HC Deb 27 February 1885 vol 294 cc1607-8

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether it is true that a Royal Commissioner has annexed Damaraland; and, whether Mr. Palgrave, the so-called Royal Commissioner, is in the service of the Cape or of the British Government?


No, Sir; a Royal Commissioner has not annexed Damaraland, and Mr. Palgrave is only Resident Magistrate at Walfisch Bay, and is only in the service of the Cape Government. But as it is important there should be no misunderstanding, I will state shortly what has passed relative to Mr. Palgrave's presence at Walfisch Bay and neighbourhood. In November last we heard through the newspapers that he had been sent to Damaraland. We telegraphed at once to the High Commissioner to ascertain what were Mr. Palgrave's instructions. The Premier of the Cape was then away in Bechuanaland; but we received from the High Commissioner on December 18 a despatch inclosing a communication from the Cape Ministers, in which Mr. Palgrave's duties at Walfisch Bay were described, and in which the following important sentence appeared:— Palgrave has no authority to deal with Native territories beyond Border. On January 14 the Secretary of State, in a despatch to the Cape, wrote as follows:— Seeing that there has been no Resident with the Chief Kamaherero since the end of 1880, the appointment of one now would have the appearance of an attempt to thwart the development of the German Protectorate which Her Majesty's Government has recently recognized, and such a measure, therefore, could not be ratified or defended by Her Majesty's Government; and, in these circumstances, I have no doubt your Ministers will perceive that even the presence of Mr. Palgrave in Native Damaraland would at the present moment be undesirable. I informed you, in a former despatch, that it would not be in accordance with international courtesy to annex the territory immediately adjacent to the existing German limit; and the same observation applies, although in a less degree, to placing a Resident with a Chief whose country Germany may legitimately desire to acquire if the Chief assents. Mr. Palgrave had started on November 8; and if there is any truth in the present newspaper reports, I can only suppose that his instructions have not reached him. We adhere to what was said in the despatch above quoted, and have telegraphed to Sir Hercules Robinson to urge his Ministers to instruct Mr. Palgrave to act in accordance therewith, if they have not already done so.