HC Deb 05 March 1928 vol 214 cc796-7

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the legislation which it is proposed to initiate in Kenya Colony under which domestic servants will require to be registered and their finger prints taken by the police; and whether he is prepared to consult the Government of India as to its attitude towards any such proposals?


I am aware that a Bill for the registration of domestic servants has been under the consideration of a Select Committee of the Legislative Council, but I do not know with what result. The Bill provided that finger prints should be taken not by the police but by the Registrar appointed for the special duty of registration under the ordinance. I see no reason to consult the Government of India on the subject.


Seeing that any proposal to make legislation in regard to finger prints apply to Indians is bound to lead to serious trouble, would it not be better to consult the Government of India before agreeing to this proposal?


No, Sir. The fact that in other countries finger prints are used for identification purposes in connection with crime is no reason why finger prints should not be used elsewhere for an entirely different purpose, as in this case.


Are not finger prints taken simply in order that servants shall not escape from their employers and take up work elsewhere, and are we to encourage a system which practically indentures labour?


No, Sir, I do not think that is the effect of the system. The real difficulty, as some of us would realise if we were on the spot, is always to recognise these people.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are certain States where you have to have your finger prints registered before you can get a licence to drive a motor car, and that there is no indignity in it at all?