HC Deb 18 March 1889 vol 334 cc104-22

The next reduction I have to submit to the Committee has relation to a larger question—the grant of £28,000 in aid of the administration in Bechuanaland. The first complaint I have to make is that such a very large question should be shoved through Committee at the tail end of a Supplementary Vote, and that it has not been submitted to us at a proper time. The Vote really raises the whole question whether Her Majesty's Government ought to undertake on the part of, and at the expense of, the people of this country, the administration of a vast territory in Central Africa running up to the Zambesi. I do not even know that the Government purpose to stop at the Zambesi. I believe they purpose to claim navigation up to the district where the Militant Missionaries are now carrying on operations on Lake Nyassa, seeking to extend their influence over the series of great lakes in Central Africa. Whether we look at the ulterior prospect or the present extent of territory, the question is a large one indeed, and it comes before us for the first time in the form of a challenge to a Vote in Supply. The Chancellor of the Exchequer taunted us the other day with wasting upon such small items as the allowances of gamekeepers in Windsor Park the time we might devote to the elucidation of great Colonial questions; but I think the fault lies with the Government and their arrangement of these Votes, putting those that raise important questions of Colonial policy last. Last Session, too, the time of private Members was appropriated, and we had to find such opportunities as we could in Supply, and, in consequence, important Votes were rushed through in one sitting. An attempt was made in a manner I will not describe, to rush the Supplementary Vote through after midnight. We defeated that intention, and now we have to decide upon this Vote, and give a decision on the policy of the Government, or rather, I should say, the want of policy, that has allowed us to drift as we did in relation to Swaziland, and as we now appear to be drifting in relation to this great territory between Cape Colony and the Zambesi. This great territory was in the first instance taken, as the Colonial Secretary told a Deputation, on the understanding that Cape Colony would take it, and the noble Lord went on to say—"I will not pledge myself that it will not be offered to Cape Colony again." This is an illustration of our indefinite Colonial policy. This Vote, remember, does not represent the whole expenditure. The Colonial Secretary was frank in his declaration to the deputation. He said— I hope you will support those Members of Parliament who will be prepared to vote a very large increase that must appear in the sums upon the Estimates for the Colony. I am afraid Members do not realize the enormous burden we are laying on the country by this Vote to-night. We pass a Vote for £28,000 for Police in Bechuanaland, and that for only a portion of the year. I understand that the whole year will not be less than £66,000; and with the indication of further expenditure thrown out by the Colonial Secretary, hundreds of thousands of expenditure will result from our accepting the position in which we find ourselves placed. I hope the Under Secretary will, at all events, explain what the expenditure of the year will be, and tell us how far the extension of territory is to go. I maintain we are not justified in passing these Votes and simply allowing the Government to drift with the course of events, while still the British taxpayer has heavier burdens put upon him. If this great burden must be imposed, why should the Government endeavour to smuggle the Vote through at the fag end of the financial year; why do they not boldly and frankly come forward, explain their policy and invite the decision of the House? Hitherto the Government have drifted in these South African transactions into taking more territory, without any definite idea what to do with it, and the result has been a continuously increasing strain on the resources of the mother country. The Government have taken territory they had much better have left alone. I cannot understand why they should annex these vast territories in Central Africa. It is no advantage to our self-governing colonies to have their attention diverted from their own resources to the administration of native territories. If we take over these territories we should face the administrative as well as the financial question. In the Bechuanaland territory we have no success to the sea, we have the Germans on one side the Portugese or another, and an independent colony or another. We are at the mercy of Cape Colony in regard to roads and railway for communication. If we do take over the territory we are bound to protect the Natives and not make administration a cover for scandalous concessions to speculators. We are bound to prevent the land and minerals of the country being disposed of to land jobbers and concession mongers. What is the distinction I would ask in these matters, between British Colonies, or British Protectorate and British influence? If British influence becomes a British Protectorate and perhaps annexation follows then the British people are deprived of their rights through this system of concessions. What is the meaning of these great concessions made by Lo Bengula to Mr. Rudd? What is the political reason why Sir Hercules Robinson approved of them? The result is that with concessions here and concessions there the whole conntry is a prey to concession mongers. I want some explanation as to the political reasons why it is desirable to encourage this annexation, and in order to elicit some opinion as to whether or not it is right that we should sanction these proceedings, I move to reduce the Vote by £20,000.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That Item E, Grant in Aid of British Bechuanaland, be reduced by 420,000."—(Sir George Campbell.)

*MR. BAUMANN (Peckham)

Though this is only a supplementary Estimate, and though the sum the Government ask for is a very small one, I think the discussion is of great importance, from the fact that I understand the High Commissioner is shortly coming home, and that a new High Commissioner Governor of Cape Colony will be sent out. I think that before we vote another shilling to be spent in Bechuanaland we are entitled to ask the Government three questions, and we are entitled to get plain answers to these three questions. We are entitled, I think, to ask, in the first place, do Her Majesty's Government intend to extend the British Protectorate in Bechuanaland northward to Matabeland and Kamaland? The second question I think we are entitled to put is, does the Colonial Secretary intend to hand Bechuanaland over to Cape Colony; and, thirdly, I wish to know whether the Colonial Secretary intends to continue the present absurd and mischievous combination of the two offices of High Commissioner and Governor of Cape Colony? In connection with the first question as to the extension of the Protectorate, I think we have seen the disastrous effects of that shadowy abstraction which nobody knows the meaning of, "the sphere of British influence," in the concession made by a native chief to Mr. Rudd, by which mining rights have been given over a vast tract of territory to the sum of £1,200 a year, and with regard to which the Secretary to the Colonies tells us the Colonial Office has no right to interfere. What is the meaning of this sphere of British influence, and how comes it that in 1838 an Englishman applied for a similar concession and was snubbed by the High Commissioner, and was told that no such grant could be given without the sanction of the High Commissioner, and now, nearly a year afterwards, Mr. Rudd, an Africander, the partner of Rhodes, has obtained that concession without difficulty and with the sanction of the High Commissioner? It is a singular circumstance in this connection that Mr. Rhodes, Mr. Rudd's partner, a short time ago appeared at a meeting of the De Beers Mining Company holding the proxy of Sir Hercules Robinson, the High Commissioner himself. I will not dwell upon the influences brought to bear upon the High Commissioner at the Cape; but certainly, under the circumstances, it doe not appear to me a very dignified position for the High Commissioner and Governor of the Cape to occupy. We can trace from beginning to end in the record of the opinions of Sir Hercules Robinson the sinister influence of Cape politics. The second question we ought to have answered is this: Is Bechuanaland to be handed over to Cape Colony or is it not? By deputations and by questions in this House nothing can be got out of Lord Knutsford, except that it is not the present intention of Her Majesty's Government to hand Bechuanaland over to the Cape. We want to know not only the present, but the ultimate, intention of Her Majesty's Government, for already £1,250,000 has been spent upon Bechuanaland to which Cape Colony has not contributed one sixpence, and before we vote any more money in this direction we are entitled, I think, to an explicit avowal from the Colonial Office as to their intentions. After the disgraceful story of Basutoland, I for one protest against Bechuanaland being handed over to Cape Colony seeing that by a lavish expenditure of British sovereigns and British troops we have rescued the country against anarchy. The keynote of Lord Knutsford's Colonial policy is a feverish anxiety, if not a fixed resolve, to escape responsibility at all costs; and it is that policy which has brought about the Zulu wais, the Boer war, the Bechuanaland expedition, and the Basutoland fiasco. Then, as to the third question, is the Colonial Secretary going to continue the present junction of the High Commissioner and the Governor of Cape Colony? That junction has proved most disastrous to Bechuanaland. In 1884 Sir Thomas Scanlen, then Prime Minister, was in favour of the Cape contributing to cost of Bechuanaland, but he was driven out of office, and Mr. Uppington, who acceded to power, proposed that England should pay the cost and Cape Colony should administer the Protectorate, and now Sir Hercules Robinson grows bolder still and advocates the annexation of Bechuanaland to the Cape. The fact is, it is quite impossible for one man to serve two masters—namely, the Cape Parliament, with an occasional Dutch majority, avowedly hostile to and jealous of British influence, and the Imperial Government at home. You might as well expect the Governor of Quebec to act as Viceroy of Canada. The whole thing reminds me of nothing more than a servant in one of Moliereé's plays, who did the double duty of coachman and gardener, and who requested his master, when he had anything to say about the stable, to speak in his right ear, and when he had anything to say about the garden to speak in his left ear. The junction of these two offices is anomalous and mischievous in its results. The ultimate question which we have to face in South Africa is whether the English or the Dutch are to be masters. Of course, the Cape Government are in favour of maintaining the present junction of the two offices, because it places the key of the situation in their hands and makes them masters of the destinies of South Africa. I am certain of this that if the Colonial Secretary continues to allow his Imperial policy to be dictated by the Dutch majority of the Cape Parliament, we shall have a civil war upon us before we know where we were. Young Englishmen who are flocking into South Africa will not submit to have their destinies controlled and to be tyrannized over by a Dutch majority in the Cape Parliament.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I think I may ask to be allowed to draw the attention of the Committee back again to the Vote before the House, that is £28,000 for extra police in Bechuanaland. As far as Bechuanaland is concerned the Government seem to have a policy, and it is a policy of police. The hon. Member who has just sat down advocated a policy on the part of Her Majesty's Government which I should be very glad to support if I thought that in the future the South African States and territory would be governed on principles of common sense, but as I find that our Crown Colonies now are governed on principles entirely different from that, I am not in a position to support the proposal that will be made by-and-bye, and I think I will say something on the other side. But I want to tell you what you are voting the money for and why you are doing it. I have here from Her Majesty's Governments omething in defence of this policy. Since we occupied Bechuanaland the population, white and black, has become reduced, the revenue is not increasing, the country is not progressing in any sense of the term, and that is because the Government have only one policy—a policy of police—and the one thing that is preventing the development of British Bechuanaland and makes it the laughing stock of the whole of South Africa is this policy of police. I should like to bring before the House some figures with reference to this Grown Colony. In 1886 the revenue was £6,700 and the expediture £110,000, of which £84,253 was spent on the police. In 1887 the estimated revenue was £10,000, but alas! there was a decreasing population, and the revenue fell to £9,690; and the expenditure was £105,650, of which £79,000 was pant on the police. Last year the estimated revenue was to be £13,000, but during the first five months only £3,163 came, and under pressure the outlay on the police was to be reducedto£59,929. This round £60,000 has been spent and now £20,000 more is asked for. I want to ask the Government what they want the police for? They have a large armed police force in Bechuanaland, like the Irish Constabulary, and, as a military force, it can only affect two powers, either the Boers in the Transvaal Republic or the Matabeles. Well, your police force to deal with the Transvaal Republic would be utterly useless—you would require an army—and if you are going to keep this as a Crown Colony, and desire to keep it secure from aggression, I would strongly urge upon the Government the desirability of having a much stronger force than these police to deal with the Matabeles. Well, if a military force is required in Bechuanaland, will the Government tell me why, when they can get men at a shilling a day to serve them, they should prefer to pay six shillings in South Africa? Bechuanaland, so far as climate is concerned, is one of the finest countries in the world. It would be a splendid place to send your young soldiers to for, say, twelve months, on the way out to India. It would thoroughly set them up and fit them for their duties in India, and then, again, if your men, coming back from India could remain a couple of years or so in Bechuanaland, it would thoroughly refresh them after the fatigues of India, and the climate, being a medium one, would fit them in some degree for facing the climate of a cold country like ours. The country is from four to six thousand feet above the level of the sea, and in the summer time you have there a splendid rain and a cool wind—what you may call a champaign air. I maintain, therefore, that instead of paying police 6s. a day we might very advantageously employ our Indian troops here at a 1s. a day. I contend that Bechuanaland is as much a part of the British Empire as the Isle of Wight, and that if it is aggression you fear you could prevent it more effectually by Imperial troops. If you keep men in Bechuanaland for warlike purposes you want an army. All the money thrown away in this country is spent upon the police. There was a school for white children, and land was given to support it; but the school ceased to exist because the Government took the land away, and the condition of things now in this big British Colony is this, that throughout the length and breadth of it there is not a single school for white children. Sir Sidney Sheppard begs and prays you to give him a school, but you will not give him that—you give him 200 more police at a cost of £28,000. On page 5 of the last Blue Book issued, Sir Sidney Sheppard urges you to give favourable consideration to the proposal for making some expenditure on education. Again, your sanitary arrangements are as bad as they can be. In the capital of the country your prisoners in gaol are dying of gaol lever, and yet we learn that the only medical man in the country is a hundred miles from the capital. What is the character of the police force in Bechuanaland, and what is it used for? I have been asked to bring this matter before the House by the Rev. Mr. Brown, the successor of Dr. Moffatt, in the Kuru country. In a letter he has sent me, the whole of which I cannot read, as I do not wish to make the House blush, he says: When I think of the British taxpayer having to pay a large sum of money every year to keep up Bechuanaland, I am thoroughly disgusted, and if you were here your blood would boil with indignation, as mine does. He goes on to say that crimes are committed by the magistrates, but as those persons would have no opportunity of replying here, I will not read what he says. He declares that the only work the men of the police force seem to do is that of seducing the native women, and leaving behind them numbers of half-caste children. He says that two blots stain the country, namely, drunkenness and fornication, and he declares that to his mind this is a shameful waste of British money. He says that the Chief of Police does no thing that he knows of but hunt, and usually takes an escort of police with him to beat the bushes, and that as a consequence the men go by the name of Carrington's rangers. The men boast of being able to procure as many native girls as they please for brandy. Now, I myself am prepared to say that to a certain extent there is some truth in these statements. I have heard complaints from Montsoia similar to those made by the Rev. Mr. Brown. I maintain that if you spent the money you are squandering on the police for the purpose of giving educational facilities in the Colony and of making a land survey, and would make provision for bringing emigrants into the country instead of carrying out those bogus schemes which we saw last year, where we saw people taken out to places where six or eight months in the year there is no water, you would be doing praiseworthy work. I would ask the Government what they intend to do with regard to Bechuanaland as a whole. There are five tribes between the Matabele River and our colony. We take in two-and-a-half of the tribes, and another tribe is north of our Protectorate, but that portion of the territory is practically worthless, the wood having been cut down. That portion which is under our Protectorate is really the finest country in South Africa. It is a land where you can have splendid farms and good colonies, and not occupied by any game. There are very few natives in the whole territory—not 30,000, I believe. This is the place where concessions are being given, and where you have the same thing being carried out in our British territory that you had in Swaziland. I will tell you how the rights of the natives have been protected. In the last Report of Sir S. Sheppard, we are told that a question arose between a native chief, Kama Sechele, and certain Commissioners, and that it had been referred to an assistant Commissioner to report. Then the Report says— A form of mineral concession has been carefully supplied with a view to protect the interests of the Chiefs in the Protectorate, and that in future it be recommended for adoption in all cases. After Sir S. Sheppard left, Mr. Woolatt' his surveyor, remained behind, and go the concession from the Chief without the missionaries knowing anything at all about it, and without the Council knowing anything at all about it. The man drinks and is in his dotage, and, without his son knowing anything of it, MR. Woolatt got this concession from him. Mr. Williams, a missionary, told me the whole of the particulars 18 months ago. By this concession, this man Woolatt gets 400 square miles, and all the wood and water, for £400 a-year, and there is no limitation of time. I have seen woods sold for £20 where £40,000 worth of wood could he taken out, not to speak of the mineral rights. But here is the 400 square miles granted to an individual under the British Government. The same thing has occurred to old Sechele, but the son of Sechele says he does not intend to carry the transaction out. And you will have considerable difficulty whenever these men come to attack these concessions, because the chiefs and the head men are opposed to them. That is how you have been guarding the interests of individuals in the Protectorate. As for the Colony itself, well, go there, and you will find nothing but complaints. The unfortunate Montsoia had been put into territory not sufficient for his people, and the head chief, or the king, was telling me when I was up there, 18 months ago, that he had only water for his cattle once in three days; that all of his best lands were taken away from him; and now they have granted locations to bubble companies who write misleading statements, and gull the British public to buy the land taken from those native chiefs. I frankly admit that, as far as some of the farms were concerned, you could not help this; but there were other portions of the territory that might have been made native settlements, and you could have bought out some of those farms for £3,000 or £4,000—here is one that has been got for £400; but, instead of that, you spend £28,000 over this absolutely useless and pernicious police. I want to know, again, having called the attention of the Colonial Secretary to it before, why, when gold was discovered in the land of Montsoia, you did not give him the same rights as are granted to other farmers? His son-in-law, who is in the Transvaal, got £700 a year for prospecting, and you give to every man in Bechuanaland on whose farm gold is discovered the right to peg out 20 claims. When Montsoia wanted to peg out 20 claims, the Crown said, "No; this is Crown land." And this is how the British Government protects the natives! Questions have been raised as to the future. I frankly say that, if you want to have a direct British policy in South African, then you must have somebody to carry out that policy. If you intend to keep Bechuanaland as a Crown Colony, do not throw away £80,000 on useless police. Send a body of soldiers there, and keep the peace with a dozen Europeans and a hundred natives; and if you only spend proportionately as much as the States round about you are spending on education, you will find that you will spend almost as much as you are now paying for police. But, if the present system is to continue, then the best thing would be to hand the territory over to the Cape Colony. The first thing that we ought to do would be to annex the whole of Bechuanaland. You are asking settlers out there because you have decent lands to give them where they can live comfortably. I think the sooner the Protectorate is abolished the better; and the whole of these people would, I know, at once come under the Colony. I daresay that Sechele and Montsoia would stand on their rights. Seven-eighths of the tribes would be very glad to come under our control. Then beyond there is a portion of territory which I do not know whether it would be wise at the present time to take in. Probably it would be better to take it than merely have a Protectorate over it. I think you ought to have power as well as responsibility, and that you ought to be able to prevent in the future in those countries under your control those anarchic methods by which they have been taken by the whites. You ought to serve the interests of the natives, and to prevent the Chiefs selling their lands to white adventurers, and the poor people being eaten up, as they say in South Africa. One thing I would like to say to hon. Gentlemen and to the Colonial Office, and that is that you may require your armed police, unless a more definite policy is carried on regarding the conditions which now subsist betwean Matabeleland and Kamaland. I believe Kama to be one of the ablest of the chiefs; but since he has come under our Protectorate his action is to try and force all the natives who do not own his sway across to the Transvaal; and claims have been made which, if persisted in, will probably bring about a war between Matabeleland and Kamaland, which is under our Protectorate. If the claim is supported, then there will probably be war in South Africa, and we will be required to fight the Northern Zulus. In regard to the policy pursued in South Africa, it was at first to keep certain people back. There were a number of people going to the Cape Colony to get concessions, and the High Commissioner sent them back, and what the Government ought to do is, to determine the boundary between the Matabeles and the Manwattas—the latter being of weak, and the former a powerful tribe, and unless something of this sort is done we may have trouble in a country 1,500 miles north of the Cape—whither an army would have to march over nearly 700 miles of desert. As to their future policy the Government should determine either on acting on their own responsibility and appointing a Royal Commission, as was promised two years ago by Lord Knutsford, or they should determine on handing the Cape over to the white men and letting them govern it in their own way. If the Cape were thus handed over, the white men there would have to pay the piper, instead of, as at present, the people of this country. The policy hitherto pursued at the Cape is the same bad policy as has been carried out in New Zealand, and will produce wars in South Africa, as it has done in New Zealand, if continued. Let them adopt one policy or the other and adhere to it.

*MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

I cannot but express my gratitude to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Baumann) for having brought before the Committee the concession made nominally to Mr. Rudd, but really to Mr. Rhodes, in the territory to which this Vote refers. An hon. Member has expressed a hope that the Under Secretary for the Colonies will contradict the statement that Mr. Rhodes acted as proxy for the High Commissioner at a company's meeting; but I should be sorry to hear that contradiction, because if it were contradicted I should have to submit proof to the Committee of the actual fact. When we are asked for £78,000 grant for this territory, and influence is being used to put mining/lands in the hands of speculators, we have a right to ask, what is the attitude of the Government on the matter? Last May their attitude was clear. Lord Knutsford said the Government would give no countenance to any concession unless concluded with the knowledge and approval of the High Commissioner. That is, that the Government would and did determine what should happen in regard to these concessions; but, in answer to myself, we are practically told that the Government have nothing to do with it—that they are not in a position to express any opinion on it, and now, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, they disapprove part, and determine to interfere. This is a sudden change.


There is one point which seems to me to have been forgotten, and that is that in Bechuanaland there are lands for which the British taxpayer has paid dearly, to the amount of £1,500,000, and which it is proposed to hand over to the Cape Colony. I do not fear either Party at the Cape; I believe both are loyal to the Imperial connection. But what I do object to is handing over these lands without due consideration to a Colony which can place obstruction in the way of our countrymen going there. If we hand over these lands to the Cape, I hope it will be on the express condition that British emigrants are to be freely admitted to them. In my opinion, we have not needed so large a police force, except as a frontier force against the Matabeles. I do not believe the Transvaal intend to let the frontier be violated in any way. We are in this dilemma. If the House declines to vote £78,000 now, the idea must at once arise that the British House of Commons is throwing up its Imperial responsibilities. I hope, however, the Government may see its way to reduce this large expenditure on police, but at all costs for this year we must assert our Imperial responsibilities and duties in South Africa.


It will be admitted by alb who have listened to this debate that it has travelled over a very wide area. The simple question before the Committee is a Supplementary Vote for 200 policemen for service in Bechuanaland and its Protectorate. The remarkable statement has been made and repeated that this is a very large force of police; but hon. Members 'who made that statement seem to ignore the fact that between 1885 and 1886 the force consisted of 150 men more than now. Every successive speaker, but especially the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark), has charged the Government with enormously increasing this force, whereas the fact is that, while a short time ago it amounted to 500, it is now only 350. It seems to be thought that this is a very large force; but have hon. Members any idea of the extent of the territory? British Bechuanaland, the Crown colony, contains 40,000 square miles, the Protectorate 120,000, aud the sphere of influence 120,000. That would give one policeman to every 800 square miles of territory. I should like to remind the hon. Member for Caithness of what happened in July, 1884 In that case Montsoia and his country had been declared to be under British protection, but no police force had been sent, and before one could be organised Montsoia was over-thrown by filibusters, and the Warren Expedition had to be sent out at an expense of £700,000 in order to restore British prestige. It seems strange that, considering this, so many Members of the House should be anxious to deprive the Government of the vote for 200 extra police. In the autumn of last year the High Commissioner considered it necessary to augment the police force, and his view of the question was strengthened by the Grobler incident in November of that year. The police force is solely for the purpose of protecting the natives themselves against unscrupulous filibusters, and those who, like the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness, profess to be so anxious for the welfare of the natives must find better arguments than those the hon. Member has adduced to prove that the Government are acting wrongly in increasing the police force for the purpose I have stated. The hon. Member for Peckham has taken a singularly wide survey of the whole position of affairs in South Africa. For my own part I am not prepared, nor do I think that the Committee will consider it necessary to enter into a discussion of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in South Africa on the question of voting £28,000 to increase the police force by 200 men, but I will answer one or two questions put to me by the hon. Member. The hon. Member asked whether the Government intend to extend the protectorate over Lo Bengula's land. The answer which I have given to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) completely covers that question, to the effect that Her Majesty's Government have hitherto abstained from interfering with any concession granted by Lo Bengula as he is not under British protection; he is independent, and has not, until lately, asked for advice; that he has now, by his messengers, asked for advice, and for someone to be sent to him by the Queen, but that it is not certain whether he wishes a Resident to be always with him, or merely to advise him on the present state of affairs. Then the hon. Member asked whether it is intended to hand over Bechuanaland to the Cape. My answer is, that there is no intention of handing it over in existing circumstances. A third question was, whether the Government intends to keep the two offices of Governor of the Cape and High Commissioner of South Africa together. It is the intention of the Government to keep these two offices together, and the reasons why we think that it is an advantage that those two offices should be kept together are various, but the principal one is, that we are of opinion that, first of all, the question of expense is a very material one, and if the two offices were separate the expense would be greatly increased. Another residence would also be necessary, and as the High Commissioner would have to reside at Cape Town there would be some difficulty with regard to his position. He would have to be provided with a Government House and an adequate staff, and instead of £1,600 the Government would probably have to ask for £50,000. I do not know whether I am justified in going into the further questions raised by the hon. Member for Northampton and others, relative to the concession of Lo Bengula's territory. There again, I can only repeat the answer which I gave to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I may say emphatically that I do not think that the charges, direct or indirect, made against the Gentleman who has filled for so many years, and so ably, the post of Governor of the Cape should have been made in this House. I have before stated in answer to the hon. Member for Northampton that there is not a shadow of foundation for supposing that any undue influence has been offered by Sir H. Robinson with respect to the concession of Lo Bengula's country. I have read a letter in this House absolutely denying that statement on behalf of Sir H. Robinson, and for my own part I absolutely deny that Sir H. Robinson exercised any sort of improper influence with regard to the concession by Lo Bengula.


Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to deny that Mr. Rhodes represented Sir Hercules Robinson, and that he held his proxy at the De Beers Mine meeting?


I stated that Mr. Rhodes acted as proxy for Sir II. Robinson at the meeting of the De Beers Mine, but that connection existed long before the concession. I have the the permission of Sir H. Robinson to read a letter from him with regard to this matter. He says— I have never embarked in either diamond or gold speculations, and have never made one single sixpence. All I have done is this. Some time ago I shifted a portion of some money I had in Colonial Pour per Cents, into De Beer shares, having reason to think well of the matter as a permanent investment. I have not sold a share, and consequently have never speculated. Having bought in when the shares were low, my investment has returned me nearly 12 per cent., and I shall be well content if it continues to give such a result in future. You must bear in mind that the diamond mines of Kimberley have long passed the speculative age, and now represent a capital of £17,500,000 paying nearly £1,000,000 a year in dividends, and may be looked upon in pretty much the same light as British railways. In my view there is no more harm in my putting my spare capital into it than there would be in a Minister at home investing in Great Western Preference Stock. If I thought the thing wrong I should not do it at all, but as I do not I have no concealment. As to gold mines, shares, syndicates, and concessions, over which people in London as well as here seem to have simply gone mad, I have never touched one of them, and I am, neither directly or indirectly, interested in anything of the kind. In the furious scramble that has taken place the wildest falsehood has been rife.


When Sir H. Robinson wrote that, had he or the administrator under his charge any knowledge that that concession to Rudd was being negotiated?


I am not aware that either of those persons knew of or exercised any influence, direct or indirect, in the matter. As I pointed out the other day, the Administrator was more than 100 miles away from the Kraal of Lobengula, where the concession was granted. It is said that we ought to extend our Protectorate, but not to enlarge our police force. Such a proposal as that is manifestly absurd. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are always professing the greatest anxiety for the welfare of the native tribes. If they mean anything at all, how do they imagine that we can protect those tribes without police? We are told that certain concessions ought not to be made, though hon. Members know as well as I that the only power the Government possess is to give good advice. The Government are obliged to send police, not only to protect our own interests, but to prevent the native chiefs from quarrelling among themselves. That is one reason why we are extending the police at present. In the British Protectorate the Government will do all in their power to prevent concessions being improperly granted, and within the sphere of British influence we shall do all we can in the way of giving good advice to prevent the granting of concessions which are ridiculous in themselves and a fraud upon the persons to whom they are granted and the public who invest in them. The Government have no soldiers in that territory, and an adequate police force is, therefore, required, not only for the protection of our interests, but for the well-being of those natives whose interests hon. Gentlemen opposite have so much at heart.

*SIR R. FOWLER (London)

I do not wish to detain the House for any time, because I believe this question is to be raised by an eminent Member of the House-namely, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), but I desire to express the great disappoinment with which I have listened to the statement of my right hon. Friend, especially when he said it was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to take into consideration the question of separating the Government of Bechuanaland from that of Cape Colony. I hope on another occasion to have an opportunity of expressing my views to the House as regards the Vote itself. I think this country owes a great deal to the Bechuanaland people. The House will remember that the interests of this people were very eloquently advocated by an honoured Member, the late Mr. Forster. I certainly think it desirable that we should not grudge money to advance the interests of those who in the hands of past British Governments have been placed in positions of great difficulty.


I moved my Amendment to reduce this Vote in order to elicit an expression of policy from Her Majesty's Government, and up to three minutes ago, I must say, I thought that my efforts were all in vain. Within the past three minutes, however, I have been somewhat comforted on hearing that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to discourage by every means in their power the granting of these wild concessions. I was extremely glad to hear that, especially, as I have an extract here from a speech of the Under Secretary made in Liverpool the other day, in which the hon. Gentleman says that it is a great mistake to suppose that Her Majesty's Government are opposed to these concessions. On the contrary, he said so long as they were fairly entered into, Her Majesty's Government were anxious to encourage them. I regret that we have not had anything more definite from the hon. Member, but although I feel that most of us disapprove of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in Bechuanaland, and feel that it would have been much better if we had never gone there at all, after the statement of the hon. Member the Under Secretary I think I shall be justified in refraining from pressing the matter to a division.


I was glad to hear the last words of the Under Secretary for the Colonies, because I would call his attention to the fact that the form in which all these concessions are granted—which concessions he so eloquently denounces—was drawn up by Sir Sidney Sheppard. It is the official form, and if the House will turn to Sir Sidney's letter of September the 30th, 1887, they will find it there stated that the form had been drawn up to protect the interests of the Chiefs, and would be recommended for adoption in all cases. It has been the adoption of that form which has brought about all these concessions which we now deplore, and I trust that Sir Sidney Sheppard will be made aware of that circumstance. I have not yet heard a single word in favour of this £28,000 extra for the 200 police. The only thing the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary can tell us was that in 1883 there was trouble on the frontier. From 1881 to 1883 there was a war going on there, and during the time that it was going on the Government proclaimed a Protectorate and sent out an unarmed missionary, without even a single policeman, to declare it to be a British Protectorate. This missionary was unable to fulfil that object. But there is no war in Bechuanaland now, and it is as much a British possession as the Isle of Wight; and if anybody attacks it, the whole force of the Crown will be used to overthrow them. Information on these subjects has been kept back from us by the Government, and I protest against such a proceeding. I ask again why the Be ports which have been referred to have not been given? In conclusion, I must express a hope that the Government will be able to develop some kind of real policy in South Africa rather than that of drift, which pleases nobody.

*MR. A. M'ARTHUR (Leicester)

I must say I feel much disappointed at the answer of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies to the effect that the High Commissioner must continue to be the Governor of Cape Colony. No doubt, if any man can satisfactorily serve two masters that man is Sir Hercules Robinson; but I do not think that anyone can perform that Herculean task. So far as the ultimate settlement of the Bechuanaland Question is concerned, I trust that the territory will not be banded over to Cape Colony or to the Transvaal; and I hope the Government will re-consider the decision to which we are informed they have come.

Amendment withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Progress reported.

House resumed.

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