HC Deb 28 May 1880 vol 252 cc644-6

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether his attention has been directed to a telegram in that morning's "Times" from South Africa, to the effect that the Basuto disarmament has been postponed until the 21st June, owing to the critical state of affairs between the Basutos and the Colonial Government; and, whether he is able to confirm the statement?


Sir, I am happy to say that no bad news has reached us from Basutoland. On observing the paragraph to which my hon. Friend has called attention, my noble Friend the Secretary of State telegraphed to ask what was the position of affairs in Basutoland, and desired the Governor to urge his Ministers to proceed with caution and consideration for the Basutos, adding that it would be disastrous to cause disaffection by harsh or precipitate measures. Already more than a fortnight ago my noble Friend had sent a despatch, which has been laid on the Table, and is in the printer's hands, from which I may read an extract— While the Peace Preservation Act confers useful powers upon your Government, its enforcement obviously requires great caution in each particular case, and it would be much to be lamented if the Basutos, who, with the exception of Moirosi and his followers, have been distinguished for their loyalty, were treated with any want of consideration. Your Ministers have, however, necessarily a more intimate knowledge of the circumstances than can be possessed by Her Majesty's Government at home, and I am glad to learn from your despatch of the 15th of March that they fully appreciate their position, and that it is not proposed at present to institute any search for arms in Basutoland by domiciliary visitation, nor to do more than prevent arms from being habitually carried in public. With a view to show to the Basutos that the measure does not proceed from distrust of their loyalty, and that the defence of their country will be adequately provided for, it would be very desirable to carry into effect as soon as possible the scheme for raising and embodying a Native Militia in Basutoland. I may, perhaps, be allowed to remind my hon. Friend and the House that the Cape Colony is under responsible government, and that the power of the Secretary of State is strictly limited to giving advice through the Governor.


asked, Whether the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies had any information which would lead him to believe that the part of the telegram stating that a troop of rifles had already been moved into Basutoland was correct?


in reply, said, the Government had no power to prevent the sending of troops into Basutoland; but no information that a troop of rifles had already moved there had reached the Government.


inquired, whether special inquiries had been addressed to Sir Bartle Frere with regard to this particular point?


in reply, said, he did not believe that any inquiry had been addressed with regard to that special point. Inquiry had been made with respect to the whole subject.

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