HC Deb 01 April 1881 vol 260 cc472-3

I wish to ask a Question of which I have not given private Notice. It is very desirable, Sir, that the course of the Government in respect to the Transvaal should be discussed in this House on an early day. It is the intention of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) to give Notice of a Motion on the subject; but it would clearly be desirable, before any such Motion was discussed, that the House should be in possession of all the information which the Government can communicate to Parliament. As I understand, the Secretary of State for the Colonies stated last night that the Instructions he is about to address to the Commissioners are likely to contain fuller information than it has been possible to give hitherto by telegram, and will deal with the whole policy of the Government. I wish to ask, When those Instructions will be laid on the Table of the House?


I will communicate with my noble Friend (the Earl of Kimberley) on the subject. I have to a certain extent discussed the Instructions with him, and, undoubtedly, there are parts of those Instructions which it will not be convenient or desirable, having regard to the interests of the Public Service, to lay before Parliament; but I will confer with him to see what further we can lay on the Table, with the view of giving fuller information to the House.


asked, whether it was expected to receive full despatches from Sir Evelyn Wood of all that had passed from the time he was appointed to the supreme command in South Africa to the date of the preliminaries of peace with the Boer Leaders; and, if so, whether they would be laid at once on the Table of the House?


This, also, has been a matter of communication between me and my noble Friend, and I hope that before the Easter Recess we shall be able to communicate to the House fuller information which will have been received by mail.


asked, whether the Government would communicate by telegraph with the authorites at the Cape in reference to the reported outrage at Pretoria?


said, he had always been chary of telegraphing to inquire as to the truth of reports in newspapers, of which they had had no official intimation; and in every case but one where he had done so the reports proved to be inaccurate. He had received telegraphic despatches from the General commanding of as late a date as the telegram contained in the newspaper referred to; but the matter had attracted so much attention in the House that he should, within half-an-hour, telegraph to Sir Evelyn Wood for information regarding it.