HC Deb 16 March 1886 vol 303 cc974-6
MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether by the peculiar wording of the Favoured Nation Clause in the Transvaal Convention of February 1884, the Colony of Natal is excluded from the benefit of that Clause, although the most interested of Her Majesty's dominions; whether such peculiar wording and such exclusion was by oversight, or by deliberation; and, if the latter, for what reasons; whether the import of tobacco and other produce from the Transvaal into Natal, free of the Duty imposed on all other importers, is a consequence of the above named fact; whether a loss to the revenue of Natal has been thereby occasioned, and is still continuing; whether he has been informed that a further consequence is that the tobacco industry of Natal has been seriously damaged; whether he will take any steps to get the Convention amended, and the consequences averted; and, whether Her Majesty's Government have received from the Transvaal Republic, Copy of any Treaty or engagement with any other State or Nation or Native Tribe, requiring approval of Her Majesty under Article 4 of the Convention?


The Colony of Natal is not excluded from the benefit of the Most Favoured Nation Clause (13) of the London Convention of 1884. Most-favoured-nation treatment is secured to Natal in common with all other parts of Her Majesty's Dominions by the earlier portion of the first half of that clause. The free importation of tobacco and other goods from the South African Republic into Natal does not result from the wording of Clause 13 of that Convention. It results from the Government and Legislature of Natal, with whom the matter rests, not thinking it expedient to establish Custom Houses on the inland Border. If goods otherwise subject to duty are imported into Natal free of duty there is, undoubtedly, a loss of Revenue to the Colony; but whether there is a loss of profit is another thing. The Natal inland Borders extend for over 600 miles; the cost of the service would be heavy, and the collection would be small. Reports have recently been received from the late Governor and the Chambers of Commerce on the depression of trade in Natal; but no mention is made in these Reports of injury to the tobacco industry from the importation of Transvaal tobacco. According to the latest Returns, the number of tobacco manufacturers in the Colony is only two. Her Majesty's Government have no intention of negotiating for an amendment of the 13th clause of the Convention, which appears to be properly framed, and which has no bearing on the present question, as it neither enjoins nor forbids the levying by the Natal Government of any duties on the Transvaal Border which the Natal Legislature may authorize. Her Majesty's Government have received copies of, and have assented to, Treaties between Germany and the South African Republic, and Portugal and the South African Republic. An old Treaty concluded between Belgium and the South African Republic in 1876 has been put in force since the conclusion of the London Convention, with the consent of Her Majesty's Government. A Treaty between the South African Republic and the French Republic is under the consideration of the French Legislature, and Her Majesty's Government have received a copy of the text. A Treaty has been concluded with Switzerland, but the text has not yet been received. Negotiations for a Treaty have been going on with Holland; but Her Majesty's Government are not officially informed of the result.