HL Deb 31 July 1906 vol 162 cc611-67

My Lords, I rise to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House any information as to the terms on which a constitution is to be given to the Transvaal.


My Lords, I have had no inclination to underrate the magnitude of the task before me this evening; but, if I had, I have had many reminders of it. My noble friend Lord Harris on Friday last, speaking on another matter, referred to this subject, and gave me a warning in solemn tones; and the echoes of that warning had scarcely died away within this House when they swelled to a greater volume in the Albert-hall, and have been reverberating ever since through the Press.

I am grateful to my noble friend opposite for his warning, because I am sure it was couched in the spirit of kindness which I have experienced from him for many years; but I demur to the more sonorous periods of the Albert-hall, which spoke of us as only temporary guardians of the Empire. Those who forget the nature of their tenure of these benches are apt to have a rude awakening, and I can assure your Lordships that we who now occupy these benches are fully aware that we have to deal with great questions, and we do not deny our responsibilities. But I think, on the other hand, we have a right to expect considerate treatment and a fair hearing from your Lordships' House. The practice of your Lordships' House has always been to give a fair hearing, and I am quite sure that tonight, when I feel in full measure that I require forbearance, I shall receive it at your Lordships' hands.

I do not want to revive the discussion of February last as to the respective merits of representative and responsible government. I hold to the opinions which I then expressed. But we are told that in introducing responsible government to the Transvaal in the manner which we now propose we are abandoning an unbroken precedent in the development of colonial institutions. I am not prepared to admit that; and, anyhow, if it was true, I hold that we are not alone responsible. Self-government no doubt grows up gradually in our Colonies, but it seems to me that it is an entirely different thing on this occasion, when, although we are dealing with new Colonies, we have to reconstruct a system which has in former times been one of self-government. I can understand a logical mind like that of the noble Viscount (Lord Milner) on the Cross Benches considering that a period of probation is a necessity; and, indeed, I must confess that I did not at the time, and I do not now, know how to construe the speech which he made on this subject to this House in any other way than this—that he would not have been prepared to grant self-government until the generation which knew the war had passed away.

However that may be in the case of the noble Viscount, I do not think it can be read into the declarations of our predecessors. I will not quote them all; I will just take one. In the despatch which is the covering despatch of the Constitution of 1905 there is the following paragraph— the terms of peace to which I have referred contemplate representative institutions leading up to self-government. By self-government is meant, of course, the system under which not only legislation, hut the very existence of the Executive is based on the consent of the majority in the Legislative Chamber. His Majesty's Government are aware that large sections of the people in the Transvaal have expressed the view that self-government in this sense should at once be granted; but they think now, as they did when the terms of peace were made, that some time, although not, they hope, a very long time, must still pass before the people of the colonies recently annexed after a long war should be entrusted with so great a control of their destiny. I believe the previous declarations of Mr. Chamberlain went as far, at least, in that direction, but I do not find anything of the kind in the "unbroken precedent" of the development of colonial institutions.

I can understand a denial of representative institutions, but I maintain there is nothing more impolitic, that there is nothing more cruel than to insist upon an intermediate period, which must be a period of unrest, uncertainty, and intrigue. We entirely appreciate the disadvantages of delay, and our object has been to shorten the delay; but I maintain that the delay would have been prolonged by the Constitution of 1905. We are attacked because we have not laid Papers. I do not like the tu quoque argument, but I might say that we do noble Lords opposite the compliment of following their example. No Papers at all were laid in 1905. I am told that representative government differs from responsible government in this matter. I do not admit it; but if it was true, there are precedents for the course we are now following. The last of our North American colonies to receive responsible government was Newfoundland. That was done in 1855 by letters patent without any previous statement having been made in Parliament, but they were challenged in the House of Commons on a Motion for the adjournment of the House.

These constitutional instruments are full of opportunities for controversial argument, and the debate would be conducted under the most disadvantageous circumstances. The arguments here would be conducted by men who might be familiar with the principles which they were arguing, but who are almost necessarily in many cases ignorant of the local circumstances. On the other hand, these instruments are to come into force in colonies where the exact opposite obtains. There men would take a lively interest in all local conditions and they would almost of necessity be practically ignorant of the constitutional arguments with which the discussion would be chiefly invested in this House. I maintain that it avoids immense friction, almost irretrievable friction, if these changes are made on the responsibility of His Majesty's Government, as they were on the last occasion. That, at any rate, is our position. We insisted that time was wanted for consideration and inquiry. We have also taken the opportunity of conducting inquiries on the spot by confidential agents. The late Prime Minister put forward what seems to me a rather remarkable proposition. He said— We have a right to peruse this Report for which we taxpayers have all paid. My Lords, how far is that doctrine going to be carried? I suppose the taxpayers pay for all Foreign Office telegrams, and I do not know what the noble Marquis opposite would do, if he resumed the seals of that office, in dealing with that dictum.

As at present advised, I must decline to give any engagement with regard to the Report of the Committee. The Government have no wish, they have no right, to devolve responsibility on a Committee. The action they now take is their own. But I hope the House will believe that I mean no disparagement or depreciation of the work of the Committee. On the contrary, I think it would be unpardonable if I did not on this occasion express the obligation we feel under to the Committee for what they have done. They have shown remarkable energy and diligence. I may tell your Lordships that when I took leave of them I did venture on a suggestion which I thought at the time was a counsel of perfection, that they might be able to complete their investigations by the end of June. My Lords, before the end of June they were on the sea on their way home; and I may also confess that when I gave them that advice I had in my mind that I might be called upon to make a statement such as I have been asked to make to-day. I think there is only one opinion of the manner in which the Committee have done their work. They have been, by all accounts, accessible to all; they have been patient in hearing and indefatigable in endeavouring to reach a peaceful solution, All that was within their instructions; but they were not sent out to make a bargain. His Majesty's Government from the first reserved in their own hands the decision as to the principles on which the constitution was to be based, and the decision to which we have come is not based on any concluded agreement. Indeed, no such agreement exists; but many conferences have been held between the Committee and the various parties and the local Government, and I am sure that those conferences have not only thrown light on points of difference, but have indicated, perhaps have fostered, the possibilities of a settlement. The Government owe much to the Committee for what they have done, and we acknowledge the devotion and success with which they performed their very delicate mission.

Now, my Lords, what I have undertaken to-day is to give a summary—for I cannot do more—of the main provisions of the Letters Patent to be issued to the Transvaal; and I say the Transvaal advisedly, because I do not propose to-day to deal with the Orange River Colony. It has always, I think, been the view that there was reason against a simultaneous treatment of the two colonies. They have different characteristics, especially that in the Orange River Colony there does not occur, at any rate at present, the same urgency in the conditions of labour. There is no arrangement which had been put forward by the late Government which has to be cancelled or altered. I do not say in the least that we do not intend to proceed with all convenient despatch with the case of the Orange River Colony. All I can say is that I do not propose to deal with it to-day.

In withdrawing the Letters Patent of 1905, I stated that we did not by any means reject all the provisions which are to be found in that instrument. There may have been some misunderstanding as to what was meant, but I do not think it would serve any useful purpose that I should enter into an elaborate comparison on this occasion. I shall not, however, hesitate to use terms which have been made familiar by the Constitution of 1905, and I shall endeavour, so far as my ability serves, to explain any alterations, where that is necessary.

Now, my Lords, I will give a simple and categorical summary of the main features of the Constitution we propose. We propose that, subject to the qualifications which I will mention immediately, representation should be given on a voters' basis coupled with manhood suffrage and with a residential qualification of six months. We propose that the existing magisterial districts should be retained, but that they should be divided where necessary into single-member constituencies, the process being, as far as possible, to follow what are called the field-cornetcy boundaries. We propose also that there should be automatic redistribution and a new election of the Assembly every five years. Under the Constitution of 1905 doubt had arisen about the military vote. I do not think it had ever been intended to give the vote to soldiers on actual service, and, indeed, proposals had actually been put forward when we came into office for dealing with that very point. At any rate, in the new Constitution, no such vote will be allowed. On a good many of these details there is not so very much difference of opinion.

I will say a word or two with regard to manhood suffrage. The franchise under the Constitution of 1905 was a £10 franchise, and, looking to the cost of living in the Transvaal, I do not suppose the difference between a £10 franchise and manhood suffrage affects so many people as we should be inclined to think from the conditions of life in this country. But we had to face requests that we should consider two cases put forward with some urgency by the Boers before we came into office with regard to the sons of farmers and certain other burghers who would not come in under the franchise of the instrument of 1905. It is largely a matter of the nature of the tenure of the land, under which the head of the family has the only property qualification, and the sons of the house are not in a position to obtain it. We consider that it is more desirable to deal with this matter by lowering the franchise for British as well as Boers rather than by creating special franchises. An Order in Council will issue immediately to provide for the addition to the list which will be necessary in consequence of this alteration, and we are advised that that work can fee carried out in about three months.

With regard to magisterial districts, I gather that there really is not now any very serious objection taken by the parties to the adoption of these as the main electoral districts. I have a prejudice which would perhaps be more suitable if I sat on the other side of the House in favour of the preservation of ancient landmarks, but in this particular case it has material advantages. It will shorten the delimitation, because if we had proceeded as was proposed under the Constitution of 1905 no delimitation could take place until the voters' roll was complete. Under the present circumstances it is possible to proceed with a good deal, at any rate, of the delimitation work at once, simultaneously with the additions to the roll. I think it right in courtesy to mention to the noble Lord behind me, whom we are glad to welcome to this House, and who may be described as the champion of proportional representation, that at his request I brought this matter before the notice of the Committee, and they made inquiry into the matter in the Colonies, but they report that they found these proposals so unacceptable and so unpopular that they did not see their way to make any representations in their favour.

In reading out the summary I made a reservation with regard to the voters' basis. In one sense that might be considered a very serious difference of opinion, but I think that it might be a great deal over-stated. Only one step had really been taken under the Constitution of 1905. The proceedings had commenced for the formation of the voters' roll, and while the whole matter was under the consideration of the Government we did not think it right to interrupt those proceedings, and the roll was completed in March. The voters' roll under that Constitution was intended, in the first place, to be used for the division of the country into equal electoral districts, and, in the second place, to be used for the elections themselves. I think it will be obvious that any irregularities in the roll would very seriously affect its use for the first purpose, and I am sorry to say that certain suspicions did arise with regard to the accuracy of the roll. I do not make myself responsible for any particular allegations. It is said that the roll showed an actual excess of voters above the number of adult males shown by the census, at any rate in certain districts. If that is so the figures are irreconcilable, but to prove irregularities of that kind some inquiry was absolutely necessary.

The position is this. The High Commissioner concurred in thinking that before the roll could be used for the first purpose of the late Constitution a scrutiny was absolutely essential. The effect of that would be, we are advised, meaning as it does not only a scrutiny, but the postponement of delimitation until the roll is established by the scrutiny, to cause a delay of nine or ten months. If there is one point on the desirability of which I think everybody in the Colonies is unanimous it is the avoidance of delay. In these circumstances His Majesty's Government have fallen back upon the alternative which is open to them, and propose to use the figures of the census for the distribution of seats. As a matter of fact the difference in results is exceedingly small. The main difference arises in the Witwatersrand, and I admit at once that the difference in the Witwatersrand in all the circumstances is material. According to the voters' roll, the number of members allotted is thirty-six, and according to the number of adult males it would be thirty-three. The difference of three seats, which would not be a very large matter in a country like this, accustomed to large figures, could not be overlooked in the Transvaal. I do not overlook either the fact that the British population is concentrated in the Witwatersrand.

The allocation which His Majesty's Government propose is thirty-four seats to the Witwatersrand, including Krugersdorp rural; six seats to Pretoria and twenty-nine to the rest of the country. This allocation follows the proportion of the census figures with, I believe, one single exception, and that is the transfer of one seat from the rest of the country to the Rand. The justification for taking this step, which depends on almost fractions of a unit, is two-fold. In the first place, it recognises increases of population in the Rand, and, in the second place, we have the satisfaction of knowing that, though they demur to it, the Boers will not raise any serious objections, provided there is a settlement. I am aware that there are also doubts raised on what I may, perhaps, call electoral estimates. I dare say a good many noble Lords in the House have had experience of electoral estimates. Even though I never sat in the House of Commons I know something about them, and I must confess that the more I know about them the less I trust them. But there is this fact to be borne in mind, that though some of the British Party contend that the addition of two seats to the number is of importance, there are some who do not agree to that proposal and who will not reject a settlement on the terms which I have described.

I have this further support in this matter. The High Commissioner, who has taken a very deep interest in the whole of these proceedings, informed the Committee when they put forward this proposal that he approved of it. I did not wish to quote even that statement much less to quote any letters that I might have seen without the High Commissioner's knowledge and approval. On Saturday last I telegraphed to him and asked him what he would allow me to do. I last night received his answer, and he authorises me to say that he did express to the Committee his approval of this allocation. But," be says, "I should be much obliged if you will at the same time give the reasons why I concurred. They are, first, that in my opinion this distribution of seats represents as nearly as possible the distribution which would result on the basis of voters and equal electoral districts from the formation of a new voters' roll based on an adult white male British subject franchise; and this being so, secondly, that the adoption of this compromise should save several months' delay, and as not a wholly new voters' roll but simply an addition to the present voters' roll will have to be made, the advent of self-government should be antedated by several months. I attach very great importance to this result as I fear the Transvaal is suffering grievously from the suspense. Under this arrangement the number of the Assembly will be sixty-nine, but we are disposed to adopt a provision which has been put forward in several quarters, that the Speaker, after election, should become a paid officer of the House and should vacate his seat. Of this proposal, also, Lord Selborne is strongly in favour. It avoids the inconvenience which may often happen, which, indeed, often does happen, in small Assembles from the fact that where there is a narrow majority the majority are not very anxious to put forward a man at all for the office of Speaker, and are particularly anxious not to put forward one of their best men. This provision will, therefore, avert, we hope, the putting into the chair of an inferior Speaker.

We propose, as is common in countries which are bi-lingual, that the members of the Assembly shall be allowed to use either Dutch or English in the debates of he House. We propose also that there shall be a Second Chamber. "We are of opinion that in its permanent form it should be elective; and that it will be convenient, in these circumstances, to follow generally the Cape model. But we feel that, at the outset, the multiplication of elections might cause a good deal of inconvenience, especially as they occur in a country which has not had experience of this sort of thing; and, therefore, for the first Parliament, we would propose that the Legislative Council should be nominated and to retain the nomination in the hands of the Crown. Your Lordships will see that, by the time the first Parliament expires, the arrangements can be complete and the election of the Second Chamber can then be carried out.

There will also have to be provision in some form for dealing with the Inter-Colonial Council. The Inter-Colonial Council is, as some of your Lordships are aware, a joint institution of the two Colonies, and it has under it the management and collection of the revenues of the railways and the control of the South African Constabulary. I think it will be obvious that when we have two self-governing Colonies, there must be some opportunity at any rate for reconsideration of the arrangements which now obtain, but we also are of opinion that it would cause great inconvenience, and, indeed, might absolutely dislocate administrative action, if suddenly at the very outset the Colonies had found themselves with this institution swept away. Therefore, what we propose to do is to provide for a period during which the Inter-Colonial Council may be continued and means for conference between the two Governments with regard to the form in which it should continue in the future.

I will not trouble your Lordships by doing more than simply mentioning some other provisions, such as dealing with the civil list, the payment of Members which, I suppose, is universal in the Colonies, and matters of that kind; but I recognise that there are one or two points of considerable importance to which your Lordships will expect mo to make some reference. In the first place, there is the question of land settlement. That is a matter which has been brought up in this House by noble Lords who have expressed considerable anxiety as to the future of the settlers placed on the land. Without entirely adopting those contentions, His Majesty's Government are most willing to do any-thing they can to remove anxiety. They admit that, especially in the Orange River Colony, good results have come from land settlement.


Hear, hear.


Your Lordships may remember that a sum of £3,000,000 was set aside out of the guaranteed loan for the purpose, and a sum of £2,500,000 has been expended on land or on loans to settlers. We are advised by the Law Officers that the repayments of the settlers must be devoted to one of two purposes—either to the original object for which the fund was formed or to diminishing the debt charge on the guaranteed loan. I think the proposal that has been most often put forward to remove anxiety with regard to the settlers has been the institution of a Land Board, and His Majesty's Government are not disposed to deny that a Land Board may supply the best machinery for administering these Colonies, but they are obliged to attach conditions. It seems to them it would be entirely contrary to the general principle of responsible government that an arrangement of that kind should be carried out except by general consent. If the general consent of those concerned in the Colonies can be obtained, His Majesty's Government see a real advantage in an institution of that kind.

There is another question on which I should like to say a word. It has been a somewhat painful duty to examine a very considerable number of what are really hard cases arising out of claims for compensation for war losses. We maintain that these cases have been fairly decided under the rules of the Central Judicial Committee, but that does not prevent our acknowledging that there is, and has been, considerable individual suffering. His Majesty's Government cannot reopen the general question, and they are not prepared to apply to Parliament for more money for this particular object, but they will only be too glad if in any way the local Government can see their way to do something in this connection.

Before I pass from these two matters I desire to say a word on the general financial position. Your Lordships will remember that a loan of £35,000,000 was given after the war to the Colonies under Imperial guarantee, and it is calculated that the saving to the Colonies in consequence of the Imperial guarantee is no less a sum than £350,000 a year. The consent of the House of Commons was obtained to this loan very much in consequence of the promise of what is called a war contribution of £30,000,000. I am not going into details with regard to the negotiations on that subject, but what I wish to point out is that the existence of this promise is a basis of obligation which, though probably not legal, has a moral and, honourable force. And it also has this effect, that, while it subsists, it impairs the borrowing powers of the Colonies themselves. There have been various suggestions from both Parties in the Colonies for a release of this obligation. That release would, of course, abandon once for all any idea of giving relief to the long-suffering British taxpayer, but His Majesty's Government do not wish to approach it in any narrow spirit, and if anything could be done whereby means for laudable objects in South Africa could be put forward, His Majesty's Government might be disposed to make proposals with regard to this matter. But to-day, and at present, I have no definite proposal to put forward, though His Majesty's Government propose to instruct the High Commissioner to make any inquiries he can with regard to that subject.

I have still to deal with what in some respects is one of the most important matters in South Africa, and that is the question of the natives. I should like to make one general remark. It has always appeared to me that there was something very peculiar in the relations of the Continent of Europe and the Continent of Africa in regard to this matter. I can understand an overflowing population from one country having a right to take possession of unoccupied and vacant lands, but during the last twenty years or so the European nations have divided up Africa amongst themselves, so far as I can see on absolutely arbitrary lines, and at any rate there was never any pretence whatever of consulting the desires or wishes of the millions of inhabitants of that great continent. I am not disputing in any way that there were difficulties which required a remedy,and very likely this was the only remedy which could have been adopted. But I do say that there is a risk in multiplying what we call white men's countries, where there are a very small number of whites in the midst of an overwhelming number of blacks. I for one do not admit that our fellow-countrymen abroad are in the least less humane than we are ourselves, but they are nearer the danger, and they have less means of meeting such circumstances as I have described. It appears to me that if the rights of natives could be so regulated as to diminish the chances of conflict between black and white, it would be well to do so. I make these observations because I regret that the terms of the Vereeniging treaty confines the franchise to white subjects. I regret it, because I am of opinion that a reasonable representation of natives would give strength and not weakness to the Government of the country, and I cannot, but hope that this will be recognised in some time to come.

With regard to coloured people, who may be said, shortly, to be those in whom there is a strain of white blood, they have made appeals to the effect that the terms of Vereeniging do not exclude them. I have seen representatives of their number, men of intelligence and education, who argued their case moderately and well. They referred with great emphasis to a letter of the noble Viscount on the Cross Benches, which was quoted in a London newspaper. I can only say that I can find no trace in the official correspondence of any suggestion by him that the terms of peace did not definitely confine the franchise to white British subjects. And we are advised that public opinion in the Colonies is definitely and strongly against any other interpretation. I am afraid therefore that we do not see our way to making the modification which these gentlemen ask, and I am not quite clear on what possible principle we could have found a definition enabling us to do so.

What we propose is that all native territory which has been and is administered by the High Commissioner should remain under his control, and that Swaziland should also be placed under the administration of the High Commissioner. Shortly put, in this we follow the precedent of Basutoland rather than of Zululand. We also propose that there should be in the Letters Patent the customary safeguards for native rights, which generally consist of prohibitions of the alienation of lands set apart for native locations except by legislation, and which sometimes provide sums of money to be reserved for education or other purposes, and sometimes make the Governor, or some other officer, paramount chief or protector. I do not wish to be taken as dealing with this in detail, but we recognise in full our duty towards the native population.

The Letters Patent will provide for the reservation of any Bill whereby persons not of European birth or descent may be subjected to any disability or restriction to which persons of European birth or descent are not also subjected, and no law sanctioning any condition of service or residence of a servile character will be assented to. It will also be necessary for us in the Letters Patent to carry out the pledge in regard to the Chinese Labour Ordinance which we gave in the spring, and a clause will be introduced to insure that the present Ordinance will not be inherited by the new Legislature, but that the new Legislature shall frame, if so advised a now Ordinance connected with this purpose.

I have endeavoured to avoid the war cries of any controversy and to speak in language of moderation. I have felt it the more my duty to do so because in the later proceedings in regard to this matter, as I am glad to admit, the parties to those controversies have maintained great self-restraint and not a little of mutual forbearance. My Lords, why should I speak of British supremacy? I am here speaking of the constitution of a British colony. But I will say this for myself, that I shall not be satisfied with my share in this work if British interests in their widest sense are not safe in the Government we establish. I am fortified in my confidence in this matter not so much because the Government have given, as has been their duty, the most careful and impartial consideration to all the circumstances connected with it, but because I have behind me the concurrent opinion of those who have investigated the matter on the spot; not only of those who have been deputed by us to do so, but of the High Commissioner and others, who are servants of the Crown.

It is no small thing that we offer to the Transvaal. In my humble opinion there is no position that exists, or ever has existed, which combines the maximum of independence and of security as does a self - governing British colony. We might even go further, if we look beside the circumstances of the present moment to the prospect which perhaps after all is not so far distant, of a great South African Dominion or Commonwealth. The workers on the foundation must not hope to claim the glory of the superstructure; they must be content with a humbler, perhaps even an obscure, position. But I venture to submit that in this case the foundation-stone has been well and truly laid.


My Lords, it has seldom fallen to the lot of a Secretary of State to make a pronouncement in this House of graver character or of greater importance than the statement we have listened to this afternoon. We have known for a long time past that His Majesty's Government were determined to grant responsible institutions to both the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony; and we know now, from the statement which the noble Earl has made, the method by which these principles will be carried into effect with regard to the Transvaal; and I presume that, at some later date, we shall have the proposals with regard to the Orange River Colony. Let me say at once that it was the belief of the late Government that it was essential, for the quiet and orderly development of the political affairs of the Transvaal, that the establishment of elective representative institutions should precede the grant of self-government. Those principles were laid down in the Treaty of Vereeniging. The people of the Transvaal themselves were prepared to acquiesce in them, for they realised that an instalment of self-government in the shape of representative institutions would be the best means, and, indeed, the only means, of ensuring the permanent security of British interests in the Transvaal.

The course of introducing responsible government, after Crown Colony government, as the noble Earl proposes to do, is entirely contrary to all colonial precedent. Representative institutions preceded responsible government in the cases of Lower and Upper Canada, and indeed after the union of those two colonies in 1840. They preceded the granting of responsible government in the cases of New Zealand, Australia, Natal, and the Cape; and, having listened carefully to the noble Earl's statement in favour of granting responsible self-government, I confess that to my mind he failed to produce a single good argument to justify a departure from these unbroken precedents. The only arguments he ventured to put forward was that His Majesty's Government were obliged to reconstruct a Government which once possessed a self-governing character. But it must not be forgotten that in the Transvaal there are two distinct races, one of which were recently our enemies in the field and are to-day politically hostile to us. Surely, if there was one instance where it would be wise for representative institutions to precede responsible government, it was in the case of the Transvaal and Orange River Colonies.

The noble Earl and His Majesty' Government are determined to grant responsible government. I presume that in determining on this course their ideas are in conformity with those submitted by the Ridgeway Committee. The noble Earl waxed eloquent on the great work which this Committee had done. I have no doubt he was perfectly accurate; but he gave no information to the House as to whether or not the views of His Majesty's Government were in accordance with the views which had been submitted to them by that particular Committee. We still feel strongly the fact that not even a portion of the Report of that Committee, which has been paid for by the taxpayers of this country, has been presented to Parliament. Noble Lords opposite have often told us that we are woefully in want of information, and lamentably ignorant on these affairs; yet once they are in possession of the material required they refuse to allow even a portion of it to be published to Parliament, so that your Lordships and the Members of the other House could learn the recommendation upon which the Government have based their policy.

The noble Earl said that we did no publish any Papers when we issued our Letters Patent, and he declined to draw any distinction between representative and responsible institutions. I must confess I thought that a very remarkable statement emanating from the noble Earl, and it is one which I really need not pursue any further, because it is perfectly clear that in the case of representative institutions the results are pretty accurately foretold, whereas, in the case of responsible institutions, it is impossible to foretell the result. His Majesty's Government have removed what were considered the safeguards for preserving British supremacy which existed under the Lyttelton Constitution; but we did expect that the terms upon which responsible government was to be granted would be terms which the British could accept with the feeling that their interests had been safeguarded and protected, and that they had not been in any way employed as a pawn in the final settlement.

I do not quarrel with the noble Earl on the ground that His Majesty's Government are going to grant the old magisterial areas, that the field-cornetcy boundaries are to be continued, or that the election of the Assembly is to take place every five years. Nor am I concerned to discuss with him the fact that he has granted a Second Chamber, although incidentally I may say that for my part I am glad that a Second Chamber has been created. I only hope it may be of value; but I rather fear that those nominated to it will not be the most distinguished and prominent citizens, for these will obviously be elected to the Lower Assembly. Consequently the Members of the Upper House, although no doubt in every way worthy men, will carry loss weight and less authority than the members do in the Second Chamber in other colonies, or, indeed, in this country. Nor, my Lords, am I concerned to follow the noble Earl in his views with regard to the Inter-Colonial Council.

I desire to refer to the electoral proposals upon the basis of the voters' roll and manhood suffrage. The late Government were not opposed to the principle of the voters' basis. We considered that that was fair and reasonable; but, as far as I can understand, you have not granted this to the Britishers as a right but as a kind of concession, to be counter-balanced by an equal concession to the Dutch in the shape of manhood suffrage. Having asserted the principle of the voters' basis on behalf of the English, you render that less valuable than it should be because you apply it, not to the voters' roll of the year 1906, but to the census of 1904. I am assured—and the authority I think is a pretty good one—that there are 4,000 more British on the voters' roll of the year 1906 than there are on the voters' roll for 1904. After all, this voters' roll, which the noble Earl somewhat depreciated, is the latest source of information which you possess as to those who are entitled to vote in the Transvaal, and why you should fail to accept it I cannot understand. The voters' basis which I claim the British should have as a right you give them as a concession, and, having given it as a concession, you render it partially valueless by applying it to the census of 1904.

In order to balance this imaginary benefit to the British the noble Earl and his colleagues have decided to grant manhood suffrage, the application of which can benefit only one class of the community—namely, the Dutch in the country districts. I confess, having listened very carefully to the noble Earl, that I was not particularly impressed by the arguments which he adduced in favour of manhood suffrage. After all, manhood, suffrage is unknown in, any other Colony in South Africa. It is unprecedented in any of the Colonies in the British dominions except New Zealand, and New South Wales, and even there it was never granted, concurrently with the principles of responsible Government. In those Colonies where manhood, suffrage exists those who granted it had not to deal, as you have in the Transvaal, with a portion of the population politically hostile to them. The noble Earl did not tell us whether, in granting manhood suffrage in the Transvaal, he first consulted the views of those in authority in Natal; whether he asked Dr. Jameson at the Cape what his opinion was with regard to the advantages of manhood suffrage in the Transvaal. You decided it, I presume, without any reference at all to the views and opinions of the other Colonies.

I have dwelt on the question of manhood suffrage because it bears so peculiarly on the rest of the case—the number of seats which have been granted, and the relation of the number of voters to the number of seats. There are some 44,903 voters in the Witwatersrand district, and in the rest of the country there are 43,420 voters. The Colonial Secretary and his colleagues have decided, in a somewhat arbitrary way, to grant the Witwatersrand area a number of seats amounting to thirty-four, Pretoria six, and the rest of the country twenty-nine. In other words, the population of the Witwatersrand, composed of English and those who are loyal and comprising the majority of the population, have been given a minority of seats, namely, thirty-four; and the Dutch who live in the country districts, who are in the minority of voters and who are politically opposed to us, have been given a majority of seats—namely, thirty-five. And in order to make quite certain that in the country districts the English representatives who stand at the next election shall have no-chance whatever of being elected, you have introduced manhood suffrage, knowing full well that thereby you will place on the roll of voters a further 7,000 or 9,000 Dutchmen who, by their increased vote, will prevent any English representative being returned, certainly for the country districts, and perhaps even for Pretoria itself.

I contend that the electoral basis which the noble Earl has adumbrated is unfair, arbitrary, and unusual. It is unfair, because the voters' roll of 1900 is not taken; it is arbitrary because the majority of voters in the Witwatersrand are given fewer seats than the minority of voters in the country districts and in Pretoria; and it is unusual because in order to poll the full strength of Dutch opnion you have resorted to manhood suffrage, unprecedented in the previous history of South Africa. We are asked to-day to accept the divisions of these constituencies, not because they are fairly or properly divided but because the Dutch, according to the opinion of His Majesty's Government, should have a greater proportion of seats in the areas, where they live than the British, although they are in the minority with regard to their voting strength. We are asked to accept the principle of manhood suffrage, not because it is right but because by so doing the number of seats which are allotted to the Dutch are bound to go to them. It does seem to me to be a matter of grave doubt whether the first appeal to the constituencies can possibly result in the return of a majority pledged to the control of British institutions. Whether I am right or wrong this much I do contend, that in so grave a matter where the future ascendancy of the British race is involved the result should not be left in doubt. It should not be gambled with, and a Government which, by its policy, leaves this decision in doubt is unmindful of the great trust imposed upon them and will indeed be considered by some to have betrayed that trust altogether.

So much for my opinion. But what about the feeling of the colonists in the Transvaal? Do you think they will draw such moderate conclusions after having read the proposals submitted to Parliament? I think they will consider that the terms of this Constitution have been largely drawn up against themselves. And having created a feeling of injustice in the minds of these men you will alienate their sympathies and goodwill, and by so doing do you think you are likely to contribute to the final peaceable settlement of this great problem? I am inclined to quote words which the late Lord Salisbury uttered several years ago on this particular subject, when he said that— the distrust engendered by any betrayal of our fellow British subjects would endanger the future of our dominion in South Africa. I indeed fear, having listened to the terms of this new Constitution, that you will engender distrust in the minds of many of our fellow subjects in South Africa and lead them to feel that they have not been treated with proper fairness, but, indeed, have been betrayed.

This is the picture which His Majesty's Government present to us this afternoon. By their Constitution for the Transvaal we know that probably a Dutch Ministry will come into office. We know that when responsible Government is granted to the Orange River Colony it will become overwhelmingly Dutch; and we know that next year there is every prospect of a Dutch Ministry coming into power in Cape Colony. The Dutch have said frankly and openly that once they get political power in their hands the Civil servants shall be Dutch, the police shall be Dutch, the Constabulary, which today are English, shall become Dutch, the Education Department shall be controlled on Dutch lines, and money shall be allocated by a Dutch Parliament to indigent Dutchmen in need of it. The prospect we have to look forward to is the probable Dutch ascendancy throughout the whole of South Africa, from the Cape to the Zambesi.

I do not know what the feeling of noble Lords in this House is, but this much I feel sure I may say, that we did not fight the late war in order to have this kind of picture presented to us now, after having spent so much treasure and sacrificed so many lives, and after having given five years of good, resolute, strong rule in the Transvaal under the administration of two such great Pro-Consuls as Lord Milner and Lord Selborne. All the good done is to be dissipated in six months by the policy of His Majesty's Government and by the terms of the settlement which has been explained to us this afternoon. We fought for the ascendancy of British institutions, and to secure that the man who should have the last word in the settlement of these problems should be the Briton. But the ascendancy of British ideals is likely to be impaired throughout the length and breadth of South Africa by the Government proposals, and I am therefore utterly unable to give any meed of approval to them.


My Lords, as a member of the Committee who have just returned from South Africa, perhaps you will allow me to address a few words to you on this subject. I know well how much controversy ranges round this subject, but I do not propose to embark on the field of controversy. One of my objects in rising is to express my grateful thanks to both Boer and Briton for the uniform kindness with which they received us, and to say that from the day we landed to the day we left South Africa, neither from Press nor platform did we ever hear the slightest insinuation as to our being subject to any political bias.

We have heard from the Secretary of State that the High Commissioner has agreed with the enumeration of the seats—thirty-four for the Rand, six for Pretoria, and twenty-nine for the rest of the Colony. Of course, I do not speak with the same authority as the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but I am pretty confident that what I say is correct, that in no salient point does the High Commissioner, Lord Selborne, disagree with our Report; and from what I was able to learn from the statement of the Secretary of State his proposals follow substantially the lines of our Report. We were a political Committee, but we endeavoured, and I hope with success, to bear an even mind in the various matters that came before us. It was our business to hold a great many interviews with all Parties and to have confidential communications with a great number of people. We had upwards of 500 witnesses before us and received between seventy and eighty deputations. It is difficult, I admit, for any one to gauge correctly the situation in South Africa; but when the noble Duke says the Government are behaving with unfairness I think I am correct in saying that the main arrangements which have been put forward by the Secretary of State have secured the agreement of the political Party known as the Responsibles, of the political Party known as Het Volk, of the Labour Party, and also of a great number of the Progressives. What the opinion of the Progressives may be to-day I cannot say, but I know that before we started from South Africa these figures went to the Progressive Association. They were sent out to the various branches, and, although I have no figures to quote from, I am pretty confident that the vast majority of those branch associations were in favour of a settlement on the lines proposed.

There is one matter I wish to call attention to arising out of the speech of the noble Duke—namely, the question of the Civil servants. I am not in the least afraid that Civil servants will be dealt with unfairly owing to their nationality or their political opinions, if they have any. But it is rumoured, with what truth I cannot say, that certain departments are a great deal overstaffed, and in the Transvaal there was two months ago a Commission sitting under the Presidency of one of their most distinguished Judges of the High Court, to inquire into the Civil Service. If it should so happen that, as a result of this inquiry, or owing to any consequent administrative retrenchment, it is necessary to turn some of these men out of their employment, I hope their cases will be taken into consideration and that places will, if possible, be found for them in other Colonies, or else that they may be absorbed in the Civil Service at home.

In regard to the Second Chamber, I am aware that there was, and is, a good deal of opposition to it among certain Parties; but I agree with the noble Earl in thinking that it would be unwise to depart from the precedent which has ensured a Second Chamber to all the Colonies having responsible Government. As your Lordships are well aware, Cape Colony has a Second Chamber which is elective, and Natal has a Second Chamber which is nominated for ten years. The Secretary of State said that the principle was to be elective, but that at any rate he was going to nominate it for the first Parliament. So far as my humble opinion goes, I would rather have seen the Second Chamber on the principle of nomination rather than on the principle of election. As to the grant of manhood suffrage, I would ask the noble Duke and your Lordships whether it is not wiser on the part of His Majesty's Government to endeavour to make some arrangement by which a minimum of irritation may ensue.

We had a great many interviews with, various Parties, and also a great many interviews with the Boers, and I always found them very reasonable in their views. They anticipated a British majority, and were perfectly content to abide by it. My noble friend (Viscount Milner) on the Cross Benches smiles at that. A good deal has taken place in South Africa since my noble friend left that country, where, if I may venture to say so, he left a great reputation for untiring zeal, ability, and loyalty to his post. It is, I think, worth saying that the Boers have realised that there was at any rate a disposition on the part of the Committee to be considerate and to listen to all they had to say, and I cannot but think that our endeavours may have worked some slight good in that direction.

Doubt has been thrown on the possibility of a British majority. None of us can look into the ballot boxes of the future. Personally, I consider there will be a British majority, but I do not see how anyone can expect to have what is known as a Rand majority. Many of the witnesses we had before us said— Give us a British majority if you like, but do not give us a Rand majority. With regard to the Rand magnates, as they are called, I know that both in this country and in South Africa there is a considerable feeling hostile to them. I consider that prejudice unjustifiable. I saw a good deal of these gentlemen and I am far indeed from believing the statement which we have seen at times asserted that the measure of their loyalty and the reason of it is their dividends or the price of their stock. I do not believe that for one moment. The greater part of them fought in the late war, and I regret that strong terms, and, as I think, misleading terms, should be applied to them. But I do consider that their apprehensions are in some degree exaggerated, and I regret that many of them have shown so much distrust of the Boers.

While, as I have said, we also were favourably impressed with the Boers, between the Boers and the British there is a great deal of mutual respect, and I hope that as time goes on the racial feeling and bitterness which has existed will be found in a much less degree. I cannot help feeling that with responsible government, when they have to fight out their own political battles, they will come to realise more and more every day that they are subjects of the same Sovereign and have both to overcome the same problem. I was very fortunate indeed in the colleagues who served with me on the Committee. Sir West Ridgeway, the Chairman, has had a very varied career and is a man of vast experience, tact, and energy; whilst in Sir Francis Hopwood we had one of the ablest of the permanent Civil servants, and in Colonel Johnston a gentleman whose capacity for dealing with figures is well known. I would say, in conclusion, that if his Majesty's Government follow the lines of the Report of the Committee, as the Secretary of State leads me to believe they have, and if we have been able to show the Government the lines on which there would be the least friction all round and if an improved state of things results from the granting of the Constitution, the labours of the Committee will not have been in vain.


My Lords, I should not have ventured to address your Lordships to-night had it not been for a remark by my noble friend who has just sat down. I do not profess to have an intimate knowledge of the political affairs of the Transvaal, such, perhaps, as he has acquired from his recent travels there and the numerous interviews he has had; but in the course of ten years practical business connection with the Transvaal it is inevitable that I must have seen many men and heard the views of politicians of all shades of opinion there. It might amuse the noble Lord the Colonial Secretary to know that in a conversation I had with, a Boer, a person of some influence in the counsels of the Boers, the suggestion was made that what are called the Rand magnates should join with the Boers in opposition to His Majesty's present Government.

In the course of ten years I have had opportunities of considering the varied opinions as to the best sort of Government for the new Colony, and I take the earliest opportunity of repudiating, so far as I can speak from the information that has been given to me, the idea that the Progressive Party accept this settlement as a just one. I understood the noble Earl to say that he was under the impression that these figures had been circulated to the various branches of the Progressive Association, and that to a considerable majority these proposals were acceptable. I have no hesitation in saying—and my information comes from just as good a source as the noble Lord's—that if the Progressive Party had an opportunity of expressing their opinion on these proposals they would absolutely repudiate them. I suppose there is no more important personnel in any system of Government than the Civil servants. The warning of the noble Lord who hag just sat down will be regarded as a very serious one by many Civil servants in the Transvaal.


I said I did not fear that there would be any dismissals owing to political views or nationality.


I have no doubt that my noble friend wished to be as encouraging as he possibly could to the many Civil servants in the Transvaal, but I am afraid the encouragement he has given will have a very ominous appearance to them. We know well what the Boers say. I could read many statements to your Lordships by prominent Boers in which they say that the British Civil servants have got to go, and are to be replaced by Boer Civil servants. At the present moment there is no security, as far as I know, for any Civil servant in the Transvaal. I do not know whether they are entitled even to six months notice; but there is nothing to prevent the Civil service being composed almost entirely of Boers.

The giving of permission to use the Boer language in the Legislative Assembly cannot be complained of. It has already been given to Cape Colony, and the granting of it to the Transvaal cannot be opposed. But the use of the Tail will follow in the Government offices and in the schools and will permeate the whole population. It is a low, degrade! language, compared to the language of commerce, the English language. This effete language will again become prominent in your most recently-acquired British Colony; and there is a danger underlying that. One of the first thing that His Majesty's late Government tried to do was to encourage an appreciation of the commercial value, the educational value, the literary value of the English language as compared with Taal.

It is said that at the first election there may be a British majority. The noble Lord thinks that in this British Colony, for which this country has sacrificed so much, there may be a British majority. What if there is not? If there is not a British majority at the first election what chance is there of a British majority afterwards? The noble Duke has warned His Majesty's Government that the effect of manhood suffrage must be to add, quinquennially it may be, but at every period of a fresh election, some 5,000 Boers to the voters' roll. This is effected by mere accretion of age. The same chance does not accrue to the British in the Transvaal—in the first place, because their sons are very much younger and would not therefore come up to the voting age in such numbers; secondly, there is, not unnaturally, a greater tendency to send them home to he educated, and in a great majority of cases they do not return.

The one chance for British supremacy in the Transvaal is that the commercial situation may improve and the British be encouraged to go out there. Abnormal numbers of British have been returning by steamer from Cape Town during the last two or three months, and all in the second and third class. There is an exodus from the Transvaal and has been ever since His Majesty's present Government have been in power. If that is going on as they remain in office I am afraid the chance for British supremacy in the Transvaal is not a very good one. If not, what have you done? You have handed back a British Colony which this country has sacrificed much to gain, and which it was compelled to take over. The noble Earl and his colleagues may use what arguments they like as to the origin of the war, but they cannot deny that British territory was invaded, that we had a right to put the invader back, and that we were entitled to pursue our advantage. That was the origin of the war, and the war having been carried out to its end you are now doing something which imperils British supremacy in those Colonies.

The scheme of representation proposed by His Majesty's Government has a very plausible appearance. There are to be thirty-four seats for the Witwatersrand, six for Pretoria, and twenty-nine for the rest of the country. Add the country and Pretoria together and you get thirty-five as against thirty-four for the Witwatersrand. It looks fairly well balanced, and His Majesty's Government are no doubt hopeful that that is the way it will be looked at. But they know as well as I do that the Witwatersrand is not nearly so united as are the country districts. It is absurd to talk of the mining magnates being unanimous. I have had to do with many communities in my life— commercial, industrial, sporting, and official—and I never came across a body more disposed to be disunited than the so-called Rand magnates. The noble Earl the Colonial Secretary has already taken advantage of their disunion. Only the other day he acknowledged that by communicating with one of the groups— the Robinson Group—he had succeeded in causing disunion amongst them. It is as easy as possible.

There are many other interests on the Rand besides that of the Rand magnates. There is the Labour Party to be considered, and there are various other interests which are by no means in unison with the Rand magnates; and to suppose that the Witwatersrand represents an united body is utterly fallacious. The noble Lord opposite, Lord Sandhurst, made use of another very curious expression. He said, if I followed him correctly— If the Government follows on the lines of our Report— but I rather gathered from the speech of the noble Lord that they were not following in the lines of the Report. I hope I have not misquoted the noble Lord. That was a very curious expression. The noble Lord knows his own Report quite as well as the Secretary of State, and he must know for certain whether the noble Earl was following on the lines of that Report or not. His remark makes me extremely suspicious that there was something in what the noble Earl said which led him to believe that he was not following on the lines of that Report entirely. If such an expression can be used by the noble Lord who knows the contents of the document in question, you can understand clearly what extraordinary rumours are getting about as to whether His Majesty's Government have or have not followed on the lines of that Report.


I am very sorry if I expressed myself clumsily, but I heard the noble Earl's statement, and I distinctly understood him to follow on the lines of the Report.


The whole of it?




Then I misunderstood the noble Lord. If he had said so distinctly, without using the word "if"In the first instance, I am sure I should not have made the mistake.

I will not detain your Lordships any longer. I have only to repeat what I have already said, that that Party who believe, and honestly believe— and I am sure that many people in ibis country believe that they are right in that supposition—that they are the true protectors of British interests in the Transvaal, absolutely repudiate the idea that they have accepted this settlement as a just settlement. They have not accepted any of these attempts at mediation which are no doubt made by the direction of His Majesty's Government. They have made a plain and firm stand upon what they believe to be British rights There is such and such a population of British in the Transvaal; there is such and such a population of Boers; give us half the number of the Members in the House. That is our right if we are only half and half, but as a matter of fact we are more than half. Give us our proportion—more than half— which is our just right as British subjects. You have not done that, and it is by that that you will be judged decades hence. The noble Earl said; in his concluding, remarks, that he firmly believed the foundation stone of this building of Constitutional government had been well and; truly laid. He may be right. It is Constitutional government; it 's responsible; government; I admit it, and the foundation and the building may both be sound. But what is the flag that is going to wave-above it ten or twenty years hence? Is it going to be the Union Jack, or is it going to be the flag of the Transvaal Republic?


I must apologise to your Lordships for venturing to submit what I am afraid will be the opinion of a single man, and one not likely to command: much support in your Assembly, but under the circumstances, I cannot refrain. from stating the conclusions to which my best study of the question compels me to come. My opinion about sundry parts, of the recent history and recent transactions in South Africa are pretty welt known. Unlike the noble Lord, who has just addressed you, I do not desire to go back upon the history of the beginning of the war. I desire to start from the-conclusion of peace, and I believe that we-ought to do our best to promote the building up of a united society in the Transvaal, in which the divisions of the past shall be lost. I, therefore, deprecate any continuous harping upon the question of British interests, and all references to any one section of the population of the Transvaal as being politically hostile to us. Starting from the peace which was made at Vereeniging, and accepting the incorporation of the Transvaal in the British Empire as something agreed upon by all, the test which I apply to the proposals of His Majesty's Government which have been outlined by the noble Earl the Secretary of State is this: Do they tend to promote the development of unity of feeling, do they give us any promise of securing in the end a state of society in which the words "Boer" and "British" may be of historical interest but will have no present political importance? Grave apprehension has been expressed as to the effect of having a Boer Prime Minister or a Boer majority in the forthcoming Legislature of the Transvaal. May we not address our attention to another part of His Majesty's dominions, and realise what has been secured in the Dominion of Canada, where you have as Prime Minister a French Canadian, supported in power by voters who have given him a large accession of members from the French province of Quebec? Does anyone now doubt the loyalty of Canada as part of the British Empire? The noble Lord who has just spoken, and the noble Duke who spoke from the Front Opposition Bench, would be agreed in bearing testimony to the loyalty of the Dominion in the late war—a loyalty not confined to Britons, but a loyalty which the French also manifested—not, I admit, to the same extent in the way of going to the war, but still a loyalty which was manifested by French as well as by British. In the Dominion the distinction so far as regards the British connection between those of French origin and those of British origin is lost. Ought we not to endeavour to do something, in laying the foundation stone of this Constitution, which will promote the end which we are all seeking, of losing in future the distinction between Boer and Briton except as more historical differences of origin? The apprehension which I have in respect of the scheme of His Majesty's Government is that it will tend to maintain these differences. The adoption of the system of single member constituencies may even prevent these differences from dying away. The Government may have had no other wise open to them, but by adopting that system they will in every political fight, and in every contest for seats in the new Legislature, have a competition between the representatives of two Parties and two Parties only, and my great fear is that that competition will be a racial competition and will maintain instead of dissipating existing differences.

I will not go into this subject at any length; I am always tempted to do so, but on this occasion I will restrain myself. I desire your Lordships to realise the difference of political effect if you have in the Transvaal an area which is going to be divided into five single-member constituencies instead of having one constituency returning five Members representing the different opinions which may prevail amongst the inhabitants of the area. In the first place, in dividing the area into single-member constituencies, each area will bring forward two competitors for every seat; the division between the two Parties will be on racial lines, and you will have a division of the Legislature also on racial lines. This is the justification of those calculations which Lord Farris and the noble Duke opposite have indulged in, as to the possible position of the two Parties in the forthcoming Legislature. If, on the contrary, you had the system of having five Members representing one constituency, you would have them representing different sections of the population. You might have one Member representing the magnates to whom reference has been made; one representing the traders and merchants, who are apart from the magnates; a third representing the actual workers; a fourth representing the Boers who are disposed to be friendly with us, and the men of moderate opinions; and a fifth representing the stubborn Dopper class whose hostility is always paraded before us. You would get a picture, in the representation of the constituency, tending to make itself a reproduction of the community, and tending, in the Legislature itself, to reproduce the co-operative life of the community.

I regret that the opportunity for achieving this end has been lost. We have, on the contrary, this scheme of sixty-nine Members returned by single-member constituencies — thirty-four by the Witwatersrand, six by Pretoria, and twenty-nine by the rest of the colony. They are to be elected after contests of the kind to which I have referred. All sorts of calculations have been made as to how these sixty-nine Members will be divided. I have the greatest distrust of them all. I doubt whether any person ran say what will be the result of the elections of these sixty-nine Members. You are launching into what I believe to be a somewhat unknown future, which depends very much upon the way in which you cut up your constituencies so as to get the single Members for the different divisions. Lord Harris stated quite properly, if I may venture to say so, that in the Witwatersrand the people are not unanimous, and that the thirty-four Members who will be elected cannot be relied upon to be of entirely the same complexion. Then there is a part of the Rand which is largely occupied by the Dutch. It depends upon the way in which you cut up the areas whether these Dutch will get their proportionate share or whether they will be lost, or almost entirely lost, in the representation of their British neighbours, and get no share at all. In Pretoria the six Members will probably be four British and two Boers; the division of the representation of Pretoria depends upon the way in which Pretoria is cut up. The temptation to gerrymander and to manœuvre and to adjust the different seats will be immense, and will always be recurring. You have, after all, a scheme before you which is something like a puzzle map made by children—a scheme having no stability in itself and giving no promise of strength in the future, but something which is likely to go on developing more gerrymandering, so that you have before you a prospect of division instead of a prospect of reunion such as I would gladly have seen.

As I have already said, the alternative was rejected by His Majesty's Government on the Report made by the Commissioners, because they found that the scheme of proportional representation to which I have been referring found little or no favour in the Transvaal. The noble Earl the Secretary of State— and I thank him for it—desired the Commissioners to inquire into the matter; they did inquire, and made this Report. I believe there has not been in the past, and there is not at present, a great desire in the Transvaal for the principle to which I have referred; but there is a growing desire for it. I venture to think that what we find often depends upon what we look for, and I am not quite sure that on the part of His Majesty's Government, although there may have been a realisation of the importance of the question, there was any very earnest desire to promote or develop in the Transvaal any tendency towards the true method of representation which I advocate.

In passing, let me refer to the principle of one vote one value to which the noble Duke referred as being of immense importance. What is the meaning of the value of a vote? Surely the value of a vote depends upon the effect which the voter has in sending a representative to the Legislative Chamber. If all the voters in a particular district have the same fractional effect in sending a representative to the elected Chamber, they have votes which are of the same value. But that is not so if the country is so divided that the minorities everywhere fail in getting election, because in that case the value of their votes is reduced to nothing. I might refer to the example of Wales in the recent General Election, when not a single Unionist was returned for the whole of the Principality. What, in such a case, is the value of a Unionist vote in Wales? It is no use cutting Wales up into equal electoral areas; that is roughly done at present; the value of the Unionist vote in Wales is nothing. And so the idea of one vote one value, for which the people of the Transvaal cried out, will not be realised in the scheme which they are going to have; but a little effort might, I think, have induced some of them to discover the true way of getting what they desire.

Under such a system you would have a representation proportional to the divisions of the total electorate. If the British electorate were in a majority, their representation would in the result be in a majority. Thus you would get one vote one value, and obtain what the noble Lord says cannot thoroughly be relied upon in the present case. The difficulty was that the people of the Transvaal were not educated to entertain the proposition. The idea found favour with some of the magnates, and with the labourers' party, but it did not recommend itself to the Boers; it did recommend itself to sundry elements of society in the Transvaal, and I think that in the future it will come to be appreciated. But for the moment it has been rejected, though not, I think, on account of the difficulty of the system, but on account of the feet that it had not been properly looked at by the people. I say that it was not on account of the difficulty, because the principle of proportional representation has been adopted now amongst communities which certainly cannot rival the white community of the Transvaal or exceed them in political intelligence. It has been adopted most successfully in Belgium, and I have in my hands the Constitution of Finland, in which it is incorporated; it has also been adopted in our own Colonies—in Tasmania for example—and what can be worked, and worked with effect and without error, there, can surely be worked in the Transvaal. I have detained your Lordships too long on what is after all an academic question, since I am ready to admit that for the moment the system could not be forced upon a colony which did not desire it. But I am thinking of the future, and I have in mind what I believe will be the certain failure of this method of constructing the Constitution of the Transvaal to realise the ideas of those who have framed it. When that happens, they may turn to what I believe to be better counsels in working out the future of the country. On that ground, and on that ground only, I have ventured to offer these remarks.

Then I would say one word as to the proposed constitution of the Second Chamber. In this Assembly one would not speak in any way depreciatorily of a Second Chamber; but I may remind the noble Duke opposite who spoke of the Second Chamber as provided in all our Colonies, that in the Dominion of Canada the Second Chamber has been dropped by province after province, and will soon be non-existent in the Provincial Legislatures. In the Dominion of Canada the Senate is admitted to be a failure, and a distinguished senator the other day made a speech advocating its entire reconstruction. I refer to this question of the Second Chamber in the Transvaal for this reason: it is to be nominative. I can hardly conceive how that nomination is to be effected. It is a very difficult think to nominate a Second Chamber there which shall be so composed as not to be regarded as hostile by one or the other Party. But that nomination is to prevail only during the first Parliament. After that, it is to be elected, and if I understand the noble Earl aright it is to be elected after the pattern of the Second Chamber in Cape Colony. But in Cape Colony the Second Chamber is elected upon a system of proportional representation—I admit a very rough system—by the operation of the cumulative vote, just as the Legislature in Illinois is elected by the operation of the cumulative vote. The system works extremely well, and I believe that even that rough method would have been preferable for the election of the First Chamber, because it would have given more security for the presence of men of moderate views—men who are ready to co-operate with their fellow-men, who are hoping to build up society, and whose efforts are directed towards establishing that union in the place of disunion which is the great want of South Africa. It is because of the absence of any prospect of realising that ideal, and because a plan has been adopted which I deplore, that I have ventured to address your Lordships, and I thank you for having listened to me.


My Lords, I think it very likely that there are no two Members in this House who differ more profoundly in their general view of the South African situation than the noble Lord who has just addressed you and myself. It is pleasant occasionally to find points of cordial agreement with one's political opponents, and I can only say that in the very forcible and, as seems to me, convincing argument which he has addressed to your Lordships in favour of the system of proportional representation, which I believe would be advantageous everywhere, and which I believe is particularly suitable to the conditions of South Africa, I entirely concur. I did in my humble way attempt while I was in South Africa to bring other people to take the same view on that subject, and I often used arguments, not certainly so eloquent or so forcible, but yet bearing a very strong family resemblance to those which have been now addressed to you. But I regret to say—I do not know what effect the noble Lord might have produced —that all my efforts met with total failure. I do not mean to say there was absolutely nobody who agreed with me, but certainly the number of those, of whatever race or class, who were willing to give any hearing to a proposal for proportional representation was so small that I fully understand why His Majesty's Government have found it impossible to base their new system upon that principle. I regret it, and I hope, with the noble Lord, that when the time for making the Second Chamber elective comes, this matter may be reconsidered; for it is certainly very remarkable how much more fairly the system of proportional representation works out in the Cape Colony than the system, not in that case of single member, but of double-member constituencies without any provision for minorities. In the Cape Colony, taking the bulk of the country districts, you have, roughly speaking, about two Boers to every white man who is not a Boer. Under the system which prevails for the Lower House the representation of those districts is exclusively Boer; one-third of the population is absolutely excluded from any representation whatsoever, Under the system which prevails for the election of the Upper House, as nearly as possible one-third of the representatives of those districts are British. Inversely in the case of the Cape Peninsula, where there is an enormously preponderant British population, but still a considerable Dutch population also, you get in the Lower House no single Dutch representative; whereas, in the Upper House out of three representatives, one represents the Dutch section of the community. You could not have a more curious illustration of the great difference in fairness between the two principles as applied to the conditions of South Africa. And I cannot help hoping that between this time and the time when the constitution of the projected Upper House comes; to be decided, there may be such a development of opinion as will enable the Government of that day to adopt and justify them in adopting the far sounder principle for the elections of the Upper Chamber. That, no doubt, is a by-point, but I do not consider it a point of small importance. It may not be of burning interest to-day, but it certainly has a greater bearing than is commonly supposed upon the development of a better feeling between the two great races of South Africa whom we are all agreed in desiring to see ultimately amalgamated and fused. And for that, reason, even at this moment, when matters of more urgent importance are engaging your Lordships' attention, I hope I may be pardoned if I have spent some time-in paying my tribute to the principle.

I am not going, especially at this late hour, to attempt to cover the whole ground of the noble Earl's statement. Your Lordships were kind enough to listen to me at enormous length on the subject of South Africa at an earlier stage of the session, and I do not wish to repeat anything I said then. But I may be allowed to express my confirmed conviction, which nothing that has happened since has in the least shaken— but which a great deal that has happened strongly confirms—my conviction that a great and capital error was made when His Majesty's Government reversed in certain material respects the policy which had been followed by their predecessors. I say, probably for the last time in your Lordships' House, for I do not wish always to harp on this string, that I believe nothing but a little patience and persistence in that policy was needed in order to lead us gradually to a satisfactory result. From my point of view there were two prime fundamental principles of a wise policy in South Africa. The first was to go on steadily, but at the same time cautiously and circumspectly, in the matter of constitutional development, and the other was to use every effort to press forward the material recuperation and development of the country. From my point of view, His Majesty's Government have departed from both those principles. They have rushed, as it seems to me, with precipitate speed, into the granting of complete responsible government, and at the same time they have taken a course which imperils the material prosperity of the country by threatening that which is the fundamental condition of the prosperity of every industry within it— namely, an ample labour supply.

My Lords, it is my conviction that mischief has been done which can never be retrieved. I dismiss that. There is nothing more to be said about it. The problem before us now is how far that mischief may be mitigated by any arrangements which we make at the present time. I desire to be absolutely fair to the proposals which we have heard outlined to-day. I feel naturally at a very great disadvantage in discussing them without having more time to examine them carefully. But, as I have said, I desire to be fair, and I will try to err on the side of approval rather than of criticism in regard to any points on which I may be in doubt. There are a certain number of points to which I do not wish to refer, because so much has already been said about them; but there are others well worthy of consideration which have not been touched upon. If your Lordships will allow me I will dwell briefly upon those points which seem to me to have been omitted. And in the first place, I hope I may be allowed to say that I did not wish or intend to give offence to the noble Lord the member of the Commission by smiling at anything he said; but it was a little difficult not to smile when I heard that he was relying to some extent for a British majority upon the fact that the Boers who, we are pleased to know, have given their approval to the proposals of His Majesty's Government, assured him that under those proposals there would be a British majority. I cannot, however, be surprised that the fact that the Boers gave that assurance is not altogether satisfactory to their political opponents. I firmly believe that what Lord Harris said is true, that though these proposals may have the approval of the Boer community, they have not the approval of the vast majority of the British community, and quite naturally so. How could it be otherwise? Look at the facts. The Government make a great point of the fact that they have accepted the voter basis. That is commonly regarded as a great triumph for those who are desirous to see a Party in power in the Transvaal which will steer the country during the next few critical years more or less on the lines hitherto-followed in the direction of the consolidation of British institutions. But I ask how, given the voter basis, it is possible that the Boers should not be satisfied or that the British should not be dissatisfied with this result? What is the result? It is that in the distribution of seats there are nominally thirty-four for the Rand—there are not really thirty-four, as I will explain in a moment— six for Pretoria, and twenty - nine-for the rest of the country. But this is really our old friend "thirty-three, six, thirty "under another name, because the thirty-four for the Rand include Krugersdorp rural, which, although by a geographical accident it is included in the Witwatersrand area, is thoroughly Boer, and, if I may say so, is as purely a back veldt constituency as almost any in the Transvaal. That being so, I must really be allowed: to retransfer that seat to the side to which it belongs.


It makes no difference to my argument.


It is material to my point. The position is this: We have thirty-three seats for the Rand, six for Pretoria, and thirty for the rest of the country. What is the effect of that? I deprecate as strongly as the noble Lord who has just spoken all nice calculations as to how this distribution will exactly result. I think it is absolutely wrong to let the whole future of the country depend upon chance to the extent to which we are leaving it in these arrangements. But circumstances being what they are, I am forced to consider what is likely to be the result of this particular distribution of seats. I think I will have the noble Lord who was a member of the Commission, and everybody who knows anything at all about it, with me, inlaying; that the result of this distribution may be to give a small British majority, or it may be to give a small Boer majority; but no self-respecting man who knows anything about the facts can say confidently that it will produce the one result or the other. That is the position; we have a distribution of seats and of political power by which the future Executive of the Transvaal—for, mind you, the most important function of this New Assembly will be to determine who are to be the depositaries of executive power and the composition of the Legislature upon which that Executive depends is left in absolute uncertainty—a matter of doubt. From my point of view it is unwise, it is absolutely wrong in the present circumstances to follow a course which may result within one year in the handing over the government of the Transvaal to Mr. Botha and Mr. Smuts. It is no use blinking matters. That is the result which may follow from the steps you are taking. No man who knows the circumstances can deny that that result may follow; and it is sufficient for me, and I believe it is sufficient for the majority of people in this country, to know that that is a possible result of the arrangements now being made, to lead them to condemn the scheme. I say that, however anxious we may be to treat our new fellow-subjects with absolute fairness, however deeply we may desire that they, British and Boer, should live together in friendship and amity, it is too soon after the events of the last few years to run the risk of seeing the whole executive power in the colony transferred to the hands of men who must at present be totally out of sympathy with the British institutions which they will nevertheless be called upon to work. That is what you have to face; let there be no illusion on the subject. From our point of view, from the Imperial point of view, from the point of view of the peaceful development of South Africa, it is a dangerous prospect.

But what I want particularly to call attention to is what must be the feeling of the British population when they are asked to accept this as a fair result of the voters' basis. The best they can hope for is a small majority, but they may be in a minority. What are the numbers on the voters' basis? To the best of my recollection—I do not know what may have happened since I left South Africa the numbers of adult males included in the census were something like 38,000 or 39,000 on the Boer side, and something like 50,000 or 51,000 on the British side. The British, therefore, are in a majority of something more than five to four on the voters' basis which the Government say they are adopting. Can you expect those, who on the voters' basis are in that majority, to be satisfied with a distribution of seats and with electoral arrangements generally which make it doubtful whether they will have any majority at all in the Legislature? No wonder that the Boers are satisfied with the arrangement. Whatever their anticipations as to how it may work out, it is perfectly natural that they should welcome a distribution of seats so advantageous to them.

That, I say at once, is the one great objection by the side of which everything else is of minor importance. We say it is too soon after recent events to risk the chance of a Boer Executive in the Transvaal. We maintain that as a matter of practical policy. But if you press us on the ground of abstract justice, we say further that though you have adopted the voters' basis your arrangements will work out in such a way as to stultify that basis, because they give to a great majority of voters a doubtful majority of seats, or no majority at all.

Passing to other points, I may say I welcome the creation of a Second Chamber. But, though it will have its advantages, it seems to me that the amount of protection it will afford will be comparatively small, for, after all, that which we look forward to with most alarm is the possibility of the executive power falling into hands where we do not desire to see it. Against the danger of administrative action on the part of an anti-British Executive, against that which is the most serious danger, an Upper Chamber is hardly any protection—I had almost said no protection whatever. The protection which an Upper Chamber can afford is confined to legislation action— an important protection, I admit, but one which does not touch the most vital point of all, namely, the question into whose hands the executive power of the new Colonies is likely to pass.

A far more important concession—if I am justified in so calling it—on the part of the Government to its critics, is the postponement of the establishment of responsible government in the Orange River Colony. Upon this point, however, I desire to ask whether the postponement is due to an appreciation by the Government of the extreme gravity of the situation impending in South Africa, or whether the postponement is merely for reasons of administrative convenience and because it is at this moment impossible for them to get through the work of framing a new constitution for the Orange River Colony. I sincerely trust that the postponement of the grant of full responsible government to the people of the Orange River Colony is due to a recognition of the fact that we cannot afford to run too many risks at once in a situation of such great delicacy as is presented in South Africa to-day.

Before I sit down I should like to refer briefly to what the noble Earl has said with reference to land settlement. When I heard his first sentence on this subject I was in great hope that he was going to propose a measure which would not only afford the one possible really sure safeguard to existing settlers but would at the same time ensure the continuance of what he himself admits to be a valuable experiment of land settlement in the new colonies. But I am sorry to say my hopes were soon dashed when he proceeded to say that the introduction of this system of putting the settlers and the work of land settlement under a separate board, nominated, I presume, by the Imperial Government, must depend on the concurrence of a majority in the respective colonies. Now, my Lords, if it is to depend on the concurrence of the majority in the Orange River Colony whether the experiment of British settlement is to continue, it would be simpler and more straightforward to tear up the whole thing at once. It is perfectly out of the question that any elected majority in the Orange River Colony would consent, if it were left to it to decide, in favour of a continuance of British settlement. I had rather hoped that the intention of His Majesty's Government on this subject might have been more favourable than I gather from the noble Earl that it really is. But on the remote chance of my view still be adopted, I would once more urge, not only the justice and the extreme simplicity, but the immense future advantages that may be derived from keeping the system of land settlement under a board responsible not to the local but to the Imperial authorities. I would further point out what is often overlooked, that there is really no reason whatever why this should not be done without any interference whatever with responsible government when that is granted. Why should the people and Government of Great Britain not own and administer lands in the new colonies, when any number of British companies own and administer land there? It is not my suggestion that the Land Settlement Board should interfere in any way or involve any interference whatever with the ordinary law or the ordinary administration of the new colonies. It would administer the land as the property of the people of this country, for the benefit of the people of this country, and indirectly also for the benefit of the people of South Africa, but under the ordinary law of South Africa. But the fact that the administration was in the hands of a British Board: nominated by the Imperial Government would not only be a security for existing settlers—I venture to think it is the only security they can have— but it would also ensure the continuance of the permanent application of the land settlement fund, as it was paid back by the present settlers, to the purpose for which it was originally intended. This may be the last opportunity I may have, and I venture most strongly to urge on the Government the adoption of some such plan as this, because there is nothing they or any British Government can do which would more conduce to the drawing together and the improvement of the relations of the two races about which the noble Lord has spoken, and which he representing one pole of opinion, and I perhaps representing the other, are in cordial agreement in regarding as the ultimate object of our South African policy.

Now, my Lords, one word as to the question of the franchise for the coloured population. It is not of immediate practical importance, but a direct appeal has been made to me by the Colonial Secretary which it would not be fair to evade. He seemed to doubt whether it could be fairly argued and he appeared to question how I could come to the conclusion that Clause 8 of the Treaty of Vereeniging, which provides that natives shall not be given the vote until after the introduction of representative institutions, did not apply to coloured people. I cannot remember that during the discussions at Vereeniging this point was raised; though my impression is that if it had been raised I should most undoubtedly have objected to its application to the coloured people. But I do not care for these hypothetical arguments. The matter was to the best of my belief not raised, and the question has to be decided by the actual text of the treaty. The text of the treaty says "natives" and does not say "coloured people." I think I am right in saying that the Dutch word "naturellen" was used" I venture to say that nobody familiar with the common use of language in South Africa would hold either that "natives"Included coloured people, some of whom very much more resemble whites than natives, or that "naturellen"Included "kleurlingen" which, is the universally accepted word in South Africa for coloured people. I fully admit with the noble Earl that South African feeling would be against giving any franchise rights even to coloured people. I regret it. I have fought that battle over and over again. But I am bound to admit that in this matter as in the question of proportional representation mine has been almost a solitary voice. At the same time I maintain that I am justified in upholding the position that, whatever may be the necessity arising from South African feeling on this subject, the Terms of Vereeniging did not preclude the granting of the franchise to coloured people; and I must say that the case for the civilised coloured man is extra ordinarily strong.

Two things more I have to say and then I have done. The first is with regard to the Civil Service. I gather from the noble Earl that provisions are going to be made for the protection of the Civil servants who may be discharged.


I did not say so. What I said was that I was not going to discuss it to-day.


I can only regret that what seems to me an absolutely vital and necessary provision in this matter has been omitted or is being omitted from the Letters Patent.


I did not say it was omitted, either. I only said I was not going to discuss it to-day.


I do not wish, then, to do more than to urge upon the noble Earl and his colleagues that this is a serious and vital matter. I was not at all convinced by what was said by the noble Lord, the member of the Committee, on this subject. No doubt at this stage we can hardly expect those in the new colonies who are hostile to the existing Civil Service, with the prospect of their being put into power hanging in the balance, to adopt a threatening tone. You would naturally think they would in these circumstances be most careful to avoid threats, but even now one of the leaders of what I may call the Transvaal Opposition has gone the length of pointing out that, although some of the British Civil servants may be good, many of them are superfluous luxuries, and that one of the duties of a Boer administration would be to find places for the dispossessed Boer officials. How are they to find them places, especially if at the same time they are practising economy, except by causing vacancies in the berths at present filled by British Civil servants? It is a clear danger. It is not a danger against which His Majesty's Government can, I think, in honour, hesitate to provide.

My last point is this: I do not know whether it is possible for the noble Earl to give us a little more enlightment as to what is going to happen with regard to the important question of labour in the period between the granting of the Letters Patent and the time when the elected Legislature of the Transvaal may be able to deal with that question. What I understand is proposed is that the moment a new Legislature is elected in the Transvaal the existing statute will lapse. In that case we shall have an interval—it may be a considerable interval—during which there will be no law at all providing for the regulation of the relations between the imported foreign labourers and their masters. This is a very serious and grave addition to the doubts and uncertainties already resting upon the principal industry of the Transvaal, uncertainties which more than anything else are responsible for the extreme depression which at present exists in that country. There is one other question in that respect on which I should like the views of his Majesty's Government. When the Transvaal Legislature does deal with this question of imported labour, which is of such fundamental importance to that country and the whole of South Africa, is it going to be left free to deal with it? Is the policy of the Government to-day the policy with which they started—the policy of leaving it to a responsible Government in the Transvaal to decide that question, or is it the policy which they subsequently adopted under pressure from a certain section of their own followers, of leaving it to the Transvaal Legislature to decide only within certain indefinite limits which are to be imposed by the British Government's "moral sense"? The question is one absolutely vital; and I may say this —that if there is one thing which would reconcile those of us who look upon the establishment of responsible government in the Transvaal with the greatest alarm, it would be the feeling that on this most essential question the people of the colony were to be allowed to work out their own salvation. That is, to my mind, the one, the only strong argument in favour of granting responsible government at the present moment. But if at the same moment that we grant responsible government and take all the risks of granting responsible government—risks which, in my opinion, are greater than we ought to take—we are to deprive the colony, to which we profess to be giving full freedom, of the right of deciding the most urgent and vital of all the questions affecting its immediate existence, the one solitary argument in favour of responsible government is knocked away, and in the balance of considerations there is nothing to set against the evil of the proposed settlement. It is in every respect a settlement as disadvantageous to the colony as it is calculated to endanger the relations of the colony and the mother country.


My Lords, I do not intend to occupy the time of the House for more than a very few moments. Personally, I should be glad to leave the question where it has been left by the noble Viscount who has just addressed the House with so much effect. I feel, moreover, that I am approaching the question at a great disadvantage, because, like most of your Lordships, I am called upon to discuss proposals which have indeed been unfolded to us in a very clear speech by the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but proposals which have not yet been pat in writing, and which we have had no opportunity of considering as they deserve to be considered. I feel that here again we are suffering from a tendency which I detect in so many proceedings of his Majesty's Government— a tendency to do things in a tremendous hurry. I remember the time when Mr. Gladstone was irreverently described by a young Conservative statesman as "an old man in a hurry." I think this Government may be described as a young Government in a hurry. In this case they have forced the pace at a very furious rate. I have heard since coming into the House this evening a report that appeared to be something more than an idle rumour—that the report of Sir West Ridgeway's Committee was not actually signed until to-day. That may be a mare's nest. If so I shall be glad if the noble Marquess will correct me.

Why is it that it is so urgently necessary that the Transvaal, if it is to receive responsible government, should be given that responsible government at once and per saltum? Is it not the case that other British colonies have had to wait and go through a period of transition during which they were given representative institutions, but were not given responsible government in full measure? Is that not true of some of the Canadian colonies, of the colony of Natal and of the Cape Colony? And if in these cases it was thought desirable and fair to the colonies themselves that they should pass through this period of probation, surely there could not be a stronger case than that of the Transvaal for allowing a colony which has just passed through the throes of a great war to be denied for a reasonable time at all events the immense privileges which His Majesty's Government are going to heap upon them. His Majesty's Government have themselves admitted that they were without the full measure of knowledge necessary to form an opinion upon this point. They admitted it when they sent out the Ridge way Committee to South Africa. They admitted it when they said they were in deplorable ignorance (I think "deplorable" was the word they used) in regard to the actual facts of the case. Then, my Lords, why is it that we are refused information with regard to the Report of the Committee? I am told that in another place hopes have been held out that portions, at any rate, of the Report will be made public; I should be glad to know whether that is the case or not? But I protest against the suppression of the Report when at the same time it is being quoted, or virtually quoted, as it has been during the course of this discussion. The noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies protested against the habit of debating these questions in ignorance of the facts; but why are the facts not given us;? Why are we compelled to debate these proposals in ignorance of the document which forms their basis and foundation? Then it is suggested that the members of the Committee deserve our applause for the manner in which they performed their work. I have no doubt they do; but I want to know a little more as to the output of their work.

As I listened to the speech of the noble Earl opposite it certainly seemed to me that he was able to make some points which showed that both the Committee and His Majesty's Government had approached these questions with a desire to deal fairly with those most affected. The statement that the case of the Orange River Colony was not to be dealt with for the present showed a. laudable amount of caution, which perhaps is not equally manifested in all the other proposals of His Majesty's Government. I also observe the announcement that there was to be an arrangement for a paid Speaker of the House of Commons, and that there was to be a Second Chamber; but, like the noble Viscount on the Cross Benches, I feel some doubt as to the value of that Chamber as a corrective of what may be the action of the other House.

Upon another subject I thought the noble Earl spoke with much feeling-and common sense—I mean when he referred to his desire that the rights of the native population should receive ample recognition and protection. I did not follow with the same approval, perhaps, because I did not perfectly apprehend them, his observations on the question of the native franchises, but I am glad to know that the native territories are to remain in the hands of the High Commissioner, and that precautions will be taken to guard this indigenous population from the hardship which often attends the first contact of civilisation with barbarism.

But, my Lords, after all, the real question which evidently most interests your Lordships this afternoon is the question of the franchise. That question is one of an extremely technical character. I do not profess to have any expert knowledge of it, and I should, therefore, much prefer to remain content with the criticisms of the noble Duke behind me and the noble Viscount, both of whom have studied the question more closely than I have. But the explanations which have been given to us certainly have left upon our minds a general impression that the new franchise will be founded on a basis which seems to us thoroughly inequitable. I should like to ask in particular whether it is not the case that in other South African colonies it has been found advisable to attach to the franchise a property qualification and other limitations which it is not proposed to insist upon in this instance? I attach importance to that because it seems to me to have a material bearing on the great question of colonial federation. The noble Earl, in the course of his speech, looked forward to the moment when such federation might become possible; but will it not be a formidable obstacle to federation if the franchise in the Transvaal Colony is accompanied by qualifications different from those attaching to the franchise as you find it in the other South African colonies?

As to the effect of these arrangements on the prospects of a British majority, be it smaller or greater, all I will venture to say is this, that it seems to me almost tragical that at this moment we should really be considering whether the allocation of half a dozen votes on one side or the other of a certain geographical line will or will not have the effect of putting an end to British preponderance in these colonies—for that is what it comes to. We ask ourselves, in whose interest is it that we are called upon to make these immense concessions? I would hot say a hard word of the Boers. I respect them as men who fought gallantly against us in the field; but if they were gallant adversaries they were also implacable adversaries, and I am afraid if we look things fairly in the face we must admit that nothing but the effluxion of time will heal the.breach created by the war between the two races in South Africa, and that any anticipation that in the immediate future the conduct and demeanour of the Boer population is likely to be different from what we have known it to be is certainly destined to be disappointed. Let us not forget that these Boer statesmen have made no secret whatever of their intention and of the action they are likely to take when they have obtained the preponderance which we believe you are going to give them. We have had speeches made by the men of the Boer race in which they have announced openly that it is their intention to reinstate the Dutch officials, that they mean to arm the population, that they intend that the Dutch language shall prevail over the British, and last, but not least, they have told us pretty clearly what their ideas on the fiscal relations which will subsist between the South African colonies are likely to be. Can we be surprised if we are told, particu- larly by our friends in South Africa, that we are throwing away the sacrifices to which we submitted at the time of the South African War? My Lords, what we are doing will, I am afraid, be a shock not only to British opinion but to the best colonial opinion in South Africa. Feeling that very strongly, we, at any, rate, are bound to tell you that if these boons are to be given to the people of the Transvaal, they must be regarded as given by His Majesty's Government, and that we, at.any rate, take no responsibility for the course you are about to pursue.


My Lords, I fully expected that the speech of my noble friend would be couched in different terms from those which were employed by the noble Duke earlier in the discussion, and I am very glad to observe the moderation of the language used by my noble friend. He began his remarks by saying that we were in a very great hurry, and he referred to a famous saying of the late Lord Randolph Churchill about "an old man in a hurry." I confess I cannot think that the course which His Majesty's Government have taken in this matter has been the result of anything like hurry. On the contrary, although we have thought that a settlement of the question of the future Government of the Transvaal was a matter of very urgent importance, we have all along taken the utmost care that we should not proceed without full information and consideration, and therefore it was that, although we knew that to keep this matter open and unsettled was in itself a great disadvantage, we took the step of sending out the Ridgeway Committee for the purpose of obtaining the detailed information which alone we felt would enable us to form a satisfactory conclusion upon the matters at issue.

I have been very much struck, in the course of the whole of this discussion, with the fact that a telegram from Lord Selborne, which was read by my noble friend the Colonial Secretary, has not received the slightest notice from any of the noble Lords who have spoken. We have heard a great deal at times from noble Lords opposite about "the man on the spot." We have given you to-night, upon some of the leading points in this matter, the opinion of the man on the spot, but you have contented yourselves with simply passing by the opinion of Lord Selborne in absolute and very discreet silence. I have here the telegram and I will just read to you in regard to this question of the "young Government in a hurry," what Lord Selborne says with reference to the urgent importance of getting this matter settled. In giving his approval to the proposed distribution of seats, and authorising it to be stated, he gives, as one of the reasons for agreeing to those proposals, that he attaches great importance to the early settlement, "as I fear that the Transvaal is suffering grievously from the suspense." We have felt all along, and we have recognised, the great importance of the settlement, and we have done out utmost to bring it about. We have not been at all in an unnatural hurry; on the contrary, if we are to be blamed at all, it is for taking too much time in deciding the question and bringing it to a final issue.

We have heard a good deal to-night, from the different speeches to which we have listened, of complaint because we set aside the Lyttelton Constitution, as it is called. That was a Constitution offering what is called representative government with a nominated Executive. The opinion has been put forward that that sort of government is very valuable as a transition to responsible government. During a long course of life, in which I have given not inconsiderable attention to Colonial matters, I certainly have never entertained that opinion. I have always believed that the system of representative Government mixed with a nominated Executive was the worst system of Colonial administration that could be devised. That is a very ancient opinion of Colonial authorities. I will quote just one. Many noble Lords in this House, will recollect our friend Lord Norton, who was so recently, to our great regret, taken from us. Lord Norton, when he was in the House of Commons as Sir Charles Adderley, was a great authority upon Colonial questions. He had studied them closely, and he spoke upon them with great weight. What did he say upon this particular system of representative Government with a nominated Executive? He took the example of Natal, and in a book which he published many years ago upon the Colonial policy of Lord John Russell's Administration, he used these words in speaking of the then Constitution of Natal, which was of the character so much admired by noble Lords opposite. His words were— the hybrid Constitution of transition times, which was conceived only in the idea of training Colonists to self-government, Crown Government with embryo-representative institutions in the womb, here, as everywhere else, fails to satisfy or to control people. It excites an appetite without even preparing for its satisfaction, and provokes opposition without a vent for its action short of revolution. Those were the principles in which many years ago I was brought up in reference to these matters. I only mention that matter now to show to your Lordships that this panacea for all possible evils is not the perfect system which noble Lords seem to believe. On the contrary, I believe that it would have been much better to have kept the Transvaal, or any other Colony, under the regular system of Crown Colony government until the day when you could have given responsible Government. In my opinion, it is not a system for training up men for responsible government, but is rather calculated to make responsible government, when it is granted, less successful.

One objection was taken by my noble friend who has just sat down to the manhood suffrage in the Transvaal, on the ground that it would make it more difficult to bring about federation. I entirely agree with my noble friend, and I think I heard the noble Viscount on the Cross Benchess indicate the same opinion, that the ultimate aim of all our South African policy ought to be federation. I may be wrong, but if my memory serves me aright I do not think that the franchise in the Cape Colony is the same as the franchise in Natal. Therefore you have already two franchises, and if that be a difficulty in the way of federation, I do not believe that the difficulty will be increased by the granting of manhood suffrage, under all the circumstances of the Colony, to the Transvaal.

But, my Lords, as I have said before, I rest my defence of the distribution of seats that we propose upon the fact that it has received, under all the circumstances of the case, the concurrence of Lord Selborne. That is a very important fact, and one that satisfies me that in that respect His Majesty's Government have been wise. We believe that under the franchise which we propose there will be a British majority in the new Parliament. I always feel, as I believe my noble friend opposite feels, a certain dislike of this sort of gerrymandering arrangements. They are not nice. But, my Lords, at the same time I have no hesitation in saying that I believe that for the interests of the Colony as well as for the interests of this country, it is desirable that there should be a British majority in the Transvaal. But what I am not inclined to give is a Rand majority. Noble Lords in this discussion seem to have given very little consideration to those other British people who do not belong to the associations of the Rand. But they are entitled, just as much as any of the Rand representatives, to take their place as British subjects, and to be counted among the British majority if it is to be gained. As has been said by more than one speaker in this discussion, although it may be rash to make prophecies in regard to the results of a general election, yet I venture to say that there has seldom been a case in which more careful and impartial consideration has been given to the matter than has been given in this instance by His Majesty's Government and by those whom they have employed for the purpose of ascertaining the facts. I believe that the proposals that have been laid before your Lordships by my noble friend this afternoon in his singularly careful and moderate speech are proposals which, as far as it is humanly possible in the affairs of this world to meet such things, meet the many and the great complications and difficulties which beset this question—which complications and difficulties, if noble Lords will forgive me for saying so, will not have been diminished by the discussion of to-night.

The noble Viscount on the Cross Benches asked when we were going to settle the Constitution of the Orange River Colony. That is a very different question from the question of the Transvaal, and it is a question of greater difficulty. Though, according to our critics, we are in such a desperate hurry to rush to conclusions, we have not yet come to a conclusion upon this subject; therefore I cannot answer the noble Viscount's question, and I do not think he will condemn His Majesty's Government if we take time to consider the matter.

As regards land settlement, I have nothing to add to what fell from my noble friend. It was only an indication of what was intended, but I am sorry it did not commend itself to the noble Viscount.

Then the noble Viscount said he did not believe that the words of the Treaty of Vereeniging covered the question of the coloured people. His authority upon the subject is doubtless very great, but the obligation is one contained in the convention by which peace was brought about, and nothing would be more unfortunate than that any doubt should be cast upon the intentions of the Government to adhere absolutely to the meaning of the Convention. I have no doubt myself that if we were to interpret it in favour of a distinction between coloured people and natives, strictly so-called, we should be incurring—I was going to say the terrible accusation—and I think it would be a terrible accusation—of having gone away from our pledged word. I would rather give the larger interpretation in order to make it clear that we adhered to the arrangement which we made than attempt to put any strict legal interpretation upon the language used.

But, because I say that, it must not be thought that His Majesty's Government are the least wanting in interest, either in the native population or in the coloured people. We desire honestly to adhere to the letter, aye, and beyond the letter, if it may be so, of the Treaty of Vereeniging, but subject to our obligations on that point, as my noble friend has told you already, we shall take every precaution that is consistent with the establishment of responsible government, for the protection of the native population of every kind. We have told you the course we intend to take. That course has been attacked, sometimes in language of great strength and vehemence, but it is a course at least honest, and intended for the advantage of the country, of the Empire, and of the inhabitants of every race of those new Colonies which we have annexed.