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Africa—The West Coast Settlements—The Ashantee Invasion

Volume 217: debated on Monday 14 July 1873

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asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, If he has any later information to communicate with respect to the disturbances at and near Cape Coast Castle; and, if the Government intend to add any to the precautionary and peace-restoring measures which lately were thought to be adequate?

also asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, What has been the loss in material of war sent out to Cape Coast Castle by the wreck of the "Nigritia" and of the "Yoruba;" what is the latest news as to the advance of the Ashantees on the town and fort of Elmina, and as to the position of our allies the Fantees; and, what preparation has been made to remedy the losses which have been sustained?

It may be, Sir, for the convenience of the House, that I should at the same time answer the Question of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Charles Adderley) with reference to the loss in material of war by the wrecks of the Nigritia and the Yoruba. I have very little to communicate beyond the news which has appeared in the morning newspapers. The Ashantees have received a severe check at Elmina, and when the mail left, their army was concentrated about midway between that town and Cape Coast, at a place called Effootoo. The military and naval forces, under the command of Colonel Festing and Captain Fremantle, and the Houssas under Mr. Loggie had behaved admirably, inflicting a considerable loss upon the enemy, while the casualties on our side were very slight. The despatches just received, giving an account of the engagement, will be immediately published in The Gazette. I may take the opportunity of stating with regard to the previous West Coast Papers which my noble Friend (the Earl of Kimberley) promised for this week, that being very voluminous, it has been thought best to divide them in order to facilitate their delivery, and that the first part will be distributed, I hope, to-morrow, and the rest before the end of the week. I hardly understand the second part of the Question of the hon. Member for Leith as to "precautionary and peace-restoring measures." At the present moment our first duty is to repel the Ashantee aggression, for which purpose every necessary measure will be taken. They have already had a severe and salutary lesson, and we have every confidence in our officers and men, as well as in the Adminis- trator, Colonel Harley. With regard to the first part of the Question of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I am happy to inform him that, as far as can be ascertained, no military stores were lost in the wrecks of the Nigritia and Yoruba, with the exception of some boots and clothing, though it may be possible that some stores were re-shipped from Sierra Leone. But by reports received from the Coast, ample supplies of military stores have arrived at the Coast, having gone out by previous vessels. Colonel Harley writes in good spirits, and speaks of having plenty of munitions of war; but, in addition, further stores, with large supplies of provisions, will be immediately sent in the Simoom. With regard to the latter part, the details of the engagement will appear in the despatches about to be published in The Gazette. A portion of the town of Elmina, called the "King's Quarter," separated from the other part of the town by the river, had shown itself disloyal, and the Ashantees had been supplied with arms and provisions by the inhabitants. The latter were desired to give up their arms. That they did not do, and numbers of them were joining the Ashantees. After full and extended notice, that portion of the town was very properly destroyed. It would have been impossible to have allowed it to remain and be occupied by an enemy, as it was built close up to the walls of the castle.

Patent Laws—International Conference, Vienna—Question

asked the under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he has any information regarding the intended conference on Patents for Inventions at Vienna, which he will now state or will lay upon the Table; and, if Government will anywise be represented there provided the principle or policy of Patents is not assumed to be acquiesced in by persons participating in the deliberations?

in reply, said, Her Majesty's Government had heard nothing of any proposed conference on Patents at Vienna since April last, when the United States Minister wrote unofficially to Her Majesty's Ambassador, saying that a conference among the Exhibition Commissioners on the subject had been mooted. It did not appear that that was to be a conference of an official or international character, and the Austro-Hungarian Government did not ask for any suggestions upon the subject, or invite representatives from other Powers to attend; and Her Majesty's Government did not know whether the project was going to be carried out or not.

Elementary Education Act—Annuities To Certificated Teachers—Question

asked the Vice President of the Council on Education, If the Council has come to any definite conclusion as to whether or not any provision shall in future be made for granting annuities upon their retirement from old age and infirmity to those certificated teachers whose certificates date prior to 1860?

in reply, said, that was a departmental question, but one that would have to be decided ultimately by the Treasury. With regard to the matter itself, he might state that there was a Committee which sat last year on the subject of pensions to teachers, which was presided over by his hon. Friend the Member for Kendal (Mr. Whitwell). The Report of that Committee stated that many teachers regarded the Minutes as a promise of pensions to teachers; but, after the fullest consideration of the subject, the Committee were of opinion that the Minutes were not entitled to hold out any such promise. That was the construction put on them in the Minute of the 6th of August, 1871, and in that opinion his noble Friend (the Marquess of Ripon) concurred with him.