Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Rhodesia (Compulsory Native Labour).

– in the House of Commons on 24th June 1942.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Harvey Mr Thomas Harvey , Combined English Universities

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the report which the Governor of Northern Rhodesia was asked in March to furnish on the question of compulsory native labour, has yet been received; and whether further information is now available as to the working conditions and as to the progress of the arrangements?

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

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

Following is the answer:

Seven hundred and thirty Africans have been conscripted to meet the immediate needs of approved farmers under the increased production drive. Labourers compulsorily recruited were obtained by the District Officer working through the native authorities and only adults under 45 were enrolled. No distinction has been made between single and married men. Provision is included in the Regulations for appeal to the District Officer or to the Labour Officer on grounds of hardship. The labour contract is for two 30 day tickets, thus allowing conscripted labour to return to the villages in time for the harvest. Compulsory labour is paid at a rate not less than the average rate of pay for labour recruited under voluntary arrangements and rations as laid down by Government. The arrangements include regular inspection by the Labour Officer and the District Officer.

The conscripted labourers have been very satisfactory, have had no complaints and have in every way behaved and been treated as voluntary workers. This farm labour scheme is due to expire on 30th June and it is not proposed to renew it. With the approval of my Noble Friend, the Governor has recently formed a small labour corps of 400 to 500 men who will be used for any work in furtherance of the war effort that the Governor may direct. This scheme is, of course, quite separate from the farm labour arrangements which, as stated above, are to be discontinued. The labour recruited into the corps will be at the disposal of Government and under the complete control and supervision of the Government officers.