HC Deb 30 July 1900 vol 87 cc18-9
MR. JAMES BAILEY (Newington, Walworth)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether he has any information to the effect that there are nearly two thousand British prisoners at Nooitgedacht, in the Transvaal; that for the past fortnight they have not had meat nor salt, that hour was running short, and that clothing and money were urgently needed; and whether, since communications between our Consul General at Lorenzo Marques and the Boer Commission have ceased, and there are therefore no longer means of reaching the prisoners through Delagoa Bay, the Government are taking any steps to relieve the position or lessen the hardships of the prisoners through other channels.

The following question also appeared on the Paper:—

*MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)

To ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Foreign Office has made or is willing to make any and what efforts to procure the friendly offices of the Portuguese Government as a medium of communication with the Boers and their British prisoners of war at Nooitgedacht, and obtaining permission to send to them clothing and medical necessaries, and at least to have information of their welfare, and the names of the living, the sick, and the dead, if any; and, in the alternative, will the Foreign Office move the Portuguese Government to ask Mr. Kruger to name some officer of his own who may be permitted to receive and convey to and from the prisoners letters from and to their friends, open if required, and even subject to censorship.


If my hon. friend the Member for Wandsworth will allow me, I will answer at the same time the question which he has put down on this subject. As I stated in debate on Friday there is the most earnest desire on the part of Her Majesty's Government to do all that is in their power for the prisoners at Nooitgedacht. Consul General Crowe has made every effort to forward supplies of foods, clothing, and medical comforts to them; and as soon as we received an intimation that the Transvaal Government would no longer receive any communication on the question of the prisoners except from Lord Roberts, a telegram was sent to Lord Roberts asking him to bring pressure to bear on the Transvaal authorities in order to ameliorate the prisoners' condition. That being so, it is not thought advisable to seek the intervention of the Portuguese Government.