HC Deb 07 August 1890 vol 348 cc93-5
MR. SAMUEL SMITH (Flintshire)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Government has entered into negotiations with France respecting Madagascar; and, if so, whether they will give the House an opportunity of pronouncing a judgment before concluding a Treaty on the subject?


The House is aware that France has for some years desired to procure the recognition of her Treaty with Madagascar, which would confer upon her the Protectorate of that island. It would not be possible to submit the question of such recognition by Her Majesty's Government to Parliament, but in no case would it be entertained by Her Majesty's Government without full security for the rights of Her Majesty's subjects and religious liberty for all.

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

There is a statement in the daily papers this morning as to an Agreement which is said to have been arrived at between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of France with regard to Madagascar, and the area of influence in what is called North Central Africa. Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any information on the subject, or say what truth there is in the statement in the papers?


Her Majesty's Government have concluded an agreement with the French Government on African affairs, and that agreement will be communicated to Parliament on Monday.


Henceforth are all negotiations with the Hovas to go through France, or without an intermediary?


The hon. and gallant Member for South West Lancashire (Colonel Sandys) has a question on the Paper on that subject.

COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, S.W., Bootle)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is the case that the "Hovas," who are the dominant race in Madagascar, have hitherto enjoyed, through their Sovereign and Government, the privilege of direct negotiation with the British Government; whether it is now the intention of Her Majesty's Government to yield up this privilege of the Hova people, and to cede this political recognition of British interests in Madagascar to France in return for their conceding certain Treaty rights in the Island of Zanzibar to us; and whether it is the intention of the Foreign Office that for the future the negotiations between Her Majesty's Government and the Hova Government, that is to say, between England and Madagascar, shall be conducted through the medium only of French officials?


The foreign relations of the Hova Government have been governed since 1885 by their Treaty with France, which was presented to Parliament in March, 1886. That agreement provided that France should represent Madagascar in all her foreign relations. I have stated that the terms of the agreement with France will be communicated to Parliament on Monday, and I cannot enter into any detailed statement now.


As this revelation has been made, it will be extremely inconvenient to discuss the Foreign Office Vote in the absence of this agreement.


I believe that the Foreign Office Vote is to be brought on to-morrow upon the earnest representations of the hon. Member himself.