HC Deb 04 June 1919 vol 116 cc2004-5
58. Mr. SPOOR

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the closure of the Crown lands in Trinidad and Tobago and the operation of the Habitual Idlers Ordinance compels labourers to hire themselves for lower wages than they would otherwise be able to demand; and whether, seeing that the Habitual Idlers Ordinance relieves the prosecutor from the obligation of proving a charge brought under it and throws on the accused the obligation of proving his innocence, he will explain why assent was not withheld from the Ordinance?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

So far as I am aware, the Habitual Idlers Ordinance is not yet in operation, and I see no reason to anticipate that it will have the effect which the hon. Member fears. As regards the question of the onus of proof of charges under the Ordinance, the Secretary of State gave special consideration to this point, but was satisfied by the representations received from the Colonial Government that the Ordinance would be- quite ineffectual if the onus of proof were placed upon the prosecutor. He consequently came to the conclusion that the case was a proper one for making an exception to the ordinary rule, but directed that an annual report should be furnished on the working of the Ordinance. I should add that the Ordinance provides that if habitual idleness is proved, the case is to be adjourned by the magistrate for at least a month to enable the accused to make an effort to work.


Is not this Ordinance solely directed to providing cheap labour for employers in the island?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

No, Sir.


Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman consider the propriety of introducing similar legislation in this country?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

The conditions in this country are very different.