HC Deb 05 April 1887 vol 313 cc482-5
SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

had the following Question on the Paper:—To ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the Government have any information regarding a case in Egypt, reported in The Times newspaper, in which two young British officers, out shooting, hit and wounded some natives, and, in a consequent struggle, one Native was killed by the discharge of a gun; if he can say whether it is correctly reported that the natives concerned in the affair have been summarily tried and punished, some Sheiks and others been subjected to corporal punishment and other severe penalties; what the Court was which tried the case, and how composed; under what law they acted, Egyptian or British; whether the corporal punishments were immediately carried into effect; and, who are the military warders who carried out the sentence?

DR. TANNER (Cork Co. Mid)

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether report appearing in the morning papers of Tuesday, 29th March, is correct—namely, that two English officers, Messieurs Scollard and Leith, belonging to a regiment stationed at Cairo, while on a shooting excursion in the vicinity of the Pyramid of Ghiza, wounded an Arab by accident; that the Arabs and fellaheens thereupon demanded satisfaction; that, subsequently, one of the officers is alleged to have killed another Arab, literally, as given in The Daily News, blowing his head off; that, in the fracas which ensued, the officers in question received rough treatment at the hands of the Arabs and fellaheens, but were saved from any serious injury by an armed guard; that, subsequently, a number of these natives were taken prisoners for having attacked the officers in question; that these men were brought before a military tribunal, when the following sentences were passed—namely, nine men, including two Sheiks, to receive from 10 to 50 lashes each, one Sheik to undergo six months', and several men eight days' imprisonment, and the Sheik of the Pyramids is fined £100; that these sentences were executed subsequently by military warders, 60 mounted police, and 100 men of the regiment, under arms, to which the officers belonged; and, whether the Government will recommend an inquiry into the circumstances of the case?


The Secretary of State for War requests me to reply to a Question of the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), which refers to the same matter as that of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy. Her Majesty's Government have not yet received a full Report of what has occurred, for which, indeed, there has not been time; but if the House will allow me, I will read that part of a letter from the Lieutenant General Commanding in Egypt which relates to it, and the substance of a telegram from Sir Evelyn Baring. These documents will enable the House to understand more accurately the nature of the occurrence. Sir Frederick Stephen-son writes as follows:— It appears that two young officers of the Welsh Regiment were out quail shooting, near one of the villages on the left of the road leading to the Pyramids, when a native working in the fields was accidentally struck in the forehead by a single pellet from one of their guns. The officers at once compensated the native, who appeared perfectly satisfied; but on returning through the village they were mobbed and assaulted by the inhabitants, who attempted to take away their guns, and in the struggle one or both the guns exploded, killing one native and wounding another. The villagers, who were in large numbers, overpowered the officers and maltreated them very severely, striking them when on the ground, and treating them with the greatest indignity; they remained for nearly an hour, with their hands tied behind their backs, and, as I understand, with ropes actually placed round their necks; in short, they fully expected to have been murdered; but some police, whom one of their shekarries had fetched from a neighbouring village, arrived in time to prevent further mischief. I may mention that about a week ago an Italian, a medical man, out shooting, in the same neigh- bourhood I believe, with some friends, had also been assaulted by the natives, and in the struggle lost his life by his own gun going off and lodging its contents in his side, As far as I can gather from what I have heard the assault seems to have been a most aggravated and unjustifiable one; for the native who had been struck appears to have been quite satisfied with the compensation he had received. I have no reason to believe that the officers were in any way to blame; they did what officers have been ordered in the event of any misunderstanding arising, when out shooting, with the owners of the land they may be shooting over—namely, make known to them who they are and give their names. The Sheiks of all villages throughout the country were warned by the police authorities, about a year ago, that, under similar circumstances, they were upon no account to take the law into their own hands, but to ask for people's names, with a view to their complaints being inquired into and compensation awarded if necessary. Sir Evelyn Baring, telegraphing on the 29th of March, stated that no blame appeared to attach to the officers, who would seem to have behaved very well. The affair would be inquired into at once by a Special Commission, to consist of two Egyptian and one English officer, and, if necessary, the offenders would be punished. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy asks under what law the Commission acted. Both the telegram I have just read and obvious reasons point to the understanding that the Special Commission appointed to inquire and adjudicate in the case, acted under Egyptian Law; but we have not received any Report as yet of the result.


asked, how it was that these natives were brought before a military tribunal, receiving from 10 to 50 lashes each, inflicted by English military authorities?


said, that as soon as the Report was received he should have no objection to communicate it. At present, he could not answer hypothetical Questions without information.


said, he would put down the Question at any time to suit the convenience of the right hon. Gentleman.


wished to know whether any indemnity was to be given to the unfortunate Arabs who, whilst riding their camels on the high road, were suddenly shot by officers, who said they were shooting quails?


said, he had already stated that one native was struck with a pellet whilst working in a field, and that compensation had been paid.

In reply to Mr. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.),


said, he thought it would be wrong to anticipate the report, or answer on imperfect information.