HC Deb 07 July 1937 vol 326 cc326-7
18. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can report any improvement in the social and industrial conditions of Africans employed in the copper belt of Northern Rhodesia since the Commission on Disturbances (Cmd. 35); and whether the Government has adopted any measures to secure a statutory minimum in health, housing, sanitary, industrial and educational conditions for mine workers?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I can assure the hon. Member that the best means of improving the social and industrial conditions of Africans employed in the copper belt are under the constant care of the Government of Northern Rhodesia. Many of the matters to which he refers have been investigated by the Native Industrial Labour Advisory Board which was set up by the Government in 1935, and in many instances the Government has been able to accept, or ensure acceptance by the mines of, the board's recommendations.

Mr. Creech Jones

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is actually being done? In view of the reports of disturbances and the growing industrialisation of these natives, is it not desirable that at least there should be some statutory minimum in regard to social and industrial conditions below which the natives should not be allowed to fall?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

All those things are the very things that are covered by my answer. It is quite impossible, within the limits of a Parliamentary reply, to give details of the very many measures, with regard to housing, food, sanitation, health, and other services, that have been taken.

Mr. Paling

But was not one of the special recommendations in regard to housing particularly, and has anything been done in that respect, seeing that it is so bad?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

Yes, a great deal has been done.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with the conditions there?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

Of course, there is always room for improvement. When you get a sudden industrial expansion, which means an enormous volume of labour employed and a vast increase of effort, especially in the heart of the Province, it is not so much a case of individual action as of continuous action to improve the conditions in the mining areas.