§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is intended to enter into any arrangement with the Niger Company with a view to purchase any of the rights that they have acquired by Royal Charter; whether, if so, he can state what portion of these rights it is intended to purchase; whether the estimate of the purchase money to be paid is based on the amount per annum that these rights bring in to the company per annum; and, if so, how many years' purchase are to be paid; whether he will lay upon the Table of the House a list of the first shareholders of the company, and of the present shareholders, together with their respective holdings; and whether, before any such arrangement is definitely concluded, the House will be given an opportunity to express its views in regard to it?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
This is a matter rather for the Foreign Office than the Colonial Office, and I reply to the Question in the absence of my right honourable Friend. Of course, the Charter of the Royal Niger Company could not be revoked without proper compensation being given to the company; but, as Her Majesty's Government have not arrived at any final decision as to the course that should be adopted with regard to the position of the company, I am unable to give the honourable Member the information he desires.