HC Deb 27 February 1940 vol 357 c1865
8. Mr. Paling

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that, prior to the introduction of the Natives Registration Act of Southern Rhodesia, the House was informed that this Act had been passed with the object of reducing convictions in the Pass Laws and because the Southern Rhodesian Government was seriously perturbed at the growing number of alleged offences in Southern Rhodesia; is he aware also that the view was widely expressed that, so far from obtaining a substantial reduction in the number of convictions for Pass Law offences, this Act would almost certainly increase the convictions; and whether, seeing that the latest figures do not show the anticipated decrease, he will urge upon the Government of Southern Rhodesia some modifications of the Natives Registration Act?

Mr. Eden

The last part of the Question appears to be due to a misapprehension, since the number of convictions in 1938, which I gave in my reply to the hon. Member on 20th February, indicates a decrease as compared with the corresponding figures for the two previous years. The number of convictions for contraventions of the Southern Rhodesian Pass Laws, including offences under the Natives Registration legislation, fell from 16,568 in 1936 to 13,273 in 1938, which was the first full year in which the Natives Registration Act of 1936 was in force.

Mr. Paling

Is the right hon. Gentleman sure that the figures for 1938 show no increase over the previous year?

Mr. Eden

The fact is that there are two laws and it is a very complicated business. Perhaps if I had a word with the hon. Gentleman afterwards, I could explain the matter to him.