HC Deb 15 February 1900 vol 79 cc57-8
MR. YERBURGH () Chester

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, having regard to the fact that the Boers have invaded Zululand and attacked the natives, and also that natives have been employed by the Boers as armed combatants in recent operations, he still adheres to his statement made in October last that native troops would not be employed by the Government in the present war; and whether the same pledge applies to the natives of India and to the troops of the native princes who have offered their services.


My hon. friend has wisely placed the two branches of his question in different paragraphs, for, I need hardly say, there is no resemblance or analogy whatever between the native tribes of South Africa and the native princes of India and their troops. The aid of the latter we should be proud to have in a war carried on under ordinary conditions. The statement of policy, however, to which my hon. friend refers was based on the idea that the war in South Africa was not to be carried on under ordinary conditions, and that by common consent it was decided it should be confined to the two European races chiefly concerned. If the Boers adopt a course inconsistent with this idea we should, of course, hold ourselves free to reconsider our decision.


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Boers have invaded Zulu-land; and whether provision has been made for enabling the Zulus to defend themselves against such aggression.


I have been informed that on three occasions, two of them recent, the Boers have invaded Zululand, and in one district have seized as prisoners the magistrate with his staff and police, while in another they have plundered all the stores. It is also reported that a commando with guns is moving further into Zululand. These acts have caused great alarm and unrest among the Zulus, which must spread among the Natal natives. The consequences throughout South Africa of such raids on native territories cannot fail to be very serious. The Natal Ministers have stated that they can no longer hold themselves responsible for the peaceful attitude of the Zulus; and Sir A. Milner, while greatly deploring the invasion of Zululand, points out that it is contrary to the tacit compact that natives should not be dragged into this war'. I may add that it has been decided that if native territory in the Cape Colony is deliberately invaded, the natives will be encouraged and assisted in every way to defend themselves.

*MR. COURTNEY () Cornwall, Bodmin

. In view of the extreme gravity, which everyone will allow, of the answer made by my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury to the question put by the hon. Member for Chester, and the answer by my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, may I lie permitted to ask these two supplementary questions of the First Lord-First, whether he will take care that the utmost certainty shall be secured as to the reality and authority of the Boor attacks on the natives; and, secondly, whether ho is aware that in this, as in so many other instances of alleged violation of the practices of war, there are charges and counter-charges on both sides?


As regards the second question, I am not aware there has been any allegation in this case of any violation of the practices of war. As regards the first, asking that the most, careful investigation shall be made, I can give him every assurance he thinks desirable on that subject.