HC Deb 25 February 1890 vol 341 cc1232-49

13. £4,000, Supplementary, for Diplomatic Services.


I understand this Vote refers to the abortive mission of the Member for West Birmingham to America.


No; the Vote refers to the Maritime Conference held within the last few months at Washington.

(10.29.) SIR G. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

I should like to express the appreciation of my constituency, aud also that of the other great mercantile centres, of the action of the Government, not only in joining this Conference, but in so ably representing the interests of this country. I may add that I have found from various sources that the great success of that Conference has been in a great measure due to the skill, eloquence, and ability of the hon. Member for Cambridge shire, our chief delegate. It was stated before the Conference met that the delegates had no power to bind Her Majesty's Government, and that any proposals could only be dealt with ad referendum.I should like to know whether the Government, before they come to any definite decision on the subject, will give those interested in the great mercantile interests of this country any opportunity of expressing their opinions upon those decisions.

(10.31.) MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)

I should like to know whether, as the outcome of this Commission, any change is to be made in regard to the rule of the road at sea. I should like also to ask whether the Commission has under its consideration the existing load-line; whether there is any probability of the Conference bringing about an International load-line between this country and America, and other countries; and, also, whether it is the intention of the Government to place in the hands of Members a full Report of the Conference proceedings.

(10.32.) SIR G. CAMPBELL

The last thing I would wish to do would be to object to this expenditure. I believe it is expenditure incurred for an excellent purpose. But I hope that before the Vote is passed the President of the Board of Trade will be able to state what is the exact state of the negotiations.


I should like, in the first place, to corroborate all that has been said by my hon. Friend behind me in commendation of the admirable way in which this country has been served by its delegates at this Conference. Too much cannot be said in praise of the hon. Member for Cambridge shire, who has acted as First Commissioner, and who has been most efficiently assisted by the other delegates. It is especially agreeable to the Government and to the country to observe the attention which has been paid to this Conference by the representatives of all nations, and the recognition of the special knowledge and experience of England in these matters. In reply to the questions addressed to me, I have to say that the Protocols of the Conference have not yet arrived, and it is, therefore, premature to discuss the proceedings. It is certainly desirable that the proceedings should be made public as soon as possible in order that they may be carefully considered by the country before anything is done to carry out the recommendations of the Conference. As to the two questions of the hon. Member for Sunderland, I may say that very few alterations have been proposed in the rule of the road, and I believe it will be possible to adopt them. As to the International load-line, I myself suggested the insertion of that subject among the matters to be considered. It was considered, but I am sorry to say it was found impossible to arrive at any decision on the subject.

Vote agreed to

14. £10, Supplementary, for Consular Services.

15. £5,030, Supplementary, for Colonies, Grants in Aid.

16. Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £23,250, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1890, for certain Charges connected with Bechuanaland, the High Commissioner for South Africa, and other services in South Africa.

(10.37.) SIR G. CAMPBELL

I have given notice of a Motion to reduce this Vote by £20,000 in respect of the additional grant in aid to Bechuanaland. The Bechuanaland territory has been an extremely expensive territory to this country. We have already voted this year £70,000 as a grant in aid of it, and now we are asked to vote an additional £20,000. May I ask what is our position with regard to the new Chartered Company? We are told that the revenue of the territory does not come up to the expenditure, and that additional expenditure has been found necessary in consequence of the rise in price of wages, and the heavy cost of the police in the Protectorate. But I understand that the rights and privileges which the Government acquired in that part of Africa have by Charter devolved upon a company. In that case might not the company be called upon to bear the expenses? Why should we be called upon to pay an additional £20,000 for the maintenance of order in the Protectorate? I look with great suspicion and doubt upon the policy of devolving great territory upon Mercantile Companies got up in the City; for I am afraid that through the action of these companies we are led into annexation which is not desired by Parliament or the country. Perhaps the Under Secretary for the Colonies will tell us whether the new Chartered Company has assumed the function which has hitherto been assumed by Her Majesty's Treasury; and, if so, why we are called upon to bear this additional expense? In order that my question may be answered, I beg to move that the Vote be reduced by £20,000.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That Item D, £20,000, Bechuanaland, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Sir George Campbell.)

(10.40.) THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR THE COLONIES (Baron H. de WORMS,) Liverpool, East Toxteth

The hon. Member is in error in supposing that the increased expenditure for the police has any connection, however remote, with the Chartered Company.


What I suggested was that the Chartered Company was intended to relieve us of the expense.


I do not think it was ever intended that the Chartered Company should relieve us of the expense of the police which has nothing whatever to do with the company. There has been no increase in the number of the police, but the force has proved a great deal more expensive than we expected owing to the great distances to be travelled and to the increase of prices. The reason why it is necessary to have a police force there, I think, I explained to the hon. Member last Session. It is to prevent filibustering on the frontier of our Protectorate. The hon. Member seems to be under the impression that the Chartered Company are doing nothing to relieve us of the burden and expense consequent on the territory in which we have allowed them certain rights. That is not strictly correct. The company are spending out of their own pockets about £60,000 on a telegraph line north of Bechuanaland, and they are constructing at their own expense a railway from Kimberley. It is anticipated that an immediate advantage will accrue not only to British Bechuanaland, but to the advancement of industry in the Protectorate by this action on the part of the company.

(10.44.) SIR G. CAMPBELL

I understand that all the profits which may be derived from the territory have been made over to the Chartered Company. The Under Secretary tells us that the expense which is now proposed to be met by this £20,000 is increased expenditure on the police. What I want explained is, why should not the company bear the expense of the police in the territory, exactly as the East India Company bore the cost of the Army maintained in India.

(10.45.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I think there is involved in this-Vote a far more important question than my hon. Friend has raised. I know that Colonel Carrington, who is in charge of the police, has been in Cape Colony, and that recruiting is going on in the Transvaal and the gold fields for 1,000 men to go into this Protectorate. I naturally supposed that this £20,000 was for these new soldiers that Colonel Carrington has been sending there. However, we are told this grant in aid has nothing to do with that, but is necessitated by the extra cost of the police in the Protectorate. Let us understand the position of affairs. Last year we voted £48,000, and the last Report is that there is no filibustering and no crime, that every one at the gold fields is rich, and there is no trouble. During the present year we have increased the grant from £48,000 to £70,000, and now we are asked for £20,000 in addition. The whole of this sum is to be spent on the police. You have got a declining revenue—your revenue is going down every year because your land sales are going down. Why is that, and why is this colony one of the biggest disgraces we have ever had? In this grand colony of Bechuanaland there is no church and no clergyman. Your officers have been appealing to you to get them a church and a clergyman; and in this huge territory, twice as big as this country, there are only two medical men. The people appeal to you for more medical officers. They appeal to you for education. There is not one school for white children in the whole country. Last year I brought the matter before the House and pressed the Government to do something, and a month or six weeks ago the High Commissioner, Sir Hercules Robinson, in a letter to the Times,entreated of the Treasury to do something. The condition of the colony is a disgrace to the Treasury. Under your fostering care the population is lessening and the revenue is declining. I wish hon. Members who are fond of annexation would read the Report sent home by our officials out there, for it will put them to shame if anything can. You are there told that in one village with 6,000 inhabitants, people are dying at the rate of 10 per day. If we had handed the colony to the Cape they might have done something with it. The last Report showed that £105,000 had been spent. Of that £80,000 was spent on the police and £25,000 spent for all other purposes! Now, I wish to know why Colonel Carrington wants 1,000 more men. Why has he been down in Cape Colony picking up recruits and promising them large salaries? Do you want with these men to attack Lobengula, the King of the Matabeles? It seems to me that the present policy is to force the Matabeles into war. The Bechuanaland Protectorate embraces a portion of the Matabeleland territory. We claim that territory because some time ago King Lobengula made a Treaty of friendship with John Moffatt. What is there in that Treaty to give you any right to determine any question with reference to Matabeleland? No rights or privileges in that country have been conferred on the Chartered Company, and if they want possession of Lobengula's territory they will have to fight for it. There is no doubt that the 1,000 men Colonel Carrington is recruiting are the men intended to fight the Matabeles and get mineral rights for the company which Mr. Rhodes is running.


I do not see how this arises out of this Vote.


Certainly, because this money is for police, and these police are like the Irish Police—a military force.


The lion. Member is in error. The police who are being recruited tire the police of the company. There is no charge whatever on the Estimate for them.


Then why is Colonel Carrington, who is the Chief of the Police, recruiting these filibusters? We want definite information. If these men are not for the Bechuanaland Police, I want to know why the gentleman whom we pay very highly and who is at the head of the Bechuanaland Police should be the recruiting officer for the new company?

(10.55.) BARON H. DE WORMS

I am not prepared to admit that Colonel Carrington is the recruiting officer for the police; the only statement to that effect that I have heard is that of the hon. Member himself. What I stated was that the police, to whom the hon. Member refers as being recruited, are not for Her Majesty's Government, and have nothing to do with them. The hon. Member was in the House the other day when I entered fully into the merits of the Charter. I then explained that the British South Africa Company are raising 500 police for the purpose of maintaining law and order within the districts over which they have certain rights. [Dr. CLARK: What rights?] I do not think that the rights of the Chartered Company can possibly arise in the discussion of a Vote for the Bechuanaland Police, and I should be out of order if I discussed now the policy with respect to Matabeleland and the position of the Chartered Company. With respect to the raid which has been referred to, we have an assurance from the President of the Transvaal that there is no truth in the report that any is contemplated, and the hon. Member, from his official position in relation to the Transvaal Government, ought to be in possession of information to that effect. In reply to the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, I have to repeat that we have not increased the number of police, but the, increased expenditure is owing to the fact that provisions are much dearer owing to the drought. We have moved the police further north, and thus, being further from their base, the cost of maintenance has increased.

(11.0.) DR. CLARK

Is it not the case that these police are engaged in the territory over which the company exercise their rights and privileges? Is it not the case that they are stationed north of the Molopo river and outside the colony of Bechuanaland?

(11.1.) SIR G. CAMPELL

The statement of the Under Secretary for the Colonies makes explanation more necessary than over. We are constituting a police force, for which we are asked to pay, and at the same time this Chartered Company is also raising a police force for the same country, for which they are to pay. Where is the line drawn between the functions of these two bodies of police? It is the police of the Chartered Company which is responsible for keeping the peace, and, I suppose, for making war in that territory; but how can you draw a line between the functions of the Government police and the police of the Chartered Company?

(11.2.) BARON H. DE. WORMS

These police will not be in that district. The police of the company will be far beyond the frontier where our police are. The police of the company are for the purpose of maintaining law and order in the territory over which the company exercise certain control and have certain rights. Our police are stationed on the frontier of our Protectorate to prevent the operations of filibustering expeditions there.

(11.3.) SIR R. FOWLER (London)

I think the Under Secretary has made it very clear that these police are to be stationed within our own territory, and that what goes on beyond is matter for the Chartered Company, and not relevant to the present discussion. The hon. Gentleman opposite began by complaining that "we did not do enough for this settlement. There were, he said, no surgeons and no clergymen there. I do not, from what I know of the views of lion. Gentlemen opposite, suppose that the hon. Member means to suggest that the Government should send out clergymen, but I hope, at all events, he will support an increase of surgeons. I think we have just cause to look with satisfaction upon what has been done in Bechuanaland. I remember in former years how the late Mr. W. E. Forster earnestly advocated something of this kind. The policy the Government have pursued is in accordance with that of the statesmen I have mentioned, and has been productive, I think, of great good. I think the House should look in no niggardly spirit on any demands Her Majesty's Government may make towards carrying out their policy there, and in maintenance of our interests in South Africa.

(11.5.) DR. CLARK

What are really the facts of the case? They seem very difficult to get at. These police are to be found far beyond the Bechuanaland frontier. You can meet them in the country of Bamangwato, in Mashonaland, in the country of the Moslikatzes, in native territories far north of the Molopo River, between that river and the Zambesi, all coming within the control of this company. This amount of £20,000 is, in my opinion, for the services of these police who are in this territory now, without the colony without the protected territory. I am glad the Under Secretary is content with the proper proclamations, but if he had occupied his present position some six years ago, when Bechuanaland was in pretty much the same position it is in now, he would know that exactly similar proclamations were issued then as now, notwithstanding which people did cross the frontier, and there was fighting in consequence. Every one who roads the South African Papers knows that Colonel Carrington is getting together his new recruits, and that when he has completed his force he will go into Mataheleland. There he will probably meet with a hostile reception, and we shall be asked to send a military force to support him. We shall probably have a war before the year is out. Now, Mr. Bowler is an Englishman having a large interest in Mashonaland, and he claims to have received some concession from the Mashonas for giving assistance to them. These are the most industrious and peaceful among these South African peoples, while the Matabeles are the most warlike. Now that Lobengula cannot send his young men across the Molopo he will send them to make raids on the Mashonas. Mr. Bowler has organised a force for the protection of the Mashonas, and we shall have trouble, all President Kruger's proclamations notwithstanding. If I were in the Transvaal I would do as I thought proper so far as President Kruger is concerned. Paper proclamations have never stopped these inter-tribal wars in South Africa, which always end in the acquisition of territory by the white men who take part in the wars. By a treaty, which is merely a treaty of friendship, and more a personal treaty than anything else, between the father of the present Kino and the late Dr. Moffatt, the father of John Moffatt, who was on terms of intimate friendship with the King, giving his name to the King's son—by this treaty and on this shadowy foundation you put forward claims to territory in Matabeleland and Mashonaland. Lobengula is sure to resist. War will arise in which freebooters will take part on one side legalised by us, or the other side not legalised by the Transvaal. Who is to step in and take command? In Mashonaland and Matabeleland we shall have a repetition of those terrible scones of bloodshed that disgraced South African Administration six or seven years ago. Instead of this Chartered Company solving the problem in South Africa, it makes the problem more difficult, and you are legalising filibustering-some 500 miles from where it went on six or seven years ago.

(11.10.) BARON H. DE WORMS

Perhaps I might shorten the discussion by dispelling some errors into which the hon. Gentleman seems to have fallen. He seems to think that the police force is intended to protect the new territory of the company, but, as a matter of fact, the police force was augmented last year or the year before, before the Chartered Company was thought of. The force is not intended to protect the interests of the company. The hon. Gentleman has advocated the claims of Mr. Bowler, but it is alleged that this raid into Mashonaland has been instigated by Mr. Bowler, who thinks he has a concession from the Mashonas and wishes to enforce it. It has nothing whatever to do with the Chartered Company nor with Her Majesty's Government. We have received a telegram from President Kruger disclaiming any participation in Mr. Bowler's proceedings. I do not think, Sir, this Committee should be made the medium of pushing the interest of individuals or companies. I say, again, this raid into Mashonaland has nothing to do with the action of the Transvaal Republic.

(11.12.) COMMANDED BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)

I should like to remind the Committee that we, having established a Protectorate, are bound to take measures to protect our interests and prevent filibustering expeditions being pushed forward. I think the hon. Member for Caithness always takes a pessimistic view of affairs, and that he has exaggerated the evils that do exist.

Te fact of Her Majesty's Government not having taken sufficient steps to provide schools and other advantages for the settlers is no argument for making matters worse by not having' a sufficient number of police. But in regard to the increase in expenditure, I may, perhaps, remind the lion. Member for Kirkcaldy that it would be hardly fair to this company—the policy of which I personally do not approve, I dislike these big companies—it would not be fair to place the original expenditure for police on the shoulders of the company in the very genesis of its existence. These are old troubles existing on our borders. It is true the company has been started to take up a position outside our protectorate, but it would be unfair to put upon the company straight away the burden of those troubles. What may be the case in the future when the company has more power is another matter. A distinction must be drawn between the original police to protect our own borders, and the police the company have a right to raise for the territory within which they have some sort of rule. As I understand, that is what the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy wished to get from the Under Secretary when he asked why the company did not take over the police duties. The answer is it would be unfair to require the company to do so now, though the company may do so in the future.

(11.15.) SIR G. CAMPBELL

I acknowledge the hon. and gallant Member has put the case much more clearly than the Under Secretary did. It is acknowledged that the police are employed in the territory this company now occupies. I cannot help thinking the lion. Baronet the Member for the City confused the House by his reference to British territory, not drawing a distinction between British Bechuanaland and the protected territory beyond. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman has explained, that is the scene of the operations of the new company, which I do not like, and as to which it is argued that it would be hard to put the burden of the police on the company in the earliest days of their occupation, though, in time, the company might be required to undertake it. I shall be glad if the Government accept this explanation, and say this is only a temporary charge. We pay £90,000 a year for Bechuanalund; that is not the mere bagatelle the lion. Baronet (Sir R. Fowler) seems to think it is. Why, a great deal is thought of an expenditure of £10,000 for the relief of crofters, in Scotland, and we are told the country cannot afford this or that, and yet here is £90,000 a year spent for the administration of this miserable territory in South Africa, and to maintain order among a number of wretched African tribes. I admit the hon. and gallant Gentleman's explanation has put a better face on the matter, but I must ask the Committee to disallow this £20,000.

(11.18.) SIR G. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

There is one misconception hon. Members are under. It is a question of time, not of place, that is under discussion. The protectorate had to be arranged, and this £20,000 is required for preserving order in this territory, which is now under the control of the Imperial Government, but which is to pass under the control of the Chartered Company.


Has it not passed?


I do not know the present position. It is to pass. The great expenditure from year to year On Bechuanaland is for the extension of the Protectorate, not for the Colony, and when this Protectorate passes under the control of the Chartered Company these extra charges, especially that for police, will cease to appear on the Estimates, and will fall upon the Chartered Company. I am convinced that this company will respect all the rights and interests of the natives quite as much as the Imperial Government. When the hon. Member for Caithness speaks of Colonel Carrington recruiting soldiers for filibustering expeditions into the country of the Matabeles, I may point out that recruiting that is carried on is not for filibustering expeditions nor is it by Colonel Carrington, but by agents of the great Chartered Company, with a view of having a supply of reserve men should any emergency occur. We know that filibusters do exist in Mashonaland, Matabeleland, and all the territory along the Zambesi, and that in protecting its own interests, and that of the natives, the Company may have to control these filibusters by force.


We are gradually getting information, but every hon. Member on the other side gives another reason, and, as he thinks, a better reason, for the Vote than that offered by the Under Secretary. I can only say that if these reasons are correct, then the right hon. Gentleman at the commencement of this debate must have been signally ignorant of matters connected with Bechuanaland and this great Chartered Company. We are asked to vote an extra £20,000 for police for what is called Bechuanaland, and at the head of the police is a certain Colonel Carrington. It is admitted—it is openly stated in all the Cape papers—that Colonel Carrington is recruiting police for this Chartered Company. The hon. Gentleman just now told us the recruiting is not carried on directly by Colonel Carrington, but is in some sort of way aided by Colonel Carrington, which is nearly the same thing. Now, the Under Secretary has protested against my hon. Friend advocating, as he said, the claims of an individual, and yet the hon. Member (Sir G. Baden-Powell) finished his speech by a puff, which I might almost call indecent, of this Chartered Company. Now, what is this Chartered Company? You will be surprised to hear, Mr. Courtney, that it consists of seven individuals, two of them the noble Dukes of Fife and Abercorn—


This is travelling outside the limits of the discussion.


Then, Mr. Courtney, I will say that the hon. Member for Holderness Division said we ought to incur a certain burden for this Chartered Company because this company would do so much good afterwards. Why, Sir, this Chartered Company subscribed a million sterling, and could at this moment raise four millions per annum.


Order, order!


I will not go into that. At any rate, we may clearly understand, not from the Under Secretary, whom I do not blame personally, because Under Secretaries in his position usually know less about the Colonies than anybody else, but from those hon. Members whose knowledge of what they talk about we admit, that this sum of £20,000 is an expenditure being incurred for this Chartered Company, that it is expenditure which but for this company would not have been incurred, and that this very company could raise four millions sterling. I hope my lion. Friend will persevere with his Motion and divide against the Vote.

(11.23.) DR. CLARK

We are getting nearer the facts. At first we were told there were no police in this territory, but now we are informed that for a certain time the police are there, and that the expense will, after a time, fall upon the company. Then we have been told—and that I knew long ago—that reserves are being massed to meet certain eventualities. Now, I want to know, will the Government protect the Mashonas from the incursions of the Matabeles, and if war arises between the Matabeles and filibusters which will you support? Although the names of the Duke of Fife and the Duke of Abercorn are prominently put forward, the real meaning is that Mr. Rhodes wishes to enforce the concession he claims from the Matabeles. I remember that the lion. Member for Lichfield showed that he holds that concession, and 20 years ago worked for gold under it. Lobengula has since repudiated the concession claimed by Mr. Rhodes.


I would ask you, Sir, if this is really relevant to the Vote?


The Under Secretary stated several times that the police were required to go outside the territory.


Not into Lobengula's territory.


Lobengula claims it as his country, and sends his warriors to make raids there. The condition of things is that the whole country is in a state of fermentation, and I say that the company's filibusters try to force their way, bloodshed will result, and I ask are you going to protect the Matabele King in the war that may arise? The right hon. Gentleman accuses me of advocating the claims of Mr. Bowler, but I do nothing of the kind. I neither want to grind Mr. Bowler's axe or Mr. Rhodes' axe. Of the two, perhaps, I should prefer to grind Mr. Rhodes' axe.


I have no information dealing with the matter the lion. Member raises, and I cannot say what the action of Her Majesty's Government would be under hypothetical circumstances, and which have no foundation except in the fertile imagination of the hon. Member.

(11.25.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)

The circumstances now remind me strongly of the condition of things some 14 or 15 years ago, when the Government refused to listen to us on South African affairs, and the House was impatient of discussion. But following this, and in a great measure because of the impatience of the House and the refusal of the Government, came the Boer War and the Zulu War, in the one of which we suffered considerable loss of prestige, and in the other heavy loss of life. I ask the Government not to attempt to cut short this debate, but to allow it to be adjourned, as the subject is one of great consequence. The Duke of Wellington once told us to beware of little wars, and I venture to think that we are laying the foundation for a very expensive little war in South Africa. We ought, therefore, to have more time to discuss the matter.

(11.32.) DR. CLARK

I will now ask the First Lord of the Treasury, whom I see in his place, if we are going to make a treaty of friendship with the Matabelele King? The Chartered Company are now enlisting recruits; are we going to protect Matabelele against these filibusters? I remember that when it was once suggested to Lobengula that if he loved his country he would kill all the white men, he made the diplomatic reply— If you will kill all the white men at the Diamond Fields and Gape Town, and then come to me, I will hand all the white men in my territory over to you to be killed. I can assure you recent occurrences have excited strong feeling in Swaziland. Now, I want to know, will the Government support the Matabelele King or will they legalise the acts of the filibusters who intend to attack him?

(11.35.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 79; Noes 143.—(Div. List, No. 14.)

Original Question again proposed.


There is another item on which I should like some information, and that is, as to the sum of £2,700 for defraying certain expenses in connection with Swaziland? I hope the Government will tell us something about the matter.


The hon. Gentleman must be aware I stated the other evening that it is utterly impossible to give the House any infor- mation upon this subject. Sir Francis De Winton's Report has not yet been considered by the Government, and therefore I cannot go into details.


Will the House be given an opportunity of discussing the Report, supposing this estimate is passed?


I believe that the hon. Member for Liverpool has secured an early Tuesday in March for the discussion of the subject of Swaziland. That occasion will supply the opportunity which the hon. Member desires.


Will the Government undertake to lay Sir F. De Winton's Report on the Table before the date fixed for the discussion of the Motion of the hon. Member for Liverpool? The House, I hold, is entitled to see the Report before that debate, and I also think the Colonial Office should not come to a decision on the question until we have had an opportunity of discussing it.


As I have said before, it is obviously impossible for the Government to submit the decision of this question to the House. The Papers will be presented by the Government as soon as possible after the decision has boon arrived at.


When may we expect to have the Report in our hands?


The Government regard the subject as one of considerable importance. As soon as it becomes possible for the Government to take the House into their confidence they will certainly do so. The Report has not yet reached the Government. I myself have not seen it. Therefore it is impossible to give any precise promise as to the date on which information will be given, but it will undoubtedly be given as soon as possible.

SIR W. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N. W.)

The country feels exceedingly strong on this question of Swaziland, and upon the way in which it may be decided. I hope the Government will take no steps in the direction of giving up Swaziland, but if they contemplate such steps they ought certainly to give the country some opportunity of expressing its views.


I should be very glad to know that we may with honour and safety be relieved of the great difficulties attending the retention of Swaziland. Have I rightly understood the Under Secretary for the Colonies to say that the House will not be given an opportunity of discussing the matter before it is settled? My information differs somewhat from that of the hon. and gallant Member opposite, and as we have given up the territory surrounding Swaziland, I think we might give up the country also.


This is pre-eminently one of those questions with regard to which the Government must act on their own responsibility. If they act wrongly it is for the House to censure them. It is obviously impossible for us to submit our policy on a matter of this kind to the House of Commons. The Government are alone responsible for the conduct of such affairs, and the House cannot take matters of this kind into its own hands.

(11.49.) MR. BRYCE

I think the right lion. Gentleman the leader of the House has not quite appreciated the point of my hon. Friend's question The hon. Member for Liverpool has given a notice of Motion on the subject, and at present the Under Secretary for the Colonies refuses to express any opinion, on the ground that the Report of Sir Francis de Winton has not been considered. The right hon. Gentleman tells us the Government alone must bear the responsibility. That we admit. But the fact remains that many Members opposite, like those on my own side of the House, wish to have the opportunity of discussing this subject. We do not ask the Government to follow the opinion which the House may express. I hope the Government will not endeavour to prevent the House from having all the information before it, so as to enable it to make up its mind. Surely an expression of the views of the House ought to be welcomed by the Government.

(11.51.) MR. W. H. SMITH

The hon. Gentleman has taken an erroneous' view of what I said. As soon as the Government have considered the Papers, they will, at the earliest possible moment give full information to the House, which will have an opportunity to express an opinion on the course taken by the Government. But the Government must come to their decision first.

(11.52.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, E.)

Will the Government agree not to come to a final decision about Swaziland until the lion. Member for Liverpool has brought forward his Motion? I can give a precedent for this. In the year 1884, when negotiations were going on between this country and Portugal with regard to the Congo, a Motion was brought forward in the House; it was discussed before the negotiations were completed, and the result of the discussion was a promise by the then First Lord of the Treasury that the Treaty should not be ratified without the consent of the House of Commons.

(11.53.) MR. W. H. SMITH

I wish to treat the House with all possible respect. Hon. Members will see that we are obliged to come to a decision before Papers are presented. If afterwards the House takes a different view from that at which the Government arrive, it will be in the power of the House to express an opinion adverse to the decision of the Government.

(11.54.) Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported.

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