§ MR. HUTTON (Manchester, N.)
asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether Her Majesty's Government is aware that the trade of the Gold Coast possessions is in a ruinous condition, through disturbances on the borders of British Territories, and the closing of the trade routes to the interior; whether Her Majesty's Government have received information that the Native tribes, who closed the paths, petitioned Her Majesty's Government to arbitrate between them, and that the Government officials delayed taking steps to settle their disputes amicably until after war had broken out; and, whether Her Majesty's Government will now use their influence to restore peace, and to keep open the trade routes between British Territory and the Native tribes in the interior?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN) (Denbighshire, E.)
No doubt trade throughout 1013 West Africa has lately fallen off, and at the Gold Coast this may be partly due to disturbances in the interior; but the revenue does not as yet indicate that the falling-off is very serious, and trade cannot be described as in a ruinous condition. So far as I am aware, the hostile tribes did not join in inviting mediation; but the Governor of the Gold Coast made every possible effort to negotiate between them, and with this view sent an officer of considerable experience up to the frontier with a proposal to mediate. That officer was at first refused permission to proceed, and afterwards, when he visited the scene of hostilities, his intervention proved fruitless. No disturbances have taken place within the British Protectorate; and the matters to which the hon. Member refers occurred among the independent tribes constituting the old Kingdom of Ashantee, beyond the Prah, which is the boundary of the British Protectorate. But the Governor of the Gold Coast has expressed his intention to lose no favourable opportunity of exercising his influence to restore peace and re-open the trade routes, and his proposed course of action has been approved.