§ 84. Major ARCHER-SHEE
asked the Home Secretary whether Mr. Bain, one of the men ejected from the Union of South Africa, was at the time of the South African war a British subject; whether he fought in that war against this country; and, if so, whether that action has been condoned by any act of indemnity?
Mr. HARCOURT (for Mr. McKenna)
I have no recent information on the subject, but it would appear from the War Office records at the time of the South African war that Mr. Bain was naturalised in the Transvaal in 1896, and fought against Great Britain in the South African war, being sent as a prisoner of war to Ceylon.
§ Major ARCHER-SHEE
As this man has not been naturalised for five years under the Transvaal, ought we to recognise that he was a British citizen or a Transvaal citizen at the time?
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Is the right hon. Gentleman quite sure that his information is correct? Has he not information to show that the accurate date was 1894–that Mr. Bain was naturalised in 1894, and received complete burgher rights, which are a totally different thing, in 1896?
I have only given the information which was supplied to me by the War Office from the records at the time of the South African war, and which states that Mr. Bain was naturalised in the Transvaal in 1896. I know nothing myself in regard to it. It is purely a question of naturalisation, and if there are other questions as to that, notice should be given.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
Is my right hon. Friend aware that all those British subjects who had received burgher rights in the Transvaal were compelled to serve in the South African war under the commando laws, and that they generally served in the hospital departments?
§ Major ARCHER-SHEE
Will the right hon. Gentleman make further inquiries, and find out whether this man was a British citizen or not at the time, and, if he was a British citizen, will he take steps to have him prosecuted for high treason?
§ Mr. CHARLES DUNCAN
May I ask whether the Secretary to the Colonies is to hang him first and try him afterwards?