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14. The difference between these two positions would amount therefore, in the opinion MAURITIUS. of your Committee, to no more than 17., even if a regulation modifying the law were to reduce the reimbursement to 17., and to the indirect advantage of not paying cash the sta mp-tax of 27. under the provisions of Ordinance No. 15 of 1854.
15. But however slight this difference might be, your Committee would not hesitate to recommend you to approve any measure that would tend to do away with it, if the measure were at the same time of such a nature as not to open a door to new sources of inconvenience.
16. The members of the Chamber have always desired equal protection for all, and will always approve Government in all that tends, even in an indirect manner, to diminish the system of competition so often blameable that has sprung up at the depot, and the necessity of which can scarcely be explained.
17. You will therefore, we believe, approve Government in seeking to re-establish equilibrium on these two points, by no longer granting any delay for the payment of the tax of 2 l., and in increasing by 11. the sur tax of 37., which would really raise the charge in the former case to 6 l., provided more efficacious means than those hitherto employed were discovered to make this money turn to the advantage of those disappointed in receiving their fair contingent of men, by asking, each mail, for the additional number thus due.
18. Were it otherwise, the inconveniences to which agriculture is now exposed in this respect would, far from being diminished, be considerably augmented, to the great detriment of the entire Colony, for some parties would pay more without others profiting more.
19. This, however, is only a palliative for an evil of merely relative existence; aud we are justifi d in declaring that it would amount to causing a direct evil in order to heal an indirect one.
20. In fact the planter, who, under the law of 1854, actually pays 5 l. to engage for three years men whose introduction, along with that of their wives, only costs 6 l. or 8 l. for a service of five years, pays in reality all that he ought to pay, and even more, since two-thirds of 8 l. is but 47. 16 s., and the difference between him and a party who, under the Ordinance of 1855 would pay 8 l., consists, not in the former paying too little, but in the latter paying too much; for, once more, he pays the whole of the expenses of the introduction of a man from whom he can only expect to obtain three-fifths of his period of service, and can only hope for reimbursement in a distant claim, perhaps illusory, and in every case incomplete.
21. This state of things constitutes a radical evil, the true remedy for which we do not hesitate to say consists in engagements for five years. This remedy, equally applicable to so many other serious evils, has been so often brought to the notice of Government, that it may at first sight seem useless to so icit it again, and that the prejudices which alone were worked against it seem daily diminishing on the part of Government, both Colonial and Imperial, we should not neglect any occasion of pointing out any of its least advantages.
22. Thus, were the faculty of entering into such agreements conceded, all the difficulties of our present system would disappear simultaneously. The payment of all the expenses of introduction would be simply justice towards the employer, and Government would be relieved from making any provision in the budget for an object of such importance as immigration, whilst it would throw all expenses on the parties engaging men and directly interested; with power, however, in times of commercial crisis or difficulty, to advance a portion of these expenses. Until this system be adopted, it will be impossible to act equally towards all, for even in equalising the differences just spoken of, there is, after all, nothing to prevent a party not receiving his fair contingent being sacrificed to others, since he will have paid his share of taxation without profiting of it equally with others.
23. This is only one view of the question, but it is desirable that it should not escape the enlightened perspicacity of his Excellency the Governor.
24. His Excellency, with his usual sound judgment, having already perceived how undesirable was the suggestion tending to prohibit the despatch of recruiting sirdars to India, it might be unnecessary to touch upon it; yet it is proper to proclaim once more, this well known truth, that want of labourers alone compels planters to resort to measures of which they are themselves the first to acknowledge the inconveniences; measures very costly and troublesome to them, but indispensable to prevent greater inconvenience. They all know that the sending men to recruit in India deprives the Colony of a number of men equal perhaps to 10 per cent. of those annually introduced. All would wish to escape the necessity of preparing for more than a year in advance against the total want of labourers, and to avoid the annoyance of paying and dispatching sirdars, who perhaps will not return, or if they do, will allow themselves to be seduced by ot ers. But can they do otherwise, when they know that they seldom or ever can procure men at the depôt, unless brought down for them by recruiters, and, be it said in passing, in the interest of all parties, it is better for them not to appear at all at the depôt, unless when summoned by one of these old servants; can they do otherwise, when they know that for want of such precautions, after all often insufficient, the most solid fortune can be shaken? No, it cannot be otherwise so long as immigration does not supply the Colony with a number of labourers sufficient for all its wants. And in this respect, the Chamber of Agriculture places full confidence in his Excellency the Governor. What he has hitherto done to assist the progress of the Colony, he will do again. Whether present or distant, he will demonstrate to those on whom depends our fate that the production of Mauritius, which has more than doubled itself during his administration, can double
MAURITIUS. itself again in a few years (as we possess all the other elements), by a sufficient supply of labour, and by suitable regulations, to the very great advantage both of commerce and agriculture, of the English consumer as well as the Mauritius producer.
25. To resume, we propose to you, that if you adopt this report, you will pray our President to transmit the opinions contained in it to his Excellency the Governor, in reply to his communication of November last.
28 May 1857.
No. 8. Governor Higginson to the Right Hon. H. Labouchere, M.P.
9 September 1857.
l'ide Appendix, No. 19, page 336.
(signed) G. Fropier.
26. This report was written when a draft of Ordinance on the subject appeared in the Government Gazette of the 30th May.
27. The observations of the Committee apply to this draft of Ordinance, as well as to the documents which preceded it; very few words will, we hope, suffice to complete them.
28. The draft assimilates in every respect, as regards expenses, the party taking more than his contingent to one who sends directly for immigrants; he will, therefore, probably have to pay from 6l. to 81. per man. We have endeavoured to prove that this is too much when he would only profit of three years of service.
29. A remedy which would be possible, although still incomplete, would be, instead of the illusory right given in Article 4, and which would be as inconvenient for Government as vexatious to the planter to enact, as the Chamber of Agriculture has already proposed in its observations upon the law of 1855, that the party succeeding the planter in the engagement of the labourer shall be bound, at the moment of breaking the engagement, to reimburse to the former planter two-fifths of the sum he may have paid to Government, with interest for three years, and in like manner for the last year; that is to say, the last employer shall in his turn pay the preceding employer the last fifth with interest. The same regulation should be enforced when the Indian purchases exemption for his period of residence. This would be but justice, and no one could allege that the provision of the law was injurious to the liberty of the subject. This allegation would fall to the ground in presence of the reflection that since the obligatory payment of 87. by the first employer does not affect this liberty any more than the present taxes now levied of 27. and 57., the payment of 3 l. cannot have this effect.
30. The draft of Ordinance has completely neglected any clause to provide for demanding an additional number of immigrants corresponding to that for which the tax may have been paid. We believe this to be an oversight; but we think we have demonstrated that this disposition ought to be more positive and more carefully drawn than in the preceding Ordinances.
31. For want of such a clause, and the amendment mentioned in a precedn.g article, we do not hesitate to say that the projected law, though due to ideas of benevolence and justice, would only succeed in creating a tax useless and ruinous to agriculture.
32. It might diminish competition, but it would be by suppressing the possibility of it, and consequently sapping the resources of the Colony.
(signed) G. Fropier, Reporter.
15 June 1857.
Copy of a DESPATCH from Governor Higginson to the Right Honourable
Mauritius, 9 September 1857.
(Answered, No. 80, 26 November 1857, page 284.)
2. The accompanying report of the Procureur General upon this Ordinance fully explains the nature of its provisions, and the necessity for enacting them.
3. The main objects in view are twofold. First, to regularise, under licenses to be issued by the Governor, immigration from such countries, not within the territories of the Honourable the East India Company, as have been or hereafter may be sanctioned by Her Majesty's Government; and, second, to prohibit, under heavy penalties, the introduction of such immigrants, except under the provisions of this ordinance.
4. I may here remark, that the present Procureur General coincides in the opinion expressed by his predecessor, that under the existing laws there are no sufficient means of preventing a recurrence of the irregularities committed in the cases of the French ships "Glaneur" and "St. Germain."
5. It is hoped that an immigration so carefully guarded will not be found open to objection; whilst the penalties imposed for contraventions of the new law will, it is believed, effectually prevent any recurrence of such irregular and unauthorised introduction of labourers as were successfully attempted last year, and that, under the provisions of this ordinance, the Governor will be empowered to repress every form of immigration, which is contrary to the national policy.
6. It will be observed that the proportion of females to male immigrants has. been left to be fixed by the regulations, which, under the authority of the ordinance, the Governor, in Executive Council, is empowered to frame; and I undertook, on the part of the Council, to represent that if rigorous restrictions on this head were at the outset insisted on, the advantage to the labour market promised by the new measure would be neutralised, and thus one of its chief objects be partially defeated, from the repugnance which is felt in most countries to the emigration of women until the way is cleared by male pioneers, upon whose report, if satisfactory, the other sex become less indisposed to follow the men. On this important point the instructions of Her Majesty's Government are solicited; but I would venture to suggest that, in the first instance, a small proportion of females only should be exacted, say about half that fixed in the immigration from India, to be prospectively augmented in a corresponding ratio.
7. It has been deemed advisable to provide that this ordinance shall not take effect until confirmed and allowed by Her Majesty, and a clause suspending its operation has therefore been added to it.
COPY of a DESPATCH from Governor Higginson to the Right Honourable
Mauritius, 9 September 1857.
Sir, (Answered, No. 105, 19 January 1858, p. 285.) REFERRING to the correspondence noted in the margin, I beg leave to transmit herewith, for Her Majesty's gracious confirmation, Ordinance No. 26* of 1857, intituled, "An Ordinance for preventing the illegal introduction of Indian Immigrants into Mauritius."t
2. The Procureur and Advocate General, concurring in the opinion of his predecessor, that there existed no colonial law under which violations of our Indian immigration regulations, similar to that committed in the case of the French ship" St. Germain," could be effectually prevented, the introduction of an Ordinance for the purpose became indispensable. That now submitted, was accordingly prepared; and it is hoped that the powers now conferred upon the Executive Government will enable it to repress and punish all further attempts to illegally introduce immigrants from India into Mauritius, or to any of its dependencies.
3. In regard to Ordinance No. 11 of 1842, referred to in the Land and Emigration Commissioners' Report, and containing very stringent enactments against such violation of the law as has given rise to this correspondence, I beg to state that this Ordinance, for some reason which I have been unable to trace, does not appear to have been confirmed by Her Majesty, and did not consequently lapse; and by some oversight, I presume, its penal provisions were not, unfortunately, embodied in any subsequent law.
4. The engagements containing the invalid clause, entered into by the immigrants, per ships "St. Germain" and "Glaneur," have not been cancelled; but the immigrants have been made distinctly acquainted with their true position, and with their perfect liberty, at the expiration of the three years' contract, to select other employers, without being in any way bound by the provision of the invalid clause, requiring them, in such a case, to re-imburse two-fifths of the
* Secretary of State's Despatch, No. 313, of 8 April 1857, p. 256. Secretary of State's Despatch, No. 350, of 19 May 1857, p. 276.
No. 9. Governor Higginson to the Right Hon. H. Labouchere, M.P. 9 September 1857.
+ Vide Appendix, No. 20, p. 340.
Encl. in No. 9.
amount charged for their passage to Mauritius. I enclose a copy
5. I much regret to perceive, from the tenor of a letter under date the 7th May last, from Sir J. Melvill to the Secretary to the India Board, that some doubts were entertained by the Honourable the Court of Directors of the desire of the Government of Mauritius to prevent the illegal introduction of natives of India, which, on the part of the Council of Government, as well as on my own, I must emphatically disclaim. So far from encouragement being given to evade the law, the instances of its violation that occurred at Aden and Bombay were promptly denounced to the Indian authorities at both places, and early steps were taken, by proclamation and otherwise, to warn all parties against the consequences of any repetition of such proceedings, the defective state of the law, only then made apparent, alone saving the importers of the immigrants from prosecution and punishment.
6. I would further observe, in reference to the strong objection entertained by the Honourable Court to immigration from India to the Colonies, except through agents authorised by Government to conduct the service, that I have never advocated any other system; but, on the contrary, I have invariably opposed all schemes based on a different principle; and the sentiments on this question, recently expressed in par. 6 of my Despatch, No. 143 of the 14th August 1856, reporting the arrival of the "St. Germain," will be found to entirely accord with these views.
7. It may be well to add, that it was resolved to introduce this Ordinance previously to the receipt of your Despatch, covering the communication from Sir J. Melvill to the India Board, in which resolution it is hoped that the Honourable Court may recognise an additional proof, if such be wanting, that the Colonial Government is determined to exercise all the authority and influence it possesses to prevent the introduction of Indian labourers by any other means, save those that have been sanctioned by the Court, in communication with the Government of India.
8. The usual report by the Procureur and Advocate General accompanies; and I have deemed it right to forward copies of the Ordinance and of this Despatch, for the information of the Government of India.
Colonial Secretary's Office, 25 November 1856.
I AM directed by his Excellency the Governor to invite your attention to the engagements for three years, which were passed on the 26th, 28th, and 29th July last, by Messrs. de Coursont & Co., with certain immigrants, who arrived here on board the French ship "St. Germain," and also to those for a similar period, passed on the 1st August, by Mr. A. Hardie, of the "Riche Marne" estate, with the emigrants per " Glaneur," in which engagements a clause was inserted to the effect that these men would be liable, under certain conditions, on the expiration of their engagements, to pay a certain portion of their passage money hither; and I am to state that, as they must, of necessity, on the expiration of their present engagements, present themselves before the stipendiary magistrate who passed such engagements, or some other stipendiary magistrate, either for the purpose of being discharged if they do not re-engage, or to enter into a fresh engagement if they do re-engage, his Excellency directs that you will resist any attempts that may be made at the expiration of the three years in question, to enforce the clause in their contracts alluded to, and that you will inform these immigrants that such clause is utterly untenable
I have, &c. (signed)
COPY of a DESPATCH from Governor Stevenson to the Right Honourable
Mauritius, 3 November 1857.
Sir, I HAVE the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch, No. 16, of the 20th August, with its enclosures, from the Foreign Department and the Admiralty, requiring a full and immediate explanation of the circumstances under which the English barque " Joker" was furnished with a licence to carry labourers from the coast of Madagascar to this Colony.
2. I find that my predecessor has already reported to you, in Despatch No. 140,* of the 2d August 1857, that the licence to which you refer was granted previously to the receipt of your Despatch, under date of the 26th August 1856, prohibiting the introduction of labourers from Madagascar; that, if the immigrants found on board the "Joker," by Commodore Trotter, had not embarked of their own free will, the commander of that vessel was acting in violation of the terms upon which his licence was granted to him; and that, in the event of his returning to this island, a legal investigation would be made into the matter, under the advice of the law officers of the Crown.
3. Captain Aps has not returned, nor has anything more been heard of him since the report, which my predecessor likewise transmitted to you, of the mutiny and massacre which occurred on board the "Joker."
4. It only remains for me, therefore, to show the authority upon which the licence referred to was granted.
5. In answer to my inquiries upon this point, the Colonial Secretary placed in my hands the regulations of the 23d May 1851.
6. Upon my then asking on what authority these regulations were issued, the following particulars were reported to me as the result of a careful investigation; and I believe that this report exhibits the facts as clearly as they can now be traced, in the absence of all those officials who were familiar with such transactions of the day as do not appear upon the records.
7. In a Despatch, dated the 24th July 1850, No. 122, Sir George Anderson reported, that 54 labourers had been introduced into this Colony from the West Coast of Madagascar, and requested instructions as to the expediency of promoting immigration from that quarter.
8. The Secretary of State replied (Despatch No. 16, of 20 August 1850) that he had no objection to the introduction of labourers from Madagascar, which he thought would be attended with much benefit both to that island and to this. In a further Despatch, however (No. 18, of 26 November 1850) he expressed his apprehension that slavery might possibly be encouraged by the opening of this new labour market, and suggested that inquiries should be made as to the circumstances under which the labourers already introduced left Madagascar.
9. In submitting this Despatch for the consideration of Council, Sir James Higginson presented a minute on the subject, which is herewith transmitted, together with the Report of the Iminigration Committee of Council, to whom it was referred.
10. It appears by these documents that it was then contemplated to send an expedition to the Western Coast of Madagascar, with the view of ascertaining how immigration from that island could best be established, and the committee recommended that, pending the execution of this project, captains of ships should be permitted to introduce labourers under a licence, provided that they entered into a bond to comply with such regulations as the Government might establish, to prevent abuses in the recruiting of immigrants, and in their treatment, during the voyage.
11. The Regulations of the 23d May 1851 were issued in pursuance of this recommendation, and were transmitted, for the approval of the Secretary of State, by Sir James Higginson's Despatch, No. 84, of 16 May 1851.
12. No objection appears to have been made to them at the time by Her Majesty's Government, and the introduction of Malagash immigrants into Seycheeles under the same provisions was sanctioned by the Secretary of State's Despatch, No 152, of 18 November, in the same year.
No. 10. Governor Stevenson to the Right Hon. H. Labouchere, M. P. 3 November 1857.