§ MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether the War Office received from the 164 Foreign Office some ten days ago information of the ill-fare of the British prisoners at Nooitgedacht, that some were dead and many sick of dysentery, that for eleven days they have been without meat, that their ordinary allowance was one pound of meat per week, that they were without many necessaries and in want of clothing and means to obtain it, and will he explain why this information was not forwarded, and will he yet forward it to, among others, the headquarters of the 13th Yeomanry in London, as promised on their enrolment, that corps being among the prisoners; whether any offer or attempt has been made to send in medical assistance from our own Army in the same manner in which our doctors and ambulances and medical comforts are given to the Boer prisoners and sick, and if he will state the date of any such offer or attempt, and whether the Boers have refused to allow such medical assistance to be given; and, if so, whether the British Army will continue to supply the same assistance to Boer prisoners and sick, while it is refused to be allowed to British prisoners and sick; and whether he has taken or will take any steps to ascertain the names of the dead and the sick.
§ The following questions also appeared on the Paper:—
§ MR. KIMBER
To ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, what has been done with the quantity of letters addressed by post to members of the 13th Imperial Yeomanry Corps, Cape Town, for many weeks past; and have any steps been taken to get them forwarded to the members of that corps at Nooitgedacht, who have for many weeks been known to be there detained; and can he say whether all letters so addressed were duly delivered at Cape Town, and to whom; and with whom does the forwarding thence of such letters rest.
§ MR. KIMBER
To ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Foreign Office some ten days ago received information of the ill-fare of the British prisoners at Nooitgedacht, that some were dead, and many sick of dysentery, that for eleven days they have been without meat, that their ordinary allowance was one pound of meat per week, that they were absolutely without 165 many necessaries, and in want of clothing and means to obtain it; and will he explain why this information was not forwarded to the War Office, and also, among others, to the headquarters of the 13th Yeomanry in London, for communication to relatives of the prisoners, as promised on their enrolment.
§ MR. KIMBER
To ask the Under Secretary of State for War what orders have been given, or steps taken, respecting the quantity of letters and other communications addressed to members of the 13th Imperial Yeomanry Corps, Cape Town, for many weeks past; and what steps have been taken to gee them forwarded to the members of that corps at Nooitgedacht, where they have for many weeks been known to be detained.
§ *THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. WYNDHAM,) Dover
If my hon. friend will allow me, I will answer his four questions together. It is true that on the 20th of this month the Foreign Office received a telegram from Consul General Crowe about the condition of the prisoners at Nooitgedacht. That telegram was not published, nor was it communicated to the head-quarters of the regiments concerned. We have hitherto refrained from publishing telegrams from Captain Crowe referring to his efforts on behalf of British prisoners, because we have good reason to believe that such publication might embarrass him and reduce the prisoners' chance of receiving letters and comforts. We still hold that view, and I must appeal to my hon. friend, in the interests of the prisoners, to allow the Government to be the judge in this matter. I understand, however, on good authority that the supply of food for the prisoners is insufficient, that they had no meat or salt for eleven days, and that the ordinary allowance of meat was one pound per week; but that the general state of their health was good, and that only two deaths were reported, that about seventy men were in hospital, but no cases very serious. Perhaps I may again repeat that the Government has made, and is making, every attempt to ameliorate the condition of these prisoners, both in regard to their receiving letters and in other respects; that a tele- 166 gram was despatched to Lord Roberts on the 24th instant, urging him to do all he could, and that a further telegram to the same effect has been sent to-day.
§ MR. KIMBER
The hon. Gentleman has overlooked the last part of the first question. Will he take any steps to ascertain the names of the dead and the sick?
§ *MR. WYNDHAM
I think the hon. Member has not listened to my reply. I said both in forwarding letters and in other respects. All these points are taken into consideration, and everything is being done that can be done; but to discuss the means that are taken would be to defeat the object of the hon. Member and of all of us.