§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Sir, I do not see any Member of the Cabinet present; but perhaps some Gentleman on the Treasury Bench will be able to answer the Question, whether they have 505 means of at once refuting the extraordinary statement that has appeared in reference to the supposed attack on our forces in Egypt? If no answer can be given to the Question at the present moment, I hope one will be volunteered in the course of the day.
§ LORD RICHARD GROSVENOR
I regret, Sir, that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is not present. I fully expected that he would have been here by 20 minutes past 12. I regret, also, that on this Bench now we have no information on the subject; but I will take care that information is obtained at the War Office, and that on going into Committee of Supply some Gentleman is here who can make the announcement to the House.
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
Sir, the noble Lord the Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Richard Grosvenor) promised the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that a statement should be made on behalf of the War Office, on the Motion for going into Committee of Supply, in regard to the alarming telegram which had appeared in a daily paper as to the misconduct of an advanced picket of the 60th Rifles last night in Egypt. My official information on the subject is merely negative; but I think that the House will be glad to know that we have absolutely no confirmation whatever from Sir Archibald Alison of the truth of this report, although we are in constant communication with him. Immediately on seeing the report in the paper, the Adjutant General telegraphed to Sir Archibald Alison mentioning it, and asking for details. I have ascertained that up to 4 o'clock no reply has been received. When it arrives it will be laid before the Secretary of State and the Commander-in-Chief. But, through the courtesy of an hon. Member of this House, I have been supplied with a telegram from Alexandria which explains the whole matter. It is as follows: —Wednesday.—In the middle of last night the foremost picket or outpost of British troops at Ramleh, consisting of a corporal and six men, was attacked by about 100 Bedouins. The outpost fell back and fired on the enemy as they retreated. At daybreak [not immediately it will be seen] a company was moved up, but the Bedouins had disappeared.Therefore, I have no doubt that the 506 corporal and the six men in charge of the outpost merely carried out the orders they had received.