HC Deb 23 October 1884 vol 293 cc58-9

I wish to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies a Question of which I have given him private Notice—namely, Whether the statement which appears in the newspapers this morning is correct, to the effect that Sir Charles Warren is to be sent out to the Cape in connection with the present position of affairs in Bechuanaland; and also whether he can inform the House what will be the powers with which Sir Charles Warren will be sent out, and what is the nature of his instructions?


asked when the Papers on that subject would be laid on the Table?


, in reply, said, that all he was able to say at present was, that the Colonial Office was now in communication with Sir Charles Warren on the question whether he should go out or not; and he was not able for a few hours to give the right hon. Gentleman a more detailed answer. As to the Question about those Papers, he (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) wished to express his deep regret to the hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) that the promise he had made to him at the end of last Session that the Papers would be distributed had not been carried out. The reason for that was the Papers were of a highly confidential character, and the Government thought it so important that they should be given to the House to enable it to understand the matter thoroughly, that the Papers were sent off to the Cape to be submitted to Sir Hercules Robinson and Mr. Mackenzie, that they might go over them and correct them for publication—[Laughter, and ironical cheers]—and the Government only received them back lately. [Renewed laughter.] Well, the hon. Members who laughed and cheered had evidently not had much official experience. They should know that private letters were frequently written by public men referring to other public men in language which, as a matter of fact, they would not like to be published. Those letters referred to personal matters—matters personal to Mr. Mackenzie, and the Colonial Office did not think it right, without Mr. Mackenzie's consent, that they should be published. There was no mystery about the Papers; and, as a matter of fact, they had been laid on the Table. He had been in communication with the Printing Department; and he hoped, by a great effort, to get some copies of them ready by Saturday. The cause of the delay was the necessity of sending them to the Cape.