HC Deb 19 March 1908 vol 186 cc773-5
MR. LEHMANN (Leicestershire, Market Harborough)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Secretary of State for the Colonies has received any communication from the Government of Natal making any answer to the allegations made in Mr. Jellicoe's letter of 7th February to the Governor of Natal.


Yes, Sir. The reply is contained in a telegram from the Governor as follows:—" 10th March. No 1. Ministers have requested that the following Minute should be telegraphed to your Lordship:—Ministers received on 7th March His Excellency's Minute of 6th March, forwarding for Ministers' information a letter by Mr Jellicoe to you dated 7th February, and which was received by His Excellency on 12th February, 1908. Ministers regret that such a letter should have been addressed to His Excellency by a gentleman who had become a member of the Natal Bar, more especially because of the sinister attempt made in the first page of that letter to involve His Excellency in the first section of the libels therein contained. Ministers understand that His Excellency took steps through the medium of Reuter's Agency at an early date to disavow the association of 'common ground' claimed by Mr. Jellicoe with His Excellency, a step rendered the more necessary because the writer of this letter appears to have secured publication of his letter before the original could even have reached your hands. With reference to the remaining portion of that letter, comprising nine pages of type written foolscap, it consists in the main of a series of statements again so patently false as to make the letter too contemptible for notice by this Government, not with tanding that the writer held the position of an English barrister (as)? at the time he indited it and was retained in his professional capacity as alleged by him with the concurrence of the Colonial Office' for the defence of Dinizulu. There the comment of Ministers might end but for Mr. Jellicoe's allegation that he is sending a copy of his despatch to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. So that the Secretary of State for the Colonies may not possibly be misled by statements which in this Colony require no refutation, Ministers would be glad if his Excellency would cable this Minute to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Now that Ministers have received this letter officially from his Excellency and also learn that it has been published in England, Ministers think it is their duty to send his Excellency the foregoing comments on the letter and to ask that this Minute should be given publicity at an early date." I should add that the Secretary of State's telegram of 19th December, published at page 180 of Cd. 3888, explains the attitude of the Colonial Office in regard to Mr. Jellicoe's visit to Natal.

MR. BELLOC (Salford, S.)

May I ask whether the Colonial Office possesses, without having to create it, any machinery by which the Imperial Government could order an independent inquiry into these charges? They are widely believed in this country. I, for one, believe them.


No. We do not possess any machinery, except that we can ask a Colonial Government for specific answers to specific questions. I have been asked whether we have received a reply. I have read the reply. That is a matter of fact that I am bound to put before the House, but the House will see that the statement is of a general character, and we have asked for more specific answers to specific matters. I trust that the answers to these will be as conclusive and satisfactory as is the general one.


Is the Mr. Jellicoe mentioned in this Question the same learned gentleman who has just now prosecuted an appeal in the case of two Zulus convicted of sedition, in which case the Judicial Committee found that no in-injustice had been done by the Native High Court in Natal?


The life history of Mr. Jellicoe is not sufficiently known to me to enable me to answer that Question.