HC Deb 18 March 1880 vol 251 cc1205-6

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether his attention has been called to a Reuter's telegram published in the "Daily News" of Tuesday, March 16th, to the effect that The condition of affaire in Basutoland is regarded as critical in consequence of the determination of the Cape Government to insist upon the disarmament of the Natives; and, whether Her Majesty's Government has sanctioned, or intends to sanction, the disarmament of the Basutos by force?


I think the hon. Member is under some misapprehension as to the relative position of Her Majesty's Government and the Cape Government in this matter. We have sanctioned, more than a year ago, legislation based on the general policy of securing the Cape Colony against the grave dangers resulting from the indiscriminate possession of arms by the large Native population within its borders. But the question of the time and manner of the application of that policy to particular Tribes is a matter for the discretion of the Cape Government, who, so far, have applied it with great care and success in various parts of the Colony. I have no doubt that the Cape Ministry will continue to act with the caution they have hitherto shown in the case of the Basutos; but I think that great mischief might arise from any attempt at further interference on our part than the impression of caution upon them, for they are quite aware that the responsibility in this matter rests with them, and that they will have to bear it.