§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been directed to the following extracts from the Review of Catholic Missions, published in Paris, which were quoted in the Daily News of the 30th instant:—The Catholic Kingdom of Uganda has been destroyed. The King, the Bishop, and seventeen missionaries have been driven out by the Protestants, supported by the agents of the British Company. Fighting broke out on the 21st January, when the Protestant natives, armed with rifles distributed by Captain Lugard, and backed up by the English fort, drove out the Catholics after a sharp engagement. Captain Williams left the fort to recover the bodies. Protestants afterwards attacked the Catholic mission, bombarded it, and set it on fire. The doctor and a Catholic chief were killed. The missionaries and the remnant of the Catholics were forced to retire to the English fort, which had at first refused to send soldiers to protect them. The report concludes by stating that the British officers were incited to action by the Wagandas, and by the Protestant missionaries;and whether these allegations against the agents of the British Company, Captain Williams, Captain Lugard, and the officers of the English fort, are true; and, if so, whether the Government intend to take any action in the matter?
§ MR. TIMOTHY HEALY (Longford, N.)
I also wish to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the following statement in the Press is correct:—M. Ribot, Minister for Foreign Affairs, has instructed M. Waddington, French Ambassador to Great Britain, to bring under Lord Salisbury's notice the bad treatment which the White Fathers in Uganda are undergoing at the hands of Captain Lugard, representing the British East Africa Company in that region. It is alleged that Captain Lugard detains several of the Fathers as prisoners, and has distributed arms among the natives, who use them against the missionaries;and what stops will the Government take to secure the immediate release of the Catholic missionaries, and punish their assailants?
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. J. W. LOWTHER,) Cumberland, Penrith
I cannot add anything to an answer which I gave last week to the hon. Baronet the Member for Dublin County (Sir Thomas Esmonde). No reliable information has been received from Captain Lugard since the date of the alleged massacre. From the known character and antecedents of that officer and of Captain Williams it is impossible to believe that they were directly or indirectly parties to it. I may add, in reply to the hon. Member for North Longford, that I understand that M. Waddington has been instructed to call the attention of Lord Salisbury to the matter. He has done so, and the answer given to M. Waddington was of a similar character to that which I have just made.
§ MR. O'BRIEN
Do the Government intend to make any independent inquiry to test the truth of the statements that have been published?
No, Sir, I think no documentary evidence was submitted, but that M. Waddington's statements were founded upon letters received from 366 Monsignor Hoith, who had communicated them, I believe, to the Foreign Office in Paris. The place where the disturbances occurred is at a distance of more than three months' journey from the coast, which is more than one month's distance from London. It would require an expedition to Uganda to convey any message whatever there, and before any expedition could reach Uganda it is more than probable—nay, it is certain—that a full account of what has occurred will be received from Captain Lugard.
§ MR. O'BRIEN
May I ask whether if it was a case in which British subjects had been the sufferers the Government would have taken the matter in the same free and easy way?
Yes, Sir. We have been in constant communication with the British East Africa Company in London, but they have had no information on the subject subsequent, as I have already said, to January 8th last, and those disturbances, as far as can be made out, occurred about the end of January, or about a fortnight after the 8th of January. In reply to the hon. Member for Monaghan, I would say that it is impossible to suggest any person who could make an independent inquiry into what has occurred in that district, short of sending what practically would amount almost to a military expedition to Uganda.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
Are we to understand that Captain Lugard has been practically the Governor of that country since the King was defeated?
That is just one of the very questions which I am not able to answer until we have received information.
It was published in the Gazette at the time it was issued. I think it will appear in the Papers that 367 will be laid upon the Table almost immediately.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
Can the hon. Gentleman inform me when we may expect to have the Papers, and whether he has any data which will enable him to judge when information will be received from Captain Lugard?
The Papers are ready, and I expect to be able to lay them on the Table to-night or on Thursday. I am afraid we have no data at all on which we could say precisely when an account will be received from Captain Lugard.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
Are not the Government already in possession of certain material facts, as, for instance, whether there has not been a distribution of rifles to some of the inhabitants of the district, under the authority of Captain Lugard; secondly, whether those who are so provided with firearms were not victorious in certain engagements; and whether King Mwanga has not been actually deposed in favour of a nominee of Captain Lugard?
No, Sir, upon the three points specified we have no certain and definite information. We have only had rumours which have come to us, not through the British East Africa sphere at all, but across the Lake and through the German sphere.
From a gentleman of the name of Munksworthy, who lives on the Lake, and partly from the White Fathers; but we have not seen any documents.