HC Deb 24 March 1884 vol 286 cc594-5

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he can inform the House whether ocean-going vessels can get up the Congo to any port beyond the territory the sovereignty of which by Portugal will be acknowledged by Her Majesty's Government by the Congo Treaty; and, especially, whether such ocean-going vessels can get up to the station opposite Nokki, below which, M. Petre, in his telegram of February 25th (see C. 3885), says the Portuguese Government are willing to draw the line of their territory; and in case such ocean-going vessels cannot get up to the station before-mentioned, to what point in the river they can get? also, referring to Article I. of the Congo Treaty, which states that the inland eastern portion of the proposed Portuguese territory "shall coincide with the boundaries of the present possessions of the coast and riparian tribes," Whether there are now within this frontier any stations, the possession and sovereignty of which, having been conceded by the Native chiefs to the International African Association, are not by this Article conceded to Portugal; and, if so, how many such stations; and, whether there be within this frontier any of the Native chiefs with whom there are the Treaties with Great Britain, mentioned in the first paragraph of Article VIII.; and, if so, whether such Treaties acknowledge the sovereignty of such chiefs; and, if that be the case, what steps Her Majesty's Government intend to take, in the event of these chiefs declining to acknowledge the sovereignty of Portugal?


Sir, in 1880 H.M.S. Firefly, of 455 tons, and drawing 10½ feet, went up to Nokki, and no shallow water was ob- served in the track taken by the pilot. In March, 1883, H.M.S. Starling, drawing 10¾ feet, also made the passage. Her Majesty's Government have no knowledge of any stations of the African Association within the territory specified in Article I, except that at Boma, on the Congo. No other is marked on the map of the Association, which is the only source of information. The existing Treaties with Native Chiefs were laid last year (Appendix to Africa, No. 2). They contain no express recognition of sovereignty, and no obligation to maintain it.