HC Deb 20 February 1857 vol 144 cc934-6

said, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies whether any correspondence had taken place between the Government and Messrs. Ord, Hudson, and Hayes, of Liverpool, relative to the licence which had been granted to them, giving them for five years the exclusive right of raising and exporting guano from the three islands of Jibleea, Hanki, and Ghurzoad, on the coast of Arabia; and if so, whether he would lay that correspond- ence on the table of the House? He also wished to ask, whether any guano had been raised by those Gentlemen; or whether the report was true, that the people whom they had sent out had been driven away by the Arabs?


said, he believed that the facts of the case were as follows:—Some time ago, certain Liverpool merchants had applied for a licence to obtain guano on those islands, which had been ceded by the Imaum of Muscat to the Government of this country. He believed the first discovery of guano on those islands had been made by Captain Ord; and Her Majesty's Government bad thought it was a proper encouragement to those who had made the discovery of so important a thing as a new supply of guano, that they should receive a licence for a certain period, giving them the exclusive right of removing the article from the spot on which they had found it. Those Gentlemen had also been informed, that as far as it might be practicable they should receive the support of the Government of this country in endeavouring to obtain the guano, while at the same time they were told that the enterprise was necessarily one of a speculative character. Those parties had gone to the island in question, and had endeavoured to procure guano; but, unfortunately, it appeared that some of the tribes inhabiting the coasts, at a distance of about twenty miles from those islands, and who had a sort of trade in guano with the islands, considered that their privileges were being interfered with and disturbed by the operations of Captain Ord and his party. Attempts had been made to procure assistance from the Government of Bombay; but, unfortunately, the Government of Bombay could not at the time afford any assistance. A considerable amount of correspondence had taken place upon the subject, and he hoped that arrangements might still be made for enabling those persons to ascertain whether or not a supply of that valuable commodity could be obtained from those islands. The Government at home were in communication with the Indian Government upon the subject, and he trusted that means would yet be taken to afford those Gentlemen the aid in conducting their explorations which they would receive from the presence of a small armed vessel for a few days. He could assure the noble Lord that Her Majesty's Government were fully sensible of the great importance of affording every assistance in their power for the purpose of obtaining additional supplies of that very valuable article. He believed that a hon. Friend of his would shortly move for the papers, and there would be no objection to the production of the correspondence relating to the matter.


said, he wished to know how it was that the Emigration Commissioners became possessed of the authority to grant the licence in question?


said, it was not in the name of the Emigration Commissioners, but in the name of The Queen, that the licence was granted.


said, he wished to know whether the licence gave a monopoly to those gentlemen?


said, that the licence gave them a monopoly for five years, four of which remain unexpired.