HC Deb 18 May 1903 vol 122 cc921-3
MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he has communicated to General Manning the view of His Majesty's Government that the objects of the military operations have been accomplished, and that they do not propose to incur further expenditure in pushing up fresh troops.

MR. FULLER (Wiltshire, Westbury)

At the same time may I ask the Secretary of State for War whether he has yet received the report from General Manning upon the situation in Somaliland caused by the results of the recent fighting; and, if so, whether he is in a position to make a statement to the House as to the policy the Government intend to pursue with regard to further operations.


I will reply at the same time to a Question on the same subject put by the hon. Member for the Westbury Division of Wiltshire. We have not yet had a full report, from General Manning. He has however, transmitted to us in a telegram, dated 6th May, a rumour that the Abyssinians are advancing from the south and have engaged the Mullah's outposts, the Mullah's main body moving in consequence to the north. No sign of the enemy had been seen for some days by our advanced post at Galadi. In view of the difficulty of transport, which makes operations from the south and east impossible except in comparatively small parties. His Majesty's Government have directed General Manning to concentrate his force at Bohotale as his transport permits, and to operate from that base. In addition to its other advantages this will probably be the most favourable base for co-operation with the Abyssinians, but General Manning has discretion, having regard to the Abyssinian advance, to remain some time longer at Galadi, provided that he runs no risk of want of food or transport.


My Question was whether the Government have communicated with General Manning on the lines they announced in this House, that the object of the expedition has been accomplished and no reinforcements will be sent.


No, Sir. The communication made to General Manning is to the effect I have mentioned. General Manning has asked for no reinforcements, and, therefore, no question has arisen of sending fresh troops.


Is the communication to General Manning of the altered policy not of vital importance?


No, Sir. A communication has been made to General Manning as to the base from which he should conduct his operations. We have no intention of withdrawing from the announcement of the policy made to the House.

MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has received any reply from General Manning as to the alleged deficiency of British ammunition?


I have received several telegrams from General Manning with regard to different points in the operations, and the general effect of them coincides with the view of His Majesty's Government, that the future operations should take place from Bohotle. There is no withdrawal or change of policy in the matter. The troops from different posts have been concentrated, as they were intended to be concentrated, at Bohotle, which is to be the base of operations.


Are we to understand that the Government has sent instructions to General Manning as to the disposition of his forces without having heard his opinion of the situation?


I did not say that. His Majesty's Government consulted General Manning, and their decision has been in entire accord with the views he has expressed as regards the concentration of troops. As for ammunition, we have not yet heard anything from General Manning.


Has any communication been received from General Manning as to the situation since the recent disaster, and have the instructions sent to him by the Government been approved by him?


Order, order! That question does not arise out of the one on the Paper, and the hon. Member must give notice of it.


I beg to give notice that I shall ask a series of Questions on this subject.