HC Deb 06 February 1895 vol 30 cc131-2
SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Eccleshall)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary for the Colonies—(1) whether he can generally state the terms or conditions of the reply given by Lord Ripon to the Swazi Envoys; and (2) whether the Colonial Office has received any answer or statement from the Swazi Government with regard to the Convention concluded between Sir H. Loch and President Kruger in December.


In answer to the first question, I think it would be the best and simplest way for me to read the message given, on behalf of the Queen, to the Swazi Envoys. It is as follows:— I am commanded by the Queen to inform you that, while Her Majesty is sensible of the confidence in the justice of her rule which is implied by the offer of allegiance which you have made to Her Majesty by order of the Queen Regent and Council of the Swazi nation, the Queen is precluded by her Treaty engagements from accepting the allegiance which you have tendered. The Queen desires me to say that Sir Henry Loch, her High Commissioner in South Africa, in preparing the system of administration which he drew up last year in concert with the Government of the South African Republic, and which has been embodied in the organic proclamation which the Queen Regent and Council have been invited to sign, acted in fall accordance with the instructions issued to him by Her Majesty's Government. The Queen is convinced that in framing that system Sir Henry Loch was animated by a sincere desire to do the best that could be done under the existing circumstances for the interests of the Swazi people, and Her Majesty desires you to tell this to the Queen Regent, the Queen Mother, the King, and the Council; and to inform them that it is Her Majesty's wish that they should be guided by the advice of her High Commissioner in South Africa, who represents the Queen in that part of the world, and possesses Her Majesty's entire confidence. I will just say that I laid dummy papers on the Table of the House yesterday. With regard to the second question, I understand the hon. Member wants to know what is the Swazi reply to the convention negotiated last year between Sir H. Loch and President Kruger. That Convention was not communi- cated to the Swazi Government, because it would only come into force in the event of their not agreeing to what was negotiated last year—in the event, that is, of their not agreeing to the proposal for the acceptance of an organic proclamation. Therefore, really, so far as this particular Convention is concerned, it has not been communicated to them, and, therefore, we have not received any answer from them.


Have the Government received any communication from the Swazi Government that they are ready to issue an organic proclamation? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can inform the House what are the principal provisions in the arrangement concluded between the British Government and the Boer Government for the protection of Swaziland?


In regard to the first point, I have only to say that I think it is unfortunate that any Debate should take place on the subject of Swaziland at the present moment. In the first place, we have just issued papers in dummy, and they will be circulated as soon as possible; and, in the second place, the Swazi Council meets to-day or to-morrow to settle whether they will or will not consent to an organic proclamation. As regards the organic proclamation itself, the hon. Member is in full possession of all the terms of it, as it has already been published in a Blue Book. The organic proclamation to which the Swazis are asked to consent is that founded on the Convention of 1893, which we have already discussed in the House. The proclamation provides, amongst other things, that the King shall be the Paramount Chief; that the Swazis shall retain their ancient laws and customs, so far as they are not inconsistent with humanity; and that they shall be secured in the continued use and occupation of their lands and their grazings and agricultural rights. These guarantees are continued in the organic proclamation, and, of course, will be enforced by Her Majesty's Government.