HC Deb 18 July 1907 vol 178 cc911-3

I bog to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Minute of the acting Prime Minister of Natal, sent to the Governor, and printed on page 13 of Cd. 3563, in which it is inferred or stated specifically that the Zulu prisoners in St. Helena will be under the supervision of a staff of warders armed with rifles, that they will be confined in rooms with iron bars fixed on the windows, three or four men being in one room, and that they are to receive no groceries except salt, is accepted by His Majesty's Government as being equal to the standard which they had in mind when they consented to the removal of these men from Natal; whether in. view of the different conditions of life, climatic and otherwise, between St. Helena and Natal, His Majesty's Government consider that the dietary scale set out on page 11 of this paper, showing that the food is to consist almost exclusively of mealie meal, is satisfactory; and whether His Majesty's Government propose to make any representations to the Natal authorities for a revision of the scale and for the addition of groceries other than salt.

MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)

I beg also to ask the Under-Secretary of State for Colonies whether the twenty-five Zulu prisoners recently deported from Natal to St. Helena are regarded as political prisoners; what are the conditions of their captivity; what are their rations; to what privations, other than the loss of freedom, are they subjected; are those who are chiefs accorded treatment commensurate with their superior rank of life; and how far does the Home Government regard itself responsible that they shall be treated in accordance with the traditions that prevail in this country.


I beg further to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that on arrival at St. Helena the Zulu prisoners were in an emaciated condition and looked half-starved, and some of them were hardly able to walk; whether amongst these is the chief Tilonko, from whom a petition is lying upon the Table of this House setting forth that he was illegally condemned under an indemnity Act wider in scope than has ever been assented to by the Sovereign, and which is alleged to have been unjustly put into operation; and whether he proposes to take any action on the matter.


It was necessary to deport these prisoners under the Colonial Prisoners Removal Act, and they therefore remain in the status of convicts, but it has always been the view of the Secretary of State that the fact of their deportation would justify their receiving, while in St. Helena, liberal treatment in regard to conditions of their imprisonment, especially in the matter of dietary. He will at once call for a Report from the Governor of St. Helena on this subject, and will authorise him to make such modifications in the scale of dietary and general conditions as are possible consistently with this provisions of the law.