(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £46,260, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
Mr. Courtney, I rise, Sir, for the purpose of offering a few remarks upon the aspect of affairs at Suakin. I believe it will not be felt, in any part of the House, that I have any reason to offer an apology for again returning to this very important subject. If I had not already made up my mind to bring the affairs of Suakin before the Committee, the extraordinary answer of the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Sir James Fergusson) to the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) would have rendered such a step necessary. I venture to say so extraordinary an answer seldom or never has been given in this House. The noble Lord asked whether the Prime Minister had expressed a certain opinion on the 16th of March as to the 463 expediency of Egypt retaining Suakin, and the right hon. Gentleman gets up and tells the House that this was simply a private opinion of Lord Salisbury's. The right hon. Gentleman said, further, that the answer was not given in this House. Why, how could Lord Salisbury give it in this House? We know well it was given in "another place," and that it was given by Lord Salisbury as Prime Minister and as Foreign Secretary in his place, in answer to a Question put to him by one of his own supporters. I should like to know what possible opportunity is there for a Minister so appropriate as this? What we want to understand is whether the opinion of Lord Salisbury is or is not the view of Her Majesty's Government as a whole? I shall return to that presently, but apart from that there is another reason why we should not lose this opportunity of discussing the affairs of Suakin, and that is that news has reached the Government of this country of a most important kind. I think it would be very improper if we separated without considering for ourselves and learning from the Government whether, with regard to the news from Suakin of the ill-fate which may have befallen two or three heroic men, proceedings are likely to be taken to avert their fate? Before going further into the question, I should like to be allowed to state to the Committee what, so far as I can gather, is the course of events—what are the causes that have led to the present state of affairs at Suakin. First, I beg the Committee to realize the great distinction there is between the coast tribes, with whom we were in conflict in 1884–5, and the Nile Contingent with whom we are in conflict at the present moment. What are the facts? The coast tribes, after very severe and bloody contests, had succeeded in maintaining their own independence at the end of 1885, and we are assured by those who know those tribes that they value that independence and mean to keep it. So long as Sir Charles Warren and his successor, Major Watson, were in charge at Suakin, this desire on the part of the coast tribes was recognized, and they were assured that by every means that could be taken their independence would be respected, and the authority of the Egyptian Government should on no terms whatever be extended one 464 inch beyond Suakin itself. The consequence of that very sensible and very just policy was that there was a very considerable period of tranquillity, and Osman Digna, who was reported to have a policy more hostile to Egypt and to England than the tribesmen amongst whom he lived, became discredited, because he did not choose to accept those assurances on the part of the Civil Governor. Then a new Civil Governor was selected in Colonel Kitchener, and with regard to him I wish to use no words which would reflect upon him the slightest disrespect as a soldier; but I confess that, looking as carefully as one can at these transactions and his conduct as a politician and Civil Governor, it does appear that that conduct is open to grave objection. It seems that Colonel Kitchener committed exactly the same error as the Italians have committed at Massowah—that instead of keeping on pacific terms with the coast tribes that surrounded him, he threw them into confusion, irritated and exasperated them, and led up to the bringing of the dervishes of the Nile into the trenches in front of Suakin. I will not detain the Committee with a detailed account of the transactions in which Colonel Kitchener involved himself a short time after his arrival at Suakin. But I may say that his "friendlies," who, though friendly to us, were antagonistic to the coast tribesmen, looted the cattle of two of the most important of the coast tribes, and that when one of the tribes sent in their sheikhs to Colonel Kitchener to ask why the looting of cattle had been permitted, instead of treating the sheikhs with civility, he locked them up, and they were made to perform menial services in the streets of Suakin. At all events, they were very contumeliously treated. Then, when these friendlies were sent on their way to Tokar, they were unable to reach that place, and the feeling against them was so strong that they were withdrawn. The mere despatch of these men towards Tokar roused a feeling of alarm; the suspicions of the tribes were naturally aroused, and the tribesmen were filled with apprehension and alarm. When Colonel Kitchener, representing the Egyptian Government, being an Egyptian officer, bearing an Egyptian title—I do not know whether he wore the 465 Egyptian costume or not—but bearing an Egyptian title, acted as if he was about to recover for the Government of Egypt the dominion which we had expressly repudiated, a state of things arose which the tribesmen themselves were resolved on no account to tolerate or endure. I am not going further into the details of these transactions, but I wish the Committee to understand how transactions of this kind are likely to breed ill-feeling and suspicion in the minds of the tribesmen. What did the tribesmen say? They sent word that, although they might not themselves fight, yet, unless they had assurances that they could trust that the Egyptian Government was not going beyond the walls of Suakin, they would undoubtedly have to go to the Mahdi and invite him to send his dervishes to aid them in freeing them from the Government which they themselves had fought to expel. That is the explanation. The Government having given us very few Papers—Papers not worth calling information—we are left very much in the dark, and have to find out as best we can the truth of these matters. But as far as I can make out—and I have taken considerable trouble to do so—that is the true story of the appearance of the dervishes in the intrenchments before Suakin. My position is this. These procedings of Colonel Kitchener, the Civil Governor of Suakin, kindled, and were calculated to kindle, a very lively and active suspicion in the minds of these tribesmen. That is, I submit, the root of the whole mischief, and I hope the Committee will see that the interests of these coast tribesmen are in all respects identical with our own. They are for trade; they need trade; they are suffering most grievous poverty for want of trade; they are, therefore, for peace. But they are not inclined to accept that bad kind of peace which they know too well—the kind of peace which the Egyptian rule bestows upon them. Now, Sir, what is our position—my position, at any rate, at this moment? What is the position I should advise being taken up with the tribesmen? I should say that nothing could be more prudent or sensible than to convey to these coast tribesmen, by proclamation or some other means, whatever else may happen in the region of military operations—to convey to them assurances 466 that the Egyptian dominion is not to be extended one inch beyond Suakin in any circumstances whatever. Well, then, I would drop, and advise our officials to drop, the word "rebel." A more ridiculous misapplication of the term I cannot possibly imagine. Against whom are they rebels? There is no Government against whom they are in rebellion, and this is not a mere idle cavilling about phrases. It is important that hon. Members of this House and people in the country should look at things in the right light; and by insisting on the use of the word "rebel," you impart a false colour and a misleading complexion to the whole transaction. If you want to detach these tribesmen from the Mahdi, you must assure them that they will be permitted to retain their independence. I admit that things are much more difficult in consequence of these military operations, which I venture to say have been very precipitately resorted to. They will be all the more difficult, because I take note of a saying of Zebehr's, I think, to Lord Ribblesdale, when he was a prisoner at Gibraltar. Zebehr said—The Arabs are not savage or stupid. They will listen to reason; but reason must be in peace and not in arms, for the Arabs are brave.We shall be at considerable disadvantage in being in arms, but I think that is the first thing to try and the first thing to do. As I have mentioned Zebehr's name, a word may be said as to another expedition which has been suggested, and that is the despatch of Zebehr to Suakin and to the Soudan in order to carry on the pacification of the district. Well, Mr. Courtney, I remember in 1884 I expressed from below the Gangway—and I think I was the only Member who did express it—I expressed my sincere regret that the Government of that day, under the violently-exerted influence of the late Mr. Forster, did not comply with General Gordon's request, that Zebehr should be sent to his assistance. However, that is long past, and the time since then has been quite sufficient to efface whatever influence for good Zebehr might at the time have possessed. And even if it were not so, I am not at all sure that the fact that we detained Zebehr in imprisonment at Gibraltar for two or three years will have made him, in his heart, any more friendly to England. I think, then, 467 that we may dismiss Zebehr from consideration. Well, now I come to a very important set of considerations—those affecting the fate of the captives at Khartoum. It would, as I said, be most repugnant to every section of this Committee to show the slightest indifference or coldness as to what may befall these men. The question we have to ask the Government is whether they believe that there is any ground for immediate and pressing apprehensions as to the personal safety of Emin Bey and Mr. Stanley, if Stanley it be? We are not entirely without guidance on this point, because one Englishman, Lupton Bey, was supposed to have been with the Mahdi before the death of Gordon, and is known to have been at Khartoum last February, when a communication was received from him. He is believed, so far as experts can judge, to be at Khartoum now. According to his last communication, he was not in any apprehension of immediate personal danger. I hope, therefore, that we may regard Emin Bey and Mr. Stanley as not being immediately in danger; and it is quite certain that the Government, at all events, do not regard the danger as pressing, because they do not think that the news of the capture of Emin and Stanley ought to affect our military operations at Suakin. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us on Saturday that many weeks, or even many months, might elapse before the fate of the captives at Khartoum could be ascertained. Before that, the right hon. Gentleman, speaking, I suppose, not his own private opinion, but the opinion of the Government, said the situation at Suakin, if I understand his words rightly, was unaffected by the intelligence of the capture at Khartoum; because he said, even if it were true, it would not relieve us from the necessity of defending Suakin and repelling the enemy which is facing it. The right hon. Gentleman, however, does not close the door against hope of success from negotiations for their release. At any rate, he says that, in the opinion of the Government, they must continue just as before their operations at Suakin. Well, now, Suakin is itself perfectly safe. [Cries of "No, no!"] There is not a single military man in this Committee, and I do not think there is one out of it, who will say that Suakin itself is in the least danger of capture. [An hon. 468 MEMBER: Yes.] If there is one military man who will say so, I will undertake to produce 10 others who will deny it. The annoyance from the firing is, no doubt, very great; the annoyance from the occupation of the ground near the Wells is especially very great. But you have to consider whether, for the sake of putting down what is annoying, and what I quite admit is a thing to be put down, you are going to do anything to endanger the safety of the captives at Khartoum. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he really means, in what he told the House on Saturday, that the dislodgement of the dervishes at the Wells is so paramount an object of policy that even if we had reason to believe that military operations would endanger the lives of the captives at Khartoum, the Government would feel bound at all hazards to persist in those operations? If the Government say so—and their language on Saturday looks like it—I can only say it is a serious proposition, and a proposition to which I cannot believe for a moment the Committee will assent. If this is the alternative, I cannot believe that it would not be better for Suakin to endure somewhat longer inconvenience rather than that the lives of these brave and remarkable men should be sacrificed, or even in danger of being sacrificed. I go a step further. Suppose, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer anticipates, you come to negotiations by-and-by for the release of the captives, will you stand better or worse for these operations? So far as we can judge, these operations will be just enough, as they have been defined by the Government, to provoke the Khalifa at Khartoum without intimidating him. Remember you have said you are going to act upon a strictly defensive policy, and as soon as you have dislodged the dervishes you are not going an inch beyond Suakin. You are going to retire, and the troops who came from Cairo to Suakin are going back from Suakin to Cairo. I submit to the Committee that this operation, if it involves any considerable slaughter, will undoubtedly exasperate the Mahdi at Khartoum, and will be likely to induce him to retaliate, and he can most effectually retaliate by taking the lives of the captives. I hope the Government will 469 let us see—I do not ask them to tell us this or that particular step, but I hope they will not only tell us that they have clear ideas, but will let us see that they have clear ideas as to the steps they are about to take, and as to the bearing of the policy which they are pursuing at Suakin upon the safety of these captives. A few words more on the general question as to Suakin. I want to know upon what propositions we agree. I thought, when I came down to the House tonight, that we were all agreed, because the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary had given it as his opinion—that Egypt, at all events, has no interest in Suakin, and that Her Majesty's Government, quite as cordially as any of us on this side of the House, agreed with Lord Salisbury that from the point of view of the interest of the Egyptian Government itself, we ought to abandon Suakin at once. [Cries of "No, no!"] That I thought, at all events, was Lord Salisbury's opinion, and I shall be very curious to know whether his own Government are going to throw him over. There is a second proposition on which I hope we all agree, and on which I hope we shall have a distinct assurance from the Government. The second proposition is that England is on no account to become involved in any enterprize whatever in any portion of the Soudan. I should like to have a clear assurance on that subject, and I believe the whole of the Committee will agree with me in desiring such an assurance. On the same occasion, and in the same debate, Lord Salisbury used very remarkable language, and quite as strong as he used in reference to the position of Egypt. He was talking of the speech which was made by Lord Dundonald, who had opened the discussion in "another place," and who had advocated resort to what was termed a civilizing policy in the Soudan. The noble Marquess said—As to the civilization which the noble and gallant Earl would impose upon us the duty of restoring, it could only be carried out by a large and costly expedition, entailing enormous sacrifice of blood and treasure, and for the present a continuous expenditure, which I do not think the people of this country would sanction."—(3 Hansard,  1420.)That is Lord Salisbury's opinion, and I should have had no doubt that it was the opinion of Her Majesty's Govern- 470 ment, had I not remembered some expressions that were made use of in 1885. The right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking from the back Benches there in 1885, said he should insist upon the Government of the day holding Berber as the outpost of Western civilization. I hope Lord Salisbury will refuse to give the Chancellor of the Exchequer a blank cheque. And I cannot help remembering that on a memorable occasion another right hon. Gentleman used language the memory of which would, but for Lord Salisbury's pacific assurance, disquiet me exceedingly. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) on that occasion said—You must retain the control of the Nile Valley, as far south as Khartoum"—he went further than Berber—"and you must see that there is established at Khartoum a Government, subject to your influence, in close connection with the Government of Egypt"—(3 Hansard,  1637.)I hope we shall hear that Lord Salisbury's views are to prevail, and that the President of the Board of Trade and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will repudiate once for all the rash and shortsighted views which they then held. There is a third proposition, the last which I propose to discuss, on which we do not all agree. I repeat what I said before, that the retention of Suakin as Suakin is worthless. I should like for a moment to examine that proposition, for it will lead, I believe, at no very distant date, to a very important step being taken. The Government have clearly and explicitly denied the utility of Suakin for any purpose whatever, except the suppression of the Slave Trade. As far as I can gather from any authoritative utterance of any Minister, or important Member of the Government, there is no pretence that Suakin is of any advantage except as a centre from which to put down the Slave Trade. The Government have pledged themselves to make no expedition beyond Suakin. They have pledged themselves, in Lord Salisbury's words, not to face, in any sense of the term, the sacrifice of blood and treasure which would be involved in extending operations beyond Suakin, and in attempting to civilize the Soudan. There is talk, no doubt, in many quarters that Suakin 471 would be very valuable as a centre of trade. Well, that is a question which is well worth discussing. For myself, I can-not see why a good trade should not spring up with the Eastern Soudan, with Suakin in the hands of the coast tribes, just in the same way as a good trade sprang up in Zanzibar, although there was no English Government in Zanzibar. I cannot see why the same enterprize and spirit which have enabled the Bombay merchants to establish a good trade on the Coast of Africa should not enable them, or others, to carry on a good trade with the Soudanese without our keeping Suakin. But that is by the way. The Government have not said anything about trade. Lord Salisbury in his speech based the case for the retention of Suakin on its utility as a port from which the Slave Trade could be effectually suppressed. If the case for the Slave Trade broke down, I submit that the case for the retention of Suakin breaks down. I am not going to repeat those extracts from Colonel Schaeffer's Memorandum which I read to the Committee a fortnight ago. I will remind the Committee that Colonel Schaeffer is the head of the Slave Trade Department, and he says explicitly, and it has never been denied, that if you want to suppress the Slave Trade you must suppress it at its source, or in the markets—Jeddah and elsewhere. On the testimony of the most competent judges, Suakin, for the purpose of suppressing the Slave Trade, is of no avail. Therefore I submit that we are holding Suakin purely as Suakin. We are going to spend English and Egyptian money and to sacrifice English, and Egyptian, and Arab lives for an object which is useless alike for Englishmen, for Egyptians, and for Arabs. This, however, is not the question of the day, but I have thought it right to state my own view of the ultimate solution of the question. The question of the day is, whether the military operations, unaccompanied as they are by any attempt to put ourselves right with the coast tribes, are likely to make our future in Suakin, whether we retain it or whether we abandon it, easier or more promising than it was before? On the contrary, I think our military operations are calculated to irritate the coast tribes, on whose good-will we must rely for an 472 ultimate settlement. Our military operations seem already to have had the effect of attracting a considerable increase of reinforcements. Consider what will happen. Our operations will, in the first stage, either fail or succeed, although, of course, we cannot possibly contemplate their ultimate failure. That is impossible, no doubt; but, if you should fail, what would you have to do? You will have to extend operations, and will have to go to Handoub, Tamai, and elsewhere. If you extend your operations in consequence of a first repulse, irritation and alarm will increase among the tribes, and you will be doing the very best you can to throw them still further into the hands of the Mahdi. Suppose that you succeed, ever so promptly, you will still have strengthened the suspicion in their minds that you intend to restore Egyptian domination. This precipitate resort to military operations, however well they may turn out immediately, unless you accompany them by negotiations, which you are not doing, will involve consequences that are sure to be not only evil but disastrous. In my judgment the whole proceeding has been a series of blunders. It was a foolish policy that was pursued—[Laughter.] I mean quite recently, in 1887—[Laughter.] Well, I opposed the whole policy. But it was the foolish proceeding in 1887 that led to the appearance of the dervishes on the Nile. Then you bring troops, and, having brought troops, you are ashamed not to use them, though the use of them will, at the very best, leave the position just where it might have been if a policy of common sense had prevailed in the first instance. I confess I look with some apprehension on the situation, because I see, from unmistakable signs, the growth of the designs of the military party. The other day a conspicuous mouthpiece and spokesman of that party informed the people of England that it will be necessary, if you want to do any good, to occupy and retain Handoub, Tamai, and Tokar. Why, Tokar is 40 miles from Suakin, and you are asked to do what General Sir Frederick Graham with 15,000 British troops was not able to do. Since then the designs of the military party have expanded. We read something much more astonishing in The Times of to-day. We learn that— 473If England would once declare her firm determination to uphold Egyptian rule, and develop trade and commerce in the Eastern Soudan, the task would he easy, and it is ready for us now. To hold Egypt and maintain the true Islamism against the false Mahdism must he crushed; and, whether she wills it or not, England must undertake the task—now with comparative ease, by conciliating and protecting the well-disposed tribes, but, later on, by fearful struggles. If England would but realize her true position, and advance upon the lines of a dignified policy, now is the time.
MR. JOHN MORLEY
It is the correspondent of The Times at Suakin. It will be easy to convince the right hon. Gentleman, if he is sceptical, that that correspondent is not very far removed from high military authority. Supposing opinions of that kind are entertained by important people about the General at Suakin, if not by the General himself, is this House willing to undertake the task of crushing the Mahdi? I think not. I am perfectly sure that it is not, and we have the right to ask from the Government, not only the complete repudiation of all insane crusading schemes of this kind, but also a complete repudiation of any desire to go one inch beyond the frontier of Suakin itself; and also, and lastly, a clear and definite explanation why they did not attempt to open negotiations with the coast tribes earlier, and why they do not announce to us that they are going to embark upon specific negotiations now?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir JAMES FERGUSSON) (Manchester, N.E.)
To a great extent the right hon. Gentleman has travelled over the same ground that he traversed not many days ago, and I regret to find that the precise declarations made on that occasion have not carried conviction to his mind, seeing that he requires them to be renewed. I believe the statement I have to make will not fall short of the statement I made then. But there is one demand he has made to which I cannot accede—namely, that we should make specific declarations as to the manner in which operations shall be carried on.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that we were not to go one inch beyond 474 Suakin; yet, in his own speech, he furnished very strong grounds why a positive and precise declaration on such a subject should not be made. He said that declarations made here might be taken notice of even by the chief dervish at Khartoum, for I believe nobody is called the Mahdi there now. Well, if the authorities at Khartoum take notice of what passes in this House, I venture to put to the Committee that a declaration as to the precise limit of military operations would be most imprudent on the part of anyone speaking from a responsible position. I cannot follow the right hon. Gentleman throughout his historical retrospect; but in reference to the remarks he has made I must take exception to one point in the statement, that the right hon. Gentleman has made. He declared that the tribes had achieved their independence, and that as long as Governors were at Suakin of the stamp of Sir Charles Warren and Major Watson their independence was respected; but then there was another Governor, Colonel Kitchener, who had a totally different policy, and who irritated the coast tribes. I believe that a more unfounded accusation was never made than that which the right hon. Gentleman has made against Colonel Kitchener, and the policy which was enjoined upon him, which he endeavoured to carry out, and which he achieved. There is a considerable distance of time covered by these few sentences of the right hon. Gentleman's. Colonel Kitchener entered upon his duties at Suakin about the beginning of 1887, and performed them for more than a year. During that time a very great change took place in the attitude of the Government at Suakin towards the tribes. Colonel Kitchener was enjoined, when he went to Suakin, by all means to cultivate trade. I very much regret that the very latest Papers are not in the hands of hon. Members; but I assure the Committee that the delay is only caused by the desire to bring the information down to as late a date as possible, and the Papers will be circulated almost immediately. I will quote one or two sentences from them to show the truth of what I have said. A despatch of Sir Evelyn Baring in 1888 embodies the whole of the policy. He pointed out that the policy to be followed at Suakin and the Eastern Soudan was clear enough; it was to remain purely 475 on the defensive against any hostile action of the tribes, and to avoid any action which might be considered as an offensive action. Colonel Kitchener said himself that, in his opinion, the only way to deal with the Arabs and to pacify the Soudan was to adhere to a straightforward and firm policy, and to take precautions for establishing among the Arabs a belief in the absolute truth and sincerity of our word.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
The 14th of April, 1887. He further said that he saw a steady improvement taking place, which was better than a rapid change, for that might bring about a corresponding re-action. The Commissioner had the most distinct instructions to cultivate trade, and for a year and a-half trade has been going on with the parts North and South of Suakin. I will give the Committee the instructions of which I have spoken, dated 15th of January, 1887—In the first place, they (the Government) wish to insure peace and tranquillity on the immediate frontiers of their de facto Possessions. In the second place, they wish to make such arrangements as will enable trade to be resumed with the more remote tribes. Under existing circumstances both of those objects can only be obtained by diplomacy. The difficult task which is therefore set before you is, by skilful negotiations, to encourage the amity of the friendly tribes, and to win over to your side the tribes which are hostile or semi-hostile.The result of that was that this year the trade from Suakin to the interior was considerable, and at least two caravans went to Berber. On August 1, 1888, after Osman Digna had threatened Suakin, the Consul at Suakin reported that trade was going on, that the Egyptian authorities were encouraging trade, and that the prospects were better in every way. I have here a Return showing the large amount of trade going on between Suakin and the interior. But early in this year Osman Digna came from the distant point to which he had retired, with the intention of stirring up the tribes against the Egyptian Government at Suakin and of joining in an attack, headed by himself, against us. In that he failed, and the trade continued to prosper. In October, however, a force of dervishes came, I believe, from Berber, and sat down before Suakin with the intention 476 of driving the English and the Egyptians into the sea, That siege of the place has continued. I cannot say there is any danger of Suakin being taken, because of the precautions of the authorities and the efficiency of the troops. But the safety of Suakin from a rush is due to no one more than to Colonel Kitchener, whom General Dormer, in a recent despatch, declares to have shown great skill in placing Suakin in a good position of defence. With respect to the annoyance that takes place from the fire of the besiegers of Suakin, and the remark of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) who sits on the other side of the House, "Why not let them go on firing away?" it is very easy for a Gentleman in this House, in safety at home, to talk in that unconcerned way. Does the hon. Gentleman know how many casualties there have already been at Suakin? Already 16 lives have been lost and 61 persons have been wounded; quiet and passive inhabitants of the place have lost their lives. Can we stand still and regard this with indifference? Something has been said about attacks made by friendly tribes. But these attacks took place in spite of good advice, and were attacks committed in the way of reprisals for similar attacks made by hostile tribes. I cannot but help noticing the hatred which it is said attached to Colonel Kitchener because he is an Egyptian officer; but Colonel Kitchener only followed the practice of Europeans in the Egyptian Service in wearing a fez, yet there is no reason to believe that he attracted the hatred felt against the Egyptians by the Soudanese. I have no wish to weary the Committee with details. Trade was actively carried on until the siege began. No doubt the people have suffered much since by its interruption, but it has always been recognized that, whenever a place is closely beleaguered, trade must diminish, and those with whom trade is the ordinary means of earning a livelihood, their business must suffer. The right hon. Gentleman asks the Government to say whether they believe that Emin Pasha and Stanley really are at Khartoum. The right hon. Gentleman has, I believe, a copy of the letter sent by Osman Digna. I am bound to say that when the first telegram arrived, giving us the substance of that letter, its authenticity 477 appeared to be doubtful, and, upon a close perusal, that doubt is greatly strengthened. I do not think that the story bears the impress of truth; there are features which render it extremely improbable. In the first place, the time allowed to have elapsed since the 12th of October, when these gallant men are alleged to have fallen into the hands of the dervishes, in some Equatorial Province, is too short to permit of a messenger by way of Khartoum having by now arrived with the news at Suakin. It is also to be noticed that it is stated that officers and some men have been sent to Khartoum; but it is nowhere said that Emin Pasha and Mr. Stanley have been sent there. The ammunition that has been produced, and which is alleged to have been found in the possession of Mr. Stanley, turns out to be ammunition of 1869, and it is extremely unlikely that he would have taken out such old cartridges when he last started for the Congo. It therefore appears quite possible that this is a simple Oriental device, and we must all hope that it is so. What sort of ground, then, does this afford for Her Majesty's Government interrupting the measures necessary to raise the siege of Suakin? How can we, under these circumstances, which very probably point to an attempt on the part of Osman Digna to deceive us, abandon the measures we have taken to drive away the besiegers? Such a proposal was never heard of. We cannot allow these attacks on Suakin to go on, causing loss of life as they do to its inhabitants.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that my remarks were based on the assumption that the story as to Emin Pasha and Mr. Stanley was true.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
If it were true, it is manifest that it would require a great deal of time to verify this story. And if, under the circumstances at Suakin, we grounded arms and abandoned our plans, I venture to think that our prestige would suffer very severely. We maintain our position in different parts of the world by moral influence based on the power behind, and to treat with those besieging Suakin would greatly affect that moral influence. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the declaration of the Prime Minister as to the value of Suakin 478 to Egypt. What I said on a former occasion was perfectly consistent with everything that has been said since—namely, that while Her Majesty's Government counselled the Egyptian Government to remain on the defensive, and only retain Wady Halfa, they acquiesced in the desire of the Egyptian Government to retain Suakin, that being considered important from various points of view. The Egyptian Government were anxious to keep Suakin, because they considered that, if it was given up, their flank would be greatly exposed on the Eastern side, and they also attached great commercial importance to it, because Suakin, from their point of view, is the key of the Red Sea Littoral. Indeed, Suakin and Massowah are the main and ancient ports of the Upper Nile Valley. It should also be borne in mind that, so long as we recognize the duty of suppressing the Slave Trade in the Red Sea there can be no doubt that Suakin is a very important point, and its abandonment would undoubtedly cause the Slave Trade to be carried on with greater ease and activity. It is the fashion now for some hon. Members to sneer at the efforts that are being made to put down the Slave Trade. There could be nothing easier than to give up those efforts, which cost a great deal of money. I think the feeling of the country is that we should not turn away from this good work until it is still further accomplished. We do not at all draw back from the declarations we have made, and which the right hon. Gentleman has quoted. We do not seek to embark in further expeditions in the Soudan. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he would believe in declarations of this sort if he did not remember what occurred in 1885. Unfortunately, Governments have not always held by their declarations, but since Her Majesty's Government have been in Office they have held the position taken up by the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian in 1884 that Wady Halfa and Suakin should alone be retained, and they have strongly discouraged any attempt to go beyond these points. The relief of Suakin is the sole object of the present expedition. That expedition is absolutely necessary, but there is no intention whatever of re-conquering the Soudan, or any part of it. Such are the inten- 479 tions of Her Majesty's Government, and I know of no words in which to describe them more plainly. The right hon. Gentleman says that we are going to sacrifice life for no object. It is most unfortunate that any life should be lost; but lives have already been lost on our own side from no provocation of ours, and it is absolutely necessary that these attacks and loss of life at Suakin should be put an end to. The Egyptian troops have already given a good account of themselves when they have encountered the tribes at Wady Halfa and Suakin, and, with the assistance of the British troops, we may hope, before many days have passed, to hear that these attacks on Suakin are at an end. Complaint has been made that we have not entered into negotiations. But how is it possible to do so with men who are actively hostile? It was for no want of negotiation that the dervishes came down and besieged Suakin. It was an entirely wanton, unprovoked, and hostile action on their part, no doubt prompted by their religious fanaticism. There has been no want of attempted negotiations with the Arabs. General Gordon attempted negotiations under far more favourable circumstances, but nevertheless failed, and so have several other attempts, including some from Suakin. Any attempt to negotiate at the present time would be absolutely futile. As to the schemes attributed to Her Majesty's Government on the authority of a newspaper correspondent in Egypt, I can only say that I have never known the slightest ground for them. That is a policy to which Her Majesty's Government have not given the slightest encouragement; every act of theirs has been in a totally contrary direction. The Committee may rely upon there being no such intention. When the necessary operations arising out of the present siege of Suakin are at an end, every method will be resumed to foster peace and trade, and to give the tribes to understand that there is no wish but to live in peace with them, to promote their prosperity, if they will only abstain from hostile acts, and to throw no impediment in the way of trade between the interior and the coast. By pursuing the policy which has been followed for the last two years we hope before long to establish more peaceful 480 relations even with those tribes with whom we were formerly at war.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
said, he must confess that he did not quite gather from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) whether he was in favour of our abandoning Suakin or in favour of our retaining it. He could not help feeling that it was perfectly clear that if we did abandon Suakin the result would necessarily be that that port would, in all probability, be in the hands of some other civilized Power within a very short time. The idea that the Native tribes around Suakin would be able to hold it successfully, and to develop its commerce, was a little belied by the knowledge which our experience in that part of the world had hitherto given to us. At present there were two issues before them, and he should have great difficulty in rising to address the Committee upon the question if he had not carefully studied the matter and had some little practical knowledge of it. What he ventured to suggest was this—he did not blame the Government for wishing to dislodge the dervishes. That seemed to him to be a necessary precaution for the purpose of relieving Suakin from the harassing attacks to which it was at present exposed; and it appeared to him that by the dispersal of the rebels, as they were called, and by placing forts on the present entrenchments of the rebels, they might be prevented from ever again taking up a position that would enable them to besiege Suakin. The wells nearest to Suakin from the walls were at a distance of something like two miles; therefore, if the Government succeeded in dislodging the dervishes from the wells, they might reasonably look forward to the possible liberation of Suakin from any future state of siege. But a much wider question was involved. The total number of the dervishes was, according to the most exaggerated reports, 2,000 or 3,000. The surrounding tribes, the Hadendowas, the Amarars, and the Bishari, were capable of putting into the field a fighting force of not less than 150,000 men. Not one of those tribes was actively assisting the enemy in the siege of Suakin. What he wanted to know then—and it seemed to him a very pertinent question—was, what was 481 to prevent our entering into negotiations with those tribes for the purpose of inducing them to do precisely that which they did a few years ago when the Hadendowas, aided by the Bishari and the Amarars, dispersed the dervishes by force, when engaged in besieging Suakin? What was the encouragement which had been offered to them by the Government to assist us? It appeared to him to be manifest, from the statements made by the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary, that the tribes around Suakin were well affected, and he had it upon information which had been supplied to him that Mr. Wylde, in reference to whose exclusion from Suakin he had asked a Question on Saturday, had at present in his possession documents and agreements entered into in 1885 and 1886 by the Sheikhs of those three most powerful tribes, by which they agreed to allow trade to be opened up and peaceful commerce to be developed, on the sole condition that Egyptian rule should not be re-imposed at Suakin. Then, why did the Government shut the door of Suakin against Mr. Wylde, who was in that position, and who within the last two months had received from the Sheikhs of those tribes assurances of their peaceful attitude towards England and their willingness to carry out the terms of their agreement. It was, he thought, idle to contend that Colonel Kitchener had not taken up a position of something like arrogant distrust of the tribes. He had no wish to say any thing personal that might be considered offensive to Colonel Kitchener, who was undoubtedly an able and gallant officer. Colonel Kitchener was recalled from Zanzibar; and, so far as the information afforded to Parliament went, it was the action of Colonel Kitchener which sowed the seeds of the present troubles, the fruit of which we are now reaping. When Colonel Kitchener went to Suakin he entirely reversed the policy which was pursued by Sir Charles Warren, who kept open house for the Chiefs of the neighbouring tribes, held levées to conciliate them, and, by benign influences, during the short time he was there they considerably developed the trade of Suakin. He induced merchants to come from Tokar and Sinkat, and he endeavoured once more to establish English and Egyptian rule at Suakin upon a wholesome basis, producing among the 482 tribes the belief that the Egyptian yoke would never again be imposed upon them. But as soon as Colonel Kitchener went to Suakin he discouraged trade with Tokar, the principal emporium and trade centre of the Soudan, because he believed that the people were disaffected towards Egyptian rule at Suakin. He did not know what stronger illustration they could have of the difference between the policy of Sir Charles Warren and Major Watson, and that pursued by Colonel Kitchener, than the present relations which existed between the tribes and the English and Egyptian Governments. He would ask the Government, although he did not wish to press it too unduly against them, whether, under all the circumstances, they took wise precautions for the purpose of making Suakin secure. He did not think that the tribes cared very much about Suakin at all. He believed that, to use a colloquial expression, so long as they kept the English flag flying at the back door of Suakin they might keep the Egyptian flag flying towards the sea. But the tribes were anxious not to have Egyptian Rule reimposed over any part of the Tokar or Sinkat districts. The correspondent of The Times, Mr. Bell, was in immediate communication with the military party in Egypt and the Soudan, and they had lately had from Mr. Bell a statement that it was desirable that the Tokar and Sinkat districts should be occupied. Therefore he thought that Her Majesty's Government ought to give assurances that in no circumstances would the Tokar and Sinkat districts be again occupied. If that assurance was given we might rely upon being safe from the hostility of the tribes. If it were not given, then the operations at Suakin were almost certain to arouse the hostility of the Tribes. The policy of Her Majesty's Government had been most disastrous. In 1883 Suakin had a population of 11,000, and it was now reduced to a little over 3,000. Let not Her Majesty's Government shut the door against the conciliation of the tribes. Let them, if they liked, keep Suakin, but let them not oppose the only possible solution of the Soudanese question, that of entering into amicable arrangements with the tribes, and, once for all, stopping Egyptian rule in that country.
§ MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Oldham)
said, he was in entire sympathy with the hon. Member who had just spoken, as he believed were most Members of the Ministerial side of the House, in wishing that peaceable relations might be established with the tribes and trade reopened in the Soudan. But that was not the question to be discussed at the present time, when they had solely to examine the facts of the military situation. What was the present state of Suakin? Hostile forces were besieging Suakin, and several courses were proposed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne said that Suakin was valueless, and it would be a happy day when Egypt and England abandoned it altogether. Then there was the "slovenly policy" recommended by the noble Lord the Member for Paddington, which had been reduced to an absurdity by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, who argued that the inhabitants of Suakin should not object to having their town shelled by the dervishes, as they would soon get used to it. He thought that the course adopted by the Government in trying to raise the siege of Suakin, by driving away the dervishes, who had cut off the water supply of the town, was one which ought to be approved by all sensible men. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne had stated that it was possible that Emin Pasha and Stanley had been taken prisoners by the dervishes and sent to Khartoum, and that their safety might be imperilled if the Government went on with the warlike operations at Suakin. Let them look that situation fairly in the face. He must congratulate hon. Members opposite on the newly-born interest which they had taken in the fate of Emin Pasha. When they remembered how those hon. Members abandoned him four years ago, when the English forces were ordered to scuttle out of the Soudan, after the fall of Khartoum, and he was left to suffer anything that might happen to him, it was wonderful that they should now take up his cause and be deeply alarmed for his personal safety. What had happened to Emin Pasha was only what might be expected to happen to him some time or other—namely, that the dervishes would take him prisoner. He did not believe that 484 the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian even paid Emin Pasha the compliment of sending him a telegram such as that which they sent to poor Gordon—"Why do not you come away instead of staying there?" They were told, now that it seemed possible Emin Pasha and Mr. Stanley had been taken prisoners, that they must open negotiations for their release, in order that their lives might not be endangered by the hostile acts of the dervishes now engaged in besieging Suakin. Those who were acquainted with the character of the Arab race must know that they are the last men in the world to treat with men who are suing for peace, and to give them under such circumstances any concession they might desire. What had they to offer in exchange for the lives of Emin Pasha and Mr. Stanley? If they took the leaders prisoners outside Suakin and held them as hostages, they would have something to exchange. But if they sent an Envoy to Khartoum to ask the Khalifa to surrender his prisoners, his first question would naturally be, what probably Prince Bismarck's would be in similar circumstances, "What will you give me in exchange?" and all they could offer him, apparently, would he the surrender of the town of Suakin. Was that a course which Parliament ought to approve? Was it not a most humiliating thing for Englishmen to be told that when two men who had voluntarily taken their lives in their own hands were taken prisoners by the enemy, we should go down on our knees to that enemy and ask that the prisoners should be released? What would Stanley himself say if he were told that they made his safety the miserable excuse for adopting such a pusillanimous policy? Stanley would no doubt say that he was prepared to suffer the penalty, that he had taken his life in his own hands, and that England should do her duty in that part of the world to her own interests and to her own honour. That was the advice Mr. Stanley would give, and it ought to be the advice that every Englishman would be prepared to act upon. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne told the Committee that Suakin was of no value to this country or to anybody 485 else, and he referred to the opinion expressed by Lord Salisbury on that question. He could quite understand an English statesman saying that Suakin was of no material value to Egypt. In the same way it might be said that Quetta was of no material value to India. But the Military Authorities laid it down that it was essential to the interests and safety of India that we should occupy Quetta, and Military Authorities had stated that Suakin was of material value in the defence of Egypt, and, therefore, it ought to be held by the English rulers of Egypt. The right hon. Gentleman used the most unfortunate parallel when he pointed to what had been done at Zanzibar. The right hon. Gentleman said that trade was allowed to go on before the English had direct authority there. English merchants carried on a flourishing trade there because the power of England was predominant in that part of the world. It was the misfortune of English statesmen on both sides that they did not understand the immense power and reputation enjoyed by England in the East. English subjects went over and settled in Zanzibar because they had complete confidence in the protection which England would afford them. England had been recognized as the Suzerain power ever since the Government in Zanzibar had been created, and it was only when England fell back and allowed Germany to interfere that the trade was ruined and England found herself unable to protect her own subjects. If England had retained her authority, trade would have gone on, and if this country continued to hold Suakin as a protection to Egypt and to our Imperial interests, trade would spring up again there. First of all we must show the Arabs that we are their masters, and that we are not going to be insulted by an aggressive band of dervishes. There was no reason why, like Aden, Suakin should not become a flourishing port, carrying on a legitimate trade. The first duty of the Government was to clear the enemy away, and that might have been done a fortnight ago but for the unfortunate interference of the House of Commons.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
My anxiety for the progress of the Business of Supply is so great that I shall certainly stand for a very short time between the Committee 486 and the putting of the Question; but I think it is necessary to say a few words upon the subject before the Committee, although I agree very generally with the opinions of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and I am perfectly satisfied with his mode of stating those opinions. But we had before us, some short time ago, a very narrow question with respect to Suakin which was raised by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill)—a very narrow but still important question. On that occasion I, for one, felt myself precluded from touching any matter of policy whatever, either with respect to the expedition contemplated by Her Majesty's Government, or as to how far it was expedient for us to encourage the Egyptians in the permanent holding of Suakin. We have now got a broader question opened. The subject propounded in the Question put by the coble Lord has been made the subject of censure by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Atherley-Jones). But, undoubtedly, it appears to me that the noble Lord had, at the very least, primâ facie justification for his interposition, when it is evident that it has led to an important measure on the part of the Government—namely, the strengthening of the force which they sent to Suakin, and so far admitting and acknowledging the objection which the noble Lord had taken to the purely military action taken in deference to the deliberate opinions of the purely military authorities. I do not see, therefore, upon the surface of the case, that the noble Lord is open to censure for the course which he then took. There are two questions before us which are very distinct one from the other. One is the present difficulty at Suakin, and the other is the question of policy as to the permanent retention of Suakin, and as to the general policy of the occupation of the Red Sea coast. As far as the more extended occupation is concerned, I, certainly, for one, and I think most of those on this side for whom I am entitled to speak, and I am still less entitled to speak for some of those who sit on this side of the House than for Gentlemen sitting on the opposite side, I may say that I heard with great satisfaction what was stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of 487 State for Foreign Affairs with regard to the Soudan. His expressions on that subject were very broad and explicit; and, moreover, I noticed a particular expression used by him where he cited from a former debate—or from a document, I am not sure which—as an expression of the policy, or as a declaration of the policy of the Government that they acquiesce in the desire of the Egyptian Government to hold Suakin as their own possession. I wish to put a point to him raised in the speech of my hon. and learned Friend behind me, the Member for Durham (Mr. Atherley-Jones). The hon. and learned Gentleman, among other things, touched upon the subject of the negotiations, and said—"How can we negotiate with men who are entirely hostile?" Well I do not see myself that there is conclusive force in that objection. Generally, negotiations are undertaken with men who are not entirely hostile. But assuming for the moment that direct negotiations with the dervishes themselves and the adoption of pacific methods in that form may offer so little encouragement that it could not be deemed a practical policy, I do not quite see what is the objection of the Government to the suggestion which was made by my hon. and learned Friend, and which I hope will be deemed worthy of notice by some other Member of the Government in this debate. As I understand it, it is a part of the case, so to speak, of the Government, although we are not engaged in a controversial or polemical discussion, that the broadest possible distinction is to be drawn between the dervish force, by whom the active operations against Suakin are being carried on, and the very powerful tribes who inhabit that country, and who are entitled to consider themselves as its proprietors. We are told on good authority that these powerful tribes are upon a footing friendly rather than hostile to ourselves, while we are on a footing of extreme hostility to the dervish forces. Why not endeavour, said my hon. and learned Friend, with a good deal of force, to bring these tribes into your views against the dervishes with whom they have no point of contact or of alliance whatever. It appears to me that it would be most important to give your action against the dervishes the character not merely of an action of foreigners who have come here and es- 488 tablished themselves by force in a position to which they primâ facie have no title, but to give it the character of an action favoured and shared in by the tribes who are the proper and legitimate proprietors of the country. As far as it is possible for us to form an opinion—and I grant that we cannot form one except with a great deal of reserve and with much submission to what Her Majesty's Government, with their superior information, may think—I would ask why not endeavour to bring those tribes into the circle of your movement, whatever it is, and make that movement, as far as possible, theirs, and not merely one carried on under the auspices of a Foreign Power? I do not ask Her Majesty's Government, or any Members of Her Majesty's Government, to enter into any military details whatever. I think that would be a great mistake, and I understood my right hon. Friend to expressly disclaim that intention. But I am not prepared to relieve Her Majesty's Government from the serious responsibility which they have undertaken; and, on the other hand, I am not prepared to invade their province, which, indeed, I should feel totally incompetent to do in the present state of our information, either by forcing opinions upon them, or by pressing them for a precipitate disclosure of what they may intend. But, assuming the intelligence from the Nile to be fictitious, and, therefore, incapable of being brought to bear in any manner on the discussion now before us, still the question of whether negotiations ought to be attempted, and even attempted, perhaps, in lieu of force at present, by Her Majesty's Government, has not yet been altogether disposed of, and will, I trust, be noticed by those who may, on behalf of the Government, take part in this discussion. But then there is the further question opened by the inquiry made by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington; and it is a question on which I think we ought to have as much light as possible. The question put by the noble Lord happened to rest on this basis—that we have the Prime Minister's most authentic declaration that the retention of Suakin is not an Egyptian interest; and, if it be so, can we reconcile it with our notions of honour or of dignity to place upon Egypt the charge, or even a portion of the 489 charge, of the expedition which is in progress? It is material that we should understand how far this measure is an Egyptian measure, and how far it is a British measure. And I must say that I entirely agree with the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington in the importance he attaches to the declaration of Lord Salisbury. I, unfortunately, came into the House the moment the Question had been answered, and I did not hear the answer; but I understand that it was stated by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Fergusson) that that declaration was not an official declaration. If that statement was made, I must say that I utterly and absolutely contest it, and I say there is no statement more official, no statement more binding, no statement, not even a written statement in a despatch, to which Parliament is more entitled to hold a Minister than his statement made in his place in either House of Parliament. I say that that is a well known and recognized principle of our Parliamentary system. I say that this statement of Lord Salisbury's is a very important factor in this case, and also goes far, at any rate, to raise the further inquiry how far the proceedings now going on are Egyptian and how far they are English proceedings. Undoubtedly, the effect of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary, as far as I could comprehend it, is to show that they are really Egyptian proceedings. The distinction is a very important one. After all, our position in Egypt is so peculiar that there may be proceedings which are nominally Egyptian, and really English. There may be proceedings taken by officers in the service of the Egyptian Government which are supported entirely by means supplied by the Egyptian Government, and which yet spring either from the direct pressure of English agency, or from some powerful action of English opinion either around or in the Egyptian Government itself. As I understand the right hon. Gentleman, it is an Egyptian view, and the good faith of that Egyptian view, which have been the main source of these proceedings, and if that be so, it is a fact of importance as bearing on the judgment to be formed as to the liabilities of Egypt and of England respectively. But we see how serious is the present juncture. How far is the 490 position modified by the direct participation of a British force in these military operations? I think that Her Majesty's Government have undertaken a very considerable responsibility. I give no opinion as to the merits of proceedings of this kind, yet it is plain to me that in one sense, and from one point of view, this intervention of a British force is in the nature of what we should call a retrograde step—that is to say, a step which tends to involve us more than we have hitherto been involved in responsibility with respect to the Soudan. I am going to assume now that this expedition is really an Egyptian expedition, flowing from the free will and deliberate conviction of the Egyptian Government. But then we have always understood that in the opinion of the Egyptians, and in the opinion of Egyptian advisers, the Egyptian force was adequate to carry it through. Then I must say that if this is a military expedition undertaken on Egyptian grounds, for Egyptian purposes, by Egyptian means, and with the assurance from the military advisers of the Egyptian Government that the force they possess is sufficient for the military object they have in view, then it does become a very serious matter to force upon the Egyptian Government a British co-operation. I am not aware that I have heard this part of the question treated as the circumstances warrant. Then comes the further serious question with regard to the retention of Suakin. And now I am going to set aside the desire of the Egyptians, because if the retention of Suakin be a purely Egyptian measure, and if Suakin be retained simultaneously with the conviction on the part of the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary of England—which I think can hardly be repudiated by Her Majesty's Government—that there is no substantial Egyptian interest engaged in that retention, then I am hardly prepared to say that we can be held free from the consequences that follow from such a conviction. I have then to ask myself what is the reason that you have for sustaining the Egyptian Government in a policy which places them in the sharpest and most acrimonious hostility with the natives of the Soudan, and with respect to which you do not see that any Egyptian interest is involved to justify that policy. Then behind that question 491 comes the question, is there a British interest involved? It is not a very rare thing for Her Majesty's present Government to remind us that the occupation of Suakin was no act of theirs, but that they found the Egyptian Government in possession of Suakin, and that that possession was the result of an act of occupation by an English force for which we, and not they, were responsible. Now, going back to that period, as far as I recollect, the views which prevailed in the British Cabinet to induce them to entertain the idea of occupying Suakin were these. One of them, undoubtedly, was the repression of the Slave Trade, which it was supposed would receive a very serious stimulus from the defeat of General Hicks and the general disorganization consequent thereupon. But what operated with us was that the disturbance in the whole of that region of the Soudan was so great after the defeat of Hicks that excitement pervaded other portions of the East, and, especially, it was deemed to be quite within the bounds of probability, at that period, that the excitement might spread to Arabia, and it was difficult to see how far it might not extend, if once the movement got a footing on the Eastern side of the Red Sea, with respect to its allegiance to the Sultan and its political and permanent tranquillity. That consideration unquestionably influenced the Cabinet at the period of the occupation of Suakin. That excitement, however, produced no movement in Arabia. That danger has altogether passed away, and considerations of that class have no bearing at all on the question of the permanent occupation of Suakin in English interests. Another point relates to operations against the Slave Trade. Now, although I am responsible for the measure which was partly founded on the idea of acting better against the Slave Trade by the occupation of Suakin then, yet when we come to the consideration of the question of the permanent occupation of Suakin, and are to justify it on grounds connected with the Slave Trade, I do not entirely know how to meet the observation, made by a person reasoning on the other side, that we have operated against the Slave Trade, and operated with great effect in different quarters of the globe by other methods purely maritime, and 492 we have never been in the habit of landing on the coast and making attacks on military positions in apparent antagonism—in real antagonism, perhaps—to the natives of the country in order to enable us to carry on our operations. I, therefore, find it very difficult to derive from the general character of those operations against the Slave Trade a justification, upon English grounds, for the permanent occupation of Suakin. I, for one, agree with Lord Salisbury that there is no Egyptian interest in the retention of Suakin. I am told that there are military authorities which are arrayed on the opposite side, and which have been given to the effect that Suakin ought to be retained by Egypt for its own security. To these military authorities, within what I consider to be their proper province, I am ready to yield the utmost deference, as I showed 10 days ago when the noble Lord put his Question; but, when we come to matters of policy, to matters of territorial extension, with the view to military security, I must say that my own experience teaches me to regard with great jealousy, and with some mistrust, these declarations of military authorities. I remember too well the case of the Ionian Islands. It is not necessary to multiply instances, but I do not conceive this to be a properly, exclusively, and purely professional military question on which military men alone are entitled to speak. I cannot get rid of the fear that the retention of Suakin, in the long run, is, and may prove to be, a blister on the Eastern side of Africa. My hon. and learned Friend behind me, to whose suggestion of negotiations I listened with so much pleasure, makes a proposal which is a distinct military extension at this moment. He says you must drive away the dervishes. You may do that, but the driving away of the dervishes is apt to be rather like the driving away of bluebottle flies and things of that kind. The question arises: What security have we that they will not come back again? My hon. and learned Friend says he would provide against their coming back by occupying and fortifying the site which they have chosen as their base of operations. That may be right or wrong; but, as a military suggestion, and with reference to the avoidance of very serious evils that are connected 493 with the present aspect of the case at Suakin, it is quite plain that it is a considerable extension of our responsibilities for Egypt. We are, I am afraid, parties to the present expedition, but although I know that it is the Egyptian rule which is most odious to the people of that, coast, and which, undoubtedly, ought to make us desire that the Egyptian occupation as such will be brought to a close, yet I am by no means sure that the extension of our responsibilities would he, or ought to be, agreeable to the natives of the country. The natural disposition of the natives of the country is to possess their own country. If there is any wish more warrantable, more justifiable—aye, and more obligatory than another, it is that desire, and I do not believe that the intervention of any body of foreigners ought to be agreeable, or ought to be otherwise than highly disagreeable, to the feelings of the tribes, whom you may call barbarous if you like, but who cannot be supposed to be divested of the feelings of men. Therefore I come to the conclusion, as this matter is now before us, that it is a question of the greatest doubt whether the root of the evil does not lie in the presence of an essentially foreign occupation of Suakin itself, and whether it would be possible to get rid of that evil until it may happily be found possible by skilful and judicious action on the part of the Government, to withdraw from that position. It appears to be quite undisputed that the Egyptian occupation of Suakin is detested by the whole native population. It is also clear that the present occupation is an Egyptian occupation; of that there is no doubt, politically. I must say this—when some time after the English force had seized Suakin, we changed what might be called a British occupation into a regular Egyptian occupation, we did it with the hope in the minds of some of us that the Egyptian occupation might facilitate ultimate withdrawal. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. J. M. Maclean), I think, is very anxious that Suakin should not be occupied by England, but if it is to be occupied by the English, pray observe that that is a policy entirely new. It is a policy which cannot be adopted in a moment and without great responsibility, and it cannot be adopted without the action and concurrence of this House. There 494 is much to be said against Egyptian occupation which cannot be said against English occupation. I cannot satisfy my own mind that there is any reason why, if you are to act against the Slave Trade in the Red Sea, you should not act by means of cruisers as you did with great effect on the coast of West Africa, and as you have done since on the coast of East Africa. With respect to trade, I do not know what degree of authenticity or authority ought to attach to the statement of my hon. and learned Friend behind me, hut, if true, it is so important that I make no doubt it will be noticed by Her Majesty's Government. He says, with great confidence in the truth of his statement, that before we went to Suakin the population was 11,000, while at this moment it is but 3,000—as a result, first of British occupation, and now of Egyptian occupation under the British Government. That assertion, Sir, is so extraordinary that one necessarily entertains a doubt in regard to it. It seems to be thought that the military occupation of Suakin is the way to the creation of trade; but I believe that the creation of trade is the result of occupation purely pacific and is not so apt to come under auspices military in their character. I believe that trade is essentially a peaceful operation, and that the removal of practical difficulties, and whatever may possibly lead to military collision, is the best and most effectual method of arriving ultimately at the development of trade in the Red Sea. My opinions really are very simple. They are subject to the remark that they do not dispose of the whole question, because I am not prepared to dictate to Her Majesty's Government what they ought to do at this moment, or at any given time I can point out; but, with respect to the terminus ad quem—the object point towards which, as far as possible, we ought to work—my hope is that while they will treat Egypt handsomely, and not make her pecuniarily liable for any operations which are really British operations, they will give favourable attention to any suggestion like that of my hon. and learned Friend, which appears to point out that there may be modes of negotiation open to the Government, at the present time, which might avoid bloodshed and tend to the diminution of political difficulties. Then, with regard 495 to the more permanent question of remaining at Suakin, it is essential to determine whether, if there is to be a retention of Suakin, it is to be an Egyptian or a British occupation. As to the Egyptian occupation, I must confess that I believe it to be mischievous to Egypt in a high degree. If British occupation is to be entertained, it is necessarily a subject to come up for the judgment and review of this House; and, so far as I am able to judge, that opinion would be one adverse to any occupation of the kind. That I say as simply indicating the direction in which we ought to endeavour to move, and without any attempt to interfere with the present action of the Government, beyond a respectful recommendation, either in the way of relieving them of responsibility, or in the way of interference with those prerogatives of official duty which justly belong to them.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horcastle)
I am sure the Committee will recognize the extreme moderation with which the right hon. Gentleman has approached the discussion of this subject, and, indeed, there are many suggestions he has made in the course of his speech which I do not intend to controvert; but I conceive it very highly desirable that the Government should have the advice and assistance and the experience of the right hon. Gentleman in framing the policy they may hereafter pursue with regard to the Soudan. I am especially glad, however, that not only in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, but in the speeches of other hon. Members, there has been practically no attempt to recur to the policy of endeavouring to interfere with the military operations at Suakin. I cannot express justly any opinion with regard to the time and method of those military operations, and I am sure if the House of Commons, or anybody outside Her Majesty's Government, attempts to interfere with military operations—attempts to say that the operations which, on the best advice, are decided to be possible and necessary are to be suspended, then at once the whole responsibility of the Government is taken away, and then, whatever consequences might happen, rest, not with the Government, but with those who interfere with those military operations. I should like to say that 496 those who advise us in this country, as well as those who advise us in Egypt, are actuated by the same spirit of moderation that actuates us, and they are not for a moment urging on the Government to undertake any operations beyond those now decided to be necessary, and which we have already stated to the House. The right hon. Gentleman's speech directed itself mainly to support the proposal that we should enter into negotiations with the tribes, and accomplish what we desire independently of military operations. Now, we are not for a moment opposed to negotiations with the friendly tribes near Suakin. But what we object to is that our policy should be a necessary accident of such negotiations. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Morley) who began the debate argued, though without adducing any evidence in support of his argument, that there was a total change in our policy at Suakin when Sir Charles Warren and Major Watson were succeeded by Colonel Kitchener. I believe there is not the smallest foundation for any such statement. When the right hon. Gentleman says that the policy of Colonel Kitchener produced a feeling of apprehension among the tribes, I may be allowed to read what Colonel Kitchener himself wrote when he received the instructions of Sir Evelyn Baring as to the objects which Her Majesty's Government thought fit to pursue. In summing up his instructions, he said—These objects are, first, to insure peace and tranquillity on the immediate frontier of our actual possessions; secondly, to promote legitimate trade with more remote districts; both these objects to be obtained without the re-establishment of the direct authority of the Egyptian Government; or, as I understand it, in other words, without incurring responsibilities in the interior.I do not think anything can be more plain than that description which Colonel Kitchener himself gives of the instructions he received.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
The date is the 6th of February, 1887. It is said we have shut the door against Mr. Wylde. It is true that, pending the military operations, the military officer commanding did not think the presence of Mr. Wylde would be desirable. There is no desire to thwart negotiations with the 497 tribes in regard to trade when the time is favourable for such negotiations, but when the hon. Gentleman opposite said that those gentlemen with whom Mr. Wylde acted desired only to carry on trade, he must have forgotten the line of action advocated by them, because they came cap in hand, asking that negotiations should be carried on, not by themselves, but in the name of Her Majesty's Government, and that assurances should be given to the tribes in the name of Her Majesty's Government. We are glad to recognize that the friendly tribes, the local tribes in the neighbourhood of Suakin, are taking no part in the operations against that place. The attack is made, so far as we are able to learn, by man from a distance; but I cannot think that those friendly tribes would be encouraged to begin negotiations with us if they saw us, as it were, running away as if we were afraid of Osman Digna, and as if we were prepared to hand them over to him. The right hon. Gentleman asked what were the original intentions in regard to the keeping of Suakin, and why we retain it now. No one urges that we ought to abandon Suakin at once. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out the original objects of the Government of which he was a Member, in retaining Suakin, and examined how far they were valid at the present time. The first object, says the right hon. Gentleman, was the suppression of the Slave Trade. I believe that reason to be thoroughly valid at the present time, although I am perfectly aware that there is some controversy as to the extent to which, by means of the occupation of Suakin, we have been able to stop the Slave Trade. But no one who looks into the matter can doubt that if we were to abandon Suakin there would be an enormous extension of the Slave Trade through Suakin. The second reason the right hon. Gentleman gave was that the abandonment of Suakin, when the late Government was in power, would have produced an excitement which would have extended to other portions of the East. The right hon. Gentleman, I suppose, referred to Arabia and certain other dominions under the authority and sway of the Sultan. I ask the Committee whether that consideration is not of as much weight at the present time as it was some time ago. Nay, more; if this un- 498 fortunate news of the supremacy of the Mahdi and the progress of the dervishes towards the North for the purpose of carrying on a victorious crusade were to prove true, would not the danger to the Sultan's authority in Arabia be far greater now than it was then? The right hon. Gentleman, no doubt inadvertently, omitted a third reason for the retention of Suakin, which must have been present to his mind, and is present to the mind of Her Majesty's Government—namely, that it was the desire of the Egyptian Government that it should be retained. The Egyptian Government at that time pointed out that the retention of Suakin was of the utmost possible importance to the defence of the Egyptian frontier upon the Nile, and said that if Suakin was not to be held in force, then their difficulties in retaining Wady Halfa, Assouan, and their frontier on the Nile would be vastly increased. Does not the same condition of things now exist? Then the right hon. Gentleman referred to the speech made by Lord Salisbury in the House of Lords in March last, and endeavoured to make out that there was a distinction to be drawn between the opinion of Lord Salisbury and the opinion of his Colleagues. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: No.] If the right hon. Gentleman has not done it, the distinction has been attempted to be drawn. The distinction is not between what Lord Salisbury thought and what the Government thought, but between what was then his personal opinion and what the Egyptian Government thought. It may be said that the Egyptian Government has no such interest in Suakin as to induce us to press them to retain it against their will. That may be so; but if the Egyptian Government hold that there are great and important reasons why the occupation should be continued, is the Committee prepared to say that we are to force the Egyptian Government to relinquish the post and to add enormously to their difficulties? These are the two considerations upon which the right hon. Gentleman specially dwelt. But there is one other. The right hon. Gentleman says that when we induced the Government of Egypt to accept British assistance for the defence of Suakin we were taking a retrograde step. I ask, would any Government be justified in taking any other step than 499 we have taken? It is perfectly true that, in the first instance, the Egyptian Government of the Khedive, and those who advised them, believed that they could undertake these particular operations for the relief of Suakin with Egyptian troops alone. Her Majesty's Government, however, felt that with our relations to the Government of Egypt it would never have done to run the risk of any such unfortunate disaster as that which befel the army of Hicks Pasha. They felt it their duty to insure, as far as possible, the success of the operations. It is true, therefore, that we did press English troops upon the Egyptian Government; it is true that they have accepted them; and we are satisfied that in doing as we have done we only did that which this country could not for a moment have avoided. My noble Friend moved the adjournment of the House the other day for the purpose of calling attention to this subject, and nothing was said in the way of objection to the sending out of 600 British troops; but, on the contrary, the Government were urged to add to and increase the number, and the noble Lord moved the adjournment of the House because, he said, that in the opinion of the military authorities more British troops ought to be sent to Suakin, and the right hon. Gentleman supported him.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
The strength of the Government is that we thoroughly know our own minds with regard to this matter. We have entered upon a distinct object, a possible object, and a limited object. We know the limits we have imposed, and we believe that these limits will be undoubtedly observed. We know also that the object we have undertaken is one which, with all the information we possess, is a possible one with the force at our disposal. We are not to be put aside from this definite policy in consequence of any ingenious conjecture as to what may happen in the interior of Africa or by any comparison with previous expeditions. The operations now about to proceed at Suakin are necessary for the defence of that place, and necessary in discharge of the pledges which we have given to the Egyptian Government, which you have given to the Egyptian Government, and which the country 500 has given. More than that we do not desire to undertake; less than that, the honour of the country will not allow us to do.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
I am sure that even at this late period of the Session the Committee will not grudge the time which has been spent this evening in discussing the position at Suakin. There is hardly any political question on which I have stronger opinions than the question of the expediency of engaging in a British military enterprize in the Soudan, and when I recall the language in which I attacked the Government of the right hon. Gentleman opposite for employing British military forces in the Soudan, I cannot refrain from expressing regret and alarm at what appears to be a recommencement of a course which I then so strongly denounced, and still at the present moment denounce. If there is one thing more than another that misled the Government of the right hon. Gentleman, and misled the House of Commons and the country in 1882 and in subsequent years, it was that neither the Government nor the House nor the public got really true information as to what was going on. They received information from persons who were interested in pursuing a certain line of policy, and everything that was likely to divert the House of Commons from that policy was studiously kept back. I think we are in a similar danger at the present moment. I wish to state from my own information, having had opportunities of gaining information, that in my opinion the account given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) as to the proceedings at Suakin of Sir Charles Warren and Major Watson, and subsequently of Colonel Kitchener, presenting such a marked difference between the policy pursued by the former officers and the policy pursued by Colonel Kitchener, is absolutely correct, and I fear we may find too late that information which has not been agreeable to certain parties in Egypt, who have certain aims, has been kept back from the Government; and the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs gives us to understand that that information is not information to which 501 we need pay much attention. But, I say with boldness, from opinions which have been given to me by persons competent to judge, and from papers read before learned societies, that that information is correct; because the policy of Colonel Kitchener has been to disregard proceedings by diplomatic means and negotiations, and to proceed by force. Colonel Kitchener does not seem even to have followed out the instructions of Sir Evelyn Baring. I do not know why the Committee has not received more information; we have had no Papers, so that if we go wrong in trusting to other information, it is not our fault, but the Government must blame themselves for not furnishing the House of Commons with official information. From what the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs said, it would appear that the instructions given to Colonel Kitchener were directed to impress upon him the importance of relying more upon negotiations than upon the use of force, and Sir Evelyn Baring's letter to the Government shows that he was not in favour of extending military operations in the Soudan. We have not, however, the opinion of Sir Evelyn Baring, and it is quite possible that he does not approve even of the military expedition which has now been sent to the Soudan. It is a fact that Colonel Kitchener organized raids on the part of what are called friendlies against other tribes, mainly the Hadendowas. The friendlies at Suakin are a wretched lot; they are decried and looked down upon by the great tribes of the coast; they are miserably ineffective, and very small in numbers, and we are under no obligation to carry on war on their behalf against the great tribes of the coast. The friendlies are, indeed, to judge by some photographs which I have seen, persons to whom the Committee might easily attach far too much importance. In those raids the friendlies were defeated, but the whole of the pacific state round Suakin, which had lasted for two years, was brought to an end by those raids. That is an absolute fact which cannot be denied, and it is one of the facts which the Government do not explain at the present moment. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne said the position of Suakin was rendered "inconvenient" by the constant firing, and 502 the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs seemed to imagine that that was a remark open to censure and ridicule. Nobody desires to depreciate the inconvenience or the danger to which the inhabitants of the garrison of Suakin are exposed, but it is well known that in trying to escape from one danger you may sometimes run into a greater danger, and the danger at Suakin was not sufficient to warrant the despatch of a British force to the Soudan. Now I come to a very important matter—the Question I addressed to the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs to-night with regard to the expenditure, and as to on whose shoulders that expenditure would fall. When I gave nearly a week's notice—the Question was put on the Paper last Tuesday—on a matter of such importance, I do think I ought to have received a full answer and a courteous answer; but I regret that I should have received an insufficient answer, a flippant answer, and a discourteous answer. There have been times, not long ago, when the Under Secretary would not have given such an answer. I am expressing my own opinion, and I must adhere to it. I asked what was the estimated extra charge upon the Egyptian Revenue, on account of the recent despatch of British and Egyptian troops to Suakin? The reply was that no estimate had been made. I asked whether the charge would fall upon Egypt. No answer was given. All I am told is, that the sentence which I quoted from a speech of the Prime Minister was a mere private opinion to which the House need not attach the slightest importance. I say that was flippant in manner, and that it was extremely discourteous. To be told that the Prime Minister, taking part in a debate raised in the House of Lords after full Notice, and making use of certain expressions, is only uttering his own private opinion, which has not the smallest effect or influence on any single person outside that Assembly, on anybody whether in Egypt or elsewhere, is a most preposterous proposition. I should like to know what would have been the concentrated fury of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had ever taken up such an attitude? I protest against 503 the idea that Ministerial utterances, given with a sense of Ministerial responsibility, are to be treated, when it is convenient, as mere private opinions. I can quite understand that the opinion of the Prime Minister the other day as to the colour of people in India is a private opinion, which does not bind his Colleagues, and which need not bind them; but it is only a private opinion, and, perhaps, a temporary opinion. But I draw a distinction between an opinion of that kind and an opinion on a great matter of State—namely, that the retention of certain ports on the coast of the Red Sea is, in his opinion, a matter of Egyptian concern and Egyptian interest. I do not complain of the opinion. I welcome it, and entirely agree with it. It raises a very important Constitutional question. If the place is of Egyptian concern and Egyptian interest, and must be held for Egyptian security, undoubtedly the Government is right in advising the Egyptian Government to remove troops for the defence of that place, and, undoubtedly, the expense of that defence must fall upon Egypt; but if the place is not of Egyptian importance and Egyptian interest, and it is not for Egyptian security that it should be retained, and if the British troops are moved there because it is of British interest and for British security and for British objects, the expense ought certainly to fall upon the British Exchequer; otherwise, the Government would be enabled to use British forces by means of foreign funds, over which the House of Commons had no control, in a manner and for purposes which, if the House of Commons had control, might not receive its approval. I ask the Committee, if the Government announce to the Committee, as they probably will, that Egypt will not bear the expense of this expedition and that it will fall upon the British taxpayer, what do they think would have been the effect of that statement upon the debate the other day, or upon the debate of Saturday, and how much do they think the position would have been strengthened of those who object to the expedition altogether? That is the reason why I attach so much importance to the Question I put down, and why I think the House of Commons ought to insist upon having an answer as to whether Egypt or England has to pay. If England has to pay, and 504 Constitutional precedent had been followed, a Vote would have been taken before the expedition was sent out. I pass on to notice a remark of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. J. M. Maclean), who always seems to speak in a very warlike spirit. The hon. Member said, "We must show the Arabs that we are their masters;" but he forgets that we have been for four years trying to bring the truth home to the Arabs, and though we have, in all conscience, killed enough of them, it seems we have not yet persuaded the dervishes that the British are their masters. It seems to me that that is an argument which does not stand the test of experience. The hon. Gentleman was so persuaded, however, of the force of that argument that he regretted the battle had been postponed. He said it had been postponed owing to the interference of the House of Commons, and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State (Mr. E. Stanhope) began his speech by expressing his delight that, at any rate, the interference of the House of Commons in military operations was not going to be repeated. The House of Commons has not interfered in military operations. I tried to do it, and was supported in my effort by a considerable number of Members, but the Motion was defeated by a large majority, which gave the most intense satisfaction to the supporters of the Government on this question. Our attempt to interfere failed, but the persons who did interfere were the Government themselves, for, having told us in the debate, with the assent of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), that the forces sent were adequate, and that the military authorities were perfectly content with the strength at their disposal, after the debate being, I suppose, afraid to face the issue, they themselves postponed the battle in order that reinforcements of a not inconsiderable character might arrive. I quite admit the House of Commons may sometimes interfere most mischievously with military operations, but on this occasion the only persons who are open to the censure of the hon. Member for Oldham are the Government. One word about negotiations. Ridicule has been cast by the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State upon the proposal for negotiations, but the right hon. Gentleman, I think, is 505 scarcely well informed. He confounds the dervishes with the coast tribes, but he omitted to tell the Committee—perhaps he does not know—that the dervishes are absolutely dependent on the coast tribes for subsistence, and that if the latter were to cease supplying them with food, the dervishes would have to retire in the course of a very short time indeed. The object of negotiating with the coast tribes was in the hope of inducing them by material rewards and material interests to desist from giving those supplies, so that the dervishes would have to retire. If negotiations are to be condemned, at any rate let them be condemned on their merits, and not be dismissed in an inaccurate manner by saying it is impossible to enter into negotiations in the presence of hostile tribes. The Government have told us to-night that they know clearly what their object is. They have told us that they know their own minds. I am delighted to hear it. It is an unusual thing in the history of this country for a British Government to know its own mind, and I am glad that this Government is placed in a more fortunate position; but I am rather sorry they have not placed the House of Commons in an equally fortunate position by telling us what their mind is. I defy even the hon. Member for Oldham to say what the policy of the Government is with regard to the Soudan, or what the result of a battle would be, whether successful or the reverse. Nobody knows what is to follow. The object of the Government seems to be perfectly narrow and limited. It is to send a force to Suakin, fight a battle, and then come away. That is what I understand the Government absolutely propose. [An hon. MEMBER: No, no!] Did I hear an hon. Member say "No?" I will wager anything that the Government will not extend their obligations by one inch, because if they did they would considerably extend the scope of this debate and their responsibility. The object of the expedition is to raise the siege of Suakin, fight a battle, and drive away the dervishes, to what distance we are not told, but at any rate they are not to be pursued into the Soudan. Have I accurately stated the policy of the Government? Is that a fair question to ask? Their object is to fight the Arabs, kill the Arabs, and 506 go away. I must express my opinion again that that is a silly and stupid policy, an utterly unprofitable policy, one that will not assist the pacification of the Soudan, nor the development of its commerce. It is a policy that will do no possible good unless you consider the decimation of the dervishes a possible good. Hon. Gentlemen who support the Government because they think that this undertaking is going to effect a great development of the Soudan, that commerce is to be established, that the tribes are to be pacified, that a way is to be opened to Berber, and subsequently to Khartoum, are drawing a picture of military and commercial glory which they must understand the Government repudiate. The Government say that they are going to Suakin to fight a battle, to kill a number of Arabs, and then to go away, and for that we are to impose on the Egyptian Treasury, and ultimately, as I contend, on the British Treasury, a very considerable charge. Against that thriftless and profitless policy I gladly avail myself of the opportunity of recording a further and final protest.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
I rise for the simple purpose of guarding myself against giving my adhesion to the statement of the right. hon. Gentleman who commenced this debate (Mr. John Morley), to the effect that the retention of Suakin is of no use whatever to Egypt. Having been in Egypt myself, and having had the advantage of hearing the opinion of the most able Statesmen upon that subject, and also of those distinguished men who were at that time in Cairo in charge of the material interests of Egypt, I am bound to say that the impression I derived was exactly opposite to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. The policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) in those days, as enunciated again and again, was that the affairs of the Soudan were entirely beyond either his political or his military operations. Now, I always held the opinion that that was the real cause of all the difficulties and disasters which afterwards came on the right hon. Gentleman and his Government. The truth is, it is impossible to dissociate the Soudan from Egypt. I defy any Government, either British or Egyptian, 507 to ignore affairs in the Soudan, and put them on one side altogether with due regard to the safety and prosperity of Egypt. Whether the occupation of Suakin ought to be an Egyptian or a British occupation is a matter of high policy on which I will not presume to pronounce an opinion; but that an occupation of the place, either by one or other of those powers is necessary, I am absolutely convinced. The noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) has spoken of this policy as a foolish and silly policy. I have no doubt everybody is very silly and everybody is very foolish who does not altogether agree with him. But he says he has no idea what the policy of the Government is. I think he is the only Member of the House on this side who is in that condition. I imagine we have all obtained a very clear idea about it; but while the noble Lord condemns the policy of the Government, he has omitted to tell us what he would put in its place. I decline altogether to move from the policy of the Government until I hear of an alternative policy. When you talk of withdrawing troops from Suakin everyone must satisfy himself as to what is the alternative. I remember some years ago moving the Adjournment to press on the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian to do everything in his power to send troops to Sinkat and Tokar, and rescue the people who were in danger of being massacred there. Well, they were massacred. Is there no possibility of something of the same kind occurring at Suakin? Suppose we abandon it. Am I to be told that the 2,000 or 3,000 people there are in no danger whatever? In all human probability the same thing would happen in their case that happened at Tokar. I believe the whole of the Tory Party is absolutely opposed to any policy of that kind. If the noble Lord means what he says, why does he not bring in, in a straightforward way, a vote of censure and condemn the policy of the Government?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
Well, Sir, if I were leading the House of Commons I can tell the noble Lord I should give him the opportunity he wants without a single hour's delay, and he would find himself supported by a still smaller 508 number of Members on this side than followed him on a recent occasion.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD (Marylebone, E.)
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War has stated a definite and straightforward policy, but I think that what has occurred lately is entirely the Government's own fault. If they had carried out this business in a proper way they would have had no difficulty. When they decided to make arrangements for the relief of Suakin they ought to have said to their General, "What is necessary to relieve Suakin?" and they should have done immediately what was necessary. This delay is a very bad thing, for two reasons; it demoralizes their own forces, and gives the enemy an opportunity of getting large reinforcements. Therefore I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War strike out a straight policy. I cannot agree with the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington. It is easy to find fault. Are we going to hold Suakin, or are we not? If we are it is necessary that the dervishes should be knocked out of the trenches. I am opposed to any operations extending into the Soudan. Well, we are told the dervishes will come again. If they come again you must drive them away again. [Laughter.] I see my noble Friend laughs at that. At any rate it is a practical idea. The sense of the Committee is that we should hold Suakin. If you hold it you cannot allow it to be invested. I should not go outside Suakin. I do not think I should put a fort beyond the Well. I would do everything I could to bring about trade and commerce, and I should negotiate with the friendly tribes, but you cannot do that with an Eastern people if you appear afraid. You must remove the dervishes. At present the people do not know whether you will go away or not; if you do, they will all be murdered. May I say why Suakin should be held, for two reasons? The first is the question referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for the Evesham Division of Worcester (Sir Richard Temple); if you desert it, it would become the main outlet for the Slave Trade. I do not agree that you can stop the Slave Trade in the heart of Africa, or in Arabia; but you can inau- 509 gurate a new policy altogether, and that is to get as far as you can get on the line of communications. There is no good in taking these Arabs or Englishmen in the dhows, and then letting them go ashore to begin their mischief again; you ought to give them a fair trial, and, if convicted, shoot them. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) shakes his head. I have seen the most horrible sights you can conceive; and you must remember that for every slave caught in a dhow 10 or 20 poor creatures have been killed to get him there. I say this is a most horrible state of affairs, and unless that Arab or that Englishman can show why he was in the dhow with those slaves, I say he is a murderer, for he is accessory to one of the gravest crimes in the world. If I may say one word with regard to some remarks which fell from the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, I think it is a most dangerous thing to interfere when warlike operations are going on. Debate it as much as possible, the Government are responsible, but it puts the officers and men employed in a very false position, and militates against success. There was one remark made by the right hon. Member for Newcastle, which was very unlike him. He said he thought this was a war brought about by a little General who wished to be a big General. General Grenfell is one of the best hearted men in the world, and he is regarded with the greatest esteem and affection, and I am sure he will do what man can do to secure peace and avoid hostilities. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian said there was a great savour of military intervention in this. I ask him what did the military commanders say to him about Khartoum. They told him to start at a certain time. I agree with him that they should not interfere with politics, but the chances are if you do not do a thing when the military authorities say you ought to do it, you will not be able to do it at all. You are bound to keep Suakin as long as you remain in Egypt; if you give it up I am certain you will have to send a Brigade to defend your frontier at Wady Halfa. The Arabs will never hold a place where they fear being taken in the rear. May I give an illustration of this from what fell under my own observation at Abu Klea? Colonel Wardrop 510 went round to the rear with five horsemen, who dismounted, and in half-an-hour they bad cleared the whole of the hill from which many hundreds of the enemy had been firing down on us. If you leave Suakin the dervishes will come down the Nile, in six or eight months, on the frontier of Egypt, It is too late to talk about the responsibility of Egypt. The Government of Egypt dare not move or breathe without your permission. It is our responsibility, and it must be our responsibility. I implore the Committee to think over this. I hope we shall remain at Suakin, and I hope the Government will go forward in a courageous manner. They have plenty of supporters. If they are wrong the country will find them out, and turn them out of Office.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
said, he should move a reduction in the salary of their agent in Egypt by £300. He wished to assure the noble and gallant Lord that when he referred to great soldiers and little soldiers he was not thinking of General Grenfell. He was laying down a general proposition.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by £300, part of the Salary of the Agent in Egypt."—(Mr. John Morley.)
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, he was very glad his right hon. Friend had moved a reduction of the Vote, because many who took, perhaps, stronger views on the question than his right hon. Friend were anxious to protest against the action of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division (Mr. Chaplin) had said what he would do if he were Leader of the House; but the right hon. Gentleman was not yet Leader of the House, and all the Committee could gather was that the Government knew their own mind, and that they took good care not to let the Committee know what was in it. He was opposed to every sort of expedition by sea or by laud on account of this Town of Suakin, by which either English blood or English treasure was to be expended in keeping away from the place the people who had the best right to go there—namely, the inhabitants of the Soudan. His right hon. Friend said that the action of Colonel Kitchener was at the root of this question, but he was bound to say 511 that, in his opinion, the root of the evil was that Her Majesty's Liberal Government had gone to Suakin, not once only, but three times, and the only excuse to be alleged for the present Ministers was that they found the situation left to them by the Liberal Government. He knew that he must in 1885 have divided 40 or 50 times against spending a single shilling in this wrong and wasteful manner. The right hon. Gentleman, the Under Secretary then, had a very easy task in defending the action of the Government, for he had simply to read from one or two speeches made by Liberal Ministers, and these supplied him with an answer to the speeches made against their present policy. The right hon. Gentleman told the Committee that it was the desire of Egypt that the Expedition should take place, and that Suakin should be retained. But on what grounds did he make that statement? On the ground that Egypt's flank was exposed. But where was this Egyptian Moltke who gave the advice? They all knew that the Egyptian Generals were not worth their salt. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that the Egyptians were in favour of retaining it on account of the trade; but he doubted that there were 100 merchants in the place at present, and they were the rag-tag and riff-raff of the East, who called themselves one day Greek, another Egyptian, but who, as a matter of fact, had no nationality. They were told that the population had gone down from 12,000 to 3,000; and he only wished it had gone down to three—but this was the miserable remnant they were to keep in Suakin, when the Soudanese, to whom it belonged, were ready to come, pitch their tents there and enjoy themselves. The noble Lord just told the Committee that, without our permission, the Egyptians did not dare to breathe, so that it was absurd to bring in the opinions or wishes of the Egyptian Government on the question; and, besides, who were the eminent Egyptian statesmen who told Her Majesty's Government that they and the Egyptian Government were of opinion that it was desirable for Egypt that the English should remain in the Soudan? He believed that if they selected any body of Egyptians it would be found that they would infinitely prefer to withdraw from the Soudan than have the 512 conscription increased for extending an army, whose action simply appeared to be to make strategical movements to the rear whenever it was attacked. When the Government felt they could not depend on the Egyptian Government they fell back upon themselves; and so it appeared that our Government were in favour of retaining Suakin. They had the old, old story about the slavery there, and the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary had told the Committee that they were degenerating from their ancestors, who were ready to expend any amount for the sake of putting down slavery. They had not in any way degenerated in this way, but they were a little more wideawake than their ancestors had been. The fact was, that this plea of slavery had been used of late to get travellers to go to Africa and shoot down the inhabitants as well as to introduce Manchester shoddy goods and bad spirits into the country, and the Slave Trade was not at the bottom of this matter at all. It was a mere plea to get money out of the pockets of the British public for objects which Gentlemen on those Benches thought most undesirable. Then they were told about the prestige which was to accompany this manœuvre. The right hon. Gentleman had pointed out that it had been urged in the first expedition that there was excitement in Mahomedan countries with regard to the Mahdi, and that it was supposed that Mahdiism might spread beyond the Soudan. "It is whispered in the Bazaars" was the phrase. But there was no pretence now that anything was whispered in the Bazaars about the Mahdi; and, in fact, he gathered that there was no such personage. One of the real reasons which was not urged by the Government for their policy, but which one frequently saw urged in the newspapers as influencing Her Majesty's Government was, that if England were to leave Suakin some other European country might seize upon it. He could understand the Government not urging that in the House of Commons, but still it was urged by their defenders in the Press. This was an idle fear, and he thought that the last thing which any other Government would wish to do would be to take Suakin and bring all this trouble upon themselves; but they might, as a condition of our leaving, 513 have an agreement with the other Powers that they should not occupy the place. It was the declaration of Lord Granville that we should protect Egypt and the ports on the Red Sea. Nothing was said about slavery or prestige then; it was simply that we had given this engagement and were bound to keep it. But no one could suppose that the engagement would go on for ever, or that we were to go to Suakin for the fourth time and come away and return whenever the dervishes went to Suakin. The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary had urged that Colonel Kitchener had endeavoured to protect trade in the vicinity of Suakin, but he gathered that the attempt had been an utter failure. The right hon. Gentleman did not say that in words; but he had gathered from the statistics, and from what he did say, that it had utterly failed. They knew, however, that Colonel Kitchener had organized raids, sent them out, and created the greatest disquiet among the tribes around, some of which were friendly and others hostile. Then the right hon. Gentleman spoke of rebellion; but against whom was there rebellion? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) had, at the commencement of the discussion, protested against the use of the word rebellion with reference to military officers; but the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary, nevertheless, rose and talked of the rebellion in the Soudan. The country belonged to the Soudanese, who, if repulsed, fell back to the Desert, where we could not follow them. Did the Government in their own mind know what they were going to do? He could not understand why the Government did not give some indications of their policy to those foolish persons like himself who, if the Government on this fourth expedition to Suakin could show that they had some sensible plan in their mind, would be only too glad to vote in their favour. His hon. Friend had proposed that they should undertake certain negotiations, and he believed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle was also in favour of that plan; but he, himself, would not say too much in favour of them, and he would say why. If they entered into negotiations they would have to remain on the spot, and, practically, to assume some sort of British 514 Suzerainty over this portion of the Soudan; therefore, he hoped we should have none of these negotiations. Remember what happened in one of the former expeditions. It was then suggested that there should be negotiations. Our General put up a piece of paper on a cleft-stick, addressed to all whom it concerned, saying that he was ready to negotiate. Of course, it led to nothing. These friendlies were the sort of people who hung round our garrison towns; they were to be trusted on one day and not on the next. The Committee had not yet learned whether the cost of this expedition was to be defrayed by Egypt or by this country. As to former expeditions, we wore always told that the cost would be defrayed by Egypt, but we had always had to pay it ourselves. He was in a difficulty in regard to this matter; he thought that it was unjust we should force the cost on Egypt, or that we should pay it ourselves. In point of fact, if we did engage in this expedition we ought to pay the cost ourselves. As long as British troops were to be used and paid for by Egypt, and we were forcing Egypt to pay for them, they would be used. There was nothing so good to the British taxpayer as to tax him in a matter of this sort; this was an argument the taxpayer understood, and, therefore, he (Mr. Labouchere) hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not throw any of this expense upon Egypt, but throw the whole of it on his friend the British taxpayer; then, alone, we should have an end of these miserable and absurd expeditions. As he had said before, he had registered many and many a protest against these expeditions, and he was delighted to join his right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle in registering one more.
§ MR. DE LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid)
said, he intended to trespass but a very few moments upon the indulgence of the Committee, and that because the few remarks he made in the first debate upon this question appeared to have been misunderstood. He said on a former occasion that he gave a general support to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), and also to the hon. Member (Sir Lewis Pelly) who supported him upon his own side of the House. When he said he gave the right hon. Gentleman 515 general support, it was because he then understood that the Government intended to go to Suakin, fight the besieging natives, and then go away again. If he believed that that was the policy of the Government now, he should, by his vote, show his disapproval of it; but it had been distinctly declared from the Front Bench that the policy of the Government was to relieve Suakin. Now, the relief of a beleaguered city could not mean to go and fight the besieging force, and then simply go away again. It must, at least, mean that, having defeated the enemy outside the city, they would place the city in such a state of defence that it would be impossible to have it easily invested again. He approved, therefore, of the policy announced that night by the Government, which he understood to be that we were to go to Suakin, and not leave it until the place was in such a condition that it could not easily be attacked again; and, furthermore, that civilization was going to hold Suakin permanently. Whether we were going to hold it as a British Possession, or only as a part of the Egyptian Dominions, while we occupied our present ambiguous position in Egypt, was a portion of their policy which had not yet been revealed. He should have been glad if the Government had been able to say we were going to hold Suakin in future as a British Possession. He held that it was impossible to pacify the Soudanese until we declared that their subjection to Egypt was at an end. He supported the Government, therefore, on the understanding that by relieving Suakin we were going to place it in such a position that it could not again be easily attacked. He trusted the Committee would bear with him one moment while he pointed out that there was a cardinal omission in the extract from Lord Salisbury's speech contained in the Question put by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) to his right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs that night. The noble Lord had not put an adequate extract from Lord Salisbury's speech upon the Paper. It certainly would have been more generous to the Chief of his (Mr. De Lisle's) and his right hon. Friend's Party, and who, he believed, was the Chief of the noble Lord himself, if the noble Lord had gone to 516 Hansard, and placed a fair and substantial extract upon the Paper. On referring to Lord Salisbury's speech he found that there was a most important sentence entirely left out of the extract made by the noble Lord. He did not say the noble Lord had garbled the speech, but he certainly had given so short and misleading an extract that, if he might use the noble Lord's own language, was discourteous and unjust. Lord Salisbury was arguing in favour of our retention of Suakin, and these were the words used, as they stood in Hansard—The defence of our retention of Suakin is that it is a very serious obstacle to the renewal and the conduct of that Slave Trade which is always trying to press over from Africa into Asia. I do not think that the retention of Suakin is of any advantage to the Egyptian Government.Then here came the words which the noble Lord had omitted, namely—If I were to speak purely from the point of view of that Government's own interest, I should say, 'Abandon Suakin at once.'"—(3 Hansard  1421.)
§ MR. DE LISLE
said, he begged the noble Lord's pardon—they were not. The words in the noble Lord's Question were—I do not think that the retention of Suakin is any advantage to the Egyptian Government. Speaking from the point of view of that Government's own interests, I should say, 'Abandon Suakin at once.'
§ MR. DE LISLE
said, he thought it would have been more generous to have quoted the Prime Minister's words as they appeared in Hansard. And then the next sentence clenched the argument, and showed the real scope of the speech—But the retention of Suakin is of very considerable value for the purpose of repressing the Slave Trade.He (Mr. De Lisle) maintained, therefore, that the substance of Lord Salisbury's speech was that the main object of our occupation of Suakin was then, as now, the suppression of the Slave Trade, and that the attempt to fix upon the Prime Minister what was not the main contention of his speech, but a mere obiter dictum, was unworthy and uncourteous 517 of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, the noble Lord having sought an advantage which no supporter ought to take of the Leader of his Party. He was putting no unfair construction on the speech of Lord Salisbury, because, in the reply immediately made by Lord Kimberley, he accepted and admitted the meaning of the speech in these words. He said, "I entirely"—
Order, order! It is against the Standing Rule of the House to canvass and discuss the debates in the other House of Parliament.
§ MR. DE LISLE
said, he bowed to the Chairman's ruling, but thought it was a pity that when an attack had been made upon a Minister on account of what he said in the other House a reply to that attack should be out of Order. He would only add that on that occasion he gave most cordial support to the Government, because he thought their policy was now a sufficiently definite one. He had said what he believed that policy to be, and he did not think that it would be even challenged by a Division. Though our policy, unfortunately, was not in the direction of a permanent occupation of Egypt, still it was based upon the conviction that it was our duty as a nation to make the occupation of Egypt by any other Power a strategic and moral impossibility. He held that our policy in the Soudan, and at Suakin especially, must have in view the establishment of permanent peace in a country in which we had slain so many thousands of men, and in which he, among other Englishmen, had lost a gallant brother. He held also that the way of making us strong at Suakin was to treat with the Natives on conquerors' terms; indeed, he believed that by doing so we should, by-and-by, be able to enter into peaceable intercourse with the various nations of the Soudan, so that ultimately English civilization and our common Christianity would find its way back to Khartoum. But to carry out this policy it was absolutely necessary at once, and without any delay, to give the best support they could to the Government. He hoped that the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, whatever his ultimate views might be found to be when they came to be discussed, would, 518 at any rate, in the meantime, do nothing to give the slightest encouragement to our enemies outside Suakin. [Laughter.] It was very well for hon. Gentlemen opposite to laugh. He did not know what their views were; they might be views of personal ambition or national patriotism; but, whatever they were, he thought that no greater crime could be committed in this country than for a Gentleman, who had held the high position the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington had held, then to attempt to tie the hands of the Government and to baffle their policy when he knew that the lives of his fellow-countrymen were in the balance.
§ MR. ATKINSON (Boston)
said, that since he had been a Member of the House he did not think he had troubled hon. Members more than five minutes per annum, and, therefore, he was sure that if he occupied five minutes now by saying a word or two in reply to the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) the time would not be begrudged him. The hon. Member for Northampton had asked what was going to be done, and he seemed very much ill at ease that he did not know. Probably, if it was the Party opposite who were making the proposition, he would know, because, as they all saw, the hon. Gentlemen had posed for some time as being one of the principal advisers of the Party who would be acting in Office if the present Government were not. He (Mr. Atkinson) and his constituents had very great pleasure in supporting the action of the Government, and for the very reason that they had always been successful hitherto, and that there was no doubt whatever that they would be successful in the measure they had now undertaken. [Laughter.] That, to his mind, was a good reason, however hon. Gentlemen opposite might laugh; but he had another good reason at which he did not think hon. Gentlemen would laugh. He had a suspicion as to what the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) wanted. If the hon. Gentleman did not know what this side wanted, they knew what he wanted—which was a change of Government. If a change of Government were to take place upon this or upon any other question, who would be the parties who would hold the reins then? Men who 519 had failed in every expedition, so far as his memory served him, which they had ever undertaken. The hon. Member for Northampton, therefore, was recommending that the conduct of the expedition should be taken out of the hands of men who had succeeded in everything they had done, especially in regard to foreign affairs, and be put into the hands of men who had miserably failed. [Cries of "Divide!"] No cries of "Divide" would prevent him from saying what he had to say. He need only refer to the expedition which was undertaken when our most gallant soldier, General Roberts, was sent to Africa. An expedition was sent forth; but a telegram was despatched recalling them before they ever reached the spot where they would have done justice to all, including the men they were about to punish for their dastardly conduct to this country. He would like to know whether hon. Gentlemen opposite were proud of that action? If they were, they were the only Englishmen who were proud it. They could not find an average Englishman who had not deep down in the bottom of his heart a feeling of shame and confusion that such an expedition was ever sent forth when it was to be recalled before it had executed the work for which it was sent. Then, again, take the case of Egypt. The hon. Member for Northampton said we were in Suakin because Lord Granville had done something or other. If that were so, they all knew that Lord Granville was one of the Ministers of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, who was to be recalled as soon as possible, if the hon. Member for Northampton could have his way. What happened on that occasion? In consequence of the Government not making up their minds, and not knowing what they were going to do, they blundered into the bombardment of Alexandria—another case of thorough mismanagement—and, after that, how did we wind up Egyptian affairs? By the death—glorious as it was to the man who died—namely, Gordon—but to the deepest extent inglorious to right hon. Gentlemen who now sat on the Front Opposition Bench, and who were all to blame, and were held to blame by the nation generally, for the death of that man—for the loss of one of the noblest British hearts that ever beat. He asked why should the 520 hon. Member for Northampton, or any of those who followed him, if they were common-sense men of business, want to take the control away from the hands of men who had managed affairs in the way the present Prime Minister and his Government had managed them, and give it into the hands of those who had proved their incapacity over and over again? Their desire to do so reminded him of what was said by a Conservative Chief in one of his best known works. He said the critics were the men who had failed in politics and literature. To-day the critics of the Government were men who had failed themselves in every expedition they had undertaken; and, having failed themselves, they and their Friends stood up and criticized the expedition which was now taken in hand. He thought that the Committee and the country would say to those Gentlemen—"Having failed yourselves, stand by and let men who have conducted the affairs of the country for so long, with perfect success, and, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, with an absence of crises"—and by crises he had no doubt the right hon. Gentleman meant blunders—"continue to do so." Generally speaking, the man who was called a lucky man was a man who was clever and avoided blunders; and the man who was called an unlucky man was a man who had blundered again and again. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite had blundered again and again, and if they had this business in their hands they would blunder again to-day. Let the Committee have from right hon. Gentlemen opposite, or from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton, or any of their supporters, an account of their successes—their successes in any direction, either in the management of foreign affairs, or in financial affairs, or in any other affairs. He should be glad to receive such an account. [Cries of "Divide!"] He should not utter one word less because hon. Gentlemen cried "Divide." He had not yet taken up much of the time of the Committee. Indeed, he was interested in the promotion of a Bill before the House, which he hoped those who now cried "Divide" would support, limiting the time of each speaker in that House to 15 minutes. Whether hon. Gentlemen opposite supported that Bill or not, he 521 believed it would be carried, because, to the majority of Members, it would not be a self-denying ordinance—certainly it would not to him, for he never would attempt to speak 15 minutes. He was saying, let their Friends opposite show them any expedition they had ever organized which had succeeded. He had specified two or three—in about three minutes—which were a disgrace to right hon. Gentlemen opposite and to the country. [Cries of "Agreed!"] Agreed; very well. If it was agreed, let the Amendment be withdrawn, and let them go home to dinner.
§ MR. Seton-Karr
rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put;" but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he wished to have one word of explanation from the Government in regard to the question whether they intended to remain permanently in the Soudan, because otherwise they were getting the Vote under false pretences. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. J. M. Maclean) and the hon. Member for Mid Leicestershire (Mr. De Lisle) had stated that they intended to vote for the Government because the Government proposed to remain permanently in Suakin. The hon. Member for Oldham had said our honour demanded that we should remain there. He (Dr. Clark) wished to call the attention of the Committee and of the hon. Member for Oldham to one fact, and that was—
I refrained from assenting to the Motion for the closure; but I must impress on hon. Members that, at this period of the Session, it would be better to economize time rather than to provoke controversy.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he did not intend to intrude long on the time of the Committee—all he wanted to protest against was that hon. Members should support the Government in remaining permanently in Suakin when we were in honour bound to retire from the country as soon as we possibly could. The Committee were asked to support the Government generally because of their good intentions. He believed that the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had 522 good intentions when they interfered in Egypt, but that interference he regarded as the greatest crime against modern liberties which was ever committed. It was high time that the pledges made by Lord Dufferin, at Constantinople, when we interfered in Egypt, that we would retire as soon as the disorders were put down, and would take no advantage of our position there to ask anything for ourselves, were fulfilled.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 76; Noes 165: Majority 89.—(Div. List, No. 353.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he had several Amendments upon the Paper. He had one Amendment to reduce the Vote by £500, part of the salary of the Ambassador in Austria; he thought of calling attention to the salaries in the Diplomatic Service, but, as the Session was coming to a close, it seemed to him these questions might possibly wait until next year. His next Amendment was to reduce the Vote by £300, part of the salary of the Minister Resident and Consul General in Chili. He had intended to move that Amendment to raise the question of certain negotiations which had gone on in regard to Chili and Peru, but that question also might wait. As a matter of fact, the Committee were discussing the Estimates with a halter round their necks; their time was measured out, and, therefore, he did not think it would be to the general convenience that he should propose those Amendments. But he had a third Amendment down upon which he must say a few words. It was the Amendment to reduce the Vote by £1,000, part of the salary of the Envoy Extraordinary to the United States. As the Committee knew perfectly well, there were certain negotiations with the United States with regard to the Fishery Treaty. These negotiations were confided to Lord Sackville, who was our Minister at Washington, and Mr. Chamberlain.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Quite so; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain). 523 He was speaking of that gentleman as a diplomatist. With regard to the Fishery Question, it seemed to him that he was perfectly in Order in contesting the sum of money voted to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. He thought at the time it was a great mistake to inaugurate these negotiations just before the Presidential Election. He thought it a waste of time and a waste of money, and he thought it would tend to bring about a certain amount of ill-feeling between the United States and this country, owing to negotiations being inaugurated to which, in all probability, effect would not be given. But an incident had arisen in regard to Lord Sackville in respect to the negotiations on which he thought the Committee ought to have some explanation, especially after what fell from Lord Salisbury at the Mansion House. A short Paper giving certain despatches which passed between Lord Salisbury and Lord Sackville, and between Mr. Phelps and Lord Salisbury, had been presented. The Election for President of the United States was proceeding, the Democrats were in, and the Republicans wanted to get in. A Republican wrote a bogus letter to Lord Sackville, saying that he had been an Englishman beforehand, and he wished to know from Lord Sackville for which side he had better vote. Lord Sackville wrote in reply—the letter was a private communication, although it was, no doubt, an indiscreet one. But after this occurred Lord Sackville was visited by the interviewer of a newspaper, and to this interviewer he expressed opinions which were not very complimentary to the President and to the Administration of the United States. That was the contention of Mr. Phelps in his letters to, and in his interviews with, Lord Salisbury. Mr. Phelps was requested to beg Lord Salisbury to recall Lord Sackville. When Mr. Phelps did this, Lord Salisbury, for some reason, pointed out that he had not before him any statement from Lord Sackville—that he had not even any statement from Mr. Phelps as to what had appeared in the American newspapers from the interviewer. That seemed to be a reasonable ground for Lord Salisbury not doing anything. But the American Government were in a difficulty, because the question was very much affecting the election for 524 President; their opponents were making use of the incident, pointing out that the Government was subservient to England, because they did not take action in the matter. He in no sort of way blamed the American Government for having sent Lord Sackville his passports. It was a well-known rule that a Government was quite right in demanding a persona grata to themselves should be sent to represent a foreign country. Lord Stratford de Redcliffe was not sent to Russia because to the Empress he was not a persona grata; Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton received his passports in Spain because he was not a persona grata, and because he was said to have mixed himself up in domestic matters. If there was a General Election going on here, and the American Minister were to interfere, and if the Liberals, being out of power, were to say that the Government were acting in a subservient fashion towards America by not taking action with regard to the American Minister mixing himself up with the internal politics of England, and the Conservatives thought they would lose their elections unless they did take some action, there was not the slightest vestige of doubt that they would immediately take action. Therefore he in no sort of way blamed America, and only in a partial way did he blame Lord Sackville. Lord Sackville was indiscreet and made a mistake. He should have thought Lord Salisbury would have seized the opportunity of showing, so far as he possibly could, that it was a mere personal dispute between Lord Sackville and Mr. Secretary Bayard; that Lord Sackville had been indiscreet, perhaps he might have said rather precipitate; but Lord Salisbury did not do this. The most unruly member of Lord Salisbury's Cabinet was Lord Salisbury's own tongue. They had an instance the other day—
I do not see how this discussion is pertinent to the Vote. The hon. Member will be quite justified in criticizing Lord Sackville's action, or Lord Salisbury's action in directing Lord Sackville's action, but he appears to be entering on a subject quite outside the scope of this Vote.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that they were asked to vote the salary of the Minister to the United States. Lord Salisbury directed that Minister. To come 525 to a conclusion as to whether they ought to vote a salary or not to the Minister to the United States they ought to consider the action of the Head of the Foreign Office, who directed the Minister what to do. He begged to move the reduction of the salary—
The hon. Member may discuss the action of the Foreign Secretary in anything which he has done directly bearing on the action of our Minister to the United States.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
, on the point of Order, asked whether the Vote was personal to Lord Sackville, or was it a Vote for the Office of Minister to the United States? If it was a Vote for the Minister to the United States, surely any comment on the action of the Minister for Foreign Affairs without reference to the Minister to the United States was pertinent?
said, that no doubt the Vote included the salary of the Minister to the United States. Any comment on any conduct of the Foreign Secretary in directing the Minister to the United States would be perfectly relevant, but the hon. Member (Mr. Labouchere) was pointing out matter which was not comprised in any of those proceedings.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, his object was to call the attention of the Committee to certain observations which fell from Lord Salisbury at the Lord Mayor's banquet. He did not know whether the Chairman would consider it in Order to do so, but the observations were very pertinent to the matter. They were observations upon the conduct of the United States Government to Lord Sackville. If the Chairman thought that he could not call attention to these observations he would not do so. [The CHAIRMAN signified dissent.] Then he was afraid he could not press the matter any further, because he had not so much complaint of Lord Sackville as of Lord Sackville's master. He might, however, complain that they had not the full correspondence upon this matter before them. A few days ago some Members of the House asked whether they would have any further Papers, and they were told that they were not to have further Papers upon the matter, because Lord Sackville had not written or indicated to the Foreign Office his observations upon existnig Papers. Now, that seemed to him 526 rather a lame excuse, because when a Minister was withdrawn from the United States under such circumstances, and they had the Prime Minister at dinners interfering still more in the domestic affairs of the United States—when they found that no other Minister was appointed to the United States, and gathered from the words of the Foreign Secretary that no Minister was likely to be appointed until the Administration of the United States was changed, he thought that the House of Commons ought in some way to be able to express an opinion upon the subject. He had always thought that private disputes ought not to be dragged into the relations between two great countries like the United States and Great Britain—that the Foreign Minister ought to keep himself entirely out of them so far as he possibly could.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he supposed he was in Order in calling attention to the fact that we had not at the present moment a Minister to the United States, although the Committee were asked to vote the full salary for a Minister. It was deliberately announced by the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that he would not send a Minister to the United States until there had been a change in the Administration of that country, while there were flouts and sneers used by the right hon. Gentleman towards the Administration which was now representing the United States. He could not conceive anything more terrible than that a war, or even ill-feeling, should spring up between the United States and this country. A Foreign Minister's first duty was to maintain not only peace, but friendship and good-will towards the United States. Therefore, he thought that the Committee had a right to some sort of explanation from the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs as to why, instead of cultivating good feeling towards the Administration of the United States, the right hon. Gentleman had jeered and sneered at it, why a Minister was not sent to the United States, and was not likely to be sent there until the term of Office—he believed it was in March—of the Gentleman who was now President came to an end? He begged, in order to attain some elucidation of this matter, 527 to move to reduce the Vote by the sum of £1,000.
Motion made and Question proposed,
That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by £1,000, part of the Salary of the Envoy Extraordinary to the United States."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, that in the early part of his speech the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) recited the chief points in the recent unfortunate incident between the American Government and Lord Sackville with substantial accuracy, and he would have been glad if the hon. Gentleman had confined himself to an expression of regret at the recurrence of such an incident, rather than have suggested every possible offensive feeling towards the United States. Whatever they might think of the action of the United States Government—for which, perhaps, it would be hard to find a precedent—in sending his passports to a Minister before his own Government had become acquainted with the grounds of their complaint against him, they must regret, from every point of view, that Her Majesty's Minister should, however unintentionally, have given ground for the allegation that he had interfered in the domestic affairs of the United States. All must regret that, especially, moreover, that the moment should have been one at which unusual importance was attached to any such incident. It was impossible to enter fully into the matter at present, for manifest reasons.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he was going to give them. The hon. Member said that the House was not in possession of the facts, and could not consider them fully. The reason for that was that Her Majesty's Government had only for a few days past been in possession of the reasons of the United States Government in sending Lord Sackville his passports. When the United States Minister in this country was directed to ask for the recall of Lord Sackville, he was obliged to say he was not aware of the full grounds of the desire of the United States; and it was only within the last few days that a statement of those grounds had been in the possession of Her Majesty's Government. He had 528 stated, in an answer to a Question in the House, that it was manifestly impossible to lay a Note of a Minister upon the Table until it had been answered. It was contrary to usage to publish a Despatch until it had been answered, and until the reply had reached the Government for which it was intended. He thought that would be taken by the Committee as a sufficient reason why further Papers had not yet been presented. The hon. Member asked why Her Majesty's Government had not cultivated good relations with the Government of the United States rather than sneered at them; and why they had determined not to send another Minister to the United States until a change in the Administration of that country had been brought about? In the first place, there had been a commendable reticence on the subject. There had not been a disposition to sneer at all at the position of a friendly nation on the other side of the Atlantic; and there had not been any such declaration or hint, as the hon. Member suggested, that no new Minister was to be sent to the United States until the new President assumed Office. No such declaration had been made. No more definite statement could be made on the point at present; but of this the House could rest assured—that Her Majesty's Government felt the relations of this country to the United States to be too intimate and too deep, and believed the mutual sympathies to be too sincere to be affected by an incident, however regrettable, such as that which had taken place. But it would be apparent that it would be quite premature to make any further declaration on the subject, when the full reasons which actuated the President in asking for the recall of our Minister had only just reached the Government of this country, and had not yet been answered. When the hon. Member talked of the delay which had taken place since he (Sir James Fergusson) made the statement in the House, it was manifest that a State Paper of the greatest importance, to which the attention of two great nations was directed, could not be considered by those concerned and replied to with the rapidity of the telegraph. It would be wanting in respect to the Government of the United States, and certainly it would be wanting in atten- 529 tion to the interests of this country, were such important Papers answered with precipitation. He hoped the Committee would think it better that the subject should not he debated at present.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
said, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs that this was a matter which no one on either side of the Atlantic should seek to envenom. He had heard with satisfaction from the right hon. Gentleman that there was no foundation whatever for the rumour or belief that there had been a postponement of the sending of a Minister to the United States on account of what was called the Sackville incident.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
Will the right hon. Gentleman excuse me; I must not be mistaken in such a matter. I said that no declaration or hint had been made that the appointment of a new Minister to the United States would be postponed until the accession to Office of the new President.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he understood that declaration to be very much what he had said. He could not understand why the incident should for any time whatever suspend the relations between England and the United States. It was purely a personal incident—an incident between the Minister of England in the United States and the individuals who formed the Government of the United States, but it was not a question between the two nations. After all, the Representative of England was accredited to the sovereign power of the United States, and the sovereign power of the United States was represented by the nation itself. He confessed that no one was more solicitous than he was for the maintenance of the good relations between England and America, and he thought that it would be childish for a country like England to sulk over a matter like this. Therefore, he hoped he had not misunderstood the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He trusted that no consideration of pique, which would be extremely undignified, would affect the action of the Government. He hoped, to use the phrase of a high authority, that if it be time that this question belonged to the history of electioneering rather than to the history of diplomacy, it would not interfere 530 with diplomacy. Why should it? He thought that to make this matter as between one party in the United States and another would be an enormous diplomatic mistake. If we were to say, "We will accredit a Minister to the Re-publican Government that is coming into power, but we will not accredit a Minister to the Democratic Government that is going out of power," we should be committing the very mistake Lord Sackville himself committed—namely, interfering between the two Parties of America. He thought, therefore, it ought to be treated as a personal incident very much to be regretted. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had said, "The least said about the subject the better," and he agreed with him in that; but he also thought "the least remembered about it the better," that being the natural corollary of the advice of the Under Secretary. If the thing was not remembered, but forgotten, as it ought to be, the Government ought, as soon as possible, to accredit a Minister to the United States as if nothing had happened.
§ MR. W. M'ARTHUR (Cornwall, Mid, St. Austell)
said, he wished to raise another question with regard to the action of our Ambassador at Washington, who, as a Member of the Conference appointed to consider the affairs of Samoa, appeared to have assisted in passing the greatest slight he possibly could upon the nation to which he was accredited. He (Mr. W. M'Arthur) was not going into the history of our connection with Samoa, but he would merely remind the Committee that, in conjunction with the German Government, Her Majesty's Government had entered into a solemn league with the American Government to respect the independence of Samoa. In 1887, when a Colonial Conference was assembled here, a Minute was presented, laying down very clearly that the independence of this place should be guaranteed, and the Conference was informed that another Conference was about to be held in Washington in August of that year, which was to decide one question—namely, our relations and the relations of Germany and America with Samoa. Well, the first question he desired the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs to reply to was this. According to his information the Government of this country had, 531 two years prior to the announcement to the Colonial Conference to which he referred, entered into secret relations with the German Government, pledging themselves to allow Germany to become the predominant Power at Samoa. He should like some information as to whether such secret understanding had been entered into with Germany? If so, he maintained that the information that Her Majesty's Government had furnished to the Colonial Conference was entirely misleading, and was intended to mislead the delegates who had come to this country. Our Ambassador had been sent to the Conference at Washington to maintain the policy which he had referred to—namely, the policy of absolute abandonment of British interests in Samoa to the German Government. At that Conference Mr. Secretary Bayard felt himself compelled to withdraw from further proceedings, declaring that the United States Government could not submit to be made use of for the purposes of Germany, or for the purposes of Germany and England combined. Mr. Secretary Bayard had asked Her Majesty's Government to publish the Papers bearing on the subject, but they had refused, presumably because the German Government had asked that they should not be made public. He (Mr. W. M'Arthur) maintained that they had a right to have these Papers. Members of the House of Commons had a right to know what was the action of our Ambassador in America, and what instructions were given to him; and they also had a right to a plain answer whether or not it was true that two years ago Her Majesty's Government entered into a deliberate bargain with the Government of Germany practically to hand Samoa over to the Germans? He did not suggest that there was any specific Treaty made, or that the British Government entered into any binding engagement; but he wanted to know whether there was an understanding arrived at that the German Government should have paramount influence in Samoa? If such an understanding was arrived at, he wished to know the meaning of the Minute presented to the Conference to the effect that nothing was settled concerning Samoa, and that a Conference was to be held at Washington to decide the question, the matter having been settled 19 months previously in 532 favour of the Government of Germany and against the desires of the Australian subjects of Her Majesty. This was a question about which, naturally enough, he felt very keenly as an Australian, and which he could assure the Committee many people in Australia felt very keenly about. He had received a letter the other day from a well-known politician of New South Wales, who had stated that, looking at this question as an Australian politician, he very much feared that if the Home Authorities proved themselves indifferent or apathetic regarding Samoa and Tonga, and, certainly, if they acquiesced in such disgraceful trickery as had been exhibited by the German Fleet under the orders of Prince Bismarck, the loyal feeling entertained by the Australian Colonists would receive a strong and fatal blow. This gentleman went on to point out that, owing to the spirit in which the wishes of the Australian Colonies were regarded at home, a sentiment of alienation between the Colonies and the Old Country was every day becoming more and more discernible. He (Mr. W. M'Arthur) would not go fully into the Samoan question. He would not go into the question of the bombardment of peaceable Samoan towns by the German Fleet, and of the deportation of the Samoan Monarch, with whom we were in treaty at the time, to the Cameroons, where he was detained for two years. He would not go into the question of the insults endured by British traders at the hands of the Germans, but he would press for a reply from the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs as to what he proposed to do in this matter? The right hon. Gentleman's agents reported to him as his (Mr. W. M'Arthur's) agents reported to him. Independent reports came to him almost every month of threats uttered against British traders by the Germans—threats which went unreported by the agents of Her Majesty's Government. He desired, therefore, to know what the policy of Her Majesty's Government was with regard to German aggression in these seas? He desired to know whether they proposed to allow Germany to take full possession of Samoa? He would rather that the Germans did than that things should continue as at present. They would then have a Government who would be the responsible authority in 533 Samoa, and whom they could make responsible for the acts of their agents. At the present moment, the German Government had deposed one King and set up another with a German Prime Minister, who was nominally the Minister of that King, but really the subject of Prince Bismarck and under the command of the German Fleet; and Her Majesty's Government placed themselves in this position—that, whenever a complaint was made about German action in Samoa, it was possible for the German Consul to assure them that what was complained of was not the work of the German Government but of the Samoan Government, and that it was to them that appeal must be made for redress. He (Mr. W. M'Arthur) would ask the right hon. Gentleman to answer the question put to him as to the understanding between England and Germany in the first place. Then he should like to ask him whether Her Majesty's Government recognized the newly elected King of Samoa? When he had first raised the question, he was told that we had recognized the King that Germany had set up, because he was de facto King. Since then, however, there had been a revolution in Samoa, the puppet King had been bundled out, and the brother of the old King had been elected by the people. Were the Government going to recognize this new King as the de facto King of Samoa? He trusted the Committee would get a plain answer to this question. He was not at all anxious to make Party capital out of this matter. He had a great deal too keen an interest in the Australian Colonies and in the British Empire generally to desire to attack any particular Government. He would as soon attack right hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House as right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but ha did maintain that the Australian Colonies were entitled to a plain answer to the question he had proposed. They were entitled to know whether it was any longer safe for English people to invest capital in the Pacific; whether English investors would be backed up; whether engagements solemnly entered into were to be maintained; and whether, in future, when British interests came in conflict with German interests in the Pacific, British subjects were to be passed over and the advantage given to Germans?
§ MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)
said, the Under Secretary of State stated that Her Majesty's Government had only just received an intimation as to the reasons of the American Government for the dismissal of Lord Sackville. He (Mr. Gourley) pointed out that information was conveyed to Lord Salisbury of the circumstances connected with the dismissal of Lord Sackville by Mr. Phelps. Mr. Phelps had an interview with Lord Salisbury, and Mr. Bayard gave as one of the reasons for the summary dismissal of a British Ambassador at Washington that the British Government had neglected to take notice of the representations which had been made to them by the American Government—at any rate, they complained of unnecessary delay, and gave them that as one reason why Lord Sackville had been dismissed. That was what Mr. Secretary Bayard was reported to have stated. After becoming possessed of all the facts, the American Government had given sufficient time before resolving on definite action; but, finding that Great Britain was apparently doing nothing in the matter, they decided, in view of the existing emergency, upon the course which they then took. In the face of that declaration on the part of Mr. Secretary Bayard, he was at a loss to understand how the Government could now say that they had only just received an intimation as to the reasons of the American Government for the dismissal of Lord Sackville. There could be no doubt that Lord Sackville had committed a very grave indiscretion in interfering with the domestic politics of the people to whom he was accredited as Minister at a period of great excitement. He was told that one reason for Lord Sackville's indiscretion was the absence of his Private Secretary, his Lordship not being in the habit of writing many of his own despatches. How on earth he could have made so great an error as to reply to the letter of an obscure correspondent—a man thousands of miles away from Washington—was a matter he (Mr. Gourley) could not for the life of him understand. A similar letter to that replied to by Lord Sackville had been received by Sir Charles Tucker, the Canadian Minister, but that gentleman had had sufficient sagacity to make out that in some way the letter was intended to obtain from him an opinion, to be 535 used by either one or other of the two contending Parties in the United States. But what he (Mr. Gourley) wished to ask the Government, with regard to the appointment of a new Ambassador to the United States, was—whether they intended to delay the appointment of a Minister until the new President assumed the reins of Office, or whether they intended to appoint a Minister during the currency of Mr. Cleveland's term of Office? He desired to point out that unless a Minister was appointed in the room of Lord Sackville, Mr. Cleveland might increase the difficulty by recalling Mr. Phelps from London. It was quite within his province, in the absence of a new Minister from the British Government at Washington, for the President on the part of the American Government, consulting the dignity of his own country, to say—"Well, if you do not appoint a Minister to represent the Government of your country at Washington we will recall our Minister in London." If an occurrence of that kind should unfortunately take place serious difficulties might arise between the Governments of the two countries. It was, therefore, to his mind, imperative that a British Minister should be appointed at Washington at once. There was another reason why a Minister should be appointed without delay, and that was that the Fishery Treaty, which had been arranged so ably and well by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) between the United States and Canada, had been rejected by the American Senate, and it was absolutely necessary that they should have a Minister at the Court of Washington, in order that further difficulties might be prevented from developing themselves in consequence of the rejection of that Treaty. With regard to this Anglo-American Fishery Question, his own opinion was that the Americans had all along been in the right, and that the Canadians had been in the wrong. But since the lapse of the Treaty—since the rejection of the new Treaty by the Senate of the United States—Her Majesty's Government had not placed upon the Table of the House any Correspondence or Papers whatever with regard to that question. He could not understand why Her Majesty's Government had refused to give the House what Correspondence might be in their 536 possession with regard to this fishery dispute. He was told that the fishery dispute had been treated very lightly by the people of this country, and he thought, also, it had been treated very lightly by the people of this country. Yet we should not forget that the Anglo-American fishery disputes in the Northern States of America were a burning question, and the question which, to his mind, had been, in a large measure, the means of defeating President Cleveland at the last Presidential contest. Now, he had said in regard to this question that, in his opinion, the Americans were in the right, and that the Canadians were in the wrong, and he would give a reason for holding this view. The only Treaty in existence now for governing the action of the two countries in regard to fisheries was the Treaty of 1818. He understood that all the complaints which had arisen from time to time with regard to the Anglo-American Fishery Question were mainly in consequence of complaints as to the infringement of the three mile limit. The Canadians had always held that the three mile limit should be drawn in a straight line from cape to cape, and, accordingly, three miles from the shore throughout a bay—no matter whether it were a broad or narrow bay. At one time the Canadian Government held that the Bay of Fundy was a bay from the capes, of which a straight line should be drawn three miles out, so that no American fishing vessel could enter the bay, however broad the bottom of the bay might be. Although the bay might be 200 miles wide at the mouth, 200 miles wide at the bottom, and 200 miles long, if a straight line, drawn from cape to cape, was within the three mile limit, the Canadian Government held that American vessels had no right to fish within that bay. That view was contested by the American Government. Well, in order that the Committee might understand how this question really threatened the friendship of the two countries it would be sufficient for him to call attention to the facts reported in one of the Blue Books as to the rescue of the crew of a Canadian ship by an American vessel, the Molly Adams. The master of the Molly Adams off Prince Edward's Island fell in with the Canadian steamer which run ashore. The Molly Adams rescued the crew, and, 537 in doing so, had to endanger the lives of her own crew and also her own safety. Under the Treaty of 1818 the Canadian crew could not be landed by the Molly Adams at any Canadian port, and, in order to relieve himself of the men, the master of the Molly Adams had had to give the shipwrecked crew £12 in order to pay their passage home. Owing to the condition of the bar outside the port in which she lay, the Molly Adams, through her delay, occasioned by the rescue of the Canadian seamen, was detained 12 days, and, instead of being able to resume his voyage, the master had to return to an American port. During the return voyage the Molly Adams got so short of provisions that the master applied at a Canadian port for the small quantity of half a barrel of flour. This was refused him, notwithstanding that he had been reduced to that condition, owing to an act of humanity, in rescuing Canadian seamen. The Canadians refused him the necessaries for the relief of his men, and he had to sail for America, but before he reached an American port the master and his crew had been without food one or two days. Now, unquestionably this was the most barbarous custom possible under any Treaty, and for giving effect to that custom a very strong feeling had originated against the Canadians. The Canadians, and also the British Government, were condemned for this rigorous interpretation of the Treaty of 1818. What he wanted to impress upon Her Majesty's Government was that they should, without delay, have a Minister sent to Washington, if only for the purpose of dealing with the rejection of this Anglo American Fishery Treaty. There could be no doubt that unless negotiations were opened for the purpose of bringing this question to a final amicable settlement, some day or other we should be brought to the verge of hostilities with the United States. The American Government, in the course of many seizures which had taken place after the Treaty of Washington, to his mind had shown a considerable amount of forbearance, for the vessels seized by the Canadian Government had not only been engaged in fishing, but vessels engaged in mercantile affairs were seized also. The present modus vivendi would be in operation until the end of next year, and he, therefore, trusted that the 538 Government would lose no time in opening negotiations for the settlement of the question. Pending the settlement of the question, he trusted that Her Majesty's Government would give the Canadian Government to understand that they decline being parties to the continuation of those barbarous regulations which now applied to the Anglo-American Fisheries as between Canada and the United States. As in regard to France, with whom we came into contact in fishery matters in this country, we had Treaties and Regulations drawn upon European lines. Why could not the Canadians adopt a similar system? The Treaty which had been arrived at owing to the exertions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and his American Colleagues at Washington had been framed on somewhat similar lines to our European Treaties. Regulations of that kind should be adopted, and he trusted the Government would do everything in their power to put as speedily as possible an end to the disputes which arose under the interpretation of the Treaty of 1818.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he only wished to say one word upon this subject. He was in America at the time these transactions were going on, and he was bound to say that in his opinion, either as regarded the Sackville or the Fishery Treaty, that at the present time the least said and done the better. With regard to the Fishery Question, his hon. Friend (Mr. Gourley) had said just now that the question was regarded as one of great importance in the Northern States of America. Well, he denied that it was a burning question. It was only looked upon as a burning question in one county in the State of Maine or Massachusetts, and that was the County of Gloucester. North of Boston, generally speaking, the interest in the Fishery Question in the United States, whether in the North or South, was very languid indeed. No doubt the harshness of the Canadians' regulations on the subject had been remarked in many quarters. His own opinion was, however, that the first negotiations having unfortunately failed, it was better to wait a little for a more favourable opportunity before endeavouring to bring about a settlement. It was better not to be in a hurry. The 539 fishing community were not in a state of excitement about it. As regarded the Sackville incident, he considered that everything which had been said and done with regard to it was most regrettable. The less they did, or said, or wrote about it the better. At Washington they were rather fond of long-winded despatches. No doubt they had sent them to Her Majesty's Government, but he hoped Her Majesty's Government would not reply in that way, but would say—"We are very sorry that this incident has occurred; had we not better keep cool over it? We are not in a hurry to send a Minister to Washington; we have a chargé d'affaires with you who will manage very well for a time, and before long we will send over an Ambassador."
§ SIR GEORGE BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
said, he cordially agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that the least said on these subjects the better. For his own part, he wished that nothing had been said in the House to-night with regard to them, because an argument had been adduced which he should just like to show was not true. As to the barbarous restrictions imposed on fishing by the Treaty of 1818, the fact was that Great Britain and Canada had done all they could to put an end to them, and the fault lay entirely with the United States.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, that the policy of saying nothing and doing nothing was one which would not be objected to by hon. Gentlemen opposite. He entirely disagreed with what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Kirkcaldy Burghs (Sir George Campbell) as to the state of public feeling in America on these questions at the present moment. He was not going into that matter at the present moment to any extent, but he was bound to say that, from the sources of information at his command, which were of the best character, he was able to say that very deep interest indeed was taken in these questions. He did not refer to the Sackville incident, which was looked upon rather as a joke than otherwise; but on the subject of these fisheries anyone who would look at the Blue Book and see the disgraceful proceedings which Canada had been 540 guilty of would not be surprised that the Americans felt so deeply on the subject. They found that in one case in which an American fishing vessel had, during a gale, found a Canadian ship in great distress—had taken the crew on board, had carried them to their own port, and had given them money to return to their homes—they were refused by the Canadians the barest necessities of life. The Canadians refused to give them food, and sent them to sea short of provisions. Surely such a state of things as that was not calculated to bring about a satisfactory state of feeling. This fact was stated in the Government Blue Book, and it had never been denied. The question he rose especially to ask was this—"Did the Government intend or not to appoint an Ambassador to Washington before the termination of the present Presidency?" The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the Government had made no declaration on this subject, and that it was not decided when the new Minister would be appointed; but he must press for an answer as to whether they intended or not to appoint a Minister to the United States in the few months which would elapse before the new President was installed? The reason he asked this was because he thought that they might fairly assume that if a Minister was not appointed during the continuance of the present tenure of Office of President Cleveland it might lead to difficulty. He did not think it was any secret that the present President was more friendly to the Government than he was likely to be in the future. It seemed to him that not to appoint the Minister during the present tenure of Office would have the effect of increasing any unfriendly feeling that might exist between the two countries. Lord Salisbury, the other day, had made some remarks which he thought were calculated to increase the ill-feeling between the two countries; and in order to show that we were not piqued at the action—which, under the same circumstances, we should have taken ourselves—he trusted the Government would see their way to answering his question in the affirmative.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he had hoped that what he had stated an hour or two ago on this subject might have been accepted by the Committee as 541 sufficient. He had said that it would be impossible to make a declaration on that point, and he had given a reason which at the time seemed sufficient to the Committee generally. The hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Gourley) had stated that he could not understaud why the Government had not settled this affair, seeing that the dispute was settled long ago. But the Papers before the House showed that on the day after his passports were sent to Lord Sackville, Mr. Phelps was not able to inform the Prime Minister of the ground on which he had been called upon to resign. It was unfortunate that some hon. Gentlemen thought of their own country as if it was always in the wrong. The hon. Member for Sunderland condemned the conduct of our Canadian fellow-subjects in the Canadian fisheries' dispute. It would be utterly impossible to follow the history of fishery affairs in North America, extending over a period of 50 or 60 years; but he thought it must be satisfactory to the Committee to know that during the last Session there had been no disputes and no seizures on either side, which showed, on the one hand, that the modus vivendi was not without effect; and that, in the second place, there was a desire to establish more harmonious relations than were found to be possible in the past. He thought it right to say this much in defence of this country and Canada against the charges brought by the hon. Member for Sunderland. It was not convenient to lay the Papers with reference to the Fisheries Question on the Table of the House; but hon. Members were in possession of the text of the Convention, and were aware of the happy results of the modus vivendi. Having said this much, he thought the Committee would approve his not saying any more on that subject. The hon. Member for the St. Austell Division (Mr. W. M'Arthur) had touched on a question of great difficulty in very temperate language. He regretted very much that some people should have suffered most undeserved losses by the troubles in Samoa. Those losses were in some cases undeserved, and he hoped that some compensation and amends might be made to those who had so suffered. The hon. Member had very justly touched upon the question in a broader sense than any question of losses, and he had challenged the action of Her 542 Majesty's Government in relation to the Samoan Conference as compared with the declarations they had made at the Colonial Conference. It was impossible for him to answer the hon. Member's categorical questions. He could not tell him what had passed in the Conference, because that Conference, though suspended, was not closed, and it was not open to any of the Powers concerned to make public statements on the case; neither could he tell the hon. Member what would be the future of Samoa, but he could tell him that nothing which Her Majesty's Government did at Washington in connection with the Conference was inconsistent with the declarations made at the Colonial Conference. There was no secret or improper arrangement between Her Majesty's Government and Germany; their conduct had been straightforward and open to the other Power, and he regretted that no arrangement for the permanent good government of Samoa was arrived at. Her Majesty's Government had always pledged themselves to preserve the neutrality in Samoa between contending parties, and it was earnestly to be wished that there might be such a settlement as would put an end to all further civil wars, which did a great deal of injury to incipient civilization. Her Majesty's Government were fully sensible of the duties which devolved upon them in connection with these regions, especially in consideration of the great interests and just demands of the Australian Colonies. His hon. Friend was aware that some time ago an arrangement had been made with other Governments by which the influence of their respective countries in the Pacific was to a great extent delimited, the object being to place each group of Islands under one European Power, and that that Power should sustain law and order as between the Natives of the Islands and the subjects of civilized countries. That was an object which he thought ought to be kept in view; and he hoped it would not be long before the troubles in Samoa were healed, and, as far as possible, re-redress obtained for those who had suffered. A word had fallen from his hon. Friend with respect to the presence of Germany in those seas. No doubt our country had been first in the work of colonization; they had planted themselves upon nearly every place of 543 the habitable globe, but he did not think they could expect that other nations who had a similar tendency would not also seek to plant Colonies. The German people formed some of the best Colonists in our own Possessions, and he did not think it surprising that the Government of Germany, with people spread all over the world, should have sought to settle them to some extent in Colonies of their own, rather than altogether in those of Great Britain and in the United States. He did not think they ought to view with jealousy the advent of other civilized Powers to Colonies to some extent adjacent to our own, and if we were to do so we should be pursuing a policy of selfishness, which would neither increase our influence nor the safety of our own Possessions. But he quite agreed that we should be mindful of the interests of the subjects of Her Majesty wherever they might be, and that we should always demand justice for them according to the laws of the country in which they lived. He thought he had now shadowed out a policy which might accomplish better results than those achieved in the past; and he hoped that the House would have no ground of complaint of the neglect of British interests in the Pacific.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, his object had been to point out to the Committee and the right hon. Gentleman that before the Recess they had been told they could not have the Papers with regard to the negotiations before the Commission, because those negotiations were then going on, but that when the negotiations were over the Papers would be laid before Parliament. He believed it was quite unprecedented to enter into negotiations without powers to give the Papers connected with them when the negotiations were finished. He would ask leave to withdraw his Amendment, because he did not think it would be of use to trouble the Committee to go to a Division; but he thought hon. Members had got what they wanted—namely, an opportunity of protesting against the intemperate language of the Prime Minister in regard to America; and they had had a further opportunity of protesting against what was an insult to the present Administration at Washington in not sending an Envoy Extraordinary to that country until the Presidency was changed. That might be a 544 policy of refinement; but he was surprised that it should have been adopted by Her Majesty's Government.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. W. M'ARTHUR
said, he would like the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State to give a plain denial to the statement that there was an understanding between the English and German Governments that their interests should be identical at the Washington Conference and against the interests of America.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he could assure the hon. Gentleman that he held that to be a totally incorrect description of any action taken by Her Majesty's Government. He had stated that what had been done by Her Majesty's Government was consistant, in his opinion, with the statement that had been made to the Colonial Conference, but when the hon. Gentleman asked him to say what had taken place categorically he was unable to answer his question. He protested in the most distinct manner against the colouring with which the hon. Member for Northampton had endeavoured to close the debate by reference to any statement which he made. It was utterly the reverse of the fact to say that in any sense there had been a disposition on the part of the Government to manifest resentment against the Government of the United States. On the contrary, he distinctly stated he was sure that the relations between the two countries were far too deeply seated to be affected by any such events as this.
§ MR. W. M'ARTHUR
said, the right hon. Gentleman had managed to answer a question which he had never asked. He never said the Government had not fulfilled any pledge given to the Colonial Government. What he wanted to know was whether, when they gave the pledge to the Colonial Government and when the Commissioners went across, they had already pledged themselves that their joint action should be against the American Government?
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he rose to ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether he could, without detriment to the Public Service, give information with regard, first, to the negotiations about Thibet; and, 545 secondly, those with reference to the Chinese emigration to Australia. He urged that the Colonial Governments were bound to have some regard to the diplomatic difficulties of the British Government, and should try to deal with the question of Chinese emigration in a conciliatory spirit. With regard to the past he was sorry that the initiatory steps with reference to Thibet had been taken contrary to the views of the Government of India, which views had turned out to be quite right. He hoped, if it was true, as Lord Dufferin had said, that the matter was practically settled, that the Chinese Envoy had approached our frontier, and was about to reside there—he hoped we might meet him in a conciliatory spirit and not in an aggressive one, and consider the difficulties in which the Chinese Government were placed. He also expressed the hope that the Colonies would feel that something was due on their side to the Chinese Government, and that they were bound to have some regard to the diplomatic difficulties of the British Government, and that they would try to meet them in the same conciliatory manner. With regard to New South Wales, he understood that the matter was in the same position as it stood in America in another case, that the things which had been said had been said for electioneering purposes only. He believed that this question might be settled if, as he hoped, the Chinese Government would meet us in a conciliatory spirit, and if Her Majesty's Government did not press the matter too closely.
§ MR. W. M'ARTHUR
said, he rose to point out that the hon. Gentleman, in his view, was entirely wrong in the statement that they wished English diplomacy to be used in order to prevent Chinese emigration to Australia. The great point of objection, as he believed it to be to the Chinese, was on moral grounds.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he stated about a week ago that negotiations were proceeding between Her Majesty's Government and the Chinese Government in the most friendly spirit, and that he most earnestly hoped that they would lead to a result satisfactory to both Governments. With regard to Thibet, he was glad to say that here, also, the re- 546 lations with China were friendly, and the Government of China had expressed satisfaction with the friendly bearing of the Government of India. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that the relations of Her Majesty's Government with the Chinese Government were not in the least strained.
§ Question put and agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £49,433, be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the Expense of the Consular Establishments Abroad, and for other Expenditure chargeable on the Consular Vote.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he had put down Notice of a Motion for reducing the salaries of certain Consuls under this Vote in order to elicit from the Government some information as regarded their policy now being pursued in East Africa. He thought these Vice Consuls and Consuls were the only people they had to look after the great movement taking place in East Africa and the agents of large commercial and territorial companies. In that view he asked to be allowed to move a reduction of the Vote by £100, part of the salary of the Consul at Nyassa, and £200, part of the salary of the Consul at Massowah. In regard to this matter, he believed that lately a speech was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of a very important character with regard to our foreign and colonial policy, and the right hon. Gentleman said that it was most desirable that the Government and the people of this country should know their own minds, and that they should follow a definite policy in what they did. He wanted to know whether the Government had a distinct and definite policy with reference to the question of East Africa, and with reference to the part which Her Majesty's Government were going to take with regard to that country, as well as the part which they might encourage their allies to take. He admitted at once that in the dreadful state of anarchy which prevailed in the greater part of East Africa, and in the lamentable results on the population of internecine war connected with slavery, that there was much to be feared with regard to a large portion of 547 Africa. The first question was with regard to ourselves;—had we got enough already? He would only say that this was a subject on which he had grave doubt. Another subject on which he had doubt was the expenditure. If they were going to scramble for East Africa, was it desirable or expedient that they should do so by means of Territorial Companies to whom they intrusted great rights? He thought not. He admitted the marvellous success which had attended Companies that had taken part of the gain as in the case of the East India Company, but that Company not only had territorial rights, but it had an avowed monopoly of trade. That was a clear and intelligible policy, but when they attempted at the same time to give to Commercial Companies territorial rights, they did not give them a monopoly of trade. It was totally and absolutely impossible that they could have fair-play under the circumstances between traders, and they must have great complaints, such as those which were already beginning to crop up with regard to these Companies, and he said that to intrust these territorial rights to Commercial Companies in the present day was altogether a mistake. He had noticed a statement made by a very competent man the other day, Consul Cameron, probably one of the most experienced officers in Africa, to the effect that the governing body of men should not trade, and a trading body should not govern; that the two things must be kept entirely separate, otherwise the door was open to tyranny and certain dissatisfaction. There was another view of the matter, against which he most entirely protested, and that was the mixing up of religious bigotry with commerce and trade. He thought they were bound to keep clear of that in Africa, and that was because the East India Company had always kept clear of it that they had, to a great extent, succeeded. He had, therefore, noticed with regret that these companies, whenever they touted for support, had shown a great disposition to gain the interests of people in this country by appealing to their religious bigotry, a policy which he did not think would succeed with many men, although it might with some old women. The attempt, therefore, to raise religious bigotry against the Mahomedans of 548 Africa was entirely to be condemned. In his own neighbourhood he had noticed a speech made by a distinguished man, Sir Francis de Winton, in connection with Africa. He found that that gentleman at present held the position of Assistant Quartermaster General in Her Majesty's Horse Guards, but only a few weeks ago he was introduced into his neighbourhood of Kensington in the character of secretary to a great enterprise set on foot in Africa. He mentioned this because he could hardly believe it possible that this gentleman, with his position of Quartermaster in the Horse Guards, should be in his capacity of secretary to this Company, touting on behalf of the Company. The words were to the effect that finally it remained for the world to expand the gift that had been given to it by its travellers, by hurling back the tide of Mahomedan invasion setting in from the East, and that in the fulness of time the light of truth would shine in and enlighten all the land. This, he (Sir George Campbell) contended, was altogether injurious. This was what came from the representative of a Commercial Company to whom territorial rights had been intrusted. Not only was it inexpedient that these things should be done, but it was also unjust to say these hard words with regard to Mahomedanism. But he had always noticed that rival traders were ready to throw dirt on those who opposed them. He had read an address delivered before the Royal Geographical Society by a German gentleman, who described the state of things in West and Central Africa, and attributed everything bad to the Mahomedans, running them down in every way, and this gentleman he found to be the agent and apostle of a German Company. But it happened that some time before that another lecture had been given by Sir Joseph Adamson, who put a very different aspect on the case as regarded Mahomedanism, and that gentleman said the opinion he had formed was that contact with Europeans in West Africa was attended with almost unlimited evil to the natives, and that where Companies had increased one could only too soon discover the quick and terrible demoralization of the natives by means of the infamous gin trade. And then, speaking of his passage up a river, he said that for 200 miles he saw nothing 549 to alter this view, and that cannibalism, fetishism, and general drunkenness prevailed; but further on he found the gin trade had largely disappeared, there was a better state of things, and everything indicated that Mahomedanism had taken a great hold upon the native population. He would not pretend to say there might not be exaggeration on both sides of this question; he would not say that the Mahomedans were so perfect as Sir Joseph Adamson had described them to be, or that European gin-sellers were such demons as he said they were, but he held that we must not claim all the virtue for our side and give all the vice to the Mahomedans. Although they were engaged in the Slave Trade, he said that this was not their sole occupation, and that it was only an unfortunate incident connected with their domestic arrangements. But the question was which was the worse evil—gin or slavery? He thought it was difficult to say; they were both very bad. He admitted at once that the evils existing in Africa were very great indeed, although he did not think that domestic slavery was such a terrible thing as people supposed. Still he held that internecine war was an evil of the gravest kind. He was one of those who believed that slavery would never be put an end to by a mere blockade of the sea coast. If the Government decided to occupy the country he was not there to deprecate it, but he strongly protested against sham treaties, obtained for some petty barter from people who had no power to make them being regarded as giving rights to immense tracts of territory. If we were to take part of Africa we should do so honestly, and not under the authority of sham treaties. He doubted very much whether the Sultan of Zanzibar had the right to sell any part of the country or transfer these rights to Europeans. He admitted that the Territorial Companies formed in this country were composed of such eminent men that he was thoroughly led to believe that their intentions were good; one great Company had no doubt money behind it, but it was always uncertain in the case of Companies launched for the sake of commercial profit, how long their finances would last. There was in this country no means of knowing what was going on in Africa, except the articles in The Times, which gave a 550 picture of the wars now being carried on and in which our Consuls seemed to have been involved. He hoped, however, that the Government would be able to give the Committee and the country some information as to the war now going on in the heart of Africa; that they would explain their policy with respect to this matter. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had told them that they were not responsible for the Lake Company, and in theory no doubt that was true; but they had seen our Consul, as it appeared, taking part in the Council of War which had led to repeated defeats, and although that Consul had been withdrawn, he would like to be made quite sure that he would not be sent back again, and that the Government had thoroughly repudiated the action of this independent Company. The German Company, in the same way, undertook operations for which the German Government were not responsible, but the moment they got into trouble they appealed to the Government, and it might be that the English Government would have to maintain the English Companies in the country over whose action they had no control. He wanted to know how far the East African Company was to go, and to what extent the Government would be prepared to act if they got into scrapes? He disliked this policy of taking enormous tracts of territory here and there, and his wish was that we should concentrate ourselves in South Africa, and that we should not involve ourselves in great responsibilities in the other parts of the Continent. He regretted the surrender of that part of the country to the south of Zanzibar, because we were not free from the difficulties which prevailed there. That portion of the country, however, had been given over to the Germans, and we must make the best of it, but he would express the hope that active interference would be avoided, and that no attempt would be made, in the interest of the Germans, to suppress a people struggling to be free.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Item A, Salaries, &c., be reduced by £300, part of the Salaries of the Consul at Nyassa and the Vice Consul on the Mainland at Zanzibar."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ SIR LEWIS PELLY (Hackney, N.)
said, that in everything his old Friend and Colleague had stated about India 551 he entirely agreed; but he would pardon him if he ventured to submit to the Committee that in everything put forward concerning our interests of East Africa the hon. Member was entirely mistaken. He had watched the East African Slave Trade question from 1862 to the present moment, and he could say that, during the last few months, few days had elapsed in which he had not given many hours to its consideration. In 1862 he ventured to submit to the Government that instead of endeavouring to stop the Slave Trade by force at sea, they would do more good by endeavouring to approach Central Africa. He pointed out that in Mombassa they had one of the finest ports in the world, capable of holding the greater part of our Fleet; in direct communication with Bombay; and where there was an old trade established by the Natives of India, which they perfectly understood. These Natives were in the main on perfectly friendly and profitably commercial relations with the Arabs and Natives of the East African coast, and would constitute the best medium for mercantile development in the interior. The hon. Member had spoken of the Arabs as men with fanatical ideas. True, the Arabs were not Christians, but very many of them were God-fearing men. What the Arabs had been, history told us. Horsed or cameled on a religious idea, the ancestors of these Arabs had started from the arid regions of Mecca and Medina, and had within a century extended their conquests from the Ganges to the Atlantic, had then dominated Spain, and, if it had not been for the battle of Toulouse, they might have been in France. The hon. Gentleman was mistaken in supposing that the Imperial British East African Company would not prosper. He (Sir Lewis Pelly) happened to know something about that Company. Some 20 or 30 English gentlemen had put down £250,000 as a nucleus, and said, "Let us try what we can do by introducing a higher civilization through Eastern Africa into Central Africa." He did not think there was one of those gentlemen who had been actuated by considerations of money profit; although there would probably be an essential increase of trade consequent on the advantages of civilized government and civilized modes of transit. The trade, 552 even then, might be infinitesimally small per square mile; but the whole area to be drained is so vast that investors in the East African Company might probably benefit largely. Meantime the founders of the Company would have to create and pay an administration, to lay out roads, and provide for all other outlays involved in civilizing a barbaric region. Hence for some time to come their outlay would likely be greater than would be their income derivable from Customs, &c. But he and his friends had with some force stated frankly and respectfully, "We do not think that the Slave Trade can be destroyed by force of arms at sea." The answer very naturally and properly was, "What alternative do you propose; have you anything to say, or do you wish to sit down with your arms crossed and let the Slave Trade go on?" That, he thought, was a very fair question. So the East African Company proposed to try and supplant slavery by civilizing Central Africa towards and round the Lake Victoria Nyanza. What had been the operation of the Company? The Sultan of Zanzibar had made a concession there. His hon. Friend (Sir George Campbell) said that the Sultan had no authority on the coast.
§ SIR LEWIS PELLY
said, that the Sultan of Zanzibar, within certain latitudes, had authority along the coast-line. He granted that the Sultan's authority did not go very far inland. Her Majesty's Government, who had given a charter to the Company, had acknowledged that fact, and, in concert with other Powers, had determined that the authority of the Sultan should be held to extend to a distance of 10 miles inland. It was not correct to say that the Company had usurped the Sultan's rights and thrown him over. They had done nothing of the kind. Their orders were to hoist the Sultan's flag over the Company's flag, and administer the whole territory within the 10 mile limit in his name. Piercing inland to Lake Victoria Nyanza, the Company were allowed to make their own arrangements. The hon. Member was quite right in saying that the Germans had had difficulties, but he (Sir Lewis Pelly) was glad to inform the 553 Committee that the Company had had none. There was a little more experience—not more ability, but more experience—in the English Company, and they went to work upon terms which hitherto had absolutely succeeded. The port of Mombassa was being improved, and the Indians were prosecuting their trade round the Persian Gulf, Arabia, to Pemba, Zanzibar, and Bombay. Only this morning the Company had received 16 letters from their very able agent, Mr. Mackenzie, who said that the port had been improved, that a pier had been in part erected, that a road 100 miles in length had been commenced along the sea coast; seven stations—one a principal station—were being established; that the Natives were entirely friendly, and that the principal Chief had come in with 1,000 men and had had a little breakfast with the Company's agent, and there had been no collision whatever. There had been at one time risk of difficulty with the missionaries and escaped slaves, who, to the numbers of 1,100, had, during past years, fled to the precincts of certain missionary stations. The Company felt that they had no right arbitrarily to interfere with the status of slavery in that territory; their charter did not admit of this, although it did authorize them to discourage, and, so far as may be practicable and consistent with existing Treaties between non-African Powers and Zanzibar, to abolish, by degrees, the Slave Trade and domestic servitude within their territories. They might attempt to stop the Slave Trade at sea by force, but they could not interfere with the homes of the Natives, and, therefore, an arrangement was made so that there might be no difficulty with respect to the Missionaries and the escaped slaves. A sum of money, amounting, he believed, to a few thousand pounds, was put down. With this the slaves purchased their freedom from their masters, and they were now free, and going wherever they liked. What was called Lake Victoria Nyanza was really an inland sea, being some 120 miles long by 80 wide. The Company intended to put steamers on that inland sea, and thus create an interior commercial circle, from the circumference of which they could develop trade in all directions through the centre of Africa. They would thus 554 soon get in peaceful communication with that much dreaded Uganda Land. The Company's determination was to attract and conciliate, and to trust to commerce and the civilizing influence of improved transit. They hoped eventually to introduce a train. They had sent out a short rail, and they hoped to get up to the Lake by the ordinary transit of civilized nations. If they failed they would have at least done their best. They never had applied for assistance to Her Majesty's Government, though Her Majesty's Foreign Office had afforded them every encouragement it was possible for them to give. The Company were most grateful to the Foreign Office, but he was in the recollection of the Under Secretary when he said that the Company had never troubled him or come to him, and said—"We have annoyances from the Natives, and we would like you to come to our assistance." All they wanted was to be left alone. They were spreading civilization on every hand, and attracting steam vessels to the coast, and they would soon open out trade with the interior. Let him give the Committee an instance of the way trade went on. Their Company started a small steamer of 300 tons to trade between Zanzibar and Mombassa. Their agent reported to-day that the steamer could not carry its cargo, and he had applied for two other steamers which he said would be filled constantly. These were reassuring facts. He was sorry he had detained the Committee so long, but he thought that they would find in what he had said some grains of useful truth.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
said, a great part of the enterprise, both missionary and commercial, in South-East Africa had been due to Scottish initiative, and those interested and best qualified to judge regarded the present policy of the Government with considerable anxiety. He would look at the blockade in its relation to British interests and in its relation to the Slave Trade. First of all, with regard to the Slave Trade. The bulk of the slaves exported from the Zanzibar coast went to the Comoro Islands, Madagascar, or the Island of Pemba. We could not search vessels on the Comoro and Madagascar coasts for they were under French Protectorate. But it was a remarkable fact that while, in conjunction with Germany, 555 we were blockading the Zanzibar coast for the suppression of the Slave Trade, the one part of the coast that was exempted, the Island of Pemba, was the place where 19 out of every 20 slave dhows landed their slaves. That was practical evidence that the suppression of the Slave Trade was only a secondary object with those who initiated the blockade. Now, as regards British interests. These interests were twofold. There were many British Indian merchants in all the towns of that coast, and there were missionary and commercial settlements scattered over various parts of the country, from Lake Nyassa northward to near Nyanza. In 1885 we virtually surrendered to the Germans the paramount power which up to that time we had exercised at Zanzibar. We might regret it, and did regret it, but it was done. Still there was no reason why we should neglect the interests of our subjects on that coast, and there was a very prevalent idea on the coast that since 1885 we had been very remiss in discharging that duty towards both British and British Indian traders and missionaries. We had heard, a year ago, of the wanton bombardment by the Portuguese of Tunghi and Minengani, and the destruction of life and property of British Indians there. Redress was claimed and clearly due, and he (Mr. Buchanan) had questioned the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary on the subject, but no redress was ever given. No wonder that the British Indian merchants in their memorial to the Consul at Zanzibar had said—We are grieved to find that British interests in these parts do not receive the same attention from the Government as they have hitherto received, and that the influence and prestige acquired through the importance of the trade carried on by the thousands of the Indian subjects of Her Majesty settled in Zanzibar is allowed to be lessened by the greater political activity of other nations.Similarly we had heard of the destruction of British Indian property at Bagamoyo the other day, and no redress given. Then with regard to the interests of the missions near Nyassa and elsewhere, he thought the Government had been a little wanting in consideration for them in precipitately joining in this blockade. Surely they might have been forewarned or their representatives consulted as to what it was proposed to be done. No 556 such warning was given, and no intimation such as would lead them to believe that their interests were receiving prime consideration at the hands of Her Majesty's Government. They were exposed thereby to great and quite unnecessary risk and anxiety. Then there were other important consequences which might ensue from this blockade which rendered it even more fraught with risk than the operations at Suakin. They could not be blind to the great dangers which might result from differences or misunderstandings arising with Germany on the working of the blockade, and there was the much greater danger of misunderstanding arising between us and the French Government in connection with interference with ships flying the French Flag. That was a point on which they had never got any definite information. Lord Salisbury's final despatch to the French Government in the recent Correspondence was, according to the Under Secretary, still unanswered. The Admiralty instructions to Commanders on the coast and the Treaty of 1859 were at variance. So that there was every possibility of misunderstanding. And it would be doubly unfortunate if, through any action of the Germans, we were involved in difficulties with our nearest neighbours, with whom it was our interest and desire to remain at peace. He (Mr. Buchanan) would conclude by asking for any information the Foreign Office had of the position of affairs at Lake Nyassa, and, summing up, would say that it was unfortunately the belief of those best qualified to judge—in which he shared—that Her Majesty's Government in their recent policy on the Zanzibar coast had not primarily looked to the real and substantial interests of British subjects there; and further, in joining with Germany in this blockade, had, without adequate reason, introduced the possibility of new and very grave dangers.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he trusted that the discussion would now be brought to a close. He reminded hon. Members that on two occasions on Votes on Account they had discussed every one of the questions raised to-night. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) had to-night, for the second or third time this year, raised the question of the presence of Commercial 557 Companies in Africa. The Committee would, he was sure, excuse him if he did not follow the hon. Gentleman once more into the reasons for his observations. He answered the hon. Gentlemen very fully on a former occasion, and he could not help thinking that if he answered him again to-night he would not convert him. He could, however, confirm what the hon. and gallant Member for Hackney (Sir Lewis Pelly) had said as to the honourable character of the enterprise in which the East African Company was engaged. It was true that the Company had not asked for any assistance from Her Majesty's Government. The manner in which the Company had commenced operations certainly augured most hopefully for the future, and the Committee had every reason to believe that happy results would be obtained. He did not think he needed to defend Her Majesty's Government against the charge of prejudice against Mahomedanism, considering that possibly Her Majesty ruled over more Mahomedans than any other Sovereign in the world. The hon. Member (Sir George Campbell) had asked him some practical questions which he would be happy to answer. The hon. Gentleman proposed a reduction of the Consular Establishments on the East Coast of Africa. He (Sir James Fergusson) assured the Committee that those establishments were hardly adequate for the duties which had to be performed. Formerly there were four Vice Consuls stationed at various points on the coast; now there were only two, both of whom were at Zanzibar. There was a Vice Admiralty Court and a Consular Court at Zanzibar, and so much overworked was the Consulate that at present assistance had to be provided. Anyone who had the least idea of the amount of work which the Consuls had to do would see that any reduction of the number was absolutely out of the question. The hon. Gentleman (Sir George Campbell) spoke in praise of the enterprising character of the Indian traders who had settled on the East Coast of Africa, and deprecated any alliance which would prejudice their position. He was sure the Germans had no desire to disturb those traders. They had resorted to Indians and Parsees to perform functions under the Company at places where those people had settled themselves, and 558 they were most anxious to encourage the Indian traders to return to their places of business as soon as the first outbreak at their port had been suppressed. The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) had advocated the blockade of Zanzibar and Pemba. It did not extend to those islands in the first place, because of their distance from the coast; and, secondly, because the blockade was against the importation of arms and the exportation of slaves, neither of which was practised there. There was no doubt that the great employment of slaves in the Island of Pemba was a great attraction to the Slave Trade; but hon. Members would see that, in the present circumstances of the Sultan of Zanzibar, it was not desirable to press for too much at once. But to-day the Government had received a telegram saying that there was a spontaneous movement amongst the more respectable Arabs to put down altogether slavery in Pemba and Zanzibar. It was expected that, as soon as the Sultan returned from the country, where he had been sick, a memorial would be presented to him, praying for measures to that effect. It was much better the movement should be spontaneous on the part of the respectable Arabs than that it should be enforced by us. The hon. Member also referred to the bombardment of Minengani in Tunghi Bay, and asked if we could not claim compensation for Her Majesty's Indian subjects who were injured by that bombardment. He (Sir James Fergusson) could not but say that that bombardment was, from the Government's point of view, unnecessary, and that it was carried on with unnecessary violence; but, on the other hand, he was afraid they were not in a legal position to demand compensation. He believed the formalities of war were observed. A certain notice was given to the poor people there to retire in view of the intended bombardment. He was afraid that, technically, Her Majesty's Government had no claim on the Portuguese Government. The hon. Member also referred to the condition of Lake Nyassa. He (Sir James Fergusson) believed there had been a cessation of hostilities there. Her Majesty's Consul did not take any active part in any attacks; all he did was to give refuge to the refugees in the Consulate. He was right in doing that, 559 but he did not take part in the military expedition, and he would have been wrong in doing so. Finally, he (Sir James Fergusson) trusted that the danger of mistake in the blockade would be avoided. Her Majesty's Government and the German Government had given most precise instructions, which were calculated, he thought, to avoid all mistakes. All that the Government could do to avoid any such unfortunate occurrence as the violation of the Flag of any friendly Power had been done, and he had no reason to anticipate that there would be any failure in that respect.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N.W.)
said, that the hon. Baronet had spoken about British Indians and the Portuguese Government, but it must be remembered that there were many British Indians whose property had been entirely destroyed in the German Settlement. This was a matter upon which many people in this country felt very strongly; they thought that some compensation ought to be given to those poor unfortunate people. Had we been in the position of the German Government, and had done what the German Government and the German East African Company had done, the German Government would immediately have demanded compensation from us, and our Government would have at once agreed to give it. He desired to know what steps we, as a great and independent nation, a nation who at one time had entire control of the whole of the Zanzibar coast, were taking to secure that some compensation should be made to the people who had been placed in the unfortunate position he had described?
§ MR. COCHRANE-BAILLIE (St. Pancras, N.)
said, that as to the legality of the claims of British Indian subjects whose property had been destroyed in the bombardment of Minengani and Tunghi, anyone who read the Blue Book issued this year would conclude that there could not be a more wanton, unprovoked, and uncalled for act of aggression on fellow-subjects who looked to us for protection; also the demand made from the Sultan of Zanzibar amounted to as clear a robbery of territory as ever occurred in that part of Africa. He thought the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs might see that the 560 Portuguese realized that the whole of their action was perfectly uncalled for; and wished to ask whether the Portuguese Government had yet paid any part of the indemnity money, also whether any settlement had been arrived at as to whom the territory between Minengani and Rovuma Rivers was to belong to?
§ MR. BUCHANAN
asked for information concerning the suggested limitation of the Portuguese blockade.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
asked, to whom the Consul at Nyassa was accredited? Was he accredited to the Portuguese Government? If such was the case, and seeing that the Consul's power as a Judge was limited, perhaps Her Majesty's Government would consider the desirability of sending him a small launch or gunboat for the purpose of preventing slaves being shipped on the lake and sent down the river to the coast.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he had to say, in reply to his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), that it was impossible for Her Majesty's Government to say, at the present time, what view they took of the responsibility of anyone in respect to the destruction of the property of British Indians at Bagamoyo and other places. The Government were really not in full possession of the circumstances. Of course the destruction of these poor people's property was a matter which must be considered, but Her Majesty's Government were not at present in a position to say what ought to be done. The hon. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Cochrane-Baillie) must remember that the Portuguese had always claimed the territory of which they had now taken possession. He (Sir James Fergusson) was not, of course, here to defend the manner in which Portugal took possession of the territory. The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) asked what was the limit of the Portuguese blockade. He believed the limit was the River Rovuma, but he answered a Question on the subject a few days ago. The Consul at Nyassa was appointed in order to maintain some sort of order amongst the Europeans. The Consul held a Consular Court, but he (Sir James Fergusson) was afraid it would be contrary to prudence to give 561 that official any sort of military or naval force.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he freely acknowledged the fair spirit in which the hon. Member for Hackney (Sir Lewis Pelly) had put the case of the East African Company. He admitted that the Company was now in excellent hands, but at the same time it was impossible to say into what hands a Joint Stock Company might drift. While the Company had the best intentions and was in the best hands, it was only, however, at the beginning of its enterprises and, perhaps, at the beginning of its troubles.
§ SIR JOHN PULESTON (Devonport)
said, he was sure the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy would withdraw the remarks he made in reference to Sir Francis de Winton.
§ SIR JOHN PULESTON
said, the hon. Gentleman told them that Sir Francis de Winton went round touting for subscriptions for the Company. So far from the Company touting for money, more money than was wanted was offered by private individuals in all parts of the country—the leading spirit of the Company (Mr. W. Mackinnon) being universally known as a philanthropic gentleman, who devoted his time and resources to the best interests of civilization and to widen and increase our commerce. He (Sir John Puleston) was convinced that everyone in the country would be grateful to Sir Francis de Winton for the great interest he had taken in sending our civilization to Africa, and for the assistance he had rendered to the development of British trade there.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he would at once withdraw the suggestion that Sir Francis de Winton touted for money, but he must repeat the suggestion that that gentleman had been touting for religious bigotry.
§ SIR JOHN PULESTON
said, that religion had nothing whatever to do in 562 the matter, and that dogmas of religious faith had no place at all in the objects or management of the Company.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said, he did not think that many Members on the Opposition side of the House objected on principle to the Anglo-German agreement; indeed, Her Majesty's Government could not well have refused to accede to the appeal made to them by the German Government to carry out the traditional policy of this country. What, however, he and his hon. Friends desired to press on the Government was that they should take care that the whole of our operations were confined to naval operations, and that no land operations of any sort or kind were undertaken. He also hoped the Government would make it perfectly clear between themselves, the German Government, and the French, that on the question of the French Flag a satisfactory solution must be arrived at. He was pleased to hear the right hon. baronet (Sir James Fergusson) say just now that in his belief the agreement would lead to a satisfactory result.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
said, he would have been very happy indeed to have responded to the appeal made by the Under Secretary of State, but he could not allow the Vote to pass without saying a few words. He really considered it his duty to call attention to the state of affairs at the mouth of the Niger. He did not think the Government could have been properly informed by their representatives out there as to what had taken place and what was taking place there at the present time. Everyone knew that the Oil River districts represented, perhaps, the most important entrance and exit for the commerce of North-West Africa. For some time past there had been a growing trade, and there was an almost illimitable scope for additional trade. There were vast populations of traders in those districts. The Government, in dealing with those districts, were somewhat severe in their treatment of the adherents of King Ja Ja who established 563 themselves there. He would not go into that long story, but only make one allusion to it. In the numerous treaties which had been made with the Kings and Chiefs of the various districts, there was always included an article providing that subjects and citizens of all countries might freely carry on trade in every part of those territories. In 1886 an African Company, under the name of the Royal Niger Company, obtained a Charter. He did not know by what right the Government of this country gave a Charter to a Company of Englishmen to deal exclusively in a territory over which, so far as he was aware, the Crown had not yet any right whatever. It was no part of the Dominion of Her Majesty; but the Company, however, were granted a Charter. In the Charter there were inserted various provisions intended to protect the Natives against exactions, and also to protect the traders of this country and of other countries as well. The Company were to be allowed to impose duties, but limits were set upon the duties they might impose, not only as to the amount charged, but also with regard to the objects for which the duties were to be charged. The Company were not to charge more than was necessary for the purpose of regulation, and the duties were never to rise to a sum which would inderdict trade. But the Company had levied duties to a degree that was absolutely prohibitory of commerce. During the first half of the present year the value of the produce exported had fallen to £41,440—the amount during the whole of 1887 having been £194,000. Then there were new licences charged to the traders who formerly had been permitted to do their trading free from any impost. Nothing had been said as to the amount raised by these fresh licences, but it must have been a considerable sum. Probably not more than £20,000 ought to be necessary, per annum, to carry on the proper regulation of a district of this kind, and he should like to know what was done with the surplus after that amount was paid? The amount of produce imported in 1886 was 10,900 tons, of the value of £232,000. When the new duties came into full operation in 1887 the amount of the produce fell to 8,630 tons, of the value of £194,000. He had no reason to doubt these figures, for they were given 564 by men who thoroughly knew the trade, inasmuch as they were themselves engaged in it. Well, these figures showed a most lamentable destruction of commerce through the operation of this monopoly. Not only was that the case but much hardship had been suffered by individuals—native traders as well as English traders. He had waiting upon him recently five young men, the sons of native traders, who had been educated in this country for some six or eight years, and were thoroughly capable of expressing themselves with fluency and correctness in English—in fact, they were thoroughly educated as English gentlemen. They told him that their fathers—and he could mention the names of some of them, if necessary—had been engaged for some 25 years past trading at the mouth of the Niger and had various small steamers engaged in the traffic. They said they had been compelled to abandon the trade altogether, and sell off the steamers because of the unreasonable limitations imposed upon them by the Royal Niger Company. They were not allowed to carry on their trade except on payment of fees arbitrarily fixed by the agents of the Company, and were not allowed to bring their goods down the river except at times convenient to the Company. He had in his possession an extract from a letter of a trader who declared that he had been prevented from bringing certain goods down to the mouths of the river for a certain period, and had lost the entire value of his cargo because the Royal Niger Company insisted upon disposing of their goods first, and in the town of Lagos they brought the values down to such a low level that it was impossible for this trader to recover what he had expended. These things were great hardships which ought to be considered by the Government. Nor were the Natives the only persons who suffered. There were traders from London, Liverpool, and Manchester, all of whom complained that they had been excluded from traffic which had been the means of livelihood to them. He knew it was said that such Companies as the Niger Company would be the means of preventing the importation of spirits and alcoholic liquors which were so destructive to the Native tribes, but he found that amongst the imports levied there was a certain charge for spirits. Hon. Mem- 565 bers must bear in mind that though the Niger Company themselves paid a heavy duty upon the spirits they imported, yet the fact of their paying duty was only like their taking money out of one pocket in order to put it into another. They it was who levied the imposts, and they it was who appropriated the taxes, so that, whilst they had ample means of importing spirits they reaped considerable profit from the sale, notwithstanding that the duty imposed might appear to be a very high one. They had the evidence of a gentleman who was thoroughly acquainted with this subject, and who had written a pamphlet upon it, that the traffic was now going on to a considerably larger extent than he had ever known. Now he (Mr. Picton) was led to believe, and it had not been denied by the right hon. Gentleman who represented Foreign Affairs in that House, that there was an intention on the part of the Government to extend the monopoly exercised by this Company below the main stream of the Niger into and over the whole of the Oil Rivers District. Well, if the Government did this they would simply be taking out of the free commerce of the world one of the most valuable entrances to the trade of North-Western Africa, and would be handing it over for the benefit of certain private monopolists who somehow had got the ear of the Government and had gained their favour. He did not think this was a fair way of dealing with our own traders or with native traders who were depending so very largely upon us for protection. He earnestly begged the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State to induce the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who was more directly responsible, to re-consider this matter, and on no account to extend the Charter of the Royal Niger Company to the whole of the Oil Rivers District. There were other modes of dealing with this district, one of which had already been suggested to the Committee. It was not for him to say what mode was the best, but he was persuaded that the worst method of dealing with it was to hand it over to these monopolists. As a protest against the condition of things on the Niger, he begged to move that the salary of the Consul at Old Calabar be reduced by the sum of £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, &c., be reduced by £100, part of the Salary of the Consul at Old Calabar."—(Mr. Picton.)
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he was glad that the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Picton), in moving the reduction of the salary of the Consul of Old Calabar, had not based his Motion on the ground of any objection to the Consul himself, because he thought that Her Majesty's Government was very well served there. But, as regarded the Royal Niger Company and its Charter, the Committee would remember that that Charter was granted after very deliberate consideration, and that the late Government, as well as the present Government, fully weighed the scheme before it was carried out. The hon. Gentleman asked whether they had any right to give a Charter to a Company to make laws that impose restrictions in that part of the world. Well, Great Britain had undertaken, under the Treaty of Berlin, to do that, and they were bound to other nations to open up and defend the trade on the Niger, and to provide good government for it. He need not go into the grounds of the resolution they had arrived at to grant a Royal Charter to a trading Company with administrative powers. He would state, however, that it was not correct to say that the Company had any monopoly of trade in this country. On the contrary, the fact was that the Company was not allowed to introduce a clause giving monopoly in any one of nearly 300 treaties they had effected with native chiefs, and under which they exercised jurisdiction in those parts. In order to carry out the ordinary processes of government it was necessary, of course, that the Niger Company should be possessed of a certain revenue, and this revenue they collected, for the most part, by trading licences at the various stations on the river. He did not think it could be called proper cause for complaint that these licence fees were levied, and that goods were 567 obliged to pass through certain specified custom houses, because every settled Government would require that goods should, under certain regulations, pass in that way. Every Government in the world adopted that system. The hon. Member must be aware that there were many small ports in the United Kingdom where goods could not be landed without extra charges, because there were no Custom Houses at those ports. But the hon. Member had referred to complaints individually made with regard to the tariff, and wanted to know what became of all the surplus revenue collected. Well, undoubtedly, the revenue was applied to the purpose of administration, and the surplus was divided in the shape of dividends between the members of the Company. The Company had not, however, paid as yet more than 5 per cent on their very large outlay, whilst, for the first few years of their operations, they had received nothing at all. The rate charged upon palm kernels was objected to, but he had stated, some time ago, upon the responsibility of the Company, that this rate did not exceed 20 per cent of the value. This was one of those things to which the attention of the Government had been called. As to the duty upon spirits, that was levied with the view of checking the importation of spirits. Some time ago, in answer to a Question put in this House, he stated that the effect of the duty levied upon spirits had been to reduce the amount imported into the Niger Company's territory by nearly three-fourths, and that was just one of the causes of the complaint made against the Company by the traders of Lagos and elsewhere—namely, that the Company was destroying the importation of spirits. There was no difficulty in the way of any outside trader who chose trading on the Niger and selling spirits there, but, if they did so, they must, of course, pay the licence fee. No licence fee was charged inside, but traders from outside must pay that fee. With regard to the proposed extension of the Niger Company's Charter it was evidently necessary, especially in view of the discussion which had taken place in regard to King Ja Ja, that some better form of Government should be provided for the Oil Rivers than the rough and ready Consular jurisdiction which had been maintained 568 hitherto. It had been an anxious question what that jurisdiction should be. There was at first great opposition from the principal traders accustomed to deal on these Oil Rivers, but he knew, from the Report presented to the Secretary of State, that they were now willing that—[An hon. MEMBER: Native traders?] No, Liverpool traders were now willing to accede to the proposed extension of the Niger Company's jurisdiction. No such extension would, however, be given by the Government without an increase of Imperial control. The extensive powers given to this Company required and received control on the part of Her Majesty's Government. But, as he had said, nothing would be done until the report of a special inquiry which the Secretary of State was about to make was obtained. He could name the Commissioner who was to be employed in this service, and he was a most distinguished man—namely, Major Macdonald. This gentleman was about to proceed to the Niger for the purpose of inquiring into all the complaints made, and to report generally on the situation, and he (Sir James Fergusson) was able to say that, until his Report was received, there would be no final settlement of this question.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, he thought the policy of granting these Charters was a very doubtful one. These Commercial Companies naturally wished to make as much money as they could, and to pay as high a dividend as possible for, as the right hon. Gentleman very truly said, their very considerable capital. The right hon. Gentleman said that no monopoly was granted to this Company. It was true that there was no monopoly in one sense, but practically, as the Company levied the duties and appropriated them when levied, in the nature of things they possessed a very perfect monopoly.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Yes; that was his point. The duties were paid by the Company to the Company, so that, in reality, the Company paid no duty, whereas, the outsider, entering into competition with them, did not get a return in the way of dividend or anything of that sort, and paid the whole duty. The Company, therefore, had an enormous 569 advantage over the individual trader; and, as a matter of fact, wherever these Charters existed, they no doubt extinguished the individual trader. He did not wish to go into the subject of these Charters, provided they could have some sort of understanding from the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary, that not only would there be an inquiry into this matter, but that an extension of the Charters over these large territories would not be granted until the estimate for the Consular service was presented next year. That was a very fair offer. They had been referred to next year very frequently, and, if there was to be an investigation into these matters, it could not signify much whether the Charter was granted in May or April. If this suggestion were acceded to, and the Charter were postponed until a discussion had been taken in the House, he thought his hon. Friend would have no hesitation in withdrawing his Motion for the reduction of the Vote. With regard to the assent of British traders to the proposal to extend the Charter of the Niger Company, no doubt the right hon. Gentleman was right in his reference to the Liverpool traders, but it was not a fact that the proposed extension had the assent of the London traders. He was informed that there was a large number of small traders whose interests in this matter were not looked after.
§ MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
desired to indorse what was said with regard to small traders. He had heard a great deal about various kinds of grievances, and more particularly the hardships involved in requiring small traders to pay a licence duty of £50 before they could open a pack on the river. He thought, therefore, that a new Charter should not be granted until this matter was more fully inquired into. He was glad that a Commissioner was to be sent out to investigate these matters.
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (London)
asked whether the Chairman of the Royal Niger Company was not a gentleman who was formerly a very honoured Member of this House, and respected by by all who knew him—namely, the present Lord Aberdare.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
wished to point out that if the Oil Rivers were brought under the Niger Company, none of the Natives in that region would pay any licence fee to the Niger Company at all. Many complaints had been made of the operations of this Company in the early stages of its history, but he could truly say he believed they had endeavoured to perform their most difficult duties in the best manner possible. They had endeavoured to administer the best justice, and to secure as their judicial officers the best men available.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, the right hon. Gentleman had not promised that these Oil Rivers would not be handed over to the Royal Niger Company until Parliament had had an opportunity of expressing an opinion on the subject. It would not be pretended that the Royal Niger Company was a purely philanthropic body. It was a Company which sought to make dividends, as he understood it, and in the prospectus they had put forward they declared that they had bought up all the interests of rival traders. They had, in fact, established a "ring" on the Niger, and it was clear that they now desired to establish another ring, in addition to that, on the Oil Rivers. He trusted that after consultation with the Chancellor of the Exchequer the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary would be able to give them the assurances they asked for. If they waited until this Vote could be taken next year there would be an opportunity of securing information which was now lacking. At the present moment they had not time to discuss the question fully, nor would the House of Commons tolerate fuller discussion.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
asked, whether they were to understand that the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary declined to give them the guarantee asked for in regard to the extension of the monopoly of the Niger Company. He thought there was a misunderstanding as to what the right hon. Gentleman had said, because if someone was to be sent out to make an inquiry into the whole subject, surely no further grant could be made before the end of next Session.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said, the Under Se- 571 cretary could not give an answer upon this point without consulting with the Foreign Secretary. It would be impossible, on the spur of the moment, to give the guarantee asked for, the full effect and scope of which he might not be aware of. The subject would certainly be brought to the attention of the Foreign Secretary.
§ MR. PICTON
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself had great weight in Her Majesty's counsels, and could he not undertake to use his influence in securing a delay in the granting of a further charter until the House had had an opportunity of discussing the matter?
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, he had intended, on this Vote, to move a reduction of the salary of this Consul, in order to bring before the Committee the question of the ill-treatment of King Ja Ja. He only rose now to say that under the pressure of Public Business hon. Members were driven into a corner, and compelled to neglect their duties in the conduct of Public Business. He did not think it would be fair, either to the Consul whose salary he should propose to reduce, or to the Sovereign whose deposition he had to complain of, to enter into the subject at any length on this occasion. He therefore proposed to adopt what he thought would be the more satisfactory course of deferring what he had to say on the matter until next Session. He had greater pleasure in foregoing his right and duty, not on the pretext of the right hon. Gentleman who asked them the other day not to deal with these Estimates now, because they would so soon have an opportunity next Session of dealing with them; but because it would be better, for the statement of his subject, that he should delay it, and more especially as he understood that there was to be an important discussion on Queensland to-night. He would give Notice, however, that he would be prepared to enter as fully as possible into the question of King Ja Ja early next Session.
§ MR. PICTON
said, he had very respectfully asked a question of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the right hon. Gentleman had not deigned to give an answer in regard to his using his influence to have the matter of the extension of the 572 Niger Company's Charter postponed. The Natives at Lagos had been in the habit of deriving a large revenue from the Oil Rivers, which they did not obtain now. He should be obliged to go to a Division upon this subject.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he did not feel so thoroughly acquainted with the subject as to justify him in giving the guarantee the hon. Gentleman desired. He promised, however, that the matter should be brought to the attention of the Foreign Secretary. The noble Lord would, no doubt, give it very careful consideration.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 50; Noes 143: Majority 93.—(Div. List, No. 354.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ DR. CLARK
said, there was an item for distressed seamen, and he wished on that point—though the President of the Board of Trade was not present—to impress upon the Government the desirability of considering the subject of the silver currency in this connection. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would put pressure upon the President of 573 the Board of Trade to prevent seamen discharged abroad being paid in depreciated silver instead of gold.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ (3.) £7,620 (including a Supplementary sum of £5,500), to complete the sum for Slave Trade Services.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he had put down an Amendment to this Vote, but, considering how large the subject was and how impossible it was to deal with it at this time of night, he did not propose to move it.
§ Vote agreed to.
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £1,005, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Three Representatives of Her Majesty's Government on the Council of Administration of the Suez Canal Company.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he should very much like the Government to tell the Committee what had become of the proposed arrangements for improving the Suez Canal, about which they had heard so much some time ago, but about which they heard nothing now. He proposed to move the Amendment to reduce the salary of the British Director of the Suez Canal Company by £100, for the reason which he would now mention. At any other time he should have taken a strong objection to the holding of the office of Director of the Suez Canal Company by Sir Rivers Wilson, whom he thought more responsible than anybody else for certain troubles which had occurred in that part of the world. What, however, he now wished to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the fact that Sir Rivers Wilson already held, outside his two offices of Controller General of the Treasury and Director of the Suez Canal Company, another office as director of a private Company. He was aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them that Sir Rivers Wilson had at one time got the assent of a Chancellor of the Exchequer—he did not know which Chancellor of the Exchequer; but, at any rate, one of them—to his holding 574 this office in connection with a private Company in conjunction with his two public offices. Probably it was not a large office, but he (Sir George Campbell) wished to press the point in this case of Sir Rivers Wilson on account of the bad example he was showing. As a high official of the Treasury Department he was holding an office in direct opposition to the General Order of that Department. He (Sir George Campbell) wished to support the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the efforts he was sure the right hon. Gentleman was making to purify the Services in this particular. The right hon. Gentleman had expressed a strong opinion upon this subject, though it had not appeared, when they came to individual cases, that he had the courage of his convictions. Sir Rivers Wilson was an officer of the Treasury, and it was under the Order which existed in the Treasury, and which affected all other officers in that Department. How could it be supposed that that Order was effective in any case when they found one of the highest officials of the Treasury, in immediate connection with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, enjoying dispensation from the operation of that Order? He hoped, however, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would express so strong an opinion on this case that it would put a stop to the bad example and prevent a repetition of such conduct in the future. The right hon. Gentleman had expressed a strong opinion on the matter on a previous occasion, but seemingly without effect. If a further expression of opinion were put forward to-night which would have the effect of inducing Sir Rivers Wilson voluntarily to resign the position he held in connection with the private company, it would be productive of the best results. He hoped such an expression of opinion would be forthcoming.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Item A, Personal Remuneration, be reduced by £100, part of the Salary of the Non-Resident British Director."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said, the hon. Gentleman opposite was aware that the fees paid to Sir Rivers Wilson as Director of the Suez Canal Company went into the 575 Exchequer and not to Sir Rivers Wilson himself, therefore the hon. Member could not move a reduction of his salary on the ground of his being a director of the Suez Canal Company. From the beginning it had always been understood that these fees were to be paid into the Exchequer. With regard to the Insurance Company of which Sir Rivers Wilson was a director, he (Mr. Goschen) had nothing to add to his previous statement. The hon. Member was correct in reminding him that Sir Rivers Wilson had received leave from a previous Chancellor of the Exchequer to retain his office. Under the circumstances it would be impossible for him (Mr. Goschen) to cancel such permission given by a previous Chancellor of the Exchequer, nor indeed was Sir Rivers Wilson's office on the same footing as offices in the Treasury itself. The Solicitor to the Treasury had recently resigned his office spontaneously and without pressure. He (Mr. Goschen), however, did not feel called upon to exercise pressure in a case where leave had been given.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he would only respectfully express his difference from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to this extent, that he thought it quite possible for the right hon. Gentleman to cancel the permission given by a previous Chancellor of the Exchequer. He trusted, however, that the expression of opinion given by the right hon. Gentleman adverse to the holding of a private office whilst a servant of the Treasury would effect the object he (Sir George Campbell) had in view.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(5.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £29,115, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, in aid of Colonial Local Revenue, and for the Salaries and Allowances of Governors, &c., and for other Charges connected with the Colonies, including expenses incurred under 'The Pacific Islanders Protection Act, 1875.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, the next reduction he had to move was £1,300 on account of the Sahmadoo Mission. He moved this because he knew nothing about it. He did not know where Sahmadoo was. He had a suspicion that the expedition was in some way connected with some extension of territory in Western Africa, but was not certain, and he hoped the Government would give them some information on the subject. He did not think that the House ought to sanction the Vote before they were supplied with some information concerning it.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Item A 1, £1,300 for the Sahmadoo Mission, he omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Baron HENRY DE WORMS) (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
said, he was happy to be able to give information at least as to one of these Votes. The Sahmadoo Mission was not a Mission undertaken with the view of annexing territory, or a Mission of an aggressive character. Sahmadoo's place was near the sources of the Niger, and the expedition had been sent out for the purpose of conciliating Sahmadoo himself, who was a person of such influence that he had been called the Mahdi of the Western Soudan. He could assure the hon. Gentleman of the advisability of entering into peaceful negotiations with this Mahdi, with the view of keeping our trade connections open, and with the view of preventing other powers obtaining an undue influence in that quarter. It was for this reason, and this reason only, that this mission was sent. He was sorry to say that the gallant officer—Major Festing—who had been in charge of the Mission had unfortunately died out there. Her Majesty's Government had in him to regret the loss of a useful and valuable officer. That was the full explanation of the Vote.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
wanted to know why the expenses of the Mission should be defrayed by Her Majesty's Government instead of those interested in keeping open the trade of the Niger? He saw that of the amount put down as the cost of the mission, some £200 was represented as being returnable. Was that what they expected to make by the sale of the presents?
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, by means of these Missions Native Chiefs were brought under British influence, and then step by step to annexation. He had the greatest doubt as to the policy of these Missions. They had been told this was a Mission to the source of the Niger to bring about an understanding to prevent the controlling influence of another Power, and it was known that France was the Power of which we were jealous. He did not like the policy at all; he protested against it.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, that it was stated in the Estimates that an amount of £600 was expected to be paid in before the 31st of March, 1888, and it might be well to know if that expectation had been realized? Also, he would remark on the general question that he thought it would be more becoming if the Committee had more information in regard to these transactions before being called upon to pay the expense. The Committee had a right to know, and should have an opportunity of expressing an opinion before committing the country to such a course.
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
said, the Report of the Mission had not yet arrived, owing, as he had explained, to the death of the officer. The hon. Member could hardly expect that the House should be informed before every friendly Mission was sent to some remote part of Africa.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, he thought they ought to have such information, because these friendly Missions often turned out to be very far from friendly.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, of course they were powerless against the Government majority, but he would make his protest.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, the next Amendment he had was a very important one, though it could not now be fairly discussed—the reduction of the Vote for the occupation of New Guinea. He made this Motion pro formâ, as a protest, to show his dissatisfaction at the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in proclaiming as British dominion a great territory not really in the possession of Her Majesty, and also because 578 Her Majesty's Government had made what was practically a surrender of New Guinea to Queensland. Practically this was so, though not technically. He would not, however, enter on the subject that night, and, unless compelled to put himself in Order by doing so, he would not move the reduction he contemplated.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
said, he rose to move a reduction of the Vote on Account of Sub-head G, £1,800, that being the contribution from the Imperial Exchequer towards the salary of Sir Frederick Napier Broome, the Governor of Western Australia. He took this course to draw the attention of the Committee to various circumstances in the conduct of the Governor during the past few years, which, in the opinion of those who had considered them, rendered Sir Frederick Broome unfit for the responsible position of Governor of a British Colony. The question of the position and appointment of Colonial Governors had been prominently brought before the notice of the House recently by representations from Queensland, from New South Wales, and from South Australia; and he was very glad, and every friend of our Colonies would be glad, to observe the spirit in which Her Majesty's Government had met the Colonial demand for the recognition of Colonial opinion. It was now acknowledged among official circles that the Representative of the Crown, while upholding the dignity of his Office, should command the respect of the Colonists themselves. The question he was raising became the more important, because Western Australia was still a Crown Colony, and the exercise of the power of the Governor less controlled by the Colony; and, secondly, because there was at the present moment before the Legislative Council of Western Australia a Bill to extend responsible government to that Colony, and one result of that Bill would be that the position of the Governor of the Colony would have to be reconsidered. He was not sure whether there would have to be a fresh Commission issued or a renewal of instructions. He did not bring this forward in a Party or personal spirit, but simply in the interests of the Colony, and to vindicate the conduct of certain officials who had been improperly treated by Sir Frederick Napier Broome. The circumstances he would bring before the Com- 579 mittee showed, in his opinion, that the Governor was unfit for the Office he held from his uncontrollable temper, from the want of knowledge he had shown on repeated occasions of the duties of his own Office and those of his subordinates, and from his reckless and improper use of arbitrary power. The three cases he was about to lay before the Committee were all cases in which differences had arisen between leading officials of the Colony and the Governor in relation to the interpretation of duty; and in every one of these cases, when brought before the Colonial Office, the subordinate officials had been justified by the Colonial Office so far as interpretation of duty was concerned. Undoubtedly, the conduct of the Governor was improper and illegal with regard to the Chief Justice and the Attorney General for Western Australia, and it compelled the Colony to pay for two Attorneys General for six months, and for two Chief Justices for eight months. The first difficulty to which he drew attention was that which arose in regard to the Surveyor General of the Colony, Mr. Forrest. He pointed out to the Governor that it was his duty not to take action in a certain matter without consulting the Executive Council, and in this he was supported by the Attorney General. This contention being supported on a reference to Lord Derby, the then Secretary of State, from that date the Governor began a series of personal attacks upon the officials mentioned, which resulted in the matters to which he would draw the attention of the Committee. Within a few months of the decision of the Colonial Office, Mr. Forrest being at Government House and some slight difference arising, Sir Frederick Broome forgot himself so far as actually to commit an assault upon Mr. Forrest, accompanying that by swearing and the use of such expressions as "scoundrel" and "cur." This was disgraceful conduct on the part of a Representative of the Crown; and, indeed, when the Governor came to England in the ensuing year, he only saved himself by making a full apology and promise of amendment to the then Secretary of State, Lord Derby. The Secretary of State felt so strongly on the matter that he wrote a despatch after the return of the Governor from England, in which he said— 580As I have received your personal assurance that you will use your best endeavours to work harmoniously and in a friendly spirit with the Members of your Executive Council, I am willing to hope that the Attorney General and Surveyor General may be contented to allow the recent controversies to be forgotten.But within the last year Mr. Forrest again made representations to the Colonial Office that he could not venture to express any difference of opinion with the Governor without incurring serious risk of personal assault upon himself. Then, turning to the case of the Attorney General, Mr. Hensman, the point of difference which arose had regard to the discharge of the duties of Attorney General. The Attorney General held that it was his duty to advise the Governor on points of law, and, of course, to represent the Crown in all cases where the Crown was interested; but the Governor pressed upon him for two years that it was the duty of the Attorney General to advise magistrates in the exercise of summary jurisdiction whether they should convict and what sentences they should pass. Mr. Hensman, well known to members of the English Bar, a man of clear and independent mind, with a high sense of professional duty and honour, promptly pointed out—and with his contention every lawyer would agree—that it was entirely improper for him to interfere in any way with the discretion of the magistrates. He wrote to Lord Granville—then Secretary of State—and in reply the Secretary declared the duty of the Attorney General was not to interfere with the magistrates in their administration. This course, however, was again pressed upon Mr. Hensman by the Governor, and actually in cases where the Crown was not concerned, and in which Mr. Hensman was retained by one of the parties—as under the regulations Mr. Hensman was authorized to be retained. Then the Governor proceeded to issue Minutes attacking Mr. Hensman in the most violent way as discrediting the administration of the law, and destroying the traditions of his profession. Mr. Hensman appealed to the Secretary of State, very naturally; but shortly after, at a meeting of the Executive Council, the Governor reproduced all these charges, and actually refused to allow Mr. Hensman to make any defence or protest. This provoked Mr. Hensman into sending 581 a letter of resignation to the Governor, which in due course should have been transmitted to the Secretary of State. But Sir Frederick Broome, instead of taking the usual course, snapped at the opportunity, accepted the resignation on his own responsibility, directed Mr. Hensman to leave his office, and appointed a successor. Mr. Hensman pointed out to the Governor that he was not entitled to do that, and that the offer of his resignation was intended to be submitted to Her Majesty. Thereupon the Governor offered to accept a withdrawal of resignation if Mr. Hensman would consent to give the advice to magistrates as he wished. Mr. Hensman replied that, until the answer of the Secretary of State was received, the matter was sub judice, and thereupon the Governor took the extraordinary course of interdicting Mr. Hensman from duty. Such interdiction was only resorted to in extreme cases of robbery, embezzlement, or where immediate action was required, and after the charges had been formulated and the official had an opportunity of answering them. When the matter came before Lord Granville, in May, 1886, he instantly ordered the interdiction to be removed and salary to be paid to Mr. Hensman, thus entirely justifying Mr. Hensman. Subsequently the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Horncastle Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), who was then at the Colonial Office, offered Mr. Hensman the Attorney Generalship of Barbadoes, an offer Mr. Hensman did not feel inclined to accept. On the 25th September the same Secretary of State expressed his opinion that Mr. Hensman had advised the Governor in perfect good faith, and that there was nothing to justify a charge of misconduct; and this was subsequently confirmed by Lord Knutsford, who held Mr. Hensman absolutely free from any blame. It might be added, in reference to this case of Mr. Hensman, that at one of the largest public meetings ever held in the Colony Mr. Hensman was invited to remain in the Colony, and had done so. Alater Despatch from the Colonial Office—December, 1886—still referred to the claim of Mr. Hensman on the Colonial Office to receive a suitable appointment, and he (Mr. Channing) expressed his surprise that, after Mr. Hensman's conduct had been fully justified by the Colonial 582 Office, and a considerable time had elapsed, no appointment had been given to that gentleman after the shameful way in which he had been pitchforked out of his position in Western Australia. Then, with the endeavour to be as brief as possible, he turned to the third case, to which he wished to call attention—that of Chief Justice Onslow. It was singularly upon all fours with that of Mr. Honsman—it was again a question of legal interpretation of duty. The Chief Justice was required to deal with certain Petitions of prisoners in his capacity of Chief Justice. He said it was his duty to deal with such Petitions as raised questions of law or interpretation of evidence or with new evidence—it was clearly his duty to aid the Governor in matters of that kind, but that it was not his duty as Chief Justice to usurp the prerogative of the Executive Governor in dealing with petitions simply ad misericordiam where the prisoner claimed consideration and remission of sentence on the ground of his family or any such circumstances. This contention of the Chief Justice was supported by a Despatch from the Colonial Secretary, which said the Chief Justice was perfectly right in his interpretation of his duty as to the particular case submitted, but did not deal with the general question of law. Sir Frederick Broome shortly afterwards sent four Petitions to Mr. Onslow, which that gentleman returned, saying he could not deal with them on the grounds alleged. The question was then referred to the Colonial Office; but, while it was thus sub judice, the Governor once more sent the same petitions insisting upon the advice of the Chief Justice on those Petitions from prisoners ad misericordiam. Mr. Onslow replied that he could not deal with them until he received the instructions of the Secretary of State—a course that must recommend itself to anyone who respected the traditions of official life. Mr. Onslow did not return the petitions, but detained them, pending the reply of the Secretary of State. It might have been more prudent to return them, but, with perfect frankness as to his reasons for doing so, the Chief Justice retained them. Upon this, after a peremptory demand for their return, the Governor formulated a charge of wilfully detaining Papers belonging to Her Majesty, with 583 the view to found thereon a process which would result in the suspension of the Chief Justice; a flimsy pretext, where there was no disguise of the object with which the Papers were retained for a few weeks pending the decision of the Secretary of State. Receiving notice of this charge, Mr. Onslow at once wrote to the Governor, and in this letter—perhaps in language that might be called intemperate—he protested against the continued persecution and harassing action of the Governor as tending to discredit the Judicial Bench. At the same time he sent this letter to the Governor, Mr. Onslow embodied his protest in a letter to the Secretary of State, and, knowing this, as the despatch passed through his hands, the Governor promptly formulated a second charge, in which he said the Chief Justice, in alluding to his action as harassing, improper, and degrading to his Judicial Office, had used language improper in his position and tending to the injury of Her Majesty's Service. It became known in the Colony that the Chief Justice was about to be suspended on this second charge, and certainly, at this juncture, the Chief Justice was indiscreet, and acted improperly, in allowing the whole of the correspondence to go into the Press. Everyone acquainted with the requirements of official life must admit this conduct was indefensible. Immediately after this, with the help of the Executive Council, the Governor suspended, or interdicted, Chief Justice Onslow, and the whole of this matter was referred to the Colonial Office. The Puisne Judge—Mr. Stone—was requested to act as Chief Justice, but declined, taking also the strong step of telegraphing to the Colonial Office a protest against the action of the Governor towards Chief Justice Onslow. He also attended a meeting, which included nearly the whole of the barristers and solicitors of Perth and the neighbourhood, in which the conduct of the Governor was censured in the warmest terms. The whole of the Colony, he might say, expressed indignation at the action of the Governor—and certainly it did not conduce to the dignity of the position of Governor that he was burned in effigy in several places in the Colony. The matter was referred to a Committee of the Privy Council, on which Lord Knutsford and Lord Cranbrook sat, and their de- 584 cision was absolutely to exonerate the Chief Justice—so far as the discharge of his judicial duty was concerned—absolutely to exonerate him, so far as the questions arising between him and the Governor were concerned, and that in his action with regard to the Petitions there was nothing contrary to his duty, though in his action in retaining the Petitions and sending the letters to the Press he committed a serious fault. But the point he (Mr. Channing) wished to bring before the Committee was that the Chief Justice was perfectly right in the interpretation of his duty, and that he was treated in a monstrously unjust and illegal way by the fabrication—if that was not using too strong a term—of those charges on which to get up a fictitious ground for suspending him, and that this conduct of the Governor tended greatly to the injury of judicial position and business in the Colony. Ha was informed that many of those who had suits pending refused to bring them on before the Court, and for eight months, in fact, the Supreme Court was almost deserted owing to the fact that a most incompetent man was placed in the position of Chief Justice. Certainly he should feel it his duty—if he did not have an assurance from the Government that the connection of Sir Frederick Broome with the Colony would terminate at the end of his six years of Office next May, or when responsible government was given to the Colony—to divide the Committee and obtain some expression of the feeling of the Committee on the question.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item G, £1,800, the Salary of the Governor for Western Australia, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Channing.)
§ MR. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
said, he could not help thinking that on either side any man who took an interest in the welfare of our Colonies would allow his hon. Friend had done good service to the Colony in bringing forward this flagrant—he might almost say this scandalous—case. As the hon. Member had said, Western Australia was a rising Colony, and before long would become a self-governing Colony, and it was extremely important that the relations with the Imperial Government should be conducted in a sensible way. Sir Frederick Broome ap- 585 peared to be a man who had a genius for quarrelling with everybody. First he quarrelled with the Surveyor General; even assaulted him, and called him by opprobious names. Then he quarrelled with the Attorney General, and seemed to have no idea of the distinction between administrative and judicial work, for he actually insisted on the Attorney General directing magistrates what sentences they should pass. Lastly, he quarrelled with the Chief Justice, who naturally refused to advise the Government on a point that clearly came within the administrative functions of the Governor. On every one of these cases he had been held by the Colonial Office to be entirely wrong. Then, acting under the advice of his Council, who seemed to be supple instruments in his hands, he suspended the Chief Justice for eight months. The case being referred to the Privy Council, the conduct of the Governor was condemned. No doubt, the conduct of the Chief Justice was not altogether justifiable; but then the Committee were not discussing the salary of the Chief Justice, but the grant for the Governor's salary. His hon. Friend had made out a very strong case. See what happened in the Colony; the whole of the Bar, with Mr. Justice Stone, a distinguished member of the Bench, took the part of the Chief Justice, and declared, in the strongest terms, against the Governor. Indignation ran so high that resolutions were passed condemning the action of the Governor in many places, and even in some places the people went to the length of burning the Governor's effigy. If this had been a self-governing Colony, would any Governor have dared to act in such an outrageous manner? Much as he held that, as a general rule, it was desirable to support the Governor, he must say the conduct of this Governor had been so outrageous that if his hon. Friend carried his Motion to a Division he should vote with him.
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
said, he was quite sure the Committee, and especially the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, and who had held Office as Under Secretary for the Colonies, would not expect him to say, on the ex parte statement of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire (Mr. Channing), that Her Majesty's Government were prepared to dismiss the Governor of Western Australia. But that was really 586 what the hon. Member's proposition amounted to. He demanded, in fact, that Her Majesty's Government should give a pledge that when his term of Office expired the Governor should not be continued in Office. In truth, it was most inconvenient to raise the question in this way. After all, what did it amount to? The hon. Member brought forward the case of Mr. Forrest, the Surveyor General, who appeared to have had a squabble with the Governor. He said the Governor quarrelled with Mr. Forrest, and the Governor alleged that Mr. Forrest quarrelled with him. It was to be regretted this case had been referred to. It had been submitted to Lord Derby in 1884, and in the result some species of apology was accepted, and the matter dropped. Then came the case of Mr. Hensman, who also had an altercation with the Governor, and the Governor, in the exercise of his authority, suspended Mr. Hensman. This case was also considered by the Colonial Office, and Mr. Hensman had been offered the position of Attorney General in Barbadoes, because it was thought better, after the quarrel between him and the Governor, that they should be separated. But Mr. Hensman declined this appointment, and, he being no longer in the Colonial Service, the Colonial Office had no longer any control or authority over him. He must say it was hardly fair to the Governor to re-open a case which was settled some two or three years ago, as a proof of the inability of the Governor to continue the discharge of his high and responsible functions. Then there was the case of Chief Justice Onslow. As hon. Members were aware, there were three modes of bringing about the removal of Colonial Judges—first, by Burke's Act, 22 Geo. II., enabling the Governor in Council to dismiss, subject to an appeal to the Privy Council; secondly, the Queen might direct suspension by the advice of the Secretary of State; and, thirdly, by an Address from the Legislature to the Queen, where there was a responsible Government. The Governor acted within his powers in suspending Chief Justice Onslow. He had then to communicate the fact of his suspension to the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State had to take the Queen's pleasure, signified on the advice of the Privy Council. What was the decision? 587 There were three charges formulated against the Chief Justice. For the first, the Council determined there were not sufficient grounds; as to the second, the Council were of opinion that the Chief Justice had acted indiscreetly, but they found that the conduct imputed to him arose out of irritation produced by the first charge, and did not afford sufficient ground for suspension; but on the third charge—that of publication of correspondence and confidential information in the newspapers—the Council had some hesitation in not recommending the confirmation of the suspension of the Chief Justice. The case having been tried before the only tribunal competent to try it, it was impossible now to re-open the case. There was another case connected with the Chief Justice that led him to ask the hon. Member not to bring the whole matter before the Committee. That case was now, so to speak, sub judice, and he must say, in fairness to the Chief Justice and to the Governor, that it would be doing both of them an injustice were the Committee to attempt to pronounce any opinion upon facts, the whole of which could not be known to the Committee.
§ MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
said, this could not affect the conduct of the Governor, but only of the Chief Justice.
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
said, he only alluded to charges against the Chief Justice as they affected the charge made against the Governor of having behaved badly towards the Chief Justice. The charges he would not go into, because they related to matters still sub judice.
§ MR. CHANNING
said, without going into matters as to which he recognized the impropriety of reference, he would remind the hon. Gentleman that the charges he made against the Governor had reference only to matters that arose between him and the Chief Justice.
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
said, he could not quite agree with the hon. Member, but he was not going into that. He had shown the Committee that, in the judgment of the Privy Council, the conduct of the Chief Justice was reprehensible; so much so, that they entertained a doubt as to whether he ought to be suspended. In the interest of both parties it would be well if less publicity were given to a case that required calmer 588 consideration than would be evoked by the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, the Attorney General, whose case had been presented by his hon. Friend, belonged to a family within his own constituency, and, therefore, he might be excused if he said a few words. He wished to challenge most distinctly the statement made by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary that the case submitted was an ex parte statement. That was not a fair way of describing a case which had been carefully examined at the Colonial Office and decided in Mr. Hensman's favour on every point. It was perfectly true that promotion was offered to Mr. Hensman in Barbadoes, but that meant exile from a pleasant country and friends to an unhealthy climate and under conditions that amounted to a punishment. It was quite impossible to expect the Committee at the tail end of the Session, and at such an hour in the morning, to do justice in the case; but it would be a great injustice to allow it to go forth that this statement of his hon. Friend was an ex parte statement on which the Committee ought not to express an opinion. It was a statement that had been carefully inquired into by Lord Knutsford, and upon which that noble Lord had, in reply to Questions, expressed himself distinctly in favour of Mr. Hensman. He did not think this unfortunate gentleman had been treated fairly by the Government because he had not accepted exile to a country not healthy, leaving a country where he occupied a deservedly honoured position. At least some better form of words might have been employed in dealing with his case.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he confessed he had not followed this particular case, and could only say that the state of things in Western Australia seemed to indicate what was vulgarly called a pretty "kettle of fish." But he desired to draw attention to a matter of which he had given Notice—a trifle perhaps, but involving the surrender of a country 20 times as big as the British Islands, the last territory we possessed to which we might emigrate our paupers—
said, this could not be discussed on the present Vote. It should be discussed on the Consular Vote. 589 The Governor was in no way responsible.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
said, whatever else might be the result, the discussion had disclosed a most unfortunate state of affairs in Western Australia. Though he confessed he did not feel able to vote with the hon. Member for East Northampton without further knowledge, he hoped the Government would look earnestly into the accusations against the Governor in respect to the Chief Justice, and it was only in that hope that he felt able to support the Government on a Division.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 36; Noes 124: Majority 88.—(Div. List, No. 355.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
(6.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £24,235, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for certain Charges connected with the Orange River Territory, the Transvaal, Zululand, Bechuanaland, the Island of St. Helena, and the High Commissioner for South Africa.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, the House disposed of Continents after midnight nowadays. He had been called to Order when he was seeking to call attention to the alienation of an enormous British territory, and now he had to call attention to the annexation of an enormous territory of which we knew very little, but which they were given to understand, in some way or other, extended from Bechuanaland to the Zambesi River. He raised this question in connection with the salary of the High Commissioner at the Cape of Good Hope, because he believed this particular question came within that official's cogni- 590 zance and control. He sought some information, because the Papers presented to the House were not yet printed. This want of control of the House over the printing of Papers was one of the abuses that must be remedied. He desired information without entering into the question. He asked for some idea as to the extent of territory, and the reasons that had induced Her Majesty's Government to accept this Protectorate, which was an incipient annexation. What powers would be exercised over the Chiefs within the territory, and what would be the control over speculative settlers? He formally moved the reduction of the salary of the High Commissioner by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item D 1, Salary of the High Commissioner of the Cape of Good Hope, be reduced by £100."—(Sir George Campbell.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, in order to ascertain what the Government intended doing, he moved to report Progress. Some discussion there would be on the Report of the Scotch Estimates, and also on the Probate Duty Bill; and if the Government intended to proceed with all the Revenue Votes, hon. Members must make up their minds to sit till 4 or 5 o'clock.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Dr. Clark.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said, the Government hoped the Estimates in Class V. and the Revenue Estimates would be finished that night, and then the Report of the Scotch Estimates would be taken; but he would not press the Committee to proceed with the Probate Bill at this Sitting. He believed it was the general wish to close the Estimates to-night, with the exception of Irish Estimates, which would be taken at the next Sitting.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
asked, what would be the effect of not passing the Probate Duty Bill—would it be that Scotland would not get that little share set apart for her?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he was most anxious that Scotland should have her 591 share of this money, and there would still be time to pass the Bill if the second reading were taken to-morrow.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, it was obvious there was no alternative between rushing things through and coming down on Boxing Day. For the last he was not prepared. He must, however, protest against the disgraceful fashion in which Business had been mismanaged, and the work of Committees of Supply reduced to a farce.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question again proposed.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Baron HENRY DE WORMS) (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
said, he could only reply to the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy by referring to the answer he gave the other day as to the frontier line of Bechuanaland. The exact extent of the sphere of influence had not been exactly defined. Papers shortly to be issued would contain the fullest information.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he did not press for particular information; but he would be glad to know the reasons that had induced Her Majesty's Government to extend to such an extent the sphere of Her Majesty's influence.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, it was in 1887 that steps were taken by which British influence was extended over the tribes in this territory. The Chiefs agreed not to make any Treaties with any other Power, and to reserve certain rights to trade. The protection was of a limited kind, and no liability of any kind was incurred; it was just an arrangement to prevent the rush of any other nation into the country, and reserving the rights of British settlers.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he was not satisfied; there had been no explanation of motives. He could not 592 withdraw his protest; but he would not carry it to the extent of a Division.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (7.) £8,300, to complete the sum for Subsidies to Telegraph Companies.
§ (8.) £26,000 (including a Supplementary sum of £25,000), to complete the sum for Cyprus, Grant in Aid.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he never had opposed this Vote, and held that we must take the responsibility with our occupation of the Island. It was, however, an unfortunate arrangement, by which there was no fixed contribution, but a sum that varied according as Cyprus was prosperous or otherwise. He hoped before this Vote came again before the Committee there would be some alteration and improvement in this system of hand-to-mouth grants.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said, he was deeply sensible of the desire among hon. Members to forward Business, and he could assure them that the Government would do their best to introduce this Vote early next Session, so as to allow full discussion then. Of course, there was a great deal to be said on the Cyprus Vote, and he was perfectly ready to admit the situation was far from being satisfactory.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
said, it was the fashion in these days to commute annual payments for a lump sum. The Turkish Government were in want of money; would it not be possible to arrange for the payment of a lump sum down, and thus to do away with the Turkish tribute? He had had the opportunity of learning the opinion of many persons interested in the Island, and he found there was a general feeling that it would be for the advantage of Cyprus to do away with the nominal Turkish suzerainty, and this could only be accomplished by commuting this annual tribute. He had no wish to press the matter now, but it would be worth considering; and, perhaps, next Session the Government could say whether something of the kind would be possible.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, this suggestion had not escaped attention; in fact, some years ago a proposal was submitted to the Porte, but it was not considered acceptable. But he did not say it was not a matter that deserved further consideration.
§ Vote agreed to.