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Mr Merriman's Letter Of 14Th November, 1899

Volume 92: debated on Tuesday 23 April 1901

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I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Hon. J. X. Merriman, who has been a Cabinet Minister in several Governments at the Cape, from his place in the Legislative Assembly of Cape Colony moved on 17th September for information as to the methods by which his private letter, dated 14th November, 1899, came into the hands of the British authorities and was published in a Parliamentary Paper issued by the Colonial Office on 23rd August, and that Sir Gordon Sprigg, the Prime Minister of Cape Colony, promised a post office inquiry; and what was the result of that inquiry.

The manner in which the letter came into the hands of Sir Alfred Milner is described as follows in a Parliamentary Paper presented to the Cape Parliament—

"All that the Governor knows about the matter is that this letter fell into the hands of the military authorities after the second occupation of Dordrecht, and was sent to him in the same way as other correspondence captured from the enemy…. The idea that the letter was intercepted in the post is entirely erroneous."
This statement was made at a later date than the promise of a post office inquiry, and the information it contains appears to have rendered that inquiry unnecessary.

Did the right hon. Gentleman himself suggest to Sir Gordon Sprigg that it should be merely a post office inquiry?