§ Order of the Day read for the adjourned debate on the Motion of the Marquess of Ripon, That an humble address be presented to His Majesty's Government for Papers relating to the affairs of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony, with special reference to the question of the employment of Chinese labour in the Transvaal."
§ EARL GREY
My Lords, as I listened yesterday to the speech of the noble Earl who initiated this discussion and who I regret not to see in his place to-day, and to the speech of the noble Marquess who followed him, I could not help feeling that those speeches supplied a very melancholy and a most forcible illustration of the danger connected with the attempt to rule a country six thousand miles away from this House. I do not think it would be possible to conceive a state of things more remote from the actual truth than the supposition of the noble Lord and the noble Marquess that the effect of the temporary employment of indentured Asiatics would be to oust or exclude British labour from the Transvaal. The exact opposite is the truth. On the contrary, the desire to employ, for a time, indentured Asiatics, which exists throughout the length and breadth of the Transvaal, arises from a profound conviction in the minds of men who have felt the hard pinch and stress of adverse circumstances 1142 that (1) if they are to provide employment for the new stream of British immigrants coming into the country, (2) if the Transvaal is to provide employment for the British population now resident in the Colony, and (3) if the threatened exodus of the settlers who have been attracted to the Transvaal is to be averted, it is absolutely necessary to have recourse to the measure which now engages the attention of the House.
The noble Earl who initiated this debate went so far as to declare that in his opinion it was the policy of Lord Milner to exclude British labour from the Transvaal. Does not the noble Lord know, what I thought everyone in this country knew, that it is the hope and ambition of Lord Milner to lay the secure foundation of a future British federation of self-governing States from the Zambesi to the Cape, and that the only hope of his policy being a success depends on attracting so large an influx of British settlers into South Africa as to make it absolutely impossible that South Africa will ever again become the scene of a race conflict between the Briton and the Boer? It is for this reason, and for this reason principally, because the temporary employment of Asiatic indentured labour will enable the Transvaal to provide employment, and highly-paid employment, for thousands of British artisans for whom under present conditions no employment can be found, that Lord Milner and everyone else who has at heart the hopes of seeing a peaceful and prosperous South Africa, attaches so much importance to the passage of the measure which has now been read a third time by the Legislative Council of the Transvaal.
I should have thought when I had stated that, that if that reason could be proved, it was sufficient for my argument; but, if I am not trespassing on the indulgence of your Lordships, may I adduce one or two reasons why I believe that the temporary employment of indentured Asiatics cannot result in the exclusion of British labour from the Transvaal as the noble Marquess seems to think it will? It has been my privilege to pay repeated visits to South Africa, and, although it may be difficult for any Englishman who has not visited that country to realise the fact, it is nevertheless a fact, which confronts one at every turn after one once enters South Africa, that the white man will not do work which he considers is specially the 1143 province of the Kaffir; I have seen their eyes contract and scintillate with hate and indignation when British artisans have been asked to do work which they consider would be degrading and would reduce them to the level of a Kaffir. Unless this House recognises this primary and essential fact I am afraid it is hardly in a position to solve the problem which stands before it to-day. Apart from that fact, you have the economic fact that it is impossible to work the mines with white labour except, under present conditions, at a rate of wage which no white man should be asked to accept. When the cost of living is reduced the position may be altered, but we have got to reduce the cost of living first. There are only two ways in which you can effect a reduction in the cost of living in South Africa—one is by growing the food required in South Africa in the country, instead of importing it from across the seas. Well, if we are to grow in South Africa the food required in the Transvaal, you must not tempt with very high wages all the available unskilled Kaffir labour for work in the mines. The employment of indentured Asiatics, under careful regulations, in the mines will set free a supply of Kaffir labour for work upon the land, and so make the first essential factor of cheap living possible, for it will enable the agricultural industry of South Africa to be developed with greater success than at present. The other factor in lessening the cost of living is the reduction of taxation and of railway rates. How are you to reduce railway rates unless you can command a large volume of traffic? Every gentleman connected with the administration of railways knows that the rate on railways is dependent on the volume of traffic that passes over the line. The volume of traffic is dependent on a prosperous mining industry, which is the successful pivot of all industry in South Africa; and a prosperous mining industry, again, depends upon being able to demand an adequate supply of unskilled labour. I therefore come back to the necessity of the temporary importation of indentured Asiatics in order that the mining industries should be prosperous, the volume of traffic large, the rates low, taxes reduced, and, consequently, the cost of living brought within limits which may render it possible to make experiments with white labour.
1144 I do not wish to bore your Lordships with any reference to technical points, but I am aware that there is a gentleman—Mr. Creswell by name—who is an enthusiast on the subject of white labour—as, indeed, we all are—and he has made, perfectly honestly and with great ability, experiments which he hopes will prove that it is possible to replace unskilled coloured labour with unskilled white labour. I think, however well-meaning and enthusiastic he may be—and I, for one, sympathise with the attempt he has made to solve this problem—the whole weight of testimony is against it. All the mining engineers and the managers of the mines on the Rand, with his exception, believe that the substitution of unskilled white labour for native workers has proved costly and unsatisfactory; the work performed having varied from the maximum of the work of one white man being equal to that of two natives—which is a large assumption—to the minimum of one white being only equal to a native, whilst the pay was in the ratio of ten shillings for a white man as against two shillings for a black. The increased cost of working the mines by unskilled white labour is so excessive as to make it economically an impossible proposition. On the favourable assumption that a white man at twelve shillings a day would do quite as much work as a Kaffir at 2s.4d. per day, the average cost per ton is increased 10s. 1d., which would have a disastrous effect on the mines in the Witwatersrand area.
It was my business two or three years ago to examine very closely the relation between the numbers of coloured unskilled labourers and the numbers of the white population, and I found, to my surprise—and I think it was a matter of general surprise—that, whether you looked to Johannesburg, to Rhodesia, or to Kimberley you found the same curious coincidence that the number of unskilled coloured labourers corresponded very closely with the white population. Subsequent experience has, I believe, confirmed that first discovery, and I see it anticipated by those who have given a very close attention to this question that for every thousand Chinamen you import for a term into the Transvaal, you will have an addition of 800 to your white population, counting men, women, and children, Let me endeavour to 1145 prove to your Lordships, by a concrete instance, how necessary it is that we should increase the supply of coloured unskilled labour. I am acquainted with a group of mines in Rhodesia. Owing to the fact that the manager was able at the time of the war, owing to the mines in Johannesburg not being in operation, to obtain a sufficient supply of unskilled labour he was in a position to offer very highly-paid employment to over 100 white men on business directly connected with the mines, and this group of four mines provided sufficient trade for a whole host of hangers-on, for shops, livery stables, and hotels, and was also the means of building a line of 100 miles, which, of course, gave employment to a large number of white men connected with railways and helped to develop the country. These very mines since the war, owing to the competition that exists for drill boys, who are essential for the economical working of the mines, are unable to obtain the labour they require. The overwhelming proportion of the labour required to work the Rhodesian mines is imported from countries outside the borders, and here they enter into competition with the Rand and therefore have felt most acutely the pinch which comes from the inability of Johannesburg to supply its own mines with the labour required.
Let me further point out this consideration to your Lordships. In the yearly Report of the Government Mining Engineer for the year ended June last, the statement is made that, of the salaries and wages paid for employment in the mines, about £600,000 was paid in salaries, £2,700,000 in wages to white men, and £950,000, roughly, in wages to natives; that is to say, 28 per cent. of the total was paid to black unskilled labourers and 72 per cent. to white skilled artisans. Now, my Lords, just follow out these figures. Suppose 100,000 Chinamen were imported into the Rand and were to receive a wage of 45s. per month, which I believe is about the wage contemplated; they would receive about £2,500,000 a year, and, if the same proportion were to exist between the amount of wages paid to white and yellow labour as to-day exists between that paid to white and black labour, then the amount of money available for the salaries and wages of highly-paid white men would amount to between 1146 £7,000,000 and £8,000,000 sterling. Now if you were to divide the latter sum by the average yearly wage paid to the white employes on the Rand before the war, which was £353 per head, you get this result, that you have 20,000 white men to whom employment at that average rate of wage would be found, or one white man for every five coloured unskilled labourers, whether black or yellow. I take one other calculation to press my point home. The number of stamps at work on the Rand last November was 4,310, as against 7,145 before the war. That means that there are about 3,000 stamps idle which ought to be at work, and which, if they could be got to work again, would give employment to between 5,000 and 6,000 additional skilled white workmen at the mines, besides attracting tradesmen and others who make a living out of the mines.
I hope I have said enough to show your Lordships that the employment of Chinese indentured labour, so far from excluding British labour from South Africa, is really the foundation upon which the increased employment of British labour rests. Let me turn to another point What does this industry mean for British industries at home? A most interesting Blue-book has been issued by the Board of Trade containing a Report by Mr. Henry Birchenough, who was sent on a special commercial mission to South Africa, and I quote the following from his Report—The rapidity with which South Africa has come to the front as a great market for British manufactures is almost startling. Ten years ago—in 1893—Great Britain's exports to South Africa were valued at a little under £9,000,000. Last year they almost reached £26,000,000. In 1893 South Africa stood sixth on the list of Britain's customers; last year she stood second. She has left America, Germany, France, and Australia behind, and was only beaten by India. It is no rash prediction that next year she will pass India and stand first on the list as the largest buyer in the world of the produce and manufactures of the mother country.The realisation of that prophecy entirely depends, my Lords, upon His Majesty's Government being authorised by Parliament to give their consent to the adoption and the working of the Ordinance which has now unanimously passed its Third Reading in the Legislative Council 1147 of the Transvaal. To put it in a nutshell, Mr. Birchenough maintains that—Leaving the realm of conjecture and prediction, it may be asserted that for every additional new stamp that is erected £1,600 worth of imported machinery will be required.He calculates on the statement of the Government Mining Engineer that, given an adequate supply of coloured unskilled labour, there will be a further addition of 8,000 stamps at work five years hence; thus in the year 1908 there will be 14,500 stamps at work in the Witwatersrand area, and every one of those 8,000 new stamps means the purchase of British material to the extent of about £1,600. That sum, multiplied by 8,000, gives you the not very small total of £12,800,000 as the trade which will come to this country provided we can obtain sufficient unskilled labour to enable these 8,000 additional stamps to be worked. Every stamp in South Africa which is at work buys in British material alone, in order to enable it to perform its functions, an average of £330 worth per stamp per annum. That means that there will be on these 14,500 stamps, in addition to the £12,800,000 initial purchase of British goods, an annual expenditure of £4,785,000; and taking into account the stores required by the mines in the Transvaal—I am not taking into consideration the mines in Rhodesia which are equally affected, but am looking to the Transvaal alone—it will represent an expenditure of not less than £5,500,000 a year. Well, my Lords, I hope I have shown that South Africa, given a sufficient supply of unskilled labour, is the best customer that England has for the manufactures it produces. It already takes 23 per cent. of the total exports to British possessions, and if you allow the Transvaal to manage its own affairs that percentage will be largely increased. The noble Marquess on the Front Opposition Bench said yesterday that it was almost indecent to hurry legislation in this matter. He wished to hang it up until self-government had been restored to the Transvaal. Well, my Lords, in view of Lord Milner's assurance that further delay in present conditions means the shutting down of mines which it does not pay to work; that it means an exodus of the present population of the 1148 Transvaal, and possibly, a recrudescence and revival of racial and political difficulties, I contend that the further postponement of this question does not admit even of consideration. The crisis is urgent and must be dealt with at once. I was rather surprised to hear the noble Earl Lord Portsmouth and the noble Marquess on the Front Opposition Bench refer to the suggestion that a referendum should be taken with expressions almost of contempt. I could hardly believe my ears when the noble Earl informed the noble Duke the Under-Secretary for the Colonies that he would not be content with a referendum because in his opinion it would not give an honest return of the actual opinion of the population. I have had the great privilege of seeing Lord Milner at work in the Transvaal. I know what trouble he has taken to surround himself with officials of the highest character and the greatest ability, and I believe that of the many great services which Lord Milner has contributed to the Empire, the service he has rendered in establishing a Civil Service of the highest possible character in the Transvaal which will carry on his ideal when self-government is restored to it, is not the least of those services. I therefore think it is a disgrace on the part of any Member of this House to refer to Lord Milner and the whole of the Civil Service as if they wore scoundrels and rogues.
The noble Marquess said he wanted a constitutional expression of the opinion of the Transvaal. If the noble Marquess had made himself acquainted with the facts connected with the election of the Municipal Council of Johannesburg, which is elected under the ballot and upon a wide franchise, he would have realised that, out of nineteen members who were nominated by Lord Milner to serve on the Legislative Council, eighteen wore returned for their separate constituencies, and that only one of Lord Milner's nominees was not returned, and he was Mr. Whiteside, one of the two gentlemen who signed the Minority Report. That is sufficient to show that the Transvaal, where they have had an opportunity of expressing their view by constitutional method, have declared that they desire to have indentured Chinese labour. There is not the slightest doubt that it is the desire of the Transvaal, and this Parliament will be taking upon itself a 1149 most serious responsibility if it prevents the wish of the Transvaal being carried into effect.
The noble Marquess was very much impressed by the fact that in Cape Colony both Parties are opposed to the importation of indentured Chinamen into the Transvaal. I do not know whether it is in the recollection of your Lordships that a few years ago a very influential organisation was founded, of which Lord Avebury and Mr. Leonard Courtney were the chief spirits, the object of which was to reform our present system of conducting elections, with a view of securing that the House of Commons should be a faithful mirror of the nation at large. One of the objections to our present system was that where Parties are equally balanced the independent man is given a supreme position on the political seesaw. It is absolutely necessary if you go into politics as practical men that you should do everything in your power, while elections are carried out under present conditions, to capture the balancing vote which decides the character of the election. That is exactly what is happening in Cape Colony. You have six or seven constituencies in which the Bond and the Progressives are equally balanced, and there is a comparatively small Kaffir vote which can decide the election, and can also decide whether the Bond Party or the Progressive Party should get a majority at a general election. Do you suppose, my Lords, clever electioneers like Mr. Merriman, who is now, I understand, experiencing a little political repose, and like the Bond Party—the cleverest electioneers in the British Empire—are not going to take advantage of any cry they can get hold of in order to attract the Kaffir vote to their side? Every Kaffir has had a hideous picture painted for him by the Bond Party showing how the introduction of Chinamen is going to fill his life with misery, horror, and anxiety. The Progressive Party, on the other hand, have been compelled to complain that they, too, are also strongly opposed to the introduction of Chinese labour; and Dr. Jameson gave notice that he would introduce a Bill making it illegal for Chinamen to come from the Transvaal into Cape Colony.
Then the noble Earl made a great point of the fact that while thirty per thousand was the rate of mortality in the De Beers 1150 mines at Kimberley, seventy per thousand was the rate of mortality in Johannesburg. He drew the inference that, therefore, the treatment of the natives was had, and that if the treatment had been good the mines would have been able to obtain all the labour they required. The noble Earl has not had the advantage which I have had of studying the conditions both on the Rand and at Kimberley. Let me explain the difference between the conditions of work at Kimberley and at Johannesburg. At Kimberley, owing to the fact that you have to deal with an article which can be stolen simply by being swallowed, it has been found necessary to employ the compound system. In the Rand there is no such system. The natives are allowed to go where they please. The result is that the Kaffirs in the De Beers mines at Kimberley are better cared for, and run less risk of laying the seeds of disease than the natives on the Rand. And there is this further difference, that the diamond mines at Kimberley are worked by men who are drawn from the high plateau lands of South Africa—mainly from Basutoland, which is the Switzerland of South Africa. They are a much more hardy race than the coast natives who work at Johannesburg. I think I have explained the reasons which account for the increased mortality at Johannesburg as compared with Kimberley.
The most rev. Primate, who, with a statesmanship which characterises all his utterances, did not oppose himself to the measure which is before the House, very properly drew the attention of His Majesty's Government to certain grave dangers which he saw in the importation of indentured Chinamen into Johannesburg. I feel that His Majesty's Government will, in consultation with Lord Milner, provide every safeguard that can be provided, but I should hope that this House would see the wisdom of allowing the Transvaal to settle this affair in the way that may seem to them best. I would point this consideration to the most rev. Primate. It is only suggested that the Chinamen should come for an indentured term of a few years. That is exactly what the Kaffirs are doing in Kimberley to-day, and, if the principle of the compound is vicious for indentured Chinamen, the principle is equally vicious at the De Beers mines, where every one 1151 admits who has made a study of the matter, that the condition of the natives in the compounds is better than that of any other natives outside Kimberley. Even in the British Army privates enlist for three years, and are not afforded the advantages of family life any more than is proposed in the case of the indentured Chinamen. Further than that, every pioneer has to do without the advantages of family life; it is one of the penalties he has to pay for his enterprise in opening up a new country. I have not got the figures by me, but in the Transvaal, before the war, the percentage of married miners who were there without their wives was a very large one indeed. What we have to do is to reduce the cost of living, in order that our white community may be able to live under conditions which lead to that morality which characterises all British communities.
On the question of fair treatment of the miners I would only say this, that it is absolutely to the interest of the mine manager to treat his natives well, for otherwise he cannot obtain the labour supply on which he depends for the prosecution of his industry. Major Pearce, in a Report on the Trade and General Conditions of the British Central African Protectorate for 1902–3, refers to the good effect which work in the mines of Rhodesia has had on the natives who come from Central Africa. He quotes the opinion recorded by one of the most philanthropic missionaries in South Africa, who has had an extremely long residence in the country, and has unparalleled knowledge of the British Central African native. He states that they are brought into contact with European wonders, and that the superintendence of the white men has rendered the natives much cleaner in their habits, more dignified and more hard-working, and that instead of the dull intellect, with no other thought than women, food, and beer, the younger generation who have sought improvement beyond the limits of their own country now show a far better stamp of countenance and have a greater desire to learn and write. That shows that the mines in Rhodesia are the best schools to which the natives of South Africa can go; and the presence of indentured Asiatics in the Rand mines is absolutely necessary unless the pros- 1152 perity of Rhodesia is to receive a fatal check.
It is said that this is a form of slavery, but there is no compulsion to make the Chinaman come. He comes of his own accord. The question is asked, "Will he come"? I read in a Report by Mr. Campbell, His Majesty's Consul, on a journey in Mongolia that many of the Chinese have to live and support their families on a penny a day. I do not think it requires very great compulsion to induce Chinamen who are receiving that rate of wage, on which they often have to support a wife and nine children, to come to the Transvaal, where they can obtain a monthly wage of 45s. and at the end of their term of indenture, can return to China capitalists, enabled to live with their families in far greater prosperity than is within the reach of those who remain at home. The noble Marquess on the Front Opposition Bench ventured yesterday to lecture the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for supporting the introduction of indentured Asiatic Labour into the Transvaal at such a critical time as the present in the Far East.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
I beg the noble Earl's pardon. I did not take the noble Marquess to task over the matter. I simply said that it was a most unfortunate time to have negotiations of this sort with China. I never dreamt of blaming the noble Marquess for the course he has taken. As a matter of fact, I do not know what he has done.
§ EARL GREY
I think it is still more unfortunate, when the whole peace and prosperity of South Africa depends on our being able to obtain, in response to the wish of the Transvaal, the importation, under carefully considered regulations, of indentured Asiatic Labour, that the noble Marquess should use his influence in this House on the side of inducing the authorities in China to check the flow of Chinamen out of that country into the Transvaal. In my opinion the real danger in South Africa is not the yellow peril but the black peril. You have a small white population living in a country in which the blacks are steadily growing. As they increase in numbers you will have to find means of enabling 1153 them to support themselves by honest labour. They are growing gradually to assume European wants, but the pace is very slow, and it is because I take a really serious view of the future of South Africa, that I feel it is necessary, as an education to our black population, that the indentured Asiatic should come in and do the same work which, up to now, has been performed by them, so as to enable the country to lay the foundation of a big and growing industry which will every year demand more and more labour, and to render it possible, when the time comes that the increased black population are unable to maintain themselves out of their farms, for them to earn their livelihood by work at the mines, by replacing the indentured Asiatics whom we only ask for as a temporary stop-gap.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
My Lords, I beg at the outset in the clearest possible way to dissociate myself from any unknown or anonymous person who has ever called Lord Milner or any person connected with the Rand a rogue or a scoundrel. I feel very deeply on this subject, and I think it is the duty in this crisis of every man to speak openly and fearlessly, and I assure your Lordships that whatever I have to say on this subject will be said with the greatest respect to every person connected with the mining industry, and, above all, to the great nation of China, whose natives it is proposed to bring into the Transvaal. We have nothing to say against China or against her people; but we oppose the bringing of these people into a British colony, and also the way in which this labour is proposed to be brought in. The noble Earl who has just sat down seemed to me to have two main propositions in his interesting and forcible speech. He said first that the whole peace and prosperity of the Transvaal depends on the temporary employment of Chinese, and he made a great point of the word "temporary." But I would very respectfully say to the noble Earl that all those who have knowledge of Chinese in a British colony know that while it is very easy to get them into it it, is as difficult to get them out as it is to get the white ants out of a Queensland log hut.
1154 I should like for one moment to refer to what the noble Earl said about Mr. Cresswell, who is well known now as a sort of missionary of white labour in this country. Mr. Cresswell maintains that white labour can be made to pay. That is the whole foundation of our argument. We say that it has not been proved that white labour is impossible. The noble Earl truly said that a great argument had been brought against Mr. Cresswell's proposals, and no doubt Mr. Cresswell had to leave his employment, but my noble friend Lord Portsmouth yesterday pointed out to the House what the reason of the cessation of white labour was. It was put in evidence before the Labour Commission. A letter from the representative in England was sent out to say that Messrs. Wernher Beit and Co., for various reasons, opposed white labour. That letter is in evidence, and I need not take up the time of the House in further referring to it. The noble Earl went on to draw a most magnificent fancy picture of 14,500 stamps in full work, and he almost took one's breath away with the millions that were to be turned out and the thousands of pounds that this country was going to receive in consequence of the enormous increase of trade on account of Chinese labour. But I would very respectfully submit that if, as we believe, white labour can be employed at a profit, instead of supplementing the present labour with yellow labour we should supplement it with white labour. You would then have this result, that you would save the passage money to and from the Flowery Land of these indentured labourers, and the whole of the £2,700,000 would go into the pockets of white men, who we still maintain could run these mines and work them at a profit.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I would point out to the noble Earl that the majority of the mining agents in South Africa are not Britons at all; they are Americans, and therefore they are perfectly content with the status quo. Why should they puzzle their brains to get new machinery and now means of making a mine pay 1155 when they have the wish expressed by the magnates in London that they should continue as they are with cheap labour imported from China? May I be permitted for one moment to turn to a speech which we listened to with great interest last night—I allude to the speech of the noble Duke the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and to compliment the noble Duke upon it. It was certainly the opinion of everyone on this side of the House that he made a most excellent defence of what, unhappily, we consider to be on uncommonly bad case. The noble Duke told us that mining is the staple industry on which the prosperity of the country depends. With that the noble Earl who has just sat down entirely agrees, and I suppose there is not one person in your Lordships' House or in this country who would disagree with that, and that to my mind seems to be all the more reason why the mines should be worked with resident white labour and not with Asiatic indentured labour. The question, in our judgment, should be determined by an Imperial Commission, with Imperial assessors, and not decided on the evidence of mine-owners alone and of their engineers, most of whom, as I have said, are not British but American.
It seems to us that the mining industry is divided into two absolutely different sections. There is, first, the company-promoting, share-producing industry, and I suppose I shall have again to say that I speak with every possible respect of that industry; on the other hand, there is the mining industry proper. I maintain that these mining magnates, as they are called—these financial magnates—cannot in any way he compared with the leaders of British industry, such as ironmasters, coalowners or shipowners, who, to run their business, must be well aware of the intricacies of them. It seems to me that the Government on the one side is accepting the representations of the first section, while we who are opposing this accept the representations of the second or industrial section. I am not in the habit of speaking for other people, but I am informed by Mr. Richard Bell, who represents 2,000,000 working-men, by Mr. John Burns, Mr. William Crooks, Mr. W. Steadman, and 1156 the other leaders in the industrial world, that my noble friend the Marquess of Ripon when he brought this question before your Lordships and objected to the Ordinance, had every British workman at his back. That is important enough, but I also think I am not exaggerating when I say that my noble friend in his battle for white labour has also the support of every single Colonial Governor, with, perhaps, one or two exceptions. He has also, naturally, the support of the Colonies themselves. An allusion was, I think, made in the debate to Canada, and to the fact that Canada had said nothing. Canada has not spoken Imperially, but it has acted Imperially, for I believe that within the last few weeks the Colony of British Columbia has put up the poll tax—my noble friend the Earl of Aberdeen will correct me if I am wrong—has put up the poll tax on every Chinaman to £100 a head.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
Then the noble Duke went on to say that the opinion in South Africa in general is not unfavourable to the proposal. Take Rhodesia. You have there simply a handful of men who are entirely under the direction and under the orders of certain speculative companies. They have no self-government—
§ EARL GREY
I beg the noble Earl's pardon. We have in Rhodesia, a Legislative Council which is elected by the people, and our Legislative Council unanimously passed in 1901 an Ordinance authorising the importation of indentured Asiatics into the country under very careful conditions. It has not been permitted up to now to use that Ordinance, but I trust that Rhodesia will have the same right accorded to it as the Transvaal.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
After what the noble Earl has said I withdraw my statement and accept the correction. Let us now take Natal. Natal is a semi-tropical colony full of aliens and supports the 1157 proposal, because they cannot logically refuse approval, as it is identically what they are doing themselves. I need not trouble the House with the opinion of the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, because that was duly dealt with by my noble friend behind me. With regard to Cape Colony, I think the noble Duke the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies will agree with me that every single person in Cape Colony is dead against the proposal.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I do not desire to exaggerate in any way, I will therefore say that in Cape Colony the consensus of opinion is decidedly opposed to the proposal.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I saw a little of the Chinese in Australia. In 1888 I was given to understand by Sir Henry Parkes that there might probably be a great difficulty as to the introduction of Chinese into the colony, and that if any large number of Chinese were proposed to be landed, they would probably be resisted by force. The crisis came quicker than most people expected. Early in May, 1888, three ships, with something like 500 Chinese coolies on board each ship, tried to land in Sydney harbour. The whole population turned out with swords and staves. They stood on the quay and said: "These people shall not land." The excitement was so great that there was a meeting of 40,000 people, and anti-Chinese resolutions were passed. The mayor, at the head of 5,000 citizens, marched up George Street to Parliament Street and tried to get into the Legislative Assembly, the House being then sitting, to inform the Government what the feeling about the Chinese was. They were shut out, but the language that was used by the Prime Minister will, perhaps, show what the tension of feeling was at 1158 that time. The Prime Minister said in Parliament—In this crisis of the Chinese question we do not mean to turn back. Neither for Her Majesty's ships of war, nor for Her Majesty's representative on the spot, nor for the Secretary of State, do we intend to turn back from our purpose, which is to terminate the landing of the Chinese in Australia for ever.I do not think the Australians approved of that strong language, but I am bound to say that it reflected the opinion of every individual in the colony. The men on the ships to which I have referred were not allowed to be landed. I then telegraphed over to the Secretary of State for the Colonies—at that time Viscount Knutsford—informing him of the state of affairs, and asked whether, if a Chinese Restriction Bill was passed which could be approved, I might give the Royal Assent to it. The noble Viscount rose to the occasion, and though it was then stated by several important personages, as it is in this case, that this was a dishonest cry, yet he gave me permission, and I was able to tell the Ministers that there would be no difficulty as to the Royal Assent being given to a Chinese Immigration Restriction Bill. That action, if it did not prevent the separation of the colony altogether, at any rate put an end to a very dangerous crisis.
Then I think it might be asked, and very forcibly asked, what is the objection to these Chinamen? There must be something behind it. Englishmen know as little about the Chinese question as most Australians do about Spanish marriages. What is the object of this great antagonism to Chinamen? We know them to be a very frugal, patient, industrious, and law-abiding race; but there are objections to them that they undersell the white population. In Australia we know they are extremely difficult to get rid of. In the case of South Africa there is that black peril to which the noble Earl alluded, which is, of course, a great menace, but if there was a rising amongst the natives it would be an uncommonly disagreeable thing for a small band of white settlers to have 150,000 or 200,000 discontented Chinamen in their rear. But I think I ought to state what was always considered in Australia to be the real danger of the Chinese. Their being law-biding people 1159 is one of their great dangers. You never hear of a Chinaman being brought up before an English magistrate for any outrage or crime committed on another Chinaman; it is the rarest thing in the world. They are brought up for offences against white people, but not for offences among themselves. They have a sort of law of their own. If a man commits a murder he disappears; if he commits burglary or any other offence he is punished according to the Chinese law, and it is felt that this Imperium in imperio in the State is a very dangerous thing.
The Chinese come as bachelors, and as they are a patient and affectionate race the result is that they marry women of a very low class. We have to look to the future, and the great ideal of the Australian colonists is a white Empire of Anglo-Saxon blood. They do not want any mixture of breed or hybrid marriages. I ask your Lordships to consider what sort of colonists will they be breeding up for the future as subjects of the King in South Africa, whose father was a John Chinaman and whose mother was a woman of the description I have referred to? And, last of all, there is that great evil, to which I need not allude, which was put before the House last night by the most rev. Primate. I think that the whole of Christendom must thank him for having made the speech which he delivered last night. I need not say one more word on that most difficult aspect of the subject. I understand the noble Earl to say that Lord Milner hopes to lay the foundation of a future British federation of self-governing States from the Zambesi to the Cape, and that that is his ambition. I think that is the hope and ambition and ideal of every man in this country. We do not quarrel with the ideal, but with the way in which Lord Milner seems determined to carry it out. I speak of Lord Milner with every possible respect, and even those in South Africa who are opposed to his policy speak of him in the highest possible way. He is universally acknowledged to be a great man, a strong man, to have a very high sense of duty, and to stick to his opinion at all hazards—a very courageous high-principled Englishman. But I would like to ask, is Lord Milner always right? Is he right in this instance? Was he right in 1899 when he 1160 took the advice of the leaders of the financial houses and gave us to understand that the Boers would not fight under any circumstances? Was he right in 1902 when he advocated the suspension of the Constitution of the Cape Colony, which was negatived, and everybody thinks very properly negatived, by His Majesty's Government? And was he right in 1903 when he said "We do not want a white proletariat"? The moment that Lord Milner said that the flag was down and the race for Chinese labour began. The noble Duke the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies said, and I have no doubt he and the other members of the Government implicitly believe it, that white labour is discontinued on account of the cost and not from any fear of any white labour combination.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
Well, but I hardly think that statement can be re conciled which the announcement made by the Committee of Johannesburg Engineers, who as I have already said, are all Americans. What did they say? They said that if this policy—the policy of Chinese labour—is pursued there will be no opening for the trail of the serpent—that is, for the foundation of labour unions; and a still more astounding statement was made at a meeting held on 9th February last year and presided over by Lord Harris. At that meeting a memorandum by Mr. Rudd was quoted, in which that gentleman is reported in The Times to have written—Should we replace 200,000 natives by 100,000 unskilled whites, they would simply hold the Government in the hollow of their hands.Now, my Lords, those statements seem to me to give the whole case completely away The real reason for this Chinese invasion is that the whites would simply hold the Government in the hollow of their hands. We may think as highly as we like of the integrity, honour, and patriotism of Mr. Rudd, but what are we to think of his understanding? The noble Duke the Under-Secretary told us that in days gone by foreign labourers were imported and the regulations made afterwards, but that now the rules are to be settled before the Chinese are brought in, and their social, moral, and religious interests are to be 1161 considered by His Majesty's Government. Let us consider for one moment what the position is. On one of the big mines that I know there are 4,000 coolies to be employed. These men are to be brought over from China, and are to be put into a compound or stockade. I do not know if many noble Lords in this House have seen a native compound. I have, and a more horrible sight it is impossible to conceive. Imagine a piece of ground surrounded with corrugated iron, and crowded with natives, some sitting smoking in a corner, others sitting and gambling, others asleep in different parts of the compound, and a great many of them sitting in a large ring watching a dance, to say the least of it, somewhat wanting in delicacy. You are to bring these Chinamen over, and put them into one of these stockades. You tell them that their working hours are to be spent underground, and that their hours of recreation will be spent in the stockade. They are to have no civic rights; they are not to be allowed to go out of the stockade, except on very special occasions when they may be granted a permit; if they feel aggrieved or ill-used they arc, under no circumstances, to be allowed to go out of the compound; if they escape, they are captured and brought back by force; if any white man harbours or succours them, it is an offence punishable by fine and imprisonment; they are not to indulge in any commerce or any trade; they are not to own land or till land. During the three years that they are indentured in this way they are bound over to the person who claims their services. They cannot leave that man's employ, though he has, as I believe was said in the other House of Parliament, power, without their consent, to transfer their services to some other proprietor. That is the social condition that you offer these men. Then, as regards their morality, you say, "Oh! we will look after their morals. We think it is necessary that the wives should accompany them, only we cannot have every one's wife." I believe the proportion of wives is one in every fifty, so that it comes to this—
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
In Natal the number of wives who accompany the natives is about 40 per cent.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
There is no pledge forthcoming as to the proportion of wives who are to accompany the Chinese. Then we look after the religious aspect. We tell these people that we respect their religion, and I am given to understand that there is a trade already going to be initiated for supplying the imported Chinese coolies with cheap idols, to be made in this country, for the purpose of their worship. And then, in conclusion, we tell them that we know it is their wish their last resting place should be in China, and we promise to send their bones back in the event of anything happening to them during the three years. I am bound to admit that if the rate of mortality is anything like the seventy per thousand per annum quoted last night by my noble friend Lord Portsmouth, there will be a lucrative trade in carrying back the remains of these unfortunate people to the land from which they came. I apologise to your Lordships for having addressed you at such length, but I felt-bound to speak on the subject, as it is one upon which I feel very keenly. I join with my noble friend who introduced this subject to your Lordships and implore the Government to stay their hand. Do let the English nation know what they are doing. At least let us read the evidence that is contained in the Blue-book. There can be no hurry. What is the object of this feverish impatience to get these Chinese people into South Africa? In the good old times, or the bad old times, of Kruger, the output of the gold mines was £100,000,000 sterling a year, while now it has fallen to £70,000,000. 1163 I implore His Majesty's Government to give breathing time, and to let the English nation know what they are doing. If the nation understood what would be the terrible results of this Chinese immigration into South Africa, there would be such a consensus of opinion as would force the Government to flash the message across the seas: "We, the Imperial Government, refuse to sanction this most un-British and unholy thing."
* THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (The Earl of ONSLOW)
My Lords, nobody is more entitled to address your Lordships on the subject of the importation of Chinese labour than the noble Earl who has just sat down, for he was Governor of New South Wales at a time when the importation of Chinese labour was a burning question, and I think I may safely say that none of Her Late Majesty's representatives in Australasia was more popular with the people than my noble friend. In his position as the representative of the Crown, the noble Earl naturally had to observe a somewhat guarded attitude on the question until such time as he was able to publish the correspondence which had taken place between himself and the Secretary of State. It was then found that the noble Earl was more Australian than the Australians on this question. He was received everywhere with cheers—with cheers that I have never heard equalled except when a gentleman is belabouring a Government of which he until recently was a member. But the noble Earl has another claim upon your Lordships' attention, because I notice that two or three days ago he was the Chairman of a meeting held at the Queen's Hall to protest against the importation of Asiatic labourers into the Transvaal. That meeting was described in the organ of noble Lords opposite, the Daily News, as one representative of all Parties and of all sections. I looked through the list of Members of the Legislature who were present, and, so far as I could see, the only Member there of the Party to which I have the honour to belong was an hon. and gallant Gentleman a member of the other House of Parliament, who is principally known for the candid criticism which he bestows upon the Government he is supposed to support Whether it was representative of the sections of the Party to which noble Lords opposite belong I am 1164 unable to say, because I do not know how many sections there are.
The noble Earl described the terrors which might menace the small white population in the Transvaal if they had 100,000 Chinamen in their rear. The noble Earl likes to make our flesh creep. I do not think there is this serious menace of the white population in the Transvaal. I agree with the noble Lord that the Chinaman is not a desirable inhabitant of a white country. He is a useful man upon occasions; he has been very useful to my noble friend and myself; he has washed our dirty linen in private, and has grown our cabbages, and he is willing to work for a lower wage than the white man. He is not unlike the Russian and the Pole who settle in the East End of London, and as such the Australian Government were doing what was only their duty to those whom they represented in urging upon the Secretary of State that the Chinaman should be excluded from the colony. But surely, my Lords, the position is quite different in this case. In Australia the Chinese had come in freely, and the difficulty was to get rid of them. The stable door had been left open, and the undesirable animal was allowed to come in and roam about where he pleased. In the case of the Transvaal it is proposed to put him in a comfortable loose-box where he can do no harm, and when his work is done he will go back to his own country with a nice little sum in his pocket. The noble Earl said he would be more difficult to get out than the white ant. I cannot help thinking that there is a little discrepancy in the argument of the noble Earl when he complains of the restrictions on the one hand which are to be placed on the Chinese, and on the other that they will run all over the place and will not be able to be restrained. I believe the precautions which Lord Milner is about to take will be amply sufficient to avoid all the evils which the noble Earl fears. I do not know where the noble Earl got the statement that Lord Milner's prophecies always come untrue; I do not know where he got the quotation that Lord Milner said the Boers would at no time fight the British. In the course of the negotiations, just as in the course of the recent negotiations between Russia and Japan, there may have been moments when it was impossible to conceive that 1165 such a thing as war would take place; but because Lord Milner said that at some time or other, I cannot admit that he is a prophet without honour. Then the noble Marquess opposite said last night that there was no precedent in the whole of the King's dominions for such a course as that proposed in this case.
* THE EARL OF ONSLOW
Of course, I do not suggest that anything exactly the same has taken place, but for many years past it has been the practice to import indentured coloured labourers into the West Indian Colonies. There is a great similarity between the conditions.
* THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I will point out what the similarity is. In the first place, the Indian coolie is just as much obliged to reside on the plantation as it is proposed that the Chinaman should be obliged to reside in the compound. He cannot leave his plantation without a pass, and he may be fined for deserting from his labour. All these things are identical with the proposals which it is suggested should be made in the Transvaal, and, so far as I know, they have not been looked upon as a condition of slavery by the coolies who are subject to them. Last year I believe there were 14,600 coolies in British Guiana. There were only six complaints made by them, and four were dismissed. Some 1,150 went back to their homes and took with them £9,000, whilst they had remitted £2,000 to their relatives. To show that they did not consider that they were badly treated, although every discouragement was placed in the way of their coming back, 359 returned. The noble Marquess said that it was proposed to bring 196,000 Chinese into the Transvaal. The noble Earl was in error. On the contrary, it has always been the policy of Lord Milner that no stone should be left unturned to get a sufficient number of Kaffir labourers to balance the Chinese who may be imported. What is proposed is to bring in an experimental 1166 batch of 10,000, and I can only express the hope that Lord Milner will be successful in getting as many.
I now come to the speech of the most rev. Primate. The Archbishop of Canterbury complained that there was no reference in the Blue-book to any provision for looking after the morals of the Chinese who might be imported into the Transvaal. There was a reference, but I admit that it was not from an official source. Mr. Skinner, who was sent to China by the Transvaal Government to inquire into the conditions of life of the Chinese, recommended that there should be a regular remittance of their wages home, that they should have their passage free with food, and that an advance of wages should be made to them before they left; also that when they arrived they should have free house accommodation, medical attendance, Chinese clothing, and religious facilities. I do not know whether that is the trade in idols that was referred to by my noble friend just now. There is also a reference to the importation of their womankind. Mr. Skinner strongly recommended that those labourers who proved themselves to be most efficient should be encouraged by their womankind being sent for to follow them, but a complaint has been made that there was nothing in the Papers to show what steps His Majesty's Government had taken in this matter. Well, my Lords, it is precisely because this matter was carefully considered when it was originally proposed to introduce coloured labour, that it was not thought necessary to set forth in the Blue-book all that had been going on between Lord Milner and His Majesty's Government; but I may inform the most rev. Primate that the matter is very far from having been lost sight of. We had the advantage of having in this country a few months ago perhaps the most experienced man in the British Empire in the management of Chinese—Sir Frank Swettenham. Sir Frank Swettenham and Lord Milner had many interviews together, and he impressed on Lord Milner what were the conditions that would best contribute to the morality of the Chinese. His Majesty's Government have sent out to the Transvaal the Protector of the Chinese from Singapore, a man well acquainted with all the requirements of Chinamen, 1167 who will do all he can to make the experiment a success. The regulations are not, and cannot be, settled because they have to be arranged in consonance with the Chinese Government, and until that has been done it will not be possible to publish them. Your Lordships will have observed that my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Colonics has given an assurance in another place that the matter would be carefully considered, and that he intended to take steps to see that a sufficient number—he is not, of course, in a position now to say what that number will be—of Chinese wives and families should be allowed to accompany the labourers to the Transvaal.
There was another point raised by the noble Marquess on the Front Bench opposite. He asked whether these regulations would be explained to the Chinamen before they left China. Yes, my Lords, of course they will. They will be explained to the Chinamen before they start, not only by people of their own nationality, but by His Majesty's Consuls or by persons appointed specially by the Government to see that the conditions are thoroughly understood. The noble Earl who spoke last gave your Lordships a thrilling account of the conditions obtaining in what he called a stockade. I know what a compound is, but there is no mention in the Ordinance of cither a stockade or a compound. The intention is that a representative of His Majesty's Government shall see that these people, men and women, are decently and comfortably housed. I do not know whether the noble Earl advocates that they should be allowed to hold land and engage in trade, but at any rate I do not think that would be very welcome in the Transvaal or in any other part of South Africa. As to the suggestion which was made last night by the noble Earl who initiated this discussion, that Lord Milner's policy was to exclude British labour, there are 10,000 white men working at the mines to-day and at good rates of wages. They are receiving £1 a day, and I think that is quite sufficient to maintain any working man, even with his wife and family and under the expensive circumstances that obtain in the Transvaal. There are some white labourers in Europe who do not get more than 2s.a day. For the least skilled labour 13 guineas a month is paid, and drill men get £32 a 1168 month. An important consideration, too, is that white men will not work at unskilled labour under the same conditions as black men.
The noble Earl talked as if there were only white men in South Africa. You have got a black race which is not diminishing, not disappearing as it is in Australia, but which is increasing, and you have got to reckon with it. You will always have—I hope you will always have—the Kaffirs working in the mines, and I say, upon the evidence which is in the Blue-book, and upon the evidence which is known to my noble friend who addressed you last but one, that if you put white and black men alongside doing unskilled labour, the former become demoralised. The true settlement of this question can only be obtained by confining the skilled labour to the white man and the unskilled labour to the black. For every eight black men working at the mines you have one white man; so that if you import 100,000 more black labourers it will provide employment for 12,500 skilled white men, who will bring with them their wives and families.
§ * LORD TWEEDMOUTH
There is no question as to importing black labour. The question is one of yellow labour.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
Well, I will substitute the term unskilled coloured labourers. A great deal was made by the noble Lord and by other noble Lords of Mr. Tarbutt's letter and of the memorandum of Mr. Rudd. I am sorry that the noble Earl had not the opportunity of going through the ponderous volume which the noble Duke the Under-Secretary brought down, for he would have found in it more material for his speech. He would have found that one or two gentlemen suggested that the real remedy was forced labour. Whether it was to be with whips or bayonets I do not know, but I am surprised that nobody has taken hold of that and suggested that, because this or that irresponsible person suggested forced labour, it showed the trial of the Vice-regal serpent. My noble friend relies on Mr. Cresswell and his experiment in the adoption of white labour. My noble friend quoted Mr. Tarbutt's letter as an indication that Messrs. Wernher Beit and Co. were wholly 1169 opposed to this experiment of white labour, but if he will read the Blue-book carefully he will find that Mr. Cresswell stated that Messrs. Wernher Beit and Co. did all they could to give him a free hand to make a fair and impartial trial of the employment of white labour under prevailing conditions, but the experiment broke down completely. Nobody would have been more pleased that it should have been a success than those who were so deeply interested in the output of the mines.
Mr. Creswell himself pointed out the reason why it was a failure. He said it was because the white men who were worth anything were gradually becoming skilled men. They would not work at 8s. 6d. and he did not think 10s. would be much use to them, and even 12s. was not a living wage for a married man. Does anybody really believe that it would have been possible to carry on the mining industry of South Africa at a rate of wage of 12s. per day per unskilled labourer? The result would be that the mines would have to be shut down. The efficiency of unskilled white labour,of which a great deal has been made, was shown to have been only 1.23 to I of the value of unskilled black labour, whilst the cost was three or four times as great. The only way in which you can deal with white labourers is that they should gradually come to be skilled labourers. Noble Lords who take exception to this proposal can find plenty of material to support their argument in this Blue-book. The Blue-book has not been doctored or cooked. It contains everything on the subject that can be told. There are reports of many meetings and speeches adopting the same attitude as that of noble Lords opposite, but what I want to draw your Lordships' especial attention to is the extraordinary change of opinion which has come over the people of the Transvaal in the last few months. The Report of the Commission came out on 19th November, and since that date there has been no expression of opinion opposed to the necessity—not the desirability, but the necessity—of introducing unskilled coloured labour. On 2nd December the Chamber of Mines passed a resolution in favour of it, and on the 12th of the same month the Johannesburg Stock Exchange passed a similar resolution. On the same day the Johannesburg Cham- 1170 ber of Trade adopted a similar view. On the 18th December a large public meeting was held at Johannesburg at which, by an enormous majority, this policy was supported. On the following day a large meeting in the same sense was held at the Wanderers' Club, and, finally, you have the debate and division in the Legislative Council. Noble Lords opposite minimise the authority of the Legislative Council. The noble Marquess opposite asked, "What are they?" They are, he said, a set of nominated officials who have got to do what they are told by the Government.
* THE EARL OF ONSLOW
Well he said they were nominated officials. Let me say that they were specially enjoined that they were to record their votes entirely in accordance with their opinions, and not because they were members of the Government. What I want to draw the attention of the noble Marquess to is this, that in the constitution of that council Lord Milner was not guided solely, or, I think I may say, mainly, by the question of whether these men were the best men in the colony, or whether they were the men most likely to approve of his policy or his Government. He was guided by the comparative importance of the different elements composing the body politic; that is to say, the members were specially selected as representative of all interests in the Transvaal. Therefore, I claim that this is not the decision of an ordinary Crown Colony Legislature, but that it should be looked upon as really representing the opinion of the large majority of people in the Transvaal.
A great deal was said as to the opinion that has been expressed by the other great self-governing colonies in the Empire. I have had the honour of the acquaintance of the Prime Minister of New Zealand for a great many years, and I think there is no man in whose breast the spirit of Imperial patriotism burns more brightly than in that of Mr. Seddon: but, while I should be the last person to say that it is no part of the duty of a self-governing colony to interfere in the affairs of the Empire, I would go further 1171 and say that I think we have suffered in the past because too little interest has been taken in the general affairs of the Empire by its several component parts. I recollect well that in 1887, when the first Colonial Conference was held, a gentleman, a native of one of the Australian States, came over to this country full of hot indignation against the manner in which England had treated the interests of Australia, but when he went back he said he had seen the true proportion which Australia bore to the whole of this great Empire, and recognised that he had been unduly critical in what he had said respecting the Government. The noble Marquess drew a distinction between the Australasian Colonies and the Cape. He said the Cape was more entitled to speak upon this subject on account of its propinquity to the Transvaal. The noble Earl said—but he corrected himself afterwards—that he thought there was not a single person in the Cape who was not opposed to this proposal. On the contrary the proposal is approved in several places. It must be remembered that some of the ports, especially East London, depend for their prosperity on the Transvaal, and I think that if the noble Lord paid a visit to East London he would find that there are a great many people there who are distinctly in favour of anything being done which would maintain the prosperity of the Transvaal.
The noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition gave us fair warning, on the first night of the session, that if His Majesty's Government showed any sympathy with two great classes of the community we must expect some opposition on his part. He singled out two—the great industry which deals in intoxicating liquor and the great industry which is carrying on mining in the Transvaal. No doubt the brewers and the publicans deal in an article which occasionally leads to excesses, though I hope in your Lordships' House we look upon it as the cup which cheers but not inebriates. At any rate, it is a perfectly legitimate business. In the same way, although the operation of mining digs up the riches of the earth which in our classical studies we learned were the incentives to evil, yet most of us like to have a little of that wealth, and at any rate it is a great lubricant of that 1172 complicated machine which we call our commercial system. I think that neither of those two classes ought to be singled out for special attack. But it is not in any way because the mining magnates, as they are called, are the people who are mainly concerned in the prosperity of the Transvaal that we ask your Lordships to sanction this Ordinance. It is because by generating the mining industry you create the great motive power which will stir into activity all the other industries of the Transvaal, including that of agriculture.
If by any action of this House the prosperity of the Transvaal is crippled, as I believe it will be by a refusal to sanction the Ordinance, you will have no more reason to make railways or roads. The profits of every farmer, be he British or Dutch, will disappear. As Mr. Birchenough has pointed out, it is not the mines only. As he said, the danger of the situation lies in the prolongation of the present financial strain. It is a race against time. The whole industrial and commercial interests of the Transvaal are involved, and not only the interests of the financial houses. The evidence given before the Commission will strike different people in different ways. The noble Marquess has derived the impression from reading it that there is no unanimity in the Transvaal on this subject. I confess it strikes me in an exactly contrary way. It seems to me, from all I have seen, that the great preponderating opinion throughout the length and breadth of the Transvaal is that, unpleasant and unsatisfactory as it is to have recourse to Chinese labour, it is the only thing which will save the Transvaal from going down-hill to ruin. We have passed through crises in the history of our Colonies not dissimilar from that which we see in the Transvaal. We have learned, or we ought to have learned, many lessons from history. I will not take your Lordships back to the tea chests which were thrown over into Boston harbour, but I will say that whenever Parliament or the Secretary of State has attempted to dictate to a great colony on the eve of self-government, Parliament or the Secretary of State has invariably been foiled, and all that they have succeeded in doing has been in exasperating the opinion of our fellow subjects in the colony. I hope we are not 1173 going to repeat the mistakes which were made by our ancestors. You may impose your view on the Transvaal, against the will and wishes of the people, but if you do you will in the end inevitably fail, as you have Tailed in the past in Canada, Australia, and at the Cape.
§ THE EARL OF, ABERDEEN
My Lords, I only interpose for one moment to make a correction. The noble Earl, Lord Carrington, referred to the poll tax on Chinamen in British Columbia. I have ascertained that the tax has been raised to 500 dollars, having formerly been 100 dollars. It is now equivalent to £100.
* THE LORD BISHOP OF ROCHESTER
My Lords, I have listened with great admiration to the spirited and effective as well as kindly-natured and good-tempered speech which has just been delivered by the noble Earl, and we, who feel anxious about this matter, are very grateful to him for the manner in which he has treated what I may call its moral difficulties. He has shown us—I, for my part, certainly did not need showing-that those who are responsible here for these proposals have the most sincere and the most earnest intention of making them work satisfactorily and well. No one has more reason than myself to believe that the Secretary of State and his advisers are fully alive to the serious nature of this matter. The thing we have got to ask ourselves is whether that good intention is altogether sufficient. We have learned from the noble Earl more in detail of the kind of securities the Government are able to take. They are the securities of very high and independent opinion applied to the details of the matter. The counsel of Sir Frank Swettenham and of the other expert, Mr. Evans, the Protector of Chinese, given to Lord Milner, is intended to secure in every possible way the interests of the Chinese labourer. When I ask myself whether that is quite sufficient to make me happy, when I ask myself whether, bearing in mind some of the past incidents of coolie labour, and some of the incidents of Chinese life out of their own country, these securities are satisfactory, I see one or two difficulties.
The first difficulty which I see is the very strength of the case made out by 1174 the noble Earl opposite (Earl Grey) for the necessity of this proceeding. I see in that a motive and a force which, worked very powerfully first upon the Government, and then by the Government upon the House, will, if I am not mistaken, work again and again at later stages of the matter. It is largely a financial pressure. I am not going to be so presumptuous as to discuss whether there is, or is not, an emergency. I am very ready to believe that there is and that it is a financial emergency. The noble Duke I thought last night used rather an unfortunate expression when he said that the Government had no concern with the profits of this or that mine-owner, but that the Government were satisfied if the shareholders were contented. It was not altogether a happy phrase, though I quite saw what the noble Duke meant. He meant, I think, that he was not in the least concerned to get big dividends for the mine-owners, but to keep the. mines going, and that in order to keep them going you must do this or that. That is the argument which I venture to think may be brought to bear at later stages upon our responsible administrators at home or in the Colonies. They may be told, when they are getting the Chinese, that if they pay more than a certain amount for bringing over wives and families it will be impossible to work the mines. There is also some reason to think they will be told that, unless they bring so many more, until the total has become very formidable indeed, the mines will not be able to be worked, and evil consequences will follow. Therefore, I do not think it is quite a matter for surprise if, with utmost confidence in the intentions of the Government at home, and the most complete confidence in the intentions of Lord Milner and the Lieu-tenant-Governor out there, we cannot feel perfectly at ease in our minds.
And then there is this other reason, which, I think, counts for something. You are going to bring a number of members of a less advanced race—a race, as I understand it, of singularly mixed characteristics, with some rather eminent virtues of industry and so forth, but also with some qualities of a very different kind—and settle them in the midst of the life of a rising colony of our own, and 1175 in the midst of a race for whom we are deeply and seriously responsible. What will be the effect? We have had discussions as to whether the men are to come by themselves, or whether they are to bring their families. We have had a proposal from Mr. Ross Skinner that the head men should be allowed to bring their families, and some other's. We know that that was merely a suggestion. It may be urged with plausibility that no Government can compel families to come if they do not want to come. We are not at all secure against a Chinese barrack life being started there, and there are many palpable dangers in that. Is it going to be an open life, or a closed life? I do not myself understand how the forty eight hours provision in the Ordinance is going to work; but if it means that it is an open life, then I would submit that a very large influence indeed upon the moral life of the community, of the black race, could be exercised by the infusion of the yellow race under that provision. On the other hand, if I have misunderstood the forty-eight hours clause, and it is only intended to be used in rare cases, and the Chinese are to be ordinarily shut up in their compounds, then I certainly believe that there is reason to fear that very grave moral evil will arise, and I am sure that those who have given their attention, as the Secretary of State has given his and other members of the Government have given theirs, to the question, know quite as well as I do, if not a great deal better, what the nature of that is and how great is its probability.
It has been said, though not in this debate, that what is proposed is to have a Chinese village. There are noble Lords in the House who can tell us what Chinese villages are like. I am quite prepared to hear that they are quiet, well-conducted places; but what security have we that we shall get anything like a Chinese village in a compound connected with a mine? For these reasons I cannot say that my anxieties are altogether allayed. I do think that this debate will have had some very real value. I do not suppose it was needed to increase the intention of those in power to carry out this matter in a satisfactory way, but I feel quite sure of this, that there are many parts of society, some represented in this House but many more unrepresented, in which, if we took hold of the first man we 1176 met and put to him this question, "Are you content with this proposal to work the Transvaal mines by Chinese labour?" you would find that he would regard the proposal with repugnance and almost with disgust. It may be necessary to get over that feeling, but I do think we have done well to challenge here, and to challenge very plainly, the attitude of the Government upon this question. I am not quite sure whether the noble Earl who has just sat down might not have? gone a little further than he has gone. He has told us it is impossible to table tonight all the regulations which the Colonial Governor, with his advice, will come to. I can understand that; but I do not see why we could not be given, on certain points of the greatest anxiety, such definite securities and assurances, if they exist, as would have sent us away more entirely at ease on the matter than we now can be.
§ * LORD STANMORE
My Lords, at this late hour I do not wish to trespass on your Lordships' time, but as very many of the best years of my life have been employed in removing from indentured immigrants in British Colonies restrictions infinitely less harsh than those which it is now sought to impose, perhaps I may be permitted, without presumption, to say a few words on the subject. My noble friend, Lord Ripon, has brought under the consideration of the House two separate questions. The greater question is whether Chinese immigrant labour should be employed in the Transvaal at all; the other question is whether the Ordinance under which that importation is to be regulated is one which ought to be recommended for His Majesty's sanction. On the first and main question I shall say but little. It is admittedly, as the most rev. Primate told us last night, a very difficult and hard question to tackle; but this I may say, and I am quite sure my noble friend, Lord Ripon, who has filled the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies, will not disagree with me, that in many places the system of coloured immigration into British Colonies has been, is, and I hope will continue to be, of the greatest benefit both to the colony itself and to the immigrants introduced into it. It is nevertheless a system which is always open to abuse, and which always requires checks and 1177 guards to prevent such abuse. It is perfectly legitimate when the object of the introduction of immigrants is simply to supply a want of labour which would otherwise be altogether absent. That was the condition under which such immigration was first introduced into the West Indies. But it becomes illegitimate when the immigrants are imported, not to supply labour which would otherwise be wanting, but to supply cheap labour instead of labour at the ordinary rate of wages. It is perfectly legitimate, again, when it is devised and carried out in the interests of both employer and employed; it is illegitimate when it is devised for the benefit of the employer only.
Now on those points the two sides of the House appear to join issue. My noble friend Lord Ripon seems to contend that the immigration in the circumstances of the Transvaal is illegitimate. He does not deny—indeed, I do not see how anyone can deny—that there is, and must be, a great want of labour in the Transvaal, and his opposition was rather-based upon the ground of the proposal being unpopular and distasteful to the people of the country than on the ground that an ample supply of labour already existed. I think there can be no doubt that there is a shortage of labour in the Transvaal, for the idea of filling the mines with white labour is hardly one that could be seriously maintained. Again, much of the local opposition to Asiatic immigration comes from those who desire to force into the mines by compulsory legislation, the native population of the province, a course which I am sure my noble friend would deprecate equally with myself. Therefore, on the point whether the importation of coolie labour is necessary or unnecessary, I, for one, should feel bound to give great weight to the opinions of the Commission, the Transvaal Legislature, Lord Milner, and His Majesty's Government. But when we come to the other question, when we come to look at the Ordinance by which it is proposed to render this importation of Chinese labour legal, I take a very decidedly unfavourable view of its character. I deeply lament the absence of one who no longer sits on our Benches, or belongs to this House—I mean the late Lord Kimberley, who for many years led this House both in Office and in Opposition. Lord Kimberley with his almost un- 1178 rivalled experience of the Colonial Office with his perfect knowledge of the immigration laws, would, had he been still with us, have torn this Ordinance to shreds in a way that I cannot pretend to do. For the Ordinance is not only, as Lord Ripon said last night, without precedent—a statement which I venture to repeat, notwithstanding the denial of the noble Earl who was at one time Under-Secretary for the Colonies (the Earl of Onslow)—but it is contrary to, and in the teeth of, almost all the precedents of similar legislation. It differs from them not only in details but in principle.
These Immigration Ordinances had their origin some sixty years ago. The late Lord Grey, the late Sir James Stephen, the late Lord Blatchford, and the late Sir Henry Taylor were their chief authors. They drew up these laws on principles to which the Ordinance under discussion is entirely opposed. They laid down certain principles which all Immigration Ordinances were to embody. Now, what were those principles, and how far are they observed in this Ordinance? Those principles were, first, that the contract between the labourers to be employed and theirem-ployers was to be a voluntary and free one; that every immigration of labourers was to be accompanied by a certain fixed proportion of women; that in the contract itself there were to be provisions which were laid down with regard to pay, rations, and accommodation; and, above all, that they were to be regarded as free men who were to have their own time at their own disposal when not employed in the work for which they were engaged. Now, these were the principles on which the immigration system was founded.
Let us see how they compare with the provisions of this Ordinance. There are, I venture to think, not many noble Lords who have read or drafted a greater number of Immigration Ordinances, or have formed more digests of them than I have—my friend Lord Knuts-ford may have done so—and I say without fear of contradiction that, at all events until very recent times, of which I know nothing, in every Immigration Ordinance of every colony there were clauses which enacted that certain things were to be placed in the contract of service. I find no such corresponding clauses in this Ordinance. On the contrary, the only 1179 clauses which this Ordinance requires to be put into the contract are the restrictive clauses—the clauses that the labourers are not to work at any other kind of labour, that they are only to serve the person introducing them or such person as he may transfer them to; that they are to return to the country of origin, and that they are to be subject to such and such provisions. But where are the clauses as to wages? In all the other contracts to which I refer there is a provision, either that the wage was not to be less than a certain amount, or that it should be at the rate of wages given to labourers not under indenture serving in the same district. I need not say how such a provision as that would work in the present case; but, as far as I can see, there is no provision that in the contract there shall be such a sum fixed to be paid as shall be really a living wage. Nor is there any limitation of labour. In the Ordinances I speak of provision is made that work shall be required only on 280 days in the year and for only nine hours a day. Under this Ordinance the labourer may be apparently employed every day of the year and for as many hours as his employer—I was about to say his owner—chooses.
Then comes the question of transfer. Now, in most of the Ordinances to which I have referred—the Ordinances that were in vogue for many years—you will find that there is a provision that the transfer is not to take place without the consent of the party transferred. There is no such provision here. There is no provision in this Ordinance for consent. Anyone may transfer to any other person. Well, that is not all. For decency's sake a provision is put in that no pecuniary consideration shall be given for such a transfer. I know well by experience how many opportunities there are for the evasion of such a provision. This is the sort of thing which will happen. An employer of labour wishes to get rid of his labour. Another gentleman is desirous of having that labour on his estate, but must not buy it. Oh, no, that is not to be thought of. But the gentleman to whose estate the labourers are to be transferred takes a great fancy, curiously enough, to a horse 1180 belonging to the gentleman from whose estate they are coming. The horse is one to which the owner attaches a sentimental value, and he will not part with it except for a consideration which he, of course, considers is prohibitive; but such is the wish of the other party to take it that he will pay the prohibitive price, and, much against his will, no doubt, the owner of the horse has to surrender. Such a provision as this for the transfer from one employer to another, though not slavery (for I recognise the distinction) is certainly serfdom. Depend upon it under this clause men will be bought and sold.
Next, with regard to the question of the passport. I quite admit that the noble Earl the late Under-Secretary for the Colonies was correct in saying that a passport was required in many colonies, but to say that that was the same sort of passport as is here contemplated is quite wrong. There was a tendency in this direction in Mauritius, but a Royal Commission which was sent out there, and which examined the whole state of the laws with regard to coolie labour in Mauritius, at once got rid of all those objectionable provisions, and, although the passport was retained, it was retained simply as an instrument which identified the bearer. Then I see in one clause of the Ordinance that the register kept by the employer is apparently the final evidence as to absence from work, desertion, and matters of that sort. Now, that is a very old story. That is the thing that Governors of colonies where immigrant labour has been employed have been fighting from time to time during the last fifty or sixty years, and in most colonies the provisions of the law have been such as to render it necessary to go before a magistrate to have these things proved. There has always been a wish to have it considered that the books of the estate are to be the final proof. That has always been resisted under the old traditions of the Colonial Office,and I should be sorry to think that those old traditions were now going to give place to an entirely new system. So far as I can see, there is in this Ordinance no provision whatever for any appeal to a magistrate or to any court beyond the Inspector, who is apparently to take these books as his sole guide.
1181 Then I come to the point as to the precedent which my noble friend Lord Onslow attempted to show existed in Trinidad, in which colony he said there was a similar provision to that which it is now proposed to make in the Transvaal with regard to residence. He said the labourers were equally compelled to reside on the premises of the employer. I beg the noble Lord's pardon. Nothing of the sort. They were compelled, if you like, to make the estate their home, but they were not obliged to stay there day and night, and to live upon it when they were not engaged in work. They were free to go about on their own amusements as much as they pleased. I was for several years in Trinidad, and I never saw a coolie confined to his establishment when work was over. One case I remember, in Mauritius, of a French planter, who attempted to enforce something of the régime which will be enforced under this Ordinance, and did keep his coolies shut up on his premises day and night. What was the result? With the full approval of the Home Government, he was prosecuted before the magistrate's court for illegal detention, and was convicted and imprisoned. There is all the difference in the world between having people resident on the property, but allowing them free action as free men to go about where they like, and to go and buy and sell what they like, and the sort of confinement that is proposed under this Ordinance.
And what do you think the result of that confinement will be? I think I can tell you. But first let me say a word with regard to the subject of permits. These permits are to be given for only forty-eight hours. In some of the regulations which were passed in Mauritius, and which exceeded really their legal powers and were cancelled afterwards, an attempt was made to provide something like that system of permits for forty-eight hours only; that is, they attempted to limit the permit, but there is this to be said, that they provided that the immigrant should be entitled to ask for that permit so many times a year. There is no such provision in this Ordinance. It depends wholly and absolutely on the employer. There is no obligation on him to give such a permit from one year's end 1182 to another. The language is all prohibitive. He must not give a permit for more than forty-eight hours, but he need not give any on any day in any year. But suppose that the labourer gets his occasional permit, nevertheless he is mainly retained in the compound of the property. You do not imagine that he will be very contented there. There is no body of men so apt to combine, to conspire, and to plot as Chinamen, and these large bodies of men shut up in an enclosure will plot accordingly. You will get a copy of the Roman Ergastula of classic times with all then-dangers, all their discontent, all their vices. They will plot and conspire, and in the end may break out, and you will have very unpleasant mutinies and riots; and if that is the case, and they are all put down and are herded together again in these close barracks, they will escape in another way—by suicide. There is nothing a Chinaman is more ready to resort to than suicide. Between thirty and forty years ago there were a large number of Chinamen employed as coolies in British Guiana. Those coolies thought they had certain grievances, and those grievances were inquired into, and to a certain extent confirmed, by a Royal Commission sent from this country, and one of the things which the Royal Commission remarked was the enormous prevalence of suicide among the immigrants on particular estates where they were dissatisfied. If a Chinaman cannot escape in any other way he is prepared to escape by means of death.
In all those immigration laws to which I have referred, and which were carefully drafted, as I have said, on fixed principles laid down by the Secretary of State and his coadjutors, a fixed number of women were always made to accompany the men. Well, in this case the only provision made with regard to women or families is a negative one; and when we are told that Regulations are in contemplation which will alter all that, I beg to inform your Lordships with the most distinct assurance that Regulations cannot do anything of the kind, because they would be absolutely illegal and ultra vires. By a regulation you can extend, expand, and carry out a provision of law, but you cannot go against it. You cannot1 contradict the letter of 1183 the law by a regulation, and the words of the Ordinance are explicit—It shall not be lawful for the wife of any member of the family of any labourer or any family belonging to the race or tribe of the labourer introduced, to enter or reside in the Colony unless they be respectively introduced by a duly licensed importer under, as far as practicable, the same conditions and restrictions as provided by the Ordinance.That is to say that, unless the employer is willing to go to the extra expense of bringing these women over, there is no compulsion in law to bring them over at all, and as the expression in the Ordinance is positively prohibitive, and the exception gives a statutable discretion to the employer, no Regulation can make it obligatory on the employer to import women. It must be optional. Whether he will go to that expense may be doubted. And if he does, what then? By the provision of the Act they must be put to the same labour and to the same work, under the same restrictions and for the same purposes as the men. Are the women to go down and work in the mines? That appears to be the intention. Certainly it is the wording.
And now a word as to the importer of labour so often mentioned. It is a new phrase to me and its definition is somewhat obscure. Taking the importation clause and the transfer clause together, are we to suppose that a shipowner may bring over, say a thousand immigrants, import them, and then sell them, a hundred to one mine and a hundred to another? It cannot be intended, but under this Ordinance it would, I think, be possible, and it ought to be made impossible.
I do not wish to detain your Lorships longer. [A NOBLE LORD: Hear, hear!] I accept and appreciate that cheer, my Lords, but when a man has given the best years of his life to bringing about an improvement in the condition of the labouring population of many colonies, he may be perhaps allowed to say a few words when he sees his work likely to be undone, even if a junior official is impatient to be gone [cheers.] What I wish to point out is, that the provisions of this Ordinance, as my noble friend said, are unprecedented and unjust in themselves. Why have you chosen Chinese and not Indians, against whom there is this prejudice? I think we know the answer. You know perfectly 1184 well that the Indian Government would never allow Indian subjects of the Crown to be subjected to these restrictions which you are going to impose upon the Chinese. And do you think you will get the Chinese? John Chinaman is no fool. He will ask what the conditions are, and when he finds them out I do not think he will come. If he does come, I think he will give you trouble. No, my Lords, if you want to have immigrants from Asiatic countries, if you find it necessary to employ them, and I for one am far from saying that it is not necessary to employ them—I know how beneficial their employment has been elsewhere, and I can conceive that they may be wanted to supply a shortage of labour in the Transvaal—you must get them on fair terms. You must not go to them and say: "We want your labour, but the people of the country we are taking you to will not have anything to do with you, so you must consent to be put in prison and treated almost as criminals." Your employing them at all may be distasteful to you, but if you make up your minds to that distasteful necessity you must make up your mind also to the equally distasteful necessity of treating those whose aid you have invoked as men and not as machines, giving them some pleasure in life and some opportunities of improving their condition. You can not introduce them and then keep them wholly out of sight in the mines all day and hidden by the compound walls all night. There is one extraordinary clause in this Ordinance which not only prohibits them holding land or keeping a shop, but says they are to have no fixed property. What is fixed property? Are their wages fixed property? It is clear that even if they get their wages paid them they cannot buy anything, for anything so bought clearly would be fixed property. If you wish to employ these people you should treat them fairly. Give them an opportunity of bettering themselves in the country to which they come. You say it is a necessary evil to employ them. Then you must put up also with the necessary evil of employing them in such a way as shall give them fair satisfaction, and shall enable them to live an honest and an industrious life in the country to which they have come, and not keep them simply for the purpose 1185 of servile labour and nothing else. Before I close I should like to offer one observation on a point which has not, I think, attracted much attention, I mean the effect on other colonies. In every colony there is a party desirous of greater restrictions upon immigrants. Till now the Colonial Office has manfully refused to allow such restrictions. With what logic or consistency can they continue to refuse to other coolie-employing colonies what they have granted to the Transvaal?
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of LANSDOWNE)
My Lords, my two noble friends have stated the case for the Government so fully and in so convincing a manner that I would not have risen at this stage of the debate had not the noble Marquess, during yesterday's discussion, made a very distinct appeal to me on a particular part of the subject before the House. The noble Marquess asked me whether any communications had passed between His Majesty's Government and the Government of China in regard to the importation of these Chinese labourers, and he reminded me that we are under a treaty obligation to communicate with the Chinese Government in respect to such matters. There have been communications between the Foreign Office and the Chinese Government. They have not been numerous; one of them is a letter to the Chinese Minister at this Court inviting his attention to what is proposed, and his suggestions on the subject. The Minister's reply has reached us within the last few hours, and as the noble Marquess is interested in the matter he will perhaps allow me to inform him of its purport. The Minister writes—The Ordinance in question being a measure affecting the internal economy of the Transvaal, I recognise the courtesy and consideration of His Majesty's Government in consulting me in regard to it before it becomes law.He then proceeds—I am glad to be able to inform your Lordship that I do not find anything in it that is likely to conflict with anything I may have to propose when we come to negotiate the regulations for the supervision and protection of Chinese immigrants provided for in Article 5 of the Treaty of Peking.1186 The Minister goes on to make one or two practical suggestions which are entirely in accordance with the policy that has been explained. We shall be glad to lay the complete Papers on the Table of your Lordships' House. The Article of the Convention of 1860 which the noble Marquess had in his mind renders it necessary that before Chinese emigrants are allowed to ship there shall be communication between His Britannic Majesty's representative in China and the Chinese provincial authorities in order that proper regulations may be framed for the protection of the emigrants. That is, no doubt, a precaution of a kind, but I am bound to say it seems to me that those who have at heart the welfare of these emigrants would find a better security in the solemn undertaking given them by the Secretary for the Colonies than in any consent that might be obtained from provincial authorities in China. We have been told by my noble friend that Lord Milner. who has already had the advantage of two consultations with Sir F. Swettenham, perhaps the greatest living authority on the subject, will also have the assistance of Mr. Evans, the Protector of Chinese Emigrants. I think we may fairly anticipate that the result of their deliberations will be to give us regulations that will be satisfactory to the right rev. Prelate who spoke just now and expressed so strong a desire that no precaution should be neglected.
I must say that I regret very much that we are not able to respond to the appeal made to us last night by the most rev, Primate. He appealed to us to give, at any rate, a rough outline of the proposed regulations. All these precautionary arrangements are, however, really questions of detail, and it would be altogether premature until the matter has been discussed, as it will be, on the spot, to offer specific assurances. I cannot help saying that it is scarcely reasonable to suggest that the Ordinance should be suspended until these details have been arranged. Those who make that suggestion have failed to recognise the gravity of the crisis. It is not merely a financial crisis, it is a crisis which threatens every industry and pursuit in the colony, and there can be no doubt that 1187 unless early relief is given in some shape the result may be disastrous to the Transvaal itself and to the Colonies which adjoin it. The difficulty is entirely a labour one. It has been shown that the supply of local labour has been virtually exhausted. It has also been proved to demonstration that white unskilled labour is prohibitive in cost and impracticable in its application. There remains, therefore, only the alternative of Asiatic labour. We do not propose to resort to that expedient ligh the artedly, or because we desire to see what has been called an indiscriminate influx of Asiatics. But we are prepared to try the experiment on a limited scale and fenced in by every precaution which experience can suggest. The only question is whether these precautions are sufficient or not. As to that, may I say that this debate will not offer to those who have honest misgivings on the subject the last opportunity of criticising what is proposed by the Government? Do not let your Lordships lose sight of this, that these regulations will be drafted by the Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony, that the Lieutenant-Governor is responsible to Lord Milner, Lord Milner to the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State to Parliament, and accordingly whatever is done amiss cannot be withdrawn from the consideration and criticism of Parliament. Therefore there will be abundant opportunities, if these regulations should be found to fall short of what is necessary, of criticising them.
One word more with regard to the manner in which this question is regarded by public opinion in the Transvaal. The noble Marquess last night took considerable exception to what I had said upon this point in the debate on the Address, and he said that no expression of opinion on the part of the Legislative Council of the Colony, and no petitions could make up for or replace an expression of opinion derived from a Colony endowed with representative institutions. Of course, that is perfectly true. I do not mean for a moment to suggest that you can get so conclusive an opinion from the Legislative Council or from any conferences or committees as you can from an elected Legislature. But we are dealing with a Crown colony and must get at public opinion in the best way we can. We have done our best to get at public 1188 opinion, and we are profoundly convinced that is, I will not say unanimous, but largely preponderating in favour of the course proposed. I guard myself from saying that public opinion is unanimous for this reason, because I know that in certain quarters these proposals are regarded with misgiving. I understand the Colonial Office propose to lay more Papers on the Table showing what the objections are and what replies can be made to them. We believe that public opinion in the Colony has completely changed in the last few months, and it has changed because it has come home to the people of the Colony that unless this proposal is admitted the Colony is threatened with disaster and ruin. And that is the answer to what was said by the noble Earl who spoke first last night, when he rather unfairly called attention to the fact that Lord Milner has changed his mind. Lord Milner has changed his mind because he has become convinced, as we have, that this thing is inevitable. Lord Milner is an official of unrivalled experience, and your Lordships may be perfectly sure that Lord Milner would not have changed his mind if he had not been convinced that a change of policy is inevitable. We, too, have approached this question with the feeling that the admission of Asiatics was prima facie a very doubtful expedient; but we regard it as inevitable, and we rely on the precautions which we are determined to take to make the experiment innocuous to the interests of the Colony.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
My Lords, I do not propose to make anything in the nature of a reply on the debate which has taken place. I am very glad that this subject has been discussed, and I think His Majesty's Government must at least observe that there are some points upon which the feeling in this House, and certainly in the country, is very strong and decided. Therefore, it was with great regret that I heard the noble Marquess say that it would be impossible to withhold the assent to this Ordinance for the present until the very grave questions raised by so many speakers, and especially by the most rev. Primate and the right rev. Prelate who have addressed us in the course of this discussion, in regard to the moral 1189 aspect of this question have been settled. I still would venture very earnestly to press on His Majesty's Government to give more consideration than they appear inclined to give to these very serious matters. If the noble Marquess listened to the very important and admirable speech which was delivered just now by my noble friend on the Cross Benches (Lord Stanmore), he must have observed that he showed clearly and beyond dispute that the governing thing in this matter was the Ordinance itself. You may make your regulations, but they cannot supersede the Ordinance, and if the Ordinance forbids any portion of the regulations, the regulations are simply waste paper. That is a very important consideration indeed, and I venture to say that unless the regulations which are made are of a much more decisive, satisfactory, and efficient nature than has been foreshadowed in the course of this discussion, there will arise on this question a very serious and determined expression of public opinion that nothing shall be done which shall be inconsistent with securing, as far as we can, a good moral condition for those who are to be brought in under this Ordinance. I will not add anything to that, but I do earnestly entreat His Majesty's Government to give this part of the question, at all events, their most earnest consideration. It rests wholly upon their responsibility. I understood the noble Marquess to say that these regulations would be laid on the Table of both Houses of Parliament, and that free opportunity, not only in this House, where we enjoy it, but also in the other House, will be given to discuss the regulations when they are laid before Parliament. I had intended to move for Papers relating to the communications between my noble friend opposite and the Chinese Ambassador, but I understood him to say, not only that he had communicated these to us in part, but that they will be laid on the Table and circulated. In those circumstances I will not press my Motion for Papers.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I cannot be held to make any pledge as to what will be done in the other House of Parliament on the subject.
§ Motion, by leave of the House, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at a quarter to Eight o'clock.