HC Deb 29 April 1929 vol 227 cc1307-8W

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been called to the statement that many thousands of impoverish Ceylonese are persuaded to lend, and in some cases to sell, young sons and daughters to foreigners for heavy domestic work usually performed by adult household servants or farm hands; that boys and girls are forced to work from dawn until dark, with no intervals for food and under other conditions of cruelty and neglect, and in some cases there has been whipping for trivial disobedience ending fatally; and if at present there is any system for registration of children employed on estates or any official body to supervise their welfare or prevent abuses?


My attention has been drawn to an article in a Ceylon newspaper containing allegations of ill-treatment of children employed under local custom in domestic service. The article clearly refers to service in Ceylonese households and not to service with Europeas residents. The law of Ceylon includes Ordinances relating to the registration of domestic servants, and to the employment of women, young persons and children, and there is full control and supervision of the employment of children on estates on which Indian immigrant labour is engaged. I can only assume that, if instances of cruelty have occurred, they have been isolated cases, the remedy for which is the creation of a stronger public opinion through the ageny of unofficial societies such as exist in this country, as was indeed suggested by the writer of the article.