HC Deb 19 May 1890 vol 344 cc1271-3

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the following extract of a letter from the Marquess of Salisbury to Sir E. Malet, dated 2nd July, 1887, forms the understanding upon which the British and German spheres of influence are defined in East Africa:— Baron Von Plessen said that the Imperial Government had started from the idea that England would leave Germany a free hand for the future in the territories south of the Victoria Nyanza Lake, and, without interfering with the territories lying to the east of the Lakes Tanganyika and Nyassa, at the back of the German Protectorate, would confine herself to opening up the territories lying to the north of the agreed line; and whether, therefore, a lino drawn from the south of Victoria Nyanza to the northern extremity of Tanganyika forms the line of demarcation between the British and the German spheres?


These spheres of influence have not yet been geographically defined, and the understanding in question was general in its terms.

MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is proposed to surrender the country of the Bamang-watos, to the extent of 100,000 square miles, lying between Damaraland and Lobengula's territory, to Germany, in the negotiations now taking place at Berlin; and, if so, on what ground?


I am not aware that any such proposal is under consideration.

EARL COMPTON (York, W.R., Barnsley)

I should like to ask the right hon. Baronet whether the Foreign Office have had any communication from Mr. A. J. Nicholls, lately returned from that country, and who seems to have entered into some arrangements for concessions on behalf of British interests?


I think I must ask the noble Lord to give notice of that question. I cannot give an answer offhand.

MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the entire question of the relations between this country and Germany throughout Eastern and South Western Africa is the subject of negotiation at Berlin at the present time; whether he will inform the House what is the scope of Sir Percy Anderson's instructions, or lay these instructions upon the Table of the House; and whether Her Majesty's Government will endeavour that any arrangement that may be arrived at, particularly with regard to South Western Africa, shall be such as will commend itself to the approval of the opinion of the Cape Colony and our other South African Settlements. Will Her Majesty's Government take care to ascertain what the opinion of the colonies are?


Undoubtedly it will be the duty of Her Majesty's Government to ascertain and to give due consideration to the opinion of the colonies. The communications between Sir J. Anderson and Dr. Kranel at Berlin have had reference to questions both in East and West Africa. The communications are confidential, and no Papers can be laid at present. In any arrangement that affects the interests of the British colonies in Africa, full consideration will be given to their opinions.


Is it not the fact that all the difficulties that arose in 1884–5, with regard to Germany in this quarter of the globe, were due to the fact that the English Government were not acquainted with and, therefore, could not give full consideration to, the proposals of the Cape Colony; and will the Government take care on this occasion that they are fully acquainted with the views of the colonists?


Without going formally into the question which has been put by the hon. Member, I think I am correct in saying that I believe the Government are fully aware of the opinions of the colonists.

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

Seeing the total absence of information the right hon. Gentleman has on the subject, and in view of the great interest taken in it, will be see that the House has an opportunity of discussing the matter before a definite decision is come to with the German Government?


The hon. Gentleman knows how these things are done. While there is every disposition not to undervalue the great interest taken in this question, it is manifest that while negotiations are pending, discussion is not conducive to success.


May I ask whether the Government will take care to ascertain the views of other people in Africa with regard to the contemplated proceedings before a criminal conspiracy is entered into by two great Powers to plunder the people of Africa?

[No answer was given.]