Title: "England Firm on Congo"

Journal: New York Times

Place of Publication: New York

Date: February 27, 1908

Place: Congo Free State


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England Firm on Congo.

House of Commons Will Support Government Move to Transfer Control.

London, Feb. 26. -- The House of Commons to-night, after a short debate, adopted a very strong resolution relating to the Congo Free State.

The resolution asks the Government to do all in its power to bring about the transfer of the control of the Congo region, and assures the Government that if it shall fail to accomplish this transfer in a diplomatic way within a reasonable time the House will heartily support it in any measures it may take, either alone or in conjunction with the powers that signed the Berlin Act, to insure the effective carrying out of the provisions of that act.

Speeches on both sides of the House severely indicted the existing administration of the Congo Independent State and urged the Government to take steps to leave the Belgian Government in no doubt regarding the settled determination of the people to assert Great Britain's treaty rights.

Sir Edward Grey, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in a speech sympathizing with the terms of the resolution, repudiated on behalf of the Government any desire to establish political or territorial claims, or do anything directed against the Belgian people. No transfer, he said, would be satisfactory unless it gave the Belgian Parliament a free hand and full control. It would be impossible for Great Britain to take the initiative while the discussion on the Congo question was proceeding between King Leopold and his people.

"But," he added, "this Government will always welcome and co-operation of the other powers, and if at the close of the Belgian Parliament session we have to deal with the existing government of the Congo unchanged, we must be free to deal with the questions arising out of our own treaty rights in our own way."

Earl Percy, on behalf of the opposition, expressed approval of Sir Edward's statement, and the resolution was adopted without division.