Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £20,000 be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1892, as a Grant in Aid of the Cost of Preliminary Surveys for a Railway from the Coast to Lake Victoria Nyanza.
*MR. J. W. LOWTHER
As this Vote appears for the first time in the Estimates, I think the Committee will probably expect some explanations of the reasons which have led the Government to propose it. I can give them in a sentence, if I say that this Vote is submitted to the House in continuation and amplification of the policy which for many years past has actuated Her Majesty's Governments and the country in dealing with the suppression of the Slave Trade in East and in Central Africa. This is not a new policy; it is a policy that has been carried out by successive Governments daring a long period of years, not spasmodically, but constantly. It has met with the general support not only of this House, but with the general support of the country. It is, I think I may fairly say, part of the traditional policy of this country. So far as public efforts are concerned, Her Majesty's ships have held the sea on the East Coast of Africa for many years, and have been engaged in suppressing the sea-borne Slave Trade. The Public Purse has supplied funds, to a large extent, to keep these ships on the sea—to keep them coaled and efficient, and that at a time w hen we had no stations from Aden to Natal, no Protectorates on the East Coast of Africa, and no responsibilities. And whilst the public has not been slow to find means for suppressing the Slave Trade, private exertions have ably seconded public effort. The missionaries sent out by private persons, and especially by the Scotch people, have penetrated into Equatorial Africa charged with the duty of christianising those vast populations, and of exhorting them to put an end to this inhuman 1837 traffic. And I think we may fairly claim that our public and private efforts have been attended with a large measure of success. Some twenty years ago the export of slaves from that sea coast was reckoned at about 20,000 per annum. That export or sea-borne trade in slaves has now almost ceased. At any rate, it has diminished so as to be now a very small quantity. But whilst the export trade has ceased, it is notorious that the home trade still continues. We have scotched the snake, but we have not yet killed it. And I think I may ask permission of the Committee to explain what I mean by the export trade and the home trade in slaves. What happens, as I understand, is this: that in order that goods should be brought to the coast from the central regions of Africa, the slaves are collected and raided, and are used as porters to bring down the goods. When they arrive at the coast the slaves are a marketable article. They can either be exported to the islands lying off the coast of Africa, to Arabia, or elsewhere; or if there is no demand for their export, they can be sold just as cattle or beasts of burden can be sold, or utilised for the return journey to Central Africa. This internal trade in slaves attracted the attention especially of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Midlothian, as early as May, 1885, and I find that on the 25th May, 1885, Lord Granville wrote a very interesting and important Despatch to Sir Edward Malet, in which he said—I have to request your Excellency to state that the supposition that Her Majesty's Government have no intention of opposing the German schemes of colonisation in the neighbourhood of Zanzibar is absolutely correct. Her majesty's Government, on the contrary, view with favour these schemes, the realisation of which will entail the civilisation of large tracts over which hitherto no European influence has been exercised; the co-operation of Germany with Great Britain in the work of the suppression of the slave gangs; and the encouragement of the efforts of the Sultan both in the extinction of the Slave Trade and in the commercial development of his dominions. I should wish your Excellency, while speaking in this sense to the Chancellor, to inform him that a scheme has been started in this country under which, if it is realised, the efforts of German enterprise may be supported indirectly by British enterprise. You will explain that s e prominent capitalists have originated a plan for a British settlement in 1838 the country between the coast and the lakes which are the sources of the White Nile, and for its connection with the coast by a railway. In order to obtain fair security for their outlay they propose to endeavour to procure concessions from the Sultan of a comprehensive character. Her Majesty's Government have the scheme under their consideration, but they would not support it unless they were fully satisfied that every precaution was taken to insure that it would in no way conflict with the interests of the territory that has been taken under a German protectorate, nor affect that part of the Sultan's dominions lying between that territory and the sea.Now, Sir, that shows that as early as May, 1885, Lord Granville and the Government over which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian presided had taken this important matter into their careful consideration. They were aware that it was proposed by a number of gentlemen to develop that portion of Eastern Africa, especially by the method of making a railway which would run from the coast to the Victoria Nyanza, and the only condition apparently, judging from this Despatch which Her Majesty's Government at that time attached to the proposal, was that the sphere of delimitation between the German Government and ourselves should be distinctly laid down. Now, Sir, I would ask permission of the Committee to make a brief review of the events that have occurred since that date. The agreement which Lord Granville had contemplated in 1885 became a fact in 1886. The German Government and our own Government arrived at an agreement as to the line of demarcation between their respective spheres of influence in East Africa, and the line was drawn from the mouth of the River Umba, passing in a north-westerly direction along the northern slopes of the Mount Kilima Njaro, and finally striking Lake Victoria Nyanza at latitude 2° south. In 1888 Her Majesty's present Government granted a Charter to the Imperial British East Africa Company, following the example which had been set them two years before by the Government of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who granted a Charter to the Niger Company for the development of the Niger district of Africa, and following, as to many of its clauses, the clauses of that Charter almost word for word. In the year 1890 the British East Africa Company 1839 pushed into the interior and sent Captain Lugard on a mission to Uganda. In 1890, after he had arrived at Uganda, a further agreement was arrived at between Her Majesty's Government and the German Government, which accepted the line already laid down, confirmed it, and delineated the spheres of influence further west and in other directions. In 1890, Her Majesty's Government also declared a protectorate over Zanzibar, and in 1891 the Sultan of Zanzibar decreed that the Slave Trade in his dominions should be gradually extinguished. I quote those events to show that in 1891 and in 1892 we stand in a very different position from what we did in 1885. We have acquired vast new interests in East Africa, and with these new interests we have also taken upon ourselves new responsibilities. In the meanwhile, in Europe this matter of the internal Slave Trade had attracted considerable attention. Cardinal Lavigerie, in a series of very powerful addresses delivered in Brussels, had arrested the attention of philanthropists to this matter. He proposed that it might be dealt with by the institution of a Volunteer Army and by the absolute prevention of the importation of arms. Those matters were submitted to Her Majesty's Government; and whilst they did not consider that either of those two plans was capable of adoption, or at all events of execution, it was chiefly at the instigation of Her Majesty's Government and the German Government that the Belgian King convoked the Brussels Conference, which led to the signature of the Brussels Act in 1890. Now, I must ask the attention of the Committee for a few moments to the first Article of the Brussels Act. The first Article reads thus:—The Powers declare that the most effective means for counteracting the Slave Trade in the interior of Africa are the following:—That is the first and the leading Article of the Brussels Act. It does not appear, so far as I have been able to discover, that there has been much criticism, either in this House or outside this House, of the policy which Her Majesty's Government pursued in putting their signature to that Act. Such as it is, the criticism appears to be of a favourable character. I find that my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Bryce) last year referred to it in these terms. He said—
- Progressive organisation of the administrative, judicial, religious, and military services in the African territories, placed under the sovereignty or protectorate of civilized nations.
- The gradual establishment in the interior, by the responsible power in each territory, of strongly occupied stations in such a way as to make their protective or repressive action effectively felt in the territories devastated by man-hunters.
- The construction of roads, and in particular of railways connecting the advanced stations with the coast, and permitting easy access to the inland waters and to the upper reaches of streams and rivers which are broken by rapids and cataracts, so as to substitute economical and speedy means of transit for the present means of porterage by men.
- The establishment of steamboats on the inland navigable waters and on the lakes, supported by fortified posts established on the banks.
- The establishment of telegraphic lines assuring the communication of the posts and stations with the coast and with the administrative centres.
- Organisation of expeditions and flying columns to keep up the communication of the stations with each other and with the coast, and to assure the security of the roadways.
- Restriction of the importation of firearms, at least of modern pattern, and ammunition throughout the entire extent of the territories infected by the Slave Trade."I have listened with great interest to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Fergusson, then Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs), and I hope this Convention (the Brussels Act) will be carried through, and the adhesion of the Foreign Powers obtained. I think we must all feel that there is no matter to which the combined action of the Powers ought to be more earnestly addressed than the suppression of the Slave Trade, and I am certain there is no part of the Government's policy which will receive more hearty and more unanimous support.That being the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite and of the country, we have, in laying this Vote on the Table, only carried out the principle which, in signing the Brussels Act, we accepted. The Brussels Act emphasises and particularises our policy, and not only our policy, but the policy of Europe in its method of dealing with the Slave Trade. The Brussels Act gives the imprimatur of 1841 the assent of Europe to certain methods of dealing with this trade. The countries which have signed this Act have not only put their hand to it, but they have undertaken, by so signing, new responsibilities and new duties. That being so, Her Majesty's Government had to consider in what method the Act is to be carried out, and hon. Gentlemen will observe that two alternatives are suggested. One is the establishment of fortified posts at different parts of Equatorial Africa, and the establishment of flying columns, starting from these fortified posts, to deal with the slave traders as they come down from the centre to the coast. The other is that specially laid down in the third paragraph of the first Article—namely, the construction of roads, and in particular of railways. To the former alternative there are many objections. In the first place, if we fix certain military posts, it is quite possible—nay, it is easy—for slave raiders and slave gangs to avoid these posts. The radius which can be covered from these posts is only of a limited character, and as soon as it is known what the radius is, the slave raiders will get the length of the radius, and they will avoid them. Again, the establishment of military posts is a matter which would involve enormous cost to this country, and further the establishment of posts of a military character would be very likely to tend to the irritation of the populations amongst whom those posts were established. Further, the benefits to be derived from the establishment of such posts would be only of a transitory character, because the probability would be that the moment the military posts were withdrawn the slave raiding would recommence and continue as hitherto. In favour of the latter course—namely, of opening up the country by means of a railway from the coast to Lake Victoria Nyanza—there are certain considerations to be looked at. In the first place it is a peaceful method of dealing with the difficulty. If the railway is a success the benefits of it will be of a lasting and not of a temporary character. The locomotive, in fact, by means of competition, will kill both the caravan and the kidnapper. I think I have already, 1842 at an earlier stage, sufficiently explained how it is that the Slave Trade exists. It meets a natural demand, the demand for porterage. The cost of porterage to the interior of Africa, to Uganda, and the coasts of the Lake Victoria Nyanza is enormous. I believe it is reckoned about £300 a ton. It is impossible to obtain animals to carry the burdens, because they are killed by the tsetse fly. By means of a railway we should find ourselves able to substitute the locomotive in the place of the caravan and the kidnapper. Whilst, on the one hand, we should open up the interior of the country to our own commerce, on the other hand, by the very competition of the railway, we produce a means which must kill—must effectually kill—any further continuance of the slave traffic, slave raiding, and slave porterage. The slave routes lie chiefly from the east side of the Lake Victoria Nyanza down to the coast in the neighbourhood of Mombasa and northward, and also from the north-west of the Lake Victoria Nyanza down the western side of the lake to the southern portion. Now, if a railway is built going from Mombasa to the Lake Victoria Nyanza you tap at once the former of these two localities, and at the same time enabling ourselves, at a comparatively moderate cost, to place steamers upon the Lake Victoria Nyanza—a lake, by the way, which ought rather to be called a sea, because it is in acreage, I believe, as large as Scotland—and these steamers, by trading round the lake and thus killing the slave porterage by their competition, would bring the commerce down not only from the district between the lake and the coast, but also from the district immediately round the Lake Victoria Nyanza and to the west and north of it. I do not know that I need refer at any great length to the characteristics of Uganda. Many travellers have explored the country, and we have the record of their travels. Uganda has been called "the pearl of Africa." It is the only Christian community in Central Africa. The King is a Christian King. It is surrounded by a large Mahomedan population. We have many missionary establishments situated in Uganda. The people of Uganda are described as a fine race of 1843 men ready to work, and in Uganda traces of former civilisation have been discovered, which may possibly again bring forth good fruit if opportunity is offered to open up the country. The question then resolves itself into this: Are we prepared to go on with the traditional policy of this country, or are we prepared to reverse it? Are we content to sign a document like the Brussels Act, which reads very well and for which we obtained considerable credit, and are we not prepared to follow it up? The Governments of other countries have already taken steps in the direction in which Her Majesty's Government now ask the House to proceed. The Government of Belgium contributes no less than £80,000 a-year towards the administration of the Congo State.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
Well, the King contributes no less than £80,000. The German Imperial Government have spent large sums in developing that portion of their sphere of influence, and hitherto Great Britain has done nothing. That being the case, last summer Her Majesty's Government and the Imperial British East Africa Company entered into communications with reference to the making of a railway from Mombasa to the Victoria Nyanza. Proposals were made that Her Majesty's Government should grant a subsidy; that they should give a guarantee for the railway. The communications proceeded for some little time, but eventually the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought it was better to proceed with great caution, and that it would be better to have a survey—an ample and full survey—made of the district that it was intended the ra!lway should go through. A Vote, therefore, was placed on the Paper at the end of last Session; but, as the Committee will no doubt remember, a pledge was given by the right hon. Gentleman the then Leader of the House that no contentious measures should be taken after a certain date, but as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby held that this was a contentious measure, Her Majesty's Government withdrew it. At the same time the then Leader of the House 1844 said that the Government would bring it before the House at the earliest opportunity this Session. In the meanwhile, Her Majesty's Government, in order that the valuable winter months should not be lost during which the work in the lower regions near the coast could be carried on, arranged with the British East Africa Company that a survey should be at once commenced. Her Majesty's Government appointed, as the Papers will show, two surveyors, who are now engaged in that task. The British East Africa Company undertook to pay the expenses. Her Majesty's Government at the same time undertook that they would bring this Vote before the House at the earliest opportunity, and use their best endeavours to get the House to accept it. The survey has proceeded. It has already covered, from the last reports we have had, 150 miles. It has reached a place called Tsavo. Out of the 150 miles between the coast and Tsavo, along the Teita route, it appears that only 15 are of a difficult character. The rest are comparatively easy. No doubt there are difficulties in the way. There is one part of the territory which goes by the name of the Mau Escarpment, which is near the lake, in which there will be considerable difficulty. There is, primâ facie, no reason to suppose that the railway cannot be carried the whole distance. At all events, I think it will be recognised that Her Majesty's Government have proceeded tentatively and cautiously in this matter; and when the survey is complete, and when the report of the survey reaches this country, Her Majesty's Government and the public will then be in a better position to ascertain whether the railway can be completed and carried through, and, if so, at what cost this work can be carried out. The question lies in a nutshell. We stand at the parting of the ways. If we do nothing now we go backwards, because it is perfectly obvious that in consequence of the great cost of maintaining Captain Lugard and those who are with him in Uganda, it is impossible for the British East Africa Company or any Company, or for Her Majesty's Government, to keep Captain Lugard there. He would therefore be with 1845 drawn. If he were withdrawn it requires no great amount of prophecy to see that the Mahommedans and those who are on the outskirts of this Christian community of Uganda will at once attack it. The missionaries who are now settled in Uganda will probably be the first to be sacrificed. At all events it will give a spurt to the Slave Trade which the establishment at Uganda is already, in some measure, stopping. It will give a fresh spurt to the trade which it will be very difficult—nay impossible—to put an end to by simply dealing with it on the coast. If we desire to go forward in what I have called the traditional policy of this country the way is clear before us. The means have been pointed out by the unanimous voice of Europe, as expressed in the Brussels Act. The cost, compared with the vast cost we have been put to in maintaining ships off the East Coast of Africa, is comparatively cheap. And, by adopting the alternative which Her Majesty's Government propose, we shall show that our vaunted philanthropy is not a sham, and that our professions of humanitarianism are not the merest hypocrisy.
§ *(9.27.) MR. BUCHANAN () Edinburgh, W.
Mr. Courtney, I rise to say a few words on this which I consider a most important Vote, and one which, if agreed to, will carry very important consequences indeed. I have generally been a supporter of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to East Africa; but I have always understood that there were two principles laid down by the Government with regard to which I have always been in agreement with them. They are that this country cannot take part in any armed interference in those countries which are brought within her sphere of influence; and, secondly, that they would not attempt to develop and open up these countries by expenditure from the British Exchequer. Suggestions have been made in both these directions during the negociations during the last five years with respect to Nyassaland and other parts of Africa. The Government, so far as I know, absolutely negatived proposals placed before them in ei her direction, and I entirely agree with them. To-night we have 1846 had a most important statement by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in explanation of this Vote. I think, if I may say so, that the first part of his speech was devoted to showing that the policy which Her Majesty's Government had adopted in this Vote is merely a continuation of their previous policy, and the policy of past Governments. But towards the conclusion of his speech he stated what appeared to me to be a much more accurate description of the policy now being pursued, when he described the introduction and passing of this Vote as a "parting of the ways." He assumed completely the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government in this matter, and did not attempt to lay it on the East Africa Company; and, probably, never was so important a departure submitted to the judgment of the House, without any such adequate information as would enable hon. Members of the House to judge of it being afforded. I think we are entitled to ask for more details for the proper consideration of the question. At first we were asked not to look upon the Company as a purely commercial body; but it really stands in the same position as other Chartered Companies in Africa, and exactly in the same position as the Chartered Company in Borneo; substantially all the chartered companies are identical. The question then arises, was this Company specially charged with the repression of the Slave Trade? Like the other companies it has to discourage to the best of its power, and as far as practicable abolish by degrees, any system of slavery or domestic servitude that exists. The clause dealing with this says that the Company "shall to the best of its power discourage, and so far as practicable abolish slavery;" but that is practically the same clause as appears in other Charters. I am not one of those who object to giving these Charters; I never attempted to describe the work of Chartered Companies as "filibustering by proxy," to quote a phrase once used by a Member of the Government. An attack on the Borneo Company with regard to this very clause was led by the Secretary to the Treasury and supported by the speech and vote of the First Lord of the Treasury; yet here is the East Africa 1847 Company with a similar clause, certainly not stronger, but possibly somewhat weaker in regard to its application, and, therefore, I think we may take it that this Company is in no way specially charged with duties in regard to the repression of the Slave Trade. If it be alleged that that object would be specially served by the construction of a railway through this district, the reply must be that there is really and absolutely no information to support that view. One hon. Member said that there were several slave routes through this district; but so far as our information goes there is really nothing to bear out that statement. I believe the condition of things is all the other way, and that the slave routes, instead of going through the district of the railway goes to the south of it. There is absolutely no slave traffic from Nyanza to Mombasa. Mr. Jackson, who was a surveyor to the British East Africa Company, read a paper at the Royal Geographical Society—and he was followed by a missionary from Uganda—and he stated that the slave routes and trade routes ran all through the German territory round the southern side of Kilima-Njaro. He also said that it was a good route for a railway; but that a railway was impossible because it was through German territory. But this is quite a case in which we are absolutely devoid of information. With regard to the first article of the Brussels Conference I think the hon. Gentleman stretches it to its utmost limits. If everything in that first article could be carried out Africa would be civilised, and the Slave Trade would be done entirely away with. But what I say is that it has not yet been shown that the first work obligatory upon this country is the construction of this railway; nor has it been shown that the alternative, as the hon. Member put it, which we are to adopt was the construction of military posts or the construction of a railway. In fact, if we build the railway we must be prepared to protect it. As I understand, the country is one which presents great physical difficulties, and that it is depopulated by some of the most savage people of Africa. I got a letter only yesterday upon the subject from an engineer who 1848 was in favour of these railways; but he said at the same time the Government must be prepared to fortify their railway, which might be doneby making the stations fortresses, and that the signal boxes should be constructed on the model of the Martello towers with guns raking the railway up and down.Another argument that is used is the commercial argument. We are, of course, all anxious for new markets for British goods. Uganda is ate most prosperous part of the district, but the trade routes with rich and prosperous Uganda are not in the direction of this railway, but are either northward through the Nile or southward through the territory which is now under the German sphere of influence. The Government has laid no information upon this subject before us. We should have Captain Lugard's Report on Uganda before us so that we might actually test the value not only of the commercial aspect of the question, and as to the Slave Trade aspect, but also the important political aspect. The Government are endeavouring to take possession of the territory of Uganda and to commit the British Exchequer to a large expenditure of money for the construction of a railway from the coast up to Uganda, in order to hold permanently the political position of that country. But the question of holding Uganda must be decided long before the four or five years in which the railway could be constructed. The Committee ought therefore to have information to enable it to judge—first, in reference to the Slave Trade, whether the new policy and the construction of this railway would really diminish it to any appreciable extent; next, whether the Government intend, if this Vote passes, or when the railway is constructed, to withdraw the cruisers that watch the slavers on the East Coast of Africa. Further, we should have a clear statement as to what the Government, and the Government that succeeds it, are really committed to by this Vote. Substantially the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave us more or less an answer, through a question put last week, that we were only committed to a preliminary survey; but I think we should get a very clear statement, as that one 1849 is rather divergent from the statement by Lord Salisbury in the Blue Book, which states that the money asked for and now to be granted, was not for the survey merely, but for the construction of the railway.
§ *(9.50.) MR. GEORGE WYNDHAM () Dover
The hon. Gentleman who has just concluded his speech is quite correct in saying that we are now at the parting of the ways. That opinion is held upon both sides of the House; and, that being so, it is surely a matter of curiosity that hon. Members sitting upon this side should be still in the dark as to whether we are to be accompanied in the way we propose to follow, or whether we are to be allowed to pursue it alone. It is quite true that last July a most bellicose attitude was assumed towards this proposal by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. He described it as matter in the highest degree contentious in its nature; but if the hon. Member who has just sat down may be taken as expressing the views upon that side of the House, it would appear that, abandoning the attitude of absolute hostility, they have adopted one that may be called the attitude of qualified assent or qualified dissent, and that they hope to shunt this question from the position which it now holds in the mind of the people, so that, in the event of obtaining office, they may be able to snap their fingers at the obligations which we believe this country is under in regard to the Slave Trade. The last speaker said that he hoped, whatever the result, neither this Government nor its successor would be absolutely committed to the policy of combating the Slave Trade.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
I said nothing of the sort; I said that neither this Parliament nor its successor would be committed to the policy of constructing this railway.
Then are we now to understand that hon. Members opposite do acknowledge that a new and fresh responsibility and a heavy obligation has been laid upon the Government in consequence of the train of events, beginning with the Despatch of Lord Granville in May, 1850 1885, and culminating in what was practically the ratification of the Act of the Brussels Treaty which was announced at the beginning of the Session? If these obligations are admitted, then this country is in a very different position to any we have hitherto occupied. If it were true that that Conference at Brussels, in which, for the first time, Mahomedan Powers joined hands with European Powers, undertook obligations towards the Slave Trade, then surely we should stand for ever in the pillory as the most Picksniffian of political hypocrites, if we were to disregard all that has taken place, and proceed exactly as we have hitherto proceeded. If the Brussels Act has any meaning, new obligations have been imposed, and it is our duty to take some action in the British sphere of influence now occupied by the British Imperial East Africa Company. The hon. Member who last spoke drew a comparison between that Company and others, and said that they practically stood upon all-fours, and that if it was the duty of the Government to assist or countenance the East Africa Company in combating the Slave Trade, it might equally be their duty to assist and countenance by grant the South African Company, and, I suppose, also the Niger Company. The hon. Member said the obligation could be no greater. But surely the obligation to fight was greater in face of the enemy than where no enemy was apparent. I think it can hardly be controverted that the Slave Trade exists in East Africa in a greater degree than in any other district over which Great Britain is paramount. In South Africa a large white population renders exceptional measures less obligatory. In West Africa the seaborne traffic is extinct. In East Africa Great Britain is paramount, and apparently it is the only place in which she can fulfil the new obligations placed upon her by the Berlin Conference. It is in this part of the country that the Government must act, and the reason for our acting is further enforced by the fact that if we do not act nobody else can. There Great Britain is supreme, and there, apparently, we can alone carry out our obligations. Last Ses 1851 sion questions were addressed to the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in order that a clear distinction might be arrived at between a sphere of influence and a Protectorate. But, setting on one side the fact that over a strip of 10 miles we hold a Protectorate, it is improbable that the electors of this country, or the taxpayers of other countries who have followed our lead, will seize a distinction which hon. Members opposite found difficult to seize, and it is inevitable that the Germans, who paid large sums of money to do their duty, will not hold this country quit of its obligations if we endeavour to ride off on so shallow a plea. It is in East Africa or nowhere this Government must act; and the reason for acting is further enforced by reason of the fact that if we do not act nobody else can. We have assumed responsibilities for the whole of that territory, and neither Germany, nor Italy, nor any other Power can make good our laches in this matter. The Germans have expended large sums of money to aid their Company north of the Juba River; the Italians are assisting the Royal Italian Company; and, therefore, we are between two countries that are assisting their companies, and our territory, if we neglect our obligations, will become a sort of cesspool, if I may say so, for all the refuse that is cleared off the surrounding territories. We have also to consider that in this part of Africa the Slave Trade is at its worst; in one of the letters addressed to the Foreign Office and the Treasury, it is stated that the seaboard, to which the Italian, British, and German spheres of influence extend, is practically now the only outlet for slavery, and that in the interior is the source from which that evil springs. If we have a duty to do we must do it there. It is really a curious fact that we are not aware whether the regular Opposition in this House accept that obligation or repudiate it. If they accept it—I will proceed on that hypothesis—it is for them now to decide what instrument or method should be adopted by this Government, along with other Governments, in order to give effect to the policy initiated by Lord Granville, carried on by Lord Salisbury, and now, it seems, 1852 assented to by the Opposition in this House. It is not necessary for me to point out that the alternative is really between the construction of a railway and the employment of a military post and flying columns. The hon. Member who has last spoken, drew a gloomy picture of this part of Africa, and stated that the difficulty of constructing a railway there would be very great; but a study of the map does not endorse that view. I have studied the map, and made myself acquainted with the views of those who have been in that country; and they tell me that the the first 150 miles is a fair sample of the first 360 miles; and that out of the first 150 miles only 15 miles present any engineering difficulties. A railway will be more cheap and peaceful than any military occupation of the country; and, naturally, this House should pause before it contemplates placing soldiers in East Africa, because they must be black soldiers, and it may be considered a somewhat doubtful blessing for that land to place such a body of men upon it. A railway, therefore, as I have pointed out, would not only combat the Slave Trade more effectually than any occupation of the country at the present time, but it would also give some promise of a final cure of this evil. Having taken the trouble to visit the offices of this Company, I have been informed that according to their calculation they would be able to convey a ton of goods for a maximum rate of £3 by railway, and that the same quantity now costs £300 as carried by porters. No caravan could compete on these terms; and human porters could no longer be used in order to encourage the Slave Trade. The Slave Trade could no more exist under these circumstances than could piracy when letters of marque ceased to be given to legitimate privateers on the cessation of war. It appears to me that no question of employing or not employing this Company need be considered by the House. If it is our duty to carry out the provisions of the Brussels Conference, and if the construction of a railway after this survey should prove to be the best method of carrying out those provisions, then I say we should 1853 not hesitate to combat the Slave Trade by making a railway through this territory. The Party represented by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are extremely fond of posing as more strenuous friends of humanity than the Party to which I belong on this side of the House. I hold in my hand a document entitled "Twenty-five Reasons for Supporting the Liberal Party," and in the very front of this document I see it stated that this country is to support the Liberal Party "because they abolished negro labour in the British dominions." Surely they could appeal to the country on more practical and less antiquated grounds if they were to say they were prepared to support the policy which affords the only chance of combating the Slave Trade where it is worst, where it can be most easily suppressed by the measure before the House, and where we are most directly responsible for its suppression. I say the measure before the House, because, although we are only called upon to sanction a survey, I hope, in common, I believe, with many who support the Government, that in the event of a survey proving a railway to be practicable and effective a railway will be begun and completed. Everybody must remember that it was the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian who sent out some 10,000 or 12,000 Englishmen in order to construct a railway from Suakin to Berber, and after they constructed 40 miles of the line abandoned it to the tribes inhabiting that district. Now, I believe it is less extravagant to complete a railway, if money were spent on the survey, than to construct 40 miles of it and then leave the work as a monument of irresolution. If this duty of taking new measures to combat the Slave Trade is laid upon us, and if this railway is the best instrument for discharging it, we have only to consider what agent we shall employ. Many hon. Gentlemen object to employing a company under any circumstances. They object to setting-up such a precedent. But, in the first place, there is no probability that a precedent will be set. Survey the map of the world, and nowhere else will you find a spot in which slavery is rife, in which we are 1854 responsible, in which a railway is the, obvious weapon for combating slavery, and in which a company is prepared to construct that railway. But, in the second place, should such a combination again occur, then I trust that by our action to-day we shall set a precedent, and that that precedent will be followed. From the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who has last spoken, it would seem that he can only view this question of obligation with reference to the commercial prospect of the undertaking. Surely when we bind ourselves to combat slavery we cannot do so only when we get a chance of realising a good dividend upon our investment. If that be the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite, they should have taken exception to the method laid down in the Brussels Act when it was first mooted; surely the argument based upon the effect this undertaking may have upon the prospects of commerce ought not to weigh with us in this matter, whether we hold that it will pay, or fail to pay, interest on our money. I say pay or fail to pay, for whereas some seem to fear that money will be lost, others are alarmed at the idea that the Company will profit. But, if it does, who will be a penny the worse? Assuming, for the sake of argument, that British commerce is an evil to native populations—but only for the sake of argument, for from Captain Lugard's Report it is clear that trade as conducted by this Company can only prove beneficial—still, assuming Christian commerce to be an evil, is it the only one which disturbs the Golden Age existing in the imagination of some persons around the shores of the Equatorial Lakes? No, Sir; these remnants of the Saturnian reign are disturbed not only by the Christian trader, but by the Mahomedan slave-driver; and, admitting both to be evils, the second must be held to be by far the graver of the two. The presence of Christian commerce there would only be an evil as vaccination is an evil; preventing a more virulent disease. But, turning from the point of view of the natives to that of the electors of this country, the proposal of the Government is no evil at all. Those who returned us to power are in favour 1855 of the African policy which has been so successfully administered by Lord Salisbury; and my recent experience, in the constituencies that hon. Members opposite are apt to quote as types and models for all constituencies, has led me to believe that even the electors that returned them to power are not averse to a forward policy in Africa. This was shown down at Rossendale. I hold in my hand a bill which was widely distributed there, asking the electors toVote for Maden, because the Unionist Government, by its default, has allowed France to outstrip us in the race on the West Coast of Africa.In Rossendale the electors were asked to vote against the Government candidate, because France had been allowed to outstrip us on the West Coast of Africa; it is, therefore, from the Opposition point of view, their interests to see that we are not outstripped in the East of Africa. The policy of non-extension originated in a Resolution of this House, passed in 1865, I believe when Lord John Russell was Secretary for Foreign Affairs; and it was laid down then that this policy of non-extension admitted of no exception as regards new settlements, but cannot amount to absolute prohibition of measures which in peculiar cases it may be necessary that the settlement should possess. Is that the present policy of the Liberal Party? If we knew that it is their policy then we should know where we are. I should be very glad to hear in the course of this evening whether they do advise us that we should avoid all risk and responsibility. If that is their advice, it is one which it will be very difficult to follow or attend to in this country, for risk must be incurred by this Empire until the last trace of our enterprise has disappeared, and from responsibility in connection with slavery we cannot hope for release until the last spark of compassion has been extinguished in the breast of the last Englishman.
§ (10.20.) MR. BRYCE () Aberdeen, S.
The statement of the Under Secretary for State in introducing his Estimate was, I thought, as far as it went, a fair statement, and did not, like the speech of the hon. 1856 Gentleman who has just sat down, endeavour to give a Party colour to the question. It stated perfectly fairly what the view of the Government is. I must also thank the hon. Member for his candour in the account which he gave of Uganda, at least in one respect, because he told us that the cost of maintaining British influence there would be enormous. But the hon. Gentleman, to my disappointment, did not address himself particularly to the task of giving particulars. He did not give us the particulars of the Slave Trade in that country, the cost of the railroad or the ideas which the Government were going to follow after the railroad is constructed—all matters which seem to me of great interest. And the hon. Member for Dover, who has just sat down, did not seem anxious to supply these particulars; but he rather preferred to discuss the question of the Suakin and Berber Railway, and of the West Coast of Africa. There is one point which was not overstated by my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary when he spoke about the parting of the ways: and what I should like to invite the Government to give us is—not the view they take as to where the road will lead to, but to give us some more particular information than their Papers give us with regard to the obligations they meant to contract, and the best means of discharging these obligations. Certainly the production of these Papers and the speech of the Under Secretary furnish the best justification that could be desired for the course taken by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, when he insisted that this Estimate should not pass last July as a non-contentious matter, sub silentio; but that in a matter of this very great gravity we ought to have much fuller information than the Government has now given us. The correspondence laid before us in thfs short Paper tells us what the view, upon the general question of policy, of the Foreign Office and the Treasury is, what progress has been made with the survey for some short distance; but it does not deal with the issues involved. I shall endeavour to state what the issues are. I begin by assuming, and I think I may from the correspondence assume, that this is 1857 really not a question of a grant for a survey, but it is a question of subsidy or guarantee to the East Africa Railway Company. I say that with confidence, and for two reasons. In the first place, the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered a speech in Scotland which was addressed to this question of subsidy or guarantee, and in which he endeavoured to charge the Opposition with the unpatriotic conduct of endeavouring to oppose a forward policy in Africa. And in the second place, if hon. Members will look at these Parliamentary Papers, Nos. 1, 2, and 3, they will see that the argument has been entirely addressed to the question of subsidy or guarantee. The argument in Paper No. 2 is substantially an argument to prove that the Slave Trade is not to be suppressed by the Brussels Act unless by a railroad; that that railroad could not be made without a subsidy or guarantee, and that, therefore, we are bound to vote money for the purpose. It is quite true that we are only asked at the present moment for a grant of £20,000; but if we allowed this Vote for £20,000 to pass unchallenged, it would be but the naturally obvious course to say that this Vote was supported and demanded upon the arguments stated in this paper, and by assenting to it, we must be deemed to be assenting to the policy which the Government have declared. I should like to put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer a few questions which these Papers do not answer. One of them—the most obvious—is the question what the probable expenditure upon the railway will be. It appears from the Papers we have that Sir John Fowler has made an approximate estimate of what the expenditure upon the railway will be; but we have only heard rumours of this estimate. We should like to know what foundation there is for these rumours. We should be glad to be told what this Government has been informed is likely to be the cost—even the minimum cost—of the contemplated railway. We should like also, I think, to be furnished with a map, which would enable Members of the House more conveniently to understand the situation of this country through which the proposed railroad is to pass, and to 1858 perceive what these regions are; and I think that would be much more perceivable if such a map had been appended to them. And more than that, we should like to have a copy of the Report of Captain Lugard. It is a Report of the utmost interest and value. A brief extract of the Report was contained in the Times newspaper on the 23rd of February. This Report of Captain Lugard was made at the beginning of 1891, and has been in the hands of the East Africa Company for a year or more, and might, I think with advantage, be presented to the House. The right hon. Gentleman perhaps may ask me why I think so; and my answer would be, because the Government are proposing that this country should virtually become a partner with the East Africa Company in this undertaking, and that under these circumstances they ought to give us what information they have in their possession.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
This Report of Captain Lugard is a Report which was addressed to the East Africa Company, and over which, therefore, so far the Government have no control. ("Oh oh!") I do not know why my hon. Friend objects to that. Of course the House may say, "We will not vote the money unless we see the Report"; but, on the other hand, I say that, as a Government, the Report does not belong to us. This Report is of a distinctly confidential character, relating to the actions of certain persons and Governments, and is certainly not a Report which was written or intended for publication. Every Government has agents who make confidential Reports in reference to matters in the negotiation of which they are engaged. If a Government were to be called upon to give publicity to a confidential Report which their agent had made, explaining his negotiation and the attitude he has taken, it might very seriously compromise these negotiations if it were to go back to the parties with whom he was negotiating. I think the House will clearly understand, therefore, that this Report cannot be laid upon the Table of the House.
§ MR. BRYCE
I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend for the statement which he has just made. But I should like to remind him that, having had an opportunity of reading the Report, I could find nothing on the face of the Report which indicated that it was of a confidential character. It has, I believe, come into the hands of a good many Members. I should like to point out further to my right hon. Friend that the East Africa Company are coming to us as suppliants, that they are coming to us to help them out of their difficulties, because it is admitted that they are not able to protect themselves. When we are asked to embark in an enterprise of this kind we are entitled to a full disclosure of the material facts, and the disposition to avoid that is calculated to arouse suspicion. I must say that a great deal which is contained in this Report is material, and it has suggested to me a number of questions which I hope the Government will endeavour to answer, because on their answer will depend the attitude we shall assume and the judgment the country will form. Now, Sir, I find that no information has been given by the Government as regards the existence of slavery in this particular part of the country. The Under Secretary lightly assumed that the horrors we heard of occurred within the sphere of influence. I believe there has been little or no information of any slavery in the territories of the British East Africa Company. In the Asiatic Quarterly Review there is an article which bears marks of having proceeded from a competent and experienced hand, a man who was obviously well informed, and who asserted that so far from the proposed railway destroying the Slave Trade, it would have little or no effect. But I am going to call a better witness—namely, Captain Lugard himself. At page 29 of his Report he says, describing his proceedings in Uganda—The abolition of the Slave Trade was readily agreed to being practically non-existent now.I do not know whether that is one of the facts it is intended to be treated as confidential. And, in fact, the state of 1860 things is substantially admitted in the letter of the Foreign Office to the Treasury. The Under Secretary has spoken of the expense of the cruisers. We spend more than any other country in the suppression of the Slave Trade, the cost of cruisers alone amounting to £100,000 a year. It is said that this money will be saved if the railway is made; but the Slave Trade in East Africa now exists along three main routes. The first from the region of the Upper Nile down to the Red Sea, the second down to the German port of Bagamoyo, and the third line is Nyassaland, where it comes up to the Mozambique. As the Slave Trade goes to the coast, the cruisers would have to be kept there, and the Slave Trade will not be appreciably diminished by this strip of railway. I will not say much on the question of trade, although Captain Lugard's Report contains some instructive remarks on that point. He describes a considerable portion of the country that the railway is to traverse between Mombasa and the Lakes as being practically uninhabited, and for the rest inhabited by very savage tribes who are not likely to furnish what is called remunerative local traffic. Anything more discouraging than his Report I cannot imagine; and if the Government propose to raise any money for this railway, they would do well not to publish this Report. Then, Sir, the Government have not told us anything about the condition of the Company, although the country is practically asked to go into partnership with it. We are entitled to know something about the solvency of our partners, their capacity to bear their share of the burden, their management and prospects, and their capital. No information has been supplied to us on these points, and when we ask for it we are told to call at the office in Pall Mall. One important fact mentioned by Captain Lugard is that the tsetse fly does not exist in the territories, and that animals can be employed there. Now, Sir, I feel the ditty we have as a great nation that has borne an honourable part in putting down the Slave Trade. There is no dispute about that. Livingstone said, "The Slave Trade is the open sore of the world"; and it is admitted 1861 that we must take all reasonable and proper means to work against it. I do not recede from what I said on this subject a year and a half ago. But I must review the ground of obligation now put before us. We are told that we are bound, in respect of the proceedings of the Brussels General Act, to do all we can to suppress the Slave Traffic. The Powers declared that the most effective means of counteracting the Slave Trade were—first, the progressive organisation of the Services; next, the establishment of occupying stations; thirdly, the construction of roads, and particularly of railroads, and so on. But all these provisions are expressly stated to be applicable in what district? In the African territories placed under the Sovereignty or Protectorate of civilised nations. I call attention to these particular words, which are repeated in Article 4, to which the hon. Member alluded. Now, this is not a case of Sovereignty or of Protectorate, but of a sphere of influence, which is a totally different thing. Sovereignty we know and Protectorate we know, but what is a sphere of influence? Fortunately, on this point we have a definition from Lord Salisbury, who, speaking at the Mansion House in August, 1890, descanted with commendable frankness on the proceedings for the delimitation of the sphere of influence in Africa. He said he had been engaged in what the satirist would call the task of drawing lines upon maps on which no human foot had ever trod, and dividing territories which did not belong to them, but which, indeed, belonged to other people; and he told his hearers to read between the lines in order to see that what the Government was doing was contributing their quota to the glorious work of the peace of the world. Now, that simply means that Germany, Italy, and ourselves agree that between certain lines we would not interfere with one another. It has been admitted by the Postmaster General that in this sphere of influence Her Majesty has no Sovereignty, and that we have no Protectorate, and that there is nothing beyond this that Germany and Italy have no particular right. This does not come within the Brussels Act, because it is neither a Sovereignty nor 1862 a Protectorate. The Brussels Conference wisely refrained from expressing any opinion upon a sphere of influence, because the diplomatists who then assembled knew very well that a sphere of influence where no legal authority existed, and where the natives were left to themselves, could not be made subject to these stipulations. Now, shall we, by making this railway, actually repress the Slave Trade? I ask the Government to say whether the construction of the railway will have any effect in that direction. There is another question. How is this railway to be made? Captain Lugard says his men were always deserting. The standing difficulty is to get soldiers and porters and others to carry you through the hostile tribes. There are no means of obtaining indigenous free labour to make this railway. The only means will be to bring coolies from India, or Chinese, or resort to the expedient of African explorers and use slave labour. That is another point on which we are entitled to information. Now, Sir, the Committee will notice that the Government have put their case as an alternative to the establishment of garrisons and flying columns. But it is clear that when you have made the railway your first difficulty will be to guard it. Captain Lugard says the common article of currency in Maisailand is iron wire, and he speaks of the difficulty of maintaining the line against the Maisais. A railway through the land of the Maisais will be more valuable to them than a gold mine, and nothing less than a line of forts and garrisons will be sufficient to protect the railway, and we shall have all that expense in addition to the expense of construction. Another point I should like to have dwelt upon, had time permitted, is this—that we have no jurisdiction in the territory except over British subjects. It seems to me that the Government present their case thus: A survey involves a, guarantee, a guarantee necessarily involves defence, defence involves annexation; and so what we are substantially asked to do is to take the first step towards annexation. I do not believe there is any escape from that fatal descent, and, therefore, the Committee and the country should pause to consider the position in which they stand. 1863 In Equatorial Africa we have a country that is neither fit for European centres, nor, like India, a country of ancient civilisation which can be governed with comparative ease. Moreover, it is a country which has no defined frontier. In these circumstances, I put it to the Committee that we ought, at this moment, to require a far fuller statement of facts than we have yet had; and we ought seriously to consider, when asked to take such a step, what that step means, and what are the ultimate consequences that it may involve.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
I frankly admit that many of the questions put to me by the hon. and learned Gentleman are questions which ought fairly to be put to the Government, and require an answer. I will deal with some of the minor points in the first instance. A question was asked as to our relations with the Imperial British East Africa Company, and whether it is solvent. That is a matter as to which we must satisfy ourselves. We must know whether they are able to carry out the railway, but there is no obligation of any kind upon us until the survey is completed. We are waiting for that information before undertaking any liability of any kind, and the very object of the survey is to get an answer to many of those questions which the hon. Gentleman wishes us to answer before the survey is completed. The Government are anxious to proceed with caution in this matter; and it would be the duty of the Government, supposing the survey were thoroughly satisfactory, before they undertook to give a guarantee to any company, to see that the powers of that company were adequate to carrying out the operations. In the first negotiations that took place I pointed out to the representatives of the Company, and I laid it down as an absolute condition, that care would have to be taken to see that there was such financial support—such financial power behind any company to whom we should give a guarantee—as would secure that that company should have power to carry out the railway, whatever it might cost. We should not give a guarantee without satisfying ourselves on that point. I do not for 1864 a moment say that the East Africa Company would in itself have that sufficient power. We have to see whether this railway can be built, and whether it can be built within such limits of the guarantee as the House would sanction and the country would approve. That, I hope, is a full answer to the hon. Gentleman's questions respecting the guarantees. We shall ask for and insist upon those guarantees, with the necessary financial strength, when the proper time arrives. Now, the hon. Gentleman raised one very important point towards the end of his speech, and that was whether we were free from all obligations to the Brussels Conference, because this is a sphere of influence and not a Protectorate.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
Very well. Then, according to the hon. and learned Gentleman, this was our position when we went into the Brussels Conference—that we were to induce all other countries who had Protectorates to the South and Protectorates to the North that they were to take all means for putting down the Slave Trade, while we in the middle were to ride off on the ground that we had not a Protectorate. And, therefore, in the eloquent words of my hon. Friend behind me, we were to have this sphere of influence without taking any action, whilst at the same time encouraging others to go forward both to the North and to the South. In that case I confess that I think we should have cut only a sorry figure if we were to encourage Belgium, Italy, Germany, and Portugal to take those measures, whilst we held our hands and would do nothing.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
If the hon. Gentleman follows the course of events, he will see that the Germans are very active indeed in their sphere of influence, 1865 and the sum of money she has spent is something that would alarm the House of Commons. Where is this railway intended to operate unless in the sphere of influence? That is my answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman so far as the sphere of influence is concerned. Then towards the conclusion of his speech, the hon. Gentleman said that we were entering on a certain chain of undertakings which would lead to annexation. In this way—first, the survey, then the railway, then the fortified posts, and in the end the annexation. Well, I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that with regard to the whole state of the country he seems to me not really to have studied the Reports which have evidently been at his command. He thinks that there is nothing to be done; that there is no slavery as I understood the hon. Gentleman—
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
But the hon. Gentleman did not quote all Captain Lugard said on this point, for Captain Lugard stated that he himself met a slave caravan on his road up, and that he himself liberated the slaves attached to it. Now, is it quite fair of the hon. Gentleman to state that Captain Lugard made this observation with regard to slave caravans, and at the same time not to inform the House that Captain Lugard had met a caravan and liberated the slaves?
§ MR. BRYCE
The only reason I did not refer to that was, because it was obviously a slave caravan that was engaged in what is called the local traffic, which is a totally different thing from caravans of slaves coming down to the coast, and when Captain Lugard's Report is produced hon. Members will see what that difference is.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
Well, then, have we no duties with regard to the local traffic in slaves? We have never drawn a distinction between the local traffic and the traffic down to the Coast. No, Sir; we wish to put down the traffic where it exists, and the atrocities which accompany one of these caravans will not be less than in the other cases. We have it from the hon. Gentleman 1866 now himself that there is local traffic in slaves and local traffic on the lines through which the railway is to pass. That observation breaks down the argument of the hon. Gentleman that there is no slave traffic on this route at all events, and no caravan of slaves to be found. The hon. Gentleman says he thinks that Captain Lugard's Report has been kept back because it is considered likely to damage the case for the railway. I must say that such an idea never entered into my mind. I had no idea that hon. Members would read Captain Lugard's Report in the sense of its being contrary to the general policy which we recommend. I should think that it was just the opposite. The Reports which Captain Lugard gives are graphic Reports. But what we want is this. We want a Report made to ourselves, by an engineer whom we have appointed, so that we may be able not to count simply on the views of others who are employed by parties who may be considered to be interested. We wish to have an independent Report, and for that purpose we appointed an independent engineer. That, I think at any rate, whatever hon. Gentlemen think of the wisdom of the course, will be considered as a fair and proper step to take—to endeavour to get an independent Report on the whole of this line. The hon. Gentleman has pressed me for a good deal of information which I trust will be in the hands of the Committee or of the House when we ask them to assent to a guarantee for the railway. But that is the time when many of the questions as to the value of the railway, as to the prospects of the railway, as to the possibility of the railway, will be able to be answered. We did not come to the House and ask them to vote a guarantee for the railway until we were able to put the information into their hands which would justify us in making this demand; but we do think that the information is sufficient to authorise us to ask the House to commit themselves to the expenditure of —20,000, which would put us in a position to judge of the steps which ought to be taken. The hon. Gentleman spoke of having to fortify this railway, or rather to establish posts along the railway—for it was another hon. Member 1867 who used the actual words to "fortify this railway," and the hon. Gentleman also asked by what means the labour could be found for the railway. He asked if it was to be by hired slaves. Well, I am glad to have this opportunity of reminding the House that the Imperial British East Africa Company has already liberated 4,000 slaves, There is a sample of the work which can be done. They have already liberated 4,000 slaves, and they trust, under the proclamations that have been issued and the progress that is being made, that free labour will from month to month and from year to year become infinitely more abundant. The hon. Member will further see, with regard to the difficulties of constructing the railway through the territories which he describes, that the very fact of a railway being built enables you to concentrate a number of men in a given spot in a way in which you could never concentrate men if they have to go on foot, and consequently 100 men who are able to pass rapidly from post to post would be able to do the work which 1,000 men would not be able to do if they had to traverse the roads. The railway will open up the country; and already I believe there are very satisfactory symptoms of the country becoming more settled. As a result of what has already been done, I hear that savage tribes are less in evidence; and 750 porters have gone from the lake to the coast without an armed escort, a thing which was quite impossible before, and thus from both points—both from the lake itself and from Mombasa, it will be possible to concentrate the labour necessary to construct the railways. But if it is impossible, what will happen? Captain Macdonald will report that the labour cannot be found. He will report on the density of the population along the road. The hon. Member was not correct in his summary of Captain Lugard's Report. There are portions of the road which are densely populated, portions where grain can be grown and where there is every prospect of a large trade; and everyone will see that if it be possible to have a railway it will be a first step taken towards the civilising of Equatorial Africa in a [...]nner that has never been possible hitherto. You have 1868 had several bodies of pioneers who have carried their lives in their hands and have established themselves there; but if you can once get a railway through I think you would find results produced towards civilisation that would astonish and gratify the House. Our obligations under the Brussels Conference I think are such that we are compelled to take some step; but independently of that I think the interest shown by the commercial world and in our manufacturing towns proves that they wish, through a survey, at least to understand whether markets cannot be opened up in that region. What we ask the House for is simply an experimental survey. That experiment, I am sure, must commend itself to the great majority of the country. Even if it should prove that it is impossible to construct a railway, at all events we shall have done something, and we shall not only have shown—if it is to be shown—that the physical difficulties are such that they cannot be overcome, but we shall also have obtained valuable information which we believe will be of great advantage in many respects to many classes in the country.
§ (11.12.) MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I cannot complain of the tone of the right hon. Gentleman, but he knows the respect I have for his abilities, and he will forgive me for saying that in his speech he failed to cover the whole field of the discussion, or to bring out points that are really in the minds of hon. Members, so far as my knowledge of opinion goes on this side of the House—that he did little or nothing towards promoting a settlement of this matter.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I am in the same predicament. I do not think it is possible to take a perfectly full discussion of this subject. I wish to limit myself to a great degree to noticing the points dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman, instead of doing what I could have wished to do—namely, to survey the whole of the arguments in this most important question. Well, now, Sir, I wish to begin with two admissions which are agreeable, for the whole subject, I confess, is not 1869 agreeable, since I shall find it my duty very seriously to complain of the conduct of the Government with regard to the subject. With all due respect to the hon. Member for Dover, I am aware of no reason whatever why this should be made a Party question. The hon. Member for Dover did what little was in his power to envenom the discussion by introducing into this question invidious contrasts with what he alleged had been done by other Governments. I shall not follow the hon. Gentleman in his contention. My opinion that this is no Party question is shared, I know, by many Gentlemen on this side of the House. All the pleas I shall urge will be pleas urged by me as a Member of the House of Commons, having no relation to the principles or opinions of this Party or of that. There is another important admission. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen in the course of his able speech, made most important and very large statements with regard to the obligations incumbent on this country with reference to the Slave Trade. I wish to say that although those statements were large I will go the whole length with him. I know that wherever it can be shown by rational and ascertained evidence that there is a reasonable prospect of contributing by effort of our own to the abolition or even the great restriction of the African Slave Trade, the memory of what has taken place in former generations from the date of the Assiento Treaty downwards, ought to bring to our mind the conviction that we should take a large and liberal view of any proposition of that kind, provided it fulfil those first conditions which it is our absolute and inexorable duty to ascertain—that is to say, showing to us that the case has been examined, that with the evidence before us it is reasonable and sufficient, and that by entering upon a given course of action we may hope to do something in the view of that capital and most important object. So far, therefore, Sir, I believe there is no question in dispute between us. But the hon. Member for Dover has argued this case entirely as if the importance of the object in view exempted us from any duty in ascertaining that the means proposed were likely to attain 1870 that object. There was not a syllable in his speech, I think, which appeared to admit or to imply that any inquiry whatever in regard to the sufficiency of these means, and the reasonableness of this undertaking, was itself compatible with general notions of what was right. There was not a single sentiment in his speech which in any way recognised any of the difficulties. Sir, the difficulties exist for us, whatever be the value of the purpose we have in view. It is our duty to ascertain the tendency of what is proposed to us to attain that purpose, and it is our duty also to ascertain that in the endeavour to attain that purpose we shall not commit other errors, and perhaps even give countenance to crimes such as, if they were presented to us, we should recoil from with horror. I am here to complain of the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. We have before us no information whatever. It is an entire mistake to call these Parliamentary Papers information. Inter-departmental correspondence upon the question of a scheme in Africa and the opinions of Lord Salisbury and the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman are matters very proper to be stated in Debate for our cognizance, for us to deal with as well as we can—to accept, to criticise, or to refuse. But they are not information for the case. There is not a scrap of information in these Papers upon the subject. There is, indeed, one statement of what ought to be information, and unfortunately it is a statement totally, though unintentionally, untrue, and that is a statement on which Lord Salisbury relies, and on which the right hon. Gentleman relies—that we are called upon to proceed in fulfilment of these obligations. The Brussels Conference includes no reference to the subject whatever. The Brussels Conference by necessary inference excludes this subject, and shows that it has nothing whatever to do with the proposal of Her Majesty's Government. My hon. Friend has read the words, and those words the right hon. Gentleman has not thought proper to notice.The Brussels Conference declare that they are to act by progressive organisation of the administrative, judicial, religious, and military 1871 services in the African territories placed under the sovereignty or protectorate of civilised nations"—with the evident and studied exclusion of what are termed "the spheres of influence." Without the smallest qualification this Brussels Conference—which is made the basis of the argument of Lord Salisbury—has no concern whatever with the proposal that is now made. That is an important point on which the Government cannot be too broadly challenged. I think they have been challenged broadly enough by my hon. Friend near me; but as the right hon. Gentleman has, to borrow a phrase that is used in these Papers, "made a detour" in his speech, and gone round the point, I am obliged to return to it and to impress this important matter upon the House. We have no information on that point—none whatever. Is it proper that we should be called upon to take steps of this kind without that information? But we are not altogether excluded from information. There is the Report of Captain Lugard—a Report addressed not to the Government, but to the Company with whom the Government are going to enter into partnership. The Government are not only going to enter into partnership with the East Africa Company, but they are going to commit to the Company the execution of this railway and the construction of the railroad, should it go forward. How, then, is it possible for you to separate yourselves from the knowledge that has been acquired by the officers of the East Africa Company. The right hon. Gentleman can have no evil motive for withholding Captain Lugard's Report, because he frankly says—and I have no doubt he implicitly believes—that the Report of Captain Lugard is a Report altogether favourable to the proposal that he now makes. Well, that is another argument for the production of this Report. The Report is full of the most important information; but we think it contains information showing that in the present state of things we ought not to entertain the proposal of the Government. Why not produce the Report that the public and the House may be able to judge? It is really necessary that we should 1872 have these Reports produced. This is authentic information—important information, in the absence of all other information. Captain Lugard's Report makes upon me—and I have no doubt it made on the right hon. Gentleman—the impression that whether these proceedings towards the natives may be juridically justifiable or not, yet, that he is a frank man, a brave man, an able man, and an upright man, and he has had admirable opportunities of forming a judgment on the matter. His Report bristles with propositions, and throws a most important light on the subject before us; and that Report ought to be in the hands of the House. Instead of that, we are given these Papers—in which there is only the letter of Sir Guildford Molesworth—that contain anything approaching information at all. And this is rather ludicrous as showing the manner in which the Government have thought proper to bring forward the matter, that in this Report of Sir Guildford Molesworth, reference is made to "the accompanying map." There is no "accompanying map." And why is there no accompanying map? Is it because we are all so familiar with the country? I refer to the words of Lord Salisbury, who tells us that we know nothing about the details of the country. Why is some information not given us to prevent us wandering and stumbling in the dark when we are discussing this matter? I wish to state, in the most expressive terms that I can command, that I am determined for one to exempt myself, by the declaration of to-night, from every jot and tittle of responsibility connected with this undertaking; and yet, at the same time, I do not go so far as to deliver a final judgment. (Ministerial cries of "Oh, oh!" and laughter.) Hon. Members opposite who laugh seem to think that such a thing as suspense of judgment, in the absence of information, is highly irrational. I leave those gentlemen to the full enjoyment of that comfortable state of mind in which they alone can entertain such a proposition. But what I have said already is this that we have no information whatever upon this subject supplied to us by the Government—none for which the Government makes itself responsible. 1873 How, then, are we to form a final judgment on the question? We have not got absolute knowledge. We have presumptions and indications, and all these presumptions and indications are most adverse to the plan of Her Majesty's Government. And now I come distinctly and directly to what has been stated by the right hon. Gentleman. He first of all treated of the solvency of the East Africa Company. I will not pursue that question very far. All that we know at present is that this great company, which is undertaking such enormous obligations, is not able to command a sum of £20,000 for the purpose of making this preliminary survey. I think that is the ground upon which the present proposal is made. Then, again, I do not say that the company is not solvent. All I say is, we have not got information as to the solvency of the company. The only fact that we have to go upon, and from which presumption may arise, is that the company cannot produce £20,000, and that, therefore, the Government is called in. Then, what says the right hon. Gentleman—and I think this was the heart and centre of his speech. He says—Your time for opposition is not yet come. You are not now going to commit yourselves to making the railway.I certainly, in these circumstances, would not hold myself committed to anything of the kind; but, so far, I am very glad to have the admission so distinctly made. "But," says the right hon. Gentleman, "your time for objecting is not yet come," because admitting, as apparently he did admit, that we do not possess a great deal of the necessary information, he says—We are going to institute this survey for the very purpose of getting that information.And the right hon. Gentleman makes this argument: that it is irrational in us to interfere with this laudable and beneficent object of getting information through the medium of a survey. If this were a question of a survey in the County of Middlesex for the railway we are going to discuss to-morrow, or a survey in any even uncivilised, if peaceful, land, I could understand the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. 1874 But what security can the right hon. Gentleman give me that the operation of making this survey is to be a bloodless operation? No doubt he intends it to be pacific; no doubt he has excellent objects in view; but I say that the making of this survey is, according to such information as is before us, attended with the same dangers as the making of the railway. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Masai tribe are not so strong as they were; but what do we know from one source or from another as to the influences and powers that will confront us when we set foot in East Africa? We know this, that the greatest jealousy prevails in that country and must, naturally, among the natives with regard to any attempts to dispossess them of their lands. Is not that exactly the thing we are going to do? Well, then, there is no doubt about the jealousy. Is there no tendency in our survey for a railway, and our establishing a road into the country which we are there permanently to maintain, which road itself requires the assumption of property in land when it comes to be made—is there no tendency there to stir that jealousy on the part of the natives? What does Captain Lugard say? He says that he is about to be attacked; and why is he about to be attacked? Because he has been endeavouring to make a stockade to defend himself from the attacks of others, and even that is an act so serious and formidable in the present, state of that country, that he says he understands he is to be attacked on that account. But this is not a question of presumption only. We have plenty of evidence on that subject. What are the indications that you have offered of friendliness, or of neutrality, in the country where you are going to make your survey? Is it a survey in the view of Sir Guildford Molesworth, whose letter inspires one, as far as such a letter can, with every confidence in his judgment and integrity, which is in itself essentially peaceful, and will excite no jealousy or hostility on the part of the natives? No. It is a survey which cannot be made without the presence of many hundreds of armed men. Is it expected that there will be employment for those men?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Perhaps my right hon. Friend will permit me to answer. As a matter of fact there are 40 armed men who have gone with the party. They are taken from India, and are at the same time assistant surveyors, who have been accustomed to surveying in India. They will afford protection, and at the same time assist in the survey.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I can quite understand that at the present moment and close to the coast the necessity is less, but I am surprised that in a country which is entirely peaceful, and close to the coast, 40 armed men should be needed. What does Sir Guildford Molesworth say on this subject? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer says the Masai have become very weak. Does he derive that from Sir Guildford Molesworth? But I am going to show that even the scanty Parliamentary Papers he has placed before us contradict what he has said. Sir Guildford Molesworth says that the expedition conducted by Dr. Carl Peters, which eventually led to the fruitless slaughter of a large number of the Masai, has excited such strong hostility against Europeans that any expedition that may be organised must have an escort sufficiently strong to resist any attack made upon it. That is the peaceful survey which the right hon. Gentleman says he is undertaking as a preliminary operation in order that, being at present wholly destitute of all information, he may put himself in a position to give us some portion of such information after he has completed the survey. Are you better off when you get into Uganda? Can you count upon friendship there? Is the King of that country friendly to you? (Some cries of "Yes" from the Ministerial Benches.) What? (Renewed cries of "Yes.") Does anyone venture to say that he is friendly? (Renewed cries of "Yes.") Very well. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Dover is responsible, but I say that, at any rate, his responsibility will not enable him to stand against the evidence of Captain Lugard. What says Captain Lugard? He has framed a Treaty with King Mwanga. From that Sovereign he has extorted a Treaty. He tells you how he obtained 1876 it. He obtained it by threats and by compulsion. He says that he obtained it with the greatest difficulty, and that with every effort to escape it this wretched Sovereign signed the Treaty. He states, not admits merely, that the Sovereign will make every effort to escape from it, and in that Treaty Captain Lugard, as far as we can judge from the terms of the Treaty, which he gives, has not ventured to include the slightest reference to the acquisition of land. He is going to survey, he is going to make a railway, he is going to meet all the responsibilities that that will entail, and yet he does not venture to make in the terms of his Treaty the slightest reference to the acquisition of land. Then where is the friendliness of this King Mwanga? Captain Lugard says he effected his point by going into the country with extreme rapidity, and that it was by the extreme rapidity of his movements that he prevented the natives from getting out their troops to oppose him, because they had not time to do it. That is the country where a peaceful survey is to be made. Captain Lugard says that at a certain point upon his journey he understood that King Mwanga had put to death two of his subjects for not preventing his passage. He says—I have thought it prudent to postpone all inquiry as to whether that account of the killing of these two men is true or not.On whose friendship then do you rely? The bulk of the country is inhabited by tribes absolutely savage, but not incapable, I believe, of being stirred up by alarm with respect to the lands upon which they depend for subsistence, and all of them are armed to a large extent. The case of the Masai you have recorded for you by your own officer, Sir Guildford Molesworth. The case of Uganda and its King is fully set out in the Reports of Captain Lugard, and from him you have nothing to expect, according to Captain Lugard, except determined opposition. On the north also, says Captain Lugard, there is a wave of onward Mahommedan progress. Another great tribe, called, I think, the Umyoro, lying next to it and hostile to Uganda, yet agrees with Uganda in its hostility to the English; 1877 and it is a most singular thing that according to the Report of Captain Lugard, almost without exception, all these people who are at variance with one another are agreed in being hostile to the admission of the English. There is an exception, and I am going to mention it. There are strong religious influences at work—French Roman Catholic influences—and it appears that in this sphere of influence the East Africa Company takes upon itself to inform the French missionaries where they may go and where they may not go, and assumes over them a Governmental control. But they happen to be a very powerful body. There are two influences—Protestant and Roman Catholic—the Roman Catholic very large and the Protestant very small. Sharp rivalry between them. Protestants very willing to welcome the influence of the right hon. Gentleman, and hoping, doubtless, that it will be backed by arms; the Roman Catholics, who are the large majority, being very averse to it. This is the case: that while we are obliged to go upon presumptions, as information has not been placed in our hands, all these presumptions converge to show that what you have to expect from the mass of the population in this region of Africa is bitter, and, generally speaking, united hostility. But worse still: there is a greater danger even than that. What is this sphere of influence? This sphere of influence was carefully exclueded from the purview of the Brussels Conference. What is this sphere of influence? What right does this sphere of influence invest you with? Does it invest the right hon. Gentleman with a juridical title to go into the country with several hundreds of men, including either 40 or any larger number of armed men, and to take all measures that may be requisite for taking a survey? On what title does he put that?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Along the whole of the routes there are Treaties which have been made with the Chiefs which give us these rights.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Show us these Treaties. If the forms of the Committee allowed it, there ought upon that simple admission to be a Motion 1878 for the postponement of this Debate. Show me these Treaties. It is not so stated in your Papers. Are there Treaties with Masai?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I have so far got the names, that I know these Masai are upon the route, and I know that Captain Lugard in his Report has expressly stated that it is totally useless to attempt any Treaty whatever with the Masai, and that you must put them down. In my opinion—I do not say voluntarily—but it is an act of real disrespect to the House to call upon them to enter upon this discussion without supplying them with this information, and it is aggravated, and very greatly aggravated, by a proceeding which I believe to be quite without precedent—namely, in a case of this kind, entirely novel, and foreign to our practice, and without the smallest sanction of Parliament, to take steps, as the Government have taken to direct the commencement of this survey, and incur responsibility connected with it before they submit a Motion to Parliament for granting the money. This is a most important question. You admit by the character of the messenger you sent into the country to make the survey that there is a risk of violence and military operations. Under what law are these military operations to be conducted? To whom is the honour of this country to be committed? What right have you to cast upon the East Africa Company the responsibility of conducting such proceedings? Why you see from the Report of Sir Guildford Molesworth that hostilities are to be looked upon as certain, and the only reply is that you must take sufficient force. If there is to be war, are there to be laws of war? Is this war to be conducted by arrangement? If there is to be excess on the part of British agents you have no power to punish it. If gross outrages are committed—and when passion is heated and strong you cannot assure they will not fall into serious errors—who is to punish them? If crime is committed in the course of the operations, as anticipated by Sir Guildford Molesworth, by British agents, 1879 how are you to punish that crime, committed in the name of the Government, committed on behalf of the Government, and committed under the authority of a Vote of the House of Commons? How are you to punish that crime? I have a right to an answer to that question. If crime is committed by the natives under what law are they to be punished? They are to be punished by no law at all. They are to be punished in the name of philanthropy and benevolence by carrying anarchy into their country, by setting them, from this great centre of civilisation, the example of what must be illegality and probably will be cruelty, and this in a sphere of influence where you have expressly and absolutely disclaimed all authority over the natives. A speaker on the other side of the House said this sphere of influence must, by hook or crook, be converted into a real and effectual dependency of the British people, and made available for their enjoyment. Is the hon. Member aware it is an absolute breach of faith if any such thing be attempted? You are going to attempt it on the authority of this Vote. You are going to assume authority which, at the time the German Agreement was made, in the face of this House you expressly and solemnly disclaimed. Is that disputed? At the time that Agreement was produced I addressed the House upon it, and I attached to it a signification which my hon. Friend near me has given it to-night—namely, that it was an Agreement between certain European Powers, absolutely excluding each of them from any attempt to exercise authority within certain limits. I asked "Is it well and thoroughly understood that by this Agreement there is no disparagement whatever conveyed to any of the rights now enjoyed by the natives? These natives were masters of the country as much as we are masters of this country," and I was assured by the Government of the day—I daresay the record is to be found—and others received similar assurances, that the rights of the natives were to remain absolutely unimpaired. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) has not stated that the Treaties which he says have been made, but which he has not been able to produce, 1880 authorise us to send armed forces into the country. I have shown that, as regards Masai, it could not be so, and, in fact, that we must act in the name of something still higher than law—namely humanity—going to trample law under our feet, and to introduce into that country what may be a plague and a curse, and what we have no right to send into that country at all, because as a civilised Power we are bound by the general principles of justice and humanity, and we have no right to act otherwise in dealing with uncivilised countries. My hon. Friend near me has gone through many of the points of the case upon which I will not endeavour to dwell. With regard to the Slave Trade; with regard to the cost of the railway—a very secondary matter, important in itself, but secondary in comparison with the other subjects before us; with regard to the nature of the labour by which the railway would have to be made—and there again Captain Lugard tells us there is no obtaining labour in Uganda except from the Chiefs and the Kings, and that there is no such thing as getting contracts with the natives themselves; with regard to the cruisers, as to which a vague and void hope has been held out without the smallest atom of proof—with regard to all these things the case of the Government is a perfect blank. I do not say it is impossible. I cannot tell. I do not pretend to possess the necessary knowledge for forming a final judgment upon this subject; but I say it is, in my opinion, the very height of rashness and of recklessness, in the absence of such knowledge, to incur such practical risks, and to perpetrate such violations of right as are necessarily involved in the assumptions of the right hon. Gentleman without any proper information to guide us, and for my part, in the present state of things, and without attempting to say what judgment would be arrived at had this matter been inquired into, as it ought to have been inquired into, by a Committee of this House, or by some competent authority responsible to us, I will wash my hands of all responsibility for such proceedings, which I believe to be probably without any parallel in the history of this or perhaps any other Administration.
§ (11.54.) MR. LABOUCHERE () Northampton
Are we not going to have an answer from some hon. Gentleman opposite? In regard to one matter I can give an answer. I received an intimation the other day from the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that if I applied at No. 2, Pall Mall East, I should receive an answer to certain questions. The next day I did receive a letter from the secretary of this company. Now, the right hon. Gentleman has asked respecting the financial position of the company at the present moment, and I have here a statement about it. The subscribed capital is £552,140, in shares of £20 each, of which £12 are paid. Two-tenths have been expended in making treaties and securing the territory for the British sphere of influence. One-tenth has been expended in administration charges; three-tenths uncalled; capital in hand four-tenths, represented by assets. The company was at its outset engaged in assuring the footing in the interior which enabled the British Government to secure a favourable settlement with Germany and Italy as to the sphere of influence, and they have since been occupied in explorations and in negotiations with chiefs, which have placed Uganda under the sphere of British influence and control. These operations had prevented its entering on any trade whatever. Mark, it has not traded at all, and the earnings of the company have in great part been confined to customs receipts, which, however, showed very considerable vitality and power of increase. The gross income in excess of customs during 1891 had reached £6,000 over the agreed yearly payment for the whole concession. Now, Sir, when a charter is given a very remarkable process takes place. Any gentleman can ask for a charter. They apply to a Committee of the Council, I think it is called. [An hon. MEMBER: Divide!] If hon. Gentlemen think they are going to get the Vote, I would point out that the First Lord of the Treasury told us this evening that he is taking private Members' days because he anticipated considerable discussion on the Supplementary Estimates, and so far as I am 1882 concerned I am not going to do anything that would prevent the prophecy of the right hon. Gentleman coming true. We want details. We are sick and tired of right hon. Gentlemen opposite giving us no sort of information, and depending on the inarticulate cries of their supporters to put an end to the Debates. We consider this a most important question. We have had one speech from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs introducing this matter, and we have had another from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader on this side of the House has asked a series of questions. They are addressed to Her Majesty's Government, but I also think they are as fairly addressed to the directors of this very remarkable company. Those directors I think have acted with gross unfairness to Her Majesty's Government if they did not give them the Report of Captain Lugard, or if in giving that Report to the Chancellor of the Exchequer they put "private and confidential" upon it. I understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was on his copy, and therefore he was unable to submit that Report to the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian has asked specifically whether we are going to have that Report. Sir, I tell right hon. Gentlemen opposite that they will not evade that Report getting to the public. It is in the hands of Gentlemen on this side of the House, and there are in this country Liberal newspapers, and therefore I strongly recommend some director of the company to get up in his place and allow the right hon. Gentleman to submit it to the House of Commons, and let us distinctly know what Captain Lugard did report. Captain Lugard was an officer, as I understand it, in Her Majesty's Service. He was not on half-pay. He is receiving pay from the Government, and he was sent out by this company. He is therefore responsible not only to this company, but to this House and to the Government; yet, although they had a Report from him a year ago—privately and confidentially communicated to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—they now come forward and want to slip this Vote 1883 through the House, and it is only thanks to my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby that this was prevented.
It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
Resolutions to be reported tomorrow, at Two of the clock.
Committee also report Progress; to sit again to-morrow, at Two of the clock.