HC Deb 03 March 1908 vol 185 cc524-5
MR. ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether, having regard to the fact that the telegram from Mr. Colenso to Dinizulu, urging him to surrender and assuring him of fair trial and assistance in his defence, was transmitted through the Colonial Office, any specific steps have been taken by that Department to secure these ends; and, if so, what is their nature.


My right hon. friend is quite right in stating that the telegram from Mr. Colenso to Dinuzulu to which he refers was sent through the Colonial Office, at Mr. Colenso's request; but as a matter of fact it did not reach Dinuzulu until after his surrender on. 8th December. The concern of His Majesty's Government, however, in Dinuzulu's fate and in the procedure of his trial does not rest upon the foundation of the telegram in question. Imperial responsibility in the conditions of Dinuzulu's return to and treatment in South Africa was directly asserted by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham at the time when he held the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies. It has been deliberately re-affirmed by my noble friend Lord Elgin in various despatches, and I have also accepted it in statements made to this House. The Secretary of State has been in communication with the Governor as regards both the trial and procedure, and Lord Elgin sees no reason to doubt that the Judges of the Supreme Court in Natal will ensure Dinuzulu a fair trial when the case comes before them, and that if there are any faults or flaws in the preliminary proceedings they will be fully exposed when the trial comes on. As my right hon. friend is aware, Dinuzulu is represented by two lawyers who are watching his interests, and I assume that in ordinary course they will advise their client and his friends if and when further legal aid, including, I presume, the services of a leader, is required. It will evidently be some time before the case comes on, and the Governor, being aware of the great importance which the Secretary of State attaches to the matter, will keep Lord Elgin fully informed.