HC Deb 15 February 1937 vol 320 cc839-40
53. Mr. Banfield

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to how much the poll-tax on Africans in Southern Rhodesia amounts; how many months of road work under Government are required to pay off a year's arrears of poll-tax; whether any allowance is made to wives and children of tax-defaulters during the time they are absent doing road-work; how long a period of grace is allowed to men in which to pay their poll-tax; how many prosecutions for non-payment of tax took place in 1935 and 1936; and what sentences were passed?

The Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Marquess of Harting-ton)

The native tax payable by adult male natives in Southern Rhodesia is at the rate of £1 per annum, with an additional tax of 10s. per annum for every wife in excess of one. Any native who neglects or refuses to pay the tax due by him within one month after it is due is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding £10 or in default of payment to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months. The court may, however, postpone sentence subject to certain conditions and if these are observed the offender is discharged. In 1935 there were 6,326 prosecutions in the district courts for native tax offences, and the number of convictions (including those in which sentence was suspended) was 6,008. My right hon. Friend has no information as to the other points raised in the question, but will make inquiries of the Southern Rhodesia Government.

Mr. Banfield

Is not the Minister of the opinion that this state of things requires an impartial inquiry into the whole matter, and does he believe in the principle of forced labour, which is what this amounts to?

Marquess of Hartington

If I could get off with £1 annual taxation and 10s. for each additional wife in excess of one, I should consider myself fortunate.

Mr. Hardie

Does the Minister not think that it is very hard that first the native should have his land taken from him and then be made to work in order to pay taxes for the development of another nation that comes in?