§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Sir Arthur Otway, I have not been able to form any opinion, beforehand, as to the character of the discussion which is likely to take place on the Supplementary Estimate for the Soudan Expedition, which I am about to move. I own that I cannot tell whether that discussion is likely to turn upon questions of a political character, or upon questions of a military character, or upon both. In those circumstances, I think it would be most convenient, as I and my hon. Friends on this Bench will have an opportunity, if necessary, of addressing the Committee again, that I should make a comparatively short statement in proposing the Vote, reserving for a future opportunity, should it be necessary, any explanations which may be subsequently required. Well, Sir, I think it is not necessary, for my purpose this evening, to go back further than the Vote of Credit of £300,000, which the House granted at the beginning of the month of August last. Instructions were immediately given to the General Officer commanding in Egypt upon the passing of that Vote of Credit, and those instructions will be found in Parliamentary Papers (Egypt), No. 35, at No. 18 of that Blue Book. The Committee will see that those instructions were given solely in the sense of preparation for the movement of troops to the Soudan, if it should become necessary, and that they did not cover any orders or any movements of troops of a hostile character. The Government were of opinion, at that time, that the conditions which they had on more than one occasion stated to the House as those only under which they would consider themselves entitled actu- 1600 ally to send an Expedition to Khartoum were not entirely satisfied, and that the contingency had not arrived in which they were absolutely convinced that, adhering to those pledges, it would be necessary to send a force beyond the frontier of Egypt. But the instructions which were sent were of such a character that no time would be lost, if it should be at any subsequent time decided that such an Expedition should be despatched. Well, Sir, the instructions, as I have said, which were sent are contained in No. 18 of Blue Book 35. I ought, perhaps, very briefly to refer to what the principal instructions were. They included a certain increase of the Force of Her Majesty's troops in Egypt. They directed a concentration of troops at Wady Halfa, which was considered the extreme frontier of the Dominion of the Khedive. They directed that as many Nile steamers as was possible, and considered expedient, should at once, during the continuance of the high river, pass up the First and Second Cataracts. They also included that provision should be made for supplementing the means of local river transport, by the provision of boats to be made in England, and to be sent out to Egypt. They also included provision for a considerable number of stores in England, and the despatch of those stores to Egypt; and they further directed that arrangements should be made for collecting large quantities of stores at Wady Halfa, where the troops were to be concentrated. They also directed that arrangements should be made for a corps of Canadian boatmen, and a certain number of Kroomen from the West Coast of Africa—men who were considered to have great experience of the navigation of small craft of the description proposed to be sent out from England, either in rapid rivers or in rough water. They also included measures for putting the Egyptian railway, both from Cairo to Assouan, and also portions of the railway which pass some of the worst portions of the Cataracts, in a better state of repair, and the reorganization of a small amount of land transport, in addition to the water transport to which I have referred. I think the Committee will see that those instructions, although they did not contemplate auy immediate actual movement of troops of a hostile character, 1601 were such as to provide for the undertaking of such a movement without incurring any more delay than if the actual orders for such a movement had been given at the time. One of the first questions which we had to decide, after obtaining the Vote of Credit from the House, was the choice of route to be adopted in the event of an Expedition being sent. The main reasons for the choice of the route selected—that of the Nile Valley—are also stated in the despatch to General Sir Frederick Stephenson, to which I have referred. The principal reasons which influenced the Government were these:—If the alternative route by Suakin to Berber had been adopted, it would have been inevitable that any advance of troops by that route would have been accompanied by severe fighting with the tribes with whom we had already been in collision, and with whom the Committee is aware we had no desire to find ourselves again in conflict, if the objects we had in view could be secured without resorting to such means. In addition to this, the movement of a considerable body of men from Suakin to Berber, in the face of a determined and fanatical enemy, whom there was every reason to think we should meet, would have been one of very considerable difficulty. No doubt, the force which Osman Digna had concentrated in the neighbourhood of Suakin might have been disposed of without considerable difficulty in the early spring of the year; but the most difficult portion of the march would have been the latter portion of it—across an almost absolutely waterless desert, which has never been traversed except by small bodies of troops at one time. That would have presented great difficulties to the passage of a large force; and at that time it was, and still is, a perfectly unknown quantity what might have been the amount and character of the force which would have to be encountered at the further destination of the march. The number of the enemy that might have been found in opposition to our troops in the neighbourhood of Berber was unknown; and if that number was considerable it would have been a matter of great difficulty to have brought up, simultaneously, a sufficient force to make it a safe operation to attack the force we might have found ourselves in conflict with. In addition to these circumstances, 1602 the expenditure which would have been incurred in providing for the advance from Suakin to Berber would have been, probably, much larger than the Committee is now asked to grant, or is likely to be asked to incur, in respect of the Nile route. For the reasons which I have stated any force despatched from Suakin to Berber must have been a force of considerable strength in order to meet any possible combinations likely to be met with at its destination at Berber.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
Has the expense been estimated at all? The noble Marquess speaks with great confidence about the expense.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I cannot give the noble Lord details; but I will give him the reasons why we think it would have been a very heavy expense indeed. The force must have been, as I say, one of considerable size; the means of transport, and the means of keeping up communication for the whole of the force, must have been great. No doubt, the Suakin and Berber route had been used in past times by the Egyptian Government for the transport of small bodies of troops; but that was at a time when the country was in a quiet and peaceful state. But no attempt to transport a large body, simultaneously, across the desert has been made. I do not say that if it were a question of moving troops, in time of peace, from Egypt to Berber that the Suakin and Berber route might not be the moat economical as well as the quickest; but, taken into consideration with the fact that we had decided upon moving a large force simultaneously across a desert of that description providing the force on march with the water necessary, not only for the men, but also for the animals accompanying it, the amount of land transport which would have been required would have been enormous. And when the noble Lord asks me for an estimate of the expense, I say it is almost impossible for me to furnish it, so great must have been the difficulty of providing the necessary quantity of transport animals and of stores needed for their maintenance. Before I leave Suakin I should like to say, for reasons previously stated, and also because it would be extremely imprudent to abandon an alternative route which it might be necessary in certain 1603 eventualities to make use of, that preparations for putting the Port of Suakin in a state to receive troops or stores have been continued, and are being continued at the present moment. The Marines and the Egyptian troops which have occupied that port have had an extremely arduous and severe time during the whole of the past summer, having been constantly attacked by the force under Osman Digna. It is only due to General Fremantle, the General Officer commanding there, to Major Chermside, acting as Governor of the place and Political Officer—who has kept up the communications in the neighbourhood during the whole of the time—to say that the Marines, under the command of General Fremantle, and also the Egyptian troops, have acted in a manner which has called forth the highest approval of the officer commanding in Egypt, which the Government have recognized, and which I am sure the Committee will recognize also. Besides the objections to the Suakin and Berber route, it occurred to us that there are advantages of a positive character in favour of the Nile route. It was at that time necessary, independently of any advance in the Soudan, to take some measures to restrain a certain agitation which was beginning to exist in Upper Egypt, owing to the reports which we received of the advance and successes of the Mahdi, which might have caused a certain amount of excitement among the Natives, and which might have led to serious consequences. It would have been necessary, therefore, under any circumstances, to have advanced troops further up the Nile, and to have strengthened the position then held by our troops. At the same time, it appeared that an advance by the Nile might have the desirable effect of strengthening the position of the Mudir of Dongola, and enabling him to hold the town and Province of Dongola for the Egyptian Government, which might be a matter of great importane in the event of any further operations being undertaken in the direction of Khartoum. Up to that time very little had been known either as to the disposition and character of the Mudir of Dongola himself, or of the resources that he was able to command for the maintenance of his position. Major Kitchener at that time, however, had been in the 1604 neighbourhood of Dongola, and he sent full Reports to the Government as to the state of affairs there; and though the Government had previously entertained a totally different opinion, it appeared, at the time I am speaking of, that a demonstration of support to the Mudir might enable him—as it has enabled him, in fact—to maintain his position and to hold the town and Province of Dongola without any fear of attack from the Mahdi or any of his partizans. No doubt, the difficulties of the Nile route were very great. The Report of which I am speaking was a very elaborate as to the Nile, and the difficulties and character of its navigation. That Report, which was examined by the Military and Naval Authorities in Egypt and at home, led us to form the opinion that, considering the limited amount of the resources of river transport which existed on the Nile, it would be impossible to transport by those means only a sufficient force, certainly to reach Khartoum in the course of the present winter. There could be no doubt that it might be possible, relying on those resources only, to send a moderate force as far as Dongola. There was no reason to think, but, on the contrary, there was every reason to doubt, whether, relying on such means only, it would be possible to take even such a force beyond Dongola so as to be able to go beyond that point as far as Khartoum if necessary. Lord Wolseley, from the time that this came under the consideration of the Government, had entertained the idea that an advance by the Nile might be made to a great degree independently of the local means of transport, by the employment of boats to be constructed in this country and sent out to Egypt, of a character similar to those which he had himself employed on the small Expedition which took place some years ago in North America—an expedition known as the Red River Expedition. Well, I consulted various officers, besides Lord Wolseley, who had taken part in that Expedition with him. I placed before them all the Reports upon the River Nile, and on the means of transport which existed upon that river; and I endeavoured to obtain their opinion as to whether an advance up the Nile, relying, in a great degree, for the means of transport upon boats of this description, would be a practicable 1605 operation. The opinion which I obtained from those officers was so favourable as reasonably to satisfy me that the operation was one of a practicable nature.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The hon. and gallant Member must be perfectly aware that there were officers available who had taken part in the Red River Expedition with Lord Wolseley. There was not only Lord Wolseley himself, but there were General Buller, General M'Neil, Colonel Alleyne, and Colonel Butler. These were the officers chiefly consulted on the subject. They had taken part in the Red River Expedition, and they were unanimously of opinion that the operation was a practicable and a feasible one.
§ MR. ONSLOW
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Marquess. He has given the names of the officers who recommended the Nile route. Will he also give the names of the officers who recommended the Suakin and Berber route?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I am stating, Sir, what were the reasons which induced me to think the Nile route practicable. I have not the least objection to state—and I shall have occasion to state if the hon. Member will not interrupt me—the opinions that were entertained on the subject by officers in Egypt. As I have stated, considerable doubts were expressed in Egypt as to the practicable character of the proposal to employ small boats of this description in the transport of the Expedition. Officers in Egypt, who had done everything that was in their power to meet our views, who had carried out with great energy all the instructions that had been given to them, and who, I do not feel the slightest doubt, would have carried out in the same way any further instructions that might have been sent to them, appeared, in our opinion, to entertain—probably from not being acquainted with the exact nature of the measures proposed to be taken—doubts as to ours being the best plan. It appeared to us that while they were prepared, with the resources at their command, to place a considerable force—perhaps a force larger than we considered at that time necessary—at Dongola, relying solely on the steamboats 1606 for means of transport, they had not formed in their own mind, and did not appear able to form, any definite plan of operations by which, in the event of the necessity occurring, that force, or any larger or smaller force, could be successfully transported beyond Dongola as far as Khartoum, should that be requisite. We thought, therefore, considering the difficulty of explaining by means of correspondence, and still more by means of telegraphic correspondence, the exact nature of the views entertained here, that it would be desirable, both in justice to the officers who had recommended this operation, and to the officers on the spot who felt a doubt as to the possibility of carrying it out, and also in the interest of the successful carrying out of the operation itself, that the responsibility for its execution ought to be placed in the hands of the officer who had been principally concerned in recommending it. Accordingly, without disparaging in the slightest degree either the ability, or the energy, or the goodwill of Sir Frederick Stephenson and his Staff, we thought it desirable that the responsibility of the Expedition should be confided to Lord Wolseley, who recommended it, and felt perfectly confident of success in carrying it out. Well, up to the time I am referring to, nothing had been done except the making of certain preparations. I was asked by an hon. Member the other day in the House at what time the actual decision was arrived at by the Government to send the Expedition. I gave the date of August 23 as the time when the first order was given for the movement of the troops beyond the Egyptian Frontier at Wady Halfa. The reason for that order being given will be found in Blue Book No. 35, to which I have already referred. The silence and uncertainty as to the position of General Gordon in Khartoum still continued; the time within which any operations for his relief could be undertaken was rapidly shortening; and it appeared to me desirable, in the uncertainty that prevailed relating to General Gordon's fate, that the actual advance of the troops to a position nearer to Khartoum than Wady Haifa had become necessary. It also appeared to Her Majesty's Government that the position of Dongola was menaced, and that the reports of the successes of the Mahdi at Berber and other places made 1607 it possible that the Mudir of Dongola might not be able to maintain his position there longer, unless he was supported by some active assistance from Egypt. The order was, therefore, given on August 23, as will be found in the Blue Book, to despatch, as soon as possible, Mounted Infantry from Wady Halfa to Dongola. That order was followed on the 26th by another directing the despatch, as soon as possible, after the Mounted Infantry, by any means available, of a battalion of Infantry from the same place. These troops are now in Dongola. One battalion of Infantry is there at this moment, together with 400 of the Mounted Infantry; and another company, which is now on its way, will be there in a day or two. Lord Wolseley has now determined, as soon as possible, to concentrate a force of about 2,000 men—or somewhat in excess of 2,000—at a place called Debbeh, which is considerably higher up the river than Dongola; and he has given his opinion that if he should find that the attitude of the tribes is such as he has every reason to believe it is, and as he anticipates he will find it to be, it will be in his power to advance that force, or the greater portion of it, as a mounted force across the desert, to Khartoum, if necessary, in advance of any considerable movement of Infantry. In the opinion of Lord Wolseley, the Camel Corps, composed of drafts from a number of different regiments, will be particularly suitable for that operation, and in his opinion it may render the advance of any considerable force from Dongola unnecessary. In fact, one of the advantages the Government claim for the plan of operations which has been adopted is that it is, to a certain extent, an elastic one. It provides, in our opinion, the means of sending a considerable and a sufficient force, if it should be necessary, of somewhat between 5,000 and 6,000 men the whole distance by river, which, in the opinion of our military advisers, will be a sufficient amount of force to meet successfully and overcome any resistance that is at all likely to be offered. On the other hand, that very considerable operation might be converted, if circumstances prove favourable, into one of a much smaller character such as I have indicated — namely, the sending of a much smaller but sufficient force of Mounted Infantry, across the desert, 1608 which would accomplish the object in view with much greater rapidity, and render it possible that the rest of the troops would not be necessary. Without going into the details of the progress that has been made, I may say that the recent information which we have received, both publicly and privately, from Lord Wolseley tends to show that he has confidence in the soundness of the plan which he has adopted; and, in fact, he still holds the opinion that it would not have been possible, by any other means than that of the small boats sent out from this country, to have absolutely secured the possibility of making an advance to Khartoum with a sufficient force during the present winter. As to the object of the expedition, the instructions which were given to Lord Wolseley have been published in No. 35 of the Egyptian Papers, towards the end. The primary object of the expedition is, as it has always been, and was always meant to be, the relief of General Gordon. I wish that we could add that we have still any hope that it might also secure the relief of Colonel Stewart; but I fear, from the additional information which has been received since a Question was last asked in this House on this subject, that there is now very little hope that Colonel Stewart was not among the party which appears to have been treacherously murdered by an Arab sheikh near a place called Merawi.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Can the noble Marquess give the Committee any information with respect to Mr. Power?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
We have every reason to think that Mr. Power was also of that party. When the Question was asked in this House, I expressed the deep sense that the Government entertained of the gallantry with which Colonel Stewart had undertaken that expedition, and of the manner in which, as far as our intelligence enables us to judge, he seconded the efforts of General Gordon during their long imprisonment in Khartoum. But while the primary object of the expedition was the relief of General Gordon, Lord Wolseley has received full instructions which do not preclude him from taking any steps in his power to establish and leave behind him at Khartoum and in that district a settled form of Government. On the contrary, instructions have 1609 been given to him which entitle him to take such steps, if he should find that there are any practicable steps that can be taken in that direction. Thus, in fact, the two objects of his mission—the relief of General Gordon and of Khartoum, and the establishment of a settled form of Government in the district—are connected together. The facility of reaching Khartoum, and the possibility of relieving General Gordon, may depend very much, indeed, upon the arrangements which may be made beforehand for announcing to the people the establishment of some form of Government in the district after General Gordon shall have left. At the present time it is premature to anticipate what arrangements it may be in the power of Lord Wolseley to make. He is on the spot, and is, therefore, better able to form an opinion than we can as to what arrangements should be made. All I can do is to assure the Committee that this consideration is fully present to the mind of Lord Wolseley, and that he fully understands that the greatest possible triumph which he could achieve—a triumph very much greater than that of any victory he could gain, or any successful march he could accomplish—would be the making of such political arrangements as would enable the object of his mission, and of General Gordon's mission as well, to be successfully accomplished without the necessity of fighting at all. As to the amount of these Estimates, it is very true that we have very considerably—very greatly—exceeded in our preparations the Vote of £300,000 granted by Parliament in August last. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in moving that Vote of Credit, did not pledge the Government to the expenditure of that exact sum; and he carefully refrained from saying that it was based upon any Estimates that were then produced for definite measures or definite preparations. What, in our opinion, that Vote of £300,000 did was to make it incumbent on the Government to make such preparations as, in our opinion, would enable us successfully to discharge our obligations to General Gordon, which we have repeatedly admitted we have incurred. Of course, the principal responsibility for the making of the preparations which were necessary, after the Vote of Credit was passed, has devolved upon me; and, 1610 undoubtedly, from the very beginning of the preparations, I have felt that responsibility. From the moment these preparations were taken in hand they were found to assume very considerably larger proportions than had been anticipated. But, as I said before, I feel that the expenditure on an expedition of this character is one which may be kept within certain limits, although I should not like to pledge myself to the exact sum now asked for as one that will absolutely cover the cost to be incurred in the present financial year. Still, I apprehend that it will represent, within reasonable limits, the demand likely to be made. We have endeavoured to avoid the almost incalculable military expenditure which would have been incurred if it had been necessary to make provision for a land transport in connection with an extensive expedition across the desert. The expenditure upon a river expedition, such as is now in progress, is to a very great extent initial. It consists principally in the provision of boats, and measures of the nature I have described. The employment of boats allows the expenditure to be incurred to be tolerably accurately ascertained within certain reasonable limits. What I wish to impress upon the Committee is that the Estimate is not likely to be exceeded. Although it professes only to provide for a period which falls within the present financial year, I do not think the Committee need be under any apprehension that they will be led into any totally unforeseen expenditure, such as was incurred, under circumstances somewhat similar, in the Expedition to Abyssinia some years ago. The main cause of that was the great cost of the enormous amount of land transport required. I believe that at one time, in order to move a force, which was not an excessively large one, to Magdala, it was necessary to employ for the purpose of transport a number of animals exceeding 50,000. When we take into consideration the weight of artillery, of ammunition, and of provisions which have to be carried in connection with a military expedition, it becomes a matter almost impossible of calculation to say what limit of expenditure may be reached. But, as I have said, we have every reason to hope that within reasonable limits we shall be able to confine our expenditure to the sum we 1611 now ask Parliament to grant. I am quite aware that when the matter is discussed by the Committee it may require further explanation. As it will be in our power to offer any explanation in reply to any questions that hon. Members may desire to put, I will not delay you further than by moving the Vote. I beg to move that a Supplementary Estimate of £1,000,000 be granted for the Expedition to Egypt.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £1,000,000, be granted to Her Majesty, for certain Army Services, to meet Additional Expenditure arising from the Expedition up the Nile, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885.
Of course, I do not rise for the purpose of debating this Vote, nor do I think there is any desire on the part of those sitting on this side of the House to offer any opposition to it. The noble Marquess, perhaps unconsciously, took rather an apologetic tone in reciting the dates on which certain steps for effective action in connection with this Expedition were taken. All I can say is that this House must be strangely altered if it, or any but a very small minority of it, would grudge the money required, or even double as much, if it were necessary, for the purpose of extricating from his perilous position the gallant man who has been shut up so long in Khartoum. The noble Marquess has stated that the Vote passed by the House in August last was preparatory. That, I think, has been understood all along. It was for the purpose of preparing for an increase in our force in Egypt, and it was to deal with what the noble Marquess, making use of a noticeable expression, described as an Expedition which was to go beyond the extreme limits of the Egyptian Dominions—namely, Wady Halfa. I understand, Sir, that there will be other opportunities of raising the question of the general policy of the Expedition, as far as the limited retention or evacuation of Khartoum is concerned; and as I do not intend to criticize in detail the arrangements made for the Expedition, it will not be necessary that I should trouble the Committee with more than a very few remarks. The concluding observations of the noble Marquess would seem to 1612 indicate that there will be other and, not unlikely, more than one opportunity of further discussing this and other questions on this subject, when the Expedition has been further advanced. It is clear that the noble Marquess looks upon the Estimate of £1,000,000, although it is the sum which appears in the present Estimate for the expenses of the present Expedition, as a hypothetical statement only of its probable cost, although he very properly guarded himself by expressing a reasonable hope that that sum would not be exceeded. With regard to the question of the two routes, there would be, perhaps, a little delicacy in examining that question very fully. Everyone who has read the Papers must do justice, which the noble Marquess himself did not fail to do, to the honourable manner in which General Sir Frederick Stephenson, although on the spot, although having apparently ample means of obtaining local information, and although clearly holding the view that another line would have been preferable, has, nevertheless, cordially accepted the position in which he has been temporarily placed, and has acted loyally, as no one who knew him would doubt, under Lord Wolseley, who has, now, for the time being, superseded him. As regards Lord Wolseley's special qualifications for conducting an Expedition such as this, I think no one who knows his career will deny them. If he has fallen back upon the traditions of his earlier exploits, and has preferred the arrangement of ascending the Nile by boats, instead of taking that or a similar route by land transport, it must be admitted that his experience in former times fully justifies him in the very strong view which he appears to have taken all along in preferring that mode of conveying the troops over any other. As the noble Marquess has very truly remarked, transport, undoubtedly, has always been, and probably always will be, a weak part of our Service; and the difficulties are enormously increased in countries where, as in this case, the alternative would be to carry almost everything by animal transport. It is also the case, as the noble Marquess has said, that a large portion of the expenditure and of the difficulties, although formidable, may still be regarded as initial. I trust the anticipations of the noble Marquess may turn out to be cor- 1613 rect, and that the general plan on which this Expedition has been started may prove successful in its outcome and in its fulfilment. The noble Marquess seems, however—I do not know if it is in consequence of any doubt in his own mind—to have suggested an alternative. So far as I understand the noble Marquess, it appears to be a question whether, after all, it may not be necessary to depart from the general lines of the Expedition, and to make a dash with a smaller number of men, in order to effect the object in view. I cannot help thinking that these observations are, to some extent, corroborated by some of the Papers issued with regard to Egypt in the inclosures in No. 35, particularly that dated 31st of July, in the last despatch of General Gordon to Sir Evelyn Baring. It is there clearly indicated that in a very short time from then the question of Khartoum would become a most urgent one. Everyone knows the gallant spirit with which General Gordon has met his difficulties; and, writing on the 31st of July, he says—River begins to fall, in, say, four months. Before that time you must either let the Sultan take back the Soudan, or send Zebehr with a subsidy yearly.It is, therefore, perfectly clear that General Gordon based his hopes upon one of two contingencies. He has no hesitation in saying that one or other of them cannot be postponed until a long date; and no one who knows him will doubt that his own efforts will be sustained as long as it is possible to continue them. I would point out the difficulty which is also indicated in General Gordon's letter—he clearly contemplates either that you must allow the Soudan to be handed back into what he calls the Sultan's hands, or it must be taken over by Zebehr, with a yearly subsidy. Perhaps these are matters which would be better dealt with at a more convenient opportunity, when we are less hampered by the actual details of the Vote before us, and when the larger questions which are not raised by the Vote itself may be more effectively dealt with. There is one point, however, upon which I desire to touch, and it is this—It is perfectly clear, from what the noble Marquess did not say and from the instructions given by the Government to Lord Wolseley in the Paper I have cited, that Her Majesty's Government 1614 have distinctly and definitely made up their mind to abandon all the garrisons South of Khartoum to whatever fate they may meet with. I think it will be an advantage to the Committee to know from the Government whether they have distinctly made up their minds, and whether they will refuse, under any circumstances, to afford these garrisons any assistance; whether, in fact, they will hold to that paragraph in their instructions to Lord Wolseley, in which they say—The position of the garrisons in Darfour, the Bahr-el-Gazelle, and Equatorial Provinces, renders it impossible that you should take any action which would facilitate their retreat without extending your operations far beyond the sphere which Her Majesty's Government is prepared to sanction. As regards the Sennaar garrison, Her Majesty's Government is not prepared to sanction the despatch of an expedition of British troops up the Blue Nile in order to insure its retreat.Now, where I want to get an answer from the noble Marquess on this point is partly in reference to an expression of General Gordon, in the same letter I have already cited of the 31st of July, and partly in reference to the answer the noble Marquess may give in respect of any future debate. It is perfectly clear, from his letter of July 31st, that General Gordon had no idea of abandoning any of the garrisons in the Soudan, of which he considered himself in charge. He clearly anticipated opening up the road to Sennaar, and he also clearly expected that the Equatorial and Bahr-el-Gazelle Provinces would be relieved later on. These appear to be the conditions on which alone he is himself prepared to abandon Khartoum. He says somewhat earlier in his letter—It is a sine quâ non that you send me Zebehr; otherwise my stay here is indefinite.And here it is that I want to ask upon this Vote, whether the noble Marquess is prepared to say that, under all circumstances, willing or not willing, General Gordon is to be relieved, and the Expedition is then to retire, having only communicated with General Gordon, or whether they are prepared to take a stronger course, and oblige him to give up that position which he holds, apparently, in his own view, in the interests of humanity and order? The noble Marquess told us that there were some hopes of the Expedition leaving 1615 something of the nature of a satisfactory Government behind it. It is perfectly clear that, in General Gordon's view, that is not a matter that could be dealt with, certainly not satisfactorily, in a very short space of time. There is a good deal of sarcasm in the final paragraph of his letter, in which he says—My sole desire is to restore the prestige of the Government in order to get out garrisons and to put some ephemeral Government in position in order to get away.I think the Committee has a right to know, clearly, in what position the Government and Lord Wolseley stand with reference to this relief of Khartoum. I know I am touching upon delicate ground. If General Gordon had been holding only a military office in the service of the Sovereign, Lord Wolseley being the Commander-in-Chief of the Expedition, there could have been no doubt as to his position. But I want to know how far Her Majesty's Government have left operative, and how far they have cancelled, the previous commission given to General Gordon, at the instance of Her Majesty's Government, by the Khedive? Unless there are other instructions which cancel it, it will certainly raise a question of some delicacy, if not of doubt. As regards the principal details of this Expedition, all we can do is to express our cordial hope that it may not be, like too many other measures of Her Majesty's Government, however good in its conception, too late in its execution. We trust that the time may not be past when what they are aiming at is possible and can be effected. I gather from the language of the noble Marquess that although he has some sort of feeling that the Expedition may return during the winter, he is not sure that its return may not be protracted beyond that time. I think there would be a great feeling of relief—although, of course, I do not wish to press the noble Marquess for any military details which may be undesirable—but I think there would be a general feeling of relief if the noble Marquess were able to say that upon the calculations Lord Wolseley, his Staff, and the War Office officials have made, the Expedition, as far as it has gone, is fairly up to date; that it is at the place where it was expected to be at a given time, or as near as it may be. There is an impression, whether rightly or 1616 wrongly I know not, that, owing to the unaccountable delays and difficulties which have been interposed, the Expedition is not as far forward as it ought to be. I am not prepared to challenge this, for we have not, as far as I am aware, any positive statements on the subject resting on official documents since the Expedition was decided upon; but I trust the noble Marquess will endeavour, as far as possible, in any answer he may give later on in the evening, to remove the natural anxiety which is felt on that point. I do not think it necessary, myself, to prolong this discussion further. As the noble Marquess has admitted, the details of the Expedition comply more with Parliamentary Forms than afford any real basis for a discussion which would be of any practical good. I can only conclude, as I began, by expressing the hope, not only on behalf of one side of the House, but of every Party in the House, as well as of the country generally, that the Expedition, however halting may have been its conception, and however late it may have been commenced, will, nevertheless, meet with success in its main object—the relief of Khartoum, and the establishment, if possible, of something more than what General Gordon calls an ephemeral Government.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
The noble Marquess, in moving the Vote, said, he was in doubt whether it would be attacked on financial, political, or military grounds. I have no wish to attack it on military grounds. I have very little doubt that the Government have taken the best military advice in their power according to their lights. Nor have I any wish to attack it on financial grounds. I believe that if you go into these Expeditions you must go into them thoroughly; and if you go into them thoroughly you must spend a considerable amount of money upon them. The only criticism I will make upon the financial point is that, although Her Majesty's Government are only asking for £1,000,000 to-day, I am very much afraid that in the course of a few months they may come down to the House again and ask for more. But it is upon political grounds that I attack the Vote. I want to know why we are called upon to vote money for the Expedition at all; and I will quote the noble Marquess himself as the authority why we ought 1617 not to vote this money. The Committee will remember perfectly well the statement made to the House by the noble Marquess on the 3rd of April in this year, when he used these words—General Gordon left this country with a most distinct and clear understanding, repeated over and over again by himself, that the mission which he was going to undertake was one which he was prepared to undertake with such resources as he might find on the spot; and he distinctly understood that it was not a part of the policy of the Government in despatching that Expedition to risk having to send a fresh Expedition for the relief of Khartoum or any similar garrisons."—(3 Hansard,  1515.)That was a distinct and straightforward statement of policy such as the noble Marquess always made when he had to deal with any question; and, therefore, I, for one, was intensely surprised when, a few months later, on the 5th of August, the noble Marquess and his Colleagues came down to the House and asked for £300,000 as a sort of preliminary promise that Her Majesty's Government might have the money if they felt themselves called upon to send out an Expedition. At that time they were not certain that an Expedition would be sent, but they got the money; and I, for one, felt certain that if they got it they would spend it. Now they come down to the House and ask for £1,000,000 more for this Expedition. What is the object? Why should we spend it? We are told that it is to get General Gordon away from Khartoum. I have no doubt, as the noble Marquess has said, that Colonel Stewart and his companions are already beyond the reach of aid; but I believe that General Gordon can get away from Khartoum whenever he likes. I have very little doubt in my own mind that he can get away if he pleases. What has he done since he went there? Let us go a little into this matter, because I want to discuss it solely upon political grounds. We were told in the Speech from the Throne, when we assembled last January, that General Gordon was sent—To report on the best means of giving effect to the resolution of the Khedive to withdraw from the Interior of the Soudan.The country, I believe, heard of that mission with great approbation, and even with enthusiasm, because it was believed that General Gordon was going out there to assist the Soudanese to get 1618 rid of the abominable and corrupt Egyptian Government who had for so many years oppressed them and ground them down. I went last year to a lecture at the Geographical Society in order to hear a great African traveller. I remember that he explained his experiences in the Soudan long ago, and he said that wherever the Egyptian Government held sway in the Soudan there they found misery, wretchedness, and oppression; but wherever the Soudanese people governed themselves there was comparative comfort. When I heard the noble Marquess talk about the possibility of General Gordon being able to establish a civilized form of Government at Khartoum I could not help thinking how much better it would be to leave them alone. As we understand, General Gordon merely went out on an errand of enfranchisement to set the people of the Soudan free from the corrupt influences of the Egyptian Government. He went to enfranchise the Soudanese just as Her Majesty's Government at home have been engaged in enfranchising the agricultural labourer; and he carried in his pocket a Firman from the Khedive announcing to all the chief Notables and people of the Soudan the evacuation of the country by the Egyptian troops, and informing them that in future the Soudan would be left to them, and to rulers to be appointed from among themselves. If I am not wrong—and I hope the noble Marquess will correct me if I am—General Gordon never published that Proclamation. As I understand, he had a Firman to that effect from the Khedive, giving liberty to these wretched people; but he never promulgated it among them. I do not know why, but I fancy the reason was that he was afraid to place in the hands of the Mahdi a weapon that would make him more popular with those who hated and detested the rulers under whom they had been living, and who regarded the Mahdi as the only exponent of the wretchedness and misery of the people, a man, also, who professed the same religion — because in that country religion and politics are united. General Gordon, having in his pocket that Proclamation telling the people of the Soudan that they were to be free, never took the trouble to publish it; and, instead of emancipating them, he has been busily engaged in 1619 shooting them ever since he has been there, and calling them rebels. Even Her Majesty's Government call the Soudanese rebels. I want to know who are they rebelling against? We sent Gordon there to declare that the Egyptian Government, so far as the Soudan was concerned, was at an end; and now we propose to shoot down the Soudanese because they are rebelling against the very Government we are going there to upset. It is a melancholy state of things to find a country like England engaged in such a work. What is the argument in favour of this Vote to-night? The only reason for it, as far as I can see, is that Gordon is a Christian hero, and therefore we are bound to go and rescue him. No doubt General Gordon is a most heroic man. As far as I know General Gordon's character, he is a man who is absolutely fearless; he has no fear of death, and no regard for money or for gain for himself. These are among the highest qualities any man can possess; but I do not think that the course pursued by General Gordon, heroic as it may have been, has been such as to make the people of that country very much in love with our Christianity, because General Gordon has been associated, in regard to the course he has taken, in the minds of the people of the Soudan, with the Egyptian Government, who are merely a set of men steeped in deceit, oppression, cruelty, and slaughter. That is the idea of Christianity which the people of that country must have had given to them by General Gordon's proceedings. I am afraid they must think that the Christianity of this country is very much a sham, and they must take the same view that Lord Wolseley did of all this fighting. I should like to quote to the Committee a passage which is very honestly put by Lord Wolseley himself in his Soldier's Hand Book. He says—As a nation we are bred up to feel it a disgrace to succeed by falsehood; we will keep hammering along with the conviction that honesty is the best policy, and that truth always wins in the long run. These pretty little sentences do well for a child's copy-book; but the man who acts upon them in war had better sheathe his sword for ever.That is a very honest statement, indeed, and I hope will command the attention of my hon. and gallant Friend who is just going out of the House (Sir Walter B. Barttelot). I object to the money 1620 of the people of this country being expended, and very likely thousands of lives sacrificed, in going out nominally to rescue a man who I do not believe requires to be rescued, and who, as far as I understand, has disregarded the instructions with which he was sent out, and brought discredit on the country by the policy he has pursued. On that ground, when you, Sir Arthur Otway, put the Question from the Chair, whoever may support me, I shall say "No" to this Vote, and take a Division upon it. I wish that the Government would mend their ways upon this Egyptian Question. It is melancholy to see the amount of trouble the Government have got into, and all because they have deserted their own principles. As to the story of their going to Egypt for the sake of the Egyptians, nobody believes that tale. We went there for the sake of money, and nothing else, and that is the policy of the Tory Party. It was only to-day that I read, in the leading organ of the Tory Party, this statement about all this fighting—Trade follows the flag, and the flag follows the sword. This was the political gospel of Lord Beaconsfield.It is also the political gospel of my hon. and gallant Friend who is to get up after me. ["No!"] I, for one, certainly think that it is, and it appears to me that it is a gospel of selfishness, a gospel of cruelty, and a gospel I am sorry to see Her Majesty's Government prepared to follow out. The Liberal Government should set their face against this; not follow the example of their opponents, but return to the righteous course.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, on rising to make a few remarks upon this important Vote, he would express regret at not seeing in his place the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War, who, however, he expected would not be long absent. There could be no doubt that the greatest interest existed in the country with regard to the fate of General Gordon; nor could there be a doubt that for a considerable time past it had been felt that the tenure by General Gordon of Khartoum had been a most precarious one, even if it still existed; and it had been the belief generally adopted by the large majority of his fellow-countrymen that no effort ought to be spared by Her Majesty's 1621 Government to effect General Gordon's relief. It had also been hoped that that gallant man, Colonel Stewart, might have been relieved; but, as had happened so often before, and had happened, he feared, again, the Government had been too late to save a valuable English life. Were they too late now to save the life of General Gordon? He would venture to say that when this question came to be understood and discussed throughout the country, should Khartoum have fallen, and should General Gordon's life have been sacrificed, the Government would be called upon to state their reasons—and those reasons would have to be clear—why they had not taken the proper steps and precautions for preventing that calamity. He believed that the gravest mistake—the gravest mistake in the interests of this country, in the interests of Egypt, and in respect of that pledge which they had given to Egypt was made, when the Government refused—positively declined—to send a force, under General Graham, from Suakin to Berber, which might have led to the relief of Khartoum. What had happened? On the 15th of May his hon. Friend the Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) asked the Secretary of State for War—Whether General Gordon was informed of the intended withdrawal of General Graham's force from Suakin to Cairo, and his opinion asked as to its expediency; and, if so, what answer General Gordon returned; and, whether General Graham was asked if an expedition to Berber was feasible in March, and, if so, what was his reply?To that Question the noble Marquess answered that he did not think they would have been justified in asking General Graham's opinion, seeing that General Stephenson had not thought fit to sanction the march. Now that the noble Marquess had again taken his place, he would ask what was General Stephenson's opinion, and upon what authority did the noble Marquess go when he made the reply just referred to? It was very important that the Committee should be reminded at that point what the opinions of General Stephenson and Sir Evelyn Baring were. In the first place, it was true that on the 5th of March General Stephenson held a different opinion to that which he afterwards held; it was an opinion totally different from that which he 1622 subsequently gave through Sir Evelyn Baring, after he knew the whole of the circumstances of the case. The noble Marquess had just said that Lord Wolseley was much better able to judge of his position than he (the Marquess of Hartington) could be at home; and he would like to ask him how it was that General Graham was not in a better position to judge of the circumstances of the case and of the friendly tribes in the neighbourhood of Suakin than the noble Marquess, who was at the time sitting in Downing Street? Now, on the 5th of March, General Stephenson telegraphed from Cairo (Egypt, No. 12,1884, Despatch No. 212) to the Secretary of State for War, as follows:—Graham telegraphs suggesting that Gordon Pasha be asked if he would recommend force under Graham operating on line Suakin-Berber; if so, how far would he be prepared to co-operate? Baring tells me that Gordon attaches importance to this route being opened. Baring has asked Gordon to what extent Hassan Khalifa could co-operate from Berber. I am not prepared to recommend Graham's force marching to Berber, owing to scarcity of water on road. I strongly recommend that Graham be instructed to attack Osman Digna without delay, now supposed to be 10 miles from Suakin.That was on the 5th of March, and on the 6th of March the Marquess of Hartington telegraphed as follows to Major General Sir Gerald Graham—Yours 5th forwarded by General Stephenson. Operations at considerable distance from Suakin not to be undertaken.But in the same Blue Book there was an extract from a telegram from Sir Evelyn Baring to Earl Granville, received on the 16th of March, which said—It has now become of the utmost importance not only to open the road between Suakin and Berber, but to come to terms with the tribes between Berber and Khartoum.That was the first answer; what did the second answer from Sir Evelyn Baring to Earl Granville say? (Despatch No. 301, received by telegraph, March 24)—I believe that the success gained by General Graham in the neighbourhood of Suakin will result in the opening of the road to Berber; but I should not think that any action he can take at or near Suakin would exert much influence over the tribes between Berber and Khartoum. Unless any unforeseen circumstances should occur to change the situation, only two solutions appear to be possible. The first is to trust General Gordon's being able to maintain himself at Khartoum till the autumn, 1623 when, by reason of the greater quantity of water, it would be leas difficult to conduct operations on the Suakin-Berber road than it is at present. This he might perhaps be able to do, but it, of course, involves running a great risk. The only other plan is to send a portion of General Graham's Army to Berber, with instructions to open up communication with Khartoum. There would be very great difficulty in getting to Berber; but if the road were once open, it might be done by sending small detachments at a time. General Gordon is evidently expecting help from Suakin, and he has ordered messengers to be sent along the road from Berber to ascertain whether any English force is advancing. Under present circumstances, I think that an effort should be made to help General Gordon from Suakin, if it is at all a possible military operation. General Stephenson and Sir Evelyn Wood, whilst admitting the very great risk to the health of the troops, besides the extraordinary military risks, are of opinion that the undertaking is possible. They think that General Graham should be further consulted.Next in order of time came that Question of his hon. Friend the Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) to which he had referred; and he would be glad to know on what plea the noble Marquess rested the answer which he gave to it at the time, when he knew that General Stephenson and Sir Evelyn Wood did think it possible for General Graham to march from Suakin to Berber, and that General Stephenson recommended him to apply for information to the only man who could give information on the subject? What did the noble Marquess do? He declined to apply to General Graham, and that, in his judgment, showed that the Government had predetermined that there should be no advance from Suakin to Berber. He believed that the noble Marquess must have known, and did know, that this was the only reliable chance of relieving General Gordon. Would the noble Marquess give an answer now to the Question asked by the hon. Member for Eye with regard to the proposal of General Graham? General Graham had made two proposals, after the battle of Tamanieb, to the noble Marquess. In his Despatch (No. 272) he telegraphed thus to the Secretary of State for War—The present position of affairs is that two heavy blows have been dealt at rebels and followers of the Mahdi, who are profoundly discouraged. They say, however, that English troops can do no more; must re-embark and leave the country to them; to follow up these victories and bring waverers to our side we should not proclaim our intention of leaving; 1624 but rather make a demonstration of an advance towards Berber, and induce a belief that we can march anywhere we please. I propose, therefore, making as great a show as possible without harassing troops, as Medical Officers report they require rest. A strong battalion, with regiment of Cavalry, advances to-morrow to Handuk, and from thence a reconnaissance will be made along the Berber road; this road, Suakin-Berber, passes through country occupied by various tribes from Suakin; Handuk, Otas, and Sibil are the Fadlab, whose Sheikh, Mohammed Ali Bey, is friendly, but has given no active support hitherto. He undertakes to accompany the troops in their advance to-morrow, and may be useful. He was formerly the wekil, or agent, of Sheikh Hamad Mahmoud, of Mouaiah tribe, the Khalifa or Governor of the road, and conducted all bargains with camel drivers. The road from Sibil to Aariab lies in country of Amrar tribes. Their head Sheikh, Hamad Mahmoud, just mentioned, is with rebels through the greater part. The sub-tribes of Amrar are still loyal. From Aariab to Berber the road lies in country of Bishareen, and must be dealt with from Berber. Reports of pilgrims state that an Egyptian garrison holds Obak; desirable to obtain from Berber attitude of Bishareen, and how far road is open. Gordon should communicate to you for my information; he can find out as to road and tribes, and should endeavour to open road and send people across.That was General Graham's first proposal, and the second was very like it. It would be found in his despatch to the noble Marquess (No. 277), dated Suakin, March 18, which ran thus—Gordon Highlanders, with 19th Hussars and Mounted Infantry, have marched to Handuk, and are now in telegraphic communication. The force is under General Stewart, accompanied by the Sheikh of Fadlab tribe; Oaman Digna is reported at Tamanieb with 2,500 followers, many of whom are reported as wavering, and to have sent to friends in Fadlab tribe, who have advised them to come to Handuk for protection from Osman. Stewart has instructions to conciliate and work with friendly Sheikh; also to reconnoitre and report. An advance to Sibil, 50 miles on Berber road, could be made with 2,000 men; 300 more camels would, however, be required, and preparations would take five days. Troops very healthy.Now, he said, that after such statements as these it was perfectly possible for the noble Marquess to have ordered an advance upon Berber from Suakin. Had that advance taken place, Berber would not have fallen, because, as hon. Members knew, the Mudir of Berber was prepared to march out some 50 or more miles to meet the advancing force which General Gordon thought was coming; so that the march over that part of the road without water would have been accomplished by Egyptian troops from Berber. The noble Marquess knew all 1625 that; but the Government were determined to do nothing, nor would they have done anything since but for the outcry of the people of this country, who demanded that, at any cost, Gordon should be relieved. Then he would ask whether it would not have been wise and prudent to have consulted so distinguished a man as General Sir Gerald Graham, as to what he considered to be the best and wisest course? The noble Marquess had stated that he did not want to have another action. But was he more likely or not to have another action, having left Osman Digna and his force unbroken and undispersed, during the whole summer and autumn, in the neighbourhood of Suakin? Had General Graham's march to Berber taken place, that force would never have collected again. Had General Graham been consulted and that march sanctioned, he was convinced that General Graham would have done his duty successfully. The noble Marquess seemed to think that some point of etiquette would have been involved in consulting a junior General. But if it were wise to send a junior General to Suakin at all, surely it would have been wise to have consulted him when he was there. He (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) believed that General Graham would have been prepared, at the most reasonable cost, not only to have placed outposts, but to have maintained and opened the road to Berber, which would have remained the trade route of that part of the country. Was it a light thing that a road of that kind should be abandoned? The noble Marquess knew that it was not, and he knew that there was a possibility of their having to advance from time to time further from Suakin. The Government were going to improve the harbour at Suakin; and, if he Was not mistaken, a large quantity of rails had been landed there; and the idea was floating in their minds to have a railway between Suakin and Berber; but, although nothing would tend more to civilize the country, they would probably not go to the expense until it was too late for the railway to be of any use. [A laugh.] The noble Marquess laughed; but if he were on the spot, he would find it desirable to have that railway constructed in the interest of Egypt, which, he said, the Government had so much at heart. To judge by the way in which they had acted, it 1626 did not seem that they had that interest at heart very strongly, notwithstanding their declarations. He repeated that nothing would be more beneficial, especially for protection, to Egypt, than a railway between Suakin and Berber. But the Government had done absolutely nothing up to the time at which they came down for a Vote of Credit—that was to say, just before the end of the last Session. The noble Marquess had very good-naturedly said to him at the time, in reply to a Question—"You have now got your answer, and I hope you are satisfied with it." It was satisfactory then. But the £300,000 asked for by the Government was but as a drop in the ocean, if they were going to do what they now professed. He undertook to say that Khartoum would have been relieved by General Graham at a very small cost, whereas now the expense would be simply enormous, and time alone would show whether the Expedition would succeed. But this the Government knew—that they had embarked on a most difficult and dangerous operation, even if the force under General Lord Wolseley was not attacked. He would not pretend to say what was the chance of that; but supposing it was attacked, and suffered a reverse, on what were they going to fall back? Let the Committee consider the distance of their base from Khartoum, and judge what the consequences of a reverse would be. He ventured to believe that the Government had taken this step out of consideration to public opinion; not because they wished to take it, for they had stated that it was not their view or wish that General Gordon should be relieved, but that he should escape from Khartoum in the best way he could. General Gordon, a man who had always shown and proved himself to be most tenacious of the honour of his country, had been sent out for the purpose of relieving the garrisons in the Soudan; but they were now told that the instructions of Lord Wolseley were that those garrisons were to be sacrificed, an abandonment which, if it took place, would constitute an indelible disgrace to the country. Whenever General Gordon asked for help or relief, when he said he was suffering and unable to hold out, no notice was taken of his appeal. God grant that the Expedition might not be too late! But he was afraid that the 1627 question was one on which there was room for much doubt. The noble Marquess had not said one word as to what the Government intended to do in the event of Khartoum having fallen. That was a question of considerable interest, and one on which he and his hon. Friends would like to have some information. Did they mean to allow the Mahdi to take possession of Khartoum, and was slavery to be allowed to continue in the Soudan, as it had done in years gone by? It was the Government who, by proclaiming, in season and out of season, that they were going to abandon the Soudan, had been the destruction of the country. Never had a more reckless course been taken by any Government than this declaration of the abandonment of the Soudan before the garrisons had been withdrawn in safety; and he believed that if it culminated in the fall of Khartoum, and the destruction of General Gordon, no censure had ever fallen on a Government heavier than that which he hoped the people of the country would pass on those who had been the cause of that calamity. Did the Government mean to hand over the whole of the Soudan to the Mahdi? If that were so, Egypt would be left open at any moment to the attacks of those hordes which would come down upon her from the Soudan, a condition of affairs that would be as dangerous to the country as it would be disgraceful to the Government. But he believed the people would speak out on this question. They were watching with the greatest anxiety what the Government were now doing in Egypt, when, up to the present, they had done nothing but upset all that was good without substituting anything in its place. It was high time that there should be no longer two masters in Egypt; nor could the country be properly governed by dummies directed from Downing Street. Her Majesty's Government must assume the responsibility which events had cast upon them, disguise it as they might; and, having assumed it, they would be bound to take care that order reigned in Egypt, although we might be kept there for many years to come.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that not being a military genius, ready at a moment to explain how the campaign ought to be conducted or not in Central Africa, he should not intrude his views 1628 upon the Committee as to whether they ought to have gone to Khartoum by Suakin or by the Nile, because he objected to their going there at all. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just spoken asked the Government what it was they intended to do if the Expedition were too late to save General Gordon. But was not the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that an answer had been given to that again and again? Had not the Prime Minister told them a long time ago that the sole object in the Soudan was to "rescue and retire?" They were to rescue the garrisons and General Gordon, after which they were to retire without mixing themselves up with the internal affairs of the country. When the noble Marquess, the Secretary of State for War was introducing this Estimate, he had said something about establishing a settled form of Government in the Soudan. That, he would point out, was a scheme entirely novel, and also contrary to the pledges given to the House when the preliminary Vote of £300,000 was asked for. It was then understood that the leader of the Expedition would solely and simply endeavour to bring back with him General Gordon, and, if possible, the garrisons; but there was not one word said about establishing any form of settled Government in the Soudan. If the noble Marquess simply meant that if Lord Wolseley reached Khartoum, he was, in order to prevent the disorganization of all society there, to gather together some of the notabilities of the town, he should be glad to hear that that was so; but if he meant that they were going to establish some settled form of Government in the Soudan, that would be a very different business to what was understood by the House as being in view when the money was voted last Session. Had General Wolseley never communicated with the Mahdi? There was no doubt that many communications had taken place between that personage and the Mudir of Dongola; they had French Ministers as well as merchants receiving despatches every day of what was taking place at Khartoum; and yet it seemed that no efforts were made to convey to the Mahdi, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, that if he would only allow General Gordon and the garrison at Khartoum to retire they would have nothing more 1629 to do with the Soudan. He had asked the question several times in the House already, but had never been able to get a reply as to whether they had entered into any communication with the Mahdi. They knew very little about what was going on at Khartoum. All they knew was that General Gordon was in a position of great and exceptional difficulty. It was almost impossible to criticize General Gordon's actions; but, at the same time, it was well to bear in mind the report which was published the other day by Colonel Duncan as to the passage through Assouan of persons leaving the Soudan. In that report it was stated that men, women, and children—the wives, children, and servants of the different employers—were leaving the country; and then Colonel Duncan went on to say it would be remarked that there were exceedingly few soldiers passing through the town. The reason of that was that General Gordon, who was sent out to relieve the garrisons—to get the garrison out of Khartoum—had called in all the troops in the neighbourhood, and had told them that they must not leave, but must rally at Khartoum. He (Mr. Labouchere) only mentioned these facts because it was desirable that they should be borne in mind. They heard the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) talk about a settled Government in Khartoum. He (Mr. Labouchere) did not think any of the hon. Gentlemen with whom he usually acted desired that if Lord Wolseley was able to get the garrison away from Khartoum the gallant General should delay one moment, or spend any British blood or money in order to establish a settled Government in Khartoum, or the Soudan, or to wage war against the Mahdi. He intended to follow into the Lobby his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson). He quite admitted that if an Expedition was sent out it must be paid for. He remembered that last Session the Prime Minister said he asked for a small preliminary Vote as a matter of principle. He (Mr. Labouchere) understood that by assenting to that small preliminary Vote the House assented to the proposal to send out an Expedition. But why should they pay for it at all? Why not Egypt pay for it, or, rather, The Egyptian bondholders? It was admitted that the Soudan was execrably governed by 1630 Egypt. The Egyptian Government sent out, against our wish, Hicks Pasha to bring the Soudan once more under the control of Egypt. At the time we protested against Hicks Pasha being sent out. Hicks Pasha, however, went to the Soudan, and he might have withdrawn with the Egyptian garrisons; but he tried to re-establish the Egyptian Government there, and the consequence was that he and his army were destroyed. The garrisons remained in the country, and the Egyptians could not do anything to relieve them. It appeared the Egyptians were not very great men at fighting, and so they asked us to aid them. We sent General Gordon to aid them; but when General Gordon arrived in Cairo he accepted the post under the Khedive of Governor of the Soudan. The position, therefore, of General Gordon was that of Representative of the Khedive at Khartoum. Although we were, perhaps, right in sending men out to rescue General Gordon because we were, to a certain extent, responsible, yet it was obvious that it was the Egyptian Government who ought to pay, and not we, the cost of the Expedition to get the Egyptian garrisons and General Gordon, who was the Egyptian Governor of the Soudan, out of the country. It was said that Egypt could not pay her debts. No illusion was greater than that. For centuries Egypt had been the great granary of Europe, and it was possible for Egypt to pay the cost of its administration, and have a surplus for such an Expedition as the present. It was well known why Egypt could not now pay its debts. The reason was to be found in the fact that the greater portion of the Revenue of the country was diverted for the benefit of the bondholders. The Revenues of the country were mortgaged to the bondholders; and, therefore, the bondholders should pay for the defence of the country. He was entirely opposed to the Expedition; but he especially supported his hon. Friend (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that night, upon the ground that they ought to call upon Egypt to pay the expenses. They might make an advance of money if necessary; but then they ought to put it down as a debt owing by Egypt to us. He could well understand an advance being made; but he could not understand why, whenever a question of this sort arose, no matter what Government was in power, it was always 1631 said—"Oh! let the British taxpayer pay." There were many people in England who wanted money, and to whom money would be of the greatest benefit. The Irish wanted money; the shipping trade was in distress; indeed, there were hundreds of ways in which, if they had got these millions to throw away, they could expend them with far more benefit to the country than in expending them in the Soudan, expending them not even for the benefit of the Soudan or Egypt, but for the benefit of the Egyptian bondholders, who were simply usurers, and who, if he had his way, would not get 1s. interest for the money they had advanced.
§ MR. GREGORY
shared the regret which had been expressed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) that the Government did not take advantage of the operations against Osman Digna to relieve Khartoum by the Suakin and Berber route; and, speaking with great diffidence to military authorities, he thought it would have been better if the Suakin-Berber route had been adopted for the present Expedition. From something which fell from the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington), he could not help thinking that the question of expense had entered a little more than it ought to have done into the consideration of this matter. He trusted that that was not the case, because he felt that the principal object of the Expedition was the relief of General Gordon. It was all very well to say it was desirable to communicate with Dongola, and with the tribes along the course of the Nile; but the principal and main object which they ought always to have had before them in undertaking the Expedition was the release of General Gordon from the difficult position in which he was placed. Again, there was another matter which ought to have entered into their consideration, and that was the establishment of a permanent Government at Khartoum. He held that it was impossible to maintain a permanent Government there unless communication were kept up between it and civilization, and he did not see that by taking the route up the Nile they had opened up that connection in any degree. He believed that if they had taken the Suakin and Berber route they would have opened a new line of 1632 communication, or made practicable the old line of communication, by which constant intercourse could have been maintained with Khartoum and the Soudan. He feared that in consequence of the route Lord Wolseley had taken it would be impossible for them to establish a permanent Government at Khartoum, and thus bring about a better state of things.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, that as his views on this subject were generally in accord with those of his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), he need not repeat what the hon. Baronet had said, and said with much greater force than he (Sir George Campbell) could. At the same time, he did not think that it would be worth while to divide on the Vote. He and his hon. Friend might take this salve to their consciences—that they had throughout protested against the policy which had made this Vote necessary. It was to be remembered that in the summer the Prime Minister proposed a Vote of £300,000 for the Expedition to Khartoum. The right hon. Gentleman called it a Vote of principle; and he avowed that the Vote was meant to commit the House and the country to the Expedition. He (Sir George Campbell) dissented from the Vote, because he believed it amounted to a sanction, of what he believed would be a long bill. Still, he felt that the House and the country was committed to the matter, and that he and his hon. Friend had done their duty by protesting against the proposed expenditure. He did not like the tone of the speech of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington). The noble Marquess was very straightforward and honest; he could not bring himself to tell them that the Vote now proposed would be sufficient for the Expedition. He (Sir George Campbell) considered that the Government were bound to do their utmost to face clearly the expenditure and risks they were now incurring. The noble Marquess had very fairly told the Committee that they might have to pay more; but the Government ought at the present moment to place before the country an Estimate of the expenditure which would in all probability be incurred. He thoroughly believed that the noble Marquess was a prudent administrator, and that Lord 1633 Wolseley was a skilful and economical General, and that this Expedition would not be characterized by the enormous wasteful expenditure as characterized the Expedition to Abyssinia. At the same time, he could hardly credit that this great Expedition into the heart of Africa would be carried out for the expenditure now before the Committee—namely, £1,600,000 in all. If in the ordinary course of the Expedition the present Estimate were to be greatly exceeded, considerable blame would attach to Her Majesty's Government for not putting the thing fully before the country. He confessed that the present Estimate appeared to him to be exceedingly low. Although he had great confidence in the noble Marquess at the head of the War Department, he had great misgivings, especially after the expressions which fell from the noble Marquess himself, that the Estimate would be exceeded. He was also anxious to know how the money was to be raised. He was aware that the country was occupied upon other matters, and that it did not pay much attention to this question; and as long as it was a question of voting the money and borrowing it from the Money Market, the country would not pay very much attention to it. They were bound, however, when they did undertake Expeditions, to pay for them out of their own pockets; and if another 2d. in the pound was to be added to the Income Tax the country would soon become alive to the importance of the Expedition and the risks they were undertaking. He thought very great credit was due to the Government for the courage they had displayed in resisting the attempts made by the Opposition to induce them to send an Expedition into the heart of Africa at the hottest and most unfavourable time of the year. [Mr. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT: No, no!] The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) and his hon. Friends were at one time continually urging the Government to send an Expedition to Berber at the beginning of the hot weather; and he maintained that Her Majesty's Government showed great courage in resisting the pressure put upon them to send out such an Expedition. If an Expedition had been sent out as hon. Gentlemen opposite desired the sacrifice of life amongst Her Majesty's troops must have been 1634 enormous. General Gordon had been able, up to the present—throughout the hot weather—to maintain himself at Khartoum, and had not yet been captured. In his opinion, Her Majesty's Government had been extremely prudent in the instructions they had given to General Wolseley, for they had limited his Expedition as far as possible. He thought the Government were right in saying distinctly that General Wolseley should not go beyond Khartoum to relieve any garrisons there might be there. He (Sir George Campbell) protested against the things said by hon. Gentlemen opposite when they talked about sacrificing these garrisons. They talked as if the garrisons must necessarily be massacred. There was no reason to suppose that they would be massacred. There was no reason to suppose that the Mahdi would not receive them with open arms, as he had done other garrisons. He (Sir George Campbell) sincerely hoped they would, somehow or other, find their way to their own country; and, if necessary, he should be glad to contribute towards their ransom. He did not think, however, there was the smallest reason to assume they would be massacred if they showed a disposition, as others had done, to join the Mahdi. But when General Wolseley got to Khartoum Her Majesty's Government must make up their minds what was to be done with the place. If they could not find a capable Government at Khartoum they must make up their minds to pack up their baggage and come away. If it should happen that Khartoum was left without a settled Government they might regret it, but they could not help it; it was not their business to govern Khartoum. As regarded General Gordon himself, he (Sir George Campbell) could hardly imagine that General Gordon, a British officer, holding Her Majesty's commission, would refuse to leave Khartoum. If he did he must resign Her Majesty's commission, and then they would be no longer responsible for him. If he was in a fit state to exercise his own judgment, and desired to stay at Khartoum, his wish ought to be gratified, but upon such terms that they would be free from all responsibility as regarded him. He (Sir George Campbell) trusted that Her Majesty's Government would adhere firmly to the instructions they had given 1635 to Lord Wolseley, and that as they had undertaken it they would bring the Expedition to an end as speedily and as cheaply as possible.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, he did not think that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) had recommended a very English, or noble, or honourable policy. Now, the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) stated what most Members of the Committee could entirely agree with. The hon. Baronet told them that his great wish was that the Government should mend their ways and stick to their principles. But it had occurred to him (Mr. Stanley Leighton) to ask himself what were the principles of the Government? Not the principles, surely, of his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), for his hon. Friend severely criticized them. Unfortunately, no one knew what the principles of the Government were. This Expedition, was the latest, but he was afraid it was not the last Expedition which would go from this country to Egypt. It certainly seemed to him that the Committee ought to extract from the Government certain guarantees before it allowed a Vote to pass which would add another to the millions of pounds which had been spent by this Government on this Egyptian business, and would place a number of lives in jeopardy without, possibly, any corresponding advantage being reaped. The guarantees which it appeared to him the Committee were bound to demand were a recantation of those foolish declarations which were contained in the words of the Prime Minister, "Rescue and Retire," and in the statement of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) that they should quit Egypt in six months. The inevitable course of events had already reversed the policy of the Government; but the Committee ought to demand a recantation in words also of the foolish expressions to which he had referred. The policy of advance and retreat, or, in other words, the policy of war and peace, at the same time must be abandoned. If the Peace Party had had their way, every drop of English blood which had been shed in Egypt during the last four years might have been saved, besides millions of money. If, on the contrary, the Government had chosen to follow a 1636 distinct and honourable and straight forward course of advance they would have reaped great advantages; and most, if not all, of the blood which had been shed would have been saved, and the country would have been some millions the richer. The Government had not followed either the one or the other course; but they had tried to perform the absolutely impossible task of going two ways at the same time. He was glad that the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was going to divide, because it was proper that the positions of the Government and of the Peace Party should be clearly defined. If the Government were to have the support of the House of Commons that night they must break with the Peace Party. For the sake of peace they must oppose the Peace Party. There was no middle course open any longer. They were now, for the seventh time in three years, responsible for a Military Expedition. First of all, there was the Expedition of General Hicks; then Lord Alcester's; then Lord Wolseley's first Expedition; then General Gordon's; then General Baker's; then General Graham's; and now there was Lord Wolseley's second Expedition. ["And Lord Northbrook's!"] No; Lord Wolseley's. ["Lord Northbrook's!"] Oh, yes; he would come to that by-and-bye. These were the seven Military Expeditions for which they were responsible in throe years. But the Government were not content with Military Expeditions; they had sent out an equal number of Civil Expeditions, which had also cost a great deal of money. They had sent out in turn Sir Rivers Wilson Sir Edward Malet, Sir Auckland Colvin, Sir Evelyn Baring, Mr. Edgar Vincent, the Earl of Dufferin, and the Earl of Northbrook. Seven Civil Expeditions in addition to seven Military! All in three years! Who would they send next? He did not like to ask the question without suggesting some practical answer. The only other person left to be sent to Egypt was the Prime Minister himself. Why should not the right hon. Gentleman spend the winter season in Grand Cairo? The winter was pleasant, and it would be better for his health to be there than campaigning amidst the snows of Mid Lothian, or catching colds at chaotic railway stations. The idea of Government by Missions was a new one. Unfortunately, it had failed. 1637 How many more failures were they to witness? He had forgotten to mention the most questionable of all the Expeditions for which the Government were responsible—he meant the Expedition of Admiral Hewett and Mason Bey, the object of which was to incite a host of Abyssinian savages to invade the Soudan. The Government, he was well aware, by their obstinate refusal of information on the subject, were themselves ashamed of it. That Expedition, too, had failed. The only amends which the Government could make to the country would be now, at the eleventh hour, to separate themselves entirely from those hon. Gentlemen who belonged to the Peace Party—separate themselves at once and for ever. For himself, he should not take any part in the Division. He should like those who supported the policy of the Government, and them alone, to be responsible for the imposition of this new tax on the country.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, he had listened with some surprise to the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) when he had stated that it was impossible to send an Expedition to the relief of Khartoum by way of Berber in March last. It was not accurate to say that in that month the hottest weather prevailed. It was true there was excessive heat in the Soudan for a few days in the middle of March of this year; but such abnormal weather prevailed also in more Westerly countries. It was succeeded by many weeks of temperate weather. The troops might have suffered somewhat; but, according to the highest military authorities both on the spot and in this country, it was perfectly possible for General Graham, after his two great victories over the Arabs, to have sent a small Expedition along the Berber road mounted either on camels or horses. The moral effect of such an Expedition after Graham's successes would have been quite sufficient to have insured the opening of the road to Khartoum, and the safety of that town. They had General Gordon's own word for it; for about the period in question the gallant officer had distinctly stated that the presence of 200 British troops at Wady Halfa would be quite enough to cause the whole of the operations of the rebels in that part of the 1638 Soudan to collapse. As to the other statements of the hon. Member, he (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) could hardly congratulate the Government on their candid friend. The hon. Baronet had told them that the Government trusted to the chapter of accidents, and that in that chapter the Mudir of Dongola had turned up. But in this chapter of accidents some other things, less pleasant, had "turned up." Berber had fallen, and 5,000 people had been sacrificed. Khartoum had been besieged, numerous battles had occurred, and many lives had been lost; Lord Wolseley's Expedition had been despatched—an Expedition which had already cost close upon £2,000,000, and with regard to which the Government might esteem themselves fortunate if they escaped with no further expenditure than another £2,000,000. Such had been, and was likely to be, the result of the policy of the Government in trusting to the chapter of accidents. It did not appear to him (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) that this policy had proved particularly fortunate. As to the proposal before the House, this was the 19th £1,000,000 the Government had wasted in Egypt. The first campaign cost England and India £7,000,000; the present Expedition had already cost close on £2,000,000; and the cost to Egypt of the intervention and blundering of the Government in Egypt had been, at least, £10,000,000. In addition to this enormous expenditure, the Government were responsible for the loss of from 40,000 to 50,000 human lives; they had allowed slavery and slave dealers to obtain a hold over a vast country from which it had been practically banished; and if they abandoned Khartoum, they would, as Sir Evelyn Baring and General Gordon had warned them, cause the slave traffic in its most horrible forms to prevail throughout the Soudan. Moreover, they had sot the whole of Europe against them. The Great Powers were now protesting against their policy. And now Parliament was discussing the opening and initial cost of the third serious campaign which had been undertaken in Egypt. The Government, in carrying out their Egyptian policy, had employed — as they had told the House—all the best men they could lay their hands on, from the Earl of Dufferin to General Gordon. They had called these persons to their 1639 council, but had treated them all with contempt. They had received their counsel from time to time in regard to the various details of their action in Egypt, but had refused to derive any benefit for themselves or for Egypt from the employment of these distinguished men. This Expedition of General Wolseley was practically the fifth epoch in their Egyptian policy; and the country was now paying this £2,000,000, in addition to all the other sums which it had paid before, simply and solely in consequence of the delay of the Government—their inability to foresee, decide, or to act in any of the crises in which decision or action would have been of avail. They had rejected every suggestion that General Gordon made to them; they had refused him all the assistance he asked for—the 200 troops at Wady Halfa, the five English officers, Zebehr, Indian troops at Berber, the advance of Graham's Army, the 2,000 Turkish troops. All his suggestions had been contemptuously rejected, and the Government had done absolutely nothing except send him insulting messages, practically charging him with a change of his pacific policy, and unjustly rebuking him in his perilous and critical position. Surrounded and cut off as he was, and—as the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) had admitted that night—suffering a long imprisonment in Khartoum, in the greatest danger, by day and by night, Ministers had the effrontery to tell General Gordon they could send him no military force to undertake offensive operations. He (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) would call the attention of the Committee to the extraordinary discrepancy between the statements of Her Majesty's Ministers—and it was a point worthy of note, strictly bearing upon the Vote under discussion — with regard to the position of General Gordon last March, April, and May, and the facts of the case known at that time and since confirmed. On the 8th of April the Prime Minister said—General Gordon is under no inability to leave the Soudan at the present moment."—(3 Hansard,  39.)On the 21st he said—The position of General Gordon is, so far as we know, a position of security;"—(Ibid. 141.)On May 1 he said— 1640There is no military danger at the present moment besetting Khartoum."—(Ibid. 1059.)And all the time the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members knew that Gordon's forces had been defeated, and that the General was besieged by fanatical hordes and in great peril. They had had Mr. Power's despatches and General Gordon's own warnings. General Gordon, in his despatches, said plainly that he had remained in Khartoum because the Arabs had shut him in. The Prime Minister must have known that Gordon was in imminent danger. Between April 16 and May 7 eight different attacks were made on Khartoum; and it was no wonder that when Gordon got the insulting and offensive despatches of April 23 and May 1, he replied in those burning words which would not be soon forgotten by the English people—I leave to you the indelible disgrace of abandoning the garrisons.In his recent despatches, just published, General Gordon emphasized the same reproach—If the rebels kill the Egyptians their blood be on your heads.The most remarkable incident was the fall of Berber. The Government were warned of the peril all through April. So anxious were the Egyptian Ministry, Sir Evelyn Baring, Nubar Pasha, and the Khedive about Berber, that they all urged that relief should be sent. Although the Government were told these things throughout April — although in the early part of the month despatches reached them stating that Berber was in imminent danger of falling, the Prime Minister found himself able, on the 24th of April, to inform the House and the country that so far as he knew there was no risk of Berber sharing the fate of Sinkat. That was a most extraordinary inaccuracy—he would not say deliberate inaccuracy—for the Head of the Government, in possession of the information it was known he had at that time, to have been guilty of. The Government were advised and urged to do what they could to assist Berber. Sir Evelyn Baring told them that if Berber fell, General Gordon's position would be worstened and yet they found the Premier declaring that he did not believe the 1641 fall of Berber would seriously affect Khartoum. Berber held out for some weeks, and troops could easily have been sent there from Assouan by way of Dongola or by the desert. General Gordon had said the effect of Berber having been saved would have made Lord Wolseley advance by the Nile to Khartoum "a mere picnic." He added these words—"According to all accounts, 5,000 men were massacred at Berber;" and, with a touch of irony, he concluded with—"All is for the best." The hon. Baronet had congratulated the Government on having come across the Mudir of Dongola. That was a mistake. It appeared to him (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) that the Government had not come across the Mudir of Dongola, but that the Mudir of Dongola had come across them. The Mudir had been ordered by the Egyptian Government, under the direction of the British Cabinet, to abandon Dongola in June; and it was only because he refused to abandon the great Province, which was the key of Egypt, that the Mudir was in his present position, and that Lord Wolseley's force was able to advance even at the slow rate at which it was advancing. Here he would say a word as to the instructions issued to Lord Wolseley. They were of a most extraordinary kind, loose and self-contradictory, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) had stated the other day. The instructions were such that the Government could quote them in support of two directly opposite policies in the future, if they desired to do so. In one place they told Lord Wolseley to establish a Government at Khartoum if he could, and in the next sentence they told him that such a Government would have to rely solely on its own strength. That everybody knew was impossible. They could not at present establish a suitable Government at Khartoum which could rely absolutely on its own strength. They had tried to make such an arrangement as that in Zululand, and they failed. Everything fell to pieces as soon as British supervision was withdrawn. If the Government had honestly wished to maintain good government and order in the Soudan, they would have authorized Lord Wolseley to give General Gordon, or some other competent British official, such support as to have enabled him to establish a Government and to have 1642 maintained it until it became efficient. Did the Government really mean to incur the indelible disgrace of abandoning all the other garrisons? Were these garrisons, who had held out loyally and gallantly, confident that they would be relieved, to be deliberately abandoned to massacre and slavery. The instructions to Lord Wolseley said they were to be abandoned. Was that the policy of the Government? Were the men who had been confident that some relief would come to them to be given over to the fate of Tewfik, the people of Berber, Colonel Stewart, and so many others? Had the Government, when they stated that any rule established south of Wady Halfa would have to rely solely upon its own strength, taken the trouble to read the information collected by Colonel Stuart-Wortley in the course of his recent gallant ride across the desert? It was clear from the latest information that Dongola was a most important position for the defence of Egypt; and if that place were abandoned the position at Wady Halfa would be perfectly insecure. In fact, if they abandoned Dongola and Khartoum, unless Egypt was to be handed over to anarchy and ruin, there would be a recurrence of these Nile Expeditions every two or three years. He would now very briefly sum up what he believed was desired by the great majority of the thinking public in this country who had examined this question, and who took a real interest in the influence of England and in the welfare of Egypt. He sincerely believed that very many Liberals, if not the great majority of them, together with almost the whole of the Conservative Party, desired to see a settlement made with regard to Egypt and the Soudan such as he would venture to suggest to the Government and to the Committee. In the first place, he believed it to be necessary that a thorough British supervision should be established over Egypt for a number of years—for a sufficient length of time to reform the administration and to make its effect felt throughout Egypt. In the second place, he thought that the people of this country wished to see General Gordon authorized, and furnished with sufficient support to enable him to restore order and peace and freedom to the great districts extending between the 1643 White Nile and the Red Sea, and between Abyssinia and the Nubian Desert. Those districts could be easily protected and slavery done away with by a civilized Government at Khartoum. The expense would be small, and a large force would not be required. In the third place—and this followed from the last proposition—Khartoum should certainly be held and defended, both for the safety of Egypt and in the interest of trade and freedom and general civilization. In the fourth place—and this was a more general suggestion, which, however, would be equally acceptable to the country—the Government should revert to the European understanding established by their Predecessors with Germany and Austria, the abandonment of which had been their perpetual curse in all their foreign relations during the past four years. If such a policy as that were adopted, late though it was, the country would feel that the Ministry had made some atonement for the terrible waste of money and of life that their policy had inflicted upon an ancient and a long-suffering people.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I will only detain the Committee for a short time, whilst I answer one or two questions which have been put to me in the course of this discussion. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Stanley) made some inquiry as to what was to be done with regard to the other garrisons in the Soudan besides that of Khartoum. Well, Sir, I have nothing that I am aware of to add respecting them to what is contained in the instructions that have been published. No doubt, Lord Wolseley, if it should be necessary for him, in the course of his mission, to proceed to Khartoum, and in all his action, will do anything which is reasonable and possible to rescue the other garrisons. If the question of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman were whether, in relieving Khartoum, it is, in the view of the Government, the duty of Lord Wolseley and of the British Army to make expeditions all over the Soudan and risk the health, lives, and safety of British troops to rescue every Egyptian soldier and garrison in the Soudan, I have distinctly to say that, in our opinion, it would not be within the scope of Lord Wolseley's duty.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
As to Sennaar, we have no definite information. There is a report that the garrison has been recalled by General Gordon, and is now actually in Khartoum. As to Bahr-el-Gazelle, it is said that Slaten Bey has joined the Mahdi. I do not know whether these reports are true or not, as our information from these garrisons is extremely meagre. We have not the information which would enable us to say whether the rescue of these garrisons by the British Army is even possible. Has the hon. Member any information which enables him to say that the rescue of any of the garrisons is a possible feat, or one that ought to be attempted?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I did not say he did. I do not think the rescue of the garrisons all over the Soudan is a possible feat, or one which should be undertaken by the British troops; and yet the Government are urged, notwithstanding that they have no more information than that possessed by every hon. Member, to say what is the position of these garrisons. Then we are asked whether the advance of Lord Wolseley has been delayed longer than he expected? I do not think Lord Wolseley ever committed himself to an opinion as to the exact date on which it would be in his power to advance. I should be unwilling to say that there has not been some greater delay than was expected. It has been found that the means of transport upon the Nile, independently of the delay in obtaining boats from this country, are more slight and untrustworthy than was anticipated. No doubt there has been some greater delay in forwarding stores and supplies to the places where Lord Wolseley desired that the concentration of troops should be made—Dongola, and Debbeh, a point beyond—than was anticipated; and, therefore, he cannot make his advance so soon as he had hoped. Certain hon. Members on this subject—the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), for instance—have mixed up two entirely different questions. The only practical question we are concerned with in this 1645 matter is whether the Government have acted rightly in sending an Expedition up the Valley of the Nile, or whether it would have been preferable to have adopted at the time the Suakin-Berber route? The hon. and gallant Member wandered entirely from that point, and raised the totally different question of whether it would have been possible, after the battles of Teb and Tamanieb, to have sent General Graham's force, or a portion of it, in March last, to Berber from Suakin, and what would have been the consequences of such an advance? Well, that question was discussed fully on the Vote moved for last Session. The reasons why it was that such a movement would have been desirable were stated; and the Government, on their part, declared why they thought it would not have been expedient. It was absolutely out of the question that the whole of the small force under General Graham should have been sent at the time to Berber. It was not furnished with any of the means of transport which would have enabled it to undertake such an operation. I said, at the time, that it was possible for a small force—such as was now described by General Gordon—largely composed of Cavalry, to have reached Berber; but it was altogether begging the question to assume that such an operation would have settled the matter, or given material aid to General Gordon. No doubt, the moral effect of the arrival of that force might have been great. It might have had all the good results that General Gordon anticipated; but, on the other hand, it might have come in contact with a force as fanatical as that of Osman Digna. The only result would have been that, while the position of General Gordon would not have been improved, we should have had a force of British troops shut up at Berber. The hon. Member who last spoke referred to the fall of Berber. At present we know very little of the circumstances which led to the so-called fall of Berber. A great deal of what we have heard shows that Berber did not offer any strong resistance to the attack made upon it; there is every reason to suppose that it fell in consequence of the connivance, if not the treachery, of a portion of its defenders. To refer for a moment to the speech of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex (Sir 1646 Walter B. Barttelot), I was rather surprised to hear the hon. and gallant Gentleman say that, in addition to the assistance that might be given by it to an Expedition from Suakin, the construction of a railway from Suakin to Berber would have been an unmixed benefit to Egypt. I cannot help thinking that if the hon. and gallant Baronet had carefully inquired into the subject, and had gathered the views of persons familiar with Egypt and the Soudan, he would have arrived at a very different conclusion. Such a railway would permanently divert from Egypt that very trade from the Soudan from the loss of which Egypt was now suffering so severely. All the trade which used to ascend the Nile from the Soudan has of late been almost completely put a stop to; and the people living on the banks of the river, who depend almost solely upon that trade, have been reduced to great suffering. If the railway which the hon. and gallant Baronet desires to see constructed—and which I do not deny would be an enormous benefit and advantage to the Soudan—were made, the consequence would be that the trade of the Soudan would almost entirely cease to pass through Egypt, and the Soudan would be more disconnected from Egypt than it has been at any former period. The hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) quoted a speech made by me last year, or, rather, he carefully selected and quoted a passage from it. If he had quoted another passage at the conclusion of that speech, he would have put the matter in quite a different light—he would have enabled hon. Members to look upon it from a different point of view to that he wished to take. In the speech in question I stated the conditions on which the Government would consider it necessary to undertake an Expedition for the relief of General Gordon. Well, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had also, in the course of that debate, stated that the Government had accepted certain responsibility for General-Gordon, and that under certain circumstances they would be prepared to act in discharge of that responsibility. It was on these statements, made by my right hon. Friend and myself, that the House came to its decision on the Motion which was made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. In our opinion, those conditions, which were the condi- 1647 tions we laid down which should make it incumbent on us to take active steps for the relief of General Gordon and the garrison with which he is identified, have been fulfilled. The hon. Member did not attempt to deal with that part of the subject at all, except by a vague expression of opinion that General Gordon could leave Khartoum whenever he liked. But all the evidence the Government have, including that of General Gordon himself, points in exactly the opposite direction. General Gordon tells us that he does not leave Khartoum because he is surrounded by Arabs, who will not allow him to come away. In these circumstances, it is clearly impossible for General Gordon to remove the garrison from Khartoum. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) has somewhat anticipated the discussion which we shall have before very long, I suppose. He does not so much object to the Expedition undertaken by the Government, or to its being paid for; but he maintains that if it is undertaken it should be at the expense of the bondholders. I do not know whether the hon. Member considers that a practical suggestion. Is he satisfied that the Powers of Europe, who have certain interests and responsibilities in connection with the bondholders, will acquiesce in that arrangement; and is he prepared to recommend the responsibility of the Government, disregarding the relations of the bondholders with Foreign Governments? With regard to the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett), I have some difficulty, as I have always had some difficulty, in understanding the policy he wishes us to adopt. No doubt he has told us that Khartoum ought to be retained, and that General Gordon or someone else should be authorized to hold it. I suppose he means that a permanent British garrison is to be maintained there, or, at all events, a force under British control—that is to say that, to all the responsibilities we have already in South Africa, India, and different parts of the world, a Central African Empire is to be added. If the hon. Member does not mean that, if that is not the policy he recommends, I do not understand what it is. Though he is very definite in his recommendations, it seems to me he stops short altogether of what the 1648 House should expect of him when he comes to point out the practical way in which they are to be carried out.
§ MR. BOURKE
I only rise for the purpose of asking one question of the noble Marquess. My right hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) would have asked it himself; but he has left the House, and has requested me to put it for him. In neither of his speeches has the noble Marquess intimated in the slightest degree how the money for this Expedition is to be paid. He has not indicated whether it is to be wholly found by this country, or whether it is to be found partly by us and partly by Egypt. How is the money to be paid? If the noble Marquess cannot answer the question now, perhaps he can state when the Committee of Ways and Means will sit? If the noble Marquess is not able to give me an answer now, I will give him Notice of a Question on the subject for Monday. I have no doubt, however, that the noble Marquess is in a position to answer to-day, as this is a subject which must have received the attention of Her Majesty's Government.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister stated, the other day, that it would be the duty of the Government at the earliest possible moment after this Supply had been voted, to propose Committee of Ways and Means. I cannot now say when that Committee will be taken; but I will inform the House as soon as possible. I may say that since this discussion commenced we have received some further telegrams of interest from Egypt with respect to Khartoum. It is not strictly recent news; it does not bear the least on the disquieting rumours prevalent during the last few weeks; but it is the latest news received as to the position of General Gordon. The first telegram is from Sir Evelyn Baring to Earl Granville, and is dated Cairo, November 13. It says—Wakeel of Mudir of Dongola, at Merawi, telegraphs that a man has arrived there from a village called Tankaasi, who says Mahdi, with his troops, are at Omdurman, and that the Egyptian soldiers who were there have retreated to Khartoum. The same man reports that, four days before his departure, the Mahdi sent 12,000 dervishes against Dongola, and an Emir with 9,000 men against the Kababish. The Mudir has ordered messengers to be sent to inquire into the truth of these reports. He expresses his own opinion that the report of 1649 the Mahdi's expeditions towards Dongola and against the Kababish is not true. This has been telegraphed to Lord "Wolseley, and inquiry made whether he believes in the report as to the Mahdi being at Omdurman.That is one message which arrived this afternoon. The other, an Admiralty telegram from Commodore Molyneux, dated November 13, says—Letters from Gordon, 24th and 26th August, say:—'Provisions for five months. Intend sending Stewart with French and English Consuls to Dongola, after destroying Berber.I am afraid, if any confirmation were wanting of the loss of Colonel Stewart and Mr. Power and the French Consul, this adds to it. It is, however, satisfactory to know that on the 26th of August General Gordon said that Khartoum was provisioned for five months.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, it was satisfactory to hear from the noble Marquess that the operations of Lord Wolseley were not intended to secure the retention of Khartoum, and that the Government were not going to hold the Soudan, but intended retiring from it as soon as the operations of Lord Wolseley had been performed. They were following a step by step policy in entering upon this Expedition, of which no man could see the end or count the cost. He had been amongst those who had been against this war from the beginning, as being one of the greatest errors which a Liberal Government could fall into. His opinion was that they had stepped in to put down a national movement—a national movement not, perhaps, according to their methods or ideas of what a national movement should be, but one which afforded a hope of the regeneration of Egypt. There had been a good deal said about the other garrisons in the Soudan beyond that of Khartoum. They knew these garrisons were simply representatives of foreign tyranny, and, as such, should not have, and had not been recognized to have, any claim to consideration on the part of the British Government. This country disclaimed all responsibility for the garrisons, and, to his mind, they ought not to sacrifice even a corporal's guard of British soldiers for all the garrisons in the Soudan. But while Her Majesty's Government were disclaiming all responsibility for the relief of the garrisons, they unfortunately took it on themselves to send 1650 General Gordon to relieve the garrison of Khartoum; and though he was given to understand that he was to have no Imperial force at his back, and that his Expedition was to have for its object merely the establishment of a settled Government at Khartoum, everyone knew that the Government, by sending him, assumed responsibilities which they could not shake off. It was satisfactory to see that instructions had been given to Lord Wolseley, in regard to the Expedition now going on, to the effect that the operations were not to be extended, and that the force was to have nothing to do with the relief of the garrisons—that it was simply to confine itself to the relief of General Gordon. It was to be hoped that the Government would abide by that decision. He (Mr. Jesse Collings) knew what pressure was put on them by the military classes in the country, by the Opposition almost to a man, by the official classes and those who wished to induce them not only to annex Egypt, but the Soudan—he knew the pressure brought to bear on them to induce them to go a step further in the policy thus indicated. Let them resist that pressure. The country was sick of this war and the expenditure connected with it; and what they wanted was to secure that, at all costs, this pressure brought to bear on the Government should be withstood. The hon. and gallant Baronet opposite (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) said that night that there was general relief throughout the country now that the Expedition had been sent out. He (Mr. Jesse Collings) did not believe there was any relief of the kind. The only real relief the country would feel would be when it was announced that the English soldiers had left the Soudan altogether. There would be no difficulty as to the evacuation of the Soudan. It must be borne in mind that all those they were fighting against were men who were fighting for their own Government and their own country, and it was not a fitting position for Englishmen to occupy to be engaged in, carrying on a war against such men. It was curious and interesting to note that when questions of military expeditions or of military expenditure of any kind were brought forward they always received a large amount of support from the Conservative Party on the other side of the House, notwithstanding that 1651 the expeditions were promoted by a Liberal Government. The debates on all warlike topics, and on questions connected with war and foreign policy, were so interesting, and occupied so much of the time of the House, that hon. Members were apt to think that no such country as England existed, and that there was no time for the affairs of the English people to receive consideration in the House of Commons. For example, there was at present one part of the country which was in positive disorder, for there were matters which were not in a very agreeable position in Scotland; an immense amount of misery existed in different parts of England, and yet the House was engaged in the consideration of a foreign question, and had literally no time to attend to the domestic legislation of its own country. They were receiving accounts of starvation and misery at Sunderland, and among the people of the North of England and elsewhere; and yet, at the same time, they were voting enormous sums of money to be spent in countries; and in respect of questions with which the English people had nothing whatever to do. He trusted that the difficulties Her Majesty's Government had got into, in consequence of adopting a foreign policy which was alien to a Liberal Government, would serve as a lesson to them for the future to avoid such dangers. His principal reason for speaking on that occasion was to accentuate the positive pledges given beforehand, and now renewed, that this Expedition should be confined to the rescue of General Gordon. When that was accomplished, no consideration should be listened to in the direction of retaining the Soudan, but the country should be evacuated at the earliest possible moment.
§ MR. WARTON
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had drawn a contrast between foreign and domestic questions, and had complained that the House of Commons was not sufficiently thoughtful of the condition of their starving countrymen in the different parts of England. He did not know whether the hon. Gentleman supported the Amendment to the Address which was moved a few days ago, and the object of which was to call the attention of the Government to the sad condition of many parts of the country, owing to the working of certain politico-economi- 1652 cal theories. The hon. Gentleman regretted the condition of the people; but he ought to have supported the proposition for considering the terrible straits to which the country had been reduced by the operation of principles which had been tested and found wanting. He had a strong notion that the hon. Member did not vote for that Amendment; but that he preferred to support a Liberal Government. The hon. Member now charged the Conservative Party with always supporting warlike operations. It was desirable, however, to point out that this was an Expedition rendered absolutely necessary, if they wished to preserve the good faith and honour of the country, and to prevent General Gordon and his companions from being massacred. It was a scandalous state of things that the Government should not have considered it necessary to send an Expedition before this time. Even now it might be too late to accomplish the object intended, because there were persistent rumours received from various quarters with respect to the safety of General Gordon, which only pointed to one conclusion. Whether the Government were or were not in possession of information which they did not choose to announce he was unable to say; but the House generally were altogether in the dark. They had, however, known in former times statements denied by the Government, when subsequent information showed that they had in their possession materials which would have put an entirely different complexion upon the state of affairs. If it should unfortunately turn out that the present rumours had some foundation in fact, he was afraid that hon. Gentlemen opposite would not support any Vote of Censure upon the Government that might be brought forward in regard to this subject. The real fact was that General Gordon was sent to Khartoum to save the Government, and he was abandoned by the Government the moment they found he had succeeded in saving them, and that they were safe from being turned out of Office. That was the whole explanation of the matter. When a Vote of Censure was moved by Gentlemen now sitting on the Front Opposition Bench, the Government were only saved by a majority of 22, having turned the scale by the votes of the 32 salaried officials they possessed in that 1653 House. His principal object in rising was to express his opinion that the Government did not yet see the real state of things in Egypt—that they did not see the real importance of preserving the Eastern portion of the Soudan. They were led away by the phrase of "the Soudan," forgetting the vast extent of territory embraced in that term. If the Government had known what they ought to have known two years ago—that the Eastern Soudan was absolutely essential to the strength and prosperity of Egypt—they would have made a railway to Berber. In the middle of June last year they might have made such a railway, and there would have been no occasion now to debate the question as to which was the best means of reaching General Gordon at Khartoum—whether by Suakin or the Nile. There was no wonder that even General Lord Wolseley, who, when he was sent out in 1882, was able to fix the very day and hour when he would arrive at Tel-el-Kebir, was now obliged to confess that the delay in ascending the Nile was much greater than he had expected. If the railway had been constructed to Berber there would have been no difficulty in taking a large force across the desert; and if the Government had been advised by competent statesmen and soldiers, they would have known that it was absolutely essential for Egypt to retain the Eastern Soudan, and especially Khartoum. If they had known what they knew now two years ago, there would have been much less hesitation, with rails lying unused somewhere or other, in deciding whether railways should be made, which certainly ought to have been completed a long time ago. He was glad to find that the Government, although they were late in undertaking this Expedition, had at last determined to do something. At the same time, he regretted the equivocal nature of the instructions which had been given to Lord Wolseley; and he contended that they were incapable of any interpretation the Government might place upon them if they found it necessary, hereafter, to save themselves.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said, there was a point to which he wished to draw the attention of the Committee, which had not yet been adverted to. He assumed, for the purpose of debate, that the Expedition was carried out successfully—
1654 that Lord Wolseley arrived at Khartoum and found General Gordon still alive. But what was he to do when he got there? General Gordon's own communications showed that he had issued paper notes, and that in various ways he owed a large sum of money. He did not know what the amount of those debts would be. In his letter on page 121 to Sir Evelyn Baring and Nubar Pasha, General Gordon said—We want £200,000 sent to Kassala. The expense of these garrisons must be met. Khartoum costs £500 per diem.He says further—We have issued paper notes to the amount of £26,000, and borrowed £50,000 from merchants which you will have to meet. I have sent in addition 8,000 paper notes to Sennaar.In another letter he asked for £50,000 to be sent to Dongola, so that it was quite certain that in one way or another General Gordon was owing a very large sum of money. It was quite obvious that his debts could not be paid out of the money the Committee were going to vote that night, and by no ingenuity could any Supplementary Estimate be framed which could include the provision for the payment of the money. Nevertheless, it was quite certain that General Gordon never would or could be rescued without the payment of that money. He therefore wished to know what would be the condition of things if, when Lord Wolseley reached Khartoum, General Gordon refused to come away without the previous payment of his debts? He (Mr. Tomlinson) wished also to enter his protest against the notion which the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War had put forward, that a railway from Suakin to Berber would be a disadvantage to the real interests of Egypt. The people of London might just as reasonably object to the construction of a railway between Manchester and Liverpool. There could be no possible objection to the construction of a railway to Berber from Suakin. His special object, however, in rising was to ask how the Government intended to deal with General Gordon when Lord Wolseley got to Khartoum?
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
wished to remind the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Tomlinson) that this was really an Army Supplementary Vote, while the charges referred to by the hon. Gentleman were charges incurred by General 1655 Gordon at Khartoum. General Gordon was a Civil Governor, and when those charges had to be met by this country they would be met by a Vote from the Treasury as a Civil Fund, and would not come out of an Army Vote at all.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
asked, whether it was to be understood that on some later date a Vote would be produced for the payment of General Gordon's debts, or what provision would be made for the payment of them? Was Lord Wolseley to pay the debts at his own risk, or what was to be done in regard to them?
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
said, that Lord Wolseley had not been instructed upon that point. All these questions were premature, because the Government did not yet know what arrangements General Gordon had made, or what pecuniary liabilities he had incurred. It would be necessary to know that, and to discuss the matter at the Treasury, before a decision was come to as to the form in which the matter would be placed before the House in regard to the settlement of General Gordon's liabilities.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 73; Noes 17: Majority 56. — (Div. List, No. 14.)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
rose to move a Vote of £675,000 for military operations in Bechuanaland. The noble Marquess said: I do not know whether it is intended to take this opportunity of discussing the political aspects of the question. If it is, it is not my intention or duty to enter into that part of the subject; and I propose to say very few words in explanation of the Vote which I am about to move. The Estimate which has been placed on the Table represents the sum of money which will be required in the event of military operations, and these on a considerable scale having to be undertaken for the expulsion of the filibusters who have forcibly taken possession of certain territory under our protection in Bechuanaland—that is to say, it is framed on the basis that force, and force to the utmost extent, will be required in order to remove these filibusters. It is not contemplated that the mere preparatory measures which may be taken will have the desired effect; but that force will be necessary, 1656 and that the full Estimate will be required in the event of matters coming to extremities. Perhaps it is not desirable that I should enter into minute details as to the composition of the force which we propose to send out on this Expedition. The Estimate is framed on the basis of a force of 1,500 volunteers, who will be supported by an adequate force of Regular troops, the exact composition of which, or the number of Regular troops which will be sent in support of the Volunteer Force, it is, perhaps, not desirable that I should state. The Estimate also provides for the replacing of any Regular troops which may be temporarily withdrawn from Natal or Zululand in order to take part in the Expedition. It is not considered desirable, in the present state of affairs in Zululand, entirely to weaken the forces at present there, or in Natal, but which may be available for immediate service in Bechuanaland. I may say that the Estimate which has been framed is an outside one—at all events, it is outside any sum that is likely to be expended in the present year. It has been framed as accurately as we could, rather upon the basis of the whole sum likely to be expended, under any circumstances, for a campaign which is not expected to last beyond a few months. Of course, if the operations were to close early the whole of this sum would not be expended in the present year; and therefore the Committee may take it that the Estimate is an outside one, and that as regards the present year it will certainly exceed any sum likely to be expended.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £675,000, be granted to Her Majesty, for certain Army Services, to meet Additional Expenditure arising from the Expedition to Bechuanaland, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
I think the Committee will have heard with great satisfaction two statements of the noble Marquess — in the first place, that the Volunteers whom it may be necessary to send will be supported by an adequate number of Regular troops; and, secondly, that in providing that force there is no intention, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, to 1657 diminish the force available for the protection of the Zulu Reserve. Thanks to the courtesy of the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Evelyn Ashley), I hold in my hand a copy of the Instructions issued to Sir Charles Warren. These Papers, however, are not in the possession of the House, and I confess that I have not myself had time to consider them and compare them with other documents on the subject. Therefore, what appears to me and to others whom I have consulted on the matter a fair proposal, which I hope Her Majesty's Government will not be unwilling to accede to, is this—we have no desire to impose unnecessary delay in granting this Vote, believing it to be for necessary purposes; but we do think that some fair opportunity should be given for a discussion of the subject, and if this Vote is to be taken to-night I hope the Government will have no objection to fix some day for the Report next week on which we may have a full and complete discussion.
§ SIR HENRY HOLLAND
said, he entirely concurred in the view taken by the right hon. Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), who had just spoken; and he would confine the few observations he desired to make to considering the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and showing how their inaction had led up to the expenditure now proposed. He craved the indulgence of the Committee for trespassing upon them on a second occasion; but when he addressed the House a short time ago, the first batch of Papers only had been presented, and he now desired to comment upon this second batch of Papers, and to show how completely the information given in them bore out the views he had then advocated. He had then said that the Boers were led to believe, by our policy of drift and concession, that Her Majesty's Government were either unable, or unwilling, to interfere, and to incur the expense which would be caused by such interference; and that they might deal with the Convention of London as they had dealt with the Convention of Pretoria. And this set of Papers showed that such was their belief. These Papers also showed, as he had feared might be the case, that the Boers were able to taunt the Native Chiefs with their folly in trusting to British promises, and to 1658 the protection, although promised, of the British Government. He observed that this had actually taken place, and that Mankoroane was cited by the Boers as the case of a Chief deserted by the British Government. Surely it was a matter of deep regret that our conduct should have been such as to justify the Boers in making this charge. Another point which he had brought forward on the former occasion was that the defence, formerly set up by the Government, that the action of the Transvaal Government must be separated from that of the freebooters, would not be found to hold good in the present case. There could be no question now as to the complicity, or, at all events, connivance, of the Transvaal Government with what had passed in Bechuanaland, and their intention to make a profit out of these outrages against Montsioa. The former batch of Papers showed the recruiting at Pretoria; the publication of N. Gey's Proclamation in The Volksstem, at Pretoria; and though it was true that the Transvaal Government had issued a counter-Proclamation, it was unsupported by any restraining force—and these later Papers showed that no such force was at any time used—and the Boers attached, therefore, the same value to that Proclamation as the Transvaal Government attached to the verbal remonstrances of our Resident, unsupported by any firm action on the part of Her Majesty's Government. This counter-Proclamation was, in fact, as Sir Hercules Robinson pointed out, of no use at all by itself, and was nothing but a mere blind. What else did these later Papers show? One could hardly read them without surprise and feelings of shame at the grievous inaction of Her Majesty's Government in a state of things so fraught with difficulty. Until the 7th of October there was literally no indication of their policy; no advice; no orders were given to Sir Hercules Robinson; and no instructions to warn the Transvaal Government that Her Majesty's Government intended to enforce observance of the Convention, and to protect Montsioa's territory. He would take one date to show that he was justified in that statement. On September 21 the Earl of Derby telegraphed to Sir Hercules Robinson. He would read that telegram to the Committee in a few minutes; but he desired first to point 1659 out what information the Earl of Derby had in his possession of the state of things in Bechuanaland when he so telegraphed. In the first place, he had learnt, by a telegram of the 11th of September from Sir Hercules Robinson, that Montsioa had been attacked and defeated, and that, reduced to extremities, he had been forced to surrender himself, his people, and his property, unconditionally, to the Boers. The Earl of Derby must have been aware that, though the surrender was made nominally to the Goshen Republic, yet as that Republic was "under the supervision" of the Transvaal Government, Montsioa's territory was practically annexed by that Government. He had been informed also of the conduct of Joubert, the accredited Agent of that Government, who negotiated this Treaty with Montsioa. By another telegram of the 15th of September, he had been informed by Sir Hercules Robinson that the position of affairs called for "immediate consideration;" that the movements were believed to have been instigated by Transvaal officials; and that there seemed but little prospect of the new Convention being observed so long as it was thought that the Imperial Government did not intend to enforce it; that—If it were only believed that Her Majesty's Government meant to insist on the boundaries fixed by the Convention being respected, and the independence of the Natives, whom we have promised to protect, it might be possible, even then, to accomplish those objects without fighting; but to induce that belief it would be necessary to announce the decision firmly, and to make ostensible preparations for fighting.By a telegram of the 17th of September, Sir Hercules Robinson again pressed for leave to announce to the Transvaal Government that existing engagements would be insisted on, if necessary, by force of arms; and stated that he was still of opinion—That if the Transvaal and the freebooters saw that Her Majesty's Government were determined, the difficulties might be arranged without actual fighting.It would thus be seen by the Committee that Sir Hercules Robinson had made the Earl of Derby fully aware of the grave and increasing difficulties of the case; of the danger of delay and inactivity; and that he had pressed for authority to make some firm and decided representations to the Transvaal Government, which, if made, he thought even 1660 then might prevent the necessity of fighting. Now, what was the answer? It would be found in the Earl of Derby's telegram of September 21, to which he had before referred. It was couched in the usual stereotyped form—"Yours 11th, 15th, and 17th receiving careful consideration." Surely, it would not have been too much to expect from the Secretary of State that he should, in such circumstances, and under such pressure from Sir Hercules Robinson, have authorized him to inform the Transvaal Government that this Government distinctly intended to stand by the Convention, and to fulfil their pledges, by force if necessary, to protect Montsioa's territory from the freebooting Boers. But in this telegram of September 21 the Earl of Derby goes on—It is desirable that I should have clear expression of Ministers' recommendations, and understand extent of co-operation to be given by Colony on account of trade route and otherwise if active measures taken.But he would ask, why should Her Majesty's Government have waited to know what the Cape Government were willing to do before returning a decided answer that they were prepared to fulfil their Imperial engagements? In truth, no answer was practically given to these pressing telegrams—in other words, no indication of their policy was given to Sir Hercules Robinson until October 7. What could Sir Hercules Robinson gather from this silence but that; Her Majesty's Government had either not made up their minds what line to take, or that they had resolved to pursue the policy of inaction and waiting upon events? What would the Transvaal Government be led to believe when they found no immediate notice taken by Her Majesty's Government of the flagrant violation of the Convention of London? They had telegraphed on the 17th of September direct to the Earl of Derby—"Being implored by Montsioa, took him under protection." The Earl of Derby knew from Sir Hercules Robinson the real state of the case, and the conduct of Mr. Joubert in negotiating this so-called Treaty with Montsioa; but, as he returned no answer to the Transvaal Government to their telegram of the 17th until early in October, what could the Transvaal Government believe but that they had succeeded in passing off their version of the case upon him, and 1661 that they might play with impunity the same game with the Convention of London that they had played with the Convention of Pretoria? What the effect of an immediate and strong protest and more determined policy would have been might be tested by this fact—that directly the protest was made and warning given in October the Transvaal Government took alarm; they saw that Her Majesty's Government were in earnest; and they withdrew the Proclamation and the Treaty with Montsioa. He had said that no answer was returned by the Earl of Derby to the telegrams of Sir Hercules Robinson until the 7th of October. And what was then the answer to these pressing inquiries and calls for immediate action? He ventured to think it was not at all satisfactory. The Earl of Derby desired Sir Hercules Robinson—On receiving the concurrence of your Ministers, to call upon the Government of the South African Republic to annul the recent acts by which it had assumed jurisdiction over the Chief Montsioa as violating the Convention of 1884.But why was the concurrence of the Cape Government made a condition precedent to such a plain course of action as calling upon the South African Republic to annul acts committed in flagrant violation of a Treaty? The High Commissioner was an Imperial officer, and his action in Bechuanaland was independent of the Cape Ministry; the obligation to protect Montsioa's territory was Imperial, not Colonial, and the Convention of London was also Imperial. The co-operation of the Cape Government was most desirable, and every means should be taken to secure it consistently with the prompt performance of our Imperial obligations and responsibilities; but it was not right that their concurrence should have been made, as it was made by the Earl of Derby, a condition precedent to our taking firm action in respect of the conduct of the Transvaal Government. Whether Sir Hercules Robinson obtained the concurrence of the Cape Ministers or not, he took the wise step of at once telegraphing to the Transvaal Government the summons to annul their proceedings; and, as he had before said, that Government, seeing we were in earnest, at once gave way. He would only add, as showing the inaction of Her Majesty's Government, that he found no answer 1662 in those Papers to two important telegrams from Sir Hercules Robinson of the 13th of October, in one of which he asked for immediate instructions as to recruiting 400 additional police; and in the other he pressed for leave to inform the Transvaal Government that—Her Majesty's Government are determined to expel Goshen freebooters from Montsioa's territory, if necessary, by force of arms.He contended that some answer should have been sent at once by telegraph to these questions, although it might not have been possible or desirable to give full details of the intended action of the Government. To sum up the case, then, against the Government, he contended that if, as had been urged upon the Government by himself and other Members on both sides of the House, a strong body of police had been employed at first, when encroachments were threatened, these freebooters would have been easily checked, and would have received no countenance from the Transvaal Government, who would then have seen that this country was in earnest. The expenditure on the police would not have amounted to a third of the amount now asked for. And, further, that if the Government had even at a later date, say in August or in September, announced their firm intention to compel the observance of the Convention, and to protect Montsioa's territory, and had then made open preparations for a force to be used if necessary, further outrages would have been checked, as the Transvaal Government would have felt the necessity of taking active steps to restrain their subjects, and prevent these freebooters from using Transvaal territory as a base for their operations. Now, they were asked for an expenditure largely increased by the inaction and delay of the Government; and, what was far worse, they were asked to incur this expenditure after their fair name for honourable observance of their obligations and engagements had been tarnished, and after confidence in them had been greatly shaken. He warned the Committee that evil results of this conduct must be looked for, not in Bechuanaland only, not only in their Colonies of the Cape and Natal, but throughout all South Africa.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, in reply to some of the observations which had fallen from the hon. Baronet who had 1663 just sat down (Sir Henry Holland), be wished to point out that, although under the terms of the Convention they had a right to protect the Native territories if they chose to do so, they had undertaken no obligations to afford that protection. Whatever opinion he (Sir John Lubbock) might entertain as to the wisdom of the course adopted in assuming a Protectorate over Bechuanaland, having done so, they could not permit their Representatives to be insulted, imprisoned, and murdered. That being so, though he did not doubt that the Government were doing all in their power, he was somewhat surprised not to find in the Papers presented to the House any demand made upon the Transvaal Government that the offenders should be surrendered. In some cases the authors of these atrocities were well known; and it was their duty to demand that they should be brought to justice. Take, for instance, the treacherous capture of Mr. Wright, their Representative. He was entrapped by the misuse of a flag of truce, and kept in close confinement for 10 days, when he made his escape. A man named John Cilliers, and a leader of the Boers named Gey von Pittius, appeared to have boon mainly responsible for this. Mr. Wright was, fortunately, still alive; but Mr. Bethell had been murdered in cold blood. The murderers were well known, and he did not understand why no claim had been made for them. If the Transvaal Government surrendered these men to justice, well and good. They should be tried by court martial, or, at any rate, by some trustworthy tribunal. The Gape Ministers had sent Representatives into Bechuanaland; but no settlement of that country would be satisfactory until the murderers of Mr. Bethell had been brought to justice. At the same time, these lamentable events showed the great responsibilities they incurred in undertaking Protectorates of this indefinite character and in such distant regions. During the Recess they knew that many hon. Members opposite, and even the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, had accused Her Majesty's Government of deserting Chiefs whom they were under an obligation to defend—meaning, he believed, Mankoroane and Montsioa. Now, up to the assumption of the Protectorate these Chiefs had no claim on us. Montsioa, it is true, offered to assist us during 1664 the Transvaal War; but we declined his aid. The Convention gave us the moral right to interfere, but imposed on us no obligation to do so. When it was proposed that we should enlist an extra 100 police to protect Mankoroane's cattle, what did Sir Hercules Robinson say? He did not recognize any moral obligation on our part, and said it would be preposterous to incur any such expenditure to protect property which was not worth £80,000. No doubt, the course we had adopted with reference to Bechuanaland had been taken from our strong desire to consult the wishes and promote the prosperity of the Cape Colony. When the Transvaal Delegates were here last Spring they were anxious for an arrangement which, while recognizing the independence of Montsioa and Mankoroane, would have placed within the Transvaal Massouw's and Moshette's territories as well as Stellaland. This did not affect this country directly, as far as the interests of England were concerned, and, in Sir Hercules Robinson's opinion, would have afforded a fair guarantee for peace. But it was strongly opposed by Sir Thomas Scanlen, the late Premier of Cape Colony, because it would have placed over 100 miles of the trade route into the interior within the limits of the Transvaal. Sir Thomas urged upon our Government the great injury which this would inflict on the Cape, and the importance of securing the traffic upon the road in question from interruptions and taxation. The Colonial Office wrote to Sir Thomas Scanlen, and pointed out that the boundary line was—A question which especially, and almost entirely, concerns the Cape Colony; and unless the Colony is prepared to bear their full share of the responsibility and cost which may be involved, Her Majesty's Government will not be justified in further insisting upon the urgency of this question.To this letter Sir Thomas replied that—The Cape Colony will be prepared to join in any arrangement which may be made for establishing a joint Protectorate, and to pay its fair share of any expenses incurred.Upon the strength of these representations and promises Her Majesty's Government succeeded, after months of negotiation, in effecting a settlement which met the object desired by the Cape Government. The Transvaal Government assented to the settlement unwillingly, and only in exchange for 1665 costly concessions, made at the expense of the British taxpayer. It was much to be regretted that the present Cape Ministry had hitherto not carried out the promises made by Sir Thomas Scanlen, and which had involved this country in heavy liabilities. It was said that the Cape could not undertake indefinite responsibilities. But this country had done so on the faith of their representations. It was very hard on the British taxpayer that the cost of a policy in which his interest was so infinitesimal should fall on him, and, in his opinion, Sir Hercules Robinson's communications to the Cape Government had been most judicious. He justly observed that the present obligations were unwillingly undertaken by the British Government at the request and in the interest of the Cape, and under the distinct promise of contribution to the expenses, and of cordial co-operation; and he concluded—As the Governor feels very strongly that this promise is binding in honour on the Colony, he would fail in his duty to Ministers if he were to withhold from them the frank expression of this opinion.That was in July, and did not appear to have had much effect; but it would seem, from the telegram of the 24th of September, that, alarmed by the German annexation of Angra Pequena and other recent events, the Cape Ministry were now more disposed to fulfil their promises; and he should be glad to know whether they had proposed, or would propose, to take a grant of money for this purpose? He should be glad, therefore, to know what steps the Cape Government had taken to give effect to the telegram of the 24th of September? They must remember that in July Mr. Upington, the Cape Premier, used very similar language in the House of Assembly. The House itself passed unanimously a Resolution in the same sense, and yet, subsequently, the Cape Ministry contended that this did not commit the Cape to anything definite. Had the Ministers proposed any Vote to the Assembly, as was urged on them by Sir Hercules Robinson? Mr. Upington's telegram of the 24th of September said that the Ministers of the Cape would be prepared to render the Imperial Government their co-operation in the terms defined in their Minute of the 26th of July. Now, what were those terms?—The Cape Ministry," Mr. Upington then said, "will be prepared to propose to Parliament 1666 in its next Session a measure for the annexation to this Colony of the territory on the South-West Border of the South African Republic, now under British protection, provided, first, that such course should meet with the approval of Her Majesty's Imperial Government; secondly, that there be no alteration in the condition of the territory proposed to be annexed which would involve this Colony in responsibilities not contemplated by Parliament at the time of passing the Resolutions referred to in His Excellency's Minute under reply; thirdly, that the Convention of London be ratified by the Volksraad of the South African Republic; fourthly, that no unwillingness be shown to annexation by the inhabitants of the territory proposed to be annexed; and, fifthly, that no demand be made upon this Colony by Her Majesty's Imperial Government for any expenditure incurred in the assertion of British protection up to the date of annexation, and that the territory proposed to be annexed be transferred to this Colony free from debt.This, then, did not contemplate any contribution to the expense of restoring order and establishing the Protectorate; but only stated that after the Imperial Government had pulled the chestnuts out of the fire the Colonial Government would be disposed to eat them. The necessary expenses were not even to be a charge on Bechuanaland itself; because, by Mr. Upington's conditions, the country was to be handed over free from debt. Practically, therefore, under this arrangement, the whole burden would be thrown on England. He could not believe that our fellow-countrymen at the Cape would approve this; and he hoped they might hear from Her Majesty's Government that the Cape Ministry had reconsidered the matter. For his own part, he must say that he always had grave misgivings as to the policy of assuming a Protectorate over Bechuanaland; and he was glad to see that the Earl of Derby had impressed on the Government of the Cape that it was only in deference to the strong representations of the late Premier of the Cape Colony, and relying on the co-operation of the Colony, that they insisted on securing for the Colony the important provision respecting the trade route. If the Cape Parliament and Government were not prepared to fulfil their promises, they must reconsider the position which they had taken up at great expense in the belief that they were acting in accordance with the strong wishes of our fellow-countrymen at the Cape. The country would also, he believed, support Her Majesty's Government in holding the Transvaal responsible for any ex- 1667 penses which might be incurred in expelling and punishing the marauders who used the territory of the Transvaal as a base of operations. The Republic had not done its duty in maintaining order; on the contrary, they despatched a Commissioner, who, instead of making any effort to restrain the subjects of the Transvaal from the depredations of the marauders, actually lent his sanction to their operations, of which the latest was an attack in force while the Commissioner was actually in the neighbourhood. The troubles in Bechuanaland were, indeed, as the Earl of Derby said, greatly due to the failure of the Transvaal to fulfil its engagements; and, as he justly observed, the claim they would have to make on the Republic for the expenses which their neglect had entailed on us would greatly depend on the action they might now take in bringing the offenders to justice. Of course, great allowance must be made for the weakness of the Transvaal Government. Still, he regretted that the representations made to the Transvaal had been treated with unbecoming levity. For instance, in reply to the remonstrances of the British Resident with reference to the robberies and murders committed by the Boers from the Transvaal, the Transvaal Government wrote as follows:—Sir,—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 7th instant. I am instructed to state in reply that his Honour the State President is deeply grieved to hear of the bloody conflicts which have taken place in the Rooi-Grond. His Honour has always considered that the only way to put an end to these troubles is by proceeding in a peace-loving way, and not by violence. The Executive Council will be called together as soon as possible to consider the proposal to send a Commissioner.Of course, it is quite absurd to proceed against robbers and murderers in a "peace-loving way." Again, Captain Bowers mentioned that, so far from attempting to check and punish these atrocities—The public enlistment of volunteers at Pretoria had been for some time going on without let or hindrance from the Transvaal Government.Perhaps they would be told that the Transvaal authorities had not sufficient power to prevent these atrocities. But what did they say with reference to the treacherous imprisonment of Mr. Wright? The Transvaal Government wrote to the High Commissioner— 1668Through the Hon. Mr. R. Rutherfoord temporarily acting as Consular official of England at Pretoria, this Government has been informed that the Volunteers of Rooi-Grond, under cover of a flag of truce, have taken prisoner Mr. Wright, Assistant British Commissioner in Bechuanaland. While taking cognizance of this, I have the honour to acquaint your Excellency that this Government have no doubt that both the Special Commissioners who have been sent off will know how to adjust this matter also.They did not express the slightest contrition, or make any apology; and, so far from disclaiming responsibility, they firmly stated that their Commissioner would be able to "adjust this matter." He confessed that he read that letter with much pain. He did not, however, wish to attach too much importance to what might be merely an unfortunate selection of words. He was glad to see, in a subsequent despatch of the 6th of September, that the Transvaal Government promised that it would—Adopt all possible measures for preventing the subjects of the Republic within the Transvaal territory from organizing predatory expeditions against those who are under Her Majesty's Protectorate in Bechuanaland, and declares anew that it is prepared to co-operate in a friendly spirit with Her Majesty's Government for maintaining peace and tranquillity in those regions.Of course, none of them doubted the success of the Expedition which was about to be undertaken; but they could not but ask themselves what was to happen when the object of the Expedition had been achieved. If it was not worth while for the Cape Colony to interfere in this matter and co-operate with us, surely it was not worth our while to carry this matter any further. He could not say we had any legal obligation to protect these people indefinitely. What was to happen if we expelled the marauders? As long as Native Chiefs were prepared to give farms of 4,000 acres to every volunteer who came for a year's service he was afraid we must expect that there would be disturbance in South Africa. He observed from the Papers that the Colonial Governments were continually saying that this, that, and other must be paid for out of Imperial funds. There was a great fallacy in the expression "Imperial funds." The fact of the matter, unfortunately, was that there were no such funds as Imperial funds. What was meant when they talked of "Imperial funds" was that the Eng- 1669 lish taxpayer must pay for the Expeditions. We were all anxious to co-operate with the Cape Colony, and do everything reasonably in our power to promote their interests; but it was impossible for us to go on voting and spending million after million for wars in all parts of the world. The Committee had already that evening voted one very large sum for a war in the North of Africa, and they were now called upon for another very large sum in South Africa. While he was not prepared to oppose this Vote, he was very much concerned about the Protectorate of Bechuanaland. He was very glad indeed to see the despatch of the Earl of Derby on page 76 of the Blue Book, in which the noble Earl warned the Cape Government that they must not expect that we should go on indefinitely in this course. We had undertaken this Protectorate in deference to the strong representations made to us by the Cape Government, relying, at the same time, upon the co-operation of that Government. He was pleased to find that at a meeting recently held in the Cape Colony the Colonists seemed much more disposed to co-operate with the Mother Country in a generous and liberal spirit than the Government had hitherto done. He believed that if the matter was placed before them that would be the general feeling of the Colonists. We were most anxious to co-operate with them in every respect, and promote, as far as possible, the prospects and well-being of the Cape. Still, he thought the Colonists must realize that if they, were not prepared to come forward and co-operate with us in this matter, we should then be obliged to reconsider the position we had taken up in Bechuanaland, a position which we took up very reluctantly, and only in deference to what we believed to be the strong wishes and the interests of the Cape Colonists.
§ MR. EVELYN ASHLEY
said, he was glad to understand from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) that it would be more convenient to the Opposition to take a discussion on this Vote, if necessary, on the Report, which he (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) was in a position to say would be taken on Thursday next. He should not have risen to say anything had not the hon. Baronet 1670 the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) made some observations to which he felt bound to reply. The hon. Baronet said that Mankoroane had found out that he must not lean on the protection of England. As a matter of fact, neither Mankoroane, nor Montsioa, nor any other Chief, had any claim or right to say they were under the protection of England until England declared the Protectorate. There was no sort of Treaty with them, so that their right to rely upon the protection of England dated only from the time the Protectorate was proclaimed, and that was in the early portion of this year. Then the hon. Baronet devoted a good deal of time to complaining of the delay from the time the Government first heard of the action of the Transvaal Government till the telegram of the 7th of October. He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) supposed he had cleared up that point. Certainly he went into some details to show, what the hon. Baronet omitted to show, that the Government were requested by Sir Hercules Robinson to withhold their answer, and that the remainder of the time was devoted to telegraphic communication with the Cape, that they might know what the views of the Cape Ministers were, and what the exact state of things was before they arrived at a final decision. He hoped the hon. Baronet remembered what the final decision involved. It involved war with the Transvaal as a Government, and therefore he did not think Her Majesty's Government took too long a time to consider what form the demand should assume. As a matter of fact, all they could have done was to have anticipated all their proceedings by one fortnight, because it must be borne in mind that the action the Government had taken with regard to the Transvaal Government was then and was now apart from the action to be taken with reference to the freebooters. Then the hon. Baronet complained of the Government's want of attention, and as an illustration said that they gave no answer to the telegram of the 13th of October, in which Sir Hercules Robinson asked them to give instructions as to additional police. The answer to that was simply that they did reply that Mr. Rhodes was to wait for instructions. The whole condition of affairs was changed since then. At that time there was a question of 400 additional police; but, 1671 of course, that force of police was not wanted now. The hon. Baronet had also complained that they had sent no answer to Sir Hercules Robinson's request that he should be allowed to inform the Transvaal Government that force would be used. He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) had already called attention to the despatch of the 22nd of October, in which Sir Hercules Robinson was authorized to communicate with the Transvaal Government to that effect. Now only one word further as to what fell from the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) about Mr. Wright. What happened about Mr. Wright was this, that he was induced under a flag of truce to put himself in the hands of the freebooters. As soon as Sir Hercules Robinson heard of the occurrence he communicated with the Transvaal Government, and they sent out M. Joubert—they certainly used the very odd expression "to adjust the matter," which his hon. Friend had commented upon; but what was meant was that they would put the matter right—but before M. Joubert arrived at the frontier, Mr. Wright had got away and the matter was determined. Reference had been made to Mr. Bethell. Well, the position of Mr. Bethell's case was still under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government; but it was not by any means so simple as hon. Members imagined. They had received a communication from Cape Town, in which it was said that it was not possible for the Government to make any demand, because they had no power to try the murderers, inasmuch as the murder was not committed in either the Transvaal or British territory. The Government, however, had consulted their own Law Officers, and he thought that by their aid it would be possible to overcome some of the legal impediments in the way, and, if so, the Government would make a demand to the Transvaal Government for the surrender of the murderers. One word merely as to what his hon. Friend (Sir John Lubbock) said about the co-operation of the Cape Government. With a great deal of what the hon. Baronet said he cordially agreed, and he recalled what he said last Session in the debate upon Transvaal affairs, as to the duty of British subjects out there to exert themselves more to assert and support and maintain the 1672 British connection, and not to leave everything to the Imperial Government. He thought, however, that in the meetings held and speeches recently made at the Cape, there was good proof that the British subjects would in future be willing to co-operate with us and take some trouble and risk to maintain British influence and the British connection. He was certain Her Majesty's Government fully shared the feelings of the hon. Baronet upon the question of the co-operation of the Cape Government. No doubt, the Ministry of Sir Thomas Scanlan was much more ready and willing to actively co-operate with us than the present Ministry. When he was over here, Sir Thomas Scanlan held out a great prospect of real and cordial co-operation; but, as the hon. Baronet was no doubt aware, between the dates of Sir Thomas Scanlan's interview with Her Majesty's Government and the signing of the Convention and the arrival of Sir Hercules Robinson and Mr. Mackenzie at the scene of action, there was a change of Ministry, Sir Thomas Scanlan went out and the new Ministry came in, and certainly the new Ministry had not acted quite so cordially with us as Sir Thomas Scanlan's Ministry did. He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) was far from saying that the new Ministry did not intend to co-operate with us; in words they had undoubtedly done so, and he trusted they would be found to do so in their actions. They certainly had great sympathy with the Dutch population; but their Representatives had now gone to Bechuanaland on the distinct understanding that if they could succeed in obtaining that which was indispensable by their own efforts, we would not employ force. If, after a reasonable time had elapsed, it was found they could not by their own efforts succeed, force would be employed. His hope and belief was, however, that they were so impressed with the value of the British connection that even if we had to resort to arms we should not find them fail us on this occasion.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, he did not rise for the purpose of unnecessarily prolonging the discussion which had taken place on this Vote; but he felt that it was necessary for him in the discharge of what he considered to be a duty in opposing the Vote to explain, as briefly and as satisfactorily as he 1673 could, the reasons why he most certainly should record his vote against the application of so much money to the purpose for which this money was now being asked. He was sorry that the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) did not remain in his place after he had proposed this Vote, because he (Mr. W. Redmond) would have liked to have noticed how the noble Marquess took the remarks which fell from the hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) and from the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock). The noble Marquess said very distinctly, and he (Mr. W. Redmond) was very glad to hear it, that this money was to be applied to the purpose of punishing some freebooters in South Africa. Now, it would be very satisfactory not only to the Members of the House, but to the people of the country, who, of course, were the most interested parties in the voting of a large sum of money for war purposes, to have some guarantee from the Government that this money would not be devoted to any other purpose but the punishment of marauders who had perpetrated outrages in South Africa. Certainly, the tone of the speeches delivered by the hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) and his Friends upon the Opposition side of the House in the debate upon South African affairs which took place some time ago was altogether different to the tone which had been adopted to-night by the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War. While the noble Marquess proclaimed it to be the sole intention of the Government to make war upon the freebooters, undoubtedly the tone of the speeches proceeding from the Conservative Benches with reference to the South African Boers might be interpreted to mean that the Opposition wanted Her Majesty's Government to use this money not so much for the purpose of punishing the freebooters as for the purpose of actually initiating another war with the Transvaal Republic. The whole tone and tenour of the speeches delivered in the debate raised some time ago by the hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) and his hon. Friends was that of bitter hatred and resentment against the Boer Republic; and he (Mr. W. Redmond) felt it his duty, as an in- 1674 dependent Member of the House—independent so far as he cared very little for the interests of Parties in the House, and so far as the interests of Great Britain in South Africa troubled him very little—to raise his voice in protest against the tone of the speeches and the actions of certain hon. Gentlemen in the House, who had spoken really for the purpose of exciting in the country a war feeling against the Boers, who were a young people, if he might use the term, but, after all, a brave people, who had nobly fought for their liberty, and who, in winning it, had beaten the Imperial soldiers of this country. Every one of the speeches which were delivered in the discussion which was the result of the Motion of the hon. Member for Midhurst displayed a characteristic which was extremely contemptible in the people of this country—namely, the characteristic that whenever or wherever the English people were beaten in fair and open fight, as they were undoubtedly beaten by the Boers, it was their invariable custom to lose no opportunity of maligning and of slandering the people who had beaten them. He noticed that in the speeches which came from the Conservative Benches, prompting Her Majesty's Government to take the action they were about to take, very little indeed was said with reference to the action of the freebooters alone; but it was imputed, all through the speeches of Conservative Members, that the freebooters were acting, if not with the actual support, certainly with the silent sanction of the Transvaal Republic. The hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst, in his speech that night, again insinuated as much—indeed, he had said absolutely that if the freebooters were not receiving the actual countenance of the Boer Republic, they were receiving the silent co-operation of that Republic. He (Mr. W. Redmond) asserted, with all the responsibility which attached to his words as a Member of the House of Commons, that he did not think there ever was a more unfounded or more unworthy accusation hurled against the people of any country than the charge which had been made against the Boer Republic, that they countenanced these freebooters. In the speeches which had been delivered he noticed there was not one particle of proof to support the statement that the Transvaal Republic was responsible for 1675 the action of the freebooters. One of the reasons why Her Majesty's Government were urged to take the action which he was sorry to say they were about to take, was, that Mr. Bethell, a British officer, met his death at the hands of these men. Speaking of Mr. Bethell, personally he was sorry that that officer had met with so lamentable an end; but the language in which Mr. Bethell's death was described in the House was altogether inaccurate and misleading. He remembered that, in one speech delivered from the Opposition Benches, it was insinuated that Mr. Bethell had been foully murdered, and that his death was due indirectly, if not absolutely directly, to the action of the Transvaal Republic. It was contemptible, it was child-like, for English Members to rise in the House of Commons and to speak in such a way of the death of Mr. Bethell. How did Mr. Bethell die? He was heading a party of men who were to make an attack upon the people who killed him. ["Oh, oh!"] He was killed in action.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, that Mr. Bethell was mortally wounded in action. If he (Mr. W. Redmond) remembered rightly, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) stated most distinctly, in the debate which was raised upon the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland), that Mr. Bethell had received his death-wound before he was actually killed. What he (Mr. W. Redmond) asserted, without fear of contradiction, was that Mr. Bethell met his death in an action, that he was heading an armed party, and that most undoubtedly, if he had not been killed, he would certainly have killed some of the people he went to attack. If, therefore, hon. Gentlemen sifted the case, and looked at it in an unprejudiced and a matter - of - fact way, they found it amounted to this—that Mr. Bethell, a British officer in a foreign country, whose people were not at all enamoured of British rule, and whose people were not at all impressed with the desirability of that rule, met his death in an action he was taking against the people. It was said that Mr. Bethell had been foully murdered, that he had met his 1676 death at the hands of the Boers, and it was insinuated also that the Boers were barbarians. There was no adjective too strong to use against the Boers in the course of the debate to which he had already referred. The Boers were assassins and everything that was bad, because, some time ago, their marksmen proved they could shoot better than the British soldiers. The Boers beat the British troops at Majuba Hill, and the memory of that defeat was rankling in the breasts of Englishmen; and what it was desired to do was to initiate a war against the Boers under the guise of an Expedition against the freebooters. The proposed Expedition was unworthy of the Government, and it was contemptible that Conservative Gentlemen like the hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) should, by violent speeches against the Boers, by their unlimited abuse of the Boers, endeavour to create a war feeling in the country and to ultimately compel the Government to take action against the Boer Republic. It was utterly indefensible that hon. Gentlemen who probably would never, by any chance, place their own lives in danger should come down to the House and, in an irresponsible sort of way, do their best to bring war upon the heads of the people in South Africa, and to cause the blood of the soldiery of this country to be shed, and millions of the treasure of this country to be spent, in a most unprofitable war. In support of the statement that Mr. Bethell met his death at the hands of the Boer Republic, it had been said that the Boer Republic had refused to deliver up the so-called murderers of Mr. Bethell. That was put forward as a reason why the Government should take strong action against the Boer Republic; but such an argument was so child-like that it was with surprise he heard it used in the House. So far from encouraging the action in which Mr. Bethell met his death, the Boer Government had, by Proclamation, declared that it was their desire that the people of the Transvaal should not take the action suggested; and as for the charge that the Republic refused to give up the murderers of Mr. Bethell, it had not yet been proved, and he did not think there had been any attempt to prove, that they even knew who the murderers were. If some English gen- 1677 tleman—let them suppose the hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) himself—were to go upon an expedition to Spain, and there met his death at the hands of some freebooters or robbers, and if the Government of Spain were wholly ignorant of the men who caused the hon. Member's death, and they were to say so, and if they refused, as undoubtedly they would have to refuse, to give up the murderers, would this country go to war with Spain? In this case, it was desired by hon. Gentlemen that we should go to war with the Transvaal Government because they would not deliver up to the British authorities the men who killed a British officer, and who were totally unknown to the Government of the Transvaal. Again, the attack upon Montsioa was declared to have been the direct outcome of the action of the Transvaal Government. He would refer the Committee to one brief paragraph in the first Blue Book issued with reference to the affairs of the Transvaal—words from a despatch from Sir Hercules Robinson to the Earl of Derby. On the 26th of June, Sir Hercules Robinson said—Rutherfoord telegraphs that the Transvaal Republic are issuing strong Proclamations prohibiting burghers to take part in hostilities against Moutsioa.And yet they had it stated by such Gentlemen as the hon. Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) that the Government of the Transvaal were responsible for these hostilities. Such statements as that would go forth to the people of this country, who did not take the trouble to read the Blue Books themselves, and who trusted for their information on Colonial and Foreign affairs to the representations of persons like the hon. Baronet. The English public would accept the statement that the Transvaal Government was responsible for the attack on Montsioa, whereas the truth of the matter was that so far from conniving in the attack on Montsioa, the Government of the Transvaal went to the trouble of issuing a Proclamation warning the citizens of the Transvaal to have nothing at all to do with it. Did the Committee not see that Her Majesty's Government, in taking action, and in sending a force to South Africa, were altogether following the advice they received from the Conservative Benches? He recollected that in the 1678 course of one of the debates they had had on this question, it was strongly urged that it was no use sending Sir Charles Warren to the Cape, unless they sent him backed up with a goodly force of British troops. Her Majesty's Government had, to some extent, taken the advice of Gentlemen like the late Lord Mayor of London (Mr. R. N. Fowler), who, in the debate to which he (Mr. Redmond) had referred, had delivered a most sanguinary and ferocious speech, which he certainly was surprised to hear from the lips of that hon. Member, having regard to the character which he possessed for geniality and good nature. If Her Majesty's Government had altogether taken the advice of the Opposition, they would have sent quite as large a body of troops to South Africa to make war on the Boers as they were sending to the Nile to relieve General Gordon—in regard to which Expedition Her Majesty's Government had been again led by speeches coming from Conservative Members. To listen to some of these speeches, it would appear as though there could be no hope of settling the affairs of South Africa without sending a large military force out there. Again he would quote a few words from the first Blue Book bearing on the affairs of the Transvaal. The late Lord Mayor of London had said that Sir Charles Warren should be accompanied by a large force of British troops. No doubt, the hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst—although he had not heard him say it—had also recommended that a large force should be sent. [No, no!"] Well, if the hon. Baronet had not said so directly, he had indirectly. At any rate, several hon. Gentlemen on that (the Conservative) side of the House had recommended in plain language the employment of a large force, and Sir Charles Warren had gone out with 40 officers. But while they had hon. Members on the Conservative Benches—most of whom, he believed, were in some way connected with the Military Profession, and, therefore, not altogether averse to times of war, which were times of promotion and general gain for people belonging to the Army—recommending that a large Expedition should be sent out to the Cape, and while the people of England, reading their speeches, were led into the belief that a large force was necessary, what did they find Mr. Mackenzie saying— 1679 Mr. Mackenzie, who had been more than once quoted in the House as an authority on South African affairs? Why, on the 55th page of the first Blue Book, it would be found that, in answer to the question put to him before he left England for Bechuanaland—"What force do you propose to have behind you?" he said—and he (Mr. W. Redmond) would recommend this answer to the attention of the Committee and the country, in view of the various suggestions from the Conservative Benches to the effect that a large force should be sent to the Cape—There are plenty of fighting men in South Africa, so that we do not need any soldiers from England at all.This opinion was given on the spot—in Bechuanaland—in response to a question which had been asked in England. It was satisfactory to see that Her Majesty's Government, as they had proved by their action, were more inclined to take the advice of a gentleman on the spot, in South Africa, who must, no matter what his position might be, know more of the requirements of the case than hon. Gentlemen on the Conservative Benches in the House of Commons. He would no go so far as to say—he would not be so audacious as to hint—that Mr. Mackenzie was a man more clever or more wise than many of the warlike Gentlemen on the Conservative side; but he did contend, and he thought he had reasonable grounds for thinking, that Mr. Mackenzie must know more about what was necessary to settle the trouble in South Africa than any Member of the House. Mr. Mackenzie had written the words just quoted most distinctly, and evidently with a full sense of responsibility. Sir Charles Warren had gone and had taken 40 British officers with him, and he (Mr. W. Redmond) believed there were to be British troops landed at the Cape. There was not the slightest doubt in his mind that, in the fullness of time, this Expedition which was now being initiated, and the cost of which was being so bravely voted that night, would ultimately result in a war with the Boer Republic which would cost Great Britain very many soldiers and a vast amount of treasure. He did not speak of these things because he was at all solicitous of saving the resources of the English Treasury. He 1680 was not burnt up with a desire to economize the lives of the troops of this country. He did not care how lavishly the money of England was spent in this war—he did not care, as a matter of fact, how many British soldiers met their deaths in an attempt to keep up an unjustifiable state of affairs at the Cape. His argument was, that these men would meet their death in an indefensible cause—in an attempt to keep together an Empire which, sooner or later, must come asunder; an Empire, a particular part of which might be expected soon to cease its connection with it. He did not speak now because he was anxious to save the lives of British soldiers, or the money of the British Treasury, but for the reason that he was a Member of the House independent of Party, and because he did not think that in days to come, when this Expedition should have developed into a war, he would be able to say to himself that he had done his duty as a Representative of a liberty-loving people if he did not raise his voice against the present action of the Government. He was convinced that the step the Government were taking was but an initial one between this country and the Boer Republic. It was a very easy thing for Members to vote money for war. There were not even a large number of Members present that night to do it—to do it by the simple action of walking into the Division Lobby, or by feebly saying "Aye." No less than £725,000 of the money of the taxpayers of this country was to be granted in this way for the purpose of sending troops out to make war on a people who, after all, were only struggling for right to live in the land which was theirs by adoption — who were really struggling for liberty. Already that night £1,000,000 had been voted for the purpose of carrying on a war against the unfortunate people of the Soudan. He believed he would not be in Order if he referred to the Soudan Vote, and he would, therefore, merely say that the Soudanese had sinned in no way except that they had expressed the opinion that they could best live in their country under an independent and Native Government. The Soudanese were struggling for their liberty. So were the Boers at the Cape. They were determined that their country should not be governed from that House—from 1681 across 6,000 miles of ocean. All they asked was for leave to live in that land of their adoption without the interference of the Parliament of this country. Of course, it might be said that there was no intention of making war on the Transvaal Republic, and that the Expedition was only for the purpose of punishing the freebooters. He would call the attention of hon. Members to debates which had taken place in years gone by—debates before the Zulu War was initiated. He remembered the cheerful way in which hon. Members had spoken of it, describing it as a "raid," and the Zulus as "a people who only required to be punished." In that way Great Britain had gradually drifted into a war with that great savage race—a war which resulted in some of the most ignominious disasters to the British arms that the whole history of the country could afford. So he said that day. If the Government interfered at all—if they went even to the fringe of the Transvaal Republic—they would ultimately bring about a war with the Boers, who were an unoffending people. They would plunge this country into debt and misfortunes of every kind. He thought himself perfectly justified, therefore, in lifting up his voice in opposition to the Vote that night; and he believed he was only speaking the sentiments of many people in the country when he said that there was no necessity for an Expedition to the Transvaal. Let them look at the war from a purely Colonial point of view. What was the trouble? In the Cape Colony some 80 per cent of the people were of Dutch descent. Taking all the Cape populations together, they were Dutch in sentiment and Dutch in blood. There were some British subjects there who had suffered from raids made by Dutch freebooters. The British Colonists were not able to defend themselves against the inroads of their Dutch neighbours. Very well; what did these British subjects ask for? They sent home to a Government 6,000 miles away for Generals, officers, and troops to punish the men who had invaded their territory, and to save them from further invasion. It was all very well to comply with that request once in a way; but the question hon. Members had to ask themselves was—"Are we prepared for all time in the future to keep a large garrison of 1682 British troops in South Africa?" He did not think that even the most Conservative Member in the House—the Gentleman who had most warmly declared himself in favour of this Expedition—would rise in his place and say that he would like to see South Africa permanently garrisoned by British troops. He did not believe there was any intention on the part of the Government despatching the Expedition to do anything of that kind. He did not believe there was any such wish in the breasts of the Conservative Members urging them to take their present action. But let this be remembered. They had had a war with the Boers. The Boers had beaten them. They patched up a peace, and came away. As soon as their troops were withdrawn, what happened? Why, some Dutchmen—irresponsible men, not accountable to the Transvaal Republic, but still Dutchmen—crossed the border, and attacked British Colonists; and now, for the second time within a few years, they were sending out a General and troops to defend the British Colonists against the Dutch. It would be admitted very readily that if the English Colonists were not able to defend themselves without assistance in South Africa against anyone who might attack them, the sooner the Dutch claimed ascendancy in South Africa the better. They could not be always sending out troops, and backing up the English Colonists against the Dutch; and unless they made up their minds to keep up a large permanent Force in South Africa, they would have to give way. Send out the Expedition; beat the Boers, or let the Boers beat them. What would be the result? They might restore peace, and drive the freebooters back; but how long would that peace last? What guarantee had they that, when their troops had been withdrawn, the Dutch would not again attack the British Colonists? The real view to take of this question was this—to let the people who were strongest be uppermost. They might suppress for the time being the march of the Dutch towards ascendancy over these Colonies, but they would only be able to suppress it for the time being. When their troops were withdrawn, the Dutch would again make inroads. Sooner or later, the Dutch element would prevail in South Africa; and that part of the 1683 world would become not a Dependency of the German Empire, but a Free State for people of German and Dutch blood. As he had said before, he did not say this because he had any interest in British operations in South Africa. They might send out all their soldiers, spend their last penny, get beaten—the oftener they got beaten in attacking a small people, the more glad would he be. He did not speak from a British point of view, but because he wished it to be left on record that he had protested against any action on the part of the Government or the House which would plunge the country into war with the Transvaal Government. He objected to anything which might do that, not because he wished to save this country from expenditure or from blood, but simply because he did not wish to see a brave people like the Boers, who had fought for their liberty and had gallantly won it, pressed down and rendered helpless for a time by the brute force it was in the power of the British Government to bring to bear on them. He had no sympathy with the present Government, nor with any of their policy. He had no more sympathy for their Colonial policy than he had for their policy with regard to his own country; but he would say that one of the best actions perpretrated by a Minister of the Crown in that House for some time was when the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. Gladstone) declared that it was the intention of the Government not to proceed farther with the war against the Boers. The right hon. Gentleman recognized the fact that the Boers had beaten the British Forces. He recognized that it would be impossible to prop up British authority in the Transvaal always by British soldiers. He withdrew the troops. He (Mr. W. Redmond) did not say that the right hon. Gentleman in so doing had been acting magnanimously. He did not say that he was actuated by any other motive than a conviction that sooner or later British ascendancy would have ceased in South Africa. The conclusion of the War with the Boers was a good thing; but it would be a bad thing for the people of this country and the Government, if out of this Expedition which was being sent to the Cape a fresh war should arise against the people of the Transvaal Republic. Once more he 1684 wished to have it on record—[Laughter.] It was all very well for hon. Members to laugh. He knew well enough that his words would have very little weight in that House against the opinions of English Members; but he was sure that if this Expedition did result in war between this country and the Transvaal, it would be satisfaction to the people of the Transvaal to know that there were a number of Members in the English House of Commons who were totally opposed to anything which could embroil this country with them. It would be satisfactory to the people of the Transvaal to know that every time they struck a blow for the liberty of their country and thrust back the English troops, as they did at Majuba Hill, the news was received with gratification by a great many Members of the House. He wished to speak purely on behalf of the people of the Transvaal. Let the English Government spend all their money; but as long as he was sitting in the House representing a people who were struggling for liberty themselves he should never fail to raise his voice to defend, so far as it might be within his feeble power, the liberty of any people who had fought so nobly for their freedom, and whose freedom he was very much afraid was threatened by the bloodthirsty suggestions of the Conservatives in the House of Commons.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said that when the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) was speaking on the last Vote, he had asked hon. Gentlemen opposite, "Would you establish a British Empire in the heart of Africa?" The noble Marquess repudiated any such intention; and, that being so, it was a very extraordinary thing that the Government should now be bringing forward a Vote to do that very thing in South Africa—to establish an Empire, or, at any rate, a Protectorate in the heart of South Africa. If this money did not mean the maintenance of a Protectorate he did not know what it meant. He was afraid they were in for another big job—another big war. He shared the hope of the noble Marquess that possibly there would be no occasion to use force to drive the freebooters out of Bechuanaland. He still hoped that peace might be maintained, or that the war, if there was one, might be a cheap one. 1685 He very much disliked that Her Majesty's Government thought it necessary to ask the taxpayers of the country for £725,000 for another war in the heart of Africa to establish something like dominion there. It was very much the old story of embarking originally in a small war, which, spreading by degrees, further and further, ultimately developed into a great one. At first it was said that the difficulty in Bechuanaland could be overcome by the employment of 100 policemen; but Mr. Mackenzie had never been supplied with 100 policemen. By enlisting every blackguard he could get he could only muster 30 men; then he had a difficulty in providing them with horses. After obtaining a number, on examination he found them all lame but four. When, ultimately, the horse difficulty was overcome, it was found that there were no arms. In the end Mr. Mackenzie went out without any policemen at all; and the result was that as he was found by the people against whom he was sent hardly worth attending to, he was not much respected. This was the way the war might develop into a big affair. Again, he must enter a protest against this war as being an unnecessary one. It was a conflagration started by the Press of this country, and he was afraid that the few poor Radicals below the Gangway would be unable to stop the devouring flame, and that the money asked for would be voted. If the Government were determined to carry on these hostilities, with what object did they do it? Was it to establish a Dominion in the heart of Africa; if not, what was it for? Was it to protect the Natives? If it were to do that, they would be bound to stay in the heart of South Africa and establish a Dominion there. They should not enter into the war without being prepared to fulfil their obligations. He liked to see Natives protected—he had spent best part of his life in the work of protecting them—but he did not wish to go too far, and that was what he was afraid the Government would do. Let them make up their minds what they were going to do. Would they not abandon the Natives to their fate? If there was one thing more clear than another it was that the whole upshot and issue and result of this war, when they had conquered, had possessed themselves of this territory, and had paid the piper, 1686 would be that they would find they had only been taking the chestnuts out of the fire for the Cape Government. It was perfectly clear from the Blue Books that the arrangement was that when they had made the path sufficiently clear for the Cape Government, they would take the matter out of British hands. If that was so, where was the protection of the Natives—that for which they were supposed to have undertaken the war? He had not brought down the Blue Books, or he could have quoted passages to show the view of the Cape Colonists. The Cape people said—"We are annexing this land; it is for our young men." Well, if that were so, and they were incurring this large expenditure and entering into this war for the purpose of handing over this territory to the Cape Colonists, they would be entirely failing in the object with which they had undertaken the war. That was one of the things which could not be denied. Then, the Government were not only sending out their own troops, but it appeared that they were also enlisting a large body of irregulars. Notices were published stating that young men who wished to join the irregulars in the Transvaal were to apply to certain authorities in a certain place, and he wished to know who was to pay permanently for this irregular corps which was to be enlisted and sent out to South Africa? Apparently, the war was to be one of sentiment and not one for the protection of the Natives. He believed it to be promoted in a great degree for the purpose of having a slap at the Boers. A large number of people in this country had rankling feelings in regard to their late war with the Boers, and were anxious that they should revenge themselves upon them for the defeat they had sustained. After the very pathetic account they had had of Mr. Bethell's death, he hoped that no technicality would be allowed to stand in the way of executing justice. But, at the same time, he hoped that the authorities would not come to any conclusion without sufficient evidence. What was the worth of such evidence as had now been obtained? They had the story of one Native, which read much more like the incidents of a novel than anything in real life. The man shammed death, heard all that passed, recognized all the people, and then ran away and told a story which made him out to be 1687 a very heroic person indeed. He (Sir George Campbell) would not say that the story was not true—it might possibly be true; but he had seen far too much of such story-telling not to be somewhat suspicious of it. Thousands of such tales were set abroad during the Indian Mutiny, and they turned out to be totally untrue. Did the Government believe a story of that kind? If they did, let them bring the people accused of the murder to justice. It was the same sort of thing in regard to other stories like that of killing a little child, and matters of that kind—they did not rest upon any substantial evidence whatever. He must say that he entirely sympathized with all that had been said by his hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) with regard to the tyranny of the Colonists over us. It used to be the case that we tyrannized over the Colonies; but now the times had changed, and the Colonies tyrannized over us instead. In the Native administration, in the Cape wars, and in everything else, it was they who tyranized over us. We had to pay upon all occasions, and it was they who reaped all the advantage. That had always been the result of these wars, and it would be the result of this one; and, therefore, he would say to the Government—"Be calm; do not act without evidence. Do not rush into a war until there is really occasion for it." The hon. Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) had told them a good deal about the injustice done to Native Chiefs; but he (Sir George Campbell) thought the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) had answered that point very clearly. These people were not under our protection until the present year. What was the injury done to Mankoroane? He had not lost an acre since the Protectorate; and it had been found that his place was nothing but a nest of thieves. There was a vivid description by the Imperial Commissioner of the state of things there, and of the multitude of thieves, and Mankoroane had himself been told of it, and had been threatened with condign punishment if he did not put a stop to it. This was the case of our particular friend who was said to have suffered so much. As to the case of Montsioa, the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland) had referred to 1688 some dates; but he had not referred to the 12th of May last, when Montsioa attacked the Boers and burnt their houses. The Boers thereupon declared war against him, and that war was being carried on now. He (Sir George Campbell) did not defend the Boers. He had no doubt that they were very highhanded, and that they had presumed much upon our abstention; but what had we to do with this affair in the heart of South Africa? He did not see why we went out of our way to extend our protection to these people in this year of grace. No doubt, Her Majesty's Government were driven to it; but he thought we had acted foolishly, and that we should take an opportunity to wash our hands of the business. He would be glad to go to a moderate expense in order that we might do so. We might establish our position in South Africa on a much more satisfactory basis than could be found by projecting ourselves into the heart of the country.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, the Committee had just seen the wilds of Scotland and the wilds of Ireland shaking hands across the floor on this subject. The debate must have been extremely gratifying to the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), who had heard in the views put forward a reductio ad absurdum of his own opinions and of those of his Friends on this question. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Sir George Campbell) had asked what was the object of this Expedition. Well, its object was to do two things—to maintain our solemn Treaties, and to protect out allies; and if a nation, great or small, could have worthier objects than those, he would leave it to the hon. Gentleman to discover them. This was not a question of the defence of the Boers against aggression on the part of the British Empire or of British Colonists; and he would remind the hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. Redmond), who had spoken with so much fluency on this subject, that these Boers, whom that hon. Gentleman regarded as people rightly struggling to be free, were nothing more than a very cruel and tyrannical dominant class in South Africa. The cry of "Majuba Hill" was no answer to this statement. The Boers were not the mild and amiable people imagined by the hon. Gentleman—they were not even the best of the Dutch population in South 1689 Africa; but they were the outcasts of that population. When slavery was abolished, in the Cape Colony, they "trekked" away into Natal in order that they might maintain their right to enslave their fellow - men; and when it was abolished in Natal, they "trekked" away across the Vaal, into the Transvaal, in order still to maintain their tyranny over human beings; and they now kept hundreds and thousands of unfortunate Natives in practically a state of slavery, denying them ordinary human rights. The hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) seemed to listen to this statement with considerable impetuosity, which might with advantage be restrained. But he did not know that it was very necessary to analyze that hon. Gentleman's characteristic views on the subject, because the hon. Gentleman had been publicly repudiated by his Colleagues. [Mr. COURTNEY: No, no.] He begged the hon. Gentleman's pardon; but it was the fact that the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies had publicly repudiated the opinions of the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) in that House, and had stated that that hon. Gentleman spoke only for himself when he enunciated his extraordinary views. He (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) repeated that the Boers were a tyrannical, oppressive, slave-driving caste in South Africa, and that they were denying human rights to 800,000 Natives who were more or less under their rule. These Boer freebooters had attacked and maltreated their neighbours in what they called Stellaland and the Land of Goshen, and had been practically encouraged by the Dutch of the Transvaal. They had stolen Montsioa's land and massacred his people; then the Transvaal Government started up and annexed him, and had to be compelled by the action of this country to renounce that operation. He would like now to make a few observations with regard to statements made in that House by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain). That right hon. Gentleman was a Member of the Government which was now, in 1884, asking that House for close upon £750,000 for an Expedition to maintain Treaties which he and his Colleagues promised that House in 1881 should be enforced. The right hon. Gentleman was responsible 1690 for this Vote—as responsible as any Member of the Cabinet. And yet it was he and his Party who, by their action in 1881 and also in 1878–9, were the persons who were really responsible for the necessity of this Expedition. They were the persons who paralyzed Imperial action in 1880 and 1884. It was the influence of the President of the Board of Trade in the Ministry that enabled that feeble splutter of a Radical agitation, in 1881, to unnerve our action. [Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: There was no Liberal Ministry in 1879.] He was quite aware of that; but he was speaking of the right hon. Gentleman's action in 1881. It was the right hon. Gentleman's influence then which enabled a feeble splutter of agitation, coming from the Radicals below the Gangway, to direct the policy of the Cabinet, and which forced the Government to accept the defeat and humiliation of Majuba Hill, to have the national honour and authority unvindicated, and to submit to the Convention. It was the action of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade which paralyzed our Imperial power, and prevented us from obtaining those securities which would have rendered this Expedition wholly unnecessary. The right hon. Gentleman had invented one or two statements for the benefit of that House which were absolutely without any proof whatever. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the Natives in the Transvaal had greatly benefited by the Boer rule, and had increased under it. He (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) traversed that statement, and he challenged the right hon. Gentleman to any proof. In spite of the very superior countenance which the right hon. Gentleman just now assumed, he challenged him to give proof. There were the Representatives of all the Native populations in the Transvaal, who, in 1881, went before our Commissioners, and begged and implored that they might not be sent back under the tyranny of the Boers. So strong and unanimous was their evidence that the High Commissioners did not venture to face them in person, but sent their Secretary to hear the complaints. Every Chief within and around the Transvaal uttered his indignant protest against being handed back to the oppression of these Boers, who, the right hon. Gentleman had dared to state, were popular among the Natives. 1691 The Blue Books which contained these damning facts were carefully suppressed for months, so that at that time Parliament and the country knew nothing of what was going on. It was absolutely contrary to the fact that the Natives, either in or out of the Transvaal, had benefited by the Boer rule. What was the treatment of Mapoch, an unoffending Chief on the borders of the Transvaal? He offered to come to the relief of our hard-pressed garrison at Leydenburg. After the Convention he was set upon by the Boers, his fort blown up by dynamite, and he himself condemned to hard labour for life, because he dared to defend his liberty. His people were compelled to go into practical serfdom, being forced into indentures under the Dutch farmers. How had Mankoroane and Montsioa been treated by the Boers, in violation of Treaty and because they were our friends? These were the Boers, of whom the right hon. Gentleman spoke so highly. There was one other thing that had been said by the right hon. Gentleman. He had talked of a great union of the Dutch in South Africa against the British Empire. The right hon. Gentleman remarked that he would not venture to say that the might of the British Empire might not be able satisfactorily to cope with such opposition; but he thought it would prove to be a bitter and costly struggle. Was there ever a more ridiculous statement than that? They had heard nothing of the union of the Dutch element until the surrender and retreat of the British Ministry in South Africa. It was their surrender and retreat which gave the impetus to the Africander movement. The only danger of the Dutch element superseding the British element was the danger which might be caused by the present Government itself. By dealing in a weak and powerless fashion with South Africa, they might render it necessary for a stronger element to rise and do that which British influence under the present Administration had proved itself incapable of doing. It was Her Majesty's Government who had stimulated Dutch action in the Cape, and it would only be their weakness that would encourage it. However, he congratulated the Government that they were willing at last, after allowing thousands to be massacred and whole 1692 races to be ruined, to take tardy steps to retrieve the honour of the country and to discharge their bounden duty, so long neglected. He congratulated them on the course they were now taking; but he contended that we were paying a heavy price for this long delay. Just as in the case of General Gordon, in which we were paying over £2,000,000 in November, when £200,000 would have sufficed in February or March, so we were having to to pay £750,000 in South Africa now for what two or three years ago would only have cost £3,000 or £4,000 for providing an efficient border police. Thus was a ten-fold cost imposed upon the British people by the long and disastrous inaction of Her Majesty's Government in Egypt and South Africa.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that one of the delusions which he was under at the last General Election was that he supposed the Liberal Party were fighting against Jingoism, and that if they succeeded there would be an era of peace throughout the world. They really could not meet in that House at any time of the year, or for any purpose, without the Government coming forward and asking for money for some war. They had met there now to discuss in a friendly and amicable way a little local question about the franchise, and immediately the Government came forward to ask for £1,500,000 for North Africa, and nearly £1,000,000 for South Africa. It was really time that they ought to put their foot down and protest against all this expenditure, in South Africa especially. At one moment the Government were going to war with the Boers; at another they were going to war with the Zulus. At one time they were taking up the cause of some friend of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster); and at another they were dealing with a Chief with an impossible name who had offended that right hon. Gentleman. What did they know of these people? There were not half-a-dozen Members of that House who even knew how to pronounce their names. Were hon. Members aware that they would find it stated in the Blue Book as a positive fact that one of the allies of the right hon. Member for Bradford—one of these most interesting gentlemen—was actually called "Bloody Nose?" He (Mr. Labouchere) had 1693 read it in the Blue Book. Did any hon. Gentleman know anything at all about that remarkable man Montisoa or Montsoia?—he really could not say which it was. He did not pretend to know anything about these people himself; but what he did know was that one month after another, and year after year, they were called upon, for some absurd cause or another, to spend all this money. They were either against Montisoa or Montiroa, or some equally eminent personage, and unless they absolutely put a stop to it they would never get any further. The Cape Government would never spend anything in the matter—they were not such fools. They declined to spend a penny. They said—"If there are a quantity of silly people thousands of miles off who are ready to engage in this sort of thing for our sake—who will come to the Cape and spend money on contracts for our benefit—we will encourage them to do it. We will let them have these Expeditions, and we will always furnish them with an occasion." It would always be found that between barbarism and civilization there was a sort of debatable ground where the noble savage and the bush-whacker would fight and quarrel together; and if they went on taking the part of one against another they would never get to the end of it. He would like the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) to inform the Committee why so much money was asked for. Last Session they were told that they were likely to engage in a most important Expedition which would involve military operations, and yet only the sum of £320,000 was asked for. It was not pretended that they were going to war now. Why, then, were they asked to vote £725,000? No doubt, the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney) would tell them he was not going to spend it all. But he (Mr. Labouchere) did not like to trust the Government with so much money for these purposes. When once they had got the money they generally managed to spend it. A smaller Vote should, he thought, have been proposed. When they were told that the money was merely to be put into the hands of the Colonial Office in case they might find occasion to go to war at the Cape, they should meet that at once by saying—"Tell us specifically the smallest 1694 sum you will require." When they were asked for almost £1,000,000, they ought to refuse it.
§ MR. WARTON
said, it had been arranged between the right hon. Baronet the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) and the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) that the debate was not to go on that night, but was to be deferred to the Report. It was not his (Mr. Warton's) intention to go into the affairs of Bechuanaland; but, as a matter of usage and right, he claimed this opportunity of making a most decided and solemn protest against all these proceedings. The Vote now submitted was an invasion of the Rules and Standing Orders of the House. It purported to be a Supplementary Estimate, and the heading described it as the further amount required to meet the deficiency caused by the additional expenditure arising from the Expedition to Bechuanaland. But that was an altogether inaccurate description. There had been no additional expenditure caused by the Expedition to Bechuanaland; and what the Committee were really asked for was not a Supplementary Estimate, but a Vote of Credit. It was too bad for the Government to be trying to evade the Rules of the House in this barefaced way. This was a Vote of Credit for money the amount of which was not yet fixed, and it was really such and nothing else. The object of the Government was perfectly clear—they wished to prevent any Motion being made on the Question that the Speaker do leave the Chair. Some might say that was a matter of no consequence. He was not saying whether it was or was not; but the Government had been calling this Vote a Supplementary Estimate, and refusing to call it a Vote of Credit, and by acting in that manner they had prevented hon. Gentlemen from bringing forward Motions. One hon. Baronet might have had an Amendment saying that there ought to be contributions from the Boers; another might have desired to put forward an Amendment saying that the money ought to be defrayed partly by the Cape Government. These different views might have been advanced had a fair opportunity been given to any Member who desired to place such an Amendment on the Paper. But the proceedings that night were even worse 1695 than that, because if the first Vote was really in the nature of a Supplementary Estimate, as perhaps it might be, the Government were now taking a Vote of Credit and linking it on with the other; and now that the Speaker was out of the Chair, the Chairman of Committees had to put a Vote which was really a Vote of Credit. That sort of thing was trifling with the Committee. A Vote of Credit should be kept by itself. He only desired to assert the rights and privileges of the House in this matter. He would not enter into a discussion of Bechuanaland affairs, because the debate on that subject was to come on later.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
In reply to the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, I may, perhaps, be allowed to refer him to the hon. Baronet who sits near him, the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland), from whom he will learn that the strongest objection has always been entertained by the Committee of Public Accounts against Votes of Credit, unless absolutely necessary. The Rule as to a Vote of Credit is—that it is only asked for when it is impossible to apportion the total amount among the Votes. So far as the Treasury is concerned, a Vote of Credit is far more convenient than a Supplementary Estimate, as it gives much more latitude in appropriating the amount to particular Votes. Therefore, it is not with any object of the kind mentioned by the hon. and learned Gentleman that we have made this a Supplementary Estimate. As I have said, where it is possible to divide the expenditure under the different heads of Account, it is the well-known Rule of the House that we should ask for a Supplementary Estimate, and not for a Vote of Credit. The only object we had was to carry out the Rule of the House, and we certainly had no desire to shirk a preliminary discussion.
said, he was afraid it was not very satisfactory to see the way in which the money of the nation had been dealt with that evening. In the last Division there was a very small Vote; and now that an Estimate was proposed for the initiation of a new war, the Committee was thinner than it was before. They were told, of course, that they were to have more information, and that the discussion should come 1696 on afterwards; but he ventured to think that the House of Commons was really losing its power and control over the question of the initiation of a new war in South Africa. He did not doubt, for one moment, that a plausible case might be made out as to what had happened in South Africa. The further they extended their territory Northward, Eastward, and Westward in that Continent, no doubt they would come more frequently into contact with savage races; and it was inevitable that the Cape Colonists would always be anxious for new enterprizes. Reference had been made, in the course of this short debate, to the attitude of the Cape Colonists, and to the general indisposition shown in the Colony to contribute any portion of the expenses, or to accept any real responsibility for these misunderstandings. What the Cape Colonists were wanting in this case was what they had always wanted, and that was the squandering of British taxes by the million. Nothing fructified the soil of South Africa so much as the expenditure of the hard-earned taxes of the British taxpayer. He remembered that they were engaged in a very expensive undertaking not very long ago. The Colonial Office impressed upon the Colonists that some contribution should be made towards the enormous expenditure undertaken for the benefit of the Colony, and he remembered that the reply was that they were prepared to contribute a few hundreds of thousands of pounds; but even that offer was coupled with an impossible condition. He anticipated that it would be so in this case, and that this country would be encouraged by the Colony if the House allowed the proposed expenditure to be made. For his own part, looking to the position of Her Majesty's Government on this question, the first mistake they had made was, in his opinion, the sending out of Mr. Mackenzie. Doubtless, Mr. Mackenzie was a man who knew a great deal of South Africa, and his advice might, therefore, have been considered as of some value; but the misfortune was that from the very outset he took a position which he (Mr. Illingworth) could not but regard as one-sided and anything but judicial and he must say that as an administrator and an official, who was to be backed up by an armed force, the selection of Mr. Mackenzie was about the 1697 worst that could have been made. To turn a returned missionary into a fighting man was about the very worst act Her Majesty's Government could have made themselves responsible for. He desired, at this juncture, to make an appeal to right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench. He would remind them that, in the case of the war in Egypt, Her Majesty's Government had sent out their Expedition, in the first instance, for a small and specific object, which was the removal of Arabi from the position of influence and power he had occupied in that country; and it was understood that, this being done, they would have to incur no further expenditure either of life or money, but should immediately withdraw without any difficulty, compromise, or humiliation. But what had actually been the case? He thought that the lesson taught by the last two or three years of intervention in Egyptian affairs ought to make Her Majesty's Government exceedingly careful before entering into what was now recommended to the Committee as only a small undertaking. He could not but ask himself this question—what was it that was asked for only a short time ago? The Committee would remember that it was then proposed to send a small body of police—not a military force at all—to the scene of the late disturbances in Bechuanaland, and it was then considered that the expenditure of a few thousands of pounds ought to have been sufficient for the maintenance of the Treaty. But what happened? Why, the very next step taken by the Government was to propose that no less a sum than £750,000 should be voted for the purpose of sending out a large Force to South Africa. The Government ought to tell the Committee plainly what the undertaking of this Expedition really meant. It could not be for the purpose of doing the work intended to have been performed by the few hundred police who were asked for in the first instance that a sum of £750,000 was to be voted at the present moment by that Committee. He also should like to have an answer to the question why it was that so large a Force was to be sent out? It must really mean that instructions were to be sent out to the Officer in charge of the Force now being equipped that there would be as much discretion permitted to him as was ac- 1698 corded to the Admiral of the Fleet at Alexandria, so that no one could tell, when he had left their shores, how far this country might become involved. He must confess that he looked with considerable alarm at the course Her Majesty's Government were taking in the matter of this Military Expedition. There could be no doubt, although there might have been some exaggeration on the point, that there was very general distress prevalent in this country, which would probably be greatly increased should there be a hard winter. ["Hear, hear!"] The cheers with which that statement was received from the other side of the Committee were altogether misplaced; for whenever anything was proposed in the shape of military expenditure, their objection always was that the amount to be voted was not large enough, while it was only hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House who were the champions of economy and the humble petitioners for some mitigation in the amount of the taxes that were levied on the people. He was extremely sorry that Her Majesty's Government had found it necessary to ask for this enormous sum of money. His regret was even greater at finding that, although they were asked for the Vote that night, the instructions that were to accompany the employment of the money were to be given to the House subsequently. He thought the House would be abandoning its functions by yielding up their purse strings under such circumstances. He should have infinitely preferred the postponement of the Vote until the House had been put in possession of the instructions; because the House of Commons was at that moment asked to endorse blindfold the policy of the Government in the administration of that large Vote. He confessed that in regard to questions involving these large military undertakings, when they had again to go before the country, they would be only too liable to be confused by the admiration passed on the Predecessors in Office of the present Government for wantonly or negligently entering upon war. He could not help saying that he should feel it his duty, as he had done in the case of the Egyptian War, to vote against the first step that was now proposed to be taken. He had not voted in the Division on the last 1699 Vote, because he had entered his protest against it at the outset, and left the responsibility to those who had recommended it. But as this was a new departure, and as the Committee was asked in the name of humanity to enter on an Expedition involving the expenditure of blood and treasure, in which he saw inconsistency, he felt bound to vote against against it.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
I cannot pass without observation the remarks which have just fallen from my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth), the more so because, upon the whole, I can say that I sympathize very much with the spirit in which those remarks have been made. I am not at all ashamed to say that the feelings with which my hon. Friend contemplates this expenditure, and the possible results of it, are fully shared by Her Majesty's Government. I do not myself think that the highest courage was shown by the bluster which has been manifested in the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett), who seems to enter on a war of this kind with a light heart. On the contrary, I think that those show the truest courage who recognize the facts of the position, and who, if they do ask the House to make sacrifices, do so with full knowledge.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
Will the right hon. Gentleman give the Committee an instance of the bluster he speaks of?
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford has said, and in that I cannot agree with him, that this is a new departure, and that it is a critical stage in the proceedings that the House of Commons is asked for the first time to take a course which he regrets. I think, Sir, that a brief review of the circumstances will suffice to show that this is not the case. The whole of the trouble comes originally from the annexation of the Transvaal. When we found that that annexation had been made under a misapprehension of the wishes of the people of the Transvaal, we did not hesitate, although we knew that our motives might be misrepresented, to retire, in the middle of the war in which we had engaged, from the position we had taken up. We thought on that occasion, and therefore could not hesitate to express our opinion, that the 1700 Boers were in the right, and we were in the wrong. That being so, we retired from what we thought was a false position. No doubt, a course of that kind, which was somewhat unusual—though not on that account the less honourable or the less dignified—was open to misapprehension, and I think it quite possible that the intentions and the spirit and the objects of Her Majesty's Government were misapprehended, certainly by hon. Members on the other side of the House, but also by the Boers themselves. At all events, we found that at a later stage the Boers were not so ready as we could have wished to carry out the agreement into which they had entered, and to co-operate with us in securing a proper protection for the Natives, for whom we were bound to care. The difficulties in that case arose in part from the imperfect nature of the Convention we had made. That Convention was never represented as a permanent and final arrangement, and Her Majesty's Government were quite willing to reconsider it in the light of subsequent experience. We made, on the occasion of the second Convention, great concessions to the Boers. We made them without the least hesitation—and we are not at all ashamed of them—in every case in which we thought the Boers had good reason to ask for an alteration. But, at the same time, Her Majesty's Government maintained their original position that there were certain obligations which they could not set aside, and we were glad to find that the Boers themselves accepted those obligations, and once more agreed with us. They agreed solemnly that they would join with us in protecting the Borders, and in securing the Chiefs outside the Borders from the aggressions of filibusters and freebooters. After that Convention was made—in fact, almost immediately afterwards—it was broken—broken in the spirit, not in the letter. I do not allege that against the Boers; but the free booters came from the Boer territory into that of our allies, whom we had declared we would protect, and the Boer Government were either unable or unwilling to prevent it. Now, I say, we have arrived at a new position, in which we are able to say the Boers are wrong and we are right; and, under these cir cumstances, Her Majesty's Government have no more hesitation in maintaining 1701 their obligations than they had on a previous occasion in yielding to the demands of the Boers. When we thought the Boers were in the right we yielded; and it is now, because we think we have our quarrel just, that we ask the House of Commons to take the course we propose. We now say that we have, in accordance with the Convention—the last of these Conventions—made with the Boers, in accordance with the conditions which have been accepted by the Boers themselves—established a British Protectorate over that territory. That British Protectorate has been invaded, and that is a thing which it is absolutely impossible for any nation, with anything like a feeling of self-respect, to submit to. Therefore we say we will maintain the obligations into which we have entered. Well, Sir, I stated on the last occasion, and I now say again, I do not wish to conceal from the Committee my own opinion that this is a serious business. Nor do I wish to conceal from the Committee that there are circumstances and contingencies which we cannot lightly contemplate; but I also say that it is our business to do everything in our power to render these contingencies improbable. My answer to the hon. Member for Bradford and those who think with him, and who ask "Why do you require so large a sum?" is, because if we are to avoid the possibility of these contingencies, if we are to prevent a conflagration from arising and spreading and becoming dangerous, it is necessary that we should employ a very large force in order that we may show we are in earnest, and that we have the means, and are going to use them, for the purpose of carrying out the intentions we have expressed. Large as is the sum we are asking from the Committee and the country, it will, I think, be cheaply expended if it finally settles this difficult question, and prevents the possibility of demands very much larger, or the possibility of much more serious contingencies which might otherwise arise. If we did not go to that country—and we are now dealing with the filibusters alone—with an overwhelming force, we may be sure that they will have friends in the Boer territory and elsewhere who would be tempted by our weakness to join them, and the matter would go from a small start to a very large affair. I confess 1702 that, in that case, I should look to the future with the greatest anxiety. I am not going to say that the future is free from anxiety even now; but I do say that the true wisdom in a small matter consists in treating it as an important thing, and in not being shy to ask the House of Commons to give us all the support we require. To a certain extent I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford in what he has said regarding the Colonists. My hon. Friend has spoken of wars undertaken at the entire expense of the British taxpayer for the benefit of the British Colonists, who do nothing. Speaking from a responsible position, I cannot accept so strong a view.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
I did not say altogether in the interests of the Colonists; but they are always ready to fan the fire.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
I should be sorry to misrepresent my hon. Friend; but I do not see a great deal of difference. But I was saying that, to a certain extent, I agree with him. I think we are entitled in this matter to call on our fellow-subjects at the Cape for their hearty co-operation; and if their hearty co-operation is at this juncture withheld from us, it will change the aspect altogether. There are at least two matters that are involved in this question. In the first place, there is a question which chiefly concerns the Cape Colony, and that is the protection of the trade route into the interior of Africa, which is threatened by these filibusters. If the Cape Colonists do not give Her Majesty's Government their hearty co-operation, the aspect of that question, at all events, will be entirely changed, and it might well be that this Government, or some future Government, would say to the Cape Colony—"If you will not co-operate with us in a matter which so entirely affects your interests, we shall leave you to deal with it as best you may, and you cannot call on us, at the expense of the British taxpayer, to support you." Then, there is the second question, and that is our personal obligation to the Native Chiefs. That is a personal responsibility which we cannot devolve upon anyone else. What we have undertaken for ourselves we must carry out ourselves. In doing this we have a right to ask for the cordial co-operation and support of the Cape 1703 Colony, and I hope, therefore, under all the circumstances, we may confidently expect it. I admit that that support has not been rendered quite so freely as Her Majesty's Government have been entitled to hope and expect; but, at the same time, I believe that when it is understood at the Cape that Her Majesty's Government are determined to do all that properly belongs to them, our fellow-subjects there, having regard to the enormous interests which they have at stake, will not be wanting when called on to render their part.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he was glad for once to be able to agree with the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth). He was quite sure that to-morrow, when the country read the report of that discussion and analyzed the Division Lists of that evening, it would view with disgust the professions of a large body in that House, and would stand amazed at the conduct of those chivalrous Radicals who followed out the noble maxim that "Those who fight and run away, may live to fight another day." If he was not mistaken, one of them, the hon. Member for Bradford, had carried out that precept. He would, however, ask the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) not to press the matter to a Division, which would only have the effect of delaying the Business for some time, and of compelling officials like the Secretary to the Treasury to swallow in Office all the declarations they had made when out of Office, while it would put to the test such chivalrous and patriotic Gentlemen as the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings), the hon. Member for Staly bridge (Mr. Summers), and others, who, while holding themselves forth to the country as paragons for economy, found it more convenient, in view of impending events, to retire to the outer Lobby when the Division was called. For his own part, he preferred to be clubbed with the Irish Members, as on the recent occasion when a Division was called for by the Radical Members, every one of whom retired at the last moment, and left the brunt of the battle with 17 Irish Members, not one of the Radicals upholding by his vote the principles he had enunciated.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, the right hon. Gentlemen the President of the Board of Trade had described 1704 him as having spoken in a spirit of bluster. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman to quote a single word from his remarks that would justify that assertion. The statement was like the right hon. Gentleman's affidavits the other day—it was a pure invention. The right hon. Gentleman had now told the Committee that Her Majesty's Government had retired from a false position, and that their conduct was honourable when they ran away from the Boers three years ago. The false position from which they had retired was this. By their factious electioneering speeches, they had encouraged the Boers to rebel; they had rejected the demands of the Boer Envoys who were sent over in 1880 to ask for terms of concession; when the Boers broke out in rebellion, they promised to vindicate the authority of the Queen; they allowed three sanguinary battles to be fought in the Transvaal; they sent a gallant General with reinforcements to put the Boers down. When their troops had been badly defeated, the very Ministers who had caused the war, ordered the battles to be fought, and promised to vindicate the national honour, discovered that the guilt of blood lay upon them, and they ran away and surrendered. That was the conduct which the right hon. Gentleman had, forsooth, described as honourable! The fact was, that the right hon. Gentleman was in a false position. He was responsible, more than any other Minister, for the troubles and disgrace that had fallen on this country in connection with South Africa. The present large Vote was rendered necessary in order to discharge their personal obligation's to the Chiefs Montsioa and Mankoroane, who had, ever since 1881, been constantly attacked and plundered by the Boers, and the duty now so tardily acknowledged was just as obligatory on the right hon. Gentleman during the last three years as at the present moment. The country would remember the right hon. Gentleman's conduct in the past, and would not forget that the Ministry which had caused the greatest dishonour the British name had sustained, even during the last four disastrous years, now, in its fifth year of Office, was willing to reverse its policy of the past, and to inflict on this country 1705 a very heavy expenditure, which the exercise of timely precaution and courage might easily have averted.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 78; Noes 31: Majority 47.—(Div. List, No. 15.)