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expedient to provide for the continuance and regulation • of this custom.' In the January of every year, a list has to be prepared, in every town and village, of all the able-bodied men between the ages of sixteen and sixty, exclusive of those in the service of the Government, and of priests and ministers of all religious denominations. On a requisition for labour being made by the Commissioner of any district, the head-man and the council of the village are to choose by lot from the list the number of men required to perform the labour. The labour is to be paid for at the rate of not less than a shilling per day of ten hours; and any person quitting his work without permission is liable to a fine not exceeding a pound, or to be imprisoned, with hard labour, for a period not exceeding a month.
This institution of forced labour, which in no particular except that of its softened title can be distinguished from slavery, gives fresh importance to the question, already raised by the Order in Council constituting the form of British government in Cyprus, as to whether Cyprus is to be treated as a Crown Colony,that is, a territorial possession the government of which is initiated and formally prescribed by the Executive, in the exercise of the Royal Prerogative,—or whether it is a territory over which the British Government has temporarily and provisionally nothing more than certain limited rights, conceded by the real Sovereign authority, the Sultan of Turkey, for the purpose of securing orderly adıninistration, and rendering the place available as a military and naval centre in case England should be called upon to carry into effect those clauses of the Convention transferring the possession of Cyprus, which would oblige her in certain emergencies to protect the Asiatic
Forced Labour in Cyprus.
dominions of the Sultan against Russia. The citation, at the head of the Order in Council, of the Foreign Jurisdiction Acts would seem to favour the latter view,-that is, that Cyprus is in no sense ceded to Great Britain, but is merely foreign territory over which the British Government, in the exercise of powers conceded by Parliament, and by virtue of a temporary Convention with the Sovereign authority to whom Cyprus belongs, is entitled to exert certain defined functions. There is no doubt that, in the case of any true British territory, such an ordinance as that which perpetuates a system of slavery would be instantly repudiated by Parliament as soon as its attention was called to it. Certainly no greater public inconvenience could accrue from the disallowance for the first time of the enforcement of such a system, even in territories previously habituated to it, than the wide-spread disaster and calamities which ensued on the sudden abolition of private slavery in the West India Islands. It must, then, be assumed that Cyprus is at present not part of the British dominions, and that if ever, by further transactions with Turkey, it becomes so, the system of forced labour would in any case have been abolished. Of course a further political question is suga gested, that cannot here be discussed, as to whether, in the course of indoctrinating the Turkish Government with sounder principles of administration, it was well to lose a signal opportunity of evincing the superior moral and economic advantage of a system of private contract over that system of servitude which, in one shape or another, is one of the main causes of the decrepitude and demoralisation of the Turkish dominions.
These views seem to have been to some extent appreciated by the British Government, as appears from
a later despatch (given below) of Lord Salisbury, the Foreign Secretary, which led to the repeal of the Ordinance. The despatch has a further importance as exhibiting the existing constitutional attitude of the country towards slavery, or towards what the Government apprehend may be interpreted as slavery. Before the promulgation of the Ordinance,—that is, on the 9th of September, 1878,—Sir Garnet Wolseley, writing to Lord Salisbury, says: 'I would propose to discuss this
matter in the Legislative Council, and, acting upon “the advice of the three island members, to bring out a • law upon the subject, taking care in no way to inter• fere with the farming operations. I should not like 6 to discuss the subject at Council unless I was assured 6that the Ministry would consent to the general prin. *ciple involved, namely, of insisting upon the people • supplying labour for public works of general utility• a principle which is acted upon in India, and, I believe, • in all Eastern countries. Under the Turkish law • every man is obliged to give to the public a certain
number of days' work on the roads—twenty consecutive 6 days' work every five years—during the period extend
ing from the 1st of May to the 1st of November of each * year. Do you approve of my introducing a law with • this object in view, or may I act on the Turkish law • existing without any fresh legislation ?'
On the 20th of March, 1879, Lord Salisbury writes as follows to Sir Garnet Wolseley :
• Foreign Office, March 20, 1879. • I have received your despatches of December 17 6 and February. 3, inclosing to me an Ordinance on • Public Works passed by the Legislative Council of
Repeal of the Compulsory Labour Clause. 193
Cyprus. In your despatch of December 17, you stated " that the Ordinance in question was one which would
be seldom if ever brought into operation, implying 'that at that time you did not contemplate any imme
diate employment of the powers conferred by it. It did not seem, therefore, a matter of urgency to com"municate with you in respect to it, and it has been
postponed to more pressing questions. Within the • la:t two days, however, I have received information ' from a private source, to the effect that the Ordinance • has been put into operation in one locality, and there'fore it is desirable that I should without further delay
place you in possession of the views of Her Majesty's Government in regard to its provisions. On October • 25, in reply to a semi-official communication from 'you, I sent to you a telegram, from which the follow‘ing is an extract: “You may requisition labour either 6" under old law or a new one, as you please. But we 6“ think punishment in default should be a fine on 6“ village and not fall on individuals; otherwise we shall 6“ be charged with setting up slavery.” The Ordinance as it has actually passed, in so far as the greater part of it is concerned, is substantially in harmony with
these instructions. One clause, however, in the Ordi'nance (the tenth) is not entirely in accordance with the
principle laid down in my telegram of the 26th • October. It provides that persons electing to contribute by way of labour instead of payment shall be compelled to perform the labour they have undertaken by imprisonment, if necessary. They are not forced to labour in the first instance; but they are forced to complete their tale of days' labour when they have once elected that their contribution shall be in the • form of labour. Provisions as to forced labour for the • construction and repair of public roads, &c., have • been very generally introduced in the legislation of our • North American, West Indian, and Eastern Colonies, o as well as in India, and are not unknown to the laws • of this country and of Scotland. If, therefore, this
provision were to be judged merely by the precedents • which are furnished by other of Her Majesty's posses‘sions, no objection would be taken to the course which
you have pursued. Nevertheless, Her Majesty's Govern'ment think it, on the whole, wiser to adhere, in the present instance, to the policy laid down in my telegram
of October 25, and they do so on the grounds stated ' in that instruction. Any arrangement which would
give the opportunity of imputing, however erroneously, to the English Government a practice which could be • represented as being akin to slavery, might weaken its authority in dealing with neighbouring countries where
slavery still exists. The geographical situation of • Cyprus lends a special importance to this considera* tion. An equally cogent reason is to be found in the
circumstance, that in executing any law of this kind, 'your Excellency will be compelled to rely on the in• strumentality of agents who have not been trained ' under an English Government. I have to request you • therefore, at an early meeting of your Legislative • Council, to propose the repeal of so much of the tenth
clause as sanctions the use of imprisonment for the * purpose of compelling the performance of labour. The ' person absenting himself from work, after electing to • make his contribution in labour, should, of course, still * remain liable for a moderate pecuniary penalty im• posed upon him for failing to fulfil bis engagement.'