Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £50,000, 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, 1895. as a Grant in Aid of Expenses connected with Uganda and neighbouring Districts.
§ *THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir E. GREY,) Northumberland, Berwick
I think, perhaps, it will be most convenient to hon. Members who wish to take part in this Debate that I should begin by stating what is the scope and what the limit of the proposals which I am in a position to announce on behalf of the Government to the Committee. In explaining those proposals, I would observe, first of all, that the Government regard them as having sprung, not from the exposition of any definite views by them, either with regard to a forward or retiring policy in Africa, but solely from the view which they took of the situation which they found had been created in Uganda and in that part of Africa by the circumstances that had occurred before they came into Office. I will endeavour to make my explanation as simple as possible, and I will, therefore, say that there are certain questions in a sense no doubt germane to this Debate, but which are not essential to the conduct of the Debate, and these I do not propose to touch upon at the present moment. If 182 it be desired and insisted upon they can be dealt with later in the discussion. I refer to such questions as that of the legal status of slavery in Zanzibar. I therefore begin by taking Uganda itself, which has been the very centre of the whole question with which we have to deal. It has been announced to the House already that the Government have decided to establish a Protectorate over Uganda, and the first question which was put after that announcement was made was what the limits of that Protectorate were to be. The Protectorate is to be limited to the boundaries of Uganda proper. The Government propose that a Commissioner should be appointed to take charge of the Protectorate, and that he should be provided with an adequate staff and force to maintain his position there, and to cause the advice which he may be called upon to give and the influence which he may be called upon to exercise to be respected by the natives in Uganda itself. Then the further question arises, What is to be the attitude of the Commissioner towards those countries which lie close round the boundaries of Uganda, but which do not come within the limits proper of Uganda, and therefore which do not come within the limits of the Protectorate? As regards territories adjoining Uganda, we propose that our arrangements should not go beyond such agreements with the chiefs as may be necessary for the maintenance of friendly relations between them and the Protectorate, for the control of the Slave Trade, and for affording facilities to commerce. The Commissioner will, therefore, be instructed that it is his duty to maintain friendly relations with those countries, and it is absolutely necessary that that should be done, because in those countries round the borders of Uganda, should there be any hostility to the British influence, it is quite clear that the Protectorate could not be maintained. It is also clear that, should there arise a development of the Slave Trade, that would be something intolerable within the British sphere of influence. Then we come to the question of how far the position of affairs in Uganda has been modified by something which has occurred quite recently, by the Treaty which has been recently made between this country and the King of the Belgians. I do not intend to touch upon that Treaty now at 183 any length, but if it is desired, the subject can be explained later on in the Debate. The only point on which I wish to touch at present is this—one of the objections originally raised to our remaining in Uganda was that there could be no means of communication between Uganda itself and the large British sphere further south. By the recent Agreement, that point has been set at rest, and a strip of territory some 16 miles in breadth has been reserved which will afford a complete means of communication between Uganda and the territories under British Protectorates or influence further south. In obtaining a lease of that strip of territory the object of the Government was not to acquire a right of occupation or administration in that territory, but simply to acquire a right of way. We had no wish, for instance, in acquiring this strip of territory, to interfere in anyway with arrangements made between the Germans and the Congo State. We had no wish that this territory should act as a sort of buffer, but we viewed it simply as a right of way through the territories of the Congo State. Now I pass on to deal with the important question of the country which intervenes between Uganda and the sea coast on the east. It is quite clear that you cannot have a Protectorate established far inland in Africa without retaining a strong grip over your means of communication with the coast. The country between Lake Victoria and the coast is essentially different in character from Uganda itself, both in respect of the natural capabilities of the country, and, in a still greater degree, in respect of the character of the people who live there. A great part of this country could not suitably be attached to Uganda. The people of that country, as far as we know, are neither Christians nor Mahommedans; they are Pagans. The country has never been properly cultivated even by the natives themselves, because although they have cultivated certain spots they have never been a large organised body, but have been split up into several separate villages rather than tribes which have continually quarrelled with each other, and continually had their cultivation interfered with by the raiding of a predatory tribe called Masai, who appear to have no 184 local home, but to live very much like birds of prey, exploiting the cultivation of the other natives. That country is now in a condition of chaos, and so far as we know has always been so. We propose, therefore, the character of this country being what it is, that there should be a Sub-Commissioner appointed whose first and main duty will be to have charge of the communications between Lake Victoria and the coast. His duty, of course, will extend to establishing such friendly relations with the natives as will enable these communications to be maintained, and also to establishing such relations as shall make it possible for British capital and enterprise to enter that country, and the intervening country between Lake Victoria and the coast if disposed to do so. The details still remain to be settled, but it is probable that the Sub-Commissioner will not be placed under the Commissioner in the Protectorate of Uganda, but will be placed under our representative at Zanzibar, who not only is our representative there, but has been hitherto our Commissioner for this sphere of influence in East Africa.
§ SIR E. GREY
I cannot say where he will reside. He will maintain means of communication over the whole route, but it is possible he will reside at some more central place than Mombasa. That is just one of the questions which can only be decided on the recommendation of the Sub-Commissioner himself, when he has fully entered on the sphere of duty, and finds what post will be most suitable for him to maintain his influence, and exercise his duties satisfactorily. Then I come travelling still towards the coast to the 10-mile strip of territory which is at present held by the East Africa Company under a concession from the Sultan of Zanzibar. That 10-mile strip of coast is Zanzibar territory. The Sultan of Zanzibar has been the Sovereign of that strip, and he has given a concession of it to the East Africa Company. Now it is quite clear, as has been very carefully pointed out in the late Sir Gerald Portal's Report, that many complications must ensue from the position which the Company at present holds, and the position which has been taken up by Her Majesty's Government further 185 inland. The Company has a Charter under which it was free to operate in the British sphere of influence in East Africa; but it has retired from all its operations under that Charter with the exception of the two posts of Kikuyu and Machakos, which it still holds in the British sphere of influence. But though it holds very little in the chartered territory, it still maintains its claim to the whole of the strip of coast line. It is quite clear that it is very undesirable that that strip of coast line should be administered by an authority which is not under the control of, and has no direct connection with, the authorities who have control further inland. Her Majesty's Government are fully aware of the necessity of dealing with that situation. The statement which I have to make on behalf of the Government with regard to the position of the Company is that, having regard to the course which the Company has taken in evacuating Uganda and other extensive regions previously occupied by them, so that the interests which the Charter was designed to promote are not being advanced, a serious question has arisen as to the revocation of the Charter under the powers reserved for that purpose. We are, however, in communication with the Sultan of Zanzibar as to the acquisition by him of the coast concession, and until the negotiations which it is proposed to set on foot are further advanced one way or the other we do not propose to raise the question of the Charter. In other words, the most important question to be settled, as regards the position of the Company, is its position with regard to this 10 mile strip of coast line, and that is the material point which the Government desire to see settled first. With the settlement of that first will come the settlement of what has become a much less substantial question—namely, the question of the Company's Charter. There remains the further point as regards this territory on the mainland in East Africa. That further point is one which will occupy much attention in this House, and with regard to which certain initial steps have been taken by the previous Government—namely, the making of the railway. Members of the Committee will no doubt have read carefully the remark made in Sir Gerald Portal's Report on that point, and of course the 186 Government cannot for a moment dispute that a railway, considered purely from an abstract point of view, would be useful to this particular part, of Africa, but so it would be useful in almost any part of the world where railways do not exist. One thing certainly connected with the railway is that it will entail some demand on public money. The general principle on which the making of the railway will have to be decided is that the expenditure must bear some relation to expected return, and it must bear some relation also to other expenses which the Government are at any given time called upon to provide out of public funds. Therefore, the position of the Government with regard to the railway at the present moment is this—that we do not know enough yet about the circumstances and probable progress of the country to justify us in placing any proposal before the House to spend money upon this particular railway.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
What would be the extent of the railway if everything went well?
§ SIR E. GREY
It has never been contemplated by anybody, even by Sir Gerald Portal, that any railway should be made further than to the shore of Lake Victoria; but the Government have already stated their view that at present they would not be justified in placing any proposal before the House for spending any money on the railway. What may happen in the future must depend upon the progress of the country. That is all I propose to say as regards the actual proposals which the Government place before the House. But, having described the scope of the Government proposals, I must say something in defence of these proposals. I think there are three Parties in this House holding different views with regard to the question. There is, first of all, the Party which has taken literatim et verbatim the most sanguine prophecies which have been made by people who have been in this part of the world as to the future of the country. There is, secondly, the Party which has 187 gone to the other extreme, and has demanded that the Government ought to withdraw from this country immediately. But there is another Party who, perhaps, would have preferred that our Government should not have become involved in another enterprise of this kind in this part of Africa, but who, seeing that it has become so involved by circumstances which it found in operation when it came into Office, are ready to admit that the Government could have taken no other course than that which I have explained to the House. I would ask the House for a moment to consider the pace at which we have been going in this part of Africa. The Zanzibar Protectorate itself is of very recent origin, and when that Protectorate was established by the late Government it was full of the most complicated questions, which necessarily have greatly impeded the action of British Representatives there. These were questions of Treaties with foreign Powers. These Treaties have no doubt made progress very difficult in the Protectorate of Zanzibar. But I think I am fully justified in saying to the House that, thanks to the great skill and ability of the late Sir Gerald Portal, and thanks to the admirable qualities which were shown by Mr. Rodd, who occupied his place while he was in Uganda, these complicated questions have been dealt with in detail one by one, till at the present moment we are justified in saying that the situation in Zanzibar has improved greatly from that which it presented a few years ago. No doubt there are still complications, but there is a Sultan in Zanzibar who is ready and anxious to accept British advice and recommendations as to the future of the country, and though the progress may not be very rapid, there is no doubt that it is substantial. Then with regard to the question of the territory on the mainland, I would ask the Committee to consider what the course of circumstances has been. Lord Salisbury's Government reserved that territory as a sphere of influence, but I think the very keystone of Lord Salisbury's policy at that time was the fact that there was a Company which was prepared to occupy and develop the country. No doubt Lord Salisbury took some steps which gave the Company reason to suppose that if they were enter- 188 prising and energetic he would be prepared to assist them in making a railway from Lake Victoria to the coast, or at least part of the way. The making of that railway, so far as we can judge Lord Salisbury's policy as it was put before us, was part of a scheme of which the Company was the very keystone and centre. But when the present Government came into Office that was no longer the state of things. They came into Office confronted not with an energetic and enterprising Company, ready to spend money in the development of the country, but by a Company about to withdraw from this territory. That produced a very different situation indeed. I would ask hon. Members to consider that that fact must necessarily have a great and retarding effect upon the realisation of hopes which they may have formed as regards this part of the country. There has been, if I may judge from correspondence and articles I have seen in the papers, an expectation which seems to have grown up within the last year or so that when the Company, which had limited resources and only private enterprise at its disposal, retired from this country it ought immediately to have been succeeded by a Government with unlimited resources and public enterprise, and that therefore the country ought to have progressed at a far greater pace than it could be expected to do under a private Company. To take that view is to take a view entirely foreign to the whole traditions under which this Empire has been built up. The future of this country depends not so much upon the measures the Government announce to the House, as upon its capabilities, and surely the proper course for the Government, if it wishes to retain such control and influence there as will give an opportunity for British capital and enterprise, is not to spend public money lavishly, because that is a course we have not in past years adopted. I say that what the Government have done and propose to do is to provide the means by which, at the minimum of expense to this country, the whole of this territory can be given a chance, and British capital and enterprise may enter it and develop it if it will. I would ask the Committee to remember that there is a great danger in proceeding too fast in these matters. Public opinion has before now ebbed and flowed in re- 189 gard to African affairs. It is only about a generation ago that a very strong Committee sat, and made a recommendation that on the West Coast of Africa no further steps were to be taken to encourage British expansion. Very lately we have had the other extreme. We have had hot and cold fits in regard to these affairs, and I mention this for the consideration of those who may possibly think the Government has been remiss and has not done enough. Now I come to what has been the motive of the Government's policy in this matter, and I will address myself to those who consider the Government ought purely and simply to have evacuated Uganda, and taken no steps with regard to it. On what ground ought we to have evacuated this country, in which we found British influence predominant, in which we were called upon to take some step one way or the other—either to maintain British influence or to withdraw? On what grounds ought we to have withdrawn British influence? The ground most frequently put forward is that the country is commercially worthless. I do not say some weight is not to be attached to the opinion of the hon. Members who hold the view that the country is bound to be for ever commercially worthless, but before the Government act upon that opinion I should like to ask them, are they quite sure? We have other opinions. We have to consider not only the opinions of people in this House, but of people who have been on the spot. Whatever may have been said in the past about the prospective commercial value, we know a great deal more about Africa in the present day than we did then. The old idea about Africa used to be that there was a fertile edge to it, but that when you passed that you got into impenetrable jungle and deserts that people could not traverse. With respect to this strip of Africa, the part immediately near the coast is comparatively worthless, but beyond there is better country. I do not wish to express any sanguine view on behalf of myself or of anyone else with regard to the commercial prospect of the country. We are bound to attach some weight to the universal opinion of the people who have been there, and I recommend everyone to consult the Report of Sir Gerald Portal and other statements which have been care- 190 fully drawn up by persons on the spot before they come to a definite conclusion as to the commercial value of the country. Surely some opinion of value might have been expected from commercial people at home as to the value of the commercial prospects in East Africa. Speaking for myself, I do not feel qualified, either by capacity, training, or experience, to make an estimate of that commercial value, but there are Chambers of Commerce in this country, and they have one and all, I think, been very constant and urgent in pressing the Government to spend money in retaining Uganda. The hon. Member for Islington (Sir A. Rollit) has been most urgent that the Government should be pressed to occupy the country with the least possible delay. If that is his opinion, I would only ask him to use what influence he has with Chambers of Commerce in the direction of getting them to back their opinion by devoting some attention to the country. They must not rest content with urging the Government to spend public money in retaining the country. They must show some enterprise in order to help the Government to have the best possible chance of getting back some part of the public money which they have pressed it to spend. I have a very notable instance of the small amount of attention which it seems is being paid to the commercial developments of this part of Africa. Great attention has been paid by Chambers of Commerce to the political aspect of the question, but I was informed only the other day that while there have been as many as 60 inquiries from German sources as to the prospects of investing money in land in Zanzibar and the neighbourhood not one British inquiry has been received. I therefore do not base our retention of the country upon any strong or decided view of the Government as to its commercial value. I leave people to form their opinion and to support their own opinion upon that point. But I do base the retention of Uganda by the Government upon something which, I think, is even more serious. I base it upon what would have happened upon evacuation. You must take into account the situation that the present Government found. You must have regard to the complaint you would have had to meet and the answer you 191 would have had to give with regard to the consequences which would undoubtedly have followed the withdrawal from Uganda. You would have had to meet the complaints of the missionaries. It is said, with reason, we have no business to consider the interests of missionaries, that missionaries go at their own risk to these parts of the world, and that they have no right to call upon us for Imperial help. I admit that entirely, but it is not an answer to the point I have put. Missionaries in Uganda, or their friends in this country, if we had evacuated the territory, would have said originally they went at their own risk, without the least thought of calling for Imperial assistance, that then the Government claimed a British sphere of influence, that they then set a British Chartered Company, and that that Company established its own system and took a prominent part in the affairs of the country. And then the missionaries would have asked you if they had had a fair chance. They would have told you that if things had been left to natural development they would never have asked you for a penny or for a man, and they would have tried to fix upon you every responsibility for the consequences which occurred. That is a point it would be difficult to answer, and it is not one answered by generalisations. There is another consequence which would have followed upon evacuation. You would undoubtedly have had a great revival of the Slave Trade. ["Oh, oh!"] Read Sir Gerald Portal's Report, and read also the Reports of the East Africa Company which have been recently received. The last Report of the Administrator of the East Africa Company I saw was that he had freed so many slaves and got them round the station that he had difficulty in providing them with food. It is impossible in the face of these statements to deny that the Slave Trade would have reappeared in that part of the country. And that is not the only revival to fear. The Germans in their sphere of influence are dealing most actively with every one engaged in the Slave Trade, and in the Congo State they are doing the same. The slave traders would have been driven out of the Congo State and the German sphere of influence, and would have taken refuge in Uganda and the neigh- 192 bouring States had we evacuated the territory with or without the consent of the people. Then you would have had that growing danger in Africa—that great hostility of the Arabs to the spread of European influence. You would have had the Arabs retiring from the German sphere of influence and from the Congo State and taking refuge in this part of the country. As to the disasters which evacuation would have provided for this part of Africa, Sir Gerald Portal says—That evacuation would be quickly followed by a recommencement of civil war is, I think, almost certain, and I am supported in this opinion by both the Protestant and the Catholic Bishops, each of whom has written me a letter, copies of which are herewith enclosed, expressing themselves on this point in the clearest manner. In order to form some idea of the savage nature of such a war, of the deeds of bloodshed and of nameless barbarity which would infallibly be perpetrated, I need only refer your Lordship to the history of Uganda for the last eight years.These are not words to be lightly set aside. If we had retired from Uganda and taken no steps to occupy it after the Company retired, these consequences would undoubtedly have happened. News would have arrived in this country month by month all last year first of one sinister event and then of another. It would have been published in the newspapers. What answer could the Government have had? They would, no doubt, have said—any Government which had withdrawn would have said—"We ought not to be held responsible." Yes, Sir, there is no more invidious situation in which any Government can be placed than that of attempting to escape from responsibility by argument. I am certain that if we had withdrawn from Uganda and these consequences had followed, no argument which could have been used from this Bench, and I doubt whether any argument which could have been provided in our defence below the Gangway, would have served to shield the Government. The least that could have been said would have been that the Government of this country, whether or not originally responsible, had had it in their power to avert these consequences and had not done so. More than that, if you had not taken some steps as to Uganda, which is the key of this part of Africa, you must have renounced the whole sphere of influence, for this territory must have undoubtedly become not 193 merely the last refuge of the Slave Trade and of Arab power, but the great centre of revival of that power. You could not have allowed that without telling the neighbouring European nations that they could go in and put down that state of things. You must have stated point-blank that if you would not take this sphere of influence others were at liberty to step in and protect themselves against the consequences of jour withdrawal; and others must have done it. Consider what the result would have been. Lord Salisbury had made an arrangement with Germany, under which he made certain concessions, reserving this territory in return as a British sphere of influence. If this Government had given up that sphere of influence we should have been in the ridiculous position before the world of having asked Germany to give us a sphere of influence, and then, when the Chartered Company withdrew, of having thrown the whole sphere of influence to the winds without giving anybody an opportunity of inquiring whether the territory was worth anything, or whether it could or could not have been developed. I now pass to the last point—namely, the money which will have to be spent. I am told that some hon. Members in this House grudge the money for maintaining this Protectorate in Uganda. If you had not decided to establish a Protectorate, what would you have gained? The withdrawal would have cost you something in order to have been accomplished in safety, so great would have been the natural feeling of indignation in that part of the world amongst people who, rightly or wrongly, had come to regard these pledges as being British pledges. You might have saved this year something under £100,000, and, in succeeding years, £50,000 a year. This sum is what we estimate roughly as the cost of retaining Uganda. You may say the expense will grow from year to year. I do not think that is the case. The Niger Coast Protectorate does not cost this country anything, and even if we admit that the Uganda Protectorate is likely to cost us something in the future, that something may be a diminishing quantity. The burden of maintaining Uganda is just as likely to become less as it is to become greater. On the other baud, what would you have lost? You 194 would have lost the chance of new markets, though I have not insisted strongly upon that, and I cannot do so without committing myself to a sanguine estimate of the commercial value of the country, which I have not endorsed. In expending this money, then, are the interests of the working classes of this country sacrificed? Ought we to consider whether the money so spent ought to have been reserved for expenditure at home in the interests of the working classes here? ["Hear, hear!"] I hear that is endorsed. I take a wider view. The interests of the working classes of this country depend greatly upon wide and far-reaching measures, both with regard to taxation and social reform, which must be bold in design and must be pressed with strength and zeal. If we had abandoned Uganda we should have had, month by month, the news of most sinister consequences reaching this country. The Government would have been assailed on all sides as being responsible, and even if we had preserved our own self-respect, we should, in face of the attacks made upon us, have lost both heart and capacity for other work. If you wish for bold and far-reaching measures at home, you could not have got them passed or even proposed by any Government which, warned as we were warned before Sir Gerald Portal's Mission started, warned as we have been warned since that Mission was accomplished, and still are warned in the Report before the House, had taken such a limited, narrow, and ungenerous view of the situation in Uganda as to deliberately abandon it to the revenge, disaster, and ruin which must inevitably have followed upon the withdrawal of the Company.
§ *SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
At last we find ourselves able to discuss a subject second in importance to none which has come before the House of Commons in this Session. The block of business which has been complained of by the Prime Minister, or the Forms of this House which have been equally subject to his comments, do much to-check the discussion of foreign and colonial affairs; yet we fail to receive the sympathy of the Government in proposals to improve those Forms, against which they divide, after leaving their Bench vacant and refusing to take part in the Debate. The Government 195 have been able to do as they please in foreign and colonial affairs, so long, at all events, as they carry out, or are supposed to be likely to carry out, the policy of the regular Opposition. There is, however, one exception, which is when money has to be asked for. As regards Africa, money is not always asked for; and important new departures can be made in African policy by means of Charters or of Protectorates without demands upon the public purse. On the Niger and in Nyassaland, as well as in other parts of Africa, a new policy has been inaugurated which the House of Commons has never had an adequate opportunity to consider; and Protectorates are in existence which are said by their enemies to rest on slavery, and to form a grave departure from the past policy of this country. The Annual Report of the Aborigines' Protection Society, which watches over the interest of the African natives, and which has just come out—a Society the Committee of which has on it gentlemen who sit on both of the Front Benches, and which is highly competent on the matters which we are here to-day to probe—observeswith deep regret that the main result of the Berlin General Act has been systematic developments of projects for European encroachment in Africa, in which political expansion and commercial advantage, whether so intended or not, 5iave been aimed at in disregard of the true interests of the natives, and under the dominant influence of a desire on the part of each of the intruders to forestall its rivals in the struggle for appropriation of territory in Africa—an insane desire I should call it.Up to the present time the chief outcome of the enterprises sanctioned or encouraged by the Berlin General Act has been a cruel disturbance of native institutions, and attended by appalling loss of life and very little advantage to the survivors.In Uganda there has been that disturbance of native institutions, that appalling loss of life, and that, as I regard it, complete absence of advantage to the survivors. I should be inclined to say that the only person who has up to the present time benefited by our enterprise in the heart of Africa has been Mr. Hiram Maxim. In Uganda we have to deal with the fact that a Chartered Company has broken down, and, having broken down, casts onus the responsibility for the worst, or at all events the least profitable, or the most costly, of its possessions. Therefore, the Government 196 come for money. For how much money? Not for the sum mentioned in this Vote. The Government ask for £50,000, but the hon. Baronet mentioned £100,000.
§ *SIR E. GREY
I said that as far as it could be estimated the annual expenditure will be about £50,000, but there will be a further expenditure necessary on capital this year, and I said I thought the total outlay this year would be under £100,000.
§ SIR C. W. DILKE
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who knows what these enterprises mean—no man more so—has given us fair warning. This is a first Estimate, even in the present year, and since this Estimate was prepared, which is not only for Uganda but for "neighbouring districts," an arrangement has been made with the King of the Belgians by which we are to take over or lease land in the very heart of Africa, still further distant from the sea, which, if we are to occupy it, will bring on us a third Estimate additional even to that which has been promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We have not gathered from the Government how much next year's Estimates are to be, what boundaries are to be placed to the sphere of influence. From Zanzibar or Mombasa by Uganda to the Egypto-Tripolitan frontier on the Mediterranean is not 800 miles, but 4,800 miles, and the dreams of the patriots with whom we have to deal see no limit within that distance to our acquisition. The strongest supporter of the policy propounded to us has written—Another advance post has been taken up on the long line of stations which will ultimately connect Cairo with the Cape.So what is contemplated is a broad belt from end to end of the heart of Africa, and not merely that 4,800 miles of which I spoke. The Estimate is for "Uganda and neighbouring districts," and we are not told—I will not say what boundaries, because there can be no boundaries—but what districts are contemplated, whether part of Unyoro is included or the countries between Unyoro and Wadelai, to which, by a mere raid, we have just carried not civilised government but fire and sword. Against the present Vote, though when it was put down I gave notice of moving a reduction, which I shall not move, I prefer to divide out-and-out. The policy is to my mind bad from beginning to end, and it is for us who feel this to pro- 197 test against it from first to last, and, although we speak but once, to divide against every Estimate which is to be submitted to the House for carrying it into effect. What are the arguments by which it is defended? The hon. Baronet's strongest argument is a negative one. He does not advocate the occupation or retention of Uganda as good in itself, but says, "What would have been said about us by our opponents if we had not done that which we propose to do?" He appeared to found that argument not on what would have happened in England, but on what would have happened in Uganda. Sir Gerald Portal has gone beyond that argument. His argument is this—and it is undoubtedly the strongest—that in some way we are bound in honour, that we cannot help ourselves, that whatever the difficulties we must do as is proposed. In the first place, I ask to what is it that we are bound in honour? Not to Unyoro, where we have no friends and where Kabarega, the King, is our deadly foe. Not to Wadelai, which was the seat of Government of the Khedive Ismail's Equatoria, which was renounced by Egypt. It is a little odd that the Government should maintain the rights of Egypt over a European and Turkish sphere of influence, and at the same time lease those countries to the King of the Belgians. The experience of the Egyptians is not encouraging as to financial results. They had the advantage of the services of Sir Samuel Baker, of General Gordon, and other Europeans of great ability, but in spite of the best administration there was always a very heavy loss upon Equatoria.
§ SIR C. W. DILKE
Gordon never made it pay, certainly not in the years which he recorded in his diary, for in one year there was a loss of £90,000 and in another a loss of £110,000. We are "bound in honour" to Uganda, I suppose, —to Uganda only? Now, if this were so, I for one would sooner cut off my right hand than disregard the obligation. I agree to the full as to the need in democratic days, when we live under a wide suffrage, that we should have the courage to show special regard to considerations of national honour which demagogues might be tempted to dis- 198 regard. But it is easy to say "bound in honour," and when any adventurers or any patriots, however reckless—any Jingoes let us say—want to commit us to unprofitable advance it is always said. If they can say that it would be profitable to steal a country, they say so. If the country is obviously so worthless that it is clearly unprofitable to acquire it or to retain it, then "bound in honour" is what is always said. It was said of Kandahar, and because it was said, or because unwise promises were given, the Government of India is burdened with the maintenance in dignified state at Rawul Pindi, and other cantonment towns, of thousands of Afghans, many of them of distinction. It is said of Egypt, and its being said is one of the reasons why we stay there against our own interests, against the wish of the Khedive and of his people. But the Government say, "Sir Gerald Portal tells us that we were bound in honour." Sir Gerald Portal went to Uganda with a foregone conclusion. He wrote a letter to a friend in England, the authenticity of which has never been contradicted, in which he told his friends that he was trying to impress upon the Government—before he was sent to Uganda as an impartial person—the absolute necessity for this reason of our remaining there. Not only was this the opinion which he was known to entertain, but he was directed by Lord Rosebery to the same effect. Lord Rosebery tells him in the Papers that although the Treaty of the Company with Mwanga of perpetual friendship had not been ratified, yet that there were 80 other Treaties of the Company with chiefs, and that he must consider "the effect on the British name" of leaving the country in face of these Treaties—a plain hint, and the seed fell upon good ground, well prepared for it. Why worse effect on British name than Mr. Disraeli's refusal of the Cameron Treaties made right across Africa with all the chiefs all down the valley of the Congo, the hundreds of Treaties that Lieutenant Cameron brought home, and which Mr. Disraeli disregarded, and rightly disregarded, in the interest of this country? Why worse effect on British name than the cession by Lord Salisbury to Germany, which had never been there—which has never been there now—of Barotseland, 199 in which the British South Africa Company had concluded similar Treaties with all the chiefs? What does Captain Lugard, who was the agent of the Company, say about these Treaties, to which Lord Rosebery and Sir Gerald Portal attach importance? Captain Lugard is in favour of the retention of Uganda; indeed, we have only material supplied to us by those who are. We are in this position throughout the case: that the overwhelming evidence which we think we have against retention is entirely supplied to us by those who are eager for that retention. Captain Lugard, who was the agent of the Company, discusses this statement of Sir Gerald Portal that we are bound in honour, and he denies it, because he says that the chiefs when they signed Treaties with the Company did not think that they were placing themselves under the Government of Great Britain, and he goes out of his way to write against Sir Gerald Portal on this point, and says that the Treaties were all distinctly expressed to be on behalf of the Company, that this phrase was distinctly translated to them on every occasion, and that its significance was thoroughly understood by Mwanga, and in all cases by the missionaries who acted as interpreters, and who were directed to make it clear, and who invariably did so. The Company withdrew from Uganda. The Company which made these Treaties deliberately withdrew, with warning, with knowledge, to the chiefs who made these Treaties with them, and to the Foreign Office to whom the Treaties had been communicated, and the Foreign Office at that time—the Foreign Office under Lord Salisbury—made no objection on this ground of Treaty. Why were we more bound than by the Barotse Treaties or the Cameron Treaties upon the Congo? Bound in honour! When did we become bound in honour? In November, 1889, Mwanga accepted the flag of the Company for Uganda. In February, 1890, Mwanga signed a Treaty with Germany for the same dominions. In April, 1890, Mwanga refused to sign a Treaty with the Company. In December, 1890, Mwanga was forced to sign a Treaty with the Company. There is a distinguished man who is a high authority upon missionary questions, and upon all the questions in which the Church 200 Missionary Society has been engaged' who has written upon this episode of December, 1890, which led, I believe, to his resignation of his position on the Committee of the Church Missionary Society. He quotes Captain Lugard's description of the affairs of December, 1890, at length, and he adds—This is the spirit in which this Treaty was forced upon the unfortunate King.Yet he goes on to say it is—The only charter of your rights in Uganda.What can be greater hypocrisy than to pretend that we are in Uganda by the wishes of the King or people? This writer adds—If we do occupy Uganda it will be by brute force, having at our command … Maxim guns and the Soudanese.I will not continue to give the epithets in which he describes the brutality of these Soudanese, upon whose bayonets our Government is to rest. But the Government themselves, who now advance the argument that we are bound in honour, have themselves, not as a Government but in their persons, disposed of it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer conclusively proved, on the 4th of March, 1892, that we were not then committed or bound in the way described. Is it since that day—is it pretended that it is since the 4th of March, 1892, that we have become bound? Nothing took place between that date and the pledge of my right hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian—in which he appeared to imply that we were still uncommitted at the time at which he spoke—the pledge that the hands of the Government were, and that our hands were to be, perfectly free. When, then, did this obligation of honour come into being? But supposing we were bound with regard to Uganda, what of the countries between Uganda and the coast, what of Masailand, the country which some people want, which some want who do not want Uganda, the country which is perhaps possible for settlement, the country which many are prepared to keep who would leave the costly and unprofitable Uganda? Are we bound in honour to the Masais, who have done throughout all that lies in their power by fighting and absolute refusal to treat, to keep us from their land? I ask, then, if we are bound in honour now, how far this obligation ex- 201 tends, when it arose, whether we were bound before the Chancellor of the Exchequer laid down the noble doctrines of his speech of the 4th of March, 1892, and whether he was wrong? To go back to the previous Government, did Lord Salisbury think that we were bound, and are we now even following out not the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer but the policy of Lord Salisbury? In August, 1891, the Company notified Lord Salisbury of the intention to abandon Uganda on the 31st of December of that year. Lord Salisbury did not object to the withdrawal, but he advised the Company for the sake of other interests to announce that the withdrawal would be temporary, and suggested that they should afterwards subsidise Mwanga to the extent of £1,000 a year to ensure his good behaviour to missions and loyalty to British influence. Not a word about "bound in honour." £1,000 a year Mwanga was to receive from the Company, and that was the Alpha and Omega of Lord Salisbury's policy. Withdrawal was deferred for a year because of subscriptions to the Church Missionary Society to defray the cost of occupation. But when the final withdrawal was announced Lord Salisbury accepted it without comment, and without the slightest further indication of his views, he left that legacy to his successor. Meanwhile, the King of the Belgians had concluded with the Company a Convention, which authorised His Majesty, if he found it necessary, to advance the Vanderkerckhoven Expedition to Lado. The King personally placed that Convention before Lord Salisbury in London, and the King was under the belief that Lord Salisbury told him that the Foreign Office would offer on opposition. I am aware that the King's impression is disputed on behalf of Lord Salisbury. But as the present Government have returned to a similar policy to that which the Company contemplated, I cannot but think that the account given at the time by the King of the Belgians of the whole of the transactions must have been correct. The agreement between the Company and the King of the Belgians is alluded to in the Papers published this day last week as arrangements made in 1890 waiving in favour of the Congo State its powers in the western watershed 202 of the Nile, an arrangement not officially communicated to the Government; the Congo State having, nevertheless, we are told, thought itself justified in sending exploring parties into the territory in question. I do not know whether we shall have another opportunity of discussing the portions of the Convention which have nothing to do with Uganda. It makes a new wasp-waist near Lake Bangweolo, similar to the wasp-waist between Germany and Portugal, which Lord Salisbury had previously created for us. The strip leased to us between Tanganyika and Albert Edward Nyanza is unexplored, and the character and disposition of the tribes unknown. I am not aware by what armed force we are to take possession of this country, which lies in the very centre of Africa, under the Equator. At all events, it will not be disputed that Lord Salisbury accepted the announcement of the withdrawal without comment; and that, without an indication of his views, he left the matter open for his successors. Some think that, if not bound in honour to some chiefs, we are bound in honour to the missions; that is, to our missions—because we shoot the others down, and can hardly think ourselves, or have hardly acted as though we thought ourselves, bound to them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer laid down the true doctrine with regard to missions, the doctrine on which this country has always acted. Is it now to be maintained that we are everywhere to be bound to follow missions with our arms and flag, and which missions? Those of the London Missionary Society? They have not been followed in Madagascar, where they have been absolutely sacrificed, cruelly sacrificed, to the French. Not the Roman Catholic missions, I suppose, against the priests and the converts of which in Uganda we direct our Maxim guns, an act for which heavy compensation will have by this very House undoubtedly to be paid. But I suppose the missions of the Church of England. I can remember the subscription to send out these very missions, when they first went to the countries to which they have gone. There was nothing about the British flag. There was nothing about Maxim guns and Soudanese. We were told—our contributions were asked for on the ground—that they were taking their 203 lives in their hands, and going to wild and barbarous countries in which British protection could not be given and where they would form a true Mission Church among the heathen. On the 4th of March, 1892, every Liberal present cheered the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech and voted with him. Where is that change? Who wants us in Uganda except some of the supporters of the Church Missionary Society, who went there without a conception in their minds of annexation or of Protectorate. In 1868 I ventured in a series of letters in The Times to ask the Missionary Societies of this country whether they intended to support the policy—the gunboat policy it was called—of their missionaries in China, and the Nonconformists of this country censured their missionaries for calling upon the secular arm. The Nonconformists of this country are not with the new policy now. I would appeal upon this question without hesitation to any Nonconformist congregation in this country, as I have appealed upon it to the almost unanimously Nonconformist parishes in my own constituency. They have the true missionary spirit — the spirit of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech—against reliance on the secular arm. But some of their leaders do not understand that spirit, and have enunciated doctrine which is revolting, such as that of The Baptist newspaper, which declared that wecannot avoid the responsibility of combating such crying evils as are known to prevail within … a sphere of influence,and then specifies slavery and Mohammedanism, forgetting the 50,000,000 of Mohammedans in India, "as well as that sister curse—Boman Catholicism." This talk of slavery, when we remember the condition of our Protectorate in Zanzibar, is hypocrisy; and with regard to the steps taken in Uganda against Roman Catholicism—the unfortunate incident of the heavy fire of the Maxim guns—we shall have to discuss that when we debate the proposals which will be made with regard to compensation. If Augustine had landed in Kent with Maxim guns, the members representing the Church Missionary Society who are going to support this Vote would have been Pagans now. I have dealt with this main argument, that we are bound in 204 honour, either to the chiefs, or to the missions, because, if it were true, there would be no more to be said. But it is false. I come now to the remainder of the case—slavery and the Slave Trade for example. This is a question of cost; a question whether what we can do in the particular place is worth the cost involved. Uganda is not, and never has been, the centre of the Slave Trade; and the cost of the operations contemplated in Uganda and its neighbourhood is disproportionate to any special advantages upon these heads that may be gained. There is Captain Lugard's policy—who would put down the squadron and spend the money on Uganda, and then tell us that Uganda costs nothing. But the two things are not connected. The administration of Uganda has no connection with the export of slaves from the Zanzibar coast, still by our own laches taking place to our own protectorate, to the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. The things are no more connected than the Swedish expedition to the North Pole is connected with the earthquake in Greece. It is hypocrisy again, because we do not face the question of slavery in Zanzibar (which is the market for what little trade there is upon this line) as we faced it in India, as this House forced previous Governments to face it in previous acquisitions of Protectorates, for example in the Malay Peninsula. Sir Gerald Portal indeed says that if we leave Uganda the Slave Trade would revive. He was not a high authority upon this subject. Those who are declare, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer in March 1892 declared, that there never was a Slave Trade in Uganda, and ask to what market the slaves would go unless indeed to us on the Zanzibar coast. Captain Lugard makes the Slave Trade a reason for declaring that we must have a railway every mile of the way to Uganda itself, because we cannot check the Slave Trade without it, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer more wisely used these words—The making of the railway would do more to promote slavery than to destroy it.The same is the view of the Aborigines Protection Society (as declared in their new Report), who are higher authorities upon this question than is Sir Gerald Portal. Trade is the next argument. Is 205 there any trade? Will there be any trade? We deny it on your own Reports. But if there were, or were to be, trade may be bought too dear; and individuals profit, while the whole country pays. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's view was, and rightly was, (and the very game words have been used within the last few weeks by some who advocate the annexation of Wadelai)—"Uganda is only valuable as a road to somewhere else." But that somewhere else involves the presence on the road of Kabarega, of Senoussi, or of the Mahdi. Sir Gerald Portal fairly tells us, on page 29 of his Report, that there are no exports, not likely to be, except some ivory, which is an export which soon comes to an end; that there are not the usual means of communication for trade, such as waterway, and that if there is to be trade there must be that railway the construction of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought lunacy. Then there is the strategical position, the doctrine of the "head waters of the Nile;" the Nile which is not navigable there or anywhere near there, which is blocked for 2½ miles at Ludo; the doctrine by which our trade on the Niger would be valueless because the French are on its head waters; the doctrine by which Switzerland commands the Rhine, and France the Meuse and the Moselle, on which Germany is in the unfortunate position of only commanding lower reaches. This strategy ignores Kabarega, ignores Senoussi, ignores the Mahdi, ignores the cataracts, and finds the command of Cairo in that of the springs thousands of miles away at the sources of the streams which run into the lakes. It reminds me of the strategy by which Cyprus commanded Asia Minor; but if it means anything it means that we are to go on down the Nile into the Sahara. Sir Gerald Portal told us that he had no hope that the occupation would defray its cost. The country is 800 miles from the sea, our base. To go there is equivalent to going to the Punjab from Madras in Clive's time, when we had no real hold on the intervening countries. The people are divided into three mutually hostile sections, he points out; the reigning Prince is worthless, the country has a hostile King of equal power, though we have beaten him and shall have to beat him again, on the 206 immediate frontier. The country is on the equator; it is not 4,000 feet in height, which means that it is fatal to European child-life, and dangerous to European life; and, after he had found this out, the unfortunate Sir Gerald Portal and his brother died of it. It is profitless and remote, with a chance of disaster thrown in, and it can be held only by the use of the worst of native allies, of Emin's brutal blacks. Shall we ever see our money back? Will there ever be return for the many lives lost there—return for Portal's life alone? Is it not lunacy to go to such a place at such a cost, with objects so vague and shadowy? If we glance round the world, is there a more undesirable region for us to hold? Yet these are Sir Gerald Portal's facts. We have no facts from our side. What does this madness mean? What power is forcing the Liberal Party to eat its words, its votes? Why do only half-a-dozen or a dozen oppose this policy? The last time the matter was discussed, when only such a handful voted, the hon. Member for Dundee, the hon. Knight, I mean, took upon himself to tell us—"earnest, religious people" he spoke for—Retreat would be a great blow to the advancement of our common Christianity,a doctrine not in accordance with the Chancellor of the Exchequer's appeal to us not to forget the mode in which "Christianity has won its way in such countries previously, by supporting the friends of the missionaries in a filibustering policy." The Member for Dundee declared that when we stepped in wars were going on there which, without our interference, would have been disastrous. Well, we caused one—the worst that ever devastated Uganda—the war in which Roman Catholic Christians were shot down by black pagans and Mahommedans under our directions with Maxim guns; and the French and German Roman Catholic claims, consequent upon that destruction, ought to, but I fear will not, be paid by the Company out of the ivory, for, as Captain Lugard says—The large amount of ivory captured by us in the war will largely indemnify the Company's expenses in connection with the fightingBut the hon. Member soon dropped his "earnest religious people" and "our common Christianity," and let the cat out 207 of the bag. "The motto of Englishmen and Scotchmen everywhere should be 'forward.'" Does he know what his late leader called that view? He calls it "earth-hunger," and he thinks that it is the new, but far the worst, form of Jingoism. I do not go the whole length. I do not think the same doctrine is applicable everywhere. It seems to me to depend on the circumstances of the case—distance from the sea, cost, health, prospects. But the hon. Member went very far, and said of the flag that it could not be "hauled down wherever it has been properly hoisted." He was returned as a supporter of the right hon. Member for Midlothian—not to represent the Jingoism of some members of his own family. But the late Prime Minister has retired, and the "earth-hunger" view has prevailed with the hon. Member. "Wherever the flag has been properly hoisted" goes a little far. Lord Palmerston handed over the Ionian Islands to Greece. Kandahar, with much advantage, was restored to the Ameer; and a doctrine which is called by the Prime Minister "mere blind earth-hunger" is defended, put forward, by one who, when he was returned to Parliament, went out of his way to describe himself by this qualification only—that heSympathised with Mr. Gladstone in his advocacy of the cause of all oppressed nationalities.ventured to laugh. Several of us laughed when he laid down this view—he, with such antecedents; but he had the laugh on his side in the Division, and he beat us by 198 to 9. To-day, I suppose it will be 200 or 300–400, perhaps, to 20. But in the long run I venture to believe that the opinion against Uganda will be the opinion about Cyprus, only more strongly entertained, because the circumstances are stronger. On such occasions it is one's duty to fight, even if alone. I remember my right hon. Friend the Member for the Bodmin Division of Cornwall resisting our policy in South Africa, when he stood absolutely alone, without even our 9 or 20. But he was right. I apologise for having detained the Committee too long. Otherwise I should have liked to have said a word about the groping uncertainty of our whole African policy from Cape Juby right round to Alexandria: how on the west coast at Gambia and Sierra Leone 208 we are hemmed in close to the sea, although Sierra Leone is held by the navy to be essential to our naval position, and although it cannot be held in time of war without being held by land as well as sea; how we gave up the Cameroons, a healthy station; how Mr. Disraeli abandoned the whole Congo Valley; how we gave up South-West Africa; how Lord Salisbury yielded Barotseland: how he gave up the road through Africa from north to south; how the entire dominions of Zanzibar might have been obtained and were renounced—while suddenly, now, we take this new departure in the wholly opposite direction, in the most unproductive and the most distant of all parts. Coasts I can understand. Colonies of settlement form a policy. Manicaland, Mashonaland, even Matabeleland, if it were not for it being robbery, the Nyassa highlands possibly—distant as they are from the sea. But Uganda I cannot understand. These things are a question of time and place and possibility, and cost in life and money. Each case must be treated on the merits. I am not one of those who are against all extension of our boundaries, although I attach more importance to our possession of adequate force to face our responsibilities, and think our responsibilities in India—India to begin with—about enough for one Power. But from the point of view of those who like myself would sacrifice our Parties and our personal ambitions to make the Empire as strong as possible, I ask the Committee to pause before they incur this vast new burden, without proved need or adequate reward.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
said, he had one fault to find with the speech of the right hon. Baronet—it was too long. In these days he did not think anyone except Secretaries of State and the Leaders of the Parties in the House had a right to speak long. The right hon. Baronet spoke an hour and 15 minutes, and three times he misled the Committee, because he talked about being brief. The right hon. Baronet was not only too long but too strong. The right hon. Baronet used the word "lunacy," and said that Uganda was the most worthless possession that this country had ever tried to annex. He (Lord R. Churchill) would point out that two-Foreign Secretaries—Lord Salisbury and 209 Lord Rosebery—advocated the occupation of Uganda. That was not conclusive, but he was entitled to regard the opinion of those statesmen with respect. He thought, too, that the present Government had made up their minds that the retention of Uganda was inevitable. The right hon. Baronet dug up and disinterred that stale old Jingoism which was the cry of the Liberal Party from 1878 to 1880. That was past and gone. The Under Secretary had divided the Uganda parties into three—the first, who wished to go great lengths in Africa; the third and extreme party in the other sense, who would not advance one inch; and then a middle party between the two extremes. He (Lord R. Churchill) would describe himself as an independent member of the middle party. He would now pass to the question of Zanzibar. He knew something as to this, having been a Member of the Ministry at the time it was ceded to Germany. He thought Zanzibar was a great loss to us, for it included not merely the island of Zanzibar itself, but an important coast-line on the neighbouring continent. The trade between Bombay and Zanzibar had theretofore been of great profit to India. Unfortunately the territory included in the term "Zanzibar" was given up to Germany, and he was afraid that this had been one thing which had led us on. If we had retained our valuable possessions in Zanzibar and our great influence in that part of Africa, he thought this country would have been content, but the cession of Zanzibar to Germany led us on, he was afraid, to other enterprises of less solidity. The Under Secretary had mentioned the British missionaries in Uganda, and said that they had a right to the protection of this country. He, too, thought that they had, because English missionaries in Uganda could not live in peace without some appearance of British force. On this point, therefore, there was no difference between the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs and himself. Passing to the consideration of the value of Uganda, he noted that some persons to whom reference had been made had said that the country was commercially worthless. He thought that expression too strong, though he would not give a very positive opinion with regard to the commercial value of Uganda. He did not, however, think 210 that any statistics had come to hand which promised any very great profit from that country. Some profit might arise from ivory, gum, and, possibly, other produce; but he could not see where any great profit was to come from. He very much doubted whether European commercial establishments would be able to exist in the country, and he did not think that Sir Gerald Portal knew enough to express an opinion on these points. This brought him to the question of climate, which was undoubtedly a serious consideration. He thought that if they occupied the country the troops would have to be mostly West Indian. He did not think Europeans could live there long. Our West Indian troops would suit the place admirably, with some British officers and some small force from India. The climate of Uganda was not like that of Mashonaland or Matabeleland, which, though within the tropics, formed a great and high plateau upon which Europeans could live and thrive. He doubted whether they could expect any great expansion of British enterprise in Uganda. The fever there was such that in many cases it would be fatal to the white man. This, however, could only be tested by experience. As the occupation of the country proceeded, the Government would probably find that several modifications of their general manner of governing the whole country would have to be made. He had been a little alarmed at the recent occupation of a great part of Unyoro. He did not think that the expedition to Wadelai ought to have been made without direct orders. He was of opinion that the Government would have to be very careful that other agents in Unyoro did not unduly take over territory in that part of Africa. He thought that the Congo Treaty carried us a little further into Africa than might be desirable, and, while accepting it, he hoped there would be no further extension in the direction of that Treaty. Passing to the subject of the railways, he noticed that this was a matter upon which the Under Secretary did not pledge himself, but which he contemplated as a possibility. The construction of a railway would be a work of some difficulty and take a good deal of time, and there was no proof that it would pay when completed. There must be a survey for 211 a railway—and if Uganda developed, a railway would without doubt become necessary, whether broad or narrow gauge. He doubted whether it would be a work of our time. Nor did he think that the money which had been taken for the administration of the country— namely, £50,000 per annum—was adequate, having in view the experience which had been gained in other parts of the world. In Bechuanaland, for instance, there was only a small force of frontier police maintained, and the expenses of the Civil Government were not great. There was only one general agent and a few Magistrates, but the cost was £120,000 a year. From that analogy he should think that £50,000 a year for Uganda would be inadequate. They must, however, wait for experience to show them the true state of the case. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had spoken about the views of the Opposition as to the extension of the Empire. Well, he (Lord R. Churchill) did not think the Opposition had any especial views on this matter. The extension of the Empire was not the work of any particular Party, but the expression of an inward force and tendency on the part of the British people to extend the boundaries of their Empire. In the case of the Burma and Mashonaland and Matabeleland annexations this country had been forced to take action in the direction of adding those territories to our possessions. These territories did not cost us anything; still, they were additions to our widespread possessions, which some day or other we might have to defend. All our colonies, we must recollect, were originally Crown Colonies, or obtained by conquest. The right hon. Gentleman had also quoted an opinion to the effect that' the route to Uganda was contemplated from Cape Town. But it would be impossible for any number of men to force their way through a country reeking with malarial fever and inhabited by savage tribes, and large tracts of which were absolutely unknown. The idea appeared to him to be an impossible one to give practical effect to. On the whole, however, he agreed with the policy of the Government on general grounds. He considered that it would be impossible to get away from Uganda. In conclusion, he would congratulate the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs for the ability and eloquence he Lord R. Churchill 212 had displayed in laying the Government policy before the Committee.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, he could not quite make out whilst the noble Lord was making his speech whether he agreed with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean or disagreed with him. He (Mr. Labouchere) had only arrived at a conclusion when the noble Lord arrived at the end of his speech, when he said that on particular grounds he disagreed with the Government, but on general grounds he agreed with them. He (Mr. Labouchere) joined in the compliment which had been paid by the noble Lord to the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs on account of his speech. Though differing in some particulars from his hon. Friend he did not think that there was anyone in the House who could have placed a more plausible series of arguments before the Committee in support of what was a really exceedingly bad case. That reflected a great deal of credit on the talent of the hon. Member. He was glad, however, to find from the speech of his hon. Friend that the Government had given up that extraordinary position assumed by them some time ago, that their mission was to peg out claims for futurity in Ireland— [loud laughter]— he meant in Africa. It was not his fault if he mixed up the two. He was for Home Rule in Africa as well as in Ire-laud. The hon. Member had not laid down any grounds for the retention of Uganda, nor had he referred to the great argument of the Jingoes, that it was our business to have an internal line extending from the Zambesi to the mouths of the Nile, and that it was necessary to occupy this strategical line. The hon. Member rested his case entirely on the ground that the Conservative Government had most foolishly and wrongfully promoted a Company in that part of the world; that that Company had, moreover, thoroughly compromised us, and that the present Government had come in for it as a damnosa hereditas. He did not agree with the hon. Member in his strictures on the Conservative Party. In matters relating to foreign policy he had always found Lord Salisbury most sensible, indeed far more so than the generality of his following. He had always thought that the Leader of the Conservative Party was not much of a Jingo, but 213 in leading that Party it was, of course, necessary for him to profess somewhat Jingo opinions, although it was to be noted that his followers seldom got anything from him but phrases when they interrogated him on such matters. Lord Salisbury proposed to evacuate Uganda. He was anxious to do so. He had proposed to give Mwanga £1,000 to maintain some sort of royalty there, and then allow it to stew in Mwanga juice. When he left Office, he might have thought it desirable to hand over to his successors this most difficult question. The Under Secretary put the occupation on these grounds: He said he did not know himself whether the country was a rich or a poor one. He did not know whether it would pay commercially or not, but it might, perhaps, be a field for British enterprise. The hon. Member did not seem to think that it was likely to be a remunerative field for British enterprise, and from all the data they possessed it would seem that the hon. Gentleman was right in that view. He was sick of examining the Reports that had been made as to the resources of the country by Sir Gerald Portal, Captain Lugard, and others. The data they furnished undoubtedly, to his mind, showed that no great commercial advantages could be expected from the country. There was no doubt in that quarter of Africa a certain amount of ivory, and the soil in some places was very rich. Indigo, corn, coffee, and other things were produced, and these they were told were to be exchanged for goods of British manufacture. But what were the British manufactures which the aborigines wished to receive in exchange? If they could believe the statements made, these extraordinary people who dwelt in Uganda were anxious to possess books. Now books were very useful in their way; but surely those gentlemen would not be willing to work all the year round in order to obtain books? What were the other things that they expressed a desire to possess? Opera-glasses and white asses. [Laughter.] Yes, that was undoubtedly so if the Reports of Captain Lugard could be taken as correct, for he expressly stated that it was the dream of every Ugandese to possess an opera-glass and a white ass. Not for the present purpose taking any notice of the white asses, the cost of carrying the opera-glasses and books from this country 214 to Uganda would be at the rate of about £300 a ton. Who would be willing in England to give that sum for his wheat, indigo, or coffee? because it was the consumer who would have to pay the £300 per ton. The hon. Gentleman told us that the Government did not propose to go on with the scheme of a railway in Uganda at present. He was glad of that, because one of the chief questions in connection with a railway was whether it could be made to pay. He had no hesitation in saying that, in his opinion, the sum that would be spent in making railways out there could be far more profitably expended in doing the same work in some parts of Ireland and Scotland. So far as the taxpayers of the United Kingdom were concerned, the expenditure on light railways at home would be much more satisfactory than in constructing 700 miles of railway across the country separating Uganda from the coast. As for the road from South Africa to Uganda hardly any travellers ever went along it. The country between the two places was almost unexplored. What would be the object of the road? What would they do with it? All he knew was that Mr. Cecil Rhodes had brought out a Company to lay down a telegraph wire from Cape Town to Cairo, and it was to run by this road. But he did not believe the telegraph would be used except by the natives, who would take down the wires as soon as they were put up, and use them for their domestic requirements. He (Mr. Labouchere) knew the line of argument in connection with these African matters so well that he was certain the hon. Member would next allude to the missionaries. He would point out that the missionaries went there before the Company was established, and that if the Company went away the missionaries would not be worse off than they were before. In regard to the missionaries, he agreed with the views so strongly expressed by his right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean. In his opinion, the call of the missionary was to expose themselves voluntarily to the perils of uncivilised countries, taking their lives in their hands. But they had heard of missionaries going out with Maxim guns and powder and shot and trying to establish themselves in comfort, and to maintain that 215 position by the exercise of a species of secular control over their flock. That, he believed, to be the curse of the missionary system of the present day. He respected and honoured such missionaries as Livingstone, who had gone out fearlessly as missionaries only, and had not asked this country for Maxim guns; who had killed no one, and never called upon the British taxpayer to assist them by railways to get to the place that they desired to reach with as little fatigue as possible. The right sort of missionaries did not try to establish themselves in a country partly as missionaries and partly as the successors of the native medicine men in order to exercise over the tribes a kind of political influence. What had taken place in regard to the missionaries was no honour to us. They were told that if the missionaries went away there would be war. But what had taken place since they had been there? Catholics, Protestants, and Mahommedans fought with one another. No doubt there were a few sincere people amongst them; but, as a whole, the "Catholic" and "Protestant" parties meant simply the French and English parties. The division was really political, each party trying to get the upper hand. They were told that if British influence were withdrawn civil war would break out; but the whole time we had been there civil war had been persistently raging. So far as he could understand the reports in the newspapers, a war was going on between Uganda and Unyoro. He was glad to hear that Unyoro was not going to be annexed to the Protectorate, but he was exceedingly anxious to know what was going to be done. It seemed to him that such annexation would be inevitable. If they took Uganda they would not be able to retain it without extending their rule to countries around it. The next point the hon. Member dealt with was the Slave Trade. The hon. Member seemed to think that in some mysterious way slavery would be prevented or diminished if we laid hold of Uganda, but slaves were never taken from Uganda. There was no Slave Trade there. Slave caravans did not pass through. Slaves were obtained from Nyassaland and the neighbourhood, and were exported to Arabia, Persia, and other places by way of Madagascar or the Red Sea. And so long as they had 216 slavery recognised in Zanzibar they might be certain that slaves would be taken there. Anything like the gross and hideous hyprocrisy of this country with regard to these matters of the Slave Trade never existed in any part of the world. What did they do? When a caravan was wanted to go up country they hired slaves themselves. He asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the other day whether the porters obtained by Sir Gerald Portal were slaves or not. The hon. Gentleman admitted they were slaves, and justified their employment on the ground that they did not pay the master but paid the slaves. What was the difference? The slave was obliged to hand over the payment to the masters, so that practically to all intents and purposes they did hire slaves themselves. That, of course, increased the demand for slave labour. They had these two islands, each with a slave population of 100,000; they had the Slave Trade along the coast under the Chartered Company, and these slaves, if they escaped from their masters, might be brought before the Court and might be sent back to their masters. There was one particular case to which he directed the attention of the last Parliament in which a slave who did escape was brought before a Magistrate, and that slave had to be handed back to the master until a missionary interfered and paid the ransom of that slave. How could they talk nonsense about going to Uganda and putting an end to slavery when the fact that slaves were brought down the coast from the countries adjacent to Uganda was due to our recognising the status of slavery in the two islands and along the coast, and because British merchants and the British Government absolutely hired and employed slaves! ["Oh!"] An hon. Gentleman said "Oh!" Was he aware that a Missionary Conference was now sitting at which special mention had been made of this subject? Let him tell the hon. Member what had been said at it. This was what the Venerable Archdeacon Farrer said two days ago—It is most humiliating, but it is a fact that, though Zanzibar is now a British Protectorate, slavery flourishes there as much as ever. Twenty-two years ago the then independent Sovereign, Seyyid Burghash bin Said, made a Treaty with England which rendered all transit by sea of a slave against his will illegal, and 217 every slave thus illegally taken by sea was entitled to be freed. The status of slavery, however, remained, and exists as before, i.e., existing slaves were not freed. We know that very few children are born in slavery, and that the death rate among slaves is high, owing to overwork, fever, and dissipation. We can therefore be sure that, had the Treaty of 1872 been effective, there would be now no slaves in Zanzibar. But since then slaves must have been introduced wholesale, contrary to the law; for in 1872 there were no clove plantations in Zanzibar Island, and now there are about 7,000,000 pounds of cloves exported every year. The gathering of these cloves is done by slaves. The clove export from Pemba has also greatly increased; we can therefore estimate that the number of slaves there are at least double what they were in 1872.'Another missionary from those parts, who made a long statement, himself specifically said that the slaves did not come down from Uganda, but that they came from Nyassaland, and it was entirely due to the fact that slaves were exported to Zanzibar and Pemba. The same missionary told them that slaves were so heavily worked that they only lasted six or seven years, and the population there, notwithstanding the fact that no children were born, had enormously increased during the last year. With these facts before them, could they say it was a fair argument in favour of annexing Uganda, to urge that in that way they should put an end to slavery when there was no trade from there? and the only reason why slaves were brought down to the coast was that we protected, encouraged, and paid for slaves ourselves on that coast. The Under Secretary went on to say that if we left this place alone it would become a centre of Arab dominions. There was a good deal of room in the Congo territory. A greater part of it was unexplored; there was room in the German territory for the Arabs, and why should they go to Uganda? The hon. Gentleman had to say something, so he said this; but he could not give the slightest ground for it. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that no one except themselves had the slightest wish to go to Uganda. Then the hon. Gentleman said that if we left Uganda we should have to give back to Germany our sphere of influence. He could only say he wished to goodness Germany would take our entire sphere of influence in Africa. The hon. Gentleman said we had acquired it by great concessions. What had we conceded? The Island of Heli- 218 goland. He should think it was a matter of indifference to anybody in this House whether Heligoland belonged to us or to Germany. It was of no use to us and it was of use to Germany, so that it would have been a dog-in-the-manger policy not to hand it over. His only regret was that as a condition of handing it over we had to accept great tracts of land in Africa where the Jingoes could prance around and demand that large sums should be spent. If Germany would take over all our sphere of influence, he would vote with pleasure that we should grant them the Isle of Man, and he believed we should gain by the transaction. Let them look at the facts, as they stood, in the face. They were not going to build a railroad in Uganda, and it was a perfect absurdity to attempt to hold this country without a railroad. He could understand the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite. They thought it was most desirable we should have Uganda, but they fully recognised we could not hold Uganda, and enter into commercial relations with Uganda, unless we had this railroad. What was the present position of things in Uganda? We had some sort of a Commissioner there, and we were to have a staff under him. But who were the people defending this Commissioner? The Soudanese soldiers of Emin Pasha. They were Mahommedans. They might possibly rebel. They rebelled against Emin Pasha, and he took it from what he gathered from Sir Gerald Portal's Report, and others, that they started in life as one of the most disreputable set of marauders that ever lived. There might be a rebellion amongst the Soudanese; but even if there were no rebellion, it might be very possible that the Arabs in the neighbourhood, who, as Captain Lugard told them, had Maxim guns, and means of offence of that kind—might attack Uganda. What would be our position? We should have our Commissioner, and the defence of our Commissioner, and the Protectorate would depend upon the fidelity of the Mahommedan troops, who would be called upon to fight against brother Mahommedans. It was possible they might be beaten. In how long should we be able to send troops there? It would take at least seven months before we could send any aid there. Was it reasonable that we should take hold of 219 this jungle in Central Africa, and allow ourselves to have no communication with it except by one route, which took seven months, or by another route—suggested by the Secretary of State—from the South, that would probably take about seven years? For his part, he had always thought that the expansion of the Empire did not lead to the increasing strength of the Empire. He had always thought we should do well to defend, so far as we could, what we had without seeking to increase the Empire. But even amongst those who were anxious to extend the area of empire, it would be only reasonable to consider whether the very spot that they wished for was worth taking or not. Here they had a clear expenditure laid down of £50,000 per annum, which they might be certain would be more. He held it to be absolutely essential if they did occupy this country that they should have a railroad. They had a further expenditure of at least £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 on the railroad. The railroad would not pay, and they should have to spend another £100,000 a year for the maintenance, working, and guarding of this railway. And what for? That his hon. Friend might find out for the benefit of the Chambers of Commerce whether Uganda was worth trading with or not. He should say first find out whether it was worth trading with, and then if they thought it was a good sound speculation, and could divest themselves of the old-fashioned ideas of morality that he had, by all means take Uganda. But in the name of common sense do not take it upon the grounds urged by his hon. Friend that a railroad would not be made, in all probability, that it was undesirable to make it, and that if they were to make railroads anywhere it would be better to make them elsewhere. It was not certain that we should have any useful commercial relations with the country, but some Chambers of Commerce—who generally knew exceedingly little about the matter—thought that if somebody else, the British taxpayer, would only spend a sufficient amount of money they might be able to sell something in Uganda. Why should they pay about £5,000,000 or £6,000,000, with an additional expenditure of something like £200,000 or £300,000 a year, in order that 20 or 30 rich commercial men might be able to 220 make something by selling opera-glasses or white asses over there? He had always opposed this wholesale system of annexation, and there was no place in the whole world where it was more undesirable than in the case of Uganda. There was every reason against it. They had lapsed into this thing. When this Company was established they knew nothing about Uganda, and clearly the Company went up there on its own accord. It might have been suggested by Lord Salisbury. He (Mr. Labouchere) asked at the time whether there was any official record on the part of the Government to the Company, asking them to go to Uganda, and he was specifically told that no such record existed. They might, therefore, take it that the Company went on its own chances, and found it would not pay. Then what happened? The Company hung on for a little time, and then we were told we must send some one up there to see whether evacuation should take place or what ought to be done. At that time he asked whether we were in any way bound by Sir Gerald Portal's going up there, and whether his action was to prejudice us or bind us to taking the country in any sort of way, and he was told not. They had, therefore, at the present moment an absolutely free hand. They might stay or they might go. He urged the Government to show firmness and determination, and to act upon their own opinions, and if they really honestly considered that we should be losers by remaining at Uganda, although they had proposed this Estimate, yet at the last moment say they would withdraw it, and at the same time withdraw bag and baggage from this horrible place.
*MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
said the hon. Member for North-ampton always looked at things from a humorous point of view, and very often threw a new light upon the subjects which the House might be discussing. He was afraid on the present occasion he could hardly compliment the hon. Gentleman upon his originality. Every one of the arguments he had urged to the Committee had been repeated, not once or twice, but several times by the hon. Member before, and none of them had found any acceptance from the House if they were to judge by the results in the Division Lobby. The hon. Member 221 began by saying he thought Lord Salisbury was a much more sensible man in his foreign policy than his successors had been.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, that at any rate the hon. Member was perfectly impartial, because he voted just as much against Lord Salisbury's successors as against Lord Salisbury himself when he was in charge of the Foreign Office, in spite of his admiration for the late Foreign Secretary. The hon. Member told them he had been reading Reports on Uganda. He was afraid, however, that the hon. Member had not digested them, for the bulk of his argument was that this country had no possibilities of soil; that its soil was unfertile and its climate inclement if not deadly.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Will the hon. Member excuse me. I never said anything of the sort. I said the climate was not a good climate for Europeans.
*MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, he seemed to have been singularly unfortunate in having apprehended the views of the hon. Member. He certainly gathered from him and the right hon. Gentleman that one of their objections to the retention of Uganda was that the climate was an unsuitable one. Upon what did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean base that? He based it, among other things, upon the fact that Sir Gerald Portal fell a victim to the climate. He thought it was pretty well known that the most lamentable death of Sir Gerald Portal was not due in any way to the climate of Uganda, but was solely attributable to the insanitary state of that portion of London in which he happened to be residing on the occasion of his last visit here.
§ *SIR C. W. DILKE
said, he only referred incidentally to the death of Sir Gerald Portal. His main argument was that a country which was less than 4,000 feet above the sea and on the Equator was a country impossible for continued European life.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
distinctly denied that. The very circumstances which the right hon. Gentleman cited, that this country was under the Equator and between 3,000 and 4,000 feet high, were circumstances which showed that it 222 was a sanitary climate compared to those in which Europeans flourished which were not so high, not upon a plateau, and further south or north of the Equator. He thought it was generally well known among those who knew Africa that the climate immediately under the Equator was better than the climate a distance from it north or south. He supposed everybody would admit that to live upon a plateau between 3,000 and 4,000 feet high was a more sanitary residence than to live at a lower level. But he was going to say that the Report of Sir Gerald Portal himself contradicted the statement as to the alleged unsuitability of the climate. Sir Gerald said that Uganda had a fertile soil, a temperate climate; that it occupied a strategical position of great natural importance; was peopled by a race of much higher intellectual development and civilisation than any other central or Eastern African tribe, and that a firm hold had been taken by Christianity on the country. He was perfectly ready to admit that the country was not very highly developed, and that they would not be able immediately to start a great trade with the country, but in what new country like this did they ever find that such was the case? Everything that had been said as to the impossibility of developing trade in Uganda might have been said with equal truth with regard to the north-west of Canada and the Western States of America. The reasons which led him to rise, however, were not to defend the Government against their own supporters, but to ask a few questions of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs with regard to the very lucid statement he had made. First, he should like to know whether the Estimate now submitted was to be the only Estimate, or whether the House might expect another Estimate? He should also like to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that we were again dealing with the whole of this question in a patchwork fashion, which was a great mistake. At present it was really a Chinese puzzle to make out where we were in this matter. If they began at Zanzibar and Pemba, what was our position there? We had a British Protectorate over these two islands. The Sultan was ruling; but mark this curious thing: In consequence of the Treaties made by the Sultan, 223 before our Protectorate was taken over, with many other foreign Powers we had no power to enforce our law upon any single foreigner residing in that country, although we had the Protectorate of it. We had there the conflicting jurisdiction of Consuls or Vice Consuls of all the countries with whom the Sultan had any relations. In addition to that, we had now a regular dual system of government. Most, or a considerable number, of the Sultan's officials were Englishmen, and yet in order to watch these Englishmen we had a whole establishment of our own—a Consul General, Vice Consul, a Consular Judge, and all the staff of a Consulate, whose whole duty was to watch the English officials in the employ of the Sultan, and to report on their action home to the Foreign Office. He was perfectly ready to admit also that the hon. Member for Northampton was perfectly correct when he made the statement with reference to the position of slaves in Zanzibar and Pemba. The importation of slaves was abolished by the Treaty between this country and the Sultan of Zanzibar in 1873, and we might by this time naturally have looked to the total abolition of slavery in Zanzibar and Pemba. Yet there was not the least doubt that slavery, although not so rife now as it was then, existed to a very considerable extent in these islands. The difficulty of dealing with it was, no doubt, very great, and until we could get rid of the Treaties with these foreign Powers, and until we could get rid of the acceptance of the status of slavery, we should never be able to deal with this matter at all. He passed to the mainland of Zanzibar. First of all, we have the strip of territory known as the 10 miles strip. That, again, formed part of the possessions of Zanzibar, and was under the Protectorate, but it was leased to the Imperial British East Africa Company. In that strip foreign Treaties ran and extra-territorial jurisdiction existed. The Company, therefore, had no authority over the nationals of other nations. The Company could not lay any taxes because of these Treaties. They could not impose any taxes upon Englishmen, but they could make laws for the Zanzibarees because they had the authority of the Sultan. They could not levy transit dues because the Sultan had placed his territories 224 under the free zone, and therefore goods were able to pass through this strip of 10 miles free of transit dues. That was a very false position for this part of the country. If they went further north from Kipini to Juba they found that was a British protectorate; that was not limited to the 10 miles strip at all, but extended for some distance. The Treaties were not in force in that part of the country because it did not form part of Zanzibar, and therefore the Treaties made by the Sultan were not in force there; but they had handed it back to Zanzibar, and therefore, though for some purposes it was not under Zanzibar, for other purposes it was. Then there was also the Protectorate of Witu, which was a British Protectorate. There the Treaties were not in force. It was handed over to the British East Africa Company, which he believed, decreed the abolition of slavery; it had been ceded back by the Company to Her Majesty's Government, and so far as he understood the matter the Government had now placed it under the Sultan, therefore the abolition of slavery, declared by the Company to take effect in 1896, would not take place, because the status of slavery was recognised in the Protectorate of Witu. Then, taking the 10 miles strip, they came to the sphere of influence of Great Britain. He did not know how far the Company claimed still to administer that country; he believed they claimed it as far as Dagoreti or Fort Smith—which had a homely British Sound connected with it—and he did not think his hon. Friend opposite was clear in his statement with regard to this matter. That part of the country was administered apparently by the Company to the present moment, and yet, as far as he was able to understand his hon. Friend, this very part of the country would also be administered by one of his Assistant Commissioners, the appointment of whom he mentioned to them tonight. He would like to ask what about this Freeland expedition which it was said was about to make its way into this portion of the country. Those of German nationality were excluded from setting up any Sovereign rights in this part of the country by reason of our Treaty with Germany, but other nationalities were not excluded. He was given to understand this Freeland expedition 225 was composed, in great measure, of Austrian subjects, and he would like to ask his hon. Friend by what means these Freelanders were going to be governed if they took up their position in that part of the country which was part of the British sphere which he believed was still under the Charter of the Company, and which, at all events, under the proposals of the Government would be under the jurisdiction and dominion of the Assistant Commissioner? Then he came to the portion that lay between Dagoreti and Uganda proper. So far as the Government of this portion of the country was concerned, he did not understand the Government made any proposals whatever. A Protectorate was to be established in Uganda proper, a Commissioner was to be appointed whose jurisdiction was to be limited by the boundary of Uganda proper. But what was to happen to that part of the country that lay between Uganda and Dagoreti put under an Assistant Commissioner; who was to have charge of the communications? Surely this Assistant Commissioner ought to be under the control, not of the Commissioner at Zanzibar, but of the Commissioner in Uganda, otherwise a state of friction was perfectly certain to supervene. The Commissioner in charge of the communications would have to superintend the forwarding of all the necessary stores from the coast to Uganda. He could imagine that complaints were very likely to arise that the stores had not arrived; that they were insufficient in quantity and quality, and so forth, and could anything be more ridiculous than the placing the man who was in charge of these communications, not under the Commissioner in charge of Uganda, but to place him under the Commissioner in charge of Zanzibar? Then he came to the portion of the country which lay beyond Uganda. They certainly understood that when Major Owen had gone to Wadelai he was a British officer. He had planted the flag at Wadelai, and were they to understand now that orders had been sent to recall Major Owen and to haul down the flag, to use the expression that had already been used this evening? If not, what provision was going to be made for that country of Unyoro which they had lately conquered, and out of which they had driven the Mahommedans, and across which they 226 had established a line of forts? His hon. Friend was silent with regard to what provision would be made. He went further north, and found that between Lake Albert and Fashoda, so far as the left bank of the Nile was concerned, they had leased that to the King of the Belgians, and he would like to put one or two questions to his hon. Friend with regard to that lease. Were all the terms of the lease contained in the Paper which had been communicated to the House; if not, would they have them, or would there be any further agreement? Was it perfectly clear and understood that when the lease came to an end in consequence of the death of His Majesty the King of the Belgians, there would be no claim, for instance, for unexhausted improvements? What he meant was, supposing the King of the Belgians spent large sums of money in developing that country; supposing he established forts and maintained an army of some character in that district, would those forts be left to us to occupy, and would that army be withdrawn without some compensation, pecuniary or otherwise? He thought it was most desirable that it should be made perfectly clear, as between ourselves and the King of the Belgians, that no such claim would be entertained whenever the lease might fall in, and that they were not making themselves liable to-day to have to make any pecuniary or other payment in consequence of the expenditure the King of the Belgians might make on behalf of the Congo Free State. There was some doubt about it in his mind, as it was quite consistent with the terms of the Papers presented that such a claim might be made by the executors of the King. The King would be dead, and not there to explain any arrangement come to at the present time. His successors might very likely be France. Supposing in that case the Congo Free State had spent large sums of money in the country, and the French Government exercised their right of pre-emption and became the owners of the whole of the Free Congo State, would they retire from the country at once without making any claim against us? At all events, he thought it was desirable this matter should be placed beyond the possibility of doubt, and that they might not in the future be met with large claims for what he ventured to call 227 unexhausted improvements, and find themselves in considerable difficulty with their nearest neighbour, by reason of the fact that troops might be established in that district from which the successors of the King would not be prepared to withdraw until they received some compensation for so doing. He thought he had dealt with that part which lay most to the west of that portion of the Nile basin; but how about the right bank of the Nile, as far as Fashoda? They could not allow it would be possible to permit the King of the Belgians to develop his sphere on the left bank of the Nile if we ourselves did not do something on the right bank, and yet no provision was made in the proposals of the Government for dealing with that, they were simply told the Commissioner residing at Uganda was to keep on good terms with his neighbours. That was an extraordinarily vague statement; it did not imply any authority or any power in the neighbouring States; it left our flag, as he had said, planted as Wadelai; it left the whole line of forts and that district of the Nile over which they had already certain Sovereign right, as it were in the air, and he must say the conduct of the Government seemed to him somewhat peculiar in this matter. Here they had been hesitating for a year and a-half whether they should retain Uganda, and then they heard that they not only retained it but retained Sovereign rights that went 600 or 800 miles beyond Uganda; they were a long time shivering on the brink before making a plunge, but when once they plunged in they seemed to have taken a swim of some 500 miles down the Nile. He hoped it would not be thought he was grudging the money or finding fault with the agreement made with the King of the Belgians under all the circumstances. On the contrary, he thought it was reasonable and in the interests of this country and of British East Africa. He had shown what an extraordinary bit of patch-work the whole of their position in British East Africa was. His point was that it was no good going on administering the country in this way. As announced, they had a Protectorate in Uganda and one in Zanzibar, and between them the route of administration was left in a very 228 vague and unsatisfactory state, a sort of Siamese twins.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, it was not because it came to an end at the 10 mile limit, and then it was left in the control of the Assistant Commissioner, who was to be called the Director of Communications, or something of that kind. But they had no right to enforce their government in that country, which was only sphere of influence. He supposed if they made Treaties with the Chiefs, through the Chiefs they might be able to enforce something, but he maintained it would be a most unsatisfactory, a most anomalous, and a most difficult matter to deal with if left in the condition in which it was now. He said that the whole of British East Africa ought to be treated as a whole; it should all be placed under one Consul General, whether he resided at Zanzibar or Mombasa. For his part, he should prefer to see him residing at Mombasa, which was a finer part, and could be more easily defended. That, at all events, would avoid all friction which might arise from having one British Protectorate under one Commissioner at Uganda, and another Commissioner at Zanzibar; it would avoid all friction, and he thought also it would avoid a great deal of expenditure. The whole country would be very easy to manage. Under the Brussels Act all arms were excluded. It was perfectly true there were many arms in the country at present, but that was due to the fact that they were imported before the Brussels Act came into force. The full force of that Act could not be felt for some little time. When the guns had burst or been broken, and no gunpowder could be got, of course the full force of the Brussels Act would begin to make itself felt, and therefore he said the country was an easy one to govern. He also wished to urge that, whilst these arrangements were being made, it might be well to make further arrangements with regard to Zanzibar itself. The present Sultan had only been a short time on the throne; he had a Civil List, and probably he would be content to retire upon that Civil List. The Sultan was not, he believed, the nominee of the Arabs or Zanzibarees; he was a nominee of Great Britain; he was placed on the throne with the 229 assistance of the blue-jackets landed from one of Her Majesty's ships stationed in the harbour, and there would not be much difficulty, therefore, in inducing the Sultan of Zanzibar to retire upon the handsome Civil List he at present enjoyed. And, the great benefit of that would be that when the Sultan of Zanzibar retired all the Treaties made with foreign countries would go at the same time, the whole of this extraterritorial jurisdiction, which caused a great amount of friction in Zanzibar, would disappear, the double cost of administration would also disappear, and in addition to that they would be able, for the first time, to levy taxation. They could not do that at the present time, they could not tax any of these foreigners resident in Zanzibar, because they held immunity from taxation under the Treaties made with the Sultan. They had a direct precedent for this matter in this, that when Germany took over the large strip of coast that belonged to Zanzibar, lying south of British East Africa, the same thing was done without protest. Then he ought also to say that the time would then seem to be ripe for applying the Indian Act of 1843 to Zanzibar, to abolish the status of slavery, which would give a slave a status and a position in the Law Courts. At present, what happened? When a slave went into a Law Court the Judge said—"I don't know you, you have no legal status as a man, and I cannot deal with you." If they treated a slave as a free man they might be sure that the whole of slavery would disappear very rapidly. And, lastly, he came to the keystone of the arch of the whole of this matter—he meant the railway. They were going to declare a Protectorate of Uganda, and that, he presumed, implied protection; but how were they going to protect Uganda without a railway? They could not fully protect Uganda until they solved the difficulty of communication with that country, and the only way of solving the difficulty was by making a railway, if not to the Lake, at all events over a great part of the country that lay between that and the sea; it was the only means they had of developing the interior. When once they had declared a Protectorate it was their duty to do the best they could for the country, and the only way was by making a railway. The real route to 230 Uganda at present lay through the German sphere, and it was the road by which Government stores at this moment were sent to Uganda, 6 or 6½ per cent, duty being paid for goods forwarded that way. Then the railway was their great civiliser. He listened with the greatest attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, and he was perfectly astonished to find that from beginning to end of that speech, which lasted an hour-and-a-quarter, the right hon. Gentleman did not once refer to the existence of the Brussels Act. One of the chief arguments for their going on with British East Africa, for going to Uganda at all, one of the chief arguments for making the railway was that we were bound to do so under the arrangements entered into in the Brussels Act.
§ *SIR C. W. DILKE
said, the reason he did not was this: He was speaking against the Government proposals, and that the present Government destroyed that argument in 1892: the Chancellor of the Exchequer's whole speech was directed to it.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, that was a perfectly fair statement, but from their point of view he maintained that after they had taken a leading part in summoning that great Conference in Brussels, and had sent some of their best men there to consider the question, they were bound to carry out their obligations and not give them the go-by completely, as they seemed prepared to do. In the very first clause of the Brussels Act the development of the country by a system of railways and the putting down of the Slave Trade by this very system was announced as the right method to adopt in dealing with Africa. Yet it appeared they were to get all the Kudos of being philanthropists, and humanitarians, and all that, and yet when it came to advancing a single step towards the cause of humanity they refused to put their hands into their pockets. He said the construction of the railway was their debt due to Europe under the Brussels Act. They had not done a thing in British East Africa in respect of their responsibilities under that Act. He admitted that further south, in British East Africa and Nyassaland, they had done a good deal in making roads, and so forth, but in British East Africa, in that respect, they had 231 not done a thing to carry out their responsibilities under the Act. He hardly liked to trouble the Committee with quotations at this hour, but for support of their views on the question that the railway was the keystone of the arch, he need only refer to the Report of Sir Gerald Portal. One of the hon. Members who spoke to-night said that Sir Gerald Portal was not personally enamoured of the railway. This was what Sir Gerald Portal said on page 37 of his Report—The whole problem of the development of East Central Africa, the prospect of the creation of a profitable British trade, the suppression of internecine religious wars, the security of European travellers, the control of the Lake District and the upper waters of the Nile, and, above all, I may confidently add, the only hope of really and definitely killing the Slave Trade within a reasonable time, all resolve themselves into the all-important question of transport and communication.And later, he said—The only means of effectively doing that is by making the railway.And let him also add that the £50,000 asked for by this Vote was the very sum Sir Gerald Portal recommended should he taken, and in that sum he included an estimate for beginning the railway. It followed that, at all events in his view, the railway was absolutely requisite and necessary. If he wanted to dig up quotations, he could go to the speech which was made about a year ago by the hon. Gentleman who was now the Solicitor General. The hon. Gentlemen was arguing against the acquisition of Uganda, but he said that if they were to occupy Uganda it was absolutely necessary that they should have better means of communication than those existing at present, and the simplest way would be to construct a railway. And the same thing had been said to-night. The country had made up its mind to retain Uganda; the Government would have to make up its mind to make the railway. The railway could be made; the early part of it, at all events, could be made cheaply, and a beginning should at once be made with that part—from the coast to the plateau—while the difficult part could be traversed in caravans. The Opposition were not prepared to divide against the Government in the matter, but every Member on the Opposition side had heard with regret the statement of the Under Secretary that the railway formed no part of the plans of the Government. They believed that 232 the railway would have to be done sooner or later. It was only a question of time when. They could not develop the country; they could not get good out of it, either for themselves or for the nations whom they had undertaken to protect, until the railway was made. Having assumed a Protectorate, it was their duty to make the best of the situation, and the only way they could do that was to construct the railway. He remembered that when he had the honour of introducing this matter to the House three years ago he used an expression which had been a good deal canvassed. He said then that they stood at the parting of the ways. They did stand then at the parting of the ways, and since that time they had gone on straight, never varying in their policy in the matter. The Party opposite left the high road. He congratulated them on having returned to it. Their pace was rather slow; and the only anxiety of the Opposition was to take them by the hand, to quicken their pace, so that together they might march along the road which he believed was the only safe one, not only for the dark races which they had undertaken to protect, and for whom they were responsible, but for British interests also.
§ *MR. DUNN (Paisley)
said, he had spent a good deal of his time in Africa and had very large commercial relations with that Continent. This was the reason why he presumed to address the Committee. He had followed the question of Uganda with interest, and on the question of the voting of a railway survey he had voted against his own Party in favour of that survey. He was very glad indeed to know that the Government had decided to declare a Protectorate over Uganda. He could not understand how they could possibly have done otherwise under the circumstances. As to the agreement that had been entered into with the Imperial East Africa Company, he was very much opposed to what had been done in Africa with reference to Chartered Companies. The responsibility which the Imperial Parliament itself ought to have was placed upon such Companies. The present Government, when they came into Office, found the Chartered Company in existence, and could hardly have acted otherwise than they had done. We had had too much vacillation of policy in Africa. He could remember when what is now the 233 Orange Free State was our possession, and we all remember how the British flag was hoisted in the Transvaal, and how it was declared by our Representative that we would never withdraw from it. We ought, in his opinion, to consider carefully before taking possession of any territory in Africa, and, having decided to take a certain course, we ought to stand by our decision. He had obtained a good deal of information from those who had travelled from the coast to Uganda, and he saw no reason why Uganda should not become a very valuable British colony in the future. Whilst he approved of the policy of the Government in proclaiming a Protectorate, he regretted very much that they had stopped there. He was strongly in favour of the establishment of a railway between Mombasa and some point on the way to Uganda—say to Kikuyu, to begin with. Without a railway he confessed that his South African experience taught him to believe that they would not be able to make anything of the country—or retain it. In South Africa it was found that the natives, when they had been educated, became very valuable workmen. In South Africa the natives had constructed the railways and the roads, and laid the telegraph lines, whilst when educated they gave very little trouble indeed. He had no doubt that, as civilisation progressed into the interior of Africa, the natives of East Africa would prove valuable allies of the colonists. A railway, however, was absolutely necessary. France, Germany, and other Powers were grabbing laud in Africa, and unless Great Britain improved its communication with Uganda it was unquestionable that troubles would arise before long, and instead of having to pay £50,000 a year for keeping up a railway, we should have to pay perhaps as much as had to be expended two years ago—namely, £2,000,000, upon the expedition to Bechuanaland. The estimate given of the cost of a railway to Uganda was absurd. All that was needed was a narrow gauge railway with small engines—in fact, a sort of tramway. He believed that such a railway would not cost more than £250,000 for 250 miles. It might in time be constructed to a place not far from Lake Victoria Nyanza, and then a steamer on the Lake would provide connection with Uganda. The new Protectorate was one of the most 234 fertile districts in Africa, and the Scottish Mission found some of the healthiest spots in the eastern part of the Continent, near that gigantic mountain Kilinanjaro, which was four times as high as Ben Nevis. He would strongly urge the Government to take steps as soon as possible to commence the construction of a railway.
§ *MR. JOSEPH A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
said, he wished to offer a few remarks on that aspect of the question under discussion which was connected with the subject of slavery in East Africa, and he thought it especially necessary to do so, because the Foreign Office had unreasonably declined to receive a deputation from the AntiSlavery Society in January last. He thought he would be able to show that no Member of the House ought to support a policy in Uganda which was not identified with a British administration, for the adoption of any other policy would inevitably and undoubtedly tend to encourage slavery. He much sympathised with those hon. Members who felt inclined to go into the Lobby against the Government because they attributed the retention of Uganda to Jingoism, but he believed that the policy advocated by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) would strike at the very root of the development and extension of the British Empire. He hoped that hon. Members would hesitate before resisting the Vote, because he was certain that if Great Britain declined to remain in Uganda a great opportunity would be afforded to the Arab slave raiders to pursue their horrible operations unrestrained in the centre of Africa, and to make slave raids in the district between Uganda and the coast. He wished to ask the Government what they proposed to do in connection with the abolition of the legal status of slavery. If they did not propose to abolish such legal status he hoped they would give some more adequate reasons for their inaction than they had hitherto given. The question was not an unnatural one, inasmuch as the present Government in taking over the responsibilities in the Province of Witu from the British East Africa Company had for the first time in the history of British Governments legalised slavery, and this alone was a sufficient reason to account for the public being somewhat anxious as to the course the Government were about to adopt. 235 Sir Gerald Portal was certainly no advocate of the legal status of slavery. In his Report he states—It is probable that in the course of a very few years Mahomedans will cease to be a political factor of any importance;and it was noteworthy that to Mahomedanism was due the legal status of slavery, and he alluded to an Agreement signed by King Mwanga and himself, under whichslave trading or slave raiding, or importation of people for sale or exchange as slaves, was prohibited.King Mwanga undertookFor himself and his successor to give due effect to such laws and regulations having for their object the complete ultimate abolition of the status of slavery in Uganda and its dependencies as might be dictated by Her Majesty's Government.He (Mr. Pease) thought that we ought certainly to remain no longer inactive when even an African chief was prepared to carry out the abolition of slavery in the event of the Government dictating that step. On page 36 of the Report Sir Gerald Portal said, in reference to the appointment of a British Commissiouer—It would be his duty to interfere in any cases of great cruelty or of slave trading that might be brought under his notice;and he added—Due precautions would have to be taken against anything approaching to a trade in slaves.The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, on whose behalf he (Mr. Pease) was addressing the Committee, had always advocated a practical policy, and the evidence which they had amassed, as well as their very long experience, he thought justified the hope that some weight should he attached to their recommendations. They did not advocate an immediate, sudden, or wholesale emancipation of slaves. He (Mr. Pease) regretted to have to admit that slavery did exist in Uganda. Domestic slavery was not only in existence there, but caravans constantly passed through that very extensive district. On February 15th last Mr. Ainsworth, the Agent of the Imperial British East Africa Company, reported from Machakos—That considerable traffic in slaves took place throughout that district, but that owing to European influence it was surreptitiously carried on,and he statedthat were this influence to be withdrawn, that district would again become a slave centre.236 In Captain Lugard's book it was stated thatthe establishment of a Arm administration so far in the interior as Uganda would be of immense value as against the Slave Trade. For its influence would be far-reaching, and would react on the districts to the north-west, in which the Slave Trade is rampant.He was sorry also to note in this book that some of the missions even appeared to be tainted with the Slave Trade; some of the missions had purchased slaves in Uganda and retained them by force, in order that they might convert them to their particular creed or religion.
§ MR. DODD (Essex, Maldon)
asked if the hon. Member meant to suggest that the Scottish missions had done that?
§ MR. J. A. PEASE
said, he referred to Captain Lugard's book, and in that book Captain Lugard referred to missions having purchased slaves and retained them by force in order to convert them to their particular religion.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE
said, he was quoting from Captain Lugard's book, which did not specify the missions, but alleged that certain missions had purchased and retained slaves to secure them as converts. But he thought that all authorities would unite that the presence of Europeans in that district was an enormous check upon the Slave Trade. The abolition of the legal status, by the introduction of Sections 367, 370, 371 of the Indian Code, had everywhere else succeeded, and was a policy which the Anti-Slavery Society had never ceased to advocate in public and in private; it had been successful on the Gold Coast, in Cyprus, and in India. It would be idle for the Government to allege the cases were not parallel, as it had not only succeeded in Mahomedan India, but this very Government had, in a letter dated January 25, 1893, written as follows to the Secretary of the Imperial British East Africa Company:—Mr. Rodd has asked what powers the Agent has outside the Sultan's dominions. He has been told, in reply, that in Lord Rosebery's opinion the responsibility in the case rests with your Company, who, by the Agreement between Sir C. Euan-Smith and Mr. Mackenzie of March 5th, 1891, undertook the sale responsibility regarding the administration and future proper government of the Province of Witu, with a judicial administration of the territory in 237 accordance with the procedure and provisions of the Indian Civil and Criminal Codes.If, therefore, the policy was good enough for the Government to force the Imperial British East Africa Company to adopt, it ought to be good enough for them to adopt themselves. He considered that the abolition of the legal status was to be preferred to emancipation, because the latter would mean the sudden withdrawal of all labour, and that might be productive of hardships to even the slaves themselves, and would be accompanied by other complications, such as the possible revolt of the Arab slaveowners, or demands for compensation, whereas the abolition of the legal status would not involve any disturbance, and where the slaves were kindly treated and contented they would remain in their status quo ante; but the right to procure protection would be a potent force against a cruel master, who no longer could with impunity be able to maim, mutilate, or illtreat his slave at will, and there would be no cessation of progress. Uganda had been said to be the key to Central Africa; be that as it might, at any rate the coast immediately around Mombasa was the door to Uganda, and the interests of the coast and the interior were largely identical, and the policy to be adopted ought to be inseparably bound together. And, therefore, as an illustration he would take the case of the Island of Pemba, and indicate what the difference would be there between emancipation and the abolition of the legal status. On this island we had no representative; a missionary or a resident European were practically unknown, and slaves here might be ill-treated with impunity. That they were at times so ill-treated was proved by the condition of fugitive slaves who, from time to time, sought the protection of our ships of war stationed in those waters, when they came within reach of the shores of the island. If these slaves were emancipated the clove plantations would go out of cultivation, the slaves would or might become destitute, there might also be a revolt of their masters, and a source of revenue would be destroyed. If the legal status were abolished the plantations would remain cultivated, the revenue would be maintained, slaves would be able to, so to speak, barter their labour to the masters who treated them best, and thus gradually and effectively secure for themselves the ad- 238 vantages of free labour. The word "Protectorate" was entirely a misnomer when applied to the Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, as no protection was afforded to the natives of the islands. He was informed that if a native from the Island of Cyprus went to Pemba he had the rights of a British subject, but these rights were absolutely denied to a native of the island. What right, he asked, had they to differentiate between the Asiatic and African races in this way? There seemed to be only two policies compatible with the extinction of slavery in British East African Protectorates—one to abolish the Sultanate, and to treat the Protectorates as Crown Colonies; the other to retain the Sultan as a figurehead, and to introduce Sections 367, 370, 371 of the Indian Code.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE,
continuing, said, that if they abolished the Sultan no in justice whatever would be perpetrated, as there was no law of hereditary succession, the present man having been appointed because he would be a mere puppet, and he could be pensioned, in stead of continuing to receive £10,000 to £20,000 per year. And the advantage would be that a rotten system would be replaced by a sound one, at a saving estimated by a competent authority to be £8,000 per year. On the island of Pemba the—
Order, order! I do not think it is in Order for the hon. Gentleman to go into details in regard to Pemba upon a Vote which is confined to Uganda.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE
said, he bowed to the ruling of the Chair, but he thought the Vote was in connection with our East African policy generally.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE
said, he presumed he should be in Order if he alluded to the policy of the Government on the mainland. It was all-important that the Mahomedan law which existed on the mainland should be no longer allowed to prevail. It was humiliating for them to confess that they legalised slavery on the mainland, while France in 1848 abolished it, and Portugal abolished it in 1878. Germany permitted the right of slaves to purchase their own freedom, whilst by a 239 secret Decree of August 20, 1890, the British Government refused to the slaves the power to purchase their freedom, and absolutely directed the owners to punish fugitive slaves, irrespective, too, of the treatment to which they might have been subjected. There was no danger to be apprehended by the policy he advocated. Sir John Kirk, than whom there was no greater authority, wrote in a Despatch to the late Lord Granville, dated November 22nd, 1884—I shall avail myself of the present occasion to urge upon the Sultan the advantage he would gain by ignoring slavery as a status recognised by law in Zanzibar and Pemba, as thereby, freemen would gladly come over in numbers in search of wages and food, who now are afraid to do so, and who, if they do, are kidnapped on landing and claimed as slaves by someone or other on shore.It is a disgrace that this advice, which was tendered some 10 years ago, and which Sir John Kirk holds still, has not yet been adopted. Though Sir John Kirk's opinions ought to require no confirmation, yet he is supported by other authorities. The late Lovatt Cameron, the great African traveller, wrote only as late as November 22nd last—Slavery should be absolutely abolished wherever a British Protectorate is proclaimed. If the various Agreements signed by the various Sultans of Zanzibar had been carried out, there would be now no agricultural slaves.… and there can exist no reason why the slaves working in the plantations should not be declared free absolutely and without any compensation to their putative owners.The Decrees to which he refers are those of June 5th, 1873, which declared the exportation of slaves from the Sultan's territories should cease, and those of January 25th, 1876, March 13th, 1885, and August 1st, 1890, which confirmed that of 1873, but through the Sultan's administration and the operation of the Mahomedan law, they all are allowed to have practically no effect.
I do not think it is in Order on this question, which refers only to the expenses in connection with Uganda.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE
said, he would point out what appeared to him the three great curses in East Africa—slavery, internecine tribal wars, and caravans under native leadership—and he believed that a railway would do a great deal to remove 240 these curses. The first step towards abolishing slavery would be to abolish the legal status, and by that means set free labour for the construction of the railway about which Sir Gerald Portal makes the following reference in his Report:—To efficiently check the Slave Trade, there is but one course open. The only means of effectively doing this is by making a railway.….The only hope of really and definitely killing the Slave Trade within a reasonable time.He had no intention to dwell upon the horrors and cruelties of the slave traffic, the mutilation of boys for the purposes of the harem, or the torture and misery endured under a system where death too often was welcomed as a release from bodily suffering. He trusted the present Government might see their way to construct a railway, even if only for the present, as far as Kikuyu. A railway would strike a great blow at slavery, as porters would not then be required to convey goods through the interior, and human beings would no longer be utilised as mere beasts of burden, and thus one demand for the creation of slaves would be destroyed. It was amazing to think of the number of deaths that ensued in connection with the Slave Trade in Central Africa. He believed he was not exaggerating when he said there were about 100,000 men raided annually, and probably only about 10,000 of them ever reached the coast. Many of these slaves were brought over in canoes to Zanzibar. Some went to Morocco, some to Persia and Arabia, and some to other districts, but he believed the Government could do a great deal to stop slavery by the occupation of Uganda. He knew that some hon. Members below the Gangway did not consider that the money was well spent in the occupation of Uganda, but he submitted that they would save in other ways quite as much. For instance, they would be able to reduce the number of ships required to look after the slavery on the East Coast; and would be able, in conformity with the Brussels Act, to destroy the supply of slaves from the interior. The cost of their ships for the suppression of slavery was between £100,000 and £200,000 a year, and nearly the whole of that would be saved by adopting the course proposed. The East Africa Company had done good work in the interior while they 241 occupied the country; they had liberated something like 3,000 slaves, and had undertaken to liberate every slave by; 1896. From an economical point of view he would urge the Government to construct this railway, and he would like to ask if it was proposed to make telegraphic communication between the coast and the interior, because he believed this was all-important? He would then summarise his observations by stating that, by administrative reforms, and a reduction of the cost of the Naval Station, funds could be provided to finance the railway, to meet the claims of the Imperial British East Africa Company in respect to their claim, due to their expenditure of £450,000. By adopting a sound policy the Protectorates could thus be made to become a diminishing burden upon the Imperial Exchequer. From an economical point of view he would urge the construction of the railway, but if he had failed to convince the House of its necessity, yet he would appeal to the House for the sake of our national honour and traditions, and our duty to our fellow-creatures, to once for all abolish the legal status of slavery. No policy, in his humble judgment, could be successful unless based upon high moral principles, and he trusted that Members of the Government, whilst they might give due weight to other considerations than those he had urged, would not forget a cause which would earn for them the lasting gratitude of the poor African negro; and other Members of the House, in giving their votes that night, would not be oblivious to the claims of humanity, and remember, in the words of the Poet Cowper—Fleecy locks, and black complexion,Cannot forfeit Nature's claim,Skins may differ, but affectionDwells in White and Black the same.
§ *SIR J. KENNAWAY (Devon, Honiton)
said, he should not have interposed but for the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) trotting out the old fallacies. It was represented that the missionaries had been calling for the aid of secular arms, and that they went to Uganda supported by Maxim guns. The contrary was the case. The missionaries went to Uganda without any Government support, asking for none and receiving none. When their missionary Mackay was in danger it was decided that Government aid should not 242 be asked, and when Bishop Hannington was murdered no demand for assistance or troops was made. And so they would have been content to remain if the secular power had not come in, in the shape of the East Africa Company. Then it was that the whole relations of the missionary with the natives were changed. Parties were formed, and when the question of withdrawal came up it was then felt that the missionaries had been prejudiced by the action of the State, and they had a right to demand they should not be put in a worse position by the action of their Government than they were in before. The late lamented Bishop Smithies—whose death they all deplored—wrote at the time that the missionaries would have preferred to have been left to work alone, that the most healthy missionary work was that which was done when they were not allied with any Military Power. When a foreign Power had intruded itself it was necessary for the missionary to be allied to that Power, and it was then an act of most cruel injustice to the missionaries for the nation or the Company to withdraw from the country, and Sir Gerald Portal took the same view. With regard to the assertion of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) that the missionaries were practically traders, he would like to know what authority the hon. Member could give in support of his assertion. The missionaries were absolutely forbidden to trade, and the Society which he represented had spent more than £250,000 in carrying out its work. According to the hon. Member there was not much to be made out of this country. Sir Gerald Portal said with regard to the country that it presented a magnificent future for European markets. It was easy to talk of opera glasses and to laugh about them; but there was this to be remembered in respect to the Slave Trade. It was a fact no doubt that, while the British flag floated over Uganda, slave caravans did not go through, but 10 years ago 2,000 slaves, according to Mackay, were carried across the Lake. Withdraw from that country, and the traffic would be resumed. Besides that, the moment the British forces were withdrawn there was no doubt there would be a general massacre, and large numbers would be carried into slavery. The only other 243 point he wished to call attention to was that with reference to the Soudanese soldiers. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke) said these soldiers were considered as a very objectionable class of soldier. This was confirmed by Bishop Tucker, who said, moreover, that what was necessary for the protection of the country could easily be obtained from the Ugandese themselves, who had great soldierly capabilities. Of course, it might be rather difficult at present to know how to get the Soudanese out of the country, but he hoped the Government would endeavour to bring about a change.
§ *SIR W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
said, the question concerned was for whose benefit was this money to be voted. The Under Secretary proved himself to be a skilful rider because he had a bad horse to ride. To talk of civilisation and religion was all nonsense; the Company went to Uganda for trading purposes, and if the Company failed to make any money how could anyone else do so? It was said the people of Uganda had taken a firm hold of Christianity; if they had they were very different from the people of this country. And there would seem to be the less reason why Parliament should vote this money to spread Christianity. But, in truth, missionaries ought to be sent out by voluntary effort. But Christianity did not appear to have done much good in Uganda, for in the capital the people appeared to be always fighting and quarrelling on religious grounds—in fact, the place seemed to be the Belfast of Africa. It was stated that the term Protestant denoted the party who supported the British occupation; that was Ireland over again. But a religious newspaper in this country said that the disputes in Uganda seemed to have little to do with religious matters, and were more concerned with the distribution of property. All the talk about freeing slaves was insincere when the seat of slavery was Zanzibar, in our own sphere of influence. It is said that when the Sultan of Zanzibar was in this country Mr. Disraeli pressed upon him to do what he could to put down slavery; and the Sultan replied, "Yes, but the Conservative Party is very strong in Zanzibar." We were going on a filibustering expedition. One of the best 244 of missionaries summed up the whole case in this way—formerly we stole Africans from Africa, and now we stole Africa from Africans. It was admitted that we should fail in our ostensible objects unless we made a railway, which we were not going to make; and therefore he should protest against this policy as unjustifiable and dangerous.
§ *MR. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
said, he considered that the British East Africa Company had been unfairly treated as compared with the Niger Company, and that the former was described as a Trading Company. Instead of trading it had done national work in resisting au almost national enemy. The only trade it had attempted had been crushed at the request of Her Majesty's Government. It offered to emancipate British India trades from the usurious money-lenders of Zanzibar by lending money at reasonable interest; but the British Foreign Office interfered, and this trading was forbidden. This was one of the unjust things of which the Company had to complain. It was said by some that the Company had failed. The Company had not failed, but they could not be expected to make bricks without straw. What the Company had done was to bring under British influence 400 miles of coast line which otherwise would have gone to the Germans or someone else; also three important islands and the potential district of Uganda. The initial expenses of the Niger Company had been capitalised with the good will of the Foreign Office, and the Company had been empowered to raise revenue by duties. If the same had been done for the British East Africa Company it might have gone forward. It had not traded in liquor, as the Niger Company had done. No doubt in one sense the Company owed its origin to the enterprise of private individuals, but they had moved in the matter really under the advice of the Government, and, as a matter of fact, Her Majesty's Government at home were the real promoters of the scheme. Sir W. Mackinnon undertook the formation of this Company, knowing that he would have to fight his way politically against the encouragement which was given by the German nation to enterprises of the sort. His conditions were the cordial support and co-operation of Her Majesty's Government similar to that extended to the 245 German Company by the German Government. (See Sir W. Mackinnon's letter to Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.) Had the Foreign Office acted in the way which they had promised to do, he was confident that the Company would never have got into its present difficulties. It was a great shame that this Government had not stood by the Company, because the Company had been used by them as the cat's-paw by which to get back those parts of Africa that the Germans had lately been trying to annex. It was owing entirely to the half-and-half measures that England had taken in the matter that the Company had found themselves placed in their present difficulties, and that this country had lost so many advantages. It had been suggested that because the Company had only three forts between Mombasa and the Lakes it had done nothing. But compare the German sphere with its 12 forts on the coast and four more along one of its roads, at every one of which there had been fighting, and the work of the English Company is clearly demonstrated. He was in a position to say that in those tracts of country which had been taken possession of by the Germans the natives were leaving the trade routes, and that constant hostilities occurred between the two parties. That was not the case in the territory occupied by the Company, and he was glad to say that the careful handling of the native interest by them had prevented any difficulties from arising which might otherwise have given cause for censure. The country was fast being opened up, and roads of a first-rate description were in course of construction. The Company had been obliged to undertake the supervision of many matters that really should have been done by the Foreign Office. They had freely spent their capital, and he thought in return they should have been liberally assisted by the Foreign Office; but, instead of that, the authorities at home had hampered them in many important ways. The German Government had come to the rescue of their Companies in Africa, and, although the Foreign Office had made similar agreements to assist the Company should occasion require it, they had entirely failed, when the time came, to fulfil them. It had been mentioned that the Company had lost the revenue of the 246 country. That was not so. When the Company took over the country the revenue was £5,000 a year. According to the rate of silver at the present time, in spite of the great fall in silver, the revenue was returned at £17,000. Under the concession they were given power to raise taxes, and in case of disputes between the parties it was agreed an appeal should lie to the Foreign Office. Her Majesty's Government advised the Sultan to put his dominions under the Free Zone, thus withdrawing the power of taxation, and, in spite of the Company's request for arbitration by the Foreign Office, the latter had hitherto declined to undertake the duty. The Company felt the Report of the late Sir Gerald Portal was unfair and inaccurate in its statements. He stated the point agreed to with the Sultan was settled "after much discussion," which was not the case, as the exigencies of British influence at the time necessitated liberal treatment, and, as a fact, the Germans obtained much more favourable terms. Sir Gerald Portal stated the Company's Treaties in Uganda promised commercial advantages, whereas they said nothing of commerce, and were to be seen at the Foreign Office if Sir Gerald Portal so desired. Sir Gerald Portal complained that the Company, on retiring, did not denounce the Treaties; whereas, had it done so, the Germans could promptly have ousted England altogether. When he looked at the circumstances under which the Company had discharged its duty and considered the character of the country they had had to deal with, the valuable land being at a distance of several hundred miles from the coast, and when he remembered how all its money was spent for national interests, he thought it no wonder that after several years they found they had not the power to discharge all the duties which, according to the estimate of Sir Gerald Portal, represented a very much larger figure than in the first place they undertook to raise. He was one of those people who believed in the forward policy of England, and he had, therefore, thought it right to try and found, if possible, an Empire of the Nile Valley for England. With this feeling he had joined the Company, and he had lately had the honour of serving on its Board. The Company thought they had been somewhat badly treated by the Government, and anyone who took the trouble 247 to read their history would, he thought, see that they had deserved well of their country.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down had adopted very much the position of an advocate of the Company. Hitherto the Committee had not heard of much that the Company had done which was useful in East Africa, but the hon. Gentleman had mentioned one circumstance which must have rejoiced the hearts of the Committee. He had said that the Company was going to import a man with a bicycle, who would ride from the coast up to Uganda.
§ MR. LAWRENCE
I said no such thing. What I said was that the country was so quiet that a cyclist might ride through it; that a private gentleman was importing a bicycle, and was expecting to ride it 200 miles, from Mombasa to Kibwezi.
§ MR. STOREY
was sorry to learn that the Company was not going to perform even this one act of usefulness. He did not apprehend that his right hon. Friend (Sir C. Dilke) would not have many supporters in the Lobby, but he knew that the condition of those who would support him would be by no means singular. Again and again it had happened that a small body of men had stood up in the House of Commons to be greeted with ironical cheers by the Conservatives and to be defeated, although it had been found in the course of years that there was common sense and justice on their side. The proposal of the Government was defended on the twofold ground of honour and utility. He would like to know how it happened that the House was bound by any question of honour. It had been pointed out by his right hon. Friend (Sir C. Dilke) that the Treaties with the King of Uganda were never understood to be binding in the ordinary sense of Treaties. If the people of Uganda or their chiefs ever thought that the Treaties made with the Company bound the honour of England, Sir Gerald Portal himself put an end to any such idea. Sir Gerald Portal said in page 20 of the African Papers, No. 2—I am bound to report that, whether rightly or wrongly, the impression conveyed to the different native chiefs and peoples in that region when they signed Treaties and received in return the Company's flag, and were promised protection was that they were placing themselves under the protection of the Government 248 of Great Britain. Even among the more intelligent people of Uganda the same belief obtained, and until the matter was explained to them on my arrival in a way not to be misunderstood. Mwanga himself and the chief of the Council and the whole of the people thought they were under British protection.It was also said that we were bound in honour to remain in Uganda because of our relations with the suppression of the Slave Trade. He was not going to anger the House by saying in as plain language as he would like what he thought about this hypocritical pretence on the part of traders and others. Traders did not go to Africa to put down the Slave Trade; they went there to make money. Sir Gerald Portal, on page 38 of his Report, showed that the slave traders had left the British sphere of influence and carried their slaves into German territory, delivering them on the Zanzibar coast. As to the missionaries, he would not repeat the observations that had been made as to the honourable character of many of them, but there were missionaries and missionaries, and he had often thought on reading the proceedings of the missionaries in Uganda, that if Paul or Peter, or any of the first missionaries—
§ MR. STOREY
said, that Paul and Peter were missionaries, and we had never had nobler in these days. If those missionaries who went out without the aid of the civil power and taught the world could see these modern missionaries, they would be puzzled to recognise their successors. Sir Gerald Portal, on page 13, said—The miserable history of Uganda for the last few years is sufficient to show how inextricably religion and politics are interwoven in that country. The three great parties—the Mahommedans, Catholics, and Protestants—though nominally divided one from the other only by religious tenets, are in reality adverse and zealous political camps. That the missionaries on both sides are the veritable political leaders of the respective factions there can be no doubt whatever.He (Mr. Storey) said frankly, as he would say to his constituents, that for missionaries who took this attitude he had no respect whatever. Wherever they went in Uganda there had followed them warfare, bloodshed, cruelty, and anger, 249 and all the passions which inflamed humanity and disgraced Christian people. He would certainly have regard for missionaries who remembered their calling, and the Master for whom they spoke, but for men who degraded their Christianity by becoming mere machines to effect political changes he cared nothing whatever, and he did not think it was the duty of the people of England to spend their money to sustain them in Uganda. If the Christian men who went there depended on their own exertions and on the love of the people, they would succeed in their Christianising efforts, but if they were bolstered up by the State and by Maxim guns they would fail. The hon. Member who had spoken on behalf of the Company had informed the Committee that life under the Equator was, on the whole, much more agreeable than in more temperate climates. Everyone, however, who knew this part of Africa knew that it was necessary to go higher than 4,000 feet before Englishmen could live and produce children and keep their families around them. One of the Government officials (page 6 of the Blue Book) said—It would be ridiculous to recommend a European to settle in East Africa when he can go to Mashonaland.If men wanted to emigrate, the whole world was open to them, and he could not see why anyone should want to settle in Uganda under the Equator. Would the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lawrence) put some more money into a scheme for creating a trade with Uganda?
§ MR. STOREY
asked whether any man of business in the House would put one 6d. into a venture to make trade with Uganda?
§ MR. STOREY
said, that with his usual acuteness his keen business friend the right hon. Member for West Birmingham saw the crux. Would his right hon. Friend, however, put any money into the railway without a guarantee?
§ MR. STOREY
said, that of course everybody knew that there was no population in Uganda to talk of. It took £300 to send a ton of goods from Uganda to the coast, and he wondered 250 what the value of one ton of goods would be when it reached this country. He believed that there was no trade that could be done with advantage under present circumstances with Uganda. Sir Gerald Portal said that by the English route it cost £8,100 to send 65 lbs. weight of goods to the coast, whilst by the German, route it cost £4 or £4 10s. Therefore, under present conditions, if Great Britain took possession of Uganda, every ton of goods that could be sent to and from Uganda would go by the German route to the German advantage. He, therefore, dismissed the notion that Great Britain could obtain any trade by going to Uganda. He should like to say a word or two to the Government which he supported. The policy of Members opposite he could understand, as they had always supported an occupation of Uganda and the construction of a railway to Uganda. What, however, was the position of the Government? In 1892 the Members of the present Government and the whole Liberal Party in the House, and out of it, declared against the occupation of Uganda, and against the absurdity and madness of making a railway to Uganda. The Government now said that they would not go all the way with the Opposition, nor would they remain where they were, and they were now in a halfway house. They wore going to administer Uganda, but they were not going to do what their Agent, Sir Gerald Portal, told them was absolutely necessary if they established a Protectorate—namely, make a railway. He did not wonder that the Government shrunk from making a railway which would be 800 miles long, and would lead from a barren coast to a point where there was a population of 500,000 savages. The line would have to pass for 250 miles through a country which was worthless, and it then had to penetrate through a hostile country. Sir Gerald Portal said that if the Government made a railway they would have to destroy the Masai. These Masai were a sort of Highlanders, and hon. Members knew what Highlanders were in the old days. Having got the railway through the hostile country, the engineers would have to project it into the air to a height of 9,000 feet, in order to get over the mountains, and then they would have to get it down again to a level of 4,000 feet. When this had been done his right 251 hon. Friend (Mr. J. Chamberlain) said he would put his money into Uganda. Not many of the Government's supporters would go into the Lobby against them, but he was speaking the opinion of every independent man in the Liberal Party, and the opinion of the sober, common-sense people outside, when he said that the Liberal Government which proposed such a mad scheme deserved to be swept out of existence. But the Government did not propose this scheme; and the Tory Party, when it came into power, as it might very shortly, would not propose the railway either. No Government dare spend millions in the Equatorial wilds of Africa on this railway, unless it could be shown that there was substantial advantage to be gained commensurate with the expenditure. The Government were now proposing half measures. Last night they refused to divide their proposal into two parts, the Chancellor of the Exchequer having sensibly said, "I am not going to take two bites at the cherry," but to-night they were taking one nibble at the cherry, in order that it might be left to their opponents to take the full bite by-and-by. But one step would commit the country to others, just as it did in the case of Egypt and the Soudan 10 years ago, when the Liberal Government, quivering and shrinking—pressed on by the Tory Party—first said that they would not send out a man, then that they would, and finally that they would not support him properly. A small Radical minority at that time warned the Liberal Government of the consequences of their action; and the Liberal Party lived to regret they ever went to the Soudan and Egypt. Now the Liberal Government talked about going out of Egypt; but they would not be able to do so, because some Members of the Radical Party would not support them in such a policy. It was one thing to say that a marriage should not take place; but when the marriage had taken place, it was another thing to say that the two should live apart. The country was now bound by ties of honour in respect of Egypt, and likewise, when once the country had embarked upon the possession of Uganda there would be no stopping there; there would be extensions to the north, the south, the east, and the west, and there would be a huge, illimitable territory to be defended. Of course, he knew that 252 many people imagined that a nation became great by being large, just as they thought a man became strong by being fat. He had spoken strongly, because he felt strongly in this matter; not because the present danger was great, or that the present expenditure was great, but because he had lived long enough to see how nations, like individuals, were led step by step into wrong and iniquity. He warned the Government to beware always of taking a course which was not strong and in which they did not believe, and above all things he warned them to beware of taking a course into which they were urged by fear of their adversaries' criticism.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
Mr. O'Connor, I do not rise for the purpose of standing between the wrath of the hon. Member for Sunderland and the Government which he loves so well. I am not myself inclined to disagree that that Government ought to be swept out of existence; but, at all events, it is in no danger to-night, and it does not require my defence. Before I go to what is, after all, the main subject of the discussion raised by the Vote and by the Amendment, I should like to say one word on a matter which has been incidentally introduced. I refer to the new Treaty which has been made between this country and the King of the Belgians. There is no doubt whatever that that is a most important document, and I ask the Government what arrangements they propose to make in order to enable us to discuss it fully? It cannot be contended that an engagement of that kind, which everyone must see is Internationally important and raises large questions with other European peoples, should pass sub silentio without being submitted to criticism in this House. Both in foreign countries and here the Treaty with the King of the Belgians is being applauded or denounced on the ground that it is part of the policy which aims at securing a safe route for British commerce from the Cape to Cairo. I wish to ask how far that object has been secured? A considerable portion of territory has been leased to the King of the Belgians, and as long as that lease continues the King of the Belgians and the Congo State interfere with the approach of any other Power to the Nile. That is so far satisfactory. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean said that 253 the territory that had been leased was the most valuable part of the Equatorial Province. I do not think he is right, for I have been informed on the authority of persons who heard it from General Gordon that this particular territory is of no value and is not fertile. But, of course, it is important as giving access to fertile territory nearer the Nile—territory so fertile that in the worst days of Egyptian administration a very large revenue was derived from it. Therefore, this territory may well be deemed to be Internationally important, and I want to know how far it is already protected. I understand that it is protected by the fact that there has been a recognition of an Egyptian sphere of influence, and if that is true, access to the Nile from its source to Cairo has been blocked to foreign Powers. If this is so, I congratulate Lord Rosebery on having obtained a very considerable diplomatic success. Now I come to the immediate purposes of this Debate. I differ from my right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean on this question as black does from white, but everyone must admit that if you grant his premisses and facts his conclusion is logical and courageous. On the other hand, if you grant the facts and the premisses of the Government, not even their warmest supporters can pretend that their course has been equally consistent and courageous. I do no injustice to the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean when I say that he is really opposed to the extension of the Empire. It is true that he said that that was not his position, and that there might be extensions which he would support, and that he opposed this particular extension on the merits of the case. He reminds me of my friend the late Mr. Bright, who told me that he had never opposed war in the abstract, and that he had always opposed wars to which he had been hostile upon the merits of the case, but it happened that there never was a war in the lifetime of Mr. Bright which he found himself able to support. In the same way I doubt whether there ever will be an extension of the Empire which my right hon. Friend will be able to support. I can quite understand that position. Some Members hold, contrary to the prevailing opinion, that it is not the manifest destiny of this country to be a great colonising and civilising Power. All I can say is, 254 that, at all events, that has been our history hitherto, and that by proceeding upon that principle we have grown to our present greatness, and although it may be that if we abandoned that principle we might create a better England and a new England, it would certainly be a very different England from that which we have known in the pages of history from the days of Queen Elizabeth down to the present time. I greatly fear if you are to lay down the principle that the lines of Empire are now finally settled, and that in no circumstances will you overpass them, that you will put such a barrier in the way of the enterprise of our countrymen that you will materially alter their character. In fact, I very much doubt whether you will not strike at the root of the causes of our great prosperity and position. My right hon. Friend is opposed to this proposal on two grounds. He argued chiefly on what I may call the negative ground. He tried to show that neither necessity nor honour forced us to take the course which it is proposed that we should take. I think he carried his argument very much too far when he told us that there were no Treaties in existence which bound this country in honour to maintain its administration in Uganda. He relies upon a letter from Captain Lugard which appeared in The Times, and in which he stated that when he made Treaties with chiefs he explained to them, through the missionaries and interpreters, that the Treaties were being made with the Company. That is true; but since then a great change has come over the scene, and the present Government have carried the matter much further, for their officer, Mr. Macdonald, in confirming these Treaties and making new arrangements with the chiefs, actually told the interpreter, when he asked with whom he was to say that a Treaty was made, that he had better declare that it was made with the Government. Accordingly Mr. Ashe told the chief that the Treaty was made with the Government, and by that action the country was now committed to these Treaties. I say so much by way of modification of the argument of my right hon. Friend, but I am not going to press that. I will grant that after all these Treaties with savage chiefs cannot be held to be absolutely valid until they have been confirmed at headquarters,and 255 therefore if it can be proved that it is not now desirable on other grounds that we should maintain our hold of Uganda I will abandon the argument of absolute necessity and substitute engagements of honour. But what, to my mind, was the principle of strongest argument of my right hon. Friend was what I will call the affirmative argument by which he endeavoured to show that it was not desirable that we should now remain in Uganda. Let us see what that argument amounts to. In the first place, my right hon. Friend said with great force that the time had not come for occupation; that this was a country which, whatever its future might be, was not at the present time developed. He actually quoted as an illustration the case of the Punjab, and said the present policy was the same as if, when we had possession of Calcutta, we actually established ourselves in the Punjab. I am surprised that my right hon. Friend should forget that the Punjab was absolutely within our disposition; that there was no competition for the Punjab; that it was a pear we might well allow to grow until it was ripe and then fall into our laps; that it did not matter whether we took it or not, so far as our European or other rivals were concerned. But the case with regard to Uganda is that you must act at the present moment or you cannot act at all. If you leave Uganda to-day it is absolutely certain that other Powers which are practically conterminous with Uganda, that are going to Uganda, if they are not already in its borders, will never suffer Uganda to be a central of disturbance, and that they will take up the work which you have neglected to accomplish. The question, therefore, is—Can we afford, is it desirable, is it to our honour and credit, is to our interest, that we should allow this greate estate in Central Africa to fall into the hands of our rivals? You cannot dispute the way I am putting the question. I admit the affirmative has to be proved, and my right hon. Friend at once negatives it. He says this estate is a worthless estate. He says, "By the confession of the people whom you have appointed to inquire into the matter it has no commercial value." I was perfectly astounded when I heard that from my right hon. Friend, who is usually well informed on all such matters. Where does he get his information that Uganda is so valueless? Sir Gerald 256 Portal says it is a great potential market for British goods. Captain Lugard, Sir Gerald Portal, and everybody who has been in the country, says it is a country of great capability, and that it is a fertile soil. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, who knows Uganda better than the people who have lived in it, says the country is impossible for European colonisation. That is not the opinion of Sir Gerald Portal, who says the climate is temperate, the rainfall moderate, and on the whole the country is by no means unhealthy for Europeans if they exercise ordinary care. But even if the country were not capable of European colonisation, is that a reason why it should not be a valuable property? I believe India is not suitable for colonisation, and on the principles of the hon. Member for Sunderland—I will not attribute anything of the kind to my right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean—we ought to abandon India as he wants us to abandon Uganda. I have said that this is a great potential market, and the hon. Member sneered at the word "potential." That is perhaps the point of difference between us. It is not an existing market; I grant it has no value at the present moment. The whole of the existing trade with Uganda would be but a mere drop in the vast ocean of British trade. When Columbus discovered America exactly the same thing might have been said, and if my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland had been a grandee at the Spanish Court he would have strongly recommended Ferdinand and Elizabeth to have nothing to do with it. The argument is perfectly ridiculous and absurd. I have spoken of America. What was America when it was discovered, before railways were made and communications opened up? I will come down to a later period. What were the new countries at the Cape, Griqualand, Bechuanaland, Mashonaland, and Matabeleland within the recollection of every man in this House? They were all valueless; they were all great potential markets, and my hon. Friends would have rejected their possession by this country, and would have said it was useless to construct railways and spend "the taxpayers money, because at the moment when we acquired possession of them their trade was really valueless and non-existing. Then we are told of the cost of life and treasure that will be involved 257 in taking possession of this country. The right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean spoke with great indignation of the wars provoked in Uganda by the presence of the English and of foreigners. My right hon. Friend made a statement which I must respectfully dispute. He said one of these wars, the latest, was unfortunately worse and more costly as regards loss of life than all the wars which had preceded it in native times. That statement is contradicted by everybody who has any practical acquaintance with the country. Before the British missionaries were in Uganda there were most desperate inter-tribal struggles, the greatest brutalities, the most ferocious ill-treatment of the people by their chiefs and leaders, and I will undertake to say in one year of that administration more lives were lost than will be lost in the whole course of British administration. Let us look at this as practical and sensible men. We talk of the loss of life involved in pacifying a great country. I suppose thousands and tens of thousands of Indians perished in the wars of Clive and the wars which followed the administration and victories of Clive; but does anybody deny that since that time the population of India has increased 30 or 50 per cent., that millions and millions have been added to the population, and that the whole loss of life, if it could be summed up, which followed from British intervention is a mere nothing to the loss of life which went on before we came into the country, and to the terrible loss of life that would have gone on if we had not established that great pax Britannica which is the pride of this country. Then, again, my right hon. Friend spoke of the Soudanese who are now acting in Uganda as soldiers so ferocious that they would have to be got rid of, and said that the country could only be administered by a large force of British officers and new troops. Those who know the Soudanese take a totally different view of them.
§ *Sir C. W. DILKE
I assumed that there would be no change in the troops, and that the Soudanese would remain there, and quoted the Commissioner to the effect that there would be no real peace in the country till they were removed.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I am not acquainted with the passage or its context. Of course, I do not dispute the accuracy of my right hon. Friend's 258 quotation, but from information that has reached me I am led to believe that the Soudanese soldiers in Uganda are much the same as they are in Egypt—they are great ruffians if not properly treated and kept in order: but if they are well treated and are under British officers they are brave and well-ordered men. I have no doubt, therefore, that although when left to themselves they may have been guilty of all the offences that have been ascribed to them, they will, when properly commanded, make admirable troops. Then, as regards the cost of managing the country, Sir Gerald Portal, who is the best authority on the subject, places it at £20,000 a year with a railway, and £38,000 a year without a railway. But grant that it will cost £100,000 a year, what the House has to consider is not the prime cost of acquiring such a country, but what the probable future results will be to us. If we are right in saying that there is probably as great a future for Uganda as has come about in the countries north of Cape Colony, or in Canada, or the United States, or even in tropical colonies, then why should we begrudge such a sum as £100,000 per annum to secure this great possession. My right hon. Friend, I suppose, admits that upon this hypothesis he would be willing to make this investment. But are we to take no risk in the matter. Of course, if any one had been asked at the moment that we had first taken possession of any of our colonies what was the value of the territory we then acquired, he would have been unable to have given a reply. What I say, however, is that our chances in Uganda are just as good as they were in any of those colonies. I contend that it is our duty to open up new markets from time to time, and that, if necessary, we must incur some little risk in doing so. I have finished with the argument of my right hon. Friend, and I say that at all events, granting his facts, his contention is logical and consistent. But now I come to consider the course which has been taken by the Government, and if I criticise the utterances of the Under Secretary of State that criticism must not be taken by my hon. Friend as personal to himself. I, in common with the rest of the House, have learned to appreciate his ability and straightforwardness and his logical mind. But on the present occasion he was the mouth- 259 piece of the Government, and if his speech was halting, inconsistent, and undignified—if it were so—I say it forms no ground for accusation against my hon. Friend, but is due to the fact that the policy which he is advocating—the policy of the Government—is incomplete, halting, unsatisfactory, and undignified. Let us see what the policy is. The Government absolutely refused to look this great question in the face, and afterwards they refused to admit the consequences which necessarily flowed from their own action. Do you deny that this is the first step, and that it must be followed by many others? Do you doubt for a moment that the things which the Government now refuse to do will within the next 10 years have to be done? I call the conduct of the Government in this matter, therefore, inconsistent and undignified. It is undignified for the Government to endeavour to shroud the matter in mystery and to keep it from the House and from the country. The Government actually profess to be helpless in the matter. The Government give us to understand that their hands are tied, that they have done this for the purpose of satisfying the Member for Sunderland, and that they do not approve of the policy which they are forced to pursue. They tell us that it follows as a legitimate consequence of the action of the preceding Government. In one respect at least they have gone beyond the policy of their predecessors; so they have in another. The preceding Government confined their operations to Uganda, but the present Government through Colonel Colville, who must have had written instructions—and I should very much like to see those instructions—carried their operations 600 miles beyond the territory occupied by the late Government. And yet they pretend that their hands have been forced, and that circumstances have been too strong for them; but they are afraid of what their own supporters, of what the Opposition, and of what the country would say to them; and they plead for mercy on the ground that if they refused to maintain the Protectorate over Uganda they as a Government would be destroyed; and, to use the words of the Under Secretary, they would have no heart or capacity to proceed to the great social reforms to which they are pledged. We were told by my right hon. Friend the Member for 260 the Forest of Dean that Uganda was not valuable in itself, but was only valuable as a road to another place. Now, we know where Uganda leads to. Uganda is the road to the Local Veto Bill. I can only say that if I agreed with my right hon. Friend and with the principles he has laid down—if I agreed even with the inferences which I think might fairly be drawn from the speech of the Under Secretary—I should consider that it was a matter of honour to refuse to carry this matter further; and if the Government hold that opinion they ought to come out of Uganda, and ought not to go on with this merely to retain Office. Under these circumstances, what ought I to do? My views on this question are well known; I am in favour of the policy of extension. I am in favour of holding Uganda, and of maintaining and developing that country. I am clearly of opinion that this is for the benefit of this country. But I am not in favour of the reasons which the Government give for their policy, or of taking the country and merely holding it. But I suppose we are bound, under existing circumstances, to accept the Government policy. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us yesterday that he could not answer our questions because he was embarrassed. I suppose the Government are now embarrassed by a following of their supporters, and cannot, therefore, disclose their whole policy to the Committee. But as I am convinced that, whether they disclose it or not, they must mean it, and as I know the result of their policy and that, though they may postpone them, they cannot entirely put them off, as they will not go for the whole, I am prepared to support them in going for a small portion. I take exception to several points in the Government statement. In the first place, I take exception to the extent of the Protectorate. It is not to extend to the surrounding countries. But, although it is not to be extended to those countries, the Administrator in Uganda is to look after the chiefs of those countries and to make arrangements with them to insure the peace of the country, the prevention of slavery within their territories, and to exercise supervision, which is to involve inspection, over the acts of the chiefs, who are not to be allowed to make any move, or to take any action with regard to rival chiefs, or to encourage slavery, 261 or to hinder commerce within their own territories. The Government are to prevent all these things, and yet not to interfere with the independent administration of those countries. Nothing more illogical than this has been put before the House of Commons. It would have been much better to have said at once that a Protectorate was to be established not merely over Uganda, but over the surrounding territories. But, Sir, just look at the administration to be created! I will venture to say that in the whole history of this country there has never been devised by the wit of man an administration so complicated or so certain to lead to irritation and failure as the administration of these countries announced to us to-night by the how. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State. What is there to be? In the first place, an Administrator or Commissioner for Uganda—Uganda will be left in the air. Between Uganda and the coast there is to be a Sub-Commissioner, who is to look after the way, a ten-mile strip of territory. There is then to be in Zanzibar the independent administration of the Sultan. There is also to be in Zanzibar a control exercised by a Consul General acting under the Foreign Office here; and, lastly, there is to be the Chartered Company, which is to be allowed to continue to exist at a price to be fixed by Her Majesty's Government. There are thus six conflicting authorities to be established. Then we are told it will be valueless. I should think it would be valueless under a system such as this. It would be impossible to devise a more extraordinary and unparalleled arrangement. Here is Uganda in the air. The interests of Uganda depend upon the communication to the coast, and yet the Commissioner of Uganda is to have no control over it. That is to be attended to by a Sub-Commissioner. The interests of Uganda in the communication are infinitely more important than the interests of Zanzibar, yet the Commissioner of Uganda, if he wants to make any communication to the Sub-Commissioner, will have by a process of circumlocution to communicate first with Zanzibar, Zanzibar will have to communicate with the Sub-Commissioner, and then, perhaps, after further communication, what the Commissioner of Uganda requires may possibly be done. Then we are told that you cannot make a railway in Uganda 262 because of the Masai. Has my right hon. Friend who alluded to them ever heard of their cattle? They depend entirely upon their cattle, and their cattle have been so largely destroyed by the plague that the Masai people have no longer the power nor the will to do the mischief they previously did. But grant, for the sake of argument, that they are the Highlandmen of the earlier time, what is to be the position of their unfortunate Sub-Commissioner? He is left alone in the middle of Africa, 240 miles from Zanzibar and 600 miles from Uganda, and this wretched man is to be exposed, with two or three assistants, to the onslaughts of this terrible tribe. I think there ought to be a little logic and consistency in the arguments of the Government. If the Masai are so terrible that they can prevent you from making a railway, at all events we ought not to send this miserable Sub-Commissioner to perish there in consequence of the misconduct of the same tribe. Then the same question arises with regard to the Chartered Company. We are not told what is to be done with them. The proper home for the administration of East Africa is at Zanzibar, and in order that it may be properly conducted there ought to be a proper administrator there. We ought to do away with this puppet Sultan, under whose imaginary responsibility we cover up our evil deeds—this Sultan who is absolutely our creature, whom we appointed, and with whom we could arrange to-morrow. Is it not a monstrous thing that we should allow this terrible evil of slavery to exist under cover of his responsibility? I have spoken hitherto of the commercial interests of this country, and I am not ashamed to have done so, because I believe that upon them depends the very existence of the nation. If we want proof of that we have had it in the last year or two, for with other markets close to us the vast proportion of our own population must starve unless we can open up new sources of trade. But I would also deal with the interest this country has taken in the suppression of the Slave Trade. We have spent for years something like £100,000 or £200,000 a year on a slave squadron. I say that has always been a very doubtful policy. It is very expensive, and I doubt if it has ever been very efficacious, and there is no 263 doubt it enormously increased the horrors of the trade. The carriage of slaves, in view of the patrolling of the waters by the British squadron, was conducted in circumstances which made the condition of the slaves much worse than it otherwise would be, and hundreds of thousands of slaves perished. Therefore I doubt whether it was efficacious; but at all events the time has gone by. The circumstances are entirely changed. At the time when we established the slave squadron we could not get into the interior; we had no right there; and at the time we established the slave squadron we were able to control large territorial waters. Now the territorial waters by new arrangements of Germany and the territorial waters of Portugal by old arrangements are closed to our ships. We had the Treaty right to control the waters of Madagascar, but since the occupation of Madagascar by the French, though I believe a considerable slave trade is carried on on that island, we have voluntarily abandoned the exercise of our legal right. Therefore the power of the slave squadron is practically confined to the open waters, where it is of no use, and to the waters around Zanzibar and Pemba. We can use the money much better, and we can do the work by two actions on our part. In the first place by abolishing the legal status of Zanzibar and Pemba; and it is disgraceful to us, with our hypocritical pretences in face of foreign nations, that we should allow that status to remain. There is no difficulty whatever in abolishing the status. The only objection is the possibility of irritation which may be created on the part of Arab traders. But if the Empire of Great Britain, after all the sacrifices we have made, is now going to shrink from the irritation and opposition of a score of Arab traders, it is about time that we abandoned the mighty attitude we have taken up on this question. The second thing we ought to do is to establish our rule in some serious form in the interior of the country. What is the great cause of slavery, the great source of slavery? In the first place, the inter-tribal warfare — that accounts for the vast number of slaves brought down to the coast or who are employed in the interior; and in the second place, the want of porterage where it is necessary to the life of the country. Both those things might be 264 destroyed so far as British territory is concerned, and one thing which will do it more than anything is the making of a railway. Captain Lugard has been quoted to the effect that there is no large amount of slavery in the British territory of Uganda. That is true. There has been in past times, but at present, when Germany has destroyed the legal status of slavery, when Portugal and the Congo Free State are making efforts to put down slave raids, what will inevitably happen will be this, that this traffic will be squeezed into British territory, and, unless we take precautions, it is inevitable that the trade which is being destroyed in those foreign countries will come to the country where alone it can seek a benevolent neutrality. In order, therefore, that slavery may be put down, a railway should be made. Give up your slave squadron; accept the control of the waters of Zanzibar and Pemba. Having done that, you have done all you can do at sea. You may take as low a sum as £50,000 at least for the present expense of the slave squadron; and then you may devote yourselves to the great interests of your country, and to the destruction of this abominable traffic in slaves, by developing the interior of the country. I shall say one word as to the cost. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, who knows more about the making of a railway in a tropical country than the engineers who have been sent to report, says in effect it is almost beyond the wit of man to make a railway through swamps and jungles up 9,000 feet and through trackless forest. At any rate, he says, if you are to attempt a gigantic and colossal task of this kind you will be flinging millions away. What are the facts of the case? The Commission which was appointed to report on this particular subject, followed by Sir Gerald Portal, told us that the great object which we have in view would be sufficiently achieved by the making of a railway to Kikuyu, and this would be readily made for £900.000. A guarantee of this amount is £27,000 a year. That is the risk which the hon. Member shrinks from undertaking, although I think he is willing to expend much larger sums on much more questionable undertakings. My hon. Friend asks, "Would you put a penny in Uganda?" What an absurdity! Uganda is one of the most promising in regard 265 to the capacities of production of any of the countries which have been recently surveyed. I am not speaking of the possibilities of mining enterprise and matters of that kind, which can be dealt with only at a later period; but it is possible to grow wheat, cotton, tea, tobacco, coffee, and fibre. They are all products in large demand. But who is going to put a farthing in one of those industries at a time when it will cost him £300 a ton to bring those products down to the coast? It is clear that a railway must precede the investment of capital. Then my how. Friend says, "Why not put money in the railway?" Because it is not a fair thing to expect of men engaged in private enterprise that they should put money into an investment which may be a very good thing in the course of years, but which cannot possibly pay for 10 years, or it may be for 20 years to come. I am putting, hope, the case perfectly clearly. You cannot expect private individuals to put their money into an undertaking when it is perfectly obvious that it cannot be profitable for many years to come. No one would do so even in the case of an English railway unless he were sure of receiving some interest on his money from the first. What it comes down to, therefore, is this: Either the Government must make the railway or it will not be made at all. It is quite unfair for any Government with the command of an unlimited capital to expect private individuals to do that which they themselves would shrink from doing. The Government must be prepared to deal with this matter in the same way as a private individual treats his own property where it is possible for him to develop it in the course of, it may be, some five, six, or even ten years. He may have to expend a considerable amount of capital at first to open it up, but he knows that in a few years it will make him a very handsome return on his outlay. It is just so with the Government in the present case. I am not afraid to put this question to my fellow-countrymen. Will you as shareholders in this great country be content to put in the paltry sum of £30,000, or let us even say £50,000, a year for the ohances of a great and profitable, perhaps an extraordinarily profitable, investment? I have, I think, exhausted the arguments which I wished to bring before the Committee. This is not a case, I own, of 266 absolute necessity; nor can I put it as high as to say that it is absolutely required for the prosperity of the country. I know that an investment, moreover, such as this must be attended with some risk, and possibly even with the spilling of some blood. What I ask is, Will the Government give this extension a fair chance? It is not giving it a fair chance if you merely take possession of the country and leave it in that position in which you found it. Those who think with me in this matter are bound to vote with the Government. But, at the same time, I think that we should also have an early opportunity of deciding whether or not we are going to carry on the extension sufficiently to make it a profitable undertaking. If we are not going thus to carry it on, we would be much wiser to accept the views expressed by the right how. Member for the Forest of Dean, and leave it to other nations to finish the work which we were too weak, too poor, and too cowardly to do ourselves.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. BRYCE,) Aberdeen. S.
said, that he was sorry to say that very few minutes were left to him in which to endeavour to deal with the various topics which had been raised in the Debate, and to answer the question which had been addressed to the Government as to its policy. However, this was perhaps of less importance, since the speeches which had been made on each side of the House that evening had to a large extent answered each other. Some of them expressed too sanguine a view of the prosperity of the country, while others, on the contrary, were not hopeful enough. The hon. Member for Northampton had spoken of Africa as a barren land, while the right how. Member for West Birmingham had compared Uganda to India and the United States, the only difference being that Africa had not as yet been so well explored as the other two countries. He could not imagine any comparisons more delusive than those made by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham when the climatic and other conditions were taken into account. In India we found a population which only desired to be allowed to labour and which was willing to produce a supply of food and raw materials; but these; circumstances did not exist in Central Africa; and. whatever return was to be looked for, it 267 must come at a far later date and after much larger initial expenditure than was necessary in the case of India. But while the Government did not take the sanguine view the right hon. Gentleman had taken, they did net share the gloomy anticipations of the hon. Member for Northampton. He did not put the case on the observance of Treaties or the protection of missionaries. The case he put was that of a Government entering upon Office and finding certain facts in existence and certain conditions created which called for action on its part. They were assured by the best authorities, confirmed by Sir Gerald Portal, that if we were to leave the country and remove British control, anarchy, civil war, and general massacre would be the results. After the news of the Company's withdrawal first arrived there were several months during which the country had time to make up its mind, and from every quarter, whether on behalf of missions, commerce, or humanity, there came Petitions and Memorials against our abandoning the obligations we had undertaken. Therefore, the Government had not any substantial doubt as to the course they ought to pursue. As to the Agreement with the King of the Belgians, their view was that it was in conformity with the spirit of the Anglo-German Agreement of 1890, and was on the same lines so far as it affected the delimitation of the British sphere of influence. He was very far from subscribing to the doctrine that the agreement was intended to carry out what had been described as the policy of Cairo to the Cape. That was going far beyond any declarations that had fallen from any responsible Government of any Party. With reference to another question put, he had to say that the agreement contained the whole terms which had been come to between Her Majesty's Government and the King of the Belgians. It would, he believed, be necessary to present another Estimate, but they expected that this would only be in respect of certain capital expenditure which would have to be made in the provision of boats upon the lakes and other matters of a like character. The question of the administration of Zanzibar was a large question, which he was not prepared to discuss upon the Uganda Vote. It was only four years since the Zanzibar Protectorate was assumed; a new Sultan had 268 come into power within that time, and there had not been time to deal with all the questions which the Protectorate raised. It was the earnest wish of the Government, however, to take the earliest possible means of putting an end to slavery in Zanzibar. Steps had already been taken for that purpose. The number of slaves was now diminishing rapidly. They had every reason to think there was no considerable importation of slaves. The most strenuous efforts had been made to stop it. It was believed that slavery was rapidly dying out of the country, and that in a few years it would cease to exist. The Government were quite aware of the difficulties connected with the administration of the country between Uganda and the coast, and it was hoped that means would be found of dealing with them. The Committee might rest assured that all that was necessary would be done to secure safe communication and to provide that there should be no disturbance, and no crimes committed for which some remedy would not be found. The question of the railway was one of great interest, but he would point out that the Government had taken a large step in advance when they occupied Uganda at all, established an administration there, and undertook to regulate the relations of Uganda with the surrounding territories. When they had had some little time in Uganda, and when the Commissioner had had some experience of the country, it might be possible to discuss-the various questions raised with regard to that railway in a manner which was not possible now. All he could say at present was that they had no information which entitled the Government to make any propositions to the House. It was clear that when an administration was established in Uganda, and British enterprise began to turn its eyes in that direction, the whole question of communications would come to be considered in a different light and under favourable conditions which at present were altogether absent. They felt they would be going very much in advance of what their knowledge and public opinion would sanction if they made any proposal on the subject. They thought as much had been done as could be done now, and they were persuaded that the moderate course they suggested) was one which would meet with the-general approval of the House and which 269 the country itself was prepared to sanction.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I can assure the Committee that I do not wish to deprive the Government of the pleasure of the Division which they are about to take. It will, no doubt, be a great satisfaction to them to see the amount of support which they will receive from their own friends upon this question. I may say that it is a matter of regret that the time is not sufficient to enable us to hear a speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has given us as much information as were possible in the time at his disposal; but the Committee will feel, looking at the magnitude of the subject, and the length of some of the speeches which have been made, that altogether the time which has been available has not been adequate. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs made a most able speech, but it was a speech which was marred, by two great blots. It was not worthy of the hon. Gentleman to say that the working classes must be considered in this matter, and that the Government were compelled to deal with Uganda as they had dealt with it, and in the main to the satisfaction of those who sat on the Opposition side of the House, because otherwise they would not have had time for the Budget and their Registration Bill.
§ *SIR E. GREY
said, he might have expressed himself badly, but the House would believe him when he said the intention of his argument was that a Government which took a narrow view of its responsibility in one quarter would take a narrow view of its responsibility in another.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I did not understand that the Under Secretary was making such a satirical observation with regard to the Leader of the House of Commons, because it is the Chancellor of the Exchequer who hitherto has taken the narrow view as regards the responsibilities of this country in Uganda. But the point I wish to put to the House is that the time which has been available for this discussion has not been adequate, more especially to discuss what the Government has not done. There is a general opinion on the part of the 270 majority of the House that the action taken by the Government is not sufficient; it is condemned by their own supporters. Those friends of the Government who are opposed to their policy still say that if this policy is to be carried out at all without the railway it will be futile. That is the opinion of the majority on this side. Under the circumstances, I trust that on Report the Government will give us the opportunity of a further discussion to see whether the House does not think that this £50,000 a year which it is proposed to spend will be wasted owing to the want of the railway.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes 218; Noes52.—(Division List, No. 70.)