HL Deb 31 July 1900 vol 87 cc149-50

My Lords, I beg to ask the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War if he has any information as to the condition of the Yeomanry prisoners at Nooitgedacht, especially with reference to the supplies of food and clothing, and their access to medical advice. A great number of these prisoners belong to Irish corps, and, although they are connected with Belfast and Dublin companies, many of them are recruited from remote parts of the country where it is exceedingly difficult to obtain news. If the noble Marquess can give any reassuring information on the subject I am sure it will be deeply appreciated by the relatives of the prisoners.


My Lords, I need not assure my noble friend that we have watched with much concern over the fate of these unfortunate prisoners. The latest information which we have as to their condition is to the effect that at the time the information was supplied the food was insufficient— only 1lb. of meat per man per week being meted out to them—and that for eleven days the men had neither meat nor salt. I am very glad to say that, in spite of that, our informant reported that the general state of health of the prisoners was good, only about seventy out of 1,600 men being in hospital. There were no very serious cases, and only two deaths had been recorded. As the Boer authorities had made known their intention of giving us no information about the British prisoners except through Lord Roberts at his request, a telegram was sent on the 24th inst. to Lord Roberts, inquiring whether he could bring any pressure to bear on the Boer authorities with a view to improving the treatment of the prisoners. No reply has yet been received to this telegram. A further message has to-day been sent to Lord Roberts desiring him to use every effort to arrange with the Boer authorities for the transmission of doctors, medicines, and clothing to the prisoners in their hands. That is, I am afraid, all I am able to say, but my noble friend may rely upon our watching the case with the attention and solicitude it deserves.