HC Deb 28 May 1891 vol 353 cc1185-7
MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether all Her Majesty's subjects have free ingress into Mashonaland and a right to reside in that territory; whether, if the Chartered Company of South Africa insists upon them signing a declaration that they will obey the laws of that company as a preliminary to ingress or residence, it is intended to take any steps to oblige the company to rescind any such regulation; whether he can state to whom the land belongs in Mashonaland, and whether the Chartered Company of South Africa have acquired any rights to its possession; and, if so, from whom; and whether the so-called concessions of Mutassa to the Chartered Company have been approved of by Her Majesty's Government; and, if not, by what right the Chartered Company exercises any sovereignty or power in Manicaland?


Lobengula has allowed the British South Africa Company free ingress into Mashonaland, and the right to carry on operations in that territory, but no such right has, as far we are aware, been given to persons not working under the company. As regards the second question, Her Majesty's Government do not know that this requirement has been insisted upon in the case of British subjects or others recognising the company's authority. The Charter requires the British South Africa Company— To preserve peace and order to the best of its ability in such ways and manners as it shall consider necessary, and with that object. empowers it to make ordinances. It is not proposed, therefore, to oblige the company to rescind any regulation of the nature referred to. It has been admitted that Lobengula has a control, as Paramount Chief, though he probably has not the sole ownership, of the lands in Mashonaland, and it is understood that the British South Africa Company has not acquired any specific rights to the possession of these lands; but it is in occupation of Mashonaland with the consent both of Lobengula and of the minor Chiefs. Her Majesty's Government have not expressed any final opinion upon Mutassa's concessions. The company exercises authority in any part of Manicaland, which lies within the sphere of British protection by virtue of the Charter, as I have stated in answer to the second question.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Charter specifically states that the Company can only exercise the rights they have acquired over this territory through the permission of Lobengula, and that Manicaland is admitted to be not in Mashonaland, whether it is under British protection or not? Am I to understand, from the answer of the hon. Gentleman, that Mashonaland is the only portion of Her Majesty's dominions which a British subject may not enter without first signing a specific undertaking to obey certain laws and regulations?


The Charter speaks for itself. The question of the hon. Member appears to me to be a highly argumentative one, and should be made the subject of Notice.