HL Deb 27 May 1879 vol 246 cc1329-31

My Lords, I wish to put certain Questions to my noble Friend the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, of which I have given him private Notice. I do not quite understand, from the explanations given last night by the noble Earl at the head of the Government, or from the statement reported as having been given by the Secretary of State in "another place," what is the precise position of Sir Garnet Wolseley towards the Lieutenant Governor of Natal and the Administrator of Affairs in the Transvaal. I would, therefore, ask my noble Friend, in the first place, Whether Sir Henry Bulwer and Colonel Lanyon have been recalled or superseded, or whether they still retain their positions in South Africa? I wish, in the second place, to know, Whether the Colony of Natal and the Province of the Transvaal will be administered as a single Colony or State, and, if so, what place will be the seat of government? Thirdly, I wish to ask my noble Friend—though this is a matter of less importance, but still one which it is desir- able to call attention to—Whether the letters patent in the commission, which define the functions, powers, and jurisdiction of Sir Bartle Frere have been cancelled, or rather revoked, by Her Majesty's Government, in order to be issued in an amended form? Your Lordships will not forget that Sir Bartle Frere has hitherto held office, not only as Governor of the Cape, but has exercised jurisdiction over the Provinces of Natal and the Transvaal, and has exercised power as High Commissioner over the Native tribes in these particular districts. My Lords, I have no desire to raise any discussion on the subject; but, at the same time, I think it right to address myself to one point which appears to me to be of great importance. I have not a word to say against the appointment of Sir Garnet Wolseley. I have the highest opinion of him, both as a military man and a civil administrator; but I am extremely desirous that at this conjuncture Her Majesty's Government, while looking at the military aspect of affairs as a first consideration, should not close their eyes to what is almost of equal importance—namely, the civil government of those Provinces. If Sir Garnet Wolseley is called on to discharge military duties, as senior commanding officer, and take an active part in the campaign, it would be clearly impossible for him to give his attention to civil affairs. On the other hand, I think it would be very undesirable at this moment, if it could be avoided, to spare from Natal the services of a Chief of the great experience, knowledge, and clear head of Sir Henry Bulwer, and I think it would be dangerous to leave the Transvaal to the administration of any mere local subordinate official, who might be without knowledge of the temper of the population or of the antecedents or requirements of the Province. I cannot, therefore, but hope that, while Sir Garnet Wolseley has been placed in the supreme command, Her Majesty's Government will pay earnest attention to the necessity of securing the services on the spot of able and experienced officers in the Transvaal, and, if possible, also in Natal.


My Lords, in reply to the first Question of my noble Friend—namely, whether Sir Henry Bulwer and Colonel Lanyon have been recalled or superseded—I have to say that they have been neither recalled nor superseded, but are retained in their present positions as Lieutenant Governor of Natal and Administrator of the Transvaal, but under Sir Garnet Wolseley, who, by his commission, becomes Governor of the two Provinces. I think this arrangement will carry out the views of my noble Friend. His second Question is, whether the Colony of Natal and the Province of the Transvaal will be administered as a single Colony? No; those two Colonies will remain in their present state. In reply to his third Question—whether Sir Bartle Frere's Commission has been cancelled for the purpose of being re-issued in an amended form—I have to say that Sir Bartle Frere's commission has not been cancelled. It will be kept in full force, except in those districts over which by his commission Sir Garnet Wolseley would have jurisdiction. All this, and further information, will be found in the Papers which I laid on the Table yesterday, and which, I trust, will be in the hands of your Lordships within a day or two.


May I ask the noble Earl, Whether the Papers to which he alludes will contain the Instructions to Sir Garnet Wolseley?


No; the Instructions given to Sir Garnet Wolseley are not included in these Papers for a reason stated in "another place" by the Secretary of State—namely, it was thought that if those Instructions were made public, either in this or in the other House of Parliament, they would be telegraphed to the Capo, and would reach the Cape before the officer who is to carry them out would have arrived at the Colony.