§ MR. STARKEY (Nottinghamshire, Newark)
I beg to ask the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies why no provision has been made in the Isthmian Canal Labour Contract for the repatriation of those Trinidad labourers who do not become destitute while working on the canal.
I beg also to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies why no provision is made under the Isthmian Canal Labour Contract for the Trinidad labourers to be accompanied by their wives and families.
§ MR. CHURCHILL
There is an undoubted ambiguity in the contract upon the point noted by the hon. Member. The form of contract was drawn up not by the Trinidad Government but by the Isthmian Canal Commission, whose recruiting agent assured the Trinidad Government that the men would be repatriated at the expiration of their contract. I am informed that it has 1352 lately been held that the courts in the Canal Zone have no jurisdiction against the Isthmian Canal Commission for breach of contract. This contract therefore cannot be enforced. No recruiting has been carried on in Trinidad since November last. In answer to the second Question of the hon. Member I am informed that wives and families were not taken because none of the men applied to take them. The majority of the men were not natives of Trinidad, but had come there in search of work from other parts of the West Indies.
§ LORD BALCARRES
In view of the fact it is impossible to enforce its terms will the right hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of abrogating it?
§ [No Answer was returned.]