HC Deb 08 March 1911 vol 22 cc1191-3

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he was aware that since the recent commutation by Lord Gladstone of the death sentence passed upon a native for an offence upon a white woman at Umtali, there had been an immediate recrudescence of such cases in South Africa; that by the 8th February there had already been at least seven such cases, in one of which a white governess was pulled off her bicycle and abused in broad daylight; and whether he intended to take any, and what, steps to deal with the effect that such a state of affairs may have in the South African Dominion?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt)

I am informed by the Governor-General and High Commissioner that as regards the Union of South Africa he is advised by his Ministers that there has been no recrudescence of the cases in question, so far as is known to them, that the cases which have occurred since the commutation of the Umtali sentence are not appreciably in excess of the ordinary average of such cases in the various provinces of the Union, and that Ministers are confident that in not a single one of the reported cases can any connection be traced with the Umtali decision. The Minister of Justice, in speaking in the House of Assembly on the 7th of February, stated that newspaper reports of such assaults on the Rand were exaggerated. As regards Rhodesia, the newspapers have referred to two cases of alleged attempts since the Umtali decision, but neither has been reported officially to the High Commissioner. No cases have occurred in the native territories during Lord Gladstone's tenure of office.


Is the right hon. Gentleman now in a position to tell the House whether Lord Gladstone before commuting the death sentence in the Umtali case first consulted any, and, if so, what Ministerial authority in Rhodesia?


I do not think that it would be right either now or at any time to give any private information which I might have or might not have as to the course Lord Gladstone took in the matter of a private consultation.


Is it the intention of the Government to lay before the House any papers in reference to the commutation of the sentence by Lord Gladstone?


I am considering that question; but there are no papers except those already published in the Press, and I do not know that it is worth while to reprint the despatch of Lord Gladstone which has been issued.