§ MR. BOURKE
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he is now in a position to inform the House what are the views of the Cape Government with regard to the legislative arrangements for the superintendence of the affairs of Basutoland; and, whether any communication has been made on behalf of the Cape Government to Her Majesty's Government upon the subject; and, if so, what are the intentions of Her Majesty's Government with respect to the future government of Basutoland?
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether Her Majesty's Government had recently received any communication from the President of the Orange Free State on the subject of Basutoland with reference to the Aliwal North Treaty of 1869; and, if so, whether he would state to the House the purport of such communication?
There is no occasion for any reserve with regard to the 1645 communication which has reached the Government on this subject. I might read the telegram to the House; but I am not sure that that would be the best way of conveying information to it. Speaking generally, in reply to the hon. Member's Question, I may say that the President of the Orange Free State has signified to the officer administering the Government of Cape Town the interest of the Orange Free State in the measures which are supposed to be approaching in regard to Basutoland, and has made an appeal with respect to the obligations considered to be entailed on the Colonial or Imperial authorities by the Treaty to which the hon. Member refers, and to the importance of the fulfilment of the engagements, such as the President of the Orange Free State considers them to be. So much for this Question. With regard to the Question of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bourke), the matter stands thus—We have substantially received information amounting to this—that both on the side of the Basutos and on the side of the Cape Government there is a state of things proceeding which points to the probability of immediate change. The Basutos have, with the exception, I believe, of about 2,000 persons, declined to attend a Conference summoned by the Agent of the Government of the Cape, and that appears to me an indication of a desire for change in that quarter. On the side of the Cape, the construction upon it is that all the Basutos desire to have no further connection with the Colony; and, under these circumstances, the Colonial Government or administrative body have apprised Her Majesty's Government that, as they say, it is certain that the relations now subsisting between the Colonial Government and the Basuto nation will no longer be continued. They also point to the fact that the withdrawal of the Colonial authority will be a serious crisis in the affairs of Basutoland that may be attended with important consequences, and they appeal to Her Majesty's Government to take the matter into consideration without delay. I think, Sir, that is substantially an account of what has taken place on the part of the Cape Government with regard to the Basuto Government and the Orange River Free State. The first duty of the Government has been to take these circumstances fairly into con- 1646 sideration; and they have proposed a draft, which, I believe, will go to the Cape by the next mail, expressing their views. I think the right hon. Gentleman will see that it is premature to attempt to answer now the latter part of the Questiou—namely, as to the intentions of the Government in respect to the future government of Basutoland, because, undoubtedly, their first duty is to inform themselves fully on the subject, both by communications with the Cape Government, and by making all necessary inquiries in Basutoland itself.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the substance of this despatch will be sent out by telegram, and whether it will be laid on the Table?
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I wish to supplement that Question, and ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will lay on the Table the Instructions given to Sir Hercules Robinson before he arrives at the Cape?
The noble Lord will see this is a Question with regard to which no general rule can be laid down. The general rule, in fact, would be that the document should not be produced until it had reached the Cape. With regard to the despatch to Sir Hercules Robinson, I am doubtful if I could comply, as we are not communicating the views we entertain on any particular question, but are communicating our views generally, and, at the same time, asking for information from those in possession of it. I doubt whether it could be produced in the manner suggested; but I will make inquiries into the matter as to whether I am correct or not on this question.
§ MR. BOURKE
Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House when it is at all likely that Parliament will be made acquainted with the intentions of the Government with regard to the future government of Basutoland; because, if I am correctly informed, the despatch does not disclose the intentions of the Government, but only expressed a desire to obtain information.
It is much more than that. The despatch we are sending out comprises a full exposition of the general views of the Government; but as these general views are not at present entertained by us on adequate information, it is not possible for us, at the 1647 present moment, exactly to state how far they apply to the real state of the facts. We should be very desirous to make known to the House of Commons at the earliest practicable opportunity the steps we propose to take, and the views we entertain.
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
May I ask whether Her Majesty's Government will lay on the Table the despatch they have received from the President of the Orange Free State, with reference to the Aliwal North Treaty of 1869?
said, they were not in possession of any such despatch. What he held in his hand was all he was inclined to believe. It was a telegram from the officer administering the Cape Government, which referred to the communication which had been received from the President of the Orange Free State.