§ 57. Mr. CHARLES BUXTON
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that the paramount chief and chiefs of the Bamangwato tribe, in Bechuanaland, are under the impression that it is the express desire of His Majesty's Government that an agreement giving rights to the British South Africa Company to prospect and mine for gold anywhere in their territory shall be signed without delay by the paramount chief; and what steps he proposes to take to remove this impression?
§ 63. Mr. MANDER
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that the paramount chief of Bechuanaland is about to leave his country in order to make a personal appeal in London to the Secretary of State not to compel the Bamangwato tribe to sign any agreement permitting the exploitation of their country for gold and other minerals; and whether he will request the High Commissioner to inform the chief that the matter of signing the agreement is one solely for the chief himself, and that his refusal to sign will not prejudice relationships between the Bamangwato tribe and this country?
§ 64. Mr. LEIF JONES
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether it has been brought to his notice that the Imperial Secretary to the High Commissioner for South Africa has arranged that on or about the 20th of this month a public meeting shall be summoned in Bechuanaland at which it is proposed that the Resident Commissioner shall explain to the Bamangwato tribe a suggested agreement with the British South Africa Company permitting the exploitation of their territory for gold; and whether, as the chief of the Bamangwato and his people are opposed to mining operations in their territory, he will instruct the High Commissioner to make it clear to the paramount chief and his people that the Imperial Government has 1372 no wish whatever to press or persuade them to sign the proposed agreement?
§ 65. Mr. HARRIS
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether any interview or interviews have taken place during the last few weeks between the High Commissioner of South Africa and representatives of the British South Africa Company upon the question of a mining concession in Bechuanaland; and whether the Secretary of State has been kept fully informed of the nature and results of these discussions?
§ 66. Mr. OLIVER BALDWIN
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that the British South Africa Company has stated that the former Secretary of State for the Colonies was unwilling to agree to the use of administrative compulsion upon the Bamangwato tribe of Bechuanaland to permit mining in their territory; whether any departure from this policy has been made; and, if so, whether the High Commissioner of South Africa has been informed of any change in policy?
§ 67. Mr. CECIL WILSON
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that Tshekedi, the chief of the Bamangwato tribe, has been informed that, if he persists in his refusal to sign an agreement for exploiting his country for gold, the High Commissioner will issue to the directors of the British South Africa Company, on behalf of the Imperial Government, a proclamation giving the company permission to proceed with its operations; and will he inquire into this matter?
§ 68. Mr. DENMAN
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will arrange for the suggested proclamation of mining regulations for the Bechuanaland Protectorate to be deferred until he has had an opportunity of receiving representations on the question on behalf of the native interests which will be affected.
69. Dr. MORGAN
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will fake steps to ensure that no pressure of any kind is brought to bear on the Bamangwato tribe or their chief, Tshekedi, either officially or unofficially, so as to secure their consent to any mineral concession or signature to any document granting mineral rights in native territories and land in Bechuana 1373 land; and whether he will give an undertaking that no steps binding on the tribe will be agreed to by the Colonial Office until this question has been thoroughly investigated and, if necessary, ventilated in the House of Commons?
§ 70. Mr. WALLHEAD
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he has been informed that the paramount chief and regent of the Bamangwato tribe is about to leave Serowe for London; whether any impediments have been put in the way of the chief visiting London; and whether he will take steps to see that no official action is taken which would make it difficult for the chief to follow the practice of his predecessor, Khama, in paying a visit to the Secretary of State in London?
§ Mr. LUNN
The agreement which has been proposed to the Chief of the Bamangwato tribe is one to be substituted for the existing mineral concession granted to the British South Africa Company by Chief Khama in 1893. The question has arisen in connection with the proposed issue of a proclamation regulating mining in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, a matter which has been under consideration for some years, and is still being discussed with the British South Africa Company, who are interested, by virtue of the concessions and rights which they hold in the Protectorate. The proclamation, which will be referred in draft to the Secretary of State for approval before it is issued, is to be in a form in which it could be applied separately to Crown lands and to native reserves, the intention being that, before it is applied to the reserves, the old concessions held in the reserves should be revised so as to make them more favourable to the natives.
The Chief of the Bamangwato reserve was reluctant to enter into a new agreement with the company, and was granted an interview in the matter with the High Commissioner for South Africa on the 7th of August. The High Commissioner, while advising the Chief to accept the new agreement on the ground that it was more advantageous to the Bamangwato tribe than the existing concession of 1893, made it clear to him that no pressure was being placed upon him by the Government to sign it, and that the decision rested entirely with the Chief and the tribe. There is no reason to suppose that this 1374 was misunderstood by the Chief, but he subsequently intimated that he wished to proceed to England for discussion with the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State deprecated this proposal, on the ground that he could not at an interview add to the full explanation already given to the Chief by the High Commissioner, who is fully acquainted with the position and with the views of His Majesty's Government; and it is not known yet whether, in the circumstances, the Chief has decided to come to England. As regards the reference to a public meeting to be held at Serowe on the 20th of February, the Secretary of State is informed that this meeting, which the High Commissioner had proposed to summon in order that the terms of the agreements could be explained to the Bamangwato tribe, has been cancelled.
§ Mr. BUXTON
While thanking the hon. Member for the fullness of his reply, may I ask him whether, in view of the very strong feeling that exists on this subject, he will receive a deputation to go into the whole matter, and, particularly, into the subject of the verbatim report, cabled to-day, of the speech of the Governor-General at Serowe?
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Is it true that the Chief has been given until to-morrow to come to a decision with regard to the agreement, and that, if he does not come to a decision, action will be taken over his head?
§ Mr. MANDER
Do I understand that there has been nothing to prevent the Chief visiting this country if he wishes to do so?
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Will the Under-Secretary see that his answer "Certainly not" is cabled out to-morrow?