HC Deb 31 March 1887 vol 313 cc57-8
MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, "Whether his attention has been called to the description of the condition of the Gold Coast Colony contained in a pamphlet entitled The Land of Death, written by Mr. Ernest Eiloart, and whether the Colonial Office intend to take any, and what, steps to remedy the grievances therein alleged to exist; whether it is the fact, as stated in the same pamphlet, that any criticism of the policy of the Government of the Colony in the public Press is punished by the Governor by disqualifying the critic for holding any public office; and, if so, whether such a policy of repression has the sanction and approval of the present Colonial Secretary; whether it is the fact that British Commerce to the Colony has decreased by some £3,000,000; and, if so, whether such decrease can be attributed to other, and what, causes than the present maladministration of the Colony; whether any, and what, communications or representations have been made to the Colonial Office in favour of fulfilling the pledges given to the Natives that their Native Legislative Assembly should be restored to them; what steps he proposes with a view to satisfying these representations; and, whether the Gold Coast Colony will be represented at the forthcoming Colonial Conference; and, if not, why not?


My attention has been called to the pamphlet on the Gold Coast by Mr. Eiloart. I am bound to say [that it is full of exaggerated and highly-coloured statements, and I cannot admit the existence of the grievances there alleged. Much has been done to improve the sanitary condition of the Colony, as is proved by Papers laid from time to time before Parliament, and these efforts will be continued. The difficulties, however, arising from climate and the habits and customs of the Natives are very great. I do not believe in the policy of repression stated in the Question. If it existed, it would not be sanctioned or approved. I presume £300,000 is meant, not £3,000,000. There was a decrease of trade in 1885 of about £300,000 as compared with 1884. This was due partly to the general depression of trade, but principally to the great fall in the price of palm oil, which is the staple export of the Colony. The price has fallen from £40 a-ton, at which it stood a few years ago, to £18 per ton. This result is mainly due to the competition of mineral oils. The assumption in the Question that the Colony is at present maladministered is unfounded. As no such pledge as is referred to was ever given to the Natives, no representations in favour of fulfilling it could well be made. I do not know what is meant by the "Native Legislative Assembly." The Gold Coast, in common with other Crown Colonies, will not be officially represented at the Colonial Conference. Mr. Swanzy has been invited to be present at the Conference on behalf of the Gold Coast.