§ LORD COLERIDGE,
who had given notice "To call attention to the death rate And treatment of black labourers in the 408 mines of the Transvaal; and to move to resolve 'That, having regard to the assistance given to the Mother Country in the late Boer War by Australia, New Zealand, and Cape Colony, this House expresses its regret that His Majesty's Government has disregarded their opinions on the policy of introducing indentured Chinese labour into South Africa,'" said: My Lords, since I drew the attention of this House to the subject of my Motion on 18th March last many fresh facts have occurred, and much new information his been supplied to us. It may possibly be said that the principal and natural place for a discussion of these facts and this new information is the House of Commons, but by an ingenious use, or possibly misuse, of a Rule of that House, all debate upon the subject of my Motion is precluded there for the session. His Majesty's Government have taken advantage of a plan whereby their supporters put down Motions which they never intend to bring on, but which prevent any other Members bringing forward discussion on the subject of those Motions. I find that three Motions have been put down in the other House which cover the whole ground of the Resolution standing in my name. If your Lordships will look at the Order Paper of the other House, you will see that I am correct in saying that by the attitude adopted by supporters of His Majesty's Government in putting down Motions, Members are precluded, in that House, from debating the subject of my Resolution. It may be said also that there is a form in which the matter may be discussed, namely, on platforms in the country, but I have noticed that supporters of His Majesty's Government are singularly reticent, not to say shy, in alluding to this matter on public platforms, and the public, therefore, have nothing to guide them but scraps of information brought out in driblets by the mode of Question and Answer in the other House and by the publication of Blue-books which the public as a rule never read, and, if they did read them, they seem to me generally so constructed as rather to confuse than to assist the reader.
But the new matter which makes me bring forward this Motion is this. We find now that last August questions arose 409 in the Cape Parliament with regard to the alleged scarcity of native labour in the mines of the Transvaal, and as to the reasons which prevented a greater flow of labour to those mines. It was decided to send a deputation of sixteen headmen, who were Kaffirs, accompanied by a magistrate, to investigate into the alleged scarcity and the causes of that scarcity, and between September 24th and 30th last this deputation of headmen visited twenty of the principal mines in the Transvaal. They were accompanied by a Mr. Brownlee, resident magistrate at Butter-worth, and the first thing which strikes the reader of the Blue-book in regard to the information which they obtained is this, that although the object was to elicit complaints from the native labourers working in the mines, no interview was allowed by the mine-owners or the Transvaal authorities to take place between these headmen and the accompanying magistrate and the persons from whom they were sent to obtain information, except in the presence of the employers, which, of course, naturally tended to stifle, more or less, and to prevent freedom in the making of complaints which would otherwise naturally exist. But we have the results embodied in independent reports of these sixteen head Kaffirs. I am not going into them in detail, but I think it is fair to say that the result of the reports which they submitted to the Cape Parliament was this, that on the whole with regard to food there were no very well-grounded complaints, but five of these headmen reported that there were grave complaints that the Kaffirs were forced to work when they were sick, and eleven out of the sixteen reported that when sick the Kaffirs were not allowed to return home. All of them reported that there were grave causes of complaint with regard to the payment of wages, and that the agents who had recruited the men from their native districts had promised them wages which the mine-owners did not pay them when they arrived. Most of them complained that they were obliged to work weekdays and Sundays alike, having no one day's holiday in seven, which is usually considered the least that a workman ought to have. And another grave cause of complaint was the system whereby the mine-owners, through the establishment 410 of the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association, obtained a monopoly of recruiting and were thus enabled to draft the natives from mine to mine without giving them any opportunity of choosing to which mine they would go. This was a matter which gravely affected their minds in two directions—firstly, because the Kaffirs from a particular kraal or district like naturally to keep together and to go to the same mine; and, secondly, because some mines had a bad repute, and they naturally wished to be drafted to those mines whose repute was better with regard to the treatment of workmen. The effect of this monopoly was undoubtedly that no penalty attached to mines that treated their labourers badly—no penalty in the difficulty of obtaining labour in those mines. And all of them complained strongly that the men were flogged continually, flogged for the smallest cause, or for no cause; flogged for breach of the smallest regulations, and flogged for not going to work.
Now, my Lords, how far were these statements backed up, or assented to, or approved by Mr. Stanford, Assistant Chief Magistrate of Native Affairs at Cape Town. He endorsed the report of these headmen on the question of the wrongful deduction from wages, on the question of misrepresentation with regard to wages, and, above all, on the question of flogging. Mr. Brownlee, the resident magistrate, said that on the whole the treatment of the labourers was generally good, but he admitted that there were misrepresentations as to the pay, and he also admitted the flogging, which he described, ironically I suppose, as the "gentle stimulus of cowhide." He further described the manner in which the overseers managed to control their men by stating that on one of the visits he found the men being lashed in his presence. Mr. Cooke, the Acting Pass Commissioner, admitted the misrepresentation with regard to wages and the evidence with regard to flogging. But he wound up with this remarkable statement—I do not consider that the Cape Colony native employed on the goldfields of the Transvaal labours under any disabilities for which his personality is not accountable.411 That is a repetition of what the American slave-owners always said with regard to their slaves.
Finally, there is the covering letter of Sir Godfrey Lagden, who is head of the Department of Native Affairs in the Transvaal. He admits the flogging—that is admitted all round, but he says that when discovered the matter had been promptly dealt with. That may be. He admits that flogging did continually take place. Sir Godfrey Lagden and Mr. Cooke are officials. They are responsible to Parliament for the treatment of the natives placed under their charge. Therefore, it would be well to see what view they take of their responsibilities. Sir Godfrey Lagden was appointed in 1900. Three years passed and he did nothing; it was not until February, 1903, that he summoned a committee of doctors to investigate the mortality in the mines, and to devise a remedy, if remedy could be devised, They presented their report in June of last year, and Mr. Cooke in February of this year issued his report to Sir Godfrey Lagden, who is his official superior, dealing with the condition of the natives in the mines for the year ended 30th June, 1903. That report contains sentences like this—I have pleasure in bringing under notice a steady and uninterrupted progress, not only towards the betterment of the conditions of life of the native labourer, but also of the consideration with which he is regarded by his European employers. An intelligent apprehension of the principles essential to human health has gradually worked a change in the conditions of native life in the mines. The inspector goes into all questions affecting the comfort, health, and happiness of the j natives employed in the mines.And finally he says—The condition of the compounds has greatly improved. Medical attendance is efficient.ֵ In fact, a vast improvement all round has taken place.That would be most admirable if it were true. Mr. Cooke vouched for the fact that before the happy era which he is discussing matters were very much worse. The happy era under review is the year from 30th June, 1902, to 30th June, 1903. Now, what are the facts? Take the last eight months of that very year. The average death rate in those mines for the last eight months down to the time of the signing of the 412 report was sixty-one per 1,000. In the last two months preceding the issue of the report—May and June, 1903—the death rate was seventy-nine and, eighty-eight per 1,000 respectively, and in the month following the report—namely, in the month of July—the death rate rose to 112 per thousand, while for the whole year under review, which Mr. Cooke has characterised in the language I have read to the House, and which, your Lordships, believing to be true, very rightly cheered, the average death rate was 71 25 per thousand. For the six months succeeding this report the death rate on the average was eighty-one per thousand. No wonder that in February of this year Lord Milner, then advocating the importation of Chinese labour with all the energy and ability of which he is capable, said that thehigh rate of mortality in the mines is the weakest part of our armour.I think, my Lords, I shall hear no dissentient voice in any part of the House when I say that the figures which I have read out show a state of things truly appalling, and how that state of things can be reconciled with the report of Mr. Cooke sent to Sir Godfrey Lagden I would rather that some member of His Majesty's Government should explain, for I cannot.
On the last occasion that I drew attention to this matter the noble Duke the Under-Secretary replied that no doubt the figures were excessive, but he said the state of things was due to an outbreak of influenza. I accepted the noble Duke's word, and, of course, to that extent it was qualification of the apparently terrible state of affairs which I was presenting to the House. I do not know what figures the noble Duke had to go upon. The only allusion I know of to influenza is in the report of this committee of doctors, in which they are asked to explain the reason of the mortality. They go into the details of disease after disease, but influenza is not one of the diseases. Indeed, in their report they say that influenza is not even the cause of stoppage from work, and therefore it would be interesting to know where the noble Duke got his information that influenza was the cause of this high, rate of mortality.
413 Let us reflect that these men when they once become recruited by the Wit-watersrand Native Labour Association must go to whichever mines they are sent. Now, what are the returns from the mines themselves? I find that in the Simmer and Jack Mine the rate of mortality was 103 per thousand; in the Salisbury Mine, 109 per thousand; in the Angelo Deep, 113 per thousand; in the Langlaate Deep, 123 per thousand; in the Simmer and Jack E, 125 per thousand; in the Witwatersrand Deep, 135 per thousand; and in the Cassel Coal, 137 per thousand. That that high rate of mortality is not necessary is shown by the fact that in some mines; quite as large as those I have quoted the mortality ranges between 24 and 31 per thousand, a very different state of things. Can one wonder that Kaffirs are not inclined to be recruited by this agency when they have no choice as to the mine to which they are to be sent? You may say that mining is a dangerous occupation. Is it? Reflect that in this death rate you take men in the prime of life, from eighteen to forty-five years of age; you eliminate all women and children and all the old. What are the facts in England? The death rate of miners be-been the same ages in England is six per thousand, and if you take those mines which are most like the Transvaal mines in all their details, mode of work, the dangerous nature of the employment and so forth, the tin mines of Cornwall, you find that there the death rate is very high, as we think it, because it goes up to fourteen per thousand. How does that compare with the death rate in the Transvaal? I say again, and I repeat it, that these figures eloquently prove that on the commonest grounds of humanity the mine-owners ought to be called upon to reduce this mortality before the question of supplanting Kaffir by Chinese labour is even considered.
It is said that necessity knows no law, that financial and other reasons make; the necessity of importing Chinese imperious. Let us look at that. If I am stating any facts that are at all questioned I make bold to say that I can give my questioner the answer from a Blue-book. The greatest output—that is surely one test as to whether it is so necessary to 414 bring in Chinese—the greatest output of gold from the mines was in 1899, a period which Lord Milner has characterised as one of fabulous wealth. In 1899 the output was £16,000,000; that is the statement of the Commissioner of Mines. In 1902 the mines began to work again after the war, and in that year Lord Milner tells us that the output was £7,458,000. By January, 1903, the output had increased from £7,458,000 to over £10,000,000; by October, 1903, it had increased to £14,500,000; and by March last the output had risen to £15,750,000, only £250.000 less than during the era of fabulous wealth. And I am told—though I have not authority for stating this—that since then the output has further increased, and, if so, probably at the time I am speaking we are taking out of the Transvaal as much gold as we have ever done since the Transvaal came into existence.
Moreover, it is said that there is a dearth of labour. To extract £16,000,000 worth of gold in 1899 they had to employ 107,827 men; to extract gold in March last at the rate of £15,750,000, which is practically the same, they had only to employ 70,340 men, showing that with 70,000 odd men they can now extract as much gold, through improved appliances and through keeping natives from drink and in other ways improving the power of their getting gold, as it took nearly 108,000 men to extract in 1899. I have not got the returns since then of the gold, but I have the returns of the labourers, and at this moment the labourers have increased from 70,340 to over 82,000 men. Those are the numbers now working in the mines. Where is the necessity for supplanting this labour by indentured Chinamen? When we were last discussing this matter I drew attention to the moral aspect of introducing thousands of Chinamen into these compounds without their wives and families. The noble Earl, Lord Selborne, told us, and no doubt he believed it, that we need not trouble about that at all; that the Chinaman could bring his wife and child at any time, and all alarm on that head might be dispelled. If I remember rightly, the noble Earl turned round to the right rev. Prelates and said—Can we do more in the interests of humanity?415 The right rev. Prelates thought the Government could not. Now then, my Lords, how stands the fact to-day? I said I anticipated that only Chinamen would be engaged who had no encumbrances. Your Lordships rather laughed at that suggestion, and thought it impugned the bona fides of the importers. Since then I find that the mine-owners have convinced the Government that every Chinaman ought to register his wife and family, if he wants them brought over, before he signs his articles at the port of embarkation. As a matter of fact, not a single child or wife has come. The question I want to ask the noble Duke is this, Have any one of those men registered either wife or child at Hong-Kong or elsewhere? If they have not, then I think I am justified in believing that instructions have been given by the mine-owners to employ only such Chinamen as either have no encumbrances or do not admit having them, so that they may not have to bring them over. I hope the noble Duke the Under-Secretary will answer that question. I fancy the order has gone forth, "No bachelors, no dividends," and we shall find that no registration of either child or wife has taken place at the port of embarkation.
On the question of wages, I do not think that sober men now have any real doubt that, whatever the Government may mean or intend, the practical effect of the importation of Chinamen will be not only to supplant Kaffir labour, but to supplant the white man also. What was the principle which guided the Government when the late Colonial Secretary was their mouthpiece? He said last March in the House of Commons, addressing in imagination the newly-conquered territories—We have to try to find out if we can what would be your action if you were a self-governing colony and to treat the matter on that basis.'And I have no doubt that the noble Duke will repeat the assertion that he made the other night, and tell us that in his opinion, and in the opinion of the Government, the people of the Transvaal and of the Orange River Colony are entirely convinced of the necessity of the importation of Chinese labour. But assertions are not proof. I will make as bold an assertion, and on as good 416 grounds, that the people of the Transvaal and of the Orange River Colony are bitterly hostile to the importation of Chinese labour, and both my assertion and the assertion of the noble Duke are, if I may say so without any disrespect, just worth the breath we expend in uttering them. There is one very simple test. I am convinced of the truth of my assertion, and I will put it to the test. Is the noble Duke as confident of the truth of his assertion as to put it to the test?
I am perfectly well aware that certain organs of public opinion have come round on this question. The mine-owners have bought up the whole Press in the Tranvaal. They absolutely control Chambers of Commerce and things of that kind. They have their grip on almost every white labourer connected with the mines, and they can, as we know, when a meeting is held like the one held last December in the Wanderers' Hall, employ men at 15s. a head to break it up. We know also that they can get any number of people to sign petitions in favour of the importation of Chinamen. But do you suppose that the people who put their hands to these petitions really mean what they say? Is it not true that the old saying that—He that complies against his will is of his own opinion stillholds good in this case? That political and personal pressure can be put upon these men we know from the evidence given before the Commission. But, my Lords, there is one simple test. Put it to the vote. If you ever mention the question of a referendum to the mine-owners or anybody connected with the mines, their cheeks positively turn pale at the thought. Last September a very influential deputation of various white labour associations approached Sir Arthur Lawley, in the absence of Lord Milner, and asked that a referendum should be taken. Sir Arthur Lawley expressed his disagreement with that proposal, but in February of this year it occurred to the mind of Mr. Lyttelton, and he cabled to Lord Milner and asked how long a referendum would take. Lord Milner replied on 17th February that it would take six months, and he thinks that an absolute answer. Surely it is trifling with 417 the subject to suggest as a serious objection to it that it would mean a delay of six months.
It is the knowledge of what the result of a referendum would be that is operating on the minds of the mine-owners when they pooh-pooh, or do all they can to prevent, such a test of popular opinion being put into practical effect. But more than that. Since this occurred to the mind of Mr. Lyttelton in February there has been a complete census taken of the inhabitants of the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony. If you can take a census so easily and without hitch, where is the difficulty in taking a referendum? Why cannot it be done in the same way? Meanwhile the mouths of the Rhodesian mine-owners are watering for Chinese labour. It occurred to the authorities that it might be well to take the opinion, by referendum or by dissolution of the Council, of the people in Rhodesia. There were terrible outcries from Rhodesia. The Mine-owners Association there telegraphed on 25th November that—Wages have increased without conferring any real benefit on the natives.That is the first time I have ever heard of an increase in wages not benefiting the wage-earner. I wonder if that doctrine would be applicable to the increase in dividends. However, in Sir Marshall Clarke, the Resident Commissioner, the mine-owners found a very tough obstacle. He was not going to be driven from his course by any of these heated telegrams from the mine-owners. He says the movement" lacked spontaneousness," and he recommends on a "question of such moment" an appeal to the electors. How is that treated by the mine-owners? The question is referred by the Colonial Office to the British South Africa Company. What is the reply? It is what you would expect—" the board on general public grounds is strongly opposed." Of course they are; and the Colonial Secretary is roundly accused by them, I think somewhat impertinently, of "retarding the progress of Rhodesia" by refusing to let them have Chinese labour at once. I prophesy that before very long we shall hear the noble Duke—quite honestly—telling us that not only the mine-owners but all the white inhabitants 418 of Rhodesia are entirely convinced, and His Majesty's Government likewise, of the imperative necessity of introducing Chinese labour into Rhodesia, and that all opposition in that country is now at an end.
I ask, are we proceeding on true Imperial lines? Are we proceeding in consonance with the wishes and aspirations of our colonies? Australia and New Zealand sent between them 22,000 odd men, at a cost of £1,800,000, to help to conquer the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony. I have not the Cape Colony figures by me, but I have no doubt they are very large. Mr. Chamberlain, at the Colonial Conference, expressed himself in this manner—We are profoundly grateful to you for what you have done. It has created a sense of reciprocal obligation. I attach still more importance to the moral support we have received from you.And, speaking to his constituents in Birmingham, he said—In future you will have to take account of the opinion of your colonists; you will have to consult them, and if you wish that they should always stand at your side you will have to be guided, to some extent at any rate, by their wishes and their aspirations.Now, my Lords, the Transvaal has been conquered by the assistance of these colonies. It is not a self-governing colony which can express its own mind and deal with home matters, so to speak, independently. His Majesty's Government is responsible for the conduct of affairs in this newly-conquered territory, and not the mock Legislative. Council they have set up there, which; does not represent the opinions of the people. From Cape Colony on 2nd July we had a strong unanimous protest from the House of Assembly. On 17th August there was a protest from the Ministers, and on 4th January this year another repeated protest from the Ministers. On 19th January this year came protests, from the Australian Commonwealth and from New Zealand.
I ask this House to express its regret that the opinions of these colonies have been disregarded. It is a matter, to my mind, of vast and overwhelming importance. It is not the question of the importation of one shipload of Chinese labourers. It is a far larger question than that. It is a question of whether 419 capital alone, uncontrolled by political or moral considerations, is to dictate the destiny of one of our colonies. The Chinaman is the tool—the apt tool—desired by the capitalists to free them from the restraints of any labour control. His Majesty's Government may deny it, but the facts show, and will increasingly show, that the Chinaman will be the supplanter, not only of the black, but of the white man. The Chinaman will confer on the mine-owner the power to work the mines for the exclusive profit of the shareholders, utterly disregarding the benefit of the country. In fact, to put it shortly, we have broken down one oligarchy only to set up another oligarchy, infinitely more intolerant, infinitely more unscrupulous, and infinitely more dangerous to the Empire at large.
The difference between capital and labour is this, that capital knows no country and recognises no frontier. Naturally, capital only seeks the cheapest labour, and science with its rapidity of intercommunication has come to the aid of capital by strengthening its cosmopolitan influence all over the world. You have only to look down the list of mine-owners, and their un-English nationality is at once detected by their names. The only breakwater, so to speak, to the complete world-wide tyranny of capital lies in the combination of labour, and such combination is destroyed by the importation, in competition with white labour, of servile labour under such terms as those under which you are importing Chinese into the Transvaal. They are mere hewers of wood and drawers of water. They have no part or lot in the colony into which you introduce them, no part in its aspirations or its ideals. They are no strength to it. They will not fight for it, and they will not even find burial in its soil.
The question involved then is whether the lot of labour in this colony shall be levelled up or levelled down. We on this side of the House believe in the levelling up of labour, because, although the few may not become so rich, the general condition of the community is raised and improved. Do His Majesty's Government and noble Lords who talk so proudly of Empire reflect that they are wounding and alienating the Imperial spirit in one of its most healthy and vital manifestations? Every permanent element in the 420 newly-conquered territories is raised against you in open or sullen hostility on this question. And it follows that you are sowing in these countries the seeds of future mischief and future revolt—a revolt in which, perhaps, for the first time in South Africa you will find the Kaffir and the white man sympathising with each other. You can only hope to succeed by driving out the British workman and by keeping the Boer in subjection by force of arms. If that is to be the outcome of your policy, all I can say is that you are permanently withholding from that country the blessings of self-government on which you have assured the British, the Boers, the Kaffirs, and the Colonies alike your hopes were unalterably fixed. For these reasons I move the Resolution standing in my name.
Moved, to resolve, "That, having regard to the assistance given to the Mother Country in the late Boer War by Australia, New Zealand, and Cape Colony, this House expresses its regret that His Majesty's Government have disregarded their opinions on the policy of introducing indentured Chinese labour into South Africa."—(Lord Coleridge.)
My Lords, it is with some hesitation that I rise to ask your Lordships to allow me to address you on this subject to-night, not from a want of acquaintance with the subject, for it has been my business for some years to make myself familiar with many of the points which have been dealt with by the noble Lord, but I cannot help remembering that in the other House, for some years at any rate, it has been intimated pretty clearly that the House objects to directors of companies addressing it on subjects in which, on behalf of their companies, they are interested, and I could not be sure but that your Lordships' feelings might be of the same character. I am a director and chairman of two important trust companies in the Transvaal, one of which controls a very large group of mines, and is responsible, and is prepared to accept the responsibility, for the management of the mines, within which is included, of course, the treatment of the natives. But after an experience of thirty years in your Lordships' House I have never detected any similar feeling 421 here. I think I may rather say that it is your Lordships' wish to hear those who have a practical knowledge of the subject. Therefore, encouraged by that manifestation, I will endeavour to deal with certain facts which, I think, I may with advantage bring to your Lordships' notice without advancing any opinions of my own.
The noble and learned Lord dealt first of all with a Cape Blue-book. It has now been incorporated in a Blue-book presented to this House. When the subject was first raised by Major Seely in the other House it was a Cape Blue-book. It had not been presented to this House, and was not easy to get hold of. Therefore it was difficult to discuss it from an absolutely impartial point of view in that House. It had all the appearance of a Parliamentary Blue-book, and a leading Member of the Opposition in the other House told me a day or two afterwards that he had been at the time, and was then, when he spoke to me, of opinion that it was a Blue-book presented to Parliament. I do not dispute for one moment the statements which the noble and learned Lord quoted from the reports of the deputation which went to the Transvaal, I think, in the autumn of last year, but I would call your Lordships' attention to certain facts in connection with the examination conducted by that delegation. In the first place, they had no power to administer an oath. They went from compound to compound and probably selected at random natives they saw about. They would not have any power of making a special selection; they probably called up any boys—your Lordships are, of course, acquainted with the fact that "boy" is the technical term for, natives employed in the mines—they saw there and questioned them. They asked certain questions and the boys gave their answers. The mine-owners or the mine managers had no intimation whatever that these visits were going to be paid, so that they were quite surprise visits. The deputation asked the boys questions and obtained their answers, but where the answer conveyed something critical of the action of some employer at the mine, that person was never given an opportunity of saying anything in reply. If the noble and learned Lord will look at that Blue-book 422 from a purely judicial aspect he will admit that it is an ex parte statement.
The noble and learned Lord accepts that. It is a purely ex parte statement brought before the House of Commons suddenly, and without any opportunity being given to those who might have answered the allegations in it successfully, or, at any rate, according to facts, and I do not think it is a report that should receive greater attention than the replies of Sir Godfrey Lagden and his subordinates. Now, Sir Godfrey Lagden in, I think, the last Blue-book which has been presented to your Lordships, deals with this report, and he also presents a memorandum drawn up by his chief inspector. They touch upon one or two of the points which the noble and learned Lord referred to, and I think it is only fair to those who have been charged, through the report of this delegation, with unfairness to the boys, that some one should point out what the chief officials of the Transvaal have to say on their behalf. The noble and learned Lord first of all said that the boys were forced to work when they were sick. I confess I have not seen that point particularly dealt with, and I have never heard any complaints myself about it; but it seems to me that inasmuch as a boy when sick is unable to do good work, it is highly improbable that the managers would want to put him to work of the kind of which the noble and learned Lord is thinking. Then he said they were not allowed to return home. Every workman is not a good one. There are a certain number of shirkers in every group of boys on mines; but if a boy is really well enough to be sent back to his home, and is not a good worker, it certainly is not in the interests of the mine-owners to keep him.
The most serious complaint, I thought, in the report was that the boys were deceived as to the wages they would get; that they were told they would be paid so much a month, and when they came to work, found that they had got to put in thirty days in order to complete the month, and if they were sick for a day or two, they would not get paid in respect of that time. It was pointed out in the 423 House of Commons by Mr. Lyttelton that in the Cape Blue-book there is set out the certificate which is shown to the boy, and which is passed by the officer on the frontier before the boy is allowed to come into the country, and that certificate makes it perfectly clear that the boy is to receive so much per day. It would be perfectly possible for the recruiting officer to deceive the boy if there was no one on the frontier whose business it is to see that he knows the terms and conditions of his employment. Before a boy is allowed into the country he has to be brought to the nearest pass officer, who is an officer of the Government, and it is the business of that officer to see that the boy understands the contract which he enters into. Therefore, although it is possible that recruiting agents may have tried to deceive the boy, if the boy has arrived in the country in that state of ignorance it is the fault, not of the recruiting officer, not of the mine-owners, not of the mine managers, but of the official of the Government, who has either through ignorance himself or carelessness omitted to point out to the boy the actual terms of his engagement. As regards Sunday work, your Lordships must be aware of the fact that where there is machinery certain portions of it must be kept going on Sundays.
As to the boys not being allowed to choose the mines to which they will go my information is that if the boys indicate at the frontier that they wish to go to a particular mine, the officer is bound to pass them on to that mine. That is a very marked difference from what obtained before the war, when a kind of piracy went on. Boys were kidnapped on the way, and intending to go to one mine were taken off to another, and boys were bribed away from one mine to another. Instances of that kind occurred, but I was informed when recently in South Africa that there is now no doubt whatever that if the boys indicate that they wish to go to a particular mine it is the business of the Government official at the frontier to pass them to that mine. Then, as regards flogging. Sir Godfrey Lagden says of it—With regard to the allegation about being beaten, no power is vested in any mining authorities to inflict punishment. That is reserved for the officers of the law. But, of course, it is necessary to maintain discipline on mines where there are thousands of natives 424 working, and for that reason the mining authorities are bound to employ supervisors and overseers. Occasionally it has happened that these men, whether white or black, have exceeded their powers, and whenever such has been discovered it has been properly dealt with.Mr. Cooke, the Acting Pass Commissioner and Chief Inspector, refers to the punishment in these terms—The term 'stocks' is the one applied to the mine detention room. The sobriquet is a relic of former days. 'Stocks' as understood by us are no longer tolerated. The mine detention room is, I consider, absolutely essential as being the only means of controlling riotous and quarrelsome natives. It must be remembered that in the majority of cases mines are situated a very considerable distance from any charge office or gaol, and as it is not infrequently happens that a native 'runs amuck' it is necessary that he should be promptly dealt with in order to prevent further developments.Mr. Cooke admits that cases of beating have occurred. But this is not confined to the mines. Mr. Cooke says—Great difficulty has been experienced in securing conformity to the legal procedure. This has now been secured as regards those responsible, but cases of assault still occur, where ignorant miners strike natives probably for no other reason than that the natives are unable to understand orders given to them. When such cases have come to the notice of inspectors of this department, representations have at once been made to the management of the mine, and in almost all cases the result has been the dismissal of the European employé.I am not here to attempt to deny that there may be cases of brutality. I am sorry to say that if such exist they are not confined to South Africa. I have heard of cases of brutality in other parts of the world where a white race is brought in touch with a coloured race. I admit at once that it is the duty of those who are responsible for the management of these mines to do everything in their power to impress upon their white servants that such things are not to be allowed, and that the native is to be encouraged to regard the compound as a place where he is not only made comfortable, but where he will receive absolute justice and be free from brutality.
The noble and learned Lord passed on from the Cape Blue-book to what seems to me to be a far more serious question. I refer to the mortality returns. I do not dispute the figures which the noble and learned Lord gave, for it is impossible to do so. The rate of mortality for the year which he quoted is lamentable, and by 425 every means in our power, and at whatever cost, that figure has got to be reduced. The committee of doctors to whom the noble and learned Lord referred have expressed a hope that by means of certain changes which they have recommended, some of which have been carried out, and all of which are being now undertaken, the death rate may be reduced to, they hope forty per thousand. There is a farther report which I only received a week ago, and which I do not think has been included in the Blue-book, signed by a sub-committee of doctors, three of whom were on the original committee, called together to report whether it would be a good thing to have a detention compound in which boys on arrival at. Johannesburg should be put for a few days before being passed on to the mines. At the end of their report these doctors say—It must not be forgotten that, however great care is taken, and however much expense incurred, the permanent condition of climatic differences and seasonal variations, the circumstances of underground work, and the proved susceptibility of the natives to certain, and especially to pneumococcal infections, will contribute to render the risks of mortality always considerable.The figure of seventy-one per thousand is a terrible death rate to face, but I am not prepared to accept it as being extravagantly different from what may be the case in similar occupations in other countries. The noble and learned Lord quoted some mortality returns in connection with mines in England, and I think the worst case he quoted gave a death rate of thirty per thousand.
§ LORD COLERIDGE
The figure was fourteen per thousand in the tin mines in Cornwall. I may tell the noble Lord that the highest rate of all is in returned miners from the Transvaal.
I will deal with that in a moment. I have in my hand a Report to the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the Health of Cornish Miners, by Dr. J. S. Haldane, F.R.S.; Mr. Joseph S. Martin, H.M. Inspector of Mines for the South Western district; and Mr. R. Arthur Thomas. On page 14 of this Report the noble Lord will see that the proportion of deaths from lung 426 diseases among Cornish miners who had not worked rock-drills was about three times the normal, and the total death rate about 1.8 times the normal. That leads one to inquire what is the normal death rate. The normal rate of mortality is given in another table in the same Report as thirty-four per thousand.
§ LORD COLERIDGE
My figures were taken from page 6, table 2, in the same Report. They are the figures of the death rates between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, which represent the ages at which Kaffirs are employed in the Rand mines.
That may be so, but I think I am justified in quoting the statement of these gentlemen, that the proportion of deaths from lung diseases among Cornish miners who had not worked rock-drills was about three times the normal. The normal death rate in England is thirty-four.
The ages taken throughout these tables are from fifteen to sixty-five. I have excluded machine-men because I think it must be admitted that the mortality of machine-men in Cornwall has been increased by the return of machine-men from the Transvaal and other parts of the world; but the death rate among machine-men from respiratory diseases is about fifteen times, and their total death rate about eight times that for average occupied males in this country; or, to make another comparison, the death rate among machine-men from respiratory diseases is about thirty times, and the total death rate about ten times, as great as that among colliers or ironstone miners of the same age. I only quote this to show your Lordships that the conditions of work in the Cornish mines and in the Transvaal mines are very 427 similar to the conditions of work in some other kinds of mines, and that the death rate where the rock-drill is used as it is in Cornwall and the Transvaal is very much increased.
I do not think the noble and learned Lord will contest this, that where the rock-drill is used there is very serious danger from phthisis. Phthisis has been recognised in the Cornwall mines for over forty years, and I do not see from this Report that there has been any inquiry by the Government until these gentlemen were appointed in 1902. In the same year the Transvaal, which has not been mining for more than twenty years—and, I think, to be really fair, one ought not to consider anything before the war, for everything was then done in a rough and ready way—in the same year a committee was appointed in the Transvaal to report upon miners' phthisis, and their report is actually quoted in this Report about miners' phthisis in Cornwall. More than that, as far back as 1902 the mine-owners offered three prizes, the highest being £500, for the best machinery for subduing the dust which in dry-drilling is inevitable. They were desirous of doing all they could to reduce the tendency to this great increase in mortality. Therefore, so far as the Government of the Transvaal is concerned, they appointed a committee quite as soon as any Administration in England on this important question, and the mine-owners themselves have done what so far no one in England has done, namely, they have encouraged manufacturers to produce something which will allay the dust in the mines. Those prizes have now been awarded.
I was talking to-day to an eminent engineer and he fold me that long before the war they were experimenting with all kinds of rock-drills in the hope of reducing this danger, but the difficulty is this, that the rock-drill men themselves will not use these machines if they can possibly help it. For one thing, they have not been perfected, and the second objection to their use is that they render the work, so to speak, "sloppy." Your Lordships know for how many years attempts were made to compel coal miners to use safety lamps before it was effectually done. By degrees I hope it will be possible, if not to induce, at any rate to compel, these rock-drill men to use these appliances which science has invented in order to 428 reduce the dust which is inevitable where the explosions take place. They are by nature, I fancy, a very careless body of men, and prefer to go on earning large wages rather than take greater care of themselves. I have quoted these cases in order to show your Lordships that the managers and the mine-owners of the Transvaal are not indifferent to the excessive rate of mortality, and are doing what they can to reduce it. That is as regards phthisis, and phthisis has affected the black boy as well as the white man, because the black boy goes down into the mines after the explosion has taken place just as soon as the white man. He is close at hand, and is subject to the same conditions to some extent; and if we can reduce this disability in connection with rock-drilling, I should hope that a reduction would certainly be shown in the rate of mortality.
The committee of doctors, as I have already pointed out, and Lord Milner in one of his despatches, called attention to the enormous death rate from pneumonia. That is not peculiar to the natives. It is a very prevalent disease among Europeans in the Transvaal, and, having regard to the fact that many of these natives come up from the level of the sea coast to this great altitude of 7,000 feet at the time of the year when they are most liable to catch cold on emerging from the shafts, there will always be a tendency to their getting pneumonia. Our business is to do all we can to get the boys to take care of themselves, but they are just as casual in every way as the white miner is. When they come up from the shaft, instead of staying in their rooms for a time and accustoming themselves to the change of temperature, they lie about anywhere, and the compound manager cannot, of course, always be looking after them. These are some of the reasons. Another is, I think, that boys have been passed at the frontier who had much better have been left behind.
There has been a great preyalence of scurvy, and a boy who has got scurvy is much more likely to get one of these other diseases than a boy who has not. The noble and learned Lord has quoted a case of one mine which I know very well, where there is a high death rate, 429 and considering myself to some extent responsible for the management there, and being aware that scurvy had been very prevalent in that mine, I made some inquiries on the subject. The doctors to whom the noble and learned Lord referred stated in their first report that scurvy was purely a dietetic disease. Knowing that, the greatest care was being exercised in that compound as regards food. I made special inquiries as to this, and I believe your Lordships will find that the doctors in the Transvaal will have to acknowledge before very long that scurvy is not purely dietetic, and that it is transmissible from one to another. I merely mention that as an interesting point. It has been recommended that dry-drilling shall be done away with, and wet-drilling substituted. That is just one of the points where we are in the hands of the drill-men themselves. As a matter of fact, a day or two before I left Johannesburg the chief engineer of the group of mines with which I have to do was asked this question in my presence, "Are the white drill-men using the jet drill? "and he replied, "No; I am afraid they will not. "It is impossible for the man in charge to keep his eye on every miner. It is impossible for every white man who is superintending a rock-drill to be looked after and compelled, as if he were a child, to use the water jet, and until we can get some more efficacious means of compulsion, there will be risks of miners' phthisis.
I have mentioned these points because I am anxious to assure your Lordships that the mine managers and mine owners are most anxious to do all that lies in their power to improve matters by providing good food, more rooms with sufficient breathing space, sounder floors, removable bunks which can be cleaned in the sunshine, places into which the men can go at the shaft head; and by providing baths and looking after the sanitary arrangements down in the mines, we hope that eventually we may be able to arrive at something near the figure which the committee of doctors said they thought was possible. I do not contest the fact that there are certain circumstances connected with mining on the Rand which are remediable, and I believe it is the anxious desire of the managers of the mines, and the directors of the companies controlling 430 them, introduce these changes as to rapidly as possible.
The noble and learned Lord went on with the question of the output of the mines and the labour employed before the war and now, and pointed out that the mines are now producing as much as they did before the war with about seven-tenths the amount of labour. I think that is attributable entirely to the fact that the boys are doing very much better work. They are not tempted away by drink, which before the war incapacitated quite a considerable proportion. That, indeed, is one of the reasons why we are not getting as many boys as we did before the war. They know they cannot get drink now, and prefer to go where they can get it. From observation, I should say that for the whole of the last century, and even before that, South Africa has been suffering from lack of labour. The wages that are paid to coloured men in the Transvaal are something enormous even as compared with the wages paid to English servants and English labourers in England. I believe it is impossible for South Africa to go really ahead until she can lay her hands on more labour somehow or other. There are several facts which support my contention. Cape Colony had to go to the East for labour, and she got Malays. You will find Malays all over the Colony. Natal had to go to the East for labour for her sugar plantations; and when the Uganda Railway was being built Africa had to go to the East for labour again. As regards these mines it would have been impossible, without going elsewhere, for us to obtain the labour necessary to keep working the number of stamps that are ready. At the present moment there are hundreds, if not thousands, lying idle, and it would have been impossible, in my opinion, to get the labour in South Africa to keep them going.
As regards the question of morality, I have only this to point out, that the Kaffirs themselves did not bring their wives to the Rand, it being contrary to the custom of the tribe for men to take their wives away from the kraal, so that the Chinaman will be in pretty much the same position as the Kaffir in that he leaves his wife behind. I admit that there is this difference, that the Kaffir could return home, but the Chinaman cannot under the terms of his indenture for three 431 years. I should like, if I may, to read to the House one quotation. It was applicable to England sixty years ago, and at any rate the condition of the mines in South Africa, which is, after all, a country peopled by coloured men, a country dependent upon coloured labour under conditions which the noble and learned Lord is disposed to criticise very severely, and which is far removed from civilisation, is a thousand times in advance of what the condition of the mines was in this country sixty years ago. The quotation I would read to your Lordships is from the pages of "Sybil," published, I think, in 1846 or 1849—But can we wonder at the hideous coarseness of the language used when we remember the savage rudeness of their lives. Naked to the waist, an iron chain fixed to a leather belt, clad in canvas trousers, while on hands and feet English girls for twelve and sometimes sixteen hours a day haul and hurry tubs of coal up subterranean roads—dark, precipitous, and splashy.He also describes how infants of four or five years had to go down the shafts first and to leave them last, and for many long hours were left absolutely alone in the dark, their only occupation being to open the air doors to allow the trucks through and to close them afterwards, on which depended the safety of the mine. Thank God everything of that kind had been changed in England, and thank God the example of England 'has been followed by the Transvaal.
I think that the other questions which the noble and learned Lord dealt with are rather questions for the Government than for an independent Member of your Lordships' House. I would only say this, as regards the noble and learned Lord's Motion, that we must all be grateful for what the Colonies did for us in the recent campaign. At the same time, I cannot see the appositeness of the noble and learned Lord's reasoning. He says that because the Colonies helped us in the late war, therefore we ought to have paid attention to their objection to the importation of Chinese labour. The Australian Colonies and New Zealand have no real experience of what the labour conditions are in South Africa, and I think that when they arrived at those opinions they could hardly have realised that, so far as the lowest class of work is concerned, Africa always has 432 been, is now, and, in my opinion, for many years must be, dependent on coloured labour. But whether that is so or not, I do not admit that the argument advanced by the noble and learned Lord is a strong one. He and I would probably agree that it is regrettable that the Australian Colonies will not allow Indian natives to earn a living there, but I could not admit that it would be a sound argument to say that it was unfair of them to do this because India has spent so many millions and sacrificed so many lives in defending one of the bulwarks of the Empire. Australia and New Zealand are perfectly entitled to exclude coloured labour, but I do not admit that because they do that they are good judges of what is necessary for another colony in another part of the world. After all, my Lords, you are responsible, as the noble and learned Lord has pointed out, these being Crown colonies, for their government. Why should you cede your right to carefully watch all legislation proposed for colonies which have not got popularly-elected Legislative Assemblies?
In conclusion, I would ask your Lordships to believe that whilst there are men in the Transvaal with names that are not English, men who, perhaps, have very little English blood in their veins, yet at the same time there are a great majority of men there concerned with the control of these mines, with their actual practical management, and with the engineering difficulties connected with them, who are Englishmen—Englishmen such as your Lordships associate with in your daily life, who do not change their feelings and their habits because they have gone to live in South Africa; and I say it is grossly unjust to attribute to these men habits of slave-owners.
Is it intended by that to convey that the word "slave-owner" is applicable to them? [Lord COLERIDGE dissented.] I am delighted that the noble and learned Lord does not imply that. The men who are out there are Englishmen in every sense of the word and are most profoundly indignant that the 433 word "slave-owner" or "slave-driver" should have been used in connection with any occupation that they have got to manage; and I do earnestly ask your Lordships to believe that just as you have been grateful to pioneers who in different parts of the world have carried the frontier of your Empire forward, so you have every reason to be grateful to these Englishmen for what they are doing in South Africa to-day.
§ LORD NORTON
My Lords, we have beard a very interesting statement from Lord Harris as to the management of the Transvaal mines; but is not that a very incidental and minor point raised by the Motion of the noble and learned Lord opposite? The main proposition is that your Lordships should express regret for having consented to the admission of Chinese labour into South Africa. As an incidental point of argument it was attempted to be shown that the treatment in the Transvaal mines? was very bad and the mortality great. I think what has fallen from Lord Harris shows that that need not be any argument whatever against the proposition for the introduction of Chinese. The argument itself was imperfect in the noble and learned Lord's own hands, for he said that the extreme mortality which obtained in some mines in the Transvaal was not the case in other mines. Therefore, the inference would be that the excessive mortality should be reduced so that the death rate should not be greater on an average than that shown to obtain in the better managed mines. But, after all, if there was any point to be made from the mortality in the Transvaal mines it would be in favour of the introduction of Chinese labour, because the introduction of carefully guarded indentured free labour would at all events be a very great advance upon the present state of affairs. It was, therefore, an argument against the general proposition of the Motion.
The noble and learned Lord asks that the Imperial Parliament should interfere on this question. It is said that the Transvaal is a Crown colony. It is in one sense but not in a general sense. As Mr. Chamberlain has well shown in the other House, the Transvaal is in a position similar to that of an American territory—a position of inchoate but guaranteed self-government. It is a self-governing 434 colony which, from circumstances of the war, cannot be given entire self-government until the reconstitution of the country; but it is to all intents and purposes a self-governing colony so far as the guarantee of self-government is assured to it; and this country is pledged not to delay or interfere with her self-government more than is absolutely necessary for the immediate settlement of the country. But the proposition before us is that the Imperial Government should interfere with an entirely local measure in a self-governing colony.
It is surprising to me that there are any who still retain such false notions of the right relationship between the mother country and the Colonies. It is that very mistaken principle which lost us our finest colonies; and if the idea which is embodied in the Motion now before the House is the idea of the Opposition, then all I can say is. Heaven prevent that Opposition getting into power, for if they do they will most certainly repeat the mistake which has been made before and lose these present Colonies just at the very moment when they are promising the most perfect prosperity and attachment to this country. The proposition of the noble and learned Lord goes further than mere interference with the rights and local policy of a self-governing colony. It proposes to express regret at the passing of, and, if possible, to undo, a measure which is now in process of being carried out. What is worse, the proposition is not only to interfere with the local policy and action of self-governing colonies, but actually that their measures should be used, I may say misrepresented, for the purposes of Party contests in this country. That is the proposition now before us.
The Transvaal, by their Legislature and in every way in which they can express their own opinion, have decided upon the introduction of Chinese labour. That is what they feel to be absolutely necessary and vital for their prosperity, and we are asked to say that they were mistaken and that we know better. I must say candidly that I think the Opposition have lately been very hard up for a topic on which there was any prospect of uniting their Party for the purpose of making an attack on the Government. So prosperous and 435 successful were affairs conducted in this country that the only thing open to the Opposition was to go to a distant colony where they could get topics to misrepresent for the purpose of attacking the Government at home. The people in the Transvaal have made up their mind to pass this Ordinance for Chinese labour, and this Motion proposes that the Imperial Parliament should say that they should not have done so. It was, therefore, necessary to misrepresent so plain a fact to make it available for Party purposes in England. The employment of Chinese labour freely in Africa is misrepresented as a return to conditions of slavery—a distortion of fact which has not been made out at all by anybody. In fact, it has been clearly proved that there is no feature of slavery in the contract of labour adopted. But it was necessary to make the Transvaal Ordinance appear odious to become a possible topic for uniting the Opposition against the Government at home.
We ought by this time to have learned the wisdom of not interfering with the local affairs of colonies. Do not let us attempt the more mischievous plan of garbling their affairs as material for Party strife at home. If this is attempted we shall soon find that our interference, however humanely conceived, will have but one effect; and that will be to alienate the Colonies from us. They will not stand that sort of usage of them. Mr. Chamberlain has lately most powerfully advanced the feeling of attachment on the part of the Colonies to this country, from what occurred during the South African War. If your Lordships were to pass this Resolution and to express your regret that you did not interfere in time to prevent this local Ordinance, which was anxiously wished for by the colony, from becoming law, and against which nothing has been said truly, but a good deal falsely, you would be doing much to break through that attachment which Mr. Chamberlain has so successfully encouraged, and than which, whatever some may say as to the method by which he proposes to cement it, there is nothing more essential to the interests of the Empire at large.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (The Duke of MARLBOROUGH)
My Lords, when I saw this Notice on your Lordships' Paper embodying inquiry into the policy of His Majesty's Government in South Africa, and when I saw that it was the noble and learned Lord who was going to move the Motion, I felt certain that once more His Majesty's Government would be attacked in strong and vigorous terms for the policy which they have carried out in the Transvaal. The noble and learned Lord divided his subject into two parts. One part was an attack upon His Majesty's Government for having permitted the policy of the introduction of Chinese labourers, and the other was devoted to pointing out that the treatment of the natives in the Transvaal was not, in his opinion, all that could be desired. I cannot at this late hour follow the noble and learned Lord in a discussion as to the amount of gold that has been dug out at Johannesburg, and the number of miners employed there nor am I prepared to discuss with him whether or not the inhabitants of the Transvaal are in favour of Chinese labour. Nor do I think it necessary for me to repeat arguments why a referendum was not granted, and why we did not employ that process of discovering the opinion of the people of the Transvaal.
The noble and learned Lord asked for a specific answer as to whether the Chinese who had started from Hong-Kong had been permitted to take their wives with them. I have a telegram in my hand from the Governor of Hong-Kong, in which he says that the emigrants were made fully aware of the provisions for taking out their families. Special accommodation on board was ready, but none took advantage of the privilege. It is impossible to say how many men will send out for their families later, but they have got every encouragement to do so.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
I am afraid I cannot answer that question. I do not propose, either, to dwell upon the points raised by the noble and learned Lord with regard to the opinions of 437 Australia and New Zealand on this question. The views of His Majesty's Government wore fully set out in the two telegrams from the Secretary of State, one to the Earl of Ranfurly, Governor of New Zealand, and the other to Sir Hely Hutchinson, at the Cape. No doubt the noble and learned Lord has read those telegrams, and knows their contents well. The views expressed by the Secretary of State at that date are exactly the views that the Secretary of State holds to-day. We have nothing further to add on that point. I feel sure your Lordships would not wish me to enter for the third or fourth time into a defence of the Ordinance for the importation of Chinese labour. Parliamentary discussions on that subject have taken place on several occasions, and I need hardly remind your Lordships that Parliamentary decisions have been duly recorded. The Transvaal is perfectly quiet. The agitation which the noble and learned Lord predicted has not taken place. Chinamen have safely arrived, and so far as we are aware, great benefit will result from their importation.
I turn from the consideration of the general policy of the Government in South Africa to the main point which the noble and learned Lord has raised with regard to the treatment of labourers. I do not deny that it is possible by a judicious selection of passages to make a formidable indictment against the Transvaal Government. I admit, however, that the noble and learned Lord was on the whole very moderate in the indictment he made. He pointed out to your Lordships very accurately the facts of the case. Mr. Brownlee was sent with fifteen of the headmen of the tribes to find out why the natives of the Cape would not go and work in the mines at Johannesburg. They were also to inquire into the condition and the treatment of the natives. The immediate object and aim of the inquiry, as the noble and learned Lord reminded us, was to elicit from the natives any complaints they had to make against their employers; that is to say, to find out every complaint that the employee had to make against his employer. Your Lordships will notice that the result of this inquiry was not a dispassionate report; it was essentially the report of an inquiry instituted to formulate every grievance that could possibly be collected 438 The number of Kaffirs in the Rand mines is about 80,000, and of that number only 4,000 come from Cape Colony. It will therefore be observed that this inquiry referred only to 5 per cent, of the total number of labourers employed in the Rand. We know from experience of the natives of West Africa that those who live near the coast or near the towns are undoubtedly more prone to complain of the standard of living and comfort than the inland natives. Their inland brethren would regard very often as a condition of positive luxury, a condition of affairs which the natives in towns grumble at. I do not, for a moment, suggest that there is any difference of treatment between the Cape natives and the other natives employed in the Rand; but it is an undoubted fact that the Cape native is more troublesome and querulous, and more likely to make complaints. What does Mr. Cooke, the Acting Pass Commissioner, say of their disposition? He, speaking of the native, says that his association with Europeans has made him independent and impatient of control, that when brought to task he shows an ungracious spirit, and that his tendency to indulge in liquor and the smoking of hemp unfits him for work and brings him into conflict with those in authority. The Cape native is more likely to get into trouble with his overseer and to give a highly-coloured version of his conflicts with authority. Although I do not for a moment impugn the testimony of the natives, it is certainly a testimony which is not likely to err on the side of under-estimating any grievances they may have to bring forward. This view is sustained by the testimony of an independent witness and impartial critic, who is not in any way connected with Transvaal Administration or with the Chamber of.Mines—I refer to the Chief Medical Officer of Portuguese East Africa, the territory from which 75 per cent, of the natives employed in the mines comes. This gentleman, after paying a surprise visit to the compounds, stated that the Portuguese natives in the mines which he visited were 75 per cent, of the total employed, that he was confident they were better housed on the Rand than in their own homes; and that the food was in good condition; and after making some suggestions he passed a general note of approval. Thus your Lordships will see that, in regard to 75 per cent, of the 439 total number of natives employed, the representative of Portuguese East Africa, a perfectly independent witness, considers that their treatment on the whole was of a good and proper character.
Now, my Lords, let us for a moment consider what the result of this inquiry of Mr. Brownlee's was. As I have already said, it is doubtless easy by making a judicious selection from the report to show that the Cape natives are subjected to all kinds of treatment—that they are flogged, that the contracts they have entered into are not kept, that they are bought and sold, and so on. But in many of these cases, if the facts are carefully gone into and examined, it is easy to explain why the natives have complained. On page 28 a native chief says—Those who are unemployed are sold for six shillings per head.That is a remarkable statement. If it were true that natives were sold I should have great difficulty in replying, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, to the remarks made by the noble and learned Lord. But what are the real facts of the case? These natives are not sold at all. When they are unemployed they are put into what is called a protection camp, the Government charges 1s. per day for their care and keep, and when another employer comes along to take over these natives, he has to pay the sum which the Government have charged for their keep. This point was clearly explained by another chief, more intelligent than his brother, who said—Natives look upon this as a purchase price paid for them and think they are sold. We explain this matter to our Colonial natives, and show that it is a good thing for the natives to be protected in this way.There is just another instance of the distorted view that some of these chiefs have taken in regard to complaints. The noble and learned Lord alleged that the natives when sick were not allowed to go home. That is very easily explained. When a native is ill his one desire is to get home as quickly as possible, but it may be necessary to detain him in the hospital to make sure that he is perfectly fit to travel before being allowed to go home. It is impossible for me at this hour of the evening to deal with many of the complaints to which the noble and learned Lord has alluded. Many of them are 440 based upon error and misconception. I think the natives who make these complaints make them against measures which they do not appreciate and which are really designed for their benefit and protection. When there is so much difficulty in arriving accurately at the opinion of these native chiefs, when the opinions of the commission itself vary, one native saying one thing and another native another, and when it is clear that the natives themselves were not capable of weighing very accurately the mass of information which was placed before them, there is only one way of arriving at a proper solution of the question, and that is to turn to the testimony of the one man who went with this deputation who was an impartial judge—the one white man, Mr. Brownlee. Mr. Brownlee took the part of and showed every sympathetic feeling for the natives, and quite rightly so, because he was sent to protect their interests and to bring up a report on any grievances which could be found, or irregularities of which complaint was made. Your Lordships will see in the Papers that he acted as the champion of the natives in a correspondence with Mr. Macfarlane, the general manager of the Native Labour Association, and so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned we have only to be grateful to Mr. Brownlee for the zealous and efficient manner in which he carried out his work. Now, Mr. Brownlee, while admitting that the deputation was warmly received by the Transvaal Government, that no attempt was made to burke inquiry, that every material assistance was afforded him by the officials and that, but for the assistance given him by the Government, he would have been unable to accomplish his task, while admitting all that, what does he say? He says, speaking about the treatment of the natives, that the diet was sufficient and wholesome; that the men's quarters were on the whole fairly commodious and comfortable; that the sanitary arrangements were in almost every instance sufficient and good, that the lavatories in most cases were excellent, that fresh water, hot and cold, had been laid on in unlimited quantities, and that every facility was afforded the boys to keep themselves and their clothing clean. That is the testimony of Mr. Brownlee upon this specific point. It is perfectly true, as the noble and learned Lord has pointed out, that there 441 were two complaints which Mr. Brownlee had to make—the first on the question of wages, and the second on the question of flogging.
Let me deal quite briefly with the question of wages. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, also dealt with this subject I confess that after having read the Blue-book very carefully, I have the greatest difficulty in understanding how any quarrel could possibly arise between the natives and those who employ them with regard to wages. What is the system of recruiting, and what safeguards do the Government employ to ensure that the natives shall understand the amount of wages they are to be paid? As your Lordships are award, the recruiting is carried on by the agents of the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association. These agents are most carefully selected. It is, after all, in the intersts of the association to select the very best men—the most reliable and trustworthy they can find. In nearly every instance the agents can speak the language of the country in which they recruit. More-Over, they are obliged to get a licence from the Government in which it is distinctly stated that if they do not keep to the terms of the contract they may be severely fined and punished. On page 19 of the Blue-book is the contract itself, and there it is definitely stated that the men will receive 1s. 8d. per day for surface work and 2s. for underground work. This contract has not only to be explained to the natives, but it has also to be signed by them and by the native chief. There is yet one further precaution, namely, that when the native arrives on the frontier he is met by an official who asks whether he has coins voluntarily, and in the event of a native replying in the negative, this official can send him back home at the cost of the importer. In the face of these precautions it is difficult to understand how any dispute about wages can arise. But no doubt some do occur, and to meet such cases the Government have yet another precaution for the protection of the native. There are Government inspectors. As the Papers show, these inspectors, during the last two years, have made 9,000 inspections, and the number of cases of misunderstanding as to wages during those two years amounted only to 442 twenty-six, in seventeen of which the natives were proved to have miscalculated their pay, and the complaints were dismissed. Now, my Lords, when we bear in mind that there are 80,000 natives in the mines at Johannesburg, and that out of that total wages in two years, it is impossible to believe that there can be, as it has been alleged on many occasions, though not necessarily in your Lordships' House, continual complaints on the part of natives of being misled by the agents by whom they were recruited as to the exact amount of wages they were to be paid. Moreover, you will notice that the Government by their efforts have reduced to a minimum the number of possible complaints.
Now let me turn briefly to the question of flogging, of which the noble and learned Lord made a great point. I do not quarrel with the noble and learned Lord for having brought that matter before your Lordships" notice. He referred to the fact that native overseers had sjamboks, and he quoted the passage about "the gentle stimulus of cowhide."No doubt this flogging is a legacy of the late Government. It was quite a common practice for people to carry sjamboks under the old regime. I myself, when in South Africa, saw nearly everybody carrying sjamboks, and I daresay other noble Lords present had the same experience. That having been the general practice there is no doubt that it is very difficult to eliminate it at once. I need not remind your Lordships that eases of unauthorised flogging are met with the severest penalties. The law is that no one can be punished by flogging except in pursuance of a judicial sentence, and a medical officer has to be present to see that the man does not receive more strokes than his constitution is capable of bearing. It is the special function of the inspectors to whom I have referred to find out from the natives any cases of abuse or any instances in which flogging has been carried out in an unauthorised or unjustifiable manner, and to bring any such cases to the notice of the authorities. These native inspectors have done their work well, and yet in the two years the total number of cases of unauthorised flogging and assaults brought to their 443 notice amounts only to fifteen. In fourteen of those cases the accused were found guilty and severely punished. When it is remembered that there are 80.000 natives employed, that there were 4,000 inspections per year, and that as the result of those inspections only fourteen cases of unauthorised flogging were discovered, I think it is clear that the Government are alive to their duties in the matter and that the practice is being put down. No doubt there are a few isolated cases of flogging, but the fact that those isolated cases are brought to the notice of Parliament, and form the subject of discussions in your Lordships' House, is sufficient proof of the great change which has taken place in the Transvaal in regard to this matter. It is not only a testimony to the humane instincts of British rule, but it affords conclusive evidence that the Government are succeeding and will eventually entirely succeed in stamping out unauthorised flogging. The late Colonial Secretary, during his term of office, did all in his power to reduce flogging throughout the Empire, and he succeeded to a great degree. The present Colonial Secretary is determined to follow the same policy. But cases where from ill-temper, caprice, or irritability on the part of overseers, flogging is administered in an unjustifiable or improper manner, will be visited with the severest penalties, as both Lord Milner, the Transvaal Government, and His Majesty's Government are determined at all costs to stamp out this most odious practice.
My Lords, I now turn to the consideration of another matter, which is is by no means pleasant, namely the question of the death rate. On this point the noble and learned Lord had a great deal to say. He declared that whatever Mr. Cooke had to say with regard to the better treatment, the better housing, and the better status generally of the natives in South Africa, he could not agree with him, because the death rate was eighty or ninety per 1.000, a state of things that was truly appalling. But because there have been twenty-six cases in which natives have alleged that they have not received the money to which they were entitled, and because there were fourteen cases in two years in which men have been flogged in an unauthorised manner, 444 is the noble and learned Lord really going to claim that therefore the death rate in South Africa is so abnormally high? The death-rate in South Africa has nothing whatever to do with the treatment of the natives. The two things are totally unrelated. The high mortality is due to altogether other reasons than those which the noble Lord has inferred. According to our information, the death rate for the year 1903 was seventy-one per 1,000, for 50 per cent, of which pneumonia was responsible. The noble and learned Lord complained of ray having said that influenza was responsible for a certain number of deaths of natives. I do not pretend to be a medical officer, but I think I may reasonably say that an illness which ends in pneumonia frequently begins with influenza, and I believe that many of the cases of deaths recorded from pneumonia have been due in the first instance to influenza. I am confirmed in this opinion by a passage in the bulky volume before me. I am sorry to have to allude to this point at all, but the noble and learned Lord made such a strong point of it that I am obliged to reply to him. This is a passage from page 395—Theirs was brought up to April. You cannot form any comparison between the two. Since they wrote their report there has been a very bad epidemic of influenza which has attacked a good many of the mines here.I quote that passage simply to justify my contention on the last occasion when we discussed this matter in your Lordships' House, and to show the noble and learned Lord that my statement was not altogether without foundation.
It is a remarkable fact with regard to this death rate that for the first three months, and especially in the first month after their arrival, a great number of natives die. We believe that this exceptional rate is due to two causes, namely, the deplorably impoverished condition in which the natives arrive at the mines, and the sudden change to which they are subjected from the semi-tropical regions in which they are recruited to the somewhat rigorous climate at Johannesburg. As your Lordships will observe from the Paper, this high rate of mortality has been the subject of great anxiety to the Transvaal Government. 445 So far back as a year ago, a committee of medical men was appointed to consider how the high rate of mortality could be reduced, and various recommendations were made. Time will not permit me to go through all those recommendations, but I can assure your Lordships that they were accepted by the Transvaal Government and that one and all of them have been put into force. For instance, movable bunks in rooms have been provided, sanitation and drainage improved, baths provided, the diet has been carefully attended to, hospitals on modern lines erected, and lastly, but not least in importance, changing houses have been erected at the head of the mines, so that natives coming out his very hot condition may go in and cool down before submitting themselves to the cold air. Lord Milner in a despatch dealing with this subject says—There can be no doubt that the all-round consideration which native labourers receive today as regards general care and comfort contrasts most favourably with their treatment before the war and with their treatment even a year ago.And he says further on—I have every reason to believe that the Chamber of Mines has this important matter under its constant and anxious consideration.The Secretary of State, as your Lordships will see, has supplemented these local efforts by reminding Lord Milner that he must have a Return made to him I of every mine where the death rate is over fifty per 1,000, stating to causes of the deaths and whether the recommendation of the doctors with regard to I the treatment of the men have been carried out. We hope that the result of our efforts will be to improve matters in this regard. It is unwise to be too sanguine, but certainly we are justified in thinking that what we have done is bear in 5 fruit. Let me remind your Lordships of the death rate for the first throe months of last year and for the corresponding months of this year. For the month of January, 1903, the death rate was sixty-one per 1,000, this year it was fifty-nine, for the month of February last year, forty-four per 1,000, this year thirty-seven, for the month of March last year, forty-nine per 1,000, this year thirty-six, for the month of April last year, fifty-seven 446 per 1,000, while this year it was only thirty-two. It is clear that special attention must be given to two points in regard to the treatment of natives. However healthy the men may be, they should not be recruited from semi-tropical districts and brought to Johannesburg in the winter months. That point is under the serious consideration of the Secretary of State who will see if something can be done to secure the observance of such a rule. It is also very important that weaklings should not be recruited. It cannot be denied that in their anxiety to get labour and to secure all the help they possibly could at the mines, the labour agents have recruited from people whose physique was not perhaps sufficiently strong to enable them to cope with the onerous work which mining imposes upon them. However willing natives may be to work, however willing they may be to to the mines, it is clear that many of them, by constitution and physique, are not qualified to undertake what all admit is a very onerous task. It is our hope that by employing men who come from the more temperate region of Mancnuria we shall not only be able to raise the standard of physique amongst the men engaged in the work of the mines, but also enable the recruiters to discriminate in the indigenous supply in the future. With the higher standard of physique, coupled with the result of the improvements to which I have referred, we hope that the death rate—which I admit is a very high one—will be decreased, and that we shall be able to remove this cause of complaint and anxiety. I submit, my Lords, that on the whole—and it is on the whole that this matter must be judged—the treatment of the natives is good. As testimony in support of that submission, I turn to the verdict of Mr. Brownlee, the one man qualified to judge, the one man who summed up accurately the opinions of the various headmen. Mr. Brownlee's general verdict is this—… the treatment is generally good-While there were two or three instances which came under our observation in which labourers had been ill-treated, yet we gathered that on the whole their treatment is good, and that the mine-owners and compound managers are anxious to make the treatment and condition of 447 the native labourers as congenial to them as possible. Various employers of labour expressed their determination to at once dismiss any European subordinate found guilty of in any way ill-treating native labourers, and the Government on their part have appointed a large number of inspectors, whose duty it is to visit the mining compounds and personally inquire into any cases of ill-treatment that the labourers may wish to bring forward.It is on the calm, deliberate, and measured judgment of a humane man, an official well qualified to judge of the affairs of the natives, that the Government take their stand. The noble and learned Lord has attached tome importance to the evidence collected by Mr. Brownlee; he cannot in fairness refuse to attach the same importance to the conclusions drawn by Mr. Brownlee from that evidence. Mr. Brownlee's conclusions constitute the case for the Government; but they constitute something more. They are the defence of a Crown colony; they are a warning and a protest against any attempt to formula tea general charge of inhumanity against a vast community of British colonists in South Africa—colonists who might reasonably consider themselves aggrieved by any imputations that might be made, and who, since they have no representation in the Imperial Parliament, look to their fellow-countrymen at home to safeguard them from those hasty charges and immature judgments which political and Party controversy may sometimes dictate to Members of both Houses of Parliament.
My Lords, I ask permission to say a very few words on the subject which has been brought forward in a straightforward and apparently unanswerable speech by my noble and learned friend Lord Coleridge. The question has been asked—" What on earth is the use of bringing forward this question? There is no life in it, the agitation has practically died out, and it is a pure waste of time to discuss it. "I would ask your Lordships to cast your eyes on the results of recent by-elections in the country. Last week a kinsman of mine, whose opinions are somewhat advanced, fought an urban and agricultural constituency, and was returned by a majority larger than that secured by 448 any other representative of the division since 1885, and he tells me that though he had several other cards in his hand, the great card he had to play was the question of Chinese labour, in, which the whole country was taking the greatest possible interest. I have listened very attentively to the speeches by noble Lords opposite in defence of what the Australians call the "pro-Chow "policy of the present Government, but it is very difficult to discover what those who still believe in the efficacy of Lord Milner's policy really think of the rather distasteful state of things at present obtaining in South Africa. Those speeches will be read by the ordinary Englishman, whether at home or across the seas, with a certain amount of genuine regret. There will be a personal regret that by the irony of fate it has fallen to the lot of the noble Duke, who worthily represents one of the greatest names in English history—a name associated with perhaps the finest period of the nation's history—to get up night after night, month after month, to minimise, palliate, and excuse the South African policy of His Majesty's Government, which it appears impossible to explain and very difficult to defend. There will also be a national regret that this great Government, who came into power under such glorious auspices, should have brought the condition of the whole of South Africa to the deplorable pass in which it appears to be at the present moment. I will not occupy your Lordships' time by saying anything on that point; I will simply quote the following words from a speech made by the present Colonial Secretary, Mr. Lyttolton—Two years ago when South Africa was handed over by the military authorities to Viscount Milner, it was a wilderness with scarcely anything in it except blockhouses and wire entanglements.That surely shows that there was wisdom in the statement of the last Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Ritchie, when he said that the annexation of the two Dutch Republics would be an unmitigated misfortune to this country. After all, what has it ended in? It has ended in what we are told is the regrettable necessity for the introduction of Chinese labour. In to-day's paper we read that Chinese labour has arrived 449 safely on the shores of South Africa; it has been jealously guarded from interference and from the representatives of the Press as if it were a foreign potentate; and it has been triumphantly sent up to work in the mines in the same manner as foreign potentates usually travel in foreign countries, viz., under an armed escort.
Now, my Lords, let me say one word, and one word only, on the question of flogging. The Chinaman, as everybody who has had anything to do with China men knows, is a very astute individual, and he was evidently familiar with the contents of this Blue-book long before they were brought under the notice of His Majesty's Government, or of the people of this country. He knows perfectly well that he will have to work under Chinese gangers, Chinese over seers, and Chinese interpreters; he knows that so far as those positions are concerned no British need apply; he will be under his own flesh and blood, under overseers of his own nationality, and he knows perfectly well that those overseers, unlike the Secretary of State for the Colonies, are apt to carry out their contracts in the letter as well as in the spirit. I see opposite a noble friend of mine, Lord Redesdale, who knows these countries well, and he will correct me if I am wrong. The Chinese labourer has a distinct remembrance of the way in which these contracts are carried out in the "Flowsry Land"; he has a vivid recollection of the bastinado; he has perhaps had experience of ear-twisting—
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I mean that the Chinese labourer has perhaps had the 'opportunity of being bastinadoed, of having his ears twisted or his fingers pinched, and possibly he has had experience of the frightful practice which sometimes prevails in China, viz., the pulling out of toe-nails. It is therefore no wonder if he has become a convert to the" policy which was fashionable six months ago—the policy of protection and preferential treatment with the mother country, and wisely determined to insist upon the introduction into the contract 450 of an anti-flogging clause between himself and this country, so that his skin may escape the application of the "gentle, stimulus of cowhide "to which reference has been made.
There is one other point to which I should like to refer. After all, can these regulations really be considered as the law of the land? I am speaking in the presence of noble and learned Lords who are great lawyers, and perhaps they will be able to give an opinion on this point. Is it not a fact that the law of England does not permit any man in this country to part with so much of his freedom and civil rights, even by a perfectly voluntary contract, as the Chinese labourer surrenders under his contract? Is it not an established principle of English law that punishment by imprisonment and forcible deportation cannot be agreed to be submitted to by contract, and also that a renunciation of the right to hold property, even by a perfectly voluntary contract, cannot be enforced, it being contrary to the fundamental principles of common law? That is the law of the land, but I suppose the law of the land is overridden by the Ordinance under which these Chinamen are brought into a British colony.
Then, my Lords, I would like to call attention to two or three statements which have been made with reference to the grievous mortality among the Kaffirs in the mines. We know that the death rate was seventy-one per 1,000 for the year 1903. I understand that those figures were for deaths of persons up to forty-five years of age.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
The, mortality for that year was seventy-one per 1,000. Lord Harris, to whose knowledge and authority in these matters we all bow, acknowledges that that is accurate, but he refers to Mr. Haldane's Report and says that the death rate in English mines is thirty-three per 1,000. That is perfectly accurate, but ' the noble Lord omitted to tell the House that those figures are for men, not up to forty-five years of age, but between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-five. I do not 451 wonder that thirty-three per 1,000 of those men die in the course of a year. If the noble Lord would go a step further and get for us the statistics of the deaths of miners between the age of sixty-five and eighty-five, he would probably find that the death rats was not thirty-three per 1,000 but 1,009 per 1,000 and that the whole of the miners between those ages were carried to the grave during that period. But, while we accept the noble Lord's statement on that point, I am sure he also will accept the statement of a man who knows what he is talking about. My hon. friend Mr. John Burns, speaking in the House of Commons, stated that the mortality among miners in this country was from five to ten per 1,000 per annum. Dealing with this argument, the noble Duke said, "Oh, that is all very well; the high figures that have been given were for last rear, this year we have effected a great reduction in the death rite." We are very glad to hear it but what is that decrease? In the month of March this year the mortality was thirty-six as against forty-nine per 1,000 in the corresponding month of 1903, and in the month of April this year it was thirty-two as against fifty-seven in April, 1903. But" that thirty-six and thirty-two is a terrible death-rat*. If your Lordships will only consider that during the three-and-a-half years of the war the death rate was only thirty-six of thirty-eight you will see what a terrible death rate the present figures represent. I think it can hardly be a matter of satisfaction to His Majesty's Government that, even after the great improvement that has been made, the death rate should still be of such alarming proportions. Moreover, the most favourable figures we have had were for the summer time, the best part of the year, and the rate is bound to increase materially in the winter months. Lord Harris also spoke about scurfy, which he said was not caused by indifferent food; he pointed out that it had been determined that the disease could be communicated, that it would have to be reckoned as an infectious disease and dealt with accordingly. I know that doctors have brought forward that theory, but it is really not the case. I do not know whether any noble Lords have 452 seen a bad case of scurvy; if they have they will never wish to see another. Scurvy is entirely due to bad food. I would call his Lordship's attention to another statement made by Mr. John Burns and not contradicted. In one case during nine months there were 240 deaths out of 1,600 boys, and 48 per cent, were caused by bad food. It was discovered that the boys had been fed on condemned Government stores. Twelve per cent, died of scurvy. There are 800,000 miners in England and Scotland, and I am certain I am stating the fact when I say that there has not been a single death recorded from scurvy in the mines of Great Britain during the last five or ten years.
I am sure the noble Earl does not wish to misrepresent me. What I said was that it is proved by the Blue-book that large numbers of the natives arrive with scurvy on them, and that I had been informed by one of the doctors that he thought they would have to change their opinion that it was purely dietetic.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
That is what I called the attention of the House to. But the opinion of the best doctors in England is against that of the noble Lord's doctor. It is universally held in this country that scurvy is entirely due to bad food.
My Lords, the night is far spent, and I shall not detain your Lordships further, though I had a great deal more to say. I would only ask the House to believe that the reason we bring this most important matter forward time after time is not cant of any kind, it is not what is sometimes called "Exeter Hall" sentiment, and, above all, it is not in order to promote what Lord Harris, the chairman of the Consolidated Goldfields, was good enough the other night to call one of the most malicious agitations which has ever soiled the reputation of an Opposition. My Lords, this movement is simply the expression of an honest and conscientious conviction that Chinese labour is adread-ful thing to introduce into a British colony; it is the expression of the views 453 of the great majority of Englishmen at home and abroad who are jealous of the honour of Old England, and who are determined, God helping them, to preserve intact and unsullied the good name and the great reputation of this country among the Christian nations of the world.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (the Earl of ONSLOW)
My Lords, I really must apologise for again addressing your Lordships on the subject of Chinese labour in the Transvaal, but I shall not detain you more than a minute or two. While I quite appreciate the motives which actuate the noble Earl who has just spoken, I am not quite clear as to what are the motives of certain other noble Lords who support him. Some time ago, when this subject was first discussed in this House, there was a belief that a general election was imminent, and that in this question a fine Party cry had been found. That election has been indefinitely postponed, but certain noble Lords appear to think that it would be a misfortune if this very Useful Party cry were allowed to fade away from the minds of the people of the country, and I think that that is to some extent the reason why your Lordships' House is constantly being invited to discuss a subject which has been debated I might almost say ad nauseum.
My Lords, I am not going to enter into the question of Chinese labour in South Africa. That has been dealt with by my noble friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and it forms, after all, but a very small part of the Resolution which the noble and learned Lord asks your Lordships to adopt. I think your Lordships should pause before accepting unreservedly the statement which has been put forward by the noble and learned Lord to the effect that the Government of the Transvaal and His Majesty's Government are not fully alive to the necessities, in the interests of the people of South Africa and the honour of this country, of seeing that the natives employed in the mines are meted out that treatment which it has been the proud boast of Englishmen is meted out to all natives wherever Englishmen bear rule. I would ask your careful attention 454 to this Blue-book; I would ask you to look not only at the report of Mr. Brown-lee, to which the noble Duke has referred, but also to the report furnished by the Department to Lord Milner. I will venture quote one or two passages, from which, I think, it will be found that the Government are fully alive to the necessities of the case and fully determined to see that the natives in the mines receive proper and adequate treatment. Matters are very different now from what they were in the days of the Republic. The Native Department reports to Lord Milner that natives in the mines labour under conditions in direct contrast with those hitherto prevailing either as regards accommodation, diet, sanitation, or hospital arrangements—Hot coffee or other non-alcoholic stimulant is now issued to them, and blankets or coats are provided as wraps while passing from the shaft-head to the compound.In the presence of noble Lords opposite who hold strong views on the temperance question I hardly dare quote my next passage, but I am constrained to do so to show the great care which is lavished upon these men—These experiments have justified the issue (of beer) which it was found easy to control, and this wholesome fluid is now an important factor in the labourer's diet. Tt is now regarded as conducive to better health and contentment, and its issue is now almost universal.Imagine an employment in this county where the employer issued free beer to the men he employed. I really do not think the noble and learned Lord has any justification for the accusation he brought against the Government of the Transvaal. The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies has expressed the regret which His Majesty's Government, in common with everybody else, must necessarily feel at the high mortality disclosed by the figures which have been published. But the rate of mortality is high in mines all over the world where the rock-drill is used. It is the case in Cornwall. If the noble Lord will look at the report of Mr. Haklane's Committee he will see that even with the Cornish miners in the Transvaal, who most carefully look after themselves, the mortality amongst those engaged in rock-drilling and in propinquity to rock-drilling is not less than amongst the natives. I think that is a 455 proof that it is not the treatment of the natives, but the inherent unhealthiness of the occupation, which is the cause of the high mortality. My noble friend who is interested in South Africa has told your Lordships of the steps which are being taken by mine-owners to provide apparatus to minimise as far as possible the injury done by floating particles of rock in the mines. Hard words are often used of the capitalists who own the mines in South Africa, but none can say that they have ever been behindhand in putting down their money to do anything that the Government have said they ought to do, either to provide sanitation for those who work in the mines, or to improve the condition of those dependent upon them.
I will not at this late hour follow the noble Lord opposite through the statement which he made, but I do think it is a significant fact that the rate of mortality has fallen from over eighty per thousand to thirty-six, and even to thirty-two in tb.3 month of April last, and that that thirty-two included a number of deaths caused by the unfortunate breaking of a rope, through which a cage fell to the bottom of the shaft and killed ten or fourteen men. Had it not been for that accident, the rate of mortality would have been twenty-six only. That is a conclusive proof that matters are improving. But whether they are improving or not. it is the firm determination of His Majesty's Government that nothing shall be left undone to persuade the mine-owners to do everything possible to make the conditions of work for their men more favourable than they have been in the past. There has been a ready response on the part of the mine-owners and a willingness to do all that the Government have called upon them to do, and from what I know personally of Lord Milner I am confident that your Lordships may rest assured that no stone will be left unturned to see that everything is done for the welfare and comfort of the native labourers in the mines.
THE MARQUESS OF RIFON
My Lords, in the absence of my noble friend Earl Spencer, who is detained at home through illness, I feel bound to make a few observations upon the discussion which has taken place. The noble Duke and 456 the noble Earl opposite appeared to make it somewhat a matter of complaint that this matter should have been brought forward. The noble Duke said the question had been discussed and settled Parliamentarially several times. But I do not think noble Lords opposite have any right to make such a complaint at all. The House of Commons is not allowed to discuss this question at all. Happily we are free to speak in this House, and as long as we are so free we shall speak when we think fit. But, my Lords, surely no one can be surprised that attention should be called to the terrific—I can use no other word—death rate which obtained in the mines last year. I acknowledge that the returns up to the present time show an improvement, but the death rate is still muck higher than it ought to be. It is certainly much higher than the death rate in English mines. The noble Earl spoke of the high rate in the Cornish mines, and referred to Dr. Haldane's Report, but he forgot to explain that the Report states that that specially high rate was due to the sickness of the men who had returned from the Transvaal, and I think it is a little hard to say that that is the average rate among English miners. I admit that in the Cornish mines the average rate is higher than, in other mines, but I believe the average rate throughout the country is six per thousand. In the face of that, one cannot rest content with forty per thousand or even twenty per thousand in the Transvaal; there must be a further change.
I take it from noble Lords opposite that it is the desire and intention of the Secretary of State for the Colonies to reduce the present rate of mortality and I hope that the noble Earl, when he says that, means that the Secretary of State, having the power in a Crown colony, will enforce any arrangements that may be necessary in order to bring down the figure to what I may call a decent death rate. And I see some signs of that being done, because, though it is curious it has not been alluded to in the debate, last year a Mines Regulation Ordinance was passed by the Transvaal Legislature, under which regulations have been issued. The Ordinance, perhaps, is not a very strong one, but I 457 hope its provisions will be strictly of the world; therefore, I deprecate, with enforced, and that wherever it is found to be defective, more strenuous measures will be enacted. There is another reason for attending to sanitary matters in the mines at the present moment. Those of your Lordships who follow the subject will probably have seen in the papers this morning that some of the Chinese who have just arrived at Durban are suffering from a disease called beri-beri. This is a very serious disease indeed, which spreads with great rapidity, especially when people do not observe sanitary regulations, and the Transvaal Government will find it very difficult indeed to make the Chinese labourers cleanly. It is of the utmost importance that steps should be at once taken to deal with that disease, and therefore I venture to draw the attention of His Majesty's Government to the matter, though they are probably already considering what should be done in it.
With regard to the Resolution itself, my noble friend says that he regrets, and he asks the House to say that they regret, that the opinions of the self-governing Colonies have been disregarded in this matter. When I had the honour of addressing your Lordships sometime ago, I took the opportunity of saying that I drey a clear distinction between the Australian Colonies and New Zealand and the South African Colonies themselves. I do not at all admit that the Australian Colonies have the same right of interference in this matter as has Cape Colony;, but I am bound to say that, while I quite understand that there are many matters in which the Government might think they could not give way altogether to the views of the Australian Colonies, this is a question which excites the greatest interest in that Commonwealth, and is likely to arouse unpleasant feelings, and I think it would have been advisable to pay a little more attention to their views in this case. But the position of the Cape is very different. The Cape is the neighbour of the Transvaal, and the course, which the Government are taking in regard to this question of Chinese labonr will, I believe, be more fatal to the federation of South Africa than any other step which could be adopted. I hold that federation is the true remedy for the many evils of that part 458 all the strength of which I am possessed, any course which is likely to place the smallest impediment in the way of the policy which I believe ought to be followed in regard to South African affairs.
§ On Question, resolved in the negative.
§ House adjourned at a quarter be fore Eight o'clock, till Tomorrow, half - past Tea o'clock.