HC Deb 17 July 1902 vol 111 cc527-602

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £332,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge for the salaries and miscellaneous charges of the War Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1903."

(2.30.) SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)

I rise for the purpose of moving a reduction in this Vote by £100, in order that I may have an opportunity of bringing before the Committee the unfair position in which, as I consider, Sir Redvers Buller has been placed by the partial and unexplained publication of selected telegrams sent by him or received by him. And, in doing so, I desire to say, to prevent misconception, that as regards my colleagues on this Bench they are in no way responsible or committed either by what I have to say or by my raising the question at all. I say that because nothing would be more painful to any friend of Sir Redvers Buller than to suppose that the position of that distinguished man had in any way become the sport of Party politics. I think hon. Members opposite will do the Party on this side of the House the credit to observe that though after his dismissal in the autumn I and some others, moved by feelings either of personal regard or of local sentiment, which is so wonderfully strong in the case of Sir Redvers Buller, did draw attention to the facts in public, yet the heads of the Liberal Party, and the Party as a whole, have done nothing whatever to make it the opportunity of an attack upon the Government. That being so, I take the sole responsibility of what I am going to say and of raising this question at all. And in what I am going to say, I do not wish to impute motives to the Secretary of State for War, the Commander-in-Chief, or to any other individual at the War Office. I think the facts have done great injustice to Sir Redvers Buller, and it is with the facts I have to deal.

My position is shortly this. Many months ago attacks began to be made in the public Press on Sir Redvers Buller's reputation, and those attacks have continued up to the present time. Since these attacks began all the documents, so far as I know, most unfavourable to him have been published. All the documents necessary to him to explain his situation, and the special difficulties against which he had to contend, and the documents which he would have quoted, had he been allowed to put his position fairly before the public, are still kept back. Now, that is what I consider is the unfairness of the position in which Sir Redvers Buller is placed. I say that, in common fairness, after all that has happened, Sir Redvers Buller should be set free to tell his own story, laying the whole of the telegrams affecting his own action before some impartial tribunal. I do not ask the War Office to make more selections and publish them. My case, though I impute no motives, is that on the facts, if the facts were known, it would be recognised that the selections made and published have been most misleading and unjust to Sir Redvers Buller's reputation. Let me say that I am not going to raise any question of military skill. I do not propose to deal with the military operations at Colenso and Spion Kop, which have been the subject of criticism. I am not going to argue whether they were conducted with military capacity and skill. It is not of those criticisms that I complain. Indeed, I do not think this House is in a position to review military questions, which can only be reviewed by military experts, and furthermore, criticisms whether the disposition of forces in the field, or the orders given in the field, on a particular occasion, were the best possible, or whether they failed, are questions with regard to which Sir Redvers Buller can defend himself by writing a narrative if he pleases. As to the publication of the Spion Kop despatches, for instance, Sir Redvers Buller has no cause of complaint, because, after all, they do but show that the previously published criticism which Lord Roberts passed on Sir Redvers Buller had been already positively suggested by Sir Redvers Buller himself in the despatches; but Sir Redvers Buller never asked for the publication of those despatches and is in no way responsible for them; and as there was no public interest to be served by their publication, I think it was unnecessary cruelty to circulate the criticisms upon other persons who were in no way concerned in the dispute. It is not attacks on Sir Redvers Buller's military operations in the field that I complain of. It is of something much more serious. It is attacks upon his character founded upon telegrams already published. These attacks and criticisms, which are in the public mouth everywhere, amount to this—that after the battle of Colenso Sir Redvers Buller was guilty of a sudden breakdown of nerve, of a failure of moral courage, and of a collapse of character. These are the attacks which I consider unfounded. The answer to them must come from himself, and he is entitled to reserve his answer until he is allowed to publish the documents necessary for his defence. The question I shall end by putting, is this: Has Sir Redvers Buller in this matter of his reputation at stake before the public been treated as a public servant who is attacked should be treated by the Department which ought to protect him? And what were the attacks? Months ago statements began to appear in the public Press, and are continuing still to appear — manifestly originating in a leakage somewhere—of a kind entirely unfavourable to Sir Redvers Buller. This leakage at last came to this, that Sir Redvers Buller discovered that there was known to the Press an inaccurate version of a heliogram which he had sent to Sir George White. Thereupon he naturally expressed the strongest desire to have the accurate version of the heliogram published. Obviously the War Office should have allowed him to produce it.


May I ask when he expressed that desire?


In his speech for which he was dismissed. I may say, further, that, months before that speech he had complained of the leakage, and had found that it was not possible for the War Office to protect him in the matter. Undoubtedly, he did express a desire to be allowed to publish it. Let me point out this document was not a telegram or a despatch from the Government to Sir Redvers Buller or from Sir Redvers Buller to the Government, nor was it one from a superior officer to him or from him to a superior officer. It was one from him to an officer under his command—from a superior officer to one under his command—and I say that the simple and obvious thing would have been to give him permission to publish the accurate version of the heliogram. But he was not allowed to do so. On the contrary, he was dismissed from his command for having made a speech referring to it, and was distinctly ordered not to publish it or anything further at all. Soon after that, when people thought it was likely that he would take further steps to defend himself, there appeared in the Press a statement—I have particularly in my mind an article in the Standard—that if he defended himself further disclosures would have to be made by the Government which would be still more unfavourable to him. It was a most galling thing to have these threats made in the Press. They were widely attributed at the time to official inspiration. I do not bring any charge against the Secretary of State for War or the Commander-in-Chief of having in any way inspired them. But again there was the same leakage of the same unfavourable kind to Sir Redvers Buller which had gone on before. Sir Redvers Buller took no action, but not because of these threats in the Press. Parliament met, and an Amendment was put down to the Address. It was not instigated by Sir Redvers Buller, and the fact that it was not moved was directly due to his influence. The reason was that he was unwilling that there should be in this House any discussion which was likely to embarrass the Government while they were responsible for the conduct of the war. How was the matter next stirred? Again not by him. It was re-opened by the publication of "The Times History of the War." That history repeated the old attacks in a most bitter and concentrated form, and added a new charge. Then Sir Redvers Buller moved. He again appealed to the War Office. "The Times History of the War" purports in its preface—1 have no doubt quite truly—to have had help and countenance from official sources. If it had this help from official sources, surely it would have been at least fair that the writer of that history should have been warned that, as Sir Redvers Buller's mouth was closed by the War Office, and he was prohibited from defending himself, these attacks should be dropped. But instead of that the attacks were made stronger, than ever, and a new attack was formulated, which exalted the Government greatly at Sir Redvers Buller's expense. This was that Lord Lansdowne had sent Sir Redvers Buller a telegram ordering him to persevere in the attempt to relieve Ladysmith, and telling him, if not, to give up his command to a junior and return home — about the most ignominious telegram that could be sent by any Government to any commander in the field. Sir Redvers Buller naturally asked the War Office whether this ignominious telegram, as I have called it, really existed, because he had never received it. He got no definite, straightforward reply as to whether that particular telegram referred to in The Times, existed or not; for the rest he had sent to him by the War Office, with permission—which was really much more a challenge than a permission—to publish them. Sir Redvers Buller never asked for these documents. He asked, in his later correspondence with the War Office, that he might be allowed to publish the correct version of the heliogram to Sir George White, and whether the telegram from Lord Lansdowne, which he had not received, really existed. The answer is that he cannot have access to anything further; but these five telegrams are sent to him under a condition which is really a challenge to publish them, but if he did publish them, to do so textually as they stand, and not to divulge any one separately from the others. What was his reply? His reply was that this he considered an unfair selection as they stand by themselves, that it was bound to do him injustice, and that it was not fair to him to ask him to publish these five telegrams without others. The answer of the War Office was that he could have no others, and that the correspondence must cease. I say Sir Redvers Buller was perfectly justified in saying that this was unfair to him, and that he would publish nothing. Anyhow he has never shown any want of moral courage so far as his reputation is concerned. He has always shown that he was never going to shrink from anything, even though it was partial truth; and be published the telegrams as they stood.

Well, now, let us take these five telegrams as they stand. The first is one from Sir Redvers Buller to the Secretary of State for War. I think it would have been fairer that the first one should have been taken in the words he used, and not as a paraphrase, or should not have been published at all. The impression left by that standing alone is that it was a sudden counsel of despair on the part of Sir Redvers Buller, taken in great depression and weakness after his failure at Colenso. Whatever we may think of the policy disclosed in that telegram, that policy was not a sudden counsel of despair on his part, but much more the result of a deliberate view of the situation as he had to face it. The second telegram is one to Sir George White. I do contend that that does not bear out the accusations made against Sir Redvers Buller. Those accusations have been that, in a fit of despair, he ordered Sir George White to surrender, and that Sir George White replied that he could not comply with that order. That is not in the telegram as it stands. There are three things in the telegram. The first is to tell Sir George White that Sir Redvers Buller had failed at Colenso, and that he could not move for a full month. The second is to ask Sir George White whether he can hold out for so long; and the third is to tell him, if not, what he must do in the contingency of surrender. That is the telegram as it stands. Now it is said that that telegram is altered and made stronger by the amended telegram. The only object of amending that telegram, was, first of all, to ask him definitely how many days he could hold out, and next to remind him of the danger of not burning his cipher. On that last point there were special reasons, as Sir Redvers will be able to show, why he thought it important to add that special portion. Anyhow that is a detail. The main object of the telegram was to ask definitely how many days Sir George White could hold out. As the telegram stands it is assumed that that amended telegram, which is made to read stronger than the original, and which is not the intention of Sir Redvers Buller—that amended telegram was sent off before Sir Redvers Buller received Sir George White's reply, and Sir George White had sent off his reply before he had received the amended telegram. He never acknowledged that amended telegram, but his telegram to Sir Redvers Buller is not quite correctly given in the text of the War Office, Instead of being given "Yours of today," it ought to have been given "Yours No. 88 of today," thereby making it clear that it refers to the first telegram, No. 88, and took no notice of the amended telegram. So that it is the first telegram which plays any part in this affair. Well, now, I will ask the Committee to bear this in mind, that you cannot have a full explanation of the situation without other documents. Sir Redvers Buller is not in a position to disclose other documents. He has been forbidden to do so. The Committee must also bear in mind that all these telegrams were written, on the assumption that Ladysmith only had food to last to the end of the year, a fortnight from that time. Had that been true every word in these telegrams would have been regarded universally as the language of a man who had the courage to face the facts and make the best preparations he could to meet them. But it is asked, "Why did he not know, what made him think that Ladysmith had only supplies to the end of the year?" I would like to have Sir Redvers Buller set free to make an answer on that point; to tell us what he knew, or thought he knew, of the state of supplies at Ladysmith; from what source he obtained his information, and why he was reluctant before there was absolute need to put a direct question to Sir George White. As long as he was advancing without check, as long as he expected to be in Ladysmith before the end of the year, it was not absolutely necessary to ask whether the supplies would last to the end of the year, his information being that they would. But the moment he knew he could not be in Ladysmith, and could not relieve it, before the end of the year, then it had become urgent to ask Sir George White how long his supplies would hold out; and that is the question he asked in his first telegram to Sir George White, and asked a second time in the amended telegram. The second thing to bear in mind is this, that Sir Redvers Buller considered that no troops could be diverted to Natal without creating greater dangers in connection with Cape Colony, Kimberley, and elsewhere. I say that nobody can understand the situation he had to face when these telegrams were sent, without knowing, and knowing very fully, all that had happened since he landed in South Africa, to enable him to judge of the situation which, in his mind, he had to review at the time. I know that universal comment has been made upon these telegrams. I am not surprised at the comments made on these telegrams standing by themselves; but I am surprised that nobody in the public or in this House has had the curiosity to ask what was Sir Redvers Buller's reply to the telegram he received from Lord Lansdowne. What was his reply? He writes the telegram on the assumption that Ladysmith has only food to last to the end of the year, and that he cannot have any more troops for use in Natal, and that the troops he had under his command were not strong enough to relieve Ladysmith. He received in answer to that telegram, first of all, the intimation that Lady-smith can hold out for much longer than the end of the year; secondly, the permission of the Secretary of State for War to take more troops from Cape Colony. And no one has the curiosity or the fairness to ask in what spirit Sir Redvers Buller faced his task, or what difference it made to him when he gets these two pieces of information. That is, partly, the reason why I think, even without knowing or being able to disclose more than the War Office has permitted hitherto to be published, it is fair to demand that Sir Redvers Buller's hands should be set free.

Let me, Sir, sum up this part of the case. In the first place, his first simple demand to publish the correct version of the telegram from him to the officer under his command, not without provocation, but after a garbled version had already been made public, is refused; secondly, when leave is granted to publish the telegram, other telegrams for which he has never asked are sent to him, with strict instructions to publish them all together textually as they stand; and when he protests that that is not a fair selection, the reply of the War Office is that he can have nothing more, that he can take his choice whether he publishes them or not, and that the correspondence must be broken off; thirdly, all through this matter there has been either a leakage or a publication of everything unfavourable to Sir Redvers Buller, while everything necessary to judge his conduct in a true light and in its proper perspective, and the situation in which he was placed, has been withheld. It has been said that Sir Redvers Buller has been treated with generosity in this matter. I do not think he has been treated with common fairness. To say that he has been treated with generosity is to destroy the meaning of the English language. The War Office have conducted the whole question of his defence in the spirit in which people would have conducted a correspondence against a man who was opposing them. They have conducted the matter as if it were their desire and object to substantiate every charge made against him in public, and not to give him any facilities to answer in defence. That is why I say I ask for no more selections from the War Office. The Secretary of State for War may reply with some force that it is impossible to give an officer in the Army leave to publish at discretion anything he pleases. But these documents might be laid freely before some impartial tribunal which may be trusted by the Government and Sir Redvers Buller, and whose opinion, after having reviewed the case, would be trusted by the country. The Government have said they are going to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into matters connected with the war. I will not say that will meet my point, for I know not who are to compose that Commission; but if it does take place, I assume much of their proceedings will have to; be conducted in private, and if it be a fair and impartial tribunal, I see no reason why Sir Redvers Buller should not be set free to lay all documents and despatches before a tribunal of that kind. Then let us hear their opinion as to whether justice has been done to him by the publication of selected telegrams. There is one other reason why the Secretary for War might demur to this request which occurs to my mind; he may urge that, if Sir Redvers Buller is given this permission, everybody else who may feel aggrieved by criticisms passed upon his conduct during the course of the war may expect to have the same permission. But, Sir, I do not think this is really a valid reason. In the first place, be it observed, I have not asked that Sir Redvers Buller should submit his military capacity in the field, the merits of his operations, the battle of Colenso, or any of his operations in the field to any tribunal. I have kept all military operations outside of this altogether. But I do say this is an exceptional case as it stands, exceptional, looking to the past services of Sir Redvers Buller, the length of his service, and looking at the high positions he has held, and, above all, exceptional having regard to the nature of the attacks made upon him, and the attitude of the War Office towards him when he asked leave of the War Office to defend himself from these attacks. What I wish to put before the Committee-is that, in common fairness, the case ought not to be allowed to rest where it is; and that is the foundation of my demand to the Secretary of State.

Well, that is the statement of the position, so far as it can he made out without the disclosure of further documents. I ask the Committee to support my demand; but I go beyond the Committee. I know that in this matter of Sir Redvers Buller's reputation, the great bulk of the public Press is now adamant. It has condemned him, and apparently is convinced that there is nothing more to be heard or known, that his condemnation is not to be palliated or modified in any way. We are sometimes apt to regard the Press, because it is so impersonal and anonymous, as though writers were not animated by the same feelings, and actuated by the same motives as ourselves. But these attacks were started in the Press, and have been continued in the Press, by mm of the same blood as ourselves, who are open, as we are open, to appeals to chivalry or fairness. However tenacious they may be of their own opinions, and however sure they may be that they are right, I think those who have been the first, the most hasty and emphatic, in passing condemnation upon Sir Redvers Buller, ought to be the first, in common fairness, to support this demand. All the weapons with which he has been attacked have been published and at their disposal, but surely the man who is attacked with those weapons—and by weapons I mean documents—ought to have weapons at his disposal. Once you have the documents published, whether telegrams or despatches, and put a man in the position of having to explain on these, and these alone, without being able to quote from anything else, you put him in an unfair position; and those who have been most strenuous in attacking Sir Redvers Buller, ought to be the first to demand that there should be at his disposal the same power to quote and to bring forward documents as by the action of the War Office they have hitherto had at their disposal.

There is another matter I have to bring before the Committee, and that is the question of the appointment of Sir Redvers Buller to the command of the First Army Corps and his dismissal from that command. With the appointment I have no fault to find—that is my whole case—for if the whole facts were known that would appear a natural and justifiable appointment. If there are any criticisms to be offered on the appointment by people who think otherwise, those criticisms may, of course, tell with force against the Government; but I have no desire to make any points against the Government, except so far as they are points that tend to do Sir Redvers Buller justice. I think the appointment was a natural one. People have now become fascinated by the Lady-smith episode, and their attention has been concentrated upon that; but take the whole of Sir Redvers Buller's services in South Africa. What happened when he landed at the Cape? He found a state of disaster over the whole of South Africa; he landed, as he said himself, a general without an army; he found everything in a state of collapse, and he, by the courage and decision with which he faced that state of affairs, was the first to restore matters to a better condition. He it was who, on his own responsibility, first took the decision to go to Natal. If he had been responsible for the state of disaster which he found on landing at the Cape, to dwell upon it would do him no good. That, again, is a matter for inquiry. What was responsible for the state of disaster? Remember what the position was. Not only was Ladysmith invested, but the whole of Natal was invaded. Kimberley was in danger; and, what to many thinking minds was far worse, there was a prospect of a rising in Cape Colony, and an invasion of Cape Colony in force by the Boers might have resulted in the complete loss of that colony. Even now there are people who, reflecting on the history of the war, still say that, bad as things were at first, the situation was as nothing to what it would have been had the Boers, instead of concentrating in Natal, made a rush for Cape Town. Sir Redvers Buller had to face that situation. Want of preparation was responsible for it, but who was responsible for the want of preparation?

We can carry that matter no further now; but, in common justice to Sir Redvers Buller, his attitude in that matter at least ought to come before some impartial tribunal. He had to face the situation, and in it he had an almost impossible task. His very failure to overcome the difficulties of his task surely brought experience, and the lessons by which those who came after him could profit, though the brunt of experience fell upon him. All admit that there were lessons to be learned by everybody engaged in the war, but Sir Redvers Buller was the man who, with the fewest troops and confronted with the greatest difficulties, had to face all the novelties of this Boer warfare without any experience to guide him. What did he do? He decided to go to Natal, and he turned the tide of warfare in Natal; because, not only was Ladysmith invested, but 8,000 Boers had advanced beyond Ladysmith, and he was only in the nick of time to drive them back. He went to Natal, not with the main object of relieving Ladysmith—that was not the most urgent thing—but with the object of saving South Natal—which was the thing that had to be done first—and he succeeded in doing it. What troops had he at his disposal? He could have had but about 20,000 in Natal, and of these 10,000 were required to protect South Natal and his communications; so he had, therefore, only about 10,000 to use against the Boers, who had 8,000 in selected positions to be used freely against him, still leaving force enough to prevent Sir George White leaving Ladysmith. If rumour be true, leaders of the Boers themselves now admit that one of the things in the war that caused them most astonishment and admiration was that Sir Redvers Buller should ever have succeeded, even when he had more troops, in turning their position and relieving Ladysmith. ["Oh, oh."] He did relieve Ladysmith. ["Oh."] It is a common belief, but founded, as I believe, not upon actual facts, that when Lord Roberts landed in South Africa the Boers withdrew from their objective in Natal, and that Sir Redvers Buller's task was thereby made easier. But I believe the converse is much nearer the truth. I believe it was Sir Redvers Buller's operations by keeping the Boer force engaged in Natal, and finally overcoming them, that made the way plain for Lord Roberts to advance to Pretoria in the manner he did. I believe it is an entirely unjust assumption that Lord Roberts relieved Ladysmith by drawing away the Boer forces in Natal. Those forces remained in Natal and were beaten by Sir Redvers Buller. Whatever criticisms are passed upon Spion Kop, Colenso, and other matters, his tactics after the relief of Ladysmith were, by common consent, most masterly and brilliant, and they were successful in driving the Boers out of Natal altogether.

People may say I am giving a partial account, but remember that from first to last Sir Redvers Buller's actions in Natal have never been criticised by the War Office. He was never asked to explain anything. When he came home, he naturally received the thanks of the Government for his public services, and I am not surprised that the command of the First Army Corps was given to him. There is but one criticism I would admit on that appointment; and it is that the Secretary of State for War had previously stated that he was going to appoint to these commands officers who would command the troops in the field, and it might have been said that Sir Redvers Buller, by the natural course of years, was reaching the end of his active services, and that, in all probability in future operations, independent commands in the field would be given to younger men. There would be some force in that criticism but for the fact that we naturally expect, if it should be necessary to give commands in the field for active service in future years, that younger men would be chosen who had distinguished themselves in this war. But these men were not at home for the command of the First Army Corps to be given to one of them. If there had been at homo any one of the younger men who had distinguished themselves in the war to whom this command could have been given, I admit there would have been some ground for criticism on the appointment. But that was not the case. When Sir Redvers Buller was dismissed the command was given—and I think rightly given—to Sir J. French. But he was not here to take up the command. It was not as if there was any younger or more active man on the staff to whom the Government would wish to give the command, and, therefore, the criticism does not hold.

But though I was not surprised at Sir Redvers Buller's appointment, I am surprised at what followed it. The announcement was that he had been appointed to command the First Army Corps. Then there followed the attacks upon the Government for having appointed him—especially in The Times. The Government did not remain quiet under these attacks; they published another announcement, obviously to emphasize the fact that the appointment was to be limited to two years.


I beg pardon for interrupting, but may I say that that announcement was the only one published by the War Office?


Then how did the newspapers become cognisant of the appointment?


That I cannot say. I only know that the only announcement made by the War Office was that to which the right hon. Gentleman has just alluded.


The announcement to which I was alluding was given under the head of "Naval and Military Intelligence," and was this:— General Sir Redvers Buller has been appointed General on the Staff to command the First Army Corps at Aldershot from October 1. That is not a War Office announcement, I admit, but I suppose that there again there has been a leakage. Anyhow the actual announcement which followed it was this:— We have received the following from the War Office:—'The First and Third Army Corps commands at Aldershot and Dublin respectively will be formed from October 1. Sir Redvers Buller was appointed to the Aldershot district in October, 1893, and his command will run for the two years of his appointment which are still unexpired.' The appointments were originally for three years, and there was no limitation to, the Duke of Connaught's command in Dublin. The important point was the announcement that Sir Redvers Buller's appointment was to be limited to two years. It is quite true that these were the terms. That is the real appointment which was offered to Sir Redvers Buller, but coming as it did, that announcement produced a most unfortunate impression, because it was taken by The Times and other papers as an apology by the War Office for the appointment. The War Office having made the first announcement, I cannot complain of them for having omitted the two years limitation in the first announcement, but I do think the right hon. Gentleman opposite must see that, in view of the fact that no explanation was given to Sir Redvers Buller, and that his appointment was first announced without this explanation, and then when particularly galling attacks were made upon him, and attention was specially drawn in the Press to this statement, it was treated in The Times as a confession and avoidance, anyone must feel that nothing could have been more galling to a man in Sir Redvers Buller's position than to feel that having been exposed to these attacks he was not going to be supported by his superiors at the War Office. As far as he knew it must have appeared to him that having been appointed to this command, the Government were practically apologising for the appointment. That is the way it was treated by the public press, and I bring it forward to show that when Sir Redvers Buller made his speech, he did not make it without being under very natural and inevitable provocation. He made his speech, and he was dismissed because of that speech. That was the official announcement. Nobody questioned the right of the Secretary of State for War to remove a General from his command, but I cannot believe that Sir Redvers Buller was removed from the position after that length of service simply because the Secretary of State, or the Commander-in-Chief, did not approve of the tone or temper of that speech. That cannot be the real reason, because the speech discussed no question of policy. It reflected neither upon the Government nor upon any other officer in the Army, nor upon any human being whatever, and though Sir Redvers Buller in that speech defended himself, he withheld everything in his speech which could have in any way touched the conduct of any other man, and it was made in the face of violent provocation. I cannot believe that after that length of service a mere indiscretion, mere faults of tone or temper, or want of judgment were the real reasons for the dismissal. The dismissal was peremptory, and if it was not for indiscretion it must have been for a serious breach of military regulations What were the breaches of military regulations? That is the point that I wish to put to the Secretary of State for War. If there were breaches, why were they not made known? Why was there no military tribunal to try the question of military law! If it was a dismissal solely on the ground of the speech, taking the speech by itself it seems to me that to dismiss such a man from such an office for that speech was harsh conduct beyond parallel. Some of this injury—I would ask the Committee to bear in mind again that I am criticising, of course, a Department which has it in its power to withhold what it pleases, or publish what it pleases, and I can add nothing to what the War Office has published—some of this injury to Sir Redvers Buller's reputation is beyond remedy; the harsh and peremptory dismissal is quite beyond remedy and beyond recall; but the worst injury is that which is done to a distinguished reputation. I am fully aware of the difficulty of overtaking an injustice of this kind. When it is once set going it speeds swiftly everywhere, gathers force as it goes, lodges itself in every mind, and impresses in the mind of every man the point of view which is prepared to repel any explanation or justification on the part of the man attacked, for fear the injustice itself will be dislodged. Nothing is more tenacious of life than a prejudice of this kind against a man when once it has obtained a start, but that is no reason why it should be submitted to, or why he and his friends should not do the utmost in their power to demand that the case shall not rest where it is. I have been told that it is contrary to the interests of discipline that a case of this kind should be brought before the House. I do not think it is. The abuse of discipline is its worst enemy, and there are times when abuses of that kind must be brought before the House of Commons, because it is the only tribunal before which they can come. Whether the Secretary of State will do what is still possible and set Sir Redvers Buller free to state his case and the facts to support it, I cannot tell, but this I trust—and I think it is one justification for raising this debate—that the mere fact of this debate having taken place will render it less likely in the future that any man such as Sir Redvers Buller, or any public servant in his position, should be treated as he has been treated when he appeals for protection to a public Department which he has served.

Motion made, and Question put, "That Item A (Salaries of the Staff) be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the Secretary of State."—(Sir Edward Grey.)

(3.22.) SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devonshire, Honiton)

said that amidst all the controversy which had been raised around this question, there was one feeling which would be shared by everyone to whom the reputation of the British Army was dear, namely, a feeling of profound regret that one who had had such a splendid career, a man who had commanded the confidence and devotion, almost more than any one else, of the British Army, a man fearless and gallant, high-minded and humane, should have had his career cut short and brought to a sudden and disastrous termination under circumstances so peculiarly painful. He was sure that no one shared that regret more fully than the Commander-in-Chief and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, upon whom rested the great responsibility of dealing with this question, and of judging what would be the effect on the Army and the public of reading that speech, and deciding what course should be taken in consequence of that speech, now that the question had been brought before the House of Commons. Everybody must feel that it was a great responsibility to bring a question involving the discipline of the Army before the House. The question, however, was one of such extended interest, raising so many different and complicated issues, increased by the great popularity of Sir Redvers Buller, that it was bound to come sooner or later before the House, and, therefore, he was very thankful that the task of bringing it forward had fallen, to his right hon. friend the Member for Berwick, and that it had not been left to someone less competent to deal with it. There was no doubt that the ultimate appeal lay to Parliament in everything that affected the interests of the British nation and the British Army. Parliament had made itself very responsible of late for the Army, and the discipline of the Army, and, therefore, it was necessary that the greatest caution should be exercised on a matter affecting discipline, and that it should not be dragged into the arena of party politics, or made the subject of a Party vote. Keeping these considerations in view, he thought they were entitled to ask his right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War what were the grounds of Sir Redver Buller's dismissal in November last, what military regulations had been contravened, what danger to the State or the Army was apprehended from the formulation of that speech, and what were the specific allegations made against him in regard to it? He did not think it was sufficient to say it was simply the tone of the speech which rendered the continuance of Sir Redvers Buller in office impossible any longer. They also wanted to know whether allowances were made for the difficult position in which he was placed, and did he receive from the War Office the support which a man selected by the War Office for a most responsible position ought to receive. Was he called upon to justify his conduct and explain the allegations made against him.?

He now came to the question of the prohibition of the publication of the telegrams. Naturally, after what had happened in regard to the dismissal, he was anxious to set himself right. Meetings had been held in Hyde Park and all over the country, but in face of all this, when Sir Redvers Buller spoke at the Devonshire dinner his speech was a model of dignity and reserve. Attacks began to appear in the Press, but Sir Redvers Buller took a strong line considering that the war was still going on, for he considered that the Government should not be hampered or damaged by his opinions being given at a difficult time. He believed that General Buller would have been silent now but for the publication of "The Times History." The telegrams, too, had been published in a form calculated to do him a great injustice. They now asked that Sir Redvers Buller should be set free to tell the whole of his case before an impartial tribunal. As the Government had promised an inquiry into the conduct of the war, surely they could not refuse permission to their own Commander-in-Chief in South Africa to come before the tribunal when he asked that his conduct should be inquired into. They wanted to know why he was condemned, and they wished him to be given the opportunity of clearing himself at an early date. There was the greatest danger, he thought, of injustice being done to Sir Redvers Buller in the present temper of the country and the Press by prominence being given to these telegrams after Colenso, which, after all, were but incidents in a far greater campaign, carried to a successful issue. No doubt he made mistakes both abroad and at home. Wellington said that the greatest general was the general who made the fewest mistakes. He did not claim for Sir Redvers Buller that he was perfect, but, looking at the whole situation, the difficulties he had to encounter, and the success he had achieved, and looking at his past history, which was one of the grandest in the records of the British army, they had a right to ask, and they did ask, that he should be treated with the fullest consideration, and that justice, as far as possible, should be done to him.

(3.32.) MR. BRODR1CK

I will make no complaint of the tone with which the right hon. Gentleman opposite and my right hon. friend behind me have addressed themselves to this subject, and I fully re-echo the regret expressed by my right hon. friend that such a man as Sir Redvers Buller should become the subject of such a debate. But I also regret that, after this great lapse of time, such a Motion should be brought before the House this afternoon. I cannot but think that, in matters of discipline, rare should be the occasions when the House of Commons undertakes to review the action of the military authorities. Especially in prominent cases of this kind I cannot help thinking that the earlier such points are brought to settlement the better. Sir Redvers Buller was relieved of his command in October last. This House met early in January; a Motion was at once tabled by the hon. Member for the South Molton Division, challenging the decision of the Commander-in-Chief, and the action of the Government. That Motion, I think, should have been brought to a hearing at once. To hang over the Commander-in-Chief and the military authorities a Motion of that kind is calculated, in the highest degree, to create divisions in the army. It is calculated to impair discipline; and, whether it is the wish of the officer whom it concerns or not, I think once put before the House for consideration it should be brought up for judgment and decision. I regret this Motion for two other reasons. In the first place I cannot recall a single occasion on which a personal Motion of this character, impeaching the action of the authorities in so grave a matter—even after the most earnest consideration—has resulted to the advantage of the individual on whose behalf it has been brought forward. And I regret it on my own behalf, because there has been no one more willing than I have been to follow the example set by my noble friend Lord Lansdowne, in taking full responsibility for anything that has gone wrong in the war on the shoulders of the Government, and for supporting in the face of this House the generals who represented us. But a Motion of this kind, which, although the language used has been to a large extent the language of reserve, traverses the whole field from the arrival of Sir Redvers Buller in Natal down to his dismissal from Aldershot, and even of the more recent correspondence, makes it incumbent on me to withdraw from that position of reticence out of respect to Parliament, and to show the House that, so far from the Government having, in any degree, been actuated by any of the prejudice which has been imputed to them outside, and to some extent in the speeches made tonight, they have, if anything, erred on the side of too great consideration in their treatment of Sir Redvers Buller.

In two special points an attack has been made upon me which I should like to clear away before I go into the general question. The right hon. Gentleman opposite based his argument in the earlier portion of his speech on the partial publication of selections from despatches which, he argued, placed the conduct of Sir Redvers Buller in a most unfavourable light. The responsibility for that rests not upon the Government but upon Sir Redvers Buller himself. Two publications and two only have been made. The one was the publication of the suppressed portion of the Spion Kop despatches—the portion suppressed not in the interest of the Government at all, but solely to preserve Sir Redvers Buller from those strictures on his conduct in the field that Lord Roberts had thought it necessary to pass upon him. The right hon. Gentleman said that Sir Redvers Buller had never asked for the publication of that additional portion of the Spion Kop despatches. I think he must have forgotten Sir Redvers Buller's letter to the First Lord of the Treasury, dated 24th March last, in which he says— With regard to the continuance of what you describe as reticence, I am not in a position to offer an opinion beyond expressing a pious hope that, if any further publication is intended, my words may be published as written, and without manipulation, and that the opportunity will be taken to correct, in this respect, previous publications. That was an invitation to the Government, as direct as anything could be, to publish that portion of the Spion Kop despatches which had previously been suppressed. With that invitation in front of us we were not going to sit down under the imputation of unjustly prejudicing Sir Redvers Buller any longer. The reason for reticence had passed away, and the time had come when it was necessary to show to the country, as was shown by the universal consent of everybody, that, if anything, Sir Redvers Buller had been the gainer and not the loser by the suppression. And, now, how does the publication of these last four telegrams stand? "The Times History" made two allegations. Those allegations, by distortion of language which seems to me extraordinary from one so careful as the right hon. Gentleman opposite, were stated to be attributed to the official inspiration of His Majesty's Government.


I said the volume purported to be an official account.


Let me read what was the purport of the volume as stated. My thanks," says the author, are due first of all to the Army collectively. To all its members, from its official heads down to the private in the ranks, I owe a great debt of gratitude for the kindness and willingness to help they have invariably shown. That general expression of thanks to everybody in the army, from its official heads down to the private in the ranks, For their willingness to help, has been distorted into the giving of access to the compilers of this History to confidential information, which they otherwise would not have obtained. Strange as that interpretation is, the refutation of it is found on the face of the telegrams as published. What is Sir Redvers Buller's complaint? His complaint is first, that an inaccurate account of the heliogram to Sir George White finds its place in the History; and, secondly, that a telegram, which he considers to be wholly false, was also attributed to him. Where is the official inspiration? How is official inspiration substantiated by Sir Redvers Buller's charges? The very inaccuracy of these accounts carries on the face of it the refutation of the idea that the War Office, the Government, or any Member of it, inspired any portion of that History. I would also, in reference to the attack that has been made, correct the account which the, right hon. Baronet has given of the circumstances under which these telegrams were published. Sir Redvers Buller wrote to me, and claimed that his legal advisers or himself should have access to the secret documents of the War Office, for the purpose of preparing his defence. I declined to allow it. If anybody was to have access to those documents, the House of Commons had the first right. If Sir Redvers Buller and his advisers were to have access, then the legal advisers of the other side would, no doubt, have claimed, in due course, that they should have access. I asked Sir Redvers Buller to tell us, with every desire to do him justice, what were the points, and between what dates statements had been made with regard to him in "The Times History," which he desired to correct. With some difficulty, I secured from him a request, strictly limited to the publication of the heliogram to Sir George White, and to the statement as to whether or not a telegram, which Lord Lansdowne was reported by "The Times History" to have sent to him ordering him either to fight or to give over his command, had been sent. I took the only course which was possible for a Minister to take if such publication was to be permitted. I told Sir Redvers Buller, with the full assent of my colleagues, that he could have the heliogram if he thought its publication would in any way clear his character, but that in justice to Sir George White, Sir George White's reply to the heliogram ought to be published at the same time. The second point was the publication of Lord Lansdowne's telegram. It is true that Lord Lansdowne did not send the exact telegram which "The Times History" attributed to him. On the other hand, he did send a telegram urging Sir Redvers Buller to make a fresh attempt to relieve Ladysmith, and had I written to say that Lord Lansdowne had sent no such telegramas "The Times History" attributed to him, I should have been misleading the public by leading thorn to believe that no situation had arisen between the Government and Sir Redvers Buller, which made it necessary for Lord Lansdowne to urge him to make a special effort to relieve Ladysmith. Again, I sent him the telegram; I told him it was the only telegram we could trace, and, so far from refusing point blank to answer, I told him that it was the only telegram, and I presumed it to be the telegram to which "The Times History" in accurately alluded. I said that if he wished to publish that telegram, which was a reply, he should publish also the telegram of His Majesty's Government which brought that about. And I added that as these telegrams had never been given to Parliament, if we published one we must publish all.

Sir, I have no apology to make. Now, one word before I pass away from the right hon. Gentleman's speech to the more important subject referred to later on. As to leakage, a good deal has been made of the apparent leakage of this heliogram. The heliogram was sent to Sir George White at a very critical period, and it was of so extraordinary a nature that it was not believed in Sir George White's camp that it had been intended to be sent by Sir Redvers Buller to Sir George White. If it leaked at all it was because, as I have been informed by officers who were actually there at the time, it was believed that the heliogram had been sent owing to our cypher having been captured by the Boers. And the heliogram was known to a large number of persons, to a considerable number in Ladysmith. I am absolutely convinced that no leakage of the heliogram ever took place at the War Office. There has been but one copy of that heliogram in the War Office; that copy remained under lock and key in my safe from the date on which I received it from Sir George White, after I took up office, until the date on which I interviewed Sir Redvers Buller after he was relieved of his command at Aldershot. I am absolutely convinced that as far as we are concerned there was no leakage whatever. I do not believe that, seeing the large number of secret and confidential telegrams that have passed, and the time—over two years—that elapsed, there has ever been a public office that has more carefully safeguarded its telegrams than the War Office has done during this campaign.

Now, I am told that Sir Redvers Buller's position could not be made altogether clear without a further publication. I feel the greatest difficulty in what I am going to say, but it is imperative for me to say it. In the first place I cannot publish documents which, in the opinion of the Government are likely to embarrass us in our future operations. If any documents are to be published at the instance of the General who considers himself to be aggrieved, it would be impossible to make a selection. What was left out we should unquestionably be urged to publish, as it might be felt, and felt honestly, that something had boon kept back which would have elucidated the general position if it had boon published. There is no alternative as between publishing no telegram and publishing all; and if we are to publish all let me ask the Committee to consider what is the position which the General Officer Commanding occupies in regard to the Secretary of State for War in a campaign. He is asked to communicate confidentially on every kind of subject; he is continually asked his private opinions of the capacity and probable achievements, as well as the past achievements, of the officers under his command; and he telegraphs with the firmest belief that those' private informations will never see the light. They are in the nature of the most confidential advices between two men —one of whom, in behalf of the Government, is responsible for ordering operations which may tend to great loss of life, and the other who is responsible for carrying them out to the best of his ability. If I were to publish all these confidential documents solely for the purpose of relieving Sir Redvers Buller from the stigma which he feels to have fallen on his character, I should, I honestly believe, be sapping the whole confidence which exists between Commanders in the field and the Government they serve, and never again would a Commander feel that he could speak confidentially, openly and frankly, without the fear that two or three years afterwards what he had said, possibly opinions he had given which he had long since seen reason to change, would be given to the world, to the detriment of the officers whom he had to criticise. And do not lot it be supposed that I am making this plea in order to protect the Government as against Sir Redvers Buller. May I put this question to the Committee—Can any publication of documents possibly relieve Sir Redvers Buller of criticism which has been passed upon him with regard to special events in the campaign? Could any publications of documents, or any number of papers, alter the fact of the attack upon Colenso, universally admitted by all military men to have been ill-conceived and ill-executed, and could any publication of Papers Lessen Sir Redvers Buller's responsibility for the abandonment of the guns after Colenso? Could any publication of papers do away with the painful feeling excited by the proposal to surrender Ladysmith without further combat, after one ineffectual attempt? Recollect what the circumstances were. The right hon. Gentleman, has put the position of the Boers, I will put the position of the British Army. On the 16th December Sir Redvers Buller surmised that he had been faced by 20,000 Boers in that position. On the 16th there were 12,000 British troops in Ladysmith, and there were 18,000 British troops in front of Colenso, the whole of the Aldershot troops—with the exception perhaps of the Guards and the Highlanders—the very flower of the British Army, and the whole of the Aldershot staff; there was another division of 8,000 men to be landed within two or three days; there was another division of 8,000 men just embarking from England; there were troops concentrating in South Africa from all parts of the world; there were supplies to be got from two-thirds of the loyal Colony of Natal at the back of the General, and there was a railway running straight up to the very centre of the position which was under the guns of the enemy. Sir, the proposal, under these circumstances, after one failure, to surrender 12,000 British troops without another blow would, if carried out, have produced a disaster for which there is no parallel in the history of this country. And, if the Government had consented to it, it would have brought upon us the reproach of our children, and our children's children into the third and fourth generation. Nothing which can be shown in any Papers can lessen the effect of these regrettable events.

I pass now to those questions on which Papers have already been given to the House. Can any further publication of papers remove from the people of this country their feelings with regard to what I cannot but call the muddle of Spion Kop, carried out under the eyes, and as we contend, and as the Commander-in-Chief contends, under the direct control of Sir Redvers Buller? But I admit, and I gladly pay him that tribute, that from the moment he look command in order to retire the troops, he performed that most difficult operation with the spirit, energy and generalship which we had expected of him. Still, can any publication excuse the fact that mistake after mistake was made upon those days, and that the General in whom the Government had placed their whole confidence, and to whom they had unstintedly given every support in men and in material that he could ask, had failed in that vital case to carry out the operation as might have been expected? When I look at those facts I cannot help asking myself whether it is not a strong assumption for the right hon. Gentleman to make that further publication will relieve Sir Redvers Buller of the responsibility which has now been put upon him. I am bound now to mention another fact. The right hon. Gentleman said that nothing could be assumed against the General until we had heard him as to why he thought it necessary to try to relieve Ladysmith before the end of December. One of the most extraordinary facts in the whole of this tangled statement is this, that Sir Redvers Buller when telegraphing to Sir George White on 16th of December, and asked him how long he could hold out, and suggesting to him the operations he should carry out if he could not hold out, actually had in his possession at the moment Sir George White's own statement, sent to him on the 30th of November, that he could hold Ladysmith with full provisions for seventy days. ["Oh, oh."] I have Sir George White's heliogram, dated 30th November, to General Buller to be repeated to general Clery— I have provisions for seventy days, and believe that I can defend Ladysmith while they last. And yet fifteen days afterwards a note of despair is sounded by Sir Redvers Buller, the superior officer. I cannot help attaching more weight than the right hon. Gentleman does to the loss of nerve of the General who, having that fact before him, hastened to anticipate so disastrous a calamity. I am asked to give- a Committee of inquiry, in order that all these points may be made clear. Sir, I cannot and will not admit the contention of the right hon. Gentleman that Sir Redvers Buller is to be treated exceptionally in this matter. As Secretary of State for War, I have to consider the interests and the feelings, not of one officer only, but of all. Sir Redvers Buller is not the only General who, to our regret, has lost reputation during the war. He is not the only officer who has come to us and asked for some inquiry or to be allowed to justify himself in the Press. More than one officer appealed to us, not against the strictures of the Government, but against the strictures of Sir Redvers Buller. How am I to provide special machinery for the examination of the case of Sir Redvers Buller while I deny it to those who have lost as much or more, and whose honour and reputation are as dear to them as the honour and reputation of Sir Redvers Buller are to him and his friends? The answer to all that is this. The House has been told there is to be a Committee of Inquiry. That Committee, it is to be hoped, will take evidence in these important but delicate matters in private. I earnestly hope, on behalf of the Army, that what concerns the conduct of the generals throughout the campaign may be heard with closed doors. Beyond that we cannot go. To admit that any officer who feels aggrieved by the impression produced on the public by his action, or by publication which he himself has asked for, is then to have the right to claim a special court of inquiry would be to reopen every kind of difficulty at the close of the campaign.

I pass from that to discuss the question of Sir Redvers Buller's speech. I am blamed, not by the right hon. Gentleman but in many quarters, for having allowed Sir Redvers Buller to be appointed to the First Army Corps. I will tell the Committee perfectly frankly what occurred in regard to that appointment. After the telegrams had been published, a large portion of those who had previously believed that Sir Redvers Buller had been hardly treated turned round and asked why it was that the Government did not take immediate steps for his recall after the battle of Colenso. The position after the battle of Colenso was a most difficult one, and gave the Government the gravest concern in regard to the future operations in Natal. I cannot deny that the confidence of the Government in Sir Redvers Buller's initiative had been shaken, both by the method of his attack on Colenso and by the telegrams he sent subsequently to its failure. But, on the other hand, will the Committee consider what were the difficulties of replacing him at that moment? Sir George White, his second in command, was shut up in Lady-smith. Sir Archibald Hunter, the Chief of the Staff, was also shut up in Ladysmith. Of the three divisional generals, Lord Methuen had just sustained a severe reverse, General Gatacre had also in the same week suffered, and General Clery had had no opportunity of securing for himself any special confidence in the conduct of the campaign. I mean no disrespect. I mean simply that he had had no opportunity up to that moment. I do not think that his division had ever been actually engaged under his command. This is a serious matter. No other officer was then in Natal or South Africa who had ever commanded a large body of troops. General French had not had time to establish the great reputation which he has since fortunately added to the annals of our Army. Neither General Lyttelton nor General Hildyard had ever conducted a whole brigade into action. To pass by them, to pass by Sir Redvers Buller and to give the command to a man unless the Government had supreme confidence that they were improving the position, would have been a folly which could not have been condoned. Let it be remembered, moreover, that Sir Redvers Buller's troops knew nothing of any discouragement he may have felt. Not merely after the battle of Colenso, but up to the day lie entered Ladysmith, the General still retained the confidence of his troops, and perhaps the most important element next to good strategy in the selection of a good general still remained to Sir Redvers Buller. Then there was a question of sending an officer out from England. The disaster took place upon a Friday. No ship sailed till the following Saturday week. Something like four weeks must have elapsed before an officer in England could have arrived to take command. Thus half the time that Sir G. White informed us that Ladysmith could hold out would have gone, and no general, however loyal and devoted, could have I been expected to risk his army on fresh plans and lines at a moment when he was liable to have the command taken out of his hand, in case he made a disposition absolutely contrary to what the officer who was to succeed him would approve. The Government may have been wrong; but the course they took was. I think, defensible and arguable. They adjured General Buller to persevere; they relieved him of the supreme command in South Africa, and they sent out Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener to undertake the general conduct of the campaign. What followed? I am asked again, why was Sir Redvers Buller still allowed to continue in command after the battle of Spion Kop? The answer to that is that the despatches which gave us the full report of the battle of Spion Kop never came to hand in this country until after the relief of Lady-smith; and after the relief of Ladysmith it was felt that the force in Natal, which had done such desperate fighting under Sir Redvers Buller's command, and which now became an integral portion of Lord Roberts's army, could still be conducted, by the orders from headquarters which Lord Roberts sent to his various generals.

Perhaps I ought to say that when Lord Roberts came home the Government showed their sense of the merits of the various commanders by asking Lord Kitchener to undertake the command instead of Sir Redvers Buller. Sir Redvers Buller, on his return, was sent back, as other generals were, to the command he had held before he went out. I do not defend that system. In no other war should the system ever be adopted of keeping open commands for officers who may go into the field, and who on coming home may be found to be in a position of doubt as to whether they should be in actual command. The position which I found in November, 1900, when I became Secretary of State for War, was that Lord Roberts had continued to employ General Buller in the field in command of a large body of troops for eight months after the battle of Spion Kop, and that Lord Wolseley had recommended his return to his peace command at Aldershot. The army corps system was introduced in October 1, 1901. The army corps system made less change in the Aldershot command than in any other. The district was the same, and the troops were the same, but the powers were large. It was not a question of appointing Sir Redvers Buller, it was a question of dismissing him. I had no ground whatever for his dismissal. It was perfectly true that I had given a pledge to Parliament that the command of the army corps should be given to men who were intended to conduct an army corps in the field. I adhere to that pledge. But in this particular case, in which an officer was already in possession, in which the troops who formed, the army corps were not there, although the troops in the command were just as numerous as the other troops who had been trained in drafts and sent out to South Africa, and above all, when the officer who could have replaced General Duller was not available and could not be withdrawn from South Africa, I could only have removed Sir Redvers Buller—in order to make good my pledge—by substituting for him an officer of less experience who would not have been recommended by Lord Roberts for the command of the First Army Corps in the field. If I erred, I accept the responsibility. I knew Sir Redvers Buller to be a good peace commander. Of course, I mean no disrespect. I mean that I knew him to be thoroughly acquainted and conversant, perhaps more than any other officer in the Army, with the duties which a general has to perform in a large camp in time of peace. I knew that he possessed the confidence of the troops; and if I had gone out of my way at that moment to bring an impeachment against him for operations which had taken place nearly two years before, it would not have been merely unsustainable in any Court before which he could have been brought, but it would have been denounced by the feeling throughout the Army. It is true that the official announcement made it clear that General Buller's period of command was to complete the five years for which he had been appointed in 1898. That is so, and I think that any consideration I could show him under the circumstances was not thrown away. Now, sir, I. come to the question of General Buller's speech. I am brought to book because it is alleged that but for the outcry made in the newspapers this speech would have passed without notice. I entirely deny it. I will show step by step that that speech could not he disregarded without sacrificing all the best traditions of the Army, and also without involving us in the gravest difficulties at home. In the first place, it was a grave breach of the King's regulations, which lay it down that an officer whose character or conduct as an officer or a gentleman has been impugned should appeal to his commanding officer. Sir Redvers Buller's appeal lay to the Commander-in-Chief. He did not appeal to the Commander-in Chief. He decided, instead, to appeal to the public. That was a grave breach of the regulations. The regulations preclude the discussion of orders given by superior authority. Sir Redvers Buller discussed in public his own fitness for the command which he had just been ordered by superior authority to assume. I cannot imagine anything more fatal to discipline than that an officer going down to take up his command should proceed, as Sir Redvers Buller did, to address a public audience on his own fitness for that position. The regulations preclude the publication of secret documents. Sir Redvers Buller undertook to publish a telegram, which the Government in this House had already refused to publish; and his conduct was just as prejudicial to discipline as the publication itself could have been. The right hon. Gentleman said that no individual was involved in the speech. I entirely differ from him. There was an allusion in the speech to an order which the Commander-in-Chief had given that Sir Redvers Buller should withdraw a certain instruction issued to the Artillery at Aldershot. Sir Redvers Buller discussed an interview which he said he had had with an unknown individual, who, he said, was a spy and who came to warn him that he had enemies who wanted to get him out of the way, and" who particularly said— "You had an order about artillery the other day. Well," continued the spy," you have enough money to live upon; give up the Aldershot command." Sir Redvers Buller replied — "Thank you very much, why should I?" The spy said—"You have got enemies, men who mean to get you out of the way; they will get you out of the way, and you had better get out of it quickly." Sir Redvers Buller said — "If it is necessary for me to use that information, I shall." The headquarters of the Army issued an order cancelling Sir Redvers Buller's instruction about artillery. He takes the warning of a spy who tells him he has enemies who are determined to ruin him. What enemies? Obviously enemies at the headquarters of the Army who were issuing instructions which were likely to do him harm. I cannot conceive anything which is less calculated to promote discipline, in a great command than that the officer in command of it should publicly announce an extraordinary story of this kind as bearing upon his relations with the headquarters staff. Then there was a further and, I think, most injudicious allusion to an order issued to him by the Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, if necessary not to shrink from losing 2,000 or 3,000 men in his attempt to relieve Ladysmith. Sir Redvers Buller had asked whether, if it needed such a loss, he should persevere; and Lord Roberts replied that Ladysmith must be relieved even at that loss.


Read the, whole of the telegram.

MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)

Will the right hon. Gentleman publish the whole of the telegram?


It has been already published in the despatches.


Has the whole or only an extract been published?


So far as I know, the whole of the despatches have been published. I am not aware of any despatch published which has not been given in full. Sir Redvers Buller further said— If I ever displayed rash or great courage it was when, having in my pocket the very telegram which was talked about, in which I was ordered to lose 2,000 or 3,000 men, I decided to withdraw my troops because I did not think I could lose them to any advantage. Here, again, what is to be thought of a discipline under which after an officer has been ordered not to shrink from losing 2,000 or 3,000 men he goes to a public audience and boasts of the courage which decided him to withdraw his troops without risking them? But those are subsidiary points. What is really the important point is this—who, having read that speech, full of indiscretion as it was, could not but feel that there was displayed in it throughout a want of temper and judgment which threw grave doubts on General Buller's capacity for command? Can any one doubt the example which was set to junior officers of the Army by a man who had set the King's regulations aside, ventilated his grievances in public, and while denouncing the qualifications of others extolled his own qualifications for the most important command in this country? But even the terms of his speech were not the most important element in deciding the Government to take action upon it. Those speeches are calculated in the highest degree to prejudice the British Army in a campaign. When Sir Redvers Buller returned home he came to see me, and told mo in a conversation, of which I reminded him on October 17th last, that he intended to make certain speeches about the campaign. I warned him with all the earnestness which I could command that such speeches would not be permitted by any officer who had been engaged in South Africa. I mentioned to the House a few moments ago that there were other aggrieved officers who desired to make speeches. When I came into office I found recriminations rampant between certain officers as to what had occurred in Natal, and loud words, hard words, were passing on paper with regard to those transactions. I believe that no one in my position could have done otherwise than I did in making it perfectly clear to all the officers concerned that any attempt to-further discuss their grievances in public would meet with disciplinary action by the Commander in-Chief. Officers report what has taken place in the field, Superior officers comment on the reports. The Government decides. The incident must close there. If every man who thinks his character impugned comes home and appeals to the Press and public against his superiors, who, possibly, may at the moment be still fighting in the field, the conduct of a campaign becomes impossible. If I, disregarding the Commander-in-Chief's advice, had allowed the recriminations to proceed, I should not only have taken a step that would have been fatal to the discipline of the Army, but should have allowed the British Army to become the laughing-stock of the world. After telling other officers that they would be removed from the service if they took the action taken by Sir Redvers Buller, how could we overlook the most distinguished general in the most distinguished command without admitting —-what, indeed, is proposed to us to admit this afternoon—-that there is one set of regulations for the rest of the British Army and another for Sir Redvers Buller?

Now, Sir, I deeply regret that it has fallen to me to make a statement which must so seriously affect the feelings of all those who have interests in the Army and which must so seriously affect the conduct of one of our most distinguished generals. I can only say that it is the first time that any man standing at this table, during all the chequered experiences and the exciting moments of the last three years, has said one single word which reflected on the character or conduct of Sir Redvers Buller. But I think that, after the insinuations which have been made, it would have been a breach of faith and truth to the House if I had not told the story of the campaign and the true facts as they have affected the general. I can honestly say I have never discharged in this House a more painful or a more ungrateful task. I do not think any man ever had a more cruel duty than that which—with the full assent of all my colleagues—fell to me last October of removing and practically closing the career of a soldier who for more than forty years had commanded so high a measure of public confidence. I have known Sir Redvers Buller with all the intimacy of official converse for more than fifteen years. I have always been on terms of cordiality with him until the last few months. Until he went to South Africa I was constantly a guest at his house and he at mine; and, without agreeing with him always, I can honestly say I recognised the force of his character and his rare gift of impressing men, and I felt his failures in Natal to be a private grief as well as a public calamity. But I think that in such circumstances as these no private feelings and no past history justifies us in keeping an officer in his command when his control of it has ceased to be an advantage to the country. In allowing Sir Redvers Buller to continue to complete his time hi October last we endeavoured to show the consideration due to his long years of service and his eminent qualities. I wish that the controversy with regard to him should be allowed to close with the present debate, I would far rather that the recollection of Sir Redvers Buller's services should rest not on these last few months of storm and stress and unsatisfied expectations, but rather on the long years of energy, and courage, and of zeal for reform, at a time when Army reform was not so popular as it is now, which obtained for him, perhaps, the highest thing a soldier can wish for—namely, not merely the confidence of the Government he serves, but also the confidence of the troops he has to lead. I believe, for my part, that it would be for the General's advantage that this controversy should be allowed to close. I ask it still more on behalf of the Army and the country. The reputations of our great military leaders are not merely the property of their friends; they are also, in a peculiar degree, the possession of their fellow-countrymen. It rarely happens to a statesman to take action for his country with the united feeling of the whole Empire at his back, as has been the case of those who have led our armies in South Africa in the course of the last three years. Sir Redvers Buller's failure, so far as it was a failure, has been an uncounted loss to his fellow-countrymen. His gain would have been our gain, his reputation was our reputation, and his loss has been our loss, I cannot help wishing that the House would allow mo to deprecate the undue continuance of this public recrimination about individual episodes, the effects of which are equally damaging to all of us. Do not let the House suppose that I deprecate examination. The teachings of the war are being taken to heart; they will reform the whole fabric of our military system. Let the Commission do its part to assist us. Let it examine every detail. For my part, I shall give it every assistance in my power. Is it too much to ask on behalf of the Army that we should now, or very shortly, close these public discussions of our less fortunate military achievements, that we should leave the consideration of reputations which have been damaged, and concentrate ourselves on learning by what has passed, reconstituting our military fabric with the assistance of those great colonies who have come to our aid?

I end, as I began, by deploring the necessity for this debate. I regret what it has been necessary for me to say in the course of the debate, and I appeal to the House that discussion on these things, which tend to damage us at home and disparage us abroad, may now be allowed to close. So far as the Government are concerned, we have done our best to discourage them. All along we have practised reticence; we have taken the whole blame on our shoulders for what has gone wrong; and if there are to be further denunciations of individuals and further attacks on reputations, we shall enter on a course for which we in the Government are unwilling to take any responsibility, and the mischievous results of which we can clearly foresee.


I do not desire to ignore the appeal which the right hon. Gentleman has made that this controversy should cease, but I want to refer to two things which he has said. To one I give a categorical denial on Sir Redvers Buller's behalf, and the other I wish to correct. The thing I wish to deny is that Sir Redvers Buller held the knowledge about the length of time that supplies would last in Ladysmith at the time he wrote the despatches after Colenso. He denied that in these words— I did not know what supplies there were. I thought at that time I had officially in writing that the garrison could not be fed beyond the end of the year. The right hon. Gentleman has quoted a despatch which, he said, was in Sir Redvers Buller's possession, giving entirely different information. Of course, I can quote no despatch, but I do quote Sir Redvers Buller's direct denial as to his information about the supplies in Ladysmith, and if such a despatch, as the right hon. Gentleman says, was in Sir Redvers Buller's possession, I think it is a fair surmise that it could not have been the only information in his possession, or the information on which he thought it safest to rely, because he says himself that at that time he thought he had it officially in writing that the garrison could not be fed beyond the end of the year. Yes; but he may not quote anything. Will the right hon. Gentleman let him tell the whole story?

The next point is this. The right hon. Gentleman quoted a telegram from Sir Redvers Buller asking Lord Roberta's permission to persevere and, apparently, hesitating to risk the loss which would be involved. I state categorically what I think the right hon. Gentleman does not know, that that telegram he has quoted is published as an extract, and that, if the whole were published and the instructions from Lord Roberts to Sir Redvers Buller which produced that telegram, the impression with regard to Sir Redvers Buller's conduct in this matter would not only be entirely dispelled but reversed. If Sir Redvers Buller were free to quote on his side the whole of the telegram and of the orders on which he was acting, it would entirely dispel the impression which has been produced by the extract.


I think I had better answer the statements of the right hon. Gentleman at once. I can only read it as it roaches me from the official file. As regards the heliogram from Sir George White which I mentioned, and an extract from which I read, the right hon. Gentleman may be in a position to say that Sir Redvers Buller never received it, but I am convinced that that file is accurate, as the telegrams previously quoted from it have not been challenged by Sir Redvers Buller. With regard to the telegram of Lord Roberts to Sir Redvers Buller in reference to the 2,000 or 3,000 men, I will read the messages as they stand here.


And Sir Redvers Buller's telegram?


Both, premising that they have been paraphrased, and that the original telegrams up to the month of March of that year were destroyed, in order to protect the cipher. This is a telegram dated Cape Town, February 6, from Field-Marshal Lord Roberts to Secretary of State for War— Following received from Duller: 'I have pierced the enemy's lines after a fight lasting all yesterday without many casualties, and now hold the hill which divides their position, and which will give me access to Ladysmith; plain if I can advance. I shall then be ten miles from White, while the enemy will have only one place beyond to stand. I must, however, drive back the enemy either on the right or left to get my artillery and stores on to the plain. This operation will cost from 2,000 to 3,000 men. I am hopeful, but not confident, of success. Do you think the change of relieving Ladysmith worth the risk, and how would such a loss affect your plans? This is the only possible way of relieving Ladysmith. I know of no other if I give this up.' Following in reply to Buller: 'Ladysmith must be relieved, even at the loss you expect. I should certainly persevere, and my hope is that the enemy will be so severely punished as to enable you to withdraw White's garrison without great difficulty. Let the troops know that in their hands is the honour of the Empire, and of their success I have no possible doubt.


Lord Robert's orders to Sir Redvers Buller which had preceded and caused that telegram are the important matter. [After a pause.] I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that my contention is this—though I cannot quote—that Sir Redvers Buller had been ordered previously not to risk loss, and that he was bound, in deference to the orders of his superior, not to risk loss without consulting Lord Roberts.


I have only the telegrams. I have not got all the orders that passed, so, of course, I am not prepared to meet that particular point. But I have read the whole of the telegrams on that point.


That is only a further reason for not letting the matter rest.

*MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)

desired to enter a protest against the prolongation of the discussion, and to state his reasons for so doing. The first and foremost ground on which he based his protest was the injury which must necessarily result to military discipline and efficiency if all or any military judgments of this kind were to be discussed by what, with all respect, he thought was an incompetent and scarcely impartial tribunal. How could the House of Commons pretend to know whether this general was, or was not, fitted for a particular command, whether that general did, or did not, conduct certain military operations in a proper and soldier-like manner on a particular occasion, or whether he had been justly or unjustly treated by his superiors in being removed from, or considered un fitted for, a particular command? To attempt such discussions could not redound to the credit of the House, and, in any case, it must have a most deleterious effect on military discipline if every officer who felt himself aggrieved, or whose friends felt he had been unjustly treated, could appeal from the judgment of his military superiors to the prejudiced verdict of a political assembly. Such a practice, if it became established, as it now threatened to be, must strike at the very j roots of military discipline, and inflict real injury on the State. No one would contend that this washing of duty linen in public could possibly do any good to the House, the Army, the [aggrieved individual himself, or, indeed, to anybody concerned.

He further based his protest on the fact that these discussions took up a great deal of the time of the House, There had recently been the "Colville case," now the "Buller case" was being discussed, and he presumed it would be I followed by the "Warren case," and many others which should be nameless. That was bad enough, but how in justice could this vicious form of "appeal to Caesar" be limited to officers of high rank only? There were hundreds of junior officers who, in the course of the war, had been cashiered, or placed on half-pay, and who possibly thought they had been ill-used by the authorities. How could the House refuse them a hearing if it indulged the genera's, and having heard them, it would be only logical and just in these democratic days if they were to go further and allow the appeals of non-commissioned officers and men who had been treated in the Same] way. Why, indeed, confine our revising powers to military judgments? Would it not be equally appropriate that this House should extend its revising power to such matters as the grant of a decree nisi when any of the parties concerned considered they were aggrieved? Surely the Committee was at at least as competent to undertake a discussion of that kind. The practical point was, however, that debates of this kind take up a great deal of time, and if this precedent was allowed there was no limit to the amount of time that might so be taken up. As a result, the really important military questions which were ripe for discussion were set aside and crowded out altogether, and what could be more destructive to military efficiency. This was the only remaining occasion this session when broad questions of military policy could be discussed. There were many such subjects fresh in the minds of hon. Members, and one day would be quite short enough to discuss any one of them. Nevertheless, the few hours which were available were to be taken up debating the case of an individual who fancied himself to be aggrieved, and when that was disposed of, they, were to be called upon to discuss whether the Commander-in Chief, with his fifty years of military experience, was, or was not, competent to deal with a petty matter of discipline in one of the military colleges. Could anything be more ludicrous, or more destructive of that spirit of discipline which should animate and pervade the fighting services?


asked if the hon. Member was in order in referring to the question of the military college at Sandhurst on this Vote?


No; it will not be in order to discuss that question.


said he had no intention of discussing the question, and he only mentioned it, in passing, as an instance of the way the time of the House was wasted by the noble Lord and his friends. He contended that the only people who could profit by these sensational debates were the enemies of this country, and neither the House, the Army, nor the particular individuals concerned, could possibly benefit by them. As regarded this particular cask of General Butler, he ventured to assert that the British public were only too anxious to hear the last of it. They wore sick and tired of the, whole miserable, humiliating business, 'and would gladly forget it if they could. In any case there was no possibility of any good being done by raking up the embers of these unsavoury pasts. On every ground, therefore, be appealed to hon. Members on both sides of the House not to prolong the debate more than could possibly be avoided, and to pass on to those serious military questions which did arise upon this Vote.

(4.50.) MR. LAMBERT

said the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of Stats for War had quoted secret telegrams; which were only in his possession, in order to damage General Buller. That was a very grave matter for a Minister of the Crown to do.


Have I not a perfect right to read any telegram I please, if I lay it upon the Table of the House?


But you read them first in your speech.


I take the whole responsibility of doing so, because it is a document which is absolutely necessary, and germane to the arguments before the House.


said he did not wish to impugn the right of the right hon. Gentleman to lay telegrams before the House, but he had quoted a heliogram which purported to come from General Buller and which had never seen the light before. That telegram must materially influence the mind of the Committee as regarded General Buller's action at Colenso. He asked the right hon. Gentleman would he allow General Buller to publish any telegram he thought necessary in his defence?


Most certainly not, His friends have put forth an argument as to his conduct, and I quoted only a document which is relevant. They make statements and I refute them, and I give this as one of the grounds of my I refutation. General Buller's proper course is to go before the Royal Commission and let them sec the whole of these documents.


said they wanted to know something about the constitution of this Commission first. They did not want to import any heat into this matter. [Ministerial laughter.] He was sure hon. Gentlemen opposite wished to, see justice done to General Buller, and he thought he could show that justice had not, been done. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted a secret heliogram which none of them had ever seen in order to make his case good against General Buller. The Secretary of State for War had published five telegrams.


No, I did not.


said at any rate General Buller published them in response to the challenge of the right hon. Gentleman. These telegrams were selected by the War Office, and General Buller had them thrown at his head to publish if he liked. As the Secretary for War had selected five telegrams for publication would he allow General Buller to publish the whole series of those telegrams?


I am afraid the hon. Gentleman does not follow my argument. General Buller asked me to allow him to publish one heliogram, and I said he could do so if he would publish the reply. He asked mo to contradict a particular telegram which had been sent. I said he could publish that telegram if he would publish the one to which it was an answer.


said that if they published the telegrams which were sent by General Buller during those critical days about the 15th of December, 1899, they ought to publish the whole series of telegrams. It was not fair to publish one or two telegrams which showed General Buller in the worst, possible light. From the 14th of December to the 17th, General Buller sent from 86 to 101 telegrams and the right, hon.-Gentleman had picked out five of them."


No, no.


said the right hon. Gentleman selected five telegrams and told General Buller that they were placed in his possession upon the clear understanding that they were not to be divulged to anyone, but if publicity was decided upon, they were to be, published as they stood. Would the, right hon. Gentleman read to the Committee, telegrams which he would ask him for? He would like him to read a telegram from General Buller, General Officer Commanding, No. 86, sent on the 14th of December, also another, No. 49, which General Buller received from the War Office; and another most important one, No. 91, which General Buller sent to the War Office. He had those telegrams in his hand and he would like to read them. (Ministerial cries of "Read.") General Buller had been ordered not to publish a single telegram, and, therefore, he was not permitted to read them without the right hon. Gentleman's express consent. He put this as a matter of fairness to the House. The right hon. Gentleman had made selections from the telegrams, and if he would not allow him to read them he certainly ought to allow General Buller to place them before a properly constituted tribunal. That was only fair. The right hon. Gentleman had said that General Buller suggested that. General White should surrender; that-General Buller sent a heliogram asking General White to surrender; and that it, was so monstrous a thing that the people in Ladysmith believed it to be a forgery. Did the right hon. Gentleman really believe that the telegram which General Buller sent to Sir George White bore out that statement? Did he believe that General Buller's telegram actually suggested the surrender of Ladysmith? The right hon. Gentleman said that if such a stigma had rested upon them it would have been a stigma upon our children, and our children's children. Why did he accuse General Buller of wanting to place that stigma upon this country?


The telegram to the Government suggested that he should give up Ladysmith and take up another position and wait for the winter.


asked the right hon. Gentleman to tell him where those words "wait for the winter" came in. Could he quote them from any of General Buller's telegrams? That was a perfectly fair challenge. Would the light hon. Gentleman tell him where the words "wait until winter comes on "were to be found? The right hon. Gentleman could not do this. That was a sample of the kind of accusation brought against General Buller. He did not think it was fair that a distinguished general officer should be treated thus by the Minister who ought to defend him in the House of Commons. If General Buller had been guilty of what the right hon. Gentleman had suggested—the sending of this appalling message—he ought, instead of being placed in command of the First Army Corps, to have been brought before a Court Martial. Was General Buller's action ever criticised by his military superiors? Did his military superiors ever ask him for any explanation of any of his actions? The right hon. Gentleman had said that Colenso was badly executed and badly conceived. Why did not the Government ask General Buller for some explanation of that? They never did such a thing. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that the House of Commons was not competent to decide upon a matter of strategy. Let General Buller come before a tribunal by which his action could be tested. Talk about General Buller having done so badly! The right hon. Gentleman talked of the muddle of Spion Kop and of Colenso. What on earth could have made Lord Roberts promulgate the Army Order if all these things took place? If he was so incompetent as the right hon. Gentleman had stated, what was the meaning of the Army Order in which Lord Roberts thanked Sir Redvers Buller for the great services which he had rendered to the country when in command of the forces in Natal? Was it fair of the right hon. Gentleman to make such a strong and bitter attack on General Buller when the Commander-in-Chief had tendered him that vote? That Army Order was either sincere or a sham. If the right hon. Gentleman's statement was correct, the Army Order must have been a sham; but he could not believe that Lord Roberts would publish a commendation of an officer whom he believed to be to blame. He could give reasons why General Buller considered that General White could only hold out to the end of the year, but that was not a thing which they could discuss here. They were demanding full information. They demanded that General Buller should be allowed to tell his own story to a properly-constituted tribunal, or that the orders which the right hon. Gentleman had given him to close his mouth should be removed. He was sure he had the House with him on the subject of the Colenso telegrams. If General Buller was to be judged, he should not be judged by isolated telegrams, but by all the telegrams he sent. Notwithstanding the cheers that greeted the right hon. Gentleman, hon. Members, he was sure, were sorry that a Minister had made such an attack upon General Buller. It was not fair to make such an attack, and order General Buller to close his mouth. It was like hitting a man on the face, when his hands were tied behind his back. The British public liked fair play. When he first took up this case he did so because General Buller was a Devonshire man, but since then he had been told many things. He was certain that General Buller had a strong case. When he arrived in South Africa on 31st October he had only 2,500 men to deal with; Ladysmith was besieged three days afterwards; Kimberley was besieged; and Mafeking was invested. The Boers were not only holding in General White, but they were marching towards Maritzburg. What would have happened if General Buller had not gone to Natal to save Maritzburg? The Boers would have gone on to I Durban, but he drove them back. The position in which he found himself at Colenso was so grave that he ought to be allowed to tell that story, because he was the only man who could tell it intelligently. The House should remember that an enormous frontier had to be protected. He could not withdraw a single soldier from the frontier without risking a blaze in Cape Colony. The surrender of Ladysmith, unless forced by the direst extremity, was a thing General Buller would not have suggested for a moment. General Buller took Sir George White to be a brave soldier, and did any one suppose that Sir George White would surrender Ladysmith unless in the direst extremity? General Buller sent the telegram to General White, as he Said at Westminster, in order to give him a sort of cover if the worst came to the worst. That was what made General Buller so much beloved by all his men. They knew that he was willing to stand in with them. It was no use saying that he was such an incompetent man when he had the confidence of every man who served under him. General Buller was not the only General who hid made blunders in South Africa. Many others had made mistakes. Did this House imagine that if every telegram were published all the reputations would stand as high as they did now? This controversy could not end here, and he implored the right hon. Gentleman to free General Buller from the silence which had been imposed on him.

(5.11.) SIR EDGAR VINCENT (Exeter)

said if he ventured to trespass on the time of the Committee for a few moments it was because he represented a constituency which included Sir Redvers Buller among its voters, who regarded that remarkable man with intense affection and respect. No one could have listened to the debate today without coming to the conclusion that the most unsatisfactory method of dealing with this question was the method of the successive publication of telegrams. It appeared to him to be open to every possible objection. He felt sure that the House would recognise that there were only two methods—either to drop the controversy altogether or else submit the whole of the facts to the Committee on the war, which could take evidence with closed doors. The continuous publication of telegrams, some selected by the War Office and others selected by Sir Redvers Buller, could not give the country any clear view of the facts, or conduce either to support General Bailer's case or to the public advantage. Then, again, it was not right to deal only with Natal. There was another important subject on which he felt much more strongly. It was that when General Buller was appointed to Aldershot the War ! Office had all the facts with regard to what occurred in Natal. The Government had absolute possession of these telegrams. What he wanted to know was what occurred between the date of the appointment and the date of the dismissal, which rendered General Buller unfit to retain his command? The Secretary of State for War had given the Committee in a clearer manner than had yet been done, the five points in General Buller's speech of 10th October, which, in the right hon. Gentle-man's opinion, rendered Sir Redvers Buller incompetent to retain command of the First Army Corps. The hon. Member held that none of the five points which were brought forward justified any penalty as severe as that which General Bullet received. The, speech night have been indiscreet and unwise. There were points in it which he was sure the friends of General Buller regretted, but he questioned whether any man of common sense would maintain that that speech merited dismissal from the Aldershot command. It appeared to him that one could not introduce any standard of military discipline taken from continental practice. The case must be judged on the general practice of officers in the English Army in high command. He submitted that there was nothing in the words used by General Buller on 10th October, which merited more than a reprimand at the outside. He would venture to ask the Secretary of State to publish all the correspondence which took place between General Buller and the War Office, subsequent to the speech of 10th October. That course did not appear to him to be open to the objection which had been raised to other publications, namely, that it would form a defence for the publication of information with respect to other officers. In this matter the position of Sir Redvers Buller was absolutely unique. So far as he was aware, there was no precedent of a general officer in his position and of his reputation having been dismissed from a high command in consequence of indiscreet words used by him. He felt convinced that if, after the publication of that correspondence, the right hon. Gentleman realised that the causes upon which he acted were inadequate and that he committed an injustice, he would not hesitate to take measures to rectify what perhaps he might have done under some provocation and under circumstances of considerable difficulty.


I have listened with a very great degree of sympathy to the speech which has just been made by the hon. Member opposite, and I have come very much to the same conclusion in the matter as he has arrived at. Everyone will agree that this painful matter wag brought before the House with great clearness, fairness, and moderation by my right hon. friend, but he was quite right in saying that he initiated the question on his own responsibility, for there is nothing that I would deprecate more than the introduction of any division of Party in a case of this kind. I am obliged to look at this question as an old and intimate friend of General Buller. There is no one who has a more sincere admiration for him than I have, and my admiration is not substantially diminished by anything that has happened even in Natal. At the same time, I appreciate to an extent it is difficult to convey, the immense inconvenience and almost impropriety of constituting this Committee the tribunal to decide not only questions of military capacity, of the merits and demerits of military movements and the conduct of campaigns and battles, but also of the finer questions of military discipline. I am fully alive to the other side of the question, that discussions on these matters, either in the House or in Committee, seldom result in any benefit to the character and the country. One hon. Gentleman I noticed was so penetrated with an evil habit he has contracted, that he spoke of such a debate as encouraging the enemy— forgetting that while that might have been a very nice kind of thing to say a few months ago, it is not so now when the war has been over for many weeks. I think we are all of one mind with regard to the inconvenience of discussing these questions here; but it is necessary in some cases where, as in such a case as this, there is, on the face of it at all events, a primâ facie case of injustice to be cleared up. There are, I think, some points which must present themselves to the ordinary man, not accustomed to the intricacies of military discipline or of departmental regulations. There is the point dwelt upon by my two hon. friends beside me, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War is able to publish, or to authorise the publication of certain selected passages in the communications that passed in Natal, but it is absolutely forbidden to General Buller, or anybody on his behalf, to publish other passages which might give a different complexion to the whole matter. That is a very serious grievance, and, so far as I know, that is the main grievance of which General Buller complains. He does not ask for a verdict in his favour in regard to anything that he has done. All he asks is that the public should have the opportunity of forming an impartial judgment, and that can only be done, of course, either by the right hon. Gentleman making a larger publication, or by his allowing General Buller to make public what he thinks represents his side of the case. Here, again, I admit fully that we come upon a difficulty because the right hon. Gentle-man very properly said it would never do to publish all the confidential despatches that passed between the General and the Secretary of State for War. No one could ask for, or contemplate, such a thing as that. But what we want is some ground to believe that the case of General Buller has been more impartially considered than it has. Then there is the strange series of proceedings with I regard to General Buller after all this had happened. After these calamitous despatches of his, after his alleged failures in Natal, he was publicly thanked by the Commander - in - Chief, the Government, were almost effusive towards him and appointed him to the principal command in the Kingdom. If that does not constitute condonation of all that had happened I do not know of what condonation could consist. But the right hon. Gentleman implies today that the proper thing to be done would have been to dismiss General Buller at once, and that he was almost waiting for a good opportunity to do so. It would seem that while he was being thanked and mentioned in the General Orders, and while he was being appointed to the principal command in England, the Secretary of State all the time had condemned him and was only waiting for a convenient chance of getting rid of him.




It amounts to that.


I traversed the arguments of those who said he should have been removed at once. I was not hi office at the time.


The right hon. Gentleman was in office very soon after, hut the conduct of the Government is one and the same to successive Secretaries of State for War. Then there is a further point, for it did seem to me, and I think it seemed to the country, that there was a little abruptness and want of consideration, although it is perhaps a smaller matter, in the manner in which so distinguished an officer with so high a standing in the Army, and in the country, was retired from his command. The indiscreet speech of General Buller had nothing in it, if it is analysed, which, as I understand, constituted a breach of any regulation of the Army. It was a grave indiscretion, but it was no more, and therefore I think the judgment measured out was rather hard. The- right hon. Gentleman, however, has twice said something which gives us a ray of hope. General Buller, through his friends, asks that he should have the opportunity of setting himself right with the country. I entirely agree that we must not allow great and eminent men, men of great influence, to get advantages that are refused to other officers, but this is undoubtedly a peculiar and exceptional case. General Buller's distinction, and the whole of the circumstances make the case peculiar, and therefore I think we are right in pressing for some means of getting at the facts and of enabling General Buller, if he can. to set himself right. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of referring it to the Commission which is to inquire into the war. I am afraid this matter has occupied so much of the time available to us to-day that we shall not have much time to inquire into that Commission, but I am very curious, and I think the public are very anxious, to know precisely what the nature of that inquiry will be. It must almost necessarily, it seems to me, be divided into two parts—into an inquiry which would investigate all the business part of the war and an inquiry which would deal with the military conduct of the war and with military questions such as we are dealing with today. The class of men whom you wish for each of these purposes is quite different; and if the right hon. Gentleman could appoint a board of general officers, who could without any prejudice to public interests, taking care, as they would be quite capable of doing, that no publicity is given where evil results would follow, to inquire into this matter and report upon it, I do not know whether that would meet the views of my hon. friends who have taken up this matter so strongly, but I think myself that it would meet the justice of the case, avoid the evils which the right hon. Gentleman very properly pointed out as likely to accrue from any other course, and satisfy the public mind.


I am afraid that I cannot hold out any hope to the right hon. Gentleman that such a tribunal as he proposes will be established. We have given a pledge to Parliament that a Commission will be appointed of the most responsible persons, we can bring together to inquire into the conduct of the war. That Commission will have within its purview, no doubt, the preparations for the war, the military conduct of the. campaign, and the civil conduct so far as it concerns the Department over which I preside. It would be impossible to withdraw from their purview the operations of a particular officer or particular set of officers.


I am afraid I did not make myself clear. I did not mean to suggest a special ad hoc tribunal for General Buller's case. But if the Commission consists of a sufficient number of capable and impartial general officers, that. I think, would be a tribunal to which, together with other cases, we might submit this ease of General Buller.

(5.30.) MR CLAUDE LOWTHER (Cumberland. Eskdale)

said he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the case of General Sir Charles Warren, and in doing so, he desired to disassociate himself entirely from those Members of the Houses who gladly seized on any mistake on the part of Ministers for the purposes of belttling the Government. He was animated only by a desire to see fair play accorded, and ordinary justice done to a gallant General whose military and administrative capacities he had had the opportunity of admiring and respecting during the time he had had the honour of serving as A.D.C. in South Africa. He urged on the right hon. Gentleman that it was only bare justice to allow General Sir Charles Warren to controvert the charges brought against him by Sir Redvers Buller. Sir Redvers Buller wrote two separate despatches; the first, which was immediately made public, contained a very scathing criticism on Sir Charles Warren's action at Spion Kop, and the second, which was in the form of a secret despatch, was of so incriminating a nature, that if left unanswered, it must destroy for ever Sir Charles Warren's military career and reputation in the eyes of the public. Sir Charles Warren's demand, either that the War Office should publish an answer to these charges which they had in their possession, or that he should be allowed, through the medium of the Press, to vindicate his character, had been met with a stern and peremptory refusal. It had been urged in General Buller's case that to allow an independent inquiry would open up interminable inquiries, because what was allowed to General Buller could not be refused to other officers who thought their conduct or character was impugned. That argument as a general rule would carry weight, but it would be the quintessence of despotism if it was applied to the present instance. Here was a General, in command of 15,000, whose action had been criticised, and criticised alone by a man whose own conduct had been such as to lead to his compulsory retirement from the Army.


said he must warn the hon. Gentleman that he would be out of order in criticising the conduct of General Sir Redvers Buller towards another officer in the field. He would be in order in discussing the conduct of the War Office, but not that of General Buller with reference to other officers in the field.


said his object was to prove that the action of the j War Office was wrong in this matter. All he desired to say was that Sir Charles Warren had been made the scapegoat of this affair. He alone had received the blame. He had no credit where credit was due, but only blame where probably it was not merited. Could it be urged that in this case the criticism of a superior officer in the interests of discipline must remain uncontroverted? Should the comments on the conduct of Sir Charles Warren be taken as fact from the mouth of a man who had proved to the full the measure of his own incompetence? Was it fair that the career of an officer who had given evidence of great intelligence should be blasted by the censure of such a censor? a censor whose brilliant performance at the seat of war had induced the Commander-in-Chief to recall him to the special command of a non-existent army corps at home—a censor whom the right hon. Gentleman himself was compelled to relieve even of that responsible position—owing to an exhibition of such crass stupidity, that every thinker in the country trembled when he considered how two years before the safety of the Empire was in the hands of such a man. He did not stand there to pronounce judgment on General Buller. General Buller stood condemned by the Commander-in-Chief, the right hon. Gentleman and all the Members of the Front Bench. Since when have the condemned been allowed to condemn? He (Mr. Lowther) was not competent to traverse the military strategy attributed to Sir Charles Warren; he did not belong to the army of amateur strategists who, after every reverse, armed with a probably inaccurate map and a box of matches, took positions with ease which it had been found impossible to take with men and guns. He did not pretend to say whether some better road might have been taken to Ladysmith than the one by Spion Kop, but this he did say that the position was actually won at sunset by the valour of our men and by the iron determination of General Warren. The message sent out by Sir Charles Warren to his men was that they must fight to the end, and must not surrender; but in the face of that order, Colonel Thornycroft took upon himself to abandon the position.


again warned the hon. Member that he must not comment on the conduct of the campaign, but must confine his remarks to the conduct of the War Office.


said all he wished to prove, if he would be in order in so doing, was that but for the action of Colonel Thornycroft, Spion Kop would have been held, and it would have been a victory, and that Ladysmith would have been relieved.


ruled that that would not be in order.


said in that case he would not further detain the House, except to say that, having regard to the whole of the circumstances of this case, it was only just that Sir Charles Warren should have an opportunity of controverting the charges which had been made against him.

MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)

entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and in fact went rather farther than did the hon. Member. He could not conceive a much worse method of dealing with these cases than that which had been adopted by the Government by the excessive publication of telegrams and despatches; perhaps a still worse method than that was the method by which this discussion had been forced upon the Committee this afternoon, because no other system prevailed in the Army. It was because he saw no finality in the future in the remedy of similar cases that he urged that the whole of this class of cases should be put on the footing of courts-martial, which should be held by military officers if necessary in secret. Until they adopted some such method as that, and said such cases as these should not be decided autocratically by the sole decision of one man, these cases were bound to be repeated in future years. The same thing took place in General Colville's case; and in all these cases it appeared as if the Government shrank from publicity, whilst the officers implicated demanded it. That was so in this case of General Buller, who demanded a public inquiry, which the Government refused. This case could not end here, it would have to go on until it was cleared up in the mind of the public, and however deplorable it might be, the right hon. Gentleman and the War Office would have to make up their minds to the fact. There had been deplorable similarities between this case and others between Lord Roberts and his predecessor in office. He saw a disastrous similarity between the case of Lord Roberts and General Buller and that between Lord Roberts and Lord Wolseley when Lord Wolseley called for Papers to justify certain actions of his at the War Office, and they were refused by Lord Roberts. He thought if they road between the lines they might see something of the frame of mind which brought about this deplorable case of General Buller. He did not stand up now to discuss the military situation, but he did say that never did the House of Commons make itself more ridiculous than by entering into such discussions as were now taking place. He urged that the whole system should be changed entirely, and the autocratic system done away with. Another Secretary of State for War would have at once grasped, with a sympathetic feeling, the necessities of the case. At the present moment the British Army was governed more by terrorism than by any feeling of respect or affection for the Secretary of State for War. In his opinion, the present Secretary of State for War, instead of standing up for his officers, was more prone to abandon them, and unless he could obtain some assurance that the Government would suspend judgment in this case for the time being, until it could be thoroughly cleared up, he should support his right hon. friend when he went to a division.


said his justification for intruding upon the Committee was that, in this matter, he held an opinion which was not shared by those hon. Members who had addressed the Committee with so much ability; and he desired to show the Government why he could not support them on this question. His objection to the position taken up by the Government, apare from the question of publication, which, in his opinion, they had not managed very skilfully, was that they had given reason for the suspicion, so ably expressed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, which he believed to be entirely unfounded, that they were keeping something back, by the very slow way in which they had proceeded with this matter. On the main question there was a great inconsistency which might be briefly stated. His right hon. friend dealt in his speech with two parts of Sir Redvers Buller's career—his career in South Africa and his career here at home. In dealing with the South African part, his right hon. friend used strong language, which nevertheless he (Lord Hugh Cecil) was able to assent to. His right hon. friend had said that Sir Redvers Buller had given advice to Sir George White, which would, if carried out, have produced a disaster without parallel in the history of this country, and would have brought upon us the reproach of our children's children. That was, no doubt, true, but the right hon. Gentleman spoke later of decorating General Buller with the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St, George, and appointing him to the most important command in Great Britain. If that is the mode of dealing with a General whose action might have produced a "disaster unparalleled in the history of our country, and brought upon us the reproach of our children's children," the sooner it was altered the better. With regard to the latter part of the attack made against his right hon. friend there was no real defence whatever to it, nevertheless, his right hon. friend had made a very good defence. If, having regard to all these circumstances, the Government, by an unusual exercise of leniency, decided not to proceed against a man, as anyone would have thought they would have proceeded against one who had provoked a disaster unparalleled in our history—be it so. Time went on, and Sir Redvers Buller became guilty of a very indiscreet speech, which his right hon. friend thought was insubordinate, but which the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who had had great experience in military matters, thought was not, though no doubt it was a very foolish speech. There, again, there were two courses open—there was the course of passing it over simply with a reprimand, and there was the course of severity. Had it stood by itself he would have thought the Government would have had justification for proceeding with severity; but it did not stand by itself. It stood in the light of the leniency which had already been extended. It was the act of a man who had already boon forgiven for offences of a very much graver character. Then came a point when this subject had to be reviewed, whatever happened. It would be observed that, in this case, there was another aspect, which was a proper matter for the Committee to consider, which was not whether Sir Redvers Buller was ill-treated or not ill-treated, but whether the Government acted wisely or not. Their proper function there was to sit in judgment, not on General Buller but on the Government, and so far as he was able to see, it was impossible to invent any theory which would justify the leniency with which the Government treated Sir Redvers Buller's most serious military mistakes, and also the extreme severity with which he was treated over a few foolish and in-subordinate words. What a lesson to teach the British Army! A General might lose battles, abandon garrisons, send advice which was pusillanimous to his subordinates and panic-stricken to his superiors—all that would be forgiven, and not only forgiven but he would be brought back in triumph, appointed to his old position, and decorated with one of the highest orders in the gift of the Crown. But if, after luncheon, lashed by attacks, in a momentary indiscretion, this same General talks very great non sense indeed, there was no mercy for such an offence as that. To lose battles, to give up garrisons, wore trifles to it. When the British public read the debate they would not think Sir Redvers Buller's character as a general stood high, but they would also think that the War Office had conducted this matter with' that ineptitude which, whoever was the Secretary of State, and whoever the Commander-in-Chief. appeared to hang around the walls of the War Office like a leprosy.

(5. 55.) SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

said he did not propose to defend the War Office against the attack of the noble Lord who had just sat down He quite agreed that all the debates which the House might have upon the subject of the war ought to be for the purpose of increasing the efficiency of the British Army in time of war. Yet the only debates which had taken place were debates on the military conduct of general officers. These matters ought to be looked at from the point of view of how they affected the national interest, and he doubted very much whether the national interest was greatly served by full debates in this House upon the conduct of general officers. Let the Committee consider where they were being led this afternoon. The conduct of General Buller was brought before the House, and that was followed by an hon. Member beginning a speech — which would have been a very long speech if the hon. Gentleman had not been called to order by the Chairman—in which he pointed out that the Committee could not deal with this case without dealing with that of General Sir Charles Warren, who was censured by Sir Redvers Buller. Supposing they took the course of referring these matters specifically to the Royal Commission which was to inquire into the conduct of the war, how were they to be dealt with? Owing to the disadvantages of the country this war had been a long war; a war in which we had unfortunately suffered a great many reverses; a war which had been marked by more surrenders than any other war in which we had ever been engaged. It was those surrenders that were the original ground for this Royal Commission. But was the whole time of this Commission to be taken up by all these matters? And was it likely to come to any useful decision by discussing man after man until every case had been disposed of in which there was any doubt thrown upon the conduct or character of the general officers. From General Buller they might pass to General Warren, and from him to another general officer. In the case of the general officer to whom he referred, the same contention could be put forward as in the present instance, viz., that the, actual facts were in dispute. There was a dispute as to the time of leaving the top of the hill at Spion Kop and as to the hours at which certain telegrams were received and despatched. From that case they might pass to the responsibility of Colonel Thorneycroft, and so on to a number of other cases. The Committee was not doing much good in attempting to discuss these questions itself, but it must not try to escape from the difficulty by throwing them at the head of the Royal Comsion It was one of the unfortunate facts attending misfortune in war that there must be a certain amount of rough-and-ready justice, and a certain number of general officers treated in a way which they and their friends resented, and in regard to whose cases it was difficult to establish actual proof. Another point was that the cases which had been brought before the Committee were those of general officers of high rank, and who had had their difficulties directly with the Secretary of State. If the Royal Commission were to be encouraged to undertake the consideration of those cases, where was the line to be drawn? How could any distinction be made between those and the still harder cases of less distinguished officers who had been shelved by the Staff in South Africa. They were officers with less weight in society and politics, and were less known to Members of the House, but they had their grievances and also a very strong primâ facie case. In inquiries held during the progress of a war, justice was seldom done in a manner satisfactory to a lawyer. He had seen the reports of many of these inquiries, and in hardly any case would they pass muster from a lawyer's point of view. The question was whether on the whole justice had substantially been done, and he doubted whether they would ever get beyond that point. The Royal Commission had better devote its time to inquiring into matters concerning the organisation of the Army, and into those questions which would have a subsequent effect upon the deliberations of the Government. While the Government might be open to the taunts which had been levelled against it by the noble Lord opposite, there was reason to suppose that in this particular case justice had substantially been done. Most reasonable men were convinced that General Buller could not be approved as a general who successfully conducted military operations in the field; while, on the other hand, his past services to the country, and the great qualities he still possessed, had been freely admitted on all sides. Would they ever get further than that? Would they ever be able to narrow the responsibility in this case down to such a point that anything like a verdict in detail could be submitted either by the Commission or by the House of Commons? Setting aside the points which had raised our military reputation, such as the extraordinary courage of the officers—and also of the men, but not in such absolute uniformity—the facts which had damaged our military record were the matters that ought to be inquired into, so that the defects might be remedied. The matters that had attracted the attention of the country and mainly brought about the appointment of this Commission were the surrenders of troops in the field. From that point of view, it was surely impossible to defend Sir Redvers Buller's action. Every man, who had read much or little about war, could see the importance of Napoleon's maxim as to the absolute necessity of men who were detaining large bodies of the enemy holding on to their position until the last possible moment, as the result that yielding a day too soon might produce on the whole conduct of the war was incalculable. General White was not put forward as being one of the greatest generals in the world, but, holding on to Ladysmith, he rejected the suggestion made to him, and the whole country went with him. In the face of that, he did not sec how they could do anything which might appear to sot the seal of the approval of the House of Commons on the contention that Sir Redvers Buller had boon unjustly dealt with as a general in the field. There were matters which might have been discussed on the present occasion that were more worthy of the attention of the Committee, and the consideration of which would be more useful to the country. Some of the matters referred to in the recent naval debate affected the Army as well as the Navy. The statement of the Secretary to the Admiralty that a reorganisation of the whole thinking department of the country in regard to matters of war was needed, the admission that the War Office had been unable to get its way with regard to an increase of strength in the Intelligence Department, and the question of how far the Secretary of State intended to carry out the recommendations of the recent Report upon the education of our officers, were all subjects the Committee would have been glad to discuss. It would now be impossible for them to be discussed this year, and it was to be regretted that so much Parliamentary time should have boon taken up in the discussion of matters in regard to which no real progress could be made.


asked whether the Secretary for War could give an assurance that Sir Redvers Buller would be one of the earliest witnesses examined before the Royal Commission— ["No,"]—and would have access to all documents which he thought necessary to make his position clear.


As to that, I can only say that I shall have no control whatever over the action of the Commission. It will be entirely independent. But I imagine that the Commission will want to examine the general officer who first had the command, and, certainly so far as the Government is concerned, all papers and documents they require will be placed at their disposal. Beyond that it is impossible for mo to promise anything.


In reference to the course I intend to pursue with regard to taking a division, perhaps I may say that if there is a distinct understanding that the Commission will not be excluded by the terms of its reference from hearing General Buller and allowing him to produce the documents on the points in regard to which there has been direct conflict between him and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and if the Committee is willing that the Amendment should be withdrawn— [Ministerial cries of "No! "] In that case, I have only to ask what the right hon. Gentleman has to say with regard to the request of the hon. Member for Exeter as to publishing the correspondence, and to say that, as far as I am concerned, I shall go to a division.

COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)

was understood to say that as a soldier he did not read Sir Redvers Buller's message to Sir George White in Lady smith to mean premature surrender.

(6. 12.) MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

desired to reply to certain personal observations. He had asked several Questions with reference to Sir Redvers Buller, not for the benefit of the Army, or for the advancement or detriment of the Government, but because he thought Sir Redvers Buller, as an in dividual, was suffering under a sense of wrong, and that therefore he was rightly using his position as a Member of Parliament in investigating the matter. In reply to the Questions he had put, he had been told that he in no sense represented Sir Redvers Buller. He had never spoken to Sir Redvers Buller, but he represented him in the sense that he had been an honourable and gallant man, and that he believed him to have been unfairly and unjustly treated. Irishmen could never forget what they owed to Sir Redvers Buller, who forfeited his magnificent position at the Irish Office because he raised his voice in defence of Irish tenants, and said they were the victims of the landlords, that the law was no refuge to them, while the Land League was. For his views on that question Sir Redvers Buller was dismissed from his office. When Sir Redvers Buller went out to South Africa he was not one of those hullobaloosters who were so enthusiastic in his favour. He did not go into hysterics about his magnificent services. Upon one occasion he asked the Secretary of State for War how it happened that in the engagement on the 4th of February, 1900, Sir Redvers Buller never mentioned the Irish Fusiliers in his dispatch, although they were praised by all the correspondents as having behaved magnificently, and with great bravery. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman said he would not make any inquiries. A few days afterwards he got a letter from Sir Redvers Buller stating that it was a mere error that the Fusiliers were omitted, and he permitted him to make use of that letter as a refutation of the statement of the Secretary of State for War. That very regiment was now recuperating in the very worst climate in the world. They put the Irish soldiers in the front during a battle and gave them the very worst of everything except the fighting. Sir Redvers Buller had acted most magnificently as an honourable and truthful gentleman. He did not know much about his services in the field, but he had been the victim of a cruel wrong, and all he wished was that he should be able to tell his own story and be accorded the privileges of the meanest subject in the Kingdom. Out of a whole series of telegrams, only some five or six which told against General Buller were chosen. The Committee would remember that for months he was constantly asking for the Spion Kop dispatches, which were produced on the 4th of May, 1900. Then it transpired that Sir Redvers Buller had been asked to rewrite his dispatches, and he had incurred the enmity of the War Office for refusing to do this, and therefore his case ought to be heard before the public. No general officer had ever been previously dismissed for making a speech, even though it happened to be a breach of the Army regulations. That was absolutely true, and he was certain that it was not for that speech that General Buller was dismissed. The Times was against him, and that journal had special information. He wished to give the Secretary of State for War a precedent. It had been stated that Sir Redvers Buller was dismissed for making a speech which was contrary to the King's regulations. Lord Wolseley made a speech in 1889 for which Mr. Stanhope stated in this House there was no defence. Nevertheless, Lord Wolseley was permitted to be the Commander - in -Chief, although his speech was as bad and indiscreet as the speech made by Sir Redvers Buller. He had no sympathy with this war, but he had with an individual who had been subjected to a wrong, and whether he happened to be a British general or a humble person, he should sympathise with him if he thought a foul intrigue had been set on foot against him at the War Office. Under those circumstances he was bound to raise his voice against such a wrong. Sir Redvers Buller had acted as an honourable man, and it was an outrageous thing that in the interests of individuals he should be ousted by backstairs politicians. General Buller had been severely reprimanded, and he ought to be allowed to state his case fairly. It had recently become a habit to depreciate Sir Redvers Buller in order to praise Sir George White. Sir George White told the special correspondent of the Morning Post that if it had not been for Sir Redvers Buller he would have been dismissed from his command.


I was only repeating a statement made to me, and I cannot be answerable for the truth of that statement.


The exact truth for which he was responsible was that that statement, which was made by Sir George White, was telegraphed to Europe. It had never been, and could not be, contradicted. It was absolutely essential that all the telegrams should be published, and that there should be no suppression. The suppression was not in the interests of the country, but in the interest of the War Office, which was a sink of pollution.

(6.31.) COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)

appealed to the right hon. Gentleman 'the Member for Berwick to spare them the pain that would be inflicted on many of them if unfortunately this question was pressed to a division. They acknowledged the bonâ fides with which the right hon. Gentleman had approached the question, and they recognised the strong feelings which it had aroused in Sir Redvers Buller's friends and neighbours. There was no class who felt more strongly than soldiers and ex-soldiers, and they would be grateful if spared the great sorrow of having to register a vote which in a sense would be a vote against the reputation of perhaps one of the bravest officers that ever wore uniform. They could not go with the right hon. Gentlemen in the opinions he had put forward, but still they would gladly be spared from appearing to put a stigma on a man whose reputation was dear to every soldier. They had abstained from giving professional opinions to which they might have given utterance. They had done so out of an intense feeling of regard for Sir Redvers Buller, and he would respectfully urge that they should not be asked to register their vote in a division.


In answer to the appeal of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I have to say that I fully recognise the difficulty of the position he has put forward. I have no desire, as I stated in my opening remarks, to see the debate unduly prolonged, and I am quite prepared, so far as I am concerned, that it should conclude now. I am bound to say that what has come out this afternoon, combined with such knowledge as I have of what there may be still to come out, has deepened my sense of injustice, and although I admit the matter cannot continually be before the House, by nothing which is in his power to help, will the matter be allowed to rest where it is. If it were understood that the matter is not to rest where it is, but may be brought before the Commission of Inquiry, and the Committee will give leave to withdraw, then I will most gladly meet the hon. and gallant Member opposite, but if the Motion cannot be withdrawn it has to be negatived. If it were negatived, there is the stigma which my hon. and gallant friend wishes to avoid. By whatever majority the Motion may be negatived, I, and those who think with me, would prefer, if it is to be negatived, that our votes, at any rate, should be recorded.

*MR. DUKE (Plymouth)

said that a consideration has been overlooked for some time in the debate, and that was the question—What is necessary in the interest of justice to be done in the case of Sir Redvers Buller? There had been a great deal of discussion on the misdeeds of the Government, and as to whether this House should consider the question at all. He had never seen how a debate of this kind could do any good to Sir Redvers Buller, but it was raised from a sense of justice and a desire to show fair play; and fair play was not shown when it was attempted to meet the request for facts with such a catch phrase as chose jugée, and by the proposition that one case of this kind would not be considered because it would involve the heaning of other cases. The man in the street did not look at it in that way. He said, ''Here is a man who during a great career has shown his eminent qualities, and who I has earned in a remarkable degree the confidence of the troops in His Majesty's Army." The House of Commons was the palladium of justice in this Empire and the case of Sir Redvers Buller should not be met by such an observation as chose jugée. If there were other cases they could be dealt with as they arose. He asked for an assurance that all the despatches had been published with regard to Ladysmith which ought to affect the judgment of the country, but he as wholly dissociated himself from the attacks made upon the right hon. Gentleman as from those made on Sir Redvers Buller. It had been suggested that the right hon. Gentleman had dealt almost dishonestly with General Buller.




asked the Committee to recall the attack made less than five minutes before by the hon. Gentleman who challenged him, and who said Sir Redvers Buller had been hardly dealt with because he refused to become the agent of a moneyed ring. If that sort of talk meant nothing, it should not have been introduced into the debate.


said he had declared his opinion that Sir Redvers Buller was in no way connected with the financial ring who brought about the war.


said the hon. Member also referred to cliques at the War Office, to whom he attributed a desire to ruin Sir Redvers Bullers reputation. It was because he did not believe a word of this he wished to entirely dissociate himself from expressions of the kind. Having regard to the position of Sir Redvers Buller, having regard to the confidence, admiration, and affection with which he was still regarded throughout the Army—especially by the rank and file—having regard to the belief of the Colonists in Natal that they were saved by General Buller, he did not think it was unreasonable to ask the right hon. Gentleman before the debate closed, as he hoped it would by the withdrawal of the Motion, whether he could not say to the Committee that, if in reading these despatches over again he found that there were some which, as a man of honour and common sense, he thought might throw some light on the matter he would publish them. He made that appeal to the right hon. Gentleman but if it was refused, he should not feel himself at liberty to join in a vote of censure upon the right hon. gentleman. Confident as he was that General Buller had done his best in South Africa, and that hereafter it would come to be seen that he had done his best, he had no less confidence in the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War that he, too, had done his best and had behaved in a manner which ought to have relieved him from the taunts thrown at him. He trusted that the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman opposite would be withdrawn.

MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

said he only wanted to press the appeal which had just bean made, and to say that when he came down to the House he had been thoroughly prepared to support the right hon. Gentleman in everything he had done. But he had one difficulty, and he did not see how any hon. Member could get over it, and that was that the Secretary for War had given no real reason for appointing General Buller to the chief command at Aldershot if he had a case to dismiss him from his command beforehand. The right hon. Gentleman had given two excuses. First, that there were no Army corps to go abroad (there were no Army corps except on paper); and. second, the right hon. Gentleman desired to let General Buller down gently. But they did not want to let any man down gently by giving him the most important military command in England. That was not the real reason if the General was guilty of conduct which deserved dismissal. Nor was the real reason that General Buller had made a speech. If a division was forced, he held that every British officer would find himself in an uncomfortable position, because he would feel that when the reputation of a. British officer was at stake, he ought not to vote against but to stand up for him.


said he wished to ask two questions, which he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War would answer—first, whether the correspondence which led up to the dismissal of General Buller would be published, with the reasons given by the Government for that dismissal; and, second, whether General Buller had asked for a court-martial.


Sir Redvers Buller asked for an inquiry by a competent tribunal, but the case is not a case for a court-martial; it is a case for the Commander-in-Chief. As regards the correspondence, I do not know of any instance of correspondence between a general officer and the War Office being published. As to the question of the right hon. Gentleman regarding the terms of the reference to the Commission, I can assure him that the reference will not in any way exclude from a consideration of the conduct of the war such, a case us that of Sir Redvers Buller.

MR. HAVILAND BURKE (King's County, Tullamore)

said that the military merits or demerits of General Buller did not concern him in the least so far as the vote he was going to give was concerned. He should vote for the Amendment, on the simple ground that whether it was the case of an ordinary postman or policeman in Ireland or a general in South Africa, the incriminated man should not be tried and condemned behind his back. What was the backbone of the charge brought by virtuous England against vicious France in the Dreyfus case? It was that an officer of the French Army had been tried behind is back and condemned on the evidence of witnesses he had no power to cross-examine. That was the true inwardness of the Buller case, as it was also in the Colville case. They had entreated for an inquiry, and the opportunity of leading their own evidence, and the right to cross examine the witnesses brought against them. Another point in General Buller's case was that he asked whether he should sacrifice 2,000 or 3,000 men in an attack on the Boers before Ladysmith, and he was advised to do so; and then, on re-consideration, he failed to do so. He would ask the right bon. Gentleman the Secretary for War why he kept this House and the country in ignorance of the report of Sir William Butler, which he had in the pigeon-holes, of his office, as to the strength of the Boers and the big reserves of guns and ammunition they had. at their command? Had General Buller anything like an approximate knowledge of the strength of the Boers in men and material with which he had to deal on that critical occasion? This was not a question as to a particular man or a particular General, but a question as regarded the dispensation of justice by this country towards public servants which the country was taxed to maintain, He entirely condemned the' cry raised from the opposite Benches that the moment anything was said about the Army, that; was an attack' on the discipline of the Army. That was the plea of the French General Staff. If the conduct of a General was impugned, then it was an attack on the Army. If a suggestion were made of the existence of indiscipline and corruption in the lower ranks of the Army, that was an attack on the Army. He contended that they were entitled to maintain that this House was the High Court of appeal as regarded the administration and management of the Army, and as regarded the treatment of any member of the Army. It was an abrogation of their constitutional functions to tell hon. Members that they were not to raise questions of this kind or discuss them without affecting the discipline of the Army. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War that he was not a military Satrap, and that he had no right to claim immunity from criticism, either for himself or for his subordinates. On that ground, even if for no other reason—no matter how poor his opinion happened to be of General Buller—even if he did not believe—as he did believe—that General Buller did the bulk of the biggest fighting in the South African War—he would vote for the Amendment as a protest against the claim that had been raised, and that the House had no right to interfere in a matter of this kind, which related to the relations between the Secretary of State for War and a general in the British Army.

(6.58.) Question put.,

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 98; Noes,' 236. (Division List No. 302.)

Allan, Sir William (Gateshead) Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H. O'Malley, William
Ambrose, Robert Jameson, Major J. Kustace O'Mara, James
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Jones, David Brynm'r (Swansea- O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Beaumont, Wentworth C. R. Jordan, Jeremiak Partington, Oswald
Boland. John Joyce. Michael Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Kearley, Hudson E. Philipps, John Wynford
Burke, E. Haviland Kennedy, Patrick James Pirie, Duncan V.
Burt, Thomas Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W) Power, Patrich Joseph
Buxton, Sydney Charles Layland-Barratt, Francis prce, Robert John
Caldwell, James Leamy, Edmund Power, Arthur
Campbell, John (Armagh, S) Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington Reddy, M.
Causton, Richard Knight Levy, Maurice Redmond, William (Glare)
channing, Francis Allston Lowther, C. Cumb, Eskdale) Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries
Clancy, John Joseph Lundon, w. Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Craig, Robert Hunter MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A, Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Cremer, William Randal MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Shipman, Dr. John G.
Delany, William MacVeagh, Jeremiah Soares, Ernest.J.
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.) M'Arthur, William (Corn wall) Strachey, Sir Edward
Doogan, P. C. M'Crae, George Sullivan, Donal
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) M'Kean, John Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Dunean, J. Hastings M-Killop, W. (Sligo. North Toulmin, George
Dunn, Sir William Markham. Arthur Basil Wallace, Robert
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Mooney, John J. Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Fenwick, Charles Moulton. John Fletcher Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Field, William Nannetii, Joseph P. Weir, James Galloway
Gladstone, Rt-Hn, Herbt. John Nolan, Col. John P.(Galway, N. White, George (Norfolk)
Grant, Corrie Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton Nussey, Thomas Willans Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Haldane, Rt. Hn, Richard B. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Young, Samuel
Harrington, Timothy O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Hayden, John Patrick O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Hayne. Rt. Hon. Charles Seale O'Connor, T, P. (Liverpool) Sir Edward Grey and Mr.
Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D. O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N. Lambert,
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F, Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wore'r Fisher, William Hayes
Alihusen, Augustus H'nry Eden Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton Fison, Frederick William
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Chapman, Edward Fitz Gerald Sir Robert Penrose-
Arkwright, John Stanhope Charrington, Spencer Flannery, Sir Fortescue
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Churchill, Winston Spencer Flower, Ernest
Arrol, Sir William Clive, Captain Percy A. Forster, Henry William
Atkin-on, Rt. Hon. John Cochrane, Hn, Thos. H. A. E. Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ,
Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitz Roy Coldington, Sir William Gardner, Ernest
Bailey, James (Walworth) Coghill, Donglas Harry Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick
Bain. Coloel James Robert Cohen, Benjamin Loms Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn
Baird, John George Alexander Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Gore, Hn G. R. C Ormsby-(Salop
Balcarres Lord Colomb, Sir, John Charles Ready Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Line.)
Baldwin, Alfred Colston, Chas. Edw. H, Athole Goschen, Hon. George Joachim
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r) Compton, Lord Alwyne Gouldin, Edward Alfred
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W.(Leeds Cerbett, T, L. (Down, North) Greene, Sir E. W (B'rySEdm'nds
Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christck. Cross, Alexander (Glasgow) Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury
Banbury, Frederick George Cross, Herb Shepherd (Bolton) Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.
Bartley, George C. T. Crossley, Sir Savile Gretton, John
Beach Rt Hn Sir Michael Hicks Dewar, Sir T. R(Tower Hamlets Greville, Hon. Ronald
Bentinck, Lord Henry G. Dickinson, Robert Edmond Groves, James Grimble
Bhownaggree, Sir M, M. Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Gunter, Sir- Robert
Bignold, Arthur Disraeli, Coning by Ralph Guthrie, Walter Murray
Bill, Charles Dixon Hartland, SirFr'd Dixon Hall, Edward Marshall
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Dorington. Rt. Hn. Sir John E. Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.
Bowles, T. Gibson(Lynn Regis Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Hamilton, Rt Hon L'rd G (Midd'x
Brassey, Albert Doxford, Sir William Theodore Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nd'rry
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Hanburv, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.
Brookfield, Colonel Montagu Dyke, Rt, Hn. Sir William Hart Hare, Thomas Leigh
Brotherton, Edward Allen Elibank, Master of Harris, Frederick Leverton
Bull, William James Elliot, Ron. A. Ralph Douglas Harwood, George
Burdett-Contts, W. Faber, George Denison (York) Haslam. Sir Alfred S.
Butcher, John George Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Hatch, Ernest Fred rick Geo.
Carlile, William Walter Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J.(Mane'r Hay, Hon. Claude George
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Fielden, Kdward Brocklehurst Henderson, Sir Alexander
Cavendish. V. C. W. (Derbysh. Finch, George H. Hermon Hodge, Sir Robert T.
Hickman, Sir Alfred Morton, Arthur H A. (Deptford Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.
Higginbottom, S. W Muntz, Sir Philip A. Smith, Hon. W. F. D (Strand)
Hogg, Lindsay Murray, Rt Hn. A. Grah'm (Rute Spencer, Sir E. (W, Bromwich)
Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerest
Hoult, Joseph Myers, William Henry Stanley, Lord (Lanes)
Houston, Robert Paterson Nicol, Donal Ninian Stewart. Sir Mark J-M'Taggart
Howard, Jno. (Kent, Fav'rsham Palmer, Walter Salisbury) Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham) Parkes, Ebenezer Stroyan John
Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil Pease, Herbt, Pike (Darlington Talbot, Lord E, (Chichester)
Hudson, George Bicke steth Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G (Oxford Univ
Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton Pemberton, John S, G Thomas, David Alfred Merthyr
Kenyou-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop. Percy, Earl Thorburn, Sir Walter
Kimber, Henry Platt-Higgins, Frederick Tollemache, Henry James.
Knowles, Lees Plummer, Walter R. Tomlinson, James
Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Powell Sir Francis Shamp Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw, M.
Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th Purvis, Robert Tufnell, Lieut-CoL Edward
Lawson, John Grant Pym, C. Guy Valentia, Viscount
Lee, Arthur H (Hants, Farcham Randles, John S. Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield
Lees, Sir Elliott (Brikenhead) Rankin, Sir James Walker, Col. William Hall
Legge, Col. Hon, Heneage Rasch, Majer' Frederic Came Wanklyn, James Leslie
Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Ratcliff, R. F. Warde, Colonel C. E.
Leveson-Gower, Frederick N S. Rattigan, Sir "William Henry Webb, Colonel William George
Llewellyn, Evan Henry Red, James (Greenock) Welby, Lt-Col A. c. E. (Tauntors
Loder, Gerald Walter Erakine Renshaw, Charles Bine Welby, Sir Charles G. E (Notts.)
Long, Col, Charles W.(Evesham Renwick, George Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon
Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S) Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Staley bridge Whiteley, George (York, W. R.
Lonsdale, John Brownlee Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. T'nomson Whiteley, H (Ashton und. Lyne
Loyd, Arehie Kirkman Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Lucas- Col. Francis (Lowestoft Rolleston, Sir John F. L. Williams, Rt Hn J. Pow' ll-Birm,
Lucas, Reginald J (Portsmouth Ropner, Colonel Robert Williams, Osmond (Merioneth
Macartney, Rt Hn. W. G. Ellison Round, Rt. Hon, James Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
Macdona, John Cumming Royds, Clement Molyneux Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)
Maconochie, A. W. Russell, T. W. Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Rutherford, John Worsley-Teylor, Henry Wilson
M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford- Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Majendie, James A. H. Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Manners, Lord Ceeil Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse) Wylie, Alexander
Martin, Richrard Biddulph Sandys, Lient.-Col Thos, Myles Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Melville, Beresford Valentine Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Middlemore, Jno. Thrugmorton Scott, Sir S. (Marylehone, W.) Younger, William
Milvain, Thomas Seely, Maj J. E. B (Isle of Wight
More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire Seton-Karr, Henry TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Morgan, Hn Fred. (Monm'th sh. Sinclair, Louis (Romford) Sir William Walrond and
Morrison, Jawes Aichibald Smith. H C (North' mb Tyneaide Mr. Anstruther.

Original Question again proposed.

MAJOR RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)

, remarking that certain regiments had the privilege of bearing details of the actions in which they had taken part on their colours and accoutrements, reminded the Committee that the Essex Regiment fought in the battle of Salamanca in 1812 and captured a French Eagle. They had applied several times to wear an eagle on their accoutrements, and had always been refused. Up to three years ago they were allowed to wear this eagle on their belts, but then, thanks to an ardent but unpenetrating War Office clerk, they were ordered to take it off. He appealed to the representative of the War Office at that time, who was the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, to direct that this privilege should be renewed- The right hon. Gentleman then said it could not be done then, but that he would make inquiries and see what could be done, They had waited three years without any result, and he thought it was timer they got a direct answer. The matter only represented. a 2½d. piece of brass to a War Office clerk, but it meant a great deal to this gallant regiment, whose history had been so distinguished. This regiment deserved the consideration of the House. Once the old 44th and 56th of the line, it was raised in 1780, fought in the campaigns of North America, the Peninsular War, and Waterloo. In the last century it was present at the first Afghan campaign, when it was killed to the last man. The regiment afterwards fought in the Crimea, and subsequently went up the Nile with Lord Wolesley; and last, and not least, for its gallant service was allowed to form the escort of Lord Roberts in his march to Johannesburg.

*MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)

complained of the difficulty of obtaining Information from the Secretary of State for War. He was sorry to sec the right Short. Gentleman rise to leave the House. When information was wanted, the right hen. Gentleman- made for the door, but he was glad to see him return to his place, He desired to have some information with regard to the hospital accommodation at Hong Kong for our sick soldiers, who, he had discovered, were being cared for in rooms over the canteen tap room, That was not the sort of place in which to house our sick soldiers. He understood fresh hospital accommodation was being provided, and he wished to know whether this was so, or whether matters were at a standstill.


on a point of order, asked whether this came within the Vote,


ruled that it was not in order, as there was no item in the Vote for hospitals. This Vote was only connected with the salary of the Secretary of State.


pointed out that he was complaining of the action of the Secretary of State for War in his administrative capacity, who sanctioned the employment of men who spent large sums of money foolishly in the purchase of an hotel for conversion into barracks —for instance, the Austin Barracks, on the Peak at Hong Kong, which cost upwards of,£40,000, whilst the building was not worth more than £10,000.


Order, order!There is a separate Vote for building, and the hon. Gentleman's observations are more applicable to that.


then directed attention to the action of the Secretary of State in allowing the arsenals and small arms factories in this country to be open to the inspection of all and sundry, and keeping the ordnance yard at Hong Kong closed. When in Hong Kong, he had applied to the General in command for permission to inspect the ordnance yard, and was met with the answer that he had no orders to grant admission to any civilian. He thought there should be one rule in these matters, and if one place was allowed to be visited, all should be. He also complained of not being able to get straightforward answers from the right hon. Gentle matt to straightforward questions.

It being half-past Seven of tire clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.

Committee report progress; to sit again this evening.

Back to