HC Deb 14 May 1857 vol 145 cc261-2

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to send out a few small vessels of war for the purpose of searching the rainless coast of Africa and other promising localities for supplies of guano; and whether any negotiations had been entered into with the Brazilian Government for securing a right to remove nitrate of soda from the deposits lately discovered near Pernambuco.


said, there was no intention of sending out any special vessels to the district referred to by the hon. Member. Instructions had been sent out in 1844, in 1852, and again in 1853, to the commanding officers on various stations, including officers on the west coast of Africa, directing them to take every opportunity of ascertaining whether any guano, or places where any guano was likely to be found, existed on the coasts visited by them, or any large supplies of guano existed or were likely to be discovered on any part of the coast. Various reports had been received from naval officers on the subject, but nothing very satisfactory in the way of actual information as to the existence of guano in any great quantities or of any great value. Before sitting down he would answer a question on the same subject, of which notice had been given by another hon. Gentleman (Mr. Caird). The hon. Member wished to know whether a search for guano, nitrates, or other natural deposits of manure, formed part of the instructions to Her Majesty's naval officers at present engaged in the surveys of the coast of Egypt, the south-east coast of Africa, the south-western coast of the Pacific, and the River La Plata, all of which surveys were stated in the navy estimates to be now in progress? There was not much probability of guano being discovered on the low lands of the coast of Egypt or on the banks of La Plata; the survey of the south-east coast of Africa was a mere land survey, but with regard to the south-west Pacific orders had been given to the surveying-officers to ascertain the probability of the existence of guano. He was not aware that there were any negotiations going on with Brazil for the purpose of obtaining the right to remove nitrate of soda from the deposits lately discovered near Pernambuco.