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MAURITIUS.

Encl. 1, in No. 13.

still further amendment by-and-by upon points unconnected with those which I urge in this despatch.

56. Those other points of amendment will probably form the subject of a future communication, when I have become more thoroughly acquainted with the bearing of several questions which I have for some time past had under inquiry, and which, with the assistance of the Protector and others, I am still engaged in investigating.

I have, &c.

(signed) William Stevenson.

Enclosure 1, in No. 13.

MEMORANDUM.'

ORDINANCE NO. 12 of 1855 not having attained fully the object in view when it was passed, it has become necessary that it should be modified in presence of the increasing demand of labourers.

2. There are two Ordinances for the same object nearly, that is, the introduction of labourers at the expense of private individuals, in addition to those for whose introduction funds are provided out of the budget of the Colony; they are Ordinances 15 of 1854, and No. 12 of 1855. I am induced, from the abuses that exist, and are increasing, to suggest that Articles 6 and 7 of the Ordinance of 1854 should be modified, and the provisions of the Ordinance of 1855 should be adopted instead, with regard to men taken by parties in addition to the quota to which they are entitled.

3. One great inconvenience of Ordinance 15 of 1854 is, the facility given for the payment of the stamps, having to disburse immediately only the 3 l. extra tax taken for each man they take in addition to their quota. Some planters recruit men for their estates only out of those that arrive; they find it cheaper and more convenient than supplying themselves out of the local labour market; they have for the purpose organised a system of recruitment on board the ships and in the depôt, which causes great dissatisfaction amongst the other planters, who are eager to engage a few of the newly-arrived immigrants on account of the good moral effects produced by their arrival on the estates. The immigrant who returns with the intention of returning to the master he has served, or who has despatched him to India, is dissuaded by bribes from following his original intentions; hence the complaints and quarrels at the depôt.

4. The necessity of sending men to India to have a chance of obtaining a few of the labourers introduced, entails on the planters a useless expenditure of money. Several hundred men are thus sent who do no good, for they re-embark in India, a few days after their arrival, to form bands during the voyage; hardly one in ten succeeds. In one of the ships arrived last week, there were 110.men who came for the first time to the Colony, and 40 recruiters sent up from this. Most of these reported to their masters that they had brought 25 or 30 men, or that they had recruited some 40 or 50 men which the agent had refused to despatch. If this continues, 15 or 20 per cent. out of the whole number of men received from India will be men sent up from this: a perfect waste of money.

5. Those practices would soon cease if the planter had to pay for each extra man he took the whole cost of introduction, as in Ordinance No. 12 of 1855. Men having been already applied for under this Ordinance, I do not see what reasonable objection could be made by those who would take the men here without a previous application, having to pay the whole cost at once. Those whose plan is to man their estates only out of the men that arrive, will look more to the local market, and leave each planter his fair chance of obtaining his quota. The competition to buy over sirdars and other expenses, which is not less than 17. to 21. per man, would cease.

6. Many planters have asked me to propose that each planter should be exclusively limited to his quota; but the payment of the whole cost would be sufficient, and would have the advantage of not infringing on the rights of the immigrant to choose his employer. The execution of the measure would be much facilitated if the plauter was allowed, when he has no very pressing want of men, to transfer his right to take them to another; there is no possibility of this becoming a traffic of men, the planter transferring his right without seeing the men. It might besides be allowed, under certain restrictions, such as the transfer only to a planter of the same district, or the transfer back of the right to the same number of men in the following year. This would obviate the inconvenience of receiving money to introduce additional men, which it may be impossible to execute; it would almost clear up the accounts of each year, and leave no arrears to be claimed in the following year.

(signed) F. Hugon, Protector.

Immigration Office, 18 October 1856.

Enclosure 2, in No. 13.

Sir,

Port Louis, 24 December 1857.

1. THE Chamber of Agriculture, on behalf of the body by which it has been elected, begs respectfully to bring under your Excellency's notice the continued and increasing insufficiency of the supply of labour for the present agricultural wants of the Colony.

2. It is not unknown to your Excellency that the production of sugar requires not only the investment of a large amount of capital for the original establishment of works and plantations, but likewise the command of certain and continuous labour to ensure the performance, at the proper time and season, of the various operations of manuring, cleaning, manipulation, and removal of the plants. If these operations cannot be effected, each in its proper season, the whole affairs of an estate fall into arrears and disorder, involving to the proprietor not only an immediate serious loss of revenue, but a not easily calculated sacrifice in time, trouble, and money to re-establish matters on that footing which alone permits any farming or manufacturing enterprise to prosper.

3. Owing to the comparative abundance and reasonable rate of labour here some two or three years ago, though even then it was not so rife as it might have been, many thousand acres of unreclaimed lands were broken up and brought into cultivation. At first this process did not abstract so many hands from the labour market, because at the beginning the proprietors of those new estates had only to plant, and neither to clean a large surface of canes, nor to manipulate, but now that they also have got a large breadth of canes to care for, and all the works for a sugar estate in rotation to attend to, the demand for labourers has been increasing to such a degree that the number of men annually introduced by the local Government is found more and more inadequate to the wants of the old and the new cultivators; and this disproportion must be felt more and more severely so long as there remains such an extent of good land lying waste and profitless.

4. Many of these new estates were only bought, and set up at great expense, in faith cu the often-repeated declaration of successive Secretaries of State, that there should be no limit to the introduction of Indian labourers here so long as they themselves were willing to come, and the colonists could and would pay for their introduction in such manner as the daw pointed out.

5. As a further explanation of this continued necessity for the introduction of fresh labourers, notwithstanding the large number who have annually come to our shores, we would point out to your Excellency the number who have settled here (withdrawing from agricultural labour), and now employ, or profess to employ themselves, by means of the the capital saved from their wages, as cultivators or woodcutters on their own lands, as hawkers, pedlars, jewellers, gold and silversmiths, carters or drivers of hired vehicles and carriages. A return of the number of licences, compared with what it was 12 years ago for such employments, issued to Indians, especially when it is known that each licence or shop gives cover to numbers varying from three to eight persons or more, would, we doubt not, account for a number calculated to strike with surprise any person unacquainted with the various and profitable employment open to immigrants here; indeed, a stranger, who remembered the state of the island only a few years ago, and now passed merely along any of the public roads, contrasting the sparse and infrequent houses which, at the distance of miles from each other, then dotted its borders, with the, in places, almost continuous streets and the numerous agglomerations of huts crowded together and swarming with Indians. which now everywhere exist, would at once and most satisfactorily explain the absorption of hands from agricultural purposes, and the necessity of ever fresh arrivals, until either the progress of such absorption is stopped by the void which it supplies being filled up, or by repressive laws such as were authorised and recommended by Lord Grey, when Secretary of State, but which have never, with any degree of constancy or perseverance, been applied by the local authorities.

Encl. 2, in No. 13.

6. To the mass of Indian immigrants themselves this excess of the demand over the supply of labour does not and cannot produce any good, at all in proportion to the waste and loss of time and money inflicted on the planter; it has only caused the nuisance of middlemen, sirdais, and crimps to flourish.

7. It is the aim and industry of such to intensify and perpetuate the natural tendency of the Indian to depend on headmen, ard to endeavour, often by means of encouraging them in debauchery and drunken feasts, and by lending them money for such indulgences, for which afterwards they exact payment from their wages, to get and to maintain a hold over the men, and induce them to accept service with those whose necessities compel them to offer to themselves the highest bribes.

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8. It is by no means uncommon for them to pocket bribes from more than one employer, all of whom are thus heavily taxed, not for the profit of the honest and industrious labourers, but with the serious mischief of unsettling all the men in a district, and, by gorging one scheming and influential middleman, of encouraging others to take to the same course of intrigue and corruption. There are more than one instance of a whole district having been unsettled, and wages unduly raised in consequence of one band having

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been so seduced from a planter at a critical time, and who seeing his crop jeopardized, and finding no other source for replacing the hands so urgently wanted, has been forced to comply with exaction.

9. It has long been confessed, that the only radical cure for those evils is more nearly to equalise the supply with the demand, and as far as possible to remove the competition of employers, according to the principles of free trade, from the close and confined market here to the larger one of India, where thousands only ask the opportunity of labour and

wages.

10. On this principle, and with the professed object of enabling planters to carry on their works with certainty and security, of permitting them, by the exercise of their own means and foresight, to feel assured of having hands to reap what they might plant, Ordinance No. 12 of 1855 was passed by the local Government, and sanctioned by Her Majesty. Under this Ordinance individual planters are authorised to apply for, and introduce at their own expense, but through the Government agency, the number of men which they foresee that they will require; ut owing to some defects, seen in it from the first, and to other circustances which we are persuaded may be remedied, this weli-intended measure has signally failed in its effects hitherto.

10. Even the few men who have been introduced professedly under this Ordinance, although in many cases recruited in India at the expense of individual planters, and in all brought down at their risk, have arrived here subject to no legal engagement; and have been further informed here, that they were under no incral engagement, and handed over to become the prize and speculation of, and to be competed for, by the unscrupulous crimps, &c., to whom we have alluded, and who frequent the " depôt" to seduce the labourers and prey upon the planters.

12. Thus it happens that the planter after having incurred the expense of sending confidential men to India to collect labourers for his service, and furnished security to the Treasury for the expense of their introduction, finds all his labour and money thrown away, and that in point of fact he is worse off than if he had at once resigned himself to enter into the repugnant and even degrading competition aud fallacious seductions which prevail at the "depôt" here.

13. Again confidential men sent up from this to recruit, and who have been or should. have been addressed by the Protector specially as such to the agents, have constantly returned without, so far as the sender could ascertain, ever having been recognised by the agents or himself, or the men collected by him having been pointed out and identified according to the Ordinance and supplemental regulations of the Governor; and bands, whether accompanying a chief man, chosen by the agent in India himself, or by such as have been sent from this, have never here been set apart at all to see whether they could come to terms with the applicant in fulfilment of whose request the agent dispatched them, but have been rather encouraged to throw themselves at once into the ranks open for the operations of the crimps. Quite recently even, a few men out of a larger number sent for by the Government itself, for employment in the public service, were similarly dealt with; and inveigled away by bribes to a crimp or sirdar. It is not therefore surprising if the planters despair of the promised benefits from the law as it at present stands, and as it is carried

out.

14. An application to the Right Honourable the Secretary of State on the subject of this law was some time ago made by a planter at present in England; in the answer, dated 7 August last, written by direction of Mr. Labouchere, it is said "that as regards the working of Ordinance No. 12 of 1855, which authorises the introduction of immigrants at the expense of the persons applying for their services, I am to observe that this Ordinance came into operation on the 1st September 1855; that in February 1856, Governor Higginson reported that the requisitions for men as yet made under its provisions have been very limited, and that he was therefore disposed to think that labour was more abundant in the Colony than was generally supposed. Since the receipt of that Despatch no further intelligence on this subject has been received, but as far as regards the Home and Colonial Governments there is nothing to prevent the planters taking advantage of the Ordinance if they think fit to do so; neither has intelligence of any opposition on the part of the Government of Bombay been received."

15. It would appear from these observations that the Secretary of State was under the impression that the planters could have only themselves to blame if the supply of available labour were not increased in virtue of this Ordinance.

16. It is true that, even at the first, anticipation of disappointment and repeated actual deceptions since, have prevented the efforts to avail of it being more numerous; but if your Excellency would call for a return of the applications made under it, this misapprehension would speedily be removed. And if your Excellency would further call for a return of the number of immigrants who have been addressed to the Protector for particular planters in conformity with the Ordinance, and also of the number of such that has been handed over by the Protector to the parties who have so applied, we doubt not but that the statement we have above made would be fully confirmed.

17. We would respectfully suggest it, as further worthy of your Excellency's inquiry, MAURITIUS. what causes have nullified and made a dead letter of a law from which so much benefit, and as far as can be seen by us yet, with such apparently good ground, was expected by the Government and the public here.

18. We are reluctant to admit without proof what has been asserted, that it proceeds from imperfect instructions at the time from the Secretary's office here to the agents in India; but whether it may have proceeded from this cause, from their own proper apathy, or from unauthorised and unfavourable reports conveyed to them from this, we may assert that the individual sentiments of the chief of the "depôt " here have been manifested against a measure adopted after long reflection and inquiry by the local Government, and approved of and relied on by the Secretary of State as likely to diminish the just griefs of the planter.

19. At all events, it has been made too clear to all whose necessities compel them to mingle in the deplorable struggle that marks every fresh arrival of immigrants in the depôt," that nothing has been done there to facilitate the planter obtaining the labour held out to him by this law, nor to encourage the immigrants to conform to its provisions or its spirit.

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20. It is an extraordinary fact that, while nine-tenths of the men who come from India here are known to be collected by, and embark on the faith of men who have already been here, and that pretty generally these men are faithful to, and return with their companions to their old masters when not seduced by unfair, extraordinary, or long-continued exposure to temptation, scarcely any such have been reported to their employer as especially returned to him under his applications in virtue of the Ordinance.

21. The obvious and efficient remedy is the engagement of immigrants recruited by men sent up from this be'ore the agents in India, for the service of the planter who may have sent for them, in conformity with the provisions of the Ordinance; provided always that the engagement may be revised here for good cause shown, and that the labourer should be placed on an equal footing with others of his standing.

22. The objection to the allowance of an engagement in a country other than in which it is to be performed, on the grounds of the men's ignorance of its nature, is not applicable to the present case; for so many Indians are constantly returning to their villages after long residence here, that Mauritius is better known to the classes and villages which furnish our immigrants than not distant provinces of their own country; at all events, it is quite as well known as it can become from nearly 48 hours' residence at the depôt, after which the immigrants can engage with any one they please, and which residence, beset as they are by rival crimps, and temptations to over-indulgence, is, as regards their acquiring any true knowledge of the state of the country or the character of the different competitors for their service, it may be stated, without disguise, an utter delusion.

23. Indeed, goaded and surrounded as they are by crimps and interlopers, many of them do not even know the face of the employer to whom tliey ultimately consign themselves till they are engaged before the magistrate.

24. No greater proof of their knowledge of Mauritius need be cited than what has more than once occurred: men to whom every inducement to emigrate to the West Indies was held out, exclaimed that they did not know the West Indies, that they knew Mauritius, and to it desired to go.

25. Here we would beg leave to call to your Excellency's attention, that in India for a long time back the agents, by instructions from the proper channel here, had made known to intending immigrants that the normal rate of wages for new hands was five rupees per month, with rations, &c., and it was at one time fixed even lower by the Protector, and currently accepted. That rate, being far beyond what ryot could even dream of earning at home, has been found sufficient to bring forward any number of labourers required.

26. The extraordinary enhancement in the scale of wages here at present existing, caused in great part by the unfortunate suspension of immigration, ought, in fairness to the planters, and for the general interest of the Colony, the more urgently as its produce seems to be now rapidly declining in price, to be counteracted by every legitimate means.

27. Besides the advantage of confidence and certainty in their operations, which would result to the planter in particular, from the change which we are about to solicit your Excellency to introduce, we would remark that there would result also a great relief to the responsibility of Government for the well-doing of the Colony generally, and especially in regard to the amount of taxes to be raised and the management of the finances. As each planter became habituated by having the faculty of doing so allowed to him, to rely on his own foresight and means, and to send up and recruit in India for his estate at his own expense, the demands on the general contingent of immigrants and on the immigration fund would diminish; the colonial budget would be relieved, and as the supply of time-expired immigrants would become large enough to furnish the smaller cultivation, the expense of immigration would fall entirely on those who wanted the labour. This, which under existing checks and artificial hindrances would be a grievous oppression and fatal to the chief industry of the Colony, could then be borne, and would constitute the most ample security 0.13.

MAURITIUS. against any fear of over-introduction and consequent distress, or under-payment of the immigrants, a professed but unfounded apprehension which long retarded the progress of the Colony.

Enol. 3, in No. 13.

28. Not only is the present supply of labour generally insufficient and its cost out of all proportion to its returns, at the price that can be reasonably calculated on for sugars, but in many instances enough of hands cannot be obtained on any terms. Much valuable-canelast year was left on the ground, and it is now perfectly certain that this year also, for the same reason, a still greater loss to individuals and in the export of sugar will occur.

29. It is for the planters who actually suffer, and very plainly foresee the ruinous consequences which are to be apprehended, humbly but respectfully to urge on your Excellency the adoption, before the evil is irremediable for many, of such means as occur to them, or such other measures as in your Excellency's wisdom may appear best adapted to meet exigencies of the time.

30. The system of an immigration, long regarded with unfounded suspicion and jealousy, has been very gradually and after much uncalled-for and purposeless suffering and loss to the colonists, considerably amended. Many à priori prejudices and theoretical objections have, one by one, given way before authenticated facts and practical reason applied to the actual circumstances of the case.

31. There are still, however, great steps to be taken before it can render all the benefits it night to Mauritius, and to the full number of natives of India who would here find sure and well-rewarded labour; and we have full confidence that more than one of these steps will be taken, and the progress of amendment maintained and hastened under your Excellency's guidance and influence.

32. Our present prayer is, that your Excellency will give your favourable attention to the foregoing circumstances and representations, and introduce such amendments into the abovecited Ordinance as will give it practical effect, and especially that to this end engagements, under fitting regulations, inay be authorised in India.

We have, &c. (signed)

To His Excellency William Stevenson,
Governor of Mauritius,

&c. &c. &c.

J. Currie, President.

Christian W. Wiehe, Vice-President.

G. Fropier, Secretary.
E. Pipon, Treasurer.

Enclosure 3, in No. 13.

Chamber of Commerce, Port Louis, 29 January 1858.

Sir, THE question of labour and immigration has again lately engaged the attention of the public. The Chamber of Agriculture, more immediately concerned in this momentous question, has moved the Government, who has, in its turn, felt the importance and necessity of an adequate supply of labour. The interests of agriculture and commerce are so closely interwoven, the demand and supply are such essential elements of production and trade, that the Chamber of Commerce desire to place on record their sentiments on this subject, more especially at a time when commercial appearances lead to the belief that cheap production will alone be able to meet the probable prices of the staple of this Colony, and low prices. will once more test the struggle of free labour against slave labour for sugar cultivation. Of the issue of the competition with an abundant supply of labour under a well-regulated immigration the Chamber of Commerce do not entertain any doubt; they believe that this island, with the fertility of its soil and the energy of its planters, will establish the superiority in every respect of the one over the other. But to accomplish this, the occasion of the scenes of disorder and scandal, of bribery and corruption, which take place at the depôt of immigrants on the arrival of every coolic ship, and attest the stringent want of labour, must be stopped; and the means of supply should become large.

2. The Chamber fully acknowledge the correctness of the theory that the labourer on his arrival in Mauritius should have the right to the highest price in the labour market, but experience, tested by the almost uniform rate of engagements throughout each year for all new immigrants, as fully proves that practice is at variance with theory, and that the extortioners called sirdars, who have great influence over the various bands of labourers on their arrival alone derive all the profit of a ruinous competition.

3. The evil and progress of that influence are every day becoming more apparent, as sirdars are no longer to be found, as in the earlier periods of immigration, over bands of men, varying in number from 50 to 100, but now dictate their own conditions over bands of 10 or 15 men, at the expense of both the planter and the labourer.

4. That

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