§ MR. WHITLEY (Liverpool, Everton)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been called to a statement in the Times of 2nd March, to the effect that the majority of the trading firms on the River Congo have removed from the territory of the Congo State to Portuguese territory, in consequence of the heavy taxes and other impediments placed in the way of traders by the Congo State; and also to a letter in the Journal des Débats of 2nd March, stating that a military expedition of some magnitude has been sent into the interior to lay waste the entire country from Kwamouth; and, if so, what action Her Majesty's Government propose to take in the matter?
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
As to the first question, duties have recently been fixed by an arrangement between France, Portugal, and the Congo State under the provisions of the Declaration annexed to the Brussels Act. Differential treatment is prohibited by the Berlin Act. We are not aware whether the statement is correct. We have, at any rate, not heard of the transfer of British traders to Portuguese territory. As to the second question, we understand that the statement in the Débats is contradicted by the Congo Free State. Her Majesty's Government do not propose to act on unsubstantiated newspaper reports.