HC Deb 05 July 1900 vol 85 c648
*SIR C. DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

I wish, by leave of the House, to make a very brief personal explanation with regard to a matter which was debated in the House last week. In a London daily paper yesterday there appeared a long telegram from Sir William Stokes, consulting surgeon to Her Majesty's field force in South Africa, which was copied into several London evening papers and into a large number of provincial papers with sensational headings. In that telegram Sir William Stokes says, "Sir Charles Dilke's charge of robbing stores is absolutely devoid and destitute of foundation." That was a charge made by me in the House, and it was a charge which I believe is admitted. It rests not only on private, but on official, data, and I have on two occasions asked in this House for the production of the minutes of the court-martial which was held with regard to the robbery of stores at Intombi Camp. These minutes have not yet been given to the House It is evident that it is to Intombi Camp that Sir William Stokes refers, because the next words are these: "Intombi 'Camp was no doubt unhealthy." I wish to assure the House that I did not ask the questions in reference to this matter until I had taken every possible means to-assure myself of the truth of the statements which had been made to me, and that I am prepared entirely to stand by the statements I made in the debate. At the end of his letter Sir William Stokes. again refers to me by name, and says that the charges made were "as unjustifiable as they were cruel and unpatriotic." I could, I think, ask the House to treat those words as a breach of privilege, but it is not my intention to do so under the circumstances of the case, as an inquiry is to take place. With regard to the charge of want of patriotism, it appears to me to be a patriotic duty to bring such matters before the House.