§ 19. Mr. KEIR HARDIE
asked what cost has been incurred through the Imperial forces having been used in connection with the recent trade dispute in the Transvaal; and whether this will fall upon the South African Government or the British Exchequer?
I cannot say what cost was incurred, but I understand that the Army Council will reclaim from the Union Government any extra expense entailed by the employment of the troops.
§ 20. Mr. KEIR HARDIE
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has now received information from South Africa as to the origin of the trouble which led to the use of Imperial troops; whether this was the prohibition of a public meeting at a time when there was no disorder; whether he was asked to sanction the use of the Imperial troops, and whether he gave or wihheld his authorisation; and whether the troops have now been withdrawn?
I cannot add anything to what I said on Monday and to what has appeared in the Press with, regard to the origin of the trouble. With regard to the use of Imperial troops, I think it well that I should give the history of the matter at greater length. On the morning of 1st July I received the following telegram from Lord Gladstone:—Just received following from Smuts:—'Owing to sudden very serious development of strike East Rand, I have found necessary ask General Bait send 500 Infantry Benoni to-night protect mine properties and power Stations, and request another 500 should be held in readiness if required. Trust Your Excellency will confirm action.'Have sent reply:—Presume that you have taken every precaution to avoid collision between military and civilians unless absolutely necessary. Are troops under control of civilians? Telegraph what directions have been given. Shall come myself Pretoria to-morrow morning.'Hart telegraphs troops leave Pretoria to-night, accompanied by necessary number of magistrates. Have telegraphed to him, requisition having been made he will no doubt see necessity for sending adequate force.—GLADSTONE.I believe that I had no legal, and I am sure that I had no moral, right to interfere with the decision of the Union Ministers who are the responsible Government of the 398=country, and Of the Governor-General, the principal Imperial officer on the spot. The employment of Imperial troops in such a case can, however, only be justified by extreme necessity, and on Thursday, 3rd July, I telegraphed as follows to Lord Gladstone:—Your Ministers will, I am sure, bear in mind that it is very desirable to employ local South African forces in all matters connected with strike disturbances rather than Imperial troops, which are primarily there for other purposes.To this telegram I received the following answer from Lord Gladstone during the night of the 4th of July:—Your telegram of 3rd July. Ministers are duly impressed with the great desirability of employing only local South African forces in connection with strike disturbances on Witwatersrand area. They wish, however, to point out that just prior to these disturbances coming to a head, the old volunteer organisations had been broken up tinder the provisions of the South African Defence Act, and there has not been sufficient time to organise the new active citizen force under that Act. In the meantime, the only local forces available are those volunteers who enrolled for entry in the active citizen force, and they are only some 4,000 in number and scattered throughout the length and breadth of the Union. Those old volunteers who are resident on the Rand are to a large extent either strikers or so mixed up with them that it is futile to contemplate their effective employment for the purpose of suppressing disturbances in connection with the strike.Steps are being taken to call out those old volunteers in other parts of the Union, but in the meanwhile a large force is necessary on the Band in view not only of the large numbers and the menacing proceedings of the strikers but also of the quarter of a million of native workers, etc., who are spectators of the proceedings on the part of the white men. It is only extreme necessity that would justify the employment of Imperial troops, but under the circumstances just referred to, such necessity clearly existed, and failure to call in the aid of the Imperial forces might have resulted in great destruction of property and irreparable loss of life.Ministers beg to express their appreciation of the readiness of the Imperial authorities to come to their assistance under these circumstances.—GLADSTONE.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I beg to give notice that I shall hand in a Motion, according to the forms of the House, for the recall of Lord Gladstone, and ask for time for its discussion.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
May I ask whether, in all this correspondence from Lord Gladstone and the South African Government, there has been no word of the breaking up of public meetings held in connection with the strike; and, further, has the right hon. Gentleman in communicating with the South African Colonies mentioned the principal objects taken here to the use of British troops in preventing freedom of meeting? Has that question been raised at all by either side in this controversy?
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
In that case, will the right hon. Gentleman find out the reason the troops were called for and whether the cause of the disturbance was that the Transvaal Government prevented peaceful miners meeting together in public to discuss their grievances?
§ 21. Mr. OUTHWAITE
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the fact that the Government of South Africa appealed for the dispatch of Imperial troops to the East Rand before making any particular endeavour to increase the police force there, he will represent to the Government that Imperial troops are not to be regarded as available under such circumstances?
It will be seen from my answer to the hon. Member's next question that it is not correct that the Union Government made no particular effort to increase the police force on the Rand before applying for the dispatch of Imperial troops.
§ 22. Mr. OUTHWAITE
asked the date on which the Union Government appealed for the dispatch of Imperial troops to the Rand, and that on which any considerable number of extra police were drafted there?
The Union Government applied for the aid of Imperial troops on 30th June. There were then 1,500 police on the Rand, which was. 500 in excess of the normal police strength, and approximately 1,400 more were then being drawn from police posts all over the Union to concentrate on the Rand.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that in these disturbances it seems that in the first place the police fired on the strikers and that then the military were called in to deal with the circumstances which arose from their action, and will he see that British troops are not called in to deal with conditions arising out of the action of the Johannesburg police in preventing public meetings?
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
May I ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has now received a list of the killed and wounded, and whether the names can be published at once?
I have not received it yet, but I hope to receive it during the day, and as soon as I get it I will send it out to the Press. I may say that last night I received the following telegram from Lord Gladstone:—The Governor-General of the Union of South Attica to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.(Received Colonial Office, 6.20 p.m., 8th July, 1913.)Reports show men hack at work. Some of the natives refused to go down mines, but no serious trouble anticipated.—(Signed) GLADSTONE.