HC Deb 31 May 1897 vol 49 cc1626-7
MR. H. O. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the disturbances in Mashonaland, he will now lay upon the Table, and cause to be circulated, Sir Richard Martin's Report on the Administration of the Chartered Company; and, if not, whether he will state in furtherance of what public interest the Report is withheld?


The Question of the administration of the British South Africa Company is, in fact, sub judice. The Report in question has been laid before the Select Committee, and there are obvious objections to making public disconnected portions of the evidence laid before the Committee on matters of a controversial character.

MR. JOHN MORLEY (Montrose Burghs)

May I remind my right hon. Friend that some weeks ago he was good enough to say that if I requested him to produce this Report he would produce it as soon as the Chartered Company had had an opportunity of making their comments upon it.


My recollection does not go as far as a promise, but I certainly did undertake to consider the matter. The reply of the Chartered Company has not yet come to hand, but I am informed it will be handed in some time after the Whitsuntide holidays. I have, however, reconsidered the subject, and I really think there would be the greatest inconvenience in a matter of this kind in publishing portions of the evidence before the Committee which they themselves have not yet considered. We have the Report of Sir Richard Martin, but he himself admits that the character of the evidence on which he has to rely is most unsatisfactory, and his conclusions are disputed by the Chartered Company. So altogether it is a matter of an extremely controversial character on which the Committee will have to give their judgment. Under these circumstances I think it would be quite unusual to produce the Report before the Committee Reports.


I think my right hon. Friend contended on the previous occasion that it would be contrary to precedent, but I submit this deals with an isolated aspect of the question. I wish he would reconsider the matter.


I will be glad to speak to my right hon. Friend.