Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Rhodesia (Copperbelt Reforms).

– in the House of Commons on 11th February 1942.

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Mr. Creech Jones:

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress has been made in the past six months in implementing the recommendations of the Copperbelt Disturbance Inquiry in Northern Rhodesia; whether further attention has been given to breaking down the colour bar and controlling its extension in the copper belt; and whether the Government have reached a policy in respect to permanent African urban settlement in the copper belt?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

As the answer is of some length, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Has any progess been made in breaking down the colour bar?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

The answer is a long one and as I say I would prefer to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

Wages and Conditions of Service.

The recommendations of the Copperbelt Commission in respect of wages and conditions of service were generally accepted and have been put into effect. The labour officers, of whom there are now two on the Copperbelt, are carefully watching the position in regard to efficiency awards and the Governor is satisfied that the system is operating fairly and that an adequate check is being kept on it. The Governor states that he is able to give a complete assurance that the compound managers have no power to make deductions from the cost of living bonus; no such deductions have been or will be made.

Welfare Work.

The importance of welfare work among women is fully realised and domestic science classes were started at Luanshya more than two years ago by the United Missions to the Copperbelt. Excellent work has been done in the teaching of cooking, knitting, handicrafts and hygiene. Similar classes are now being held in the Mindolo compound, near Nkana. A third woman welfare officer is being sent out by the London Committee of the United Missions to the Copperbelt. The managements of all the copper mines have undertaken to do everything possible to encourage the making of flower gardens, and the Rhokana Corporation now gives prizes for the best kept flower gardens in any compound block, although it has not so far been found possible to increase the size of the plots. The whole question, including the provision of allotments, is being further studied by the labour commissioner in consultation with the Agricultural Department. Everything possible is being done to establish shade trees in mine compounds. The Governor is confident that the mine managements can be relied upon to do all in their power to increase the number of shade trees and the forestry officer is helping and advising them.

Industrial Machinery.

The "Elder" system has been reviewed in consultation with representatives of the mining companies with the result that the system has now been accepted at all the mines. At Nkana and Nchanga the Elders will be assisted by boss boys. The new arrangements provide for collaboration with the labour officers and with the district commissioners. Arrangements have also been made for the Elders (now called tribal representatives) and the boss boys to nominate members from among their number to sit on the native urban councils.

Workmen's Compensation.

The legislation providing for improved rates of compensation, referred to in paragraph 35 of the Commission's report, has been enacted. Legislative provision has also been made for the admission of payments in kind in the assessment of workmen's earnings for compensation purposes.


This question is under review and the Governor is considering the possibility of having a complete survey made of the position. This is, however, a time of exceptional activity on the Copperbelt with a consequential expansion in the number of workers which would render the adoption of a detailed policy difficult at this juncture even if the results of a survey were available. Every encouragement is now given to workers to bring their wives with them to the mines.

Extension of opportunities for Africans.

This matter is receiving attention. It may be added that the Governor of Northern Rhodesia has reported that during his recent tour of the Copperbelt he was impressed by (a) the measures being taken to provide recreational facilities for Africans, (b) the attention that is being devoted to the provision of good housing, and (c) the interest being taken in the working of the tribal representative system.