§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he can now inform the House what will be the order of reference to the Commission to be appointed to inquire into the conduct of the war, and how the Committee will be composed.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
I have not been able to get on with the formation of this Commission as quickly as could be desired, but I am glad to say that I hope confidently that we have been able to secure the services of Lord Elgin as chairman. Lord Elgin is a gentleman who has taken no part in the controversies connected with the war, and I think he commands universal respect. We propose that the Commission shall not be a large one. I should be disposed, without committing 128 myself absolutely, to confine it to about seven with Lord Elgin as chairman. I do not propose to put a political element upon it at all from either side of the House if I can possibly avoid it. As to the reference to the Commission, I think it ought to be in general terms, and yet I do not want to throw upon the Commission the intolerable burden of inquiring into every kind of transaction throughout the whole course of the war. I thought if we could frame the reference so that no question connected with contracts of any kind made during the war should be outside their purview, and which would also enable them to inquire into the preparations for the war, we need not have any military events inquired into after the occupation of Pretoria. I think that would be some relief to the Commission, and I do not think that it would do any injury to any of the interests which are anxious for the inquiry. The sort of reference I should suggest would be "to inquire into the supply of men, munitions, equipment, and transport in connection with the South African war, and into the military operations up to the occupation of Pretoria." I have given to the House a full account, perhaps a fuller account than I ought to have given, of a matter which is still pending, but I wanted to take the House into our confidence, so that there should be no secrecy about the matter.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Is it intended that the Commission shall be composed of civilians or soldiers or both civilians and soldiers?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My idea of the composition of the Commission is that we should have a civilian chairman, and that probably civilians should be in the majority; but I think that there should be a military representative and also a naval representative.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes, I want to include everything. I am very anxious that nothing should be kept out.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
May I ask whether the reference will cover the work of the Intelligence Department before the war?