§ MR. WILLIAM H. CROSS (Liverpool, West Derby)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Courts of Equity established on the Oil Rivers for the purpose of counselling and assisting Her Majesty's Consuls in regard to the administration of that territory have been, or are now being, abolished by Major MacDonald, Her Majesty's Commissioner; and, if so, whether it is in accordance with the intention of Her Majesty's Government that the representatives of British trading firms shall have no participation whatever in the affairs of that district, the trade of which has now been laid under heavy taxation?
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. J. W. LOWTHER,) Cumberland, Penrith
The so-called Courts of Equity, for which provision was made by the Order in Council of 21st February, 1872, were merely arbitrators having no jurisdiction except by consent, nor any power to enforcer their decisions. They have ceased to exist since the Order in 1751 Council of 26th March, 1885, supplemented by the Order in Council of 22nd October, 1889, has established a regular judicial administration and furnished it with power and authority. Trade is not heavily taxed in the district, except that in distilled spirits and firearms, which are being taxed in accordance with the provisions of the Brussels Act. No other taxes are, or will be, levied beyond such as are requisite to balance the cost of administration.