§ MR. HUBERT DUNCOMBE (Cumberland, Egremont)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been directed to the reports which are being persistently circulated of the importation of large quantities of warlike stores into South Africa from French and German sources. Whether he is aware that the late Mr. Stokes was hanged by an officer of the Congo Free State for a similar offence on a minor scale, and what action, if any, he proposes to take to prevent this serious menace to the maintenance of peace in South Africa?
§ MR. J. M. PAULTON (Durham, Bishop Auckland)
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers, may I ask him whether, even assuming that the statements in the question of the hon. Member are true, he has any power to prevent the circulation of mischievous reports either by persons in South Africa or Members of this House?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
I have no power whatever to prevent the circulation of mischievous reports. I wish I had. [Laughter.] I confess I am not quite certain that I understand the Question of my hon. Friend. I presume he refers to the importation of warlike stores into the South African Republic, of which I am fully aware. The late Mr. Stokes was, as I understand, accused of an offence against the laws of the Congo Free State which do not apply to South Africa. I am not aware that 930 there is any breach of local or international law in the importation of warlike stores into the Colonies and States of South Africa.