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Observations

Volume 203: debated on Monday 25 July 1870

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said, he rose to call attention to the relations between the Cape Colony and the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. His hon. Friend the Member for Northampton had had a Notice in regard to the Basutos, and he therefore should leave that question, confining himself to expressing his hearty sympathy with the views of his hon. Friend on that subject. The Papers which had been laid on the Table of the House on this subject showed that the statements of the horrors of slavery carried on in the Transvaal territory, which he submitted to the House last Session, were not exaggerated. The most horrible cruelties were perpetrated. He believed that 6,000 orphan children were being held in slavery. The Governor of Natal wrote that 3,000 native children were annually apprenticed, and apprenticeship was only another word for slavery. He had letters before him which led to the belief that such a state of things continued up to the present moment. When the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War was at the Colonial Office he expressed his opinion of the enormity of the state of things which then existed, and all hon. Members who had considered this subject would come to the conclusion that the conduct of the Transvaal Republic was disgraceful to a nominally Christian and civilized country. As regarded the future of South Africa, it was said to be the object of the rulers of that State to consolidate South Africa into a large Republic, of which the Orange River; Free State should form the principal part. For himself he should be glad to see the European population of South Africa consolidated into a Confederation after the example of that which had been so successfully inaugurated in Canada and the adjacent countries. That, he believed, would supply the best means of meeting the difficulty. He had heard with regret that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to withdraw the Imperial troops from the Cape. He looked upon it as a policy not unattended with risk, for it must be remembered that there was a large Dutch population to be dealt with, on whose part there was not to be expected the same feeling of loyalty to the British Crown as existed among the population of British origin.

said, that he had placed a Notice on the Paper relating to the question, but he had forborne to press it on account of the late period of the Session at which they had arrived. He, however, thought they were all agreed as to the importance of the question. A relative of his who had recently returned from South Africa informed him that slavery in South Africa was not only not put a stop to, but was actually increasing, and that it was a very common thing to find a family of Transvaal Boers served by slaves kidnapped in violation of the Treaty between Her Majesty's Government and the Boers. He should like to raise the question as to how far it was the right of a Colonial Government and the Colonial Office to alienate British territory, as they had done in the case of the land of the Basutos, without the knowledge and consent of this country. He considered that the Parliament of England should be the ultimate arbiter in this matter.

said, he concurred in the views just expressed by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin). He greatly disapproved of the Treaty made by Sir Philip Wodehouse as being unjust. The Basutos were guaranteed as much as any nation could be the possession of their land; they trusted to the Government for redress and no redress had been given. He was sorry that Government had not soon their way to suspending Sir Philip Wodehouse.

said, there could be no doubt that the statement which had been made by his hon. Friend (Mr. R. N. Fowler) with regard to slavery was in no degree exaggerated. Native children called orphans, and perhaps made orphans by the murder of their parents, were registered as apprentices for 21 years, and during that time they were sold from hand to hand as a marketable commodity. On account of the gross breach of the Treaty between this country and the Transvaal State Her Majesty's Government had considered that Convention no longer binding which placed restrictions on supplying the Natives with arms. We now gave the Natives the same facilities for acquiring arms and ammunition as the Boers, and as far as that went the means of defending themselves against aggression. It was a notorious fact with regard to the Zulus, that while they cultivated their land, and had herds up to the very borders of our territory, they kept a district uncultivated on the side of the Free State, as they desired to have some notice before the approach of the enemy. Our conduct in Natal and the other districts had been such as to give us considerable moral influence, and he trusted that influence would in the end be sufficient to overbear the cruelties of the Boers. He did not sympathize with the hon. Member in his regret for the loss of the Orange territory, and he did not think that there would be many Members of that House who would sympathize with the hon. Member. His right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) stated some time ago that to maintain it we should have been obliged to keep on foot a force of 2,000 foot and 500 cavalry, and it was idle to suppose that the people of this country would have borne such an expense for that object. With regard to the observations of his hon. Friends, the Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin) and Perth (Mr. Kinnaird), as to the Basutos, the facts were that the Basutos when conquered by the Boers entreated the British Government to take them under its protection, and Sir Philip Wodehouse, in order to rescue them from destruction, proclaimed the Basutos to be British subjects, distinctly stating, however, that the question of boundary was one which he entirely reserved for future consideration. There was, no doubt, much good land which the Basutos had been compelled to give up, but Sir Philip Wodehouse recovered for them from the Boers, by pacific means, a large amount of land, sufficient for their support, and they were deeply grateful for the advantages secured to them by his interposition.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.