HC Deb 07 April 1887 vol 313 cc676-7
MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether, as it appears that the seizure by Natives of Messieurs Lander's launch was an act of reprisal for the policy of the Royal Niger Company in seizing certain children as hostages, and inasmuch as the Company has since received a Charter from Her Majesty, Her Majesty's Government will advise the Company to compensate Messieurs Lander for their loss sustained by reason of its policy; whether the Foreign Office is in possession of, or has at any time seen, the 230 Treaties referred to by him made by the Royal Niger Company with Native Chiefs, or the 37 Treaties mentioned in the Schedule to the Charter; and, if some only, of how many; whether Her Majesty's Forces are still employed in the pacification of the Niger territories; and, whether the Government will lay upon the Table any Despatches regarding the recent engagements with the Natives, and the causes which led to it?


Respecting the seizure of Mr. Lander's launch, I must refer the hon. Member to my answer of the 31st of August. The Company has since succeeded in recovering the launch and' cargo, which have been restored to the owner. Her Majesty's Government see no ground for interference. The whole of the Treaties made by the Company are in the possession of the Foreign Office. The actual number is 237, including those mentioned in the Schedule. Her Majesty's Forces are not employed on the Niger. The only occasion of their employment since the grant of the Charter has been that of an expedition from Her Majesty's ship Royalist in December, to chastise some slave-hunting tribes on the Wari branch who had attacked one of the Company's factories, inflicting loss of life. These tribes were allied with the robber Chief who seized Mr. Lander's launch. The expedition was successful; but the affair was trifling, and there are no Papers on the subject, except, I presume, the ordinary Reports of the officer in command of Her Majesty's ship Royalist to his superiors.

In reply to Mr. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E),


said: I stated, on the 31st of August, that as soon as it was known that some children had been detained as hostages by the agents of the National African Company their attention was called to the impropriety of retaining them, and on the 13th of July the Company telegraphed to their agents to release them at once.


Is it not the fact that the children were not restored until seven months afterwards?


I am not aware how long they were in fact detained.