§ MR. MILDMAY
said, that he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for India, to the statements published in The Times of the 23rd inst., which represented the conduct of the Indian Cadets in passing through Egypt as "systematically outrageous," and to ask him whether there was any truth in the charge thus made; and if so, whether he was prepared to take steps for discovering and punishing past offenders, and for exercising more control over those young gentlemen for the future. It was alleged that the Cadets entered the great mosque at Cairo while a religious ceremony was being performed, and the Viceroy was present; and they misconducted themselves so grossly, that by the direction of the Viceroy they were turned out of the building. This was not a mere ordinary disturbance. It was most important for the safety of our Indian Empire that the privilege of transit through Egypt should be maintained; but could we expect to maintain it, considering the sensitiveness of Eastern nations in matters of religion, if such outrages were continued? If the officers alluded to in The Times were really guilty of such conduct, they showed themselves ill qualified for their future position in India, a country where it was essential that every respect should be paid to the religious prejudices of the Natives. If, on the other hand, the offenders were not officials, it was necessary that some special power should be given to our representatives in Egypt, by which they should I be enabled to exercise some control over the English passengers. The question was not merely whether the transit should be made unpleasant to succeeding passengers—far more important results were at stake. The Mahomedans had the means of spreading, with extraordinary rapidity, any news relating to their religion; and who could tell that what was done out of contempt for Mahomedanism in Cairo might not produce a bad effect among the fanatical tribes on our north-western frontier? France had always been carrying on intrigues against us in Egypt, her object apparently being to render our tenure of the transit route precarious, and, upon a favourable opportunity, to interrupt it 222 altogether. The Suez Canal was, no doubt, projected with this view; for a large number of Frenchmen would thereby have been brought into Egypt, and would have established for France a greater hold upon the country. Hitherto we had been able effectually to maintain the transit, owing to the friendly relations which existed with the Porte, and the profit derived by the latter; but, if these outrages upon the Mahomedan religion were repeated, the Porte might no longer be inclined to allow the use of this route by England.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, that before the right hon. Gentleman answered the question, he wished to observe that gentlemen going to India had a right to complain of an anonymous accusation, charging them with the commission of systematic outrages. The account in The Times set forth that "we" had ascertained that the Indian Cadets were guilty of these offences. Who were the "we" here referred to? He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would try to ascertain this, and, if necessary, would prosecute the accuser for gross calumny. As to the specific case mentioned, it was stated in a letter in The Times that at the moment when this outrage was said to have taken place at Cairo, the Bombay passengers had left Suez and were on the voyage to Aden. Under the old règime the Court of Directors were in the habit, when they sent out Cadets, of placing them in the charge of an officer who was bound to send a report to the Court of Directors of the conduct of the individuals under his charge, and if any one misconducted himself, the Court of Directors would send orders with regard to his disposal afterwards in India. In this way they were enabled to ascertain what was the conduct of Cadets after leaving this country, and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) whether he had received systematic reports from India on this point, and whether there was on record a single instance of outrages of this description?