HC Deb 05 February 1930 vol 234 cc1882-3

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that compulsory labour has been called out for the Jinja-Kampala Railway and that 14,000 men have already been impressed for this railway; what is the weekly wage paid to these men; and what is the market rate for free labour in the Protectorate?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Dr. Drummond Shiels)

As regards the first part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on the 23rd January to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton East (Mr. Mander). The rate of pay for labourers on the Jinja-Kampala Railway is 15 shillings per month of 26 working days plus rations which, including meat, cost 8 shillings 80 cents; in addition each man receives blankets costing 2 shillings 65 cents and a gunny-bag costing 95 cents at the beginning of a three months' contract. The market rate of labour in districts adjoining this railway averages 15 shillings per month without rations.


Was the calling out of this labour reported to the Secretary of State?


Ordinary powers were delegated by the Government to the authorities, and the Government have been kept fully in touch with this matter right through. We are now considering the question, not only in connection with these Colonies, but also in connection with the International Labour Office.


Is it a fact that labour can be called out compulsorily without notice being first given to the Secretary of State, and his approval obtained?


This was not compulsory labour; it was voluntary labour called out for the particular purposes of this railway.


May I point out that the question refers to compulsory labour, and why does the Parliamentary Secretary now say that it refers only to voluntary labour?


Does the Labour Government approve of the principle of compulsory labour?


This matter was thoroughly gone into on a previous occasion, and I have referred the hon. Member to a long answer which was given on that occasion which fully explains the matter. There was some controversy on the question, and it will be remembered that there were prosecutions in connection with it which involved certain irregularities. Attention was called to them, and it was found that this had been done without approval, and steps were taken to put the matter right. The Government is keeping in close touch with the Native authorities, and there is little fear of any similar practices occurring in the future.