§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the control and treatment of the Boers who were taken prisoners in the late war, and have been deported to India. Ceylon, and Bermuda, and detained in those countries, notwithstanding the conclusion of the war and the proclamation of peace, are within the purview of the War Office and within the sphere of the Ministerial responsibility of the Secretary of State for War.
§ MR. BRODRICK
As regards the safe custody of the prisoners of war in India, Ceylon, and Bermuda, and maintaining order and discipline among them, the India Office and War Office respectively are responsible. Questions of general policy in regard to these prisoners fall within the sphere of the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies under what authority, statutory or otherwise, have Boers taken prisoners in the late war, who have been deported to India, Ceylon, or Bermuda, been detained in imprisonment, and in many instances treated as common criminals, for nearly a twelvemonth after the conclusion of peace.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The prisoners of war in India, Ceylon, and Bermuda have been detained under martial law, which has been proclaimed over the area covered by the prisoners of war camps. Breaches of military discipline have been punished by the military authorities, but I have no information of any such treatment as is alleged.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies at what stations in India are Boers who have been taken prisoners in the late war imprisoned at the present time, and what are the numbers of the Boors detained at each station; by whose authority and on whose responsibility was a communication made to Boers thus imprisoned, that default in taking the oath of allegiance would prolong their stay in the hotter districts, whereas the taking by them of that oath would secure their removal to cool hill stations; and what course does the War Office intend to take with reference to these prisoners.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN:
(1) The prisoners of war in India are at present stationed at Ahmadnagar; (2) The number of them is about 800: (3) I have no information as to any communication of the kind alleged; (4) All prisoners of war are at liberty to go where they please at their own expense, except to the new colonies. They will not be allowed to return to the new colonies at the expense of His Majesty's Government unless they take the oath or make the declaration of allegiance. It has been arranged that General Botha shall send a delegate to the prisoners to explain to them the desirability of making the declaration.