HC Deb 28 June 1906 vol 159 cc1112-3
MR. THOMASSON (Leicester)

To ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that Mr. Cecil Bisset, son of the late General J. J. Bisset, was in 1901 commissioned by Lord Roberts to raise a force of thirty Boers: that Mr. Cecil Bisset, having done this, was, on October 17th, 1901, ordered summarily to leave Kroonstad; that, on his reporting himself at Bloem-fontein, he was told by Colonel Benson, military secretary to General Kelly-Kenny, that there were no charges against him, but that he could not be allowed to be in the same district with Captain de Bertodana; that a claim by Mr. Cecil Bisset for losses subsequent on his being thus obliged to leave was investigated at Kroonstad on May 1st, 1903; that Lord Milner, on May 13th, 1905, informed Mr. Cecil Bisset that his claim had been disallowed; that Mr. Cecil Bisset appealed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, alleging in substance that he had been made the victim of misrepresentations by Captain de Bertodana; that the late Secretary of State for the Colonies replied that he could not interfere in the matter; whether he can say if, since this decision, it has been ascertained that there was another Mr. C. Bisset, engaged at the time in question in procuring cattle for the same firm that employed Mr. Cecil Bisset for the same purpose; that some confusion has arisen from these two similarly occupied persons both bearing the name of C. Bisset; and whether the Secretary of State for the Colonies will now give his attention to this matter, with the view of finding out whether wrong has been done to Mr. Cecil Bisset.

(Answered by Mr. Churchill.) The statements made in the first half of the Question were made in the appeal to the late Secretary of State, and Mr. Lyttelton saw no reason for interfering with the decision to disallow the claims, having been informed by the Governor, Sir Arthur Lawley, that Mr. Bisset's claim was investigated and rejected by the resident magistrate; that this finding was confirmed by the Central Judicial Commission, that the Commission subsequently, upon representations made by Mr. Bisset, again reviewed the claim but was satisfied that the original decision was proper, and that he, the Governor, approved the decision. It appears that Mr. Bisset received a commission in one of the local corps for which he drew pay in the ordinary manner. He was at the same time in the pay of Weil as an agent for the aquisition of cattle, and he also was himself dealing in cattle, his own evidence on the matter being clear. I have no knowledge that it has been ascertained, since the late Secretary of State arrived at his decision, that there were two Mr. Bisset's employed by Weil, and, as at present advised, the Secretary of State does not see how it would affect the decision, but he will ask the Governor to report upon the statement that there were two persons of the name in Weil's employ.