HC Deb 27 July 1899 vol 75 cc521-41

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time"

MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N)

I cannot allow this Bill to be read the third time without making a few observations upon it. I will only detain the House for one minute. In 1897 the dividend paid on the stock of the Royal Niger Company amounted to £29,620 16s., or 6 per cent.; in 1898 the dividend was exactly the same; in 1899, according to the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the dividend was still 6 per cent. In 1897 the £10 shares in the company stood in the market at £10 per share. In 1898 these shares had gone up to £14; in 1899 the same shares arc quoted in the market at from £19 to £21, or actually double the amount they were two years ago. In other words the market price of half a million stock has increased to a million. What has been the new factor to explain this sudden rise in the price of the shares? No new factor has been vouchsafed to this House beyond the following—that this year the Government, a member of which is a shareholder, have been negotiating with the company the terms of the compensation for the abrogation of the company's charter. The result of these negotiations is that the Government are paying back to the company the whole of their capital plus a bonus of £100,000, and at the same time are relieving the company of liabilities amounting to £24,000 a year for administration, while still leaving the company the whole of their trading profits.

MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)

There are one or two observations which I should like to make on this Bill before it passes the Third Reading. They have nothing to do with the financial aspect of the question, and, for my part, I do not feel that I am fully able to judge of the terms made by Her Majesty's Government. On the whole, the company has deserved well of the country, and its administrative conduct can be pointed to with some pride. I should like, however, to have seen the Colonial Secretary present, because the question I wish to ask relates to the future administration of the country, and not to the financial proposals of the Bill. There were two questions to which I particularly directed attention at the time of the Second Reading, viz., the importation of spirits into the Niger territory and the status of slavery, and I rise to suggest that the Colonial Secretary should follow the example of the company, and abolish slavery both in Southern and Northern Nigeria; and that he should also give an assurance that proper restrictions will be placed upon the importation of spirits into those territories. With regard to the latter question, I believe it has been stated more than once that the cry got up against the company for maintaining a monopoly was largely due to the interests of spirit exporters in this country, and that it was because of the policy pursued by the Niger Company in discouraging and prohibiting, as far as they could, the importation of bad spirits, that a feeling was engendered against them. We want to be sure that the arrangements made by the Colonial Office will be as effective in diminishing the importation of spirits as the regulations of the Niger Company have been. The Colonial Secre- tary has told us that in Northern Nigeria itself the importation of spirits is still to be prohibited; but he would not say, in reply to a question of mine, whether it was to be prohibited by legislation or administrative decree or otherwise. The statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduces some doubt in my mind, because I gather there is to be a customs duty of 3s. a gallon, and spirits will come from territories adjoining as well as from the part of Nigeria that belongs to ourselves. I should like to know what provision is to be made against the importation of spirits from French and German possessions. The Colonial Secretary told us he was engaged in considering a large number of ordinances which were to be made for the purpose of carrying out the proper prohibition of the importation of spirits in Northern Nigeria and generally for the regulation of tariff. I hope those will be laid upon the Table of the House when they have been settled between the Colonial Secretary and the Colonial authorities, because I am bound to state that the neutral zone about which he spoke is one which I find it very difficult to understand. I cannot comprehend how it is to operate in keeping out spirits. We were told that within the neutral zone spirits might be sold but not carried through. I think the probability would be that the inhabitants of Northern Nigeria who wanted the spirits would all flock into this neutral zone, and it would become rather a zone of hard drinking. There was another question I put to the Colonial Secretary to which he did not reply. I asked whether the Niger Company had been able effectively to control the importation of spirits into that territory, not merely by imposing a higher duty than neighbouring colonies, but also by the fact that they imposed a heavy annual licence upon all those who sold spirits in the territory. I understand that an annual sum of £100 had to be paid for the licence. In that way the Niger Company knew very well that the man to whom they entrusted the sale of these spirits was a person upon whom they could rely, or if he failed in his duty they could prevent a renewal of the licence. I asked whether under the new system of government that kind of licensing system would be continued, but no reply was given. Seeing the success which attended that system, it would be of the greatest convenience to know before this Bill passes whether it is to be continued. There are wider questions connected with the action taken by the House in this matter than the mere question of the amount of money to be paid to this company, and it is the duty of this House to see that as far as possible proper restrictions are put upon those two evils, viz., the continued existence of slavery and the importation of spirits. I think it would be a great satisfaction to the House if before the Debate concludes we could get some assurance upon these points.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer came to the conclusion yesterday evening that the company had made a somewhat good bargain. He did not say so, but in these matters we have not absolutely to hear what a Minister says, but to observe the effect of arguments upon his countenance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has a most expressive countenance, and I think he fully realised that we were justified in discussing the matter, and that the company had got the best of it. In fact, the Chancellor of the Exchequer almost admitted it. He started the discussion upon a business basis, contending that what we were giving to the company was only right and legitimate and proper from a business standpoint. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was driven from that position, and had to fall back upon generalities about countries having to be exceedingly generous in dealing with companies, and about these gentlemen connected with the company having been such eminent patriots, and having done such very great service to the country at large, that we ought not to look too closely into figures. I venture, with all respect, to entirely differ from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in that matter. I think it is a matter of pure business when we take over a company of this sort, and if we want to have an item for patriotism let us put it down at the bottom of the account—so much for assets, so much for so and so, and so much for "moral and intellectual" advantages, after the manner of President Kruger, that have accrued to the country from the action of the company.




Well, I should like to claim damages, moral and intellectual, taking it from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's standpoint. I confess that the gentlemen connected with this company are very different from the gang that had to do with the South African business; but, after all, they are business men, and I apprehend that they are actuated by the usual feeling of a human being when he enters into business, viz., to acquire money. Certainly, these gentlemen have shown themselves exceedingly astute and clever in the matter of making money; they have shown themselves particularly clever in the accounts which they have submitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in the way in which they have hoodwinked that most able financier. It is desirable that we should understand precisely what is proposed to be done, and I have jotted down what really is the amount we are giving and for what we are giving it. The capital of the company consists of £443,350 in shares. This capital is made up of a sum of £195,000 fully paid up shares, which were given to a French company for their assets; by £115,000 for the goodwill of that company; by issue of shares £133,000, but of this £133,000 they wore returned 30 per cent, in the shape of certain bonds which they could sell in the market. Consequently these patriotic gentlemen themselves laid out of their own money a sum of loss than £100,000. They then obtained a charter. The charter granted them certain privileges, and against these privileges they were bound to pay all the administrative and police expenditure. They at once commenced to keep two accounts, one administrative and the other trading. The administrative accounts show that they lost on an average about £20,000 per annum, the loss on the last year, 1897, being £22,000. The trading accounts show a very different result. From their profits they paid 6 per cent, upon their shares, and from the1897 trading account it will be seen that, after deducting what is owing to them, they have, inclusive of their lands and buildings, which they retain, a sum of £416,317, made up in part of cash at bankers, in part of bills receivable, and very largely in part of goods for sale that they have either in the country, or on the seas going to the country. The charter not only did not give these people a monopoly, but it specifically declared in the fourteenth clause that they were to have no monopoly. That clause was a reproduction of the conditions we had agreed to in the final act of the Conference of Berlin. We had pledged ourselves absolutely not to give any species of monopoly; we had specifically declared that the Niger was to remain open to the navigation and the trade not only of the citizens of this country, but of the citizens of every other country. The company, however, managed to get behind this definite statement of the fourteenth clause, and by a system of sharp practice they did establish a monopoly. That is shown by the fact that according to the last balance-sheet the company paid in customs duties for exports and imports £111,775, while all other companies and all other British citizens paid £260. In fact, it is admitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that they established a monopoly. That is the position of the company. What are we paying to the company? We first of all issue a loan, and I have never yet discovered how the loan is to be converted into cash. This loan is, to a great extent, simply a mode of keeping books. The company call it a loan, but it is simply a balance in their hands from profits acquired, upon which they charge interest to themselves and pay the interest to themselves. All that has been issued to the public of this loan has been issued without any cash payments, and I find that the shareholders received 30 per cent, of this loan against no species of payment. If you take the two sums, that is, the amount in the hands of the company and the amount of the 30 per cent, which was given on this £443,000, I think it will be found that they issued none of this loan to the public, and they have received no cash in regard to this loan. There is a clause that they are to be paid back in 1938, and so excellent is this loan that we propose to give them a bonus of 20 per cent. We give £115,000 for a portion of certain administrative assets belonging to the company, although the total assets are valued by the company at only £113,000. We are actually giving more than the company has told the shareholders all their assets are worth. Take the item of ships. My hon. friend, the Member for Gateshead, has told us that the company took care to keep the ships that are of any value, and what they sell us are a few old hulks. No doubt we could prove the same thing in regard to other assets. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will accept the fact that we only get half or two-thirds of the assets, and the company seem to have had the pick of the assets. The next item is a sum of£150,000 given for any benefit the company may have in certain lands, mining rights, treaties, administrative stations, and wharves, and compensation for the dislocation of business. I have been anxious to get to know what this land can be, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was surprised to find that it was not land which they possessed at all. It seems to me a very extraordinary thing that they should get a right to the land on both sides of the river for£500. With regard to these lands it has been shown that the company have simply obtained some vague rights of pre-emption, and they have the right to purchase the land against any other individual or company. I may point out that there is a very wide difference between the right of pre-emption and a title to the land itself, and if we buy the land we shall have to pay for it, the only difference being that we have a right over other people. As to the mining rights, the main one is the right of mining in the Empire of Sokoto. This remarkable treaty with the Emperor of Sokoto is not put in, and I gather that really nothing is paid down to the Emperor. We pay him some£300 or£400 a year for recognising us as the paramount power, but I can hardly suppose that the Emperor gave these mining rights to the company as a present, because the company assert that the value of these rights is£1,000 sterling. If they did obtain these rights as a present, they undoubtedly robbed that prince in the most audacious and scandalous fashion. What does "dislocation of business" mean? The company obtained a monopoly, but they would not have been able to continue that monopoly, and we are literally paying for a monopoly which the company have acquired in defiance of the terms of their charter. The fact of the charter having been broken for so many years would give us the right to abrogate the charter, instead of which the Government choose rather to pay this unjust sum of money. There is an amount of£300,000 which represents sums advanced in excess of revenue from customs. The revenue from customs was not sufficient to cover the administrative expenditure, and so they took the money from the trading account. The company had got the charter and certain rights, which seem to have been remunerative, and therefore they were bound to pay the administrative expenses. But because they choose to make two accounts they come and tell us that we have to pay them back all this money in excess. They cannot plead in formâ pauperis, because during the whole time they have had this monopoly, which they got by sharp practice, they have been able to make a large amount of money for themselves. What do we get for this large sum of money? We are simply buying the privilege of paying a deficit each year in the administrative expenditure. We take over the administrative expenditure, and leave the trading business to the company. The cost is £22,000 per annum, and that is a sum we are asked for. I maintain that instead of paying this sum we ought to charge the company something for doing this for them and relieving them of the burden. While this Bill has been under discussion a Supplementary Estimate has been put in by the Colonial Secretary, in which he asks for the sum of£75,000 per annum. The Colonial Secretary told us plainly that he did not anticipate that this would be a good paying concern for some time, and he seemed to think that it might be a good paying concern if he diverted all the trade from Europe to these inland territories which passed along our seaboard. That may be or may not be, but we know that when trade has got into one particular line it takes years to divert it into another channel, and it is a very off chance that this country will ever pay us, or pay even its own administrative expenses. The result of these negotiations is shown in the price of the company's shares. It is a positive fact that in 1897 the£10 shares of this company were quoted at£10. At that time the company had strong friends in the House of Commons, and the public thought it would be a good thing to buy the shares. At the present time those£10 shares are quoted at£20, that is to say, the shares have gone up 100 per cent. No great divi- dends have been paid during that time, but what has occurred? Why nothing has occurred, except these negotiations and this agreement with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that has enhanced the price. Suppose anybody were to come forward to buy up any of the gas or water companies in London? If the shares were at a certain price before the negotiations commenced, and if the result of those negotiations were that the shares went up 100 percent., would anybody say that that was a fair and legitimate price? They would undoubtedly say that we are paying 100 per cent, more than the public believe those shares to be worth. It is, therefore, obvious that we are paying too much, and this is all the more so because we are leaving to the company practically all the valuable assets which they possessed before. It is said that we ought not to take private property without paying its actual value, but what happens in England? Suppose you want to bring in a Bill giving power to the London County Council to buy certain houses. The value of those houses is estimated, and the owner is given 10 per cent. for dislocation of business. Now if the value of this company's assets had been fairly and legitimately estimated, and it was proposed to pay them 10 par cent. over and above that amount for dislocation of business, I should not have complained. But by all this hanky-panky business of buying up excess of expenditure on administration over what is received by the customs, we are really paying, not twice as much as we ought to pay, but almost three times as much. If you really calculate the thing it amounts to this, that we are relieving this company of the obligations they have had up to the present, and we are allowing them to retain nearly the whole of their property. The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire referred to the liquor question. It seems to me we ought to have some undertaking with reference to the laws regulating the liquor traffic. We were given to understand that the great aim and object of the British people was to prevent liquor getting into the hands of the natives, and that its sale would be prohibited altogether were it not that the frontiers of other countries adjointed our territory, and that liquor would be smuggled in and sold at a cheaper price. The Colonial Secretary has, however, thrown an entirely new light on what he intends to be the policy of the Government. He told us that it was absolutely necessary in order to obtain trade in that part of the world to pay a certain proportion of the exchange for the products of the country in liquor, and that that was the reason why he could not put an end to the sale of liquor altogether. That throws a new light on the question. It appears that in this valuable property trade is only to be obtained by providing these unfortunate natives with a sufficient supply of liquor to enable them to get drunk. That is a new and very serious view of the matter. The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire asked also what was to be done with regard to Northern Nigeria. Liquor is to be imported into Southern Nigeria, but it is to be forbidden altogether in Northern Nigeria. There may be a zone between the two in which liquor might be sold though not stored, but it is certain to dribble into Northern Nigeria from Southern Nigeria, just as it dribbles in from the possessions of other Powers. It is said that the natives of Sokoto, being Mohammedans, do not want liquor. Well, we are supposed to be Christians in this country, and yet a great many Christians, drink a great deal too much. I have been in Mohammedan countries myself, and I know that a great many Mohammedans when they get a chance drink to their hearts' content. But all these natives are not Mohammedans. The Mohammedans settled in the country as the ruling race, but the mass of the natives belong to another religion and they would not be adverse, if they got the chance, to taking drink. If we are told that our only chance of maintaining the trade of Northern Nigeria is to be able to have a sort of currency in gin, where is trade to come from in Sokoto if you cannot pay in the same currency? I think the Colonial Secretary forgot that, and that he ought before this Bill passes to give us a clear and explicit statement with regard to this liquor question, and also a clear and explicit statement on the question of slavery. The Colonial Secretary has just said that the legal status of slavery would not be recognised in the territories to be taken over. These territories contain thirty millions of human beings, fully one half of whom are at the present moment slaves. How are you going to convey to these people that the legal status of slavery no longer exists? They know perfectly well that if they will not work, or if they run away and are brought back, they will be punished. What is the good of telling them that you do not recognise the status of slavery, though you recognise slavery in the sense that one man is made to work for another, and that if he runs away he will be punished? I think the Colonial Secretary ought to tell us that he is contemplating some plan to do away to a large extent with slavery, and not content himself with a mere pious opinion that the legal status of slavery will not be recognised. The Chancellor of the Exchequer attacked us yesterday because, as he said, we did not realise the advantage of taking over this empire of Sokoto. I should be very glad if we were without it. It seems to me we have a sufficient number of subject races to employ most of our means and resources. I by no means welcome as a delightful thing the fact that we are taking over thirty millions of natives, who will, I suppose, be called British subjects. I agree that under the circumstances in which we are placed, seeing the dangerous effect of retaining the charter in the hands of the company, and seeing that the charter has been violated, it is less dangerous that we should hold those territories direct rather than that they should be left in the hands of the company; but that is no reason why we should pay an excessive sum for them. It is on the financial aspect that we have attacked this Bill. We do not recognise the doctrine that we should act not on business lines, but on generous lines. We do not recognise that men should be paid, not for what they have got, but for their excellent patriotic intentions, views, and desires. I have a great deal of sympathy with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I believe he does his best to get the best bargain he can; but the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself had to succumb—because he has himself almost admitted that we are paying too much on a fair commercial estimate, and he asks us to act on a vague generous principle—shows the influence which companies have in this House. We had an instance of that in the Telephone Company the other day, and here is another instance now. This system of lobbying is sapping the House of Commons, and companies expect to get special terms because they have members in this House and in the Government. I think it is very desirable that the attention of the country should be called to this matter, and I consider that my friends and myself have done good service in making it clear to the country that these gentlemen connected with the Chartered Company are very powerful in this House and in the Government, and that they have got not only quite as much as they ought to have got, but more than twice as much as the selling price of their concern.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I am glad my hon. and gallant friend has expressed his intention of taking a Division against the Third Reading. The question now before us is whether we are going to vote against the Bill, the general principle of which most of us agree with, or whether we are going to consent to what it is evident to everyone in the House is a monstrous waste of public money. We are placed in this position, that we cannot get rid of the power of this company without consenting to this enormous amount of blackmail, for which not a shadow of justification has been given by the Government. If it were in my power to achieve it I would prefer to kill the Bill, and wait for another year, when perhaps the Government, benefiting by their experience and by the opinions expressed in this House, might make a better bargain. It cannot be too often repeated that all these patriotic men have risked is£160,000 in cash and no more, because all the rest of the stock of the company is not stock for which cash has been paid. What is the state of the company? They have paid for ten years under the charter dividends varying from 6 per cent. to 7 per cent., not on the£160,000 that they risked, but on a capital inflated to£550,000 by the issue of scrip; and after paying nearly 7 per cent. on this inflated stock for ten years they are now in possession by their own confession of assets over and above the assets which they propose to transfer to the Government amounting to nearly£500,000. Where is the hon. Member in this House who would not gladly embark in an enterprise which did so well as that? It is nothing short of an outrage that the taxpayers of this country should be called upon to pay £850,000 into the coffers of a company which has done so extremely and remarkably well; and in my humble judgment, the claim to be generous might be met by half the sum provided in the Bill. It is rather remarkable that although the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to deal with this whole matter from a business point of view, and on business principles, he should argue that we ought not to be niggardly on great questions of Empire, and that we should approach them not from a business point of view, but from a patriotic point of view. His argument was that those men risked their capital primarily for the extension of the British Empire, and not for any return in money. I have said nothing against Sir George Goldie or any of the directors. They may be most high-minded men. I see nothing to be ashamed of and nothing inconsistent with honour and honesty in their risking their money in order to secure dividends. That is perfectly fair; but they must stand on one leg or the other, and if their action is to be put down to patriotic motives, they should be content with small dividends, or no dividends at all. But if it is to be put down to ordinary human motives, and if they are acting as men of business, then they cannot claim that they are acting from motives of patriotism. I put a very clear test to this patriotism. What did the Chancellor of the Exchequer say? One of the main things over which the dispute has arisen has been on the shadowy mineral rights, which may be of enormous value, but which may be of no value whatever. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself declares that it is out of the power of any human being to form the faintest rough estimate of what these mineral rights are worth, or whether they will be worth absolutely nothing. They may be in the end another Rand or Transvaal. But this patriot, Sir George Goldie, who risked his money primarily not for paltry dividends, but for the honour and glory of this great Empire, when he was dealing with the Chancellor of the Exchequer asked for a million of money for part of these mineral rights. Oh, what an ungenerous Chancellor of the Exchequer who refused to come to terms with this noble patriot who risked his money primarily for the honour and glory of the British Empire and the British flag, who thought only in a minor degree of a return for his money—but who modestly asked for a million of money, and is staved off with the small sum of £115,000! Was ever a patriot so badly treated? I was really doing the Chancellor of the Exchequer an injustice, because if the mineral rights are worth nothing he gives £115,000 for them, and if they prove to be worth something he will have to pay enormous sums in royalties. So that the patriot did very well after all. These gentlemen may be all very patriotic; I do not deny it. But so far as concerns the starting of this African Company, they did it for the same purpose as men start a gas company or a gold mining company. They saw a good thing and they secured a monopoly of the trade of this district, in spite of the terms of the charter, and they have made great profits out of it. There is another point to which I wish once more to draw attention—and that is the accounts which have been submitted and which are most unsatisfactory. There was a most extraordinary change introduced into the method of keeping those accounts the moment the negotiations with the Government were entered into. In 1896, on the profit and loss account of the company the sum of £1,665 was carried to the general reserve account, which was almost the first start of this reserve fund. In the following year £25,963 was carried to the general reserve account, and in the year following that again £39,000 was carried to the general reserve fund, while only £36,000 was distributed in dividends. What is the meaning of that? Finally, last year more than half of the total income is carried to the general reserve account. We can only place one interpretation on such a proceeding—namely, that the company was doing so splendidly that they became ashamed of paying the dividends they had earned, and they were afraid that while they wore pretending to lose money the public opinion of this country would revolt against the absurdity of paying £865,000 for relieving them of the expense of administration. That is the last word I have got to say in regard to the accounts. But there is another point. We are called upon by this Bill to pay the company a sum of £300,000 for the accumulated deficit on the administration accounts extending over ten years. How did that deficit arise? The administration account is separate from the trading account, and was intended to be supported under the charter by the duties on exports and imports charged on the Niger river. When there was found to be a deficit on the administration account all that the company had to do to balance it was to raise the duties, but as they were the only traders on the river the result would have been to slightly diminish trading profits. They kept the customs duties low in order to increase their trading profits and pay higher dividends.


The company were forbidden by the Foreign Office to increase the duties.


Well, the Foreign Office has a good deal to answer for. Of course, the Bill will be passed in spite of all we can do. This is not the first time in the history of this House—even in the recent history of the House—when a small body of members have resisted Bills of this kind, and their action was justified in a few years' time. I am old enough to remember—though I was not in the House then—when ten or twelve Irish Members, backed up by the right hon. Member for Bodmin, who, I am sorry to say, supports this Bill, resisted the Bill for the annexation of the Transvaal, for a whole night. And yet within a few years the whole country recognised that the small minority of ten Members was right, and that the large majority which supported the Government was wrong. I am not convinced, by all that has been said, that this chartered company's gift to the British nation is good rather than evil. I view with the greatest possible anxiety the recklessness with which the Government of this country undertakes to annex vast territories, largely unexplored, most unjustly obtained, and inhabited by multitudes of people about whose welfare it would be impossible for us to take any cognisance. Whatever I felt on this subject in the earlier stages of this Bill has been enormously increased in looking over the Papers which were issued yesterday in regard to war and disturbances in the territory of Sierra Leone. These papers show that in that district, which has been for a long time under the direct administration of the Colonial Office, lives has been sacrificed, and almost whole territories have been devastated, and dreadful confusion created by an unjust and cruel hut tax. And we are now told that, in spite of the Special Commissioners' Report, the imposition of that tax will be persevered with, no matter what the people think, and what the consequences may be. Even in view of the wisdom and humanity which have been shown in the administration of the neighbouring territory of Lagos, I have no great confidence in the enormous improvement in the civilisation and condition of the people which we are told will follow the administration by the Colonial Office of these vast territories. While I base my opposition to this Bill chiefly and mainly on the monstrous sum we are asked to vote, and while I will vote against what I consider to be a gross levy of blackmail on the British taxpayer, I am also strongly opposed to these outrageous extensions of territory of the Empire, without any corresponding realisation on the part of the Government of their duty to these unhappy people who are passing under their sway. I conclude by protesting in the strongest possible way against the introduction at this period of the session of a Supplementary Estimate for £75,000. The first evidence of the value of the great property we are acquiring is that we have to vote £75,000 to keep it going for the next eight months! But it is introduced at a period of the session when the Colonial Office has made it absolutely sure that no opportunity would be given us to discuss the Vote. Finally, I ask the right hon. Gentleman for some information as to what measures the Government intend to take to protect themselves from being placed in the position of having to pay any claims that may be made by France against the company after they have parted with all this amount of money.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I shall vote with my hon. friend against this Bill, but not on the grounds which have been urged by my hon. friend. I quite agree that the price to be given is large; but if the price had been larger and we had got rid of the company, there would have been something to be said for it. But the monopoly will remain, and the malign influence of the company will remain for ninety-nine years, although we are spending £865,000 in buying out their goodwill. From the time when an astute Scotsman went down and syndicated the West African merchants and got them into one pool, and then came here for the Royal Charter to keep everybody else from the Niger region, we have been hoodwinked. The 13th and 14th sections of the Charter have been entirely disregarded. They prevented anyone coming into the region, and they have used their monopoly in a way that caused a civil war not very long ago. And that monopoly of the whole trade, which from 1885 until now has been brought about by Mr. Miller's action, will continue, for no other persons will be able to get their hand into the Niger territory trade. Not only that, but for the next ninety nine years the growth and development of the colony will be seriously interfered with by the terms come to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to mining royalties. You are compelled to enforce a royalty upon all mining within the territory. We only used to enforce it on the royal metals, gold and silver, but now it is to be enforced on all, and that royalty you have to divide with the company for ninety-nine years, and by the contract you are entering into you will not be able to control your fiscal duties for ninety-nine years. The policy of the Government will militate against the development of the country. We all know that the growth of the Transvaal is due to the absence of the imposition of any royalties at all, and when royalties are imposed it will prevent the development of the mining industry. I shall not now discuss this question further, but will content myself with voting against the Third Reading, because I believe the policy of the Government would be as prejudicial to the well-being of the country in the future as the proceedings of the company have been in the past.


I do not wish to be considered lacking in courtesy to hon. Members by declining to make any reply to them, but I really think I could almost refer them to what I said yesterday with regard to the proposition we make. I quite admit that hon. Members below the gangway opposite regard the Bill from a totally different point of view to the Government, but they have done nothing more to-night than reiterate what has been already said with what I might almost call tedious repetition. No fresh argument whatever has been raised. The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire is in favour of the principle of the Bill, and of the revocation of the charter of the company, and he also attached great importance to the measures which the company have taken with regard to the legal status of slavery and the sale of liquor. The company is entitled to every credit for the policy it has pursued with regard to those matters. The hon. Member, however, so mistrusts the authority of the Crown, that he evidently believes that both as regards the legal status of slavery and the sale of liquor, the condition of the territories will be worse in the future than in the past. He cannot understand by what means the sale of liquor can be prohibited, or in what way the administration of the country can be improved by the action of the Government. There are possibilities of administration which are, perhaps, beyond the comprehension of the hon. Member. At any rate, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that Her Majesty's Government have both these matters thoroughly at heart, and have every desire to continue the policy which has hitherto been pursued by the company. The hon. Members for Northampton, Caithness, and East Mayo have repeated their attacks upon me with regard to the price to be paid to the company. The hon. Gentlemen regard the matter from the point of view from which I have not been able to regard it. The hon. Member for Northampton tells us that the company has got the better of us, but I can only say it was never my belief that it was my duty, on behalf of the country, to endeavour to get the better of the company in this matter. I always thought my duty was to act fairly as between the taxpayers and the company, with the full understanding that the company has deserved well of the country, having regard to the fact that but for the action of the company the country would not be in possession of these territories. The hon. Member for East Mayo attacked the motives of those who founded the company, and who carried on its proceedings, and he declines to attribute to anybody else those patriotic motives which he claims for himself. I do not think I need trouble the House with any further observations in reply to such statements, and I hope that the House will now read the Bill a third time.

MR. T. R O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

I only rise to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that he has not answered the main question which was put by my hon. friend the Member for East Mayo, as to what he is going to do with reference to the disputes between the company and France. That

is a matter which I certainly think requires some explanation.


I do not see that the hon. Gentleman can ask me either to repeat or extend what I have already said on the subject.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 181; Noes, 81. (Division List, No. 309.)

Aird, John Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Maclure, Sir John William
Anson, Sir William Reynell Doxford, William Theodore M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)
Arnold, Alfred Drucker, A. M'Crae, George
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Elliot Hon. A. Ralph Douglas M'Killop, James
Asher, Alexander Fardell, Sir T. George Malcolm, Ian
Ashton, Thomas Gair Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Manners, Lord Edward W. J.
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Finch, George H. Martin, Richard Biddulph
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Fisher, William Hayes Middlemore, J. Throgmorton
Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds) Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Milton, Viscount
Banbury, Frederick George FitzWygram, General Sir F. Milward, Colonel Victor
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Fletcher, Sir Henry Monk, Charles James
Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith-(Hunts Foster, Colonel (Lancaster) More, Robert J. (Shropshire)
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Garfit, William Morrell, George Herbert
Beach Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans) Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Gilliat, John Saunders Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)
Beckett, Ernest William Goldsworthy, Major General Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)
Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe Gordon, Hon. John Edward Newdigate, Francis Alexander
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E. Nicol, Donald Ninian
Bethell, Commander Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J.(St. Geo. s Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafford
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Goulding, Edward Alfred Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay
Bigwood, James Graham, Henry Robert Parkes, Ebenezer
Bill, Charles Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Penn, John
Birrell, Augustine Greville, Hon. Ronald Percy, Earl
Blundell, Colonel Henry Hamond, Sir Chas. (Newcastle) Pierpoint, Robert
Bolitho, Thomas Bedford Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Rbt. Wm. Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Brassey, Albert Heaton, John Henniker Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Brookfield, A. Montagu Hedderwick, Thomas Charles H Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)
Bullard, Sir Harry Hill, Arthur (Down, West) Purvis, Robert
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Hoare, Ed. Brodie (Hampstead Quilter, Sir Cuthbert
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.) Howard, Joseph Renshaw, Charles Bine
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton Rentoul, James Alexander
Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East) Johnston, William (Belfast) Rickett, J. Compton
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Ridley, Rt Hon Sir Matthew W.
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Kearley, Hudson E. Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r Kimber, Henry Rothschild, Hon Lionel Walter
Charrington, Spencer Kinloch, Sir John G. Smyth Round, James
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Knowles, Lees Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Coddington, Sir William Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool) Saunderson, Rt. Hon. Col. E. J.
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Seely, Charles Hilton
Colomb, Sir John Charles R. Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. Ed. H. Simeon, Sir Barrington
Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead) Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford) Leighton, Stanley Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)
Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn (Sw'nsea Smith, Hon. W.F. D. (Strand)
Cranborne, Viscount Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Spencer, Ernest
Cripps, Charles Alfred Long, Col. Charles W.(Evesham Stanley, E. Jas. (Somerset)
Crombie, John William Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Liverp'l) Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Curzon, Viscount Lorne, Marquess of Stephens. Henry Charles
Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Lowe, Francis William Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Denny, Colonel Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John Strauss, Arthur
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Lucas-Shad well, William Sutherland, Sir Thomas
Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Macartney, W. G. Ellison Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Doughty, George Macdona, John Cumming Talbot, Rt Hn. J G (Oxf'd Univ.)
Thornton, Percy M. Whitmore, Charles Algernon Wyndham, George
Tomlinson, Win. Edw. Murray Williams, Joseph Powell- (Birm Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Trevelyan, Charles Philips Wilson, John (Falkirk) Young Commander (Berks, E.)
Tritton, Charles Ernest Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)
Valentia, Viscount Wolff Gustan Wilhelm TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Walton, J Lawson (Leeds, S.) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart- Sir William Walrond and
Warde, Lieut.-Col C E. (Kent) Wrightson, Thomas Mr. Anstruther.
Whiteley, A. (Ashton-und. L.) Wylie, Alexander
Abraham, William Rhondda) Griffith, Ellis J. O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)
Allen, W. (Newc.-under-Lyme) Harwood, George O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.
Austin. M. (Limerick, W.) Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Bainbridge, Emerson Hazell, Walter Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. J. B. (Clackm. Healy, Timothy M. (N. Louth) Power, Patrick Joseph
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Holden, Sir Angus Price, Robert John
Billson, Alfred Holland, Wm. H. (York, W. R.) Reckitt, Harold James
Broadhurst, Henry Horniman, Frederick John Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Caldwell, James Jacoby, James Alfred Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Cameron, Robert (Durham) Joicey, Sir James Robson, William Snowdon
Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson- Labouchere, Henry Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)
Carvill, P. George Hamilton Lambert, George Shaw, Chas. Edw. (Stafford)
Channing, Francis Allston Langley, Batty Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.) Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland) Steadman, William Charles
Colville, John Leng, Sir John Strachey, Edward
Condon, Thomas Joseph Lloyd-George, David Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Crilly, Daniel Lough, Thomas Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.
Davitt, Michael Macaleese, Daniel Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.
Dewar, Arthur M'Ewan, William Wedderburn, Sir William
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles M'Kenna, Reginald Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Donelan, Captain A. Maddison, Fred. Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)
Doogan, P. C. Maden, John Henry Wills, Sir William Henry
Duckworth. James Mendl, Sigismuud Ferdinand Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Dunn, Sir William Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel) Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Morgan, W. P. (Merthyr) Woods, Samuel
Fenwick, Charles Moulton, John Fletcher
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Norton, Capt. Cecil William TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley Nussey, Thomas Willans Mr. Pirie and Mr. Dillon.