HC Deb 21 February 1895 vol 30 cc1262-3
*MR. F. W. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, with reference to the attack on Akassa by the Brassmen—(1) whether, since the creation of the Niger Company and its practical monopoly, the trade of Brass in palm oil has not declined to one-sixth of what it was, and that the district is becoming less populous in consequence; (2) whether he is aware that the Niger Delta is broken up with countless channels where the Brassmen have traded from time immemorial without let or hindrance; (3) whether two sets of Duties are leviable in the Delta by two different Authorities, with no very distinct line of demarcation between them; (4) whether, under the circumstances of the case, the Government will see that no capital punishment is exacted before they have been communicated with; and, (5) whether they will institute an inquiry into the cause of the disturbance by an independent authority on the spot.


I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether, in view of the observations of Sir Claud MacDonald, at page 11, of Africa, No 1, 1895, inquiry will be held as to the responsibility of the Royal Niger Company (Chartered and Limited) for the recent rising of the natives of the Brass District of the Niger Coast Protectorate, who are described by the Administrator as deprived of a means of subsistence by the action of the Company, and, therefore, perhaps not unnaturally, discontented?


It is known that the people at Brass have suffered from the breaking down of their monopoly of the markets, owing to the opening up of the Interior to general trade. It is necessary to exact reparation for the outrages, and the means of doing so have been left to the British officers on the spot, who have already offered to the Brassmen terms, which were—the restoration of plunder, the payment of reasonable fines, and the surrender of arms and war lances. These, have, I regret to say, been refused, but when reparation has been exacted, an inquiry will be made into the causes, and possible means of alleviating grievances.