HC Deb 02 March 1900 vol 79 cc1576-90

3. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £162,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for grants in aid of the expenses of the British Protectorates in Uganda and in Central and East Africa."

* MR. WEIR () ROSS and Cromarty

I should like to know how this money is distributed over the various items. We have been told that the railway survey cost £600, that leaves a balance of £3,500. We were also told the other day that the troops were to be armed with Martini-Enfield rifles, and if we allow 30s. for each line there will then remain a balance of about £2,300. Then in reference to the troops despatched to Mauritius—


The hon. Member is referring to a discussion which took place the other day with regard to sending troops from Central Africa to Mauritius. I ruled it did not come within this Vote, as the War Office were responsible for it.


I wish to know whether any of this money was expended in sending these troops to Mauritius.


That question does not arise on the item the hon. Member is discussing.


Then are we to understand that no explanation of the balance of £2,300 on this Vote for £4,500 is to be given? It is represented by "etc." What does it mean? It should not be thrown in in such a hap-hazard fashion. As the right hon. Gentleman is not inclined to answer I have no alternative except to press the matter to a division. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.

Motion made and Question put, "That Item B (British Central Africa, Grant in Aid) be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Weir.)


I really cannot add anything to the reply I gave to the hon. Member on the last occasion as to the rearming of these troops. The Vote has nothing whatever to do with the troops sent out of Central Africa.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 34; Noes, 108. (Division List No. 48.)

Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.) Hayne, Rt Hon Charles Seale- Roberts, J. Bryn (Eifion)
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Kilbride, Denis Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Blake, Edward Lloyd-George, David Steadman, William Charles
Caldwell, James Macaleese, Daniel Sullivan. Donal (Westmeath)
Cawley, Frederick M'Dermott, Patrick Tanner, Charles Kearns
Clough, Walter Owen M'Kenna, Reginald Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Crilly, Daniel Maddison, Fred. Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbro'gh)
Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal) O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal) Yoxall, James Henry
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Duke, Rt. Hn. Sir Charles O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Weir and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.
Donelan, Captain A. O'Donnell, John
Doogan, P. C. Power, Patrick Joseph
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Redmond, William (Mare)
Atkinson, Kt. Hon. John Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Bir.) Kinlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Fisher, William Hayes
Bailey, James (Walworth) Charrington, Spencer Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)
Baird, John George Alexander Clare, Octavius Leigh Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans)
Baker, Sir John Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Godson, Sir Augustus F.
Balcarres, Lord Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Goldsworthy, Major-General
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Man.) Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon
Banbury, Frederick George Cubitt, Hon. Henry Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo.'s
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Curzon, Viscount Haldane, Richard Burdon
Bartley, George C. T. Dalkeith, Earl of Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.
Blundell, Colonel Henry Donkin, Richard Sim Hanson, Sir Reginald
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Heath, James
Butcher, John George Duckworth, James Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)
Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin) Dunn, Sir William Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle
Cavendish, V.C. W. (Derbysh.) Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw. Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Jenkins, Sir John Jones
Johnston, William (Belfast) Moulton, John Fletcher Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Kearley, Hudson E. Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Lute) Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)
Knowles, Lees Murray, Col. Wyndham (Lath Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand
Lawrence, Sir E. Durning- (Corn Nicol, Donald Ninian Stewart, Sir Mark J. McT.
Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Norton, Capt. Cecil William Strachey, Edward
Leng, Sir John Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Strauss, Arthur
Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Sw'ns'a Penn, John Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool) Phillpotts, Captain Arthur Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Lonsdale, John Brownlee Phillpotts, Captain Arthur Tritton, Charles Ernest
Lowe, Francis William Pilkington, Rich (L'ncs Newton Wanklyn, James Leslie
Lowles, John Platt-Higgins, Frederick Webster, Sir Richard E.
Lucas-Shadwell, William Powell, Sir Francis Sharpe Welby, Lt.-Col. A C E (Taunton
Macartney, W. G. Ellison Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.
M'Killop, James Purvis, Robert Williams. JosephPowell- (Birm
Middlemore, Jn. Throgmorton Randell, David Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Monckton. Edward Philip Richardsor, Sir T. (Hartle'pl) Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Moore, William (Antrim, N.) Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir Matthew W
More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire) Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Morrell, George Herbert Robertson, Herbert (Hackney
Morrison, Walter Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Morton. ArthurH. A. (Deptford Russell. T. W. (Tyrone)

Original Question put and agreed to.

4. Motion made, and Question proposed—"That a supplementary sum, not exceeding £58,905, be granted to Her Majesty to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for sundry Colonial services, including certain grants in aid."

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon District)

said he wished to draw attention to the telegrams which related to the despatches sent by President Steyn to Sir Alfred Milner immediately before the war. These despatches were, he would call it, summarised and telegraphed to the Colonial Office by the High Commissioner, and the full text of them never reached this country until after the declaration of war. On the 27th September President Steyn sent a telegram, received on the 28th, to Sir Alfred Milner containing a resolution adopted that day by the Volks-raad. That resolution instructed the Free State Government— still further to do everything in its power to preserve and establish peace, and to contribute by peaceful methods towards the solution of the existing differences. On the same date President Steyn sent another telegram to Sir A. Milner, who telegraphed to the right hon. the Colonial Secretary— In continuation of my telegram to-day, Orange Free State President has telegraphed to me at enormous length. After recapitulating history of negotiation from their point of view, he continues. Then followed Sir Alfred Milner's summary of President Steyn's despatch, in which he omitted whole passages of the original telegram, which covered only two pages, and was shorter than the famous Helot telegram. There was nothing that was fresh in that Helot telegram in regard to the situation; it was something like a leading article. Now, Sir Alfred Milner omitted in his telegram to the Colonial Secretary more than half President Steyn's despatch, and the passages omitted were certainly most important when; the state of matters then existing was considered. President Steyn said that the Orange Free State— is bound both to the people of the South African Republic and of the neighbouring British Colonies by ties of blood and friendship. It is, in addition, bound on the one hand to the South African Republic by a solemn treaty in which this State has undertaken to assist the Sister Republic in the event of its independence being threatened or attacked, whilst on the other side there exists between it and the British Government, and the Government of the neighbouring British Colonies, long established and highly appreciated amicable relations. It has ever been, and still is, the aim and object of Free State policy heartily to support and continually to foster any measure tending not only to maintain, but to increase the spirit of harmony and co-operation amongst the Colonies and States of South Africa, and their respective Governments, and it would most deeply regret the occurrence of any untoward event that would cause a break in the cordial relations hitherto so happily subsisting between this State and all its neighbours. President Steyn then proceeded to point out the services which the Orange Free State had rendered to Her Majesty's Government in order to obtain a peaceful and satisfactory solution of the differences between Her Majesty's Government and the South African Republic. Now he ventured to say that these were most important passages in President Steyn's despatch, and ought to have been telegraphed to the Colonial Secretary. Further President Steyn pointed out how he had brought pressure to bear upon the Transvaal Government, and had induced the Government to make concession after concession. He mentioned the fact which had not been referred to in any previous despatches, that it was at his suggestion and advice that the Transvaal Government had consented to accept the invitation of the British Government to take part in a Joint Committee regarding the seven years franchise, and President Steyn pointed out that that was a very important concession. Well, all that was left out of Sir Alfred Milner's telegram to the Colonial Secretary. The importance of these omissions lay in this, that while Sir Alfred Milner could exercise his judgment upon the whole evidence before him, it was surely necessary that the Cabinet on whom responsibility rested, and especially the Colonial Secretary, should have not only the substance of President Steyn's despatch, but the very language in which it was couched. In a matter of this kind, in a matter of diplomacy, more, almost invariably, depended upon the tone and temper in which negotiations were conducted than upon the substance of them. President Steyn was a very able man, and must have weighed carefully every word and sentence in that despatch; and yet all these passages were omitted by Sir Alfred Milner. Another reason why it was unfortunate that these passages had been omitted was that, so far as he could see, this war was more attributable to misunderstanding than anything else. President Steyn and the Government of the Boer Republic were undoubtedly under the impression that no amount of concession which they could make on the question of the franchise would stave off an attack on the independence of the Transvaal. If one half of President Steyn's despatch was omitted, that was garbling it; at any rate it mutilated the despatch, and Sir Alfred Milner's summary did not even contain the substance of the original. The right hon. the Colonial Secretary, no doubt, might say that the concessions made were bogus, and that the Orange Free State and the Transvaal were not acting bona fide; but President Steyn's despatch, in the passages omitted in the telegram to the Colonial Secretary, met that, for he gave there evidence of his bona fides. In a matter of life and death, not merely to this country but to the Boer Republics, Sir Alfred Milner ought not to have cast away a single chance of averting all the losses of lives of brave men and the devastation that has fallen on South Africa, and should have even at the expense of £50 or £60 telegraphed President Steyn's despatch in full. But that was not the only despatch mutilated. On the 4th October Sir Alfred Milner received another telegraphic despatch from President Steyn. It was not a very long despatch, and it would not have cost much to send it over here in full. In that despatch President Steyn begged and entreated the British Government to formulate their proposals, and he gave his assurance that these would be considered fairly. But that despatch was also summarised by Sir Alfred Milner, and some of the President's entreaties were omitted altogether. Sir Alfred Milner telegraphed— President Orange Free State has sent me another long telegram, which is mostly an attack upon us for pursuing what he regards as a policy of menace towards South African Republic, and seems to indicate an intention of picking a quarrel with us"; and then he quoted half a dozen lines only of President Steyn's despatch. Anyone reading Sir Alfred Milner's summary would think that President Steyn's despatch was a violent attack upon Her Majesty's Government, like the Highbury speech on the Transvaal Government; but on reading the complete despatch, any fair-minded man must come to the conclusion that it was most moderate and conciliatory in its tone. There was one passage in particular which had been omitted, in which complaint was made— of the bitter and hostile tone of the utterances made, both by responsible men and by almost the whole Press in South Africa and in England, bristling with misrepresentations and constant menace to the Transvaal, accompanied by ever increasing military preparations on an extensive scale, not only in South Africa and in England, but throughout the British Empire, which are openly stated as being directed against and intended to coerce the Transvaal "; and to these President Steyn said he— mainly attributed the failure hitherto of arriving at an amicable and satisfactory solution of existing difficulties. The right hon. the Colonial Secretary might say that he had no control over the Press here. That might or might not be; but he had as much right to complain of the Press in England as Sir Alfred Milner had to complain of the Press in South Africa. It was exceedingly unfortunate that the whole of President Steyn's despatch should not have been telegraphed to England. The whole saving to the State could not possibly have been more than a hundred pounds. As a matter of fact, instead of sending every word, as was his duty, uttered by President Steyn, he summarised, as he called it, the telegrams and omitted special phrases which indicated a conciliatory spirit, and the President's desire for peace. If the entire despatch had been sent it would have given a different complexion to the whole matter. He moved the reduction of the Vote by £100.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item M, 1 (Cape of Good Hope, High Commissioner of Telegrams), be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)


I find it very difficult to understand what the object of the hon. Gentleman is in the speech which he has just delivered. In form it is an attack on the High Commissioner, Sir Alfred Milner, for committing an offence which the hon. Gentleman describes in terms, though he says he did not intend to be offensive, as that of garbling important despatches. I suppose, however, that the hon. Gentleman really desires by a side wind to renew the rather belated discussion as to the negotiations which took place before the war. I differ entirely from the hon. Gentleman. Nothing whatever has been left out in the summaries of these despatches which could have been of the slightest possible importance. Any one who takes the trouble to read the summary with the original will find that the summary gives everything that could assist the Government in coming to a conclusion. It has always been usual to leave a certain discretion to our officials abroad to shorten telegraphic communications where it is possible to do so without injury to their clearness, and Sir Alfred Milner, who certainly has made no sparing use of the telegraph—


Not for his own despatches.


That is a sneer which is entirely unworthy, and with which I will deal presently. I say that Sir Alfred Milner was perfectly justified in shortening these despatches and cutting out irrelevancies. The hon. Member complains that the despatches of President Steyn have been compressed. I will show the Committee at once how unjustifiable that is. The only despatch to which the hon. Member refers is a despatch in answer to a telegram from the Government inviting President Steyn to express his view in order that it might be placed before the House in a debate shortly to take place. What does Sir A. Milner do? Upon that he sends what is in itself a summary of President Steyn's views—that is to say, so far a summary that in some cases words are omitted, as is frequently done in telegraphic form. It is not a literary production in the ordinary sense, but is purely and entirely a telegraphic summary of the views he was asked to express, and most certainly the summary which he sent of the two despatches of President Steyn give the position of President Steyn at least as clearly as the despatch, in which he expressed his own views, gave his opinion. What is it the hon. Gentleman pretends that Sir A. Milner left out in the telegraphic summary? He actually says it does not contain the substance of those despatches. Now, the first summary shows perfectly clearly that the object of President Steyn was to put before Her Majesty's Government his proposal, which he had no doubt concerted with the President of the South African Republic, that we should withdraw our troops from the frontier. He made a complaint against us that we had sent a few troops to garrison Kimberley and Mafeking, on the frontier. What would our position have been if we had not taken that precaution? He prefaces this extraordinary and almost insulting suggestion, coming from the President of the Free State in regard to the disposition of Her Majesty's own troops in her own territory, by a statement which is purely historical, and does not contain anything that was not absolutely within the knowledge of Her Majesty's Government at the time, but which the hon. Member says contained the substance of the despatch. Sir A. Milner omitted the statement of President Steyn that he was under an engagement with the South African Republic. That engagement has appeared again and again in the Bluebooks. It was known to everybody in the country.


Except the First Lord of the Treasury.


That interruption again shows the absolute ignorance of the hon. Member in regard to what is important in these transactions. It was known to my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury, but it does not appear to be known to the hon. Member, even now. He does not appear to know what was the nature of that engagement. It was an engagement binding the Orange Free State to assist the South African Republic in the event of any aggression upon that Republic, but there was a condition attached to it. I cannot now recall the exact words, but practically the condition amounted to this, that before assisting the Republic, the Orange Free State was to be satisfied of the justice of their cause—a most proper and reasonable condition. But it, was that condition which left my light hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury and Her Majesty's Government in doubt as to whether the engagement would be brought into effect, because we could not tell, with any certainty, what was in the mind of President Steyn, though we might, perhaps, have made a guess about it, and we could not tell whether he would think that the cause in which he was asked to assist the Transvaal was a just cause within the terms of the agreement. That statement was a mere recapitulation on the part of President Steyn, which it was perfectly unnecessary to go to the expense of telegraphing again to Her Majesty's Government. Then there was a rather characteristic claim by President Steyn in respect of his services, as he calls them, to Her Majesty's Government.

Any one who has read the despatches and knows the history of these transactions, will, I think, put a very different value upon President Steyn's services from that placed upon them by the hon. Gentleman. His services consisted in concerting a plan of attack on Natal and Cape Colony with the President of the South African Republic. And when we are asked to believe in his bona fides and desire for peace, I cannot help recalling to mind the fact that a few days before the declaration of war by the two Republics President Steyn solemnly assured Her Majesty's Government that under no circumstances would they take the aggressive. A few days later the troops of the Orange Free State were marching side by side with the troops of the South African Republic into Her Majesty's colony of Natal. The hon. Member complains that President Steyn's declaration of his desire for peace was not inserted in the telegraphic summary. I do not think it would have made much difference if a more lengthened summary of his desire for peace had been inserted, but, as a matter of fact, the declaration was inserted in the summary. For instance, the summary says:— This Government"(that is, the Orange Free State)"are still prepared to tender their services to further the interests of peace. And again:— In the expectation that Her Majesty's Government will share my view that no effort should be spared to effect a peaceable settlement, I trust Her Majesty's Government will see their way clear to such a settlement. Therefore, if the hon. Member really thinks that a repetition of this protestation, made at the time when the two Presidents were completing their preparations for the invasion of Her Majesty's territories, should have been inserted, all I can say is that the substance of it already appears in the summary, and I do not think recapitulation would have added anything to it. The whole point of the case, on the part of the hon. Member, is that something essential was omitted from the summary. I deny that absolutely. I say nothing of the slightest importance was omitted. The summary I was an extremely full one, and gave Her Majesty's Government all the information which could possibly have influenced them in coming to a decision.


I think, if I may say so, the right hon. Gentleman has completely given away his own case. He said that the resolution of the Orange Free State was to stand by the Transvaal Republic if they considered the cause in which they were asked to assist was a just cause. Then the right hon. Gentleman said, "We did not know—how could we know?—what was in the mind of President Steyn in regard to this; we did not know whether he would consider the cause just or not." But, surely, is not that the consideration that Sir Alfred Milner omitted the very passages which show what was in the mind of President Steyn? The omitted passages show very clearly what was in the mind of President Steyn; and that is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman did not understand at the time. The right hon. Gentleman has completely justified me in calling attention to these very grave omissions from the dispatches. There is one point to which the right hon. Gentleman did not allude. There was not a single passage in any of the dispatches to prove that the Government knew that the acceptation by the Transvaal Republic of the right hon. Gentleman's own suggestion for the appointment of a joint commission was brought about by President Steyn. The right hon. Gentleman sneers—to use his

own favourite expression—at President Steyn's referring to the services he had rendered to Her Majesty's Government. Here is the service which President Steyn did render, not merely to Her Majesty's Government but to the cause of peace. If the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion for reference to a joint commission was bona fide when it was made, and if he thought it was a basis of settlement—and he says he did consider it a very good basis and President Steyn induced the South African Republic to accept that suggestion, is not that a service to Her Majesty's Government? But I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, it was not. It is becoming increasingly evident that all Her Majesty's Government wanted was a pretext to quarrel with these two Republics in order to annex them, and that therefore any efforts on the part of President Steyn which would have had the effect of inducing the Transvaal Government to accept anything which would be regarded as a basis of peace would not be considered to be a service.

At this stage Mr. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.) took the Chair.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 30: Noes, 89. (Division List No. 49.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Duckworth, James Oldroyd, Mark
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Dunn, Sir William Power, Patrick Joseph
Baker, Sir John Farquharson, Dr. Robert Redmond, William (Clare)
Blake, Edward Hogan, James Francis Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Caldwell, James Kilbride, Denis Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Cawley, Frederick Leng, Sir John Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Clough, Walter Owen MacAleese, Daniel Tanner, Charles Kearns
Colville, John M'Dermott, Patrick Thomas, D. A. (Merthyr)
Crilly, Daniel M'Kenna, Reginald Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Weir, James Galloway
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Lloyd-George and Mr. Maddison.
Donelan, Captain A. O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Doogan, P. C. O'Donnell, John
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin) Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbys. Donkin, Richard Sim
Baird, John George Alexander Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-
Balcarres, Lord Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wore'r Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward
Banbury, Frederick George Charrington, Spencer Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Clare, Octavins Leigh Fisher, William Hayes
Bartley, George C. T. Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Flower, Ernest
Blundell, Colonel Henry Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Cubitt, Hon. Henry Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick
Butcher, John George Curzon, Viscount Goldsworthy, Major-General
Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire) Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G. Morrell, George Herbert Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm, Morrison, Walter Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks.)
Hanson, Sir Reginald Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford) Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)
Heath, James Murray Rt Hn A Graham (Bute Stewart, Sir Mark J. M 'Taggart
Howarth, Sir Henry Hoyle Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath Strauss, Arthur
Jenkins, Sir John Jones Norton, Capt. Cecil William Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Johnston, William (Belfast) Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Sturt, Hon. H. Napier
Knowles, Lees Penn, John Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Lawrence, Sir E. Durning- (Corn Phillpotts, Captain Arthur Tritton, Charles Ernest
Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Pilkington, R. (Lanes, Newt'n) Wanklyn, James Leslie
Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn (Swans'a Platt-Higgins, Frederick Webster, Sir Richard E.
Long Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (T'nt'n)
Lonsdale, John Brownlee Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts)
Lowe, Francis William Purvis, Bobert Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)
Lowles, John Rentoul, James Alexander Wilson, John. (Falkirk)
Lucas Shadwell, William Richard son, SirThos (Hartlep'l Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Macartney, W. G. Ellisonton Ridley, Rt Hon Sir Matthew W.
Middlemore, J. Throgmor Ritchie, Rt Hon Chas. Thomson TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Monckton, Edward Philip Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Moore, William (Antrim, N.) Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye

Resolution agreed to.

5. £10,000, Supplementary, Subsidies to Telegraph Companies.

MR. CALDWELL () Lanarkshire, Mid

asked for an explanation of these subsidies.


What happened was this. When the Transvaal war broke out the Eastern Telegraph Company were laying another wire between St. Helena and Cape Town, and in the ordinary course the vessel which was laying that cable would afterwards have returned to England and laid the wire between St. Helena and Ascension. If that course had been followed, the result would have been to delay by about three months the laying of the last link in a cable which would give us an alternative route. In order, therefore, to get this alternative route open as soon as possible we arranged with the company that they should send an extra ship out from England to lay the cable between Ascension and St. Helena concurrently with that between St. Helena and Cape Town, and we undertook to pay whatever the cost might be up to £15,000 if the wire were laid by Christmas instead of, as was originally intended, by March 31. The company agreed to those terms, and, as a matter of fact, the cable was laid by December 15 or 16, and instead of the extra cost involved being £15,000 only amounted to £10,000.


said the explanation was satisfactory.

6. £2,847, Treasury Chest Fund.


asked for an explanation of the Vote.


said the simple explanation was that in the case of most of these Treasury chests, and in the case particularly of Hong Kong and Mauritius, the currency was silver, and at the beginning of each year the value of the rupee or Mexican dollar was worked out. As a matter of fact, the price of silver went up, and therefore, of course, they were to that extent the losers. That was the whole explanation of the loss.

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