I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the statement, published some time since and verified by the signature of the writer, to the effect that about last September a gentleman offered to secure for the Government the refusal of 15,000 Basuto ponies at a low price; and, if so, was his offer declined.
*MR. J. POWELL WILLIAMS (for Mr. WYNDHAM)
The statement to which the hon. Member refers is, I presume, the letter which appeared in The Times of the 9th January, over the signature of Lieutenant-Colonel Allsopp. The writer stated that he had been offered 15,000 Basuto ponies at £15 apiece, and inquired what the War Office had done in the matter. The Secretary of State's attention was called to this letter, and he at once wrote to Lieutenant-Colonel Allsopp, asking to be referred to the person by whom the offer was made. Colonel Allsopp referred Lord Lansdowne to a gentleman of the name of Pardy as the person who made the offer. Mr. Pardy was thereupon asked whether he could supply 15,000 Basuto ponies, or a smaller number, and at what rate. He replied that he was prepared to proceed at once to Pondoland and Basutoland, and, "if sufficiently backed by the Government, to procure all the available horses." Funds were to be placed at his disposal, and he was to receive the honorary rank of major and pay at the rate of £60 a month. But he was unable to produce any evidence to show that horses of the right stamp were actually available. Mr. Pardy has since addressed a communication to the War Office explaining that Colonel Allsopp's letter conveyed an erroneous impression, as his only offer was to go to South Africa as the agent of Her Majesty's Government, trusting that his knowledge of the country would enable him to pick up a considerable number of ponies at reasonable rates. Mr. Pardy's offer was not accepted. I may explain that long before the appearance of Colonel Allsopp's letter inquiries had been made in South Africa as to the possibility of buying Basuto ponies. Reports, however, from the General Officer Commanding at the Cape and from the Resident Commissioner in Basutoland were to the effect that ponies of the proper class were unobtainable.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
May I ask whether it is not the duty of the Intelligence Department of the War Office to make themselves acquainted with what horses are available in the different parts of the Empire?
§ [No answer was given.]