HL Deb 10 March 1882 vol 267 cc577-9

wished to ask his noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies a Question, of which he had given him private Notice, in reference to a report which had appeared in the morning papers that some fighting had occurred between the Boers and the Natives in the North-West of the Transvaal, which, it would seem, had almost assumed the dimensions of a war. The hostilities, so far, had been very disastrous to the Boers; and he should be glad to know whether his noble Friend could give their Lordships any definite information upon the subject? He would further ask whether his noble Friend could state the cause of the disturbance and the progress of events? Their Lordships would recollect that, by the Convention concluded last year with the Transvaal, the control of Native affairs was reserved to this country; the English Sovereign was created, so to speak, Suzerain of the country; and a British Resident was appointed, who was to give his sanction and consent on behalf of this country, before the undertaking by the Boer Government of any important measures, such as a war might be presumed to be. He should like to ask his noble Friend whether the sanction of the British Resident had been asked or obtained with reference to this Native war? At the present stage he did not wish to make any comment on the matter, except to say this much—first, that, as far as he understood, the Chief Montsioa, with whom these hostilities had been carried on, had been, until now, much attached to this country, and a protected Chief; and, secondly, that these disturbances were like a prairie fire and spread all around, unless they were subdued at the outset. He could only say that the hostilities reported this morning, if they were correct, were a very bad augury indeed for the success of the Convention established last year.


, in reply, said, that he had no official information with regard to the telegrams which appeared in that morning's papers, and was possessed of no further information as to what was contained in those telegrams. The Government had, however, received previous intelligence of what was going on on the Frontier, and these events were, no doubt, the sequel to that, so far as he understood the telegram. The precise origin of these difficulties he did not know that he could explain; but he could inform their Lordships that they were in the nature of those disputes on the Frontier which, as his noble Friend was aware, repeatedly occurred on the Western Frontier of the Transvaal with the Bechuana Tribes. In this particular case he believed that the hostilities arose between a Chief called Moshette, whose territory lay almost entirely within the Frontier-line of the Transvaal, and the Chief Montsioa, whose territory lay outside the new line. There had also been disturbances between two other Chiefs, and in all these disputes it appeared that a certain number of the Boers had taken part. There was considerable fighting about the 20th or 21st of January, which was officially reported to the Home Government. He had communicated with the British Resi- dent at Pretoria, and desired him to call upon the Transvaal Government to take such measures as might be necessary on their part to maintain the neutrality of the Frontier. The Transvaal Government, they found, had already taken steps by sending down Commandant Joubert and a certain number of police to the Frontier to maintain order, and had also issued a Proclamation of neutrality. So far as Her Majesty's Government knew, the Transvaal Government had acted in good faith, and were taking such measures as were required to preserve neutrality. He had no more recent official information; but he thought it would be found that those who had taken part in these disturbances were individuals on the Frontier who were always ready, he was afraid, to embark in any quarrel which might promise profit to themselves, and that such disturbances as were going on were not sanctioned by the Transvaal Government. With reference to the remark of his noble Friend as to the evil augury of these disturbances for the success of the Convention, he could only say that, whatever might be the efforts of the Transvaal Government to maintain order on the Frontier, such disturbances were likely from time to time to occur. His noble Friend had referred to Montsioa as a protected Chief. So far as he knew, that Chief never was protected by the British Government, though he had been always on very good terms with it. He had no further information to give his noble Friend; but any that came into his possession he would lose no time in communicating to the House.