HC Deb 09 November 1893 vol 18 cc537-41
MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Bechuanaland Exploration Company has any concession confirmed by Her Majesty's Government over the mineral rights in any part of that portion of Bechuanaland under British protection, that portion of it the sovereignty of which is contested between Lobengula and Khama; could he explain what is the connection of the Bechuanaland Exploration Company with the South Africa Chartered Company; whether the South Africa Chartered Company is possessed of the concessions granted to the African Lakes Company; and, if so, over what extent of country they extend; whether the concession obtained by the South Africa Chartered Company from the Chief Lewanika, which gives to the Company the whole British sphere of influence immediately north of the Zambesi, except Nyassaland, has been confirmed by Her Majesty's Government; whether the concession granted to the South Africa Chartered Company by Gungunhama, 20th October, 1890, giving to the Company mining rights in his territory, has been confirmed by Her Majesty's Government; whether Gungunhama's territory is in the British or Portuguese sphere of influence, and what is the extent of that territory; whether the concession granted to the Company by Umtassa over Manicaland has been recognised by Her Majesty's Government; whether, since the granting of this concession, Umtassa has made any complaint that he has been attacked by the Company's forces, and what is the extent of territory covered by this concession; if he can state approximately the extent of territory in which the South Africa Chartered Company hits acquired mining concessions; and whether, in view of the agreement of Her Majesty's Government to guarantee £10,000 per annum for making the railroad from Vryburg to Gabarones, on condition of the South Africa Chartered Company and the Tati Company guaranteeing a further £10,000 per annum, Her Majesty's Government has satisfactory evidence that the finances of these Companies are in such a position that this £10,000 per annum is certain of being forthcoming?


The Bechuanaland Exploration Company bad it concession, recognised by Her Majesty's Government, of the mineral rights in Khama's undisputed country, but this concession has been acquired on certain terms by the Chartered Company. The Bechuanaland Exploration Company further claim that its concession from Khama extended to the territory in dispute between that Chief and Lobengula; but as other parties had conflicting claims, Her Majesty's Government never gave formal recognition to the Bechuanaland Exploration Company's claims. Now, however, all the parties claiming have, as is understood, agreed to unite. Her Majesty's Government see no reason to oppose this arrangement. 2. I cannot within the limits of an answer give the information asked for in the second question; but, briefly speaking, their relations are those of mutual grantors and grantees. I understand that the British South Africa Company has purchased the property and other assets of the Lakes Company, but that no powers of government have been, or can be ever, exercised by either Company in the Nyassaland Protectorate. 3. I have no trustworthy information as to the area of the property of the Lakes Company. 4. Lewanika has not given to the South Africa Company any such concessions as is described. A purely commercial and mining concession from him has been submitted to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for confirmation; but no action has as yet been taken thereon by that Department. 5. The concession granted by Gungunhama to the Company on the 20th of October, 1890, was disallowed by the late Government. A later concession from Gungunhama, dated November, 1891, giving land rights, was sanctioned by Her Majesty's Government as regards so much of Gungunhama's country as lies within the British sphere of influence and within the principal fields of the Company's operations. 6. Gungunhama's territory is partly within the British and partly within the Portuguese sphere. The part within the British sphere is small—possibly 9,000 or 10,000 square miles. 7. The concession granted by Umtassa, of Manica-land, was recognised by Her Majesty's late Government subject to the condition that grants in the nature of trading monopolies were not to be exercised. 8. Umtassa's son informs us that his father makes certain complaints against the Company; but the officials of the Chartered Company on their part inform us that these complaints are not authorised by Umtassa himself, who, they affirm, is well contented with his position under the Company. British Manica-land may possibly be 30,000 miles in extent; but as the Anglo-Portuguese and other boundaries have not been defined, it is impossible to say positively. 9. It is impossible to give any authoritative estimate of the area of the Company's mining rights. South of the Zambesi, including Mashonaland, Matabeleland, aud Khama's country, they probably amount to about 230,000 square miles. 10. As regards the last question, I may say the point is under consideration as to whether it is necessary that the payment should be especially secured; but I must point out to my hon. Friend that the only obligation which it has been contemplated that the Bechuanaland Government should assume towards the Railway Company is to pay a certain subsidy for services actually performed, and so long only as those services are satisfactorily performed.


I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether in the Papers just presented to the House all the communications of Mr. Moffat are included; and, if not, whether in any of these that have been excluded there is anything to show that, in the opinion of Mr. Moffat, no attack on the Chartered Company on the part of Lobengula was probable?


I can only say, in answer to the hon. Gentleman, that the selection of the Papers which it was deemed desirable to present to Parliament has been made on the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government. Of course, there always passes between the Secretary of State and those with whom he communicates correspondence that is not afterwards published in full, and no Government ever gives the whole of such correspondence. I must decline to give any specific answer to the question or to state whether such portion of the correspondence, if any, which may have been omitted tells either in favour of the view of the hon. Gentleman or against it.

MR. BYLES (York, W.R., Shipley)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any later information has been received by the Colonial Office from Matabeleland beyond what has appeared in the newspapers? Perhaps I may be allowed to ask further if the Company's forces have yet entered Buluwayo?


I have just received the following telegram, dated November 9, addressed by Sir H. B. Loch to the Marquess of Ripon, which I will read to the House:— Following message received from Colonel Goold-Adams: '6th November. Yesterday Makalakas sent in representations asking for protection, stating column from east in pos- session of Buluwayo, and Lobengula tied; also Gambo and his large impi had tied towards Gwai River, leaving Buluwayo to the right. Messengers have reached me from Jameson continuing above. I am sending message to Jameson, and am starting with my column for Buluwayo at once.' Gambo is induna who commanded impi against Goold-Adams's force on 2nd November. That is Sir Henry Loch's telegram, and it is satisfactory in this sense: that I hope no further hostilities will be necessary.