MR. ASNMEAD - BARTLETT
I wish to ask whether any Member of the Government present is in a position to afford the House any authentic intelligence of the fate of General Baker and of the British officers and doctors who were with his unfortunate expedition?
After a pause,
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
We are naturally anxious to know whether the Government have received any information from Egypt as to this disaster?
Sir, it was the intention of my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Sir -Charles W. Dilke), if the debate had not been interrupted last night, to have read to the House a telegram that we have received as to the failure of Baker Pasha's attempt to relieve Tokar. The words of the telegram are these—Egyptian forces defeated at Tokar. Loss 2,000. Baker Pasha and remainder of troops returned to-day to Trinkitat. News by Her Majesty's ship Ranger just arrived.This telegram is from Pear Admiral Sir William Hewett, at Souakim, and it is the only information we possess on the subject.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
I should like to ask whether the Government have any further information as to General Gordon's movements; and, whether, considering the serious news we had yesterday, any further instructions have been sent to General Gordon?
We have no further intelligence with regard to General Gordon's movements, and I do not think that it is within the range of possibility that we should have had any. Neither is there, in these unfortunate circumstances, anything that appears to us to call for, or to warrant, any change in our instructions to General Gordon. ["Oh, oh!"] He has discretionary powers of very considerable extent. That matter will be found to be sufficiently explained in Papers that were laid on the Table last night, and will, I believe, be distributed this morning.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Will Her Majesty's Government tell us whether any steps have been taken for landing Blue Jackets and Marines at Suakim?
Yes, Sir. In consequence of the reduced number, and, of course, the not very high quality of the force remaining in the Soudan, Admiral Hewett has landed a certain number of his men in order to restore confidence.
A little later,
added: My noble Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) has just informed me of the arrival of a telegram which came only last night, and could not be included in the Blue Book. I have not seen it in its 98 telegraphic form; but it contains the further intelligence that General Gordon's appointment has been announced as that of Governor General of the Soudan for the purposes described in the Queen's Speech, with full power to take all measures, civil and military, which he may think necessary.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
Sir, I wish to give Notice of a Motion which I intend to propose as an Amendment to the Address, and to ask your ruling on a point of Order, as on that ruling will depend whether or not I place it before the House. That Amendment will be in these terms—And humbly to pray your Majesty that, in view of the great and increasing peril into which your Majesty's vast foreign and Imperial interests have been drawn by the counsels of your Majesty's present Advisers, and for the purpose of arresting further useless and wanton bloodshed, and of averting, as far as possible, further disasters from falling either upon your Majesty's arms, or on those of your allies, your Majesty will be most graciously pleased to dismiss from your service your present Ministers, and to call to your counsels such other persons as may possess the confidence of your Majesty's subjects.
§ That Amendment is founded on the precedent of 1841, when Lord Melbourne's Government were turned out of Office. I wish to ask whether, in moving that Amendment, anything which has already passed will preclude a general reference to the affairs of Egypt, Ireland, or the Transvaal? Of course, if, by your ruling, it would be out of Order to go into Egyptian matters on this Amendment, then it, or some other Amendment of this nature, must be moved on another occasion. On that point, Sir, I wish respectfully to ask for your ruling.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Before answering the Question of the noble Lord, I wish to call the attention of the House to the structure of the Address proposed to be presented to Her Majesty. There are several paragraphs relating to the affairs of Egypt, and those paragraphs have been practically passed by the House. An Amendment relating to some of these paragraphs was negatived last night by the House, and I consider that, at this stage of the Address, it would be irregular to re-open any debate with regard to the affairs of Egypt. It will be quite open to the noble Lord to move his Amendment, if he thinks proper, on the Report stage; but I should be bound to 99 rule that, at this stage, it would be irregular to raise a debate respecting Egyptian affairs.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
I should like to ask whether the noble Lord might move such an Amendment, provided he discussed the other subjects in the Address except that of Egypt?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I am bound to say that it appears to me, from the terms, as I caught them, of the noble Lord's Amendment, that it would be almost impossible for him to do that, and I should have to rule an Amendment of that kind out of Order.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
With regard to the reply of the Prime Minister, in which he was understood to say that the events which have recently taken place in Egypt have not caused Her Majesty's Government to make any change in their instructions to General Gordon, I should like to ask whether the House is to understand that the Government do not think it necessary to send any material aid to that officer, other than the single aide-de-camp by whom he is accompanied?
I have already stated that, in view of the information brought yesterday, Her Majesty's Government do not find themselves justified in adopting at present any measures of any kind; but they will be guided by the information in their possession, and will endeavour to form the best judgment they can upon it, subject to the control of the House.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
inquired whether General Gordon was proclaimed Governor General, under the commission of the Khedive, or of the British Government?
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
He carries a Firman appointing him Governor General, with both civil and military powers.