§ MR. CLOUGH (Yorkshire, W.R., Skipton)
On a point of order, Sir. Is it competent at this time for anyone to move to exclude all strangers?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Yes, If any hon. Member espies strangers I must put the question that strangers must withdraw.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That strangers be ordered to withdraw."
§ The House divided:—Ayes. 25; Noes, 326, (Division List No. 412)191
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Gooch, George Peabody||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Ashley, W. W.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Rees, J. D.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Renton, Major Leslie|
|Chance, Frederick William||Hobart, Sir Robert||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Clough, William||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirra)|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Byles and Sir Howard Vincent.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley)||Nuttall, Harry|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Pearson, W.H.M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Abraham, Win. (Cork, N. E.)||Bennett, E. N.||Burdett-Coutts, W.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Berridge, T. H. D.||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Bertram, Julius||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex F.||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Cameron, Robert|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Bignold, Sir Arthur||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Billson, Alfred||Carlile, E. Hildred|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Black, Arthur W.(Bedfordshire)||Cave, George|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Bolton, T. D. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C.W.|
|Astbuty, John Meir||Bottomley, Horatio||Cawley, Sir Frederick|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Boulton, A. C. F. (Ramsay)||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Bowles, G. Stewart||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Boyle, Sir Edward||Churchill, Winston Spencer|
|Balcarres, Lord||Brace, William||Cleland, J. W.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Bramsdon, T. A.||Clynes, J. R.|
|Barker, John||Branch, James||Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Brigg, John||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.)|
|Barry, K. (Cork, S.)||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Brodie, H. C.||Corbett, CH.(Sussex, E. Grinst'd)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Brooke, Stopford||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.|
|Bell, Richard||Brunner, J.F.L. (Lanes., Leigh)||Cory, Clifford-John|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Bryce, J. A.(Inverness Burghs)||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Courthope, G. Loyd|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo)||Bull, Sir William James||Cox, Harold|
|Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hudson, Walter||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Jackson, R. S.||O'Dowd, John|
|Crombie, John William||Jardine, Sir J.||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Crooks, William||Jenkins, J.||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||O'Malley, William|
|Cross, Alexander||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||O'Shee, James John|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulhain)||Joyce, Michael||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Partington, Oswald|
|Delany, William||Kekewich, Sir George||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Kelley, George D.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Keswick, William||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Dillon, John||Kimber, Sir Henry||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Dolan, Charles Joseph||Laidlaw, Robert||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Duckworth, James||Lambert, George||Priestley, W. K. B.(Bradford, E.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lament, Norman||Radford, G. H.|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Randles, Sir John Seurrah|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Lehmann, B. C.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Erskine, David C.||Lever, A. Levy(Essex, Harwich||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Lewis, John Herbert||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Fall, Arthur||Lough, Thomas||Kendall, Athelstan|
|Ferens, T. R.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Ffrench, Peter||Lundon, W.||Richardson, A.|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Lupton, Arnold||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Findlay, Alexander||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Maclean, Donald||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Forster, Henry William||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd)|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||M'Callum, John M.||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Fullerton, Hugh||M'Kean, John||Runciman, Walter|
|Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||M'Kenna, Reginald||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||M'Killop, W.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Maddison, Frederick||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Gill, A. H.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Schwann, Sir C.E. (Manchester)|
|Ginnell, L.||Markham, Arthur Gasil||Sears, J. E.|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Marnham, F. J.||Seddon, J.|
|Glover, Thomas||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Seely, Major J. B.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Massie, J.||Shackleton, David James|
|Gordon, Sir W. Evans-(T'r Ham.||Masterman, C. F. G.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Meagher, Michael||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Menzies, Walter||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Meysey,-Thompson, E. C.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Micklem, Nathaniel||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Hall, Frederick||Molteno, Percy Alport||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthr Tydvil)||Mond, A.||Snowden, P.|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B.||Mooney, J. J.||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Morley, Rt. Hon. John||Steadman, W. C.|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Morpeth, Viscount||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Morse, L. L.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Murphy, John||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Myer, Horatio||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Henry, Charles S.||Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)||Summerbell, T.|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Nicholls, George||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncast'r||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Nolan, Joseph||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Hills, J. W.||Norman, Sir Henry||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Hogan, Michael||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary, Mid||Thomasson, Franklin|
|Horniman, Emslie John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Thompson, J. W. H.(Somerset, E|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Tillett, Louis John|
|Tomkinson, James||Waterlow, D. S.||Wilson, Hon. C.H,W. (Hull, W.|
|Toulmin, George||Watt, H. Anderson||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Whitbread, Howard||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Valentia, Viscount||White, George (Norfolk)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Verney, F. W.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Vivian, Henry||White, Luke (York, E. R.)||Winfrey, R.|
|Walters, John Tudor||White, Patrick (Heath, North)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Wadsworth, J.||Whitehead, Rowland||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart -|
|Walton, Sir John L.(Leeds, S.)||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)||Young, Samuel|
|Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Wardle, George J.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Joseph Leese and Mr. Rowlands.|
|Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)||Williamson, A.|
|Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
Motion made, and Question "That the debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Whiteley)—put, and agreed to.
§ * MR. LEHMANN
said that in moving the Adjournment of the House he wished at the outset to say that it was not without much careful and painful thought that he had brought himself to the point of proposing this Motion. He could not disguise from himself or the House at large that the matter upon which he was about to speak was a disagreeable, nay a detestable and a horrible one But that very fact and the fact that the credit of the nation at large, and the good name of the nation among civilised nations, were involved, constituted a justification for bringing forward the matter and asking the House to pass judgment upon it His task was not a pleasant one, but he had at least one compensation, which was this: If he spoke as he hoped to speak. with due moderation and restraint, and without any Party recrimination, he believed he would be able to carry with him on this Motion the general sense of the House as a whole and not merely the sense of a particular section We were in the presence of a great moral disaster a disaster which overthrew and obliterated the barriers and dividing lines by which men generally set themselves apart; a disaster which reduced men to the primary elements of their humanity. Such being the case he would have mason to bitterly reproach himself if he stooped to mere Party acrimony. He would avoid it as he would avoid poison. It would be his duty to refer, in broad outline to the earlier history of the matter, and in quotations from debates to include passages from speeches made by his right hon. friend the ex-Colonial Secretary. At the outset he wished to say he enjoyed the privilege of the right hon. Gentleman's friendship when they were both undergraduates at Cambridge, and, though their paths had lain apart 192 since that time, he knew him well enough to say—if he might say it without presumption—that if his right hon. friend could have foreseen what subsequently happened, if he had not convinced himself that the safeguards proposed were amply sufficient, he would have cut off his right hand rather than have consented to the Ordinance. What he said of the right hon. Gentleman applied with equal force to every Member of this House. That there was in the Chinese compounds a probability of immorality of the nature to which he would have to refer was not merely hinted at, but was discussed when the Ordinance came before this House and when it was discussed in another place. The discussion in another place occurred on February 11th and 12th, 1904, on which occasion the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of the matter as ''a poison of a terrible kind." and desired an assurance that it would not be introduced into the Transvaal with the Chinese labourers whom it was proposed to import. The Bishop of Rochester spoke in a similar strain, and Lord Stanmore and other noble Lords were not behind the Prelates he had mentioned. The matter came before the House of Commons in the debate on the Address on February 10th in the same year, and no that occasion the ex-Colonial Secretary said—I quite recognise that hon. Members have a right to say that the burden rests on us of showing that the remedy proposed to meet a great economic difficulty—the introduction of Chinese labour—can be introduced into that country without moral taint, and without presenting the aspect or the reality of slavery. It is a perfectly legitimate demand, and I trust that the House will allow me to meet it shortly and I hope, conclusively. I entirely agree that the provisions for the reception and accommodation of the wives and families of these people should be clearly made. I undertake that they shall be made. We were advised in 193 this matter by men most experienced in the whole Empire on the subject of Chinese labour. We were advised that the coolies would not go without their women-folk. Manifestly it would be most wrong that they should go without their women-folk. I undertake that if they wish to bring their wives and families they shall be allowed to do so. [HON. MEMBERS: 'All of them?'] All of them. I did not give specific answer to a Question on this point the other day because the form of the question was: Would they all be accompanied by their wives and families if they wished it? Obviously it might be desirable for the labourers to go out in one ship, and their wives and families in another. I undertake on behalf of the Government, that all the coolies who desire to bring their wives and families shall have the opportunity to do so. If more is desired, then I undertake to fully consider and give effect to any reasonable demand made in connection with the matter.Provision was made in the Ordinance, and regulations were made in the Transvaal, and it was earnestly and sincerely hoped that those regulations and the provisions which were made would have the effect of inducing a large number of the Chinese coolies who were to be imported into South Africa to go, accompanied or followed by their wives and families. It was hoped, of course, in that way to get rid of the danger of there being committed in the compounds crimes of a horrible nature against which the conscience of Christianity revolted. The regulations, which were honestly and sincerely made, were absolutely ineffective. Only an infinitesimal number of Chinese women went to South Africa At the present time he believed there were only two or three there The Ordinance was agreed to, and the Chinese coolies began to arrive in South Africa and to start work there. After a time rumours of crimes in the compounds began to circulate. Letters arrived in this country calling attention to a horrible state of things in the compounds, and amongst others who received such letters was his hon. friend the Member for South Berkshire, who had been honourably distinguished for the part he had played in this matter. The question came to a head on August 4th this year, when his hon. friend laid before the House the facts that had come to his knowledge. One of the letters his hon. friend received was from a Mr. Leopold Luyt, B.A., of the Cape University and a solicitor of Cape Colony, and a passage in the letter in question stated that in 194 most of the compounds, and especially in the Simmer and Jack, there were at least six Chinamen who were used by the Coolies for the purpose of immorality at a charge of 2s. per coolie, and that this was tolerated and allowed by the mine manager and the Government. This was what his hon. friend said, as reported by Hansard:The record of murders and outrages committed by the coolies was appalling, and by the herding together of 50,000 Chinese of the lowest class, without women, a horrible moral cancer had been introduced into our new colony, and the population and settlers in the Transvaal were becoming habituated to practices that had always been held in deepest detestation by our race. He earnestly pressed upon the Government that instead of waiting they should make every effort to hasten the repatriation of the Chinese, and, as far as possible, to obtain withdrawal of licences. Instead of allowing 5,000 more Chinese to come in and add to the gravity of the situation, they should extend the admirable policy which they had begun, and persuade certain mine-owners to withdraw the licences and begin at once a gradual system of repatriation of this class who could not be allowed to remain in South Africa without contaminating the public life and purity of the colony.In the course of the debate the present Under-Secretary for the Colonies, who, of course, spoke on behalf of the Government, the Prime Minister sitting beside him at the time, said—As to the question of immorality, he thought it must be quite clear that the fact of so large a population living under conditions of enforced and unnatural celibacy must raise very disquieting reflections in the mind of anyone who contemplated the situation. The hon. Gentleman had rightly stated that the law in the Transvaal imposed severe punishments on whites and blacks under certain conditions, and he himself had not heard that that law had not been put in operation against the Chinese. It certainly should be put in operation; and if it should be found that it was at present neglected, instructions would be given to secure that the law should be made operative. But the hon. Member for Berkshire proceeded to speak of an even worse aspect of the Chinese labour question. He made statements as to the unnatural vice that prevailed in the mines. The hon. Gentleman said it was rampant and obvious. All he could say was that he had never seen any document or Paper—and a good many came before him—from South Africa which made reference to such a state of vice in the mines as that to which the hon. Member for Berkshire called attention. It was only quite recently that the hon. Member and several persons from South Africa had brought the matter to the knowledge of his noble friend Lord Elgin. He must remind the hon. Member that when he asked him to place the statement on record in writing he 195 declined, and consequently the Colonial Office was not able to give that attention to the charges which no doubt they deserved. Having regard to the later evidence as to the condition of things which the hon. Gentleman had brought forward, it was necessary that immediate inquiry should be made. He understood, indeed, that his hon. friend had had several consultations with his noble friend the Secretary of Stare for the Colonies, and that Lord Elgin had assured him that inquiries would be immediately addressed to Lord Selborne on the subject. He would suppose that, in these circumstances, the Colonial Office would be in possession of information on the subject before the House reassembled. He had frequently stated to the House the policy of the Government in regard to Chinese labour, and in the absence of new facts they were not inclined to change that policy. But, if such a state of things were disclosed as was indicated by the statements which had been brought before them by the hon. Member, and if the charges he had made could be maintained, then he thought it would be clear that the general position of the Government in regard to Chinese labour, even during the transition period with which they were dealing, would have to be entirely revised.In consequence of the pledge thus given Mr. Bucknill was appointed to inquire into the conditions of immorality said to be prevalent in the compounds in the Transvaal. The Report and evidence were in the hands of the Government. They were now told that the Report and the evidence were confidential, and that; they must be so treated. In the circumstances he should not dream of asking the Government to publish the Report or the evidence, but he must remind the House of what had taken place. The hon. Member for the Newbury division of Berkshire had been allowed to see the Report and the evidence. [An HON. MEMBER: By whom?] By the Colonial Secretary, Lord Elgin. My hon. friend was allowed to spend three days in taking notes of that Report and that evidence at the Colonial Office. His hon. friend was told that he might not communicate any part of the Report or evidence to the Press, but that he might inform his friends of their purport. That permission was only subsequently withdrawn.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. CHURCHILL,) Manchester, N.W.
From whom does my hon. friend suggest that that permission emanated?
§ MR. LEHMANN
said the permission emanated from the private secretary of Lord Elgin. He went further than that. Not in consequence of anything his hon. friend had said or done—how he knew not—statements as to the Report had appeared in the public Press. They had been published in several newspapers. He might mention Reynolds's Newspaper, Star, Daily News, Tribune and Daily Chronicle. He would refer also to what took place in the debate on August 4th. The Under-Secretary promised then that the allegations which had been made publicly should be inquired into; and therefore it was right to expect that some communication should be made to the House—not at once, but after a proper interval—as to the nature of the inquiry and the steps to be taken by the Government. But no information of any kind had been granted to the House. The Under-Secretary stated yesterday, in Answer to a Question, that he could make no statement in general terms on the subject, the Report being a confidential one. It was this condition of things that imposed on him the task that he had undertaken that night. He desired to ask the Government questions with regard to certain points. Were the Government in possession of evidence showing (1) that systematic unnatural vice existed in the Chinese compounds in the Transvaal; (2) that there were a considerable number of coolies who hired themselves out for the purpose of this vice; (3) that many of these coolies were dressed and wore their hair in a special fashion intended to show that they might be used for this purpose; (4) that the majority of the coolies in South Africa were recruited from North China where this vice was prevalent; (5) that the prevalence of this vice among the coolies in the compounds had long been known to the official inspectors of the mines, and that they had found it impossible to cope with it adequately; (6) that desertion and other more serious crimes had arisen from this condition of affairs; and further, was it a fact that in consequence of information laid before the legal authorities in the Transvaal a circular letter was issued early this year from the Attorney-General's Department to the mining authorities, calling their attention to the necessity of taking 197 early measures to deal with this matter? If the Government had in their possession such evidence, what did they propose to do in the matter? Mere administrative action and methods of police must be insufficient in such a condition of things. The punishment and repatriation of guilty individuals might extirpate the vice for the moment; but others would be ready to take the place of those sent away. Inspection and punishment had been tried by the Transvaal authorities; but the crime was just as rampant now as ever before. The only method on which reliance could be placed to produce any diminution of these crimes was to begin as soon as possible the systematic repatriation of the Chinese coolies. What was the state of affairs at the present moment? The first batch of contracts did not expire until next May. But, if these allegations were true, he asked that repatriation should be begun earlier. We could not afford to wait six months before dealing with this state of things. It was, of course, physically impossible to repatriate 53,000 men en bloc. He wished it were not. But a beginning could be made, and could be continued until we had cleared the soil of South Africa of the taint that had been set upon it. It was his earnest desire that our good name should be cleared and that the Government would enable hon. Members to assure themselves and the country that the system which had fostered and bred these horrible crimes would be brought to an end before long.
§ * MR. A. E. W. MASON (Coventry)
said he wished to second the Motion in a very few words. The rumours in regard to the Report of Mr. Bucknill had been growing and taking more substantial shape every day. Those rumours had been sufficiently indicated by the hon. Member for the Market Harborough Division and he should not repeat them. It was enough that they should have been spoken once. If the rumours as to the contents of Mr. Bucknill's Report were untrue, he was sure that it would be a great relief to everyone in the House to know it. If they were true, it would be an equal relief to know what steps were to be taken to remedy the existing state of things. No one who cherished the Imperial ideal of a brotherhood of 198 nations linked by common kinship, common language, common sentiment, and, above all, by a common code of honour, could regard without alarm the tarnishing of that ideal by the conditions which were said to exist in the compounds of South Africa. He was aware that it would be a foolish and a futile task to attempt to graft on native Oriental races the manners of the West: but this was not a case of that kind. The Chinese were not born natives of South Africa. They were brought there from afar into a white man's country, or at all events, into a country inhabited according to a white man's code—and they were brought—he used the phrase in no offensive sense—for the purposes of gain. But there were conditions under which, according to a white man's code, gain must not be made; and there was reason to fear that those conditions were now existent in the compounds. He would follow the hon. Member who preceded him in saying that there was no desire to impute blame to anyone in this matter. For himself he had no doubt that every one connected with the mines had done his best to eradicate the evil. Personally, he had believed that this question of Chinese labour was one which we could not reserve from the colony to which we were going immediately to give responsible self-government. The Constitution had been granted, and the electoral campaign had already been begun; but the actual moment of self-government had not yet come, and we were still responsible. Therefore he urged that whatever considerations were held in other respects, the disgrace of allowing this system to continue would, therefore, fall upon us. If, owing to the compound system, it was impossible to prevent absolutely the continuance of this evil, then more drastic methods must be enforced. If repatriation was to be the price, he thought all would agree that that price would be cheaply paid.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— (Mr. Lehmann.)
§ * MR. CHURCHILL
said that the Government had no reason to complain that the hon. Gentlemen who had just 199 addressed the House should have raised this subject at this time, or of the terms in which they had expressed themselves. It was a subject equally unpleasant and difficult to discuss and the position of the Government in the matter enabled them very fully to share in the mood and temper of the mover and seconder of the Motion, who had expressed themselves in terms free from anything offensive and completely removed from anything partisan. The House would remember that at the end of the summer the hon. Member for the Newbury division of Berkshire placed evidence before the Secretary of State which required immediate investigation. He himself said that the Government would address Lord Selborne on the subject. They did so, and Lord Selborne assembled a Committee, which investigated the particular allegations which the hon. Member for Newbury had made, upon the authority of a Dr. Luyt. That Committee was presided over by a Mr. Bucknill, a lawyer well respected in the colony and a son of Mr. Justice Bucknill. The Committee investigated the subject with patience. It examined twenty-six witnesses orally and accumulated a mass of documents, including the testimony of fifteen medical officers. Basing himself upon this mass of evidence Mr. Bucknill presented his Report. The Cabinet had decided not to publish the Report or the evidence upon which it was based. There was reason in that decision. He thought it was a matter open to judgment whether the Report, although not an edifying or savoury document, might not have been published, but the evidence on which the Report was based was clearly unprintable, besides being essentially of a confidential character. No one could have expected to arrive at any clear knowledge of the facts unless it had been understood that the evidence tendered was, in the main, of a confidential character. He ventured to say that the inquiry was one which, if conducted in this country would have been conducted with closed doors. The hon. Member for the Newbury division of Berkshire, who had rendered public service in regard to this matter, claimed to examine the Report and the evidence. He was the last man in the House to bring any 200 charge of breach of faith or of calculated indiscretion against the hon. Gentleman. Everyone knew that the hon. Gentleman's motives were genuine and good-hearted. At the same time he did think that the use which the hon. Gentleman had permitted himself to make of documents marked "strictly confidential" was open to some measure of criticism, if not of complaint.
§ MR. MACKARNESS (Berkshire, Newbury)
said he was sure that he saw no document marked "strictly confidential." In the course of an examination of the documents, conducted for several days under the eye of the private secretary of Lord Elgin, he asked, ''Is there any objection to my giving this, if I am asked?" The answer was, "I do not think Lord Elgin would like that." He then said he supposed there would be no objection to his telling what he had seen and what he was writing down to friends on the Ministerial side of the House who were interested, and the answer was. ''There would be no objection on Lord Elgin's part to that."
§ * MR. CHURCHILL
said that he made no charge against the hon. Gentleman's good faith, but from the result he thought they had some reason to complain. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] He would tell hon. Members why. It was because his hon. friend wrote down certain particularly effective, distasteful, and disagreeable extracts from the evidence and those extracts had been widely circulated in the House. He protested to the House of Commons that although it was, of course, possible to read the whole of the evidence and to review the Report based upon that, he did not think it was possible to form a fair judgment on the matter if it was discussed on certain selected passages of a particular complexion. One part of the evidence could not separately be considered in this or any other case, and a judgment could not be formed unless the evidence as a whole was fairly considered. In this case the evidence of the witnesses was most markedly conflicting.
§ MR. MACKARNESS
asked if the hon. Gentleman would say on what authority 201 he said that he only gave selected passages? He had given the whole of the extracts from the evidence.
§ MR. MARKHAM
inquired whether it was not an old and established rule of this House that no Minister or Undersecretary was entitled to refer to any document without laying it upon the Table of the House.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said he would refer Mr. Deputy Speaker to Mr. Erskine May's book to the effect that no speaker was entitled to refer to any passage in any Report which was not laid on the Table of the House.
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER
said the passage in question referred to quotations. He had recently looked at it.
§ * MR. CHURCHILL
said he did not wish to press any hostile argument against the hon. Member for the Newbury division of Berkshire, but nobody was entitled or in a position to form an opinion upon Mr. Bucknill's Report unless he had read the whole of it and the evidence upon which it was founded. For reasons which the House thought satisfactory a moment before it was not possible to place that Report and the evidence in the hands of hon. Members. As these could not be put into the possession of hon. Gentlemen, he submitted that they should take the opinion of the whole matter formed by persons of repute who had had fuller opportunities of investigating and judging. It would be quite impossible to carry on the business of the country satisfactorily unless the Government retained the power of making confidential inquiry on many matters of importance. And a confidential inquiry meant that the confidence should be respected after the inquiry, and not merely while it was taking place. But he could tell the House what the Report amounted to m the opinion of the Government—in the opinion of the Prime Minister and the Colonial Secretary. The hon. Member 202 for Berkshire placed them in possession of the evidence of a doctor, Dr. Luyt, a person not perhaps altogether worthy of the highest confidence. He said that the malpractices which had been referred to were open and scandalous, and that the consequence of them had been the demoralisation of the white population and contamination of the native population, who were learning to look lightly upon this class of offence; that there was a prevalence of a disease of a peculiar character to which he need not specifically refer among the Chinese coolies. The gravamen of the charge was that it was alleged that this open scandal was tolerated and recognised by the police with the knowledge of the Government. It was with this in his mind that he used the phrase attributed to him perfectly correctly in the course of the debate. If there was this public scandal brought about by the machinery created by the Labour Ordinance and shamelessly supported by the machinery of the Government, he certainly agreed it would have been the duty of the Government entirely to revise their position with regard to Chinese labour. These particular allegations were inquired into by Mr. Bucknill, and in view of his Report and the evidence on which it was based he was perfectly able to state that these allegations were not in substance proved. These offences were not a matter of open public scandal. Prom its very nature the offence hid itself in secrecy, and one of the greatest difficulties with which they were confronted at the present time was the secrecy with which these crimes were veiled. It was not true that there was a prevalence of a specific disease of a peculiar nature among the Chinese coolies. There had been hardly a case, and there had been overwhelming evidence the other way in regard to that particular form of disease to which reference had been made.
§ * MR. CHURCHILL
said there might have been five or six cases which had been brought to the knowledge of Mr. Bucknill as the result of the evidence 203 of fifteen medical officers who gave evidence. It certainly was not true that these practices were openly tolerated by the Government, by the police, or by the mine managers, and it was still less true that the native population of South Africa had been contaminated by novel forms of vice, because it was indisputable that those particular forms of vice had long prevailed among the native tribes in South Africa in particular districts and even to a greater extent than it prevailed among the Chinese coolies. Let him proceed to say what in general was true by Mr. Bucknill's Report, or, in other words what they must consider proved. It was clear, he thought, to any one reading the Report and the evidence that this particular offence of sodomy prevailed in most if not all compounds. He was not going to deal unfairly with the House. He had never attempted to prevent the case against Chinese labour being stated with its full force; indeed, he had sometimes endeavoured to add point to the figures and arguments raised, but it was undoubtedly true that there was a percentage, though as to that percentage witnesses of high position differed among themselves, of this form of vice in many if not all the compounds of the Witwatersrand, and that there were in those compounds persons who lent themselves to these practices either from habit or for money who were, in fact, proved to be catamites. He was sorry to inflict upon the House details of this kind of evidence on this point, but the evidence on it was very conflicting. Some of the expert witnesses said that they could detect a person affected by this form of vice. Others, on the other hand, declared that they could not do so, and the indications would in any case be of a very minute kind, perhaps only of a character to be understood by those who dealt in such matters and not by others who had no sympathy or agreement with them. He had stated frankly the main substance of the impression left on his mind and the mind of the Government by the Report, but he would like to say this—was not something like this to have been expected all along? Had they not on his side of the House, the Liberal and the Labour parties, for two or three years been 204 inveighing against Chinese labour? Though they had not used these arguments they had been at the back of their minds. At the beginning of the session his right hon. friend the Prime Minister made reference to these matters in terms which would leave no doubt in the minds of hon. Gentlemen as to what had been one of the great fundamental objections urged by the Government against the system of Chinese indentured labour which was introduced against their will and against their protests before their authority began. He saw the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, in his place. He felt that the right hon. Gentleman had got to speak in the debate, for the responsibility was largely and primarily with him to justify what had taken place. Those evils had long been foreseen by the opponents of Chinese labour, and had led them to make general attacks upon it, and when he saw Bishops and Archbishops hurrying into the field at this juncture to call upon the Government to take action he felt bonnd to ask, Why this belated intervention? Was it not clear that the aggregation of 52,000 men, drawn from these quarters of the world, in an alien country, under extraordinarily restricted conditions, with but two or three women of their own race with them, and without any children or family ties of any kind, was bound to produce moral evil of a peculiar character?
§ MR. CHURCHILL
said the House knew perfectly well the Answer to that. What had the Government to do? One remedy-was clear and simple. This vice must be vigilantly and rigorously repressed whereever it could be detected. All who were guilty, or who wore even suspected, would be, he did not say punished, because people could not be punished on suspicion—would be repatriated at once wholesale, however many there might be, under the plenary authority vested in the High Commissioner. He knew there were many hon. Gentlemen with whom he had the honour to art and work in politics who were inclined to think that Lord 205 Selborne was not a sufficiently zealous opponent of Chinese labour. He could assure them that there need be no doubt about the zeal with which Lord Selborne would endeavour to stamp out this vice. He knew no man who would bring personally such force to bear as the noble Lord. He would go further. The revelations of Mr. Bucknill's report disclosed a sufficiently unhealthy, unwholesome, and unnatural condition of affairs to seal the fate of Chinese labour. Whatever they might think of a system of labour under which the Chinese came with their wives and families, and lived under decent conditions of freedom with a proper opportunity of rising in the world by their skill and exertions, and dwelling if they chose afterwards in the country which those exertions had enriched, it was quite clear that the system they had known must absolutely, totally, utterly come to a close. That result would follow if the Government policy already declared, to Parliament was stringently enforced. The last shipload of Chinese had gone to South Africa. On the 30th of this month the whole machinery of recruitment in China would be broken up, never, while the present Government retained any share in the direction of affairs, to be erected again. The old Ordinance would be repealed within a period which would shortly be apparent when the Letters Patent were published, and no new one with similar conditions was likely to be assented to by the House of Commons. He was aware that that did not satisfy some hon. Gentlemen. He was under no illusion as to that. A further demand had been made upon the Government, and he did not complain. He thought no one on these benches would complain or would be surprised that such a request should be made. That request was that they should begin at once to repatriate the Chinese coolies in South Africa, not only those whom they had reason to suspect of this vice, but generally to reduce the whole population of Chinese coolies in South Africa. He must ask the House to take a wide view of the question. Within a few weeks there would be in the Transvaal an election of a Parliament of a thoroughly representative and democratic character. 206 There was no quarter of the world where Liberal principles were more on their trial, or where they had a chance of being more speedily vindicated. His Majesty's Government came into power with two objects in their South African policy—first, to bring about a better understanding and effective cooperation between the two great white races who lived in South Africa; and, secondly, to procure the repatriation of the Chinese from South Africa by the will of a South African Assembly. They had only been in office ten months, during which, although they had had many and unexpected difficulties, they had much to be thankful for and to be satisfied with. Was it not encouraging to read of General Botha writing to the high Commissioner to assure him of his willingness, and the willingness of those whom he represented, to co-operate in the repression of disorder in the north-west of Cape Colony, and to hear of 4,000 working men in Johannesburg gathering together to pass a resolution to co-operate in the repatriation of the Chinese? The House and His Majesty's Government had a great deal of power so far as the Chinese coolies who had not come in were concerned, a power operating smoothly through the Foreign Office and the Admiralty; but so far as the Chinese in South Africa were concerned that power was not absolute. They had to carry with them in what they did in that respect the opinion of the South African population. He said with full confidence that the opinion of that population, stimulated and encouraged as it had been by the sympathy which was growing between the Liberal and Radical forces of this country and of South Africa and in the great labour community of Johannesburg, was steadily bringing back the population into full sympathy with the views, and opinions held in that House. What would be the issue, presented within a very few weeks, at the general election in the Transvaal? First, effective co-operation of Boer and Briton for the good of a common country; secondly, that the Transvaal should be a British colony and not a mining compound; and thirdly, that Chinese labour should come to an end. Let them be careful what they did, and not, on a motion for adjournment, make a declaration at the eleventh hour that 207 would change all the political conditions which were governing the politics of the colony and run the risk of substituting the issue of Imperial interference and the suspicion of an accusation that they had branded the people of South Africa with the taint of conniving at detestable offences. Would it be possible to put into the hands of those who were pro-Chinese a more effective political campaigning weapon? Let hon. Gentlemen have confidence in the Government and the Prime Minister. They must know perfectly well that not this—not any Ministry —that no Liberal Government would shield unnatural offenders. They might be perfectly sure that the Government would take all practical steps to stamp out the evil and to remove the cause from which it sprang. They would incur a grave responsibility if in an impulse of repugnance and anger they interrupted the steady development of a policy, which was not only uniting Boer and British, but which in a comparatively short space of time would have the effect of utterly eradicating Chinese labour from South Africa upon the authority of a South African Parliament.
§ MR. LYTTELTON (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said the speech just delivered in most unfortunate contrast to the speeches of the mover and seconder would not divert him from expressing to those hon. Gentlemen his sense of the moderation and good taste with which they had performed what he was certain was to them a disagreeable task. He wished he could have said as much of the speeches of the Under-Secretary and the hon. Member for the Newbury Division of Berkshire. The hon. Member would, he was sure, on reflection, regret that he had gone to the Colonial Office and obtained extracts from the copy of a document the Prime Minister had declared was private and confidential.
§ MR. MACKARNESS
said it was more than a week after that the private nature of the document was declared by the Government.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
said of course he accepted what the hon. Member said; but even if the announcement had not been 208 made in the House did the hon. Gentleman think it was right to take extracts from a document upon which charges were going to be made against the late Government, and to show those extracts to Members of his own Party? He knew the hon. Member's zeal, and he credited him with the best motives, but on reflection, he thought he would see that it had placed the Opposition in a false position and made it impossible for them to deal properly with this matter.
§ MR. MACKARNESS
said he was sure his right hon. friend did not want to do him an injustice. At the time he showed the document to his friends he had not the slightest idea that the Government would not on a subsequent occasion publish it. He was never asked by hon. Gentlemen on the other side and never thought they were going to ask him for it. For all he knew when he read the Report the Government were still debating whether they would lay it on the Table.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
said the hon. Gentleman misunderstood his point. Permission was asked to show the document, not to the Press, or to hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, but to the hon. Member's own friends.
§ MR. MACKARNESS
said the right hon. Gentleman persistently but, he was sure, unintentionally, misrepresented him. He had stated that he asked Lord Elgin whether he might show the extracts to the Press, and his secretary intimated that he could not. Then he said, "I suppose you will not object to my showing it to people on our own side who are interested in the matter?" and that was not objected to.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
said what he was complaining of was not that the hon. Gentleman copied and took extracts from a confidential document, but that as they were to be the subject of a gross censure upon him and others, calling for an explanation, he was surprised that it had not occurred to a fair-minded man that those against whom an indictment was to be brought should have 209 been apprised of the existence of the document. He was sure Lord Elgin or his secretary, as upright and honourable men, would not have countenanced such action as that. There must have been some mistake. He would pass from that and come quickly, not to the speech of the Under-Secretary for the Colonies, but to the speeches of the mover and seconder. He thought they were entitled to ask for some observation from him upon this matter, and he was glad to give it. He had admitted from the first that this experiment must be tested by social and moral as well as by economic standards. He would never have proposed that coolie labour should be established on an organised system of prostitution. Instead of that, alone among all the experiments of coolie indentured labour, a free offer was made to the Chinese to take out their wives and children at the employers' expense. He had never concealed his unfeigned regret that that offer had not been taken advantage of: and when it was discovered that the Chinese were not going to avail themselves of that opportunity he quite conceded that it was right that he should again consider the question upon the moral ground. What were the opportunities of making that investigation? What were the official facts before him as to that matter? It was an obscure and a difficult matter. The most authoritative information available on the subject was the Report of the Royal Commission on Chinese Labour in British Columbia. That Commission was hostile to the experiment, but it found that the moral condition of a great celibate camp of 16,000 Chinamen was unimpeachable The Royal Commission in the course of their Report said that the Chinese had many noble virtues and characteristics. There were customs which from a moral point of view they condemned as much as we did. They compared favourably with others in their observance of law and order, and there was little doubt that to the frugality of their habits was to be attributed the comparative absence of habits of sensuality. That was the opinion of the Royal Commission, and the Bishop of British Columbia, writing on the same subject, said that the 210 Chinese led quiet, sober, and moral lives, and that there was not a particle of evidence of their importing new and detestable vices. With such testimony from people hostile to the whole experiment he would have despised himself if he had without evidence attributed to the Chinese this horrible and monstrous system of vice. It was perfectly true that during the eighteen months that he remained in office after the Chinese had been admitted to the Transvaal there were rumours in this House of immorality in the compounds. But he frequently challenged—indeed, he asked for any shred of evidence that might be produced on the subject. He thought he could say with absolute certainty that not a fragment of evidence ever reached him with regard to this subject during the eighteen months he was at the Colonial Office after the experiment was begun. The right hon. Member for Morpeth and Mr. Worsley Taylor visited the compounds. He quite agreed that if this vice had existed it would not have protruded itself in their sight, but he did say that if these allegations had been made it was impossible that they should not have heard of them. But although the right hon. Member for Morpeth, who was always hostile to Chinese labour, wrote an elaborate paper on his investigations, not a word escaped him as to the prevalence of this vice. He might, therefore, take it that during the period he was in office not a shred of evidence was produced as to the existence of such practices. He did not wish to make any Party point out of it, but he thought if there had been any evidence the present Government, like the late Government, would have taken prompt and vigorous steps. They came into office in November of last year, and during the general election there were insinuations made by their own followers as to these practices, and thereby they gained considerable profit to their own side in the election. Notwithstanding the suspicions of their own followers, in February last the Under-Secretary was put up by the Government to say that the whole matter of Chinese labour should be left to the unfettered decision of the responsible Government of the Transvaal. Gould they have believed such practices 211 existed? It was quite true that the next day the Chancellor of the Exchequer, owing to the indignation of his followers, threw over the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and said that the responsible Government of the Transvaal should decide the question of Chinese labour subject to the veto of the Imperial Government. But there again, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke it was perfectly clear that the point of immorality was not before him, and that no evidence after the Government had been three months in power had come before them. Yet during the three months that the Government had been in office 16,000 more Chinese had been introduced into the Colony. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Your fault."] He was not blaming the Government for it; but he should be the first to blame them if they had allowed 16,000 more Chinese to be introduced believing they were going to form part of the people who practised such forms of vice. He would be the last man to say the Government desired to countenance such practices. The Under-Secretary, in so pointedly calling upon him to speak, as if he were afraid to speak, must have measured his courage by some miserably low standard. He said that even in August of this year the Government could not have had a shred of evidence of the existence of these practices.
§ ME. LYTTELTON
said, if that were so, it meant that the Chinese had been in the compounds in South Africa from June, 1904, to August, 1906, without there being a shred of evidence upon the subject. Plain language had been used in this matter, and a good many hard things had been said of him, but he did not think he had said anything hard against those who had attacked Mm. This he would say, that there was no great forbearance shown on the question of Chinese in South Africa. It was made an electioneering cry, and he expected it would be from the first, but it made no difference. Notwith- 212 standing the tremendous searchlight that was turned upon that experience in order to discover anything unworthy or discreditable about it, for twenty-six months, according to the admission of the Under-Secretary, not a particle of evidence was brought forward as to the practices complained of. He spoke with great difficulty and embarrassment on the subject, because, although very hard blows had been struck at him, he had not been permitted to see this document, which had been exhibited to the hon. Member for the Newbury Division of Berkshire, who had copied from it those unsavoury extracts that had been showered over the whole Radical Press. Questions had been put which suggested that there had been open and notorious vice. He absolutely declined, without tenfold stronger evidence, to believe that the British inspectors, who visited the compounds every forty-eight hours, could by ignoring have countenanced such a state of things. It would be a monstrous thing after the exertions that Lord Selborne had made, after the reforms he had carried out for the inspection of these mines and for the facilities for complaints to be made, that the English gentleman he had appointed to supervise these things should have allowed such open and notorious vice to have passed by unnoticed. In regard to the arguments in favour of the superiority of native labour over Chinese labour, he had told the House that the utmost exertions had not been able to bring the death rate of the natives below 40 per 1,000. The death rate of the Chinese was scarcely half that amount; it had been as low as 12, and had never been higher than 25 per 1,000. On the score of humanity there was a great deal to be said for Chinese labour. He would not argue that. The Undersecretary had pointed out that the prevalence of the vices in question was greater among natives than among the Chinese. To substitute blacks for Chinese in the mines would more than double the mortality, and there would, it was admitted by the Under-Secretary. be a greater prevalence of vice. [Cries of "No."] The Under-Secretary said that vice was more prevalent among natives than among Chinese.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
said he had not seen the Report or the evidence. The only points which he had gathered were those which he had gathered from the Under-Secretary's speech. The points which the hon. Gentleman had made did not lead him to place a very high value on the evidence to which the Member for Berkshire had had access. Manifestly, if the Government suspected mischief they were bound to make the most vigilant inquiry and take the most scrupulous precautions; yet during the ten months they had been in power their vigilance had resulted in nothing at all, or, at all events, in no trustworthy evidence. He would urge them to pursue every method they possibly could for the eradication of this evil. He could assure them they would have the most hearty co-operation of all those on the Opposition benches; but they must forgive him if he said that at the present moment, in the circumstances in which this Report had been published, it was impossible for anybody who had not had the opportunity of seeing it to comment upon it. He i therefore left the matter where it stood. He could only repeat with the utmost earnestness in his power that, if the Government or any honest body of Englishmen thought there was truth in these allegations, they would have the most hearty support of the Opposition in any efforts they might make to eradicate the evil.
§ * MR. MASTERMAN (West Ham, N.)
said if there was one thing made certain by the debate it was that it was perfectly impossible to retain the confidential nature of the Report. They had a perfect right to complain of the; way in which some of this Report had reached some Members of the House. He recognised that in some way some deplorable blunder had been made. lie thought that the Government would even now find that the easiest course was to publish the Report. He recognised the difficulty in which the Government had been placed, but personally he was not satisfied with the declaration of the Under-Secretary for 214 the Colonies; and he had no other course to take but to urge that the Government should even now, though it was at the eleventh hour, begin the repatriation of the Chinese.
§ * MR. MACKARNESS
asked the House to bear with him in dealing with the personal matter touched upon by his right hon. friend opposite, who had not realised the circumstances in which he came to see the Report. He was the spokesman of those who on 4th August made the charges out of which the inquiry arose, and when the inquiry was completed he asked at once a question in the House as to when the Report would be laid on the Table, so little justification was there for the charge that he wished to conceal the Report from the other side. When he asked whether he could see the Report himself, if the Government had not decided to lay it on the Table, he received a letter from Lord Elgin saying in effect, "Come to the Colonial Office when you like; you will find a room there, and the Report ready for you to see." The only possible suggestion of a confidential perusal was that the letter was marked "private." but he had had a correspondence on the subject of this unnatural vice with the Colonial Office for months, and as the whole correspondence was marked "private" he attached no great importance to that. When he got to the Colonial Office he found that Lord Elgin was unable to see him, but his secretary was there when he was taking lengthy extracts. To make certain of his proper treatment of the Report he made inquiries of the secretary, who said Lord Elgin would not like him to give it at present to the Press, because the Government had not decided what to do with it, but there would be no objection to his talking about it to his friends on that side of the House.
§ MR. CHURCHILL
said that when he made his statement he was not aware that Lord Elgin's secretary had made that remark to the hon. Gentleman. If he had been aware of it he should not have attempted to throw the slightest reflection upon the hon. Gentleman.
§ SIR E. CARSON (Dublin University)
asked if the hon. Gentleman could say 215 who gave the information to the Radical Press.
§ * MR. MACKARNESS
said he certainly did not. He did not desire to use the information for Party purposes, and so far as he knew he had intimated to all his friends that it was for their use only inside the House. He would respect the seal of secrecy now imposed by the Government, but he adhered to every word he said on 4th August, the gravamen of which was that in nearly all the Chinese compounds there was systematic male prostitution on a considerable scale. The policy of the Government still consisted in handing on this Chinese labour question to the Colonial Government, and that was not the course for a British Government or for any civilised Government, to pursue. We had fought the war and taken the Transvaal upon the plea of introducing into South Africa a better system of administration, a higher standard and loftier ideals than existed before, and that great and solemn obligation, whether of a Liberal or Tory Government, should not be postponed for months. The Under-Secretary with all his cleverness did not realise the feeling on the moral aspect of this question in the country, and it was not the policy they had a right to expect from the present Government.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
was sure the House would accept the statement of his hon. friend, not that he was required to exonerate himself from any special blame, but they knew how anxious and ardent he was in this matter, and there was a possibility that he might have been led into an error of judgment. If any error was committed it was not by his hon. friend, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman and others opposite would dismiss from their minds any idea that an attempt was made to make Party capital out of the Report by allowing it to be seen by some persons and not by others. He imagined—he was 216 left to imagination, but he felt almost sure—that it was because of the great interest his hon. friend had taken in the matter, and not with a view to his action in the House or elsewhere, that he was allowed to see it. As to the confidential nature of the Report and evidence, it was the case, as his hon. friend had said, that the evidence was of a most nauseous character and could not be published, and that being so, the issue of the Report, which by some degrees was less objectionable, would have left the impression of whitewashing and an opposite effect to that intended. The Government adhered to their opinion that this was from the first, and from the necessities of the case, a confidential inquiry; and they were anxious to keep faith with all those who gave evidence and with Mr. Bucknill himself. The Government were not going to be deterred from maintaining the confidential character of the documents by the fact that some newspaper by some hidden means had obtained a copy of the document, whence and how he could not say. That did not remove from them the responsibility of maintaining the confidential nature of the document, and they were going to do so. He thought that some apology, however, was due to the right hon. Gentleman opposite that he was not admitted to the secrecy of the matter, in consideration of his former position and his immense interest in the subject. The omission was regrettable, and was due to some inadvertence. But when the right hon. Gentleman was speaking he felt sorry for him, because the right hon. Gentleman was the unfortunate Minister to whom it fell to introduce the Chinese under certain conditions into South Africa, and he now saw one of the results of his policy. From the first it had been predicted that sooner or later these vicious practices were likely to arise. The right hon. Gentleman entered into a long explanation of why he was not 217 alarmed. If he did not entertain these fears, why did he take so much pains to tell the House that the wives and children of the coolies were to go with them? Why should the right hon. Gentleman have made such a point of sending an adequate supply of wives and children?
§ MR. LYTTELTON
All I said was that if the coolies desired to do so they could take their wives and children at the expense of the employers.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
But why should they take their wives and children? [OPPOSITION cries of "Why not?"] All knew that the reason was the dangers that were certain to arise where the ordinary social conditions were so completely inverted. The right hon. Gentleman asked why the present Government did not at once take steps to cure this great moral disease. They had no proof of it whatever. It was not until this summer that they received these strong declarations of the state of things prevailing in the compounds. The inquiry of Mr. Bucknill proved that the reports received had been considerably exaggerated. There was no flagrant and notorious and unblushing amount of crime such as had been hinted at. There was crime, but it was necessarily of a secret character. The police and other officials could not be blamed for indifference, because witness after witness said that, although they knew the evil existed it was a most impossible to detect it; but it was known to exist. The Government were determined to apply greater and special rigour to the investigation and discovery of it and to repatriate detected criminals. Lord Selborne would address himself to this task. Although he had often had occasion to differ from what Lord Selborne said, yet he was quite sure in this matter Lord Selborne would spare no pains whatever to stamp out this evil. What had the present Government achieved in this matter of Chinese 218 labour? They had stopped the issue of fresh licences, they had facilitated repatriation, and they had announced that shortly after power in this matter was conferred by the new Constitution upon the people of the Transvaal the Chinese Labour Ordnance would be annulled. They had reason to believe they were working slowly but surely to the end they had in view—the putting of an end altogether to this system of labour. They would more surely attain their end by these constitutional means than by any violent action. The Government might be trusted not to turn back now they had put their hand to the plough. They would go on in the future as they had in the past with such measures as they thought best calculated to attain the purpose in view. If repatriation of noxious persons failed, they would be bound to seek some other method, but in the meantime he believed that by that reasonable and proper process they would so reduce the vice that they would be able in a few months to hand over the matter to the Transvaal community with the evil so cut down that there would not be much difficulty in dealing with it.
§ MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
thought the House found itself in an undesirable position. Hon. Members below the gangway were quoting a confidential document which even the ex-Colonial Secretary and many Members on both sides had not seen. Since he had been in this House he had seen the Chinese labour question in many stages. He was the first Liberal Member to raise the question in the House. Six years ago the late Sir William Harcourt, in a debate on the Transvaal and its finances, referred to an article he had written in the Nineteenth Century, seven years ago in which he had admitted that the only real method to prevent terrible mortality in the mines was to introduce labour from outside South Africa. But he said emphatically to-night that if 219 the allegations that had been bandied about in this debate were founded on fact then he would be the first person in this House to stand up and say that the Chinese should leave South Africa. If this vice were as rampant as had been said then the duty of His Majesty's Government was clear. Although the present Government came into office on the cry of Chinese slavery it had to be remembered that there were more Chinese in the Transvaal now than when the Government took office. If it were slavery in the opinion of the Government it was their duty not to allow any more Chinese to come into the country. So it was with the question of immorality It was said that Ministers well knew that this state of affairs would continue in the Transvaal, and what were the heroic steps that His Majesty's Government were going to take? Nothing except to give orders to the police, which, to his knowledge, were given by Lord Selborne months ago. There were to-day in the Transvaal a large community of white people without their wives. Were all these people moral? And what about the 140,000 Kaffirs? The Under-Secretary for the Colonies well knew that immorality prevailed among the Kaffirs of a character which was repugnant to hon. Members.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said no doubt the hon. Gentleman would like to have the Question put because he was one who had seen all the evidence in the case while others who had taken an equal interest in the subject were forbidden to see the documents. He was entitled as a Member of the House to see the Report which had been published at the public expense, and which hon. Members below the gangway on the Government 220 side had seen, but which even the ex-Colonial Secretary had not been permitted to peruse. That was not fair play in politics—it was not playing the game. While this state of affairs continued His Majesty's Government would not improve their position in South Africa or maintain the confidence of the people of South Africa. If this information could appear in certain Radical papers why could it not be laid on the Table of the House or in the. library of the House?
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but MR. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ MR. MARKHAM
was proceeding to refer to the question of recruiting labour from northern territories,
And, it being Eleven of the clock, the Motion for adjournment of the House lapsed without Question put.