HC Deb 23 June 1942 vol 380 cc1783-4
1. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether the Government of Southern Rhodesia have obtained powers to introduce a measure of compulsory labour of such indigenous Africans as may be required to meet any serious shortages of labour; whether such forced labour will operate in private industry; and whether any safeguards have been suggested?

The Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Mr. Emrys-Evans)

A Bill has been passed by the Southern Rhodesia Legislative Assembly empowering the Government to call up natives between the ages of 19 and 45 for service as labourers for national purposes. The Bill includes carefully framed safeguards which are largely based upon the recent Kenya regulations. No native will be required to work for longer than six months at a time, and he will be paid not less than the ruling current wages for the class of work which he is required to perform. Natives so called up will be regarded as in the employment of the Government, and, if their services are required for work at farms or mines, they will be placed under the supervision of officers appointed by the Government for the purpose. The operation of the Bill is restricted to the period of the present war.

Mr. Creech Jones

In view of the fact that this is discriminating legislation and that there are no adequate political checks for the black people in that Government, will it be insisted, before the scheme is operated, that satisfactory safeguards are imposed, particularly in regard to inspection and wage standards?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

I think that the safeguards included are sufficient to meet the objection of the hon. Member.

Sir John Mellor

Cannot the Government of Southern Rhodesia best determine this matter without our assistance?

Mr. Stephen

Is compulsory labour being applied to the white people also?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

No, Sir.