HL Deb 28 February 1881 vol 258 cc1835-6

My Lords, the very serious news from South Africa will so profoundly have affected your Lordships and the country, that the House will, I am sure, be anxious to receive from the Government any further intelligence of which they may be in possession. Perhaps the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies will give any information that he may have, both as to the events of yesterday, and as to the measures that may be about to be taken by Her Majesty's Government in view of the existing circumstances.


My Lords, I have no information beyond that which has already appeared in the public newspapers with regard to the lamentable event to which my noble Friend refers. The full particulars, as far as we know, have already been communicated to the public. I cannot allow this opportunity to pass—for I am afraid there is no doubt of the death of the gallant officer, who was Governor of Natal and Commander-in-Chief of these forces—without bearing my testimony to the very efficient and satisfactory way in which that lamented officer discharged his duties under the Colonial Office as Governor of Natal. With respect to the military operations in which he has been engaged, I am not competent, personally, to pronounce an opinion, nor would this be at all a fitting occasion to discuss them. I will only say that no one can doubt that Sir George Colley was an able and most energetic officer; and that if he has met with misfortune I think the country will not forget that he has fallen in its service, in the performance of a most arduous and difficult duty. With regard to the arrangements that are to be made to meet the present emergency, I have been for a long time to-day in conference with the military authorities. The arrangements are in progress. I am not in a position to announce them to-day; but no doubt I shall be able to do so tomorrow. I think, however, I may assure your Lordships that they will be such as are suitable to the emergency.


said, that as, of course, there was the deepest anxiety on the part of the relatives of those serving in the Transvaal, perhaps the noble Earl would state whether the accounts in the newspapers, with respect to the deaths and those who had escaped, were such as might be relied on.


My Lords, I did not mean to say that I vouched for all the information contained in the newspapers, but that the War Office had furnished to the newspapers all the information in their possession.