Oral Answers to Questions — Uganda Railway (Asiatic Employes).

– in the House of Commons on 16th June 1924.

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Photo of Major Hugh Meyler Major Hugh Meyler , Blackpool

12.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has received any representation from the Asiatic employés on the Uganda Railway in respect of dismissals; whether, during the last year, of 2,088 such employés 368 were dismissed; what is the reason for this reduction of staff; and whether he will receive a deputation from those employés who desire to represent the injustice of the action taken against them?

Mr. THOMAS:

I have received no representations of the kind, and am not aware of any dismissals of Asiatic employés having taken place. No doubt many temporary engagements have expired and in many cases have been replaced by the employment of natives of Africa, and the report of the general manager shows that in 1923 the number of Asiatic employés was reduced from 2,088 to 1,720. During that year, as compared with the previous year, the expenditure decreased by 13 per cent., while the earnings increased by 13 per cent., and I conclude that the replacement as opportunity arose of Asiatics by Africans tended to economy without sacrifice of efficiency. The responsibility for the just treatment of Colonial officials rests with the Governor, and I am confident that it is in safe hands. As at present advised, I do not think that it would serve any useful purpose for me to receive a deputation representing such officials.

Photo of Major Hugh Meyler Major Hugh Meyler , Blackpool

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last part of my question as to whether he will receive a deputation from those employés?

Mr. THOMAS:

To bring deputations such a long distance merely to be told nothing is a waste of money. I have no objection to receiving a deputation, but it would be equally unwise to incur expenditure, without being able to see any useful result.

Photo of Colonel Charles Yate Colonel Charles Yate , Melton

What steps have been taken to train African natives to fill these appointments?

Mr. THOMAS:

The result is shown in the figures which I have given.

Photo of Mr John Simpson Mr John Simpson , Taunton

Is the right hon. Gentleman sure that these men have been replaced by Africans?

Mr. THOMAS:

That is my information.?

Photo of Sir Robert Hamilton Sir Robert Hamilton , Orkney and Shetland

35.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will state the number of Asiatic employés of the Uganda Railway who were retrenched last year; what compensation has been paid in respect of retrenchment; and what saving will be effected by the reduction of the Asiatic staff?

Mr. THOMAS:

I would refer to the reply which I have just given to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Blackpool, from which it will be seen that, so far as I am aware, there have been no retrenchments in the sense of termination of the employment of permanent officials. In the case of non-renewal of temporary agreements, the question of compensation does not arise. I will inquire of the Governor as to the extent to which the large economy effected in the working of the railway is to be attributed to the reduction of Asiatic staff.