§ Order of the day read for the adjourned debate on the Motion of the Lord Coleridge to resolve, "That this House disapproves of the importation of Chinese labourers into the Transvaal under the recent Ordinance until the grant to that country of full representative government."
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
My Lords, the more this grave question is discussed the more clear it becomes that the Government have been very ill-advised in the matter, and the more it is seen that they are out of touch on this question both with the feeling of the self-governing Colonies and the mass of our people at home. They have preferred to listen to Lord Milner and the mine-owning interests in the Transvaal rather than to the voices of the other Colonies and of the people here at home. I venture to think that in this matter even the Dorsetshire labourers would have been safer advisers from the point of view of the Government. We have heard one protest after another from the Colonies, from the Australian Commonwealth, from the great Olympian New Zealand friend of the Government, and from the Cape Colony. Everywhere the natural instinct of those who live in British Dominions is against this Ordinance, and that is why we have ventured to move that this House should express its disapproval of it. The very weighty arguments of the noble and learned Lord who moved this Motion and of Lord Stanmore the other night were, so far as I could make out, not answered by the Government. The noble Duke, in his very spirited reply on behalf of the Government, seemed to base his case on two things in particular. One was what I think we may venture to call the bitter cry of the mine-owning interest in the Transvaal. They come 118 apparently in formâ pauperis. It seems to me an astonishing thing that they should claim to represent the people of the Transvaal. I venture to think that the true opinion of the mass of the genuine people of South Africa—the real Africanders, British and Boer, the men who have made their home in South Africa, and who are to live and die there—is, so far as we can make out from the ordinary evidence, directly against this Ordinance. I therefore say that this claim of the mine-owning interest is an astonishing one.
Their bitter cry for relief, in the shape of cheap Chinese labour, also seems to a dispassionate observer an astonishing claim, when we think of the history of the matter. We were told in all sorts of ways that when the war was over, and the British flag was once raised over the Transvaal, prosperity would come by leaps and bounds, and that the wilderness would blossom like a rose. But the first thing the mine-owners did was to reduce the wages of the Kaffir labourers. Surely, as far-seeing men, they must have known quite well that that act, together with the reputation of these mines, compared with others, in regard to sanitary and other matters, would of itself tend to create a shortage of labour. Not content with this they seem, as far as I understand the Blue-book, to have taken the whole of the recruiting of native labour into their own hands; and I venture to think that the noble and learned Lord opposite demonstrated on Friday night last that their instructions to their recruiting agents were that they were not to be enthusiastic in recruiting, but rather to put obstacles in the way of an overflow in the supply of native labour. They are not able, In these cirumstances, to pay that which they have promised Mr. Chamberlain that they would pay, and so we have this bitter cry from men who can only be called "splendid paupers." I hold, as the result of my dispassionate reading of all the evidence, that it is this interest which has pressed the question, and not the united voice of the people of the Transvaal or South Africa in general. Therefore, I am driven to this conclusion, that there is a great 119 deal of insincerity in this cry about the need for Oriental labour.
As regards their claim to represent the people of South Africa, I think we may reasonably put up the counterclaim that this matter might wait till we could hear the voice—the free voice—of the country concerned, constitutionally expressed. We have no such voice at present. The Legislative Council is a council of nominees, and, by common confession, the predominant interest and power are those of the mining corporations. For my own part, I hold that it would be quite as fair to argue that the brewers and publicans represent the people of England. The parallel between the two is, indeed, a close one. They are both great, powerful, wealthy trades; they are both managed by men of great ability and business experience—men of the world; and they both consist of bodies who are able to put a great deal of pressure upon the ruling authorities. But there, I think, the parallel stops, and the brewers and publicans have a better claim to represent us than the mining interest has to represent the Transvaal, because they are English citizens; therefore the noble Duke, in basing his argument the other night on these two supports, was leaning on a broken reed.
I turn for a moment from the arguments of the noble and learned Lord opposite to the arguments of Lord Stanmore. So far as I noticed, the noble Duke carefully passed by one very pertinent observation of the noble Lord. The noble Lord, from his colonial experience, very emphatically declared against anything like a servile law for a particular race, a law which is to have penal consequences for one particular race. Now, if you put it into plain English, I venture to think that this Ordinance means something like this—that we say to the Chinese, "We will not have you in the Transvaal as men, but we will import you as animated implements, and by-and-by, when we have done with you, we will export you again dead or alive." And judging from what we have heard of the statistics, before the three years are over a great many of the men who go to some of those mines will have to be exported in their coffins. I say that 120 when you strip the Ordinance of all its outer declarations, and take away the veil over it, it is nothing less than an iniquitous Ordinance. The spirit of it is altogether un-Christian. This is, at any rate, what plain men are saying about it everywhere. You may not agree, but it is what is being said everywhere by those who think about and speak of it in plain terms. Those of us who move about in the common ways hear more of the common views than some of the leading members of the Government; and what we hear is that in the mind of the English people the real issue is the moral issue. It is the one issue on which the mind of the country is fixed, and, veil it as you will, you have in this Ordinance the essence of slavery. It partakes of slavery. The conditions are servile, and you cannot get away from it.
The spirit of slavery is one which is continually raising its head afresh again and again in history. Slavery was a part of the general civilised life of ancient times, and it was swept away and destroyed by Christianity. Then there came feudal serfdom in the West, and if it has not been entirely swept away it has been swept into corners by the same great power of Christianity. Then there came the negro slavery which had its origin in the greed of adventurers starting in a new country under new conditions, and we know what consequences it has entailed, not only on the continent of America, but on the human race. But that also was swept away by the power of Christianity; and now we come to this crisis, as some men call it, in South Africa, and we are threatened with this recrudescence of slavery in the shape of the importation of Oriental animated implements. I observe, in reading an account of a deputation which waited upon Lord Milner not long ago—the account appeared in what may be taken as a friendly quarter; it was in The Times newspaper—that Lord Milner is reported to have said that—It is a monstrous abuse of language to call the conditions of this Ordinance by the name of slavery.Well my Lords, I venture to say it would be a monstrous abuse of language to call them freedom. Before we examine the 121 Ordinance may I take the liberty, as a good many of your Lordships seem to support that view, of pausing for a moment to look at Lord Milner's own language. I do it with reluctance because Lord Milner is not here, and I do not much like speaking even of a public man in his position in his absence. I very much wish he were here, and for two reasons. In the first place, I could have spoken my mind more freely in his presence; and, in the second place, he would be comparatively harmless on these Benches. He would be out of South Africa. I am only expressing the sentiments of a vast number of thoughtful Englishmen when I say that it would be a great boon to South Africa if Lord Milner was no longer there.
Lord Milner, I venture to think, has shown his disqualification for his very high position in the very delicate circumstances in two ways. In the first place his temper constantly obscures his judgment. I look through this correspondence in the Blue-books and the White Paper, and I find again and again that what is presented to him as evidence presents itself to his mind as ignorance, or misrepresentation, or misconstruction. I am not sure that even the word "calumny" or "calumniator" does not appear somewhere in the Blue-book. That temper is just the temper which some noble Lords who have had experience of great positions in our Colonies will say unfits a man to be the representative of the Crown in one of the Colonies of the British Empire. The other disqualification of Lord Milner is this, that his language is constantly running away with him. He spoke of helots when he should have been pouring oil on the waters; he pressed for strong measures when the wise and experienced soldier who commanded the forces there said that South Africa needed peace and not the sword. You have all sorts of strong language scattered about in his despatches—language which is absolutely unsuitable for a great official who should occupy an impartial position. I venture to say that it is a matter of State concern that men of that temper, and with that rasping journalistic pen should not represent the Empire in great positions. My noble friend Lord Stanmore asked a 122 very pertinent Question the other night. He asked, What were the instructions given to Lord Milner when ho went to South Africa? The noble Lord then quoted a noble paragraph from the standing instructions of all Colonial Governors. It would be interesting to learn whether that paragraph formed part of the intructions to Lord Milner. At any rate, I feel that when we are accused of a monstrous abuse of language we have a right to reply that these highly-placed officials representing th.3 Crown should be very careful about their own language, because of the immense amount of mischief which they inevitably do by flinging about inflammatory language.
I have often wondered, since 1899, whether Lord Milner could by any possibility have had his instructions from the late Lord Salisbury. In the month of September of that year, greatly fearing, like many of my countrymen, that war was approaching, I did what was, perhaps, a foolish thing. I ventured to ask Lord Salisbury if he could not, from his great position, say some word which would make for peace and which would reassure the English nation that we were not drifting into war. But Lord Salisbury, out of his great experience, gave me an answer of profound wisdom. He said that a man in a high and responsible position, charged with delicate negotiations and heavy responsibilities, should, at a critical moment, be as silent as possible. It is a curious coincidence that there came, not so very long after, the famous speech about "a squeezed sponge" and "the sands running out." I have, since then, felt that if Lord Milner had had his instructions from the great and wise Lord Salisbury, and if all the affairs of South Africa had been conducted by Lord Salisbury we should have had a very different history.
Now, lot us look at this charge which Lord Milner makes against us, that it is a monstrous abuse of language to say that this Ordinance partakes of slavery. I venture to think that the fairest and best way of testing the real meaning of the Ordinance would be to put ourselves in the place of one of these Chinamen. Your Lordships know very well that the clever agent of the labour-importing company will depict the prospects which he 123 has to hold out in roseate hues. He will make them as attractive as possible. It is his business to do so. Let us suppose he has enlisted 100 of those men and brought them to Hong-Kong, where they would be face to face with the Government agent. The Government agent, too, has to explain to them the conditions under which they are to go to South Africa. I think it very likely that his picture will not be quite of the same roseate hue, and it is quite possible that some of these men may begin to feel grave misgivings. Possibly the Government agent, if he is very scrupulous, will say to these men, "I think it only fair to warn you that the whole of this labour is not very healthy, that you run a serious amount of risk by going. We are told, on good authority, that seventy per thousand die each year, or 7 per cent.; so that the chances are that out of you 100 men not more than seventy-nine will come back alive at the end of the three years. To be absolutely fair I must give you another word of warning—the mines are not equally healthy or unhealthy. If you are fortunate and go into one particular mine possibly only 3 per cent, will die during the year, but if you are sent into another mine I am afraid 15 or 16 per cent, may die; and if you are all relegated to the worst mines probably only one-half of you will come back alive." Looked at in that way this Ordinance begins to assume a very ugly shape. But the men are by this time in Hong-Kong, perhaps hundreds of miles from home, and they go with misgivings in their heart and eventually land in the com pound. We had the other night a defence of the compound. The noble Lord opposite, Earl Grey, told us that some of these compounds are likely to make very happy homes. Indeed he described them as garden cities. I wonder whether he has enlisted Mr. George Cadbury—
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
Well, my Lords, if the noble Earl himself had the administration of them I think we should all be greatly relieved, and probably take a different view of the matter, because we know from his public spirit and benevolence that he would take 124 care that these men were lodged under sanitary conditions, but we cannot be sure of that in the case of all the mine-owners on the Rand. Therefore I say that this garden city or earthly paradise may very easily prove a paradise with a very great deal of evil in it and very little good. At any rate, here they are, and they are not allowed to go out except for forty-eight hours, if they obtain a ticket-of-leave. They are to own no property, and, worst of all, they may be transferred from one employer to another, and from one mine to another, without having a word to say to it themselves.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (The Earl of SELBORNE)
If the right rev. Prelate will read the Papers on the Table he will see that that is not true.
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
I am glad to hear that owing to some recent amendment of the regulations the Chinaman will have a voice in his transfer from one employer to another. I am not aware that there was anything in the Ordinance which gives the labourer the right to choose the mine in which he is to work. There is another point in regard to the Ordinance, namely, that even an employer, if he found that his labourers were really good and respectable men and desired to assist them, would not be allowed to give them any co-operative share in the property of the mine. He could not treat them as Lord Grey would like to treat everybody in this country. When we go through the Ordinance point by point in this way I say that it partakes of slavery; the general result is nothing less; and I do not think the Lieutenant-Governor is justified in speaking to us who look at it in that way as guilty of a monstrous abuse of language. My belief is that the English people, when they come thoroughly to understand this matter, will have nothing to do with sanctioning this Ordinance as a permanent institution of our Empire. "These Chinamen," the ordinary honest Christian Englishman says, "are men, and the conditions are not such as ought to be sanctioned." What is the object aimed at? It is to give a little higher dividends 125 to the low-grade mines. This South African Ordinance is prepared on the principle that the value of the lives of these men is less than that of a better dividend for some of the low-grade mines. That is the way in which it presents itself to a plain mind looking at the moral aspect of the question.
If our view of this matter is at all correct, what a contrast is exhibited between the British Parliament of a century ago and of to-day. One hundred years ago or thereabouts, as your Lordships know very well, the walls of the other House were echoing the great voice of William Pitt pleading for freedom wherever the English flag flew for every individual, and to-day within the same walls we shall hear the plea for this Ordinance from the Prime Minister and the Colonial Secretary. What a contrast, when you think of it! Then William Wilberforce was carrying his famous Resolutions which declared that all slave trade was contrary to justice and humanity and sound policy, and that therefore, immediate steps should be taken for its abolition. We know the result. We look upon the result with gratitude and pride—with gratitude because the action of your forefathers swept out of human life such an immense mass of human misery, and with pride because that action made the name of England one of praise among men in the remoter parts of the earth; it put her at the head of freedom-loving peoples and made her the champion of freedom everywhere. We appeal to you, my Lords, that you should disapprove of this recrudescence of the spirit of slavery, and hold on high the traditions of your forefathers. If you refuse to listen to this appeal, those of us who believe that this is a dangerous policy will appeal to a higher tribunal. We shall appeal to the people of England in their constituencies, and we shall appeal with confidence because we are convinced that the people of Great Britain, in spite of all subtle temptations and demoralising influences, are firmly devoted to the principles of freedom and humanity.
§ LORD NORTON
My Lords, I must say at once that I disagree entirely with the views of the right rev. Prelate, 126 and I doubt whether they were at all appropriate to the subject under discussion. I can conceive nothing more disastrous to the interests of this country, both Imperially and from a colonial point of view, than that local concerns of our distant Colonies should be subject to the judgment of, and be made material of Party warfare, in the Imperial Parliament. What is actually before the Houses of Parliament this evening? The House of Commons is called upon this evening to condemn the Government because they have abstained from interfering with a local Ordinance in South Africa.
§ LORD NORTON
I think the right rev. Prelate's view of a Crown Colony is quite as erroneous as it is on the other points, if not more so. Your Lordships are called upon by the Motion of the noble and learned Lord opposite actually to suspend an Ordinance which has been passed in a colony, an Ordinance which is called for by the proper organ of public opinion in that colony as a thing absolutely, imperatively, and urgently necessary to the vital interests of the colony, and guaranteed, as it has already been, by our Colonial Minister from Crown interference. Everybody is agreed that if this colony had already complete self-government this discussion would have been entirely out of place. What is there, then, in the uncompleted self-government of the Transvaal to make such discussions have proper or useful place in the Imperial Parliament? I am afraid that the discussions in both Houses upon this Ordinance show that there are still many leading men in this country who have a sort of itch for that meddling in colonial local government which lost us all our first great Colonial Empire, and which we are now, after a lapse of two centuries, invited to adopt in the case of our newest Colonies. The right rev. Prelate says that the Transvaal is a Crown colony. I beg leave to tell him that it is by no means a Crown colony in the ordinary sense of the word, such as is Trinidad, which has been constantly cited during the debates on this subject. A Crown colony in the ordinary sense is a colony 127 which is incapable of self-government. It is a distinguishing faculty of the British people to manage their own affairs Self government is at the root of the power and vigour of this nation. Crown colonies are those which, from the fact that they possess an overwhelming number of an inferior race, or from some other cause, are incapable of self-government; but every colony which is capable of self-government must have it, or we shall simply lose it.
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
Does the noble Lord mean that the Colony in question has self-government?
§ LORD NORTON
It is guaranteed self-government. It has inchoate self-government. It has been guaranteed that self-government shall be granted as speedily as possible. It is therefore by no means in the position of an ordinary Crown colony, and it certainly would be an abuse of language to take that view. The Transvaal is in the condition of an American Territory on its way to becoming a State. The right rev. Prelate imagines that it is impossible for those conducting the affairs of such a colony to take as wise a view of their own affairs as can be taken by the right rev. Prelate at home. I maintain that we cannot, certainly do not, get such local subjects before us in the same fair way that the Government on the spot can. Is it possible to say that we have the conditions of this Ordinance as plainly before us for judgment as they were before the Government on the spot? I maintain that those on the spot are much more competent to judge in the matter. They have the subject in fact before them. Has the right rev. Prelate the subject ungarbled before him?
§ LORD NORTON
The view of the right rev. Prelate is that the conditions of this Ordinance amount to slavery, and he said it was an abuse of language to describe them as anything else.
§ LORD NORTON
Cannot the right rev. Prelate bring himself to consider the most carefully-guarded conditions for free contract more like freedom than slavery? When the noble and learned Lord introduced this subject the other day the noble Earl who leads the Opposition in your Lordships' Houses being very anxious, of course, to support his friend, complimented him upon his speech, but when he came to the phrase "slavery" he immediately abandoned it. He said that he could not adopt that term, and that it certainly would be a gross exaggeration to call this Ordinance, which contains carefully-guarded conditions for free contract, slavery. He tried to soften it by describing the contract as one of a servile kind, but he could not quite bring himself to say that, and so he said it was quasi-servile. But when he proceeded to say that it was proposed to confine these Chinese labourers in cages, the Government could not help protesting against that phrase, and Lord Grey gave us at once the result of his experience during his able administration of Mashonaland, that, so far from being slave cages, the proposed compounds might more appropriately be called garden cities. If we are to discuss this question we should take steps to have the facts fairly before us, and not dressed up for Party purposes at home. Those who judge on such mis-statements assume a high moral view, and are obliged to try to make out that this Ordinance was not a question of ordinary legislation. It was allowed that a colony which was in a state of inchoate self-government was able to judge of ordinary matters for itself. But this was a question above ordinary legislation, dealing with high moral principles. The right rev. Prelate summoned the shades of Wilberforce and of the great heroes of anti-slavery to denounce this "abominable Ordinance of slavery." But Wilberforce could not have got for his negroes anything like the liberal treatment which is prepared for these Chinese indentured labourers. The right rev. Prelate has not hinted at what he would propose if this Ordinance were repealed. We know that it would be the absolute ruin of the colony. His proposal, therefore, though based on high 129 principles of morality, has not the completeness of containing any provision for its consequences. If we were to repeal this Ordinance we should simply abandon and lose the chief result of our glorious African victory—the establishment in place of chronic warfare, of a free British colony. The course which the noble and learned Lord asks the House to take would be absolutely destructive of the best and highest interests concerned, without offering any compensation for so great a loss.
§ VISCOUNT GOSCHEN
My Lords, I am glad that I did not have the opportunity of rising immediately after the right rev. Prelate who resumed the debate to-day. I think it was quite as well that I should have a few minutes to allow the feelings which his speech roused in me to be soothed somewhat before I rose to reply to him. I listened to that speech with deep regret. I do not think that it was a charitable speech. I do not think it was a speech of the kind which would successfully rebuke inflammatory language. No one in this House, I believe, has such an intimate acquaintance with Lord Milner as I have. I have known him for more than twenty-five years, and not only a more public spirited but a more philanthropic man than Lord Milner I do not know. As much as any member even of the Episcopal Bench he would be anxious for the social well-being of all those who are committed to his charge. He has a conscience as acute as that of any man, and he has shown in the most trying times how he has managed to hold an even keel under the most difficult circumstances. Let me remind your Lordships that Lord Milner had the opportunity not long ago of resigning the post which he has occupied, I believe, in the estimation of the great majority of his countrymen, with great advantage to the country. He had the opportunity of being recalled from the post. But to occupy what position? The Colonial Secretaryship. He was deemed worthy of it; and it must have been a most attractive proposal to a man of his ambition. But what did he do? He felt that his work in South Africa was unfinished, and that it was his public duty as a public servant 130 to return again to those terrible problems, to those great difficulties which he found in South Africa; he thought his duty required him to complete the task upon which he had been engaged. We have heard language from the right rev. Prelate about Lord Milner not unlike that which has been used elsewhere, in which it has been suggested that he was, as it were, under the influence of the capitalists and the mine-owners. Lord Milner is far too strong a man, even, I should have thought, in the judgment of the right rev. Prelate, to be under the thumb of anybody. He is a man of singularly independent judgment, and he is not likely to be run away with by feelings for any particular class. Now, let me point out what I would call the somewhat uncharitable way, if I may use such words, in which the right rev. Prelate put his case. He said that the lives of human beings are not considered equal to securing higher dividends for the mine-owners. That is language more fit for a leaflet than for your Lordships' House. Does the right rev. Prelate really think that it is for the sake of higher dividends that Lord Milner is a party to this Ordinance?
§ VISCOUNT GOSCHEN
The right rev. Prelate did not expressly mention Lord Milner in that connection. But he said that the policy was for the sake of obtaining higher dividends. Why did the right rev. Prelate introduce the word "dividends" at all?
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
The policy is obviously for the benefit of the mining interests and especially of the lower grade mines. That was my point.
§ VISCOUNT GOSCHEN
The right rev. Prelate suggested that dividends were more precious than lives. Does the right rev. Prelate believe that the Government is inspired with the idea of increasing dividends. Is that the idea of the right rev. Prelate? The right rev. Prelate is silent. I had hoped he would have repudiated that that was the idea of the Government. The idea of the 131 Government and of Lord Milner is that without this importation of Chinese labour the general prosperity of the Transvaal cannot be secured. It is not for the interests of any particular class. The whole of the Papers on this subject show that it is the firm belief—I do not know whether it is the right belief or the wrong belief, but, at all events, it is the firm conscientious belief—of those who are governing the Transvaal at this time that the general prosperity, the prosperity of the trading community, the agricultural community, the whole prosperity of the country, depends upon the importation of Chinese labour, not; for the sake of dividends, but for the sake of the prosperity of that country for which we have become responsible.
To pass for a moment from the right rev. Prelate's speech, I agree with those who condemn the idea that the Government has in this matter had any other desire than absolutely to look to the interest of the Transvaal as a whole, without any arrière pensée of any kind. We have to weigh the question, not of higher dividends versus the importation of Chinese labour, but of the 'prosperity of the Transvaal versus the importation of Chinese labour. If the importation of this labour were so contrary to everything that is right, so contrary to every principle that it could not be adopted, then, of course, the prosperity of the Transvaal might have to be sacrificed. But is it so? That depends upon the construction of the plan; and I am sure all will agree that, at all events, the greatest pains have been taken by the Government and by Lord Milner in order to secure that this plan shall be carried out in the most humane manner possible. I agree with my noble friend who has just sat down that it is, I would almost say inflammatory, to liken what is being done in the Transvaal now to the horrors of the slave trade in times past. The lurid pictures of what happened 100 years ago surely are not apposite to the case of the indentured labourers who are to be brought into South Africa by I every caution that can be devised. In its more mitigated form I would not condemn that feeling in the country which looks upon this with some apprehension and suspicion. Apart from the use "which maybe put by political Parties 132 to that feeling, there is no doubt—I admit it to the full—that there is a genuine feeling in the country of anxiety lest something is being done contrary to what they would wish to be the principle of this country. That feeling ought not to be inflamed at the expense of facts. We are in a difficult position. We have here a country for which we have become responsible. The evidence goes to show that the importation of Chinese labour is for the advantage of the country. There is a feeling at home which views this matter with suspicion. I should have wished that there might have been justice done on both sides, that on the one hand it should be recognised by those who are in favour of the plan that there is a genuine feeling of anxiety in the country, and not an illegitimate anxiety, and that, on the other hand, those who share that feeling in its strongest form should be more charitable than some even in your Lordships' House, and recognise that it is not through any callous want of sensibility, but simply from the highest political motives, that this step has been taken—political in the sense that it is for the prosperity of the country. Lord Milner has had a frightfully difficult task from the very first. He has been rebuked for allowing his journalistic pen to run away with him. Lips sometimes run away with a man as much as his pen. Language is used sometimes which is as inflammatory as that which, I think erroneously, the right rev. Prelate imagines is to be found in Lord Milner's despatches. I do not think it right, in these difficult positions in which we find ourselves, that one of high position should assume what I cannot but call the worst motive in this matter.
§ VISCOUNT GOSCHEN
I cannot acquit the right rev. Prelate entirely of that, because of the unfortunate phrase about "dividends." I am afraid I have spoken with some warmth. It was imposible for me not to speak with warmth when I heard my old friend Lord Milner denounced as he has been. I felt it my duty to defend him in your Lordships' House, of which he is not at all the least 133 conspicuous Member, and I shall rejoice in the time when he can take his seat amongst us on these Benches and contribute to our debates. You will then see whether Lord Milner is not a man of excellent judgment as well as of high purpose, and one who, having risen from the ranks, will, I hope, go down to posterity as one of the most faithful servants of the Crown who has ever worked in its interests.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
My Lords, whether the opinion of the right rev. Prelate who resumed the debate to-night with regard to this Ordinance be right or wrong, I think that even he, when he reads his speech, will regret some of the expressions he used. He said that the brewers and publicans represent this country as much as Lord Milner's Council represents the Transvaal, and that the Government had better take advice from the Dorsetshire labourers than from Lord Milner. I can hardly believe that expressions of that kind will really convey any more force to the right rev. Prelate, in his cooler moments, than they convey to this House. I am glad that we do not often hear expressions of that kind in this House. I must take this opportunity, like the noble Viscount who has just sat down, of protesting against the manner in which Lord Milner has been alluded to, both by the right rev. Prelate, and also, I am sorry to say, but in a lesser degree, by the noble and learned Lord who initiated this debate. Lord Milner occupies, perhaps, the most difficult position held by any subject of His Majesty, and he is doing, and has been doing, his very best to solve one of the most difficult problems which exists at present in the Empire. In those circumstances one would naturally expect that he would carry with him the good wishes and the charitable feelings of Members of both Houses of Parliament. The right rev. Prelate cannot know Lord Milner, or I am confident he would not have spoken of him in the way he has done to-night. I will undertake to say that no man who knows Lord Milner will believe for a moment that he is capable of being influenced in any way, or of having his judgment biassed, by mine-owners or any other persons.
134 The noble and learned Lord said on Friday night that Lord Milner was at first opposed to the principle contained in this Ordinance, and that he subsequently came round to it. Is there any reason to conclude from that that he has been dominated and over-persuaded by the mine-owners? May it not be possible that Lord Milner, who is living in the midst of these difficulties, who is faced from day to day by this labour question, may think that the circumstances have altered, and honestly change his mind? Is it not quite clear from the Blue-books that that is what has occurred? With regard to the Ordinance itself, which is the real subject under discussion, I freely admit that, personally, I would rather that the restrictions were absent from it. I do not believe anyone in this House thinks—I am sure Lord Milner does not think, and the Government do not think—that these things are in themselves desirable. It is undoubtedly an undesirable restriction that a labourer should be only allowed to labour at certain kinds of labour, and not be permitted to rise, and also that he should be compelled to dwell in one place. Restrictions of that kind would not suggest themselves to a man like Lord Milner; still less would they be approved without great reason by His Majesty's Government. It is obvious that His Majesty's Government, by not disallowing the Ordinance which contains these restrictions, make themselves liable, as we have seen to-night, to obloquy and misrepresentation. Why were these restrictions invented, and why are they introduced into the Ordinance? They are obviously introduced for the purpose of allaying the fears and prejudices of the white population of the Transvaal, who are afraid lest the Chinese should remain in the country and engage in occupations which they now enjoy.
It is a misnomer to speak of life under these restrictions as a state of slavery. The noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition, as one would expect of him, repudiated that suggestion the other night. He said it would be an exaggeration to call the condition of this Ordinance slavery. We have heard the right rev. Prelate say that the conditions are those of slavery, and that he is going to appeal 135 to the people on platforms in the country, making that allegation. He said the conditions are not those of liberty. No doubt that may be so. On the other hand, in order to constitute a state of slavery it is necessary that a man should be obliged to accept the conditions; but if the Chinese do not like the terms offered they need not go to the Transvaal. When the right rev. Prelate said to-night that this Ordinance was in opposition to the wishes of the great self-governing Colonies he was in error. The Australasian Colonies do not object to the restrictions contained in the Ordinance. What they object to is the yellow man coming at all, and if South Africa were Australia they would equally object to the black man, in the same way as they object to him in Australia. When they say that they thought South Africa would be a white man's country they appear to have left out of their calculations altogether the fact that there is an overwhelmingly large black population already in it.
Let us look at the facts of the case. What is this Ordinance founded upon, and what is the necessity for it? Is there anyone who will deny that at the present time there is a shortage of labour for the mines in South Africa? Lord Milner, in his despatch on 11th January, 1904, says:Despite the unparalleled efforts of the Native Labour Association to recruit, the extent and earnestness of which efforts no one whose opinion is entitled to the least consideration any longer disputes, the number of native labourers shows during the last two months a positive decline.Then he says that while in January, February, March, and April there was an increase of something like 4,000 a month, it fell in May, June, July, and August to an average of about 2,000 a month, and in September, October, and November the increase ended and a tendency to decline began. He says that the official figures for December are not yet published, but that from a statement issued by the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association it would appear that there is a falling off of 470 in the numbers employed by the companies forming the Association, The significance of the figures lies in the fact that it points to stagnation having been gradually reached. 136 They have practically the maximum of the South African supply under present conditions. It appears to me that that establishes most clearly that there is no chance of an increase of black labour in the Transvaal at the present time. It has been stated by the noble and learned Lord that Botha and Delarey were opposed to the introduction of Chinese labour. Botha and Delarey do not deny in their evidence that there is a want of labour even for the farms, and they also say that they are against the introduction of Chinese labour. But what do they propose? Cronje would make a law which would compel the blacks to work, and Botha and Delarey would break up the locations. They would not allow large collections of blacks as in Basutoland or in Zambezia. They would distribute the blacks on the farms, taxing them less provided they performed such service. Another plan was that bribes should be given to the chiefs on condition that they sent labour. Well, my Lords, if this Ordinance means slavery or anything like it, pray what would such remedies as these mean? How long would the people of this country, who are anxious with regard to this Ordinance, stand remedies of that kind?
Is it true that the mine-owners have not done their best to recruit? The noble and learned Lord the other night said that they had not done their best. If they have not, all one can say is that they do not know where their self-interest lies. Does anyone imagine that the Chinese, whom it will take, as I saw stated in a letter by Mr. W. Karri Davies in The Times of Saturday, from ten to fifteen pounds to import and repatriate, are going to be cheaper labourers than the Kaffirs, especially when you take into consideration the fact that they are to be able to bring their families with them and to have other advantages which were explained to your Lordships the other night? It seems to me quite clear that no economy, at all events, will be effected by the employment of Chinese labour. Moreover, as my noble friend Earl Grey pointed out on Friday, nearly £500,000 has been spent in attempting to recruit black labour. Is it likely that the mine-owners, who are said to think of 137 nothing but their dividends, would have thrown away such a sum without any reason? As to opinion in South Africa, it is clear that a considerable change has taken place. The noble and learned Lord the other night adopted the conclusion of the minority of two against that of the majority of eleven, and assumed that the minority of two were right and that the majority of eleven were disqualified. He omitted to inform your Lordships of what appears in a later Blue-book. Take the Transvaal itself. In 1903 the Johannesburg Chamber of Mines, by fifty to five, voted against the introduction of Chinese labour. A short time ago, by sixty to eleven, that same body voted in favour of it. Let me now refer to what Lord Milner says in his despatch of 18th January last—I am more strongly confirmed in the opinion that the public of this Colony are coming more and more to recognise the necessity of introducing Asiatic labour, and that they approve the proposed legislation of the Transvaal Government to that end. Indeed, I am now prepared to go further, and say that these views are gaining ground in all parts of South Africa.Lord Milner proceeds—In my last despatch I dwelt upon the significance of the attitude of Natal in this matter. The feeling of Natal has been emphasised in the past week by the refusal of the Natal Ministry to support Mr. Seddon's propos d protest against the introduction of Asiatics to work in the mines of the Transvaal, and by the ground on which they justified that refusal, viz., that 'additional unskilled labour' was 'urgently required for the development of the Transvaal.'Then he goes to Cape Colony. He says—It is to my mind a most significant fact that the Progressive Party in that Colony has now authoritatively pronounced against interference with the Transvaal in the matter, while declaring their resolution to prevent Chinese immigration into the Cape Colony itself.Lord Milner continues—In this connection I enclose a very interesting report of a recent public meeting at Port Elizabeth, at which a resolution was passed protesting against the introduction of Chinese into Cape Colony, but deliberately leaving the door open for their introduction into the Transvaal.Later on, in the same despatch, Lord Milner says—One or two Boer meetings have been held during the week, at which resolutions have been passed in favour of Asiatic immigration. They were not very numerously attended, but 138 they were quite representative.… As fat-as open expressions of opinion go, whether in resolutions of meetings, or signatures to petitions, more Boers can be shown on the side of Asiatic labour than against it. But what, in my judgment, is far more significant and far more convincing than the fact that a few thousand Boers have ranked themselves with the labour importers, and only a few hundreds against, is that the great mass of the country Boers, the 40,000 or 50,000 in the two Colonies, regard the action of the Government in introducing the draft Ordinance with acquiescence.Therefore it is quite clear that at the present time a very considerable change has come over public opinion. On 28th January Lord Milner says, as regards public feeling—Local opposition to the Labour Ordinance is apparently extinct.… At a long interview I had myself with the members of the krugersdorp Farmers Association, which is the most important association of the kind in the Colony, I found many members favourable to the measure, whilst such opposition as existed was due to misapprehensions very easy to remove. On the other hand, while the majority of the Boers are, as I now have no hesitation in saying, anxious to see the experiment of Asiatic labour tried, they are not disposed to demonstrate in favour of it. They feel convinced it will be tried, and say, 'The Government has all the power in its hands. Let it do what it thinks right.'There are other quotations of that sort which make it clear that public opinion in the Transvaal and in the other Colonies is turning and that people are realizing that the policy of which the Ordinance is the instrument must be tried. On 8th March the Ministers of Natal sent a telegram in which they stated—It is the opinion of Ministers that unless tension occasioned by the short labour supply in the Transvaal is afforded immediate relief such as the proposed introduction of Chinese under indenture offers, there is grave cause to apprehend that the financial position throughout South Africa will be seriously affected.Further, Lord Milner received, on 10th March, a large deputation representing some thirty public bodies and associations and about forty mines in the Witwatersrand district. The public bodies included the town councils of Johannesburg, Boksburg, and Germiston, the Chambers of Trade and Commerce, the Stock Exchange Committee, the Prospectors and Claim-holders' Association, and associations of mine managers, engineers, chartered accountants, surveyors, architects, etc. A telegram was read from the Bishop of 139 Pretoria expressing regret at his absence and stating his belief that—The importation of unskilled Asiatic labour, under Government regulations, is the only solution of present difficulties.It seems to me that short of a referendum it would be impossible to arrive at what the general opinion in the Transvaal is by any other course than Lord Milner has pursued; and with regard to a referendum it has been pointed out that it would take six months before it could be completed. The noble and learned Lord asks us to postpone the Ordinance until representative government has been established. How long will that be? I do not think it is proposed to establish representative institutions in the Transvaal for a considerable time. Is it likely that this matter can wait for an indefinite time? This difficulty is not the creation of yesterday; it has been in existence almost since the resumption of our government of the Transvaal, and I cannot see how such a strain can continue to be borne for any length of time. I ask your Lordships—Are we to distrust Lord Milner, his Council, our officials, and all those whom they have selected as their advisers in the matter? Lord Milner, as we all know, recognises that the Transvaal is in an inchoate state of representative government. He has lone his very best to arrive at the true public opinion on this subject; and is it not assuming a very grave responsibility if, not knowing the circumstances, not living on the spot or seeing the people, we take upon ourselves to refuse consent to an Ordinance which apparently a large proportion of the people of the Transvaal think to be the only solution of the present difficulty?
§ EARL CARRINGTON
My Lords, I am not in the habit of speaking for other people, but I wish to associate every Liberal Peer who sits in this House with the words used by Lord Goschen in regard to the personal character of Lord Milner. So far as we are concerned, we re-echo all that the noble Viscount said about his philanthropy, the even keel which he has steered under great difficulties, and his sense of public duty which led him to refuse one of the highest offices in the State. We do not in 140 any way impute evil motives to those with whom we do not agree in this matter; but we are compelled to say fearlessly, not only in this House, but in the country as well, how much we dread the policy for which Lord Milner and His Majesty's Government are at present responsible. No doubt a great deal of heat is introduced into discussions when men feel keenly. For myself, I cannot state my feelings on the subject. I went all through the terrible time in Australia when the Chinese trouble arose there, and, as I have said before, if it had net been for the statesmanship and the courage of Lord Knutsford we might have lost the great and loyal Colony of New South Wales. There has been a great deal said in the heat of the moment, which people no doubt afterwards regret. I do not want to complain of it, because on this side of the House we have been accustomed for the last eight or nine years to somewhat harsh language. I think, in passing, I might remind the House, that in the first twelve or thirteen lines of the spirited speech with which the noble Duke the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies answered my noble and learned friend behind me there appeared the words, "misconstruction," "misrepresentation," "prejudice," "partisanship," and "passion," and he concluded with the words "wild and mischievous statements." I am well aware that he did not intend to apply those words to ourselves, but still they were applied to those with whom we work and who feel very keenly on the subject. The noble Lord (Earl Grey) in his speech the other night, told the House that the Leaders of the Opposition were playing the game of the disloyal faction. When people feel very keenly on a policy, and think it fraught with great danger to the country and the Empire, they rather resent being told that they are playing the game of the disloyal faction. The Earl of Camper-down referred to-day to a very remarkable letter from Mr. Karri Davies, who, as your Lordships are well aware, is a West Australian and a very able man. His letter is, perhaps, one of the best defences of the pro-Chinese policy, but he spoils it by inserting these words—Who are the best advisers? Lord Milner, Sir Arthur Lawley, the Bishop of Pretoria, the leaders of the Transvaal, or those who have 141 raised an agitation for Party purposes, knowing and caring little for what is really best in South Africa.Honestly speaking, I think those words go a little too far. We on this side of the House have as great love for the Empire as those who are introducing this, as we think, most disastrous policy. After all, what does it come to? All we are told is that Chinese labour is a necessity, and for two reasons. The first is, that the Transvaalers want it. I will not again go over the ground which was so well covered by my noble friend Lord Ripon, the cause of whose absence to-day we deeply regret, but will quote the words of Mr. Asquith, who puts the whole thing in a nutshell. Mr. Asquith says—No one has been able to produce any evidence at all in support of the assertion that the bulk of the white inhabitants of the Transvaal are in favour of the scheme.It is said that white labour is impossible. Is that a fact? Has that been proved? I wonder if any Members of your Lordships' House have read the speech of Mr. Eckstein, who certainly is not supposed to support the opinions which are generally held on this side of the House. He stated—The machine drills in South Africa are imperfect, and, properly improved, they would dispense with 50,000 or 60,000 natives, and substitute a much smaller amount of white skilled labour.Again, we are told that white labour has been tried and failed. But has it? We know that Lord Kitchener recommended that the Irregular soldiers should be taken on at the mines, and I believe Lord Lovat recommended some of his Highland Scouts to stop in the country and work at the mines, but only one remained; and on account of that we are told that white labour has been tried and failed. I should like to quote to your Lordships the opinion, not of a Radical Englishman, but of the Johannesburg correspondent of The Times newspaper, who, on 23rd November last year, wrote—Work was offered to the Regulars in the mines at 5s. a day, with board and lodging.And he went on to say—Mr. Creswell, of the Village Main Reef Mine, experimented with disbanded Irregulars. He says they were very good in the field, but naturally they never were intended to become 142 hard working miners. Even with this material Mr. Creswell satisfied himself of the soundness of his theory that the mines could be worked with white labour, but as he was never able to get a better class of British labourer the experiment never had a fair trial.I need not remind your Lordships of the message sent out by Messrs. Wernher, Beit, & Company, and the reasons why Mr. Creswell gave up the management of that mine. The Times correspondent went on to say—Chinese labour is at best a confession of weakness, a desperate remedy as a last resource. Should Chinese and Kaffir labour prove inadequate, it will be seen that no salvation can there be found, and the energy now thrown into the acquisition of Chinese will have to be transferred to developing a scheme for attracting a large white population to the mines, and that that would succeed there is no possible doubt.I put that opinion before your Lordships House for what it is worth. It is not the opinion of one of those who "try to raise an agitation for Party purposes knowing or caring little of what goes on in South Africa," but the opinion of the correspondent of the great pro-Chinese organ—the Johannesburg correspondent of the London Times itself.
I wonder if His Majesty's Government have any real conception of the strength and intensity of the feeling that exists in this country against this proposal? I can hardly think they have. My noble and learned friend behind me, Lord Coleridge, in his excellent, and, as far as I could find out, unanswerable speech, said that no meeting in support of this policy could be held in any large city in the Kingdom. The noble Duke the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies said that was not the case and that there were several places where such meetings could be held. So far as my own personal experience in London goes, I may say that during the recent London County Council election I spoke every night for three weeks in different parts of London, and the first question that was always asked me, was whether or not I was a pro Chinaman or not. It seems to me that this proposal cannot be defended in any way on Imperial, moral, industrial, or religious grounds. All the self-governing Colonies but Natal are against the proposal, and with the exception of the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, I know of no ex-Colonial Governor who is in favour of the scheme. 143 The whole body of Nonconformist opinion, the industrial classes to a man, and the entire Liberal Party and Liberal Press are solid against the proposal, and we had (at least we hope we had) the support of that great and potent engine for good the Church of England as established by law.
The remarkable speech which was made by the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury on 11th February this year will be within the recollection of your Lordships. With rare courage and true statesmanship he referred to that unspeakable horror of which every man in this House was thinking but which nobody dared mention, and I venture to think I did not overstate the case when I said that his speech on that occasion deserved the thanks of all Christendom. We thought, then, that we had the great Church of England on our side, but a month elapsed and the most rev. Primate made another speech, which I am bound to say filled us on this side of the House with disappointment, almost with despair. He told us that he had had the exceptional opportunity of conversing with a gentleman of very high standing and qualifications and of religious and philanthropic principles. This gentleman had been for many years employed in the philanthropic industry of conveying indentured coolies from China to various pans of the world where indentured immigration takes place. He transferred in addition, as the most rev. Primate rather quaintly put it, three per cent, of the women belonging to these men. He told the right rev. Primate that in the Malay Peninsula and in the Straits Settlements these Chinamen, if satisfied, were in the habit of returning to their own country and bringing back what I suppose I must call their belongings and settling down with their wives and families. I believe that is absolutely true as regards the Straits Settlements, and that might to many minds remove some of the horrible consequences of this indentured labour. But as regards South Africa that is impossible, for these men are not allowed to return. If they try to remain in the country they are to be imprisoned, and a person who harbours one of these people is liable to a heavy fine. If they try to remain they are to be removed by force to the land from which they Crime, and therefore, the two cases are in no way analogous. I am perfectly aware 144 that at Singapore, which, I believe, is the seventh largest port in the world, with between 150,000 and 200,000 inhabitants, the Chinese are conspicuous among the trading classes. In fact, the great bulk of the population are either Malays or Chinese.
The most rev. Primate went on to say that this agent gave him a great many details which he does not find in the Blue-book, but he did not give the House, in the course of his speech, any of these details which his friend had imparted to him and to which he said he was disposed to attach the fullest credence. While not satisfied with this in the largest sense of the word the most rev. Primate regretfully accepts it on the ground of necessity—a necessity for which he says those in the Colony and at home who are obliged to act administratively in this matter must accept the responsibility. We must challenge that statement. The issue before us to-night is absolutely and perfectly clear. He that is not with us is against us. There can be no washing one's hands of responsibility. We have had an example of that in days gone by When the great Reform Bill was before the House in 1832 the then Bishop of Exeter publicly prayed in this House that your Lordships would reject the Bill, and then prudently left the consequences to the Almighty. That cannot be done in this case. There can be no washing the hands of responsibility. No Member of your Lordships' House, be he cleric or layman, can escape his responsibility by abstaining from voting one way or the other. If this measure becomes law every single Member who does not vote against it will be as responsible as the Prime Minister and all the other members of His Majesty's Government.
§ THE EARL OF GLASGOW
My Lords, I only rise to say one word with regard to a remark which fell from the noble Earl who has just sat down. He said that no ex-Colonial Governor except my noble friend Lord Onslow is in favour of the Government's policy. I only wish to correct him by saying that as an ex-Colonial Governor I regard the Ordinance as a disagreeable and unhappy necessity; but since the Transvaal 145 Government have decided in favour of it, I do not feel justified in saying more.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships are all very sorry for the reason which deprives us to-night of the presence of Lord Ripon and we hope that his anxiety will be shortly and completely relieved. It is also a great misfortune that we have not the presence of the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition, and we can only wish with all our hearts that his sojourn in warmer and brighter lands may bring him back in renewed health and strength. Now, my Lords, I would ask you to read the Resolution which the noble and learned Lord opposite has submitted to the House, Itis—That this House disapproves of the importation of Chinese labourers into the Transvaal under the recent Ordinance until the grant to that country of full representative government.His Majesty's Government owe a debt of gratitude to Lord Coleridge for the admissions contained; in that Resolution. If this importation of Chinese labour is such an unholy, such a vile thing, as Lord Carrington, Lord Coleridge, and the right rev. Prelate have asked us to believe, it cannot be right simply because it is sanctioned for a colony which enjoys self-government. The Resolution is also an admission that if a colony really requires this importation it is reasonable that it should have it. There was a most marked difference between the speeches of Lord Coleridge and Lord Stanmore. Lord Coleridge is opposed to the introduction of Chinese labour on principle. It is an unclean proposal which he would not touch.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I quite admit that the noble and learned Lord criticised very severely the conditions of importation, but I ask your Lordships whether I am misinterpreting the noble and learned Lord when I say that he was opposed on principle to the introduction of the Chinese. Does the noble and learned Lord say he is not opposed on principle?
§ LORD COLERIDGE
It is not germane to this issue. My objection is to the circumstances of the importation. 146 Whether Chinamen as freemen should be admitted into the Colony is another question. I object to their admission in conditions of servitude.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
The position of the noble and learned Lord is the same as that which I understood to be the position of Lord Spencer. Neither the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition, nor Lord Coleridge, object on principle to the introduction of Chinese so long as the immigrants are unfettered by any regulation. That is, that so far as principle goes, neither of those noble Lords would object to such an influx of Chinamen into South Africa as would entirely upset the labour market so far as white labour is concerned. That is a very important admission. The objection of those noble Lords is not the objection of their followers in the country, who are thinking, not of the conditions under which Chinamen are to be imported, but of the possible injury to the position of white labour and the possible swamping of white labour by Chinamen. Now we have the admission of noble Lords opposite that, so far as principle goes, there is no objection to flooding South Africa with cheap Chinese labour. Lord Stan-more, whose speech will be in your Lordships' recollection, was very careful to dissociate himself from the attitude which he supposed Lord Coleridge had taken up. His objection was in no sense to the introduction of Chinamen in South Africa, but to the introduction under the conditions of this Ordinance. I am very sorry I do not see Lord Stanmore in his place to-night. There is no one in your Lordships' House who has a better right to speak with special authority on this question. He has spent his life in governing His Majesty's Colonies and in protecting native races, and his record in this respect is greatly to his honour and to the advantage of the Empire. But the noble Lord poured scorn on the contention of Lord Coleridge that white labour could be used for mining purposes in South Africa. He brushed it aside as a suggestion which he regarded, with his great knowledge of the Colonies, as wholly impracticable. And then the noble Lord went on to draw a sharp distinction between the condition of slavery and indentured labour. "Indentured labour," he repeatedly said, "is 147 not slavery." "What ho objected to was the conditions of this Ordinance.
Let me examine briefly the objections of Lord Stanmore. In the first place I must record my dissent from him when he draws a distinction between this Ordinance and what are known as the coolie Ordinances. The conditions may be different, but the principle and the spirit of this Ordinance and the regulations based on it are exactly the same as in the coolie Ordinances of Mauritius, British Guiana, and Trinidad. Why, then, has the right rev. Prelate who spoke earlier in the debate remained silent all those years when Ordinances and regulations have been passed for the coolies in those colonies? The first point I will take is the one which Lord Carrington laid such great stress on tonight and the other evening—the question of morality. Your Lordships will remember the history of the question, and how it has been argued. You will also remember the pledges which the Colonial Secretary gave. I ask your Lordships, have you noticed how those pledges have been fulfilled? Regulation No. 33 of the Ordinance contains these words—Every labourer shall be entitled to be accompanied by his wife and children.And if the labourer chooses to leave them behind until he sees the conditions under which he has to work in South Africa, he is then entitled to require his employer to introduce them at his expense; if the employer refuses, the labourer is entitled to terminate his contract and return to China at the expense of the importer. Lest there should be any mistake on this question, lest the indentured labourer should not know his rights in the matter, this inalienable privilege of his is inserted in the contract which he himself has to sign, and the words I have quoted are repeated. Is it possible in the interests of morality to go further than that? If the nature of the Chinaman is what Lord Carrington describes, if his standard of morality is such that no Government can introduce him without soiling the national reputation, then the noble Lord is illogical and does not go nearly far enough. If this is really the character of the Chinaman, and if there is a moral responsibility on the Government in allowing his intro- 148 duction, then the Chinaman should not be allowed to enter the Straits Settlements or even London. But this is far from being a true picture. I have never been in contact with Chinamen, but I have met many of my fellow-countrymen and friends who have, and those most familiar with his character assert that he has strong points of virtue and very strong characteristics for good as well as for evil. Therefore I say that to paint the Chinaman by inference in the kind of colours adopted the noble Lord is not just or fair to the Chinaman.
Then as to the form of contract. I really think that if Lord Stanmore had seen this contract he would have spared us some of his most searching criticism. Regulation No. 3 of the Ordinance provides that—The official—that is, the Government official, not the official of the mine-owners or mining syndicate, but a Government Civil servant—mentioned in the preceding regulation shall, before a contract is signed by the labourers, explain to them in their own language the provisions thereof, and also the clauses set forth in the schedule attached to the contract, and shall certify at the foot of the said contract that he has done so and that the labourers who signed the contract did so voluntarily and without an undue pressure or misrepresentation.The Government, therefore, make themselves responsible, through their own servant, for seeing that the labourer understands the contract before signing it, and he signs it in his own country at the port of his native land. Nor is the labourer left in any doubt as to the conditions of his contract. On page 9 of the recently issued White Paper is the actual form of the contract, which, as I have said, the labourer has explained to him by the Government official before he signs it. It reads as follows—The said labourers shall proceed to the said Witwatersrand district and shall there work for the said C. D. "—that is to say, the labourer is left in no doubt as to the employer he is going to. He signs on for a particular employer. The contract proceeds—or for any person to whom the said C. D, may, with the consent of the said labourers, assign his rights under this contract,and so on. The labourer knows for whom he is going to work and also that 149 he cannot be transferred to another employer except by his own consent. Lord Stanmore said the other night that there never was a contract under the coolie Ordinances in which the rate of wages was not inserted. Well, here it is. Paragraph 5 of the contract reads—The labourer shall be paid at the rate of—for each working day of ten hours.the rate of wages is left blank.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
Then the labourer may sign for any rate of wage he chooses to accept? Is there no minimum rate of wage insisted upon by the Transvaal Government?
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I am not aware of any, but I do not think that the Chinaman will in all probability accept less than the Kaffir receives. Paragraph 5 of the contract continues—payable on the completion of every thirty days work in the currency of the Transvaal, to commence from the arrival of the labourers on the premises of the said C. D.There is also a provision as to the character and quantity of rations to be received by the labourer. Paragraph 7 provides that—The labourer shall be provided free of any charge with housing, water, fuel, medical attendance, and with daily rations on the following scale: 1½ lbs. of rice, ½ lb. dried or fresh fish or meat, ¼ lb. vegetables, ½oz. tea, ½ oz. nut oil salt, or approved substitute, at discretion of superintendent.I have troubled your Lordships with these details at some length to show how careful Lord Milner and the Colonial Secretary have been to provide for the points raised by Lord Stanmore. Why has Lord Stanmore, and why have so many other noble Lords and gentlemen in the country, been anxious on this point? Why should they have doubted that Lord Milner would feel acutely his responsibility in the matter? Why should they have had any doubt that two such men as Lord Milner and Mr. Lyttelton would look with the 150 most scrupulous care to the safeguarding of the true interests of the labourer? That is what we have always felt and therefore we had no anxiety. I should like to put the case in another aspect. Is the Chinaman really so incapable of taking care of himself? Is he a simple creature easily taken in and easily misled? Is he on the same level, say, as the Kanaka, of the Pacific or the mild Hindoo of Bengal? The Chinaman is notoriously well known for being able to take care of himself. His business instincts are of the keenest, and he will not engage himself to work in South Africa unless he considers it well worth his while, and unless he thoroughly, knows the conditions of his existence there.
I admit that there is one great difference between the position of the Chinaman in South Africa and the coolie in the West Indies. In the West Indies the Government is very glad if the coolie will; stay, and the main point to be looked at in the bargain is that the coolie should not be obliged to stay but can get back to his native country if he wishes to; whereas in South Africa the Government do not want the Chinaman to stay, and the point looked at, therefore, is that he should certainly go back at the end of his indenture. Now, my Lords, why is this? Do not let us play with this thing and talk of it under false pretences. Is it, or is it not, natural that the South African should desire that the Chinaman should not permanently occupy his country? I am sure the noble Earl Lord Carrington does not desire that he should. Lord Coleridge thinks that the Chinaman should be allowed to enter freely if he chooses and to stay in South Africa. I respect and quite understand that position, but I confess I am more in sympathy with the view of Lord Carrington. I do realise how the working population of the Colony feel that they cannot in the long run compete with the Chinaman as a labourer. But for that reason is it, therefore, wrong to use the Chinaman temporarily for a definite limited purpose? You may think it wrong to exclude the Chinaman permanently. We will not argue that now. Assuming that, rightly or wrongly, it is desired he should not become a permanent resident, is it for that reason also wrong to employ him 151 temporarily for a definite limited purpose? I have heard the word unchristian used; but I have never yet seen any attempt to show why the temporary employment of the Chinaman, if he chooses to come on terms which suit him, is dishonourable or wrong either to the white man who employs him or to the Chinaman who accepts the employment.
I do not think I need attempt to prove that there is a deficiency of Kaffir labour. The noble and learned Lord who introduced this Motion made a most excellent use of all the materials he could find to show that there had been no adequate search for Kaffir labour, and that there was a sufficiency of it. But I think even he, with all his skill, failed to prove his case, and I do not think your Lordships require me to argue against the thesis that there is a sufficiency of Kaffir labour, and that the mine-owners are deliberately refusing to use it. Then I would ask, Can white men be used to make up for the shortage of Kaffir labour? Lord Carrington, with a courage I always admire, has again come forward and asked your Lordships to believe that white labour could be used for this purpose. I have an interesting case on this point from actual experience to which I am permitted to refer. Mr. Weston Jarvis, formerly Member for I King's Lynn, served in the late war as a distinguished Yeomanry officer. At the end of the war he found himself with a regiment of Yeomanry 600 strong, as fine a set of men as it was possible to find, and of them no fewer than 150 desired to settle in South Africa. In some cases he succeeded in getting employment which suited them, but in many cases he found that the actual employment desiderated was not procurable. So he made an earnest effort to get these troopers employment in the mines. He arranged for terms, and they amounted, in cash and food, to ten shillings a day. Ho paraded the troopers, all of whom knew him intimately and had the utmost confidence in him, and offered them this employment. What was their reply? "No; that is Kaffirs' work, sir." And of the whole 150, one man alone accepted the employment, and he threw it up six weeks afterwards, giving as h s reason that he found himself called 152 "white Kaffir." You may deplore it. I do not attempt to argue the question whether it is, in human economics, a good or a bad thing, that there should be this marked distinction and class difference between black and white, but that actual experience illustrates a fact of human nature that has to be reckoned with. If you pretend that you can legislate, and ignore a factor of that kind, then your attempt at government must end in failure. Here you have a country in which black and white will not work at the same labour, in which at a certain point the labour becomes black labour and the white man considers himself un-classed if he undertakes it. It is that work which there are not enough Kaffirs to do which we desire to introduce Chinamen to do. And the whole object and motive which Lord Milner has, and the Government in supporting him, is not to diminish employment for the white man, but to give him far greater opportunities of employment, immigration, and settlement.
I cannot ignore what has been really a leading feature of this controversy. The noble and learned Lord who initiated this discussion will forgive me, but I do not think I am misrepresenting him when I say that he made a bitter personal attack on Lord Milner and that the whole gist and sting of his indictment, as was that of the right rev. Prelate, was that Lord Milner was a blind guide and a man of evil influence. I know that is not the view of some of my noble friends opposite—I do not wish for a moment to misrepresent them, or to put into their mouths opinions they do not hold—but you cannot get away from the fact that that really is at the bottom of the speech of the mover of this Motion. In the course of the controversy even the figures of mortality have been enlisted to give the impression that Lord Milner was adding to a hecatomb of black victims a hecatomb of yellow ones. A distinction was made between the apparently happy conditions of the Kimberley mines and the so-called horribly insanitary condition of the Rand mines. The death rate in the Rand mines, it was said, had gone up to 70 per 1,000. The fact, however, was not brought out that that was due to a tremendous epidemic of influenza, for 153 previous to that outbreak the death-rate was just abort the same in Johannesburg as in Kimberley—54 per 1,000. I would refer the noble and learned Lord to the evidence of Sir Godfrey Lagden on page 85 of the Blue-book, in which he says—There is nothing very exceptional in the death rate of Johannesburg compared with Kimberley.Next, my Lords, I should like to analyse the statements that have been made as to the public opinion in our self governing Colonies on this subject. There is no doubt that public opinion in New Zealand and the Commonwealth of Australia is against this Ordinance. In my opinion these Colonies have an absolute right to express their opinion. I am very glad they should, but I think it is given under a misapprehension of the circumstances of the case. It is a feature of the controversy that I most regret that these Colonies should be in antagonism to the home Government upon it, misunderstanding, as I think they do, the true facts of the case. It is not true, however, to say, as Lord Rosebery did at Newcastle the other day, that all the self-governing Colonies are opposed to this policy. We have heard nothing either from Canada or from Newfoundland. I understand that public opinion in Cape Colony is hostile to it, but, on the other hand, Natal is favourable. If your Lordships will turn to page 3 of the White Paper you will see the telegram from Acting-Governor Sir H. Bale to Mr. Lyttelton, as follows—I am asked at the request of Ministers to send you the following message, in which I fully concur: 'It is the opinion of Ministers that, unless tension occasioned by the short labour supply in the Transvaal is afforded immediate relief, such as the proposed introduction of Chinese under indenture offers, there is grave cause to apprehend that the financial position throughout South Africa will he seriously affected.'Then, as regards the Transvaal, is there anybody who seriously contends that the British in the Transvaal are opposed to the introduction of Chinamen? If your Lordships will turn to pages 7 and 8 of this White Paper you will see a most graphic account given by Lord Milner of the deputation that waited upon him. The deputation represented 154 some thirty public bodies and associations, including the town councils of Johannesburg, Boksburg, and Germiston, the Chambers of Trade and Commerce, the Stock Exchange Committee, Prospectors and Claim-Holders Association, and associations of mine managers, engineers, chartered accountants, surveyors, architects, etc. And, to show how unanimous public opinion was, not only the Bishop of Pretoria but the Free Church Council of Johannesburg also, expressed approval. I do not know whether your Lordships saw that there was a message from the Free Church Council of Johannesburg to the Free Church Council of England at their recent session at Newcastle. It was a strong expression of opinion in favour of this policy. I contend, therefore, my Lords, that public opinion in the Transvaal is clear and decided on this subject.
I ask your Lordships to consider what are really the issues. There are surely two issues. Are we going in this period of the Christian era to repeat the error we made in respect of the American Colonies 130 years ago? Is the fact that a Colony is not self-governing a sufficient reason for the Parliament of this country to override them in what they consider essential to their interest? Is the policy of Lord Milner to be spoilt at the eleventh hour? As I have already said, it is not the mine-owners that Lord Milner thinks of. It is not the dividends. It is in order that South Africa should become British, that there should be a flow of British tradesmen, labourers, and artisans into South Africa, that Lord Milner adopted this policy. Ho knows that the indentured Chinaman will be followed by a large number of whites. It would be a heavy responsibility for Parliament to take upon itself to arrest that policy of making South Africa British. The leaders of the attack in this matter are those who from the beginning have opposed Lord Milner and his policy; and I are not going beyond the legitimate bounds of debate, when I say that this question has been seized on by the Opposition as a great Party opportunity. It is as a great Party opportunity that it is being worked on every platform and at every meeting throughout the country. We have been asked to pay attention to those demonstrations, and in view of the manifest 155 unpopularity of the proposal to drop it. My Lords, we are not prepared to make what we consider an issue vital to the welfare of South Africa a pawn in Party politics. We shall go on because our confidence in Lord Milner is unabated. We believe that he has been a great servant of the country in a great crisis. We know that the country has hitherto appreciated his worth and supported his policy, and we believe that, although at the present moment people may misunderstand the motive which underlies his policy, they will eventually see that it was right and will not withhold from him or the Government their approval.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I should have preferred to take no part in this debate, having spoken twice already on the subject, but for the pointed appeal made by my noble and learned friend who opened the debate on Friday, and the further appeal made to-night by Lord Carrington. I should like to say, first, before dealing with those appeals, a few words of a more general character. It is usually possible in discussions of this kind, and it is in quite an exceptional degree possible, and even necessary in the present case, to separate questions of fundamental principle from questions of administrative detail. As to the question of administrative detail, I am profoundly sceptical as to how far almost any of your Lordships, without possessing local and personal knowledge of the working of these matters on the spot, are able to judge in a really adequate manner what are the pros and cons of local questions. There are in this House, no doubt, a few noble Lords who are personally familiar with the questions which are in dispute; but, speaking generally, we are dependent upon such a balance as we can strike between the conflicting opinions set before us very voluminously in the Blue-books.
Having given, perhaps, more time than was consistent with other duties to the study of these Blue-books, I still say that I remain honestly unable to strike a balance satisfactory to myself between the conflicting evidence upon not a few of the detailed points. We are told, for 156 example, that a great deal turns upon the relative advantages of developing the deep level mines or working the outcrop mines more thoroughly. Then there is the question whether this or that work can be done best by white or by native labour; the number of men who may be at work at each stamp; the number of departments of work for which coloured labour is necessary; the question whether the recruiting of native labour has been carried on with diligence and with a real desire to secure labourers to the full or not. The noble Lord succeeded on Friday in extracting with trained forensic skill from the mass of the Blue-book certain statements which appeared to show that there had been no real desire on the part of those recruiting native labour to obtain it to the full. I venture to say that any one who will take at random one hundred pages of that book and go through those parts which deal with that important matter will see how enormously preponderating, at all events, is the evidence in the immediately opposite direction. Then as to the exact restrictions which are necessary with regard to coloured workmen, and the question of how far experience, either at Kimberley or Johannesburg, can be utilised with respect to this yellow labour if it is introduced—for those kinds of questions it seems to me that expert knowledge is not only desirable but absolutely necessary to the formation of any sound opinion; and local opinion—I quite admit it—is not unanimous on any one of them. Yet it is no disrespect to this House to say that we are bound to go by that local opinion rather than by our own in all these questions of administrative detail, which, however, important as they are, and greatly as they affect the issue, are not the real points on which we are asked to express an opinion to-night.
We are asked to do this. We are asked to say, without first-hand knowledge on the spot, that the very plans which Lord Milner and those who are working with him feel to be necessary and right the Government, being responsible in the long run for settling the matter, ought to say must now at the last moment be stopped.
157 That is what we are asked to do; and I perfectly agree that cases might arise in which it would be the duty of the Government, even at the eleventh hour, to procure the abandonment of some Ordinance or regulation which was locally desired. But if that is to be done by the central Government at home, it must be because the question has ceased to be one of mere expediency and is a matter absolutely of right or wrong. That is exactly where I find the evidence fails me. I am surprised, I admit, that the local authorities, whether civil or religious, should take the view they do in this matter. But they do take it. You may discount the opinion of officials because they are officials. You may discount, though I deeply regret to hear any one do so, the opinion of Lord Milner as a prejudiced man, and you may discount the opinion of the bishops and clergy who have been face to face with this problem as likely to be prejudiced. The noble Earl opposite contrasted with that the opinion expressed by the Free Churches in this country. But is it the Free Churches in this country or the Free Churches in South Africa that we ought to listen to? The noble Earl referred to the resolution passed by the Free Church Council of Johannesburg on this subject; and it seems to me important that we should realise exactly what that body consists of and what it said. The Free Church Council of Johannesburg comprises all the non-Episcopal bodies there. At its general meeting on Friday, 4th March, thirty-three were present, including twelve ministers. The Baptist Church was represented by the chairman of the Baptist Union of South Africa, who voted in favour of the resolution. The resolution was carried by thirty votes against one, two declaring themselves neutral. The resolution was-—That, while expressing no opinion on the economic questions involved, this meeting strongly deprecates the (English) Free Church Council's agitation against Chinese labour, and thinks that fuller knowledge will modify its views regarding the conditions of service, which are voluntary and similar to conditions which have long prevailed in South Africa.I do not refer to that resolution because I attach any exceptional weight to the opinion expressed by the Free 158 Church Council. On the contrary, I should myself, as is natural, attach even more weight to what is felt by members of our own Church. But I mention it because the view of the subject taken by the Free Churches in this country is constantly dwelt upon as a strong argument in favour of those who are untrammelled in these matters being likely to say what is right. I ask again whether Free Churchmen there or here are most likely to know the conditions of the problem before us?
I have tried to state the facts not unfairly. Surely it is true that any one taking these Blue-books as a whole will say that it is clear that if you were able to-morrow to have representative government in the Transvaal it is beyond doubt in which direction the opinion of the public would be shown. That seems to me absolutely indisputable, when you consider, with such impartiality as you can, these Blue-books as a whole. I confess I am surprised that it should be so. I will go further and say that if I were living in the Transvaal I should probably be found in the small minority which objects to the introduction of Chinese labour and regards it as dangerous and inexpedient. I should, even at a very large sacrifice of income for the State, which needs it so badly, be disposed on certain grounds to strain every nerve to enable us to wait a while to see how matters went forward before deciding on so great a change as this. Further, to add to the present racial difficulties which exist in South Africa, a new racial question, by the introduction of the Chinese, strikes me as a perilous and formidable policy to pursue. I feel also that the Transvaal is starting a system which it will be exceedingly difficult to abandon, and which, if it grows to very large dimensions may be exceedingly difficult to restrain within the limits which it is now intended to impose. I further confess that I am not altogether easy as to the working of the safeguards about the moral question which I ventured to bring before your Lordships' House a month ago; but a dilemma necessarily exists between the freedom which allows the immigrant to be a source of mischief and the restraint which may go further than Englishmen like. Most of all, I 159 should be terribly afraid of this introduction of Chinese labour throwing back the industrial development of native life and native energy in the Colonies.
Such is my view and such are my fears; but I am confronted with this fact, that other men as high-minded and as public-spirited as we can be, and who have the overwhelming advantage of detailed local knowledge, take a different view and believe the good will preponderate over the ill. By good, we mean not the good of shareholders in mining companies or of great capitalists, but the good of the country as a whole, promoted by the general prosperity of its inhabitants and the possibility of an adequate Budget to make the Colony run as it ought to run. Those on the spot believe the good will preponderate over the ill. Moreover, the authorities at home, with the terrible responsibility that rests upon them and with their opportunity of weighing colonial feeling all over the world, have deliberately arrived at the same conclusion. I feel that the only thing which would justify me in saying, "Gentlemen, you are all mistaken, the conditions are different from what you suppose, the arrangement will not work out in the manner you suggest," would be a conviction that some great moral principle of absolute right and wrong was at stake, before which every question of expediency, or safeguard, or palliation, or so-called necessity, would vanish into air.
That brings me to the challenge, or friendly appeal, made to me the other night with regard to words which I used on a former occasion in this House. Two words of mine were quoted, the words "regrettable necessity." Those words did occur in my speech, but they occurred with a context which gives not only a different, but an absolutely contrary, meaning to that which has been put upon them, not perhaps in this House, but certainly outside. These words are quoted in order to represent me as saying that it does not matter whether the thing is right or wrong if it can be said to be necessary for the financial good of the country, and that therefore it must go forward. I never said anything of the kind, and 160 no thought could be more alien to my whole view of this question. Show me that what is now proposed violates any fundamental principle of right and wrong, show me that it has the slightest taint of the slavery that we have heard about to-night—slavery meaning, I suppose, the compulsory enforcement of one man's unpaid labour for another man's good—show me that it involves cruelty to the labourer who is imported, show me that the labourer is fraudulently enlisted under conditions which he docs not understand, show me that it clearly brings about or implies the encouragement of immorality in the sense in which we ordinarily use the word— show these things, or any one of them, and—I am almost ashamed to say anything so obvious—I should not consider the so-called necessity worth a single moment's consideration. In such a case there could be but one answer given by any honest man—namely, "The thing is wrong, and, please God, it shall not take place." But it is exactly because I fail to find those principles that I fall back upon the position which has been challenged, and almost—in a friendly kind of way—ridiculed by my noble friend Lord Carrington to-night, of leaving the responsibility with those upon whom, as it seems to me, it ought properly to rest. We have heard tonight such expressions as slavery. It does seem to me a pity, to say the least, that a word should be used so capable of leading to utter misunderstanding in the minds of those who are unfamiliar with the conditions of colonial life.
There is one man now in this country who knows this subject from end to end and has spent many years in working in the compounds among the natives in South Africa, the Bishop of Mashonaland, who is not, on the whole, in favour of the policy of the Government. But with regard to that particular point I am allowed to quote his words. He says—It is absurd and almost a prostitution of language to talk of compounded labour under Government supervision as slavery, or even servility.Now, I want to say one word more before I sit down. I have been in the last few days the recipient of appeals from many different quarters, including 161 those made to me in this House, that I should, I had almost said, pat myself at the head of a movement to resist in the name of liberty, or rather religion, the enactment for which the Transvaal asks. That would be a very easy course to take, and in one sense it might be a very popular course. Nothing is easier than to inflame popular feeling on a matter of this kind. Why? Because you have ready to your hand to use— may we not say to trade upon?— one of the noblest and most sacred instincts which God has implanted in the minds of the English race—the love of liberty and the hatred of anything like slavery. It is a perilous thing and it may easily be a grossly unfair thing to trade upon that feeling unless you take care to tell those to whom you are speaking the whole story. When you know the quick and generous response which will follow if you touch upon that string you ought to be careful lest you debase and degrade the power of using that sacred appeal by lowering it to a very different use from the high aim which the words seem to imply. To take something that is very sacred and utilise it for lower purposes for a Party end is to debase and degrade it. I am not accusing Members of your Lordships' House of doing so; but everyone, I think, will admit that that is being done up and down the country to-day. The temptation to it is necessarily strong. You can go, with your knowledge of the bewildering problems which always exist where a civilised race is in touch with an uncivilised race, to people who know nothing of that problem, and, by harping upon that string of liberty, evoke a cheer which is really due to the ignorance of the men to whom you speak. Yet the cheer is one for which we are thankful. God forbid that that impulse and instinct should ever grow weak among our people.
The temptation to appeal to it is a real one. No body of men, no political Party, I think, is free from it. Four years ago I ventured to think that the best instincts of patriotism were in many an English town and village misused in similar ways. In the course of our long war, feelings were now and then inflamed to fever heat among people who understood neither the horror of war nor the sacred responsibility of Imperial trust.
162 I am anxious lest that peril be incurred again now in the name of liberty. What I am asked to do, if I understand rightly, is to bring religion into the question and to say that religion calls upon us to resist the proposals that have been made. Religion is to be brought in to help an argument which might, however, unconsciously, be deeply coloured by quite other objects than regard for our Imperial trust. Feeling as I do about this proposal—I could not have voted for it if I had been in the Transvaal—I cannot vote for it now. I called attention a month ago to some of the dangers which attend it. But no adequate reason, as it seems to me,, has been shown for calling on the Government now to override the opinions of those who from local knowledge, or from the wide range of their general experience, are qualified to weigh either the gains or the perils of the policy. If you believe that there is involved in this Ordinance a violation of the fundamental principles of right and wrong you most, as it seems to me, repeal in a similar way every Ordinance in other Colonies which makes arrangements for indentured labour. Nobody, so far as I know, proposes to do that, and now that we have secured the amply detailed provisions arid safeguards which the regulations appended to this Ordinance contain, I am content, although I confess it is with no small measure of anxiety of heart, to leave the responsibility with those into whose hands the country has entrusted it.
LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
My Lords, I hope that I shall not incur the censure of making imputations or ascribing motives. The debate began with some animadversions with regard to that, and we have been freely taken to task by nearly all the speakers on the other side. Even the most rev. Primate suggested that in this controversy there was a tendency to trade on the noblest feelings of the English race. The noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty also concluded his speech by saying that he was not going beyond the proper limits of debate when he said that this question had been seized upon by the Leaders of the Opposition merely for the purpose of attacking Lord Milner and as a great Party opportunity. I do not approach the subject in any such spirit, but I do wish to plead for some mitigation, 163 at any rate, of what I think is a proposal involving not merely grave moral dangers but the certainty of grave moral mischief. The noble Duke the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, was kind enough in his speech on Friday night to frankly admit that the criticism which had been directed against this Ordinance had been of great help to the Government in enabling them very materially to modify the conditions of, and to improve, the regulations. While we do not wish to impute motives, I think we ought also to appeal against being overborne by testimonials to character. What we are concerned with is the operation of this Ordinance as a mere naked matter of fact. Noble Lords on the opposite side may credit Lord Milner with the most glorious patriotism and heroic purposes, but, if the Ordinance is bad, that will not alter its character. The noble Lord made an impassioned appeal to us not, at the eleventh hour, to ruin the magnificent Imperial work of Lord Milner, but I say that these arguments are as irrelevant to the merits of this Ordinance as might be any disparagement of the personal character or public spirit of Lord Milner. We are here to examine the Ordinance as such. The noble Earl read out the conditions inserted recently in the regulations with reference to the importation of women with the Chinamen. Might I say that in this as in several other modifications of the Ordinance I recognise the activity and the honourable purpose of Mr. Lyttelton rather than the spontaneous action of the Governor of the Transvaal. Anyone who takes the trouble to read the various telegrams and Papers will see that constant pressure has been brought from home, and that the Ordinance and the regulations under it have been gradually modified in obedience to that pressure. As an illustration of this, I would point to the fact that in the first instance, if the Chinaman did not bring his wife with him, but desired that she should follow him, he had to bear the expense of her importation; but Mr. Lyttelton insisted that the cost of conveying her to South Africa should be borne by the employer. The noble Earl, the First Lord of the Admiralty, quoted the regulation which provides that the Chinaman may claim 164 to be accompanied by his wife, but is it at all likely that the recruiting agent will take men who wish to bring their wives with them if he can find others who are willing to go alone, especially as the taking of wives and families will increase the cost to the importer without enhancing the efficiency of the labour? If there is this eager desire on the part of many of the poor coolies of the Chinese towns to go to South Africa, is it not obvious, if the conditions are fairly attractive from the money point of view, that plenty of men will be found ready to go unaccompanied by their wives? I therefore say that it is one thing to place in an Ordinance the obligation to bring a reasonable proportion of women and another to have the sort of voluntary contract between the importer and the coolie which exists in this case. It is obvious that the men who will have the preference will be those who do not desire to take their wives.
I wish to enter a protest against the attempt which Lord Selborne made to place noble Lords on this side in a dilemma when he said that either we must say that the Chinaman is a person of such infamous character that he ought not to be allowed in at all, or that we ought to be content to let him in. I have not the slightest doubt that the Chinese, like all people of the human race, have mixed qualities. But I would point out that you cannot take a large number of men from any community, and place them in close confinement, without the natural accompaniment of women without necessarily leading to the very gravest moral results, and I feel sure, from the remarks of the most rev. Primate that though he was not able to bring his theoretical opinion to the practical conclusion of a vote, yet that is borne in upon his mind as strongly as it is upon ours. I say, therefore, that the healthy state of a large community of people is one in which the sexes are reasonably balanced. It was pointed out on Friday that the conditions of the confinement of the Chinese would be such that it would be impossible that there could be any offspring of a mixed race. Chinamen, when they leave China and go to places where they are free to move about, do contract mixed marriages, and there are consequently children of mixed race. I do think that a state of things in which the only women who will have 165 access to these Chinamen will be the few wives who may be brought over from China must lead to very serious consequences. I should like to touch upon another point which the First Lord of the Admiralty thought he made against the Opposition. I cannot at all admit the construction he put on Lord Spencer's speech last Friday. The noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition did not infer that he would be glad to see South Africa flooded with Chinamen if only they came in free.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I did not say Lord Spencer said he would be glad to see it. I said he did not base any objection on principle to it.
LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
I dissent as entirely from that construction of what Lord Spencer said as from the other. What I understood him to say was that it was one question as to the limits and the range of immigration into a country under free conditions, and quite another thing whether it was right to introduce people into the country unde what I must call servile or semi-servile conditions; and I utterly repudiate the idea that those who are criticising the action of the Government in your Lordships' House to-night are to be gibbeted before the country as wanting to inundate South Africa with cheap yellow labour provided it is allowed to come in on open terms. That is not the question before us, and it is not the alternative. Speaking for myself, I do not mind defining my own position in the matter. I hold that after our great expenditure of blood and money in South Africa, we are quite entitled to say that our population there shall not be so diluted with an entirely different race of a different civilisation, as to make the country unsuitable for the further expansion of the British race; but the immigration of 150,000 Chinese under servile conditions would be a much greater evil to the Colony than the immigration of 10,000 or 20,000 under free conditions. I am pleading with the Government rather like a person who has had the Second Reading of a Bill to which he objects carried but is striving to amend it in Committee. I will concede that we have little hope of setting the Ordinance aside. I will grant you that every Chinaman who goes into South Africa is ultimately to be shipped back to China. I say that you err against the principles of freedom 166 and morality when you say that human beings shall be brought into your country and prohibited from making the best use of their talents. That is the bribe to the white population to mitigate their dislike to competition from the Chinaman.
This Ordinance to my mind gives a horrible standard of relative criminality. If a mine-owner should be so minded as to employ as engine driver a Chinaman who has been imported as a stoker he is subjected to a fine of £500 or a term of six months imprisonment. If, on the other hand, the employer should resist the officers in visiting the mines to see that the conditions of the Ordinance are carried out, he may for that offence be fined £50 or be sentenced to a term of two months imprisonment. The grotesque disproportion between the punishments shows an utterly perverted idea of the claims of labour and of justice. You might have transplanted your Chinamen at the end of the three years without subjecting them to all these conditions. You might have guaranteed to them a certain amount of going forth and not left it to the mere caprice of the employer. It is because throughout this question the modifications made in the Ordinance have been forced on the Government by public opinion that I feel there is lacking that guarantee of good faith and sincerity that would have been desirable. The most rev. Primate referred to the opinion of the Free Churches in the Colony, which he preferred to the opinion of the Free Churches in England, but I would wish to remind him and other Members of this House of the history of the churches in the United States at the time leading up to the great war which established freedom in America. At that time the unanimous voice not only of the laymen but of the churches in the South, was all for slavery. One bishop actually wrote a book to prove that the Bible sanctioned American slavery; and the Free Churches—the Baptist Churches and the Wesleyan Churches—were all split between North and South. A strong material sentiment of gain taints even those who, as leaders of religious thought, ought to point men to more spiritual ideas, and to appeal to a community where the gold-producing industry is dominant, and to say that when 167 the Free Churches there are swept along by the pressure of the opinion promoted and inspired by the capitalists of the Rand have a suffrage more valuable than that of those who are able to give free scope to their views without being ostracised by the opinion of the district, does not seem to me a wise or just view to take.
Sitting suspended till Nine o'clock.
THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Lord WINDSOR)
I should like to begin the observations I have to make by quoting what Lord Milner said in a despatch with regard to the discussion which took place in the Legislative Council of Johannesburg. He said—I never remember a discussion in which the weight of argument was more completely on one side.No, my Lords, there may be a question in the minds of some noble Lords here upon which side the weight of argument in this discussion that we have had tonight rests, but I must say that I should be less than candid if I did not re-echo Lord Milner's words on this occasion, and say that, in my opinion, the weight of argument rests entirely with the policy which His Majesty's Government have at the present crisis adopted. The Motion that is before the House, which has been moved by the noble and learned Lord opposite, Lord Coleridge, is to the effect—That this House disapproves of the importation of Chinese labourers into the Transvaal under the recent Ordinance until the grant to that country of full representative government.If the Motion means anything it means that had the Transvaal been a self-governing Colony at this moment no interference on the part of the British Parliament would have been asked for. I must confess that the noble and learned Lord went further than that, because he denied the impossibility of getting sufficient black labour in South Africa, and he said that the efforts which had been made by the managers of the mines were not genuine efforts, and that they had in view the possibility of Chinese cheap labour. Now, my Lords, I think that contention was really disposed of by the noble Lord, Lord Grey, who spoke from below the Gangway, when he 168 pointed out that over £400,000 had been spent by the managers of the mines in endeavouring to obtain Kaffir labour from Portuguese territory and elsewhere, but there is this further reason, which has been touched upon, I think, by Lord Camper-down this evening, and it is this—that it seems to me really absurd to contend that the managers of the mines have not made a genuine effort to supply the deficiencies in the labour market, which I think are generally admitted. Chinese cheap labour may very well be talked about when you are comparing it with white labour, but when you are comparing it with Kaffir labour it is impossible to call it cheap, considering the double journey of the Chinamen, and the wages which are to be paid; and taking them together, the cost of Chinamen is certainly considerably in excess of the cost of using Kaffir labour, if you could get it. Now what the actual figures as to the cost of importing Chinese labour are I am not prepared to say, because I readily admit that I have received different figures upon this point, but I think I may take it that the last figures which have been given to me may be accepted as correct, and the)'show that, the cost of the Chinamen as compared with the Kaffirs will be at least ten shillings per month per head greater. I think I am putting it as low as I possibly can, and I believe that that, at least, will be the extra cost of employing Chinese labour as compared with Kaffir labour. It seems to me that it is impossible really to argue—whatever may have been the particular circumstances of the evidence which Lord Coleridge read from the Blue-book, pointing to the suggestion that it was not necessary to take too much trouble to get the Kaffirs—that, after ail, if we consider the self-interest of the mine-owners alone we may feel pretty certain that they would not go out of their way to spend very nearly half-a-million of money in endeavouring, without a genuine intention of taking the full advantage of it, to obtain Kaffir labour, when it must necessarily cost them a considerable amount more if they employ Chinese labour.
I do not think it is necessary for me now to endeavour to prove to the House that there is a shortage 169 of labour. This point has been referred to constantly, and my noble friend the First Lord of the Admiralty took the same line, and said he would consider that that fact was practically admitted; but there is one point which I do not think has been stated in this House during the course of this debate, and it is that the shortage of labour, which is admitted in the mines, is not confined to the Rand district, because there is a shortage of labour in the agricultural districts of a very serious kind, which has to be considered in respect of the whole labour question. May I remind the House that a letter was sent to the Transvaal Labour Commission from Krugersdorp, and it was read there, and the essence of it was this. They said—On account of the large number of labourers required in the Transvaal since the war, labour is almost unobtainable by us, except at prohibitive rates. If the mines, which can afford to pay a higher rate of wages to the natives, are unable to obtain sufficient labour, it is evident that the prospect of the agriculturist is very discouraging.and then they go on to say—Under the circumstances and taking into consideration the gravity of the situation, we, the undersigned, request that your Commission may lose no time, but immediately lay your scheme before the Government, by which the agriculturist as well as the mines may be supplied with sufficient labour.There is a further paragraph in the letter which has, I think, been referred to by Lord Camperdown. Their alternative to Chinese labour was that the Kaffir should be, by certain alterations of the law and regulations, compelled to work, but I do not believe, and I do not suggest for a moment, that that proposal is put forward by noble Lords opposite as an alternative to the present Ordinance. I only quote this because I think it has been a little lost sight of in the discussion that has been carried on in this House, that the question of labour in the Transvaal is not by any means confined to the shortage of labour in the mines, but there is a shortage of labour in all industries, and this shortage is certainly not the least in the agricultural districts. Therefore, if you adopted the plan and the policy which has been urged —I do not say in this House, but it has constantly been urged out of it—that the mine-owners ought to pay a higher rate of wages in order to induce the Kaffirs to 170 work in the mines, you would, without doubt, make the condition of the agricultural districts very much more grave as regards this shortage of labour than they are now. Well, my Lords, assuming as I do, and it has been assumed in this House to-night, that it is admitted there is a shortage of labour, the question which remains is whether the importation of indentured Chinese labour is in itself so wrong that this moral consideration should outweigh all other considerations, and should outweigh all the advantages to be gained by employing these Chinese. It has been said that we cannot get at the true opinion of the Colony in this matter in the absence of representative government. I wish to say a word or two upon this point. What is really the case? What is the total amount of adult white male population in South Africa? I am informed it may be taken at 80,000.
Yes, not in South Africa, but in the Transvaal, and this total does not include the Orange River Colony. A petition has been signed certainly by 45,000 adult males above the age of sixteen years in favour of the importation of Chinese, labour, and this petition was presented to the Legislative Council in January of this year. I am informed that there are some 15,000 officials who have not signed this petition, and who are, I suppose, presumably in favour of the policy of the Government. Whether that is so, or not, I do not care, because I can take it either way. If it is preferred that I should eliminate the official element it will merely reduce my total from 80,000 to 65,000 and that would do perfectly well for my argument. You have then either out of the 80,000, over 60,000 who have really declared themselves in favour of Chinese labour, as against 20,000 from whom you have heard nothing, or, if you eliminate the officials, you have 45,000 out of 65,000. That is the opinion which you have already got from the Colony and now a referendum is asked for. It has been suggested that we ought to have a referendum and obtain a poll of the voters in that way. It has already been explained to the House that a referendum 171 takes a very long time, that all the machinery for it has to be started from the beginning, and that no satisfactory result would be obtained from it except after many months of delay, and thereby that much very valuable time would be lost. But supposing the referendum was given. I only want to compare it to what you would get at an ordinary election. At the recent Cape elections there were only 62 per cent, of the voters polled. In the case of the Transvaal the total number in favour of the proposal of the Ordinance was far larger than the percentage of votes polled in Cape Colony, not for one side or for one question, but the total votes polled at the general election. It seems to me, my Lords, that it is idle to say that we have no means of knowing what the opinions of the people who comprise the white population of the Transvaal really are, because the large majority have declared themselves in favour of this policy. It seems to me that, if you lay so much stress upon representative government and the opinions of the persons who are constitutionally empowered by popular election to speak for others, you are really running after the shadow when you have the substance within your grasp if you would only see it.
It has been said, and I think it has been said this evening, that we have changed our opinions. I do not think Mr. Chamberlain has been referred to in this House, but he has been referred to in another place as having changed his opinions upon this subject, and the High Commissioner is also said to have changed his opinions upon this question. I readily admit this, but I say that they have changed their opinions on the weight of evidence. Lord Milner says in one of his despatches—That evidence has for some time past been steadily influencing public opinion, but the cumulative effect of it, as brought out in the debate, is overwhelming, and virtually leaves no room for doubt that the choice lies between a prolonged stagnation of industry and agriculture and a resort to imported labour. It is the recognition of this fact alone, which, in my opinion, has transformed public opinion.That, my Lords, I think is a quite sufficient answer to any statement that opinions have been changed in the Transvaal. I think Lord Camperdown this evening quoted the divisions which had 172 taken place in the Chambers of Commerce, and the change of opinion which they had shown, and he said that a year ago, by a very large majority, they voted against the importation of Chinese labour, whilst at the beginning of this year, by an almost equally large majority, they I voted in favour of it. It seems to me really useless for us to bandy about from one side to the other the charge that we do on occasions change our views, but the necessity remains for us to prove that those changes of opinion have taken place because of evidence that cannot be ignored, and unless we can see through that evidence and gauge its weight, we realise that we should be doing a grievous harm to the country, over which we have the responsibility of government. I would, my Lords, ask this question, I would ask the noble Lords opposite, What do you really mean to do if you succeed in defeating the Government on this question, and if you came into office? I presume you would with-draw the sanction that has been given to this Ordinance, and you would disallow it because I cannot believe that the Opposition are using this question as a mere peg on which to hang a popular attack upon the Government. I cannot believe that noble Lords opposite do not intend, if the power is given them, to make good the professions they have made in this House and act up to them, and oppose practically, as they have said they wished to oppose, the importation of Chinese labour. Therefore, my Lords, I say that while the controversy in this country is raging the fate of the Transvaal and of South Africa hangs in the balance. I honestly believe, assuming that, if noble Lords opposite had their way they would disallow this Ordinance, that by so doing, they would set back the clock in South Africa for many years. I believe, too, that it would be almost impossible, under those conditions, to establish the policy for which we have been striving for years past, that is, the policy of endeavouring to promote the growing prosperity of South Africa under British rule, or at least it would be increasingly difficult to realise it. Therefore, my Lords, I do not think we have gone too far in appealing to the House to support, by a large majority, the policy 173 which has been set very clearly before the House by the Government. It has been laid down not only by the present Colonial Secretary, but by the late Colonial Secretary, that our policy should be—To treat the Transvaal as though it were a self-governing Colony unless a distinct Imperial interest is concerned.That, my Lords, seems to be the foundation really of our case. The attacks that are made upon the importation of Chinese labour are very diverse. The right rev. Prelate who opened the debate this evening attacked it root and branch, and considered that it was not only immoral, but even un-Christian. Others of your Lordships—and I may mention the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition, who was here on Friday, and also, I think, the noble Lord who spoke last, Lord Stanley of Alderley—have taken a very different view. Lord Stanley said that the Ordinance was rather in the position of the Committee stage of a Bill; he considered that the Second Reading had passed, and that he was really only attacking that particular regulations of the Ordinance dealing with the conditions under which labour was to be imported. Taking the whole of the attacks which have been made upon the policy of allowing the Ordinance, I take it that the main and principal defence of the Government is this—and, it is a principle which it would be rather strange if noble Lords opposite were to oppose—that in matters which affect our Colonies, whether they be actually self-governing or not—the noble Marquess opposite shakes his head, but in face of that expression of dissent I will say that it would be strange indeed if he adopted the principle that, because you are not able at the particular moment to give full self-government to a Colony, you are to clamour for the intervention of the British Parliament in a matter of policy which affects its internal administration of the Colony. The Transvaal is not a self-governing Colony at this moment but the policy of the Government is to treat it in all matters affecting the internal administration of that Colony as far as possible as if it were, and not to interfere and arouse those feelings of opposition which any colony would naturally feel—if affairs affecting particularly their own administration 174 were interfered with and obstructed by the British Parliament.
I will not detain your Lordships any longer, and, in conclusion, I only wish to say that it is really on these grounds that the Government have not disallowed the Ordinance. They believe that this Ordinance itself, and the regulations under it, will meet any objections which may be raised in regard to the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal so far as the white population of the Transvaal is concerned. The Government believe that it would be a most dangerous principle, and one which might lead to very grave difficulties in the future government of South Africa, if they departed from this principle because a majority, at this moment, of the English people, for reasons which I venture to say are not based upon a real knowledge of the case but upon feelings of sentiment which none of us will make light of, are opposed to it. We believe that it would be a dangerous thing if the British Parliament interfered with the internal affairs of the Colony of the Transvaal, and we shall still maintain the principle that where Imperial interests are not concerned we shall endeavour to govern the Transvaal as if it were a self-governing Colony.
THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
I hope I shall be excused if I intervene for a few moments in this debate. I do not often trouble your Lordships, and the remarks I shall make to-night will be of the briefest possible description. I belong to, and have lately come from, a constituency which is slowly recovering from the effects of a by-electoral campaign. In the East Dorset election the policy of His Majesty's Government, and the cause which we who sit on this side of the House have so much at heart, suffered, I regret to say, a somewhat severe defeat. Noble Lords opposite, I notice, smile at that remark, and they have every right to be pleased with the victory secured for the principles they represent, but I am sure they will forgive me if I venture to point out to them that too often in history, or in military history at any rate, that which has been looked upon as a glorious victory has very often been turned into a crushing and lasting defeat. But, my Lords, I agree that the question of 175 the importation of Chinese labour into the Transvaal played a very important and prominent part in the election in East Dorset, and I think I understood the right rev. Prelate the Lord Bishop of Hereford to say that the Dorset labourer might prove a better adviser to His Majesty's Government on the question of the importation of Chinese labour than Lord Milner himself.
THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
Well, my Lords, if a series of woeful and serious misrepresentations can be sufficient priming for the Dorset labourer to perform the duties which the right rev. Prelate wishes him to do, all I can say is that during that election he got plenty of it. I know, my Lords, full well that during the heat and turmoil of an election it is almost impossible and really futile to attempt to refute or to counteract and gainsay all the misrepresentations of facts which take place during the contest; and, as far as Members of this House are concerned, they are prohibited from opening their lips on such an occasion, and they cannot play too prominent a part in a constituency; during an election. But in the calmer and more serene atmosphere of your Lordships' House, and during a debate such as this, then is our chance, nay it is our duty, to do what we can to dispel and refute the erroneous criticisms which have been the medium of so much misrepresentation. During the election to which I have referred the term "Chinese slavery" was freely used, and it was ruthlessly bandied about in every part of the constituency of East Dorset just as it has been bandied about in every part of the country. In the height of the turmoil of the campaign such terms were used, but I must confess I was surprised when I came down to your Lordships' House to hear that expression used in all seriousness. I submit that the term "Chinese slavery" is a term that cannot properly be applied to the policy of the Government. During the time I was in Australia, when I had the honour of serving in the suite of the noble Lord, who I am sorry to see is not in his place opposite, Lord Brassey, I 176 had an opportunity of visiting the greater portion of North Queensland and seeing on the sugar plantations there Kanaka labourers, otherwise South Sea Islanders, working, they having been imported and indentured for three years. They were sent to work on these plantations for two reasons; first, because of the scarcity of white labour in the country and of work which it would not do; and, secondly, because the climate of the country prohibited white men from working at all. These men are properly paid and fed for three years, after which they are free to return to their native country or sign on for another three years, which a good many of them do. It is, however, only fair to tell your Lordships that I was told that that was because when some of them returned to the South Sea Islands they were cooked, served up, and eaten by the natives, which fact may be alleged as a reason for these men preferring to remain in safer surroundings. To the conditions under which they served the term slavery could in no sense be applied. I noticed a reference by the noble Lord opposite to what has already been pointed out by the First Lord of the Admiralty. He does not question so much the principle of importing Chinese labour into the Transvaal, but rather the propriety of importing labour until there is a grant of authority by a free and representative Government. My Lords, procrastination is the thief of time, and a lack of activity in industrial enterprise and the prolonged stagnation of the mining industry now may result in permanent hurt to the country, and may be a future hindrance to the development of the South African race. As the noble Lord the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies stated on Friday night that the members of the Legislative Council of the Transvaal had asked for it; that representative deputations had waited on Lord Milner in support of it; that the Bishop of Pretoria and all the members of the Free Church Council had expressed their approval of it; under those circumstances, in my humble opinion, as this Resolution may mean further postponement and a further period of waiting which may be harmful to South Africa, I have nothing else to do but to give my vote against it.
My Lords, I am very sorry that the noble Lord who has just sat down should have imported the term "wilful misrepresentation" into what took place in the contest in East Dorset.
THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
I am sorry if I said wilful, I did not intend to say that; I intended to say woeful.
Whether there was any woeful misrepresentation at the East Dorset election I cannot say, but, if so, I do not think it was on one side only. Now, my Lords, the noble Earl has told your Lordships that there is a precedent in the Kanaka proceedings for the importation of Chinese labourers in South Africa. I scarcely think that is in favour of the importation of the Chinese. I think the noble Earl is somewhat disingenuous when he suggests that the j Legislative Council is a body representative of the people of the Transvaal. I do not think he will get much agreement upon that point from persons knowing the Colonies, because it is perfectly clear that on the Legislative Council there must be an enormous number of officials who must vote in a certain way, and it is therefore, my Lords, I think impossible to say that such a council is representative of the people of the country.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (The Duke of MARLBOROUGH)
In this case they were told to vote in accordance with their consciences, and not in accordance with the views of Lord Milner.
Lord Windsor will not expect me, I am sure, to agree with him when he says the whole weight of the argument is with this Ordinance, and he will hardly expect me to agree with him as to the terrible consequences of the result of refusing to pass this Ordinance. The noble Lord says the people of South Africa must be in favour of this Ordinance because of the petitions that have been signed, but does not the noble Lord see there is a restraint in an open petition by which the people must necessarily be influenced, and it is not in the least extent a true indication of the views 178 of the persons who are under the influence of the mine-owners, and who are not likely not to sign the petition. There is the greatest difference in the world between voting upon an open petition and voting by ballot. My Lords, I entirely deny that it is "beyond doubt" that if the Transvaal had representative Government that that Government would have passed the Ordinance. I do not agree with the most rev. Primate that this is so, but, whether it is so or not, while the Transvaal remains a Crown colony, it is the Imperial Government and the Imperial Government alone who are responsible for this Ordinance. We make this country a Crown colony, because it is not ripe for any other kind of Government, and while it is a Crown colony the whole responsibility must rest on the Government, and moreover, even if it is granted that a majority is in favour of the Ordinance, it is shown that in Cape Town there is a majority against it, and on the authority of Lord Milner himself, South Africa is one and indivisible, and, therefore, must be taken as a whole. Now, my Lords, I come to the observations of the First Lord of the Admiralty. The noble Earl says if this Chinese immigration is unholy and vile we should not consent to it. Those persons who support this Ordinance have supported it with very different voices. In this case we have the noble Duke and the noble Earl specially concerned with such matters, who is not in his place, and they say the Ordinance is a very proper thing, but that is not the attitude taken up by Lord Goschen or Lord Camperdown, or by the Legislative Council of the Transvaal, because the Legislative Council of the Transvaal was very apologetic, and recognised that it was only dire necessity which would justify such an Ordinance.
I am glad to hear that the noble Duke is of that opinion, because he spoke on this matter in so cheerful a way the other day, that I should not have thought he would have taken that view. Lord Grey has threatened us that if this Ordinance is defeated the Transvaal will be bankrupt. Surely it is absolutely impossible that under such a condition the Transvaal 179 should become bankrupt, while the mines, even under the present conditions of labour, are paying a dividend of £5,500,000 a year. It is surely ridiculous, my Lords, to talk of the Transvaal becoming bankrupt under those circumstances. The only chance of the Transvaal becoming bankrupt is by the mines being worked out. And the greater the number of Chinese you import, the greater the chance of the mines being worked out, and the sooner the Transvaal will become bankrupt. The noble Earl also said if we oppose this Ordinance we must give the Transvaal some subsidy. Now, my Lords, I say in one respect this war was a miners' war. I do not say it was a miners' war in the sense that Mr. Chamberlain says so, but I say to this extent it is acknowledged to be a miners' war, that if there had been no mines there would have been no war. My Lords, I think that being so, and we having spent, practically for the benefit of these mines, I £250,000,000 and 25,000 lives, we have a right to ask, and the country will certainly ask, that the Transvaal, under the circumstances, shall pay the £30,000,000 they promised to pay.
My Lords, there are many dangers that beset Chinese labour in South Africa. One was mentioned by Lord Coleridge, that was the great danger of a Kaffir rising. My Lords, a Kaffir rising would be a most serious thing. That is not denied by anybody, and least of all was it denied by the majority of the Labour Commission, because in the Majority Report it lays the greatest stress upon the necessity of maintaining good relations with the Kaffirs, and the Report refused to consider, and very properly, certain suggestions made by General Botha and others for either directly or indirectly coercing the Kaffirs to work. They rightly considered that there were other things which were even more important than a full supply of Kaffir labour. I will quote the words of the Majority Report—The existing relationship between the white and the black races are more important than a full supply of African labour for local industries.My Lords, the whole object of bringing in Chinese labour is to beat down the price of Kaffir labour. That is not 180 denied. Throughout the whole of these Blue-books there is one special complaint, which is that the Kaffir's wages are too high, and the suggestion that they ought to be made lower. That was fully stated in the Legislative Council, and I think Lord Windsor said that it was the great object to get cheap labour.
What I said was that if you raised the price of Kaffir labour at the mines you made it so much more difficult for the agricultural population to get their labour.
Quite so, and the persons who want the Chinese labour want it for the purpose of beating down Kaffir labour.
Then, my Lords, I would suggest an alteration in the Ordinance, because the Ordinance does not put any limit upon the wages that a Chinaman may be asked to accept. And if he is in the habit of getting a penny a day, and he is to get six or seven times the wage he gets in his own country, he may get sevenpence a day, which is far below what the Kaffir now gets.
Then as to white labour. The most elaborate provisions have been put into this Ordinance to prevent white labour suffering from this competition, but no protection has been put in for the Kaffirs, and they have a right to complain of their interests being neglected, and of this Chinese labour, which is paid perhaps only a half or quarter what the Kaffir gets. Your Lordships must also remember this, that the Kaffirs of late have had an object lesson not only as to wages but of conditions of labour. Before the war, when there was no scarcity of labour, the conditions of labour were abominable. Kaffirs were killed and maimed, and there was no compensation; scurvy and chest diseases were rife among them, and they were badly fed and badly housed. My Lords, it may be thought that I have overdrawn the picture, but Sir Godfrey Lagden, the Commissioner 181 for Native Affairs, brings a most conprehensive indictment against the mine-owners—Questions of housing, health, and so forth, were all bad before the war. It had been a common occurrence to buy up the worst truck, and chuck it on the mines for the natives. Scurvy was very prevalent.My Lords, it is no wonder that the chiefs say—"We do not like our men to go to Johannesburg because they go there to die." But there is more than that. There is some reason to believe that before the war good faith was not kept with the Kaffirs with regard to their labour, because, during the war, it was said before Lord Milner himself that while the Government wage of a Kaffir was fixed at 30s. a month, some Kaffirs were obliged to labour at 17s. a month, and that while they engaged to work only for four months they were obliged to consent to work for six months. My Lords, I trust that that is only an exceptional instance, but whether it is, or not, that was the evidence given before Lord Milner himself, and the Kaffirs said they dared not complain because the country was under martial law. The transformation scene after the war, when scarcity arose, and it was necessary to treat the Kaffirs well was wonderful. Mr. Moses, a mine inspector, says—There was marked advance in general appearance owing to improved and increased diet.It would seem from that, my Lords, that they not only had had improper but insufficient diet—The conditions of labour were better all round. Scurvy in some compounds was entirely eradicated.Not only is the condition in the mines better all round but up to two months ago the mine-owners gave no compensation for death or injury sustained to their Kaffirs. Now such is the transformation wrought by the scarcity o1 labour that compensation is given for death or injury. But there is more to come. Sir Godfrey Lagden says—Many necessary reforms in labour conditions are only partly accomplished.and all this the Kaffirs will think is due to the scarcity of labour. And things ought to be better than they are because it appears that whereas the death 182 rate in mines is fifty-seven per 1,000, in the case of Kaffirs with occupations in the open air the death rate is only seventeen per 1,000. This blessed change still going on cannot fail to impress the Kaffirs. They have got or are getting good lodging, good food, good pay, and compensation for injury. And all these blessings, in their view, are due to scarcity of Kaffir labour and the increased demand for it. Can anyone doubt that the first batch of Chinamen coming to South Africa will effect a reduction of the wages of the Kaffir?
One noble Lord has been taken to task for speaking of Chinamen living in cages. It strikes me very forcibly that if they are not put into cages and protected there will be very few left in a very short time. The whites are also alarmed, there is a very widespread feeling among the whites that the restrictions put in in order to prevent competition between the white and yellow labourers will break down. The nature of those restrictions has been made less oppressive by liberal criticism and the great difference between the Ordinance now and what it was originally, is that the labourer must consent to the transfer of his labour before it is transferred. That provision must be very carefully watched for the reason that it is not popular with the mine-owners Lord Milner says that this may make the Ordinance of little value, but your Lordships must remember that it was put in originally, struck out at the instance of the mine-owners, and has been put back again at the instance of the British people. Now, my Lords, this is not the only question; there is another, there is the question of Indian labour. The Government of India would not let Indians go under these conditions. They cannot engage in any work outside mines; they cannot have skilled work even in mines; Chinese foremen are not allowed. Now, my Lords, can these restrictions, which are: most stringent in their character, be maintained? That is the question being asked throughout South Africa to-day. Mr. Hutchinson says on page 17 of the Blue-book—At the end of the first twelve months there would not probably be a single white man employed under ground.183 The First Lord of the Admiralty said the Chinese were capital hands at combination, and they will do the best they can out of it and will wriggle themselves out of their contracts. I agree. A speaker at a great public meeting in the Transvaal said this—There is no nation on this earth which is better at combination or striking than are the Chinamen. Some fine morning we shall wake up and see in our morning papers that a strike of 10,000 Chinamen has taken place. What will be the result of the state of affairs. You cannot imprison them, the jails will not hold them; you cannot starve them because that would be against the laws of humanity. The mining men will rush to Pretoria and say that if these men are sent home they will close down the mines. I say that every man must sec that the restrictions will gradually dwindle away.But assume that the Chinamen do not strike. Suppose they adhere to the terms of their bargain, and suppose the mine-owners do not rush to Pretoria in this way. I think, at all events, it is safe to say that the restriction that no Chinaman is to be the head of his own gang will break down. But suppose that is got over and a white man is made foreman, another result is bound to take place, as the mine-owners themselves acknowledge. I take the evidence of Mr. Fricker of the Simmer and Jack mines—I gladly acknowledge that the unskilled white labour, which lately has been, and to some extent is now being, employed on the Rand has been of the very greatest use in supplementing the meagre supply of natives now allotted to the mines, but I cannot conceive that anyone who knows the condition of affairs here can, or will, seriously advocate the introduction of white labour in the mines so long as cheap native labour can be secured.and Mr. Webber, of the Rand mines, says—The continuation of the policy of employing unskilled white labour would not be justified when an adequate native labour force was obtainable.Therefore you have it on the authority of the mine-owners themselves that the first thing they will do when the Chinamen come is to get rid of all the unskilled white labour on the mines.
There is one other matter to which reference ought to be made, and that is the New Zealand protest. In that they say that, if the Chinaman is allowed to come, vested interests will be created and it will be difficult to go back. That seems to be a serious matter. I want to say one word as to what is 184 the great necessity of this Ordinance which is so full of danger. It is said to be necessary in order to work the mines to the fullest extent, and no doubt that is I quite a good thing for the shareholders, but I doubt whether, though the speedy exhaustion of the mines is good for the shareholders, it is to the advantage of the Transvaal that its great industry should be worked out in twenty years. I doubt if it is good for South Africa as a whole, or for the world, inasmuch as it might impair the stability of the gold standard. I ask your Lordships why all this feverish haste to make Johannesburg a desert at the earliest possible moment?
THE MARQUESS OF WINCHESTER
In addressing your Lordships' House for the first time, I wish to associate myself most warmly in the expressions of regret that have been made to the tone adopted by the right rev. Prelate who opened the debate this afternoon. I cannot help feeling that his statements will be read by a good many, and that it will not conduce to the popularity of the Church in the Transvaal. My apology for addressing your Lordships on this subject is that I have spent some years of my life amidst the mining industry in South Africa, and I assure your Lordships it is not a question of whether the white man can work with the Kaffir—the question is whether his constitution and capabilities enable him to find work in that climate under the severe conditions of deep-level mining in South Africa possible. The conditions under which a mine is carried on 1,100 or 1,200 feet underground are not very comfortable when on the surface the thermometer stands at 980 in the shade. Imagine a white man going to work in the atmosphere of the mines at 10s. a day, when his fellow-working man, carpenters, bricklayers, and the like, are being paid 25s. or 30s. a day on the surface. It is impossible to reconcile those two facts. The speech of the noble Lord, to which we have just listened, was a very ingenious one; the noble Lord quoted figures from Blue-books stating the conditions under which the Kaffir laboured before the war, and said the Kaffir's condition before the war was eminently unsatisfactory. I was glad 185 to hear from the noble Lord that the condition of the Kaffir now was very much better. I think, however, the noble Lord will agree with me that the one reason why the condition of the Kaffir is very much better is because he is not allowed to buy drink. Previous to the war the traffic in drink was a perfect disgrace. The Transvaal Government never tried to control it in any way, and in fact, many of the high officials of the Transvaal were largely interested in the traffic. But, in spite of the improved conditions and better wages, we know there are many fewer available in numbers than there were before the war. Before the war we had, working in the mines, 103,000, now there are less than 80,000 at work.
Lord Carrington has told your Lordships that the nation is against the employment of Chinese labour. Why? Because they do not understand the conditions, and some Members of your Lordships' House and Members of the other House have not tried to explain the reasons, but have tried to obscare the true issues. I had an opportunity recently of attending a meeting in a constituency when the candidate said to me, "What shall I tell them if I am asked about Chinese labour?" I said, "I think it would be better for you to tell them you are in favour of permitting people in distant countries the management of their own affairs." The question was asked, and he gave the reply I suggested. Subsequently the most rev. Primate the Archbishop has told your Lordships how easy it is to raise the passions of the people by the cry of Liberty and Slavery. My Lords, that answer appealed to the 700 or 800electors present and stifled those passions. I cannot help feeling that the tone which this debate has taken is in many ways due to the anything but complimentary terms in which the officials interested in the government of the Transvaal have been alluded to. I had the honour to see Lord Milner at work previous to the Bloemfontein Conference, and I can only say if any of your Lordships have any doubts of the notorious and strenuous desires of Lord Milner to do nothing but what is absolutely right, you have mistaken the man. I know well many of the gentlemen associated 186 with him in the Government of the Transvaal, and I have been drawn into this debate simply because I could not listen to the remarks which fell from the noble Lord who spoke last without rising in defence of the Legislative Council, who are guided by the best principles in this matter. I have now given my reasons, as shortly as possible, why it is my intention to support the Government in resisting this Resolution. I am not charged with the defence of the Government, that is in other hands; but I am perfectly certain the Government are prepared to accept the responsibility of this Ordinance, and in doing so they have my heartiest support.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
I confess that I listened to the speech of the most rev. Primate with some regret and disappointment. The most rev. Primate was at great pains to tell your Lordships how carefully he had scanned all the aspects of this question, how deep had boon his research into the numerous Blue-books, and he has told your Lordships that he was filled with apprehension as to the effect these proposals might have on the development of the Transvaal. He had his doubts as to the checks proposed in the Ordinance, and he told your Lordships that had he been in the Transvaal he would probably have been found in a small minority against the Ordinance. I do not myself think the most rev. Primate would find himself in so small a minority but rather in a majority. But I think it is unfortunate that the most rev. Primate, after giving all these reasons and being filled with this patriotism, should come to the conclusion that the only thing for him to do was to abstain from voting. I cannot help thinking that if the most rev. Primate had given full rein to his feelings as a Churchman he would have found himself compelled to vote for the Motion. But I am afraid that the feelings of the politician have overcome the feelings of the Churchman, and that the most rev. Primate is giving the benefit of the doubt to noble Lords opposite. I do not think that is a position which will commend itself to either side. Noble Lords opposite have challenged us to say what our policy would have been. We certainly should not have rushed wildly 187 into a sanction of this Ordinance, and we should not have based our policy on the principle of treating a Crown colony as if it were a self-governing colony, for surely the fundamental constitutional difference between a Crown colony and a self-governing colony is that every act of the Government of the former carries with it the direct responsibility of the home Government. I am not quoting the exact words, but I do not think that anybody will deny that that is a fair representation of the line of argument by which this policy is defended to say that the importation of the indentured Chinese labourer is repugnant to all and is only adopted as an odious necessity.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
I am not saying for a moment that the noble Earl did. The hatefulness or odiousness of this policy is, I think, apparent enough. It is apparent even from the way in which my noble friend Earl Grey and others have endeavoured to attach stigma to my noble friend Earl Spencer, by the charge that he was ready to allow the free importation of Chinese into South Africa. If a stigma attaches to one for being ready to allow the importation of free Chinamen into South Africa, what an objectionable thing it must be. I do not think we need go further than the opinions expressed by our self-governing Colonies. Australia is against it; New Zealand is against it. Australia excluded Chinamen altogether from the Colony. The noble Earl said that Canada had not said anything against the importation of Chinese labour, and did not object to it. But Canada has raised the poll tax on the Chinaman introduced into Canada from 100 to 500 dollars. That does not show any great affection for the importation of Chinese labour. In America, the United States have excluded Chinese labour altogether. Cape Colony is against the importation. Natal has been quoted as not objecting to it, but what are the facts? It is quite true that Natal is willing to give permission for the passage of Chinese labourers through Natal, but she has declared her determination to exclude Chinese labour from her own territories by every means 188 in her power. I do not think I need labour the point that the importation of Chinese labour is not a desirable thing, that it is unpleasant, and is not wished for by anybody.
Now I come to the question of the necessity. How recently is it that this dire necessity has arisen? It is very recent indeed. It is but a very little while since everybody was against it. Take the organ which now defends most strongly the importation of Chinese labour into South Africa—The Times. It is but a year and a half ago—in August, 1902—that two carefully worked out articles appeared in that journal in which Chinese labour was denounced, and its evils pointed out. I will not quote them at length, but in the second of those articles there occurred this sentence—The special conditions of the native populations in South Africa render the exclusion of the Chinese from that country a matter of the first importance.If it is a fact that the special conditions of the native population in South Africa rendered the exclusion of the Chinese from that country a matter of the first importance in August, 1902, how can the circumstances have changed to such a degree as to make their introduction a necessity in March, 1904? Let me quote a letter from Lord Milner himself. Lord Milner says—To listen to some of the extreme advocates of Asiatic labour you would think that this place was on the verge of total ruin. What is the real case? The production of gold even now is greater than in 1895 or 1896, when the Transvaal already was, and had been for some time past, the marvel of the world in the matter of gold production.and so Lord Milner goes on. Then let me quote a single sentence from a speech by Dr. Jameson at Grahamstown on 28th May, 1903, where he said—I feel sure there is sufficient labour in the country to meet all requirements, especially; when Uganda and Northern Africa have been tapped.Then there is a report of Sir Godfrey Lagden, who was Secretary for Native Affairs, in which he says—It may be that there are 5,000,000 natives south of the Zambesi, of which 800,000 might be sturdy men. If every man took his fair turn of labour there can be little doubt that South Africa has sufficient for all purposes.Let me take one other quotation, this time from the evidence given by Mr. 189 William Grant before the Labour Commission. Mr. Grant was the Native Labour Commissioner to the Johannesburg Chamber of Mines—Q. 8714. Do you mean to say that, in your opinion, Mr. Grant, if the handling of this question of labour for the mines had been done on different lines we should have been able to have abundant labour?" (Mr. Grant.) "I have no hesitation in saying so—none whatever. I give it to you as my honest conviction. My opinion is this: the outcome to-day, to put it in clear and concise language, is the absolute result of ignorance or design. I go as far as that.Then there is further evidence to the same effect. I would remind you that the De Beers Mines employ 12,000 natives, that they are going to employ 3,000 more at their new Dutoitspan mine and that they have had no difficulty whatever in obtaining them.
My noble friend Earl Grey said that everything turned on the abundant production of gold, that it was an absolute necessity for the Transvaal that the production of gold should be increased, and that the cause of the depression and the difficulties in the Transvaal was that gold is not produced in sufficient quantities. But is my noble friend justified in saying that the production of gold in the Transvaal is on such a very small scale? I think I can give figures showing that that is not the case. I have a table from a mine-owners' paper giving the Transvaal gold output, and I find that from January, 1902, when it amounted to £298,786 until December, 1903, it went steadily on increasing until it reached £1,215,111, while in January and February of the present year the production amounted to no less than £2,546,572. Therefore, if I do not calculate for any increase at all during the remaining months of this year, but simply multiply the production of the first two months by six, I find that the production of the present year will amount to no less than £14,739,432, or very nearly as much gold as was produced in the year 1899, and only a £1,000,000 less than was produced in the year 1898. That shows, I think, that the production of gold in the Transvaal is not so small as necessarily to be the cause of the depression at present existing. Again, I will quote from a mineowners' newspaper. The profits made by the mines tell 190 exactly the same tale. The African Review takes the various groups of mines, puts them together, and gives the average profits. That journal shows that out of the Wernher-Beit group, twenty-three out of twenty-five mines earned profits in October, 1903, ranging from £2,097 in the case of the Jubilee to £31,085 in the case of the Robinson, and of those twenty-five mines fifteen had, on 2nd January, declared dividends of from 5 per cent. of the Nigel to the 188½ per cent. of the Ferreira. The Barnato group of five companies all earned profits in October, and three have declared dividends of 40 per cent. for 1903. Of the Goerz group, five earned a profit in October, and three paid dividends in 1903, of 60,10, and 47½ per cent. respectively. Of the Albu group of four companies, all earned profits, and two of the four declared dividends for 1903, amounting to 55 per cent. Of the Neumann group of four companies, three earned dividends in October, and one declared a dividend of 13¾ per cent. for the year. The Consolidated Gold Fields group of two companies both earned profits in October, and each paid a dividend for the year, one of 5 per cent. and the other of 25 per cent. The Farrar group is in a better position, its two companies having paid for the year dividends of 50 per cent. and 40 per cent. respectively. That does not look like a great failure in the gold production of the Transvaal.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (The Earl of HARDWICKE)
Will the noble Lord give us the capitalised value? When he speaks of 55 per cent., I think the House would like to know what the capitalised value is, because the dividends are paid on the par value.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
Quite so; it means enormous profits to the owners of original shares. That is the point. It is not our business to consider people who choose to give £8, £9, £10 or £16 for a £1 share. What we have to consider is the return on the par value, not on the fancy value which has often been pushed up by all those devices which are known to the financial world. The fact of the matter is that this depression in the Transvaal is due not to the failure of 191 the production of gold, as noble Lords would have us believe, but to the devastation of war. You have carried on in this country a long and devastating war which you fought to a finish. It was not a war in regard to which you went into a country to obtain certain ends, and then having obtained those ends retired from the country. You fought to a finish and became the possessors of the country, and—I am not saying a word against the methods by which the war was carried on—that process necessarily involved the devastation of the country, the destruction of wealth, and the loss of an enormous number of lives. That process went on for three years. How can you expect a country which has just passed through such a devastating experience as that to spring up at once into prosperity? You must expect this depression. Again, I am not calling the methods into question, but you determined your policy to be the right policy, and, having determined that, you should be prepared to act up to your policy and to pay for the results of it.
The absolute necessity for the importation of Chinese labour does not seem to me to have been sufficiently established I think I can claim that at any rate there has been on the other side as much exaggeration of the necessity as on the part of some of my noble friends there has perhaps been exaggeration of the amount of slavery necessarily involved. I will be perfectly frank, and say at once that you can have indentured labour under an Ordinance which does not partake of slavery. The question is, does this Ordinance come up to that standard? Is this an Ordinance which can be put into force without necessarily carrying with it the concomitant of slavery? The White Paper which has been so much quoted to-night is proof in itself that much has been done to free the Ordinance from the objections raised against it in the first instance. I admit that the Government have immensely improved the Ordinance. The noble Duke told us the other day that our efforts on this side of the House deserved credit, and that they had been the means of causing modifications which, otherwise would not have been effected. ["No."] I am in the recollection of the House. The 192 noble Duke congratulated us on the success of our efforts, and I think that that success ought to encourage us to redouble our exertions. I say without hesitation that the Ordinance when first produced did involve slavery. It has been greatly mitigated, but there still exist in the Ordinance the seeds of slavery. The favourite argument in its favour has been that in many parts of the Empire indentured labour under ordinance exists. My noble friend Lord Stanmore exploded that argument so far as indentures in Trinidad were concerned. I have taken the trouble to look up the Jamaica Ordinance. I will give your Lordships the results of my inquiries, and it will then be seen how different is the Jamaica Ordinance from the Transvaal Ordinance. The noble Earl Lord Selborne tried to convey the idea that the West Indian Ordinances were all on the same footing as the Transvaal Ordinance. They are nothing of the kind. There are four great points of difference between the Transvaal Ordinance and the Jamaica Ordinance. I find that whilst a Chinaman in the Transvaal may not live anywhere but upon the premises of his employer, that he must not at any time be found more than a mile away without permission, and that that permission is in no case to exceed forty-eight hours, in Jamaica there are no such restrictions. The indentured coolie in Jamaica, outside of work hours, and on Sundays and holidays, is free to go where he pleases. Secondly, whilst Chinamen in the Transvaal may be employed only on unskilled mining labour, and may not, either directly or indirectly, hold property, or enter into any kind of business or trade—surely that is an extraordinary restriction on the ordinary rights of a free man—in Jamaica the indentured coolie is not restricted to unskilled labour, nor is he forbidden to hold property or to engage in trade, except that he may not have a licence for the sale of provisions or spirits. Thirdly, under the Transvaal Ordinance, on the expiration of the contract, the Chinese labourer, with his wife and family, if they be of the same race, willing or unwilling, must be sent back to their country of origin; in Jamaica, on the expiry of the contract, a coolie may either return to India or receive ten acres 193 of land or accept cash in lieu of passage money, and, as a matter of fact, 70 or 80 per cent. of the immigrants in the West Indies remain as cultivators or traders in the islands of their adoption. But one of the worst features of the Transvaal Ordinance is that dealing with the wives and families of the labourers. These, if of the same race, must be introduced under, as far as practicable, the same conditions and restrictions as the men. Therefore, the Chinawomen are prohibited from all remunerative employment except that of unskilled labour in connection with the mines. Moreover, as the importer has to pay the expense of transport both to and from the country of origin, it is not likely that many women will be brought over. In the West Indies the labour of the women is just as useful as that of the men: they come over with their husbands, and in that way I am sure that much immorality is avoided.
Then, my Lords, I come to the point which I raised when the noble Earl was speaking. In these West Indian indentures there is a minimum wage fixed. The noble Earl thought it a small matter that in the Transvaal Ordinance a minimum wage should not have been fixed. At the present moment, as far as I can see, under the Ordinance the contractor in China can get a man to contract, at any rate he can force upon him under any pretension whatever. I ask whoever may follow me to give a distinct answer on this point. Surely it is a reasonable thing to ask that you should fix in the Ordinance the minimum wage to be given to any Chinaman who comes from China to South Africa. You could give as much more as you liked if it became necessary, but surely a minimum ought to be fixed by the Government.
I come now to a contention which has often been put forward, viz., that the more Chinamen you employ the more white men you will require. I should like to have some definite proof of that. Hitherto we have had no proof whatever. The contention of the mine-owners is that one white man is required for every ten coloured men. At present there are in the mines, roughly speaking—I do not bind myself to a few one way or the other—70,000 Kaffirs and 13,500 white men. That is very much in excess 194 of what the mine-owners think is the proper proportion of white men to be employed in the mines. Therefore, you will have to introduce into South Africa 65,000 Chinamen to add to the 70,000 Kaffirs in order to bring up the number of coloured men in the mines to 135,000, to balance the 13,500 white men. I do not think that for the Chinamen employed in the mines you will require the same number of white men as are necessary with Kaffirs. In the first place, the Kaffir is a spasmodic worker; he comes from time to time, he is intermittent; he goes to the mines for six or eight months, makes his money, and then goes back to his own kraal and spends it. He is necessarily, therefore, a less expert miner than the Chinaman will become. The Chinaman will come under a three years indenture, and during those three years he will become a very capable man, so that even if white foremen are employed fewer will be required because the labourers will be more expert in their work. Besides that, it must be remembered that all who are accustomed to Chinese labour, and know the conditions under which the best results can be obtained from Chinese labour, declare that Chinamen work best under foremen of their own nationality. How is the increased employment for white men to be found? I admit at once that there will probably be some increase in skilled white labour, but you are going to drive the unskilled white labour out of the country altogether, and declare that this South Africa, which was to be a ground for the employment of British workers, is utterly unfitted for the unskilled Britisher, and that he will not be allowed in the Transvaal at all.
My noble friend Earl Grey said that it was the united wish of the white population of the Transvaal that Chinese labour should be introduced. The last Blue-book is the best answer I can give to that view of the noble Earl. The Blue-book is full of protests against the introduction of Chinese labour. There is very little proof that the Boers are in favour of it. The only Boers who can really be shown to be in favour of it are those who have been nominated on the Legislative Council of the Transvaal. I am not in the least impressed by the united 195 wish which is claimed for the population of the Transvaal; I doubt whether it exists. At any rate, why does not the Government consent to put it to the test? Why do they not consent to a referendum such as has been suggested? The noble Duke the other night asked what referendum we would propose, and whether we would make the War Contribution Loan Bill the subject of a referendum in the Transvaal? Certainly not.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
I said that noble Lords opposite had agreed to lend £30,000,000 on the guarantee of the very same people whom to-day they mistrust with regard to their views on the requirements of labour in South Africa.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
We in this country, having carried on military operations in South Africa, declared that a certain charge should be placed on the Transvaal to help pay for the war and to restore the country.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
The £30,000,000 was a voluntary gift on the part of the representatives of South Africa to this country on behalf of South Africa.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
I cannot admit that explanation. However, the noble Duke does not insist that that is a proper subject for a referendum. But I say that this Ordinance was undoubtedly a proper subject for a referendum, especially as the noble Duke and his friends take the view that the Transvaal should be treated as a self-governing Colony. If you had put it to the test you would have had some ground for saying you were treating the Transvaal as if it were a self-governing Colony.
I come now to another question altogether. Let us assume, as will doubtless be the case, that this Ordinance is passed, and that a vast number of Chinese are poured into the Transvaal. Even then, do you think it will pay those who have introduced them? Do you think that Chinese labour will be sufficiently cheap to effect the desired purpose? It is practically admitted that the high-grade mines can afford to take care of 196 themselves; their profits are sufficient under any circumstances. It is the low-grade mines that have to be cared for. We are told that they can be profitably worked only by means of cheap labour. We have had no estimate from the Government as to the probable cost of the individual Chinaman. The only estimate I have seen is one to be found in a speech by Sir G. Farrar, in which he puts the cost of the individual Chinaman at 80s. per month, including his food, as against 76s., which he puts as the present cost of the Kaffir, including t his food. I do not know on what that estimate is founded, but I imagine it is founded on the wages at present paid in the Straits Settlements. We have heard a great deal about Chinese immigration in I the Straits Settlements, but I contend that the Straits Settlements form no precedent from which we can judge anything so far as the Transvaal is concerned. The Straits Settlements may really be called a Chinese country. There are in the Straits Settlements 5,018 Europeans, 7,600 Eurasians, 281,933 Chinese, 215,000 Malays, and 57,150 Indians, so that Indians and Chinese together amount to 59 per cent, of the whole population. Of the 339,083 Indians and Chinese, 261,412 are males, and only 77,671 females. If the Chinamen will not bring their women to the Straits Settlements, which are close to their own country, where Chinese conditions exist, and where Chinamen are in a majority of the population, how can you expect that they will take them all the way to South Africa? There is an excellent report in the first Blue-book on the question of the provision of Chinamen, and the conditions of Chinamen in China, California, and British Columbia. The report is written by Mr. Ross Skinner, and it is there distinctly stated that Chinese will be in no sense cheap labour. It is true that in the Straits Settlements the unskilled labourer gets from 10d. to 10½d. per day plus his keep, say 6d. a day, and the skilled Chinaman gets 1s. 10d. and his keep. But what is the price paid to the Chinese miner in America? It seems to me that you are very much more likely to have to pay something like the wage paid to Chinese miners in America; the distance more 197 nearly approaches the distance of the Transvaal from their home, and the conditions under which they will work are much the same. In California the Chinese miner earns from 7s. to. 8s. a day, and in Victoria the surface hand gets 4s. 2d., and more is given to the underground labourers. If you have to pay anything like that, or, say, even 3s. a day for the Chinese miner in South Africa, and you have to add to that the cost of bringing him from China, the cost of keeping him under the conditions which are to be imposed, the cost of policing, and so forth, it seems to me that so far from the Chinaman proving a cheap labourer in South Africa, he will be a very expensive one, and one that will not allow the low-grade mines to be worked profitably by means of cheap labour.
The illustrious statesman who so long filled the place now occupied by the noble Marquess opposite once declared that we did not go to the Transvaal for gold or for extension of territory. We have got gold in no stinted measure, and we have a vast extension of territory. What we were told we went to South Africa for was to obtain the franchise for the Uitlanders, to put down the unrepresentative Government of President Kruger, and to open up a new field for British labour. We have not given the franchise to the Uitlanders; we have taken it away even from those men who already possessed it. We have established a new Government in the Transvaal which, doubtless, is a good Government, but which is not one whit more representative than that of President Kruger. I should have thought there were sufficient racial difficulties in South Africa as it is; you have Boers and Britons, Kaffirs, and Coolies, and now you must needs add a fifth race—the Chinese. You are going to introduce into South Africa a new form of Uitlander, also without the franchise, who must be confined in compounds, and be deprived of many of the attributes of free men. Is that the purpose for which you carried on this great war? The little knot of Peers who sit around me here will doubtless make a poor show in the Lobby presently, but we do, unflinchingly, make our protest against 198 this policy of His Majesty's Government, a policy which we believe to be dangerous and mischievous, and a policy which we hold to be contrary to the deliberate judgment and the highest traditions of the British Empire.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, it is with great diffidence I intervene between the House and the noble Marquess who will reply on behalf of His Majesty's Government, but I wish to refer only to one or two points which, at any rate while I have been present, have not been dealt with in the course of the debate. Let me say in the first place that a good deal has been said during the discussion which is very disheartening to those who regard Imperial and Colonial questions as infinitely more important than the vicissitudes of Party politics in this country, and who desire to see them discussed with some reference to and some consideration for the conditions obtaining in the countries which they primarily concern. For instance, the right rev. Prelate who opened the discussion this afternoon had very little to say about South Africa, but a great deal to say about what he called slavery, and he presumed that everybody who spoke from South Africa, from Lord Milner downwards, was necessarily prejudiced and biased, and that therefore their opinions should be discarded.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
I am in the recollection of the House, and your Lordships will bear me out when I say that the whole of the speech of the right rev. Prelate went to show that Lord Milner was not a man to be trusted by this House. He even began his speech by saying that the peasants of Dorsetshire were a safer guide for the House and for the Government than Lord Milner and his Administration. This is just one of those questions which cannot be considered apart from the conditions of the country which it alone concerns; therefore, the decision to which your Lordships will come to-night upon the Motion of the noble Lord opposite ought 199 very largely, if not entirely, to be determined by considerations affecting South Africa. The question you have to decide is a very simple one, viz., whether, in the first place, the existing situation in the Transvaal justifies the policy which the Transvaal Government has proposed and has asked the British Government to sanction; and, in the second place, whether, even if adapted to the needs of South Africa, there is in it anything inherently immoral or opposed to those principles of equity, justice, and humanity which are the very basis of British rule throughout the world. That is the question in regard to which your Lordships will have to arrive at a decision.
First of all, is it expedient? I do not mean from an electioneering point of view. From that point of view, I think that noble Lords opposite are perhaps to be more congratulated than His Majesty's Government. But is it expedient for the future prosperity and welfare of the Transvaal? On that point the arguments are chiefly economical. All those who go to South Africa and come back tell us the same tale about the country. They all say that it is a land with infinite possibilities, but that at the present moment, with the exception of the mining industry in Johannesburg, it is entirely undeveloped. The problem, therefore, before the High Commissioner, and which for many years to come will necessarily be before any High Commissioner, is how best to develop these new colonies, and to bring out to the best advantage those latent resources which they admittedly possess. At this moment, with all the burdens of the late war upon it, South Africa is second only to India in its consumption of British produce. It may easily be understood, therefore, that with time South Africa may become, from a commercial point of view, one of the most valuable of the British possessions. Lord Milner's policy from the first has been a policy of commercial and industrial development. The moment the war was over he set himself to repair the damages it had created, to build railways, to start irrigation works, to develop agriculture, and, above all, to encourage white settlers to come into the country. Noble Lords opposite seem 200 to imagine that the importation of Chinese labour will effectively prevent the immigration of white settlers into the country. I think I can prove that the encouragement of British settlers is the basis and the justification of the whole of Lord Milner's policy. He desires by starting undertakings of this sort to provide occupation for the better class of white settler and at the same time industrially to develop the country. Such a policy as that necessarily involves a good deal of expenditure, and Lord Milner naturally looked to the extension of the mining industry of Johannesburg; to enable him to meet that expenditure.
Noble Lords opposite and a great many people in the country are in the habit of speaking of this mining industry as though it were something entirely detached and separate from the rest of the interests of the country, and as though its development would merely have the effect of enriching a few millionaires and of filling J the pockets of European shareholders; whereas, as a matter of fact, this mining industry is very closely wrapped up in and intimately connected with the development of the colony as a whole, because at this moment it is practically the only source of revenue to the Government, and in proportion as it expands so also will funds be available for the process of development in other parts of the country. Railway construction, irrigation works agriculture, industry and commerce, are thus all alike dependent on the output of the mines. To support what I am saying I would ask your Lordships to consider what has, happened in other parts of the world. I would call your attention, in particular, to what has happened in the American State of California, because that, like the Transvaal, was at one time an entirely undeveloped country, with great mineral resources. For thirty years after the opening up of that State, gold-mining was its only industry, but to-day the annual value of the agricultural products exceeds by many million dollars the largest output, of gold in any one year. Not only that, but: the value of its manufactured products is even greater still. Noble Lords opposite ask, what is going to happen when the mines are worked out? It is precisely the policy of Lord Milner, as I understand it, to utilise the mining 201 industry while it is there, so as to ensure that by the time it is worked out the country will be in a flourishing condition, and in a condition which will attract white settlers of the better class to come and live in it. With such an example as that of California before them, surely the Transvaal Government were justified in looking to the mining industry at Johannesburg to enable them to carry out the economical development of the colony. At present that industry on which so much depends is at a complete standstill owing to the scarcity of labour. That shortage of labour has been felt all over South Africa. Noble Lords opposite have implied that that shortage of labour is not real. In Natal, at any rate, the policy of the Government proves the case, because they have been obliged to import Indian coolies. In Cape Colony the Government more than once in the last few years have appointed Committees to inquire into and report upon the labour question; and at the Bloemfontein Conference in March of last year, at which all the South African Colonies were represented, a resolution was unanimously passed declaring that the supply of labour from native sources south of the Zambesi was insufficient, and that the opening up of a new source of supply was imperative. I cannot go into the question in detail at this time of night, but it has been proved up to the hilt that all work of development is hung up owing to the shortage of labour.
There is one other feature of this labour question which I do not think has yet been referred to, but which is of serious importance. At this moment, out of the native population at work in the mines—there are about 68,000 altogether, I believe—80 per cent. come from Portuguese territory, and over that supply the Portuguese Government has complete control. Hence by withholding that supply at any moment it is in the power of the Portuguese Government to bring about an immediate and most disastrous crisis in one of our colonies. Our dependence on the Portuguese Government in this respect was very marked at the Bloemfontein Conference, as we were then obliged to treat Portuguese East Africa on precisely the same footing as one of our own colonies, and to give them the 202 same privileges in the matter of rebate on railway rates as were given to colonial produce. It comes to this, that you are now building up the whole economic and industrial structure of South Africa upon the basis of a monopoly which is vested in the Portuguese Government. That is a matter which I venture to suggest to your Lordships is worthy of serious consideration.
I come, then, to the proposed policy of the Transvaal Government. Here let me take up a point urged by the noble and learned Lord who introduced this Motion to the House, and which was referred to also by the right rev. Prelate who opened the discussion to-day. The noble and learned Lord quoted many extracts from the Blue-book to prove that the efforts of the mine-owners to secure native labour were not genuine or sincere. It is very difficult to understand why the noble Lord should imagine that the mine-owners made false and insincere efforts to secure native labour when it was so short, but that was his contention. I will assume for the purposes of argument that the noble Lord's estimate of the mine-owner is a correct one, I will assume that he—the mine-owner, not the noble Lord—is a man without scruple and without principle, influenced almost entirely by considerations of his pocket, and whose only object is to get as much out of the mine as he can at the lowest possible cost. The Native Labour As sociation has gone to the expense of £450,000 in efforts to secure native labour, and up to the present they have obtained only 68,000. I think the noble Lord's words were: "The mine-owners saw before them an alluring prospect of cheap Chinese imported labour, and they naturally did all they could to obtain it." But I would point out to the noble Lord—and it has been mentioned by Lord Tweedmouth—that it is very much more expensive to employ this imported Chinese labour than to employ natives. Why, then, should the mine-owners, even at the noble Lord's own estimate of them, go to this expense in seeking for native labour unless they wished to obtain it; and why, above all things, should they seek to introduce the more expensive Chinaman if they could get the native at a cheaper rate? Lastly, 203 we have the assurance of Sir Godfrey Lagden, the head of the Native Labour Department, that the work of the Native Labour Association was perfectly genuine, thorough, and unintermittent. I think I may say, in the words of the noble and learned Lord, that he is no more justified than Lord Milner in bringing groundless and ungenerous charges against those whose conclusions are different from his own.
What is the alternative policy put forward by those who object to the importation of Chinese labour into South Africa? It is, by some means or another, to compel the native Kaffirs to work either in the mines or on the farms. I think the treatment of the native Kaffirs by the Boers is not exactly a treatment which would commend itself to noble Lords opposite. Their plan was to tax the native, and to induce him to work in order to earn the money to pay the taxes. In fact, there are some, and General Botha is amongst the number, who go further still, and desire to expel the natives from those districts in which they are at present settled, and then, if they desire to resettle therein, to compel them to buy back their land. The noble Lord asked the Government whether or not they had considered that they ran the risk of a native rising. Lord Monkswell, in his speech just now, referred to the same matter. The two alternative policies for dealing with this native question have both already been tried in South Africa. What has been the result? When you introduced your 73,000 Indian coolies into Natal, did the Kaffirs rise in revolt I because you gave to other people the work they might have done? When you built your railway through Uganda, a country full of natives, did those natives rise in revolt because you built your railway by imported labour? In neither of those instances did the Kaffir object to other people doing work which he hated doing himself. But on the only occasion when the alternative policy of taxing the Kaffir was tried by President Kruger, he was faced immediately with the prospect of a native rising. Therefore, if the alternative policy, the policy which is known to he approved of by the Boers in the country, the policy which is put forward 204 by those who are opposed to the importation of Chinese labour, were put into force—and if you refuse this Ordinance you will drive the mine-owners to combine with the Boers in taking this course—I venture to say that the chances of a native rising would be infinitely greater than under the present policy of the Government.
I come now to the final question of whether or not this system of indentured labour is one which can be condemned on, humanitarian grounds. I do not propose to go into that at length. Lord Spencer has already admitted that the word "slavery" is an exaggeration, and I am glad that we obtained from him that admission. It is true that he went on to speak about "cages," and I think the word "cages" is perhaps an even greater exaggeration than the word "slavery," but he then proceeded to ask whether the conditions of the Ordinance were consistent with full liberty. No, they are not consistent with full liberty, but neither are the terms under which Kaffirs are employed either in the mines at Johannesburg or in the mines at Kimberley consistent with full liberty. Are noble Lords opposite aware that the very condition to which the noble Earl objected, viz., that if one of these Chinamen left the compound and was found outside without permission he might be arrested and thrown into prison, is in force at the present moment in South Africa and has been in force for a great many years? Any native who leaves the premises on which he is employed at the mines without the leave of his employer may at any time be seized in exactly the same way. Moreover, in the mines around Kimberley, which have been referred to by noble Lords opposite, I believe I am right in saying the native is never allowed to leave at all, even with the permission of his employer, whereas the Chinaman, under this new Ordinance, will be allowed to go out with leave for forty-eight hours. That may be a policy to which noble Lords opposite object, but if they do their protest comes rather late at the present moment. I admit with noble Lords opposite that this Ordinance has been very much improved by the regulations which have since been passed, and I now believe that after the pledges have been given in this House and in the other House of Parliament, and in view of the regulations 205 which are now before the country, every effort will be made and every care will be taken to secure to these Chinese labourers who will be imported into South Africa, in the first place, a full knowledge of the circumstances under which they are going to be employed, and further a treatment to which no exception can be taken on the grounds of humanity. I will conclude by hoping that all those noble Lords who continue to have confidence in Lord Milner, and those who share with him the responsibility of government in South Africa, will show that confidence by voting against this Motion to-night, and I would ask them to remember that His Majesty's Government have not allowed themselves to be deterred by any Party or electioneering considerations from boldly facing their responsibility and allowing the Transvaal Government to settle this labour difficulty in its own way. I think, therefore, that the Government deserve the full support of all those who have hitherto approved of their South African policy.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of LANSDOWNE)
I should have been perfectly ready to leave this question where my noble friend who has just addressed the House left it, but perhaps it will be expected that a few words should be said from this Bench before the debate closes. This is now the fourth evening on which your Lordships have discussed this question of Chinese immigration, and I do not think that those who are prepared to defend the Ordinance, and to accept full responsibility for it, have any cause to be dissatisfied with the course of the discussion, or with the movement of opinion which it has disclosed. The speeches which have been delivered, for what I may call the prosecution, have advanced again and again arguments with which we have become extremely familiar, but which I do not think have added very much to our enlightenment. The speeches for the defence have, on the contrary, reinforced our position by statements of fact of which the House was not formerly aware; and a good deal of light has been thrown alike upon the local conditions in South Africa, the wishes of those on the spot, and, above 206 all, upon the nature of the precautions which it has been determined to adopt in order to prevent this Ordinance from leading to any abuses. It is a remarkable illustration of what I have said that we should have bad the privilege of listening this evening to the speech which was delivered by the most rev. Primate, and I must say that I never heard in this House a speech of which the tone was more impartial and judicial. The most rev. Primate, at any rate, will not be told that his views are influenced by considerations connected with the dividends upon South African gold mines. It was remarkable to hear him give the reasons which, in spite of the obvious reluctance with which he regards these proposals, led him to determine that, on high public grounds, he was not justified in opposing the Ordinance.
We are going in a few minutes to proceed to a division, and I ask your Lordships to, bear in mind what the question is upon which we are going to divide. We are not asked to affirm a Resolution that Chinese immigration, with or without these particular conditions, is in itself an; objectionable thing, but we are asked to resolve that the Ordinance should not be allowed to come into operation until the grant to the colony of full representative Government. But many of the speeches delivered have gone much further than this. There has been a considerable difference between the purport of the Resolution and many of the speeches in support of it. The Resolution is a dilatory Resolution but many of the speeches have been irreconcilable speeches. It must be remembered that the Transvaal has to pass through three stages before it receives the full measure of self-government. The three stages are, first that of a Crown colony next, the stage of representative institutions; and finally, the stage of full and responsible self-government. At this moment the Transvaal is in the first stage, and it is obvious that it cannot reach the third stage for some considerable time. This Resolution, in effect, proposes that the Transvaal, until it arrives at the final stage of full and responsible self-government is, as a preparation for that full and responsible self-government, to pass through a period of confusion and insolvency. Its finances are to be disorganised, its development is to be paralysed, and, in our intense desire 207 to encourage white settlers, we are asked to adopt a measure which will not improbably, if adopted, have the effect of driving out those white settlers who are already there. And this is all to be done in the teeth of the preponderating opinion of the Colony itself.
I will not travel over the arguments which have been advanced again and again in order to show that there does exist a large preponderance of opinion in favour of the Ordinance in the Transvaal. I should be content if it only rested on the recorded opinions of the Legislative Council, which has not, I think, been spoken of with all the respect to which it is entitled. There are thirty members upon that Council, of whom fourteen are unofficial. I want to read to your Lordships a description of those unofficial members of the Legislative Council. This is what Lord Milner has to say of them—The unofficial members of the Legislative Council are really representative men, who have from the first shown themselves independent of Government, while sensitive to public opinion. Of these non-official members, fourteen in number, nine voted for the motion, and one did not vote. Of the nine supporters, four were Boer members, who all spoke as well as voted for the motion. The fifth Boer member took no part. Of the other five non-official supporters of the motion, two are mining men, two are leading men of business, and one is a British farmer, who has lived in the country for years, and possesses in an exceptional degree the confidence of both Dutch and British.Now, my Lords, when reference was made to these unofficial members the noble Lord opposite. Lord Monkswell, said he hoped they voted according to their conscience. I say that it would be a monstrous insult to the members of that Legislative Council to suppose that upon a matter of this gravity they did not vote in accordance with the dictates of their conscience.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
Upon what grounds are we to refuse to the colony this measure of relief which is so much desired. We are told in the first place that there is plenty of black labour to be obtained. One of the speakers last night gave us the number of the black population in South Africa which he regarded as available for this 208 purpose. I have had occasion to look into this aspect of the case, and I am convinced that we must hesitate a good deal before we assume that the whole of the black population is a fit recruiting ground for labour for the mines. When Lord Milner was in this country I discussed with him the possibility of finding recruits in the British Protectorates, but I found that the natives of those regions were, to a great extent, required for the development of their own country, and it was not desirable that they should be too much encouraged to go elsewhere. But, besides that, it should be remembered that these natives are much more helpless and ignorant than the Chinese, and therefore much more liable to those influences against which it is desired to guard the Chinese recruit. They are also much more liable to be injuriously affected by climatic changes and the trying conditions which accompany labour in the mines. Then it is said that white labour can be obtained in abundance. There again, my Lords, we have the case cited by my noble friend who spoke last of an association which spent something like half-a-million of money in an attempt to obtain white labour. White labour has been tried and found prohibitive, and, more than that, it has been ascertained upon the highest authority that the employment of white unskilled labour for this purpose is repugnant to colonial feeling. I noticed the other day an account of a deputation received by Lord Milner a few days ago, when a speech was delivered by a Mr. Strong, one of the miners' delegates. Mr. Strong said that—He deprecated the proposal for cheap white labour. This would mean the introduction of an underpaid and dissatisfied class of labourer, which would be the prey of official agitators, and there is a deep-seated feeling that it is not desirable that white labourers should be employed upon what is known in South Africa as Kaffir labour.The main objection, as I understand, is directed to the conditions under which the Chinese immigrants are to be employed. It has been said more than once, and I say it again, that, if it were possible, the Government would gladly avoid these stringent conditions, which I do not suppose anybody likes, upon their merits, but the colony insists upon them, and 209 although we have some colonial opposition to Chinese immigration accompanied by those restrictions, we should have the Colonies solid against the introduction of Chinese labour without these restrictions. The attitude of the Colonies is perfectly natural and intelligible. Their great desire is to preserve these regions for white men, and they do not desire to see the introduction of a prolific race, which, if it acquires a domicile in the country, may turn the Colonies into something other than the heritage of white men. Can we then blame these colonial Governments if they attach to the entrance of Asiatic immigrants strict conditions as to the nature, duration, and place of their employment? These conditions are constantly spoken of as if they were indignities of the most grievous kind. The noble Lord opposite called them shocking. But has it not been amply proved during the course of this debate that a great part of the objections which are raised to the conditions have turned out to be based upon a complete misapprehension of their nature? The word "slavery" has been used inside and outside the House. I suppose all your Lordships have been treated to specimens of literature on the subject. I have received a document headed with these words—Will the British people allow the Imperial Government to assist cosmopolitan speculators to drive British workmen from the Transvaal in order that they may replace them by Chinese slaves?That sounds extravagant and ridiculous, hut does it really in essence go much beyond the speech of the noble and learned mover of the Resolution or of the right rev. Prelate? The right rev. Prelate spoke of an intention to appeal, if necessary, to the people; but if the appeal is to be made in that way I do not know that we shall have reason to regard the verdict with much respect.
Prejudice has also been imported into the discussion with reference to the residence of the immigrants. I am not surprised, I confess, that some of us should have been a little puzzled as to the precise conditions under which these Chinamen are to be allowed to dwell at the mines. Very different accounts have been given of these places of residence, which have been variously compared to a Chinese village, a garden city, and a cage. A 210 garden city may not be a correct description, but I am sure that the word "cage" is not correct. Nothing has impressed me more than the fact that Lord Spencer, the fairest and most generous of opponents should have been so saturated with the jargon of this question that, by what must have been an accidental slip of the tongue, he let fall that disastrous and most unfair expression. If it can be used by a man of Lord Spencer's temperament, you can imagine to what kind of lengths assailants of this Ordinance will go when they are on the platform with nobody to contradict or challenge them. A similar amount of prejudice surrounds the question of the immigrants' wives. We now know that the regulations permit any immigrant to take his wife and family with him; but, supposing they did not, is that such a terrible state of things to contemplate? Let me again quote a single sentence from a letter which appeared the other day over the signature of Mr. George Wray, the late Protector of Chinese in the Straits Settlements. Mr. Wray begins by explaining that no Chinese emigrant dreams of taking his family with him unless he is going of his own free will as a paid passenger to a place which his own countrymen have proved to the hilt to be suitable. In this respect, I venture to think that Chinese emigrants show an extremely wise discretion. In the Straits Settlements and the Federated Malay States only 63,000 out of 463,000 Chinese have families, and the Chinese colony is admitted to be a most valuable element. The fact is that it is idle to suppose that when large gangs of labourers are anywhere employed on temporary work they are likely, speaking generally, to be anything but celibate. When large gangs of labourers are employed in out-of-the-wav places on railway construction or other public works, do your Lordships suppose that they take with them their wives and families? I do not believe that anything of the kind happens. The fact is, in the Transvaal there is a very grievous dearth of labour. We want an arrangement which will suit the requirements of the Colony and which will suit the Chinese themselves, and in our belief this Ordinance, with the regulations with which your Lordships are now familiar, does accomplish this 211 two-fold purpose. We, at any rate, are prepared to accept the full responsibility for this Ordinance and for the regulations. And, my Lords, we are strongly convinced that although the arguments which have been used against it may answer the purpose when they are used upon the platform and under circumstances when it is impossible to examine them or to reply to them, those arguments when they are used and laid before
§ your Lordships' House, where they can be examined and can be replied to, will be considered by your Lordships to be of a kind which will not justify you in with-holding your consent from the proposals of the Colony, which we very gladly and confidently endorse.
§ On Question,
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 25; Not-Contents, 97.211
|Nothhampton, M.||Hereford, L. Bp.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Ripon, M.||Reay, L.|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery)||Ribblesdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Beauchamp, E.||Brassey, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Coleridge, L. [Teller.]||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Crewe, E.||Denman, L.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Kimberley, E.||Kinnaird, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Russell, E.||Monkswell, L.||Wandsworth, L.|
|Temple, E.||Northbourne, L.||Welby, L.|
|Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor.)||Onslow, E.||Gormanston, L (V. Gormanston)|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) (L. President.)||Scarbrough, E.||Grenfell, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Heneage, L.|
|Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Shaftesbury, E.||Hylton, L.|
|Stradbroke, E.||Iveagh, L.|
|Argyle, D.||Strafford, E.||Kelvin, L.|
|Bedford, D.||Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare)|
|Grafton, D.||Yarborough, E.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl)|
|Portland, D.||Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Kenyon, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Colville of Culross, V.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)|
|Goschen, V.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore)|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Hutchinson, V. (E Donoughmore||Knollys, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Knutsford, V.||Lawrence, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Meredyth, L. (L. Athlumney.)|
|Winchester, M.||Methuen, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward.)||Bristol, L. Bp.||Monckton, L. (V. Galaray.)|
|Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Clarendon, E. (L. Chamberlain.)||Alington, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Ancaster, E.||Alverstone, L.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Armstrong, L.||Revelstoke, L.|
|Carnwath, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Robertson, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Ashcombe, L.||Romilly, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Barrymore, L.||Rothschild, L.|
|Doncasler, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Belper, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington. )|
|Ducie, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Middleton. )||Sinclair, L.|
|Grey, E.||Chelmsford, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Hardwicke, E.||Colchester, L.|
|Harrowby, E.||Cottesloe, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Howe, E.||De Mauley, L.||Trevor, L.|
|Lathom, E.||de Ros, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)||Wenlock, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Windsor, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Farquhar, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Northesk, E.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)||Wrottesley, L.|
§ House adjourned at Twelve o'clock (midnight), till To-morrow, a quarter past Twelve o'clock.