HC Deb 08 March 1881 vol 259 cc548-9

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, in the event of Mr. Kruger's reply to the communication made to him by the late Sir George Colley proving acceptable to Her Majesty's Government, or affording grounds on which peace might be concluded, it will be the intention of the Government, before any terms of peace are finally agreed upon with the Boers, to lay upon the Table of the House all documents bearing upon the negotiations, and to give the House an opportunity of expressing its opinion thereon? He further asked, Whether the course indicated in the Question he had put would not be in exact accordance with the views strongly expressed by the right hon. Gentleman on more than one occasion with respect to the use and abuse of the treaty-making powers of the Crown?


To answer the last part of the Question first, I may say that the course indicated by the noble Lord would not be at all in accordance with the views I have expressed as to the treaty-making powers of the Crown. With regard to the use of those powers, we should always be desirous to proceed in harmony with what we might suppose to be the sentiments of the House and the country; but in a case when it is a question of emerging from a state of actual hostilities, which might again become a state of actual hostilities, in a very remote part of the earth, separated from us by many thousands of miles, to expect us to undertake that no terms of peace or accommodation shall be accepted before they have been subjected to the review of the House is to ask for an engagement into which we cannot enter.


In consequence of the answer of the right hon. Gentleman, I will, on Thursday, ask him, Whether the necessity for the prompt vindication of the authority of the Crown over the subjects of the Queen in the Transvaal, as expressed in the Royal Speech at the opening of Parliament, still exists, and, if so, whether that "prompt vindication" has been obtained by the battles of Laing's Nek, Ingogo River, or the Majuba Mountain; or whether it has been attained by the invasion by the Boers of the Crown Co- lony of Natal, or by the repeated declarations of President Kruger, Commander Joubert, and others, before and since the battles I alluded to, that nothing but the complete independence of the Transvaal would satisfy the rebels?


gave Notice that he would ask, Whether there were any precedents for a Bitish Government accepting an armistice and negotiating as to terms of peace after three unsuccessful engagements with its own subjects, rebelling against authority, with arms in their hands?