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Panama Canal Labour Contract

Volume 180: debated on Tuesday 13 August 1907

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On behalf of the hon. Member for Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire, I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that it is impossible to enforce the terms of the Panama Isthmian Canal Labour Contract, the Government will consider the desirability of its abrogation.

It might argumentatively be observed that if the Contract cannot be enforced against the United States Government it would become a dead letter, and it could evidently no longer be used as a binding form of agreement. But information on this point is still being sought, and, in the meanwhile, I should strongly deprecate any action which would seem to imply distrust in the ability and intentions of the Government of the United States of America to provide for the well-being of the labourers and to act towards them in strict good faith. His Majesty's Government feel no such distrust and have therefore no intention, as at present advised, of fettering the discretion of the Governor of Trinidad in regard to the recruitment of labour for Panama.