HC Deb 03 April 1883 vol 277 cc1284-332

* in moving— That, in the interests of civilisation and Commerce in South West Africa, this House is of opinion that no Treaty should he made by Her Majesty's Government that would sanction the annexation by any Power of territories on or adjacent to the Congo, or that would interfere with the freedom hitherto enjoyed by all civilising and Commercial agencies at work in those regions, said, it is not easy to introduce a question to the House about which little is known, and in regard to which, therefore, not a very wide interest is felt; but, Sir, the less a question is known, the more it ought to be brought to the notice of the House, if it be an important question. I am convinced that the subject before us is one of the utmost gravity; and, if I fail to impress the House with that conviction, I am sure some hon. Members who will follow me in the debate will succeed in doing so. The country to which the Resolution refers lies between 5 deg. 12 min. and 8 deg. Southern latitude, on the South-West Coast of Africa. It embraces both banks of the Congo, and has become of extreme importance, owing to the knowledge we now possess of the greatest of African rivers, and of the country through which it flows. I will first say one word as to the character of the stream. From the mouth to Stanley Pool, the distance is 336 miles. For the first 115 miles the river is generally two miles wide, and deep enough for oceangoing vessels. Portions of the remaining distance are impeded by rocks and cataracts, and here roads have been constructed for the conveyance of merchandize to Stanley Pool, from which place the river is navigable for nearly 1,000 miles. The river has large tributaries also navigable, and the productive character of the country cannot be surpassed. The territory on the Lower Congo is under the rule of Native Chiefs and Kings. Trade is more absolutely free than in any other part of the globe where any considerable commerce exists, and missionaries have freedom for all their various labours. Whatever may be said with regard to slavery, there is no such thing as the export of slaves from the Congo. As to the general security of the country, merchants make no complaint. They pay an annual tribute, and there the matter ends. The missionaries make no complaint. Nobody in that region complains. I have looked at the official Papers presented to the House a few days ago, Containing a Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and that of Portugal from the year 1845 to the year 1877. During this period there is no evidence of disorder until the year 1877. In the year 1877 there was a complaint from the English Consul that crimes had been committed, a factory burnt, and some Portuguese had committed dreadful barbarities on the people, and had been assisted by a British subject. I understand Lord Granville to express an opinion that there ought to be some authority there which does not now exist, by which better order might be maintained. If an authority is established there which does not now exist, it should be one in which the Natives can have confidence, and which the traders can respect. If a change is to be made, it should be a change for the better. I think everyone will agree with that proposition; and, in view of that, I should like to discuss what the Government propose, and what are likely to be the results. We have had very little information given us. Everything is vague with regard to this question; but, so far as I know, Her Majesty's Government propose to make a Treaty with Portugal, by which they will sanction the annexation to that Power of this important territory. The Treaty, so far as I understand, relates to the questions of trade, of religious freedom, and of slavery. This proposed Treaty has met with extraordinary resistance. Every class of persons, every individual who has had, or has, relations with the Congo country is in arms against it. Let mo look at the question in regard to trade. The Government would require what they consider favourable conditions for us. They would ask that Portugal should give us moderate duties throughout all the Portuguese possessions in Africa; that also the British trader should be put on the same terms as the Portuguese. I trust that when my noble Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) rises to address the House, he will tell us what the Government understand to be moderate duties. A country like the Congo, that has no duties and no Custom House, is one in which trade is absolutely free. The traders in that region might, therefore, not take the same view of moderate duties which the Foreign Office takes. It does not seem that we should be wise in upsetting Native rule on the Congo. In Zanzibar, where we have a Native African Government, the trade is eight or ten times greater than in the Portuguese Province of Mozambique. It is understood that the Foreign Office looks with some satisfaction on the Mozambique tariff, where official figures show the duties to be 10 per cent; but every merchant knows that that is altogether fallacious. The duties in Mozambique on some of the most important articles are not less than from 25 to 35 per cent. No doubt, the Government will tell us that by the proposed arrangements we are to have a great improvement in Angola. In that Province, the import duties are excessive—there are considerable export duties, there are differential duties in favour of Portugal—British vessels cannot trade on their coast, nor carry merchandize between Angola and Portugal. I am, of course, prepared to admit that if we had a Treaty removing all these grievances, there would be some gain; but I am here to state that those who know the Congo, and those who know Portugal in Africa, say that no possible Treaty will induce them willingly to admit the Portuguese to another yard of African territory. If we had low duties, it does not follow that we should have a large trade. I am not speaking now for British traders only, but for the traders of every European country who go to the Congo territory. The Portuguese have a method of making trade impossible. They have passports, papers, tolls, fines, and fees—fees at every corner. You can hardly look at a bale of goods after it has passed the Custom House without having to fee somebody. My noble Friend may say—"Yes; but our Treaty will remove these difficulties, and make trade an easy thing in the Portuguese territory." But will he tell us what is the cause of the difficulty at present? It is too deep to be removed. It lies in the fact that the Portguese officials are an ignorant class, and badly remunerated, and therefore they become corrupt. There is no Treaty that could get at this radical defect in the Portuguese system. But, admitting that these difficulties could be got over, there are other methods of destroying a Colony, and of paralyzing trade which the Portuguese well understand. You may destroy trade by excessive internal taxation, and I do not know that any Treaty ever contained a clause interfering with the right of a country in regard to internal taxation. In Angola, for instance, there is an income tax of 10 per cent. Our Income Tax is at present 6d. in the pound, or 2½ per cent. It causes irritation. People think it burdensome. What effect would an Income Tax of 2s. in the pound have on the commerce of this country? How far would it interfere with our power of competing successfully with other countries? That is not all. There is a property tax of 10 per cent in Angola, and a house duty of 6 per cent. There is a duty on the transfer of property of 6 per cent. If you sell a house or a bit of land, you have to pay 6 per cent on the transfer. Will my noble Friend tell us if this Treaty, if it be made—I hope it never will—will prevent English, Dutch, French, and German commerce on the Congo from being paralyzed by a state of things like this? Then what is the character of the Portuguese—their character for intelligence, for enterprize, for any of those qualities which a country ought to possess that is expecting to extend its borders, and take still further Provinces under its control? The chief river of Angola is the Quanza. It is navigable—there are steamboats upon it—but how have the Government arranged the navigation of this river? For the last 18 years it has given the navigation into the hands of one firm, which has made it a close monopoly, and that firm charges from 40s. to 50s. a-ton for a distance of 150 to 200 miles, or, in other words, it charges as much for that distance as is charged between the Congo and Liverpool. I saw it stated the other day that we had 10,000 miles of railway in India. This is not much, considering the extent of the country. But Portugal was in possession of Angola for 200 years before the foundations of our Indian Empire were laid, and yet there are almost no roads in Angola. The people have to carry goods mainly on their heads up to this day, as they have done in times past. Another fact. There is splendid river water within nine miles of the capital of Angola; but the Portuguese have never yet succeeded in bringing it to the thirsting inhabitants of the town. It is still brought in casks and sold to the people at a high price. Now, it would be difficult for me to express to the House the anxiety which exists at the present moment in the mercantile mind of this country—of course, I mean among the merchants who have to do with this part of the world—it would be difficult to describe how nervous they are in regard to what the Government are supposed to be doing. They tell me, and I believe it, that if this Treaty were made, if the annexation takes place, if Portuguese troops were landed on the Congo, there would be no factory or business establishment that would not be put in a state of defence. Such would be the irritation of the Natives at the Portuguese taking possession of their country, that they would treat every White man as an enemy, and do all they could to destroy his property. I am an old enough Member of this House to be aware that it is a common thing, whenever any considerable change is proposed, for hon. Members to foretell that all sorts of dangerous things will happen; and, as a rule, those things do not happen. It may be that the House fancies this is a groundless fear. But let me mention one fact to show that the fear is not groundless. Twenty-eight years ago, the Government of Angola sent an armed force, which took possession of Ambriz, the most northerly town of the Angola Province. The Natives had to submit; but, before they did so, they destroyed the factories in the neighbourhood. I am not going to discuss the question as to the claims of Portugal to this territory, for the simple reason that our own Governments in the last half century have denied these claims, and successfully resisted them. For 200 years Portugal has had no connection with the Congo. The trade of the Congo, which 30 years ago was almost nothing, has now risen to something like £2,000,000 sterling per annum. But the Portuguese have not contributed in any respect to this trade, as is shown from the fact that the Portuguese steamers from Lisbon to Loanda never touched at the Congo till last January, when one came there, in consequence, no doubt, of the negotiations as to this Treaty. It left the country, without a passenger and without a ton of cargo. The House is aware that Foreign Secretaries have repeatedly guarded this territory. In 1853, Lord Clarendon, the Foreign Secretary, said— That the interests of commerce imperatively required the Government to maintain the right of unrestricted intercourse with that part of Africa. Our trade then was almost nothing. If the territory were worth some consideration on the part of the English Government at that time, one would suppose that it would now require far more earnest attention. After commerce, I understand the next most important feature of the Treaty is that which is to give us additional guarantees from Portugal that slavery and the Slave Trade shall be suppressed. I cannot help believing that the Anti-Slavery Society has more knowledge of Partugal in relation to slavery than the Foreign Office. The Foreign Office has received a Memorial from the Anti-Slavery Society on this subject, in which they say— That they cannot but view the proposal for this Treaty with the gravest apprehension. Whatever amount of sincerity might be credited to the Government of Lisbon in respect to the suppression of the Slave Trade, it has been proved, by long and painful experience, that an inadequate, feeble, and corrupt Executive in Africa has both given protection to the Slave Trade, and at the same time imposed the most vexatious obstruction to the extension of legitimate commerce, by which the traffic might be superseded. Allow me to quote also a paragraph from a despatch to Lord Granville, from Mr. (now Sir Robert) Morier, dated "Lisbon, April 25, 1881"— The first act of the new Cabinet in connection with Colonial matters has been to recall Senhor Sarmento, the Governor General of Mozambique, in disgrace. The crime of Senhor Sarmento consists in having not only admitted that there was Slave Trade from the Mozambique coast, but in having done good work in putting it down; he has fallen a victim to the intrigues of Senhor Machado and the Geographical Society of Lisbon, whose object has been to make out that the Mozambique Slave Trade is a mere hallucination of Her Majesty's Consuls. I had an interview last Friday with a Gentleman well known to the late Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and to other Members of the House—I mean Lord Mayo, who has been spending a good deal of time in South-West Africa. He has been over all these countries; he knows the Natives and the Portuguese; and, with respect to this question of slavery, he gave me some information which I think ought to be communicated to the House. He says that between Angola and the Island of St. Thomas there is a regular traffic in slaves, and that official forms are made use of in order to conceal its character, and to enable the officers of the Govern-met to reap some portion of the reward. Slaves are brought from the interior to Catumbella—they are called "Colonials," The price here is £7 a-head. They are then sent on lighters to the Portuguese steamship at Benguela, thence to Loanda, where official forms are gone through. They are assumed to have engaged themselves for five years' service. They are then shipped in the same steamer to the Island of St. Thomas. They are well treated on board, and decently clothed. Price at St. Thomas from £10 to £15; a pretty girl sells for more. They can be re-engaged by the planters at the office of Santa Anna, the capital of the Island. In this re-engagement they are not consulted. They die early. Lord Mayo came by the steamship Angola in February last from Benguela to Lisbon, when 82 of these "Colonials" were on board. They never see their own country again. I do not know where we could find greater credulity than that which would seem to exist in the Foreign Office, if they believe that anything on paper is likely to compel the Portuguese to suppress slavery in Africa. There is an Association exercising great influence on the banks of the Congo, which ought to be better known in this country. I refer to what is ordinarily called the Belgian Association. Generous and public-spirited men in this and other countries formed that Association some three years ago, with the munificent King of the Belgians at its head. I believe I do not exaggerate when I say that the King himself, from his own private fortune, has given not less than £70,000 a-year for its support, and the object is to promote intercourse between Europe and Africa, and to extend so far as they can the advantages of civilization to the negroes in that country. They have stations all the way up the Lower Congo; they are pushing these stations on the Upper Congo. They make arrangements with the Chiefs. There is neither force nor violence. All is done by friendly negotiations, and the spirit of Penn in his negotiations with the Natives of Pennsylvania seems to have guided this Association in Africa. They are looked upon with gratitude by traders, by missionaries, by travellers, and by all who have intercourse with that part of Africa. I need not say that this Association, from its head downwards, would dread the possible approach of Portugal to the mouth of the Congo. They believe that such an advent would be the advent of a Power hostile to commerce, to freedom, and to civilization. Then there are the missionaries. The Baptist Mission has many establishments on the Congo. It is an influential Mission, guided by men of great intelligence. They, too, look upon the possibility of this Treaty with great fear and anxiety. One of those who are engaged in missionary labours in Africa wrote to me— What we, as a Missionary Society apprehend, should the Portuguese he recognized as the rulers of the Congo Country, is that they will adopt the same repressive and persecuting policy as they have adopted all along the Const of Africa where they have had any power whatever. Already Portugal has assumed a persecuting attitude against our missionaries at San Salvador—the Roman Catholic priests intimating that, in a little while, Portugal will have the power, and that then our missionaries will have to fly the country. This is not mere hearsay, but a fact, and no Treaty guaranteeing religious equality is worth much to the Government of Portugal. But, Sir, there is yet another class to be considered on this occasion, a class which must be counted by hundreds of thousands, indeed, by millions, if we go further into the country and assume that the Power at the mouth of the river may have considerable influence in the interior. I refer, of course, to the Native population. I shall be right in appealing to the Prime Minister with regard to them. I may ask him whether they are not to have some voice in tills transaction? We are bargaining away their country, and it is not ours to give. The Foreign Office is making terms for us which we reject. Is it making any terms for the Natives? Well, in appearance, the Natives are not forgotten. The Treaty will forbid the Portuguese to buy or sell negroes; but the Foreign Office is full of evidence to show that Portugal cannot help buying and selling negroes, whenever there is a profit upon the transaction. A Government which consents to have any part in placing Portugal on fresh territory, in giving them this important country at the mouth of the Congo, should at least make some inquiry as to the character of Portugal in her African possessions. There would be no difficulty in arriving at the facts. Here is a little country, not much larger than Scotland, with a population less than that of Ireland, having territory on the Continent of Africa of six times the extent of the United Kingdom. Will anyone on the Treasury Bench place his finger on one single spot on the African Continent where the Portuguese have planted themselves, and show that there their presence has been a blessing to the Natives? On the other hand, if I assert it has been a curse, will anyone in the House give adequate testimony to show that I am wrong? Take the East Coast of Africa. Many of the officials on the Mozambique are convicts sent away from Portugal. That, I suppose, is undeniable. I have it on a great amount of authority. In Angola, the army is largely composed of convicts. I was told this by a Portuguese merchant, and on my hesitating to believe it, he said—"It is true, and it is easy to get what I say corroborated by writing to the former Consul." In a letter since received from Mr. Watson Uredenburg, Her Majesty's former Consul, he says— That so far as relates to the time when I was Her Majesty's Commissioner, the troops forming the garrison of Loanda were undoubtedly formed from the worst class of convicts, capital punishment having been practically abolished in Portugal. When he speaks of the worst class of convicts, I know what he means. He means there are men who have committed murder amongst them. It is not an uncommon thing for men who have committed murder in Portugal to be at large in Angola. A little while ago we succeeded in abolishing a punishment which was very odious to us, the punishment of flogging. That punishment, however, appears to be almost universal in the African possessions of Portugal. The persons convicted of serious crimes are generally flogged to death. In Mozambique, the Portuguese officials scarcely dare venture on the mainland, unless they are escorted, for fear of being murdered; and in Delagoa Bay, the officials dare not venture outside the town without being armed. That is the sort of feeling existing between the Portuguese and the Native population over which they rule. In Angola, the Portuguese cannot even go to the southern bank of their own river, the Quanza; they have to keep on the northern bank, on account of the hatred of the Native population. They cannot travel by land between Loanda and Ambriz. There is an interesting book, entitled "Angola and the Congo," by a Portuguese gentleman, Monteiro, who is recognized as an authority both in London and Lisbon, and I trust the House will permit me to read a few extracts showing the effect of Portuguese rule in their African Provinces. He says— Trade or commerce is the great civilizer of Africa, and the small part of the coast we are treating of at present (Congo) is a proof of this. Commerce has had undisturbed sway for a few years with extraordinary results. The Natives have not been spoilt as yet by contact with the evils of an ignorant and oppressive occupation as in Portuguese Angola. Then he says— Were not the Natives of Ambriz such a remarkably inoffensive and unwarlike race, they would long ago have driven the Portuguese into the sea. It is a great pity that Portugal should neglect so disgracefully her Colonies, so rich in themselves, and offering such wonderful advantages in every way for colonization and development. Speaking of a most fertile country within easy reach of Loanda, he says— Apathy reigns supreme, and the authorities at Loanda prevent any attempt to get out of this State by the obstructions of all kinds of petty and harassing imposts, rules, and regulations, having no possible aim but the collection of a despicable amount of fees to keep alive and in idleness a few miserable officials. Monteiro refers frequently in his book to the great depopulation in Angola. He speaks of the "depopulation of the country," of the "stifling of any attempt at industrial development on the part of the Natives." That this is a truth admitting of no denial or defence is, he says— At once shown by the fact that the sources of the great exports of Native produce are all places removed from the direct misrule of the Portuguese. There never was so strong a condemnation of the government of a Colony as that. Where Portuguese influence is felt, there the earth refuses to yield its produce; the supplies of the export trade come from regions uninfluenced by them. I am afraid of tiring the House; but I should like to make one or two more statements, because, after all, it appears to me that it is the character of the Portuguese in their Colonies that we are discussing to-night. If we find that character wholly bad, then, surely, we shall scarcely persist in carrying out the policy which we fear the Government proposes. This traveller—I quote still from Monteiro—says— We passed many places where towns had formerly existed; but the inhabitants had been obliged to remove further into the interior to escape the wholesale robbery and exactions of the Portuguese. … We found traces everywhere of a former very much larger population, and the same true tale of the inhabitants having been driven further inland by the rapine of the Portuguese rulers.…The furthest inland district in Angola under the rule of the Portuguese was that of Cassange; but a successful revolt of the Natives against the oppression of the Portuguese 'chefes' led to its being abandoned a few years ago. There is only one more short extract which I shall read. In it Monteiro says— Were the Natives otherwise than inoffensive and incapable of enmity, they would have long ago swept away the rotten power of the Portuguese in that large extent of territory. It is this rotten Power which the Government now proposes to establish amongst those inoffending Natives. I do not know what crime they have committed that they should be subjected to so tremendous a penalty—a penalty not for a term of years, but to be perpetual. There is a line well known to every Member of this House— None but himself can be his parallel. That line would apply with strict accuracy to Portugal, if we could forget the existence of Turkey. There is a wonderful similarity between Turkey and Portugal. You have a Turkey in the East of Europe, and you have a little Turkey in the West. There is similarity in this respect, that the officials and employ¹s of both are ignorant; they are badly and irregularly paid, and the consequence is that they are corrupt and feed upon the Natives. There is also this similarity, that where Turkey rules, the Provinces are often desolate; and, according to an authority who may be perfectly trusted, the Provinces of Portugal are in many places rendered desolate by the presence of the Portuguese, The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Wodehouse) has put down an Amendment to my Motion. He would admit the Portuguese to this important possession, on condition that we should get "adequate guarantees." I wonder if the hon. Member for Bath has ever been for a long time in connection with one in whom he had absolutely lost confidence and, if so, whether he would be willing to contract still closer engagements by getting more "adequate guarantees?" I do not know what guarantees might satisfy the little town of Bath; but I can tell the hon. Member for Bath that there is a commercial public in Great Britain outside the town of Bath, and that Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol, Bradford, and the City of London have all sent earnest Memorials asking that this step may not be taken. In this country, a Treaty is made by the Crown, which means, of course, the Cabinet, and it is not known to Parliament until it is made and ratified. Some four or five years ago, my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) raised a question in the House as to whether it was safe that Treaties should be made and ratified without the knowledge of Parliament. I remember that the Prime Minister on that occasion opposed the Motion of my hon. Friend, and I think I am correct in saying that he vindicated the present practice on the ground that no Minister, no Government, would ever dream of making a Treaty which was not in harmony with the general opinion of the country. Let me ask the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, when he rises, to tell the House how many Memorials and representations, of an earnest character from public bodies and eminent individuals, the Foreign Office has received in opposition to this Treaty, and how much public support, or how much support of any kind, they have received in favour of the Treaty. The facts as to public opinion laid before the House would be such as to make any Government hesitate in going against it. I have not made any reference to France in regard to this question. There is an opinion—I do not know how far it is well-founded—that what has been done and said by a subject of France in Africa has somewhat disturbed people's minds, and has had some influence at the Foreign Office. Some of those who have communicated with me since this Motion was put on the Paper—and I cannot tell how many communications I have had from all quarters—think that there has been a great exaggeration with regard to this matter, and that it may only result in a salutary extension of French commerce. It may end in nothing; but oven if there should be annexation which comes down to the north bank of the Upper Congo, why should we invite another Power to the Lower Congo, where we and the Dutch and the French have a large commerce, where she has none, and where her character is such as I have described? There is a wide-spread feeling amongst those interested in this question, and it does not seem to me to be an irrational feeling, that this subject is of sufficient importance for the different Nations of Europe to come to some friendly understanding with regard to it. We have an International Commission for the Danube. It would seem a much easier thing to have an International Commission for the Congo. There are on the Congo every year national vessels from Austria, Germany, Italy, France, and England, which go there presumably to give protection to their own subjects. Does not that point to the possibility of an international understanding? To bring about such an understanding would be worthy of the ambition of a great Government, and if the Prime Minister would consent to give his mind to the question something might come of it. One word more, Sir, and I will no longer tax the patience of the House. This vast region of Central Africa—watered by noble rivers, thickly peopled, rich in varied products—has been given to the world mainly by the indomitable courage of two men of our own race, Livingstone and Stanley—names which I venture to say will long be held in honour by two great nations. In presence of this memorable fact, of which this Assembly must be proud, I will not believe that an English Minister will place the gateway to this magnificent territory in the hands of the one European Power that is bankrupt in every quality which might entitle her to its possession. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.


in seconding the Motion, said, it was not his intention to travel over the ground which had been so well occupied by the hon. Member for the City of Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright). He (Mr. Whitley) thought they would all admit that no Government, however weak that Government might be, would seriously compromise such interests as those which had been brought under the notice of the House, except upon the strongest possible grounds; and, more than that, he thought the Government would not for the first time attempt to interfere with those rights which Englishmen had enjoyed so long on the Congo, and which had led to Treaties between English merchants on the one hand, and Native Princes on the other, and also to Treaties between the Government of this country and the Native Princes. He could not believe that any Government would seek to interfere with those Treaties, or to harass that trade, except upon the most conclusive grounds. In the observations he should address to the House he should, therefore, endeavour to anticipate some of the grounds upon which he believed, if any action at all was contemplated by the Government, that action would be vindicated. The House was aware, from the Correspondence which had been laid before it, that the claims of the Government of Portugal to that territory had been of long standing. Those claims had been investigated by successive Foreign Ministers, and 40 years ago Lord Clarendon informed the Portuguese Government that there was no foundation for those claims which were brought forward. Those claims were founded on the discovery of the country in the 15th century; but everyone who had read the Blue Books and investigated the subject would see that according to International Law no claims of this sort could exist, unless there had been a continuous possession on the part of Portugal, either expressed or implied. Those claims were pronounced to be void 40 years ago, and in consequence of the distinct assurance of the Government of that day there had been a vast increase during those 40 years of the trade with that country. During that time commerce had immensely increased with the people of that country, and they had become comparatively happy and prosperous. In a letter which he had before him from a gentleman who had long traded with that country, he was told, on the assurance of Lord Palmerston, that if necessary he would send a British man-of-war in order to protect British interests on the Congo, and that beyond Ambriz the Portuguese Government had not the vestige of a claim. In consequence of that assurance, he built factories on what was accounted to be ground where Englishmen could build factories. That these factories had been built and trade carried on ever since under this assurance of the Government was, he thought, a strong case why the Government should show that there should be no variance from the decisions of Lord Clarendon, Lord Palmerston, and Lord Derby. It was very difficult to understand upon what grounds the negotiations for a Treaty could ever possibly proceed. The English trade on the Congo was five times larger at the present moment than that of the Portugese Government, extending to 800 miles of coast. That commerce had been fostered by the knowledge of the freedom of trade which had prevailed, and which had been secured by Treaties made upon the statements of our Foreign Ministers. The Native Princes had entered into Treaties of commercial relationship with English houses. They had faithfully kept those Treaties, and commercial enterprize was continued up to the present moment. He would ask the Government whether they were prepared to interfere with a trade which had been so peaceably conducted for a long series of years under the protection and assurances of the British Government? He thought that such a conclusive case had been brought forward that no Government could put such a proposition before the House. It might be, as suggested by his hon. Friend, that France had made, and did make, some claim to the territory. It might be a very convenient thing to set that up; but, at the same time, he would ask the Government was it a wise thing to be faithless towards the antecedents of a great commercial country like this? This country existed on its commercial relationship—its commercial freedom—which was the watchword of the days in which we lived; and he would put it very strongly to the Government, and to the apostles of Free Trade in the House, were they prepared in a day like this, when hostile tariffs were the rule of Europe and America—when there were so few countries open to English commerce—were they ready to give to foreign countries what was denied to British commerce? Were they prepared to give a tariff to a river which had hitherto been free to the nations of the world, and to do that to the detriment of those whom they had encouraged in this trade, and who had made the country a mercantile community? He thought that such a course of procedure would be most unpopular to the county, and unpopular to those interests which, during the past few years, had suffered so grievously from these hostile tariff's. They all knew how the manufacturing and commercial interests of this country had suffered—how Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Glasgow, and every commercial city had suffered—and were they going now to cripple those interests? They had learned from the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Manchester that wherever the Portuguese trade was there were strong hostile tariffs. He believed the general tariff of Portugal was about 35 per cent as against the English manufacturer. He was told it was possible to effect a Treaty by which the hostile tariff's might be lowered from 35 to something like 10 per cent. He was sure the House—and he was sure the mercantile community at large—would rejoice to think that the tariffs of Portugal were lowered with regard to Portuguese ports; but he would put it to the House, and to the Government, whether they were prepared on this account to saddle with import duties a port which had been practically free? He trusted, therefore, that the Motion of his hon. Friend might be a success. He thought it was one of the most important Motions which had been brought before the attention of the House of Commons. They were defending that day the interests of Free Trade in its highest and its best sense. They were asking the House of Commons to maintain those principles which they had adopted in this country, and would they not see it adopted in foreign countries? He asked them in return to protect the interests of the English and of England, and not by an unfortunate Treaty put a hostile tariff on the struggling manufacturers and merchants of this country. It was on these grounds that he very heartily supported the Motion which had been so well and ably moved by the hon. Gentleman the Mem- ber for the City of Manchester. On a question of this kind there could not, and ought not to be, any Party feeling. It was a question which affected them all. It affected the interests of the country. It affected the interests of those toiling inhabitants of Africa, who had been so greatly benefited by the course of procedure of the English Government in the past, and who were gradually being rescued from barbarism by honest industry and enterprize. He would ask the Prime Minister and the Government whether they were prepared to send back again to the dark ages these poor people, who had exhibited such great commercial and religious improvement? Were they prepared to take a retrograde step, and send back to the days of barbarism and obscurity those who were gradually emancipating themselves by industry and enterprize? On the ground, therefore, of benefiting those communities on the Congo which it was the object of British statesmen in the past to benefit, he asked the House to go on in the career which they had adopted, and to support heartily the Motion of his hon. Friend, for he believed that in so doing they were doing very much indeed to promote the interests of England, as well as the best interests of the Natives on the Congo. It was on these grounds he very heartily and sincerely supported the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Manchester.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, in the interests of civilisation and Commerce in South west Africa, this House is of opinion that no Treaty should be made by Her Majesty's Government that would sanction the annexation by any Power of territories on or adjacent to the Congo, or that would interfere with the freedom hitherto enjoyed by all civilising and Commercial agencies at work in those regions."—(Mr. Jacob Bright.)


said, he felt quite sure, whatever opinions might exist in different parts of the House as to the merits of this question, that everybody would agree that the speech in which his hon. Friend had introduced the Motion was one of great ability, indicating a thorough acquaintance with the subject. He could assure him, and also the Seconder of the Motion, that he was entirely at one with them as to the importance of the question which had been brought before the House. He believed it was one of the most inte- resting commercial subjects which had for many years engaged the Attention of the House, not only in regard to its present, but also in regard to what might be called its future aspect. The great discoveries made of late years in African geography had given to every subject connected with that Continent a peculiar importance; and although, perhaps, it was not altogether a pleasant prospect, it nevertheless seemed to be one to which, in all probability, the House and successive Governments would have to make up their minds that, owing to the great increase of African disco very, and also owing to the manner in which different nations were beginning to occupy, or, at least, to attempt to occupy, the African Continent, discussions and controversies of that nature might tend, perhaps, to become more frequent than heretofore. Therefore, in this debate they were approaching a subject which might in some way become of historical importance, and the position now taken might hereafter be regarded as a land mark. Under these circumstances, the Government felt that nothing was more reasonable or more natural than that there should be a considerable difference of opinion. In the first place, he would say a word or two on the Constitutional aspect of the subject. His hon. Friend had spoken of the position and influence of the Foreign Office and the Treaty-making power of the Crown, and he had laid down the general proposition that the Crown—which he said was practically the Cabinet—had the absolute power of making Treaties, and that those Treaties were ratified before the House of Commons had an opportunity of expressing an opinion on them. Now, that proposition was one which he could not quite accept; it was one of dangerous latitude. What generally happened was this, that a Treaty was negotiated with the consent of the Cabinet and through the medium of the Foreign Office, and that at some stage, which varied in regard to time and place and according to the gravity of the situation, Parliament had, as a rule, an opportunity of expressing an opinion before it was ratified. In all those cases which were of real importance Parliament had an opportunity of expressing, if not directly, at least indirectly, an opinion. A misconception appeared to arise in regard to the term ratification. The ratification did not take place at the time of the signature, but at a later stage. In the case of the Treaty of Berlin, the ratification took place on the day subsequent to the great debate in that House. But if he wanted a case on all fours with the present one, he would rather find it in the commercial precedents; and he might remind the House of, perhaps, one of the most memorable—namely, the commercial portion of the Treaty of Utrecht, which, after it had been signed by the English Plenipotentiaries, was discussed in that House, and a Resolution brought forward by the Members for great commercial constituencies was carried against it. In consequence, several of its most important clauses never came into operation. Therefore, he could not admit that Parliament was entirely shut out by the Constitution from the consideration of those matters, and if he wanted a modern instance to support the case, he thought the present debate might be said to furnish it. If it was found, in the course of the debate, that the feeling of the House was hostile to the steps which had been taken, or to the course which the Government, on full consideration of the case, had determined to adopt, he believed it would be impossible for any Government to proceed against the clearly-expressed opinion of that House of Parliament. Apologizing for having touched on that rather dry and technical aspect of the question, he now proceeded to the merits of the case. His hon. Friend had dwelt on the enormous importance of the interests at stake. Nothing his hon. Friend could say could add to the sense of the importance of this question entertained by Her Majesty's Government, who had, in fact, already had it forced upon their notice by the information they had received from different persons, who felt great interest in the question, and from gentlemen engaged in commerce and in missionary work in that portion of Africa. But there were certain physical facts which spoke for themselves. Modern travellers, such as Living-stone, Stanley, and De Brazza, had dwelt on the importance of the Congo; but there was another and an earlier traveller, an Englishman—Tuckey—who had published his views many years ago of the immense importance of the Congo as a navigable stream. He said the Congo, even when at its lowest volume, discharged 2,000,000 cubic feet of water per second; and against the tides of the ocean 40 miles out at sea the river was still asserting itself. Of the great streams of Africa it alone possessed a navigable estuary, whereas other rivers only began to be navigable some distance up the stream; and although it was true that above the estuary there were rapids and falls, nevertheless above them again, as was stated by the travellers to whom he had just referred, there was a magnificent body of water, a great navigable river, stretching right away to the Eastern side of the Continent; while, owing to the energy of Mr. Stanley, a road had been constructed between the points where the rapids began and where they ended, which had already led to the development of a large amount of commerce. All this showed the importance of the subject. But not only on account of the commercial question was it important. Of late years, missionary bodies, comprising men of great ability and intelligence, had made their way to most difficult and dangerous regions, in a manner peculiar to Englishmen, and had achieved great results. He had heard depreciatory observations made to the effect that these missionaries were only traders under another name. Even assuming that to be so, he himself believed that missionaries engaged in trade could not fail to exercise a beneficial influence; for the example of honest men like these carrying on trade must surely exercise an influence for good upon the Natives, and, as a matter of fact, so far from losing their character by trading, they had, by engaging in trade, raised the character of the Natives and weaned them from a life of savagery and plunder. Therefore, they had not only commercial interests, but also missionary interests to consider; and both from the commercial and missionary world there was evidence in the possession of the Foreign Office of the great interest taken in this question. But the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) was an indictment of the policy of the Government, and what he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) had to do was to meet him upon that point, and to show to the House the reasons which had induced the Government to depart, up to a certain point, from the attitude hitherto observed by the Foreign Office in regard to this question. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Whitley) had alluded to the despatches which had a few days ago been laid upon the Table of the House, and had asked why Her Majesty's Government had departed from the attitude taken by Lord Clarendon, Lord John Russell, Lord Palmerston, and the present Lord Derby upon this question? He would not altogether admit that Her Majesty's Government had departed from the attitude taken by those eminent statesmen. The attitude taken by them—namely, that they did not recognize the position of the Portuguese in this region, was still the attitude of Her Majesty's Government. But Her Majesty's Government considered that circumstances had since arisen, which, they believed, had they arisen in those former days, would have induced the Government to consider whether they did not furnish adequate reasons for taking, up to a certain point, a now departure, and entering into communications with the Portuguese Government in order to see whether some arrangement could not be made to obviate the existing difficulties and dangers. Now, what were those difficulties and dangers? And here he came to a point to which his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester had referred. His hon. Friend had dwelt a great deal upon the horrors of slavery and the Slave Trade. What was forced upon the attention of the Government some years ago was this—that, owing to the fact that here was a territory over which it was very difficult to say there was any recognized or constituted authority, events were taking place which, if they did not amount to the actual restoration of slavery and the Slave Trade in their most odious form, yet assumed a close resemblance to it. It was impossible for the Government to close their eyes to the facts which were brought to their notice, not only by the Portuguese Government, but by their own officers. Her Majesty's Government felt there was no sufficient guarantee against this state of things, and that the very increase of trade was tending to create a condition of things in which the Native Tribes were running serious risks. He would lay briefly before the House the statements made upon this painful sub- ject by a gentleman whose name was familiar to many hon. Members. Mr. David Hopkins, Her Majesty's Consul at Loanda, in a despatch, dated the 1st of May, 1877, to the Governor General of Angola, informed him of the abominable excesses practised by some Europeans on the Zaire. Mr. Hopkins especially denounced the assassination of about 30 negroes, including women and children, who, having been more or less justifiably accused of having taken part in the burning of the properties belonging to the Portuguese subject, Manuel Joaquim Oliveira, were, by the orders of the latter, and with the connivance of other Europeans and some Natives, among the former being a British subject, bound hand-and-foot and thrown into the river, some of them at Roma, and others at Port Lenha. As a climax of monstrosity, the presumed accomplices or witnesses, the victims as they were called, were put to torture by him. According to the information of Mr. Hopkins, similar attrocities were frequently perpetrated in the region under notice; and the same Consul specially named the Spanish subject José del Valle, better known as Don Pepe, as the person who inflicted frequent cruelties on his Black labourers, and who had even caused the death of some of them, whom he ordered to be drowned. Mr. Hopkins added that slavery was, in fact, re-instated on the Zaire; and that the Black labourers in the service of Europeans were literally sold to those by the Native Chiefs. But what most impressed the mind of Her Majesty's officer was the feeling that seemed to exist among Europeans living in the midst of a negro population—that it was the most natural thing in the world to treat them as slaves, and that it was singular that he should think it necessary to make such a fuss about the matter. No doubt, since then missionary enterprize had tended to introduce both among Europeans and Natives more kindly notions, and it was to be hoped would prevent such things from occurring again; but they had no real security that this would be so, and everyone knew that in these districts, where there was no strong civilized Government to control the conflicting claims, and the rivalries and jealousies of traders, these melancholy events were not unlikely to repeat themselves. That being so, it was felt that it was only probable that before long the Portuguese Government would call the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the existing state of things. Accordingly, shortly after that, negotiations were opened by the Portuguese Government with the English Government. He wished to dwell upon that, because the Mover and Seconder of the Motion were inclined to say that Her Majesty's Government had gone out of their way to hand these regions over to Portugal. It was difficult to say at what exact moment the present stage of the negotiations began; but he was justified in saying that the first proposition in the present stage of the negotiations emanated from the Portuguese Government in consequence of the atrocities and horrors which had taken place. Ever since 1878 these negotiations had been begun and dropped and again taken up by successive Governments. If the history of this question were examined, it would be found not to belong to one Government or to one Party. His hon. Friend must be fully aware of that. In 1880 certain negotiations were carried on through Sir Robert Morier, who then represented Her Majesty's Government at Lisbon; but they did not lead to any settlement. The proposal was to recognize the Portuguese claims to the south bank of the Congo. Then, at a later period, the question was again taken up, and the present negotiations were begun. This discussion was one which could only be welcome to Her Majesty's Government, which had nothing whatever to conceal, and that had looked forward to the opportunity which the Forms of the House gave for bringing on this Motion to make a statement. He felt that he would be able to press upon the House the fact that this question had not been taken up in a hurry, or without adequate consideration and knowledge of the interests involved, and that he should at the same time be able to show clearly and distinctly that it was the full intention of Her Majesty's Government to listen with respect to the expression of opinion of those Gentlemen in the House who represented important interests. Now, he would remind the House that since the despatches of Lord Clarendon, which had been so frequently referred to, were written, there had been the Delagoa Bay Arbitration. The claims put forward to Delagoa Bay by Portugal were not recognized by England, and there were other despatches quite as strong' as those, which had been quoted in this debate, on the Delagoa Bay question. The decision in the international arbitration with regard to Delagoa Bay went against Great Britain; and therefore it was desirable to consider whether it was not their duty, not necessarily to give up their old position in consequence, but to ask themselves whether a wise moderation might not be desirable with regard to this question. They had also to consider the fact that these possessions were mentioned in the Portuguese Constitution, and that with the Portuguese Constitution the English Government had had a good deal of indirect, if not direct, connection. The English Government might be said to have had, if not legal, at all events equitable, notice of the Portuguese Constitution, because, as the House was aware, the Portuguese Constitutional question was frequently before it, more frequently perhaps than at the present day would be willingly sanctioned. Therefore, if the Portuguese Constitution was drawn up with these claims in it, the English Government, to a certain extent, received full notice of what Portugal claimed. There was yet another reason why the Government thought it desirable to consider this question. The Portuguese Government clearly and distinctly claimed this Coast, and a sentiment of Portuguese patriotism was enlisted in favour of the claim. It was a dangerous sentiment to evoke, because the consequences might be dangerous, and lead oven to bloodshed; and Her Majesty's Government had to ask themselves whether it would not be better, without giving up the position taken up by those great statesmen whose names had been mentioned, to try and come to some fair and equitable arrangement with the Portuguese Government which would save the great commercial interests so eloquently advocated by his hon. Friend, and which would also insure the interests and the liberty of the Protestant missionaries engaged in those regions. They had also to consider whether, by the establishment of a regular and responsible Government, those horrors could be prevented occurring among the Native population to the existence of which it was quite impossible for Her Majesty's Government to close their eyes. When Her Majesty's Government considered on the one hand the evils of leaving the question entirely open, and on the other the advantages accruing from an equitable settlement, they did not hesitate on the invitation of the Portuguese Government to re-open the subject and to enter into negotiations. As had been stated by the Secretary of State in "another place," negotiations had been going on, but without hurry and without any tendency to overlook any important point. Her Majesty's Government had first of all demanded, with regard to the commercial question, that the navigation of the River Congo should be absolutely free. That was a most important point. No proposal had been made or admitted by Her Majesty's Government which would enable the mouth of the Congo to be barred by what would be far worse than rapids and cataracts—namely, the imposition of dues upon navigation which would interfere with that freedom of navigation which at the present moment existed with great benefit to commerce in those regions. Her Majesty's Government had informed the Portuguese Government that they would not tolerate the existence of a tariff similar in character to some of those vexatious tariffs with which, in former days not far removed, the commercial world was familiar in the Portuguese possessions in Africa. They had distinguished between the different tariffs, they had pointed out that the Mozambique tariff, even with the modifications introduced in 1880, was superior to what was called the Angola tariff. They were not, however, pledged to be satisfied with the Mozambique tariff without receiving far more information on the matter than had yet reached them. Great uncertainty existed as to that tariff in consequence of some high-handee acts on the part of the Portuguese Governor which interfered, while they lasted, with the trade of those regions. He was bound to say that the Portuguese Government had repudiated those acts; but they nevertheless showed how thoroughly right his hon. Friend was when he said that they had not only to deal with the Treaties made by the Portuguese Government, but with the clauses of those Treaties as carried out by Portuguese Governors and other officials. Then there was yet another com- mereial point in which he knew many hon. Members felt an interest. He called it a commercial point, though it was not so entirely. It was that the Government would reserve whatever engagements had been made so far as they could be reduced to express terms; whatever obligations had been entered into with Native Chiefs upon the Coast would be respected, and they would not suffer anything on account of what had happened in the past. They would be in no worse position than they were now, and would be put under the aegis of an International Treaty. It had also been insisted as a point on which there could be no mistake that religious liberty should be granted by the Portuguese Government, and that adequate protection should be given to the Protestant missionaries established in those regions. It had been stated in unmistakable language that if religious liberty were given there should be a Treaty right on the part of this country to intervene for the protection of the persons entitled to it. The Government would also insist upon a point which was mentioned in the speech of his hon. Friend, on which he dwelt not at all at undue length—he meant that the clause relating to slavery should be couched in equally clear language with those relating to the other subjects he had mentioned. This was no new demand on the part of Her Majesty's Government. There had been a long controversy on the Slave Trade Clauses of the Lorenzo-Marquez Treaty, and the House was aware that after the negotiations had been brought to apparently a successful termination there was a great deal of excitement, and a vote of the Portuguese Cortes put an end to those clauses. The Lorenzo-Marquez Treaty was a remarkable and valuable one, and gave full right to the cruisers of the English Government to operate against the Slave Trade in Portuguese Waters, and also a right of calling on the Portuguese Coast officials, whether stationed on land or on sea, to co-operate in an effectual way in the suppression of the Slave Trade on the Coast, and in the mouths of the rivers along the Coast. Her Majesty's Government, although they would not insist on exactly the same words, would insist that what was the real value should be preserved in any Treaty that might be made. Lastly, there was another point on which the Government had thought it their duty to dwell, and which had not been mentioned in this debate. They had determined—and this was a decision of great importance—not to do anything to recognize any indefinite claim of the Portuguese Government inland. While attaching full importance to the questions connected with the Coast, it was well not to forget what might happen in the interior. The past history of America showed the necessity of that; for what was the origin of those great struggles which extended in the last century far beyond America, where they arose, and involved European nations in war? Their origin would be found in the claims which different Powers put forward with regard to the occupation of inland territory in America. The representatives of various nations settled on the Coast, where stations were first established. Then they proceeded up the rivers, establishing stations as they went along. Quarrels then began, one nation claiming to go indefinitely towards the East, a second towards the West, a third towards the North, and a fourth towards the South. The result was that the different claimants came into conflict in the valley of the Mississippi and Ohio, and great wars took place in consequence. The Government held it to be their duty to avoid any act or omission which might in the future be the cause of a similar struggle. Although it might be impossible in a region so imperfectly surveyed to lay down accurate boundaries, the Government held that some indication must be given of the claims of the Portuguese in the interior, and they had resolved that nothing should appear in the Treaty which could be used by the Portuguese Government or any other as a bar to the enterprize of those travellers who, from all parts of the African Coast, were now pressing into the interior of the country. That was a consideration of the utmost importance. The Government, he felt sure, would be supported by the House of Commons when they demanded that the Portuguese Government should indicate clearly the whole extent of their claims, not only along the Coast, but also in those remote regions. In conclusion, he had to say that one of two things would happen—either a Treaty would be made fully securing all those rights and liberties, whether commercial, or religious, or territorial, which it was the duty of the Government to defend; or, if the Government should find it impossible to obtain those securities which, consistently with their duty to Parliament, they felt it imperative on them to demand, the negotiations, which had proceeded slowly and carefully, would resume the position which they occupied between the time when the negotiations of Sir Robert Morier came to an end and the time when the present negotiations began.


said, the noble Lord commenced by telling them that this question was one of growing importance, and that, owing to late discoveries in Africa, it must in the future have even a more important place than it had at present, and that he (Mr. Bourke) considered was quite sufficient to give the Motion of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) even greater importance than he attached to it. The speech of the noble Lord consisted of two parts, the affirmative and the negative. The affirmative part was strongly corroborative of all the arguments brought forward by the hon. Member for Manchester, while the second part was a hazy description of what Her Majesty's Government were going to do, without a single word as to the steps which Her Majesty's Government intended to take with the Government of Portugal in regard to this territory. the noble Lord had not attempted to negative one single assertion or argument that had fallen from the lips of either the Proposer or Seconder of the Resolution. On the contrary, he had said that the speech of the hon. Member for Manchester was an indictment against the Portuguese Government. The Portuguese Government was a Government with whom we were on friendly terms, and he was aware that it was not the business of the noble Lord to go out of his way to carry that indictment further; but, at the same time, he might be permitted to say that he had not mentioned one single fact or argument to detract from any of the considerations which had been brought forward with respect to the conduct and the policy of the Portuguese Government, upon which Her Majesty's Government relied as a reason for not giving up this territory to Portugal. It, therefore, came to this—that all the arguments and facts of the Mover and Seconder remained perfectly intact, and were, indeed, rather corroborated by the noble Lord's speech. Of course, the salient point in the contention of the hon. Member for Manchester was the argument that the policy of the Government for the last century had been exactly the reverse of what their policy was now to be. They were told also by the hon. Member for Manchester that the tariffs were excessive, and that if this cession took place it was absolute and certain ruin to English trade on that Coast. The noble Lord, however, had not touched this matter, nor had he said a single word regarding the paramount reasons that had induced Her Majesty's Government to take this extraordinary course. There was something more, he felt sure, behind all this which the noble Lord, probably out of prudence, had not stated. He had spoken about the jurisdiction which the Portuguese Government were to have in the country, but in such a shadowy way that it was almost impossible to meet his arguments. Instead of being told what were the proposals of the Portuguese Government and of Her Majesty's Government, the House had been treated to a series of negatives, which really came to nothing. They were told, for example, that slavery was not to exist under the Treaty; but we had already a far greater guarantee against the existence of slavery in the neighbourhood of the Congo than any that could be given by a Treaty. Was it on the Coast alone that this Treaty was to be applied? What jurisdiction had the Portuguese Government one mile from the Coast? Even in those countries where the Portuguese occupied territory given up to them exclusively they had no jurisdiction in the interior, or whatever jurisdiction they possessed was exercised by means of convicts and discharged prisoners. On the other hand, the jurisdiction now exercised along those African rivers, such as the Niger and the Bonny, worked well, and did not offend the susceptibilities of any nation, and the longer it lasted the better it became. The fact was that a sort of equitable Code was made between the merchants and our own officers, and so we went on remarkably well with the Tribes. Negotiations had been going on with the Portuguese for a long time, and they always founded their claim to this territory upon grounds which could not be established for a moment. The Portuguese had never put forward any claim except that of ancient discovery; but all knew that ancient discovery was not enough. Portugal had never exercised any jurisdiction, and if ancient discovery were sufficient there was not a single mile along the whole East Coast of Africa that Portugal might not claim, for ancient memorials of Portuguese occupation would be found all along the Coast. The noble Lord used an exceedingly alarming argument when he said that Her Majesty's present Advisers regarded the commercial relations on the East Coast of Mozambique as satisfactory. It was well known that nothing could he more unsatisfactory.


explained that he did not say that; but he stated that the Mozambique Tariffs were now under discussion between the Foreign Office and the Board of Trade.


observed, that the noble Lord in another place spoke of the satisfactory character of the arrangements with Mozambique, and remarked that it would be well if they were applied to other parts of the Coast. Now, there was not one of the officials of the Foreign Office who would not laugh at the idea of the Mozambique arrangements being satisfactory. In 1878 the Government endeavoured to make more satisfactory tariffs; and he was sorry to say that those which had been arranged had been set aside by Portugal. The noble Lord would find in the records of the Foreign Office that the Portuguese had shown the greatest indisposition to admit British travellers into the country. There was one traveller who wanted to go into the interior in order to see whether there were any gold mines there. The Portuguese officer received him very cordially; but when the higher authorities found that to be the case they put the officer under arrest for having given the traveller any encouragement whatever. It was absolutely impossible for the Portuguese Government to carry out their own settled policy—that system which we call slavery and they "engagements"—if commerce were admitted into the country; and so surely as Portugal took possession of the Coast, so surely would slavery exist as it now existed in the Province of Angola. The noble Lord drew a distinction between the inland territory and the Coast. Now, he wanted to know what jurisdiction or power the Portuguese were to have upon the Coast, for that was the whole point? It would be perfectly impossible for them to have jurisdiction in the interior, for then they would be put down in a moment. But was the territory along the Coast to be ceded? It was perfectly impossible to ascertain, from the speech of the noble Lord, whether it was to be ceded or not. The noble Lord spoke of the rights which Her Majesty's Government would have by International Treaty. But they all knew that Her Majesty's Government, in other parts of the world, had a right to interfere, yet they did not always exercise it. It was not a question that concerned Her Majesty's Government so much as the Natives themselves. He agreed with the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright), and those who said that the first consideration was the future of the tribes. There was one observation of the noble Lord, however, that he heard with pleasure, and that was that the Government would listen to what took place during the debate. Well, the best way in which Her Majesty's Government could listen to what took place was to give effect to this Motion. There never was a Motion brought before the House of Commons so conclusively proved and so inadequately met. He did not blame the noble Lord for that. He defied him, with the materials at his command, to make out a case. He perfectly agreed with all that had been said by the Mover and Seconder of the Motion. He hoped, to use the words of the noble Lord, Her Majesty's Government would not make "a new departure" from the traditional policy of the Foreign Office;" but that they would adhere to the wise and statesmanlike policy of Lord Clarendon, Lord Russell, and Lord Palmerston, and would refuse altogether to entertain the claims of the Portuguese.


in rising to move an Amendment, expressing the opinion that no Treaty should be made by the Government affecting territories in or adjacent to the Congo that would not afford adequate securities to all the civilizing and commercial agencies at work in those regions, said, that the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) had seemed to regard it as presumption on the part of the Representative of what he was pleased to call "little Bath" that he (Mr. Wodehouse) should have put an Amendment on the Paper. He certainly did represent a place which was smaller than Manchester; but, while entertaining great respect for the latter place, he could not help thinking, if he was to judge from the tone of the hon. Member, that among the many virtues which flourished in Manchester, modesty was not one. If it was necessary for the hon. Member for Manchester to make any reflection upon him (Mr. Wodehouse) at all, he should have done so upon him personally, and not upon him as the Representative of Bath. But if the hon. Member challenged a comparison, he would remind him that Bath, "little Bath," was famous when Manchester was still hidden in the gloom of obscurity; and he would stake the beauties of Bath—beauties of nature and of art combined—against all the charms of Manchester. However, he would not pursue that topic further, especially as he was in accord on many points with the hon. Member for Manchester. The speech of the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) might be accepted as an assurance of the resolve of the Government to regard this Congo question with a single eye to the paramount interests of commerce and civilization; and it was, likewise, an assurance of the intention of the Government to pay the fullest measure of deference to the opinion of the House on this question. Nothing could be more natural than the jealousy with which negotiations affecting the Congo were viewed by mercantile communities who traded in South West Africa, and religious bodies who had Mission Stations there. The importance, also, of recent discoveries by travellers in Central Africa was unquestionable. The use to which the Congo might be turned as a great artery of communication stretching across the Continent profoundly affected our whole vision of the future in those regions of the earth. He would not weary the House by attempting to examine in detail the strength or weakness of the Portuguese claim to the territory between the 5th and the 8th degrees South latitude. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bourke) spoke contemptuously of it. For his (Mr. Wode-house's) part, as far as territorial claims of this kind went, it seemed to him to be a tolerably good one—["Oh, oh!"] —at least, he suspected many a worse one had been recognized elsewhere. But, be that as it might, the validity of this claim had never been admitted by Her Majesty's Government. The Papers which had been presented to the House showed conclusively that the Government of this country had been prepared to resist the assertion of the Portuguese claim, even by force of arms, if necessary; and when engagements had been entered into with the Native Chiefs in Her Majesty's name, they had always been treated as independent Rulers, and not as the vassals of Portugal. He fully admitted, therefore, that the recognition of Portuguese Sovereignty in that territory would be a modification, or a new departure, from the policy hitherto pursued by our Foreign Office under successive Secretaries of State. But the House must remember that the conditions of these African, questions were not the same now as when they were dealt with by Lord Palmerston, by Lord Russell, and by Lord Clarendon. A good many things had happened since then, and therefore the whole subject had to be regarded from a different point of view. There had been the extinction of the Slave Trade on the "West Coast; there were the great discoveries of recent travellers; there was now the international enterprize which owed so much to the enlightened initiative and public spirit of the King of the Belgians; and there was also the recent appropriation of territory by the French Republic, at a point commanding access to the upper navigable waters of the Congo. Many things, in fact, had changed in Central Africa since the days of Lord Palmerston, of Lord Russell, and of Lord Clarendon; and they could not approach the Motion of the hon. Member for Manchester as those departed statesmen might have approached it. He (Mr. Wodehouse) did not wish to criticize the terms of the Motion in any hostile spirit, for as to the impolicy of a Treaty which would surrender the interests of civilization and commerce there could not be two opinions. The practical issue he wished to submit to the House was, whether it was wise to prohibit, as far as a Motion in that House could prohibit, the Government from concluding a Treaty which, although it might sanction annexation, might also secure efficient guarantees for the liberties of commerce and the free action of all civilizing agencies? It could hardly be contended that the existing state of affairs in the territory claimed by the Portuguese was one of ideal perfection even from our point of view. Wherever there was a disputed claim to Sovereignty an incident might at any moment arise to disturb and embitter the relations of otherwise friendly States. The Papers in their hands showed clearly enough that serious evils were prevalent in the independent settlements about the Congo, over which no civilized Power exercised jurisdiction. Consul Hopkins stated that all the factories in those settlements, excepting the English factories, were worked, more or less, by slave labour; and he described some of the cruelties practised upon the slaves. The Consul summed up the situation in the following words:— All the White men in the tract of country lying between the Northern boundary of Angola and the Southern boundary of Gaboon consider there is no law; they are not responsible to any Government for their actions, and they do just what they please. Among the things which pleased them were torture by thumbscrews and drownings of slaves in batches. This was no Portuguese allegation; it was the official testimony of the British Representative on the spot; and he gathered from the words of the Consul which he had quoted that, however inefficient and defective the Portuguese administration of Angola might be, a worse state of things existed in the territories outside the administration of Portugal—territories which she desired to administer, but over which we forbade her to exercise control. ["No, no!"] That was his own inference, which he was as entitled to draw as hon. Gentlemen opposite were to draw theirs. He was sure that no men in the House were more anxious to avert the recurrence of such barbarities as those described by our own Consul than the hon. Members for Manchester and Liverpool; but what better security could they provide against the repetition of such barbarities than the establishment, in the places where they had happened, of the jurisdiction and the police of some responsible authority? Of course, the existing traders in these settlements of other nationalities than the Portuguese were opposed to annexation by Portugal; they would probably object to annexation by any country except the particular country to which they severally belonged. This was very natural, because, while there was no Sovereignty over them except the shadowy and phantom Sovereignty of a Native Chief, they did pretty much what they pleased; so long as they satisfied and propitiated the Native Chiefs by some small payments they were as free as air. This free and easy system of arrangements with Native Chiefs sometimes worked tolerably well in settlements where the trade was of moderate proportions, and where the Europeans were very few in number; but if some important discovery was made—if gold or diamonds were found, or if, in some other mode, a vista of extended trade were suddenly opened, there was an influx of Europeans to the spot, and then the free and easy system utterly broke down. Disturbances multiplied, and a stronger hand than a Native Chief s was required to maintain order. These advanced guards of civilization and commerce usually contained some of the wickedest of living men; and as Native Chiefs were easily induced by unscrupulous adventurers to cede anything and everything for a bottle of brandy or a keg of rum, all kinds of conflicting claims to land and other property or privileges were set up in the general confusion. Then out of this chaos there always came a demand for the intervention of some European Power; and he anticipated that the Congo territory was about to enter on such a critical period as he had described. The prospect of an enlarged trade would draw more Europeans to it, and then in due time the inevitable demand for intervention would come. The British traders and Missionaries would want British intervention, the Dutch would want Dutch intervention, and the French merchants would invoke the support of France. But intervention on these occasions was generally wont to glide into annexation. Now, when these things came to pass, would the hon. Member for Manchester be prepared to advocate a British annexation of the mouth of the Congo? If he were not prepared to advocate it, he would lose the support of many whose champion and Representative he might be Ion the present occasion. He (Mr. Wodehouse) did not wish to prejudge this question, or determine how it should be settled; he would only submit, as a reasonable hypothesis, that in order to avert worse dangers and complications in the future, it might be expedient to recognize the claims of the only Power which at present professed even to have a claim to Sovereignty in these regions. Even Lord Clarendon recognized the occupation of Ambriz, although he had disputed the right of the Portuguese to it as strongly as he disputed their right to Cabinda and Molembo. [Mr. BOURKE: Tolerated.] Well, he acquiesced in it, at all events, if that word would suit the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Wodehouse) did not know that the condition of Ambriz since the Portuguese annexation had been worse than it was before. ["Oh, oh!"] As regarded British trade, no doubt it had; but as regarded an increase of anarchy, what evidence was there of it? There was, undoubtedly, a strong prejudice against the Portuguese, and he would admit there was some cause for it; but the hon. Member for Manchester did what the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bourke) refused to do; he drew an indictment, not against the Portuguese Government, but against the whole nation, and drew it with all the charity of a philanthropist. He (Mr. Wodehouse) did not desire to strengthen the prejudice against the Portuguese; but it could not be denied that the condition of Angola was not what it ought to be, nor that their commercial policy was exclusive and restrictive, and their Church intolerant to Protestants. There had been times when we had reason to complain of their conduct with regard to the Slave Trade; and even now some of their local officials were suspected of complicity with slavery practices. On the other hand, it should be remembered that there had been times when the services of Portuguese officers in suppressing the Slave Trade had been freely recognized and acknowledged by the English Government. He would also point out that Portugal had, at least, made a step towards a more liberal commercial policy in the Mozambique Tariff of 1877. With regard to the present negotiations with the Portuguese Government, everything would depend upon the nature of the terms obtained from them in return for so great a concession as the recognition of their Sovereignty in these territories would be. A bad Treaty with the Portuguese would be worse than useless; but a good Treaty, making provision for a liberal tariff, and for the enjoy- ment by British subjects of all due rights as to property, and religion and for their immunity from vexatious taxation, might be an improvement on the existing state of affairs, especially with regard to future contingencies. The hon. Member for Manchester advocated an International Control of these territories. He (Mr. Wodehouse) had not a word to say against it. If it were practicable, nothing, perhaps, would be better; but he did not think it would be found a very easy thing to set up. At any rate, the Government alone were in a position to judge of its feasibility; and, in the meantime, he would leave their hands free, and not bind them, as they would be bound, by the Resolution. One other point. It had been said that a Portuguese annexation would be resisted by the Natives, who were much opposed to it. No doubt, there was always a risk of outbreaks in these settlements when a new jurisdiction was set up, or when they were transferred from one jurisdiction to another; our own experience on the Gold Coast, where we had exchanged settlements with the Dutch, taught us that; the partizans of the old order were eager to discredit the new order at its start. There was generally some European or Mulatto intriguer in the background who stirred up the Natives to riot and plunder, and then represented the outbreak to be a genuine Native protest against a hated change. The only way to minimize the risk of such outbreaks was for other Powers who had subjects in the settlements concerned to support the introduction of the new jurisdiction by the presence of their Consuls or naval officers. He hoped, therefore, that if Portugal was to set up her Sovereignty in these places, it would not be done without the full concurrence and countenance of other Powers. Portugal should then be rigidly held to her engagements. But the discretion of the Government in carrying that policy into effect ought not to be hampered. It was not because he had other objects in view than the hon. Member for Manchester that he moved his Amendment, but because he deprecated the imposition of inconvenient restrictions upon the liberty of action which the Government were entitled to have. He would, however, ask leave to be allowed slightly to modify his Amendment, so that it might take note of existing arrange- ments on the part of the Crown, either? with Portugal or with independent Native Chiefs. In its new form his Amendment would run thus—To leave out all the words after the word "Government," in line 3, in order to insert the words— Affecting territories on or adjacent to the Congo that would compromise any engagement into which Her Majesty may heretofore have entered, or would not afford adequate securities to all the civilising and Commercial agencies at work in those regions.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "Government" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "affecting territories on or adjacent to the Congo that would compromise any engagement into which Her Majesty may heretofore have entered, or would not afford adequate securities to all the civilising and Commercial agencies at work in those regions,"—[Mr. Wodehouse,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


Sir, I would ask permission to interpose briefly in this debate at the present stage, not because I am anxious to interfere with Gentlemen who may desire to continue it, but because I feel that, after the very able speech which we have just heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Wodehouse), and the Amendment which he has placed before us in its present form, the question has reached a position in which it becomes perfectly practicable for the Government to define and explain to the House, in the most precise terms, the view which they take of the Motion and the Amendment, and to give the satisfaction which they desire to afford to the natural and reasonable expectations and wishes that have been uttered in various quarters during this debate. Now, we have before us the Motion and the Amendment. The Amendment purports to limit the future action of Her Majesty's Government in regard to a certain region in Africa, by shutting them out from any risk of making a Treaty which should fail to afford adequate securities to all civilizing and commercial agencies; and, likewise, they are to be shut out from making any Treaty which would interfere with the good faith of the country in regard to any engagement into which they heretofore have entered. As respects the first-named of the two particulars, I think the intention of the Motion and the Amendment may be said to be very nearly the same. As regards the second of them, I think the Amendment is an improvement upon the Motion, because, although the Motion is somewhat rigid in the fetters which it imposes upon the future action of Her Majesty's Government, yet it does not specifically, and in terms, guard against that danger which might incidentally arise—the danger of conflicting in a state of things which is extremely complicated by a former transaction, the danger of interfering with some engagements into which we have previously entered. I do not suppose any great difficulty can arise as between the Mover of the Motion and the Mover of the Amendment. My hon. Friend who made this Motion stated his case to the House, as he usually does, with very great ability and force, and it was not difficult to perceive that he had much justification for a great part of what he said. I do not wish to subscribe—indeed, it would hardly be becoming to subscribe—to all he stated upon the subject of the Portuguese Government and policy. I hope there was something, without reproach to my hon. Friend, of exaggeration in a portion of that statement, or else we have been exceedingly unfortunate in our judgment of the character of a State which it has been customary to extol in this House as one of our most ancient and faithful Allies, for whose welfare we were bound always to exercise a peculiar care. But that is not the matter at issue on the present occasion. What I wish to point out exactly to the House is the nature and extent of the difference between the Motion and the Amendment. I have assumed thus far that, so far as the statements of the Amendment go, they would not be disagreeable to the Mover of the Motion. Now, let us see what my hon. Friend does by the Motion itself. By the Motion, he desires that there should be no Treaty made by Her Majesty's Government that would sanction the annexation by any Power of territories on or adjacent to the Congo. My hon. Friend who has just sat down has an apprehension that there are Gentlemen in this House who desire the annexation of some of those territories by ourselves; and I take the opportunity of observing that, at any rate, the Motion of my lion. Friend effectually knocks that notion, and all such schemes and plans, upon the head. For under that Motion there can be no annexation by Great Britian. What we contend is this—that it is not wise, any more than customary, to tie the hands of Her Majesty's Government by indicating a particular region that now exists under very peculiar circumstances, and setting up a solemn declaration of policy on the part of this House that no Treaty, however advantageous, whatever compensation it may present, however unexceptional in its items, can properly be made by Her Majesty's Government, unless certain conditions, specified beforehand, are fulfilled. What we contend is that this is an unwise, as well as an unusual, limitation. It will be considered, I think, as a gratuitous and extraordinary step on the part of the House, even in a case where there was no special circumstances to be alleged. But the special circumstances here alleged are of a very grave order. They amount to this—that there are portions of this territory where there is no acknowledged jurisdiction of police, where, at the same time, the arrival of new accessions of strangers leads to an increase, it is true, of exactions, but which has brought about serious mischief and gross outrages. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bourke) seemed to me, I must say, to make his speech very much more in the spirit of a Party connection than was at all necessary where there has been no Party issue. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the speech of my noble Friend near me as if he had mentioned only a single case of outrage. Well, it was a case sufficiently grave, where 30 negroes were bound together and thrown into a river and drowned; and had it been urged from another quarter it would probaby have received a more worthy appreciation from the right hon. Gentleman. But my noble Friend did not dwell upon that act alone, but upon a certain portion of the territory, which he did not precisely attempt to define, nor should I attempt to define, where reigns what approaches to a state of lawlessness, and that frequent outrages occur there. Under these circumstances, what was stated by my hon. Friend behind me and by my noble Friend is this—that it is a possibility that the establishment by a civilized Power of some regular rule and jurisdiction might be for the advantage of that country. Now, here let me observe that by this Motion we are asked not only to exclude annexation by Portugal—the Government of which my hon. Friend describes as so intolerably bad—but we are asked to declare that under no circumstances, and at no time, can this annexation be properly effected by any Power whatever, even the most civilized, the most careful, the best qualified to exercise a beneficial influence over the Native Tribes. Surely that is too much to ask. What I ask my hon. Friend is this—that he shall not require us to make so broad, and, I will say, inconvenient, and, within its limited bounds, so dangerous an assertion. Let me see whether, in preferring that request, I am not able to give him, at the same time, every reasonable satisfaction. Our allegation, as stated by my noble Friend, was twofold. First, that there was a portion of territory where all regular authority was thwarted, where horrible outrages occurred, and where it may be desirable to establish a civilized jurisdiction, and a regular police. He also pointed out a branch of the case, into which it is not necessary for me to enter at any length, in which there was some doubt whether the assumption of too high a tone in denouncing in principle, and radically, all the claims of Portugal may not raise inconvenient arguments in reference to the recognition we had ourselves given to some claims of this character, not perhaps consistently, but yet actually given in a very solemn document—namely, in the Constitution of Portugal itself, the adoption of which we actively promoted. The right hon. Gentleman opposite used this expression. He said—"Is the territory to be ceded?" I must say that is an extraordinary expression to come from a Gentleman who has been six or seven years in the Foreign Office. Is the territory to be ceded? What is that but giving territory to somebody which is ours? The right hon. Gentleman seems to think he has a general right to the patrimony of mankind, and if anybody takes property it is necessary for him to cede it. I think the right hon. Gentleman should approach this matter in a spirit and with language more consistent with that policy of consideration and equality which is generally recognized in international rights, and which I believe it is the desire of my hon. Friend who moved this Motion, and of the House, to recognize. We cannot accept the Motion, because we cannot consent to be shut out, by previous deliberation and decision of the House, from turning the situation to the best account, and in determining what is the best account. What we say is, that it is possible that some annexation duly guarded, which would bring in regular government where lawlessness now prevails, may appear best to fulfil that condition. But my hon. Friend will say—and I do not complain—that the Treaty-making power places very large discretion in the hands of the Executive Government. My hon. Friend has quoted a speech of mine on a former occasion, when I objected to interference with the present Treaty-making powers upon principles and convictions I then entertained—that no Government would ever venture to make Treaties in serious matters behind the back of the country and of Parliament, without being well assured that they were acting in conformity with the general wish and conviction of Parliament. I am bound to say, viewing what has happened in some recent years, I am not prepared to repeat that assurance; and, therefore, after an experience which I need not enter upon in detail, I feel that my hon. Friend the Mover of the Motion is entitled to ask from the Government, in a peculiar case like this, some further satisfaction. I propose to give him satisfaction in this way. I have no objection whatever to the acceptance of the limitations proposed to be placed upon us by the Amendment. They are just, and they are honest. But my hon. Friend may say they do not cover the whole ground. If so, I will now say, what will cover the whole ground? I am quite ready, under the circumstances of the case, to engage—and I think it is only equitable and fair to engage—that if we shall find it expedient, according to our conviction—on which I can at present give no positive judgment whatever—if we arrive at the conclusion that it is for the interest of the country, and of that country in particular, that we should make a Treaty, that Treaty should be made known to Parliament before ratification in such a way, and with the intervention of such an interval, that Parliament shall be enabled to exercise an independent judgment upon it. Therefore, I do not find it necessary to ask the hon. Member for his confidence. I believe, if I did, he would probably give us the credit of attaching due weight to all he has said, and what has been said by others. I think in a case of this kind, complicated as it is, and mixed up as it is with interests of which my hon. Friend is the zealous and faithful guardian, it is right to give the House an assurance that it shall have an opportunity given to it to exercise that jurisdiction which it is undoubtedly entitled to. I hope the words I have used have been sufficiently ample; and, if so, I cannot but express the hope that they greatly narrow any remaining ground of difference between us. In truth, I cannot believe, and I do not believe, that my hon. Friend the Mover of the Motion has any object or purpose in view whatever except that which we also have. We may err in the mode of giving effect to our common wishes. Therefore, I say, he shall have an opportunity of judging of the way we propose to give effect to them before the country is finally bound by them. I need not explain what the effect is of an intervention of a deliberative Chamber upon an unratified Treaty. We have experienced it in very important cases ourselves from other States, the effect of which is to prevent the instrument ever taking legal effect as a portion of International Law. It was to make that statement, to point out where it is we differ from the terms of the Motion, that I thought it desirable to interpose at this period of the debate. Advantage has been taken of words very properly used by my noble Friend respecting a new departure. But do not let that be misunderstood. It is perfectly consistent to take a new departure under new circumstances, even for the purpose of giving effect to the views that have been previously entertained. When the British Government was content with simple protestations against the claim of Portugal, it was because there was no urgent case for considering the question, whether any regular government of the police on any part of this territory was to be established. If a case of the kind arises, even those who thoroughly approve, and have participated, as I have, in the prior proceedings, may say that modification in the former is absolutely necessary. That is not intended in any way as a qualification of a declaration that I have previously made; and I will conclude by expressing the hope that the explanation may meet the circumstances of the case.


said, after the declaration made by the Prime Minister, he would recommend his hon. Friend to accept it, and withdraw his Motion. It was such a declaration as they had never had from any Prime Minister before. It was a new departure, and one of which he highly approved. At the same time, he felt bound to say that if his hon. Friend did not accept the advice, he would support him in his Resolution, because he was most anxious to impress upon the Government the undesirableness of making any Treaty whatever with this particular Power. He looked upon Portugal as a faithless Power, as a Power it was not safe to make Treaties with. The Amendment suggested our getting adequate securities; but we could never get adequate securities from such a Power. He looked upon Portugal as one of those contemptible Powers that trusted to their own weakness, and to our forbearance and generosity. The noble Lord told them about Portugal disowning wrong acts; but that Power would disown them to-day and repeat them to-morrow. They were not observing Treaties they had already made. The noble Lord knew that the other day we made a Treaty with Portugal for an International Sailing Code. They deliberately violated that Treaty, and refused to give us what we asked—arbitration. They did so simply because they trusted to our magnanimity not to press our claims. For that reason, he thought that the Portuguese Government ought to be, as a Treaty-making Power, sent to Coventry. We should refuse to make Treaties with them until they showed they were willing to abide by the Treaties they had already made. They had refused arbitration in the case he had alluded to; and he had not the least doubt, if we made a Treaty with them about the Congo, say, to have no navigation dues, and to have no tariff so bad as the Mozambique Tariff, still there would be some tariffs, whereas we wanted none. Any Treaty they made they would get out of somehow or other, and we would find ourselves in a scrape, and we would not know how to set about compelling them to keep to their Treaty. For these reasons, he hoped the Government would give up their present negotiations with Portugal, and not attempt to have a Treaty with that country at all.


said, after what had been stated by the Prime Minister, he would withdraw his Motion. They had received a promise that any Treaty which was entered into would not be ratified until the House had had full time and opportunity for discussing it. He assumed that if such opportunity were given the discussion would take place, and the information which the House and the country would derive from what had been said to-night would prevent any Government from passing the Treaty.


pointed out that the Motion could not be withdrawn unless, in the first place, the Amendment to it was withdrawn.


said, he was perfectly ready to withdraw his Amendment.


said, that a somewhat analogous Motion to this was brought forward last year in reference to the payment of the Indian troops employed in Egypt, but was not pressed, on a promise being given that the matter would be subject to the further consideration of Parliament. But the Mover had to take his chances of the ballot; and now he (Mr. Onslow) asked the Prime Minister whether, when this Treaty was placed on the Table of the House, he would give facilities for discussing it?


said, he did not perceive the analogy of the two cases, and he did not think this was the time to go into details as to the mode or opportunities of discussing a Treaty that did not exist, and might not exist. The pledge he had given was well understood; and if they availed themselves of the crowded state of Business for the purpose of escaping discussion they would be guilty of violating that pledge.


There is one matter which I think we should clearly understand, and which we do not now quite realize—that is, how the matter will rest after what is now proposed. As I understand, the Motion is about to be withdrawn as well as the Amendment, and thus we shall have nothing before us at all. I think that would be an inconsistent conclusion, because what is the actual state of the case? As I understand, Her Majesty's Government have been, and perhaps now are, carrying on negotiations with the Portuguese Government, with a view to the making of a Treaty which would give certain rights of annexation to the Portuguese on the banks of the Congo. Then the hon. Member for Manchester comes forward and says—"I object to this. I desire to call for an expression of opinion to prevent this annexation." And he and the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Whitley) gave their reasons for that objection; and those reasons had weighed with the Members of the House. They had weighed with the Government, so far as to induce them to come forward with a voluntary pledge of a very peculiar character—I may say of an extraordinary character—with regard to the ratification of the Treaty. They have made a pledge, embodied in the words of the Amendment which the hon. Member for Bath has placed on the Paper. There have been communications going on, and those communications have led to an arrangement between the Government and the Mover of the Motion, satisfactory to the hon. Member for Manchester. The fact of the arrangement and the conclusion will rest entirely on the records of the debate; but there will be no record of what induced the hon. Member to withdraw, so far as the Journals of the House go. They will show nothing of it, and this will raise or create a false impression. The matter is one of great importance. I am conscious of the delicacy of the position in discussing a matter which affects a Government with whom we have always been, and with whom we desire to be, in friendship. While sensible of that, I feel that after the observations of the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord Edmond Fitz-maurice) there are still greater reasons for fear and apprehension. He told the House some things; but what he did not tell left the House to anticipate something less satisfactory. I think the least that the House should require is that, in some shape or other, the words apparently accepted as satisfactory by the Mover of the original Motion should be placed in the Order Book as being a record of the proceedings.


I think the hon. Member for Manchester has done right, after the assurance given him, not to press his Motion. I agree that it would be desirable that there should be some record of the debate. I should hope that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bath, which had been accepted by the Government, should be accepted as the Resolution of the House. I believe it would greatly assist the Government in their negotiations with Portugal; but I cannot but believe that there would be an end to the Treaty if it be shown in the negotiations that this was the Resolution of the House. If we take the first clause, I do not believe the Portuguese Government would care to have a Treaty after they understood the real meaning of that clause. We have, between 1848 and 1877, 13 Treaties, and in them we, in the frankest possible terms, acknowledged the Kings as Rulers of territories; and if we state that no engagement with them is to be compromised, that means that we do not acknowledge or recognize any Sovereignty of these territories on the part of the Portuguese. I am perfectly convinced that the Portuguese Government would never consent to that. Then, as to existing commercial and civilizing agencies at work, that means, in the first place, security for Missionary effort. We know what the law of Portugal is in that matter—that other than Catholic worship is not even allowed to foreigners, save private worship in houses having no external appearance of churches. It is not possible for the Portuguese Government to give the contemplated security without a change of their own laws. If they find that their restrictions on trade cannot be enforced, their motive for a Treaty will disappear. Why have they put forward their claim? Not because of the atrocities mentioned by the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. That may have had much to do with the negotiations entered into by our own Government; but it must be remembered that almost all the persons engaged in it were Portuguese subjects. The real reason they are asserting a claim is that the Congo has become a valuable country. Thanks to commercial enterprize—mainly British—the trade with the Congo has doubled in the last 10 years. Thanks to the travellers who have been named, to the International Association, and, above all, to the King of the Belgians, who, by his benevolent efforts in this part of the world, has fastened his name on history, there is a great trade upon the Congo, and the Portuguese wish to gain something by it. That is the real reason of the Portuguese anxiety. If we are to have the adequate security spoken of, we must first of all make it clear that there shall be no toll-bar; that there will be no dues exacted on the river; that it will be a free highway; and that the stations of the International Association will be left untouched. But, if this be done, the motive of the Portuguese will be gone. The real great danger—and until the declaration of the Prime Minister I thought it so great a danger that I could not have advised my hon. Friend (Mr. Bright) to withdraw his Motion—is the interpretation to be given to the words "adequate security" Portugal is a friendly country, and I do not want to reiterate what has been said about past Treaties; but it is notorious that the Treaties about the Slave Trade were a mockery; and with regard to other matters, promises have been made and broken. There is this great difficulty in dealing with Portugal—that she does not seem to be accessible to public opinion with regard to the keeping of Treaties. She can only be got to keep them by the threat of armed force. Therefore, it is of immense importance we should know what the adequate security is. I understand the Prime Minister is to submit a Treaty to the House, though I do not believe there will be one. If there be one, it will be looked at with a critical eye by the friends of commerce, of civilization, and of Missionary work. I hope there will be no annexation by any country, for civilization is making progress. It is five years since these atrocities occurred, and the stations of the International Association and of the Missionaries are producing the most beneficent consequences. Supposing some European country was to conquer a part of this territory, it would be a strong thing to pledge us beforehand against sanctioning it; but it is a different thing to sanction a claim by the Portuguese which they can only enforce by going there. Is there anything to justify us in inviting them to go and take possession of the country? "With the additional informa- tion which the Government have now obtained, I cannot believe that they would for a moment consent to any Treaty which did not contain stipulations, which I do not believe any Portuguese Cortes would sanction, and which I do not believe any Portuguese Government would give, unless they thought they could evade them immediately afterwards; and I do not think the House would allow any Treaty to be made in these circumstances without its being clear as to securities; and I do not know what securities could be required that would be adequate. Nothing would injure the Natives more than a war, and that would result if the Portuguese attempted to go there. Evil consequences could only be prevented by the presence of English gunboats; and could we send them to protect the Portuguese in making a claim which we have denied to them for a number of years? But it is not only the possibility of war between Natives and the Portuguese. How are we to make Portugal carry out its engagements? The only way would be by war with Portugal. I am convinced that all these considerations will weigh with the Government; and I believe that this discussion has put an end to any Treaty; we shall hear nothing about it; or, if we do, it will be in a form that will enable us to put an end to it.


said, the Government had no objection whatever to adopting the suggestion of his right hon. Friend, and of the Leader of the Opposition, that the Amendment should be carried instead of being withdrawn, provided the hon. Member for Manchester and his Friends saw no objection to that course.


as the Seconder of the Motion, said he had no objection to that course.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Resolved, That in the interests of civilization and Commerce in South West Africa, this House is of opinion that no Treaty should be made by Her Majesty's Government affecting territories on or adjacent to the Congo that would compromise any engagement into which Her Majesty may heretofore have entered, or would not afford adequate securities to all the civilising and Commercial agencies at work in those regions—(Mr. Wodehouse.)