HC Deb 14 February 1927 vol 202 cc576-8W

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether the legislation affecting the native races of Southern Rhodesia is reserved for final sanction; whether the Act for the indenturing of children under 14 years of age has been submitted for final approval; whether he is aware that this legislation was passed owing to the representations of the Farmers' Association in Southern Rhodesia; and whether, in these circumstances, he proposes to withhold sanction?


The reply to this question is necessarily of considerable length, and I hope the hon. Member will agree to my circulating it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

(1) Under Article 28 of the Southern Rhodesia. Constitution Letters Patent, 1923, the Governor of the Colony is required to reserve any law, save in respect of the supply of arms, ammunition or liquor to natives, whereby natives may be made liable to any conditions, disabilities or restrictions to which persons of European descent are not also subjected or made liable, unless the Governor has previously obtained His Majesty's instructions upon such law through a Secretary of State, or unless such law contains a Clause suspending the operation thereof until the signification in the Colony of His Majesty's pleasure thereto.

(2) The Native Juveniles' Employment Act has been passed by the Legislature of Southern Rhodesia with a suspending Clause of the nature which I have just referred to.

(3) As to part three of the question, I cannot do better than quote the statement made by the Premier of Southern Rhodesia, who is also Minister of Native Affairs, in the Legislative Assembly of Southern Rhodesia: I may state that in bringing forward this Bill we have attempted to carry out what has been advocated by the present Assistant Chief Native Commissioner several years ago, and what is entirely in the interest of the native juveniles themselves. His views were adopted three years ago after full discussion by resolution of a Conference of Native Superintendents. And again in that case they were thinking, not of the European employer, but of the wellbeing of the native children. As far as I personally am concerned, speaking as the Minister of Native Affairs, there is no other object in view than the well-being of the natives themselves. I may add that the Act is based upon regulations which were drawn up by the Conference of Superintendents of Natives referred to in the Premier's statement; that these regulations were submitted for consideration to the Southern Rhodesia Native Education Commission, 1924–25, and that that Commission recommended their adoption as a legal measure. I am placing a copy of the Report and a copy of the Act in the Library of the House.

(4) It is not proposed that His Majesty should be advised to exercise his power of disallowance in respect of the Act.