1. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £46,326 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, 1891, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
§ (6.12.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir J. FERGUSSON, Manchester, N.E.)
The discussion on Saturday on some questions which were addressed to me on general topics was prejudiced by the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Flintshire in respect to certain negotiations between the French and British Governments with regard to territories in Africa. I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee if I say a few words now in answer to the hon. Member. The Anglo-French Agreement is now probably in the hands of hon. Members. The hon. Member for Flintshire expressed a strong and natural apprehension lest anything should be done to prejudice religious freedom in Madagascar, and the good work which the missionaries connected with this country have been doing for so many years. I hope the hon. Member will see that the pledge which has been given has been abundantly fulfilled, and that full security is taken in the agreement for the complete protection of religious liberty and for all forms of worship and religious teaching in Madagascar. The hon. Member expresses a strong feeling against the Government handing over that country to a French Protectorate. I would remind the hon. Member that this country is not quite a free agent in the matter. The Hova Government some years ago transferred to France the conduct of their foreign relations. With the exception of the United States no objection has been made to the arrangement by any country, and the English Government would be placed in an isolated position were we now to raise an objection to that arrangement with the Hova Government. The hon. Member also complained of the treatment to which certain Protestant missionaries have been subjected. The securities taken in this Agreement will render any expulsion, such as that of the Rev. Mr. Jones, impossible in Madagascar, except by breach of international engagements. The hon. Member referred to the coolie labour traffic, and said that it would be carried on in Madagascar, and would be the Slave Trade in another form. But France was a party to the recent Act of Brussels, which contains engagements by the civilised Powers for the suppression 528 of slavery, and I do not think it would be worthy of this House to entertain a doubt of honourable fulfilment by the French Government of the engagement it has made. The Foreign Office has not, as has been said, bargained away a free people, but it has, in accordance with the engagement made, recognised the Protectorate of France, and France in return recognises our Protectorate over Zanzibar. No doubt we who have so much interest in Madagascar might like to exercise direct influence over it, but we cannot possibly undertake responsibility wherever it is possible for colonisation to take place; but what we ought to do, and what has been done, is to see that where our people have settled themselves for beneficial work those labours shall not be lost, and under the engagement now made between the French and British Governments I think full security is taken for that necessary object.
§ (6.17.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
There are one or two other questions I should like to put to the right hon. Gentleman beyond those which have been addresssed to him, and which he has replied to. I think we must all recognise his fairness in postponing the further consideration of this Vote on Saturday, in order that we might have the Papers relating to Madagascar in our hands. As to the first declaration signed by Lord Salisbury on the part of England it appears clear from that that the Anglo-French Agreement was the direct consequence of the Anglo-German Agreement. The facts are sufficiently stated on the face of the declaration. After we had agreed with Germany to assume a Protectorate over Zanzibar the French demanded some compensation for releasing us from the Anglo-French Agreement of 1862, with respect to the independence of Zanzibar, and all this arrangement which has subsequently taken place as to Madagascar and South West Africa is the direct outcome of the Anglo-German Agreement. I think that the fact that the Anglo-German Agreement was concluded in that way without previously obtaining the consent of the French Government or applying for it is not creditable to our diplomacy. And the way our Protectorate is described by Lord Salisbury in the Anglo-French Agreement is 529 different from the way it was described in the Anglo-German Agreement. In the Anglo-French Agreement it is described as a British Protectorate over the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba; but according to the Anglo-German Agreement it is a Protectorate over the dominions of the Sultan of Zanzibar, including the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. We have often pressed the Under Secretary of State to tell us what is included in our Protectorate over Zanzibar. Judging from Lord Salisbury's Despatch, it is maintained that it only includes the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, but I understand the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary to maintain that it included the Sultan's dominions on the mainland—all his territory, in fact, which is outside the sphere of German influence. So that the first consequence of the conclusion of this Agreement is considerably to whittle down the extent of the Protectorate which, it has been commonly imagined, we have assumed under the Anglo-German Agreement. Then, I desire to know what will be the position, legal and commercial, of French subjects in relation to Zanzibar itself, particularly whether the Convention of 1884 between France and Zanzibar remains in force, because we are left completely in the dark on that question; and I also would ask what will be the commercial position of the strip of territory opposite Zanzibar which is ceded to the Germans, and particularly whether the Germans will be able to impose duties on imports, and particularly differential duties? Then I turn to the other side of the Agreement, namely, to the clauses relating to the French Protectorate over Madagascar. The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State has replied to the hon. Member for Flintshire as to the protection of the British missionaries, but the right hon. Gentleman has not dealt adequately with the main objection of my hon. Friend. We are doing all that in us lies to hand over a flourishing native power that my hon. Friend compared to Japan, and a Christian power constantly advancing in civilisation, to the domination of a European Power. I do not think that is an act which it is easy to justify, and I think the right hon. Gentleman acted very prudently in not attempting a justification of it. The 530 subject of the commercial future of British subjects in Madagascar, I understand, is not dealt with in the Agreement. The Commercial Treaty between, this country and Madagascar, which governs our relations with that island, is the Treaty of 1865, in which Madagascar binds itself not to raise its tariff beyond a maximum of 10 per cent., and I should like to get some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that this arrangement will not be affected by the Agreement with France as to Madagascar. If our Treaty is to be abrogated by the Agreement, I should like to know whether there is any limit imposed on France in the way of imposing duties in Madagascar—whether she will be able to impose protective and differential duties on imports and exports. I think we ought in this matter to consider the value of British trade in Madagascar and the amount of British capital that has been sunk in it. I think we ought to have a direct assurance on the subject. As to the other part of the Agreement—and here, I think, we must have some information—it is evident that Lord Salisbury has been free and lavish in cessions of territory to the French where, as far as my own knowledge goes, no French trade at present exists, and practically outside all access to French trade; and he has failed to protect territories where British trade is established in the neighbourhood of the Niger. Having settlements in Senegal and full control over the trade in that part of Africa, no doubt we must acknowledge the fact that the territory between that region and the upper Niger is under the influence of France, but the trade that comes out of the mouths of the Niger is in British hands, and it is evident that a clear line of demarcation could have been drawn between the spheres of influence of France and England. Hitherto we have had no statement as to the commercial relations of the Powers existing in these spheres of influence. They are outside the Congo basin, so that none of the provisions of the Berlin Act apply. I should like to know whether there is any limit put on the French Government as to their power of imposing protective tariffs in this region. I understand that the trade with the country between Algeria and Tunis and the Niger—a trade principally consisting of Manchester goods, 531 and entering at Tripoli and elsewhere—is, generally speaking, in British hands, the tariff being a maximum one of 8 per cent. ad valorem. The French tariff in Algeria is very much higher than that, and we should like to be sure, before the matter is settled, whether France is to have the power of including all this enormous tract of North West Africa within the tariff zone of Algeria. If she has that power it will operate very seriously to the detriment of British trade. I would only say, in conclusion, that I think everyone must have observed with disappointment that while we have by these negotiations with France come to an agreement and made concessions to her which are of very considerable value indeed, we have left a matter of great importance and difficulty as to which we are in dispute with France altogether unsettled—I mean the Newfoundland question. I do not wish to press the right hon. Gentleman in this matter, because, no doubt, it is one of the most difficult questions engaging the attention of the Foreign Office at this moment, but, looking broadly at the results of the Foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government, we must view with regret the fact that we have not yet come to an agreement with France on the matter.
§ (6.34.) MR. A. M'ARTHUR (Leicester)
No doubt it is our duty to maintain friendly relations with France and Germany, and other countries, so far as we can possibly do so, but it will, at the same time, be admitted that it is our duty to guard our rights and privileges, and not to be unmindful of the coloured races who have been our allies, and who desire to be under our protection. I believe that in our laudable desire to maintain friendly relations with other countries we have abandoned more than we ought. Germany we have allowed to take possession of territories in Africa to which that Power had no right or valid claim. We have, in fact, carried a pacific policy too far, and our conciliatory conduct towards Germany has reached an extreme limit. It is hard to say whether Liberals or Conservatives are most to blame for the lamentable mistakes that have been made. So far back as 1884, we allowed Germany to take possession of the Port of Angra Pe Quena, to which we had the best right. We declined 532 to do so ourselves, whereupon Germany put in a claim, and negotiations were opened up between her Government and our own. These negotiations were suddenly broken off by Prince Bismarck, and Germany then stepped in and took forcible possession of the territory. Before that—as soon as it was known that Germany had made a claim, a large and influential deputation waited, upon Lord Derby, who was then at the Foreign Office, and represented to him the advantages that would flow to British trade if this territory, which included a valuable part, were taken posession of by us. Lord Derby, I remember, said at the time, that there was no cause for alarm, as Germany was not a colonising power, and that if any attempt were made by Germany to take possession of that coast, it would be regarded as an unfriendly act. But Germany did take possession of it, and though we secured some concessions, we heard no more about the "unfriendly act," and Germany retains possession of the territory to the present day. Then, after allowing Germany to become possessed of several immense tracts of territory in Africa, we allowed her to become the preponderating influence in Zanzibar. That influence used to be ours, and to get it back again we have made large concessions to Germany. I am far from wishing to argue that Great Britain should monopolise the whole of Africa. We have a large portion, and there can be no harm in Germany and other countries getting a share, but I hold it to be our duty to maintain all our existing rights and privileges. I would allude also to the conduct of Germany with regard to Samoa. In regard to these islands, there was a Treaty between England, Germany, and the United States of America, to the effect that none of the three should exert any decided influence over the islands unless with the consent of the others. Then, again, Germany stepped in and attempted to ride rough-shod over everyone. She attempted to take possession of the islands, deposed the King, and kept him a prisoner for a considerable time. It is true that Prince Bismarck subsequently saw the mistake he had committed, expressed regret for what he had done, and went the length of reproving and recalling some of the German 533 officials, but no steps were taken by Her Majesty's Government to oppose the Germans in that part of the world. Some communications may have passed, but there are no Papers to show it, and had it not been for the United States I believe that Samoa would have been a part of the German Empire to-day. A satisfactory settlement, however, has been brought about there, and the King has been restored. I mention these things to show that we have gone to an extreme in our conciliatory attitude towards Germany. The conduct of France in relation to the New Hebrides was very like that of Germany in regard to Samoa, and, probably, if it had not been for the resolute attitude of our Australian colonists we should have found France in possession of those islands by this time. Then, as to Madagascar, although it had been an understanding that neither France nor England should usurp any power in that country except by mutual agreement, France stepped in, and, on some trumpery pretext, bombarded the ports and invaded the island. The French, however, were kept at bay by the natives and at length forced to retire. Now by the present Agreement we are about to hand over Madagascar to France. The Committee should not forget that our trade with Madagascar is five times as great as that of any other Power, and that a very large amount of British capital has been sunk in the country. It is vitally important to our fellow-subjects in Madagascar that their rights should be maintained. I am glad to hear that civil and religious liberty is guaranteed to the inhabitants, but I cannot help feeling some scepticism as to whether that guarantee will always be observed. Both morally and commercially, I fear mischievous results, and such results have already followed French interference. I once spent a week in Tahiti, and it was sad to hear of the altered conditions of that island, both commercially and morally. The influence missionaries had exercised so beneficially upon the habits of the people was, I learned when I was there, restricted in every possible way; they were required to adhere to one chapel or church, and were not allowed to move about the island, and interference with schools was of the most arbitrary character. The Queen 534 herself was practically a prisoner, and when she came to visit the steamer upon which I was travelling could only do so by permission from the French Authorities. The conduct of the French towards the missionaries was made the subject of comment in this House. In whatever aspect we view it, this proposal is a most unfortunate one. Commercially, Madagascar is of immense importance to us, and it is for the interest of British trade that the country should remain independent, and not become the possession of any European Power. Our trade with the island is progressing, and is now five times that of any other European Power. My hon. Friend has referred to this, and I need not repeat what he has said. I hope we shall have satisfactory answers to the questions he has raised. My hon. Friend has referred to the coolie traffic between Madagascar and Réunion as really little better than a Slave Trade, and we should like to know whether any arrangement has been made as to that. At one time alcoholic drink of the most villainous description was largely consumed on the island, and I should like to know whether any reference has been made to that, or whether, under French domination, the people are to be improved off the face of the earth by this pernicious means. I am very glad to find provision is made for securing civil and religious liberty, and I hope this stipulation may be maintained, though I have a strong opinion on this point myself. I regret exceedingly such a proposal as this for handing over Madagascar to the control of France or any other European Power. I think it is a disgraceful thing that we should be made to hold official communication with the Hova Government only through the French Authorities. I believe the whole proposal is an act of folly, that it will be exceedingly injurious to our trade as well as to the best interests of the Malagasy people, and will be most unpopular.
§ (6.50.) MR. SYDNEY GEDGE (Stockport)
I take very great interest in Madagascar, and the missionary work there, and I regret that the Hova Government some years ago gave up the whole management of their foreign relations to France. Though the people did successfully resist 535 the French invasion, yet, for some inscrutable reason, in the Treaty that followed, control of foreign relations was handed over to France. It is true that we never recognised that Agreement, but, for considerations that appear to me to be sufficient, we propose to do so now. I came down on Saturday prepared to support the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) in pressing upon the Government the necessity of providing for civil and religious liberty in the island. But with this information given us I must say that, in my opinion, religious liberty is sufficiently provided for under the terms of the Anglo-French Convention, and I am glad to see that this country will have as much power for the protection of religious liberty in the island as we ever had. This matter has been discussed as if we were handing over the country to France in the same way as we are told large tracts of Africa have been handed over to Germany. But I do not understand the Anglo-French and the Anglo-German Agreement as being anything of the kind. All we do is to draw certain lines of limitatation, set up certain land marks, beyond which the influence of the respective countries shall not be exercised, so that our interests may not come into conflict. Surely, it is wiser to come to a peaceable arrangement of this kind than to proceed to a solution of difficulties by fighting, as was the custom in the last century. There is a distinct guarantee given under the Convention that missionaries of all denominations shall receive complete protection, and in truth Protestant missionaries will now stand in a more secure position than they have hitherto occupied. Suppose the stipulation is infringed we have still the same power to make diplomatic representations, or to go to war as we had before, but while before when we went with representations to the Hova Government we might have been met with counter representations from the French Government, jealous of our influence, now we have solemn engagements entered into by the French Government for the protection of civil and religious liberty. Therefore, from the point of view of hon. Members opposite, which is my point of view also—I mean the protection of civil and religious liberty—our position is even 536 stronger than it was before, and when I reflect on the result which has so happily attended our acquisition of a similar suzerainty over Zanzibar, the proclamation by the Sultan last week, which will do so much to put an end to the Slave Trade, then I thank God for these Conventions.
§ (6.54.) MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
It is to be regretted that whilst we were negotiating with France with regard to Zanzibar and Madagascar we did not, at the same time, bring our fisheries dispute with her to a satisfactory termination. Fishery questions are likely to give rise to great international difficulties, and if possible they should be settled immediately upon mutually satisfactory terms. I desire to congratulate Her Majesty's Government upon the success that appears to have been attained by the Anti-Slavery Conference recently held at Brussels, and for that success we have largely to thank the King of the Belgians. It is satisfactory at the same time to think that the British Government has taken the initiative in carrying out the decisions of the Conference. The Conference has suggested that one of the most effective modes of striking at the root of the Slave Trade is to open up the interior of Africa by means of railroads, steamboats, and carriage roads, and also—and this I think must have come from the German representative—that by expeditions of flying columns slave hunting can be best detected and prevented. With regard to opening up the country, I think we all agree nothing will have greater effect, and therefore I am heartily glad that delimitations of spheres of influence have been arrived at, and international jealousies removed. But there are other methods to pursue, for this opening up must needs take a long time, and we have made little progress so far, though we now hope to proceed more rapidly. Last year, in submitting a Motion with reference to the Slavery Conference, I made three proposals as to the methods to be employed in the naval mode of suppressing slavery—first, that punishment should follow the capture of slave traders; second, that there ought to be a more careful supervision of the way in which flags are used to cover slavery acts; and, third, that the nations should agree among themselves on the full right of 537 search, so that slave traders should not be allowed to escape by flying national flags. I am glad to think that on all the points the Conference has come to a very satisfactory conclusion, and one which will do much to prevent the Slave Trade across the sea. The nations signing the Agreement have undertaken, within a, year of the passing of the Act, to introduce legislation in their respective countries to mete out punishment to slave dealers captured and convicted, and this punishment is not to be confined to carrying slaves found on board the ships, but is to apply to cases of raiding and of mutilation of wretched boys. It is satisfactory to find that careful supervision is going to be undertaken with regard to flying flags of different nations, and no vessel will be allowed to fly the flag of any of the Great Powers without registration and a proper licence. We may thank the Government of France for having conceded what, for some time, appeared to a certain extent to be against their will—the right of search to all other nations. Under this Act any vessel can be captured if suspected of being a slaver, and taken into the nearest port, there to be judged by the proper tribunal, and those concerned brought to punishment if convicted of being engaged in the Slave Trade; and it is a great thing that the French have seen their way to allow this concession, which will do a great deal to reduce the naval Slave Trade. There are other matters in which the Act will confer great advantages. An international office is to be instituted at Zanzibar, at which all complaints are to be lodged, and this will do much towards giving proper information regarding slave owners. There are stringent conditions attached to the importation of firearms into Africa, and I shall rejoice if these restrictions can be properly carried out. But still more important than all these restrictions is the decision of Persia, Turkey, and Zanzibar to carry out very stringent regulations against the extension of domestic slavery. If that portion of the Act is enforced it may strike at the root of the Slave Trade and be the real cure of the whole evil. We may congratulate those who have been instrumental in inducing the Sultan of Zanzibar to issue an edict against domestic slavery in his own territory, and the only doubt I feel 538 in regard to this matter is whether the influence of the European Powers is sufficient in regard to these semi-civilised nations to induce them to carry out these proposals of the Act. I believe, however, that the influence which will be brought by the other nations, acting in concert, will do a great deal, with these pacific schemes, to reduce this immense evil from which the world has so long been suffering.
§ (7.10.) SIR R. N. FOWLER (London)
The speech of the hon. Member is worthy of his family traditions, and I wish to express my cordial concurrence in the spirit of his remarks. I desire to say a word in addition to what has been said as to the position of our missionaries in Madagascar. We know that their influence in the island has been remarkable, and that it has been exercised with the best results for the advancement of the people. I am glad to find that they are to be secured freedom in their labours, but I am convinced that the question of the protection of the missionaries is one of the most important which can engage the Foreign Office now and for a long course of years to come.
§ (7.12.) MR. ROWNTREE (Scarborough)
We must all rejoice at the disposition shown among nations to settle their differences by means of peaceable agreement, instead of by appeal to force of arms. But, at the same time, I do not think we can be altogether satisfied with an Agreement which hands over the interests of a nation rapidly rising in the scale of civilisation to the control of a Foreign Power without consideration of the wishes of those physically concerned. I should like to ask the Under Secretary why there is a difference in the words employed in the recognition of the British Protectorate of Zanzibar and the recognition of the French Protectorate of Madagascar. I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could assure the Committee that the words "with its consequences" do not sanction any interference by the French in the internal affairs of the Madagascar people. It will be observed that the article runs thus—The Government of Her Britannic Majesty recognises the Protectorate of France over the island of Madagascar, 'with its consequences,' especially as regards the exequaturs of British 539 Consuls and agents, which must be applied for through the intermediary of the French Resident General.But remember this was exactly the point of difference between the French and the Hova Government five years ago, and, as I understand, the Hova Government have never consented to that provision. If that is so, it is clear we are not simply settling a difference as between ourselves and the French Government, but are gravely interfering with the right of a people in matters concerning their own self-government, and their relationship with other Governments. My point is that we ought not to interfere with the freedom of their natural advance in the scale of civilisation and Christianity. We ought not to prevent them from approaching the Government whose people have hitherto had the greatest influence over the inhabitants of the islands. We ought not to require them merely to approach us through other channels, and, finally, I say that if this arrangement has been made without the consent of the people of Madagascar we should object to it very strongly.
§ (7.16.) MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.)
This question of Madagascar has come upon us with some suddenness and has caused considerable surprise. I think it is of much more importance than the Government appear to realise. I am afraid that the Government have acted in ignorance of the strong feeling of the people of this country in the matter, and I feel confident that when the Agreement is published in the papers to-morrow morning, there will be much annoyance expressed on the subject. When we are discussing the affairs of subject races, we ought to remember that we possess a great influence for good or for bad, and that, consequently, a very high duty devolves upon us. This is not merely a question of right between France and England. I do not propose to attempt to discuss now the question of the rights or wrongs of France. My own personal opinion is that if there is to be a Protectorate over Madagascar, one by the United Kingdom would be far preferable to one by the French Republic. Nor is this a question of British influence, because under the present arrangement there is a fair opportunity for the different religious bodies properly and 540 legitimately to advance their opinions, and I trust that those opportunities will continue to exist under the new arrangement. But I contend we have no right to make an Agreement over the heads of the people of the island. To what extent, if at all, have the people of Madagascar been consulted in this matter, and if they have not been consulted what right have we, for supposed advantages to be obtained in other parts of Africa, to give the control of these people over to another Power—to another European nation? No matter how we may disguise it the very fact of there being a French Protectorate will end eventually in France gaining more and more influence in the island. Madagascar differs from most other lands inhabited by coloured races in that it has, as the result of the influence of the missionaries, been steadily rising in the scale of Christianity, and I should think it is a misfortune that when a nation has reached that state of progress we should take away from it its independence. It has been too much the case that the rights and feelings of these people have not been considered. In Madagascar we have a fairly ordered State, and yet we are treating it as entirely unworthy of self-Government. Our conduct is likely to cause a feeling of intense disappointment and hopelessness, regarding the possibilities of other nations in a like degree of development, and I believe the Government will before long discover that they have made a great mistake, and that they have excited much opposition and a feeling of intense exasperation by the action which they have taken.
§ (7.20.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
Without unduly detaining the Committee I will reply to the points raised by the various speakers. In regard to the Behring Sea, I have this evening laid upon the Table the Papers relating to this matter. The reason why these Papers have not been laid upon the Table before is because it was desirable that they should include the reply of Lord Salisbury to the Despatch from Mr. Blaine that has appeared in the American newspapers, and which reply stated the English case. We were, of course, unable to publish that until it had reached the American Government. With regard to Newfoundland, it would have been very satisfactory if Her Majesty's Government 541 had been able to inform Parliament that there had been some settlement arrived at with regard to the pending questions in relation to the fishing rights in the colony. At this moment the Premier of Newfoundland is in London, and consultations are going on between the Government and him, which, I hope, will result in some solution of the question. No doubt the matter is most perplexing, but no effort ought to be, or will be, spared to bring the dispute to a satisfactory termination. Owing to the extreme conciliation and prudence of the officers employed on the Newfoundland coast, all collisions, great and small, have hitherto been avoided. I hope that our fellow-subjects in Newfoundland will be actuated by the same spirit, for they may be assured that Her Majesty's Government have their interests at heart, and are quite as anxious to maintain their just rights as they themselves can be, and will do nothing that will militate against their prosperity. The hon. Member opposite has referred, in rather a carping spirit of criticism, to our relations with Germany in connection with Samoa, but I do not think that those relations reflect anything but credit upon Her Majesty's Government, who may point with satisfaction to the solution of questions which at one time threatened to give rise to international difficulty. That matters have been so satisfactorily arranged is largely due to the very conciliatory spirit that has been manifested by the German Government. A charge of undue reticence has been made against the Foreign Office in reference to those subjects. But I do not believe that matters that have lately been engaging the attention of Her Majesty's Government could have been settled satisfactorily if their exact position had been made known to the world day by day. Now, however, that the facts have been communicated to Parliament, the Foreign Office cannot be fairly accused of undue reticence. Bargains in private life cannot be entered into in the street, and diplomacy is only bargaining between nations, and great interests require to be safeguarded by reticence on the part of those engaged in the arrangements sought to be entered into. The hon. Member opposite has asked some questions as to the position in which trade on the mainland of Africa 542 is placed by the new Anglo-German Treaty, which has hitherto been regulated by the Treaty with Zanzibar. I may point out that under Article VII. of our Commercial Treaty with Zanzibar all articles of merchandise coming from foreign countries are subject to a duty of 5 per cent., but goods in transitu are exempted from that impost. By the terms of the Anglo-German Agreement the Germans on the mainland are prohibited from imposing any differential duties upon British goods. The question has been asked whether, if the Congo Act does not come into force, the Germans will be able to levy any duties they like. That is not so. They are not entitled to do so by the lapse of the Brussels Act; under the agreement with Zanzibar, to which they are successors, only 5 per cent. can be charged, and I understand that Germany elects to be bound by the Zanzibar Commercial Treaty. With regard to the protest of the Cape as to their not being consulted with respect to the territories which concerns them, I dealt fully with the question in the Debate which took place recently out the Anglo German Treaty, and I think it is a pity that it should be again raised. We are, no doubt, sorry that so much territory has been allowed to slip from us, that might, I believe, have been brought under the influence of our great colonies, but it is useless and unprofitable to go back to the history of that lapse. For two years there was an endeavour on the part of the German Government to induce as to protect their subjects in that region, but neither the Colonial nor the Imperial Government were willing to undertake the responsibility. In 1884 the Imperial Government warned the Colonial Government that the Germans would undertake the protection of the country if they did not do so themselves, and when after three months they undertook to do so, it was too late. However, we can only deal with the accomplished facts, and can only take blame to ourselves for not having been as wise in our generation as the Germans have been. With regard to the question of freedom of transit, no doubt that has been provided by the Act of Berlin in the Congo zone, but our arrangement has strengthened that provision. Hon. Members talk as if it were impossible to get freedom of 543 transit for our goods through a country without assuming a Protectorate over it. That is a doctrine which cannot be maintained. If there is blame with regard to Africa, we must all share it; but I maintain that in the course of the tenure of office by Her Majesty's present Government, we have confirmed and enlarged the spheres of British influence in Africa. On the Niger the Royal Niger Company has been able to extend its influence over 2,000 miles of waterway, and I have been informed that a person can travel with safety over that length of the Niger and its affluents, and this has been secured at small expenditure and by gentle methods only. We have asserted and maintained the right of free transit over that great river, the Zambesi, into the interior of Africa. In Zanzibar we have secured predominant influence, and I venture to say that we can point with confidence to the results of the policy of Her Majesty's Government. Notice has been taken that our Protectorate under this Agreement does not refer to regions formally leased to British companies for trading purposes, but I apprehend we have secured the British tenure and Protectorate over these regions by other measures. Therefore, I say we may with the greatest confidence anticipate the national approval for the policy of the Government. The naval operations, which have extended over so much time, and which have entailed so much sacrifice on the part of officers and men, have not passed by without a considerable achievement in the cause for which they were sent there. We may, I think, point to the Proclamation of the Sultan of Zanzibar with regard to slavery, which was spontaneous on the part of His Highness. In this respect I ought to express the acknowledgments on the part of the Government to the hon. Member for Poplar for his recognition of the labours of Her Majesty's Government. I think that all may rejoice with us in what I consider to be the greatest step taken in the last half-century towards the extinction of that accursed traffic. By the Act of Brussels a blow has been struck at the Slave Trade by the united action of all the civilised Powers, which I hope will check the trade in its development and in its sources. These are some instances of the policy which has been pursued by 544 Her Majesty's Government in Africa. Let it not be said that we have pursued this policy with a disregard for the rights of the natives of that country. We have secured no privileges except by the free rights of the inhabitants of those countries, and by Treaties freely made; and our East African Trading Companies have fortunately been able to secure the advantages they possess without once coming into collision with the natives. The hon. Member for Leicester and the hon. Member for West Waterford have referred to the action of the Government with regard to Madagascar. We have been asked if the natives of the island were consulted before the Agreement was entered into. My reply is that the Government have only recognised now what has been done by the Government of Madagascar itself; in the Treaty of 1886 between France and Madagascar it was provided that the French Representative should represent Madagascar in all foreign affairs, and all that Her Majesty's Government has done is to recognise this Act of the Hova Government itself. The Commercial Treaty will be in force as heretofore, and it is only in the relation of France to the foreign affairs of Madagascar that any change has been made. The hon. Member for Edinburgh has asked about the boundaries of the delimitation of territory between the Niger Company and France. It is impossible to say or to mark on the map the exact boundaries, but it has been secured that France will not claim any territory or Protectorate within the limit of the Treaties made by the Company, or in Sokoto. With regard to trade, of course, we cannot make an agreement with France as to the limits of the duty to be charged, because it is well know that France will not make any agreement of that nature. With respect to the non-inclusion of Newfoundland, the Agreement could not include all outstanding questions; but in what we have now done we have made another step towards a common agreement, and towards removing causes of offence. We have increased our sphere, and obviated causes of jealousy and possible causes of war, and, therefore, we have done good work, and have done something material in the way of guarding and preserving the peace of the world.
§ (7.44.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
I entirely agree with Lord Salisbury that European nations have not the slightest right or title to give to one another continents which do not belong to them, but still I congratulate the Government on having come to an arrangement with France. It is satisfactory that our great neighbour should be contented and, subject to the reservation with which I opened my remarks, I may say I think the Agreement come to is one which is honourable to both sides. I trust it will have very large beneficial results. I have on the Paper a Motion to reduce the salary of Her Majesty's Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, but it is not intended to in any way impute blame to him for the general management of foreign affairs. I rather admire his spirit, and I am going to propose the reduction rather on a question of domestic policy, because of the influence he has given to the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Her Majesty's dominions. There are only two subjects upon which I desire to make observation before I come to that point, and one of these is the subject of arbitration. There has been a great movement among the nations lately in favour of arbitration for the settlement of international difficulties, and I hope it will increase. I rejoice at the success of the movement since the occasion when the deputation, of which I was a member, induced the Senate and the House of Representatives in the United States to pass resolutions in favour of this principle. I am quite aware there are some political matters difficult so to refer, but most international disputes are capable of being fairly settled by arbitration. I have some regret that the Secretary and Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in their utterances, seem loth to commit themselves to the principle of arbitration with our near neighbours to the same extent as the principle was accepted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States. Though the Government have been very reserved in accepting the general principle of arbitration, I admit that the Foreign Secretary has been ready enough to apply it in particular cases. What I am afraid of is, that we are too much under the domination of our colonies, who insist upon too much, and, 546 believing that they have the British Government at their back, often make somewhat unreasonable demands. I know the Newfoundland Fisheries is a delicate question and still under negotiation, but so far the French Government have exhibited a not unreasonable spirit when they say "first let us understand what our rights are, and then we will treat with you in respect to those rights." Now, I think the Newfoundland question is especially one for arbitration, because, as far as I understand the dispute, it is whether the right to catch fish gives the French the right to catch lobsters. I wish to know, therefore, whether this question is to be referred to arbitration? I gather that the objection to such a proceeding comes from Newfoundland, the colonists apparently dreading the result of arbitration on the point. But I must say that upon such a question the Imperial Government should come to a decision in accordance with Imperial interests, because, although we fully recognise the spirit of prudence and forbearance exhibited by officers on either side, there is obviously serious danger in keeping this dispute open, because of an unreasonable attitude on the part of the colonists. Some doubts, I believe, have arisen as to our statutory authority to enforce supposed Treaty rights on the point; but, as I have said, such matters of interpretation as this, whether fishing includes lobster catching, are eminently fit for decision by arbitration. These points being settled, then comes the question of treating for revision of rights and arrangements such as those for which the recent Conventions supply precedents. But here, again, we have the difficulty that wherever a colony sets up a claim it seems to be a bar to reasonable arrangements. I ventured on a previous occasion to suggest a concession to France in the New Hebrides, but then I was met with the objection, "What would the Australians say?" Well, from the nearest point of Australia the New Hebrides are a thousand miles distant. On this point I know feeling in Australia is strong and difficult to get over; but still, I do feel there is evinced on the part of hon. Members too great a disposition to yield to colonial objections. It is very gratifying to know that the Government have been so successful in their negotiations with France up to the 547 present time. I hope they will be equally successful with the questions that remain to be dealt with, and I think that in these negotiations we might well hand over Gambia and Sierra Leone to France for some consideration in another part of the world. ["No!"] I know the "Rule Britannia" spirit that resents the cession of any territory, however useless to us, where the British flag flies, and we know the first utterances in reference to the cession of Heligoland. My impression is that it would be to our advantage to exchange Sierra Leone, a colony surrounded by French possessions, and which can only be carried on under embarrassing conditions, and by a process of pushing farther and farther into the interior in a way that will lead to dangerous complications. Certainly, I think, we might make an advantageous "swop" of Sierra Leone, and let France have a happy hunting ground in the great territory between the Mediterranean and the Niger Company territory. I was reading the other day a letter from an English traveller recently returned from the West Coast of Africa, and who, I suppose, would be an impartial witness, and he describes the marked difference in passing from St. Louis and the French settlements, from the clean, well ordered, and outwardly prosperous appearance there, to the dirt, degradation, and drinking habits of the people of Sierra Leone. With regard to the Slave Trade and the Anti-Slavery Conference at Brussels, I think it is a desirable arrangement that opportunity should be given to search slave vessels, and I am inclined to agree with the Conference that the only really effective way to put down the traffic is for the Powers to take possession and control of Africa. I know the Under Secretary disclaims any such interpretation of these Agreements; but really they amount to encouragement to European Powers to take possession of Africa. There is, no doubt, much to be said in favour of the restrictions on the importation of firearms, and I can understand that European Governments desire to prevent the impediment to their operations there might be in the natives having possession of firearms. True, natives would use these arms in their inter-tribal wars; but I am not sure whether the shooting each other would not be better 548 than selling each other as slaves. It is a restriction upon which I do not wish to say much; but I do wish to say a word of deep regret at the absence from the convention of the Conference of any restriction upon the importation of spirits. This trade in spirits, out of which European traders derive large profits, is almost as great a curse to Africa as the Slave Trade. The duties imposed are merely nominal—not much over a penny a bottle—and I cannot but think there is a great deal of hypocrisy mixed up with our professions of interest in trade and benefit to Africa. I know that most of the pernicious stuff with which the natives of Africa are degraded and destroyed is made in Germany and Holland, but for the great part it is carried in British vessels. Certainly, I cannot congratulate Her Majesty's Government on an arrangement that leaves this evil untouched. I shall leave other Members to deal with the question, in reference to which I shall move a reduction of the Vote. I hold a strong opinion as to the undesirability of holding diplomatic relations with the Papal Authority from which we have long since severed ourselves, but I will leave to the others the arguments in support of my Motion, which is with reference to the Mission of Sir Lintorn Simmons to the Pope, to reduce the Foreign Secretary's salary by the sum of £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by £100, part of the Salary of the Secretary of State."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ (8.7.) MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
I regret my hon. Friend has taken that course, because not with any very lengthened remarks I desired to move a reduction having reference to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman as regards Madagascar.
§ (8.8.) MR. SUMMERS (Huddersfield)
I beg to make a few observations in reference to the reduction just moved. The Motion for reduction has reference to the Mission of Sir Lintorn Simmons to the Vatican. Now, this Mission raises a variety of points of interest and 549 importance, having a bearing on the relations that subsist and the relations that ought to subsist between Her Majesty's Government and the Holy See. I do not propose to go into these very large questions beyond making this single observation: that if communications are to pass between Her Majesty's Government and the Vatican, I think we shall all agree that these communications ought to be of an open and public rather than of a secret and confidential character. There is, perhaps, very little of merit in this Mission of Sir Lintorn Simmons to the Vatican, but it has at least the merit of publicity. Now, I propose to deal with this Mission on its merits, and I ask, in the first place, why was it ever despatched? We have the view of Lord Salisbury on the subject given to us in a letter to Sir Lintorn Simmons, under date August 1, 1889—The engagements under which Her Majesty's Government have come for the maintenance of the Roman Catholic religion in that island"—Malta—"and for the enforcement of the Canon Law make it a matter of serious importance that a full understanding should be established between the secular authorities and the heads of the Church to which the inhabitants of the island are attached.Here we have a distinct statement that, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, the British Government have come under engagements for the enforcement of the Canon Law in the island of Malta. Now, I understand we hold Malta under a definitive Treaty between Great Britain and France, signed at Paris May 30, 1814. The 7th article of that Treaty stipulates that—Malta and its dependencies shall belong in full right and sovereignty to His Britannic Majesty.Her Majesty exercises, then, full rights of sovereignty over the island of Malta. This fact alone seems to me to conflict with the contention that the Canon Law as such is at the present day the law of Malta. Two Proclamations were issued before Malta came under subjection to Great Britain, and copies of these have been laid upon the Table, and I suppose hon. Members are well acquainted with their contents; but in order that there may be no mistake about the point, I will read from each of these Proclamations the 550 only sentence they contain which seems to bear on the question, whether the Canon Law is or is not the law of Malta. The first Proclamation was issued by Mr. Cameron, Civil Commissioner, on July 15, 1801, and the only sentence which seems to bear on this question is this—His Majesty grants you full protection and the enjoyment of all your dearest rights. He will protect your Churches, your holy religion, and your property.The second Proclamation is dated October 5, 1813, and is signed by Sir Thomas Maitland, the Governor, and in it these words occur—It will be His Excellency's duty to secure to the Maltese, in the fullest manner, the free exercise of their religion, to maintain their ecclesiastical establishment, to introduce such amelioration in the proceedings of the Courts of Law as will secure to everyone the certainty of speedy and effective justice, to make such improvement in the laws themselves as past experience or change of circumstances may have rendered advisable; and, in short, to adopt every measure that may be requisite to secure to the inhabitants a full share of that happiness wealth, security, and prosperity which are fortunately enjoyed by all the subjects of the British Empire in every part of the world.Well, in neither of these Proclamations is there a single word of reference to the Canon Law. But perhaps it will be contended that the whole of the Canon Law is not the law of Malta, and, indeed, it would be ridiculous to say it is, for, under the Canon Law, His Holiness claims that mere kingly authority is subject to the Papal power. The mere existence, therefore, of this Canon Law is incompatible with the sovereignty of the British Crown, and Lord Salisbury cannot be exempted from blame in using the vaguest phraseology possible in reference to our assumed obligations to maintain the Canon Law in the island. At this point I think it would be useful if I stated exactly what it is that His Holiness the Pope has laid down upon the subject. He has made two declarations. The first of them is the only one with which I need deal at any length. His Holiness has declared that marriages celebrated in Malta by all those who profess the Catholic religion, whether both contracting parties be Catholics, or whether one of them be a Catholic and the other a non-Catholic, are not, and shall not be, vaild, if they are not celebrated according to the form established by the Council of Trent. Now, it is, I believe, 551 admitted on all hands that the decrees of the Council of Trent are not a part of the Canon Law, unless they are made so by some special Law or Order of State. It becomes, therefore, important to ask whether these decrees of the Council of Trent have ever been promulgated in Malta. The Law Advisers of the Government in Malta assert that the decrees of the Council of Trent have been promulgated in Malta, but they are unable to say when or by whom or under what circumstances. Clark, in his Colonial Law (p. 717), says—The Code of Rohan, the laws made by the decrees of Hompesch, by Sir Alexander Ball, as Governor for the King of the Two Sicilies, and by Messrs. Cameron and Ball, as Civil Commissioners, are the only rule of justice and the lex scripta actually in force.If, then, it is a fact that the decrees of the Council of Trent have been promulgated in the island, it is, at least, very remarkable that the record of that fact cannot be pointed to, and that the record itself has not found its way into the best-known text-books on Colonial Law. But there are other considerations which make it at least doubtful whether the Canon Law is the law of Malta even as regards the question of marriage. The Code Rohan deals with the subject of marriage, but makes no reference to the Canon Law in doing so. Again, in 1828 a Proclamation was issued depriving the Ecclesiastical Courts in Malta of all temporal jurisdiction. The full title of the Proclamation is—A Law reserving the decision of spiritual causes to the Ecclesiastical Courts, and subjecting all classes of His Majesty's subjects in temporal matters to the jurisdiction of His Majesty's lay tribunals.Clause 5 is as follows:—Every Ecclesiastical Court or Judge legally established or appointed, or to be established, or appointed in these islands shall have power to enforce his or their lawful sentences and decrees, by such censures, monitions, excommunications, or other spiritual means as the laws of the Church may direct, and which shall not be incompatible with the peace and good order of society, but no such Court or Judge shall have any jurisdiction to enforce, or shall in any manner attempt to enforce, by his own authority, any such sentence or decree by any temporal compulsion.I should think, then, it would follow that as this question of marriage involves important civil effects the Ecclesiastical Courts would be acting ultra vires if they were to attempt to invalidate a 552 marriage, and by so doing affect a good deal of property, character, and position in the island. But that is not all. Ordinances have been passed by the Council of Government in Malta dealing with marriage, and one issued in 1865 is entirely in conflict with the Canon Law. Yet, before this Ordinance was passed, it was not found necessary to send any special Mission to the Vatican. Moreover, if the Canon Law be the law of Malta, it surely follows that all Protestant marriages, and all mixed marriages which have been celebrated for the last 90 years, are invalid. But this position is utterably untenable, and has, as a matter of fact, been abandoned by the Government. In 1865 the Crown Advocate of Malta, now the Chief Justice of the island, advised, as regards marriages between non-Roman Catholics under licence from the Governor or the Bishop of Gibraltar, that they had received a degree of recognition which constituted a consueto abrogatoria. It follows, therefore, that the Canon Law does not cover the whole of the law of marriage in Malta. The Government are bound to go one step further, and allow that the mixed marriages are valid, seeing that many such marriages have been celebrated under licence from the Governor or the Bishop of Gibraltar. Quite recently a Wesleyan minister (Mr. Laverack) has been refused, and for the first time, a licence from the Governor. This gentleman writes to the Governor, under date July 15th, 1890, as follows:—I have obtained from the Governor 47 marriage licences—39 for marriages in which both parties were not Roman Catholics, and eight for mixed marriages, in which one party was a Roman Catholic and the other was not. I am prepared to maintain that the case referred to was the first case in which, on the part of your office, one single question was asked or one single remark was made about the religion of parties on whose behalf I have applied for licences.The hon. and learned Attorney General has not been able to point to a single case where such a marriage was declared invalid because it had not been celebrated according to the form prescribed by the Council of Trent. The Government have promised to bring in a project of law based upon certain declarations of the Pope, which they have accepted, and the first of which is that no marriage in which one or both contracting 553 parties are Catholics shall be valid unless celebrated in accordance with the form established by the Council of Trent. I maintain that there is only one real solution of the difficulty, and that is to make civil marriage the law of Malta, and to allow the contracting parties to add whatever religious forms they desire. That is the solution that has been adopted by nearly all the civilised countries of Europe, and I hope it is not too late for such, a solution to be arrived at in the case of the island of Malta. There is only one other point about which I should like to say a word. The expenses of Sir Lintorn Simmons's Mission ought to have appeared on the Estimates, and, if they were not discussed in Parliament, they ought at least to have been discussed in the Council of Government of Malta. But the Mission is extremely unpopular in Malta, and, therefore, the expenses have been defrayed from the Civil Contingencies Fund, so as to stifle all discussion. That is a mean and a shabby device. I hope it is not yet too late for Her Majesty's Government to re-consider their policy in this particular, and to make the expenses of Sir Lintorn Simmons's Mission a charge on the Imperial Exchequer. I will not detain the Committee by any further observation. I simply say that I object to this Mission on its merits. I think the policy shadowed forth in the Mission is an illiberal and retrograde policy, and I shall be delighted if, even at the eleventh hour, Her Majesty's Government will tell us that that policy has been abandoned, and that a new, a better, and a wiser policy will now be inaugurated. (8.30.)
§ (9.0.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
I think, at the outset, I should remark on the extraordinary fact that we are dealing with this question on the Foreign Office Vote. I do not know how it came about that the suggestion was made that this discussion should take place on the Foreign Office Vote than on the Colonial Office Vote. But the fact itself is, in my opinion, one of enormous significance; because if we had been dealing with this question as a Colonial Office matter, we should have known that this Motion and these arrangements had been entered into in the interests of Malta alone, and with reference to a bonâ fide state of 554 affairs. But down comes the First Lord of the Treasury the leader of the House and says that you must take the Vote under the head of the Foreign Office, and not under the discussion on the Colonial Vote. It would probably be useless to have raised a question of order on this subject, because we have not had such gratifying experience on questions of order that would have justified us in adopting such a course without consideration. I do not know, Mr. Courtney, whether even you were consulted upon the point; and if I were inclined to argue the question in a sense adverse to the view that has been adopted, I should contend that it was entirely out of order to put this Vote under the Foreign Office head, because if it has any relevancy at all, it must be entirely in its connection with the Colonial Office. The Colonial Secretary, however, was too deeply immersed in the Sugar Bounties question—too deeply immersed, I may say, in saccharine—to enable him to deal with the larger question that arises on this subject, and, therefore, we are to be relegated to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Malta being under the Colonial Office, I think it was a distinct transgression on the rights of hon. Members that this subject should be taken as it has been. Why is this discussion concerning Malta out of order on the Vote in which Malta is naturally contained, and why is it in order to take it under the Foreign Office Vote? It is, I suppose, because for the first time in the history of that little island, with its population of some 150,000 inhabitants, we have entered on the question of haute politique. The discussion of this Vote under the Foreign Office head means, I suppose, that the Maltese have no concern whatever with the Colonial Office.
Order, order! On the question of order, I would point out how this matter stands. The question of the Mission to the Vatican is properly considered under the head of the Foreign Office Vote alone. Taking the aspect of the question as it relates to the Government of Malta alone, that would naturally come under the Consular Vote; but inasmuch as it was deemed undesirable to break up the discussion into two parts, it was thought advisable to take 555 this particular subject under the head of the Foreign Office.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Then I will take it that the authorities of the House were consulted in the matter, and that the question was treated as one of convenience. That is all very well. But why is it that we are discussing the Vote not on the expenses of Sir Lintorn Simmons, but on the salary of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and upon the Motion to reduce that salary by the sum of £100, a reduction which, of course, is a mere bagatelle? Well, what has been the action of the Government in relation to this? They have evidently desired, in the first instance, that everything in relation to this question should be carried on under the rose. They thought they would put down the Vote on the Estimates for the expenses of the missionary, or rather Ambassador, and thereby saddle Malta with the charge; but the Maltese have turned tail, and, so far as we can gather, the Maltese people have not been very well instructed as to what has been going on. It was felt that the Maltese, ignorant as their clergy are said by Sir Lintorn Simmons to be, were too venal and poor. The Attorney General shakes his head. Does he suggest that Sir Lintorn Simmons said those gentlemen were not as he has described them?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir R. WEBSTER, Isle of Wight)
I shook my head at the statement that they were venal.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I thought the shaking of the head was general. At any rate, those ignorant clergymen were found to have sufficient influence on their own country to affect the Council in Malta, and the Government did not dare to put the expense of this measure on the Maltese Budget. It was accordingly placed on a Vote, of which the Maltese have no cognisance, namely, the Civil Contingencies Vote. Sir Lintorn Simmons starts by saying—and in the remarks I have to make I trust that what I have to say will be extremely disappointing to the Protestants of these islands—that he had a private audience with the Pope. I am here referring to Paper No. 8, page 8. He says that after that official interview His Holiness had a private conversation with him, in which he made many 556 minute inquiries, especially as to the system of government, and seemed surprised that the Council there was composed entirely of Her Majesty's Maltese subjects, who had their own Budget, and voted their own expenditure. If this be true, how is it that the expenses of Sir Lintorn Simmons were not put in the Maltese Vote; and why should His Holiness have been surprised at the information he received? Why did not Her Majesty's Government put this Vote under the head which the Maltese Chamber would have bad the opportunity of considering? Beyond this Sir Lintorn Simmons said the Consular Government was composed of Her Majesty's subjects, in the same way, I suppose, as the Privy Council of Ireland is composed of Irish subjects, although it would be utterly absurd to suppose or contend that those persons were really appointed with the consent of the Irish people. Therefore, I assume it would be equally absurd to contend that if you have Maltese subjects on the Maltese Council, consequently the Maltese people have any proper control over the expenditure of their Government. According to Lord Knutsford's Despatch, which, however, is not printed, for reasons which have not been, but ought to be, stated to the House, we find that the Council of Malta is at this moment dissolved, or rather adjourned sine die, although I think it may fairly be termed dissolved. Therefore, restricted as is the franchise in Malta, and susceptible as are the local members of the Council to Government influence, you find that you cannot get the acceptance of a single individual belonging to the elective members, or, at any rate, of a decent number of them, to this transaction. The result was, that some of them sent in their resignation, which Lord Knutsford accepted. I start with the false and erroneous information given to the Pope by Sir Lintorn Simmons, and I will show that in every one particular the suggestions he made became false in the light of facts. Why was this Mission appointed at all? Suddenly, as a bolt from the clouds, Sir Lintorn Simmons, without anybody asking for him, or thinking about Malta, is despatched to the Vatican, forsooth, to consider the question of "intra-mural interments and the validity of mixed marriages," and also to suggest that 557 only Maltese priests should be appointed Bishops of Malta. Here was a booted and spurred General who went to the Vatican to suggest that there should be a kind of payment by results in Malta, and promotion among the clergy according as they were obedient to the Governor. He said to the Pope that it would cause much dissatisfaction to the people of Malta if an ecclesiastic were appointed on the occasion of the next vacancy in a Bishopric there who was not a Maltese. He also stated that few of the better class of the natives entered the priest hood; and, possibly, if a Maltese were appointed Bishop, it would constitute an inducement to young men in the island to become priests. Of all the jokes I ever heard nothing is more ludicrous than this red-coated English General expressing anxiety to the Pope on the subject of the promotion of ecclesiastics. That is about the most grotesque joke the 19th Century has produced. And for that purpose Lord Salisbury has spent £1,200, to be paid out of the Civil Contingency Fund, all in the interests of these poor, ill-treated, Maltese priests! No one who has not a very large gullet could swallow that. Then this man talked about the feelings of the priests like some person from Tokenhouse Yard, practised in the sale of advowsons, for, on page 5, he says—I also gave the Cardinal a short Memorandum on the subject of the immigration into Malta of foreign priests.He says that as though he were speaking of rinderpest, or cattle plague, or tuberculosis. I can hardly understand this objection to foreign priests, raised by this delicate-minded Ambassador. It is very much the same feeling as we heard expressed in America three or four years ago, when everybody declared that "the Chinese must go, for they came in like locusts and eat up the bread of the Americans." Sir Lintorn Simmons, in his Despatch, went on to say that the Maltese priests were very poor. Many of them, even when they acted as professors in a Seminary, only had £8 or £10 a year, and they objected very strongly to the immigration of foreign priests. That, surely, is a very handsome expression for Sir Lintorn Simmons to have used. Monsignor Pace, an Italian whom Sir Lintorn Simmons admitted to be one of the most loyal 558 subjects of the Queen, is one of the foreign priests thus referred to. Sir Lintorn further said—It is reasonable that the education of the clergy should be of such a nature as to enable them to keep up proper relations with the Government authorities,so he evidently was anxious to secure the appointment of a Bishop who would support Her Majesty's Government. I have been trying to find out what was the raison d'être of this Mission. I pass over one reason which has been given and which must have been delightful to the hon. and pious Member for Boston, whom I see in his place—
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The head of our most intensely Protestant Government has declared his anxiety for an understanding to be come to with the Vatican, and in the course of his Despatch he says:—"There are, as you are aware, several Maltese questions of primary importance." Before I finish reading this, I should like the House, while I am reading it, to substitute for "Malta" the word "Ireland," and for "Gozo" the word "Dublin," and in another and proper place to insert the words "Dublin Castle," and then hon. Members will see exactly, in my opinion, what was the real object of this Mission. The Despatch runs—There are, as you are aware, several Maltese questions of primary importance.I should like to know how an island only half a dozen miles round can have questions of primary importance. It is more than I can understand, except the phrase be due to the high-flown language which a man acquires after he has been at the Foreign Office for a short time. But to continue the Despatch—There are several Maltese questions of primary importance, as well as those of lesser urgency, as to which a clear and thorough understanding with the Vatican would be of advantage to all concerned. Among these I may mention the course to be followed on the occurrence of a vacancy in the Bishoprics of Malta or Gozo.The idea of Lord Salisbury solemnly declaring that the appointment of a Bishop of Gozo was a matter of primary importance to this country! It is difficult to believe he would have said such a thing if it were possible to disbelieve anything of the kind after his conduct on the Schouval off Memorandum. Then 559 there is a line following the extract I have read which runs, "and certain other high ecclesiastical offices." Now, there are only two Bishoprics in the entire island, and, therefore, are we to understand that the other high ecclesiastical offices are those which carry with them salaries of £8 or £10 a year? Are these the high offices to which the noble Marquess refers? Then the Despatch goes on to refer—and this is really charming—to the great power of the principal clerical functionaries in Malta to influence the mass of the people, and it suggests that this renders itmost essential that in their selection the Holy See should keep prominently in view the value of securing the services of persons actuated by a friendly disposition towards this country, and prepared to support in all proper ways the reasonable directions of the local Government.Well, of all the naked, unashamed documents that ever came into my hands this document addressed to Sir Lintorn Simmons is foremost in absolute nudity! I suppose that Lord Salisbury must have known that this Despatch would be ultimately published. Perhaps he did not, in the same way as he supposed that the Schouvaloff Memorandum would have never been published. But I put this to the Committee, that the people of Malta have never been an insurrectionary people. There has been no trouble among them. They have not worried themselves about "intramural interments." They have had no riots on these questions, and no doubt they have only been glad that their ancestors have found a proper sepulchre in their native soil; and, that being so, why was the suggestion made that the people of Malta were in a state of riot and rebellion? Why was it pointed out that the bishops and clergy were the people who could affect the popular mind and control it in the interests of the Government? Was it only about these poor Maltese subjects, who only speak an Arabic dialect, that the Government were thinking? I do not think anyone will believe that. The Maltese are as quiet as mice. There is no trouble amongst them. Yet Lord Salisbury despatches this man to the Vatican for the purpose of getting bishops and priests appointed who, in his own words— 560Would be actuated by a friendly disposition towards this country, and prepared to support in all proper ways the reasonable directions of the local Government.I now come to the consideration of the means taken by Sir Lintorn Simmons to effect this object. He first starts by grossly libelling the Maltese priests. Of course, we know that to this booted and spurred General the Maltese clergy were mere pawns in the game he was playing, and that he supposed they had no feelings of their own, for he absolutely, behind their backs, and without giving them an opportunity of self-defence, told the Cardinal Secretary of State that he considered it advisable that his Eminence should be made acquainted with the deplorable condition of the priesthood as regarded education. We often hear in this House about the injustice of attacking an absent man, and yet this was what an English General did in the case of the poor Maltese clergy. He says, on page 4 of his Despatch—I gave him (the Cardinal Secretary of State) a confidential copy of an extract from the last Report of the Director of Education in Malta, and the remarks of the Senate of the University thereon, and I told him that I considered it desirable that his Eminence should be fully acquainted with the deplorable condition of the priesthood as regarded education, which had often been the subject of conversation between the Bishop of Malta and myself during my stay in the island. The Cardinal Secretary seemed surprised at the state of the ignorance of the priesthood.Will it be believed that what this gentleman called ignorance is what in this country—as hon. Members for Wales will understand—would be called an ignorance of the English language; that the people were unable to read the Saturday Review or Ally Sloper? Will it be believed, also, that it was by the distinct act of Her Majesty's Government that the Maltese were educated in their native dialect, almost to the exclusion of the English, and certainly of Italian? Sir Patrick Keenan was sent over from Dublin to make a report on the education of the Maltese, and, with a view to check the influence of a supposed branch of the Irredentist agitation, he recommended that the native Maltese tongue should be taught and the people educated in it, although in Ireland the same man suppressed the use of the Irish language, which 20 years previously, 561 when he was simply an Inspector, he had advocated the teaching of. Of course, we know that for his change of opinion in favour of suppressing Gaelic, he was made a Privy Councillor and given the title of knight. Sir Lintorn Simmons, in his Despatch, mentions Monsignor Pace, as if he concurred in the attack on the Maltese clergy. What is the fact? The other day the German Fleet, together with war vessels of other countries, was riding at anchor at Valetta, and a number of the Maltese clergy, able to speak half a dozen languages, went out to the vessels and ministered to the sailors. When you charged Cardinal Rampolla with acquiescing in that statement as to the ignorance of the Maltese priesthood, you suppressed the fact that the clergy of Valetta adopted a unanimous protest against the insinuations and attacks of Sir Lintorn Simmons, and that they also sent their declaration to Cardinal Rampolla, who, in turn, sent it back, containing a severe snub to Sir L. Simmons. Therefore, this attack on the Maltese clergy for their alleged ignorance falls to the ground absolutely. I now come to what I conceive to be the real object of Her Majesty's Government in sending this Mission. Sir L. Simmons handed Cardinal Rampolla a document which set out what he desired as to the appointment of bishops, and I do not think that Napoleon, when he started out to make himself head of everything in Europe, considering the difficulties of his position, conceived a more ambitious scheme. What was it he suggested to the Vatican? That on the probable occurrence of a vacancy in either the bishoprics of Malta or Gozo, the fact should be communicated by Her Majesty's Government officially to the Ecclesiastical Authorities at Rome, and an understanding should be come to confidentially as to the nomination by His Holiness of a successor and his coadjutor… That the Papal Authorities should then announce the appointment of the nominee, who has been agreed upon, and that Her Majesty's Government should publicly concur in the appointment, thereby authorising the assumption by the new bishop of the temporalities of his See. Sir Lintorn Simmons suggested the adoption of an arrangement, similar to that embodied in the concordat with Austria—a Catholic country. I do not 562 know how better to describe this startling proposal than as Simmons's essence. Here is an attempt at subjecting the temporal powers to the spiritual influences; and this is done by a No-Popery Government—by a Government that would not, this Session, pass a Bill to enable the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to be a Catholic, and who scouted the idea that a man in the position of the hon. and learned Member for Hackney, if ever a liberal Government came into power, and because he belongs to a derided creed, should ever attain the position of Lord Chancellor! Did Sir Lintorn Simmons present the Cardinal with a copy of the Bill of the right hon. Member for the Stirling Burghs? If he did, then I would suggest that there should be a little addendum to it in the shape of a copy of the papers we get, indicating the dropped Orders of the Day. Then the Cardinal will find the fate of that Bill, and it would be instructive on the point to which I have now referred, the enlightened and intelligent desire of Her Majesty's Government to procure equality of treatment for Catholics. Now let us come to the facts: Her Majesty's Government approached the Vatican, and here let me say that I cordially approve, so far as it is given to a politician to approve at all, of every word contained in the replies to Her Majesty's Government of the Papal Authorities; it is the gloss, the insincere and deceptive gloss, put upon them by this Ambassador to which I object. Will it be believed that while you in Malta pretended to enter into negotiations with the Pope in order that you might have the induction to the bishoprics of Gozo and Malta of your own nominees, so far back as 1838 an Act was passed making it absolutely illegal for the Pope to nominate to any of those bishoprics without the assent of Her Majesty's Government? I mention this as showing the hypocrisy of this Government of law and order. This is law and order according to the Maltese aspect of affairs, that if any person shall be nominated, collated, or appointed by any Foreign Power—a handsome way of describing the Holy See—to any church, ecclesiastical office, or benefice, such nomination, collation, or appointment shall not be valid until approved by the Governor. Is that Act in force still? And if it is in force, 563 what is the meaning of this Mission, whereby you invite the Pope to appoint nominees of the English Government after confidential communication, there being an Act in existence under which you will not allow His Holiness to appoint at all? Now, in Clause 1 we find that the legislators of 1838, though bent on haut politique, yet had frugal minds, for they declared what should be done ad interim with these beggarly stipends of £8 or £10 these Maltese priests prize so much—that they should not go to the bishop or capitular vicar, but to the Governor. This Ordinance was promulgated in due and solemn form on January 12, 1838. Is the Attorney General aware of that Act, and if so, how is it, since you have full power and authority to prevent this ''horde of foreign immigrants"—for that is what is meant by the Lintorn Simmons expression—Rome is a Foreign Power—he speaks of foreign aliens as if they were "Heathen Chinese" or other classes swarming into the island to eat of the bread of the Maltese—when you have full power to prevent them entering, when you can "slaughter them at the port of debarcation," so to speak—why, having this power, did you send a Mission to Rome at the cost of £1,200? What was your object? Of course, we know that intramural interments was not the cause of this. And now to contrast the words of His Holiness—language to which the most extreme politician owning his sway can only give an absolute and unqualified adhesion—with the language put into the mouth of the Cardinal by Sir Lintorn Simmons. Sir L. Simmons, in the first place, mentions that he was received at a private audience, at which he presented, along with another person, Captain Ross of Bladensburg. Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galère? Captain Ross of Bladensburg is one of the attachés who intrigue at Dublin Castle. What is his authority, who he is, what he amounts to on the asset of brains, of these things the world is wholly ignorant. [Murmurs from the Ministerial Benches.] If I have aroused the susceptibilities of any strong Protestant on that side of the House I am sorry, but I cannot help it. It was well said by Cobbett that if you saw the whole of the London editors in a room 564 together you would think very little of their opinions, and that is what I say of Captain Ross of Bladensburg, of Lintorn Simmons, and the rest of those connected with this Mission. Here is the conversation, as represented by Lintorn Simmons, anxious to enlarge his phylacteries—His Holiness asked me, among other things, if my Mission was confined to Malta only, and I replied, 'My instructions limited my Mission to the affairs of that island.'Then Lintorn Simmons goes on to give his version of the words of His Holiness the Pope, much in the manner a police shorthand writer in Ireland takes down the words of an Irish Member. Sir L. Simmons writes—His Holiness replied in a speech which lasted not less than ten minutes,—the corrected report of the speech could be read in a minute and a half by the clock—in which he expressed his desire that Her Majesty's subjects should perform their duties to their Sovereign loyally and faithfully, and should respect the law, seeing that the Church in the Queen's vast dominions was free and unfettered, and that liberty prevailed throughout in an admirable manner. In regard to this liberty he mentioned that during the Duke of Norfolk's Mission he had publicly spoken in that sense, and he desired to repeat what he then said on that subject.That is the Simmons version.
§ CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
I rise to order. I wish to ask, as a point of order, whether the hon. Gentleman is in order in referring to a high officer, the Governor of Malta, in the almost insulting way he does.
I have no power to correct the hon. and learned Member in his style, but I think he would be better advised if he followed the ordinary usages of society.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Sir Lintorn Simmons is the paid servant of the taxpayers, and I, as a taxpayer, contributing my mite to his upkeep and maintenance, will appreciate him in the manner I think that gentleman deserves. I have given the House the gospel according to Simmons, but the very guarded and careful language used by His Holiness is considerably different. And as to liberty to Catholics, which prevails in this realm in such an admirable manner, we owe thanks to nobody but ourselves. 565 God rest the honest soul of Daniel O'Connell, and if Catholics, ay, and Nonconformists and Jews, have now religious liberty, they owe it to that great heart which is enshrined in its proper place almost under the shadow of the Vatican. To suggest that Catholics in Ireland owe their liberties to the Government, for Sir Lintorn Simmons to put into the mouth of His Holiness such a statement as he does, is to make a declaration in absolute forgetfulness of the facts of history. I venture to express my opinion that if it were in the power of Her Majesty's Advisers they would not make liberty to prevail in so admirable a manner. It is not 50 years since in this country Catholics were subjected to penal persecution. Our forefathers won our rights and liberties in face of most abominable persecution, and O'Connell, by those appeals which the Times said were condensed of "Irish bog." won those rights for the cowering Norfolks and others who now seek to defame his race. To suggest that we owe our rights to the spontaneous action of the British Government is to attempt to ignore the facts of history. Nobody can take exception to the official letters of Cardinal Rampolla and the declarations and speeches transmitted by him. Having arranged the transaction to which I am about to refer, Sir L. Simmons gave to Lord Salisbury an account of his farewell audience of His Holiness, who used the usual diplomatic expressions of kindness and goodwill towards Her Majesty. Then Lintorn Simmons goes on to say that His Holiness, having received the Mission with satisfaction, went on to say that negotiations conducted in this way would be beneficial, not only as regards the people of Malta, but might also be usefully extended to other parts of the Empire where Catholic interests were concerned. Well, what was the arrangement to which this speech was made a pendant? For my own part I have not the smallest doubt that this speech amounts to an absolute—I do not like to call it misrepresentation, but an absolute want of appreciation of what was said by His Holiness. His Holiness was thinking of one thing and Simmons was thinking of another. Simmons was not caring about Malta; he was thinking about Ireland. Much Lord Salisbury cared about 566 intra-mural interments, the bishopric of Goza, appointments to seminaries at £8 and £10 a year, or whether young Maltese priests should be promoted or not. Sir L. Simmons handed Cardinal Rampolla a document which set out what he desired, and among the many extraordinary State Papers, the most remarkable Memorandum I have ever read is this one. It sets forth—On the occurrence, or probable occurrence, of a vacancy in either the bishopric of Malta or Goza the fact should be communicated by Her Majesty's Government officially to the Ecclesiastical Authorities at Rome.Also—An understanding should be come to confidentially as to the nomination by His Holiness of a successor. Further, the Papal Authorities, after announcing the appointment of the nominee who has been agreed upon to Her Majesty's Government officially, should then issue the Bull of appointment, and Her Majesty's Government should then publish their concurrence in the appointment.Well, what was the consideration for all this? It apparently was that a projet de loi, or, as we should call it, a Bill, should be introduced into the Legislative Council of Malta to regulate the civil effect of marriages heretofore celebrated or hereafter to be celebrated. That pledge was solemnly made to Cardinal Rampolla by a letter dated January 18, 1890. But Her Majesty's Government have broken faith with the Holy See in regard to that point. The projet de loi has never been revealed, and the ultra-Protestants who interrupt me on the other side of the House have been able to make their prejudices prevail. Her Majesty's Government, after having extracted from the Pope these declarations regarding marriages, intra-mural interments, seminaries, and appointments, have broken faith with the Holy Father as to their part of the transaction. Eight months have elapsed, and the Legislative Council of Malta have now adjourned sine die. The hon. Member for Huddersfield asked for declarations from the Government on the question of marriages. Nothing can give Catholics more pride than the absolutely inflexible position which the Pope took up while all these intrigues were going on at the Vatican. With all the indirect pressure brought to bear, the Holy Father has refused to minimise or soften one expression any more than the Holy See did in the case 567 of the marriage of Henry VIII. Here is the declaration, and from it the Pope has declined to recede. It is the law wherever the Catholic Church is known, that if you want a valid marriage between Catholics, or where one of the parties is a Catholic, it must be in accordance with the decrees of the Council of Trent, where those decrees have been promulgated. From that position the Pope refuses to recede in spite of all your endeavours, and you, the Government, have simply stirred up questions affecting the legitimacy of a number of Her Majesty's subjects. You have struck at the possibility of the right of succession to property in those cases, and the result is that you may have suits pending, not only in the Maltese Courts, but wherever Her Majesty's declaration can take effect, founded on the fact that, under that Declaration the Canon Law now prevails in Malta, and that all mixed marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics are illegal, the offspring of those marriages being illegal. What has been decreed by the Pope is nothing more than what is the law in Ireland at this moment. If you want a good Catholic marriage, it must be done in the Catholic way. If you want a civil marriage, you must go to the Registrar. That is all it amounts to. But why should the Government stir up this question? Numbers of Catholics and Protestants have been married in Malta, and the result of your interference is that if you want a Catholic marriage it must be celebrated according to Catholic Canons established for centuries. It is the Government which has started this hare, which they think may carry them on to Dublin, Galway, and Kerry. You deal not only with marriages in the future; all marriages heretofore celebrated are illegal. That is a pretty pickle. Every issue of every such marriage will have the stigma of bastardy attached. We know what was the result in Ireland of the declaration in 1840 as to Presbyterians. We know how the declaration then as to all marriages of Presbyterians was received. Here in Malta you have received a declaration from the Pope, who is the supreme authority, and there you will have to stick. What will hon. Gentleman opposite say when they have to go down to 568 their constituents and defend this remarkable performance? Oh, no doubt, the Catholic Home Secretary, who cheers, will defend it. Probably he, with his strong ecclesiastical tendencies, is at the bottom of it, assisted by the Attorney General. Certainly it would be a grand thing for the Party of "No Popery," who rebelled at the idea of a Catholic Lord Lieutenant—the Duke of Norfolk, for instance. Then, there is the Member for South Tyrone; he would never consent to be ruled by the Duke of Norfolk—to swallow one of the bitterest compounds that ever a Tory was asked to swallow. The Party opposite is in this position. They have made the Treaty with Rome—they, the great Protestant Party, the Party of Henry VIII., Queen Bess, and all the rest of them. [Mr. ATKINSON: Hear, hear!] No doubt the hon. Member for Boston goes to sleep with Foxe's Book of Martyrs under his pillow. Well, even he will have to go down to his constituents, Protestant to the backbone, and defend the Government which has placed the law of the Queen under the Canon Law of Rome. [Mr. ATKINSON: No.] Are you going to break faith with the Pope? [Mr. ATKINSON: Yes, and laughter.] Well, we have heard of "honour rooted into dishonour," and the Member for Boston is going to break faith with the Pope. Is the Under Secretary going to break faith with him? Is the Attorney General? Is the Catholic Home Secretary? Are they going to join in the declaration of the hon. Member for Boston, and say that the projet de loi, which is promised, shall never be passed? Another ground of anxiety to multitudes of people in Malta is the refusal of the Government to allow the Italian language to be used officially. The ruling idea with Sir L. Simmons is, that English ideas should be made to prevail throughout the island. Of all the delusions that could prevail under an Imperial Government the greatest is that by spreading the Imperial language you conquer feelings of nationality. If the English Government had let the Irish language alone they might not have had an Irish Party to deal with today. If they are so anxious to enforce English on the Maltese, why do they not carry out their doctrine in Wales, and compel Nonconformist ministers in Wales to use the English language? If 569 the Maltese spoke English to-morrow their feeling of patriotism would only be intensified. We obtained Malta by fraud. We took it from the French, to whom it had been surrendered by the Knights of Jerusalem, on the pretence of giving it back again when we had done with it; but we managed never to have done with it. In the Capitulations we came under obligations to respect the Italian language and the Catholic religion, and we have done neither. The inference I draw from the Papers is, that it is not merely the Irish Catholics who cannot trust Her Majesty's Ambassadors at Rome, but the authorities at the Vatican will not trust them either. The Roman authorities will be likely to say in future that the English Government might be glad to obtain their support in Ireland or in Malta, but that no concession can be allowed, because English Protestant bigotry will not allow the price to be paid.
§ (10.25.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
The hon. and learned Gentleman has made a long indictment of the Government, but he has not struck us severely, and there will not be much difficulty in showing that many of his statements are exaggerated or even erroneous. For instance, the hon. and learned Gentleman said we have violated our pledges to the Maltese people because in the Capitulations we had promised to respect the Italian language. In the Capitulations, I cannot find any mention of the Italian language. But we have respected their own language. Maltese is taught in their schools, although English and Italian are also taught. I am not surprised that the hon. Gentleman should have made a slip on this point, because a similar slip was made the other day by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian in his speech to certain members of the Wesleyan body. The right hon. Gentleman accused the Government of breaking faith with the Maltese people by endeavouring to abolish the Italian language, which, according to him, was the common language of the country. It is a curious thing that 13 or 14 years ago it was made a matter of complaint against the English Government that they had imposed the Italian language on the Maltese in their Courts of Law, and that multitudes were brought before the Courts of Law who did not understand 570 the official language that was used in them. As a matter of fact, a very small percentage of the population know any Italian at all. Out of a total population of about 154,000, 24,287, or 16.2 per cent., have some knowledge of English or Italian, or both, and the remaining 125,000, or 83.7 per cent., have no knowledge of either of these languages. The hon. and learned gentleman has covered a somewhat thin argument with a good deal of pleasantry and some rhetoric; he even read in a seriocomic style a speech of His Holiness the Pope.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I claim to reply to the right hon. Gentleman. I rise to a point of order. I submit that the right hon. Gentleman cannot enter into the manner in which I read the statement referred to.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
I should not have ventured to read it in the style of the hon. and learned Member, who also spoke with contempt of a gentleman who was one of the Mission. Whatever else may be said about the Mission, at all events what was done was done in the face of day. Everything was done without secrecy. It was avowed from the first what the object of the Mission was to be, and at the earliest possible date the result of the Conference was submitted to Parliament and made known to the world. There was no intrigue in the matter at all. These were matters of fair negotiation; they were settled on grounds that were avowed, for purposes which the Government were not ashamed of. There was no mystery about the expenses of the Mission; it was a charge upon the Revenues of Malta. In the Constitution Act there was a sum of £1,000 reserved for special purposes at the discretion of the Secretary of State. There have been similar reservations in the cases of some of the colonies, and they have prevented the paralysis of the Executive Government when Legislative Assemblies have thrown out Appropriation Bills. It is in the power of the Secretary of State, under an Act of the English Parliament, to employ this 571 money for any purpose at his discretion. The Government avow it, and the House can, if it wishes, censure us for misapplying the money. There is no concealment, no intrigue; it is a perfectly open transaction. The hon. and learned Gentleman said the consent of the elective members of the Council of Malta could not be obtained. I have before me the Report of the Debate on the subject, and I find that in a small House, in which there were only 14 elected members, six out of that number voted for the Government. One of these elected members, who cannot be spoken of in the contemptuous terms which the hon. and learned Gentleman applies to those who agree with the Government, made a very able speech indeed in the Debate. He defended the Mission, and pointed out that it would not be in the power of the Council to legislate on the subject until the consent of the Holy See had been obtained. The people of Malta are intensely Catholic and obedient to their superiors, and they would not consent to alter the law of marriage except in accordance with the wishes and views of the Holy See. Was it tolerable, he said, that uncertainty should exist on the subject of marriage? He further said that Malta was the only country where the civil laws were silent upon the subject of marriage, and that Sir Lintorn Simmons, in undertaking this Mission, had done good, service to the community of the island. I commend to the hon. and learned Gentleman that speech of one of the elected members of the Council of Malta. The hon. and learned Member has asked why Sir Lintorn Simmons was sent out on this Mission. My answer is that this gentleman was sent out for the purpose of settling most important questions. It is all very well for hon. Members who live in this country under a different system of laws to make light of this matter, but it is a very serious question for the children of those who have been married in a doubtful way. This is not the first time that this subject has arisen. It was discussed in 1865, and it has been considered several times since. The Government have been advised that it is necessary there should be legislation on the question, because the position of so many people in the island is so painfully uncertain. In the case of certain mixed marriages 572 there must be doubts, and there must also be doubts about the marriages of Nonconformists. The hon. Member for Huddersfield has said that he would make civil marriages compulsory in all cases, but that is not the present law in Malta, and I should like to know how the hon. Member proposes to effect the alteration in the law that he says ought to be made unless the consent of the Holy See can be obtained to it. Does he suppose the Catholic Legislature of Malta will pass such a law? Would the hon. Member for Longford be willing to make civil marriages the rule and religious marriages the exception?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
In Ireland the law with regard to marriages is admirable and just, because Catholics can be married as Catholics, whilst Turks and atheist people can be married as such.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
Does the hon. and learned Member think such a law would have a chance of passing in Malta? If not, there is a good deal of talk about nothing. The hon. Member spoke about the appointment of bishops, and threw much ridicule on the ordinance of 1838, whereby any prelate or priest was prohibited from holding office in Malta on the appointment of any potentate and without the consent of the British Government. He asked whether that ordinance was still in force. Well, it is unrepealed, but it has never been put in force because the Holy See has never concurred in it. If we lay aside for a moment Party feelings, it must appeal to the common-sense of Parliament that those who hold such high office, and are so much in the affections of their people as the Bishops, should be men who can work for the good of the people and in common with the civil Government. I think that is so self-evident that I need not say any more about it. The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that these questions of burials in churches, the number of foreign ecclesiastics, and other matters were not the primary objects of the Mission. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that Sir Lintorn Simmons began by attacking the clergy for their want of education. But let me point out that the complaint that the clergy were not for the most part well-educated came from the Director of Public Instruction, who is a Roman Catholic, and from the Senate of 573 the University who are Roman Catholics. You may call it an attack to say that the clergy, though pious and devoted to the care of their flock, have not the knowledge to give reasonable and elementary scientific information. The hon. and learned Gentleman has spoken of the reply of the Vatican to Monsignor Pace. This document has not come into my hands officially, but it was published in Malta as included in the pastoral of the Archbishop.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
I think my right hon. Friend said it was not in our official possession. I do not, therefore, see how we can lay it before Parliament as an official document.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
I have it as published in Malta in Italian, and I have had it translated, and the Committee will see it is in no sense a snub administered to Sir Lintorn Simmons. Writing on June 20th to the Archbishop, Cardinal Rampolla says:—I have treated very closely with the Holy Father about the papers addressed to me on the 9th inst., of their contents, as well as with regard to the petition of the Most High Chapter of the same date, accompanying your letter of the 12th. His Holiness is very afflicted for the excitement caused in the island in consequence of the despatches published, and especially to the very offensive bearing of the Liberal Press towards your lordship and the Holy See. The Holy Father highly condemns the dissoluteness to which the Press has given way, which, being urged through passion and political parties, disguises the facts and does its best to throw the whole blame on all that concerns religion. His Holiness has heard with great pleasure the information that you afford on the education of your clergy, which showing their great ability is a safeguard against different comments which have been insinuated through the late disclosures. As, however, on account of the competition to which the clergy is nowadays subjected, and the exigencies of the present time bind the clergy to higher efforts in order to maintain the position which they have ever occupied in the arts and sciences, so the Holy Father from the very beginning of his Pontificate has always taken great interest towards improving the ecclesiastical studies. For the same reason he has tried to make agreements between the Civil Authorities and the seminaries of the island in order to promote scientific as well as material advantages. The irreligious Press gives a false interpretation to his Holiness's wishes, whilst they have been received with 574 veneration and thankfulness by very flourishing institutes in Rome, in Lovania, and elsewhere as a proof of the anxiety towards their good by the Head of the Church. I impart the above impressions to your lordship for your comfort in your present troubles, and in order that you may explain and remove such misunderstandings, and to assure the Chapter of the good impression arrived at after reading the above-mentioned petition.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
I will read the Archbishop's letter, which is even more instructive. On June 9, the Archbishop, in writing to the Cardinal, said—Following my last letter directed to your Most Reverend Eminence, dated May 21, several copies of the correspondence between Sir L. Simmons and the Vatican have reached here, and I think it my duty to inform you of the great excitement which has been caused to the public by the grave stain of ignorance attributed by the Envoy Extraordinary without any exception to all the clergy of Malta. This bad temper had already manifested itself when, a few months ago, the Report of the Director of Public Instruction for the scholastic year 1888–89 was published, which has served as base, as is inferred from the said correspondence, to the information given to the Holy See; and I had not failed on this occasion to make to the said Director opportune remonstrances for his having interposed in matters of merely ecclesiastical comptency with too great humiliation to the pupils of the seminary, whom he compared to the simple Uditori of the Royal University. Certainly, having regard to the present times, it is sufficiently desirable that the instruction of the clergy should be higher and extended to many subjects formerly little cared about. And it is for this reason that I had hardly assumed the government of this diocese before I made it my duty, in a letter of July 4 of last year, to demand counsels and instructions from the Holy See for the reform of the small seminary, proposing for this object the Italian Fathers of the Company of Jesus, who had rendered me immense services in the direction of the Seminary of Gozo.The Archbishop then spoke of the clergy of Malta, and everybody knows that the Cathedral and beneficed clergy of Malta are distinguished for their piety and often for their theological knowledge.
§ MR. SUMMERS
I referred to the excommunication of three Maltese papers because they had ventured to criticise the Mission of Sir Lintorn Simmons to the Vatican.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
I do not know that that proves anything, or shows that Sir L. Simmons was wrong. With regard to the argument as to the appointment of bishops, I believe that it is a 575 common condition in Catholic countries that the appointment of bishops should have the consent, in some shape or form, of the Government.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
I will pass over some of what I think the unsuitable language which the hon. and learned Gentleman has condescended to employ with reference to servants of the State. I think that they are entitled to the respect of the public, and that it is rather the individual who depreciates their services in unsuitable language than they, who is lowered thereby. I am sorry that the hon. and learned Member should have taken the opportunity to rake up controversies which I had hoped were getting forgotten. No doubt Party and religious spirit ran high in past times, but the liberty which Catholics enjoy is now acknowledged. In the more careful and argumentative speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield the Catholic Law of Marriage was the chief point. I would point out that in this country, until the law was changed, the Canon Law was the only law by which irregular marriages could be voided—marriages, for instance, which were voidable for affinity. The hon. Member has referred to an argument which has been used elsewhere, namely, that Malta possesses the Code Rohan, so that it is quite unnecessary to appeal to the Canon Law with regard to marriage. That is an extraordinary misconception. It is quite well known what the Code Rohan is; it is a Code providing for the devolution of property in connection with marriage, and does not contain a word about the marriage ceremony. I happen to have the Report of a case founded on a marriage which took place under the Code Rohan in 1793, which came before the Privy Council in 1882, which shows that the Code has nothing to do with religious ceremonies, for the marriage is stated to have been celebrated by the licence of the Bishop after the grant of a Papal dispensation on account of consanguinity, while the contract in 576 regard to property is afterwards stated to have been made "according to the laws of the Greeks and Romans." The Civil Law of Malta is silent on the subject of the ceremony, and it is only the law of the Church or settled custom to which we can appeal.
§ MR. SUMMERS
The Code Rohan refers to the most ancient custom of the island and the usage of the Greeks and the Romans, and not to the Canon Law.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
Yes, the Code refers to the Greek and Roman customs, but with reference to property; it has nothing to do with the ceremony of marriages. With regard to the argument of the hon. Member for Huddersfield as to custom, I have the authority of a high Member of the Government of Malta for saying that no mixed marriage—no marriage between a Protestant and a Roman Catholic—was ever known to have taken place by the Governor's licence except through incorrect representations, through a false declaration that there was no impediment. If, for instance, a Protestant soldier is going to be married to a Maltese Roman Catholic girl by a Protestant minister, he cannot get a licence without making an incorrect representation, and placing any children of the marriage in a very undesirable position. A suggestion has been made that civil marriages should be the rule, and that the ecclesiastical ceremony should follow; but we have to take the actual conditions of life in the island into account, and to deal with the people as they live. The people of Malta are undoubtedly greatly attached to their religion, and will hear of no measures that tamper with it, and it would be impossible to deal with Malta on the lines suggested, except by an exertion of Imperial power which would set aside the Council. Hon. Members may rest assured that the matter will not be allowed to rest, and I hope that when the people of Malta understand the question better, and when some of the suspicion and exaggeration thrown over the question have been swept away, they will see that there is no intention to tamper either with their nationality or their religion, but only a desire to remove doubts in regard to marriage which operate to their disadvantage, and to raise the status of their clergy.
§ (11.14.) MR. ATKINSON (Boston)
I do not understand why the hon. And learned Member for Longford so positively addressed himself to me during his speech. If he moves a reduction of the Vote on account of the Mission, he will find me supporting him in the Lobby. We are told by the Under Secretary that we are dealing with a Catholic country, and that we ought to continue the Canon Law. That I repudiate. I do not think that we, as Protestant Members of Parliament, ought to be called on.
§ MR. ATKINSON
Then, as Members of the Parliament of a Protestant country, we ought not to be called on to do that. I should, however, like to explain the grounds on which I intend to vote. If I had two evils presented to me, one of which I must accept, I should accept the lesser of the two. If, for instance, I had the choice of either delivering Ireland over to be governed by the hon. Member for North Longford and his friends, or of supporting the Government on this question, I should say the former alternative was a gigantic evil, and I should vote for the Government. I would give an anti-Protestant vote, and I think I should be perfectly consistent in doing so. What I said on the hustings I still adhere to, that is, that there are certain questions I put before questions as between Conservatism and Liberalism, and one of these is Protestantism. Nor can any imputation lie against me that this is conduct unworthy of a Member of a British Parliament. Allusion has been made to a so-called Wesleyan Conference. It was not a Conference, but it was a dinner for the purpose of promoting the election of a gentleman to an official position on the Committee of privileges of the Wesleyan Body. I was not present, but had I been asked I should have attended and have expressed my sentiments before the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton was called on to deliver his. I can only regret that neither that right hon. Gentleman nor the right hon. 578 Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian is now present, for ever since the dinner I have sought an opportunity to give utterance in their presence to my views on the subject. I also regret that no Members of the Wesleyan Methodist Body are now sitting among hon. Members opposite.
§ MR. ATKINSON
Oh, yes, there is one Gentleman present. I believe I was the first to arouse the Government to a sense of their duty on this subject by a question which I put in this House. It appears to me hon. Gentlemen opposite are only prepared to advocate the reform of abuses when they require a cry for the hustings. I hope the time will not arrive when the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, a Member of a Protestant Government, will be able to guarantee the carrying out of the Canon Law on the subject of marriage. We do not wish for the interference of the Pope in regard to marriages—whether mixed or unmixed—in Malta any more than in this country.
§ (11.24.) MR. SYDNEY GEDGE
I wish, as a Protestant to the backbone, to explain the reasons why I shall support the Government, who have acted in the best way for the interests of morality and true religion. The hon. and learned Member for Longford charged Sir Lintorn Simmons with misrepresentation for saying that the Pope recognises that the Church is free and unfettered in this country, and that liberty prevails. The hon. and learned Member says the Pope could not have used these words, as they are so far from the fact. But on the next page I find that in the official summary of the speech of the Pope, prepared by Cardinal Rampolla, it is said—He spoke also of the submission and obedience which these subjects give to the civil laws, and, as he had done on a similar occasion at the time of his sacerdotal jubilee, he rejoiced at the liberty and peace guaranteed to the faithful in all parts of the British Empire.
§ MR. SYDNEY GEDGE
That was not the point. There is no occasion to refer to the past unless one is actuated by the mischievous and diabolical spirit which delights to arouse animosity. I put it to the Committee, and to the hon. Member for Longford himself, whether the words I have read do not clearly show that Sir Lintorn Simmons did not misrepresent the speech of the Pope. It is unnecessary for one who holds Protestant opinions, and who, to a certain extent, may be said to represent the Low Church Party in the Church of England, to excuse himself for rising to rebut the attack made on the Government. I notice that the newspapers representing the Low Church Party have alluded to this Mission to the Pope in terms of disparagement. One has said that "the Government represents Conservatism as divorced from Protestantism," and another journal (styled not inappropriately the British Weekly) representing some body of Dissenters, says that the Mission, "like Dr. Johnson's leg of mutton, was ill-bred, ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, ill-dressed;" that it was "conceived in secrecy and sin and brought forth in open iniquity." From those opinions I, as a Low Churchman, entirely dissent. It is remarkable that there is not a single ex-Cabinet Minister present on the Front Opposition Bench. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, whose post-prandial utterances have been referred to, reminds me much of the little boy in Punch, who wrote "No Popery" on the wall and promptly ran away. Where is the right hon. Gentleman, and where is the Wesleyan Member for Wolverhampton? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian is not very much of a Protestant, yet he objects to this Mission "as a, very great novelty in British history." That may be the line taken up by the British Weekly, but why the right hon. Gentleman should object to a Mission to the Pope I cannot conceive. I will not condescend to use the tu quoque argument with regard to him. The moral 580 Code he draws up was well set forth in the first article of the Times newspaper this morning, and I will only say that, at all events, this Mission was an open one, whilst his Mission to the Pope was in secret. The right hon. Gentleman would make out that it is perfectly legitimate for him tosteal a horse, whilst we may not even buy one in the open market. Why should not England send a Mission to the Pope? We send Missions to the Porte, but we do not therefore become Mahomedans. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian says it was all very well to send a Mission to the Pope when he was a temporal sovereign. He reminds us that the Pope is no longer a temporal prince, and says—''You go as near as you can to making a declaration that the Pope is still a temporal prince—and that he has the right of temporal dominion—Italy and the nationality of Italy must shift for themselves. What an attempt to sow discord.He has tried to stir up hatred between Italy and England, because on this one occasion England has sent an open embassy to the Pope—a Mission to which Italy in no way objects. Does he forget that on the occasion of the Pope's sacerdotal jubilee special envoys were accredited to the Pope by other nations, and that they have had Embassies at the Vatican ever since 1870, when he lost his temporal power? Has Italy objected to these diplomatic relations? Did these Missions compel Italy and her nationality to shift for themselves? But why was it necessary to send a Mission to the Pope? It seems to me that the course of the Government is as clear as noonday. There were several changes desired in Malta, and, as hon. Members are aware, there is in that island a Representative Council, consisting of 14 elected Members, and six nominees of the Crown. It is evident that the Government cannot force through that Council any measure unless it has the consent of the majority of the Members. There was a very interesting article by Mr. F. W. Rowsell, in the Nineteenth Century, in August, 1878, describing from an intimate knowledge of the subject the condition of matters in Malta. He said, amongst other things—The ultima ratio of everything is the Church's permission to do or forbear. The 581 most instructed and Liberal Maltese, however qualified to exercise the quality of detachment of mind, fails to use this gift, in the presence, or at the bidding of Church Authority.It is plain, therefore, that unless you Can secure the influence of the Church you cannot obtain changes in the law through the Elective Council. There is no subject in which the Church of Rome takes such a great interest as that of marriage; and the present law, which is exceedingly doubtful as to the validity of mixed marriages, and as to the validity of Protestant marriages in Malta, cannot be altered without a declaration from the Pope that such an alteration may be made. The Chief Justice of Malta stated that these marriages had received for many years such a degree of recognition as amounted to custom, and were, in his opinion, valid—a nice substratum for such a contract as marriage, on which the happiness of families, the position of wives, and the rights of children depend. The Government wished to make this certain. Surely marriage is a thing about which there should be no question whatever, and, therefore, it was necessary that the law of Malta should be altered. What can be the danger to religion and liberty in going to the Pope and asking him to give an opinion which shall influence the minds of the Representative Council to pass a law to legalise marriages not solemnised in accordance with the Council of Trent? We are told that we have gone to the Pope, cap in hand, to obtain a great concession, and, therefore, have thrown away our religious liberty, but surely we have done the opposite, and have given liberty to Protestants to contract marriages in Malta. Another point on which it was necessary to obtain his view was the education of the people. I understand that they know nothing but Maltese; that very few families can speak 10 sentences in either the Italian or the English language, and that the country priests positively are so ignorant that they were not even aware that they had a Representative Council in the island 20 years after that Council had been constituted. The Maltese, as a matter of fact, have a language which has not even 582 been reduced to writing, and has no grammar, no dictionary, and no literature of any kind, and yet the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian denounces the order to teach English in the clerical seminaries as a blow struck at Maltese nationality. I think it is most desirable that those people should learn the English language—the language of the Empire to which they belong. I do not remember the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian ever objecting to Hindoos and Mahomedans being taught the English language. In order to secure these advantages in Malta, the Government have given up the patronage of a few small livings, and endowments belonging to those livings will be applied to the teaching of English in the seminaries. I think that we Protestants have shown more courtesy to the Head of the Roman Catholic Church than the action taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and some of his Roman Catholic followers in this House. The whole gravamen of the charge made against the Government is that they are giving to the Pope some promised compensation for the part he took last year with regard to Ireland, when by a papal rescript he brought to the minds of his Irish religions subjects the duties imposed upon them by the sixth, eighth, and tenth Commandments. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian tells us that the Pope fulminated a rescript against the Nationalists of Ireland. It was a rescript against boycotting, which the Pope did not describe, however, in language anything like so severe as the language used at another time by the right hon. Gentleman himself. It is the Irish Roman Catholic Members, not we Protestants, who blame the Pope for this excellent rescript in favour of the Ten Commandments, and charge him with having been bribed to do so; and it is the right hon. Gentleman who thus identifies the Irish policy with the breach of those commandments.
§ (11.45.) MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R.,Holmfirth)
The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary may have been very good from a diplomatic point of view because we have 583 learned nothing from it. I claim to be a Protestant to the backbone as much as the last speaker. Having listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with great interest, I defy any plain ordinary man in this House to know what is the meaning of the whole thing. What was the need for sending this Mission at all, and what object was served by Captain Ross's presence? With a number of matters of detail I do not think we need concern ourselves. If the Maltese clergy are as ignorant as has been represented so much the worse for the people under their charge. But I want to know what right have we, who are claiming religious liberty for everybody, to interfere in the question as to whether the Pope approves certain marriages in Malta or not? Why is it not possible to have in Malta, as in other parts of the British Dominions, civil marriages, and if the Roman Catholic population, under the influence of their priests, like to accept the Pope's opinions and directions, let them do so. We have nothing to do with that. The right hon. Gentleman said that none of these mixed marriages could have taken place without misrepresentation, but he did not tell us whose business it was to prevent that misrepresentation. Surely it was not supposed that our soldiers in Malta were to know all about the Council of Trent, and similar matters, and we have not been told who took care to prevent mistakes on their part, which it is now thought fit to call misrepresentation. I think we have been very badly used indeed by the Government in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman has, after all, never told us what is the result of the whole business—what children will be made legitimate and what will not be made legitimate under the new arrangement. Clouds of confusion have been thrown around the whole question. We have not had a clear statement of what has actually been done, or what is going to be done in the future, and I say that the whole thing comes very badly from the Ministers of a Party belonging to a Church which claims to be the bulwark of Protestantism.
§ (11.48.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stockport has expressed his surprise at the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. Well, I am not surprised, because, of course, the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly well aware that he cannot hope to contend with the criticisms of the hon. Member for Stockport. He knew, no doubt, that the hon. Member had been reading an article in some Review, and that, with the information so obtained, he entertained the intention of coming down to the House to crush and pulverise him. I think the right hon. Gentleman has shown that discretion is the better part of valour, and that he was quite wise to stay away. Now what surprised me was the way in which the hon. Member took the Pope under his protection. I could not understand it at first, but it dawned upon me when I found he regarded him as a brother Pontiff. The hon. Member for Stockport told us that he represented the Low Church Party. I should like to know where he got his mandate from, for I venture to say that nine-tenths of the Low Church Party never heard of the hon. Gentleman in any other capacity except in his legal aspect in connection with the London School Board. We have also had a speech from the Protestant Member for Boston. I want to understand what he is going to do. He said that he told his constituents that he was Protestant first and Tory afterwards, but he has such a horror of the possibility of Nationalism prevailing in Ireland that he is absolutely going to sacrifice his Protestantism in order to support the Government in this matter. What I want to know is, why on earth the Government have got in this mess. Why did they not let the question alone? The only explanation is that it is some sort of fatality which dogs the footsteps, of these gentlemen, and makes them rush into all sorts of absurdities, such as compensation at home and Missions to the Pope abroad. I shall not be certain what really led to the Mission until we have the Papers before us which 585 are now promised in regard to the previous Mission of the Duke of Norfolk. If some sort of understanding was then come to in regard to Ireland, then I can perfectly understand that this Mission was nothing but a blind—that it was intended to keep up relations with the Vatican in order that the latter might come to the aid of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to crush out Nationalism in Ireland. What has been the effect of these proceedings? The effect has been that your Mission has positively bastardised a large number of the children of Her Majesty's subjects in Malta. You agreed to bring in a Bill as soon as possible to restore to these persons their civil rights, but you have not done so. The right hon. Gentleman certainly told us that he hoped that it would be brought in some day, but the fact remains that this agreement with the Pope was entered into in January last, and absolutely nothing has been done during the last eight months. I do not understand that any step whatever has been taken by the Government to bring in this Bill, and I hope that out of consideration for these unfortunate children it will be introduced as soon as possible
§ (11.51.) MR. T. M. HEALY
We certainly did expect some reply from the right hon. Baronet, but he has made none. He has made a number of charges against me, not one of which has any foundation. He said that I spoke with contempt of Captain Ross, of Bladensburg, and of Sir Lintorn Simmons. Well, I entertain contempt for them. I asked who is Captain Ross, and what the mischief he was doing at Rome, and we have not got any answer to that question. All we are told is that when an honorary officer has acted in our service, he ought to be spoken of in an honourable manner. Now, is Mr. Ross, of Bladensburg, an officer? Is he in full pay? Is he employed by the Government, or is he on half pay? Does he get a share of this £1,280, or is he serving the State for nothing? I want an answer to those points, and yet when 586 I demand it I am told that I am speaking with disrespect of him. I rejoin that I feel disrespect for him, and why should I not do so? If Mr. Ross, of Bladensburg, is a Cavalry officer, let him look after his horses. If he is an Artillery officer, let him look after his guns; and if he belongs to the Infantry, let him see to the conduct of his soldiers. But I should like to know what on earth he has to do with Canon Law? We have not got an answer to any of these questions. What right, I want to know, had Captain Ross at this private audience which Sir Lintorn Simmons was granted by the Pope? Why was he not with his regiment? If the Secretary for War were present in his place I should ask him if this man was absent on leave, and for what purpose the leave of absence was granted him. I may respect Captain Ross as a soldier—for I dote on the military—but as a diplomatist I have my own views about him, for I think he made an awful mess of the affair. I want to know, again, what he was doing at Rome? One other matter. You declare by the mouth of Sir Lintorn Simmons that the Pope spoke of the admirable liberty enjoyed by his Church in the Queen's dominions. Yet you say that the Catholics of Ireland must be satisfied with the marriage laws which prevail in that country. Surely what is good enough for the Irish should be good enough for the Maltese, and what is good enough for the Archbishop of Dublin should suffice for the Bishop of Gozo. You have declared that His Holiness is satisfied with the liberty which prevails throughout Her Majesty's dominions. I say that out of your own mouths yon are giving away your own case. In Ireland you do not believe that a Catholic is fit to act as a juror in a criminal case. I should like to know now why there has been this long delay in introducing the project of law which has been promised. Eight months have elapsed since the promise was made. The Maltese Council has been sitting during that period, and now you have adjourned it sine die. By your Act you have created a number of illegitimate children, and the project of law which you promised the Pope last January, in order to relieve them of their disabilities, 587 is not yet forthcoming. The hon. Member for Stockport said that a painful state of things was prevailing in this matter. Who is responsible for that? It is yourselves who must be blamed. You have got the Ordinance of 1838. Why have you not enforced it? For 50 years the law has been allowed to remain in abeyance. Why have you not repealed it? If this is really a Government of law and order, why have you allowed it to remain in abeyance? I say we have had no satisfactory explanation from the Government to-night. How long are these unfortunate people to remain illegitimatised? Hon. Members opposite strongly object to this discussion being continued; but I say we will not allow it to close until we are told how soon the unhappy offspring of these people are to have their position regularised. This is a serious thing for them, for it may affect their rights to property.
§ (12.5.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
The project of law, as has been stated elsewhere, has been under the careful consideration of the Government, to whom it was referred by the Government of Malta. A matter of this importance requires careful consideration, in view of the amount of bad blood caused in Malta by misrepresentations of this question.
§ (12.6.) MR. T. M. HEALY
That amounts to a declaration that the Maltese do not want the project of law. You begin with a declaration that you are anxious to satisfy the consciences of the Catholic people, and now you tell us that this matter has created so much ill-blood that you dare not propose the Bill in the Council of Malta. That is the declaration of the Government made eight months after they promised to bring in the Bill. These are the words of a Government who profess to be so anxious for the souls of the Maltese people, so anxious to quiet their consciences and to regularise their marriages that they dare not show the people of Malta the cards they have up their sleeves: they dare not let them know what it is they propose for their benefit. You have sown confusion in the minds of the people, and now, after the Mission to the Vatican is over, you dare not produce 588 your project of law. This shows strongly the bad faith in which the Mission was undertaken. It was not sent in the interests of the Maltese, but it was sent, as I have said before, with the object of injuring the Nationalists of Ireland.
§ (12.9.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I happen to be a Protestant, although I am a member of the Nationalist Party, and I want to know if the Government are going to adhere to the terms of their engagement. From what we have learnt this evening I think the action of the Government indisputably unsatisfactory. Every point raised by my hon. Friend has been fenced with and carefully avoided, and we have not had a distinct answer. Knowing the influences brought to bear on the Government hostile to the Catholics in all parts of the globe it is inexplicable to me how the Government came to send this Mission, and I am equally puzzled to understand why we cannot now get a distinct answer to our question. We shall raise this question again on the Colonial Vote, for the Government have hedged and skulked in this Debate. Their shuffling dissimulation—I may not, and am not going to, call it lying—
§ DR. TANNER
Then I will say the dissimulation of the Government in this matter has been so mean and of so pure and transparent a character that I thank goodness they have adopted this plan of showing their miserable and infamous position.
§ (12.11.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 62; Noes 109.—(Div. List, No. 244.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (12.22.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I want to put a question as to Arabi Pasha and his friends. The Government have received a Petition accompanied by a medical certificate, stating that the health of these gentlemen and of their ladies and families is bad, and they request that they may be allowed to return to Egypt on giving a pledge to act in entire conformity with the law. In lieu of that permission being 589 given they ask to be moved to a place where the climate is more suitable for them. Considering their exemplary conduct during their detention in Ceylon I hope some arrangement will be made whereby their health may not suffer.
§ (12.24.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
It is true that the climate of Ceylon is unfavourable to the health of these exiles, and the Government have under consideration the question of moving them to a place more suited to their constitutions.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
I can assure the hon. Gentleman the Government have every desire to place them where their health will not suffer.
§ (12.25.) SIR W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
Egypt is now peaceful and contented. What is the objection to letting them return there?
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
At whose expense are they being kept in Ceylon? Would it not be more economical to send them back to their native land?
§ (12.26.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
They have an allowance paid to them by the Egyptian Government. We are bound to consult the wishes of that Government in this matter; and if it is of opinion that the events of 1883 are so recent as to render undesirable the return of these gentlemen to Egypt, I think we must abide by its decision.
§ (12.27.) CAPTAIN VERNEY (Bucks, N.)
In order to take the sense of the House on the question of Madagascar, I propose to move the reduction of the Vote. I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to only one or two points. In the first place, this is a Naval question, and if the French get, as sooner or later they will, the entire control of all the harbours of the island, it will be a very serious thing for us. Lord Palmerston over and over again declared that the French must not be allowed to get possession of these harbours, and that the utmost they are entitled to is a small island on the north-east coast. Then I 590 object to the provision that British Consuls on the island must apply to the French Consul General for their exequatur. Surely they ought to obtain them from the English Consul General. It was a pure oversight that a Division on this question was not taken early in the evening, for it is one of very general interest, as hon. Members will find when they read their papers in the morning.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That Item A (Salaries), be reduced by £50, part of the Salary of the Secretary of State."—(Captain Verney.)
§ (12.28.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 51; Noes 102.—(Div. List, No. 245.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (12.35.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
There is one point upon which I should like to have a more decided answer from the Under Secretary. There is a good deal of feeling in South Africa just now, and you have an extraordinary condition of things, a vote of censure passed upon Ministers by the Parliament there. I wish to point out the very unsatisfactory character of the answers given by the First Lord of the Treasury and the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. In the beginning of May, when it leaked out that Her Majesty's Government were making an Agreement with Germany, the hon. Member for Huddersfield asked the First Lord if Her Majesty's Government had been in communication with the Government at the Cape, and the right hon. Gentleman answered that there had been such communications. Further, in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for West Edinburgh, the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs stated that Her Majesty's Government would place themselves in communication with the Cape Ministry. Now, as a matter of fact, these statements were not accurate. No communications whatever were made to the Cape Ministry, and both the late Ministry there and the present Ministry are very indignant in reference to the matter. When, subsequently, the Under Secretary was again 591 asked a question, he replied that the reason why Her Majesty's Government had not been in communication with the Cape Government—and this after we had been told there would be, and that there had been, such communications—was that the Cape Government were not interested in any of the territory with which the Agreement was concerned. As a matter of fact, this is not correct either. As I pointed out, Walfisch Bay belongs to the Cape Government, and there is a special clause in the Convention for the delimitation of that territory. But up to the last moment there had been no communication from Her Majesty's Government to the Cape Government on the subject. Now this is really a very serious matter, and I should like to have a direct answer. When the question of delimitation comes up for decision, will the Cape Government be consulted on the question of delimitation or arbitration?
§ (12.40.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
There is no question of ceding territory in Walfisch Bay; it is simply a question of the line of demarcation to be drawn. If I recollect rightly, some two or three years ago, when there was a question of sending a Commission there, the Cape Government declined to be a party to it.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
I am quite sure the interests of the Cape Government will be consulted in the matter, but I am not entitled to give any specific pledge as to the manner.
§ (12.41.) MR. CONYBEARE
In connection with the territory around Walfisch Bay, I should ask whether the Government will take care to have the German Hinterland doctrine properly respected?
§ MR. SUMMERS
When I put the question to the First Lord, whether any communications had passed between the Government, the High Commissioner, and the Cape Government, in reference to the Anglo-German Agreement, the right hon. Gentleman replied that various communications had taken place between 592 the Home Government and the Government of the Cape Colony, but they were of a confidential character, the effect of which it was not desirable to state while negotiations were going on. Subsequently, however, the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated that no communications had passed between the Home Government and the Government at the Cape. Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any explanation in reference to this discrepancy?
§ (12.42.) MR. W. H. SMITH
I am not able to add anything to the statement I made on that occasion. I said that communications had passed between the Home Government and the High Commissioner. I did not intend to state that they were communications between the Home Government and the Cape Government.
§ MR. SUMMERS
The right hon. Gentleman said there were some communications with the Cape Government of a confidential character, the effect of which it was undesirable to state. Can the right hon. Gentleman now tell us what was the nature of those communications?
§ DR. CLARK
This reply is very unsatisfactory. The Government will not keep the loyalty of a self-governing colony if they treat a Colonial Government in this fashion. I think you might consider their susceptibilities in a matter affecting their own territory. You might at least ask them, as a matter of courtesy, to take part in the delimitation. I beg to move a reduction of £20 in the salary of the Under Secretary, in order to protest against the answer he has given.
§ (12.46.) Motion made, and Question, "That Item A (Salaries), be reduced by £20, part of the Salary of the Under Secretary of State,"—(Dr. Clark,)—put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 2. £27,193, for House of Lords Offices.
§ (12.49.) MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I want on this Vote to ask 593 the Attorney General whether he can give any explanation as to what has been done, if anything, by the Lord Chancellor with reference to the Justices of the Peace, whose conduct was criticised in the interim Report of the Commission appointed to inquire into the affairs of the Macclesfield Trustee Savings Bank? Several persons were implicated, but I will take only one as an illustration. A Justice of the Peace, named Eaton, was specially reported on as having by his conduct contributed to the frauds. It is said that he constantly absented himself from the Bank during business hours; that he made no arrangements to supply his place, or to secure any check on the two clerks who remained; that the alterations in the ledger were reported to him, and he took no action to discover or punish the offender; that erasures made in the books of the bank were reported to him, but he took no action respecting them; that he actually made erasures in the books of the Bank himself, and that in order to make the books square he posted an amount from a book called the dirty book. Of this last proceeding the Inspector said that the posting of the sum was deliberately dishonest. On one other point I have a question to ask. Perhaps the Attorney General will be able to give us some assurance that some new policy will be pursued in reference to the Bills for naturalisation, as I find that the matter really rests with the Lord Chancellor, who signifies the Queen's consent, without which the Bill cannot proceed.
§ (12.52.) SIR R. WEBSTER
The hon. Member was so courteous as to inform me he was going to raise the question of the Macclesfield Savings Bank. I have communicated with the Lord Chancellor, and he desires me to state that he has most carefully considered the whole question and personally examined the evidence. He does not take the view that the findings of the learned Commissioner were altogether justified by the evidence. He does not think he would himself have taken so stong a view as the learned Commissioner did in respect of some of the findings. He 594 desires me to say there was evidence of carelessness and neglect on the part of both Mr. Eaton and Mr. Stringer, one of the other Magistrates referred to. There was, however, nothing to show that Eaton had obtained any money by virtue of his careless management, although no doubt his conduct was such as ought not to have been pursued. After careful consideration the Lord Chancellor did not feel justified in taking the extreme step of removing the names of either Eaton or Stringer from the Commission of the Peace. With regard to the question of the Naturalisation Bills, I think there have been seven or eight in the course of the last four or five years. I do not wish to express any opinion on them, but I think it right to say it seems to me that the mere question of convenience ought certainly not to be sufficient to sanction Private Naturalisation Bills where there is no special object to be gained. The matter, no doubt, will be further considered by the Lord Chancellor, and I think it probable that some more stringent rule will be laid down.
§ (12.55.) MR. BRADLAUGH
With reference to the question of naturalisation, nothing could be more satisfactory than the hon. and learned Gentleman's answer. I feel some difficulty, however, in accepting the explanation with reference to the two Justices of the Peace connected with the Macclesfield Savings Bank. I am really a little puzzled to understand how the Lord Chancellor can have come to the opinion that the Report was too strong. Bearing in mind the evidence as to posting the balance from the dirty book in order to make the accounts tally, so as to deceive the auditors, and remembering that this is proved by the testimony of unimpeachable witnesses, and by the admission of Mr. Eaton himself, and that the Commissioner says the posting of the item was deliberately dishonest, I cannot understand how a gentleman of this kind can have been left on the Commission of the Peace. Mr. Eaton admitted that he was personally aware of the erasures which were made in the books by the persons who stole the money. I cannot 595 understand how the Lord Chancellor can have passed that over. There were alterations in the books, and this Magistrate made an illegal deposit himself and made the books balance. The Commissioner who held the inquiry made eight or nine distinct allegations against Mr. Eaton. How this can be passed over I cannot understand. I will not at this period of the Session bring about a long discussion on it, but I give the right hon. Gentleman notice that next year I will raise the question, as I consider it a disgrace to the Bench that this gentleman should continue to sit upon it.
§ (12.59.) SIR R. WEBSTER
In consequence of the observations the hon. Member has made I wish to say that the Lord Chancellor was not satisfied with some of the questions which the Commissioners put to the witnesses.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
A Commissioner charged with the duty of investigating Savings Banks frauds acts not as if he were a Judge on a trial in a case in which a person accused of an offence must have the facts brought against him proved by strict evidence. He acts simply as a Commissioner, his object being to find out the truth. I am not asking that Mr. Eaton should be indicted, but I say that having made this statement it is evident that he is not a fit person to be on the Bench.
§ (1.1) MR. CONYBEARE
The explanation of the hon and learned Gentleman the Attorney General is of the lamest description. It amounts to this, that these answers implicating this Magistrate are not to be relied upon as evidence against him, owing to improper questions having been put by the Commissioner delegated to investigate the matter. The object of the inquiry was to ascertain who was guilty of fraud, and if the Commissioner used the means best calculated to discover the perpetrators of the frauds he is not to be blamed because he was a little more zealous than he was expected to be, and did not spare those in high places who were the most guilty. The case seems to me to resolve itself into a simple dilemma. Here you have a gentleman entrusted 596 with the most solemn duties, who is apparently implicated in a fraudulent transaction. The only alternative to dishonesty is abject folly, and I would put it to the learned Attorney General, Is it desirable to have either knaves or fools on the Bench? Either these men were knaves or they were not. If they were, and after what I have heard I strongly suspect this to be the case, they are unfit to administer justice on the Bench. If they were not, then they were fools, and I ask, are we at this time of day to be content with having justice administered on the Bench by men who, if they are not knaves, are fools? If you keep men of this kind on the Bench how can you expect their decisions to be respected? I strongly suspect that if these cases were thoroughly sifted, it would be found that the Lord Chancellor's leniency is owing to the fact that these gentlemen are Tories. ["Oh, oh!"] It is all very well for the Attorney General to say "Oh, oh" and "impossible," but we know the record of the Lord Chancellor, and I should not be surprised to find that these gentlemen were Tories of the deepest hue. At any rate, it is a proof of the incompetency of the Lord Chancellor that he has not removed these gentlemen.
§ (1.7.) DR. TANNER
There are two or three points which require explanation before the Vote is passed. I always rejoice to see economies practised by a Tory Administration; but I find that instead of beginning at the top of the tree, and cutting off exaggerated salaries, Her Majesty's Government commence at the lower end of the list. I should like to ask how it comes to pass that whilst there is no reduction made in the salary of the Lord Chancellor, who receives £4,000 a year for sitting in the Upper House for a short time four days a week, there is a reduction in the amount paid to housemaids, whose salaries are only 10s. a week? How is it that the item for this class of servants is only £299, whereas it was £433 last year? Does not the House of Lords require cleaning? I think it does, with plenty of soap and water, and plenty of strong alkali powerfully applied. Then, again, in the case of messengers, whose salaries 597 range from £70 to £170 a year, I find that the amount of the Vote has been cut down, although the number of these men is still the same, namely seven. Why do the Government strike at these people, and leave all the higher salaries alone? They pose as economists, and all the time they are trying to put more weight on the poor in their employ. I find here a Receiver of Parliamentary Office Fees, and the salary attached to the office £600. How is that? Last year the amount was only £350. What is the meaning of the increase? I think it is our duty to look into these matters [Cries of ''Divide!"] I am trying to save time if hon. Members were not too dense to see it. I desire to deal with a number of items at once so as to avoid the necessity of rising several times. I find that the Examiner of Standing Orders receives £964 this year, whereas he only received £900 last year. I think if the Government wished to satisfy the minds of the people who look into these items they could do so by explaining all these points in marginal notes. [Cries of" Divide!"] The Attorney General should remember that I come from Ireland, and that intimidation is against the Coercion Law.
§ COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, S.W., Bootle)
I rise to order, and wish to ask you, Mr. Courtney, whether the hon. Member is not trifling with the House?
I am bound to say that although the hon. Member seems to wish to give the impression that he has studied these Estimates he does not appear to have brought a very keen intelligence to bear upon them. He referred to the Accountant as having had his salary increased, but he omitted to note that the office of Assistant Accountant has been abolished and that though the Accountant has had his salary increased the expenditure is less than it was originally on the two officials.
§ DR. TANNER
I have made a mistake as to the Accountant, but as to the 598 messengers and the Examiner of Standing Orders, perhaps we may have some explanation.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
I happen to know in reference to the messengers that one of them having died a junior was appointed. As to the examiner, I believe the increase is the ordinary increase. As to the other matter, I know nothing about it.
§ (1.16.) DR. TANNER
And in the absence of knowledge we are to pass the Vote. Next year, should the present Chancellor of the Exchequer be in office, as I hope he may not be, nor have I reason to expect it, I hope these matters will be dealt with in a more satisfactory manner.
§ Vote agreed to.
3. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £34,523, 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, 1891, for the Salaries and Expenses in the Offices of the House of Commons.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Dr. Clark.)
§ (1.19.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN, St. George's, Hanover Square)
I trust the Committee will agree to continue for a little time longer. As compared with our former habits we have not reached a very advanced hour, and I do not think these Votes we are now approaching are of a contentious character.
§ (1.20.) MR. LABOUCHERE
Upon the Home Office Vote I understand hon. Members desire to raise some points of interest. This Vote, I think, might be taken.
§ (1.20.) MR. CONYBEARE
I hope we may be permitted to go on with this Vote. There are one or two points I 599 desire to mention, but they will not, I think, raise a long discussion. Upon the Home Office Vote, however, important questions as to mining inspection will arise.
§ (1.21.) MR. SEXTON
Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer intend to move the appointment of the Financial Relations Committee to-night?
§ MR. SEXTON
Then may I ask why not? This Motion has been standing for some weeks. Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the importance of the Committee having one meeting in order to arrange the method of their proceedings and to give directions to officials to prepare the necessary statements? If not to-night, when is it the intention to move for the Committee?
§ (1.22.) MR. GOSCHEN
I can only repeat what I have all along said, that I am very anxious for the appointment of the Committee, and I would ask the hon. Member to assist us by helping forward the Estimates. The Estimates are of pressing importance, and if we cannot induce the Committe to sit late to proceed with these I do not think I can ask the House to sit for other business. I hope we may take the Motion for the Committee to-morrow, but I cannot pledge myself until we make further progress with Supply.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
Does the right hon. Gentleman consent to the postponement of the Home Office Vote?
§ (1.23.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I think the Government are under a pledge to take the Votes in order, and not to dodge up and down. I hope that engagement will be adhered to.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Surely the Committee is free to postpone a Vote when it appears for the general interest to do so?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The Committee is impatient with my hon. Friend. For my part, I hope we shall take the House of Commons Vote to-night. But, Sir, 600 there are bores on the other side of the House. We have been subject to interruptions to-night from the Members on the other side, and I give the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Fowler) fair notice that if he proceeds with his intention to raise the question of House of Commons salaries, I shall move that the Question be now put.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (1.24.) SIR R. FOWLER
I have given notice of my intention upon this Vote to call attention to the inadequate salaries paid to the officers of the House.
§ (1.24.) Mr. T. M. HEALY 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.
§ SIR R. FOWLER
It will be in the recollection of the House that I put a question to the Leader of the House asking him whether Her Majesty's Government, in view of the increased length of the sittings of the House, a proposal for the increase of the salaries of officials would be considered. I again urge the point, and certainly think that the time has come when, considering how the business of the House has increased, and the probability of the length of Sessions being considerably increased in future, the House might deal in a more generous spirit with its servants. I hope we may have a promise that between this and the next preparation of Estimates this subject will be considered.
§ (1.25.) THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON, Leeds, N.)
I venture to say, in reply, that there are two ways in which the services of the officers of the House may receive consideration; one is by increasing their salaries, and the other is by shortening their hours of work. I trust that hon. Members will make a beginning in the latter direction.
§ (1.25.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
The officers of the House have been very unfortunate in their advocate. The hon. Baronet who has been the cause of 601 much interruption this evening must not assume from his reception that the officers of the House have not the full sympathy of Members in this part of the House.
§ (1.26.) MR. CONYBEARE
I have a question or two to ask, which will, I think, excite opposition from hon. Gentlemen opposite. It has, I know, been matter of frequent complaint that we have not in our Library copies of the Law Reports and judgments in the Law Courts. Occasionally I have in the course of Debate desired to make reference to a judgment, and I am told that it is necessary to go to the Library of the House of Lords for Law Reports. Now, I believe the Library appertaining to that august assembly is not at all times available while we are sitting, but in any case it is highly inconvenient that a Member who desires to make a reference to a judgment should be obliged to go round to the House of Lords for the purpose. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if some arrangement could be made for placing in our own Library copies of the Reports, say from the commencement of the new series, 1865. I do not ask for the more ancient ones. Also I may mention that the Library is insufficiently supplied with legal textbooks on the different branches of the law; those we have are old editions. Then I have to mention the absurd red tape rules that control the police arrangements, that prevent the introduction of a stranger by the Members' entrance. I am not complaining of this as a rule of general application, but in such a case as this. A lady and her husband having been taking tea on the terrace, I desired to show them St. Stephen's Chapel, but I was informed by the policeman that though I was at liberty to introduce the lady, her husband could not be admitted by that entrance. Now, absurd restrictions of this kind are very irritating, and make us ridiculous in the eyes of strangers, and I would suggest that a certain amount of discretion should be allowed to the police. Another small point I desire to mention, and that is whether the convenience of officers of the House is consulted by 602 payment of these salaries monthly instead of quarterly.
§ (1.34.) MR. LABOUCHERE
A few months ago a letter appeared in the Times stating that the detectives employed in the House kept a record of the movements of Members within the precincts of the building. That is a most objectionable practice, and I should like to know whether it is continued, and, if so, why? I also wish to know whether the cleaners of the House cannot be paid directly instead of through third parties?
§ (1.35.) DR. TANNER
A sum of £1,000 is set down as payments to waiters in the Refreshment Department. Is this sum paid directly or through the Kitchen Committee? I do not wish to raise a Debate on the subject, but I think I should have a considerable amount of support from Members on either side if I proceeded to maintain my opinion that the administration of this Department could not well be worse than it is. To mention one item, which may appear too insignificant to raise now, the only vegetable we are often able to obtain is a spring cabbage of the most nauseous character. No explanation can account for the fact that, with this £1,000, and the expenses provided, the Refreshment department in this House is simply disgraceful.
§ (1.38.) MR. JACKSON
I will inquire into the question of whether copies, of Law Reports can be furnished to the Library. As to the rules which regulate the admission of strangers through the Members' entrance, these do not come within my direction; it is a matter of police arrangement, and instructions are given by the Sergeant-at-Arms. The question raised by the hon. Member for Northampton with regard to detectives, would come on more properly on the Home Office Vote. As to the question of the employment of cleaners a Departmental Committee is now considering whether a plan can be formulated changing the practice which has hitherto prevailed of having the work done by 603 contract. The item of £1,000 mentioned by the hon. Member for Mid Cork goes to the Kitchen Committee to meet what would otherwise be a deficiency in their accounts.
§ MR. JACKSON
To spend it as they find necessary. For my own part, I think the Kitchen Committee deserve thanks for their services, and for the great improvements which have been effected in the dining arrangements.
§ (1.40.) DR. TANNER
I am afraid I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and I know there are many Conservative Members who share my opinion that the dining arrangements of the House are worse than are to be found in any third-class restaurant in the City.
§ (1.41.) MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)
In reference to the admission of strangers, I thought the right hon. Gentleman said this is a mere matter of police arrangement, as though he had nothing to do with this question. Is this an improper time to raise the point?
§ (1.42.) MR. JACKSON
Not at all. I shall be happy to consider any representations hon. Members may make, and submit them to the proper quarter.
§ (1.43.) MR. CONYBEARE
We cannot call the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Bar, so perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will convey our wishes. All that is required is a certain discretion and elasticity in the application of the rules. It is an abominable nuisance when you are proceeding from one part of the building to another with a friend, to be stopped and told you must not go this way or that way.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
I desire to say a few words with regard to the Kitchen Committee. I do not agree 604 with many of the animadversions of my hon. Friend as to the distribution of the £1,000 voted to the Committee; but I go with him entirely in his criticism of the manner in which Members of this House are supplied with the refreshments necessary in order to enable them to perform their duties properly. There is, in connection with the catering, no rent or licences to pay, no interest to meet on capital invested in furniture or glass, no charge for gas or firing, and yet Members of this House are obliged to pay as much for their food and drink as is charged in any restaurant outside the House. With my short experience of the working of the Kitchen Committee I have no wish to impute any blame to them for mis-management. I know I may be told in reply that the explanation of the high prices charged is that service is required for only a short time of the day, and that very often losses are incurred by reason of the fact that, in consequence of one of those unaccountable changes in the business of the House, Members get away before the usual dining hour, and the meals are not required. But I do intend to submit to the Committee a plan of reform. In the first place, I believe that the Members of the House should get their food at first cost, and that the service should be paid for out of the National Exchequer. I see no difference between the man who hands me the card of a visitor and the man who hands me my plate at dinner—they are both engaged in the service of the House, and the cost ought to be defrayed in the manner I have suggested. I believe that that is a proposition which will find support in all parts of the House. If I am defeated on that plan, however, I have to suggest another. It is, I believe, a wrong policy that one class of article alone should bear nearly the whole cost of the service. It is a fact that nearly the whole cost is placed on the drinks consumed in the House. I do not see the justice of compelling me, because I take a small bottle of wine to my dinner, to pay a high price so that the hon. Member for South Tyrone, who only drinks water, shall have his plate of meat for almost nothing. Some hon. Members may be sufficiently flush of 605 cash, to be able to afford to pay for the dinners of other people, but I speak on behalf of a continually growing body of men in this House, who are, for better or for worse, taking the place of those who have plenty of money. It is a matter of some consequence to working men Members that they shall get good dinners cheap, and that the profits charged on the articles supplied to them should be fairly apportioned all round. On some of the wines there is a profit of 50 or 60 per cent. charged. Now, I live in this House six or seven months every year—
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
The Chairman is the best judge whether I am trifling with the House or not; he is also the best judge whether I have ever done so. I hold this is a serious matter, and one which ought to occupy the attention of the Committee. I intend to investigate the whole question, and if I am still a Member, I will next year lay the result of my inquiries before the Kitchen Committee, and submit my proposals to them.
§ (1.56.) MR. J. R. KELLY (Camberwell, N.)
I regret that the Secretary to the Treasury did not think it worth while to give a serious answer to the remarks of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. I wish him to bear in mind that when the salaries were fixed, 50 years ago, the amount was probably adequate, but times have since changed, the cost of living has increased, and the sum paid as wages is insufficient. Why, there are some officials in this House who only get 20s. a week. Surely the right hon. Gentleman could follow the example set in the House of Lords, and, at any rate, he might consider the propriety of granting an inquiry into the subject of the salaries paid to the House of Commons officials?
§ (1.58.) MR. CONYBEARE
I, too, should like to press on the Government the desirability of taking into consideration what has been urged by two of their own supporters on behalf of the officials of this House. No one could 606 praise them too highly for the zealous way in which they discharge their duties. They have to commence before hon. Members arrive, and they do not leave until all Members have departed, so their hours are very long. Considering that there has been no inquiry into the subject of their pay for so many years, I think it is only fair that the Government should give the matter careful consideration. If the right hon. Gentleman does not give us a pledge that an inquiry shall be held, I will, at the earliest opportunity next Session, take the matter up.
§ (2.0.) MR. JACKSON
I am sorry if hon. Members think I did not treat this matter seriously. I thought the House desired to get on with its business. So far as I know, no complaint has been made to me on this subject.
§ MR. JACKSON
I will inquire from those whose duty it is to look into these matters whether there is any reason for making alteration. I may add that whenever a vacancy occurs, there is always consideration given to the question of the salary of the officer to be appointed.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ 4. £60,122 for Treasury and Subordinate Department.
§ (2.3.) MR. BRADLAUGH
I have to draw attention to a matter which I have already brought under the notice of the Government by means of a question. It will be in the recollection of the Committee that in the month of March last the Chancellor of the Exchequer undertook what I fear will be a trouble some inquiry in connection with the Customs Department. I understood him to say that the men who gave information 607 would not be sufferers by reason of any statement they made. But two gentlemen, Mr. Smith and Mr. Heath, have been fined £20 a year, and an equivalent of £20 by the suspension of their salaries, for having made a personal communication to the Private Secretary of the right hon. Gentleman. That is not, I fear, the only case, for I have reason to believe that some of the Customs officers at Gravesend, for having sought to make representation on behalf of their fellow officers, have, by way of punishment, been transferred elsewhere, I am, of course, only speaking on the information which has reached me, and it may be inaccurate in this latter case, but there can be no doubt that I am correctly stating the facts as affecting Mr. Smith and Mr. Heath, although, of course, there may be a difference of opinion as to the reasons for the course pursued. I think it would be most unfortunate if the feeling should spread that the men giving evidence at the inquiry granted by the right hon. Gentlenan will suffer for their action. I can quite understand the Treasury objecting to pressure being brought upon it in these matters by Members of this House, but when the complaints are made direct by the officers to the head of the Department, the inquiry should at any rate be completed before any one is made to suffer.
§ (2.6.) MR. GOSCHEN
With regard to the case of the Gravesend officers I certainly have not heard of any of them having been transferred to other districts under the circumstances suggested, nor do I believe it possible. I am now holding the inquiry referred to, and I admit it takes a long time, because I have to hear what is to be said by representatives from the outposts of London, Liverpool, Dublin, and Belfast. I have seen these officials without any of the superior officers of the Customs being present, and so as to secure that their whole case is laid before me. The Board of Customs have not seen the evidence, and I, therefore, feel it is impossible they can have been made to suffer for their action. I am determined that the men selected to put forward the case of the Customs officers shall not suffer in the 608 slightest degree. With regard to the case of Messrs. Smith and Heath, they came down to the Treasury on a matter entirely unconnected with my inquiry. They appeared to have been making a round of calls on Cabinet Ministers to protest against a particular appointment, and they used language utterly subversive of all discipline. I do not wish to aggravate their case by making further public comments, but I can assure the hon. Member if such conduct were allowed, then we must say good-bye to all discipline. I must say I do not think the punishment inflicted on them was in any way severe.
§ (2.10.) MR. BRADLAUGH
Then the cases of Smith and Heath does not come within the category of those who wished to make statements in reference to the inquiry.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Not at all; otherwise they would not have been punished. I am absolutely clear on that point.
Order, order! The hon. Member cannot raise that on the Estimates. He can only raise that on a Motion before the House.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
Then I wish to say a few words against the action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in putting the English emblem of St. George and the Dragon on the sovereign.
No doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer influences many Departments, but questions specially affecting the administration of a particular Department must be raised on the Estimates affecting that Department.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported.609
§ (2.13.) MR. GOSCHEN
We propose now to withdraw the Home Office and Colonial Vote, and proceed with the Privy Council Vote.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £10,707, 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, 1891, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council and for Quarantine Expenses.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I protest. We had a distinct assurance that the Votes should be taken in their order. I, therefore, beg to move to report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ MR. GOSCHEN
We will not enter, into a prolonged contest, but surely a few Votes which are not really contentious might be taken. There are five or six in that category.
§ (2.14.) MR. CONYBEARE
I am as anxious to get on with these Votes as the right hon. Gentleman, but there are questions connected with the Privy Council which must be discussed.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I am not prepared to do that to-night. I think it very hard that Votes should be taken out of their order, at time of the night when hon. Members could not have expected them to come on. I would suggest the list of Votes should be read out, and it could then be ascertained which are non-contentious.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
Who are to say what are contested or non-contested Votes? There may be Votes on which I may desire to say nothing, but on which other hon. Members may desire to say a good deal.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
We had hoped to get much further with the Votes than we have done up to the present moment, and I trust that, after the time that has already been 610 consumed in discussion, the House will permit these Votes to pass through the Committee to-night. I would, therefore, urgently appeal to hon. Members opposite to allow, at all events, some additional Votes to be taken. We should be glad to hear from hon. Members opposite which of the Votes they desire to discuss.
§ (2.16.) MR. LABOUCHERE
There are a number of Votes still to be taken, some of which may be contentious and some not; and, as to those which are non-contentious, they might just as well be taken to-morrow as at this hour of the night. I presume the right hon. Gentleman will say that the Board of Agriculture Vote is not contentious, but, for certain reasons, I will suggest there is a painful necessity arising for moving that the salary of the President of the Board of Agriculture, who is not present at this moment, be reduced.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. CHAPLIN, Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
I beg pardon, the President of the Board of Agriculture is here.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Then I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman. But certainly I shall feel under the necessity of taking a Division on the salary of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. Member asks what is a non-contentious Vote. I should say it is a Vote that has not the elements of contention in it.
§ (2.18.) DR. TANNER
I cannot understand the method of the madness of Her Majesty's Government. If the remaining Votes are non-contentious there would be as little time lost in bringing them up to-morrow as in taking them to-night. But if the Government keep on in this ding-dong way, trying to pass Votes out of their order, they naturally exasperate the Committee, and will find hon. Members, like myself, getting up to speak on matters which, if the Votes were postponed till to-morrow, they might not be inclined to say a word about. If the Government desire the despatch of business, why do they not take it in a sensible way?
§ (2.19.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I might point out that, as far as I can see, there are some Votes that are contentious and about nine that are not. For instance, there is the Board of Trade and Subordinates Departments Vote. That, I assume, is non-contentious. [Several hon. MEMBERS: "No, no."] There is the Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade. That, I suppose, is non-contentious. Then there is the Charity Commission. [An hon. MEMBER: That is contentious.] Then the Civil Service Commission and the Exchequer and Audit Department—
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
Surely, Mr. Courtney, we are wasting time in going into these matters.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to continue this sort of squabble, which may waste another half-hour of our time.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
We should certainly like to make a little more progress in some of these Votes, but if hon. Members can come to no agreement and will allow us to make no further progress I suppose we must of necessity, at this hour of the night, allow the Motion to report Progress to be carried.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported to-morrow; Committee also report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.