HC Deb 16 June 1881 vol 262 cc637-8

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether the time has now arrived when the Motion with respect to the Transvaal, of which notice has been given, could be discussed without injury to the Public Service; and, if so, whether he is able to state what facilities he can give for the purpose?


We heard a few days ago from South Africa that certain of Her Majesty's troops were on their way to Potchefstroom, under arrangements which the Government had thought it necessary to make after what had occurred there. They had arrived within one or two days' march of Potchefstroom, and I was in hopes that by to-day we should have heard of their march being completed. I have no doubt that in a few days we shall have information to that effect; and I shall then be able to speak more definitely with regard to the day which the right hon. Gentleman asks us to name. In the meantime, I wish to say that, having regard to the general position of this Question, it certainly would not have been the choice of Her Majesty's Government, all things considered—while the important matters in the hands of the Commissioners in South Africa are still awaiting settlement or adjustment—to have invited a discussion upon the affairs of the Transvaal, considering, as they do, that such a discussion would be embarrassing, inasmuch as it would introduce much matter which is retrospective and which relates to subjects beyond the territory of the Transvaal itself. Nevertheless, as soon as the occupation of Potchefstroom is completed, Her Majesty's Government, considering the nature of the demand, and the quarter from which it comes, will not feel themselves justified in offering any objection to the discussion. When we have heard of the completion of the operations to which I have referred, I shall be prepared to make a tolerably definite arrangement as to the time at which it can be brought forward. All our anxiety relates to the state of the Land Law (Ireland) Bill on which we are now engaged. That is the only impediment, and I hope we need not ask from the right hon. Baronet, who has been very patient and considerate in the matter, any very lengthened postponement.