§ MR. SNAPE
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether natives who attempt to cross the territory of the Royal Chartered Niger Company from one region outside the Company's jurisdiction to another have been summarily shot; whether, to prevent competition from Brass River merchants, that Company increased the export duty on palm kernels by 1,100 per cent, (from 2d. per cwt. to 2s.); whether, consequent upon the Charter, the exports of palm oil from that district alone dwindled in two years from 2,500 tons to 1,000 tons per year; whether he will lay upon the Table the Report of Sir Claude Macdonald, who, on the urgent representation of the West African merchants of Liverpool, was sent by the Government to investigate the charges which had been made; and why the Company does not present annual accounts of its revenue and expenditure as provided by the Charter?
§ *SIR E. GREY
I have seen these wanton acts of cruelty alleged in the Press, but without any definite evidence in support of them, and while such is not forthcoming I do not think such charges ought to be made or believed. The Company have raised the duty on palm kernels, but I am not aware that they had any reason for so doing beyond the obvious one of increasing their revenue. I have no information as to the diminution of the export of palm oil. Sir C. Macdonald's Report was a confidential document, and cannot be laid. The Company has furnished accounts to the Secretary of State, as provided in the Charter.
§ *SIR E. GREY
I cannot answer any question as to a proposed change in the Charter of the Company. The question is whether the Company have observed the Rules of the Charter or not. As long as they have done so—and as far as Her Majesty's Government are aware they have done so—we have no right to call the Company to account.
§ SIR E. GREY
I am not prepared to admit affairs would be better administered if such a transfer were made.