§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, whether at any time since the negotiations between Lord Kitchener and General Botha any overtures, suggestions, or proposals, with a view to the termination of the war, and purporting to come from all or any of the Boer leaders or Boer ex-officials, or members of the late Volksraad, at the time in Holland, were submitted to the Prime Minister by any member of His Majesty's Privy Council. I beg also to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, whether, at any time since the negotiations between Lord Kitchener and 1091 General Botha, any application to His Majesty's Government has been made in regard to proposals for the termination of the war, to allow any of the Boers in Holland, who occupied high positions in the former Boer Government, to communicate with the Boer leaders in South Africa; and whether, if so, the application was refused.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
No overtures for peace have been received from any one authorised to speak on behalf of the Boers. A communication was, however, received late on Saturday night from the Dutch Government, which is now under consideration, I propose to lay on the Table as soon as I am in a position to do so a copy of that communication and of our reply to it.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I did not allude to what took place last Saturday, but to what took place previously, I think in August; and I asked whether overtures, or suggestions, or proposals purporting to come from the Boer leaders were submitted to the Prime Minister by any member of His Majesty's Privy Council.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If the communications did not come from persons authorised by the Boers they are not a proper subject for question and answer across the floor of the House; they are only part of the private correspondence with which all Ministers are more or less flooded.
§ MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether British officers or officials will be in order in entering into negotiations for terms of peace with Boer officers who, according to the proclamation of 7th August, have practically been outlaws since 15th September.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,): Birmingham, W.
There is nothing to prevent Boer officers in the field from making overtures to the Commander-in-Chief. If they do so he has been instructed by telegram of April 19th to report such overtures to his Majesty's 1092 Government. I think the Question wrongly describes the technical status of leaders mentioned in the proclamation.