§ MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether it is a fact that several English firms have equipped steam launches for the purpose of trading with the producing markets direct, in competition to the middlemen of the Opobo River, under promise of protection from Her Majesty's Consul for the Bights of Benin and Biafra; and, whether, in the event of such protection being given, it will also 27 be extended to the Natives of Bonny, who are anxious to trade in the same markets?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE (Sir JAMES FERGUSSON) (Manchester, N.E.)
With regard to the first portion of the Question, Her Majesty's Government are aware that trading in the Opobo River has for some time past been in an unsettled state, and the matter is engaging their serious attention. Certain traders have invoked Consular assistance; but to what extent that has been rendered is not at present known. With respect to the second paragraph, without particularizing any Chief or party, the object will be to render trade unrestricted to all persons, white or black.