HC Deb 11 March 1889 vol 333 cc1401-2
MR. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, West)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the character of the concession said to have been recently granted by the Chief Lo Bengula to Messrs. Rudd and Rhodes, by which, in consideration for a sum of £1,200 a year, together with 1,000 rifles and a hundred thousand rounds of ammunition, these gentlemen are reported to have obtained sole rights of prospecting and working for minerals in a territory the size of Italy, Her Majesty's Government will take any steps to call the attention of the Chief to the disadvantages and dangers to the peace of the country incident to such a monopoly; and, whether, in the event of Her Majesty's Government extending at any future time a protectorate over the Colony now under the sphere of British influence, they will refuse to recognize the concession in question, or any similar concession that may be contrary to the interests of the Chief and people of Matabelland, and likely to lead to complications and to a breach of the peace?


Her Majesty's Government have hitherto abstained from interfering with any concession granted by Lo Bengula, as that Chief is not under their protection, is independent, and has not, till lately, asked for advice. He has now by his messenger asked for advice, and that someone may be sent to him by the Queen. It is not clear whether he desires to have some officer permanently resident with him, or only temporarily for the special purpose of advising him upon the present state of affairs. But Her Majesty's Government are prepared to send some officer to Lo Bengula should he still desire it, and should he agree to any arrangement proposed by Her Majesty's Government in respect of such a mission. In the meantime I may state that Her Majesty's Government do not approve of that term in the concession referred to which provides for the supply of arms and ammunition, and they would advise Lo Bengula to have this altered. If at any time a Protectorate were declared at Lo Bengula's request over his territory, Her Majesty's Government would discountenance any concession containing such terms, or any concession of the kind referred to in the concluding words of the question.


Then have the Government changed their mind since they told me in answer to a similar Question that they thought this concession was to the advantage of the country?


I think the hon. Member misunderstood the answer. I said the Government had not expressed an opinion either way, but the Governor of the Cape had used an expression implying that he approved the policy.