HC Deb 26 February 1897 vol 46 cc1295-9

18. £23,670, Supplementary, Diplomatic and Consular Services.

*SIR CHAULES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

said he should not attempt to debate questions of policy, but some portion of the Vote related to the reception of Li Hung Chang, who came to this country last year in a capacity that was somewhat undefined. There was an impression that his visit was likely to have some influence which would be beneficial to this country in their dealings with China and questions of the China trade. He believed that impression had proved to be entirely erroneous. He desired to know whether on the Foreign Office Vote any statement would be made with regard to the Government's policy in a connection with recent treaties and negotiations in China. The prestige of this country in that part of the world had apparently received a considerable blow, and he thought an opportunity should be afforded of debating that question, and questions connected with the present position of Korea, and other matters.


said that, on the point regarding Li Hung Chang raised by the right hon. Baronet, it was not correct to say that he occupied an undefined position when he visited this country. He came here as. Special Envoy with special letters of credence from the Emperor of China to the Queen, and, whatever may have been the impression entertained in some quarters as to the benefits which might accrue to our trade in China from his visit, he did come for the purpose of laying specific proposals before Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Baronet asked whether an opportunity would not be given at a later stage, perhaps on the Foreign Office Vote, of hearing something as to the Government's policy in the Far East. He thought that was a most reasonable demand, and he did not think the Secretary of State would have any other desire whatever than to comply with it. If no other opportunity occurred in the course of the next few weeks, the hon. Member for the Ecclesall division of Sheffield had got a Motion down at an early date for a discussion on the policy of the Government in that part of the world. But, if that opportunity did not occur, he did not think there would be any objection whatever to a statement being made, when the Foreign Office Vote came on, as to what was going on in that part of the world, and what were the views of the Government. The proposals made by Li Hung Chang were merely trading proposals.


thought they should have had. Blue-book upon this question. Vague statements which appeared in the news-payers were not sufficient, and as the question was urgent at the present moment, they ought to have adequate information. Surely sufficient time had elapsed. There was an item of £1,000 under the head "Manica Boundary." That was a boundary between some of the South Africa Chartered Company's possessions which was due to a war which took place between the Company and, practically, the Portuguese. If there was to be a boundary the Company ought to pay for it.


thought the hon. Member was mistaken, as this was territory administered by the British Crown A treaty was signed in 1891 between Great Britain and the Portuguese as to the frontier of their possessions in that part of Africa, and the delimitation consequent upon that treaty was then begun. There was disagreement between the two parties' Commissioners, and the dispute was referred to arbitration. The arbitration resulted very decidedly in our favour.

Vote agreed to.

19. £36,700, Supplementary, British Protectorates in Uganda and Central and East Africa.


said this was money to cover the cost of operations in two wars which had taken place on the coast. As he had done on previous occasions, he protested against the Foreign Office carrying on wars of this description. MR. Harding, and the other excellent Foreign Office clerks, were not the people to carry on these wars a in fact, the sooner the Foreign Office got out of this East African territory and handed it over to the Colonial Office the better for all concerned.


asked what quid pro quo we got for the expenditure of £36,700? One of his strong objections to the expenditure of such large sums of money in Africa was that, not only was it unjust, but that we did not get anything for it. Could the Under Secretary show the Committee that in meal or malt we had got £30,000 or even £500 worth for our money?


said the object of the expenditure had been very clearly explained in. Blue-book laid before Parliament. What we had gained was the pacification of the Zanzibar Protectorate which we had assumed. Disturbances arose owing to the hostile attitude of important Arab chiefs, and in consequence a regiment was sent from India, The operations conducted were entirely successful, and now throughout that long strip of maritime territory over which we exercised supremacy and which we were governing there was perfect peace and tranquillity.


said he should not divide the Committee, as the money had been spent, but he objected to the expenditure of a shilling of British money in establishing peace and tranquillity in any part of Africa, [A laugh.]

Vote agreed to.

20. £14,980, Supplementary, Colonial Services, including South Africa.


asked for an explanation of the expenditure of £1,000, consequent on the transfer of buildings in Norfolk Island to the Government of New South Wales.

MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

asked whether the Colonial Secretary would give some information as to the second item, one relating to the Transvaal?


said the condition of things in Norfolk Island had got as bad as it could. There was practically no proper administration of justice, and it was absolutely necessary to make a change. It was the opinion of the Government that it would be very much better that this dependency should be governed by New South Wales. The Government of New South Wales expressed their readiness to undertake the government, but, when doing so, represented that the administrative buildings had been allowed to get into a terrible state of repair. £1,000 was granted for the repairs, but he believed the expenses had been more than was calculated. The change which had taken place was apparently entirely satisfactory. The late British Agent stood in rather a different position. No archives were kept and there were no means of dealing properly with the business of the office. It was an arrangement made under totally different circumstances, before the post became of the great importance that it was at present. ["Hear, hear!"] When the new Agent was appointed it was necessary to provide him with a new residence. It was found that no house suitable could be obtained on lease, and it was necessary to purchase a house and make additions to it. When it was remembered that house property in Pretoria was, he thought, more expensive than in the West-end of London, he believed it would be felt that on the whole they had done the best they could. ["Hear, hear!"]


expressed his satisfaction as to what had been done with regard to Norfolk Island and the way in which the transfer had been carried out.

Vote agreed to.

21. £1,200, Supplementary, Slave Trade Services.


asked for information as to the suppression of slavery in Zanzibar.


said there could be no doubt there had been a large increase in the shipping of slaves to the island.


thought that a discussion on slavery on this item, which was very limited, would be out of order.


said, in view of the fact that the late Government had been subjected to a vote of censure on this Question, he thought they ought to know whether anything had been done, or, at least, how soon the Government would make a statement on the subject I Would it be on the Foreign Office Vote?


thought that would be the proper course to pursue.

Vote agreed to.

22. £16,304, Treasury Chest Fund.


asked for an explanation of this somewhat mysterious item.


explained that the deficiency chiefly arose in connection with one local Treasury Chest, and this was due to the quarterly rating of the Mexican dollar.

Vote agreed to.

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