There are various objections to Government by Charter under the best circumstances. A chartered company is in its very nature and inception a trading company, a commercial company. It has in the one case to look after, and properly so, the interests of its shareholders. On the other hand it has to administer the company. There was never a chartered company that was a success. The East India Company was anything but a success. The Hudson Bay Company in peculiar circumstances very nearly became a success, but in all the companies there is a great temptation that they control the destinies of persons of different race, different education, and different surroundings from themselves, and there is a tendency in the very best of us consciously or unconsciously to take advantage of that.
The Colonial Secretary will remember that at the time of the Committee of Inquiry into the Jameson Raid, the reference to the Committee was not only to inquire into the raid but also to investigate the administration of the Chartered Company with a view to further inquiry. The second part of that investigation was never entered into. I think that the right hon. Gentleman should come now to some decision about that. I speak in no-manner of personal opposition to the company. I am doing this simply on public grounds. I have not a farthing in the company, and I never had. But, I am interested for the sake of liberty and justice. I may give a concrete case. Of course, I am not able to produce legal proof of these things which 1185 may be of very considerable interest to the right hon. Gentleman, with the view, at all events, of his instituting an investigation into the administration of the company, against whose members, personally, I make no charge whatever. I have frequently during the course of last year asked questions of the right hon. Gentleman with reference to a transaction of the company in Rhodesia, the sale of one million acres at Is. an acre by the company to the Liebig Company. That seems an extraordinary transaction, and from the information that has reached me, which, of course, is only hearsay, contained in correspondence from persons whom I have never seen, I gather these allegations, which I think should be investigated. By means of a system of cattle removal permits, natives of Liebig's concession, I am informed, are prevented from moving their cattle without Liebig's consent, or from selling their cattle to anyone but Liebig at Liebig's price—£5 and £8 being the current price. By means of an Order the natives on this concession are treated as trespassers in their own home unless they can make terms with the manager of the Liebig concession. This manager is a man who was dismissed from his former occupation as a Native Commissioner in some district for ill-treating the natives. These are serious allegations.
I have received this year letters from various gentlemen, some of whom are of great position and weight in that country, and possess great knowledge of it. One of them writes that the manager of Liebig's is the same man who was a Native Commissioner, and he is not of English birth. The writer speaks of the conditions of Rhodesia, and suggests that before the Charter is renewed, a Departmental Commission should be sent to inquire into those conditions. [The hon. Member quoted passages from the letters which he had received from gentlemen in Rhodesia.] I have placed these communications before the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. We have heard a great deal about the treatment of the natives of South Africa, and the right hon. Gentleman has the power to see that the rights conceded to the natives, even under that Charter are rigorously enforced. I am told that there is great difficulty in obtaining from the natives themselves their actual condition, because they are so coerced and so under terror. There is another matter to which I desire 1186 to shortly refer. In a speech which I made some months ago I used language which was thought to be somewhat extreme, though it was perhaps quite justifiable; but when I used certain words I did so rather by way of invective. Exception was taken to my use of the word "atrocities" in my statement as to the condition of the natives in the country. I did not in any way impute personal dishonesty to those gentlemen, whom I did not know; I was only speaking in an impersonal way. I said that the concessions had been obtained at a gross undervalue. I am simply placing these things before my right hon. Friend, and I hope he will take heed of these matters, and have a proper investigation of the affairs of the country and its administration, and especially of the Chartered Company, in regard to which the Government are more the trustees of the natives than they are in any ordinary case. I am not making any charge whatever against the company. I am simply stating what cannot be contradicted or denied in reference to these concessions and the value of them. I find that on the 11th March, 1889, the late Mr. Chamberlain, who was then just about the sunset of his Radical days, asked the then Secretary of State for the Colonies:—Whether, in view of the character of the concession said to have been recently granted by the Chief Lo Bengula to Messrs. Rudd and Rhodes, by which, in consideration for a sum of £1,200 a year, together with one thousand rifles and a hundred thousand rounds of ammunition, these gentlemen are reported to have obtained sole rights of prospecting and working for minerals in a territory the size of Italy, Her Majesty's Government will take any steps to call the attention of the Chief to the disadvantages and dangers to the peace of the country incident to such a monopoly; and, whether, in the" event of Her Majesty's Government extending, at any future time, a Protectorate over the Colony now under the sphere of British influence, they will refuse to recognise the concession in question, or any similar concession that may he contrary to the interests of the Chief and people of Matabeleland, and likely to lead to complications and a breach of the peace?Mr. Chamberlain was early in the field at that time, and the reply which Baron H. De Worms gave him was:—Her Majesty's Government have hitherto abstained from interfering with any commission granted by Lo Bengula, as that Chief is not under their protection, is independent, and has not, till lately, asked for advice. He has now, by his messenger, asked for advice, and that some one may be sent to him by the Queen. It is not clear whether he desires to have some officer permanently resident with him, or only temporarily, for the special purpose of advising him upon the present state of affairs. But Her Majesty's Government are prepared to send some officer to Lo Bengula should he still desire it, and should he agree to any arrangement proposed by Her Majesty's Government in respect, of such a mission. In the meantime, I may state that Her Majesty's Government do not approve of that term in the concession referred to, which provides for the supply of arms and ammunition, and they would advise Lo Bengulu to have this altered. If at any 1187 time a Protectorate were declared at Lo Bengula's request over his territory, Her Majesty's Government would discountenance any concession containing such terms of the kind referred to in the concluding words of the question.That is the foundation of the Charter, and that was the concession that was obtained for £1,200 a year, together with 1,000 rifles and 100,000 rounds of ammunition. It seemed to be of such a value that afterwards the Chartered Company's shares were quoted at £4. That is the story of the inception of the country, and the granting of the Charter which took place afterwards. In the Charter of the Company there were very definite provisions that slaves and the slave trade should be abolished. I have shown as well as I can what is going on, so far as I am aware, and what are the conditions which have been produced. There was an interesting discussion on the 6th of May, 1898, which should be of importance in guiding the right hon. Gentleman's decision as to whether or not there should be a thorough investigation of all the circumstances of this country. On 6th May, 1898, there was a discussion on Sir Richard Martin's Report. That gentleman had been sent out by the Government to investigate and report, and he reported that out of fifteen Commissioners, eight of them stated that the slave trade prevailed in that country. There was another who on that occasion gave his estimate of the conduct of the Chartered Company—Sir Robert Reid, now Lord Loreburn. He said:—There has been £5,500,000 obtained from the public by the Chartered Company. I do not know, but it is stated on authority that £20,000,000 or more have been obtained upon mining prospectuses. There are outspoken critics of authority who believe and say openly that most of this money has been thrown into the sea, or, worse still, has gone into the pockets of unscrupulous speculators and promoters of bogus companies…. The mismanagement of the native population, the conduct of the Company with regard to the Jameson Raid, and their financial attitude are such that I venture to think that the most clear statement may reasonably be expected from Her Majesty's Government.I do not know that Sir Robert Reid's violent language was assailed. I come to almost the worst of all, Sir William Harcourt. He said:—The financial history of this Company has not been brilliant, and its connection with the Raid, through its leading officers, has not been creditable. The whole of its past administration has certainly not gained through the examination of Sir Richard Martin, who was very properly sent out by the Colonial Secretary to look into its proceedings.Then we have last of all the speech from that wise man, Lord Courtney of Penrith, who expressed his opinions of the Chartered Company, and hoped that the 1188 Charter would soon be taken from the company. We have had the native question raised recently. I do not want, in the slightest degree, to say anything personal. I do not want to speak more than I have about the dealings of companies of this kind with natives, and as to the great necessity that those dealings should be revised. In that Debate of 1898 a curious thing occurred, Mr. Labouchere said that Mr. Lecky had accepted as the fact the statement that a, large number of the Matabele had been killed in a cave by dynamite. Mr. Lecky at once got up and said he had made no such statement. A day or two afterwards there appeared a letter from Mr. Lecky in the "Times," apologising to Mr. Labouchere, on 9th May, 1898, and in which he gave the passage of his speech delivered in Trinity College eighteen months before. [The hon. and learned Member quoted the passage from Mr. Lecky's speech mentioned, and referring to the Matabele War.]
§ Mr. MacNEILL
I neither affirm nor deny anything, but these are things for investigation. I do say, with all the resources of the Colonial Secretary, that there is a great chance for him now to see that these things are done rightly. I do not make any charge whatever of a personal character. The vices and imperfections of this company are inherent in the nature of these companies. I do not wish in the slightest degree to embitter feeling, but in the interests of humanity charges which have so constantly been made require a clear and thoroughgoing investigation by the Government before there is any renewal of the Charter.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I am sorry I must rise now, as the Debate has to close early and otherwise I should not be able to reply to the points which have been raised. When I said at the beginning that I did not intend to make a general statement an hon Gentleman below the Gangway expressed the hope that the precedent I had previously set in this matter would not be followed in the future. My efforts were received with more appreciation by the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir G. Parker), who, however complained of the length of the statements. That is a matter which can be cured. I think, on the whole, the Colonial Office is to be congratulated on the paucity 1189 of the matters of acute criticism to which it has been subjected to-day. There has been a wide field covered, but I admit there are some matters which might have created criticism which have been put aside because at this moment they are subjects of judicial consideration. The hon. Member for Gravesend raised again the question of Somaliland. I dealt very fully with the situation in that country and with the intention of the Government in Debates in this House on the 24th of February. I am sure that the hon. Member and other hon. Members realise that I cannot give information here as to our plans for the future, which might be conveyed, and certainly would be conveyed, to the Mullah, and would nullify the chance of our plans being successful. Subject to that limitation, which is one which must always be exercised by anyone making statements in this House. I will tell the hon. Member what he asks. What is the situation there? The present situation is that we are getting 450 camel constabulary and 400 of the Indian contingent. Of those 400 of the Indian contingent I have now arranged that 150 will be mounted, and will act with the Camel Corps, and that increase will be an added strength to the Camel Corps stationed there.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
They are being provided. Sheikh and Galoli only are occupied at present. Galoli is about 17 miles south of Sheikh, and has been specially occupied as a training ground for the mounted force which has been built up gradually since I last addressed the House on this subject. When the new Commandant gets out to Somaliland, which he will do in the middle of August, as soon as he is satisfied with the training of his corps, we shall then probably reoccupy Burao, some time perhaps early in September, though I do not wish to commit myself to an exact date. From there our intention is to support the friendlies in their grazing at the mouth of the Ain Valley, towards Shimberberris, of which they have been recently deprived by the fact that there was a small number of the Mullah's men in the neighbourhood, which discouraged and so frightened the friendlies that they have not yet returned. We shall give them the necessary support to enable them to reoccupy the grazing, the loss of which would no doubt encourage the friendlies 1190 to pass over to the Mullah. I explained that in February of this year. It is to avoid any such unsatisfactory result that we have slightly increased our forces, and are intending, as at present advised, to reoccupy Burao. I have no more to say on the subject of Somaliland, because the situation has not altered at all since I explained it to the House in February. I am glad to say that the not infrequent reports one reads in the newspapers of a great advance by the Mullah, or of raids by the Mullah or attacks on the British position, are entirely untrue. Those reports alarm me as they alarm other people, but when I make inquiries I get the inevitable telegram that there is not the slightest foundation in any of these reports that have appeared in the Press.
Sir G. PARKER
Is it a case, then, that the reports in the Press concerning raids within the last few weeks are wholly inaccurate? A question was asked of the right hon. Gentleman in the House by an hon. Friend of mine concerning a raid upon a friendly tribe by the Mullah's followers. Is that inaccurate?
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Yes, so far as I am aware, absolutely inaccurate. There does not seem to be the slightest foundation for it, I am glad to say. The hon. Member for West Leeds (Mr. Edmund Harvey) raised the question of the East African Labour Commission Report, and drew attention to some of the evidence which had been given. I hope that he and others will not make the mistake of confusing the evidence with the Report of the Commission. That is a most undesirable thing to do, because the Report of the Commission does not at all reflect a good deal of the evidence which has been given. It is quite true that some of the witnesses before that Land Commission expressed the opinion that the present native reserves were too large. I do not share that view. I do not intend to attempt to increase the amount of available labour by starving the labourer of the land on which he lives. Native labour interests are carefully safeguarded by the Ordinance of 1910, which laid down very strict rules as to the recruitment of labour. The recommendations of this Commission are now under consideration, both by the Government and by myself. I am not prepared to announce any final decision in this matter. I am well aware of the local demand and the necessity for increased labour. I think the Committee may trust me 1191 to move cautiously in this matter with due regard to both sets of interests concerned. With my assent, improved arrangements are now being made for the internal transport of labour, so that it shall not be discouraged by its present discomforts. A revision of native and general taxation may quite possibly be necessary in the future, but, if so, that matter must be considered independently of its effect on the labour supply, and it must not be used as an indirect means of increasing it. Our officers in the East African Protectorate, though it is their proper duty to afford information as to where employment may be available, do nothing which savours of or suggests Government compulsion in the matter of recruitment. It is sometimes difficult to discriminate nicely between advice, persuasion, and compulsion in this matter, but I base my policy on the instructions given by the late Mr. Chamberlain to Government officials in Southern Rhodesia in 1901 in these words:—The Government, through its officials, confines itself to what is necessary for the protection of labour, namely, ensures that the contract entered into is regular, contains no false representations, and is understood by the natives, and that proper treatment is given to the natives before and after they are handed over to the actual employer.The hon. Member also mentioned the case of the Masai. I am happy to say that they have abandoned their appeal to the Privy Council, not because it was not open to them, but no doubt on the advice of those whom they employed for that purpose. I am glad to be able to say that the Masai, with the exception perhaps of a single chief, Legalishu, who has no followers, are now abundantly satisfied with the new reserves. In the last twelve months I have been able to provide excellent water storage by dams and one or two barrages. I had a delightful private account the other day from a man who has been in the Masai reserves helping the natives for over six months, and he says that they are satisfied with the new water supply, which enables them to graze thousands of acres which they could not utilise before.
The hon. Member for Chertsey (Mr. Mac-master) referred to the Tasmanian crisis. I think that my dispatch, whatever other complaint there may be, makes my position abundantly clear. I have laid down in that dispatch nothing new. I have laid down only what I believe, and 1192 what I thought most other people believed, to be the rules which properly govern any constitutional ruler or Governor acting on his behalf. I conceive there is an impropriety in a Governor imposing conditions upon an incoming Minister, especially in imposing the condition of a dissolution on a Minister who is coming in immediately after the Governor has refused a dissolution to the other party. I have dealt with the constitutional question in the dispatch briefly, but quite clearly, because it was referred to me by the House of Assembly. I am glad to find that there is very little controversy in this House as to my attitude, except on the part of the hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave), who differed, I think, from my view as to the discretion which a Governor may have to refuse a dissolution. He quoted certain authorities to which we all attach great weight. I would ask the hon. and learned Member to consider himself in the position of a Governor—if I should be so fortunate as to be able to obtain him—who is asked for a dissolution by his existing Ministry. He refuses, a dissolution, and the Ministry resigns. The Governor has only one alternative: he must find another Ministry which has a majority in the Legislature and is able to carry on without a dissolution. Other than that he has no alternative at all except to grant the dissolution which he has been attempting to refuse. I do not call a discretion which is so limited by the course of events a very useful discretion for the Governor, nor one which it is desirable to lay down as an effective discretion in our Constitutional usage.
The hon. Member for South Donegal (Mr. Swift MacNeill) rather invited me to deal with the personal position of Sir William Macartney. I do not think I need do that to-day. I selected Sir William Macartney, not because I have known him in this House, but because I knew him as a Civil servant, as Master of the Mint, where he had done capable work. His political opinions neither encouraged nor discouraged my recommendation of his appointment. I happened to recommend to His Majesty for appointment in the same week an Orangeman to Tasmania and a Roman Catholic to New South Wales, and I was equally and refreshingly abused in each case for the selection I had made.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I think so; I have heard of no further action on the part of the Tasmanian Government since the arrival of my dispatch. I myself regard the incident as closed. The hon. Member for Chertsey suggested that there should be greater supervision of the emigrants from this country for the purpose of directing such emigrants to British Colonies and Dominions. I am happy to say that nothing of that kind is necessary in the present circumstances. I do not think the hon. Member had in mind what is the proportion of the emigration from this country that goes to British Dominions. I am glad to be able to inform him that it is 74 per cent. of our total emigration. In that direction great service has been done by one of the most modest offices—of which not much is heard by the public—the Emigrants' Information Office, which is not a subordinate department of the Colonial Office, but is formed under the ægis of the Colonial Office—
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I was not claiming any credit for the 74 per cent. who go to British Possessions; indeed, it is not necessary to claim credit for a fact which is satisfactory to all. The hon. Member was only anxious that people should go to British Possessions and Dominions. I am glad to say that they do, to the extent of 74 per cent. of our total emigration. A considerable part of the change in the proportion has been, due to the work of the Emigrants' Information Office, and also to the great activities of the Dominions which happened to require emigrants of a particular kind and at a particular time. The hon. Member also invited me to set up a Press censorship or bureau here to supply the Dominions and British Possessions with such accounts of our doings as would be satisfactory to—I am not sure whether he meant to him or to me?
§ Mr. HARCOURT
What is truth? I quite agree with the hon. Member that a greater amount of that commodity filtering daily into the Press would be a great advantage to the Dominions and even to the Home Country. But I am afraid we shall have to trust to the play of natural forces, and perhaps even to a greater public demand for the substitution of accuracy for mere sensation, for the result 1194 which he and we should desire. The hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Alden) and the hon. Baronet the Member for Hackney (Sir A Spicer) have drawn attention to the South Africa Land Act. I think it is necessary, if I am to discuss it at all, that we should completely understand what that Act means and what it does. It is not a sudden inspiration of the Botha Government. It is the outcome and result of a Commission appointed by Lord Milner some years ago, presided over by Sir Godfrey Lagden. The Commission was appointed,in view of the possible federation of the South African Colonies, to gather accurate information as to native affairs so as to arrive at a common understanding on questions of native policy.The recommendations of that Commission were three: first, that in the interests of Europeans and natives alike, the purchase of land by natives or Europeans should be limited to certain areas to be defined by law; secondly, that the same principles should govern purchasing and leasing; and, thirdly, that the unrestrained squatting of natives on private farms, as tenants or otherwise, was an evil, and that it ought to be dealt with on the principles of the Cape Act of 1899. That Commission sat for two years. It had upon it representatives of every Colony and territory. It arrived at what I believe was a unanimous report, and this Act is practically doing no more than carrying out its recommendations. The Act has already been in operation for twelve months. The Commission of Inquiry, which was to be instituted under the Act is now sitting. It is bound by the terms of its appointment to report within two years, and will probably report by Christmas next. The whole of this Act is a temporary measure until that Commission reports. A native deputation has come over and seen me, and I believe many other members. That deputation left Africa against the advice of General Botha, and against almost the entreaties of Lord Gladstone. They knew that the Act would not be disallowed, because that had been announced months before in South Africa. Before the day the deputation saw me the period of twelve months during which that Act could be disallowed on my recommendation had already expired, and it is now an Act which can only be suspended by the Government and Parliament of the Union of South Africa.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to complete my statement as the time is short. The suspension of the Act would be worse than useless at the present stage. It would suspend the Inquiry which is taking place at this moment in the interests of the natives themselves. I cannot believe that any further Commission is necessary, as the existing one seems-to me both efficient and sufficient. The principle is to set apart land for the white and native populations with no power of purchase by either in the domain of the other. The Act gives for the first time a statutory basis to the existing reserves. They cannot be reduced, but may be enlarged on the recommendation of the Commission. The Natal reserves, I am told, are already quite capable of accommodating 30 per cent. more natives than at the present time. This Act does not interfere with any of the existing arrangements, or any of the contracts which have been made. The native is not prohibited, as has been said, from buying land at the Cape, and he may do so elsewhere in the Union of South Africa by permission of the Governor-General. The consent of the Governor-General has already been given in certain cases where it seemed desirable that the natives should be allowed to purchase particular portions of land. The Act is transitory till the Union Parliament, on the advice of the Commissioners, has made other provisions. The Lagden Commission recommended segregation as desirable in South Africa, and I think that the arguments have been reinforced by the occurrence of cases of Black Peril which we have had to regret, and with which we have had to deal in recent years.
The squatting of the natives on absentee landlord farms has been very undesirable. It has led to constant stock thefts. Joint white and native farming, which has taken place in some places, has always been prohibited in the Free State, until I think quite accidentally repealed in a Consolidation Bill a year or two ago owing to a mistake in drafting. If the natives are farm labourers there is no limit to the number who may reside on white property. If not, they are not dispossessed until Parliament acts upon the Report of the Commissioners, and then only when suitable land is provided by addition to a native reserve. There is no necessity to send cut a British Commission, which is one of the things I was 1196 asked to do, when one is already at work in South Africa. I think it would be quite unprecedented, and I am not quite sure whether it would not be an insulting procedure. General Botha has written a letter to the members of the deputation. Part of it has been read in the House to-day. I am not sure whether it was this part, but perhaps I may be allowed to read some of it, seeing it was a letter to the natives:When the lime arrives for introducing such, legislation, it is the intention of the Government to make full legislative provision for such gradual expropriation of land owned by Europeans within defined native areas as may from time to time be necessary for the settlement of natives on such lands under a regularised system for the acquisition of land by natives within such areas, for the gradual extension of the system of individual tenure wherever the natives are sufficiently advanced to appreciate its advantages, and for the good government and local administration of affairs in native areas by means of Native Councils and otherwise. Meantime, all lawful contracts between natives and Europeans existing at the date of the proclamation of the Act, whether in respect of the sale, lease, mortgage, or occupation of land, are recognised as valid: but in view of the definite decision of Parliament no new contract can be entered into without special sanction.The deputation which saw me admitted that they were satisfied with those promises of General Botha. They asked me on behalf of the Imperial Government to guarantee General Botha's words, to back his Bill! I think that is an unheard of request; it would be a proceeding of insolence on my part. What is more, it would be quite inefficient. If General Botha breaks his word I have no power to enforce it. I cannot bind his successors. If the Government of South Africa is not to be trusted in this matter they are to be trusted in nothing; and we know perfectly well that they can be trusted in these matters. Note what has been done with respect to the Indian Immigration Act. This was passed not from local desire, but from Imperial considerations. The provisions of that Act have been accepted by the Colonists and by the representatives of the Indians, who consider it the Magna Charta of the Indians in South Africa. I think that that should be a sufficient guarantee as to the way in which General Botha proposes to act. General Botha, too, used these words in Parliament:—He had told the deputation that he had given standing instructions to the magistrates throughout the country that if they found anyone in their districts ejecting natives from the farms they had to go and make inquiries and report to him. He had in all those cases which had been brought to his notice used the influence of his Department—the Department of Native Affairs—to get the people evicted placed in location? or in some other farm He had done his utmost in every respect to alleviate any distress that might be caused, 1197 and that was the attitude he proposed to continue…It was has policy to see to it that a feeling of contentment and satisfaction was created among the native population.Though this country has never surrendered the proud position and the proud boast that it is the protector of the natives, I think we must have some regard to the sovereign powers of the Union of South Africa, and we should not be invited to intervene in the matter until gross and palpable injustice have been alleged and proved. That is not so in this case. That natives have not yet made an appeal to their Union Parliament. The Prime Minister of South Africa has tried to induce them to do so. He is also Minister for Native Affairs. He has promised to protect them, and there is no reason to doubt his ability to do so. In a period of transition such as this is, in the native question there are certain to be some hard cases, but I believe that they will be treated with consideration. There is nothing in the record of the Union Government to raise any suspicion in our mind, or in the native mind, of unfairness towards the natives, or that this action of the Union Government has not been taken purely upon the recommendations of the British Commission which sat some years ago. I believe that a just and considerate segregation would probably lead to the greater happiness of both whites and blacks in these parts of South Africa. The deputation which has come here ought to make their appeal to their own Parliament, and not to appeal to us against their own Parliament, except upon the basis of proved and admitted injustice. They have neither proved, nor is there a suspicion of any such injustice to the blacks.
Sir G. PARKER
Is it not the case that under the South African Constitution this Government have no power whatever to intervene in such a case as has been cited to-day in regard to the natives?
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I do not think I would put it as broadly as that. I think intervention would be difficult. I am not sure that some forms of intervention would not be undesirable. The question does not arise, and there is no reason to doubt the justice and consideration of the treatment that the natives are likely to receive. The hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Hunt) moved a reduction of this Vote, and I am not quite sure upon what point he moved it. He made objection to the fact that the Federated Malay 1198 States have been considering the possibility of raising a loan in this country. They have not done so yet. I do not think they are likely to do so for some little time to come, if at all. If such a loan is raised, it is not required for hospitals and the various works which the hon. Member specified, but entirely for remunerative railway extension, which will begin to pay interest and sinking fund probably from the moment of its construction.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
No, I do not think those are facts. There is no doubt that in hospitals and medical supplies improvements might well be made, but I think I am safe in saying that some have been made in the last four or five years. I do not say that the Federated Malay States have yet reached perfection, but I cannot for a moment admit the language of the hon. Member for Ludlow as to the "Dreadnought" being in the nature of a tribute. That "Dreadnought" was not exacted from the people. These people are not our subjects. It was a voluntary gift from allies.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
The facts were that the rulers of the Malay States discussed this matter with the gentleman who the hon. Gentleman has referred to, and they unanimously expressed a desire to present a "Dreadnought" to this country. The first I heard of it was an intimation from the rulers themselves that it was their desire as allies to make this present to the British Empire. It is not the case, as has been suggested, that the taxation of the people is heavy. The taxation of the people in the Federated Malay States is practically nil. The revenue is raised from the railways, Liquor Duties, Export Duties on tin, rubber, and other products, which do not fall on the native at all. The hon. Member in his speech also invited me to pursue inquiry into Colonial investments and the incidence of the Income Tax. I am afraid that there is no special relation in that to this Vote, and I am certain it would 1199 take up a much longer time to-night than I can give to it. But I have also a knowledge that it was fully discussed in the Debates on the Finance Bill, and that, indeed, a concession and an Amendment was made on the particular point raised. The hon. Member for Radcliffe (Mr. T. C. Taylor) complained of the delay in the printing of Colonial Reports. These Reports are derived in the first place from Colonial Blue Books, which are prepared in the Colonies at varying dates. Some of the Colonies use the calendar year; others use our financial year.
These Reports are prepared quite at different times in the different Colonies. I have urged Colonial Governors to send these Reports as early as possible. What I can say is that they are printed as soon as they are received, after having received decent consideration in the Department. If, however, the hon. Member likes, I will give another reminder to Colonial Governors of our desire to have these Reports as early as we can get them. As to the Reports of the Federated Malay States, I have no control over their finance or of the publication of their Reports. The hon. Member also put a question relating to opium in Ceylon. He asked me when con sumption was to cease there. All the consumers of opium in Ceylon are on the register, and no addition can be made to their number. Consumption, therefore, must disappear on the death of the last registered consumer. As they the off the consumption is, of course, declining. The imports of opium into Ceylon are falling rapidly. They have fallen from 16,300 lbs. in 1908 to 11,780 lbs. weight in 1911. The average for the last two years is 9,700 lbs., so that what the hon. Member for Radcliffe desires, the end of opium in Ceylon, is approaching—not, perhaps, so quickly as the hon. Member desires, but still there is a reasonable approach to finality. As to Hong Kong, I am afraid I must differ from him as to the question of registration there of smokers. Registration is impossible. Where hundreds pass the frontier daily from Canton to Victoria, it is quite impossible to have strict or effective registration. The opium farm has now been terminated, and has become a Government monopoly. Opium divans are absolutely abolished. The price has risen from 3¼ dollars per tahil (l⅓ ounce) in 1908 to 5½ dollars in 1913, and to 8½ dollars in 1914. There has been a large increase in price, and discouragement of consumption 1200 has resulted from Government control in the Malay Peninsula. In the Straits Settlements in January, 1910, the Government took over the trade, and there the constantly changing population also made registration impossible. But we have restricted the consumption by raising the price and by stopping smuggling. The price of opium in September, 1909, was 3 dollars; in January, 1910, 3.30 dollars; in April the same year, 4.30 dollars; in May, 1912, 5.50 dollars; and to-day it is 6.50 dollars. So that we have more than doubled the price.
The fees for smoking shops have also been largely increased, and in consequence of the increase in price which has been made since May, 1912, the consumption has fallen 8½ per cent. in the Straits Settlement, and 6 per cent. in the Malay Straits. The Preventive Department in these Straits have been active, and it is rather ominous what they have done. They have seized 22,000 tahils of opium in 1911; they also seized over 2,000 ounces of cocaine, and 3,360 ounces of morphia. In 1912 the seizures had decreased, but again 454 ounces of cocaine and 228 ounces of morphia had been seized. These are very ominous figures when you consider what a small dose is required to be given for the destruction of the human body or soul. I am happy to say there is this indication, which is rather striking and curious, that although it is said the people are tending more with the shutting down of opium to those other drugs, that in the gaols of the Straits Settlements and the Federated Malay States—these are the only places where you can make compulsory examination—fewer men come m with punctures in their arms, and I hope that is some indication that the vice is not making serious headway. In Weihaiwei since 1909 there has been a prohibition of all except registered consumers. None can be added. At the end of 1913 there were only 30 registered consumers out of a population of 150,000. Opium divans are prohibited.
The hon. Member for Brentford raised questions about imported labour in East Africa. There is no forced labour, public or private, in the East African Protectorate to-day. There may be occasional bits of forced labour inflicted by native chiefs, but that is not what the hon. Member meant. I said in a letter, and I repeat it publicly to-day, that forced labour for private profit is slavery, and as such should be stopped. The hon. Member dealt with the Ceylon Excise question. I am sorry 1201 he did not come to the deputation that waited on me the other day, and where he was expected, as I should have greatly valued his knowledge and experience. If he had been there he would have found the answer to many of the questions he put. Many of these questions were asked and answered. The policy is that we have put up an experimental distillery, which is in existence now. That was not put up for the supply of spirits to the consumers, but it was put up in order that the Government might be able to teach their Excise staff, and to learn facts and cost, and what would be the proper rate hereafter to charge, and what are the proper duties that might be raised upon the arrack produced. Undoubtedly it was and is still the policy to erect one distillery at a time if the plan is going to be pursued further, and if the experience of the experimental distillery suggests to the Government that that is the proper way to deal with the matter. Something must be done to get rid of the present distilleries; they are filthy holes and shanties, often without locks and with back doors, where smuggling goes on frequently. They are frequented by the worst possible characters, and they are not possible distilleries to maintain for any length of time, if distillation is to go on at all. The Governor has already announced in Ceylon that it is not his wish to erect these distilleries if private enterprise would come forward and do it.
It was objected to by the deputation the other day that the Governor had never said that he would allow distilleries to be erected by private enterprise. I have looked up the point, and that fact was made public in Sir Henry McCallum's dispatch of 1912, printed in a Paper presented to the Legislative Council of Ceylon. I know the Governor would encourage private enterprise if he could get it, but I do not want to see private enterprise at the cost of our having to give them security of tenure, or some advantage at a loss to the Excise, which we would find it difficult to get back. I would far prefer to see buildings put tip by the Government, not for the distribution or sale of liquor, but buildings to be let to the contract suppliers. The hon. Member referred to a fixed minimum price which had at one time been arranged and then abandoned. It is abandoned, of course, for a definite reason. First of all, it was unenforceable, and, secondly, the minimum fixed was four and a half rupees, but the 1202 selling price has more than doubled the old minimum, and in many places the selling price of arrack is from nine and a half to eleven rupees. The supposed increase of arrack consumption to which the hon. Gentleman drew my attention is, I believe, due to the fact that a very large quantity of illicit sales which took place in the past are being stopped. There was an enormous quantity of illicit traffic, and now the illicit drinker is coming more into the open and on the statistics, and therefore undoubtedly you will have an apparent increase in the spirits sold, but I do not believe there is an increase in the consumption per head of the people. My object, and that of the Government of Ceylon is to encourage temperance in every way. Hon. Members and I may differ as to the method adopted, but I think they do not doubt that our object is the same even though they may think mine is a mistake.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if it is clearly the intention to continue the erection of Government distilleries in Ceylon! Would it not be possible to deal with the bad distilleries by getting rid of these bad distilleries, rather than erecting new ones?
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I do not think we could get good distilleries erected by anyone but the Government, unless you gave private enterprise such advantageous terms as would entail loss of control and loss to the Excise system, which I should be very sorry to see happen. We only intend to erect one distillery to start with, and I can promise the House that before a second distillery is erected there shall be time for discussion as to results and experience from the first distillery.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
Do I understand from my right hon. Friend that one distillery is decided upon in addition to the experimental distillery?
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Yes, there should be one distillery put up. But it is quite possible, when the Government of Ceylon have gained the experience required from the experimental distillery, they may decide to lease it.
§ Mr. HIGHAM
It is not the intention of the Government to allow one distillery to be erected in a district and to allow all the other bad ones to remain. As I understand, the intention is to erect a distillery and to close all the bad ones.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Of course, where a distillery is erected to supply a particular district, the bad distilleries would be closed. I do not mean the bad distilleries all over the island unless I may be allowed to erect good distilleries all over the island. We must make one experiment, and then we shall have an opportunity of judging whether it is desirable to continue the experiment. The hon. Member for South Donegal has referred to the question of the chartered companies. I really cannot in these days go back to the Raid Committee, nor am I inclined to set up another one, but if the hon. Gentleman wants any information that can be reasonably required from Rhodesia, we have got the High Commissioner and the Resident Commissioner, who will be able to supply what is required. I am not prepared to give a decision as to what I am going to do about the Charter when it comes up for revision on the 29th of October. I am not going to say whether it is to continue or whether it is to be amended, or whether it is to be cancelled. One of the reasons why I am not prepared to announce any decision is that Lord Gladstone has only to-day landed in England, and I wish to have the advantage of consultation with him upon the matter, and I desire to say nothing further about the chartered company. I am sorry not to have been able to leave more time for hon. Members to speak. I have had to condense my reply, as I felt bound to observe the agreement come to by both sides of the House, and if the hon. Member opposite will withdraw his Amendment for reduction, I shall move to report Progress.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
This is the last chance we shall have of discussing this matter of the Chartered Company before it is finally settled. Will the right hon. Gentleman be able to tell the House what his intentions are with regard to Rhodesia, because we have only at present had one side of the question in this House in the monstrous attacks made by the hon. Member for South Donegal. I feel something ought to be said in answer to that, and I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman has not said more in dealing with the statements of the hon. Member. The hon. Member for South Donegal accused the existing Chartered Company as being a gang of swindlers responsible for the massacre in Matabeleland and charging ruinous rents to white settlers.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
That is really not a point of Order. I believe there is a general understanding that as soon as possible after 7.30 we should take the Education Vote.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I had intended to reply to the attacks which have been made upon the Chartered Company by the hon. Member for South Donegal (Mr. Swift MacNeill) because they are untrue. Will the right hon. Gentleman be able to give his decision in reference to the Chartered Company before the dissolution?
§ Mr. HARCOURT
The hon. Member has asked me whether I shall be able to give my decision before the dissolution.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I think it is quite possible I may be able to do so before the prorogation. Lord Gladstone has only arrived to-day and I wish to consider the matter with him.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I do not wish to stand between the House and a discussion of the next Vote, but I wish to seek an early opportunity of replying to the hon. Member for South Donegal, and I regret the right hon. Gentleman has not replied to the accusations which have been made, and which may have a serious effect in South Africa.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
The hon. Member will have his opportunity on the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question put, and agreed to.