HC Deb 04 June 1896 vol 41 cc417-8
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will communicate to the House the Report of the Land Commission, which also deals fully with the question of cattle in Matabeleland, referred to on page 23 of the British South Africa Company's Report for 1894–5, and there stated to have been approved by the Secretary of State; and, if he can inform the House whether the 79,500 head of cattle, stated on page 77 of the some Report to have been held by the Natives in trust for the Company, comprise or were distinct from the cattle said to have been taken by the Company from the Matabele near the close of last year.


I have no objection to present the Report of the Matabeleland Land Commission and the connected correspondence. I have no official information of any cattle having been taken from the Matabele at the end of last year, but I have a report that in the early part of the year they were pleased at having had some Matabele cattle given back to them. I have called for a full report on the administration of the company's cattle regulations, to be made by Sir Richard Martin as soon as peace is restored.

MR. R. McKENNA (Monmouth, N.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether his attention has been called to reports in the newspapers of recent speeches by Mr. Cecil Rhodes, according to which he is assuming control over military as well as civil affairs in Matabeleland; and if so whether the attitude taken up by Mr. Rhodes is sanctioned by Her Majesty's Government; and whether he will inform the House as to the relative positions and responsibilities in Matabeleland of Sir Frederick Carrington and Sir Richard Martin, as representatives of the Crown, and of Mr. Cecil Rhodes and Earl Grey, as managing director and administrator of the British South Africa Company?


From official information in my possession, I have no doubt that Mr. Rhodes is not assuming control over civil and military affairs, and I am not shaken in this view by any expressions attributed to him in the brief telegraphic summaries of his speeches. Sir Frederick Carrington is the General Officer in command of all the forces in the field who are combating the Matabele. Sir Richard Martin is at present confining himself to his duties as Deputy Commissioner, under the High Commissioner, representing the Crown in Matabeleland. Earl Grey is the Company's administrator in Matabeleland under the Order in Council of 1894, but is not managing director. Mr. Rhodes has recently been leading a column from Gwelo to Bulawayo. I am not aware whether since his arrival at that place Sir Frederick Carrington has assigned to him any further military duties.


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether his attention has been called to newspaper reports from Matabeleland, to the effect that, besides the capture of cattle from the natives by the British South Africa Company's forces, large quantities of grain have been seized and destroyed; and whether, considering the present scarcity of food in the country, Her Majesty's Government has approved the policy of destroying food taken from the enemy?


I presume that grain is only destroyed by our forces when it is impossible to carry it away for the consumption of our own people. I have not expressed any views to the local authorities on the matter.

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