§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether there is official confirmation for the statement that on Tuesday last the Volksraad of the South African Republic adopted, with President Kruger's approval, a seven years' prospective and retrospective franchise for Uitlanders; and whether he has any statement to make to the House.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Yesterday I received the following telegram from Sir A. Milner:19th July. British Agent South African Republic reports Article IV. of Franchise Law passed by twenty-two votes to five with following alterations in Clause 1, viz., the words 'at least seven' are substituted for 'nine' and the words from 'or five years' to end of clause are deleted. This has effect of making residental qualification for franchise seven years retrospective.I have no official information as to redistribution, but it has been stated that the Government of the South African 1373 Republic proposes to give seven new seats to the districts chiefly inhabited by aliens. If this report is confirmed, this important change in the proposals of President Kruger, coupled with previous amendments, leads the Government to hope that the new law may prove to be a basis of settlement on the lines laid down by Sir A. Milner at the Bloemfontein Conference. They observe, however, that the Volksraad have still retained a number of conditions which might be so interpreted as to preclude those otherwise qualified from acquiring the franchise and might therefore be used to take away with one hand what has been given with the other. The provision that the alien desirous of burghership shall produce a certificate of continuous registration during the period required for naturalisation is an instance of this, for it has been stated that the law of registration has been allowed to fall into desuetude and that but few aliens, however long resident in the country, have been continuously registered. It would also be easy by subsequent legislation to alter the whole character of the concessions now made, but Her Majesty's Government feel assured that the President, having accepted the principle for which they have contended, will be prepared to reconsider any detail of his schemes which can be shown to be a possible hindrance to the full accomplishment of the object in view and that he will not allow them to be nullified or reduced in value by any subsequent alterations of the law or acts of administration. I may add that I received last night the following telegram from the Governor of Natal:19th July. Resolution proposed to-day in Assembly by Baynes, seconded by Escombe: Begins: Legislative Assembly Natal desires to express its sympathy with and approval of action of British Government in its endeavour to secure equal rights and privileges for all Europeans in South Africa whereby peace, prosperity, and termination of racial animosity in this country can alone be assured. Ends: Prime Minister, who had to be carried to Assembly from his bed, to which he has been confined by result of an accident for a fortnight, strongly supported on behalf of Government. Resolution carried unanimously amidst cheers.