HC Deb 23 April 1923 vol 163 cc10-2

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the former German laws in German East Africa, now the mandated territory of Tanganyika, on which the new ordinances in that territory for licensing and taxation of trade are said to be based, were in fact enforced; whether the licences required under those laws were renewable annually; what are the penalties provided under the new ordinances for trading without a licence; how many licences have been issued; and whether any communication has been received from Zanzibar respecting the dislocation of trade consequent on the enactment of the ordinances in question?


Under German law, two kinds of licences were required: (1) Trade licences, applicable to publicans, cattle dealers, pawnbrokers, auctioneers and commercial agents, and persons trading where they had no definite place of business. These licences were renewable annually at a cost of from 6 to 2,000 rupees; say 21s. to £200 a year. (2) Opening business licences, applicable to traders opening or reopening business establishments and costing from 24 to 240 rupees; say 12s. to £24. In the year 1912–13 the Germans raised the equivalent of £52,161 from their licences and profits tax, and under the British administration £44,254 and £32,355 were obtained in the last two years, so it would seem that the law must have been enforced, at any rate, to a considerable extent. The maximum penalty for trading without a licence is £10, and £1 a day for each day during which the contravention continues. The Trades Licensing Ordinance only came into force on the 1st April, and I have no information as to the number of licences issued under it. The Secretary of State has received from the Indian Association at Zanzibar telegrams strongly supporting the protest received from the Indian Association in Tanganyika Territory against the Ordinances.


Has anything been done to meet the protest of the Indian traders in Tanganyika?


These protests come, not from Tanganyikan territory, but from Zanzibar. That matter has been very fully explained to us by the Governor, and we are satisfied his action has been perfectly right in the circumstances.


Is anybody coming home on this question?


Not that I know of.


Is it not a fact that a deputation is coming from Tanganyika to protest against this tax?


I cannot imagine that it is worth while coming home for a tax which brings in only £45,000 for the whole territory, as against the old tax of £40,000.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies the number of traders who have been imprisoned in Tanganika, since the beginning of April for trading without a licence, distinguishing between British Indians and nationals of other countries; and if he will state the number of prosecutions pending under the laws for the taxation and licensing of trade in the territory?


asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has received further information from Tanganyika regarding the dissatisfaction of the commercial community with the trading tax ordinances; whether 45 merchants at Lindi have been sent to goal in default of paying fines for trading without licences; and whether, in view of the disorganisation of trade in the mandated territory, the Secretary of State adheres to his determination to refuse a suspension of the ordinances until the case of the traders has been laid before him by the delegate now on his way to England?


Further telegrams have been received from the Governor of Tanganyikan territory conveying messages from an association of Indian merchants in continuation of the protest already received. At Lindi 43 British Indians and one Goanese were imprisoned under the licensing Ordinance, and have been released on payment of fines by distraint. At Dar-es-Salaam two British Indians were convicted and fines paid. There have been 14 cases of prosecution under the Profits Tax Ordinance, and the Governor is unaware of any other cases. All sentences passed will be reviewed, and no undue severity permitted. Native foodstuffs are not scarce, and there has been no great rise in prices. The Secretary of State is satisfied that there are no sufficient grounds for reconsidering his decision in the matter.


Is it the intention of the Government to extend this policy of trade licences to this country?


This is not in this country, but only in one territory of Tanganyika.