HC Deb 22 February 1881 vol 258 cc1526-7

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, after the receipt in England on the 4th December of Sir George Colley's telegram, to the effect that the attitude of the Boers required increased force at Pretoria, any offers of reinforcements were telegraphed to him by the Home Government before the 21st December; and on what date the first offers of reinforcement were made to him?


Sir, I am glad to have an opportunity of answering this Question, for I think the hon. Baronet has put it under some misapprehension. It is quite true that on the 4th of December Lord Kimberley received a telegram from Sir George Colley to the effect that the attitude of the Boers required increased force at Pretoria, and that a portion of the 58th Regiment was sent into the Transvaal at that time. But it would be quite a mistake to suppose that that message from Sir George Colley indicated in any degree any deficiency in the aggregate force in South Africa. What happened is this. A portion—I think a battalion—of the 58th Regiment was brought from the Transvaal to Natal a short time before, a good deal, I believe, with reference to considerations of health and convenience; and it was a mere local and administrative measure. The portion of the regiment had been brought down a short time before, and on that occasion Sir George Colley thought fit to send it back again. That was the whole scope of his communication, and it had no reference to any increase of the force in South Africa at all.


asked the Secretary of State for War what was the actual force in the Transvaal and at I Pretoria?


The hon. Baronet asks me a Question without Notice, and I can only answer it from memory. There were four regiments of the Line at the time in Natal and the Transvaal, Those four regiments had been there for some time. There has been no reduction in the Line regiments, and they have remained there since.