HC Deb 23 April 1891 vol 352 cc1158-9

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information as to Mr. H. M. Stanley having accepted an official position in the service of the Congo Free State; and, if so, what is that position, and what will be his powers; whether he has any information to the effect that British and other European traders on the Lower Congo are migrating to the left bank of the river, to avoid the high duties and personal taxes now levied by the Congo State; is he aware that the villages on the road from Matadi to Stanley Pool have, within recent years, become deserted, through a variety of exactions and excesses committed on the villagers; whether, in view of the fact that the British Consul, who is entrusted with the protection of our traders on the Lower Congo, is located at the Cameroons (some 400 miles, approximately, distant from the mouth of the Congo), and inefficient for the purpose, .Her Majesty's Government will consider the advisability of appointing a representative on the Lower Congo; what are to be the functions of the " International Commission," as laid down by the Berlin Conference; can he explain why it has not yet been appointed; and when will it be called into existence?


(1.) We have no such information. (2.) We have heard reports that traders have moved to the left bank, but we have not heard of the transfer of British traders. (3.) We are not aware that the statement is in accordance with facts. (4.) Mr. Annesley has been detained on temporary service in the Oil Rivers, but he will shortly be relieved, and will be free to proceed to the Congo District. (5, 6, and 7.) The functions of the International Commission would be to supervise the application of the Treaty to the parts of the river over which no sovereignty or protectorate has been assumed. It is to be presumed that the delay in its appointment has been owing to the fact that the attention of the Powers has been turned recently rather to other parts of Africa. The requisite appointment of delegates by at least five Powers has not been made, nor is it known when it will be made.