§ MOTION FOR AN ADDRESS.
§ Her Majesty's Message [25th July] considered.
§ Message again read.
Sir, I beg to move the Resolution which stands in my name, and which, I think, will be a proper introduction to the Motion which will be made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. It is—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, thanking Her Majesty for Her most Gracious Message communicating to this House Her Majesty's intention to cause Her Reserve Force, or such part thereof as Her Majesty should think necessary, to be forthwith called out for permanent service.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
said, that it was unfortunate that the Secretary of State for War was not present, as he desired to ask him a question as to the number of men to be called out, and the term and conditions of their service? It was reported that men of six years' service only were to be called out, and not the others. As far as he had been able to judge of that, it was a very good plan. The younger men were not likely to have formed engagements in life such as older ones had. But even men of that young age sometimes did enter into matrimony; and it would be right to know what sort of provision had been made for their wives under these circumstances?
said, he thought the questions were most proper questions to be put; but he doubted very much whether this was the opportunity. He thought it would be better to reserve them until the Secretary of State 1824 for War made his proposal. The subject before the House now was simply an Address thanking Her Majesty for the communication She had made, and proposed nothing whatever for the acceptance of the House; and, indeed, it would be perfectly open to the House to decline to take any steps whatever in furtherance of that Message.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, it certainly appeared to him that this Resolution was in the nature of a war proceeding, and he wished to ask a question of the Prime Minister, because that day fortnight the right hon. Gentleman stated to the House that this country was not at war with anyone. This Resolution looked very much like entering on a course which might lead to war. He would like to know whether this country was at war; and, if so, whether any declaration of war had been made?
I apprehend this is not the first or the tenth time in history—I might say even within my own recollection—that military measures have been taken by this country without our being in a state of war. A state of war implies, in the first place, some recognized and organized Government against which that war is directed. It may be that when that Government is of a humble character, or very backward in civilization, oven if it be an organized Government, war is not always declared. I do not recollect pointedly; but I do not have in remembrance our having declared war against the King of Ashantee, when war was made upon him in 1873. With respect to the present state of things, war being a certain regularly constituted relation in the sense of International Law, I do not think the term is applicable to a state of things where we are moving against a military faction that is in actual rebellion against its lawful Government. The form which the movement assumes I take to be an interference, under the circumstances, on behalf of the legal Ruler against a portion of his subjects. But a state of war, I apprehend, in a legal sense, does not exist. I do not expect that this view of the matter will have any effect on my hon. Friend, because military measures may be as decidedly taken as if a state of war had been regularly proclaimed, and as if we were dealing with parties against whom 1825 a state of war might be declared in a legal manner.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I may remind the House that on the last occasion when the Reserve Forces were called out we were not in a state of war. They were simply called out in view of an emergency.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
said, he would put his Question to the Secretary of State for War on a future occasion.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
wished to know, with regard to the despatch of Turkish troops to Egypt, whether the Conference was to regulate the relations between the Turkish and British troops, and would decide who was to direct the operations of war; whether Sir Garnet Wolseley would be under the command of the Turkish Commander-in-Chief, or whether the Turkish Commander-in-Chief would be under the command of Sir Garnet Wolseley? It was desirable that some arrangement should be made on that point; because it would be perfectly anomalous, after asking the Turkish troops to go to Egypt, for our troops to act independently of the wishes of their principal officers. On the other hand, he did not see how our operations could be subordinated to those of the Turkish Commander. It would be satisfactory to know whether that could not be arranged by a special Convention between the Turkish and English Governments; or whether the Conference, by which the Concert of Europe was either to be kept up or liquidated, was to decide the mutual relations between the Turkish and the British troops?
§ MR. ONSLOW
Before the Prime Minister answers that Question, I should like to ask whether the English Government are going to consent to Turkish troops being sent at all? After the preparations that we have been making, and after the considerable time taken by the Turkish Government to fall in with the demands of the Conference, I wish to ask the Government whether now, even at the eleventh hour, they will put their foot down and do what is necessary to restore law and order in Egypt by their own power alone?
My hon. Friend is aware that the British Government, in conjunction with that of France, has 1826 moved the Conference to request the despatch of Turkish troops on certain conditions. The Porto has now taken a step—it may be an important step—towards compliance with that request, in sending officers, as its organs, to the Conference to enter upon the discussion. But I am not aware that the Conference has yet received any definitive communication from these organs of the Porte. None such, at least, have been made known to us. We have not received the terms and conditions upon which the Turkish troops are to be sent. With regard to the Questions of the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), I think they are premature, although they are very important, because no decision has yet been taken by the Sultan as to the request of the Conference, or as to the conditions by which that request is limited. Therefore, it would be quite premature on my part to enter in detail upon the consideration of this question. But I may say that unquestionably, viewing the friendly and perfectly independent relations between British measures and the action of the Conference, I hope the Questions of the hon. Gentleman, and my not answering them, will not be taken to give the smallest countenance to the supposition that the disposition of the British Force is to be under the control of the Turkish Commander-in-Chief.
§ LORD COLIN CAMPBELL
said, he wished to make some observations which he believed would be more in Order now than if he postponed them until the Speaker left the Chair, and he trusted the House would grant him its indulgence for a few moments.
§ MR. SPEAKER
pointed out to the noble Lord that the Question immediately before the House was that an humble Address should be presented, thanking Her Majesty for her gracious communication. The next Order of the Day for Supply would be an occasion on which the noble Lord would be more at liberty to enter into discussion.
§ LORD COLIN CAMPBELL
said, with all due deference to the Speaker, he ventured to think the observations he had to make were more germane to the Question before the House than they would be on the Question of going into Committee of Supply. He had no wish to say anything which might conflict 1827 with what he took to be the prevailing sentiments—at any rate, on that side of the House—that no obstacle and no impediment whatever should be imposed on the path of Her Majesty's Government to prevent them from carrying out, as soon as possible, the task which they had set themselves, and from bringing the war to a speedy termination. But as to the time at which this Message from the Crown was taken into consideration, he must say he thought the Government had laid themselves open to some criticism. He spoke with all deference; but he ventured to say that the occasions in the history of this country had been rare when a Message from the Crown conveying an intimation of a state of emergency had been so long postponed, and deferred until the emergency had reached an acute stage. The Prime Minister, in answer to the Question of the hon. Baronet, just now said there had been many instances in the history of this country when they had been at war without a formal declaration of a state of war; but he ventured to say that was purely a technical argument. They had to face the fact that the Government had taken stops which did commit this country to a war, and without the formal consent or the countenance of Parliament. He did not think it was a trivial fact with regard to which they should not be sensitive—they who sat on the Liberal side of the House—that they were asked to vote a Vote of Credit, and asked to take into consideration a Message from the Crown after, and only after, those events which had been brought about by the deliberate orders of Her Majesty's Government to the English Admiral?—events which committed this country to a war, which had absolutely compelled the Government to pursue a course of which the bombardment of Alexandria was only the first step, and which left Parliament absolutely no option but to grant what they demanded. It would be difficult to point to any historical event in the history of this country which more entirely committed the country to a war without the previous consultation of Parliament. He believed if the Government of Lord Beaconsfield had taken such a step as that of the bombardment of Alexandria, it would have been denounced in very strong and vigorous language by the right hon. Gentleman 1828 the Prime Minister. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs yesterday, with amazing frankness, said the Government only came to Parliament when they were absolutely compelled to do so. He (Lord Colin Campbell) thought that was a statement which, had it fallen from the late Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs during the late Administration, would have drawn from the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, or the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, some very strong observations as to the supremacy and right of Parliament to control. The other day the Prime Minister referred to a great historical event which he (Lord Colin Campbell) should have thought would be the last the right hon. Gentleman would adduce as a precedent—namely, the Battle of Navarino. There were some very important distinctions between the Battle of Navarino and the bombardment of Alexandria. In the first place, the Battle of Navarino was the outcome of an agreement between three Powers. It was the outcome of what they might call the Concert of Europe, and it was not the isolated action of England. In the next place, it was the outcome of orders not to bombard a seaport, not to destroy the Turkish Fleet, but to establish a blockade. It was entirely unpremeditated; it was brought about by an emergency that was not foreseen—namely, the fact that the Turkish Fleet had fired upon the Allied Squadrons. Thirdly, it put an end to a sanguinay struggle—it did not commence one. It secured the triumph of a really National Party without involving this country in a war. Fourthly, it was an incident in an intervention which had absolutely no justification in International Law. He did not speak without book. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, who, as they all knew, was a great authority on International Law, had interposed in a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and reminded him that a Conference was actually sitting at Constantinople when the Battle of Navarino was fought.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The noble Lord is now referring to speeches made in Committee of Supply on the Vote of Credit, and I must point out that the Motion before the House does not admit of a discussion of that kind. The Motion 1829 before the House is an Address to the Crown.
§ LORD COLIN CAMPBELL
apologized for travelling outside the Question before the House. He would simply content himself with quoting the authority of letters which bore the signature of "Historicus"—an authority which he was sure the Prime Minister would at once acknowledge the great weight of. "Historicus" had said of the Battle of Navarino, that it was a "high act of policy, above and beyond the domain of law." But it was a policy which had been endorsed by the general sentiments of this country. It was a policy which had obtained through a long course of years the tacit approval of Parliament. He would not trouble the House further now, but would only venture to repeat that he thought the Message from the Crown had been too long postponed; that the preparations had been too long deferred; that contingencies which had occurred might have been foreseen; and if they had made these preparations earlier they would have had more chance of seeing an early surrender on the part of the Egyptian troops, while they would have saved the people of Egypt much misery, and this country a large amount of cost.
Motion agreed to.
Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, thanking Her Majesty for Her most Gracious Message communicating to this House Her Majesty's intention to cause Her Reserve Force, or such part thereof as Her Majesty should think necessary, to be forthwith called out for permanent service.—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors.
§ MR. ONSLOW
asked, assuming the debate to be finished to-day, what the course of Business would be?
replied, that the Vote for the Men would be taken first; then that for the money; and after that would come on the Motion of the Secretary of State for India.