HC Deb 04 March 1881 vol 259 cc326-7

asked the Secretary to the Board of Trade, Whether he is correctly reported, in the "Daily News" of to-day, to have stated at a public meeting at Cowes— That, to protect her prestige, before England attempted to enter into negotiations with the Boers, they must be compelled to lay down their arms, as a warning to their neighbours that England could not be treated as a weak and impotent Power; and, whether, if he so spoke, he spoke on behalf of Her Majesty's Government?


Sir, a new terror will be added to political life if a Member on his return from his constituents is to be cross-examined as to a telegraphic abstract of one sentence of his speech by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle. I beg to reply that in the words he has put on the Paper I recognize an approximation, but no more than an approximation, to what I said; and I can re-assure him by stating that the words were the words of the Member for the Isle of Wight alone, with no more knowledge of the inner councils of the Government than is possessed by the hon. Baronet himself. As he has drawn such public notice to what I said, perhaps the House will, in justice, allow me one word in explanation. Torn from the context the passage might appear as if I had gone out of my way to preach a crusade or raise a feeling against the Transvaal Boers. That is not so. The words were spoken in reply to a previous speaker, who had urged that we might at once, and unconditionally, retire from the Transvaal, because the nations of Europe were too well acquainted with our courage and resources to misunderstand our motives. I felt bound, in consequence, to point out to the meeting that it was not so much a question of what the nations of Europe might know or think, but, unless we were going to retire altogether from South Africa, the question was what the effect might be on the peoples and tribes out there.