HC Deb 02 July 1907 vol 177 cc525-6
MR. BOTTOMLEY (Hackney, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he proposes to take to protect British investors in the Ethiopian Railway Company; whether all idea of connecting Diré-Daouah with Harrar and Addis-Ababa by rail has been abandoned; what steps have been taken for the construction of railways west of Addis-Ababa; and whether the Emperor Menelek has been, or will be, approached with a view to his concurrence in the Tripartite Agreement of December, 1906.


The Ethiopian Railway Company is a French concern and the treatment of its shareholders is entirely a matter for the French Government and the French courts, in which His Majesty's Government could not usefully intervene and would have no reasons for doing so as long as British investors receive the same treatment as French. The Answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative. As regards the third part of the Question, no steps have as yet been taken for the construction of railways west of Adis Ababa. The Tripartite Agreement of 1906 has been communicated to the Emperor Menelek. The concurrence of the Emperor Menelek was not required for the Tripartite Agreement, which was binding upon the three Powers who signed it. It was communicated to the Emperor Menelek in order that he might be assured that there was nothing in it prejudicial to his interests or to his sovereign rights, and he raised no objection to it. I have no reason whatever to suppose that the French Government will differentiate in the treatment of British and French subjects who are interested in the concession.


asked the right hon. Gentleman if he had any reason to believe that the company had been formed for the express purpose of getting rid of British investors and substituting French investors and French influence; and was there the remotest prospect of the concurrence of the Emperor Menelek in the Tripartite Agreement.


His concurrence is not necessary. The Agreement was simply sent to him to show there was nothing in it to which he could object. As regards the first part of the Question I have no reason to suppose there will be any differentiation between British and French investors.