HC Deb 12 June 1879 vol 246 cc1699-700

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether disturbances have taken place in Scaries River, near Sierra Leone, in consequence of attempts having been made to impose Customs Duties upon the natives; whether the natives of this part of the coast are subjects of Great Britain or amenable to British authority; and, whether the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown as to the legality of the proposed taxation has been obtained?


I think the hon. Member's Question is based upon some misapprehension of what has occurred. In order to avoid loss to the Customs revenue of Sierra Leone, it has been considered necessary to establish a Customs station on the Island of Kikonkch, which was ceded to Her Majesty in 1847. Duties would, of course, be levied there from the merchants, and the Chiefs in the neighbouring rivers are stated by Governor Rowe to make no objection to what has been done; though, before the matter was explained, there was some opposition on the Island itself to the steps taken by Commander Alington for the purpose, but nothing at all that amounted to a disturbance. Of course, Customs duties can legally be levied in British territory.