§ MR. RYLANDS
I am pleased to find the discussion on the Amendment has come to an end. When I was called to Order I was speaking of the fact of the important intelligence that the meeting of Congress is more probable than it was a few weeks ago, and that there are expectations that the peace of Europe will not be further disturbed. I am bound to say I do not think the fact that so far the Government have been successful in preserving peace is any reason why we should not be in a position to discuss with perfect freedom the question before us. The Government have been playing a game of great risk and for very high stakes; and, unfortunately, whatever the result may be, the interests of this country must be damaged and we must suffer considerable loss. I will not anticipate war; but if that had been the result, who can doubt the untold calamity and suffering which would 763 have fallen upon the country? However popular such a war might have been among the "Jingo" party, if we had been brought into war by the course pursued by the Government, the pages of history would have condemned that course as discreditable, and the war as infamous. But I hope there will be peace, and that the expectations expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be justified. If there is peace, no doubt we shall be told by the Government, and by those who give the Government their support, that this follows as the result of the Government policy. But we hold a directly contrary opinion. We believe that this policy of demonstration and menace, so far from tending to bring about a peaceful solution of the difficulties, was a dangerous policy, and might have led to the worst results. Is it not possible for you to see that in negotiations carried on between nations or between Governments there must be something of human nature, and that you must treat Governments as individuals?—and is it not possible to see that if you treat a great people with distrust and menace, you will excite on their part the same feelings of mistrust, and a suspicion that you are actuated by other motives, and have other objects in view than those you avow? From information received from Russia, I know there was no confidence amongst the Russian people in the declarations of Her Majesty's Government, and the idea got abroad that they were determined on war, and that no concessions would prevent a war. In this state of feeling a very little would have led to war. This is our contention—that the Government, by a temperate, firm course, without these warlike demonstrations, would have secured all that they have secured, supposing the Congress meets. We do not believe it was necessary to bring these troops from India, or to make military demonstrations to secure that the voice of England should be heard. It is difficult to meet the proposal of the Government. They not only refuse to give us information, but they do this—they give us, in reference to their measures, certain information, and in a short time this information is found to be incorrect; so that they either tell us nothing, or they tell something not correct. I am sorry to observe the Home 764 Secretary is not in his place; but I suppose the Chancellor of the Exchequer can give us information on an important point, to which I must direct attention. I have said the Government do not give us any information, or they give us information which is incorrect. They have gone further. They acknowledge that in a very important decision they have taken in regard to Government policy, they were influenced by information afterwards proved to be false. That is a statement to which I would call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Home Secretary gave us this information in distinct terms; and in regard to this movement of Indian troops to Malta, and to our complaint of their taking that decided step in secrecy, the Home Secretary said—''We had received certain information from a high authority, which has since, happily, turned out untrue. No one was more glad of that than myself; but there were rumours, which came from such an authority, that we were bound to pay respect to them."—[See ante, 501.]He rests the case upon these rumours, which happily turned out untrue. I suppose at some future time, when we have the "Blue Book" history of these proceedings before us, we shall have some information as to who this high authority is from whom proceeded these rumours which had such an effect upon Her Majesty's Government. Then, perhaps, we can have the right hon. Gentleman in the witness-box and ask him to tell us what were those rumours, upon whose authority they reached the Cabinet, what effect they had upon the Cabinet when received, and again what followed when they were found to be incorrect? It may have been that in consequence of these rumours the Indian troops were ordered to Malta, and then, when these rumours were found to be false, it was too late for the Government to change their policy. So far as we know, that may be the information gathered from the speech of the Home Secretary. Now, I presume, sooner or later we shall get full particulars of the high authority upon which Government depended; but, in the meantime, I think we need have no difficulty in tracing whence these rumours came. They probably came from Constantinople. We have heard of such rumours before, and we know the effect they have had on 765 the Government—they came from Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople. Perhaps, at some future time, we shall know whether the high authority is, or is not, the same right hon. Gentleman who is in the habit of conveying alarming rumours to Her Majesty's Government to influence their decisions. It is a most unfortunate circumstance, that during the whole of these transactions there has been a Party with great influence whose aim and interest it was to secure a declaration of war from England against Russia with Turkey for an Ally. That Party has made use of the telegraph and the newspapers, and they have had the entrée into the saloons of Ambassadors, and by every instrumentality have endeavoured to make such an impression upon the Government as to induce them to make war in the interest of Turkey. I venture to say that when this now secret history comes to be inquired into, and the policy of the Government brought to the test, it will be found that most important decisions of the Government were taken in consequence of the influence of that Party whose interest it was to drag the Government into an alliance with Turkey against Russia. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Hayter) has pointed out so distinctly that the employment of the Indian troops, in consequence of the very extravagant expenditure, is one entirely without justification; and it will not be necessary for me to enlarge on that branch of the subject. Even allowing that this policy on the part of the Government was necessary for the promotion of British interests—a proposition which I entirely dispute—we cannot be asked to vote this enormous sum of money without taking into our account the fact that the House of Commons has already placed at the disposal of the Government a very large sum of money. Let me remind the House that on the Army and Navy Estimates and the Vote of Credit we are already committed to an expenditure of something like £32,000,000. Is not that sufficient for an armed demonstration? That is not all. Does any hon. Member suppose that this £750,000 is the last of the bill? We shall have a very considerable sum of money to pay beyond this amount. I believe that it is an altogether extravagant expenditure; 766 and are we to be told that the time has passed when we can object to that expenditure? That time has not gone by, and we are not in any way now precluded from objecting to the policy which has been pursued. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has admitted, that while it would be a very great inconvenience if the House rejected these Supplementary Estimates, yet in that case the expense would not be thrown upon India. Therefore, it must be understood that if we vote against this expenditure for Indian troops, what we are doing is not throwing that charge upon India, but calling upon the Government so to avoid expenditure in other services, that they may provide out of such savings the fresh expenditure incurred. It will be far better to reject the Vote than to throw this additional burden upon the backs of the people of this country, who are suffering at the present time from great distress—from financial difficulties and privations of the most dreadful character. Is this the time, when for years past we have been passing through a state of commercial depression which has affected almost every capitalist in the Kingdom, when the people have a difficulty in finding employment, and, in some cases, even the common necessaries of life, to adopt such a Vote blindfold? The expenditure has been entirely unnecessary, and the object aimed at might have been secured by greater economy. Altogether the Government is left without a single excuse for the proposals they have laid before the House of Commons.
§ MR. E. JENKINS
said, that even at the risk of being accused of factious opposition, and of taking a course which was useless, and which could lead to no practical result, he thought it right to enter his protest against the course taken by the Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had assured the House that the prospects of the meeting of the Conference had materially increased; but the satisfaction with which that assurance was received was greatly lessened by the recollection of the number of satisfactory assurances which had come from the same quarter, but afterwards turned out to have been without any solid foundation. He was of opinion that there had been a dexterous manipulation of public information. For a 767 long time past delicate and momentous questions had been under the consideration of the Government, large sums of money had been voted, the Reserves had been called out, and the Indian troops moved, and up to this moment no one knew what the object was at which the Government aimed. He contended that this was not a proper position for the House to be placed in; and he protested against the absolute and irresponsible right of a small clique, in concert with the Crown, to settle great questions of foreign policy, and to make war or peace without reference to Parliament. He protested against the House of Commons being made merely the holder of the purse-strings of the nation, and having the power only to say—"We will not pay." The conduct of the Government was, he held, wholly unconstitutional, and might have the effect of rousing a most unfavourable feeling out-of-doors. Not only were the Government pursuing a policy of secrecy, but in their diplomatic negotiations with Russia they had imposed silence on Russia herself. He believed the Government would not deny that they had imposed silence upon Count Schouvaloff in regard to the objects of his mission; and he asked if it were not true that they were contemplating, in reference to the negotiations, certain conditions which went far beyond anything that had yet been made known? He saw an article in The Times of that day which stated, in effect, that no influence could ensure good government in Turkey but that of a Power whose authority in the East was generally recognized, and that England was that Power. Such a policy might lead to the most serious consequences, and the sooner it was disavowed by the Government the better. He regarded the employment of these Indian troops as impolitic and inexpedient. It was calculated to excite the jealousy of European Powers, to create a reactionary and dangerous effect in India, and to blunt the moral sense of the English people. It would be a dangerous and unhealthy principle if they were to lay it down that in future wars England would find the money and India would find the men.
Sir, the House need not be afraid that I am going to abuse its patience by entering at length upon the wide subjects which are affected by this Vote. It has afforded me already 768 its attention with great liberality and kindness, and therefore I shall show my gratitude by moderation upon the present occasion. I have not heard that it is intended to divide the House at the present stage of these proceedings; and I do not think that it would be very desirable that a division should be taken without Notice upon a subject of so much importance, when a division would give no fair test of the opinion of the House. I wish to express my own disapproval, and protest against this proceeding on two grounds—the one that I think it is impolitic, and the other that it is illegal. The impolicy of the use of Indian troops is a matter upon which I entertain a strong opinion; but, at the same time, I do not hold it as an ultimate and unchangeable opinion. It is a large question, involving a great number of considerations perfectly distinct from one another. We have had no argument from Her Majesty's Government upon the subject; and I feel that it is a question so novel, so extensive, and so complicated, that no prudent person, whatever his first impressions may be, would wish to give them vent as absolutely irrevocable. My own present opinion is, that it is a most impolitic and most dangerous measure; but, at the same time, that opinion itself would not have led me, before you, Sir, quit the Chair, to express my verbal protest against the proceeding. I feel, and those who think with me, that the vote which we are about to be invited to give is an illegal vote, a vote for a distinctly illegal purpose; in my opinion, we are taking the most consistent course in stating that opinion before we go into Committee. I am of opinion, not only that this measure is illegal, but that it is illegal under a number of distinct and separate heads, any one of which, so far as argument has yet gone, is quite sufficient to convict it of illegality. The first and most important of these is the question of Common Law. It is, I believe, in violation of the Common Law that we are called upon, without any attempt to rectify the previous proceedings, to give a vote for the purpose of supporting an addition to the Standing Army, which had been made by the Executive Government, upon its own responsibility, in violation, I will not say of the Bill of Rights, but of the Common Law, of which the Bill of Rights was a declaration and 769 expression. There were several matters of fact alleged for the purpose of showing that the proceeding was not under that head illegal, and I would wish briefly to point to the signal and unexampled manner in which the allegations of facts that were made, with perfect truth, and sincerity, by Members of the Government have, one after another, broken down. The first allegation was, that when the late Government, in the year 1870, proposed an addition of 20,000 men to the Army, they had no legislative sanction for the numbers so added to the Army; but the researches of the Government were not, unfortunately, extended to Schedule B of the Act—because in the Schedule will be found the number of 20,000 men recorded in the usual manner, with all the sanction that the Legislature can give to it. Another allegation was, that in the case of New Zealand a Force was sent from the Indian Establishment without authority, and that such sending of the Forces by a former Liberal Government constituted a precedent for what has now been done. If that had been done so, it would have been little material to the case, because in New Zealand war had actually broken out, and the question was one of establishing peace in the country. It appears, however, that such Forces were never sent at all, and that the Forces which were sent were English Forces not upon the Indian Establishment. Important as these errors are, the plea that was raised upon them was nothing like the importance of one which was made explicitly by the Attorney General in this House, and which appears to have been advanced still more boldly in "another place"—an allegation which, if substantiated in point of fact, would have gone some way to establish the doctrine set up on the part of the Government, that it is the Prerogative of the Crown to raise and maintain Armies generally—that the Prerogative was limited by the Bill of Rights as to the United Kingdom, but that beyond the United Kingdom no such limitations exist. If that proposition can be established, it would, no doubt, be most material for the support of the proceedings of Her Majesty's Government. There was only a single case alleged which went directly to establish that proposition, but it was an important case. 770 I refer to the case of Ireland, and if the allegation breaks down there, the failure is still more conspicuous and egregious than in the other cases. It was alleged that for a length of time after the Revolution—and by a still higher authority than the Attorney General—that during the whole of the last century a standing Army was kept in Ireland without the authority of Parliament. What is the fact? The fact is that from the first Mutiny Act after the Revolution the authority of Parliament was given explicitly and expressly for the maintenance of Forces, with a view to the reduction and subjugation of Ireland. That process was repeated in the very next year—the year 1690. To the first two Acts I have referred, and I take the others down to 1698 on the authority of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James), in all of which years the Mutiny Acts provide and renew the authority for the maintenance of Forces in Ireland. In the year 1698 an Act was passed, constituting a regular Establishment of Forces for Ireland, which was fixed at 12,000 men. In the year 1767 that Act was repealed, and another substituted, which recited that it had become necessary to employ a certain portion of the Force kept on the Irish Establishment out of the country, and that, for the purpose of putting the Government in a condition so to employ a portion of the Indian Establishment, it was needful to enlarge the Irish Establishment; and, consequently, by the authority of Parliament, the Establishment was increased from 12,000 to 15,200 men. So stood the Act until the time of the Union. This is the only precedent as far my information goes, and the facts show that the standing Army of Ireland was maintained for 70 or 80 years after the Revolution, and down to the time of the Act of Union, under the express authority of Parliament. If that be so, and no one has contravened the allegation of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Taunton, Ireland at that time stood in exactly the same Constitutional position as that which Malta now holds. So much for breach of the common law. Besides that, we have the Indian Government Act, and so far as I am able to understand, there are three distinct allegations that that Act has been broken, to no one of which has any tolerable semblance of an answer been given. The 771 41st section of the Indian Government Act requires the consent of the majority of the Council to any charge upon the Revenues of India. There has been no such assent by the majority of the Council, and that, according to us, is a distinct breach of the law. "No," as I understand the Government say, "there is no breach of the law, because there has been no charge upon the Revenues of India." The money has been paid out of the Revenues of India; there is no doubt at all about that; and there are no legal means for its repayment. I apprehend that when money has been paid out of the Revenues of India, and there are no legal means for its repayment, a charge has been imposed upon the Indian Revenue. If that be not so, you lose all power of defining what is the meaning of the phrase—"charge upon the Revenues of India." Well, Sir, this matter is tolerably simple, and may be said to rest thus—the East India Company in former times had not power for the general employment of Forces all over the world, but only within certain limits, which were defined by Charter and Acts of Parliament. The Charter limited their employment by a geographical definition, and that definition was the Cape of Good Hope on the one side and the Straits of Magellan on the other side. Within the region so limited the Forces of the East India Company might be employed, but beyond those limits they could not. In 1858, Parliament constituted the Military and Naval Forces of the East India Company into the Indian Naval and Military Forces of Her Majesty; and, in so doing, defined in the strictest manner that they should be Military and Naval Forces only upon the same terms as they had been for the East India Company. The care, the precision, and the minuteness of detail, with which this limitation is contained in the Indian Government Act is most remarkable; because it is not merely said that they shall be Her Majesty's Indian Military and Naval Forces on the same terms as they would have been had they continued to be the Forces of the East India Company, but it is said that they shall be under the same obligations to serve Her Majesty as they would have been under to serve the Company, and shall be liable to serve within the same territorial limits only, for the same terms only, and be entitled 772 to the like pay, allowances, and so forth. It is perfectly true that that refers to the Forces that were then actually in the service of the Crown, and that a subsequent reference is made with regard to persons thereafter rendering that service; but, although that reference is made, there is no enlargement whatever of the terms contained in the Act of Parliament. There is a reference to other Acts of Parliament, but that reference only makes the case and the arguments all the more stringent, for we find in those Acts the geographical limits within which the East India Company's Forces might be employed distinctly recognized and affirmed. Then comes the 57th section of the East India Company's Act, which gives the Queen power, by order in Council, to alter or enlarge these terms; and it is not for me to dispute that, supposing contracts with individuals maintained, the Queen has Parliamentary power—a peculiar Parliamentary power—to enlarge the terms. But Her Majesty can only do so by Order in Council. There is no such power by oath of enlistment, by the Articles of War, or by anything else. Not only so, but care has been taken that Parliament shall be made part and parcel of the proceedings; because the provision is, that such Order shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament "within 14 days of the meeting thereof." Well, we have had it from the highest authority, from the Solicitor General, that it was the duty of the Opposition to find out whether there was any Order in Council or not. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Waddy) took the best way of finding out whether there was such an Order in Council. He inquired of the Government, and from the mouth of the Government we now know that such an Order in Council does not exist. This is the third breach of the law. The first is the breach of the common law; the second is with regard to the assent of the majority of the Indian Council; and the third is that which refers to the local limits within which the Forces are to act. Well, Sir, this a matter of great interest; because, hon. Gentlemen looking back over what has occurred in former years, cannot fail to be struck with the fact that in every one of the cases in which Indian Forces have been hitherto employed beyond the frontiers 773 of India they have been employed in such a way as to come completely within the definition of the territories of the East India Company's Charter. The Solicitor General has said that this was an affair connected with the conditions of the contract between the Government and persons who were then serving in Her Majesty's Forces. If that had been all, it would have been perfectly easy to save their rights. It would have been totally unnecessary to put in these elaborate provisions about Orders in Council. It would have been a very simple matter to have introduced a saving clause or proviso on this point. The only reading of the Act, to any man who looks at it with an impartial eye, and endeavours to learn what was the animus of the Parliament which passed it, is obviously this—that the intention of Parliament was that the East India Army, in its Native Forces, should continue to be, as it had been, a local Army. The opposite contention would make out that Parliament was outside one of the very largest questions it was possible for it to decide—namely, that the Indian Army, which had up to that time been a local Army, should from that time become only a portion, separated by geographical boundaries only, of Her Majesty's Army. Instead of that, I think a wise course was taken. Power was left to the Crown to act by passing Orders in Council, and then by making those Orders known to Parliament, in order that Parliament might have the opportunity of pronouncing its opinion thereupon. Well, then, there comes the other clause—Section 55; and here it is very difficult to make out what is the exact contention of the Government. In fact, the Attorney General in this House stands in one sense altogether alone, for he is the only man who has made a distinct contention of any kind. We know at least what we are dealing with when we have to do with him; but from the other Members of the Government I defy any hon. Member to extract one particle of doctrine. They speak of alarming intelligence which proves to be untrue. Sometimes it is a telegram from Constantinople, sometimes it is something else; but, invariably, it causes some step of immense importance to be taken, and then the intelligence turns out not to be true. We were told that this power would be gently used, that it would be exercised 774 with the utmost care and discrimination; but what the Constitutional principle is on which the Government mean to take their stand we know not. We only know that the doctrine of the Attorney General has been declared in terms perfectly clear and unequivocal, and that those terms have not been disavowed by any Member of Her Majesty's Government. Well, then comes, I was going on to say, the section with regard to the use of the Forces beyond the frontiers of the Indian Possessions; and here my contention is very simple. It is that the clause has been broken—flatly, plainly, and egregiously broken—by the doing of this act without the consent of Parliament. "Consent of Parliament" here means the previous consent of Parliament; but if that is contested I should like to have some case quoted, either from Statute or Parliamentary usage, according to which the "consent of Parliament" means some act done by Parliament after the fact. In its various Parliamentary applications the term has not one meaning. In the case of Bills affecting the proprietary rights of the Crown, the consent of the Crown has to be signified before the Bill quits the House.
My right hon. Friend really ought to have some compassion upon inferior intellects. He says that the consent of the Crown was to be given previously to the employment.
Then the consent of Parliament did mean previous consent? Although I believe the law has been broken in three respects, the two points on which we are mainly at variance are as to the territorial limits within which the troops may be legally employed, and, secondly, as to whether any charge has been actually made on the Revenues of India? Well, Sir, having made these remarks, it is not my intention to divide the House. On the contrary, I think I have given good reasons why it seems to me better that we should not divide at the present stage. But, inasmuch as we are called upon, in my opinion, to sanction an act contrary to the law, I wished to register 775 my dissent against such a proceeding. I may be told that this, after all, is to meet a charge which has been already incurred. Well, of course, that is true as to a portion of the charge. I apprehend, however, that this will be both a prospective and a retrospective Vote; but looking at it as it is proposed in principle, and as implying a recognition of the propriety and legality of what has been done, I have ventured to state these objections to the House.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, the right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the 55th Section of the Government of India Act, which he considered had been infringed by the action of the Government; but the argument founded on that section had already, he thought, been sufficiently disposed of by the remarks which had been made by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The fact was, they were not applying the Revenues of India to this purpose at all. They were being, as a matter of account, advanced, but they would be repaid; but no charge would be put in any form upon the Revenues of India. Then, the right hon. Gentleman said that an Order in Council was necessary to enable the Government to act as they had done, and that that Order in Council ought to have been laid before Parliament. The Section of the Act had two objects—the first being, that if it were desired to alter the conditions and terms of service, it should be done by Order in Council; and the second object was to enable the Governor General in Council, from time to time, to alter the forms of attestation, and the oath to be taken on enlistment, without the necessity of coming to Parliament at all. There had never been any necessity to issue an Order in Council, but the Governor General in Council had issued an Order altering the form of attestation; and, under the Act, read by any man in the light of common sense, it showed that it was impossible, looking to the words of the clause, to consider that any Order in Council was necessary.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
said, the hon. Gentleman had inadvertently fallen into an error. The alteration in the oath and form of attestation was made in 1856, in order to render the troops liable to serve beyond the seas—in the Mauritius, China, &c.—from which, until that alteration, they had been 776 exempt, as their former oath only bound them to "march" wherever ordered. If there were any doubt as to the intentions of the Government of 1858, it could be solved by reference to the Report of the Commissioners of 1858–9 with regard to the amalgamation of the Indian and Imperial Armies. From that Report, it was clear that there was no idea that the local Army of India could by any possibility be employed in Europe.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, if the House were to be asked to go to a division on this question, he could not give a silent vote. He was convinced at the time the £6,000,000 Vote was agreed to, that the majority of the House was unquestionably determined to support the Government in its course of foreign policy. He should have been content to let this matter pass but for the extraordinary statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, that Her Majesty had the undoubted right in time of peace to move Her troops from one part of Her Dominions to another; and of the Attorney General, that the Mutiny Act did not extend further than the British Islands. When he heard those statements, he thought they had receded 200 years, and that he was reading the accounts of the old Star Chamber. If Her Majesty's Government had come down and said that this was a matter of emergency—that they were not at liberty to give their reasons, but must trust to the good sense of the House to leave any discussion to the future—he, for one, would have given a very different vote. But when the Government affirmed it as an absolute right, it became a Constitutional question of importance. If the Mutiny Act did not extend beyond the British Islands, under what authority were the troops tried by court martial, as he had seen done in Canada and Nova Scotia, and elsewhere? He regretted to be compelled to vote against the Speaker leaving the Chair; but he thought this was no question of giving encouragement to Russia, but one of whether they should give up those liberties which their forefathers prized.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
was totally unable to see that any question of Constitutional law had been raised by the removal of these troops from India to Malta. The question turned on the meaning of the word "Kingdom" in the 777 Bill of Rights; and, as in common law, the ''Kingdom'' was defined to be "where the King's writ ran," it followed that Malta did not come within the Bill of Rights, as the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition had contended. The Bill of Rights was a declaratory Act asserting the rights and liberties of the English people. When even foreign troops were brought into this Kingdom Parliament was informed by Message after they were so brought in; and if Indian troops—British subjects—had been brought in, it was not necessary to obtain the previous sanction of Parliament under the Bill of Rights. Nor was there anything in the Mutiny Act to limit the Prerogative of the Crown to move a portion of the troops serving from one part to another. The talk about the danger of the movement was a mere bugbear. No man in his senses could seriously contend that the removal of Indian troops to Malta could in any way endanger the liberties of the people of this country. Troops could not be moved without money, and as Parliament had to be asked to pay the cost, Parliament had a check over the movement of troops. The late movement of Indian troops to Malta was no violation of the Constitution, for by the Constitution the Government and the disposition of the Forces were vested in the Crown. If the movement of Indian troops from India to Malta were against the Constitution, why was not a Resolution moved to impeach the Ministry? Instead of that, an ingenious Resolution was brought forward mis-reciting and mis-stating the law. That Resolution was supported by statements which, if true, would have justified an impeachment of the Ministry. In 1858 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) moved a Resolution, declaring that except for the repelling of actual invasion, the Government should not be allowed to employ Indian troops beyond the boundaries of India without the consent of Parliament. That Resolution was not worth the paper on which it was written, if such employment of Indian troops were a violation of the Constitution. Lord Palmerston said that such an attempt to restrict the Prerogative of the Crown was unconstitutional. In the other House the subject was more maturely considered, and that Resolution was rejected. 778 Therefore, there was a Parliamentary decision against the present contention of the right hon. Gentleman. He (Sir George Bowyer) did not know why the noble Lord moved a Resolution. If let alone, he did not believe the noble Lord would have moved a Resolution. Everyone present at the debate on that Resolution saw that the noble Lord, to use a law phrase, did not like his case, and had an up-hill game to make. The objection which had been made to the act of the Government in moving the Indian troops was not only a Party move, but it was one which was most ill-timed and most inopportune, inasmuch as it tended to weaken the influence of the British Government abroad.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
said, they were getting familiar with assertions of Prerogative, and with arguments that were enough to make them afraid for the future; not that the National Party would not be victorious, but because a disruption of the even balance at present existing in the country would certainly come about if the course now in favour were persevered in by its injudicious advocates. The argument with respect to Ireland, which had been relied on by the Government in the late debates in both Houses, had been based upon a mistake, the fact telling exactly the other way. The policy of the Government in regard to the movement of Indian troops to Malta was simply to create a sensation in Europe. The movement of these troops to Malta was not justified by any emergency. The Government themselves had said that they did not now believe that there was an emergency, but that, in the first instance, they acted on information received from a high authority. Who was that authority? If it were their Ambassador at Constantinople, that accounted, perhaps, for the fact that the information was at once alarming and unreliable. If there were a real emergency, was India the place from which 7,000 men could be obtained the most quickly? Now, what effect would the introduction of Indian troops have on the Government of Russia? Why, they would form the opinion that that was the largest number we could spare from India. The Government were now going forth as a great military nation, and were assuming that bluster and swagger which brought the Second Empire to its fall. What had been the character for 779 which England had been distinguished for many years? Why, if she had been distinguished for anything, it had been moderation. But that character had recently been greatly changed. The policy of the Government had been a boastful, bragging policy, and quite foreign to the nature of Englishmen. He warned the House against supporting such a policy at the present time.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, there was a greater than the merely local question before the House. He considered it most unwise, ungenerous, and unpatriotic on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite, in a great crisis like the present, to raise such an issue, more especially after the Chancellor of the Exchequer had assured them that there was a hope of a Congress assembling. Other countries could not imagine or realize that any body of men, least of all could they imagine Members of the British House of Commons, raising such a discussion, unless, indeed, they objected not merely to the movement of the Native Indian troops in a legal point of view, but altogether to the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government. A wrong issue was, therefore, placed before the House. Did any hon. Member, he asked, believe for one moment that by the movement of these troops the liberties of this country were endangered? There were dangers to the liberties of the country, on the other hand, arising from the action taken by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and dangers to Europe as representing the faith of Treaties. The majority the other night showed the feeling of the House with reference to this subject, and, more than that, he thought it showed the feeling of the country. For his part, he believed that the step taken by the Government had done more than anything which had occurred in this generation to strengthen the union of India to Great Britain. He did not think that military men were jealous of the Indian troops. In fact, if these troops could be brought to England and reviewed by the Queen, he was certain they would be received with enthusiasm by the whole country. The course now taken was calculated to damage the action of the Government, for it was not understood in its true light abroad. He believed the Government, by the action they had taken in ordering these troops from India, had done the best thing 780 they could to maintain their Indian Empire and the greatness of the country, and, above all, to maintain the rights of Treaties and the liberties of Europe.
§ DR. LUSH
said, he did not understand that the duties of the Opposition ceased after once taking a division upon a question. That was not the way he understood that the liberties of this country had been built up. No doubt, they were in a minority in the House at that moment; but he was not convinced that the Government possessed the confidence of the country. The question was one which the mere money evil did not properly appraise. The assumption of the Royal Prerogative was something infinitely greater than the mere money payment. The act of bringing over Indian troops had drawn upon the Government grave reprobation, and it was the duty of the Opposition so to oppose it that posterity might fully appreciate the position it had taken up. He should consider it his duty to vote against the Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had left his place, as he wished to take that opportunity to make an explanation with regard to some observations which fell from the right hon. Gentleman in reply to him (Mr. Newdegate) during the debate on Thursday last. The right hon. Gentleman then said that he (Mr. Newdegate) had contended that the previous consent of Parliament to the movement of Indian Native troops out of Her Majesty's Indian Possessions was necessary. He (Mr. Newdegate) then rose to explain that that was, in his opinion, the purport of the expressions used by the late Lord Derby in moving the 55th clause of the India Act, and that he (Mr. Newdegate) had not merely given his own opinion, but he had quoted the late Earl of Derby. The fact was, that this question, which the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) seemed to think so trifling, and complained of its being interposed at what he described a great emergency, was a very grave Constitutional question. The question was this—and it was clear from the exposition of the hon. and learned Member for Durham (Mr. Herschell), and from that of the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James), 781 clear also from what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) that evening, that it was not the exercise of the Prerogative in declaring war that was questioned—there was no question about that, but the real question was this—whether, by moving the local Native troops from India, without the concurrence of Parliament, Her Majesty's Government had not used the Prerogative in this sense—the sense of having converted the Native Indian Army from a local Force into being a part of the general and Regular Forces of the standing Army of this Kingdom and Empire? Now, that was not a little question. The question was no less than this—whether by some operation, confined to Her Majesty's Ministers, without the previous knowledge or consent of Parliament, they had not so interpreted the India Act of 1858, that the Forces, which, by the 54th, 55th, and 56th clauses of that Act, were clearly described as a local Indian Army, not under the command of the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief of the acknowledged standing Army, but who were under the command of the Governor General of India, and that only for local and Indian purposes—whether, he repeated, by this undescribed process, Her Majesty's Ministers had not, in time of peace, managed to convert part of the Indian local Army into being part of the general Forces of the Kingdom; whether, by the use of the power, as it was alleged, contained in the 57th clause of the Act, by which Her Majesty had power, by Order in Council, to decide the terms of enlistment of this local Indian Army, the Government had not, as stated by the Under Secretary of State for India (Mr. E. Stanhope), so used and interpreted that clause, as to supersede the whole meaning of the three preceding clauses; and, strange to say, they had failed to produce any Order in Council which could satisfy the requirements of the 57th clause itself? Now, that, he repeated was not a small question; and, in saying this, he went upon what had been stated that evening as, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, the justification of their course, stated by the Under Secretary of State for India. If the question rested only upon the 55th clause of the Act alone, he could understand there being some doubt, 782 though it was a doubt in which he could not share; for it was a doubt that did not seem to have entered into the mind of the late Earl of Derby when he framed that clause. But he would read the clause to the House. The 54th clause was to this effect—that when an order to commence actual hostilities was sent to India, the fact should be communicated to Parliament. Now, that clearly related to war carried on upon the frontiers of or within the Indian Territories of Her Majesty; he did not think any lawyer could read the clause, and dispute that conclusion. The next clause, the 55th, said—Except for preventing or repelling actual invasion of Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, or under other sudden or urgent necessity, the Revenues of India shall not, without the consent of Parliament, be applicable to defray''—not the expenses only of actual war, but—the expenses of any Military operation carried on beyond the external frontiers of such Possession by Her Majesty's Forces charged upon such Revenues.Therefore, the terms of the clause conveyed—and this was irrespective of a declaration of war in India—that without the consent of Parliament to repel invasion, or some such urgent necessity, neither the Revenues nor the Forces of India should be used for any military operation beyond the frontiers of India. In proposing this clause, the late Earl of Derby said—If the troops were employed out of India, it would be for Parliament to decide whether they were employed upon Indian or Imperial objects;"—[3 Hansard, cli. 1697.]because, according to the universal practice of the Government of India, equally while it was in the hands of the East India Company as since, these local Forces were used for Indian purposes outside of India, and to Indian purposes three of these four clauses clearly related. But surely the late Earl of Derby, with those three clauses before him, when he introduced the 55th clause, must have known what was the purport of the clause which he so introduced. He (Mr. Newdegate) had quoted it before, but he would quote two sentences of the Earl of Derby's speech again. The Earl of Derby' first words were—The object of the clause was to impose a certain restriction upon the Prerogative of the Crown through the intervention of Parliament."—[Ibid.]783 Those were his first words. His last words, when introducing the 55th clause, were these—If the clause were not agreed to, it would be perfectly competent for any unconstitutional Sovereign to employ the whole of the Revenues and Troops of India, for any purpose which the Crown might direct, without the necessity of going to Parliament for the advance of a single shilling."—[Ibid.]Let the House observe that these words point to an advance of money. He (Mr. Newdegate) could not believe that it was seriously argued by the Government that the Indian Treasury had not advanced a single shilling, and it had not been pretended that the Treasury of this country had done so. Clearly, then, if the Indian Treasury had advanced a single shilling, there was no pretence for saying that in this case the consent of Parliament had been obtained to the expenditure of that shilling. Clearly, according to the understanding of the late Earl of Derby—who substituted this clause for another, in order to place, as he said in his first words, a limitation or restriction upon the use of the Prerogative—the sense and meaning of the terms of this clause, taken in connection with the 54th, 56th, and 57th clauses of the India Act, had been broken and violated by what had been done. But did the proof of this stop here? This very question was raised in the year 1867, with respect to the Abyssinian War; and he had the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer then before him, spoken on the 26th of November, 1867, during the debate on the Abyssinian War. In July of that year, and previous to the Prorogation of Parliament, the present Earl of Derby, then Lord Stanley, had announced that it was in the contemplation of the Government to use the Indian troops for the Abyssinian Expedition; and while the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking in this House in the following November, he said that no objection had been taken in this House by any Member of this House before the Recess, whereupon Mr. Bernal Osborne got up and said—"Yes, one did," and then asserted that Colonel Sykes had objected. Could there be any clearer proof that at the end of the previous Session, which closed in the month of August, 1867, this House had been informed that it was the intention of the Government to use 784 the Indian Forces? But he would go further yet. When, in 1858, this 55th clause had been inserted in the India Act in Committee in the House of Lords, this occurred—he quoted from Hansard, vol. cli. 2008—GOVERNMENT OF INDIA BILL.Third reading, Clause 55, enacting that, except for preventing or repelling actual invasion, the revenues of India shall not, 'without the consent of Parliament,' he applicable to defray the expenses of any military operation carried on beyond the frontiers.Lord CRANWORTH wished to remind the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) that the 'consent of Parliament' meant an Act of Parliament; while the consent of 'both Houses of Parliament' would be inferred by Addresses to the Crown.Earl GRANVILLE had asked more than once what was meant by the words 'consent of Parliament,' but he never received an answer. He should like to hear from the noble Earl opposite what was meant by the term.The Earl of DERBY said, the consent of Parliament might mean either an Act of Parliament or a Resolution passed by both Houses.And what did the late Earl of Derby do in 1867? The Indian troops left Bombay on the 7th of September in that year. That was when they moved. Simultaneously, the Earl of Derby issued Notices for convening Parliament, which assembled on the 19th of November; and, in seconding the Address in the House of Lords, the late Lord Hylton plainly stated, and purposely stated, that Parliament had been convened, as soon as circumstances admitted, because it was felt that the Constitution required the consent of Parliament to the use of these troops for Imperial purposes out of India. What was the next proceeding at the commencement of the Session, which began on that 19th of November, 1867? Why, the proposal of a Vote of Credit, which was granted by Resolution of this House, which thus assented to, and identified itself with, the action of the Government. Let the House now compare the proceedings in 1867 with the proceedings in this Session, when Parliament separated for the Easter Recess without having received the slightest intimation that this exceptional use was to be made of the Indian local troops, and had remained until this very day, after a division had been taken in the House on this subject, without the means of giving its consent to the action of the Government by passing any Resolution in Supply. He held, then, not only that the Constitutional practice had been broken, but that a most vicious and 785 dangerous precedent was being set. That opinion he held distinctly, not upon his own authority only, but on that of accomplished lawyers, who had kindly assisted him by examining this Statute, and who had told him that that which had now been done by Her Majesty's Government was, in their opinion, illegal, and, even if it were not technically illegal, that it was wholly unconstitutional. He also contended that the action of the Government, in changing the terms of the enlistment of the Native Indian Army without an Order in Council, with a view to changing the character of that local Army of India, and to make that Army a part of the Regular Forces of this country, was a stretch of the Prerogative that was unjustifiable, and that would hereafter, if not now, be reprobated by Parliament. No one could be surprised that, entertaining these opinions, he (Mr. Newdegate) had voted for the Resolution of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition. He was no less anxious than Her Majesty's Ministers that this country should be prepared to exhibit her strength if necessary. He had voted against the Government on this Constitutional question. But he was the survivor of two non-official Members of that House, who, at the commencement of the Crimean War, doubted whether the Government of the day had made adequate provision of small arms for the Army. In conjunction with the late Mr. Muntz, then Member for Birmingham, he (Mr. Newdegate) ventured on the great responsibility of persuading the House to appoint a Select Committee on the Supply of Arms, thus superseding the action of the then Administration. This was in the year 1854. The Select Committee on the Supply of Arms then appointed, after a careful inquiry, took the same view as the late Mr. Muntz and himself—that the War Office and the Ordnance authorities had erred in trusting to their own then imperfect manufacturing establishment and to foreign supply, instead of entrusting large orders for rifles to the English arms trade. The Ordnance Authorities asserted that the English arms trade could not be trusted to supply more than 30,000 rifles a-year. The House of Commons compelled the Government, nevertheless, to send large orders to the English trade. The answer of the trade was the supply of 272,000 786 rifles in two years and three months. The result justified the conduct of the late Mr. Muntz and himself; but he (Mr. Newdegate) felt at the outset that they incurred a grave responsibility. He (Mr. Newdegate) was prepared now to incur as grave a responsibility, if necessary, as he did in 1854, for the sake of upholding the strength and greatness of this country; and yet, because he differed from Her Majesty's Ministers on this Constitutional question, it was pretended that he lacked patriotism and courage; because he had voted for the noble Lord's Motion, was he to be told that he was changed from what he was in the year 1854, and that he would hesitate to maintain the honour of the country? The hon. and learned Member for Wexford (Sir George Bowyer) said that the division on that Motion was a Party division. Well, the hon. and learned Member said that he had registered himself in the Parliamentary Companion as a Home Ruler, and in favour of a national Parliament in Ireland, whilst he (Mr. Newdegate) had for years registered himself as a supporter of the great principles of the Act of Settlement. The hon. and learned Member for Wexford (Sir George Bowyer) voted with Her Majesty's Ministers, and he (Mr. Newdegate) voted against Her Majesty's Ministers, in the division of Thursday last, and the hon. and learned Baronet declared that to have been a strictly Party division. If the hon. and learned Baronet were right, this gave a rather curious view of Party connection in the House. He (Mr. Newdegate) had voted with the Leader of the Opposition, because the noble Lord had most dutifully and properly raised a great Constitutional question, upon which he (Mr. Newdegate) agreed with the noble Lord; he voted, not with the view of impeding or delaying the action of the Government, but to preserve a great principle of the Constitution, which, when observed, let all foreigners know that there could be no doubt if Her Majesty were compelled to declare war—which God forbid!—that, although Her Majesty did this on Her own authority, Her Majesty had, in so doing, the advice, the consent, and the support of the Commons of England.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
said, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) was, no doubt, regarded by the Party opposite as one of the most 787 unpatriotic men of the country. The Tory Party seemed to think that true patriotism consisted in following a Leader and stifling one's conscientious convictions, even upon the most important questions. They were asked that night to go into Committee of Supply, in order to vote money for an Indian Army which the Government had brought into Europe, in his opinion, contrary to law; but whether this transaction had been legal or illegal, before voting money for it, he should have required to be convinced of its necessity. It had been admitted by the Government that in bringing these troops the law had been set aside, and the entire step had been defended upon the plea of an emergency. If, when the law had been violated, it was enough for a Minister to rise in his place and state that there was an emergency, it would be easy at any time to defy the law. Surely it was the duty of the Minister to describe the emergency, to define it, to show its dimensions, to make it clear to the average intellect of the nation. Nothing of the kind had been done. No Minister had shown, or even attempted to show what this emergency was. He denied that there was an emergency. He was aware that if he stood alone in this denial, it might have little weight; but he denied it in company with a large portion of his fellow-countrymen and many Members of that House, who represented the largest constituencies. In that denial he was supported by men of the foremost intellect of the nation, as witness the declarations which they had publicly signed, and by the awakening voice of the constituencies as evidenced at Reading, at Tamworth, and at Northumberland. Nor did he fear to refer to the Election at County Down; for, when the Prime Minister rushed in hot haste to the nearest telegraph station to thank the electors of that county for the support given to his foreign policy, the Irish Members of that House, knowing that the Eastern Question was never referred to during that contest, had the strongest evidence of the growing sensitiveness of the Government to the opinion of the country. When he denied that there was an emergency, he meant, of course, an emergency which, were it not removed, would justify a great war. Where were we to find the emergency?—he supposed, if anywhere, in the 788 Treaty of San Stefano. But, according to that Treaty, Constantinople remained in the same hands, the water-way to the Black Sea was undisturbed; and would any Minister tell the country that some 50,000 British lives, and, perhaps, £150,000,000 sterling, were to be sacrificed to make Bulgaria greater or less, or to prevent Russia getting a town more or less in Asia? The emergency was a sham and not a real emergency. If any of them should ever live to see a real emergency, when the vital interests of the Empire were attacked, the Minister of England, if he be fit to be Minister, would not send to a distant country in Asia for costly and inefficient troops, but would appeal to his own countrymen, and that appeal would be abundantly responded to. But, if there were no emergency, then the Government had committed a grave offence. Surely, it was a criminal thing for the Government, without reason and recklessly, to disturb every feeling of security in a country where millions of men have to live by exchanging the produce of their industry with other nations? He (Mr. Bright) represented a great commercial constituency; there were thousands of men in that constituency who at that moment were under the greatest pressure, and for whom the struggle to live became daily more difficult. The Members of the Government had no direct knowledge of these things. With, perhaps, only one exception, the Cabinet was taken from the county families and the landed gentry. They had both their private and official incomes, and, whatever happened, they lived in luxury and ease. It might be very pleasant for the Government, and especially for the Prime Minister, to be acting the part of disturbers of Europe; but what was pleasure to them was death to the country. The Prime Minister had had a great career at home—his ambition had been satiated, and he now sought a wider arena, and was satisfied with nothing less than to compete with European Potentates. What were the results? Two years of surprises and alarms had largely tended to paralyze the commerce of the world, and starving families, and violence and riot were the natural outcome of the Beaconsfield policy. With one hand the Government shook the confidence, and, therefore, injured the industry of 789 the country; with the other it imposed fresh burdens upon that industry, so that taxes grew with the inability to pay them. The last Government was charged with harassing every interest in the country; this Government took a bolder course, it not only harassed every interest in the country, it harassed the world. If a real national emergency had existed, an English Minister would have acted with English candour, and would have come down to the House with a clear statement to ask for the support which would have been freely given by a united Parliament and country. But the Government, conscious that no emergency existed, except one of their own making, shrank from a searching discussion, and, therefore, determined to act without the co-operation of Parliament. When questioned as to why the House of Commons had been kept in ignorance of the movement of Indian troops, the Chancellor of the Exchequer informed the House that the Government had not thought it necessary to make any statement on the subject. When, however, it was discovered that even the present House of Commons resented this disrespectful treatment, the Government began to find reasons for its extraordinary conduct; and when those reasons were not vague and mysterious, when they were such as were capable of examination, they proved utterly worthless. The Leader of the House told them that it was important to keep the expedition secret, in order to obtain the transference of the Indian Army at a cheaper rate. It was at once shown him that publicity, by increasing the competition among shipowners, would have reduced freights. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was never again heard to refer to this subject. Then the Government told them that it would have been most unwise to divulge the secret, because practical difficulties might have prevented the realization of the object, and then they would have looked foolish in the eyes of Europe. It was impossible to conjecture what were the practical difficulties which could prevent England from moving 7,000 or 70,000 troops from one part of the world to another. It seemed to be only a matter of expense. The Home Secretary, however, threw some light upon this question. He said the practical difficulties had reference to the monsoon; but the 790 hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon) with Indian experience, told the Home Secretary that the monsoon did not occur before the month of June, and with this explanation no more was heard of the practical difficulties. He would not, after so much debate, discuss whether the conduct of the Government, with regard to the Indian troops, had been unconstitutional or not, whether it had been illegal or not; but he must say that this disrespectful treatment of the House of Commons, this insult to Parliament had tended to intensify suspicions of an unpleasant kind. He found suspicions of a novel nature growing in the minds of some of the most sagacious politicians amongst them. When he asked for the grounds of these suspicions, he was referred to the remarkable disclosures in the life of the Prince Consort, to the ideas on Constitutional questions advocated in the great Tory Review, to the character of the Prime Minister, and to the conduct of the Government. How far the fear of an approach to personal Government extended in this country, was shown by the avidity with which the letters of "Verax" had been received. The sale of that pamphlet had been great throughout the country. He had reason to believe that it had been read by most Members of both Houses of Parliament, and to his knowledge it had found its way to many foreign countries. No wonder that Englishmen dreaded personal rule. It had brought unexampled calamity and humiliation upon the finest country in Europe. With a wise Sovereign and a prudent Minister, a country might have no immediate suffering from personal rule; but the day might come when we might have an unwise Sovereign and a reckless Minister, and then who should foresee the disasters that might befall them. Much had been said of the influences for good or evil upon India of the proposed employment of Indian troops in European warfare. Everyone admitted that they governed India mainly by the sword. India remained subject to this country, because of the 60,000 British troops they had there, and from the belief that in case of need, they could indefinitely increase that number. What, therefore, must be the surprise of that people to learn that they were unable to fight their own battles in 791 Europe, but had to appeal to India for aid. For a period of more than 60 years, they had only once, and for a short time, had the strain of a European war. During the whole of that period they had been increasing in numbers and adding to our vast resources, and now, when there was a chance of our being at war with only a single Power, not in the stress of conflict, but before even a blow had been struck, they sent to India for help. Could any course have been taken more likely to impress Eastern nations with a mean conception of our military resources? In the farewell order to the troops embarking at Bombay the Viceroy spoke as follows:—Soldiers! you have been selected for the first Expedition that has ever left India to strengthen the British Forces in the Mediterranean. Whether your duties be those of peace or war, I am confident that in the faithful and devoted performance of them, you will safely uphold the honour of the Empire which is now confided to your hands.India was here told that her own soldiers were needed to strengthen the British Forces in Europe, and the Viceroy declared that the honour of the Empire was confided to mercenary troops, not one of whom would shed a tear if these Islands were sunk in the ocean to-morrow. If these views obtained sympathy with the people of the United Kingdom, he should regard that as the beginning of the end of a great Empire. He could not consent to increase the burdens of the people without just cause. He did not accept the rule which appeared to be adopted by the Party opposite—our country, right or wrong. He must exercise his own individual judgment upon matters coming before that House, more especially when they were of the gravest importance; and he would give no sanction to a war which was not in the broadest sense necessary, and the demand for which was not founded on the clearest views of justice.
§ MR. HARDCASTLE
denied that any hon. Member on that side of the House wished to charge the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) with unpatriotic motives. On that side the right of private judgment was recognized, and the hon. Member might speak and vote against the Government upon this matter without fear of being dispossessed even of his accustomed seat. Although they might differ from the hon. Member, no man on that 792 side of the House would dream of showing him personal disrespect. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) thought that there had been no emergency, and that the interests of this country had been in no degree menaced. He took exactly the opposite view. The circumstances of the past two years had been among the most momentous in their history. Had the country acted unanimously, and had the Opposition shown more consideration towards the Government, the points now in dispute might have been settled some time ago. Only the other day, a Liberal of influence, referring to the situation, said—"The Liberals are in a hole. If we have war it will be a bad thing. If we have peace it will be a Tory triumph, and I do not know which is worst." He was afraid that this was a fair specimen of the spirit which animated much of the opposition to the Government policy. The £6,000,000 already voted would perhaps have to be supplemented by £6,000,000 more; but, in his opinion, the money would be better spent than the £12,000,000 which the late Government devoted to the abolition of Purchase in the Army. This money had been spent in showing what they never believed in before—their own strength. The movement of these Indian troops was of great political importance. It had been said that 7,000 Englishmen might have been placed in Malta at less cost than these 7,000 Indian troops. But that was not the question. The question was, whether, in addition to their English Forces, they had anything else to fall back upon? India had been represented as a place where we might possibly be attacked. But this movement showed that India, instead of being a source of weakness, was a source of strength to England, which stood at present in a position of more acknowledged power than she had occupied at any time during the last 30 years. The policy of Her Majesty's Government, to unite the strength of the Empire, was the right policy, and he trusted that the Vote would be supported as one of the wisest that had ever been passed by the House.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, it seemed almost time for the House to consider what the question was they were now discussing. That Question he took to be whether the Speaker was to 793 leave the Chair in order that the Estimates which had been laid on the Table might be considered. He would not have troubled the House during this debate had it not been stated that it was the intention of some of his hon. Friends to divide against the Motion. He wished, therefore, to explain why it was impossible that he should take any part in a division of that kind. So far as he knew, the course it was proposed to take was without precedent, and certainly, whether with or without precedent, it was one which, so far as he could perceive, carried no meaning with it whatever. He knew it was a very usual course, when it was proposed that the Speaker should leave the Chair for the purpose of going into Committee of Supply, to intercept that Motion with a view to ascertain a definite proposition. But he was perfectly at a loss to perceive what they were now to ascertain, what protest they were to make, or what they were to gain by a division which might be taken on the Question, and the sole Question, before the House. The effect of negativing the Motion would simply be that the discussion of the Estimates would be postponed, he supposed, to next Thursday; and it was a matter of the most perfect indifference to him whether these Estimates were considered to-night or next Thursday. But he might as well state now, what he had intended to state in Committee, why he was not disposed to offer, at this stage, any further opposition to the Vote which the Government had asked. He was unable to understand why the Government proposed that these Estimates should be considered at this particular moment. The House was perfectly unable to discuss them with full information. The moment which had been selected was too late to preserve the authority of Parliament; the affair was almost completed, and, as had been pointed out over and over again last week, there was little option left to the House except to vote the money rendered necessary by the measure taken by the Government. But if it was too late for the proper and legitimate authority of Parliament to be preserved, it was too soon for any complete or thorough discussion of the policy of the measure. The House had been told last week by several Members of the Government that they were not in a position to lay their full justification 794 before Parliament. Now, if the Government proposed to take a decision upon these Estimates as an approval by the House of the policy of moving the Indian troops, they were scarcely dealing fairly by the House. How was it possible for the House to discuss fully or to assent to the policy of the Government when they themselves told the House that they were not in a position to place their full justification before it? There was some mystery, some conflict of evidence, about all this, which was perfectly bewildering; and he, for one, until the time arrived—as he hoped it would arrive some day or other—for its being made perfectly clear, despaired of solving it. The House was told immediately before the Easter Holidays that there was nothing whatever which gave occasion for increased anxiety; but in the course of the debate last week they were informed that this measure had at that time been resolved upon, and that information had been received from "a high authority," which had since been found to be untrue, but which, in the opinion of the Government, rendered this step necessary, and, at the same time, that for military reasons the preservation of absolute secrecy was absolutely necessary. How these statements were to be reconciled he really was unable to understand; and until the Government could lay their full justification and all the reasons for their policy before the House, it seemed to him that it was not dealing fairly by the House to ask it to assent to the Vote, if that assent was to be supposed to convey an entire approval of their policy. In any division which he might challenge he was bound to vote on the supposition that he should be successful, and he was also bound to look at the consequences in that light. Now, what would be the meaning of the rejection of these Estimates? It would either be that the expense of the movement of these troops would be thrown illegally upon the revenues of India—and that was what no one wished to do—or, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer told them the other night, funds might be found to meet the expense, but only at the cost of the total disorganization of the Naval and Military Services of the year. In the present state of Europe he was not disposed to give a vote which would have the effect of entirely disorganizing 795 the Naval and Military Services of the country. What would be a further meaning of the rejection of this Vote? It might mean, that though Parliament would, no doubt, find the means for recouping the expenditure which had been incurred, it had decided that these troops should be sent back from Malta to India with the least possible delay. That, again, was a course which he would not be prepared to support by his vote. It was one question whether it was wise in the first instance to order this expedition, and a very different one whether, having been ordered, it should be immediately ordered to return. He, certainly, was not disposed by any vote of his to be a party to presenting in the face of Europe a spectacle of such irresolution as conduct of that sort would imply. Now, being unwilling to vote for a course which would result in any of these alternatives, and the House not being in a position to discuss fully the policy of the measure, they had no alternative, it appeared to him, but, under protest it might be, to pass these Estimates. They had made—and were entitled to make—their protest against the unconstitutional manner in which this thing had been done. Their objections had not been removed by what they had been told, nor swept away by the great majority against them. They were told that full information could not yet be laid before them. But their protest was directed not only against the conduct of the Government, of which a full explanation might yet be forthcoming, but also against the claims which the Government put forth when their defence was rested, not upon the plea of emergency, but upon the ground that it was unnecessary for Parliament to be consulted at all. Their objections had not been removed, but they had fully discussed the matter, and their opinions had been overruled. If the reserve was still maintained by the Government, as to the necessity for secrecy, they must apply it still further to the policy of this measure. It was quite clear that there were many and very serious objections that might be made to the policy of employing Indian troops in Europe. Many of these were stated by his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), and others. For the reasons he had stated, he did not intend going into 796 them now; but still there were many great and important questions of Indian and European policy involved. He might mention one, which had not hitherto been referred to, which was the effect of this policy on the future administration of the Suez Canal. The present arrangement by which the Suez Canal was utilized was well known; it was free for the passage of their troops to and from India. That arrangement was perfectly assented to by the other Great Powers of Europe; but that position of affairs might be very seriously and materially altered, if it were understood that the British Government were going to adopt the policy of bringing Indian troops to be made use of in a European war. The Russian, the German, the French, and any other Government would look at the Suez Canal in a very different light if that policy were to be adopted by the British Government. There were other points raised by this policy, but how could they discuss them now? Everything depended on the emergency, the necessity under which the Government acted, which they had informed them they could not yet lay before the House. Therefore, any discussion must in the meantime be imperfect and inconclusive. Many might vote against the Speaker leaving the Chair as a protest not only against this particular measure, but also against the whole policy of which it was a part. They would be perfectly justified in doing so, because they had from the very first, throughout these transactions, protested against the whole policy the Government had adopted of military preparation. He and many others had not been altogether able to agree in that view. They had admitted that circumstances might arise which would justify the use by this country of its naval and military power to protect the interests of the country, and assist in securing a permanent and enduring peace; and, holding these views, they had not offered that opposition which had been offered by others to a policy of preparation. But this Vote might, perhaps, be interpreted by Government as an expression of confidence in their whole policy. He wanted to point out the limits within which that assertion might be said to be true. He had said their full case was not before them; therefore, it was impossible for Parliament to approve a 797 policy which had not been fully explained; but, so far as it had been fully explained, it had been a policy of preparation, and nothing more—a policy of preparation, no doubt, contemplating the possibility of war, but directed, in the first place, to the maintenance and security of peace. For that policy the Government might claim justly that they had received the sanction of Parliament; but they had received nothing more. The sanction they had received was a sanction to military preparations; but they had not received, as yet, any sanction of Parliament to an active or actual use of those military preparations. If they called on Parliament for such a sanction, the decision of Parliament must depend on considerations of which as yet they knew nothing. In his opinion, the failure of the negotiations a few weeks ago for the meeting of the Congress afforded no justification for a recourse to hostilities. Of what had occurred since they were absolutely ignorant. They did not know what had been the nature of the negotiations between the Courts of London and St. Petersburg. They did not know the differences, if any, which still existed between the two Governments; but it was difficult to think that they were such as to justify a recourse to warlike measures. He did not think it necessary to detain the House longer on this occasion; but he would express his strong conviction that if the Government presumed on the support they had hitherto received to their policy of military preparations as a support of their whole policy, they would incur a most heavy responsibility if—resting on that support—they committed the country, without a clear and unmistakeable warning, to any active hostile measures. Believing, then, that a discussion of the policy of the Government was for the present impolitic, and presuming the Government had reasons for wishing to obtain the sanction of the House to this Estimate this evening, he did not now wish to interpose any preliminary discussion. If at all advisable, that discussion might be better taken in Committee; but, even in Committee, unless the Government were prepared to make further disclosures of their views and intentions, he saw no alternative but to vote, without serious discussion, the expenses of the Expedition which had been 798 incurred, and which it was impossible for Parliament to refuse.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
need hardly say that with the larger part of the observations of the noble Lord opposite he entirely concurred. He gathered from what he had said that, while he entirely and most justly held himself and those with whom he acted clear to pronounce his opinion when he thought proper upon the whole course and policy of the Government, he did not think the present moment one when it was desirable to embarrass the Government by making a difficulty with regard to the particular proposals they now made. The question of bringing Indian troops to the Mediterranean was one which had two branches—first, whether it was Constitutional to adopt that measure; and next whether it was politic and expedient. Upon the Constitutional and legal character of the step they had a debate of great importance, which lasted during the whole of last week; and, upon the whole, the decision of the House was very unmistakably pronounced. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had again to-night raised some of the points which the Government thought had been sufficiently disposed of, and he hoped it would not be necessary for him to enter again into that controversy. With regard to the question of policy and expediency, no doubt it was difficult to argue fully at the present moment, for the Government was not in a position to put forth all the considerations which led them to advise Her Majesty to take that step, nor was the House in a position fully to discuss them. Of course, it was open to hon. Gentlemen to challenge the whole policy of the Government, to say their policy had been wrong ab initio; but it was a policy which they had consistently taken and pursued, and they believed it had not only been supported by a majority of the House, but by the general feeling of the majority out of the House. In taking that particular line, which they believed to be the right one, it had not been their desire or intention to plunge the country into war. On the contrary, they had pursued it as a means of precaution—as the wisest and best method of avoiding a very serious and disastrous conflict—for, no doubt, such a conflict 799 would have been disastrous to the whole human race. Her Majesty's Government were as desirous to avoid that calamity as any hon. Gentleman in any part of the House. They believed they had taken a right course, others might think differently. The Government would be prepared at the proper time to defend the course which they had adopted. There had been, no doubt, several steps which the Government had thought it their duty to advise during the different stages of the negotiations that had been going on. Some of those steps had been represented as steps tending to, and intended to, plunge the country into war. They had been told that the sending of a Fleet to the Sea of Marmora, the calling out of the Reserves, the frank and bold, and he hoped temperate, statement of their objections to the Treaty of San Stefano, and other steps which they had taken, among which the bringing of these troops from India to Malta had been one, were of that character; but all those steps had not only not brought the country into war, but had been, he believed, the cause of measures best calculated to avert war, and to bring about a peaceable and desirable settlement of the difficulties with which they had had to contend. Their policy, in the estimation of some hon. Gentlemen, might not have been the wisest or the best policy; but he could truly say that it had been a sincere policy; and that they would be perfectly prepared when the proper time arrived to discuss it, and to defend it. With regard to the special measure which was now under consideration, the noble Lord, in the course of what he must own as his exceedingly fair observations to-night, had asked the Government why, after what had passed, they thought it necessary to bring forward the Vote at the present moment. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) would give an answer at once. They proposed to ask Parliament to give this Vote, and to authorize by it the expenditure which had been incurred for bringing those troops to Malta, in order to avoid that which they were charged, and erroneously charged, with wishing to do—namely, the throwing of the expense on the Indian Revenue. They had felt from the first that if this measure was one that ought to be taken—as they thought it was—it 800 was one that ought not to be made a charge upon India; and they therefore announced, at the earliest period they could do so, that as soon as they had taken an Estimate of this particular operation they would submit it to the House, in order that Parliament might place them in the position of being able to repay not only this not very large advance, but also all prospective expenditure which might be incurred by this operation, and in order to make it clear to all the world that the Indian Revenue would not be charged with the amount. Even if the Vote were refused, the Government would still hold the Revenue of India harmless; but, as had been pointed out, the refusal of it would put their Estimates into some confusion, because it would be necessary to make a change in their expenditure in order that what had been spent in this particular operation might be met out of other portions of their revenue. But he apprehended there was no question about that. The House knew perfectly well what was spent in that respect. The Government had incurred this expenditure upon their own responsibility, because they believed it was a right step to take, and that it was one which the country and the House, upon full consideration, would hold to be right. But, at a future time, it would be for Parliament, upon reviewing the matter, to censure the Government if they thought the Government had acted wrongly. With regard to the particular question which was now before the House, he held with the noble Lord that that was not a moment at which it was particularly convenient to call for a division, because he really did not see what was the issue upon which they were going to divide. The question was, whether the House should go into Committee in order to hear the statements of his right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty, and, after hearing those statements to consider whether it would give the Vote? He did not think the principles which the hon. Members had at heart would gain anything by further prolonging this discussion, and he could scarcely imagine that the House would be inclined, without good reason shown, to stultify or set aside the decision to which it came last week.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
observed, that many of the officers of the troops that had been moved from India to Malta were employed in the Civil Service in India, and that thus civilians in India were deprived of the promotion they would otherwise have obtained. Another consideration to be borne in mind was that the removal of any considerable portion of their Indian troops from India would have to be followed by a corresponding reduction in the Armies of the Native States—a course which would be certain to create dissatisfaction with their rule.
§ MR. FAWCETT
wished to explain why he could not adopt the course suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, and abstain from voting against the Motion for going into Committee. The noble Lord had said that to vote against that Motion would be unusual and unprecedented; but the course of conduct on the part of Her Majesty's Government had been unusual and unprecedented. Any doubts which he (Mr. Fawcett) might have had as to the propriety of taking a division had been completely removed by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), who had shown that the action of the Government was unconstitutional, illegal, improper, and impolitic, and also by that of the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington), though for a different reason. The noble Lord had urged that, if taken at all, the division ought to be upon the Vote of this money in Committee. But he differed from the noble Lord in that respect, because, if they divided on the Vote in Committee, it might be supposed that they wished the expenses of moving these troops to fall upon the people of India. The most straightforward course would be to divide on the Motion for going into Committee. Their object in wishing to postpone the Vote was to obtain the requisite information from the Government to enable the House to judge whether it was just to grant the money for the purpose of moving the Indian troops.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 214; Noes 40: Majority 174.—(Div. List, No. 154.)