HL Deb 07 April 1881 vol 260 cc863-5

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether he will lay on the Table copies or extracts of the Instructions given to the Royal Commissioners in the Transvaal regarding the protection of the rights and property of loyal English and Boers in the Transvaal, especially in the case of those who, after the proclamation of annexation, and the subsequent declaration of Sir Garnet Wolseley that the annexation was irrevocable, purchased land in the Transvaal; whether the Standard Bank of South Africa has applied for protection to Her Majesty's Government, and, if so, what reply was returned; whether in the interval between the surrender of sovereignty on the part of Her Majesty and assumption of the rights of suzerainty only, the English Courts will continue in operation, and, if not, whether the Judges have been recalled, and what provisions have been made for the administration of justice? The noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies had already said that he did not consider Her Majesty's Government could be called upon to indemnify those persons who purchased property in the Transvaal on the faith of British annexation; but such a policy as that statement indicated might lead to civil war, if means were not found to protect those rights. He thought that the Commission might, with advantage, be desired to ascertain the real feeling in the Transvaal on the subject of the annexation. He believed that, if not an actual majority, a considerable minority of the White population would be found to be in favour of it. What he desired to know was, Whether the Royal Commissioners had been instructed to inquire what was the opinion of the White population of the Transvaal at that moment with regard to the continuance of British rule? His noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Kimberley) might believe that Messrs. Kruger and Joubert represented the real feeling of the Boers; but he (Viscount Bury) and many others thought otherwise. In fact, he believed that the action of the gentlemen he had named would ultimately be disavowed. Turning to another point, he again urged the Government to press upon the attention of the Commissioners the outrages perpetrated upon the 94th Regiment. The part of his Question relating to the administration of justice referred to an extremely important matter. At present, justice was administered in the Transvaal by two British Judges. The Commissioners could not make their final Report, and decide what ought to be the ultimate form of government in the Transvaal, before the lapse of several months. Would the English Courts sit in the interval, and would Her Majesty's writs continue to run in the country? If not, what steps would be taken for the administration of justice during the months that must pass before the publication of the Commissioners' final Report?


in reply, said, the answer to the first part of the Question, whether he could lay on the Table of the House Copies of the Instructions to the Royal Commissioners, must be that it would be very inconvenient and prejudicial to the Public Service to produce those Instructions at the present moment, seeing that they wore at present on the way. With reference to the point on which his noble Friend was naturally desirous of obtaining information, he had to state that Instructions had been given to the Commissioners to make full provision for those who during the recent disturbances had remained loyal to the Queen, whether of British or Dutch origin. Then, as to the last part of the Question, he apprehended that the Courts of Justice would remain open during the interval between the present time and the final settlement, subject to the agreement made by Sir Evelyn Wood that no civil action should be taken in reference to the war. The other Questions, in reference to the administration of the Transvaal during the time that must elapse between now and the final settlement, had been referred to the Commissioners for their consideration and report.

In answer to Lord BRABOURNE,


said, he had that day laid on the Table of the House Papers which would be distributed before the re-assembly of the House after the Easter Recess.