§ MR. LYTTELTON (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that a speech of the Under-Secretary for the-Colonies of 18th December, 1906, imputing grave misconduct and corruption to a public body in the Transvaal, was cabled at the public cost to Johannesburg; by whose directions was this course taken; what are the expenses incurred thereby; and whether he will in the future discountenance the official dissemination during the conduct of a 547 Colonial election of controversial literature at the public cost,
§ MR. ASQUITH
I have no direct responsibility in this matter, but I am informed that the Answer to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's Question is in the affirmative. The course taken was under the authority of the Secretary of State for the Colonies The expense of the telegram amounted to £21 5s. It was not sent during a Colonial election, nor with any view to influencing the course of such election. The telegram was despatched on 18th December. The new Constitution for the Transvaal did not come into force until 12th January, 1907, and the nominations for the elections did not take place till 9th February. The purpose for which the telegram was sent was to secure the full and accurate publication of words used in this House, instead of the condensations which are necessary in private Press telegrams. Such a practice has been found convenient and oven advantageous on various occasions during the last year, and the Secretary of State is of opinion that it is quite possible that further need for its adoption might recur.