HC Deb 17 June 1907 vol 176 cc143-4
MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the statement made by Mr. Moor, Premier of Natal, to the effect that the promise of the Imperial Government had been obtained that Natal should always possess a portion of the regular South African garrison; whether such a promise was given; and, if so, whether any stipulation was made that the full cost of the Imperial troops stationed in Natal should be borne by the revenues of the Colony in the same way, and to the same extent, that the cost of troops stationed in India is borne by the revenues of India.


I have seen the Press telegram to which the hon. Member refers. It is, however, plainly an inaccurate report of Mr. Moor's speech. It is obvious that the considerations which determine the size and distribution of the South African garrison would not permit of a pledge of this kind being given. The troops are stationed where they are required to give effect to a general scheme of defence, and the Government must keep its hands free to move them to meet emergencies or changes in the strategical situation. While this remains so, the case of India affords no parallel for demanding that Natal shall bear the whole cost of the troops stationed within its borders. I therefore told Mr. Moor that while there was no intention at this moment of moving the Imperial troops from Natal the War Office would give no pledge that the troops should remain there.


asked whether the Colony of Natal undertook to pay any portion of the cost.


I do not think it would be expedient to enter into a bargain with the Colony of Natal to tie troops to a particular spot.