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Peace Negotiations With General Botha

Volume 91: debated on Monday 25 March 1901

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I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with reference to the negotiations between Commandant Louis Botha and Lord Kitchener, if he will cause inquiry to be made from the Boer general as to the terms which his Government consider essential to bring about the termination of the war, more especially as in Lord Kitchener's opinion Botha is anxious to bring about peace; and whether he will procure and lay upon the Table of the House the copy of the letter from Commandant Botha referred to by Lord Kitchener as having been brought to him through Mrs. L. Botha, on the 23rd ult.

The answer to the first paragraph is, No, Sir. In reply to the second I have to say that I have telegraphed to South Africa for the text of this letter, and will consider whether it can be laid on the Table of the House.

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether if General Botha desires to give his version of the conversation between him and Lord Kitchener in reference to the terms of peace, he will afford facilities for its transmission by telegraph or otherwise to this country in its complete form and without delay.

This is a hypothetical question, and I cannot answer till the circumstances contemplated in it have actually arisen.

May I ask if it is a fact that Lord Kitchener has given one version of the conversation, and that possibly there is a second one, and does not that supply to the right hon. Gentleman's mind sufficient reason—

Order, order! The right hon. Gentleman has said that he cannot give an answer to the question.

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he can say whether Mrs. Botha went to meet her husband on the occasion of the recent negotiations for peace of her own motion; and, if not, at whose suggestion.

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War on what date the letter (No. 10) (in Paper Cd. 528) was sent by Lord Kitchener to Commandant Louis Botha, and what was the date of the reply (No. 11).

The letter from Lord Kitchener was sent on the 7th March; the reply from Commandant General Botha was received on the 16th March; I do not know on what date it was despatched.