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and withhold their approval from any such measure unless they are thoroughly satisfied as to the circumstances of each case.

19. Article XLV forbids employers to require night work from their labourers. It also prohibits work on Sundays, except for domestic duties and the care of animals. These provisions are not, of course, intended to fix or even to suggest the proper extend of day labour, but to put an end to the existing possibility of abuses. His Majesty's Government are informed that, as a matter of fact, labourers in the New Hebrides work mostly from 6 A. M. to 10 A.M. and 3 P. M. to 7a P.M.; and labour inspectors must, of course, take care that natives are not compelled to work at unusual and unnecessary hours, or for an unduly long time.

20. The rate of wages mentioned in Article XLVI (4), viz., 108. a-month, was selected because it appeared that that is a usual rate in the Group for newly recruited labourers. If the current rate of wages rises materially, you should report the fact to me in order that His Majesty's Government may consider whether steps should be taken for the alteration of the clause in question.

21. Article XLIX forbids desertion or the harbourivg of a deserter. You are aware that difficulties have been occasionally caused by a settler of one nationality inducing the labourers employed by a settler of another nationality to desert their employer or by receiving them after desertion. This clause is intended to prevent the recurrence of such difficulties. Any abuse of it must be prevented by the exercise of the powers of the Government officers in such a

as to insure that permission to leave an employer is not refused to a labourer, if there is any good cause for granting it.

22. Article LI is to be understood not as compelling a labourer to return to his home against his will, but as compelling his employer to provide him with a free passage if he desires to return. The provisions of Article XI clearly imply this interpretation, and it is scarcely necessary to say that the Joint Commission, which framed the draft Convention of February 1906, never intended to make repatriation compulsory on the labourer a measure which would have been absurd, since there would be nothing to prevent a labourer sent back to his home against his will from returning at once, free from his contract, to the island where he had been working.

23. Under Article LIV the High Commissioner, the Resident Commissioner, and their subordinates are given wide powers of control, which, together with the legislative powers conferred by Article VII, and the power to refuse recruiting licences, except on such conditions as it may be thought fit to impose, will enable the provisions of the Convention to be supplemented by local Regulations. Such matters as the housing accommodation' to be provided for native labourers, the scale of food necessary, and similar details will naturally be settled locally, and I shall be glad if you will consult the Resident Commissioner, and report to me


as soon as possible what provisions are considered necessary to supplement the Convention in such respects.

24. You will have gathered from the 50th paragraph of my despatch of the 16th November last to the Governor-General of Australia that His Majesty's Government desire that there should be officers before whom natives to be employed by British subjects should be taken prior to embarkation. It will be the function of such officers to insure that each native is fully aware of the contract into which he is entering, and that the recruiters have fully performed the duty imposed upon them. It may be possible, and it would certainly be desirable, to appoint in each island or district a resident of repute to perform these duties.

25. In addition to this arrangement, it is essential that there should be a staff of officers to inspect labourers under contract to British employers, to inquire into complaints, and generally to insure the full execution of the provisions of the Convention. His Majesty's Government regard it as of great importance that the system of inspection should be thoroughly adequate, and I shall be glad if you will report to me as soon as possible on the subject, indicating the number of labour officers whom

you think it necessary to employ, and the salaries which you would propose.

26. Among other matters relating to the Western Pacific, I propose to discuss whith the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand, during their approaching visit to this country, the questions raised by the clauses of the Convention which refer to native labour; and I may have further instructions to convey to you after consultation with Mr. Deakin and Sir J. Ward.

27. His Majesty's Government are aware that, in the present circumstances of the Group, it must be a little time before the Administration can attain the completeness and efficiency which His Majesty's Government desire. The explanations and instructions which are given in this despatch will, I trust, enable you to take all possible preliminary steps for introducing the new system of regulating the relations of employer and labourer; and I have only to request, in conclusion, that you will keep a careful watch over it when started, and inform me fully of its working, in order that improvements may be made as experience is gained and as the administration of the Group increases in efficiency.

I have, &c. (Signed) Elgin.

The Earl of Elgin to High Commissioner Sir E. im Thurn.

Downing Street, June 17, 1907. Sir, Since my despatch of the 21st March was written, ‘His Majesty's Government have had an opportunity of discussing with the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia the provisions of the Anglo-French Convention of the 20th October last respecting the New Hebrides, and I have now to convey to you further instructions on one or two points.

2. In deference to Mr. Deakin's views, His Majesty's Government would have been prepared to agree with the French Government to prohibit altogether the recruiting of natives of the New Hebrides for service outside the Group, i.e., for New Caledonia and Fiji. It has been ascertained, however, that the French Government are not prepared to accept such a proposal, but they would be willing to impose further restrictions on such recruiting to the effect that females shall not be recruited unless accompanying or joining their fathers or husbands, nor males apparently under the age of 15 years unless accompanying or joining their fathers. This latter restriction was proposed ex majore cautela, though as a matter of fact the limit of height to be fixed under Article XXXIII (2) of the Convention would by itself preclude in all or almost all cases the recruiting of natives apparently between the ages of 12 and 15, and the recruiting for Fiji of natives below the age of 12 is already forbidden under Ordinance No. 21 of 1888.

3. These are the additional restrictions to which the French Government would be willing to agree; but neither that Government nor His Majesty's Government are precluded from separately imposing such conditions as they may think fit on the issue of licences to vessels sailing under the French or British flag and recruiting for a French or British Colony respectively. The French Government are, as they have always been, and must remain, solely responsible for the conditions which govern recruiting under the French flag for service in New Caledonia; and His Majesty's Government remain similarly responsible for recruiting for service in Fiji.

4. You will naturally refrain from issuing to vessels sailing under the British flag licences to recruit for places outside the Group except for Fiji, and in issuing any such licences you will provide that no females shall be recruited for service, nor males apparently under the age of 15 years (this latter restriction being of course in addition to the limit of height to be fixed under Article XXXIII (2) of the Convention, and not in substitution for it); and further, that any labourer recruiting for service in Fiji may, if he so desires, take with him a wife and their children at the expense of the employer. Women and children other than members of the families of labourers recruited should not be allowed to accompany natives.

5. I shall be glad if you will consider and report to me what alterations (if any) will be required, by reason of the above instructions, in the Fiji Ordinance No. 21 of 1888 and the amending Ordinances, under which recruiting from the New Hebrides for service in Fiji has been and is conducted.

6. It has been represented to me that the safeguards contained in Article XXXIII of the Convention may prove insufficient to prevent the recruiting of females nominally for ordinary pursuits but in fact for immoral purposes, and that the engagement of females should only be permitted when they accompany their husbands. There are difficulties in dealing with this matter, owing to the facts that natives of the New Hebrides have three or four wives, who are exchanged whenever it pleases the men, and that women frequently enlist in order to escape from the brutal treatment which they receive in their own villages. In these circumstances, I should be glad to learn whether you would recommend the adoption of the suggestion made to me, or whether you think it inadvisable to impose further restrictions on the recruiting of females for service within the Group. I have already instructed you to exercise the greatest care and circumspection in the administration of the Article.

7. I have also instructed you that the labour inspectors to be appointed should take care that labourers are not compelled to work unduly long hours during the day. This is especially necessary, I am informed, for the hot season. If by experience you find any difficulty in this matter, it will of course be possible to prescribe any necessary restrictions of hours as a condition of the issue of a recruiting licence. But the prevention of this kind of abuse must in practice depend more on adequate inspection and control than on formal Regulations.

8. In the 24th paragraph of my despatch of the 21st March, I expressed the desire of His Majesty's Government that there should be officers before whom natives to be employed by British subjects should be taken prior to embarkation, and that if possible there should be at least one such officer in each island. These officers will of course take the utmost care to see that the rates of wages specified in the contracts of service are fair and reasonable, having regard to the rates current in the New Hebrides.

9. If it is impracticable to take newly recruited labourers before these officers prior to embarkation on the recruiting vessel, this should at least be done before the vessel leaves the island where the labourers are recruited.

10. I shall be glad if you will favour me with your views and those of the Resident Commissioner on the question of the conditions which are to govern the liability of employers to return labourers to their homes (if the latter desire to be returned) upon the expiration of their indentures. It would seem reasonable to fix a period within which the labourer must exercise his right after the termination of his indenture, and to require the employer to deposit with the Government a sum sufficient to cover the expense of the labourer's ultimate return, unless the latter is returned to his home by the employer immediately after the expiration of the contract.

11. It has been suggested to me that the provisions in Article LV of the Convention with regard to short engagements, &c., may possibly require further definition. I shall be glad if you and Captain Rason will consider the point and report to me in due course. You are at liberty, if you think fit, to communicate with your French colleague with a view to the issue of a Joint Regulation under Article VII of the Convention.

12. His Majesty's Government have ascertained that the French Government are prepared to agree to the modification of Article LI (4), a provision which, as you are aware, His Majesty's Government would a have taken steps to amend before the signature of the Convention if circumstances had not arisen appearing to call for immediate action and to render it inexpedient to delay that signature by further negotiation with the French Government.

13. With these instructions and those already given in my previous despatch, you will, I trust, be in a position to carry out the provisions of the Convention with regard to native labourers in the manner which His Majesty's Government desire. I have already asked you to keep a careful watch over the system and inform me fully of its working.

14. It has been suggested to me that the provisions of the Convention with regard to the supply of arms, ammunition, and liquor to natives require some attention, and I shall be glad of any observations on the subject which you may desire to offer. In this connection I


refer you to paragraph 55 of my despatch of the 16th November last to the Governor-General of Australia, printed on pp. 53-66 of the Parliamentary Paper Cd. 3288 of 1907. I need hardly say that any measures calculated to reinforce the prohibition of the supply of arms, ammunition, and liquor to natives will command the full approval of His Majesty's Government.

15. They are approaching the French Government with a view to the prohibition of the importation into the New Hebrides of opium in any form in which it can be used for smoking. I stated in my telegram of the 4th October and despatch of the 16th November to Lord Northcote that His Majesty's Government were prepared for their part to accept this proposal. I am informed that opium smoking is at present unknown among the natives of the New Hebrides; but it may be well to take precautions against the appearance of the practice.

I have, &c. (Signed) Elgin.

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