THE WAR DEBATE.
[TO THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR.")
SIR,—Mr. Shelton (Spectator, August 11th) advances certain statements in the form of questions, and says that if they " are incorrect a great part of the case of the Pro-Boers as usually stated falls to the ground." In your editorial note you say that his very " ingenious interrogatory pleadings," as you call them, in no way represent the true course of the negotiations ; but perhaps you may think it worth while to make " further answer" as follows
(1) Was not the demand of Sir Alfred Milner at the Bloemfon- tein Conference a seven years' retrospective franchise and a Joint Commission to inquire into the working of the Franchise Law ?
Answer. No. At the Bloemfontein Conference Sir Alfred Milner wished primarily to direct attention to the franchise, because agreement on that would render the raising of many other questions unnecessary (C 9,404, No. 1, para- graph 11). In this regard he put forward a particular pro- posal as an outline and basis for discussion (C 9,521, No. 51, r. 60). That proposal was for a five years' retro- spective franchise (C 9,404, No 1, paragraph 20). He did not there demand a Joint Commission to inquire into the working of the existing or any proposed Franchise Law.
(2) Was not this demand subsequently pressed by Mr. Chamberlain ?
Answer. The demand subsequently pressed by Mr. Chamber- lain was for an adequate reform of the Franchise Law. On June 30th he telegraphed that no franchise reform would be accepted which did not give the Outlanders some genuine representation in the First Volksraad at once (C 9,415, 20e). About July 19th the Volksraad passed a law purporting to grant a seven years' retrospective franchise. This measure, however, was involved with complicated details, and questions of a technical nature, rendering its practical operation doubtful. The proposal for a Joint Commission of Inquiry was made by Mr. Chamberlain on July 27th. and it had reference to this new Franchise Law (C 9,518, No. 9, at p. 11).
Was not this demand granted previous to the despatch of the fifty thousand men from England. the Franchise Law being passed and the Joint Commission accepted ?
Answer. Such proposed Commission of Inquiry was never accepted by the Transvaal Government, but in lieu thereof they offered (August 19th-21st) to recommend to the Volksraad a five years' retrospective franchise, condi- tionally, however, on the consent of H.M. Government to certain collateral stipulations (C 9,621, No. 36). Mean- while, H.M. Government had arrived at the conclusion that the Franchise Law which had been passed was insuffi- cient to secure the immediate and substantial represents. tion they had always had in view (C 9,521, No. 62).
(4) Is not, therefore, the immediate cause of war that President Kruger would not grant unconditionally a five years' franchise which he offered conditionally and without pre- vious demand from our Government?
Answer. The five years' term for a retrospective franchise was as had been proposed by Sir Alfred Milner at Bloemfontein (C 9,521, No. 36), and was not offered by President Kruger without previous suggestion from our Government.
Mr. Chamberlain did not demand that President Kruger should grant this five yeara' franchise unconditionally. He replied to the conditional offer by stating how far he was willing to go towards meeting the collateral stipulations attached to the offer (C 9,521, No. 43). He considered that he had accepted at least " nine-tenths " of the whole (Debate in House of Commons, October 19th). The Transvaal Government, nevertheless, announced that their proposal had lapsed owing to the non-acceptance by H.M. Government of these stipulations (C 9,521, No. 49, received September 6th). This, however, was not the immediate cause of the war, inasmuch as on the breakdown of the negotiations concern- ing the franchise H.M. Government contemplated a recon- sideration of the situation, and the formulating of other proposals for a final settlement (C 9,521, No. 52).—I am, Cardiff.