HL Deb 19 July 1900 vol 86 cc448-50

who had on the Paper notice of the following question: "To ask if Her Majesty's Government can inform the House when the Commission to inquire into the question of the treatment of the sick and wounded soldiers in South Africa is likely to be appointed," said: My Lords, the announcement which was made in the other House of Parliament after the question in my name was placed on the Paper of course anticipates the answer to this question, which has, therefore, a somewhat belated appearance. However, although very apologetically, I take advantage of the fact that the question is on the Paper, to say two words by way of expressing the hope that, notwithstanding the important avocations of members of the Commission, it will be possible for the inquiry to be commenced without delay, not only because of the great interest and importance of the matters in question, but because many of the individuals who could give evidence regarding the state of matters at the particular period in question may be dispersed. For example, it was mentioned the other day in the newspapers that a certain number of the Canadian contingent were sailing for home from Liverpool. Some of these men wore asked to contribute their impressions upon the matters referred to in this question, and I think the statements reported are significant. Of course I am only speaking from the reports given to the public; but what was said in effect was that in some respects there were things which were remembered with regret in regard to the medical arrangements, but at the same time they offered a hearty tribute of admiration with regard to other matters. I venture to think that that is significant, because in such vast operations as those of this war it is obvious that in certain sections of arrangements there might be defects or misfortunes, while side by side with those there were arrangements and matters calling forth only admiration. My Lords, I cannot refrain from expressing satisfaction, which, I am sure, will be common to all your Lordships, at the touching words of sympathy which fell from the noble Marquess, with regard especially to the death in South Africa of the two young Canadians, one being Lieutenant Borden, the only son of the Minister of Militia in Canada. The noble Marquess speaks not only as Secretary of State for War, but as a past Governor-General of Canada, and one whose name is familiar in the best sense in that country; and, as one of his successors in the position of Governor-General of Canada, I venture to assure the House that the words which fell from the noble Marquess will be welcomed throughout the Dominion with peculiar appreciation. With regard to the subject-matter of the question I would point out that at Netley there must be many soldiers invalided home from South Africa whose evidence might be taken regarding their experience at the seat of war. I trust that there will be no delay in the inquiry getting to work.


My Lords, I have every reason to believe that the Commission will commence its labours without any delay. The noble Earl is aware that the appointment to the two last seats in the Commission was only made yesterday or the day before. But I know that the Commission intend to meet immediately, and I know also that it is their desire to lose no time in taking up the important question committed to them.

House adjourned at ten minutes past Seven of the clock till Tomorrow, half past Ten of the clock.