HC Deb 14 July 1913 vol 55 cc903-4W

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many so-called agitators are now in custody in South Africa either sentenced or awaiting trial; how many of these are trade union officials and how many women; and, if any have been sentenced, will he inquire under what law they have been sentenced and lay copies of that law upon the Table?


I have no present information on the subject. If, and when, I receive it I will inform the hon. Member.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the authorities are retaining all the troops which were concentrated on the Reef owing to the recent disturbances, and will not demobilise the force thus collected until the elements of uncertainty at present pervading the situation disappear; whether the troops here referred to are British soldiers; whether the power to demobilise these is vested in the South African Government; and what are the elements of uncertainty which still pervade the situation, and upon which the retention of the troops is sought to be justified?


The decision as to the moment at which the forces collected on the Rand, some Regular troops and some not, can be moved, must necessarily rest with those who are in immediate touch with the situation. Imperial troops can only be moved by the general officer commanding, who would, in such case, act in consultation with the Governor-General and Union Government. Lord Gladstone has informed me that his Ministers wish it to be clearly understood that they did not ask for military to coerce miners on strike. So far as miners and mine property are concerned troops are not now required. But owing to serious unrest among natives, who come from all parts of South Africa, all precautions ought to be relaxed at once. Troops have already been withdrawn from posts occupied during disorders and will be withdrawn from mines areas altogether without unnecessary delay. Meanwhile, the Government has already begun practical work of considering grievances.