HC Deb 16 January 1913 vol 46 cc2241-2

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any official information regarding the negotiations which are in progress between Messrs. Lever and the Liberian Government, with a view to the grant to the former of a land monopoly over a large tract of territory; what is the extent of such concession; and whether, when his assent was given to the concession to Messrs. Lever in Sierra Leone, he was informed by them that these negotiations were pending with the Liberian Government?


asked whether Messrs. Lever Brothers are negotiating for a lease of 12,000 square miles of land in Liberia, or approximately one-fourth of the entire area, under which they will obtain a monopoly of enjoyment and usage of the land in any form whatsoever; and, in view of the probability of this arrangement being carried out, will he state the aggregate amount in square miles of land over which Messrs. Lever Brothers have acquired, or are seeking to acquire, rights of any kind from the Government in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the Gold Coast, respectively?

Mr. GULLAND (Lord of the Treasury)

In reply to the question of the hon. Member and also that of the hon. Member for Eastbourne, the Secretary of State is informed that the Liberian Senate has rejected the proposals of Messrs. Lever Brothers, for information with regard to which he must refer the hon. Member to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The Secretary of State was not specifically informed of the negotiations with Liberia at the time when assent was given to the concession to Messrs. Lever Brothers in Sierra Leone, but he was aware that they were seeking palm oil concessions in foreign Colonies. A perusal of the correspondence on the subject recently presented to Parliament (Cd. No. 6561) will show the nature of the rights granted or proposed to be granted in British Colonies. It will also be seen that these rights are in no way similar to those which Messrs. Lever were seeking to obtain in Liberia.


Is it a fact that Messrs. Lever Brothers are seeking from His Majesty's Government further facilities in regard to Sierra Leone?


I am sorry, but I cannot answer that question.


Have His Majesty's Government taken the views of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) upon the matter?