HC Deb 05 March 1917 vol 91 cc37-8

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if. In December last a law was passed by the Legislative Council of St. Christopher and Nevis, British West Indies, and approved by the Governor, prohibiting the formation of trade and labour unions during the War; whether he is aware of the feeling which has been aroused in the island as a result of the passing of such Ordinance, and whether the action of the Governor and Legislative Council has the sanction of the Home Government?

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

I have received reports from the Acting-Governor to the effect that this emergency legislation was necessary to prevent serious disturbances due to a movement in which a pro-German was implicated. It has not yet been brought into force, and will not be unless circumstances require its operation. I am not aware that there is any feeling in the Islands against the Ordinance, which in the special circumstances has my approval. I may add that the Acting-Governor has recently arranged with the employers of labour for a general 25 per cent. increase of wages, and that the labouring population are satisfied with the concessions made to them.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that the members of the trade unions have protested to the American Federation of Labour, to which they are affiliated, and that the American Federation of Labour feel very sore at the action taken by the Governor without, I believe, the right hon. Gentleman himself being consulted?


The facts, no doubt, are as stated, but the circumstances are such as to make it necessary and essential that the action of the Governor should be supported. These are not times when we have to deal with questions in the ordinary way, and nothing would induce me to weaken the authority of the Governor, who is dealing in an admirable manner with an extremely difficult situation


Will the right hon. Gentleman promise that a copy of this law will be placed in the Library?


I do not know. I shall have to consider that.