HC Deb 28 July 1890 vol 347 cc1077-108

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1.

(4.45.) MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

I desire to move an Amendment to provide that the proposed cession of Heligoland shall be subject to the consent of a majority of the male inhabitants of the island, such consent to be obtained in the manner hereinafter described. As long as I have the honour of a seat in this House I shall do my best to protect the interests of the people. The cession of this island may be a small thing; of course, we know only 2,000 souls live on it; but, so far as we know, the cession has been rashly agreed to, and in no way— either directly or indirectly—has the consent of the inhabitants been asked. The island has been in our possession 83 years; three generations of the inhabitants have been loyal to us, and yet this cession was made in a rash and hasty manner, without their feelings being consulted. So recently as the 2nd June a Cabinet Minister pronounced against the cession, yet on the 1st July we have the Agreement produced. I look on this as a matter of vital importance, and I warn the Government that one result will be to excite a dangerous feeling in the colonies if you once let it be supposed that they are held simply for the benefit of a class or a Minister in England. We are in the position of Trustees to these islanders, and we have no right to do anything which is not for their benefit. I think there were ample means of obtaining a fair index of the opinions of the people, as they have for four or five years had a Constitutional Government. On the occasion of the cession of the Ionian Islands the opinions of the people were consulted. I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 14, before the first word "the," to insert the words "subject to the consent of the majority of the male inhabitants of Heligoland as hereinafter provided."—(Mr. Mac Neill.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


It has been admitted from the first that the people of Heligoland were not formally consulted. It would be extremely difficult, if not practically impossible, to submit for the decision of the inhabitants a great Agreement with the German Empire, of which the cession of Heligoland is an essential part, and the Government cannot assent to the Amendment. The Constitutional Government to which the hon. Member has referred consisted of a Governor, assisted by a Council of paid officials.


Yes, I know that a few years since the island was made a Crown Colony.


Well, 'we could not set up a new constitution ad hoc. The hon. Member also said something in the nature of a general proposition as to the action of the Government towards the colonies being entirely dependent on the necessities of the moment. But I laid down no such general rule. As cases arise they must be judged upon their merits. We cannot accept this Amendment, because it is utterly impossible for Her Majesty's Government to consent to any modification of the terms of the Bill, which is destined, I hope, to be productive of great good to the British Empire.

*(4.56.) MR. CHANNING (Northampton)

I think my hon. Friend was amply justified in moving the Amendment, because the Debate on the Second Reading hardly touched the great constitutional question whether the inhabitants of any portion of the Empire can or ought to be handed over to another Power without some consultation of their wishes. It is quite absurd of the right hon. Gentleman to contend that this proposal would mean referring the whole Agreement to the inhabitants of Heligoland. It does not follow that, as a result of the consultation, the views of the majority should determine the policy of the Empire, but that they should be heard before their destiny is decided. The case of the Ionian Islands has been referred to as constituting a precedent. That was merely the cession of a Protectorate, and not a cession of territory. But that only makes the argument stronger. What was Lord Palmerston's answer when questioned on the course to be taken as to the Ionian Islands? He said that the first thing to do was to ascertain the wishes of the inhabitants, and the next thing was to obtain the consent of the other parties to the Treaty. When it was asked how the wishes of the people were to be ascertained, Mr. Chichester Fortescue said the obvious course was to have a new Parliament elected in the Ionian Islands and to refer the question to that Parliament by proclamation. In regard to the Island of Heligoland, we have seen exactly the opposite policy adopted. Obviously, the Prime Minister considers these people of no consequence whatever, except as mere objects of barter, in. order to purchase certain privileges in Africa. This question is mixed up with other questions that I may not, perhaps, be free to discuss on this Vote, but I do urge on the House the necessity of recognising this great and noble tradition of Great Britain in dealing with populations under our rule. I look on this Bill as one of the cardinal errors of Her Majesty's Government in their foreign policy, and I regard it in that light on wider Imperial grounds besides this simple ground to which my hon. Friend has referred. But this ground touches the traditions and constitutional order of proceeding of Great Britain in parting with subjects under her rule in a way so important, and raises so serious an issue that I sincerely hope the hon. Member will proceed to a Division.

(5.4.) MR. W. A. McARTHUR (Cornwall, Mid, St. Austell)

I do not know whether it is of any use to further protest against this arrangement. We, at any rate, have cleared our consciences of what we consider the shame of this barter of British subjects, for all we know, against their will. But the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs opens up a vista of still further cases of this kind, for he has told us that each case as it arises will be treated on its merits. I must say our opposition would be very different—would, in fact, be one of strenuous resistance and obstruction—if we thought the case of the cession of Heligoland was to be made a precedent; and if we thought that this Government had any idea of making other changes of this kind in order to conciliate other powers than Germany,. I can understand that the case of Heligoland is a case quite by itself—that it is unique—but if there was any idea of proceeding on this policy for the sake of making things pleasant for our diplomacy in Europe, I confess our feelings as to this Bill would be completely changed. I would ask an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman of that ominous sentence to which I have referred, namely, that all cases as they arise will be treated on their merits.

(5.7.) MR. ATKINSON (Boston)

I see no shame whatever in what has-been proposed in connection with these people, but, on the contrary, I think it is a proposition which recommends itself to all who understand it. I may say that if I had been in the House the other night I should have voted for the proposal of the hon. Member for the St. Austell Division, not on the ground he put forward, but on the ground that I always expected that partition of the British Empire if it came at all would come from the hon. Member and his Party. I intended to vote against the present Government doing it, as I know very well that if the hon. Member and his Party came into power they might propose to give up Gibraltar, Malta, and a few other inconsiderable portions of the Empire. That would be "shameful." I see no shame in giving up Heligoland. I have been 30 or 40 years connected with shipping in Hull, which port has done the greatest business with the Elbe——


The question before the Committee is not the cession of Heligoland, but as to requiring the consent of the inhabitants.


I went into this simply because the hon. Member opposite was allowed to do so. I would call attention to paragraph No. 4 of the Treaty.


There is an Amendment before the House, and that must be first disposed of.


Very well, Sir. Then I will sit still until the proper time arrives.

(5.9.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

I may say I voted for the Bill, but no one has taken more strongly than I have the view that populations ought not to be voted over to alien powers like so many sheep. The present is a peculiar case, however. Provision is made for the inhabitants of the island, and we have reason to believe that opinion is not unanimous, or, at least, that it is divided, on the subject, and that there is no general resistance to the proposal on the part of the inhabitants. I do not agree that a plébiscite should be taken, and that the majority should decide; neither do I regard the Agreement as handing over the island to an alien power. Formerly the island belonged to Schleswig, and it will again form part of Sohleswig. It was only occupied by this country for military purposes, and to take a plébiscite here would hamper the Government in its dealings with other places only occupied for military purposes. Gibraltar is nothing more than a nest of smugglers, who make a living by getting contraband goods into Spain. I do not think we should take a plébiscite in a place like that. An enterprising newspaper, which I do not admire, despatched a Commissioneress to Heligoland to obtain the views of the inhabitants. From the boatmen, who form the majority of the inhabitants, the Commissioneress learnt that they are opposed to the transfer of the island to Germany, because they fear Germany will make a steamboat pier and a way to the bathing island, which will deprive them of the charge of 1s. per head they make for every passenger landed in the island. I must say that a consideration of this kind does not form a sufficient reason why England should retain possession of an island which it is inconvenient she should keep.

*(5.14.) MR. CHANNING

AS the hon. Member has not proposed a practical method of obtaining the opinion of the people of Heligoland, I would suggest that the Government might very well have sent the amiable and accomplished Under Secretary for the Colonies or some other Delegate acquainted with the language to visit Heligoland, in order to ascertain the feelings of the inhabitants. His recent expression of opinion would have given them confidence in stating their views. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) the other night reminded us that during the Franco-German War the Heligolanders declared that they did not wish to do an ill turn to Germany. That was perfectly natural,seeing that the islanders depended then just as they do now on German visitors for their livelihood. However, in reply to the argument of the senior Member for Northampton, I would point to a letter written to the Times in 1876 by a Prussian, who stated that he had been some years in Heligoland, and that, while sympathising with the desire of his countrymen to possess the island, there was not the remotest desire on the part of the islanders to leave English for German rule, and that this absence of sympathy with Germany was proved in the Wars of 1866 and 1871. It is obvious, therefore, that the Heligolanders dislike the transfer. Only a year or two ago they got the Governor to pass a law preventing the Germans from acquiring the land in Heligoland. Their whole wish is to continue free.

*(5.18.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)

Although there may be only 2,000 inhabitants in Heligoland, they are human beings, and human beings, whatever their numbers, have individual rights. You may do as much wrong by ignoring the rights of a dozen people as you could by ignoring the rights of a thousand. I do not think numbers should form an element of consideration. We have heard how some of our leading statesmen have held that the transfer of British subjects to an alien Power should not take place without the consent of the people affected, and I would remind the Committee that we have even the example of foreign countries to guide us in this matter. In the case of the transfer of Savoy to France, a plébiscite of the inhabitants was taken, and I very much regret that in the present case Her Majesty's Government have acted contrary to that principle. I do not wish to prolong the discussion, but having voted for the cession of Heligoland on a former occasion, I wish to explain how it is that I shall vote for this Amendment now.

(5.20.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

If my hon. Friend goes to a Division in this matter I shall certainly follow him into the Lobby. If the Government wish to be at all fair I think they have an opportunity open to them in connection with this Amendment. It would certainly go far to satisfy my mind if the hon. Gentleman could satisfactorily answer this question: Is it a fact that one of the reasons why Heligoland is to be given up is that, in the event of a war with Germany, Great Britain would not be able to protect the island? If that is the case it would be better to give Heligoland up, and so perhaps save the people from the horrors of war. It seems to me to be a bad mess altogether. It is a case of swop. The Heligolanders have certainly got the worst of it, and some concession ought to be made to their feelings.

(5.23.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I think it very doubtful whether we ought to make this agreement dependent upon the assent of the Heligolanders. Heligoland did certainly form part of Germany. [Cries of "Denmark."] Hon. Gentlemen do not seem to remember that there was a union between Holstein, Schleswig, and Denmark. Schleswig, with the full assent of its people, is now a portion of Germany. I really do not see why, in the case of a great Treaty like this, the people should be consulted, or why they should wish to remain British when they are only British by conquest. If they are not a very contemptible set of people, they will certainly wish again to become Ger- mans. We have been told that Mr. This and Mr. That have gone over to Heligoland and whispered to some of the people, and have learnt that they are ready to die rather than desert the British flag. I attach no importance to that sort of thing. If a man's patriotism is of such a character that he dare not come forward and state his views, because he is afraid if he does so he will be unable to let his lodgings to Germans, I do not think we need pay much attention to what he says. I believe these people will be much happier as Germans than as Englishmen. The newspapers tell us that land in Heligoland is going up considerably in price in consequence of this agreement. I have no doubt the people will be able to let their lodgings, or sell their land.

An hon. MEMBER

And go away.


No; they need not go away. They will take in lodgers. They will stay and prey upon those lodgers. Germany could in a moment oblige these people to declare that they are in favour of belonging to Germany by simply boycotting the island, and declaring they are not going to it in summer. The island absolutely depends on summer visitors there, the fishing amounting really to nothing. These people understand how their bread is buttered. They were afraid at first they would have to pay higher taxes, or be subject to conscription. Directly it became clear to them that neither of these things would happen, as far as I can gather from the public press, and the statements of the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, they became anxious to join the German Fatherland. In point of fact, during the Debate on the Second Reading, I cited a very interesting document signed by these British patriots in 1871, in which they declared they would not supply pilots to the French fleet, and said their sympathies were German.

(5.28.) SIR W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)

The answer to my hon. Friend is this. If these people are so full of sympathy for Germany, why not let them say so?


I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reply to the question I put to him.

* THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster

Surely the hon. Gentleman cannot suppose that there is any intention on the part of Her Majesty's Government to cede any other British possessions?

(5.29.) MR. W. A. M'ARTHUR

I supposed it possible, because to-night for the first time it has been laid down as a principle that cessions of territory are to be made. We have previously been told that the cession of Heligoland was an exceptional thing.


I was asked whether the principle was to be of universal application, and I said no one ever heard of a British Colony wishing to be separated, but that every case must be dealt with on its merits.


Most distinctly these people wished to remain with us, and a more shameful betrayal of the rights of people who have been associated with the British Empire for years can scarcely be recorded. It is not the less a shameful instance because a small one.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I do not support this proposition, because I do not see that we should care any more for the interests of the Heligolanders than we do for the interests of the people of Bechuanaland, and of other South African territory which you are now handing over to Germany.

(5.32.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 56; Noes 172.—(Div. List, No. 205.)

(5.45.) MR. ATKINSON

I have an Amendment to propose, which may perhaps occupy only a few minutes. When we conquered Heligoland we made an arrangement that the privileges of the inhabitants should be continued, and one of those privileges was that they should not be called upon to serve in the King's Ships. The clause now before us does not give quite as good terms to them, now that they are transferred to another Protectorate, without any conquering having taken place. The clause is— All persons natives of the territory thus ceded, and their children born before the date of the signature of the present Agreement, are free from the obligation of service in the Military and Naval forces of Germany. I wish to add— Service in the Naval forces of Germany shall never become obligatory on persons natives of the territories thus ceded, or their descendants. My argument is that you should give them as good terms as they had from us when we conquered the territory. I am perfectly certain, from what I know, that the Emperor of Germany is very much delighted with his bargain. I know that he considers that he has proved to the world that he has done as clever a thing without Bismarck as could have been done if we still had Bismarck. I know that from the attitude he has taken, and from the meteor-like shower of stars and decorations that has taken place since he made this bargain. I believe it is our duty to insist upon the terms we propose, because up to the present time we have had to take care of the interests of the natives of Heligoland.


I have to point out that this cannot be moved as an Amendment to the Agreement entered into, and which is contained in the Schedule. It may, however, be moved as a proviso to this clause.


I do not object so long as it is moved.


Order, order!

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 14, after the word "Germany," to add the words— Service in the Naval forces of Germany shall never become obligatory on persons natives of the territories thus ceded, or their descendants."—(Mr. Atkinson.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

*(5.50.) MR. W. H. SMITH

I fully appreciate the feeling of my hon. Friend which has induced him to make this proposal, but I must remind him that Her Majesty has entered into an Agreement with the Emperor of Germany, and that it is not possible for us now to insert these conditions. We will do what we can to represent to the Emperor of Germany the desirableness of exempting these persons from Naval Service. I have no doubt that the consideration which has been promised for the native laws and customs will have the effect which the hon. Member desires. My hon. Friend will see that one of the conditions is that native laws and customs now existing will, as far as possible, remain undisturbed. And I should certainly imagine that these laws and customs would prevent the Heligolanders for Naval Service under the German Crown. One point my hon. Friend has failed to observe, that every person at present in Heligoland may opt for British nationality, and if he exercise that option he and his children and his grandchildren will be exempt from Naval or Military Service under the Crown. The greatest possible care has been taken to preserve to every person now living in the island the rights which they at present enjoy under the British Crown. I trust, therefore, my hon. Friend will accept the assurance that we will do everything in our power to secure the continuance of those privileges. The inhabitants of Heligoland should take what we have done as some evidence of our concern and desire to secure these privileges for the inhabitants. I hope my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment to a Division.


I wish to point out that what has been done is subject to the assent of Parliament. I, as one Member of Parliament, should not give my assent were I not certain that the Government will do their utmost in the matter.

(5.54.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I confess I cannot understand how the right hon. Gentleman can think that a provision with regard to usages and customs is capable of preventing the imposition of the obligation to Military Service. The provision seems to me clearly intended to apply to usages and customs in the nature of local customary law, and not to the Military and Naval Service to which other German subjects are liable. When the right hon. Gentleman speaks of the rights of a person to opt, a term which I confess I regret to see used, as it is not English, does he mean that the children of that person, born after the signature of the Agreement, will remain of British nationality, their father having elected to remain a British subject? If we are assured that this is so—and no doubt such would be the rule under English law—it will, I think, make a good deal of difference in the opinion of the Committee, and we shall feel less anxiety with regard to Heligoland than we do now.


There is no doubt at all about the matter. I am perfectly correct in the statement I made in answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. We now know by the opinion of German prints that a child born in the German Empire of alien parents is not a German subject, nor, again, his children, though the rights of German nationality may afterwards be acquired. Therefore, the children and grandchildren of those who opt remain British subjects.

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

I think this Amendment is a move in the right direction; but it should apply both to Military and Naval Service. If the Amendment of the hon. Member were not accepted, I should move that the children of the Heligolanders for 20 years should not be liable to Military Service. I am putting the limit at 20 years. I do not go so far as the hon. Member for Boston. I would like to point out that the whole contingent from Heligoland for the German Army would, at the rate of one out of every 200 of the population, be only 10 men a year. That is the whole number the German Emperor would lose, if this Amendment were carried, and then the in habitants of dependencies of the British Crown would know in future that they were not liable to be handed over to compulsory Military Service, which is not in accordance with the spirit of the British nationality, excepting in the very last

(5.57.) MR. ATKINSON

My reply is simply this. I go by the original Agreement in which there is no mention of the Military Service, and, therefore, I could not accept the suggested Amendment to my Amendment.


The Amendment is totally unnecessary. The third clause really gives the Heligolanders everything they could possibly ask, and had they remained Schleswigers they would have been required to give both Military and Naval Service. If these people go back to the Fatherland, they ought to bear the burdens which are imposed on all the other subjects of the German Empire. I shall vote in this case, also, with the Government, if they determine to keep the Agreement as it stands.

*(5.58.) MR. CHANNING

My hon. Friend is quite mistaken as to the position of the Heligolanders. It is perfectly clear that they had a traditional privilege, and that privilege was laid before the English Commanders in 1807, when the island was taken. The evidence in favour of that privilege was so strong, that in the Articles of Capitulation it was agreed that the privilege should be maintained in perpetuity to the population. It is obviously useless to labour the point. I think the matter has been managed in the pettiest and most pusillanimous way by Her Majesty's Government. It would have been far better had they dealt with the matter boldly. We have given Germany an enormous boon in handing over to her this island of immense strategic value, and we might at least have asked that those traditional privileges should be maintained. Are any effective means whatever being taken to make known to this population, which is evidently somewhat behind the times—I am told that there is no current newspaper circulated in the island—as by notices the steps which they ought to take in order to retain British nationality?


I am in a position to say that the fullest information has been given to the people of Heligoland of the conditions attached to the Agreement in their favour. I have had separate and independent testimony that, generally speaking, the Heligolanders have expressed themselves thoroughly satisfied; and when there was reason to believe that they were dissatisfied before they were totally unaware of the liberties secured to them.


Satisfied! They had only Hobson's choice. In reference to the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Boston, I say that the people of Heligoland are entitled to total exemption from Naval Service. By the 10th Article of the Treaty under which Heligoland was capitulated, they had full privilege of exemption; indeed, they enjoyed at that time higher privileges than Englishmen, who were subject to the press gang system. The Heligolanders have behaved well towards us during the interval, and their vested interests and rights should be now guarded to them under this Agreement, unless we are entirely under the thumb of the Germans—perhaps we are.

(6.2.) MR. BRYCE

I hope the Committee will not divide on this Amend- ment. We have made our protest, and it seems unnecessary to divide.


My Amendment was moved with the object of carrying out the Agreement, but having regard to the assurance of the First Lord of the Treasury that the Government will do all they can, I beg to withdraw that Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I wish now to move my Amendment— Provided Clause 3 be so amended as to include exemption from Naval and Military Service children born of native Heligolanders, within 20 years after the cession of the island. Though a more moderate Amendment, it is more substantial than that of the hon. Member for Boston, because the natives would now be more liable to Military than Naval Service. I do not say that we are bound to keep the Heligolanders for ever from the German Empire, but I think the limit of 20 years, which I propose, is a reasonable time. When the German Emperor sees that such a mild Amendment has passed through the House of Commons, and when he remembers that he only loses about 10 men a year, I have no doubt he will accept the proposition.

Amendment proposed, In page 1, line 15, after the word "Act,"' to insert the words "Provided that clause three of article twelve set forth in the Schedule be so amended as to include in the exemption from military and naval service the children born of native Heligolanders within twenty years after the cession of the island."—(Colonel Nolan.)

Question proposed, "That those words-be there inserted."


I think the hon. Gentleman will see that it is absolutely impossible for Her Majesty's Government to accept this Amendment. Very large privileges have been secured to the people of Heligoland, and these conditions have been guaranteed to the German Government. Let us consider what they are. Every person now in Heligoland will be exempted from compulsory service, and he may also, if he chooses, opt for British nationality, which would extend to his-children and his grand children. I venture to think that the House does not wish to put the Government in such an unworthy position as to go back to the German Emperor to ask for this consideration.


I am perfectly astonished to hear the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs talking about what is unworthy. It would be most unworthy not to ask for this condition in the Agreement, and the whole of Europe and America would think it very shameful on our part if we did not ask for it. On what authority does the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs say that the Heligolanders are satisfied? Though he speaks truthfully, yet he is liable to commit a great inaccuracy on the present occasion, and I believe he would find evidence not so absolutely affirmative as he thinks

MR. ISAACSON (Tower Hamlets)

The law has been that children born in a country that has been ceded after the signature to the Treaty, are not entitled to the nationality of their parents. That was laid down some years ago in a case in which I was very much interested, and where the children, born of English parents in Hanover, were not, after the signature to the Treaty of cession, allowed to vote at elections in this country.


I take my standpoint on common sense. The Heligolanders have 18 months further to choose, and if they elect to become German subjects, they have a right to bear the burdens which are imposed on other German subjects. If they desire to be English subjects, then before the 1st January, 1892, they can choose to be British subjects. Everything the Government could ask has been asked, and they ought not to ask for any further privileges.


I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the tone he has adopted does not tend to facilitate discussion, that we are making a disgraceful bargain, and that the right hon. Gentleman makes no reference to that fact. We are giving up everything for nothing, so let us not hear that this is an Imperial bargain.

(6.10.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 68; Noes 191.—(Div. List, No. 206.)

(6.20.) MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)

Mr. Courtney, I wish to move an Amendment, which I venture to think will be accepted by Her Majesty's Government. The Amendment I wish to move is, in line 17, to leave out the words "that appears to Her Majesty." I think that all the words after the word "Act," in line 15, are really unnecessary on the theory of the Bill which was laid before the House the other night by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General, who gave to my mind the best explanation that has been afforded of this Agreement. It is really a conveyance, and nothing but a conveyance, of this island to the Emperor of Germany. The Emperor of Germany is advised by very able jurists, who know that the Sovereign power in England is not Her Majesty the Queen but the Imperial Parliament, of which Her Majesty is the head. I can conceive that it has been said to the German Emperor that the reserved power of the British Parliament cast a sort of cloud upon his title to Heligoland, and that it was prudent for him to ask that the assent of Parliament be specifically given to this Instrument. That, I think, to be in substance the view of the Attorney General. I must say it is a very tenable view, and one which removes all constitutional objections which have been taken to it. If that is the real purport of this Agreement, I venture to think that the Act itself ought to be restricted to this specific purpose of the conveyance. If I am right the Act is a mere instrument by which Parliament is co-proprietor of this island; and, therefore, it seems to me that these words, although unnecessary, from my point of view, are harmless. But there is one phrase which appears to me distinctly objectionable, and that is the phrase "that appears to Her Majesty." As a matter of law there can be no doubt that Her Majesty has power to direct that which is necessary for the proper carrying out of this provision. But I submit that the subsection goes further than that, and that it gives to Her Majesty the power to do everything that seems to Her Majesty to be necessary. Now, that is a different thing. Of course, I am entitled to take extreme cases in arguing against those words, and although I do not suppose for a moment that the power would be in any way abused, nevertheless the words, literally construed, would grant powers which this House could not for one moment sanction. I mean that the discretionary power contained in this phrase would make it legal for Her Majesty to do that which would otherwise be illegal.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 17, to leave out the words"that appears to Her Majesty."—{Mr. E. Robertson)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."


I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will see that the words are necessary in order to give Her Majesty a certain amount of discretion in carrying out the provisions of the Act of Parliament. Her Majesty takes such steps as may be advised to be necessary by the Law Officers of the Grown, upon whose discretion the responsibility rests. It is a common form, and not mere surplusage. It does no more than leave with the Executive Government the discretion and responsibility.

MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries)

I do not know that it is a very important point that my hon. and learned Friend has raised, though it seems to me that he is right. I am not aware that it is a common form, though the right hon. Gentleman may be more familiar with the subject than I am. The point is a very short one. It is, whether Parliament has the right to give the Crown a discretionary power. It appears to me that Parliament might take a very different view to the Crown of what is necessary and proper. Unless the phrase is a common form, I do not think it will do any harm to eliminate it.


In what Statute or series of Statutes does this common form appear? I am not aware of it.


These words leave it to the Crown to judge what is necessary and proper. If they were omitted, the Treaty would have to be carried out under the Courts of Law—a course which would be rather inconvenient.


The right hon. Gentleman—he will excuse me if I say and "learned Gentleman,"—has really given a reason why the Amendment should be accepted. The test to be applied now would be the Common Law. Under the Bill as it is drawn it would be a complete answer to an action to produce a declaration from Her Majesty's Government that it appeared to them to be necessary or proper. I apprehend that the right hon. Gentleman has conceded all the substance of our contention.

(6.31.) SIR J. GORST

Formerly the doctrine was that the Crown could do no-wrong. According to the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Crown can be sued, and therefore can do wrong. The words imply no doubt that the Crown must be the judge of what is right in. carrying out the Act.


I have not the same implicit faith in the lawyers as my hon. Friend has, and I think it would be very objectionable indeed to throw the whole matter into the crucible of the Law Courts. I feel bound to vote against the Amendment.

Question put, and agreed to.

Question proposed, "That Clause I stand part of the Bill."


I am very glad indeed that the clause stands as it does, and that due consideration has been given to the inhabitants. But. Heligoland is not the only island whose wishes and feelings should be consulted. There is another island which ought to be consulted, and that is the island of Great Britain. We are not bound to keep an inconvenient and dangerous possession if there are good reasons for giving it up. We, who advocated the cession of Heligoland earlier in the Session, have been accused of desiring to give it up for sentimental reasons. Nothing of the kind. We desire to give it up because it will be better for the country to be without it. Much has been said about the constitutional argument. I am one of those sacrilegious persons who do not care much about the Constitution, and I am glad to have this thing done in any way in which it can be done.

(6.36.) MR. MAC NEILL

I move to reject the clause altogether. We have not got the consent of the people to this cession. That consent would be usual. We have been acting on the consent of Parliament in a case in which the consent of Parliament was never asked before. We say this is an invasion of the prerogative, and that it is also an invasion of the just rights of the people. This clause is vicious, because, in the first place the executive and legislative functions are jumbled up, and executive functions are, for the first time, given to the House of Commons. Another objection is that you are entering upon this matter hap-hazard. On the 4th of June the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Baron H. de Worms) asked why we should cede Heligoland to Germany, and said we might as well cede Gibraltar to Spain and the Channel Islands to France. How have matters altered since then? They have not altered at all except that, through the working of some power with which we are not acquainted, the Government have completely reversed their position on the question. We get no consideration for this cession. This Agreement, from beginning to end, is illusory. The main features have been fully discussed, but it is well allusion should be made to the words "the native laws and customs now existing will, as far as possible, remain undisturbed." That shows—I scarcely like to say the mala fides —the insincerity of the Agreement. Who is to judge whether the laws shall remain in force? The Germans are to be the judges, and the words "as far as possible" are introduced simply to blind the people of England when giving up to the German Government full jurisdiction over the rights and privileges of the Heligolanders. You are doing an act of injustice to the poor and defenceless, while you are truckling to the great. You have no right to surrender this island as long as the islanders, who have grown up under your protection, do not choose to surrender it, or have not given their consent.

(6.42.) MR. R. T. REID

It seems to me that the Government have done one good thing, and that is they have introduced a Bill for the purpose of carrying out this cession. I cannot at all assent to the view that it is to the interest of Parliament that these transactions should be carried through by the use of the prerogative of the Crown without consulting Parliament. I hope there will not always be the difficulty in one branch of the Legislature which Liberals have always had to encounter, and I am sure that it is to the interest of the freedom of the country at large that such measures as this should be embodied in an Act of Parliament. I am sorry, on other grounds, the leaders of the Liberal Party have not seen their way to take any part in opposition to this Bill. I believe it will be found that this Bill is objectionable in many ways. Certainly, to my mind, it is objectionable in two ways. When this subject was discussed in June last the Ministers representing the Crown got up in this House and used very strong language indeed against the suggestion that Heligoland should be given up to Germany. That took place at the very time that Her Majesty's Government were actually intriguing for the purpose of ceding Heligoland to the German Emperor. It is a piece of gross indignity to the House of Commons that we should be treated with such an entire want of consideration. I also think that the matter itself of the Treaty is' not so light as some hon. Gentlemen appear to think. We are surrendering territory in Europe. Often hitherto we have surrendered territory in India; but India stands on its own basis. But we are curiously situated all over the world with regard to territory. There are islands and provinces belonging to this country all over the world, where we have contracts with various foreign Powers. Hitherto no foreign Power has endeavoured to make the cession of territory by us to them the basis of any transactions between us. I do not know how long that state of things will continue when it is seen that the cession of European territory can be made the subject of a bargain in the time of profound peace. I am afraid the precedent will not be useful to the interests of the country. We may have serious difficulties with France that may raise the question of the possession of the Channel Islands. Spain may raise a question with regard to Gibraltar. I might amplify this argument, but it is unnecessary to do so. But I feel it is difficult to blame the Government when those whom I had hoped would have assisted us in this matter have not been able to see their way to do so. I must assume that Statesmen of experience are likely to take a different view to myself, but as I entertain the views I have expressed, I thought it only right that I should state them temperately to the Committee.


I cannot understand why several of my hon. Friends should be so enthusiastic as to the right of the Heligolanders to belong to this country, and as to their allegiance not being passed from one country to another without their absolute assent, while they welcome all the annexations that take place in Africa. It seems to me the men of Africa and Europe stand precisely in the same position. By this Treaty we get certain possessions in Africa, we practically annex them without in any way asking for a plébiscite of the Africans, without asking for their consent. What right have we to do this, and why do not hon. Gentlemen complain of it or protest against it? Why are they so exceedingly zealous with regard to the aspirations, or the supposed aspirations, of the inhabitants of Heligoland to remain British subjects? Upon one point I entirely agree with my hon. and learned Friend, and that is the monstrous character of the action of Her Majesty's Government. The First Lord of the Treasury smiles; he is so accustomed to treat us in this monstrous fashion that he laughs if we protest. I cannot help pointing out how monstrous is the conduct of the Government in this case. In June last we took the liberty to suggest that we should not be exceedingly sorry if we parted company with Heligoland, ceased to pay a Governor of the island, and ceased to incur the liability of being obliged to defend Heligoland in the case of a European war. Hon. Gentlemen denounced us as unpatriotic and revolutionary. What is remarkable is that at that very moment Lord Salisbury was treating with a Foreign Power for the cession of Heligoland. What does all this disclose? Why the great evil of the Prime Minister not being a Member of this House, and the still greater evil of a noble Peer, not a Member of this House, being not only Prime Minister but Minister for Foreign Affairs. Under present circumstances it is impossible that we can have any reasonable control over the action of Her Majesty's Government. [The CHAIRMAN: Order!] I gather you think I am travelling beyond the question, therefore I will not pursue the matter. But I hope my words will weigh with Her Majesty's Government, that they will consider well and ponder over any future arrangements, and that they will let us have the Prime Minister in this House, and the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs separate individualities.


The hon. Members for Dumfries and Northampton have spoken of the gross inconsistency of the Government resisting in June last the proposed cession of Heligoland, and in now submitting a Bill to sanction the cession. The difference between the position at that time and the present position is so obvious that it is quite unnecessary for me to explain it.


The Government not only resisted the Motion, but denounced the injustice and folly of surrendering Heligoland under any circumstances.


This is not a matter raised for the first time. This matter was brought forward some years ago, when the present Secretary of State for the Colonies pointed out how unjust it would be to hand over the people to another State where they would be subject to onerous obligations from which they were then free. It would have been a strong ground of attack and complaint against Her Majesty's Government if provisions had not been introduced into the Treaty to give relief to the Heligolanders. The hon. Member for Northampton was willing to give over Heligoland, and without an equivalent.


I never said so.


There was clearly no question last June of an equivalent for the cession of Heligoland, and there was then no question of immunities for the Heligolanders. Even if at that time the cession had been determined upon—and it had not—is it not evident that it would have been in the highest degree impolitic to have acceded to such a Motion in the midst of pending negotiations.


I am totally unable to understand why the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs says that in June it was proposed to give up Heligoland without an equivalent. I had the honour of raising the question in June, and I alluded to the fact that negotiations regarding Africa were then going on, and I suggested that Heligoland might be traded away in those negotiations. Later on in the Debate the hon. and gallant Member for Galway emphasised that view. No doubt, negotiations were necessary, but if the right hon. Baronet was a responsible man of the Government, we should complain that he not only refused to accept our Motion, but used the strongest language in regard to the utter folly and absurdity of people who made any such proposal.

*(6.57.) MR. CHANNING

My hon. Friend has established his case and clearly shown that the Ministry and the Tory Party in this transaction have walked humbly and meekly under the Caudine Forks in adopting the suggestion made by the hon. Members for Kirkcaldy and Mid Cork. We can trace plainly enough what has been the origin of this proposal. If we look back we find that the Ionian Islands cession was due to the fact that the English Government wished to strengthen, and strengthen in a righteous way, the power of the young King of Greece, but I venture to say that when the historian records these events, he will say that the feeblest and flabbiest Foreign Minister who has ever held power in this country deliberately handed over one of the European possessions of the Crown, to gratify the vanity and increase the pride of the young German Emperor. Resistance to this Bill is not merely due to the fact that the wish of the Heligolanders should be respected, but I do think that the important opinions which have been expressed by the highest authorities on the strategic value of the island to Germany deserve fuller consideration from Her Majesty's Government than they have received. Admiral Von Werner, one of the greatest naval authorities in Germany, has said recently in an article in the German Press that the cession of Heligoland amounts to a subsidy of more than 10 or 12 million marks a year to Germany, and will enable Germany to set free 10 to 15 battleships for operations elsewhere. If that is the measure of the gift which has been given to the German Emperor, for dynastic and not Imperial reasons, I might almost say for family reasons, history will record that the Prime Minister has not been the happiest and the most firm of Foreign Ministers. I am reminded of the remark Prince Bismarck once made of the Prime Minister—"Lord Salisbury is a bending reed, painted to look like a bar of iron"—and I think these events prove the correctness of the opinion of Prince Bismarck.

(7.3.) DR. TANNER

I desire to point out that the Motion of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy to refuse the salary of the Governor of Heligoland was upon the Paper some time before the Vote came up in Supply on the 4th June. Why was not the right hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs prepared to do his duty to the House? He was the Representative of the Foreign Office, and, presumably, was in communication with the Premier. He had ample opportunity of going to the Premier, and of finding out what was being done with regard to Heligoland. I feel for the right hon. Baronet in the humiliating position the Premier put the right hon. Baronet. Personally, I am delighted that Heligoland is going to be given up. I tried on two or three occasions to bring the matter forward, and I am glad to see that the present Premier, although not always of our way of thinking, has, at least, adopted the suggestion of a humble Irish Nationalist. I shall certainly give my vote most heartily in support of Her Majesty's Government.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 2.


I have put down an Amendment to this clause, and also to the Preamble, with the object of limiting the Bill to a cognisance of the Heligoland cession, but, on consideration, I think it is a good thing that Agreements like the Anglo-German Agreement should be brought within the cognisance of Parliament. I will not move the Amendment, but will take the opportunity of the Motion for the Third Reading to make some general observations.


The Amendment referred to is one I am able to support; and if my hon. Friend does not move it, I will. If the Amendment is accepted, I shall not be compelled to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill. I thoroughly approve of the Heligoland cession, but I very strongly disapprove of the Anglo-German Agreement. As to South Africa, the Government have been humbugged by the Germans.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 19, to leave out the words "Anglo-German Agreement" and insert "Heligoland Cession."—(Dr. Clark.)

Question, "That the words 'Anglo-German Agreement' stand part of the Clause," put, and agreed to.

Clause 2 agreed to.



It deserves remark that the Government have committed the strange breach of diplomatic regularity and correctness of phrase of speaking of Emperor William as the Emperor of Germany, while his proper title is the German Emperor. The title is one which was deliberately adopted, for strong, political, and historical reasons, when the present German Empire was established.


The title "Emperor of Germany" was used by the desire of the German Foreign Office. "German Emperor" is the title which will be employed in this country.

Schedule agreed to.

Preamble agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment.

*(7.11.) MR. W. H. SMITH

I hope the House will allow the Bill to be read a third time. The Bill has, I think, been very fully discussed, and there are very few questions that can be left to be raised upon it.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a third time."


I have no objection to the Bill being read a third time; but when the right hon. Gentleman says the Bill has been fully discussed in all its aspects, I must differ from him entirely. For the first two days almost the whole of our time was devoted, not to the merits or demerits of the Bill, but to a high constitutional question connected with the Bill, and raised by a great authority in this House, and those of us who took an interest in the matters in the Bill itself had no opportunity of speaking. On the second night of Debate, when we were approaching the Bill itself, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby again raised the constitutional question. Although I do not wish to detain the House at length, I wish to make a few observations, not in reference to Heligoland, which has been well discussed, but upon those matters which you, Sir, have ruled to be in order, the equivalent for Heligoland in Africa. I am not altogether satisfied with the bargain Her Majesty's Government have made, for I think they have got too much for Heligoland, too large a slice of Africa. It seems to me that our position with Heligoland is something like that of a man who has a horse in his stable—absolutely useless to him—"eating his head off," and he puts him in the market, willing to take a few shillings from a knacker, and with the chance of somebody taking a fancy to the animal and giving a good price for him, and is fortunate to secure this purchaser. I am not going to find fault with the Agreement. I regret the observations which have tended to encourage the impression that in this matter we have tried to enter into a special alliance with Germany to conciliate the German Emperor. In my view, it would be most undesirable to do anything of the kind. I wish for amicable arrangements, not only with Germany, but with France, and with all other nations. In justice to the Foreign Secretary and Under Secretary, I do not think that they are open to the accusation that they have at all truckled to Germany; they have not got into trouble with their own Jingo followers as in reference to the New Hebrides. I thing we have, to a certain extent, got too much of Africa, more than is good for us. In exchange for a useless horse we have got a sort of elephant, as it were, not a white one exactly, but a wild one, and which requires catching. I am a little uneasy about this huge tract of Africa in exchange for a little island we were ready enough to get rid of at any price. I am somewhat uneasy, too, not as regards the actual delimitation made by the Agreement, but in regard to special words used that carry our minds down to the confines of Egypt. We thought the limit of Egypt was Wady Haifa, but a dangerous question is suggested by the words and raised already by the African Company, whether they mean we are to extend our influence all round and take in not only the equatorial provinces of Emin Pasha, but even Khartoum. I have heard that Nubar Pasha has ex- pressed his surprise that we should be seeking to come from the South-East to occupy that very equatorial country we formerly divested ourselves of. I do hope that Her Majesty's Government will give us to understand that we are not going to take under our control the whole of these vast provinces of Africa which we are at liberty to control, so far as Germany is concerned, under this Agreement. I think we ought to have some consideration for that noble ally of ours—Italy —and come to an agreement with Italy which will leave ample scope for Italian energy and genius an Africa. I do hope that the desire to conciliate Jingo votes will not lead Her Majesty's Government into imprudence. I am afraid the wording of the Agreement will be construed into support of the extravagant claims of those Jingo gentlemen who think enormous additions of African territory are given to the Chartered Companies. I see the advocates of the East African Company claim that 750 square miles of territory have been given to them. But who has given this to them? We have made limitations as between ourselves and Germany, but I see nothing in these limitations which gives these African Companies any right to acquire equatorial provinces and the country up to Khartoum. I see one advocate claims that the country from Wadelai up to the Congo State is thrown open to them. But licence to grab land in this way has not been confirmed by Parliament, and the consent of Parliament is surely required. No doubt we shall be told that certain territories have been acquired by Mr. Stanley, who has made over certain Treaties. In this respect, I think, when the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian come to be studied in the interior of Africa, as I am sure they are in all civilised and uncivilised countries, they may cause great alarm. I understand that African lawyers have an opinion that their chiefs have not the power to make away with territories for a few bottles of rum or gin. I am given to understand that under the Constitutional Law of Africa, those who have acquired territory under Treaties with pretended chiefs have no real title until the Treaty is confirmed by an African Parliament of the representatives of the African people. I have not the least doubt that the constitutional doctrine of this country may be misconstrued as applied to Africa, and that force and significance are given to Treaties which are utter trash without the consent of this African Parliament. The East African Company makes claim to enormous territory and hopes to get enormous dividends, but have they sufficient force to occupy the country and maintain dominion? Is there not fear of their being dragged into too great responsibilities? We know they have a subscribed capital of £180,000, the dividend upon which they are going for the present to take out in philanthropy, and I do not doubt that much of the capital was subscribed from motives into which philanthropy enter considerably; but to command and develop these immense regions, millions of money are required. Where is this money to be found? I am alarmed at the manner in which the East African Company rejoice over these great possessions and boast of their own concessions, and at once suggestions are made that Her Majesty's Government should help them to construct a railway. But who knows the physical difficulties in the way? It is very easy to take a small map of Africa and say we will make a railway from that point to this, but the character of the country is almost unknown. This East African Company have not reached Lake Victoria from the coast, and do not know what the country is. One gentleman, I understand, has found his way to Lake Victoria; but as he has not come back yet, we do not know the result of his journey. At the meeting of the company the other day it was announced that he had to cross passes 9,000 feet high, a greater height than the Alpine railways have had to traverse. If I remember rightly, the St. Gothard and Mont Cenis passes are somewhere about 7,000 feet high, and this railway talked of with a light heart presents enormous difficulties in a mountainous region. I am alarmed, I say, when I hear the company suggest pecuniary assistance from Her Majesty's Government to assist their operations in these vast regions. There is another view of the case some of my hon. Friends take very strongly; and I think there is no doubt that, in order to acquire, I will not say the right to territory, but between ourselves and Germany large hunting grounds in the North-Eastern portion of Africa, we have made perhaps less valuable terms in South Africa. To a certain extent, the interests of the South African people have been sacrificed. I do not sympathise with the Jingo aspirations of Cape Colony or any South African Colony. I entirely subscribe to what was said by the Under Secretary in this respect. I think that our colonies there have quite enough to do to look after their own, and that we are not called upon to make large acquisitions of territory for their gratification; but I must say I should very much prefer, looking at our direct route to India, that if any African Empire is to be constituted it should be in the South rather than that we should enter into the dangers connected with the Northern regions. I should be satisfied with a desire to establish in the South an Imperial dominion such as that in India. I am led to take that view by the perusal of the small book in regard to Basutoland. We know that Cape Colony undertook to manage the territory and failed, and got defeated by the Basutos; but now we have the Report showing the success of Imperial management. I believe if we established an Imperial dominion in the South it would be a success, but, at the same time, I admit there are very grave reasons to doubt if Her Majesty's Government would have had the courage, and, therefore, I am content that our delimitation in South Africa should remain what it is. Just a word more on the question of Zanzibar. I believe a mistake has been made in the wording of the Treaty, and that not sufficient regard has been had to the sensitiveness of France in connection with the Treaty of 1862. I hope it may be merely a matter of wording, but I could have wished it had been made clear that our arrangement with Germany does not shut out an arrangement with Prance. I confess it seems to me that the position of England and Germany towards Zanzibar is akin to that of two robbers, who, having stripped a man of all that belongs to him, discuss who shall protect him. We have allowed Germany the most valuable part of the dominions of the Sultan of Zanzibar, and we take the remainder. As a matter of fact, the Protectorate of Zanzibar resolves itself into nothing more than a Protectorate of those two islands. What I object to is that the arrangement which has been made is one which will entail upon this country enormous responsibilities fraught with much trouble and difficulty, and from which we shall derive little or no advantage. I think, Sir, that this Bill has within it dangerous responsibilities, and I, for one, do not feel at all easy with regard to the bargain which has been made.

*(7.31.) MR. BRYCE

I do not intend on this occasion to repeat the observations that I have made upon the policy of this Agreement in the Debate on the Second Reading of the Bill. But I desire to ask Her Majesty's Government a question of practical importance with regard to the steps that have been taken to preserve Free Trade on the Zanzibar Coast. By the Act of Berlin of 1885 a considerable area, not only on the West side of Africa, but also on the East, extending from lat. 5° N., to the mouth of the Zambesi in lat. 18° S., was declared to be open to the trade of all nations. And the 8th Article of the present Agreement constitutes an engagement as between England and Germany in their respective spheres to promote complete free trade as contemplated by the Act of Berlin in all those parts of Africa to which the Agreement applies and to which the Berlin Act applies. It is within the knowledge of the House that there is a very large trade between Zanzibar and British India, and there has been considerable alarm among our British subjects in India as regards the effect of the cession of the coast line by the Sultan of Zanzibar to Germany. The idea entertained among the British India merchants, and also among merchants here, is that it will be in the power of the German Government, notwithstanding what would seem to be the obvious meaning of the present Agreement, to establish Customs Houses on the East Coast and so stop freedom of trade on the mainland of Africa. Her Majesty's Government have not made any declaration on this subject. The question I put to them on the Second Reading of the Bill has not been answered by them. I trust we shall, on this occasion, receive a satisfactory answer on this point. It is a matter of the utmost consequence to Englishmen and to our fellow-subjects in India that there should be the fullest freedom of trade on the East Coast of Africa, all protective tariffs, and especially all differential rates, being forbidden; and if we can only obtain from the Government an absolute guarantee on this point, we shall probably be less disposed to criticise the other points of the Agreement.


The right hon. Gentleman in the earlier part of the evening distinctly stated that the German Foreign Office had expressly stipulated that in the English translation of the Agreement the German Emperor should be called the Emperor of Germany. The right hon. Gentleman must have been under some mistake in the matter, because I have never yet heard of a potentate who was not recognised by a particular title in his own country assuming that title in his diplomatic relations with foreign countries. In the German version of the Agreement the Emperor is called "Der Deutscher Kaiser," which means the German Emperor, and he is not the Emperor of Germany. I think that a Treaty submitted to the English Parliament for its approval ought to be an exact translation of the original. We might as well call him the Emperor of Timbuctoo as the Emperor of Germany, and I submit that we ought not to be called upon to use a phrase which is simply due to a mistranslation which has taken place in the Foreign Office.


I assure the hon. Member for Northampton that I have been perfectly right in what I have stated; that it was at the request of the German Foreign Office that the phrase has been translated "the Emperor of Germany." In all future documents, as far as this country is concerned, the term "German Emperor" will be used. As to freedom of trade, no doubt, under the new arrangements, some of the existing mainland commerce will be diverted through the German ports; but Her Majesty's Government are assured that the Germans will gladly welcome the presence of British Indians in those ports. There are remarkable facilities for trade in that part of the country, and it would be in the highest degree unwise, and very unlike the Germans, if they were to discourage trade coming from any legitimate source. I hope that the East Africa Company will have a great future before them, and that they will not risk their prosperity by offending against the prejudices or the customs of the native population.

(7.45.) MR. F. S. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)

It has been stated that Free Trade through the German sphere of influence has not been obtained, and apparently it will not be possible to send goods from Lake Tanganyika to the Victoria Nyanza without their having to pass through German territory, and being subject to whatever dues the Germans may impose.


There will be absolute Free Trade between Tanganyika and the Victoria Nyanza.


I am very glad to hear that that is the case; but I think that in addition to that the Government ought to endeavour, as far as possible, to secure that Free Trade should generally prevail throughout the German sphere of influence.

(7.47.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)

I am afraid the House does not fully appreciate the observations that have fallen from the hon. Member for Aberdeen with regard to the modification of the Berlin Act. It turns out that one of the results of the Agreement is that we are practically shutting up a large portion of the interior of Africa, which was supposed to be insured to English trade, from anything in the shape of Free Trade in the future. We have obtained a most important port on the East Coast with which our Indian trade is principally connected, but the value of that acquisition will be materially affected if we are to be deprived of the opportunity of Free Trade with the interior of Africa. I think it unfortunate that this point did not crop up much earlier in this discussion, because we should have elicited fuller and more complete explanations than we are likely to obtain at the present moment.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.