HC Deb 21 March 1881 vol 259 cc1512-4

I wish to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he is in a position to communicate to the House any information with respect to the negotiations between Sir Evelyn Wood and the Boer leaders, or in regard to the position of affairs generally in South Africa?


I am sorry to say that since I last said a few words to the House on this subject, we have not received any information of any importance. We are given to understand that there are two causes for this. One is—I cannot say that we know this officially, we merely fall back on what we see stated as the cause—that the rains and floods have greatly impeded the movements of the persons concerned; and the other is that the illness of Mr. Kruger and another of the Boer leaders has prevented their arrival. I have no in- formation in the slightest degree enlarging the means of judgment possessed by the House; and, therefore, I am certain it would be very unsatisfactory that we should have glances and glimpses on subjects of this kind, where everything depends on full and definite knowledge. As the Vote which will be proposed by my right hon. Friend depends on the enlargement of our military means in South Africa, and is perfectly separable from the subject of our policy, although the two might be discussed together, I hope the House may be disposed to postpone altogether from to-night the discussion of policy, unless on any particular point any hon. Gentleman thinks it necessary to state any matter that may occur to him as separable from the rest. I hope there will be a general disposition to postpone it. Of course, I adhere to the pledge I have given, that the information will be communicated to the House at the earliest possible moment at which it can be done without damage to the public interest, and also that we shall be ready, as, indeed, will be our plain duty, to make the best arrangements that may be practicable for the discussion of the subject, should it be desired by the House.


I wish to ask the right. hon. Gentleman whether he contemplates moving a Vote of Credit for 1881–2 in respect of the services in the Transval?


asked whether the telegraph service was still open with the Transvaal?


asked whether the whole of the expenses incurred in the present year were included in the Vote to be submitted that night, or whether there would be another Supplementary Vote?


With respect to the last Question, I think the proper time to put it will be when we are in Committee, and I shall then be able to give full information on the subject. With reference to the Question of the hon. Member (Mr. Lewis), I received this morning a telegram of no importance, which I think was dated this morning, but I cannot say so with absolute certainty. As to the Question of the right hon. Gentleman, if he refers to the Estimates for the coming year, he will find that they include between £500,000 and £600,000 on account of the Transvaal expenditure, and these items are shown distinctly as money proposed to be voted on that account.