§ Mr. STEWART
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has official information to the effect that the Governor of the Straits Settlements has admitted in a public speech that the local authorities were aware for some time before the mutiny in February last that there was a feeling of unrest amongst the men of the 5th Native Light Infantry; whether it is stated in an Official Report that the first shots were fired at Alexander Barracks about three o'clock in the afternoon and, in view of the fact that the mutineers did not cut the telephone wires, will he say how it was that the officer in command of the German prisoners' camp 814W was not notified by telephone and how long it was before the Governor and the Inspector-General of Police became aware of the outbreak; whether civilians were killed in the Sepoy lines and Keppel Harbour districts, within a short distance of two important police stations, more than an hour after the first shots had been fired owing to no warning having been issued; whether some Europeans received no notice of the outbreak until the following day, and in some cases were left to find out things for themselves; whether by a prompt and extensive use of the local telephone lines Europeans both in the city and suburbs could have been notified at once of the outbreak; and whether the finding of the Court of Inquiry can now be laid upon the Table?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I have no information that the Governor of the Straits Settlements has admitted in a public speech that the local authorities were aware some time before the mutiny in February that there was a feeling of unrest amongst the men of the 5th Light Infantry. The statement to which I presume that my hon. Friend refers was as follows:—Even before war broke out there had been something lacking in the discipline of the 5th Light Infantry. In all this there was nothing to suggest mutiny, but discipline was lax.The Governor has specifically denied that the authorities were warned beforehand that trouble was brewing, and his denial was published in the local newspapers on 21st July.
It is true that the first shots were fired about 3 p.m., that the officer in command of the German prisoners' camp was not warned in time by telephone, and that civilians were killed in the Sepoy lines and Keppel Harbour district after 4 p.m. On the other hand, it must be remembered that the military authorities were at this time fully engaged in transmitting information and instructions by telephone. Communication over telephone lines with a number of individuals cannot, as a rule, be rapidly established, so it would presumably have been impossible to warn all the European residents in time. No information is available as to the time at which the Governor and Inspector-General of Police were warned of the outbreak; the news reached the Police at 4.30, and the Colonial Secretary at 4.45. The answer to the last question is in the negative.