§ MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to a letter, written on the 20th February, 1897, by the solicitor to the British South Africa Company to Earl Grey (a director of the Company and the Administrator of Rhodesia) in which the former states that the cables of the last half of 1895, or rather the negotiations of that period, would probably have to come out, and that if they did the Secretary of State for the Colonies would have no one but himself to blame; and whether he will state to the House what the cables and negotiations referred to were, or whether he will lay them upon the Table of the House.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
The reply to the first question is in the affirmative. My atten- 429 tion has been called to the letter referred to. I have not had time to verify the correctness of the description given by the hon. Member, but I will take it for granted it is correct. In answer to the second question, it is not easy for me to explain communications which passed between two third parties in the year 1897, and of which I had no knowledge at the time. But I assume that the cables referred to, or some of them, were those which Mr. Hawksley declined to produce. If so, they formed part of a batch which was sent to me in 1896 for confidential perusal and return, and which were accordingly returned almost immediately with a letter stating that I had no personal objection to their publication. I believe that the majority of this batch of telegrams was subsequently produced by the cable company acting under the orders of the South Africa Committee. As I have had none of them in my possession since 1896 I am unable to lay them on the Table.