HC Deb 26 March 1885 vol 296 c656

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether his attention has been called to the letters by Correspondents of The Times and The Standard, pointing out the value of the trade with districts north of Bechuanaland up to the Zambesi, and especially to the following statement:— The countries of the interior, called Matabeleland and Mashuanaland, stretching to the Zambesi, are fertile and well watered, infinitely more valuable than the more settled country to the South. It is a fact that those countries abound in mineral wealth, and in products from which we may look in the future to an enormous increase of our Cape trade. Their products will in the future find their way to the outer world by the South. The Transvaal is putting out feelers, and already a number of Boers are endeavouring to establish themselves in Mashuanaland, entering that country by way of Zoutpansberg. A bold policy in the present, a protectorate proclaimed to the Zambesi, would be a simple matter now. It would entail but little expense, it would curtail the power of the Boers, and would give no pretext for German opposition; and, whether, in order to secure this promising trade for British colonists and British manufactures, and to produce profitable results from the present expedition to Bechuanaland, Her Majesty's Ministers will encourage in every possible way the construction of a Railway from Kimberley to the Zambesi?


The hon. Member, if he will allow me to say so, is a little in advance of his age. The distance as the crow flies between Kimberley and Victoria Falls, the nearest point on the Zambesi, is 750 miles; and taking £6,000 a-mile as a very moderate estimate for the construction of a railway, without deviations, the cost would amount to very nearly £5,000,000. The hon. Member must therefore see that this is clearly a question for the future, and not for the present.


said, that he would admit the truth of the hon. Member's imputation, if the words "Her Majesty's Government" were substituted for the word "ago."