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African Territories (Migrant Labour)

Volume 390: debated on Wednesday 2 June 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the bad conditions under which African labourers are compelled to move from Ruanda to Uganda when in search of work; whether he will consider constructing throughout all African Colonies permanent rest-houses or hostels under sanitary supervision and with facilities for the supply of good water and the purchase of cheap food along the principal travelling routes used by migratory labour and making the charge in the first place against the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. with provision for gradual repayment?

As regards the first part of the Question, I would invite the attention of my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. Harvey) on 26th May. As regards the remainder of the Question a considerable amount of progress has been made in other African territories in regard to the establishment of properly equipped rest camps for the use of migrant labourers. In Northern Rhodesia, ten rest camps had been constructed at the end of 1940 for the use of labour proceeding to and from the mines, and during the following year other labour routes within the territory were surveyed by the Labour Department, with a view to the erection of further camps at suitable sites. These routes included those from Barotseland to Livingstone and from the Western areas to the Copperbelt area. Camps have also been constructed, or are in process of construction, in Nyasaland. In Tanganyika, no less than nineteen Government labour camps had been established along the main labour routes by the end of 1941, to eighteen of which dispensaries were attached. In Kenya, Labour Department rest camps have been provided at Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa. In the Gold Coast, there were at the beginning of last year fifteen Government labour camps constructed at points along the labour routes from the north, as well as three refuges for labourers in need of assistance at Kumasi, Salaga and Tamale. In addition, there were over twenty caravanseries along the routes in the Northern Territories, which are administered by Native Authorities. In Nigeria, the Labour Department was only established last autumn, and this question is no doubt one to which it will give early attention. Government transit camps, have, however, been set up to accommodate the labour conscripted for the tin-mining areas. The labourers are sent in the first instance to these camps for medical attention and rest after their journey, and then on to Government reception camps established in the mining area itself, where they remain pending their allocation to the various mines. I have so far received no applications for assistance under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act for the construction or maintenance of camps of this nature, but I should be prepared to consider them on their merits.