§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third Time."
§ * MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
I had earnestly hoped it would not be necessary for me to have to call attention to a subject which I have already brought before this House on three occasions during the present short session—I allude to the questions put to the Colonial Secretary with regard to a letter published in what I might call an Electioneering Book, but which I ought, perhaps, to term a Blue-book. The letter I refer to was written by Mr. Merriman to a colleague in the Cape Assembly, and it was published by the Government 880 without the writer being afforded any opportunity of explaining his position in regard to it.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member may call it an Appropriation Bill, but he is only entitled to discuss those subjects which relate to the Estimates dealt with by the Bill.
§ * MR. PIRIE
Then perhaps I may refer to the subject incidentally in the remarks I am going to make on the general condition of affairs in Cape Colony, and, indeed, in South Africa generally, and I will merely cite it as one of the many examples which account for the state of feeling to which I am about to draw attention.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I think it well to inform the hon. Member that he cannot debate a subject I have ruled out of order by saying he is going to do it incidentally.
§ * MR. PIRIE
This being so, before the House passes the Third Reading of this Bill, I will merely ask leave to make a few remarks on the general situation in South Africa, a situation of which, I think, the House possesses a very imperfect notion. I beg to draw the attention of hon. Members to its great gravity and seriousness. I think it is almost a misnomer to speak of this Bill as a War Loan Bill—the actual facts are such as to justify it being called a Civil War Loan Bill. Hon. Members have no conception of the amount of intermarriage which has gone on in South Africa. The whole community there may be said to form one largo family, and it is because I wish the country to have a more correct idea of the situation and to realise how close are the ties between our colonists in South Africa and those who are suffering the horrors of this war that I am making these remarks to-day. During the few months which I spent in South Africa, I came across many instances of this close relationship between families fighting on opposite sides, and I may say that they 881 could be multiplied a hundredfold. In one case a Cape colonist of Dutch descent had two sons who settled in the Transvaal as burghers. Those two sons, as was their duty, went out to fight on commando. Both were killed, and the old man's reply, on being informed of the fact, was: "I have seventeen other relatives still fighting on the same side for you to kill. "Another colonist had no fewer than thirty-five relatives taking part in the war, and similar instances could be found in all parts of Cape Colony. There was one very sad case, that of the daughter of a well-known gentleman in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, who married a judge of the Free State. The judge went out on commando, he was taken prisoner, and, while he was detained, his farm in the Free State was blown up with dynamite. I will not say whether that was right or wrong; military necessities may have demanded it. His wife and children were transported to Port Elizabeth, and obliged to live in iron huts, being provided with the barest necessities of life. I am glad to have this opportunity of testifying to the fact that, as far as I could observe, making allowances for hardships, the actual conduct of our soldiers towards the women and children was universally humane. But the fact remains, that while detained at Port Elizabeth this lady lost one of her children through, as is alleged, the hardships to which they were subjected. Now, cases like these are to be found broadcast throughout the Colony, and are known to every colonist in South Africa. Can you wonder, therefore, that the people feel bitterly, and that they are protesting in the only manner open to them against the continuance of this war? Is it likely to conduce to a better feeling on their part when Sir Alfred Milner, receiving a deputation which presents the constitutional protests of these people against the continuance of the war on the present lines, tells them that their protest in the conference at which it was adopted was the work of "clever agitators"? Surely clever agitators are not needed to induce people to give expression to their natural feelings. I hope that the people of this country will soon become alive to the actual facts of the situation, and will realise that the feelings of these people are indeed deeply disturbed. There 882 is a most extraordinary and steadily growing mistrust in the minds of British colonists of Dutch descent. I mention a fact not generally known in this country when I state that for some days before the actual invasion by our troops of the Orange Free State, the whole of the South African colonial forces wore arrested on the borders of Cape Colony by order of Lord Roberts. The report went about that it was not the intention of the Commander-in-Chief to allow any of the South African colonial forces to carry on the war in the Orange Free State or the Transvaal, recognizing that it was only just and right that if those people had afterwards to live together it would be conducive to good feeling between them that in the conduct of the war they should be mixed up as little as possible with the invasion, and that the troops of this country and the Canadians and Australians only should be employed. I regretted that Lord Roberts' order was over ruled, but I cannot say by whom. That is a fair example of how this mistrust has been created, and how feeling will become unnecessarily embittered unless something is done to alleviate the strain now prevailing. Since I last addressed the House there has been absolute confirmation of the dissatisfaction felt in South Africa with; reference to the course pursued by Sir Alfred Milner, and of how his new I appointment is being looked upon there as the crowning stone to the series of one-sided appointments to which then alluded and by the exposure of which the hon. Member for Mansfield has rendered a public service. Our policy has not been worthy of this country. It has been one that reminds me of a big man who, having been insulted by a little boy, instead of being content with giving him a box on the ear, or a sound whipping, is not content until he has killed him. That is not a dignified policy. That is why, before the passing of this Bill, I ask for some explanation of the way the war is being conducted. We are reversing the great British traditions of old. I would like to read an extract from a letter written by a lady at Cape Town to an English gentleman. She says—I think it would only he by coining amongst them [the Dutch] that you could understand how deeply the Dutch people are suffering— how truly they had trusted and loved and looked up to England and its Queen, and how 883 puzzled they now are and unwilling to give up their ideal, while all that represents England to them here is so hostile and repulsive and cruel.That is the state of affairs in Cape Colony. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, the time for statesmanship has come, and the time of militarism is over. The Secretary for War said that he feared to exhibit weakness. I wish, indeed, that this country had, in the last few years, shown strength for the weak instead of what we have shown, weakness towards the strong. Generosity to the numerically weak can never be misjudged as in this case. I wish we could take a warning by history. The only thing open for us at the present moment is to declare an armistice and enter into negotiations with Botha. I would ask the House to remember that the generals in the field do not represent Kruger or Krugerism. They have been, in the past, bitterly opposed to Kruger and his methods. They are the men with whom we ought to treat at the present moment. We should not be blind to the lessons of history. I ask the House to remember that in Canada in 1837 we did not say that we would not make terms with the rebels, but that we did not know enough, and we sent a Royal Commission, with the result that negotiations were entered into and peace was brought about. Then there is the history of America. It is useful to look back on the old annals of this House. For a time the war there in 1780 was carried on because a majority were in favour of it, but little by little that majority disappeared, and at last it was resolved that the war should be stopped. The logic of facts is very strong indeed. We will never govern the Transvaal by force. When I hear military men and others say "Why should they not give in?" I feel inclined to ask, are the conditions of the two forces the same? The Boers are fighting for what belongs to them, and we are fighting for what does not belong to us. This country has got a wolf by the ear, and unless we take care that wolf might give us a deal of trouble yet. I do not believe this country will see the assimilation of these two races for over a hundred years if we pursue the policy we are pursuing at the present time. A great effort is being made to capture De Wet, but supposing that you had captured 884 him, which would happen? Do you mean to tell me that other De Wets will not spring up? Of course they will. The Colonial Secretary in referring to the future mentioned the ominous word "famine. "I regret that the Secretary for War has not given some information in regard to the breaking of dams in the Orange Free State. There is not one labourer's cottage in the Orange Free State and the Transvaal that does not possess its dam. A dam is as essential to the life of those on the farms as the steam boiler to the engine. Have hon. Members realised that there are 800,000 natives in the Transvaal, and 200,000 natives in the Orange Free State? Is it imagined that you can starve out the Boers when you have to support the natives? This is a continuation of the terrible ignorance which has prevailed in this country for eighteen months. I wish to ask an explanation in regard to a telegram. Telegrams coming through Reuter and passing the strict censorship must be taken as accurate. The telegram is headed "Lord Kitchener's Intentions, "and contains the following—As Lord Kitchener is taking steps by which it is hoped that the campaign will be brought to a speedy close, the conduct of the war will be changed.I hope at least that it will not be a change in which our opponents will be considered and classed as rebels. I trust that it will not be a policy of extermination. I warn the Government that the blood will be upon their heads if they should be guilty of such a thing as that. I warn them that a policy of retaliation will not be a policy that will even succeed, apart from the question of right or wrong. Success appears to be the only thing that appeals to hon. Gentlemen opposite. The reason for the ignorance prevailing in this country cannot be entirely attributed to the press. I should be out of order if dwelt on this subject, but I wish to say that the press in South Africa is a monopoly controlled by one company, and that company by one man—the De Beers Company and Mr. Rhodes. For the first time in a military campaign instead of having a military censorship there has been a political censorship. I wish to speak with all respect of the two or three hon. Members who have been performing the arduous duties of press censors. They 885 have done the work as well as it could be done under the circumstances. But it is against all the true interests of the country to have Members of Parliament, on one side or the other, in the press censorship, and determining what news should reach this country. It was absolutely wrong, in my opinion, to take over the press on reaching Bloemfontein. Better have no press at all than to hand it over as was done to the nominees of the mine owners in South Africa. The Boers have proved their sterling value, but we have made false calculations from the beginning to the end of the campaign. I only trust that we may not continue to do so. Our world position is at stake. The First Lord of the Treasury has referred to the fact that we have the goodwill of the Governments of Europe. I think the right hon. Gentleman must be very blind, or willingly blind, if he does not see why. We have the goodwill of the Governments of Europe because they are getting everything they want out of us in China, Samoa, and elsewhere. Why should they wish to put an end to what is so manifestly to their advantage? General Buller, the other day, expressed the pious wish that this war would benefit the world. If we persevere in our present course it may benefit the world, but in a very different way from that meant by General Buller. It may lead to this—that instead of our being the leader in everything which is high, noble, and worthy of our past, we shall have to vacate that position in favour of another nation which holds better to the law of right-doing which ought to govern the conduct of nations. I trust I have not been presumptuous in bringing these matters forward. I have laid my small experience before the House with some reluctance, because I do not care in any way to lay myself open to the suspicion of bringing experience gained in the military service of the Queen to the service of one party or the other. But I have made these remarks in no party interest, but in those of truth and of my country, and because it is my bounden duty to give the best advice I can in the Queen's Assembly, and as representing my constituents I am bound to let the experience I have gained as a servant of the Queen, in no matter how minor or humble a capacity, be known as widely as possible. I would ask the Government for an explanation— 886 firstly, of their conduct in regard to the letter of Mr. Merriman, because it has had an enormous effect on South African opinion; secondly, of what is meant by that ambiguous telegram as to Lord Kitchener's intentions; and thirdly, of the incidents of breaking dams; and I would also like a promise that the political censorship which has obtained during this campaign should cease.
§ MR. WILLIAM JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
I desire to urge upon Her Majesty's Government the desirability of having a day of national thanksgiving at the commencement of the new century. It was gratifying to notice the high tone of Lord Roberts' speech on leaving Cape Town the other day, and to see how he recognised the hand of Almighty God in protecting him during the war. I humbly suggest on this last day of the session, and almost at the close of the nineteenth century, that it would be extremely desirable that the whole nation at the commencement of the new century should present themselves before Almighty God, thanking Him for the victory that has been given, and entreating His protection and guidance during the time that is to come.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
I hope on the 1st January we shall have something to be thankful for, but, at all events, to-day is a day of depression and humiliation. The sad and painful news read by the Secretary of State for War this morning must have cast a gloom over the House, and depressed even more than has hitherto been the case the minds of all who take an interest in the events that are proceeding in South Africa. I should like to refer to the language of the proclamation issued on 14th December, in which the Commander-in-Chief points out that—Except in the small area occupied by the Boer army under the personal command of Commandant-General Botha the war is degenerating and has degenerated into operations carried on in an irregular and irresponsible manner by small and in many cases insignificant bodies of men.Lord Roberts then goes on to point out—I should be failing in my duty to Her Majesty's Government and to Her Majesty's Army in South Africa if I neglected to use every means in my power to bring such irregular warfare to an early conclusion.887 Then he goes on to use these words—The means which I am compelled to adopt are those which the customs of war prescribe as being applicable to such cases. They are ruinous to the country—the burning of farms and the breaking of dams—and entail endless suffering on the burghers and their families, and the longer this guerilla warfare continues the more vigorously must they be enforced.I would ask the Government, in view of the events which have transpired within the last few hours, is this policy going to be continued? Is this burning of farms, the breaking of dams, and the devastation of the country to be continued until at last we shall be able to call it a peace when we mean a desert? "The more vigorously must they be enforced." I do not know whether from to-day the war has not resumed its original character. Who is there to-day who can stand up in this House and really say that we are carrying on a series of guerilla operations? We are told that the character of the war is now going to be changed, and that Lord Kitchener, as I understand, is about to take still more repressive measures against the Dutch population of the two colonies. What the character of that action may be we are left to imagine. All I can say is that if it involves more brutality and suffering than that which has hitherto taken place, we shall soon, as a nation, have reason to hide our heads in shame. What are we doing to bring this war to an end? This Bill provides for the appropriation of £16,000,000 more, and I daresay that when we meet again we shall have another enormous demand. Have lion. Members read the correspondence between Lord Roberts and General Botha? Is it for us now to say that nothing short of unconditional surrender will satisfy us? How can we expect to treat with these leaders, these De Wets and Bothas, in the field, when we have issued these proclamations to the effect that whatever may be forgiven to others they, at all events, will never be forgiven? Time after time the leaders are referred to and expressly excepted from everything in the shape of an amnesty. I might refer to the despatch of the 28th September, which states—This concession [that is to say, that the burghers who surrender voluntarily will not be sent out of the country] does not apply to those who have taken a prominent military or political part in the war, nor to those who have broken their oath of neutrality, nor to foreigners.888 The leaders there, as in other cases, are expressly exempted. Under circumstances of that kind, and if the terms of these proclamations are to be adhered to, it is practically impossible to hope to deal with the leaders at all. There is another question arising out of these proclamations to which I wish to draw the attention of the House. The proclamation is No. 27, and it affects very seriously the refugees now at Cape Town and elsewhere. It makes the taxes, revenues, dues, licences, and moneys due to the Government of the South African Republic payable to Her Majesty's forces now in occupation of certain portions of the said territory. This proclamation has aroused the keenest apprehension amongst the refugees. They are under the impression that those influences so well and accurately described the other day by the hon. Member for Mansfield, which now surround the Government of the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, will, under this proclamation, practically deprive them in a very large number of instances of their own property. It is quite impossible for them to pay the taxes and so on which are payable in respect of these properties, and unless the taxes are duly paid they fear that the properties will be forfeited. I wish to ask the Government whether they can give the House any assurance that those fines and penalties will not be enforced against these men in their absence. These people are not pro-Boers; they call themselves Imperialists; they are perfectly loyal to the Government of this country, but they have an apprehension that the capitalists will have an opportunity of "freezing them out, "as it is termed, that it will be their object to limit the white population of Johannesburg and the mining centres as much as possible, to do as much of the work as possible by means of native labour, and to secure the complete control and dominion of the country with the presence of a very few white men, to whom they will have to pay high wages. I think this apprehension is a very natural one, and it has found very strong expression in Cape Town. With regard to the damage which is occasionally done to lines of communication, I would put it to the Government that it is utterly impossible in many cases for the people who live near the lines of communication to have any control what- 889 ever over the raiding bands that swoop down upon the railways and do the damage. Why, under circumstances of that kind, should these unfortunate people, simply because they happen to live near the lines of communication, be punished? The proclamation of the 19th June contains one article which I would venture to describe as the most cowardly thing ever put into any proclamation. It states—As a further precautionary measure the Director of Military Railways has been authorised to order that one or more of the residents who will be selected by him from each district shall from time to time personally accompany trains while travelling through their districts.That is to say, these men were to be taken as hostages up and down the railway. [Ministerial cheers.] Is that cheered on the other side of the House? [Renewed cheers.] Why, the authorities wore so utterly ashamed of it that five weeks later they repealed the measure. This proclamation states that in the same districts where any damage is done to the railway a fine to the extent of 2s. 6d, per morgen will be levied on the area of the farm or farms on which the damage was done. Now, some of those farms average 6,000 acres. I think that is an enormous fine. We were told by a distinguished general who has recently returned from South Africa that these operations were not carried out by bonâ fide, burghers, but by parties consisting of foreigners and people of that sort. If that be so, what earthly reason can there possibly be for penalising these poor unfortunate people who happen to live within a few miles of the railway, and where these things have happened very much against their will? There is another provision in one of those proclamations to which I should like to refer, and it is proclamation No. 35. It states that—In cases where some members of a family, who all live on one farm, have broken their oath and gone on commando, those remaining are to be warned that, unless the former surrender within a reasonable period, all stock, supplies, etc., will be taken, and no receipt given.The word "et cetera" is a tremendous word, and it is of indefinite magnitude. It represents watches, chains, and the household furniture. Everything is to be looted, and no receipt is to be given. There are also other provisions with 890 regard to the burning of the leaders houses, but I shall not detain the House any further upon this question. We gain absolutely nothing by enforcing such provisions as these, and I trust that for the sake of the honour and the credit and good name of this old country the Government will carry on the war in the future as it should be carried on between civilised Powers, and that women and children shall, as far as possible and consistent with the cruel necessity of war, be spared all this lamentable suffering of which our eyes have been witness within recent months.
MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)
said the hon. Member for North Aberdeen had referred to the condition in which the women were kept at Port Elizabeth, and he stated that they were not furnished with the proper necessities of life. He read last night a letter which strongly confirmed the complaint made by his hon. friend. The letter was written by a lady who was well known throughout South Africa, and she asserted that at Port Elizabeth in the camp there were between 300 and 600 women who were military prisoners, that there was only one chair for the lot of them, and they had to sleep on mattresses. She also stated in the same letter that fourteen of these women were expecting soon to become mothers, and had to sit the livelong day upon the ground. He thought it was necessary that they should know all the facts of these cases. His hon. friend had stated that ho believed the English soldiers did all they could, and that they might be relied upon to treat the women fairly and properly. He quite agreed with that, but it was the authorities who were to blame. These women were absolutely deprived of any communication with the outer world, and although they were allowed to receive friends, they were not permitted to bring them newspapers. These women were the wives of soldiers who were fighting against the British, and they were imprisoned as military prisoners. It was absurd to talk of the Hague Convention, for nothing like this treatment of women had ever been practised before by any civilised nation. We went to war to preserve British civilisation as against the civilisation of the seventeenth century, which was rampant in the Transvaal, but what we were now 891 imposing was not the civilisation of this country, but that of a debased section in the country who had forced it into war. Complaints had been made on both sides of the House with regard to the detention of the Imperial Yeomanry, and all Members of the House felt that they had not been fairly dealt with, and that they had been kept longer than the original terms of their engagement. A most important letter was published in the Morning Leader on Thursday last, which he thought should receive the immediate attention of the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the interest of discipline. Whether the statements in the letter were true or false it was equally important that they should have his attention. If true the persons implicated should at once be punished, and if untrue the statements should be denied. The letter purported to come from a man connected with the Imperial Yeomanry who was said to be a prominent man in the north of England. He made the usual complaint that he was being kept in South Africa after the war was said to be over, while the C.I.V.'s had been allowed to return because they had London at their back. Then the writer of the letter went on to say that the Australian contingent demanded to be sent home according to the terms of their engagement. That privilege was not accorded to them, and when they were ordered to march they refused, and threw down their rifles. The guns were then turned upon them, when they immediately picked up their rifles and said, "Now turn your guns upon us. "The C.I.V.'s were allowed to come home because they had London at their back and the Australians because they went on strike. If this was not true, it was most important that this impression which was evidently credited among the Imperial Yeomanry should be corrected; if true, then it was necessary that immediate steps should be taken to deal with a gross breach of discipline in the British Army. His hon. friend the Member for Battersea was attacked by the right hon. Gentleman because of a reference he made to the fact that there was a considerable amount of dissatisfaction at the treatment accorded to the Volunteers. He invited the right hon. Gentleman's attention to what had appeared that day in the Morning Leader, written by Mr. Charles Williams, in which he made a; very bitter reference to 892 the praise accorded to a regiment like the C.I.V.'s. Practically they had done nothing. [Ministerial cries of "Oh, oh," and 'Shame."] Their total casualties amounted only to 4½ per cent., whilst some of the Regular regiments had casualties in one engagement amounting to over 30 per cent. There was a feeling of jealousy existing among the Regulars because the Volunteers were practically carpet soldiers. [Ministerial cries of "No, no, "and" Order, order!"] What was the use of booming these men, who had done nothing, as compared with our gallant Regulars who had fought our real battles at Magersfontein, Colenso, and Stormberg, and many of whose regiments had been decimated? The C.I.V.'s had been brought home to London and the whole business of London had been stopped in order to do them honour. It was only natural that the men who had really borne the heat and burden of the day would feel resentment at the treatment accorded to the C.I.V.'s simply to serve a political purpose by exciting the political ardour of the jingoes of England. Reference bad been made to the ominous telegram from Lord Kitchener, in which an indication was disclosed of adopting some other method of dealing with the men who had broken the oath of neutrality, and in which it was hinted that the death penalty was to be exacted. He supposed that meant that all prisoners taken henceforth were to be shot. He noticed that some 600 of British men and officers had been captured by the Boers, and if Lord Kitchener carried out the death penalty there would certainly be reprisals by the Boers upon British prisoners. The moderation and patience of the Boers under the circumstances was astonishing, for they had treated British prisoners with the utmost care and consideration, and in such a way as had won over the hearts of British soldiers, who entertained the most kindly feeling towards the Boers, and this was solely on account of the experience they had had of them in the field. It was impossible not to expect that there would eventually be reprisals, and if it were found that our soldiers were being shot by the Boers the feeling of indignation which was now rising would attain such dimensions as would probably frighten even a Government with a majority of 130. The suggestion that these men should be shot was based on the assump- 893 tion that they had voluntarily broken their oaths of neutrality. What occurred was that the oath of neutrality was forced upon them. An article appeared in the December number of the Nineteenth Century which he would commend to the attention of hon. Members. It was written by Mrs. J. R. Green, who visited the Boer prisoners at St. Helena. She had a conversation there with a pale, delicate lad, who stated that he had taken his oath. He added that he was told he would be shot if he did not take it. He declined twice, and thereupon a British officer took out his revolver, and with his finger on the trigger, put it to the lad's head. He was told a bullet would be put through his head, and he then took the oath. The British Army left, and the Boer Army then occupied the place. They took the lad on commando, and now it would appear that if he were taken prisoner he would be shot. That was monstrous. If the Boers were forced to take the oath under threat of being shot or deported, it was binding on them only as long as protection was afforded them. How would a similar oath be treated in the British Army? According to strict military rule, a British private is not allowed to take an oath of parole. What would occur in the event of an invasion of this country? Let the House imagine for a moment that England had been invaded by an allied continental force, and that all the southern counties had been cleared of the English, and that a certain number of English soldiers had been captured and forced to take the oath of neutrality. If these men had been recovered was it to be supposed for a moment that the oath they had taken would be allowed to prevent them from taking part in the defence of their country? The hon. Member opposite referred to the importance of our abasing ourselves before Almighty God. He was told that Lord Roberts was to be taken to a national service at St. Paul's Cathedral. To identify the Christian religion or any Christian service with the horrible practices in South Africa was blasphemy, and to approach the Throne of Grace under any such pretence was a blasphemous proceeding. What we ought to do was to alter our conduct and make it more in accord with that of a Christian nation, instead of being as it was inaccordance with the 894 worst proceedings even of uncivilised countries.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
I am extremely reluctant to intervene in debate to-day, but the very grave news that has come this morning, and the fact that we shall not have an opportunity of discussing the situation for another two or three months in Parliament make it, I think, necessary that something should be said in addition to what has fallen from my hon. friends. We have just suffered one of the severest reverses of the war. We have suffered it after Lord Roberts had declared in a speech in South Africa that the war was over. It is also known from Lord Kitchener's despatch that De Wet has broken through for the tenth time, and that he has escaped with the bulk of his commando. That, in itself, is a serious fact, because it proves that the war is going to lie prolonged for some months yet before guerilla warfare commences, because according to the rule laid down by the Colonial Secretary, as long as 2,000 or 3,000 men with guns hold together it cannot be called guerilla warfare. Accepting that definition, we have not yet even approached the guerilla stage. We have not yet arrived at the stage Lord Roberts said had been reached months ago, of marauding bands roaming over these two States. I make no further apology under these circumstances for trespassing on the time of the House. It is only within the last forty-eight hours we have had an opportunity of reading the proclamations issued by Lord Roberts. These proclamations ought really to have been published long ago, and even now that they are published I must call the attention of the House to very serious omissions. There are two or three documents necessary for the interpretation of the proclamations which the right hon. Gentleman admits the importance of by printing others of a similar character, and these are omitted altogether. I should like to know why the important correspondence between the General of the Boer forces and Lord Roberts has been omitted. In it Lord Roberts is stated to have communicated to the Boer General the fact that he meant to burn all farms within ten miles of any spot where the railway was broken. That 895 communication is not included in these despatches as it ought to have been in view of the fact that Lord Roberts' orders were that the farmhouse nearest to the spot where the railway was broken should be burned. Then again, an order is published which interprets and modifies former orders, but I should like to know—and I think the House is entitled to the information—why the previous orders which were modified have not been published. I do not believe the House or the country fully realises what is going on. I took the trouble a day or two to go through the columns of The Times for the last couple of months with reference to the war, and I was astonished at the devastation to which we own up, with reference to the burning of farms. The Colonial Secretary endeavoured to minimise it the other day, but he could not possibly have read the evidence transmitted from South Africa. There is another very important admission in connection with this matter in the statement that two villages were burned. Bothaville, with the exception of one or two public buildings, was burned—the reason assigned being that there was sniping of the British troops from that village. I am not disputing whether that was right or wrong, but a few days afterwards another telegram stated that Bentestroom had shared the same fate of Bothaville — no reason being assigned. I am not discussing these military measures, but what I wish to criticise is that two important acts of this character were committed and no single word regarding them appears in Lord Roberts' despatches. I cannot believe that Lord Roberts has not reported these facts to the War Office—he has reported facts much more insignificant. The same observation applies to what is called "the clearing of the country" despatches. Sometimes Lord Roberts calls it "depleting, "sometimes "denuding, "and again, "clearing the country. "It is only within the last few weeks that these despatches have been published at all. It is true we have had from time to time telegrams sent by Reuter and sometimes by Laffan, stating that the country west of Bloem-fontein was all clear, that the country in the south-west of the Free State was all clear, and so on, but there was not a word about it in Lord Roberts' dispatches. There has, 896 however, been a change within the last fortnight. Despatches with reference to this matter are now being published, but why have they been suppressed up to the present? An article has appeared in The Times which shows that the burning of farms is a much more serious matter than the Colonial Secretary is prepared to admit. Summarising the news, The Times stated that General Hunter had completed his march from Bothaville to Kroonstad, "burning the farms on his way. "That shows that it is not merely the farm nearest the spot where the railway is cut that is burned, but that a system of devastation has been carried on. I wonder if hon. Members have perused the proclamations which have just been published. I venture to say that they ought. I am sure that if hon. Members read the proclamations they would come to the conclusion that proceedings are sanctioned by them which they could not possibly approve of. In one of his proclamations Lord Roberts states that wherever public property is injured the houses in the vicinity of the place where the damage is done will be burned, and the principal civil residents will be made prisoners of war. The proclamation of 19th June, after referring to the cutting of the railways and the telegraphs, goes on to say—The houses and farms "—not the nearest houses—in the vicinity of the place where the damage is done will be destroyed, and the residents in the neighbourhood dealt with under martial law.And they are also fined, as my hon. friend near me reminds me. I am not going to discuss what the military rules are. I do not profess to understand them. But, at any rate, we have got to govern this country later on. We have made it part of the British Empire, and the first thing we have got to impress the inhabitants with is that, at any rate, we are a just people. Now, I ask, is there any justice in punishing one man for the offence of another? General Botha, General Delarey, General De Wet, or some other raiders, living, it may be, two hundred miles from the spot, swoop suddenly down and cut the railway. You do not punish De Wet, because you cannot catch him, but you burn the farms, possibly occupied by women and 897 children, of all those people who have pi had nothing to do with the raid and the cutting of the railway. I do not think that is calculated to impress the inhabitants of those two States with a clear sense of the even-handed justice they are likely to have at our hands. The history of De Wet proves this. In the month of May last he offered to surrender his commando of 1,000 men on the simple condition that he would be allowed to return to his farm and his men to their farms. We said we would receive nothing but absolute unconditional surrender. The next step was that the railway was cut near Kroonstaad, not far from De Wet's farm. It is a silly assumption that that was done by De Wet, although he was in command of a force which was perfectly justified, according to the rules of war, in cutting your communications anywhere. But what did we do? We burned his farm buildings and devastated the whole place. It was a most excellent farm, because he was a most prosperous farmer. What was the next step? De Wet's wife died of a broken heart, and one of his sons was killed. He became a desperate man, and had nothing to gain by surrender. What has been the result to us? What have we gained? We have sustained more humiliating disasters at the hands of this man, whom we have treated so unfairly and so foolishly, than at the hands of any general opposed to us this century. He is making a mockery of our military prestige and making us the laughing stock of the world. We have 210,000 troops in the field, with all the resources of this great Empire at our disposal, and yet we cannot catch this one man who is in command of a force which, with all the exaggeration natural to the circumstances, we can only attribute to number 3,000. Nothing was gained by making this man desperate, and it was a silly, foolish, iniquitous policy to burn his farm, ruin his property, and bring his family to the grave. It is not a military question at all; it is a question of understanding the ordinary influences that govern human nature. Here you have a pastoral people and everything which naturally leads them to action— love of their property, intense love of their farms, which they have practically made, and of their houses (it may be said that these houses are only worth £50 or £60, but they cost a lifetime of 898 work), all these sentiments, and love of country and of wife and children might have been utilised by us as a means of inducing them to return to their farms. But instead of that we convert all these feelings into a terrific weapon, and incite them to desperation and to greater deeds of anger against us. It is simply a perversion of statesmanship. As to the clearing of the country, that is a much more serious matter than the burning of the farms, and I will tell you the reason why. When a detachment of our troops burn a farm they see that the women and children are destitute, and that they must be provided for. Naturally, therefore, they take them to the nearest garrison town. But when you clear the country it means that you clear it of all food-stuffs. That is stated specifically in Lord Roberts' proclamation and in all the telegrams from the front. You leave the women and children on the farms, but you leave no food for them. There is one question I would like to ask the right hon Gentleman the Secretary for War. How many of these women and children are in the charge of the British Army and fed by it? I challenge hon. Members to read these despatches and not to come to the conclusion that practically the whole of the country from the Orange River right up to the line of Pretoria has been swept clean of cattle so far as we can do it. You read one day of General Hunter clearing the country from Bothaville to Kroonstaad, next that General Knox has cleared the country between the Vaal and Thaba Nchu-Ladybrand line. In every part of the country you find clearing operations going on; but what have you done to provide for the women and children left behind? The proclamations say that this is done not merely because of treachery or because a farmer has broken his oath, but that when a member of the family is on commando the farm is to be cleared and no receipt given. In what civilised country would that be tolerated? If we were at war with France would we go to a soldier's house and clear it out simply because the soldier was at the front? The whole country is denuded by these operations. Does the House really consider what that means? There must be from 120,000 to 150,000 women and children in the two States, and a very small proportion of these are fed by the 899 British Army. We clear the country and leave all the women and children there without any provisions at all, and at the mercy of the Kaffirs. More than that, are these Boers who are on commando, and who are ranging the country, going to starve as long as a single bag of mealies is to be found in the Kaffir kraals? We seem to have overlooked the fact that there are 800,000 Kaffirs in the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal. Would De Wet's or the other raiding commandoes starve so long as they can turn in and raid Kaffir mealies? There are telegrams that state that they are attacking Kaffir villages for that very purpose. What is to be done? Is the whole country to be cleared of all foodstuffs? If so, what is to be done with the Kaffirs? We have 900,000 paupers in this country; are we going to have a million in South Africa? We are organising a famine in South Africa. I think the House ought to take cognisance of these facts. Clearing the country cannot be disputed on the evidence of Lord Roberts himself and of the correspondents. Let me quote a telegram which shows how futile these operations are. It came on 25th November from the camp at Nooitgedacht, stating that 550 prisoners had been captured together with mealies and ammunition, and over 2,000 head of cattle. It then goes on— "The district has been cleared of anything that would assist the enemy. "Three weeks after we hear from the same place the news of one of the greatest disasters of the whole war! That shows how foolish, how futile all this policy is. We are providing a famine, and possibly a native insurrection. How long will the civilised world stand this? Whatever the Governments and rulers may do, it is perfectly clear what the people of Europe are thinking about this business; and it is quite possible that one day their feelings may become too strong for their rulers. I remind the House that there was foreign intervention in the dispute with the American colonists, and if this war is prolonged, and if operations of this character are carried on, then I say there will be foreign intervention in South Africa, and we shall have to pay the penalty, not merely of the shame of the transactions in these colonies, but the much more substantial penalty of facing the world in arms against us.
§ * MR. ELLIOT (Durham)
said the House had listened to speeches of a somewhat impassioned character by hon. Gentlemen opposite. No doubt they felt very strongly, and deplored from the very bottom of their hearts what was going on in South Africa, although they seemed to depend a good deal on unverified details. But they had lost sight of the dangerous and difficult position in which this country stood as regarded the whole war. Vigorously as they had been pleading, ho had heard throughout the debate not a single suggestion as to how we are to improve our position Whether there was any injustice in any one particular case was not the only question to be considered. We were face to face with a position of extraordinary difficulty which at any time might become a position of considerable danger. Yet hon. Gentlemen concentrated their attention upon what are, as a matter of fact, military measures only. What should be done while battles raged and victories were being lost and won, must, in the main, be left to the views of the commanders in the field, and one might search all history through and not find a general more generous in spirit in his attempt to make his rule indulgent and just than Lord Roberts. He last summer called attention to the proclamation of Lord Roberts, and asked whether it was issued according to the principles of international law or whether it was hurriedly drawn up without legal assistance, and whether it would not be better for the Government to withdraw it. He received no answer to that question, which did not much trouble him, but at the same time he was glad to see that the proclamation which Lord Roberts issued after he got into Bloemfontein, and which turned every soldier who opposed us in the field into rebels, had been practically repealed by the proclamation which he issued in the following September. Nothing could have been more hurried than the issue of the first proclamation, which was issued when Lord Roberts, after a hurried march, seized the town and held no more territory than he commanded by the range of his guns. He had no hesitation in informing the House that such a proclamation could not make those who opposed us rebels in the ordinary sense of the word. Rebellion meant the breaking of allegiance. In this case there was no allegiance to 901 break, so that in the nature of the case there could be no rebellion or treason. It was therefore with a feeling of considerable satisfaction that he noticed that, to a large extent, the terms of that proclamation had been abrogated. It was not his intention to go at length into the question of the burning of farms, but our position in South Africa was a position of danger, and what was absolutely necessary was that our lines of communication should be secured. We could not keep our troops there unless we secured the line of communication by which they were to be fed. Therefore he did not agree that it was not right in any case to burn farms when the owner of the farm used it as a fortress. But the matter also had to be looked at from the point of view not only of the man to whom the farm belonged, and who had been guilty of some irregular act of war, but also from the point of view of military necessity. Warfare could not be carried on without things being done which were sometimes in themselves unjust. Wars in themselves were deplorable, and this was no exception to the rule; but at the same time we were fighting for our own credit and the welfare of South Africa, because there would never be peace and prosperity in South Africa until our authority was supreme from Cape Town to the north of the Transvaal. It was our duty to bring the war to an end, and in discussing the question of the burning of farms it was not right to have no regard to anything but the particular justice of any particular case—of whether the man to whom the farm belonged had done anything which would make it right to destroy a particular farm. There might be cases where property had been destroyed in which, when peace was restored, a question might arise as to whether it was right and just to restore that property, but we had to feed our army. However anxious brave soldiers might be to fight they could not do so unless the lines of communication were kept open. Hon. Members seemed to consider that war consisted really of one set of men shooting another set of men, but that was not the whole art of war. This was the last occasion for two months that anything could be said in the House of Commons upon the subject of the war, and it was not, perhaps, very much to be regretted. The House, with practical unanimity, had 902 done its best to heartily support the Government, and had voted as much money as they chose to ask for, for the purpose of bringing the war to an end, and it was not for him to say upon what terms peace should be made. It was with intense satisfaction that he had heard the speech of the Colonial Secretary, which, however, throughout, contained nothing new with regard to the policy of the Government in respect of South Africa. It is suggested that the overtures contained in the right hon. Gentleman's speech had not been favourably received by Dutch papers of South Africa; but it must not be forgotten that the Dutch press in that country were in antagonism to the Government of the present time, and whatever projects the Government had in view it would be foolish to suppose would be well received at the Cape. He supported those projects, not only because he thought they were liberal and right, but because the policy of the Government was the only policy by which self-government could ever be obtained by South Africa. He had heard during the course of the debate a good deal of comment upon the actions of Sir Alfred Milner. He believed Sir A. Milner to be a thoroughly just man, and that when he set up his authority as governor in the Transvaal he would be found to be a just man. He would take up his duties with the support of the whole English population, and some backing from the Dutch. No doubt on occasions he would be called upon to place severe restraint on the extreme section of the Outlanders, but if he were, nobody could do it better than he. They had heard much of the horrors of the war. War was accompanied by horrors, unfortunately, and the details were such as to move our deepest regrets. An article in the Nineteenth Century, written by a learned gentleman very well acquainted with the law and practice of war, stated that so far as he knew the case, and when everything was said and done, on both sides up to the present time there had been an absence of cruelty and barbarity in this war—an absence of the exaggerated horrors and cruelties which made it compare favourably with previous wars. Horrible as some of the stories were, he believed that was so. He thought that when they looked to the action of our officers and soldiers, and also to the action of the 903 Boers they might feel with some confidence that the humanity of the combatants was on the increase, and that there was really no reason to make accusations of barbarity on the one side or the other. The news they had heard that day was depressing to a degree. When they came back some two months hence, he trusted that they would hear better news, that at last victory would be wholly restored to our arms, and that peace would be so far established that they would be able to carry out the wise policy which was ably presented to Parliament the other day by the Secretary for the Colonies.
§ MR. CAINE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said his hon. and learned friend who had just sat down complained of the somewhat impassioned speeches which had been made. If they stripped away all passion on both sides, the controversy before them would be nothing more than whether it was wise to continue the coercion policy in South Africa which hon. Members on that side of the House, and many on the other side, deplored. It was a question of coercion against conciliation. He believed that the sad and deplorable news they had just received showed that the policy of coercion would be a failure. It was absurd to talk about guerilla warfare and all the rest of it, in view of the news they had received. They wanted the war brought to an end. He agreed with the hon. Member for Durham that it was impossible to vote against the supplies now asked for. The war was being carried on by the nation, and they were bound to pay for it. He wanted to say a few words on behalf of his own constituency. He represented a constituency which was interested in South Africa more than any other represented in that House. There were 1,500 men in it who had come home from South Africa after spending seven, ten, or twelve years in the country. These men had remitted home £220,000 of their wages saved in time of peace in South Africa. Why were they at home? There was no employment for them in Cornwall, the mining industry there being more or less depressed. During the contest in which he had recently been engaged he stood on the side of conciliation, and his opponent stood on the side of coercion, frankly and avowedly. 904 He had gone through eleven contested elections, and he had never known one whore the issue was so clear and definite. His opponent had the active support of the Government, and the Secretary for the Colonies sent a telegram recommending him to the constituency. He had no fault to find with the right hon. Gentleman. The telegram contained some kindly words concerning himself. It was a strong appeal to the constituency to stand for coercion against conciliation.
§ THE SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. J. Chamberlain,) Birmingham, W.
I did not use the word "coercion" or "conciliation."
§ MR. CAINE
Oh, no, but it was in warm support of my opponent. A telegram of that nature surely commits the Secretary for the Colonies to approve of the line my opponent was taking. Continuing, the hon. Member said that in 1895 the Unionist candidate was returned with a majority of 462, whereas at the last General Election he (Mr. Caine) was returned with a majority of 108. That result was a direct declaration of the opinion of the constituency which more than any other in the country had material relations in South Africa and personal knowledge of the country. Of the men home from South Africa 700 were actually on the register. They were Uitlanders. They were not common miners; they were sober, thrifty, well educated people—men who could command good positions in South Africa. They were foremen and could earn £30 a month in wages. The influence put on these men, legitimate and a great deal illegitimate, to vote for his opponent was enormous. They were told that if they did not support his opponent they would be boycotted when they went back to South Africa by the owners and managers of the mines on Rand, because they had been faithless to the interest of the mine owners. Of the 700 on the register 650 recorded their votes for himself, standing on a policy of conciliation against a policy of coercion. He believed this war would never end so long as the present policy of coercion was continued. His hon. friend the Member for Durham said the country had confidence in Lord Roberts as a merciful man, but he did not say it 905 had confidence in Lord Kitchener. Lord Kitchener was going to carry out an avowed policy of coercion of the strongest character. He thought the Government should carefully consider whether they could not strike out some method of conciliation that would bring the war to a close. Why could they not tell the people in arms that if they would lay down their arms they would be treated as fellow-subjects, and that in 1902 they would be allowed to form their own government and enter into the privileges of a free colony? All history showed that the line the Government was taking was one which could end only in failure.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea Boroughs)
asked why no despatch of a full character, according to military precedent, had been published since 17th April, and whether the non-publication was on the advice of the ex-Commander-in-Chief, and in accordance with the Queen's regulations.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE for WAR (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
The question of the hon. Gentleman with regard to the non-publication of the despatches has, I think, been already answered by the declaration of my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury, who said that until the operations in which these officers had been involved had to some extent come to an end it would not be possible to publish a long series of despatches. Although the war is certainly not over in that sense, still the operations have assumed a different character, and, as regards the main expedition, I hope to be able to publish the despatches very shortly indeed. It is our object, as I have said before, to lay before Parliament and the country as full and frank a declaration as we can, in order that they may see what has occurred and form their own judgment upon it. As to the general debate of the last two hours, I have given attention to what has fallen from hon. Members opposite, but I am afraid I cannot usefully add anything to what has already been said by the Secretary for the Colonies in regard to the policy of the Government in respect of the future conduct of the war. I do not think anything has been said in the course of the long debates during the last fort- 906 night which can lead any man in South Africa to suppose that the Government is anxious to continue any line of policy which will make it more difficult for the Boers to cease from their present operations and return to their farms. But on the general principle that the colonies must be British colonies, and that the government cannot at present, at any rate, be a representative government—on these points for the present it is absolutely impossible for the Government to make any concession. When we are dealing, as we are still dealing, with organised hostile bands in the field, too great progress in the direction which has been urged so universally by speakers on the opposite side this morning would be taken by any country, and would certainly be taken by the Boers, as an exhibition of weakness, and a concession not given owing to our generosity, but wrung from us by the difficulties which have been occasioned by the war. I do not wish to labour this, or say another word upon it. I may expose myself if I do so to the suggestion that I am endeavouring in some respects to detract from the declarations of the Colonial Secretary. We abide by those declarations. We have every reason to believe that in the humane conduct of the war Lord Kitchener is entirely at one with Her Majesty's Government. We have given our own opinion with regard to the policy of burning farms. We are aware that our general in South Africa has issued stringent instructions in regard to it; and I do not think that anything can be shown which is likely to add to the feeling of bitterness which undoubtedly exists on the part of the Boers, but which it is the desire of Her Majesty's Government as far as possible to replace by that feeling of confidence in our Government which we believe will grow up when British rule is established. There is only one speech of which I desire to take notice, a speech conceived in a most unfortunate tone—that of the hon. Member for the Eifion Division of Carnarvonshire. I am sorry after what occurred the other night to have to state what I believe is the feeling of the great majority of the House on both sides with regard to speeches of the character of that delivered by that hon. Gentleman. I think that when troops have gone out to the seat of war—some of them Regulars, some of 907 them Volunteers, some of them, like the Militia, semi-Regulars, but who have gone out as Volunteers—when such troops have served side by side without distinctions being made, without anything which divides them from each other, I think it is not only an ungenerous, but I was going to say almost a criminal thing to attempt to drive in the wedge of discontent between them, to look about in order to pick up scraps of information without any authority——
MR. BRYN ROBERTS
There was authority—the statements of the soldiers themselves. I would tell the right hon. Gentleman that I will not be brow-beaten by anything he may say.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The hon. Gentleman says the remark of one soldier is to govern the opinion of the whole rank and file of the British Army. That is the sort of statement which is brought before us by an hon. Gentleman who founds on it a general indictment, and who, having sat here comfortably at home himself——
§ MR. BRODRICK
The hon. Gentleman is not ashamed to call men who for nine months have been faring hardly and going through great privations, and who have not complained at all, carpet soldiers, from the comfortable position he occupies in this House.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Gentleman has expressed his views, and I must ask him not to persist in these interruptions.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Gentleman himself used strong expressions, and he should not resent the reply which is made to them.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I must ask the hon. Member not at every sentence to interject retorts and denials. The hon. Member must keep himself under control.
§ MR. BRODRICK
It is because the hon. Gentleman, on insufficient premisses, and without verifying his assertions, makes suggestions of this kind, which he knows will be telegraphed out to those in South Africa who do not know him as the opinion of a Member of the British House of Commons, that I hold him up as I do to the censure of the House and to the reprobation of every fair-minded man in the country. I say that the great mass of the Members in this House dislike these accusations, and that the great mass of Members in the House regard them as an entire infringement of those liberties of free speech we enjoy in Parliament. Members of Parliament have the responsibility, in my judgment, of coming here equipped with facts that they can verify, but have not the right of launching at Her Majesty's soldiers, whether Volunteers or Regulars, insinuations which they are not able to prove. I hope we may be allowed now to close this discussion. I can only say, as regards the more important considerations brought forward with great feeling by hon. Members opposite, that they will not find in the recess that the Government have been unmindful of their declarations with regard to their consideration for the Boers. On the other hand they will also find that we must fulfil our paramount duty of supporting Lord Kitchener to the best of our ability, and, in the interest of the common good of this country and of South Africa, of bringing this war to a speedy conclusion.
§ * MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
I had no intention of intervening in this debate, but I think the right hon. Gentleman has been slightly unfair to the hon. Member for the Eifion Division. My reason for saying so is that, as I understand, my hon. friend laid before the right hon. Gentleman a statement from one of the men of the Yeomanry, drawing attention to the state of indiscipline alleged to be shown by certain Australians. He asked whether those facts were true, and, if so, whether the military authorities would not punish 909 those who were responsible for allowing such a breach of discipline to take place. I do think that to hold up an hon. Member to opprobrium in the violent terms used by the right hon. Gentleman simply for asking for information, and that the discipline of the Army should be maintained, is hardly a reasonable exercise of the power which resides in the right hon. Gentleman as a distinguished Member of this House. I have only one thing more to say. I welcome the tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in so far as he has thrown light on the present policy of the Government. The real point we have at heart on this side of the House—and we feel it too deeply to wish to treat the question as a party matter—is that this war should be brought to an end, and that there should be no unmerciful treatment of our foes. I hope we may interpret the words of the right hon. Gentleman as an assurance on behalf of Her Majesty's Government that they will see that the anticipations in regard to Lord Kitchener and the methods it is suggested he will adopt will not be realised. We have a light to demand that. It is clearly proved that the policy of coercion has only exasperated the situation in South Africa, and has brought the war almost into as perilous a state again as it was last December. No one of us here can form an exact appreciation of what are actually the real relative military risks and possibilities, but clearly the policy of exasperation, the policy of denial of hope, has led to an increased intensity of attack on the part of the Boer forces. Do let us take a wider, a more generous consideration of all the forces and motives at work among the population of South Africa. There is one point which has been too often overlooked, and which I would venture to ask the House to consider dispassionately. Again and again small bodies of British troops have been captured by the Boers under circumstances of hard and desperate fighting. We know perfectly well that in these desperate skirmishes, where unfortunate British soldiers have been placed at a disadvantage and compelled reluctantly to surrender, the Boers have behaved generously in ceasing to fight the moment there was a sign that the British recognised their inability to continue the contest. Men of brutal and murderous disposition, carrying on guerilla warfare such 910 as you have heard of in Spain and other countries, would have availed themselves of every opportunity to cut down and destroy their opponents. Hundreds of families in this country have to thank this forbearance of the Boers at such a moment for the return of those they love. It is therefore proved that we are dealing with men who have the sentiments of humanity and fair play in their hearts, and I do trust that the terrible insinuation in a London newspaper the other day, that Lord Kitchener was a man who would not hesitate to kill, will not be allowed to be justified in the fact. Are we to have these men shot down as rebels, treated with the full measure of martial law, or are we to recognise that they are men of, whatever faults they may have, humane and generous instincts? I hope that what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman does mean that there is no truth in any of the hateful suggestions as to what Lord Kitchener's future proceedings will be.
MR. BRYN ROBERTS
I desire to make a personal explanation. The right hon. Gentleman charged me with alluding to the C.I.V.'s as carpet soldiers without any data, or without any proof. I expressly stated the grounds on which I made that reference, and that was that only 4½ per cent, of casualties were sustained by them Northamptonshire —
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time and passed.