§ LORD WHARNCLIFFE
rose to put a question to his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies on a subject on which some explanation was certainly required. It would be in the recollection of some of their Lordships that about a month ago—he believed on the 15th of April—a gentleman of high authority, who took a great interest in the affairs of the Cape of Good Hope, proposed in the other House of Parliament that a Commission appointed by the Crown should be sent out from this country to inquire into the state of affairs in that colony. It would also be in their recollection that the Government met the 1154 proposition of that Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) by a counter proposition, negativing the appointment of a Commission, and proposing an inquiry by a Select Committee of the House of Commons. One of the principal grounds of opposition to the appointment of a Commission was stated to be that it would interfere with the operations and diminish the effectiveness of the authority of the local Government of that colony. [See 3 Hansard, cxvi. 226.] With the assent of Ministers, a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed; but the Committee was not named at the time, and indeed was not named till the 9th of the present month. The members of that Committee had not yet sat. It was stated by Ministers in the course of the debate on the 15th of April, that if it should appear to the members of the Committee that a commission should be sent out to the Cape of Good Hope to make inquiries on the spot, no objection would be taken to such a measure. As yet there had not been any opportunity of obtaining the opinion of that Committee, for, as he had stated, the Committee had not yet sat. It appeared, however, that a commission had been appointed to inquire into the present condition of that colony; and under these circumstances he now asked his noble Friend to explain the motives which had induced the Government to appoint this commission, the powers which had been intrusted to it, and the special objects into which it had been authorised to inquire.
§ EARL GREY
said, that it was perfectly true that it was proposed in the other House that a Commission of Inquiry should be sent to the Cape of Good Hope, and that that proposition was objected to on the part of Her Majesty's Government, on the ground that the appointment of Commissioners of that description would interfere materially with the powers and functions of the Governor, and introduce much confusion into the affairs of the colony; and also on the ground that the general state of affairs at the colony had more than once been a subject of inquiry, and that further inquiry on that point was not required. At the same time it was stated that, as the war which had unfortunately broken out would render it necessary to apply to Parliament for a considerable grant to meet its expense, Her Majesty's Government thought it only reasonable that, before that vote was applied for, a Committee of the House of Commons should be appointed, before whom should 1155 be laid the information connected with that subject, so that the Committee might be satisfied of the necessity for the expenditure. Although, however, he believed that the appointment of a commission of inquiry as proposed by Mr. Adderley, would have been extremely inconvenient, he thought that although a commission of inquiry on the spot might not be necessary; yet that under the difficult circumstances in which he was placed, Sir H. Smith required some further assistance. When Sir H. Pottinger was sent out to the Cape of Good Hope at the end of 1846, he held, besides the appointment of Governor, a separate and distinct commission, by which he was appointed Her Majesty's High Commissioner for the adjustment of the affairs of the border tribes. And although, perhaps, no distinct or definite powers were conveyed by that Commission, it still pointed out one of the most important duties which he was expected to perform, and invested him with a certain degree of authority over the persons with whom he had to deal in that capacity. When Sir H. Pottinger was promoted to a higher office, and went to India, Sir H. Smith was appointed in the same terms High Commissioner for the affairs of the border tribes; and what was now intended by Her Majesty's Government, was to appoint two assistant commissioners tinder Sir H. Smith, for the management of this same business. It was not strictly a commission of inquiry, for he did not believe that inquiry would throw much light on the actual condition of affairs on the borders of the colony, or in the colony itself; nor did he think that it was likely to lead to any change in the policy to be adopted, for that policy had been carefully considered, and the views of all the different persons who had considered it coincided upon almost every important point. These views were adopted so long ago as 1845, on the recommendation of Sir Benjamin D'Urban; they were fully stated in a despatch which he (Earl Grey) addressed to Sir H. Pottinger at the time he proceeded to the Cape; they were adopted by Sir H. Pottinger in the course of his administration, and were mainly in accordance with those adopted by Sir H. Smith, when he succeeded to office. But although the general principles of the policy to be adopted were generally concurred in, there was much practical difficulty in their application. There were many questions of great nicety and complexity arising from the disputes of the 1156 border tribes, particularly with reference to the occupation of land, which required to be promptly decided, and when decided to be promptly executed—indeed, he believed that to a want of means deciding and enforcing the rights of the various parties, might he attributed many of the difficulties that had lately arisen. Now, although Sir H. Smith was appointed commissioner for this purpose, he must necessarily at the present time be so much occupied with the command of the military forces, and with the general direction of the civil government of the colony, that it was not possible for him to give that minute attention to these questions which was necessary for their prompt and satisfactory adjustment. He (Earl Grey) thought it of extreme importance—considering the state of affairs at the Cape, the number of private interests that were involved, and the manner in which, unfortunately, party spirit had been enlisted in questions that had arisen there—that, in the adjustment of these various points in dispute, and the grievances alleged by different classes of the population, which had led to the revolt of one very numerous class of the population whose assistance in the former war was of great value, Sir Harry Smith should have the assistance of able and impartial persons, who were at the same time intimately acquainted with the affairs of the colony. It was with that view that choice had been made of two gentlemen who had greatly distinguished themselves in the late Kaffir war, and had since left the colony without any intention of returning to it; but who had now, from a sense of public duty, though at considerable inconvenience to themselves, accepted the offices of assistant commissioners under Sir H. Smith, for the adjustment of these affairs. One was Major Hogg, who had been captain in the 7th Dragoons when that regiment was employed at the Cape, who was then entrusted by Sir H. Pottinger with the duty of raising the Hottentot levies during the wars, and who had so much influence with them that he was enabled to raise a large body of men whose services were of the greatest value. The other gentleman was Mr. Owen, who went to the colony a very young man, immediately after taking his degree at Oxford, resided there some time, and had the great advantage of speaking the Kaffir language with great facility. He had only returned to this country in May last, and there were the highest testimonials to his merit both from 1157 Sir H. Pottinger and Sir H. Smith. These were the grounds upon which their appointment had been made, and he trusted that they would be of the greatest service in assisting Sir H. Smith.
§ LORD WHARNCLIFFE
asked his noble Friend whether he had any objection to the production of this commission?
§ The EARL of ELLENBOROUGH
said, that if the noble Earl had really been desirous of giving assistance to Sir H. Smith in the difficult position in which he was now placed, he would have done so better by sending out to him two regiments instead of two commissioners.
§ EARL GREY
had to inform the noble Earl, that on the first receipt of the late intelligence from the Cape of Good Hope considerable reinforcements had been sent out to Sir H. Smith, and that more would speedily leave this country for the same destination. Though he agreed with the noble Earl that it was important Sir H. Smith should have a strong military force at his command and under his disposal, yet he also maintained that that officer should have sufficient assistance to carry on, he would not say negotiations—for that was not exactly the word—but to carry on his dealings with the native tribes, to keep in allegiance such of them as were faithful to us, and to make their services useful and available.
§ The EARL of ELLENBOROUGH
knew something of the doings of those who were called "politicals," who had often interfered very adversely with military officers. If the political and military measures of the colony were to be mixed up together, it was only adding a new element of danger to those which were already impending-over that colony. It was the opinion of one of the highest authorities on military affairs, that it was better to have one bad general than three good ones, if they chanced to differ. The noble Earl had one good general already; but why should he send out two inefficient agents to thwart him?
§ EARL GREY
entertained as strong an opinion as the noble Earl did of the necessity of having a concentration of authority. It was on that account he had objected to 1158 the appointment of a commission of inquiry. If the noble Earl had done him the honour to listen to what he said, he would have heard him declare distinctly that, though the two commissioners were to be associated with Sir H. Smith in the commission, they were not be equals, but to act under him as subordinates. He had yet to learn that even the Emperor Napoleon did not attach value to the assistance of good officers acting under him.
§ Subject at an end.