13 JANUARY 1906, Page 2

The publication in Wednesday's papers of the correspondence between Lord

Elgin and Lord Selborne on the subject of Chinese labour conclusively establishes the bona-fides of the Govern- ment. It appears that at the end of October, or five weeks before Mr. Balfour's resignation, Mr. Lyttelton had suggested that "it would be good policy for the mineowners voluntarily to stop importation for the next six months." No mention is made in the correspondence of any reply to this suggestion from Lord Selborne before the advent to power of the Liberal Government, when, in answer to repeated telegrams from Lord Elgin (on December 15th and 19th), Lord Selborne reported on December 20th that in addition to the 47,241 Chinamen on the Rand, 14,700 had been asked for or had licenses granted. Further correspondence revealed the fact that whereas the licenses granted for the first ten months of 1905 averaged about 2,300 per month, in November 13,199 had been granted. Lord Selborne telegraphed on January 1st that if the im- portation of coolies for whom licenses had been granted was prevented by any action which public opinion in the Transvaal considered arbitrary, there would be "a very strong outburst of feeling," in view of the outlay of the mineowners on develop- ment, and the fact that this importation meant work for hundreds and hundreds of men now out of work, and com- mercial activity for all. "If, on the other hand, his Majesty's Government allow the licenses already issued to stand, their decision that no fresh ones are to be issued till the opinion of the elected representatives of the people can be taken on the subject next July will, in my opinion, be loyally accepted, and there will be no feeling of injustice." The sudden rush for licenses in November is very curious, and deserves closer investigation. What was the basis of the intelligent anticipa- tion of coming events which the mineowners showed in so high a degree P