HC Deb 06 July 1904 vol 137 cc784-5

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the force suggested by the Government for the new South African Constabulary in 1901 was 10,000 men, whether he can say when the intention was formed that the force should consist of only 6,000, and when the strength was reduced to 5,000; whether he can state up to what date he possesses the Return of actual strength, and if he can give the figure of the actual strength at the date of the last Return; what was the original estimate of cost for 10,000 constabulary; and what is the expenditure contributed by the Transvaal towards the South African Constabulary in the present year.


It was decided to constitute such a force towards the end of 1900. Lord Roberts considered that the force should be 10,000, as the extra number would obviate the need of more Regular troops for the work then required, but from the beginning Lord Milner maintained that 6,000 would be sufficient for police purposes when the war was over, and that fewer would be required after a time. The force was reduced to 5,000 in the course of the present April. The last Return of strength is dated 1st June and gives the actual strength as 4,770. The original estimate was £250 per man, or a total cost of £2,500,000 per annum. The cost of the constabulary is provided in the Inter-colonial Budget and not directly on the Transvaal Estimates. Towards the deficit on the Inter-colonial Budget for the year ended 30th June the Transvaal is contributing a sum of £767,000. In general explanation, I would refer the right hon. Member to pages 30 and 51 of Blue-book, Cd. 2102.