§ Order for Second Reading read.
Sir, in rising to propose the second reading of this Bill, I feel that it cannot be necessary for me to traverse in detail the ground upon which I detained the House at considerable length during the Autumn Sitting of last year. But, at the same time, it is right that I should explain to the House the basis upon which we have proceeded in determining the particular form of the proposal that is now before the House, and likewise to remind them of the heads, at least in brief summary, of those claims which have induced us to make such a proposal at all. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold) intimated, in the form of a Question, that, in his view, it was not desirable to introduce into this proposal the elements of an heritable character. The state of the case is this. That perhaps for some considerable time, at any rate in a variety of instances, the House has been satisfied to grant a sum of money en bloc, or to grant a pension for life, where no Peerage has been conferred apon the individuals receiving the honour. But a long series of precedents show that successive Parliaments and successive Governments have, with very great unanimity, and almost without the expression of a difference of opinion, admitted, in various degrees, this heritable element in the grant of pensions associated with Peerages. In both the instances now before the House, I need hardly remind the House of the reasons why the association should prevail. If we go back a certain time to the close of the Great War, it does not appear that there has been a very great variation as to the amount of those pensions; but there has been a considerable laxity in one direction, I admit—namely, the duration of the pensions. If we go back 634 to the close of the Great War in 1814, there were four pensions of £2,000 a-year each to Lord Hill. Lord Exmouth, Lord Lynedoch, and Lord Beresford; and all these pensions were granted in what is termed perpetuity, I believe to the heirs male, terminable with the Peerage itself, or with the succession of heirs male, but, upon the supposition of their continuance, the pension was continued also. There was in that year, also, one pension given to Lord Comber-mere of the same amount of £2,000 a-year, not, however, granted in perpetuity, but for three lives; and then the practice of granting pensions for three lives appears to have prevailed for some considerable time. Lord Seaton, for his services in Canada and elsewhere, received a pension of £2,000 a-year for three lives in 1840; Lord Keane a similar pension for a similar term in 1841; and both Lord Gough and Lord Hardinge in 1816 received similar pensions for three lives for their services in India. After that a change was gradually introduced. In 1855, Lord Raglan, as will be recollected, died in the Crimea while he was in command of the British Army, and no pension at that time had been conferred either upon him, or his descendants, in respect of his military services. After his death, a pension for life of £1,000 a year was granted to his widow, and £2,000 a-year to his descendants, the two next heirs of the title, in consideration of his military services. The precedent thus set of a pension of £2,000 a-year for two lives still continues; but in that case it undoubtedly appears that the pension for two lives was based on the idea that had Lord Raglan's life been spared until a measure was adopted by Parliament a pension would have been given for three lives. But at a subsequent period, in the time of Lord Beaconsfield, in 1868, a case occurred which is very analogous to the present case. Lord Napier of Magdala, on the proposal of the Government, received a pension of £2,000 a-year for two lives. The House will observe that this case represents the minimum of the heritable element in-voved in the grant of a pension of this kind; but the heritable element has never yet been abandoned. I will not now enter upon the question whether the reduction of the grant from perpetuity to three lives, and then to two 635 lives, was wise and prudent or not. I will only say that the question now raised is not opposed to general precedent, and I think it is recommended by the reason of the case; having in view, as we have, not only the services performed, but the possible transmission of the title, which is hereditary. I may say, in passing, that those pensions have been granted for a succession of lives, whether there were heirs male or not. But it having been the fact that we have witnessed with satisfaction the conferring by the Crown, not only of an hereditary title, but an hereditary title associated with very important privileges and duties, we are not prepared to be responsible for recommending to the House altogether to dispense with so much of the heritable element as has, according to later precedent, been connected with grants of this kind. That being so, while I regard the precedents alone, and the general reason of the case, as ample ground for declining to confine our proceedings on this occasion to a grant for life, I must say I think the occasion would be one very unfortunately chosen for introducing a further limitation into the not immoderate bounty of Parliament in these matters. It has been much more often my duty or inclination, or both, to complain of, or to state, or perhaps to defend, the doctrine that the public is a liberal paymaster, than to state the opinion that our proceedings, in the bestowal of public money, are governed by restraint or moderation. I do think that in respect of ordinary and average services, whatever complaints may be made in this House or elsewhere, the public is the most liberal paymaster that exists. That is my strong conviction, after long observation and experience. But I must say also that is my opinion with regard to civil rather than military matters. I except cases— certainly very rare and splendid—like those of the Duke of Wellington or the Duke of Marlborough. Splendid, what I may call superlative, services are moderately, not very immoderately, remunerated in this country; and if we wish to have services in which the highest devotion is combined with a rare assemblage of great qualities—in which the duties of an Admiral and General, arduous as they are in themselves, are likewise combined with the necessity of displaying the greatest qualities of civil 636 life as usually employed and developed —then it is a very serious matter for us to depart from the precedents of those who have gone before us, and who, I think, have boon thrifty in their character as stewards in charge of the public purse, in order to further abridge the bounty of Parliament in this respect. Here I come to the case of Lord Alcester; and I do not hesitate to say that this is a case in which there was not only great devotion, and a display of some great qualities, but such a remarkable display and combination of great qualities that entitle Lord Alcester to our respectful gratitude. I shall not now speak of what I dwelt upon on a former occasion—namely, this fact, that, before he proceeded, as Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, to the port of Alexandria, he had already established great claims upon the acknowledgment of the Government and of Parliament, quite irrespective of their approval or disapproval of the policy of the cause which he was engaged in promoting, by his extremely skilful management of a very difficult situation, when he was employed in the Naval Demonstration off the coast of Albania. [Ironical cheers and laughter.] I believe that there can be no difference of opinion on that subject. I will now dwell only for a very few moments on the services rendered by him in Egypt, which, of themselves, entitle him to some such grant as that now proposed. I believe I may say that the naval action of Alexandria—the bombardment of Alexandria—was no unimportant event in the history of maritime warfare; because I do not know whether, since the introduction of those vast machines under the name of ships, which appear almost to differ in kind as well as in degree from the ships of other days, and almost to transcend the ordinary faculties of the human mind, such are the risks and difficulties they present with reference to their management and their effective application to the purposes for which they were constructed, I might perhaps venture upon the contention that the event is no inconsiderable event in the history of naval warfare. It will not be found, I believe, very easy to refer to any previous event in the history of the wars of Europe, since the great ironclad ship came into use, which at all tended to exhibit the efficacy of these tremendous engines in the manner in 637 which it was exhibited by Lord Alcester in the destruction of the forts of Alexandria. But it was not merely the activity, judgment, and energy with which that action was conducted which ought to be remembered in considering the case of Lord Alcester. He had a very difficult question to determine in the application of the instructions under which he proceeded to conduct operations, because the operations, and the authority to engage in the operations, depended upon his close vigilance and accurate discernment of proceedings which were, as far as possible, concealed by night and art; and it was upon the continuance of proceedings for the strengthening of the forts of Alexandria that Lord Alcester's action was entirely to depend. That vigilance and that discrimination Lord Alcester exercised in a manner such as to entitle him to the highest praise. Then we may be led to compare the bombardment of Alexandria with the most considerable maritime operation against the shore in which the British Fleet had up to that time been concerned. I mean the bombardment of Algiers. But there was this great difference between the two cases; that, whereas, in the case of the bombardment of Algiers—if we accurately understand the object and policy of Lord Exmouth—there was felt to be a necessity for inflicting much damage upon the city of Algiers and its peaceful population, in order to bring about the peace which was desired. In the case of Alexandria, Lord Alcester had to achieve the difficult purpose of effectively destroying the forts, and yet sparing the city. [Mr. O'DONNELL: Oh!] The hon. Member for Dungarvan is very much given to that kind of jeer, and we all know that he is not deficient in the faculty of oral expression. I should have thought it indisputable that that was a great object which Lord Alcester had to achieve, and I do not understand why the anger of the hon. Member should have over boiled before I stated that he did achieve it. I now stated that he did achieve it; and I say, almost without qualification, that with the gallant force under his command he attained the purpose of an effective destruction of the forts of Alexandria without inflicting injury upon the city, or causing loss of life among the peaceful population. Much as, unfortunately, the city suffered, it did not 638 suffer from the action of Lord Alcester or from the British Fleet. It suffered from the action of those against whom Lord Alcester was conducting his operations, and whose conduct on that occasion it is not necessary for me further to examine. I do not hesitate—feeling confident of carrying with me, if not the unanimous, yet the all but unanimous, judgment of the House—I do not hesitate to say that he spared the property accumulated in the great city of Alexandria, and that that was part of the great service which he rendered. But Lord Alcester's services were not confined to the sea. His business was not merely to inflict a certain amount of damage and destruction upon the forts of Alexandria. He had to land his forces, he had to man the forts which he had been engaged in destroying, and he had to assume the great responsibility of the police, and, likewise, of the defence of a great city, for a number of days before the military reinforcements reached him to relieve him from the charge. That was a great responsibility, and it was a responsibility of which this distinguished Officer, during a space of about six days, admirably acquitted himself. He had also to meet an extraordinary measure taken by the enemy, not so much against him as against the whole population of Alexandria. I mean that strange measure which was adopted by those in arms against him of stopping the water supply of the population of a great city —a scheme totally ineffective for the purpose of inflicting injury upon the English as belligerents, but aimed at a fatal purpose, and with great likelihood of having fatal effects, against the whole population of the city. The great energy of Lord Alcester and of those around him enabled him to defeat that most culpable purpose, and to prevent the infliction of great suffering, if not of absolute death, upon the peaceful inhabitants of the city. After that he had another difficult operation to execute. It is to him, as the chief in command, that we are primarily and most of all indebted for the effective occupation of the Suez Canal, and for those admirable arrangements under which a vast fleet of transports of enormous tonnage was poured into the Canal almost without any sensible interruption of the mercantile traffic which, is carried on through the Canal. That 639 achievement was a matter of no ordinary difficulty, and its successful accomplishment evidences the greatest skill and the highest capacity to discharge any duty whatever attaching to the distinguished Profession of which Lord Alcester is such an ornament. Afterwards he had a large share in those arrangements for the supply of the Army, which enabled Lord Wolseley to bring the operations in Egypt to a close with an expedition that, I may fairly say, was favourably observed in every civilized country; and all this was carried on by him in the discharge of mixed duties, which was only too likely to lead to a misunderstanding, in such a manner as not only to maintain, but, if possible, to increase, the perfect harmony prevailing between the two great Services engaged in the defence of the country. It appears to me that the man must be fastidious indeed who does not admit that such labours as this, performed as they have been by Lord Alcester, afford an ample justification for the proposal now made. Not only do they afford ample justification, but they impose an imperative duty, and would have made Her Majesty's Government the objects of a just censure if they had declined to propose, or if they had proposed in less than the present moderate measure and degree, the grant of public money which is the subject of the present Bill. With these observations, I commend the Bill to the favourable attention of the House, and I now bog to move that it be read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ MR. LABOUCHERE,
in rising to move, as an Amendment—That, in the opinion of this House, the services of Lord Alcester during our Naval operations in Egypt were not of such a character as to satisfy this House as to the desirability of assenting to the proposal submitted to it in this Bill,said, that not many days ago that House passed the following Resolution: —That, in the opinion of this House, the present amount of the National Expenditure demands the earnest and immediate attention of Her Majesty's Government, with the view of effecting such reductions as may be consistent with the efficiency of the public service.When that Resolution was passed, he rejoiced, for he said to himself, it was not 640 absolutely necessary for the efficiency of the Public Service that either Lord Alcester or Lord Wolseley should be granted an hereditary pension, and therefore the result would be that those proposals would not be brought forward. Alas, for his own guileless innocence! Alas, for the trustful faith of his simple-minded Friend the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands)! His hon. Friend and the rest of the House would, no doubt, for the future agree with the Prime Minister in the observation that he had often made, that abstract Resolutions were of little practical good. A little more than a fortnight ago Ministers, the Opposition, hon. Gentleman from Ireland, hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, all entered into a solemn league and covenant in favour of retrenchment. Now they were about to give effect to that solemn league and covenant by being asked to vote a pension not only to Lord Alcester, but to Lord Alcester's son, who, whatever might be the merits of his father, certainly had not yet done anything to deserve reward. In fact, he was credibly informed that the son in question was not yet born. He had put down the Resolution which stood in his name as a practical negative of the Motion to read that Bill a second time. Now, he know there were hon. Gentlemen who thought it would be more desirable to have moved a reduction; but when they remembered that the second reading of this Bill was moved by the Prime Minister, and when they remembered that the right hon. Baronet the Loader of the Opposition (Sir Stafford Northcote) said, at an early stage, that he was anxious to second it, they took it as a fact, that, precisely as the Bill was brought in, it would be carried through the various stages of that House. When hon. Members said they were not going to vote against the second reading, but would vote for some reduction, he hoped that whatever reductions were proposed might be agreed to by the House; but he thought it exceedingly improbable that they would, and, practically, when any hon. Gentleman voted in favour of the second reading, he knew very well he was giving a vote which would give hereditary pensions to those gentlemen. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had spoken with his usual eloquence on the matter; but he (Mr. Labouchere) should venture 641 to submit to the House certain special and just grounds why they should not agree to the second reading. He agreed that it was not the business of the Commanders of an expedition to consider the causes which led to the war in which they are engaged. They were bound to fulfil their duty. What alone would he say with regard to this war—that they could not consider it one of those great and famous military expeditions which would go down as military exploits to live in history. In point of fact, they were not at war at all; according to the official accounts they were only engaged in military operations. Arabi—so ran the official account—was a military adventurer, who, with one or two regiments, was resisting the behests of the Khedive. The Egyptians were almost entirely opposed to him, and were anxiously looking forward for the English to occupy Egypt, and to free them from the yoke of Arabi, and put them in the advantageous position that they were in before, when they were the slaves of the Khedive and were happy in paying their taxes, to enable the interest to be paid on the bonds of their kind friends in that part of the world. The right hon. Gentleman stated that Lord Alcester had established great claims upon the country by his former achievements, and he (Mr. Labouchere) was not there to deny the ability of the noble Lord, or to say that he had not done his duty. He, however, desired to point out that, to an Admiral, the advantages of being in command of a Fleet wore enormous, and accordingly Lord Alcester obtained those advantages. It was not the kindness that the Admiral had done the country that was in question—it was the kindness which the country had done the Admiral in giving him the command of its Fleets. Since 1870, Lord Alcester had been in command of the Detached Squadron, of the Channel Squadron, and of the Mediterranean Squadron, and during all that period he had been receiving exceedingly large pay and honour —for it was an honour to which every Naval officer aspired to command a British Fleet. He could not see why the fact that Lord Alcester had received large pay and great honour should be a reason for making him any special grant of this kind. The Prime Minister had practically placed the matter upon two grounds. The right hon. Gentleman 642 told them that Lord Alcester did two things which had entitled him to this hereditary pension—namely, that he organized with great ability the transport of the troops from Alexandria to Ismailia, and that he had bombarded the forts at Alexandria. Now, as regarded the transport of the troops from Alexandria to Ismailia, it must be remembered that the troops had, in the first place, to be transported from England to Alexandria, which seemed to him to be a much greater distance than from Alexandria to Ismailia; and it must also be remembered that the transport of the troops from Alexandria to Ismailia met with no sort of opposition. The thing, no doubt, was done ably enough; but he put it to the House, Were the services of the Admiral in that matter of such a character as entitled him to this hereditary pension? Why, troops had been transported before that. When General Abercrombie commanded in Egypt, troops were sent to him; but the Admiral who convoyed them was not pensioned. Again, they were sent out to Portugal during the Peninsular War, but no pension was given to the Admiral; in fact, in the case of the Indian Mutiny, the China, Crimean, and American Wars, they had been respectively transported to India, to China, to the Crimea, and to Canada; yet no one had even dreamt of saying that the successful transport of the troops in those cases formed one of those grand and distinguished acts in respect of which the nation was bound to confer honours and pecuniary rewards upon those who were responsible for their conveyance from one place to another. Now he came to the bombardment of the forts at Alexandria, respecting which the right hon. Gentleman had said it was a great military exploit, and he had referred to the bombardment of Algiers as being of a similar character. Had not the right hon. Gentleman referred to the bombardment of Algiers, he (Mr. Labouchere) himself should have done so. It was possible to estimate the military character of such an action by the number of deaths which it involved. When Lord Exmouth bombarded Algiers, he had to sail into a harbour surrounded by guns, the consequence being that 850 officers and men were killed on board the British Fleet. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Killed and wounded.] He thought that 643 that number had been killed; but he was glad to hear that they were only wounded. It was sufficient, for his purpose, that, on that occasion, 850 officers and men had been killed and wounded. Contrast that case with the bombardment of Alexandria. In the latter case, on board the British Meet, the only commissioned officer killed was a lieutenant or a midshipman, and one warrant officer, and six seamen were killed, and either 20 or 26 seamen were wounded. A comparison between those two sets of figures gave a tolerably fair idea of the comparative dangers and difficulties of the two engagements. The right hon. Gentleman, moreover, had told them that the bombardment of Alexandria would go down to history, because it involved a solution of a technical problem as to the resistance offered by ironclads to heavy artillery. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that this was the first battle in which ironclads had been opposed to artillery; but, with all duo respect, he appeared to have forgotten the Battle of Lissa, in which very heavy guns were used on both sides, thus testing the question in a much more efficient manner. In any case, however, the solution of the point in question could scarcely be assigned as a reason for granting a Peerage and an hereditary pension to Lord Alcester, because, if it were, a Peerage and an hereditary pension might be granted to the gentleman who looked after the target practice at Woolwich. But he went further on this subject. He would venture to say that, in bombarding the forts around Alexandria, Lord Alcester had been guilty of an unnecessary act, involving great calamities upon the Egyptian people. There was, in that act, a great amount of mala fides to the Egyptians and Her Majesty's Government, and it led to widespread distress in Alexandria. It appeared to him, also, that Lord Alcester was responsible for the probable consequences which would result from bombarding the forts, when he had no troops ready to take the place of the Egyptian Army when it retired. In the case of Paris, the French authorities had been exceedingly anxious that an armed force should remain in the City; and they succeeded in convincing Prince Bismarck of the danger that would result from the withdrawal of all armed force. He consented 644 that the National Guard should be allowed to retain their arms; and, had he not done so, the same thing would have then occurred in Paris that occurred at a subsequent time. In the present case, however, Lord Alcester had been expressly warned of the consequences of bombarding the forts at Alexandria without having troops to land immediately afterwards. Before the bombardment the Foreign Consuls sent a Collective Note, saying—However effective, the bombardment of Alexandria cannot take place without causing great danger to the Egyptian population, nor without the destruction of an incalculable amount of European property.Common sense would have told the same thing; and the warning was unquestionably realized, because the burning of Alexandria was the result, and the direct result, of the bombardment of the forts. Coming to another point, the right hon. Gentleman had said that Lord Alcester had particularly distinguished himself by the great intelligence which he had shown in carrying out this particular and difficult task, which was to watch the Egyptians, and to bombard or not, as the case might be. He (Mr. Labouchere) was always sorry to inflict upon the House any extracts from Blue Books; but, unless he did so upon the present occasion, he could not make his meaning clear, and the conclusion he had arrived at upon the point after reading them was this. On the 11th of June the massacres took place, and on the 25th Lord Alcester—who was then Admiral Sir Beauchamp Seymour—declared that he supposed the Conference would tell him to take hostile steps against the Egyptians; and he, therefore, telegraphed to the Admiralty—I should wish to be perfectly prepared for immediate action when the decision of the Conference is known here. I propose to bring all the outside Squadron into desirable positions for attack.The reply from the Admiralty, of the 26th of June, was—If Egyptian troops are making preparations to attack, communicate with French Admiral, and bring ships inside into position.It must be remembered that, at that time, there was no case against the Egyptians of having in any sort of way menaced the safety of the Fleet. On July 2nd, when Sir Beauchamp Seymour 645 found that he was to do nothing, he telegraphed to the Admiralty—Arabi now gives out that he is inspired nightly by the Prophet. He hopes getting Allied Fleet into trap by sinking stone barges to bar Channel.On the same day the Admiralty telegraphed to Sir Beauchamp Seymour—Acquaint Military Governor that an attempt to bar the Channel will be considered as a hostile act, which will be treated accordingly.On July 3rd the following telegram was sent by the Foreign Office to Sir Beauchamp Seymour: —Prevent any attempt to bar Channel into port. If work is resumed on earthworks, or fresh guns mounted, inform Military Commandant that you have orders to prevent it; and, if not immediately discontinued, destroy earthworks, and silence batteries if they open fire.Of course, he was to do that; but they heard absolutely nothing more of the Channel being stopped. The whole thing disappeared. It was a myth. The next thing they heard of was that, on the 4th of July, Sir Beauchamp Seymour telegraphed—Two additional guns placed in Pharos Castle last night. Parapet facing sea front was also strengthened. No change in the works bearing on the harbour. French Admiral has asked for orders. Has received reply from Military Governor and Arabi, sending Egyptian Admiral to give assurances no Channel obstruction contemplated.On July 5th Mr. Cartwright telegraphed to Earl Granville—Yesterday afternoon the Under Secretary of Marine called on Sir Beauchamp Seymour and made re-assuring statements to His Excellency in regard to the placing of impediments in the entrance of the harbour of Alexandria. A little later the Admiral received a written reply from the Commandant of the garrison, couched in similar language.On the same day Sir Beauchamp Seymour telegraphed to the Admiralty—Shall demand from Military Governor tomorrow cessation of all work on the batteries. As French appear indisposed to act, shall detain Penelope until result is known.The next day Mr. Cartwright telegraphed to Earl Granville—Admiral Seymour finds that the military works were suspended yesterday afternoon.On the same day Sir Beauchamp Seymour telegraphed to the Admiralty—No signs of operations since yesterday afternoon.646 On July 7th the Foreign Consuls appealed to Sir Beauchamp Seymour not to bombard, and assured him that they could obtain perfectly satisfactory assurances in regard to the fortifications. Sir Beau-champ Seymour telegraphed to Earl Granville on July 8 that two more guns were mounted on a battery five miles off, and asked whether that was to be a casus belli. To this Earl Granville replied that it was not to be so regarded. On July 9th Sir Beauchamp Seymour telegraphed to the Admiralty—Guns are now being mounted on Fort Silsili. Shall give Foreign Consuls notice at daylight to-morrow morning, and shall commence action 24 hours after, unless forts on Isthmus and those commanding entrance to the harbour are surrendered.To this no reply was sent. On the 10th of July, Sir Beauchamp Seymour sent as follows to the Military Commandant at Alexandria:—As hostile preparations, evidently directed against the squadron under my command, were in progress during yesterday at Forts Isili, Pharos, and Silsili, I shall carry out the intention expressed to you in my letter of the 6th instant, at sunrise to-morrow, the 11th instant, unless previous to that hour you should have temporarily surrendered to me, for the purpose of disarming, the batteries on the Isthmus of Easel-Tin and the southern shores of the harbour of Alexandria.Dervish Pasha replied on the same day, and, after explaining that he had no powers to make this surrender of territory, he said—The Admiral might first have set forth in a friendly manner the grievances which have been the cause of the measures he has taken. It would have been possible to verify them, and subsequently to have consulted as to the means of remedying them.The whole story, as he had said, amounted to this—The massacres took place on June 11th. On June 25th, Sir Beau-champ Seymour stated that, as he would probably be told to take hostile steps against the Egyptians, he wished to get his ships into position. At that time there was no case against the Egyptians of having menaced our ships. On July 2nd, when he found that he was not to bombard, he telegraphed that Arabi was laying a trap to catch the Fleet by stopping the channel of the harbour. He was then told that such a proceeding would be a hostile act; and that if the Egyptians began to erect earthworks he was to prevent them from doing so. But nothing more was heard about the 647 channel being stopped up. The whole story was a myth. On the 4th of July, Sir Beauchamp Seymour again telegraphed that battery works wore progressing, and again, on the 6th of July, that those works had ceased. On July 8th, Sir Beauchamp Seymour said that two guns had been mounted upon a battery, and asked whether that was to be considered a "casus belli." On July 9th, the gallant Admiral telegraphed that fresh guns were being mounted, and that he was insisting on the surrender of the forts, under threat of bombardment within 24 hours. Sir Beauchamp Seymour based his view on the fact that Lieutenant Smith-Dorrien had seen two guns being parbuckled towards carriages which he thought had been previously moved towards the harbour. From what he had said, no person could arrive at any other conclusion than this —that Sir Beauchamp Seymour had, ever since the massacre of June 11th, when some of his officers were insulted, determined, if he possibly could, to avenge that massacre. ["No!"] He had put forward one pretext after another to hide that determination; but they were only pretexts. ["No, no!"] Well, he should have a witness to that statement. He (Mr. Labouchere) thought that the mistake which the Government made was in not asking Lord Alcester to let them know what was the real danger incurred by the Fleet, when he had telegraphed to say that he intended to bombard the forts, because fresh guns had been placed in position on them, and the Fleet was menaced. He could not believe that, if the facts had been known to the Government as they were known at the present time, if they had known that the Fleet was not incurring any sort of danger, and that this determination, on the part of Sir Beauchamp Seymour to bombard was on account of the massacre, they would have sent him more specific instructions to prevent bombardment, until such a step was rendered absolutely necessary, and not have waited 24 hours before sending him any instructions at all. Now, he had said, when hon. Gentlemen called out "No, no!" that he had a witness to the assertion he had made that Lord Alcester's statements to the Government were merely pretexts; and he would call that witness, for it was no other than Lord Alcester himself. Last 648 week, Lord Alcester was dining at that temple of Civic Jingoism—the Mansion House—when he (Mr. Labouchere) believed that the noble Lord was made a freeman of the Cutler's Company, and received a snuffbox, or a casket, or something of that kind. He would ask the attention of the House to what the noble Lord said on that occasion, after which he thought no one would deny that he bombarded the forts, not because of any danger to the Fleet, but because some of his sailors had been insulted during the massacre. What the noble and gallant Admiral stated was this—But the extreme difficulty that attended the work I had to do was in the early part. It was impossible, after the massacres that took place at Alexandria on the 11th of June, to do anything in the way I should have liked. Had it not been for the enormous European population and the Levantine population, subjects of European Powers, I think it very possible that, with the small force we had, we should have endeavoured to have settled matters on the following morning. But that was impossible in the circumstances. There is a distinguished diplomatist present who will bear me out in saying that, had we attempted to seek that redress which we were entitled to demand, the lives of the enormous European population of Cairo and of Egypt generally would have been placed in peril. I was told, in distinct terms, that I must do nothing. I was requested to do nothing until measures could he adopted to remove the European population. The massacre of Alexandria took place on the 11th of June. I will ask you to pay attention to what I say now. The last vessel containing refugees from Egypt was towed out of the harbour of Alexandria at 4 p.m. on the 10th of July, and we attacked the batteries at 7 o'clock on the following morning. Therefore, there was no lack of promptitude in endeavouring to redress the grievances we had to obtain redress for.The House, he thought, had a right to ask the Government whether they assented to that statement. Lord Alcester expressly threw over everything which appeared in the Blue Book, including the guns that were brought to bear upon the Fleet, which, if his statement was correct, was nothing less than a pious fraud. From his own showing, he had determined to obtain redress for what he termed the grievances of the 11th of June. He said he was "requested to do nothing until measures could be adopted to remove the European population." Who requested him to do nothing? It was a serious question whether the Government accepted that view or not. If they did not, they had been hoodwinked by Lord Alcester; 649 and how, in that case, was it possible for the Government to ask the House of Commons to grant a pension to that officer? It was clear—in fact, they almost knew—that the Government never contemplated the bombardment of Alexandria. The right hon. Gentleman who was then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) was opposed to every kind of war. He was at that time in the Cabinet; but no sooner had news of the bombardment arrived than he at once resigned his position. It was therefore impossible that the question of bombardment could have been mooted in the Cabinet. From the fact of the right hon. Gentleman not having resigned before the bombardment, but resigning immediately after, they were justified in saying that the question was never even mooted in the Cabinet, and that the Ministry accepted a mere ex post facto responsibility, without exactly knowing what had happened. Which leg, then, did the Government elect to stand on? How was their acceptance of Lord Alcester's view consistent with the late Chancellor of the Duchy's remaining in the Cabinet? And if they did not take that view, why did they propose to the House to grant this pension? He now came to the general grounds on which it was granted. The proposition before the House was, practically, that there was a distinction between the Military and Civil Services; and that in the case of the Military, though not of the Civil Service, hereditary pensions should be granted for distinguished services. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that there were many precedents for the course now taken. Well, there were precedents against it as well. He (Mr. Labouchere) thought he was right in saying that a pension was granted to Lord Lyons for only one life. At any rate, it was so in the case of Lord Clyde. Lord Exmouth, it was true, received £2,000 a-year for two lives; but Lord Nelson received only £2,000 a-year during his own life for lighting the Battle of the Nile; and, surely the Battle of the Nile was somewhat more important than the bombardment of Alexandria. For the taking of Copenhagen Lord Nelson received nothing. There was the case of Admiral Parker, who commanded in our war with China, who was concerned in the taking of Amoy, 650 and who practically opened up the Chinese Empire to Englishmen. He received nothing. The House would also remember the bombardment of Acre, when Sir Robert Stopford and Sir Charles Napier were in command. That bombardment would compare almost advantageously as a military deed with the bombardment of the forts of Alexandria; and yet neither of the Commanders received anything. During the Crimean War a pension was given to Lord Raglan only, although many eminent Generals were concerned, and were in command of troops when Sebastopol was taken. They did not even receive thanks. He would also take the case of the Duke of Wellington. After the Siege of Seringapatam and the Battle of Assaye he received neither pension nor title; and yet at the Battle of Assaye he, with only 1,500 Europeans and eight guns, defeated Scindia with 50,000 troops and 102 guns. Then the Duke of Wellington went to Portugal and won the Battle of Talavera. For that a title was given to him; but he did not receive a pension at that time. Afterwards he won the Battle of Busaco, carried the lines of Torres Vedras, and when he had taken, in 1812, Ciudad Rodrigo, he received a pension of £2,000 per annum for two lives. These services of the Duke of Wellington were, in his (Mr. Labouchere's) judgment, a little superior to those of Lord Alcester. Besides, there was another case which occurred very recently — he meant, of course, the case of General Roberts. General Roberts crossed the Peiwar Pass in the midst of snow, and advanced on Cabul in 1878, fighting his way all along. In 1879 he withdrew; but subsequently he recrossed the Pass, took Cabul, and made his famous march from Cabul to Candahar. What did General Roberts receive? A grant of £12,600. He was not saying that there was any meanness in this, for he (Mr. Labouchere), personally, was opposed to all these pensions and grants. But, admitting that the services of General Roberts were amply rewarded by that gratuity of £12,500, he was at a loss to conceive how any Minister could come forward and ask them to give £2,000 a-year to Lord Alcester. If precedents did exist, he did not think there was any reason why they should follow them. The right hon. Gentleman had stated 651 that Lord Keane received an hereditary pension. He thought the present Lord Keane was the fourth in descent from the first Lord, and he was not aware what service the present Peer rendered to the country. He should be delighted to strike the amount of the pension out of the Estimates. He admitted that war was a necessity, and that it was necessary to spend a vast sum of money in order to maintain their Military and Naval Services efficiently; but these special grants given to Commanders were merely a relic of a bad time, when it was thought to be much grander to swagger about with a sword than to be engaged in any peaceful profession. Everybody admired sailors, because they were engaged in a profession which perpetually involved great risks and hardships; but he did not know whether the sailors in the Mercantile Marine were not quite as good men as the sailors in the Royal Navy. The risk incurred by a sailor who was fighting with the elements was as great as that incurred by the sailor who was present at the bombardment of Alexandria, which was the old fight between the pot of iron and the pot of earthenware. He would ask hon. Members not to look at precedents at all; but, as sensible men, to regard the matter on its own merits. He would admit that when a foe worthy of our steel was defeated, as was the case in the Battle of Waterloo and the Naval engagement of Trafalgar, he could understand that some sum should be given to the General in command; but was this one of those cases? Certainly it was not, and he believed the Prime Minister himself would be the last to say that it was. Why should they make these distinctions between Civil and Military men? [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!] Surely they were laying down the principle that, in the case of military men, hereditary pensions and large gifts were to be granted when they had efficiently performed their duty, and they did not lay down that rule in the case of civilians. He would take the case of the Prime Minister himself, and, not to be invidious, of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition also. Would anyone say that both those right hon. Gentlemen had not done as great services to the country as ever Lord Alcester had? Eight hon. and hon. Gentlemen had been that day engaged 652 in unveiling the statue of an eminent statesman, who was made a Peer for his long services to the country. Was that statesman given a pension? [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] The noble Lord opposite (Lord Randolph Churchill) said "Yes." [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: No; I did not.] Lord Beaconsfield was not given a pension, or rather, he should say, a perpetual one; and, therefore, there was a distinction made between those who were most eminent in the Civil Service of the country and those who had attained to eminence in the Military Service. Why should that distinction exist? The right hon. Gentleman would, perhaps, say that there were a few pensions which could be granted to civilians. It was true that there were a few pensions which could be granted to Ministers; but it must be remembered, in the first place, that such pensions were not hereditary; and, in the second place, that when a Minister was receiving any salary from the State his pension ceased. Now, that was not the case with regard to Lord Alcester. He held that his Lordship was an officer whose services had been very adequately rewarded, and would be adequately rewarded by the rules of the Service. For 10 years or more he had been in command of a Fleet, and the Commander of a Fleet received £3,467 a-year. When an Admiral was not on active service he received £760, and when an Admiral retired altogether from the Navy he received a pension of £850. It was true that Lord Alcester was not commanding a Fleet at the present moment, but he was a Naval Lord of the Admiralty, and in that capacity he received £1,200 per annum, in addition to his Admiral's salary of £760. Consequently, it could not be said that he had been inadequately rewarded; but his Lordship had received more than this. The other day a gratuity was granted to the Naval Forces employed within the waters of Egypt, and while the sailors received £2 each, Lord Alcester received £961. Therefore, he again asserted that Lord Alcester had been rewarded, and adequately so. [Cries of "Divide!"] He could well understand that there were a number of hon. Gentlemen, whenever a Vote of Money was proposed, who were ready to cry "Divide!" though the grant of the money should be 653 objected to by the mass of the people. He was not there to discuss the mystery of the Peerage, or the question why, because Lord Alcester had been engaged in this bombardment, his son should be an hereditary legislator. But, as the right hon. Gentleman had told them that, because Lord Alcester had been made a Peer, they ought to grant him a sum of money, to enable him and his son to maintain the dignity of the Peerage, they had a right to look into the matter. If the argument were a sound one, surely the pension ought to be hereditary. What was the difference between the son and the grandson, who would be brought into the world with nothing? The grandson would have the Peerage, but not the pension. If the right hon. Gentleman's argument were a sound one, he ought to have proposed a pension, not for two lives, but in sœcula sœculorum. They had often heard about paid Members of the House of Commons, and some hon. Gentlemen thought it would be contrary to the dignity of the House to have paid Members. Why, then, was a Peer, on being created an hereditary legislator, to become a paid Member of the other House? He despised every man who was an hereditary pensioner, for he did not know that anybody gained in dignity by having a pension. Why should a Peer have this kind of outdoor relief? If a Peer received £2,000 a-year for something his father did, the dignity acquired by the receipt of that pension was very much like the dignity of a person who went to the workhouse. That sort of thing was only possible in a Parliament such as the present, which, to his mind, did not represent the country. ["Oh, oh!"] Everyone who had assented to the necessity for a Reform Bill must hold that that Parliament did not represent the country; and if these demands were to be made, the sooner the House was sent about its business the better. He specially objected to the form in which the grant was to be made. Still, if it was to be made, and, as in this instance, they were to gild coronets, let them, in the name of goodness, pay for the gilding themselves. Why should they be lavish at the expense of posterity? Why should they saddle their children, or their grandchildren, with the payment of a pension of £2,000 a-year? If 654 they were anxious to give so much to Lord Alcester, let them pay it at once. It had been boasted by the Prime Minister that he always met his war expenditure by taxation; they had paid for the war out of the taxes, and why should they abrogate that principle in this instance, and charge this £2,000 a-year to future generations? Whatever they gave to Lord Alcester, let them give it out of their own pockets. If there was one thing the country had made up its mind about, it was that it was opposed to the system of hereditary pensions; and the Government, instead of putting an end to those which existed, was seeking to add two new ones. He had no doubt he should be followed into the Lobby by some of Her Majesty's Ministers. He had no doubt that his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain) was not prepared to add to the number of those who "toil not, neither do they spin." The right hon. Gentleman would be as much opposed as he (Mr. Labouchere) was to the payment of this money, and likewise to anyone deriving an income—not from unearned increment, that would be bad enough—but from the earned wages of those who did toil and spin. He had no doubt, also, that his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke), with all those sound principles which he knew so well how to put forward at divers times, would accompany him (Mr. Labouchere) into the same Lobby, and vote for the Amendment. They had heard something about it being the mission of the right hon. Baronet, on entering the Cabinet, to "permeate" his Colleagues with his own particular views; he (Mr. Labouchere) trusted the permeation would have gone so far that not only the President of the Board of Trade, but one or two other permeated Colleagues, would also vote for the Amendment. That war had cost them £4,000,000 or more, and the bombardment of Alexandria had cost the Egyptians several millions; and he thought that was not the moment, and the bombardment was not the occasion, when the country should be called upon to pay anything more for the sake of Lord Alcester. Jingoism was, happily, asleep. Do not let them awake it. He very much feared that Liberals, in many parts of the 655 country, would lose their confidence in the present Government—["They have lost it!"]—it was not gone jrot—if, instead of putting an end to those bad gunpowder and glory precedents of their Predecessors, they sought to perpetuate them; and what he would have them do instead was to establish good, sound, economical precedents for their Successors. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Amendment of which he; had given Notice.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he rose with infinite satisfaction to second the Amend-merit, which had been moved in so able, interesting, and incisive a speech, that there was, he felt, little left for him to say upon the subject. If they passed the Bill now proposed for second reading, it would be a wrong step to take, for its effect would be not merely to make the annuity a charge for the present year, but to place it on the Consolidated Fund, where it would pass out of purview, and become, uncriticized, a burden on the future taxes of the country for an unlimited period. That was the only occasion on which they could discuss the Government proposal, and they were bound to do so in the interest of the already heavily oppressed ratepayers of the country. The Prime Minister attempted to justify that Vote to Lord Alcester by reference to precedents; but those precedents tended to show that Parliament was gradually awakening to the injustice of pensions in perpetuity, which were of a most objectionable character, and acknowledging the importance of getting rid of pensions, either in perpetuity or for throe lives. That being so, why should they not now start on a new line, and determine, if they granted any pensions at all in connection with newly-created Peerages, that they should be for the life of the party only? One of; the greatest complaints now made was that of the increase of what were briefly called "Non-Effective Charges;" and there did not seem to be anything to justify their making two additions to those charges. The history of the bombardment of Alexandria showed that it was both a serious and a dangerous course that commanding officers should have the discretion to enter upon the; operations of war without full and definite instructions from the Government at home. Of late, there had been several instances in which most serious results 656 had followed the exercise of that discretion. By measures of that kind they offered great inducements to commanders to exercise their discretion in a way to bring them honours and pensions. No doubt, in the instance of the late operations in the Transvaal, Sir George Colley pushed forward in the hope of gaining glory and distinction; and if he had not met with death and disaster, which had involved them in difficulties, he would have been rewarded with honour and a pension. Previous to the bombardment, and from the very first, Sir Beauchamp Seymour had, again and again, called the attention of the Government to the necessity that he should, in certain eventualities, have power to bombard the forts; and although the Government at last yielded, yet a short time previously, when he urged that the arming of forts five miles off should be treated as a casus belli, the Government had brushed aside his representation. The House ought to bear in mind that the only thing alleged as a provocation for the bombardment was the insufficient fact that two guns were moved by the Egyptian soldiers so as to point on the Fleet, and that consequently the forts were bombarded, although the Commander at Alexandria denied any hostile intention. The mediation of the Consuls General was offered, but was refused by the Admiral, who continued his preparations, even after a suggestion from Lord Dufferin, at Constantinople, that he should communicate with Lord Granville before proceeding to extreme measures. So far from regarding the bombardment as entitling Lord Alcester to great honour, he (Mr. Rylands) thought he was much to blame for destroying the forts without having a sufficient force to protect the city from pillage and fire. After the bombardment, Lord Granville addressed a Circular to the European Powers, to the effect that the British Admiral had acted solely in self-defence. That was the view taken by the Government of what had been done; but how, in that case, could they justify the speech made the other day by Lord Alcester at the Mansion House? Lord Alcester than stated most distinctly that it had long been determined on, and that the only object they had in view was that punishment should be inflicted for the massacres of June 11. That assertion was absolutely contradictory to the state- 657 ments of the Government, and the House should pause before they granted honours and pensions to an officer who was in that position. From June 11, he said, he was told in distinct terms to do nothing till the European population had left the city. Now, he (Mr. Rylands) wished to know who sent the Admiral those instructions, which, of course, implied that after the departure of the Europeans some steps or other were to be taken. Lord Alcester had gone on to tell his audience at the Mansion House that the last European resident left Alexandria at 4 p.m. on July 10, and the bombardment began at 7 o'clock the following morning. It was obvious that both these accounts of the bombardment could not be correct; that the forts could not have been destroyed both in self-defence and by way of punishment for the massacre. If Lord Alcester's version of the affair was correct, Lord Granville's Circular was misleading, and Foreign Governments had a right to complain of it. If not—and this he believed to be the true state of the case—Lord Alcester had sprung upon the public a new and wholly erroneous account of the transaction, and they would leave their Representatives at every Foreign Court under the stigma of having given an assurance to Foreign Powers which was not true. He had great pleasure in seconding the Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the services of Lord Alcester during our Naval operations in Egypt were not of such a character as to satisfy this House as to the desirability of assenting to the proposal submitted to it in this Bill,"—(Mr. Labouchere,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, that, after the speech of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), it was absolutely necessary for those who, like himself, knew something of the character and services of Lord Alcester, not to allow the debate to come to a conclusion without the strongest repudiation of the attacks that had been made upon that noble Lord. But for the fact that the hon. Member's speech was enlivened 658 with vivid flashes of humour, he (Lord Henry Lennox) should have deeply regretted that it had been delivered. The fact was, it contained nothing worth comment, beyond the point that, in the absence of his Colleague (Mr. Brad-laugh), the mantle of one who was opposed to perpetual pensions had fallen upon himself. It could hardly be encouraging to officers, either of the Army or Navy, who, in active service, had done their duty with ability, tact, and honour, to find themselves subjected to such ungenerous attacks as that of the hon. Member for Northampton. The hon. Member had wished to fix on the noble Lord that the bombardment of Alexandria was not necessary, and had not taken place with the sanction of Her Majesty's Government; and, in support of his statement, he referred to the retirement of the late Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) from the Cabinet. But the House had nothing to do with the opinions of the Government before the bombardment of Alexandria; for, since that had taken place, they had fully endorsed all that Lord Alcester had done, and they said that his work had been done with tact, cleverness, and humanity. The hon. Member confined his remarks to the bombardment, and passed over all the other great services of Lord Alcester, which he described as transport services. But he (Lord Henry Lennox) would tell the hon. Member that the fact was, the services rendered by the Navy in Egypt were of the highest character, and far greater than mere transport duty; and if the hon. Member had only remembered the accounts given in the daily papers, and especially the admirable ones in The Standard, of how the bluejackets toiled, up to their necks in water, building pontoon bridges, and, again, keeping order as police in Alexandria, and the gallant services of the Royal Marine Artillery, when they careered through the country with the iron-clad train, he would have seen, and would have acknowledged, that every branch of the Navy did its duty in the most admirable way. It was absolutely essential that the services of the Navy should be recognized; and in that instance it could not be better done, or in any other way, than by conferring honours on their beloved and gallant Commander, 659 He (Lord Henry Lennox) repudiated, in the strongest terms, the charge of the hon. Member for Northampton, that what Lord Alcester did was done under a pretext. He made bold to say that Lord Alcester was as incapable of doing anything under a pretext as the hon. Member for Northampton himself. Lord Alcester, he believed, would rather have gone down to posterity as plain Beau-champ Seymour, a gallant, popular, and loved member of the Naval Service; but he knew that he had a duty to perform to others as well as to himself, and that, in this matter, he was the representative of the Navy. It was, therefore, for the honour of the Navy that he had accepted the title and rewards which had been conferred upon him. He (Lord Henry Lennox) differed altogether from the hon. Member for Northampton, when he said that the Vote would be unpopular with the masses of the people, who admired and appreciated the gallantry and daring displayed by our Army and Navy.
§ MR. LEWIS
said, he wished to say that, so far from having any intention to withdraw from the position he ventured to take up a few days ago, what he had since read, and the communications he had received from many quarters, only intensified his objections to the Bill, and to the whole course of proceedings on the part of the Government with respect to it. He thought his noble Friend who had just spoken (Lord Henry Lennox) was a little mistaken on one point, for there was by no means that unanimity of sentiment on the subject throughout the country which seemed to be supposed. He merely wished now to say that as he did not agree with the remarks of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) with respect to Lord Alcester as regarded his conduct and character as a Naval Commander, he would postpone his opposition until the Committee stage, when he should move that the Bill be committed that day six months. Neither did he sympathize with the attacks which had been made upon the soldierly character of Lord Wolseley; but he would say that all these proceedings were part of the programme for glorifying Her Majesty's Government, rather than those distinguished officers. He should, therefore, also oppose the twin Bill, for he believed hon. Members were mistaken in supposing there was not a 660 wide-spread feeling, even among the Conservative Party, against the course now proposed to be taken. If they were to throw away distinctions and hereditary pensions on account of such small proceedings as taking the Fleet into the Suez Canal in smooth water and fine weather, without an enemy to impede its progress, and bombarding a helpless city, then the next great battle that was fought they should have to make the General a Duke right off, and give £20,000 a-year to himself and his heirs for ever.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, that when the noble Lord the Member for Chichester (Lord Henry Lennox) rose to defend Lord Alcester, he expected that he would explain the extraordinary speech delivered by that noble Lord at the Mansion House. As the noble Lord had not thought proper to do so, he (Sir George Campbell) hoped that some Member of Her Majesty's Government would take the opportunity of doing so. He believed Lord Alcester had entirely done his duty; but it appeared to him that the noble Lord's speech at the Mansion House required explanation. He was very much opposed to giving great pensions on account of military services; and he, therefore, opposed the Bill, on the ground that there was not sufficient reason shown for granting the pension proposed by the Government. He would, however, at the same time, admit that the Army and Navy were not highly paid, their members had not the same opportunities of accumulating fortunes as were to be found in civil life; and, therefore, there was some reason for giving them rewards, provided they were not excessive. In this case he did not see sufficient grounds. He believed that the Government proposed that this grant should be made to Lord Alcester, because they feared that they would incur the displeasure of the Navy if a grant were given to a military officer only. He did not wish to cast any blame on Lord Alcester, who had done his duty well; but he thought the bombardment of Alexandria was not an event of which we ought to be proud, and we ought not to desire to commemorate it. It was a painful incident — doubly painful because it occurred during a Liberal Administration. Lord Alcester, in his opinion, exercised a wise discretion in not landing men on June 11; but his intelli- 661 gent conduct on that and other occasions hardly entitled him to a pension. As to his diplomatic efforts, all he (Sir George Campbell) had to say was that they were unsuccessful and unfortunate; and, therefore, they could not be held to furnish ground for the proposed grant. He thought that Lord Alcester had been already sufficiently rewarded. As to his son, he would be born in the purple, and, consequently, he would have ample opportunities of marrying an heiress, and if he availed himself of those opportunities he would not want the proposed pension. Many hon. Members, like himself, were not in favour of the manner in which the Amendment had been brought forward by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere); and he (Sir George Campbell), for that reason, would take a division upon the Motion for the second reading.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he was greatly surprised that the speech of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had not been answered and met with indignant denial by some Member of the Government. He could not help remarking that it was a curious thing that the hon. Member for Northampton and others who now supported him below the Gangway were the men who supported Her Majesty's Government in negativing a Motion from the Opposition side, expressing regret that it had become necessary to have recourse to those proceedings in Egypt; and yet they could use language which involved severe censure upon the whole policy of the Government in connection with Egypt, for the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton was far more an attack upon the Government than it was a derogation of the conduct of Lord Alcester. It was, therefore, to be somewhat wondered at that it should have been left to the noble Lord the Member for Chichester to defend Lord Alcester; but the noble Lord had done so, and fully vindicated him at the same time. What, he (Mr. W. H. Smith) asked, were the facts of the case? He was not there to endorse the action of the Government, which had led to the Egyptian Campaign; but he wished to point out that Admiral Sir Beauchamp Seymour carried out the distinct orders of the Government, with whom he was in constant telegraphic communication, hour by hour, and every 662 step he took, they approved of. In fact, Her Majesty's Government were solely responsible, therefore, for every step taken by Lord Alcester during these operations. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] Had Lord Alcester done his duty promptly and efficiently, had he exercised the judgment, skill, and tact, belonging to the position of a Naval Commander under the circumstances in which he had been placed such as to entitle him to the distinction and reward Parliament was asked to confer upon him? That was the issue actually before the House, and no one dared to say that he had not. Whether the Government had taken a strong view or not of the services of the General and Admiral commanding in the late Expedition, to say that Lord Alcester and Lord Wolseley were not to receive the pension sought to be given to them for their services was practically to cast censure upon those distinguished officers. ["No, no!"] He (Mr. W. H. Smith) said, yes; for the question before the House was whether Lord Alcester commanded the forces entrusted to him in a manner which reflected honour and credit on the Service of which he was a distinguished ornament. It must be remembered that the pay and reward received by officers engaged in the Army and the Navy was very small compared with the incomes of gentlemen who entered civil professions; and, therefore, in the event of a war involving the expenditure of life and treasure, the issue of which depended upon the exercise of tact, judgment, and discretion on the part of those who were placed in the position of directing the necessary operations, and in which their action might involve an enormous expenditure of public money, it was only right, when they brought the operations which were entrusted to them to a successful and speedy termination, that the country should reward their services liberally, and somewhat beyond the pay and ordinary reward accorded in the ordinary discharge of their duty. It was not because he approved of the policy of the Government, but because he believed Lord Alcester had rendered services deserving of special recognition, that he should support the second reading of the Bill.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
said, he knew the House was anxious for a division, 663 and he would, therefore, put what he had to say into half-a-dozen sentences. He was in general agreement with his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) on most political questions, and with his dislike of hereditary pensions he quite sympathized; but he could not help saying that he thought the speech his hon. Friend had delivered that night, although an able one, was somewhat ungracious. There ran through it a certain spice of shabbiness towards a public servant which he (Mr. Cowen) did not think it was desirable for anyone, but especially the House of Commons, to manifest. He wished to ask his hon. Friend if he would not withdraw his Amendment and take a division against the Bill? By doing that he would divest the debate of all personality, and not deprive the principle he was contending for of any force. The two Commanders, Lord Alcester and Lord Wolseley, were commissioned by the nation to do a certain piece of work. They did it expeditiously; they did it thoroughly; they did it well. We had applauded their skill; we had honoured their valour; and we now proposed to reward their success. We did this entirely irrespective of the objects of the enterprise. He was opposed to the Egyptian War. He believed it to be unnecessary—if he cared, he might use a much stronger term to express his disapproval. All the purposes the Government had in view by it could have been served without a resort to arms. The plan for settling Egypt, which the Ministry had agreed on, was only a pale copy of Arabi's programme. They had better have carried it out with Arabi, rather than by the Pashas now in power. But, even if interference was necessary —and he was now speaking from the Government standpoint, not his own— they were too long in interfering. A bucket of water thrown upon a fire, when the embers were just igniting, would put it out; but if the fire was allowed to get ahead it might destroy both life and treasure. The little fire that, according to the Government, was originated in a Cairo barracks, could easily have been extinguished, if grappled with in time. Instead of that, they allowed it to burst into a conflagration, which burnt Alexandria, and laid all Lower Egypt in rains. But whether the war was, as he contended, unnecessary, 664 or it was, as the Government contended, necessary, did not affect the question at issue. Lord Alcestor and Lord Wolseley were no more responsible for the Ministerial policy in Egypt than they were for the Ministerial policy in Ireland. The Cabinet started the war, Parliament sanctioned it, the country supported it, and these two officers carried it to a successful result. It was because they were efficient servants of the State, therefore, and not because he approved of the policy of the war, that he was willing-to accord any reasonable emolument to the two Commanders. He objected, however, to the way in which the Government proposed to confer their rewards. The House had passed a Resolution, only a few days ago, practically expressing disapproval of the plan of pensions. They had also declared that it was in accordance both with national interest and national morality that the generation that made the war should pay for it. This declaration had been repeatedly made by the Government during the last few years, and emphasized during the last few days. He knew they might as well hope for constancy in the wind, or for corn in chaff, as to secure consistency in Party politicians; but it was not customary for even Party politicians to run so diametrically opposite to their solemn declarations in so short a time as the Government seemed disposed to do. He did not quarrel with the amount they were going to give. That was a question for the Executive to settle, and he was quite certain that the country was never benefited by stinginess in dealing with its servants. The amount of money proposed might be too large for the service rendered; but he would not quarrel about that. What he quarrelled about was the plan of giving it. He objected absolutely to the principle of hereditary pensions, and he believed the people wished to be quit of them. Let the Government capitalize the amount, and give Lord Alcester and Lord Wolseley each a lump sum at once. It was in that sense he would vote. He would not vote for any Resolution that conveyed a personal slight, or that could be twisted into an offensive reflection upon either one Commander or the other; but he would certainly vote against the most objectionable plan that the Government proposed for still further adding to our 665 already too numerous hereditary pensions.
§ COLONEL NORTH
said, he most sincerely deprecated the spirit in which the proposal to reward these distinguished officers had been cavilled at. The House, on former occasions, generally used to be unanimous in giving their assent to such proposals, and he had never before heard such wretched wrangling as was now taking place. Never in the course of the history of the country had the Army and Navy of Great Britain shown themselves more efficient than they had done under the command of Lord Alcester and Lord Wolseley. It was entirely owing to the exertions of those two officers that the Egyptian Campaign had been brought to a rapid and a successful conclusion, which had reflected honour upon this country. No doubt many of the troops engaged were young, but they had conducted themselves most gallantly. He could not agree with the lion. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis) as to the general opinion of the country in this matter, for he thought it would be a pleasure to the country and a pleasure to that House to recognize the services of these gentlemen.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
said, he wished to express his regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) should have made the observations that he had done with respect to the fact that no Member of the Government had risen earlier in the debate in defence of the measures now proposed to the House. As regarded himself, he (the Chancellor of the Exehequer) had not risen earlier because he had seen that several hon. Members on both sides of the House were desirous of addressing it; and he had thought it his duty to wait and hear what they had to say before he rose to speak on the question. Turning to the main question before the House, it would be impossible for him to express the satisfaction with which the Government had listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen). The hon. Member had put the question exactly upon the right ground; because he had said that officers doing their duty to their country deserved to be rewarded. The hon. Member was also quite right in saying that this was not a question as to the propriety of the action 666 of Her Majesty's Government in connection with the Egyptian Expedition, but solely whether these officers had done their duty, and whether they ought not to be rewarded. The question which the hon. Member had raised, as to whether these officers could receive a pension for one or two lives, or a lump sum in lieu thereof, was one that ought to be discussed in Committee, as it involved a mere matter of detail, which could not be properly discussed on the second reading of the Bill. When the measure got into Committee, Her Majesty's Government would be prepared to state their views on the proposal of the hon. Member. After what the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had said with reference to the speech of Lord Alcester at the Mansion House, it was absolutely necessary that the facts should be put clearly and unmistakably before the House. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was at the Mansion House and heard the speech in question, and he did not derive from it the same idea which his hon. Friend seemed to have derived from the newspaper report. What he understood Lord Alcester to say was, that it might have been in his power, with a very small force, to protect the persons who were in danger during the riots, but that it would have been most imprudent to do so with so large a number of Europeans—not British subjects only—in Alexandria, and that such an action on his part might have had a disastrous result; and then Lord Alcester went on to explain how he acted when he endeavoured to obtain redress. There was not one word in what fell from Lord Alcester expressive of dissent from the course taken by the Government; but he merely gave good reasons why what, at first sight, seemed to be the natural course could not be followed. As regarded the general feeling on this point, it had been put very clearly by a certain newspaper to the following effect: —It is thought that Sir Beauchamp Seymour has shown great want of energy. He was left to act as he pleased, and ho ought to have been pleased to land his Marines when an English Consul and some of his own officers were being beaten by a crowd of Arabs. Moreover, he ought never to have allowed earthworks to be erected defiantly under his guns.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS),
in reply, said, it had appeared in a newspaper which was, perhaps, but little read by the hon. Member for Northampton; but which, nevertheless, he would not think badly of, and was called Truth. That was the natural feeling at the time of a great many who took an interest in the question; but Lord Alcester had acted solely in accordance with his instructions. If hon. Members would refer to the Blue Book, they would see that Admiral Seymour kept the Government thoroughly informed of his proceedings; that the Government gave him strict and precise instructions; that he acted upon those instructions, and that the Government were responsible for his acts; and that, in their opinion, Admiral Seymour was entitled to the greatest credit for having carried out those instructions with thoroughness and efficiency. If the reasons why the gallant Admiral should not receive that pension were not stronger than those which had been urged that evening by the lion. Member for Northampton, ho hoped the House would override those objections, and read the Bill a second time.
§ SIR JOSEPH PEASE
said, it seemed to him that what the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen) stated was true—namely, that these officers did their duty, according to the instructions they received from Her Majesty's Government, to the best of their ability, and that it, therefore, rested with Her Majesty's Government to propose for them such rewards as they thought the circumstances warranted. He had not voted with the Government in any of the divisions relating to grants for the Egyptian War; and what he did object to generally was granting money for a war which he thought might have been avoided, and a war which would be looked back upon by posterity as needless and unnecessary. Ho objected to this Bill, specially, because of the expense entailed upon the future. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer treated it as if it were only a trivial matter. He (Sir Joseph Pease) did not wish to deprive men of the reward which they had earned by the performance of duties to their country; but he treated it as a matter of principle that they should not impose upon posterity any portion of 668 the costs accruing from a war which, in all probability, posterity would utterly condemn. Taking the question as an Annuity at 3½ per cent, they would have no less a sum, in the one case, than £30,000, and in the other of £20,000, supposing an annuity of £2,000 per annum was in each case commuted for one life. He was aware that neither of the noble Lords had any "heirs male of their bodies lawfully begotten;" but ho objected, on principle, to inflicting on the next generation the payment for the follies of the present; and, further than that, in the proposed pension, they were actually putting a premium on a noble Lord to go and get married. He could not see why the House of Commons should be speculating with the people's money to provide a pension for children not yet begotten. Posterity would have for some years to come to pay for the actions of the present Government in Egypt in meeting the annual grant on the Estimates. He would prefer paying cash down, and if that was proposed he should not vote against it, as part of the pay of those employed by the Government in the Egyptian War; but, in its present form, he must vote against the Motion.
§ MR. D. GRANT,
in objecting to the Vote, said, he was, on the previous night, speaking at a large meeting, where the audience, without exception, demurred to this Vote, not that they did not wish to give courage its natural reward, but because the mode of the pension was unsound in principle, and worthless in practice. Both noble Lords had done their duty well; but duty was well done in that House, and in every part of the country, by people who did not expect to be made Peers. For that reason he should vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he thought that Lord Alcester's eloquence was itself to blame for much of the opposition which the Bill had encountered. The interpretation put upon the gallant Admiral's statement at the Mansion House by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) was a much more probable one than that suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was true that Sir Beauchamp Seymour acted at the agent of the Government; but he sought out every opportunity for getting up something like the semblance of an 669 excuse which would warrant Her Majesty's Government in bombarding Alexandria. In fact, he did everything in his power to provoke a collision between the enormous Forces of England and the puny Forces of the Egyptian National Party. It was clear from the despatches that Sir Beauchamp Seymour had instructions from Her Majesty's Government to provoke a collision with the Egyptian National Party at the first expedient moment; and they had the statement of Sir Beauchamp Seymour himself at the Mansion House that that expedient moment arrived when the last of the foreign settlers had been removed from Alexandria, and the way was thus opened for the brutal exhibition which took place within a few hours of the sailing of the last emigrant ship. Sir Beauchamp Seymour must then have been in possession of the official information that the forts of Alexandria were in such a condition that they could not offer any effective resistance to such a bombardment as he had the means of inflicting. From the authentic information in possession of the War Office, the Government knew well that Fort Meks and Fort Napoleon were in ruins, and wore in no condition to offer any resistance to a European Fleet. The statement that Sir Beauchamp Seymour took care to do the least damage to the town was not reconcilable with the fact that his Fleet was between two and three miles distant from the shore, and that the correspondents of The Times and other papers testified at the time that the shells passed over the forts, burst in the town, and set it on fire; and these reports would be abundantly confirmed by the confidential reports as to the accuracy of the firing. It might be that the miserable and beleaguered population and the frantic soldiers, wounded in an engagement which the Prime Minister carefully avoided describing as an act of war, afterwards set fire to the European quarter of the town; and that was not surprising, and should not shock those who, within the last few days, had suggested that outrages by Irishmen might lead to horrible retaliation on unoffending Irishmen. It was an electioneering war, and this was an electioneering Bill, to direct the attention of the people at large to the great foreign triumph of a great British Ministry. The most ridiculous pretence of all was that of the capture of the Suez 670 Canal, which the Egyptians regarded as sacred under something like an international guarantee. Altogether, Lord Alcester had the meanest and most miserable office that was ever thrust on a Naval officer. The reason why attention was called to Lord Alcester's exploit was that the Government were still trading on their Egyptian successes. He had endeavoured to discuss the question on its exact merits; but it involved also questions of the utmost moral gravity. To seize Egypt and the Canal the Government had not shrunk from committing an act of international piracy, a gigantic dynamite outrage; and there were no criminals—he said it deliberately—more deserving of execration than the authors of this miserable crime. He only begged Englishmen and Irishmen, who might justly be shocked at horrible rumours of explosions, to think of the masses of Egyptian flesh and blood that were torn by the flying mines of the Inflexible in that massacre which was ordered by the most infamous of all policies.
§ MR. MONK
said, he desired to express dissent from everything which the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) had stated in condemnation of the necessity of a war with Egypt, and of the conduct of Lord Alcester in bombarding Alexandria. He denied that the war in any degree partook of an electioneering character; and, so far from the Bill they were then discussing being an electioneering Bill, he believed that a considerable portion of those who generally supported the Government were opposed to it. But his chief object in rising was to say that he agreed with the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen) in the statement that it was the wish of many hon. Members on the Ministerial side that the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) should withdraw his Amendment and allow the division to be taken on the second reading of the Bill. He hoped that this would be the last occasion on which a continuous pension would be proposed, and he believed that the discussion to-night would be the death-blow of hereditary pensions. He could scarcely believe that the voice which moved the second reading of this Bill was the same that echoed through Mid Lothian three years ago. Foreign nations would look upon this proposal 671 as indicative of our national decay, as it seemed to show that we were only too proud of being able to overcome any enemy, however contemptible he might be. Why should not the Prime Minister give life Peerages to this gallant Admiral and gallant General as he had done to Law Lords, and then there would be no occasion for a pension beyond the life of the recipient? He would vote against the second reading of the Bill. He should prefer that a lump sum should be given to Lord Alcester and Lord Wolseley, as had been done in the case of Sir Frederick Roberts.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that it was remarkable as Bills of this kind were proposed they were opposed each succeeding time with, greater vigour, stubbornness, and determination. He believed with the hon. Member who had just spoken that the discussion to-night sounded the knell of hereditary pensions. Throe times within the last few years the question of pensions had been discussed in that House. The first time the discussion occupied half-an-hour; the next time between two and three hours; and on this occasion it was likely to occupy the whole Sitting. When that was the case he would be a courageous Minister who should venture upon a renewal of the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman. The Primo Minister himself did not venture upon argument, but founded himself solely upon precedents. If any argument was to be drawn from the instances which the Prime Minister furnished to the House, it was that the pensions should be granted for one life only. There was, indeed, something revolting to reason in the notion of these hereditary pensions. What assurance had they that the second Lord Alcester, even if there ever was such a person, would have either the brains of an Admiral or the heart of a soldier? There was no moral symmetry in the plan proposed. If the claims of the first Member of the Peerage upon his country were so great as to call upon it to support him and his descendants for all time, let it be so; but to grant a pension for two lives only, leaving the third and every future Lord Alcester to remain in poverty, was clearly inconsistent. It might, perhaps, be said that they had no right to look at the war from any but a professional point of view. He did not agree to that. As a 672 Representative of the people, he was bound to consider, not only the professional value of the services rendered, but also the moral nature of that struggle in which they were rendered; and in that view this proposal was doubly objectionable—first, because of its nature; and, secondly, because it was that of the Liberal Government, on whose banners wore emblazoned the words, "Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform." If a Government of reform meant anything, it meant a Government of uprising against the faults of old times; and they were now called upon to confer a pension upon a person whose only claim to reward was that he was a competent agent of the vices of war— I one of the worst vices of the age. This war was undertaken by a great Empire against a people whose whole population was only equal to that of the City of London, and was maintained by the most boastful people of the West against the most effeminate nation of the East. It was a vicious war, a bad act, and a vile example. But what were the services of Sir Beauchamp Seymour? If I his frank speech at the Mansion House was to be taken to prove anything, it proved, first, that the bombardment of Alexandria was not an act of precaution at all, but was a measure of reprisal and revenge. This gallant Admiral owned that he was compelled to wait until the Europeans were out of the way before, from a safe distance, he knocked into pieces the mouldy old fortresses of the Egyptians, and slaughtered the helpless people. He rejoiced that the claim had been vigorously and manfully met, and he opposed it even on grounds of policy. What would foreign nations think when they saw this country bestowing such great rewards for such paltry military services? The proposal was a sin against the working classes, whose food was taxed to pay for such charges, and would expose the country to the ridicule of foreign nations.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, he could assure the Prime Minister that the feeling of the country was altogether different now from the time when such Votes had only to be proposed to be voted as a matter of course. No Member had risen to defend the proposal, except—as, perhaps, was to be expected and was a matter of course—one 673 or two hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench, an ex-official below the Gangway (Lord Henry Lennox), and a gallant Colonel, who was interested in military matters. He wished to emphasize the remarks made by several hon. Members that on that night would be rung the death-knell of hereditary pensions. He could not comprehend how it was that the Prime Minister and the Government had run so completely in the teeth of their own professions and declarations, that every year should pay its Military Expenditure. On this principle they threw the cost of the war in Egypt, nearly £4,000,000, on the year's charges; but in this matter they completely violated that principle. But he would go one stop farther, and wanted to draw th.9 attention of the House to an aspect of the question which had not been considered. For his own part, he would care very little for the honours and titles given to Lords Alcester and Wolseley, if it were not for the fact that they were making them legislators in "another place," and conferring upon their families a position which they, who sat on his side of the House, feared might be exercised against the popular wishes. He hoped the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) would not withdraw his Amendment. He believed that the war in Egypt might have been avoided; that Lord Alcester was infinitely too sensitive as to the strength of the earthworks, and about the mounting of a few additional guns at Alexandria. They might well tremble for the fate of the British Fleet if it should ever encounter an enemy of equal power, or weight of metal, if it was necessary to believe that the Fleet was in danger from those miserable armaments of the Egyptians. The Prime Minister, with a touch of that marvellous portrait painting in which they knew he was peerless, referred to the conduct of Sir Beauchamp Seymour when in charge of the English Fleet on the coast of Albania; but most of them on that side of the House rejoiced that the gallant Admiral did not on that occasion proceed to extremities, and they wished he had used similar forbearance at Alexandria. The honours already granted to the gallant officers referred to were fully adequate to the services they rendered in Egypt. Sir Frederick Roberts, who was in infinitely greater danger, was 674 obliged to content himself with a grant in the ordinary way, not a third of that which was proposed in the present case. The Prime Minister had wholly exaggerated the difficulty, danger, and arduous-ness of the services rendered by Lords Alcester and Wolseley; and he could not help thinking that it was because he had some anxiety as to the quarrel in which they were engaged. It was a war of his own origination; but he (Mr. Illingworth) wished he could see their way through the political dangers which would arise from it. It was the fashion to laud to the skies the gallantry of our soldiers and sailors. He did not deny that there was great gallantry shown by our Forces in Egypt, but it was characteristic of the race; and he believed it was the Duke of Wellington who said that "there was nothing in the world so plentiful as animal courage." That was his explanation of the whole question; and there were acts done daily among the people—among the working classes—very much more heroic and more deserving of notice and reward than those done in war. The Government might be sure of carrying their proposal, because the could rely on the military Gentlemen on the other side of the House, and on the landlord class; but he would point out to the Prime Minister that when the Division List came out, it would be seen that those who represented the great constituencies, and those who came into contact with the working classes, were not very enthusiastic about the war or the rewards following it. The change noticed that night in the way such matters were now treated in the House of Commons was only a slight indication of the revolution that was taking place with regard to them; and any Ministry, no matter by what professions they might have reached power, who could not in the future escape from such political difficulties as presented themselves in Egypt without making active use of our Army and Navy, would surely lose the confidence of the people of this country.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, the question of the justice or injustice of the operations in Egypt had nothing whatever to do with rewarding the soldiers and sailors engaged in them. The duty of the Army and Navy in this, as in other wars, was simply to fight against those who were declared to be 675 enemies of the country; and if that duty was discharged well no nation with self-respect could refuse to bestow honours. The duty of hon. Members opposite, if they disapproved of the War, was not to try to pick holes in the conduct of the Admirals and Generals engaged in it, but to propose a Vote of Censure on the Government, to have gone into the Lobby against the Vote of Credit, and to have impeached the Egyptian policy of the Government. He sympathized entirely with those who would have impeached that policy; but he could not join in any action which, after the Government had entirely and completely, as the Prime Minister had done that night, thrown their œgis over the gallant Admiral and General, would refuse to grant rewards to the Officers in question. While ho should not think of opposing the proposed pensions, he could not refrain from pointing out that they were disproportionally large when compared with the grant made to Sir Frederick Roberts, whose achievements in Afghanistan were far greater than those of Lord Wolseley and Lord Alcester in Egypt. Sir Frederick Roberts reduced to subjection a very valiant people, in spite of great difficulties arising from the mountainous nature of their country, and from the distances to be covered, and in spite of the disadvantages of a severe climate. Egypt, on the other hand, was one of the most accessible countries in the world, almost surrounded with water, and its people were well known to be the most cowardly nation existing. The hon. Member was referring to the difficulties of the march from Cabul to Candahar, when—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must point out to the hon. Member that the Question before the House is whether a pension should be granted to Lord Alcester, and not the campaign in Afghanistan.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
explained that previous speakers had enjoyed great latitude in their criticisms. He had thought it was pertinent to compare the rewards given to the Generals engaged in the more difficult Afghan Campaign with the Votes now proposed, as a test of their justice. He should not oppose the grant, although he could not help thinking that the large pension to be conferred on Lords Wolseley and Alcester was proposed because their services in Egypt had thrown a glamour of suc- 676 cess over the policy of the Government at a time when they were rapidly losing ground in the estimation of the public.
§ SIR EDWARD J. REED
said, he could not sympathize with those hon. Gentlemen who attempted to minimize the importance and significance of the late operations in Egypt; but he could sympathize with the feeling which induced men to oppose Military and Naval pensions on the ground that officials highly distinguished in civil life could not hope for similar reward. As had already been said, nothing was more common than animal courage; and if they were asked to honour courage of that kind now he should unhesitatingly oppose the Bill. But he considered that Lord Alcester had shown remarkable ability in conducting the Naval operations under new conditions of Naval warfare; and it was not in the power of any Member of the House to estimate at their full value the skill and tact which the gallant Admiral had shown when holding the command of the combined Fleets of several European Powers off the coast of Albania. Then the successful transport of the Army from Alexandria to the Suez Canal was in itself a very meritorious achievement, for a great power of organization was required to conduct that operation without disaster. The very small number of deaths and casualties in the Fleet was due to the fact that in the employment of the ironclads against the shore batteries the men were withdrawn from the armoured decks and placed under the shelter of the armour plates, so that the small mortality, instead of being evidence of an insignificant engagement, ought rather to be regarded as a triumph of modern science in our Naval construction. He was at a loss to understand why the House was to set up so dangerous a standard as this—that, unless an Admiral lost a great number of lives, he had no claim on the House. In these days the very reverse ought to be the case. On that occasion they had the opportunity of expressing their admiration and gratitude to a man who had conferred great services on his country, among which was that he had proved that, notwithstanding the vast changes that had befallen our Navy, there had been no change in our Admirals and Commanders, but that they were as ca- 677 pable as ever to support and maintain the dignity of the country.
LORD RANDOLPH OHUECHILL
said, it was his intention to support the second reading of the Bill, because he understood the Leader of the Opposition expressed the intention the other day of supporting the Prime Minister in his proposal. But he was bound to say that if the Leader of the Opposition had seen his way to differing from the Government on this point there were some Members below the Gangway who would have seen their way to strengthening his hands in so doing. But, looking at the whole circumstances of the case, he himself thought that if the Leader of the Opposition supported Her Majesty's Government on this occasion he would be acting wisely and well. One matter mentioned by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had not been satisfactorily cleared up by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer—namely, the reason for the bombardment of Alexandria. Lord Alcester said at the Mansion House that it took place because of the massacre of Juno 11, and he never gave the slightest hint that he at any time considered the British Fleet to be in the smallest possible danger. On the other hand, the President of the Local Government Board, then Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, stated last July that the reason which the Prime Minister gave was the same that ho had given on a similar occasion—namely, the safety of the Fleet and the absolute necessity for preventing the erection of further fortifications. The hon. Member for Northampton made this a ground of attack on Lord Alcester; but he (Lord Randolph Churchill) did not wish to do so at all. He was a sailor, and had to obey orders, and he did so; and in that remarkable utterance at the Mansion House he spoke the honest truth in a blunt way, as sailors did. Now, there could be no doubt that, when the statement of the President of the Local Government Board he had referred to was made in the House last year, the House was being hoodwinked and misled. That was one of the most valuable results that had been obtained by this debate. He did not wish to refer to the case of Sir Frederick Roberts, except to say a word. There could be no doubt that the treatment of that officer by the Government was shabby and mangy in 678 the last degree. The reasons for that were perfectly well known. They were because he was engaged in a war which the Government were opposed to, and also because he was supposed to be a political opponent of the Government and directly opposed to them on the j question of long or short service. But that had nothing to do with the question then before the House. Some hon. Members appeared to treat this as a matter personal to Lord Alcester; but he looked at it rather in the light of a compliment to the entire Navy. No doubt the sailors of the Navy looked on a Commander who shed lustre on the Service with pride, and even with affection, and his rewards were regarded equally as rewards to the Navy; and he thought there was nothing more likely to make British sailors in the future emulate British sailors in the past, than for the Government to reward on a large and liberal scale the services of their Commanders. Every sailor ought to remember that it was in his power, by daring and good fortune, to rise to a position as high as that occupied by Lord Alcester, and to win even greater rewards than he had won. He would invite the House to remember Sir Cloudesley Shovel, who rose from the position of a cabin boy to that of an Admiral of the Fleet, and received a reward and pension from that House. That was the light in which they should regard this matter. If it was to be regarded only in the utilitarian view of the hon. Member for Northampton, he admitted the force of his objection. He himself looked on it in the light of a reward conferred by the House of Commons on the Navy—a reward which the Navy would understand. There was only one other point on which he would comment. The hon. Member for Northampton looked disparagingly on Lord Alcester, and said he was sufficiently rewarded by having had the pride and pleasure to command the British Fleet. No doubt it was a sort of pride and pleasure to command such a Fleet, but hon. Members must remember that it was also a great source of anxiety; and although an Admiral or a General might be entitled to a recognition of his services, yet, if misfortune happened to the Fleet, or the Army under his command, the country would certainly take a very unfavourable view of his conduct. If, for instance, the ships before Alexan- 679 dria had been sunk, it would have been a matter of serious consideration whether he should not be brought before a court martial. An Admiral carried in his hand, not only his own honour, but also the honour of the country; and if he succeeded in extricating the country from a difficult position, he was surely entitled to that reward which the House of Commons had conferred in similar cases in days gone by.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, that much of what the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) had said was so directly pointed against the policy of the Government that it deserved a reply. The noble Lord had quoted a speech of Lord Alcester at the Mansion House on a recent occasion as containing a reason for the action taken by direction of Her Majesty's Government before Alexandria, and had said that having regard to that speech, the Government had hoodwinked and misled the House in the matter. As to the speech made by Lord Alcester, he did not know whether the noble Lord was present in the House when the Chancellor of the Exchequer made some remarks upon that speech. He had himself had an opportunity of obtaining from Lord Alcester an explanation of what he really meant. Lord Alcester did not mean to imply that the bombardment of the forts was in revenge for the riots. He said that when those riots occurred, there was a great and not unnatural impatience in this country. The country and the Fleet were supposed to be indignant, and Questions were at that time addressed to the Government in the House, which manifested a feeling of irritation, because no steps were taken to avenge the outrage to the country. Lord Alcester said it was impossible to take an active steps, because there was so large a population of Europeans in Egypt whom it was necessary to get out of danger before anything was done. That was the whole point which Lord Alcester had made in his speech at the Mansion House, But as to the bombardment of Alexandria, it became necessary on account of the threatening character of the preparations which were being made by the Egyptians. It was said that some of the forts were in a dilapidated and crumbling condition. No doubt they were; but they were being repaired, and the Admiral discovered that men were 680 employed day and night in repairing them. The House would remember that we had a certain number of ironclads and a certain number of wooden ships lying in the harbour of Alexandria, commanded by the forts; but, above all, the narrow exit from the harbour was commanded by forts of considerable strength. All that the Egyptians were asked to do was temporarily to surrender these forts, in order that it might be seen that they were not being armed against us, or that they should be disarmed. That was a very simple matter. There was no threat of bombardment as a strong ulterior measure, except on that very reasonable request being refused; and it was because of that refusal, and seeing that a further strengthening of the forts was proceeding, that the order was given for the immediate destruction of those defences. He had said enough to show that, the Government being in communication with Sir Beauchamp Seymour at that time, their efforts were directed against the forts, and had nothing to do with wreaking vengeance for what had taken place a month previously. He was especially anxious to make these few remarks, because at the time the Chancellor of the Exchequer was addressing the House there were very few Members present.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, he was greatly pleased at the direction the debate had taken. He thought there was now some hope that the Liberal Party would become regenerate, and would return to those safe and pleasant paths of Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform, from which, in a fatal moment, they had been led away by the Ministry last July. He was glad to hear the Speaker give a hint to the lion. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) that the debate might be continued with regard to the case of Lord Wolseley. He hoped the debate would be kept up at least as long as the Irish Party kept, up their debates. The House had heard precious little in the way of argument in favour of this Vote. Almost the only defence of the Veto had proceeded from the Prime Minister. Where were all the right hon. Gentleman's lieutenants? He was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman talk of precedents. What did the Liberal Party exist for but to get rid of evil precedents, and to make good ones. If that Party existed for anything else, it was a sham, a mockery, and a 681 delusion. He was opposed to this Vote, but not on any cheeseparing ground, nor from any desire to deal niggardly with public money. There were some things he would vote money for cheerfully. He would vote with great pleasure a large sum to the widows and orphans of the poor soldiers who lost their lives in their country's cause, and a still larger sum to the widows and orphans of the poor Egyptian soldiers who fell fighting for a far better cause. There were also some objects to which he would cheerfully vote honours. For instance, he would give an honour to the Leader of the Opposition (Sir Stafford North-cote). In his opinion, the right hon. Baronet had done far nobler work in his lifetime than either Lord Wolseley or Lord Alcester. He referred to the time when the right hon. Gentleman went out, as one of the Commissioners, to settle a great question without war, to settle it like a statesman and a Christian as he was; and if he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) were on the Treasury Bench, it would give him pleasure to vote the right hon. Gentleman £20,000, and make him a Duke besides. On some grounds it would have been better if the House had had both Bills together, as he should like to have shown—apart from any personal question—that there was nothing especially useful, meritorious, or glorious in the services which had been rendered by Lords Alcester and Wolseley. But as the Bills were separate they must take them separately, and ask what rewards it was desirable to give to each man separately. It was like the parable of the labourers who got one penny each. That was very well in those days. But he was speaking in a representative Assembly, and they ought to exercise discrimination, and reward men according to their services. It appeared to him absurd to say that the services of Lord Wolseley and Lord Alcester were on a par with regard to the Egyptian business. One great difference was that Lord Wolseley carried out his instructions perfectly, successfully, and rapidly. He had nothing to do with the cause of J the war. But the charge against Lord Alcester was that he—[An hon. Member: Oh!] His hon. Friend would have an opportunity of replying. He said that Lord Alcester was responsible for the outbreak—well, he must not call it a war—if he did, he might offend the 682 sensibilities of hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench—but the military operations. We ought to have some clear understanding why that bombardment had been commenced. Two theories were set up. One was that something was being done to the guns. The other theory was that it was to avenge the massacre which had taken place a month before at Alexandria. There was a I difference of opinion on the Treasury Bench itself. His hon. Friend (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) bad said distinctly that the bombardment had nothing to do with revenge for the massacre. But what did the Prime Minister say, on the 12th of July, was the immediate object of attack? The Prime Minister, referring to himself (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), said—Does my hon. Friend bear in mind the massacre which occurred in Alexandria a few weeks ago; does he hear in mind that that massacre remains down to the present moment wholly unexamined, and unavenged?"—(3 Hansard,  177.)Lord Alcester was, it appeared, after dining with the Lord Mayor, clearer in his head than his right hon. Friend appeared to think he was. Perhaps the after-dinner speech of Lord Alcester was more likely to be correct than the after-dinner speech on the Treasury Bench. They knew the Government did bombard Alexandria—he used to be called to task when he talked about the bombardment of Alexandria; but they (the Government) were coming round. The events in Egypt used to be called a military operation—it would be a war before they had done. His right hon. Friend had talked that evening about belligerents. They would soon have the whole thing in its historical sense. His right hon. Friend had said that that bombardment was no inconsiderable event in the history of naval warfare. He did not know that, but he knew it would be a considerable event in the history of the Liberal Party in years to come. He knew the war was popular; well, no—it was beginning to be unpopular. They all knew about Conservative reaction. There was, he hoped, a Liberal re-action setting in on this question now. He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had been at Newcastle the other day, and he met with a very staunch Liberal, a regular "Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform" man. He spoke to the man about the 683 war, and the man said it was the most popular thing the Government had ever done. "Why," he said, "that trooper who cut a man through the middle at a blow was a Newcastle man." He had afterwards spoken to his hon. Friend the senior Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen), an excellent man, but of Jingo tendencies, and had asked whether it was true, and he replied—"Perfectly true; I gave the man a sovereign myself." That was the way wars got popular in this country—honour and distinction for everyone. But he did not care for that popularity. He knew one thing—that the Egyptian policy of the Government would prove their Frankenstein. They were proud enough of it at the moment. There was approbation expressed by those who ought to have known better. But the time would come when some Liberal orator, beginning to talk in the old way about Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform, would find some unpleasant man who would mutter "Alexandria," and the Liberal orator would have to retire within his shell and feel that he was at best but a miserable impostor. But to recur to the Vote for Lord Alcester. That noble Lord would find that he made a mistake when he commenced that bombardment when it might have been avoided. No doubt ho did it for the best; but people who acted for the best often made mistakes. But we did not reward them for it. The President of the Local Government Board—the Permeator, as he was called —the Permeator, was in the Office during the negotiations concerning that Egyptian War. They all knew what a painstaking man he was; how he was questioned in that House, and how he answered Questions, and how he did not answer them; how he dealt with Protocols, and Dual Notes, and Despatches. He worked away for two months. Then came the war which he was to have prevented; but his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board totally and entirely failed in the object which he had in view. Was he rewarded? Certainly not. [An hon. Member: Yes; he was put in the Cabinet.] Oh, no; they kicked him out of the Foreign Office and sent him to the Local Government Board, where he could do no harm. In rewarding these two men. Lord Wolsoley and Lord Alcester, the House was losing all sense 684 of proportion. He did not desire to run down Lord Alcester unjustly. He agreed that if the gallant Admiral had been sent to meet foes worthy of his steel, he would have distinguished himself; but ho had the heavier guns, and they all knew that Providence was on the side of the heavier guns. Lord Alcester himself said that the bombardment was really a comparatively easy matter, and did not go about making it out to be a great thing. But the bombardment of Alexandria was impossible without destruction of life and of an incalculable amount of property. The gallant Admiral went about it, because he had got a report from Lieutenant Smith-Dorrien, who told him that two powerful guns were being sot up on one of the forts. Now, to say that the British Navy was in danger, because a few wretched Alexandrians had set up some guns on a neighbouring fort, was not doing justice to the British Navy, or those who manned it. The British Consuls themselves said they thought that Lord Alcester was seeking a pretext for bombardment. And now the House was going to confer upon Lord Alcester, not only a Peerage, but £2,000 a-year for two lives, which, he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) believed, was worth about £60,000. But he would say again, because, though it had been said before, no answer had been given to explain the difference, how was it that to General Roberts they had only given £12,500 down and a Baronetcy, which was a very poor sort of thing? If the House were to agree to this proposal, it would be going a good way towards giving a premium to those who picked quarrels with weaker nations. Anybody might be made a Peer now-a-days, and it did not require a man to go into battle to be made a Peer. He had only to win two or three elections, to be a personal Friend of the Minister, or to brew enough beer; then he was raised from the beerage up to the Peerage. Men were made Peers because the Government did not know what else to do with them. Nobody objected to their being made Peers; for the fact was that men did not do so much harm when they were in the House of Lords as they would if they wont about the world killing people. But he could see no reason why their sons should be also made Poors, if they had sons. It was because he thought that these re- 685 wards were entirely out of proportion to the services that had been rendered that he objected to this Vote. What was the House coming to? In other days they were not so complaisant. He found that in 1872, when the Duke of Marlborough won one of his great battles—[Laughter]—well, in 1702— one of the great victories, whenever it was—Queen Anne, not content with making him a Duke and granting him a pension of £4,000 a-year for life from the Post Office, subsequently sent a Message to that House asking them to settle the same pension on all the heirs of the Duke for ever. It was said that that Message had been received by the House, Tories as they were, with silence and astonishment, and that, after an exciting discussion, the Queen's request was refused. It was true, however, that after he had won the Battle of Blenheim, which was, perhaps, if he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was right, a greater battle than that of Tel-el-Kebir, the Queen's proposal was agreed to. He was afraid that the House was being misled by the desire for a display of cheap military glory, because it was the great boast of this Government that it was so cheap. The Members of the Government never went down to make one of their great political speeches without claiming credit for the fact that they killed more people in less time and for less money than the Tories. In his opinion, this love of display of military force was increasing. That love of display of military force and glory had increased very much lately, until it seemed almost like a dream to think of what occurred three years ago, when they were marching with pride and pleasure under the banner of the Prime Minister in Mid Lothian, and when they all came into that House pledged to Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform. Yet the first thing they did, within two years of that time, was that they had rushed upon their foreign foe dressed up in the Tory uniform, the Prime Minister leading them, and they had marched into Egypt singing—We don't want to fight;But, by Jingo, if we do.In his opinion, it was time that this warlike craving should stop, and he hoped it would. He regretted greatly the abject state into which the House had fallen under the guidance and counsels of recreant Radicals, sanguin- 686 ary Christians, and fighting Quakers. He trusted that to-night there would be a beginning of something better. He knew that many of his Friends around him would vote for that money to-night; but he knew, equally well, that they would do so with heavy hearts. He hoped there were still a few who would be true to the principles on which they had been returned by their constituents; and, though there might not be a very large band, there would be a certain number who would go into the Lobby to resist a grant which he considered both demoralizing and humiliating.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 209; Noes 77: Majority 132.—(Div. List, No. 65.)
§ Main Question, "That the Bill be now read, a second time," again proposed.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, that, according to what he had previously stated, he should take a division upon the question.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he wished to ask the Prime Minister whether, after the expression of opinion that had just been elicited, he intended to persevere with the Bill? It must always be a matter for grave consideration by a Government, when its majority was obtained by the support of its opponents. He (Mr. Biggar) had seen that some of the most subservient Whigs in the House, prominent supporters of the Government, had voted against them and the Bill; and he thought that the occasion had now come when the Government, unless they wished finally to divide and scatter the Party, should calculate well whether they ought to proceed further in this direction.
§ MR. RICHARD
I think the time is come, Sir, when we should consider whether the custom of lavishing eulogies and distinctions and rewards upon our fighting men is not a custom which would be more honoured in the breach than in the observance. I do not object to the proposal before the House because I disapprove of the policy of the Egyptian War, though I do disapprove of it most strongly. But the Gentlemen whose names are before us are not responsible for that policy. The code of military morality, so far as I understand it, not only does not require, but does not permit, a soldier to use his own judg- 687 ment and conscience as to the justice or injustice of the war in which he is engaged. Absolute unreasoning obedience is his one duty. In the words of a very illustrious warrior, Sir Charles Napier, in his work on Military Law—"To the soldier obedience is the law and the prophets. His religion, law, and morals are in the orderly book." That does not appear to me a very elevated kind of morality; but it is that which is recognized as the rule of military life. Neither do I object to these Bills with any intention of casting disparagement on the distinguished Gentlemen whose names are embodied in them. I have no doubt that they are personally Gentlemen of most exemplary and irreproachable character, of great professional distinction; and I dare say they did promptly and efficiently the miserable work given them to do. But my objection rests on the general principle that it is unwise, inexpedient, un-Christian, by such acts, to encourage and stimulate the military spirit, which, in my opinion, is an evil spirit. I should like very much to know why this particular class of our fellow-subjects should be singled for special recognition and honour for doing their duty? Is it because of the supreme excellence of the work they perform? Why, the work of the warrior is one of pure destruction. His work is to scatter havoc and ruin over the earth, to carry into the hearts and homes of men mourning, desolation, and woe. And is that a kind of work that needs to be specially encouraged by a Christian State? But I may be told that they are honoured because they serve their country. Well, I hope we all try in some humble way to serve our country. Is not the poor agricultural labourer, who toils in the cultivation of the soil, and who causes two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before, serving his country? Is the plea that shall be put forward this—that the work of the soldier is very dangerous work, which is done at the hazard of his life? So is the work of the miner. There are thousands and tens of thousands of our countrymen who, every day and night, descend into the bowels of the earth, carrying their lives in their hands, to extract for us the means of heat, light, and locomotion, without which the whole mechanism of society would stand still; j and there are more of these brave sol- 688 diers of industry who perish every year, in pursuit of their perilous occupation, than the numbers which fall in most modern battles. But we never hear of these being decorated with medals, or made to pass in procession before the face of Royalty. Shall I be told that soldiers are thus honoured because they contribute to the glory of our country? Well, I dare say my view of what constitutes true national glory may differ from that of many hon. Gentlemen present. But I confess that some exploits have been recorded in our national annals, within the last 30 years, which I suppose are regarded by some as heroic and honourable, that appear to me to be simply shameful and humiliating. The burning of Kagosima, the bombardment of Canton with red-hot shot —and that on a quarrel which almost everybody now acknowledges was an unjust quarrel—the destruction of Magdala aud Coomassie, after the unfortunate people whose country you had invaded had been completely vanquished, and when no possible plea of necessity could exist for those acts of Vandalism, and I am obliged to say the bombardment of Alexandria; these seem to me to be proceedings that had no single element of heroism in them, but to be the simple abuse of the power of the strong against the weak. I covet no such glory for my country; and it is because measures like those now before us have a tendency to encourage such acts and enterprises that I am strenuously opposed to them. There is no need to aggrandize the power of the military class in this or in any country. In my opinion, one of the greatest calamities under which Europe is suffering at this moment arises from the predominance of the military element in the policy of States. Their ideas are everywhere in the ascendant, and you see the result in the present condition of Europe, which has been converted into one huge camp, where some 12,000,000 men are being trained to the use of arms. I do not blame them much. Professional prejudice is very strong. They undergo a peculiar education, which leads them to look upon men in one exclusive aspect. A human being is to them a creature to be drilled for fighting, or a creature to be taxed to pay for the drilling of others; so that the whole population, from their point of view, 689 may be divided into two classes, which may be described as beasts of prey and beasts of burden. They cannot conceive of civilized and Christian nations as living side by side in any other attitude than that of armed and mutual menace; and they are constantly engaged in fomenting mutual jealousy and suspicion, and, on that ground, demanding more and more military armaments. I think it is time that other classes of the community should rebel against this military régime. There is one other idea that I venture to submit to the House, which has been weighing heavily on my mind for many months past. I do not speak it at all in a vaunting or ironical spirit, but refer to it as something which I think deserves the attention of thoughtful men. What shall we say to the terrible outbreak of violence among the people in all countries of Europe, with the use of destructive agencies of the most formidable character, which disturbs the security of all nations?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must point out to the hon. Member that the Question before the House, and the only one he is entitled to discuss, is the granting of an annuity to Lord Alcester.
§ MR. RICHARD
I am endeavouring, Sir, to show that there is no good reason for increasing the military spirit, which is already doing great harm in Europe. I ask this question—Whether all this may not be regarded as the natural outcome of the physical force education which the Governments have been giving to the nations for so many ages? Who is it that has taught the people to look upon brute force as the highest and noblest factor in the life of nations? The Governments. Who is it that has stimulated, by every species of encouragement, the discovery of more and more deadly agencies, the invention of more and more infernal machines to be used against each other in war? The Governments. Who is it that has glorified to the utmost the results of these agencies and inventions, in works of devastation and ruin, in the bombardment of towns, and the indiscriminate destruction of men, women, and children, and all the other terrible effects of war? The Governments. Who is it that holds up those who are agents in this work as more worthy of admiration than any class of the community, as men upon whom all marks of distinction, Peerages, 690 and pensions, and honours, and decorations should be lavished with unmeasured profusion? The Governments. I need not say that I utterly abhor this recourse to violence on the part of the people. I am one of those who believe that force is no remedy for the ills of nations. But I believe it is no remedy in the hands of peoples any more than in the hands of Governments. But is it any wonder that they should have recourse, for the righting of what they think their own wrongs, to the means and agencies which you have so long taught them to regard as of such supreme excellence and glory? Both people and Governments ought to find some better mode of settling their differences. One of my objections to proposals of this kind is that it tends to elevate and to glorify that military spirit which has caused so much misery throughout all countries.
§ Main Question put.
§ The House divided: —Ayes 217; Noes 85: Majority 132. — (Div. List, No. 66.)
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.