§ [FIRST DAY'S DEBATE.]
(5.10.) COL. HARRY MCCALMONT (Cambridgeshire, Newmarket)
In rising to discharge the responsible but honourable task that has this day been allotted to me, I must first crave that indulgence which has always been accorded by this House to the Mover of the Address, especially when he is one who, as in my case, has never previously trespassed upon the patience of Members. His Majesty, in the gracious speech he has just now delivered to us, as is most natural, touches in the first place, on the safe home-coming of their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, after a long but memorable voyage, in the course of which they have visited every country and dependency of this great Empire. It is indeed most gratifying for the country to be able to look back on that voyage, and reflect that for upwards of six months their Royal Highnesses were travelling round the world, during which period they never set foot on territory over which the British flag did not fly, and throughout the whole of which time they were not in any place where the English language was not spoken, and, in the words of the Address, 87 "they had everywhere been received with demonstrations of the liveliest affection." I am sure the voyage has done very much to cement the component parts of this Empire, and that the loyal feelings throughout the Colonies have been increased and accentuated by that royal progress which came to such a happy conclusion in the month of November last.
His Majesty next deals with his friendly relations with other Powers. I am sure the country is to be congratulated on the existing state of affairs, especially with regard to our present cordial relations with the United States of America, when one thinks that the clouds have disappeared entirely from that part of the political horizon which loomed so darkly there not so long ago when differences of opinion arose on the Venezuelan question; differences which threatened to plunge us into a struggle with those we look upon as kinsfolk across the Atlantic; a struggle which would have been more disastrous than one with any other country to which we were not so bound by blood, language, and tradition. I am glad to learn that in place of those differences these friendly relations exist, and I hope that the treaty just concluded, and whatever other negotiations may be entered into between the two great English-speaking countries of the world may be conducted with that spirit of mutual regard and respect which now happily prevail, and that such measures may be of benefit, not only for those countries themselves, but also for the prosperity of the trade and commerce of the whole of the civilised world.
I think I am justified in touching for a moment upon the paragraph of the Speech which refers to the succession to the throne of the New Ruler of Afghanistan. The affairs of that country have in the past caused grave and serious complications on our Indian frontier, and that country itself has been more than once the scene of military operations of no small character. I think we could not, therefore, be indifferent to anything which tends to the peace and internal quiet of the great neighbouring State on the North Western boundary of the Indian Empire. It was with feelings of grave apprehension that the country learnt of the death, last autumn, of the late Ameer, who had always proved himself to be a true friend of Great Britain, and it was feared that internal complications might ensue in 88 determining the succession to the Throne, but thanks to the sagacious, firm rule of the late Ameer and the steps he had taken to insure the undisputed succession, the change of sovereignty was assumed under circumstances which gave fair indications of a peaceful and prosperous reign.
If I pass over the topics of domestic legislation referred to us for consideration, it is not because I in any way wish to disparage their importance, but it is because there is one other question which is at present engaging, if not monopolising, the attention of all His Majesty's subjects, both in this country and throughout the world. I refer, of course, to those paragraphs in the most gracious message from the throne, which deal with the conflict still unhappily raging, but, I am glad to say, with steadily diminishing resistance, in those parts of the King's dominions situated in South Africa. There is no attempt in the passages of the Speech devoted to this subject to minimise the difficulties which confront us. The situation, fortunate or unfortunate as it may be deemed by those who hold conflicting opinions, is honestly laid before us, and the only possible policy to pursue in the existing circumstances—and to them I shall revert later—is forcibly brought to the notice, not only of this House, but also of the country and the Empire.
We are told that the war in South Africa has not yet been concluded, though the course of operations has been favourable to our arms; that the area of the war has been largely reduced, and that industries are being resumed in the new Colonies; that the soldiers have throughout displayed a cheerfulness in endurance, and have shown a humanity in the treatment of the enemy deserving of the highest praise; that the necessity of relieving those troops who have felt the long strain of the campaign, has again afforded His Majesty an opportunity of accepting those loyal and patriotic offers made by New Zealand, the Commonwealth of Australia and the Dominion of Canada. It is easy, Sir, to read in these lines and between these lines the trend of events, and to note the estimate formed by those most capable of arriving at an accurate judgment of the progress made towards a settlement, which we know to be inevitable, which we trust may be speedy, and which 89 when once arrived at we feel may be permanent.
The obligations of duty and honour imposed upon the British Nation by the insolent ultimatum sent, upwards of two years ago, by the then Presidents of what were known as the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, were recognised at that time not only by Members on both sides of this House, but also by every section of the community outside these walls, and last, but not least, by all those peoples of the self-governing Colonies beyond the seas, who have proved their allegiance to the Sovereign of this Realm and have shewn their devotion to the Empire to which they belong by a voluntary participation in the struggle into which we were then plunged. When things looked blackest in the early part of the war, they rallied to our assistance, and they have continued since then to send their sons to stand shoulder to shoulder with the men of the Mother-country, and even now, after two years of war, when they know full well the hardships and privations of a long-drawn-out campaign, when they know there is no prospect of any decisive and exciting battle, yet we still witness their hearty response to the call of Imperial duty, we find them still ready and anxious to take their share of the burden, and to stand fast by the land from which they have sprung.
Well, Sir, the obligations thus imposed upon us and thus recognised on all sides have not lost but rather increased in gravity with the course of the past two years. Briefly summarised, they behove us to adopt every precaution and every safeguard to prevent a recurrence of those evils which have disturbed the peace of South Africa for upwards of a generation, and which have culminated in this struggle, with its deplorable loss of valuable treasure, and its still more deplorable loss of invaluable lives. The one great safeguard—annexation, or, as some may prefer it, incorporation—of the territories of the two Republics, has, I believe, been challenged by no responsible statesmen in this country. Whatever differences there may be—and I am aware there are differences—are not with regard to the end in view, but rather with regard to the steps to be taken to gain that end. I am aware that in some quarters there is an expressed desire for opening or re-opening negoti- 90 ations, either with the self-exiled Boer Executive now in Europe, or with the leaders of those commandoes still in the field against us in South Africa. Now, Sir, the very essence of negotiation is to have a basis whereon to negotiate. If between two parties there is an essential principle upon which neither side will give way, then negotiation is futile. Such a principle, I maintain, exists in what we call annexation, or, if you like it, incorporation, and what the Boers, from their point of view, call absolute independence. I beg hon. Members not to be deceived upon this point. It has been my fortunate lot, and an honour which I would not have foregone, to have served with the Army sent to that country two years ago, and in the course of my duties, extending over more than a year, I was brought into contact with various individuals, official and otherwise, members of those communities with whom we are at ware, and the one thing that they appear to care for, and for which they are struggling with a persistency we cannot but respect, while we deplore its consequences, is their absolute independence, not only of British rule, but also of British ideas. That is the gulf which divides us. The question, as the High Commissioner pointed out long before the war, is not one of flags or political institutions, but of opposite and irreconcilable systems. The differences which led to the struggle in which we are engaged do not date from the Bloemfontein Conference, nor from the deplorable Jameson Raid, nor even from the Convention signed after the disaster at Majuba. They date from the first occupation by the British of the Cape of Good Hope, and are similar in character to that difference which De Tocqueville foresaw would produce, and which did produce, the desperate duel between the Northern and Southern States of America. It is the radical difference of the view taken respectively by Dutch and British of the place assigned to the coloured races in the scheme of creation. It was this irreconcilable antagonism which led to the battle of Slagter's Nek within a year of Waterloo, and which prompted the great Trek, an incident which severed politically the Dutch in South Africa, but yet left them the same stand point of common nationality in their attitude towards the native races. The Boers know as well as we 91 know that any grant of autonomy, however liberal and however nearly approximating to complete internal independence, will be coupled with a fixed resolve in the mind of the Imperial Government (from whichever party it may be selected) that British, not Dutch ideas, as to the treatment of natives shall henceforth be paramount and immutable. And in this reference to the cardinal difference of ideas between British and Dutch as to the treatment of the native population, I am not considering the question of political rights or the share of the natives in any future political representation. That is a subject which lies far beyond the scope of my remarks. Rather, what I have in mind is a fair dealing with the lower types of civilization, and the rightful claim they have upon a superior race to be treated according to the principles of humanity and justice as established by Great Britain in all her dealings with the native races throughout all her dependencies.
It is against this substitution of the British system for the Dutch system that the Boers are still engaged in their stubborn and relentless resistance, and on this point neither His Majesty's Government nor his subjects throughout the world will ever agree to a compromise. My own conviction, based upon personal observation, is that conciliation and clemency, after the Boers have accepted our light and easy yoke, may and will work wonders towards acquiescence, but that any trifling with those principles which, to the eternal credit of the British race, have always governed our dealings with natives, though it might for the moment secure a sham and artificial peace, would certainly, in a future not very remote, be productive of evils greater and more formidable than those with which we now have to cope.
Now, Sir, one word as to the manner in which this war has been conducted. The true history of the war may not be written and published for many years, and a new generation may, in the course of time, have at their disposal facts, and the fulfilment of facts, which we at this moment do not possess. Yet one fact will assuredly stand out prominently, and be handed down as a record of impartial history—that this war has been conducted with a degree of humanity 92 and forbearance unknown in the annals of armed conflicts. The British soldier, of whatever grade, be he Regular or Militiaman, Yeoman or Volunteer, whether town-bred, country-bred, or Colonial, will be found to have proved himself throughout this long and trying time to have behaved, even to his detriment, as humanely and as kindly in his dealings with a civil population abandoned by their own protectors to his charge, as he has always been cheerful under privations and heroic in action. The calumnies heaped upon him by irresponsible individuals, 6,000 miles from the scene of action, have been more than refuted by the testimony of those who accompanied him in the field. And the very fact that our enemies, headed by their own aged President, did not hesitate to leave in his hands all those nearest and dearest to them, proves that they regarded the British soldier as worthy of the character he has always borne—namely, that of a hero and a gentleman.
I must apologise, Sir, for having detained the House so long, and so exclusively on the few passages in the gracious Speech from the Throne which I have quoted, but my excuse must be the deep anxiety I have in the final settlement of South Africa, and my interest in maintaining and upholding the unblemished reputation which our army has in the mind of every one who has taken any part, however humble, in this great struggle. I beg to move the Resolution.
§ (5.27.) SIR EDGAR VINCENT (Exeter)
I rise to second the Address which has been proposed in such vigorous terms by the hon. Member for the New market Division. In doing so, I am profoundly sensible of the honour conferred upon the ancient City which I represent, and I am no less sensible of my inability to discharge the duty assigned to me without a large measure of that indulgence and leniency which the House is accustomed to accord to those who attempt this honourable and difficult task. I had willingly seen it confided to one who, by the opportunities of his career, had enjoyed more frequent occasions of addressing public assemblies. Honourable Members who, like myself, have spent a great part of their life either in foreign lands or in one of the great Dependencies of our Empire, and who 93 have been engaged there in a life of action or of administration, stand hardly on an equality with those—their more fortunate colleagues—whose Parliamentary apprenticeship commenced immediately they quitted the public school or the University.
Sir, this session has already been marked by an auspicious event. The opening of Parliament by His Majesty in person is regarded with deep satisfaction by both Houses, and the people of this country have availed themselves with enthusiasm of the opportunity to display their loyalty and affection towards His Majesty in this the year of his coronation.
In perusing the clauses of His Majesty's most gracious message, it will be observed that no mention is made of procedure, although important changes in it have been announced on high authority. This omission is in accordance with the precedent of 1882, and is based upon the view that a modification of our method of debate is the exclusive concern of this House. The First Lord of the Treasury, speaking on this subject the other day, stated that one of the chief difficulties arose from the fact that this House contains more than 600 members who are able and anxious to take part in its discussions. I recognise the ability, but, judging from my own feelings, I am somewhat sceptical about the burning anxiety to speak. What, however, we are all anxiousto do, within the limits of our respective capacities, is to make some personal contribution of work to the accomplishment of the great task which devolves upon this Assembly. And it is rather to facilitate this, either through Committees or some other form of devolution, than to greater facilities for oratory, that I trust the modifications of procedure will tend.
Sir, I shall not detain the House by a discussion of the paragraph relating to the war in South Africa. That has been already dealt with by one who has the fullest right to speak, having devoted two years of voluntary and distinguished service to the campaign. I turn willingly from the means to the end, from the lurid and desolate picture of the war to the era of peace and prosperity which is slowly dawning over that much-tried land. Perhaps the greatest task before the House and the country is the re-settlement, the regeneration, of South 94 Africa, and it is largely by success or failure in that duty that the place in history of this Parliament will be determined. I agree with those who have said that—once peace is made—we must be generous and magnanimous to the Boers, that we must offer them every inducement to become loyal subjects of the British Crown. But, Sir, while I advocate this policy, I would not have the Government forget that racial differences are at the root of the problem in South Africa, as they are at the root of many other problems, and that it would be the height of folly to imagine that race prejudice can be quickly eradicated by generosity, however lavish. We have had enough of the doctrine that every man can be bought. If there is one clear lesson which can be learnt from recent history, it is that our sheet anchor in South Africa must be men of our own race. The great hope of abiding peace in the country, the true guarantee of stability, must bederived from a large increase of men of British blood established on the land there, men ready at call to assert their own freedom and the rights of this Empire. And I believe that there is no use to which the public funds of this country can be applied with greater benefit, there is no act of administration more truly economical in its ultimate effect, than liberal aid to new colonists of suitable character and of suitable training. The stream of emigration which flows from these shores may become, if properly directed, a potent influence of tranquillity and strength. And, Sir, I believe that we have in the Colonial Secretary a statesman who will know how to utilise in the best manner this powerful instrument of pacification.
There are many precedents for such a policy. The greatest colonising power of antiquity, the only rival in the art whose claims Great Britain need acknowledge, owed much of its strength to quasi-military colonies. The second precedent which I will adduce is of more recent date. In 1820 small colonies of English and Scotch were established by His Majesty's Government on the eastern border of Cape Colony. About 5,000 men, women and children were assisted in their passage to the Cape, and in their establishment on the land there. The total cost to this country did not exceed £70,000. Eight years later, 95 in 1900, in the darkest days for the Imperial cause, the descendants of those 5,000 colonists played a prominent—I may say a decisive—part in maintaining British authority. I think that is an example which may be followed with advantage.
I turn now to a question nearer home. An early and honourable place in the legislative programme of the present session was promised last year to the question of national education. His Majesty's Speech shows that the Government have the firm intention of redeeming their pledge at the earliest date. And, Sir, had there been no pledge and no promise, the time has come, by the consent of all, when the legislation of 1870 must be remodelled and adapted to modern conditions. This is a vital problem for the nation. I will not follow a distinguished teacher who stated the other day that the main object of education was to give men pure and salutary occupation for their leisure. That appears to me to be a limited and paltry view. I prefer to regard education as means to enable the intelligence of the country to be applied to the work of life to best advantage, and I should regard any scheme of education as defective which did not render its followers better able to help themselves and better able to serve their country. In education, as in architecture, the worst style is the ornate. This question of education has become so technical that it is perhaps rash in a mere layman to approach the discussion of it. I trust I shall not evoke dissent from any section of the House, if I express the conviction that the scheme of education which this country requires is not to be found in the schoolrooms of the Continent, but must be elaborated by independent and original English thought, guided by particular acquaintance with national characteristics and national idiosyncrasies. No observer can have seen Britons side by side with men of the different countries of Continental Europe without arriving at the conclusion that—whether we are better or worse—we are certainly different; and this difference is so profound that many nations have experienced difficulty of late in appreciating our peculiar charm and merit. The truth is, we are islanders, and as such we have an invincible prejudice against any plan or system which has been elaborated on the mainland. We must solve our own problems.
96 Sir, there is no more important paragraph in the King's Speech than that which refers to India. We may all rejoice at the improvement in the material condition of that country, at the diminution of the famine, and at the existence of a large surplus. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the present Viceroy. By a rare combination of temperament and intellect, he has been able to gratify at once the Oriental taste for splendour and the English passion for common sense and hard work.
In conclusion, the House will perhaps allow me to say a few words upon the paragraph relating to finance. I approach the subject with some hesitation, lest the strong views which I hold upon many points connected with our financial administration should tempt me to controversy, and to exceed the bounds which custom assigns to discussion on an occasion like the present. It is, however, an agreeable task to congratulate the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon the manner in which the revenue of this country has kept up, notwithstanding a slight slackening of trade, notwithstanding the inevitable strain of war. I have no knowledge of his estimates of revenue and expenditure for the coming year. But I feel every confidence that the situation will be faced upon those orthodox lines to which I profess an unswerving allegiance. Speaking for myself, my earnest desire is to see the control of this House over expenditure rendered more practical and more effective, and I urge hon. Members to establish clearly in their own minds the distinction between that control over expenditure before the event which prevents extravagance, and control after the event, and which merely aims at regularity and order. The Committee of Public Accounts performs efficient service to the State as regards the latter, but the supervision of the House in respect of possible extravagance is, in my judgment, far from satisfactory. The problem is to provide for a careful revision of our expenditure without trenching upon the functions of the whole House, which is alone competent to discuss "Policy," and without infringing the wholesome rule of Ministerial responsibility. The object I seek to attain is not a blind reduction of Estimates, but their careful, business-like discussion; still less is it to curtail the authority or privileges 97 of the Chancellor. On the contrary, I would give him in this House that support and that backing without which it appears to be impossible that any Minister, however able, can successfully resist the powerful influences constantly battling against true economy. And without economy there can be no efficiency.
I have now—I am afraid in a very imperfect manner—completed the task entrusted to me. In seconding the Address, I would thank hon. members for their courtesy, and for the generous manner in which they have permitted me to trespass upon the time of the House.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ "We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Colonel Harry M'Calmont.)
§ (5.45.) SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
Sir, I am not bold enough, and I doubt if there is any one sanguine enough, to anticipate for the House of Commons in the circumstances in which we live a calm and harmonious session of Parliament, but it is at least a pleasing thing that in the very earliest incident of our debates we should be able to find ourselves all of one accord, and I am sure that in no part of the House can there be any difference of opinion as to the admirable manner in which the mover and seconder of the Address have discharged the duty assigned to them. The hon. and gallant gentleman who moved the Address informed us that he has never addressed the House before, and this is only a fresh proof of what more than once on a similar occasion before I have directed attention to, the great reserve which the House of Commons possesses in the body of Members who are classed as silent Members. When they are called upon to take part in our discussions they may not display eloquence in its more ambitious forms, but that is an accomplishment which does not find very great 98 favour among us. But they always show that they can speak with directness, clearness, and force, and the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman confirms me in the idea that sometimes passed through my mind—that the proceedings of the House might gain something in variety, in elasticity, and in effectiveness, if some of those who are expected for one reason or another to take a large part in our debates, or who imagine that they are expected to take a large part in our debates, were periodically under some regulative rotation to change rôles with the silent Members, and I believe it would be found greatly to the advantage of either category. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address, on the other hand, has frequently spoken to us, and we have always welcomed his interference. We know how well he can fulfil any part assigned to him, and his knowledge of affairs, especially his acquaintance with the facts and theories of finance upon which he dilated in his speech, make him already an authority among us. I am sure that I sincerely congratulate both the hon. Members on the way they have discharged the duties imposed upon them.
Sir, I am sure that we shall all unite in offering our congratulations to their Majesties on the most successful voyage of the Prince and Princess of Wales and their visits to the various colonies, where their presence evoked a kindly feeling and interest going far beyond the ordinary and formal conventional loyalty. This is what we all wish to see maintained and therefore we warmly recognise the service to the country which their Royal Highnesses rendered. The other topics of public interest to which the Speech refers are not very numerous. I am glad to see in its usual prominent place in the Speech the old, familiar and long-established reference to foreign relations, because I remember that on the last occasion, or that immediately preceding, this reference was by some strange accident omitted, and although it may be little better than a form, still, it is always a satisfactory thing for us to see that His Majesty is on good terms with all the other Powers, and I hope this passage may long continue to appear in the Speech from the Throne. As to the treaty which has been formed with the United States with regard to the inter-oceanic Canal, I feel satisfied that 99 there will be no difference of opinion among us. The news of this treaty has been received with the strongest approval of the country, and this on two grounds as it seems to me. First of all, we all share the desire not only for the best relations between Government and Government, but for the best of feeling between the two peoples, and therefore we are glad to see anything which by any chance could constitute a ground of offence or difference taken away. But besides that, I think we ought to rejoice that there is a prospect of another means of communication being established between the two oceans. We have seen ourselves what great results have followed from the Suez Canal; there are no messengers of peace so effective as the trade, commerce, transit and intercourse of nations, so that anything that conduces to the extension of easy communication, must necessarily be a good thing for the world. Now, I think it would not be right, in speaking of this subject, to omit some reference to the services of Lord Pauncefote, who not only has succeeded in accomplishing this great work for his country, but who through many previous years has done a great deal to knit the two peoples together in those bonds of amity which we wish to see maintained. There is in the last paragraph a reference to which the hon. and gallant Member has already spoken—to the change of ruler in Afghanistan, and it is a satisfaction to everybody to know that the new Ameer inherits the traditional policy and disposition of his father towards this country.
Now, Sir, I come to the great question of the war in South Africa. Last year the Speech from the Throne spoke of that war as approaching its termination. This year, with a wisdom which we cannot but appreciate, the right hon. Gentlemen opposite have not advised the King to speak of any termination of the war at all. Let me say to begin with, before I enter upon this subject, that I do not intend to speak on it in any exhaustive manner just now, because an amendment to the Address will be moved by an hon. friend of mine, with the authority of myself and of my hon. friends around me, which will give an ample opportunity for entering upon the whole question. Parliament was dismissed in August last under the happy influence of certain estimates and 100 anticipations. But these estimates and anticipations have proved, as has been so often the case before, entirely illusory. The right hon. Gentleman, the Colonial Secretary, spoke of the success of the system of blockhouses. He said:—This policy has succeeded so well that the Government, with the full approval of the Commander-in-Chief and of Lord Kitchener, believe that it will be possible to bring home a very considerable number of troops at the end of the winter campaign.We all know that the 15th of September was laid down as being the date on which, for all practical purposes, the war would cease. Why has the expectation expressed in those words not been realised? There can be no surprise sprung upon the Government. In the beginning of the war we can understand their having some difficulty in measuring the task before them, but in the month of August last they were acquainted with all the circumstances, and they had the complete means of apprehending the nature of the war and the probable course of it. I do not know that the war has taken any course very different from what they might have anticipated. Has there been any failure on the part of our troops? No, Sir. As a purely civilian critic I can see no evidence whatever that any part of the failure to realise the anticipations of the Government is due to any lack of quality, or indisposition, or power, on the part of the troops. On the contrary, there has been considerable proof that they are increasing in skill, that they are getting, if I may use a homely word, the knack of such a war as has to be conducted in South Africa to an extent they did not possess before. I think it is rather surprising that it should be so, because troops scattered in small bodies in block-houses are exposed to a mode of life which is very wearisome, monotonous and depressing, and which, I should think, is not very conducive to ordinary military discipline, but we see no sign whatever of any falling off on the part of the troops. Therefore it cannot be due to that. There is no sign of deterioration whatever. The only doubtful element in the case appears to be in the matter of horses, because there are complaints of a lack of mobility, and on one or two occasions the failure to effect complete success was because the horses were 101 overdone. But we know no reason of that sort why this very explicit expectation held out to the country in August has not been fulfilled long ere this. This is not the last indication we have received of what was expected. On the 9th of November there was the ordinary Guildhall banquet, and there the Prime Minister made a speech, intended, I suppose, to re-establish the confidence of the country, which was beginning to fail in consequence of the war. [Ministerial cries of "No!"] I only meant that the country was beginning to be a little—you will object to the word impatient also, but there was an unexpected delay in the accomplishment of what was intended. The Prime Minister said this—It would be a discouragement if we had any ground for believing that we were making no progress or no sufficient progress, but there lies our difficulty. We cannot lay before you the whole circumstances of the case. We cannot tell you publicly all that is going on. We should be grossly neglecting our duty if we did so, and yet it is only by a revelation of that kind that we can give you full and entire satisfaction.So he endeavours, not, like the celebrated character in fiction, to make our flesh creep, but, on the contrary, to soothe our nerves, by announcing that there is something that if he could say it—if he dared say it—would soothe our feelings and calm our minds. And what is this something which he could say if he dared say, which would at once have relieved our feelings and calmed our minds? We are waiting to know now, this being the 16th January, and this announcement being made on the 9th November, what are the circumstances which Lord Salisbury found so consoling and which he was not able to impart to his friends. It is surely quite safe after ten weeks to let it be known. What was it? The Secretary of State for War, four days afterwards, made a speech, in the City also, in which he gave certain hopeful particulars and forecasts. That, of course, could not have been a "revelation" or a "gross neglect of duty"—that could not have been the revelation that Lord Salisbury was talking of. What was it, there fore? I expect to-night that we shall be told what this thing was—this thing which was kept back which would have filled all our hearts with hope and sent us away rejoicing, if only Lord Salisbury had been at liberty to disclose it. Surely we shall not be left under the 102 impression that there was nothing after all to tell! I expect then, if that be so, the audience he was addressing at the Guildhall, the British public and the world at large, were grossly and unnecessarily deceived. No, Sir, there must have been something, and no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will inform us of it to-night. I make the complaint in regard to the whole matter that we are supplied with such exceeding scanty and spasmodic information, even with regard to the military events. Does not every hon. Member, who hears me, agree with me in the recollection that one action will take place in which the most elaborate details are given, comments upon what has happened, reasons for certain courses that have been taken, minute descriptions of the results; and then the following week another action of exactly the same kind only receives the barest mention. Sir, this is not dealing fairly with the country, and above all, not dealing fairly with those who are the relatives and friends of the men who are risking their lives in these actions. On some occasions when I and others have complained of the lack of information from which we suffer, the Government have said, "What do you complain of? We tell you of all that we know. We know no more than you. Everything is told." I am afraid they do not better their case with that, because they have no business to be contented themselves, who have the responsibility, with such scanty information. If what we have received is all that they have received, I say they have neglected their duty in not insisting on being better informed.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
Can you give us particular instances of what you have stated?
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I cannot relate any particular case, but every week, I should say, it happens. And all this applies with equal force, but with much more deadly importance, to another side of the question—not to military operations, as to which after all some reticence may be necessary—in many cases certainly—but to the civil administration and to the way in which the lives and liberties of our fellow subjects are being dealt with. A military 103 success, or a military failure, or a military blunder is an event which occurs and has its immediate effect, and it may leave no ultimate trace of any great importance; but when we find the civil administration dealing in a reckless or injurious way with the rights and interests of our fellow citizens, then I think that is a much more serious matter, because the results remain. And we want to know with regard to the civil administration—by which I mean the protection which the Imperial Government ought to throw over the rights of our fellow-subjects. The right hon. Gentleman tosses his head with some degree of disagreement with what I said.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
It is disagreement with what I have said, not with what I am going to say. Are these things which are done out there at the Cape, done under the authority of the Government? And if not, under whose authority? That is the question, and we want an answer from the persons responsible, who are the Government of the day.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I will come to them. The right hon. Gentleman who has just asked me to what things I refer, said on the 1st July, in this House, that it was not yet possible to fix a date for the assembly of the Cape Parliament, but that Ministers hoped that it would be early in October. The reason, he said, why the Cape Parliament could not immediately meet was that travelling was unsafe. But travelling is no longer unsafe, because the blockhouses have made it safe. Next, he said, that a number of the Members were in Europe. But they have probably returned, or is it that they are waiting here because they are not quite sure that they will be allowed to land at the Cape when they go there? Again, he said, other Members are fighting invaders; but there are now no invaders in the Cape. [Hon. Members, Oh!]. It is the boast that there are none. Then it was said that there were some seats 104 vacant. Why has this illegality been permitted by which the Cape Parliament has not been summoned together when it ought to have been summoned in October? Undoubtedly that is a direct breach of the law and constitution which has been committed. The right hon. Gentleman once or twice, when I have inquired into these things, has sheltered himself behind the plea that this is a self-governing Colony. Yes it is a self-governing Colony, but the constitution of this so-called self-governing Colony has been suspended, and these very acts of which I am speaking—the continued prorogation of the Cape Parliament without being summoned at the proper time—must have received the assent of the Imperial Government, and the right hon. Gentleman is the man who must justify the proceeding, and I hope I shall find that he is able to do it.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I think we may ask the Government also to furnish us with the particulars we do not possess at all with regard to the whole administration of martial law. We are not going to be put off by being informed that when martial law is proclaimed the whole thing passes into the hands of the military authorities. At any rate, we wish to know the particulars. The Government will, no doubt, be ready now to give us those particulars which we wish—to give us a Return of the instances in which capital punishment has been inflicted under martial law, with the nature of the offence and the evidence by which it was proved; a Return of the occasions on which neighbours have been compelled to witness the executions; a Return of other sentences, with the heads of the offences charged, and the number under arrest against whom no charge has been formulated. These have occurred to me as several of the headings under which information is demanded. I will mention other particulars of this kind, and when we have these we shall be able to form a judgment of what has occurred. Stories come home—accounts in a number of newspapers—of certain things occurring in South Africa. I decline to take them as authentic in the present condition of the press in South Africa, and of the communications between the two coun- 105 tries. Remove your censorship and we shall, no doubt, get abundance of information—not always of the most accurate kind. What I ask for, and what the Government would have to produce in order to counteract any error that false information might give, is a Return of what has been done under the several heads I have stated, and then we should know where we are. There are other subjects. Farm burning was, in consequence of a debate in this House in December, more than twelve months ago, discontinued. But has it really been stopped, or is it still going on? Are we not to receive any information on the subject? I might go into another question upon which we are entirely in the dark—namely, as to what is being done now with regard to the concentration camps. What is the condition of things now? We know what the right hon. Gentleman has directed to be done, but we want to know how far it is being carried out; what steps have been taken; and what is the condition now as compared with two or three months ago. The House having met, the Government, no doubt, is prepared to give information on all these points, and until we have this information we cannot fully realise what may have happened. At present, with a strict press censorship, with a silenced press, and with the Government holding in their grasp both ends of the lines of communication between the Colony and this country, we have no certainty as to any occurrence at the Cape, while our fellow-citizens at the Cape only receive such news of opinion at home as it may please the Executive to send. We are left in the dark as to things affecting the lives and liberties of our fellow subjects, things which are being done in our name—in the name of this country, this England, the home of Constitutional liberty, the model to all the world of free government! These are the relations which, in this year of 1902, are maintained between England, the home of freedom, and one of the greatest of so-called self-administrating Colonies. We shall hear a good deal more of this before these debates are finished. I am merely putting some preliminary questions in order to obtain from the Government some declaration of what is going on, and some proofs and facts. The urgent question with regard to the war in South Africa is, of course, the possi- 106 bility of peace, and the policy most likely to lead to future security and prosperity.
Now, broadly, we believe in the necessity of establishing unmistakably our military superiority, and this has been and is being done. I do not doubt for a moment that we have the military force, if you like, to beat the Boers down to the ground, but what I do not believe in is the expediency of the policy of subjugation. Putting aside questions of humanity or of sentiment—and after all there is something in sentiment—but putting that aside altogether, I hold that it is not desirable in our own interests and in the interest of a solid and stable settlement in South Africa, which, after all, is the object we all have in view, to pursue relentlessly the course of conquest, to go on (as we are told by the latest version of the policy of the Government given authoritatively in South Africa) "squeezing the Boers and not fidgetting about negotiations."[Ministerial cheers.] That spirit and that policy are approved by being opposite. For my part, I object to such a policy. I protest against it, I abjure it in spirit and in substance. Whether we make overtures to the Boers, ["Oh, oh!"], or whether we let the Boers know that we will receive their overtures if they make them; whether we offer terms ["No!"]—I am only putting the case—or join in negotiating terms—these are questions of detail and of subordinate importance. I have said publicly before, and I say now, that on the questions on which I have spoken there is a good deal to be said on both sides, but the essential thing is to let the settlement, when you come to it, be by assent and not by force. That is the policy which we, on this side of the House, insist upon, and approve of by our actions and by our words, and that is where apparently there is a cardinal difference, as far as we are informed, between the Government and ourselves. We expect now to have an explicit statement of the policy of the Government in this matter. We have had one explanation given by one Minister and one by another, and sometimes different explanations by the same Minister. We wish these now to be concentrated in a statement of their policy in this matter. How do they propose to end this war? We wish to be clear upon this main point, which transcends all others in importance. Sir, the main object of the Amend- 107 ment of which I have spoken, and which will give ample opportunities for discussion, will be to make that aspect of the question plain, and to ascertain from the Government—if they cannot give it to-night—their positive and final decision on the question and the mode of finishing the war.
Well, Sir, that is all I am going to say on the subject of South Africa, with the anticipation that I have referred to. The other subjects referred to in the King's Speech need not detain me long. The Estimates for the service of the year, it is said, will be laid before us. We are looking to those Estimates with great interest, because the financial position of the country is really one of the greatest seriousness, and I listened with great pleasure and a good deal of sympathy to the remarks of the seconder of the Address upon the subject.
As to the matters which we may call, broadly, legislation, the first is the procedure of the House of Commons. The procedure of the House of Commons is not mentioned in the Speech, as the Hon. Member very properly pointed out, because it does not require the authority or approval of anyone outside the House itself, and therefore it would not find its proper place in the King's Speech. Now, if the Government is going to make extensive changes in the procedure of the House of Commons, I hope, in the first place, they will not make them turn too much on the convenience of Members. We are often apt, at all events, to speak, even if we do not act in these matters as if the question to be considered was the personal convenience of Members. I am perfectly sure that Members would accommodate themselves and their social arrangements to any hours and conditions which were the most favourable to the despatch of business. The next thing we have to keep in view is the effectiveness of our business rules. For my part, I am, as I have always been, perfectly ready to alter antiquated methods, to maintain, improve, and strengthen orderly procedure, and to assert in any way that is necessary the dignity of the House. But there is one class of alteration which ought to be most jealously scrutinised, and that is any proposal which will diminish the freedom and the rights of the House at large, or unduly exalt the 108 power of the Executive Government of the day.
The Education Bill which the Speech announces, will no doubt furnish ample material for lengthy debates and warm discussions. We know what the subject of education is. We have had a good deal of experience of it in the House during recent years. I hope the Lord President of the Council has by this time been able to master the technicalities of his Department, so that he may be able to guide his Department aright. I hope also that the Vice-President has been able to continue his cordial and confidential relations with all his colleagues, so that he may be able to authoritatively inform the House as to their views. There is nothing upon which the country is more united, and, indeed, more enthusiastic, at the present moment than this question of education. We all see how we have fallen behind in education, and we all realise the immense importance of having a better system than we have now. I hope that whatever the Government do they will introduce an effective system on broad democratic lines, maintaining popular control, and furnishing a real opportunity of higher learning to all in the land who have the capacity for receiving it.
The measure dealing with the London Water Supply will, I hope, take into account the views of those who are qualified to speak for the community. There is a very extraordinary phrase used with regard to the Water Bill. The Speech says that a measure will be introduced "for amending the administration of the water supply in the area at present controlled by the London Water Companies." Now there may be some truth in it, but what we want is that the area should control the Water Companies, not that the Water Companies should control the area. I do not understand how His Majesty has been induced to give his authority to such an extraordinary statement as that under the present state of things the area is controlled by the London Water Companies.
The last subject to which I shall refer is the question of Ireland. I am curious to see what the Government will definitely propose on the question of Irish land. Sir, the state of Ireland appears to me to be serious in the highest degree from every point of view. It is evident that the policy of killing a certain undesirable 109 thing by kindness has not succeeded. The revival of coercion is the gravest domestic event of the year, and it is not a favourable accompaniment to a Land Bill. We shall hear what the Government have to say in justification of their Irish policy. But I would say this—that the contemplation of the Government, after all that they have tried and done, after floundering in the old familiar and traditional ways between concession and coercion, is calculated to confirm us in our conviction of the wisdom of the policy towards Ireland and the government of Ireland which has been and is the remedy approved by the Liberal Party.
The legislative programme of the year is a modest, but I feel certain a quite sufficient programme. I do not know what estimate the Government have formed of the difficulty of passing some of these measures, but they are among the most thorny subjects with which any Government could deal. I fear, however, that all serious efforts in the direction of beneficial legislation will be hampered so long as the question of South Africa transcends all others, and occupies the minds of the people. That is the question of supreme urgency, and I only wish that I saw in the policy of the Government a better prospect of a safe and permanent solution of it.
§ (6.30.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
Before entering upon the more controversial part of the task which falls to me to-night, and before expressing the differences I shall have to express with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, let me, first of all, express my hearty agreement with the opening words of his speech. I associate myself with everything he said with regard to the admirable manner in which both the mover and the seconder of the Address have fulfilled their difficult and, in many respects, ungrateful task. My hon. friend, the mover of the Address, devoted, and, I think, wisely devoted, the greater part of a very interesting speech to certain aspects of the South African question; and everybody must have listened with the greatest attention to the views which he has formed, not merely here in England, reading the vast controversial literature which has now grown up around that subject, but actually on the spot, from personal experience and from meeting 110 those who are brought daily face to face with all the difficulties of the South African problem. The seconder of the motion began his speech by asking our indulgence on the ground that he was less fortunately circumstanced than many other Members of this House, in that much of his life had been spent away from these shores, not in the current of ordinary English public life, but in the management of affairs in far-distant parts of the world. It is true that my hon. friend is not a very old Member of this House, but every one who heard his speech will, I am sure, agree with me that there is nobody who less requires that long apprenticeship and education in the style of speech which this House likes than my hon. friend. If he has not acquired it by training and education, he is the fortunate possessor of a natural manner which I am sure this House will always admire and appreciate.
The right hon. Gentleman, having paid in very graceful terms the appropriate compliment to the mover and seconder, went on to deal with some of the questions at issue between the two parties in the House and with some of the points raised in His Majesty's Speech from the Throne. In the latter part of his speech the right hon. gentleman made some observations about procedure, naturally and properly of a somewhat superficial character. But I gathered from him that he desires two things with regard to the new rules which it will very shortly, I hope, be my duty to propose to the House. The first was that the Government would not pay much attention in their proposals to the comfort of Members of the House. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I think it is of the first importance, not on selfish but on public grounds, that we should try to arrange the business of the House to suit the comfort of those Members who are asked to partake in our deliberations; and I certainly will not yield one inch to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that, in trying to modify our rules to suit that convenience 'we are sacrificing public interests to private convenience, the interests of the country to the interests of the country's representatives. That is, I believe, not the case. I believe the two causes are bound up intimately together, and if you want our legislative work to be well done you must do something to consult 111 the convenience of those who help to conduct it. The other observation of the right hon. Gentleman was that, while he was no defender of antiquated and worn-out forms, he would strenuously oppose anything which interfered with debate.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I forget the phrase I used, but I think what I said was, anything that would interfere seriously with the rights and privileges, of the House at large and exalt the power of the Executive Government.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think on that head the right hon. Gentleman may rest easy. The Executive Government of this country are, and must always remain, the servants of the majority of this House. No alteration that could be proposed by this or any other Government can exalt the Ministers of the Crown above the will of the representatives of the people. By their favour we stand; when that favour is withdrawn we fall; and the right hon. Gentleman need be under no apprehension that anything we can propose will alter that, the very foundation of our public business.
Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say a word about education. He said the people of this country were united and enthusiastic in desiring a reform of our existing system of education. They may be enthusiastic, but I see no signs of their being united. Fortunate, indeed, will this House be if it should prove, when the Government introduce their Bill, that not only are we blessed with an enthusiastic Assembly to deal with, but that that Assembly is also united in its desire, and agreed as to the solution which is to be provided for our present educational shortcomings.
The last important observation that fell from the right hon. Gentleman, outside South Africa, which I will come to directly, was that in which he made a public reprofession of faith in the cause of Home Rule. I observe that in that respect, at all events, the right hon. Gentleman does not propose to wipe the slate. He has again told us that the party of which, if he is not the 112 leader, he is at all events the leader in this House—I never quite understood the right hon. Gentleman's position outside this House—believe Home Rule as the only way of dealing with the Irish question. I am very glad to have that public and authoritative announcement. I have observed for some years past that not the right hon. Gentleman alone, but many others of those who sit in his neighbourhood have fought very shy [some Opposition cries of "No"], yes, very shy of that question. Many of them have explained that there was not and could not be any close alliance with the Irish party except for temporary purposes. Even stronger language, I think, has been used by some of them with regard to recent utterances from the Irish benches; but I do not believe that any statesmen in the first rank on the other side have distinctly stated that the solution, in their view, of the Irish question, which, of course, no Government can escape, is Home Rule and Home Rule alone. It is an interesting and an important announcement, made, I presume, after due deliberation and after consultation with all the various sections of that party which the right hon. Gentleman is privileged to lead. As such it will be received with the utmost attention and interest in the country, and I am glad to think—or sorry to think, perhaps I should say—that my own previsions as to the position of the Home Rule question are not erroneous, and that it is absolutely impossible for right hon. Gentlemen opposite, whether they desire it or whether they do not desire it, to escape from that damnosa hereditas which has been left them by the unfortunate events of 1885.
Well, Sir, I turn from these—you cannot call them questions of secondary interest—but from these questions which the right hon. Gentleman only dealt with lightly and superficially, to that yet more important question which occupied the greater part of his speech—I mean South Africa. The right hon. Gentleman, even on South Africa, excused himself, and in my judgment was perfectly entitled to excuse himself, from developing his whole case against the Government, by reason of the fact that he and his friends are apparently agreed upon some form of Amendment, on which they are going into the lobby together, with reference to the South African policy of the Govern- 113 ment. I look forward to the terms of that Amendment with the most lively interest. I am a student in drafting. I like seeing dexterity displayed in these statements. We know in the clearest manner that on all the more fundamental points connected with South Africa there is no agreement between hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and it will, therefore, be a peculiar delight to me to see the exact form of words which is going to receive the unanimous support of the right hon. Gentlemen who sit on that front bench and of the varied parties who sit on those benches opposite. I reserve comments upon this masterpiece until I see it, and I will devote myself, necessarily, on the present occasion, to a very brief survey of some points which the right hon. Gentleman thought it appropriate to raise before we come to the great battle. The right hon. Gentleman grumbles, not for the first time, at the want of information on military matters supplied to us by Lord Kitchener.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR.
—If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that we are in the habit of keeping back items of military news of general interest he is entirely mistaken. There is no such mass of withheld information in the possession of the Government or of my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War. I do not believe there ever has been so frank a repetition to the country of the information we get from the seat of war; and when the right hon. Gentleman complains of the information, as, of course, he does complain, sent from South Africa to us here, I must ask the House to remember that the responsibilities thrown on our commanders in South Africa, the weight of their labours, and the scope of their operations are so great that we will not be parties to throwing any undue burden upon them for the mere purpose of satisfying a curiosity—which is, I admit, perfectly legitimate, I and which we are satisfying as far as we can, but which must be satisfied within reasonable measures, considering the work thrown on those who have to supply it. I should imagine there are not at this moment more hardly-worked men than Lord Kitchener and his staff, and to 114 increase the work they would have to do, and must do, if we asked them for report after report, minute after minute, would really destroy that "efficiency" about which we hear so much, and which certainly would not be increased by turning the headquarter staff in South Africa into a mere supplementary news agency. But I may satisfy the right hon. Gentleman in one respect. He complains that in respect of the civil administration very little information has been given to the House. I believe a Blue-book has been circulated to-day bringing the information we have up to the latest date. That Blue-book, if it is not in the right hon. Gentleman's hands already, will be, I presume, in the course of a few hours. Then the right hon. Gentleman turned from the ordinary questions of administration to certain questions connected with the non-meeting of the Cape Parliament, and martial law. The right hon. Gentleman asked us who was responsible for the Cape Parliament's not meeting. Sir, the persons responsible for the Cape Parliament's not meeting are the Cape Ministers; but we entirely approve of the course which the Cape Ministers have taken. We think—at least, I think—that it is pure pedantry to grumble at this temporary suspension of the Cape Constitution, considering that South Africa is now the theatre of these great military operations. You cannot separate the colony through which all the supplies go, which is the base of operations—you cannot separate that from the general theatre of war; and I believe that the Cape Ministers were most well advised in the course which they have taken; but it was upon their responsibility that it was taken and not upon ours.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The Governor on the advice of Ministers. As the right hon. Gentlemen is so particular about the phraseology, perhaps he will permit me slightly to alter the statement I made just now. I will not say, then, that the 115 Constitution has been suspended by the Cape Ministers; I will say that it has been suspended by the Governor on the advice of the Cape Ministers; and if either he or his friends can derive any advantage from that change in phraseology they are welcome to it. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has recently reminded himself of what the Constitution of a self-governing colony is, or he would know that in this matter the Governor acts on the advice of his Ministers. It is only fair, I think, to say that we entirely endorse and approve the course which the Cape Ministers have taken in this matter.
Then the right hon. Gentleman asked for information about the administration of martial law. I believe my right hon. friend the Secretary for War has asked for some information with regard to the number of cases of executions, and otherwise, that have taken place under that law, and when he obtains the information, which I hope he will do soon, it will be entirely at the disposal of the right hon. Gentleman. Then the right hon. Gentleman asks me is farm-burning given up. As we understand the matter, farm-burning is not given up in those cases where farm-burning is a military necessity. [Cheers.] I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen who cheer that statement ironically suppose that a different view of the rights of belligerents is taken by the Boers from what is taken by us in this particular. [Some Hon. Members, "Yes"] Well, it is not. The Boers are perfectly alive to the fact, as we are, that by the laws of all civilised warfare there are circumstances which render itexpedient, right, and even necessary to use the penalty of farm-burning. And when those circumstances arise I hope and believe that our Generals will not shrink even from that necessity, painful as it must necessarily be. The right, hon. Gentleman went on to complain that the laws were so enforced that we did not get that constant "stream of facts" which an hon. Gentleman sitting opposite was so anxious to obtain a few months ago, and that even our proceedings in this House and in this country were not allowed free entry into South Africa.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN dissented.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I understood that was one of the complaints 116 of the right hon. Gentleman. Well' if my information is at all correct, the right hon. Gentleman's speeches have a circulation in South Africa which they can hardly have here; they are read with delight and approval, or some of them, by those who are in arms against us; and, rightly or wrongly, the Boers suppose that in the right hon. Gentleman they have one who is likely, had he his way, to do deliberately or unintentionally a great deal that they would very much approve of. I do not know how far that is so, but the large consensus of opinion I get from South Africa is, that even military events in South Africa sink into insignificance in the Boer mind compared with the public utterances and discussions of public men in this country—that they know so little of our country, and are so ignorant of our ways, that they utterly misinterpret, as I hope and believe, the utterances of the right hon. Gentleman and some of his friends, and they think that were there a change of Government they would not only obtain much better terms than even they hope for from the party in power, but that they would be able to retain their independence, which I am quite aware that the right hon. Gentleman has told us over and over again that he thinks they ought not to have.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Quite so. But the right hon. Gentleman indicated that the point on which an attack was chiefly going to be made on the Government was in regard to the future policy connected with the settlement or the termination of the war, and he announced himself in the strongest fashion as an enemy to the policy of subjugation. I cannot, for the life of me, understand what the right hon. Gentleman's position is, and it is a sentence like that which gives colour to the Boers, belief which I have just referred to. According to the right hon. Gentleman the Boers are to be annexed and incorporated, but they are not to be subjugated. Well, what does that policy mean? If you look at one half of it it is no doubt the policy of hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House. If you look at the other half of it it is the policy of De Wet. But those two halves refuse to 117 coalesce. There may be a sentence at the beginning in favour of one policy, and at the end in favour of the other, but can you conceive a coherent scheme of action in which the Boers shall be incorporated without their being first subjugated? Of course, the right hon. Gentleman may take the view that they are anxious to surrender any hope of further independence, and are desirous of at once terminating the war and becoming willing subjects of His Majesty. But there is not the slightest indication that that is the case. If anybody will impartially survey the negotiations which took place in the early part of last year with Lord Kitchener, if they will impartially read the utterances which have since been made by Boer leaders, they can come to no other conclusion than this—that the real difficulty about terminating the war, in the opinion of the Boer leaders, is that they are not prepared to surrender their independence and we are not prepared to finish the war until they do surrender their independence. Then what is this talk about subjugation? We do mean to subjugate the Boers—subjugation means conquering; we do mean to conquer them. We do mean to annex them, we do mean to incorporate them within this Empire; and I understand the right hon. Gentleman to agree to that. Well, then, how can he object to the use of the word subjugation. [Sir W. Harcourt: "Unconditional surrender."] I really do not know how that point arises. The Boers say, as far as we know, "We are not going to surrender our independence." We say, "You are going to," and there the matter stands. And until one of those parties is subjugated the war is to go on, and we do not mean to be the party that is to be subjugated.
I do trust, and this is the last observation I think I need make on the right hon. Gentleman's speech before I sit down, I do earnestly trust that the result of the Amendment which is promised us to-night may, at all events, make the position of the Opposition clear. What is it that the gentlemen sitting on that side of the House below the gangway and above the gangway behind the right hon. Gentleman, what is it that they desire in connection with this war and the termination of this war? I am wholly unable to understand, I confess, either the position of the right hon. Gentleman, or the position of 118 Lord Rosebery, or the position of others who have spoken on this matter. I know exactly what the right, hon. Gentleman's Irish allies desire. [AN IRISH MEMBER: "We have no allies."] They do not desire subjugation like the right hon. Gentleman, but then they do not desire annexation. They are consistent. They have a coherent and intelligible view; and nothing is really more important for the country, for the rapid termination of the war, for the clearing of the situation at home and the cessation of hostilities abroad, than that hon. and right hon. Gentleman opposite should really tell us clearly what it is they do mean, and how they think it ought to be attained, with regard to this question of our relations with the forces now in the field. I reserve, until I hear their case—perhaps I had better say I reserve until I understand their opinions—any commentary, hostile or friendly; and, in the meanwhile, it is not necessary for me to do more than to say that, as the right hon. Gentleman to-night has reverted to a very old, and, I think, the very good Parliamentary practice of reserving the real fight for an Amendment moved by the Opposition on the policy of the Government, it would only be detaining the House if I were to pursue this topic further. I trust that this preliminary stage of the debate on the Address, may, under the circumstances, be shortened as far as possible. What the country wants is to see the Amendment; what the House wants is to debate it; and between now and the time—I think it is the first occasion for many years—when a vote of censure is to be moved upon the Government, with the whole strength of the Opposition behind it, I think, we may be content to curtail the general discussion within the narrowest limits, in order to come to what is, after all, the main business which will occupy us on the Address. The sooner that question comes before us for decision, and the sooner the opposing forces are really brought into battle array, the one against the other, the sooner we are able to get a perfectly clear issue and divide upon it, the better for everybody concerned in this House and out of it, in this country and in South Africa. Therefore, Sir, I hope that the prospect which the right hon. Gentleman has held out to us will not be delayed beyond a few hours before it receives its fulfilment.
§ (7.5.) MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House can hardly expect the debate to terminate at this stage. With regard to what the Leader of the House has said as to the intention of His Majesty's Government to subjugate the Boers in South Africa, I can only say, that if the policy of subjugation in regard to the Boers does not succeed better than the policy of subjugation put in force with reference to Ireland, the policy had better have been left alone. The right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the House, said that he failed to see any difference between the policy of subjugation and the policy advocated by the Leader of the Opposition and some of his friends. There is, however, the greatest difference in the world between an attempt to subjugate a people by crushing them out of existence, by demanding their absolute surrender, and a policy offering free and large terms of self-government to them. As far as I am concerned, I thoroughly agree with what the Leader of the House has said as to the policy of the Irish Nationalist Members in this matter. There is no doubt as to what their policy is. We do not, as far as I know, concur in the slightest degree with the policy of the enforced annexation of these Republics to the British Empire. We have objected to the war from the first; we object to its continuance; and we predict here to-day that if, against the will of the people of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, you force them to join the British Empire, you will only be perpetuating a feeling of disaffection in South Africa, and you will only be postponing trouble until a future day. Not only this, but you will be rendering it absolutely certain that these people, whom you propose to annex against their will, will take the very first opportunity of throwing off your yoke, and re-establishing the independence which you robbed them of. I would like to ask the First Lord of the Treasury or any member of the Government, if they can point to a single instance in the whole history of the British Empire, where a policy of absolute subjugation has been successfully brought about where people have been incorporated in the British Empire against their will. The British Empire has succeeded in Australia, New Zealand, 120 Canada, and other parts of the world, because it has been established in direct opposition to the policy of subjugation, which the First Lord of the Treasury has spoken of. If you had attempted to extend your Empire in Australia, or in the Continent of America, by a policy of absolute subjugation, and forcing the inhabitants of those territories against their will to become joined with you, you would have failed in the policy, and you will fail in it if you try it in South Africa. There is not a single portion of the whole British Empire which has been incorporated by a policy of subjugation. Where you have succeeded, it is because you have proceeded, not upon the lines of subjugation, but upon the broadest lines of granting to the people of those territories the fullest possible rights, and having the most absolute consideration of their national feeling and their free institutions. If, in South Africa, the policy of subjugation is acted upon, so surely as the American Colonies were lost to England, the day will come when South Africa right through will be lost to England, and when a free flag will float over the whole territory, from the Zambesi to Cape Town; and then the policy of the Colonial Secretary will have borne its full fruit.
With regard to the statement of hon. Members opposite, about the humanity practised by the troops in South Africa, I have only to say that everybody knows that the troops are obliged to carry out their orders. I said last year in this House, and I say it again to-night, that the person who is responsible for many of these deplorable and barbarous things is the Colonial Secretary, and those who he has succeeded in forcing to adopt his policy. We have not yet heard in this debate a single word about the concentration camps, or the horrors which have taken place in them, where 10,000 children in five months were done to death. Whatever may be said as to the conduct of your troops in South Africa, I say that it is a shame and a disgrace upon the name of this country and the name of civilisation, that these unfortunate children should have been murdered in those camps. The Colonial Secretary and the Leader of the House endeavoured to ride off from this subject, and the slaughter which took place in these camps, by pretending that attacks are being made upon the humanity of the troops. 121 I do not know what the opinion of the Leader of the Opposition may be in this respect, but it has been charged, and no defence has been given to it, that in these camps, without any necessity whatever, thousands upon thousands of innocent children have been done to death. Until that has been explained and put a stop to, it is useless to expect that there will not be public indignation in this country.
Now, Sir, the First Lord of the Treasury has declared that he is going in for the subjugation of the Boers and for their absolute surrender, and he says that that is the only alternative to the policy of De Wet. What I say is that the policy of De Wet, in my opinion, is the proper policy and one which I hope will be successful. I venture to say that nine out of every ten of the people living upon the soil of this country to-day, if their country was invaded, if their homes were burned, their women imprisoned and their children done to death by the thousand, their policy would be that of De Wet. As far as the war in South Africa goes, I can only say that I am in the position of being able to state, without fear of contradiction, that when the war commenced in October, 1899, I predicted what would take place. I said then that the war would be a matter of years not months. I said that instead of the war costing tens of millions it would cost hundreds of millions, and tens of thousands of lives. I was laughed at when I made those statements, but I can now repeat what I said then, that it is not within the power of all the forces of this Empire to subjugate the Boers. You may keep them down for a time, but the great majority of the people are Dutch, and you cannot keep them down permanently. We have been told to-night that the solution of the difficulty is emigration, and that a number of English people should be sent there at the Government's expense. Who will deny that these countries, from an agricultural point of view, are absolutely useless to any British population, and when we are told that the countries can be subjugated and peopled afresh by a system of State-aided emigration, everybody who knows South Africa knows that is an idle dream that will never come about. The majority of the people are Dutch, and so they will remain, 122 in spite of everything you can do. It is impossible to subjugate the Dutch race there, unless you are prepared to keep an immense army in South Africa for the rest of the history of the world. The Colonial Secretary said this war was not waged for lust of conquest, or gold mines, or territory, repeating what Lord Salisbury had said some time before, but he gave the whole case away when he said that it was being waged for the predominance of the British race in South Africa. I say that the policy of predominance in a country which is equally occupied by two white races is an impossibility, and if you had proceeded in Canada with a policy of the predominance of the British over the French-Canadians, you would have had war there until the present day. It was because you recognised that the French had equal rights in the soil with British subjects that there is peace there at the present time, and until you recognise that there cannot be predominance of the British over the Dutch in South Africa, there will be trouble and turmoil. The only solution is to recognise that the Dutch have as much right there as you have yourselves. I do not deny that so far as I am concerned, I view the progress of the war with feelings of intense satisfaction. There cannot be a lover of human liberty in any part of the world who has not felt his spirit rise and his heart encouraged by the glorious fight made by the Boers. We are told that it is impossible for these men to continue their struggle against the mighty power of the British Empire. They have got liberty on their side, and I believe myself, and it is the most potent belief in Ireland from one end to the other, that Providence is on the side of the Boers, and that nothing but the hand of Providence would have enabled them to make the gallant fight they have made. Any man, be he English or Scotch, who would deny a share of admiration to those men for the gallant way in which they have defended their liberty, is not entitled to liberty himself.
With regard to farm-burning, we know that it was adopted not as a military necessity, but simply for the purpose of bringing these men under arms to their knees. It was hoped that these men, when they saw their homes broken up, would surrender sooner than that their families should go 123 through the hardships they have suffered. We are told that this policy is to be indulged in when necessary. What good has ever come from burning the homes of the people? A hundred years has passed since the rebellion in Ireland. In that part of the country that I come from the rebellion raged most strongly, and this was the policy indulged in. The houses of the people were burned, their churches were burned, their women outraged, and their children were cast out on their own fields. What is the result? There are 83 of us here who have in our hearts, as strongly as our forefathers, the policy which you failed to suppress. As long as this diabolical work proceeds in South Africa, you will only be ensuring that generations of Dutch on the Cape, yet unborn, will live to hate you. If any children do escape from the concentration camps, when they grow to man's estate what will be the history they will read? They will read of the mortality in the camps, of the homes being burned, and of lands laid waste, and every man with Dutch blood in his veins will watch and wait for the time when they will be able to avenge the infamies inflicted on their ancestors in this war. Whoever is responsible for the horrors that have taken place, the Irish people are not responsible. We are told sometimes that we have not served the cause of our country by opposing the methods imposed in South Africa, and that we would have been better advised to have conciliated English opinion by pretending, if we did not approve of the war at least, that we were not opposed to it. I say, speaking for myself, that if I could succeed in winning the freedom of Ireland on condition that I approved of the infamies perpetrated by Great Britain in South Africa, I would refuse to do so. I believe freedom bought in such a way would bring no luck with it. I for one am disappointed that there is not a stronger and more pronounced protest from some section of the Liberal party as to what has taken place in South Africa. I do not know what the Amendment to be proposed by the Opposition will be like, but if it comes from the Liberal Imperial Section, I am certain the Amendment will not be worth the paper it is written on. There ought to be some representative of the Liberal party in the House manly enough to adopt 124 the policy adopted by Mr. Gladstone long ago. We are told that the present state of affairs is due to the policy of Mr. Gladstone after Majuba. I say that it is the departure from that policy that led to the war. You talk of insult. I say that the ultimatum of the Boers in the matter of insolence is not to be compared with the British expedition headed by Dr. Jameson. We know that the Raid was the commencement of the trouble, turmoil, and expenditure that has taken place. The first blow was practically struck by England. If you do not agree to terms, I express the hope and the opinion that the Boers will continue the fight as long as a man is left to them. It would be in finitely better for them to be exterminated as a race than to live in subjection under the kind of rule to be put upon them by the Jews and financiers of Pretoria and Johannesburg.
Of course the war in South Africa elicits our sympathy. Our duty mainly is with regard to our own country. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, who has just commenced a period of coercion in Ireland, that the Irish people are quite prepared to meet his coercion as they met it before. The Irish Members are no more to be twined round now than before by threats and imprisonment, and if it is the object of the Government to subjugate the Irish people by coercion, as they are endeavouring to subjugate the Boers by force of arms, I can tell them they will have two wars on their hands. The Irish people, being united and strong, will not allow themselves to be driven out of their privileges and rights. The right hon. Gentleman will find it is not possible for him, by methods of coercion, to break the national spirit of the people of Ireland, or to turn them from the path they are on, which is in the direction of their national rights. The 83 Nationalist Members are united, and all the new rules you can invent in this House to silence the voice of Ireland will be of no avail. We are here, and we will continue steady and relentless evidence of what your rule has been in Ireland. The Chief Secretary made a pronouncement, the other day, on the Irish land question, and with singular want of appropriateness he made that pronouncement, not as one might imagine in a great agricultural centre, but in the city of Belfast, surrounded by the Orangemen of the place, 125 and having on his right hand the Marquess of Londonderry. It is quite clear that the Chief Secretary, like his predecessors, has been captured by the Orangemen of Belfast. The Orangemen of Belfast are welcome to their capture. I can assure the Chief Secretary that the farmers in the south of Ireland who are being robbed, and who are joining with the farmers of the North in the demand to be made the owners of the land by the toil they have put into it, are not likely to be deterred by the declaration he has made to the beat of the old Orange drum. The right hon. Gentleman never tires of sneering at the Irish Nationalist Members because they may not be as wealthy as he was himself. I do not know how it may be at the present time, but I have always heard in this House—and I have been here now for a very long time—that it was not at all consistent with one's upholding the character of a gentleman, to sneer at opponents, particularly political opponents, because many of them happened to be poor men. The right hon. Gentleman never makes a speech without referring to the sending of the hat round amongst the Irish people for the support of the Irish party; and in a very late speech he said that everything was abandoned to scratching together £10,000 or £12,000 for the political purposes of the Irish party. Now, the political finances of the Irish party are audited, are public, and are before the eyes of all in their own country. But what about the finances of the right hon. Gentleman's own party? I would like to know very much if Captain Middleton, or whatever his rank might be, would place before the country a full, true, and carefully audited account of what became of the hundreds of thousands of pounds subscribed for Tory political purposes. If the Irish people think it well to have a political body to represent their views and aspirations, why should they be sneered at as a parcel of beggars by this gentleman, who used to boast that he was the descendant of an Irish rebel, and, who, whatever else he was, was at least a gentleman? We do not know all the particulars of the Tory political funds, but we know a little. We know that Mr. Hooley gave a cheque for £10,000, and that the party hung on to the cheque with bull-dog tenacity 126 for many months. And yet the representative of the party come to Ireland and sneer at the scratch collections of the Irish Members! I speak of this because I hold that it bears on the administration of Ireland. It shows why the people are discontented when they are governed by men who have shown that they have so little consideration for men's feelings and for common decency. There is not a man in the government of Ireland—whether Marquis, or Earl, or Duke—I care not what his position may be—who does not put his hand and arm elbow-deep into the pockets of the Irish people. The right honourable Gentleman the chief Secretary for Ireland talk of a scratch collection for the common Irish people, in order that they might be represented in this Parliament. But what is his own salary? The right hon. gentleman, and men like him, who sneer at us because our countrymen generously subscribe to be publicly represented in this Parliament, draw thousands upon thousands for salaries, and hundreds of thousands to pay their expenses, travelling and otherwise, from the Lord Lieutenant with his £20,000 a year, and the Chief Secretary with his thousands, down to the poorest under-strapper who cleans their boots. I maintain that it is little short of audacious and insolent that any man in the position of the right hon. gentleman, should taunt and sneer at the Irish people because, though poor, they subscribe generously and liberally in order to maintain those who are fighting for their rights. I dismiss the sneering observations of the right hon. gentleman with this remark, that no matter how injurious he may have considered them to have been to the Irish cause, they have had exactly the opposite effect on the Irish people, and on their representatives; and have made them more resolved, if possible, than ever, to struggle for that day when they will be ruled by the men of their own choosing, and not by whipper-snappers sent over from this country to trample upon the liberties of the Irish people. The right hon. Gentleman took his lessons at the feet of the First Lord of the Treasury, who was Chief Secretary for many years. The Irish Members fought him, and he fought them. His hand was heavy upon the Irish Members, and his action was bitterly resented; but I will say 127 this in regard to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, that I have no recollection of a time, even when he made his fiercest attacks upon the Irish party, when he so far forgot what ought to be the ordinary bearing and the feelings of a gentleman, as to condescend from his safe place in Dublin Castle, with a large salary at his back, to sneer at his political opponents because they were not all drawing large salaries or receiving large sums of money from the public purse. The right hon. Gentleman, the present Chief Secretary, has, in my opinion, fallen, after his speech at Belfast, lower in the estimate of the masses and the Irish people than any Chief Secretary of Ireland has ever done. He has started coercion and started it meanly. He has not been satisfied with fighting the Irish party fairly, but has condescended to sneer at people in Ireland who are not as wealthy as himself. The Irish Members may have their faults, but there is one thing they can claim. Here they are, whether England likes it or not. Poor they may be, but not all the wealth of the Empire, all the jewels in the King's Crown, or all the gold in South Africa is able to buy a single one of them. The Chief Secretary has visited certain portions of Ireland, among others my own constituency where he promised something which has never been performed. The right hon. Gentleman was courteously received by the people, in a way a gentleman should be received; but I will tell the right hon. Gentleman that the result of his cheap taunts and sneers at the Irish people and their poverty is that if he goes to the same district he will be taught that though the people are poor there are some gentlemen in Ireland, and that the Irish people can appreciate, even in their governors, men who act as gentlemen.
§ (7.40). MR. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)
said that, seeing the under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in his place he took the opportunity of addressing a few questions on matters on which Amendments to the Address were not likely to be proposed, and the noble Lord might be able to remove some fears entertained in regard to the course of affairs in the Far East. He desired to bring before the noble Lord the Member for Rochester four topics which affected the material interests 128 of the Empire, and two of which were connected with the obligations which this country had incurred. Was the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in a position to make any statement that night in regard to the position of affairs in the Persian Gulf. He put the question for the reason that the affairs of the Persian Gulf were generally understood to fall within the purview of the Indian Office. No doubt that had been the case in the past, and had been a considerable convenience, because the interests of India were then generally bound up with that quarter. But we had reached a state in which affairs in that part of the world were beginning to be also taken an active interest in by other Powers. Various concessions had been obtained there, for instance by Russia, and the most important project of a railway to Bagdad, which was on the Persian Gulf, was in German hands. Within the last few months there had been a dispute between two Sheikhs, who called themselves Sultans. At first sight it might appear that that was an ignoble dispute; but there was a great deal behind it, and the Government might allay anxiety in regard to the outlook in future in the Persian Gulf if they would make a frank statement in regard to the actual position and the recent course of events.
The mover of the Address used the word "monopolises" with regard to the extent to which public attention had increased with reference to South African affairs. He ventured to protest against the use of that word if it was intended to convey the notion that the Government had all their attention monopolised on South Africa. There were so many parts of the world in which our interests were jeopardised by what was taking place, that South Africa should not be allowed to monopolise our attention. Another question he wished to address to the noble Lord, was one that he had put in previous sessions, and last of all in the month of June last year. It was a question with regard to the claims which the British merchants had against the Porte for losses which they sustained during the disturbances in 1896. It appeared that the subjects of other Powers had their claims settled directly or indirectly; the noble lord had said that the Turkish Government had not admitted the justice of those claims, but in one way or another, other Powers had succeeded in getting 129 the claims of their subjects settled, whilst not a single penny had been received by any British merchant from 1896 to 1902 from the Turkish Government with regard to the losses sustained by them in 1896.
He also desired to refer to the disturbance which took place in the autumn of last year in the Highlands of Roumania. It occurredin a portion of the country which, on a previous occasion, was the first scene of an outbreak of a similar character, and every hon. Member was aware how very grave were the results of the outbreak. He thought it only right, having regard to the deep obligations this country had incurred under the Berlin Treaty, that some information should be given with regard to that matter.
The fourth and last question he desired to put related to the position of affairs in European Turkey, and more especially to that part of Northern Macedonia called Old Servia. Great Britain, he was aware, only possessed in regard to that country the same treaty obligations which were possessed by the other Powers who signed the Berlin Treaty, but in view of the disturbance which had taken place, he asked whether any steps were being taken at the present time, or were likely to be taken in the next few months, to enforce article 23 of the Berlin Treaty.
§ *(7.50.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Lord CRANBORNE,) Rochester
I will take this opportunity of answering the questions put by the hon. Member very shortly. The hon. Member has said in a portion of his remarks that the Persian Gulf belongs, if I may use such an expression, to that debatable land lying between the India Office and the Foreign Office. That is of course the fact, but I shall be able to state in a few words the position His Majesty's Government takes up in regard to that question. There is no change in the attitude of the present Government from the attitude always maintained by the British Government in the affairs of the Persian Gulf. Our position in the Persian Gulf, both commercially and politically, is one of a very special character, and His Majesty's Government has always considered that the ascendency of Great Britain in the Persian Gulf was the foundation of 130 British policy. This is not merely a question of theory; it is a statement of fact. Our trade interests there far exceed those of any other country, with regard to the political situation, being as it is secured entirely by the seas and by the forces on the sea. Our recognized maritime supremacy secures our political ascendency. But my information refers to an incident arising at a place called Koweit on the Persian Gulf. The policy of the Government with regard to Koweit which has been put forward with some insistence, is to maintain the status quo. His Majesty's Government do not deny that the Sultan has a certain position there, very vague and ill-defined, and largely dependent on his religious leadership in the Mahomedan world, but that would not give him the right to disturb the status quo. Although we have no reason to believe that he desires to do so, it has been the duty of the Government to make it clear that they could not submit to any such disturbance. In consequence of the development of the unhappy dispute between two petty Sheikhs, we have been obliged to move a small naval force to Koweit in order to see that the status quo is properly and rigorously maintained. Among other points the hon. Gentleman called attention to the British claims arising out of the Armenian massacres in 1896. He called attention to the fact that the claims were not settled. I have no information on that point. He says other Powers have had their claims settled; the method under which those claims were paid was of a very indirect character.
§ * Lord CRANBORNE
I have no definite information that they are paid, but however those merchants were paid. I should be satisfied if British merchants were paid in the same manner. These claims are being continually pressed upon the Porte, but it is impossible to expect anything like break-neck speed in the settlement of financial questions between the Powers and Turkey. The hon. Gentleman then referred to some disturbances in Asia Minor. It is true there were some disturbances in Asia Minor in the autumn of last year in the neighbourhood of Khoosh and Van, but they did not, I am glad to, say amount to very 131 much. I can assure the hon. Member we are careful to keep an eye on all these matters, and the moment information reaches our Ambassadors that there are such disturbances, measures are immediately taken to bring the facts to the notice of the Porte. The Turkish authorities are as anxious as the Government are to avoid serious disturbance in these regions. They were perfectly ready to send troops, and did send troops, out to these districts, and the danger was warded off. There was a very limited loss of life—nothing in the nature of a massacre.
We are bound to recognise the fact that the state of affairs in Macedonia is as bad as it has been for many years past. No concerted action is yet being taken by the Powers or is in contemplation; but it is for the interest of all the Powers that these events should not be allowed to lead to anything like serious disturbance. The Government is always anxious, if attention is drawn to such a state of things, and whenever it has been found to be necessary, to make representations at Constantinople in the hope of persuading the Porte to take measures for their amelioration. More the Government cannot do; more it would not be politic to attempt. The real difficulty arises, not from ill will on the part of the Turkish authorities, but from their weakness; and the best which can be hoped for is that by stimulating and effective remonstrances the Turkish officials may be induced to take as vigorous action as they are capable of doing to stave off the disturbances which threaten in those regions. I do not think, however, that matters have reached a point at which any anxiety need be felt, though I am certainly of opinion that this special condition of unrest in Turkey is a serious matter, and might, if events were to advance, prove of a very dangerous character, not only to Turkey, but to Europe.
§ *(8.0.) MR. NORMAN (Wolverhampton, S.)
rose to ask a question arising out of the remarks made by the noble Lord, who, in answer to the hon. Member for Eye, had stated that the status quo was maintained. Would the noble Lord say whether it was the political status quo or the commercial status quo. All students of the question had noticed the approach of the German Railway, and he asked that the Under Secretary would be good 132 enough to say whether there was any arrangement between the British and German Governments; and what the position would be when the German Railway got to the port in the Persian Gulf. Hon. Members were aware that the Germans had, in the name of the Sultan, asked for a concession at Koweit; but whether they had obtained it or not nobody knew. It would be opposed by the Government if it were a political Railway; but what was our understanding if the Germans only desired a commercial Railway? We had recently had, in China, experience of how easily a commercial status developed into a political status.
§ *(8.5.) EARL PERCY (Kensington, S.)
also questioned the noble Lord as to the policy which the Government was prepared to adopt with regard to the Consular establishments at Van and Bitlis. It was impossible, in his opinion, for a gentleman residing at Van to keep an eye on affairs in the Bitlis province, and he desired to know whether the Government had altogether withdrawn our Vice Consul at Bitlis, and whether they had given instructions to our Consul at Van that he should spend a reasonable portion of his time at Bitlis in order that he might make himself acquainted with what was going on in that locality. Konia was the projected starting point of the German Asiatic Railway, and had been for many years, as Turkish towns went, an important centre of industry, in which the Austrians and ourselves had successfully developed a considerable trade. Trade was likely to follow the route of the Railway, and it was, therefore, in the highest degree important that the only commercial hold this country had in Konia should not be relinquished. He desired, therefore, to know whether the post of British Consul there was still vacant, and whether it was intended to remain so.
§ (8.10.) LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)
said that the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs might say that having already addressed the House he was unable to answer further questions. Under those circumstances, he desired to impress on the noble Lord the fact that the Papers which he (Sir E. Fitzmaurice) pressed for last year in connection with Asia Minor and this 133 German Railway had not been presented. He would not enter into the character or the extent of the pledge given by the noble Lord, because at the time he was rather disappointed at the small amount of information the noble Lord was willing to promise, but even what was promised had not yet been presented; he therefore hoped some information might now be given, if only for the reasons which had been touched upon by previous speakers, or that some opportunity might be given at an early period of raising these questions. Notice had been given of an Amendment which would specifically raise the question of the Persian Gulf, and he expressed the hope that before long the House might have fair and full information as to how all these matters stood.
§ * LORD CRANBORNE
said he was under the impression that all the Papers which he promised the noble Lord last year had been presented, but the promised to make inquiries. When the spoke a few minutes ago he referred to the political status quo. The commercial status quo was a matter for the British merchants. If they were willing to maintain the ascendency of Great Britain in the Gulf they could do so. The hon. Member said that the company were in treaty with the Porte for a concession for the railway. This did not appear to be a very forward state of things.
§ * LORD CRANBORNE
said there were certain negotiations and arrangements in respect of the railway, but it was a long step from a concession to the completion of an undertaking in Turkey. He could not enter into details at this moment with reference to Asia Minor, and he invited the noble Lord to place a specific question on the Paper referring to the Consular appointments.(8.14.)
§ (8.45.) MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said the debate during the last hour had been somewhat irregular. Since the First Lord of the Treasury addressed the House questions not exactly of foreign policy, but of small details of foreign policy had been raised which were far more appropriate to the Foreign Estimates or some occasion of that kind, when the 134 Under Foreign Secretary could give an answer to the many questions. It was a far cry indeed from the Transvaal to the Persian Gulf. It was not for him to complain that the debate had been irregular in this respect, for one would naturally expect, looking to the matters before the public, that the ordinary course of debate would have followed to some extent the line taken by the leader of the Opposition and the leader of the House. That would give some reality to the debate on the King's Speech. One could not but be struck by some phrases in the Speech from the Throne. The first paragraph that struck one was the expression of regret that the war in South Africa is not yet concluded. Last October twelve months it was stated that the war was over, but, whether the statement was made for electioneering purposes or not, we knew now that that was not the fact. Seven months ago the Commander-in-Chief received a large sum of money and distinction at the hands of this House because the war was over, and yet the war was not yet over. How could the war be over when on Christmas Day one of the greatest disasters of the whole campaign befel the British Army? There was another paragraph in the Speech which he thought every fair-minded man, no matter what party he belonged to, could not help thinking was a sneer at our brave foes. He denied that the contest now in progess could be accurately described as guerilla warfare. The statement was made that the British troops had displayed humanity, often to their own detriment, deserving of the highest praise. He thought one of the most objectionable and melancholy features of the controversy was the taunt levelled against every one opposed to the Colonial Secretary and Lord Milner, that they were charging the troops with inhumanity and cruelty. No such taunt had been made, and the fullest measure of praise had been accorded to the officers and men fighting in the campaign, and if there were charges of barbarity and inhumanity, it was because of the methods of barbarity inspired by the Government. There was a covert innuendo in that paragraph in regard to the inhumanity of the Boer troops themselves. He thought it should be admitted that there had been on both sides bravery, and that although there had been isolated cases of inhuman- 135 ity, the officers and men on both sides had shown courage and humanity, and, speaking all round, the men had displayed clemency. It must be remembered that when 1,000 men were on the race-course at Johannesburg, at the mercy of their foes, they were treated with the greatest consideration and clemency and the greatest possible humanity. In connection with the disaster or Christmas Day, Lord Kitchener in his report stated that General De Wet showed every consideration and gave honourable treatment to the men. He regretted very much that again in the course of the debate the First Lord of the Treasury defended the terrible policy of farm burning and concentration camps. Was it not more than probable that the policy of farm burning and the driving of women and children into the concentration camps, more properly called cemetery camps, had driven the Boers to desperation, and that they would never lay down their arms until the last man was driven either to surrender or slaughter? The First Lord of the Treasury, in the course of his speech, which was rather unworthy of his high reputation in this House, justified the policy of farm burning as a military necessity. He (Mr. Flynn) denied that it was a military necessity. There was the authority of the Blue-books that houses were destroyed within a radius often miles of the railway, because trains had been derailed and because telegraph wires had been destroyed, and because of other operations of that kind. The derailing of a train and the cutting of a telegraph wire were legitimate operations of warfare, and it was barbarous to burn houses in a radius of ten miles because of such operations. The reason why the farm houses were burnt was because the men we absent on commando. He was sure that the House, and many people in the country, would regret to hear from the First Lord of the Treasury that the policy of farm burning had not been abandoned. They had been hoping that the sentiments of humanity would have re-asserted their sway over the minds of the Government, and that farm burning would be discontinuėd once and for all. The statement of the First Lord would be received with pain in many quarters, and with amazement and disgust on the Continent of Europe. 136 There was another portion of His Majesty's Speech to which he wished to refer, namely, that in which they were told that a measure for land purchase would be introduced in the coming session. It was not for him to indulge in prophesy. They would say what they thought about the Bill when it came before the House; but no one knew better than the Chief Secretary that no measure of land purchase in Ireland could go in the direction of settling the question unless it was a Compulsory Purchase Bill. Every one in Ireland who was not blind knew it, and a vast majority of the people, north and south, east and west, had joined together in their demand for it. The Chief Secretary had indulged in some cheap sneers at a popular movement, based on the people's will, established for the people's good and officered by the people, to bring about compulsory purchase. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Irish people were united on a basis of plunder, and had spoken of the Irish party as being a mere machine for collecting money. Englishmen tested everything by how much they could get out of it. The Irish party had no object in this movement but the reduction of rent. The taunt came very badly from a Bench which enjoyed such a large share of the Civil Service money of this country. The Chief Secretary, who was utterly inexperienced in public life, got £4,450 a year, together with coals and lodging, for mal-administering the affairs of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman went to Ireland and took a trip to the West in a jaunting car, imparting his smiling benediction here, indulging in a few Christianlike platitudes there, and then returned to Westminster to draw his £4,450. If the night hon. Gentleman was so keen on this money question, he saw no reason why he should not let the Chief Secretary's Lodge and add the rent to his salary. The taunt that the Irish party was an organisation for collecting money came very badly from the Chief Secretary, who knew so little of Ireland, and certainly did not do his duty. Such language was never indulged in by a former Chief Secretary, the present First Lord of the Treasury, who had fought the Irish party vigorously, sometimes they thought unfairly, and had thrown hon. Members into prison as common felons because they were inspired by motives as worthy as his own; but 137 he had never sneered at the members of the Irish party for their poverty. When the Chief Secretary was recently in the West of Ireland he must have seen there the condition of chronic misery and destitution of the people, not owing to the operation of nature's laws, or to the poor nature of the soil, but to an artificial and cruel system of laws which had driven those poor people from the good and fertile land on to the rocks. The Land League was created to deal with that cruel state of things, and to press on to the Government of the day compulsory purchase in that part of the country. The Congested Districts Board themselves, when the President of the Board of Trade was Chief Secretary, had joined in the recommendation that the operation of the Acts under the Congested Districts Board should be made compulsory. They recognised clearly that without compulsory powers it would be impossible for the Board to undertake any amelioration of the condition of the people. And yet, because these people had combined to jog the elbow of the Board, and to try by self-help to improve the condition of things, coercion had been revived and Members of Parliament sent to prison. As he had ventured to say, speaking to his constituents, where the First Lord of the Treasury had failed, the favourite of the Primrose Dames of Exeter was not going to succeed. Where one whom certain politicians called the strongest politician of modern times failed discreditably, the right hon. Gentleman who represented Dover was not going to make a political success; and he warned the right hon. Gentleman that if he persisted in the course of trying to stifle those who represented the people of Ireland in this House he made a great mistake. He little knew the power of resistance, the patience and the courage of the Irish people. They were all agreed that the condition of the people of the west of Ireland had been improved, and it was generally admitted that the landlords would not sell their lands, even at a fair price, to any Board or to the tenants. Therefore they maintained that the Congested Districts Board should arm themselves with compulsory powers which were already granted to Corporations and other urban bodies. There could be no permanent impression of any value on the misery of these people unless 138 the Board was armed with compulsory powers.
The Chief Secretary was trying to extinguish the right of free speech in Ireland. If a dozen men came together to discuss the situation they were batoned by the police, or prosecuted by removable magistrates. The extraordinary thing was that Members of the Government were going about wringing their hands saying "There is no crime, no disorder, and, therefore, Ireland is seething with discontent beneath the surface!" Ten or twelve years ago there was a certain amount of crime in different parts of Ireland, and that was made a pretext of coercion, but to-day the absence of crime was made the basis of coercion. On a baseless pretext the Government sent down their pliant tools, the "removable and promotable" magistrates, to other districts than their own to try politicians, and then asked the country to believe that that was fair play. He warned the Chief Secretary that that course was useless and impotent against the courage and resolution of the people who were determined to have their rights. If the right hon. gentleman was going to fight his political opponents, let him do it fairly and not indulge in cheap sneers, which came badly from an overpaid official. The right hon. Attorney General for Ireland had now appeared in his place, and he would ask the House what they thought of the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman. At the last December Assizes there were a certain number of cases in the city of Cork. A young woman was charged with the crime, somewhat rare in Ireland, of infanticide. Over a hundred jurors were on the list, and eighty were in the Court House. It must be remembered that these men, who were mustered and pushed about by policemen, had to come there under a penalty of £20. As the jurors came forward one by one they were ordered to stand down to the number of sixty-four, by the direction of the right hon. Gentleman, the Attorney-General. This young woman was charged with larceny. It was an ordinary crime, calling for no special conditions, but in this case, out of seventy jurors in the Court no less than fifty-nine were ordered to "stand by." He could give the House dozens of cases of this kind, but he would confine himself to these two as typical of the manner in which the stream of justice was polluted. 139 After the Counsel for the Crown had ordered those fifty-nine jurors to "stand by," thus impugning their honour, there were only three jurors left, and the Court at last had to go back on those fifty-nine to obtain the remaining nine who were required. That was the justice they were getting in Ireland in the twentieth century, and it was the sort of thing that was constantly going on. It would be an enormous tax on one's industry to follow closely all the cases. He had with him at least one dozen such cases, and when all this jury packing was going on, Irish Members were told to come to the House of Commons, and with bated breath listen to the philanthropic deeds of a well-paid Chief Secretary, and Attorney-General for Ireland. Could the House be surprised that under these circumstances in Ireland there existed at the present moment a strong contempt for government carried on in this way?
§ (9.20.) MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
said the House had just listened to the Speech from the Throne, and, as far as his experience went, he thought there had rarely been a more unsatisfactory Speech from the Throne. The Speech was as remarkable for what it did not say as for what it did say. They would remember that at the commencement of last session people were very much agitated, both in Ireland and in this country, upon the question of the oath that the King took upon his accession. So deep an impression was made upon the public mind, that, after much correspondence, a Committee was appointed to consider this matter, and upon that Committee several experts upon theological law were placed That Committee sat many times, and as a result of their deliberations, I believe some sort of compromise was arrived at, and their recommendations showed at endeavour to remove the objection which Roman Catholics felt upon that question. Naturally, they all expected that some results would come from that report, and they certainly expected that in the Session something would be done to meet the feelings of Roman Catholics in the matter. Looking over the history of Ireland, he was reluctantly compelled to confess that bigotry on the part of British statesmen had had much to do with the present unsatisfactory system of government in Ireland. Any person who studies politics would come to the con- 140 clusion that a great deal of the difficulties met with in dealing with Ireland had arisen from the bigotry with which British statesmen had treated the religious question in Ireland.
Upon the question of a Catholic University they should have had some statement in the Speech from the Throne, holding out some hope to the Irish people. The question of a Catholic University had almost passed the stage of argument, and most people would acknowledge that the Irish people had a distinct grievance upon this subject. He had heard the question debated again and again in the House. He had heard it put forward by the First Lord of the Treasury, and he had heard him ask his supporters what answer they could give to the case. They had heard no answer to the question which was satisfactory or worthy of being called argument. Mention was made in the Speech from the Throne of some Bill dealing with education in this country. Education in Ireland was dislocated, and they had a Board of Education in Ireland which possessed very little confidence on the part of the people, and what little confidence they had, entirely disappeared when the Archbishop of Dublin was compelled to resign his seat upon that Board. He certainly thought that when the Government were introducing legislation for England with regard to education something should be done to popularise to some extent education in Ireland. The first thing they had got to do in Ireland was to bring the Education Board in touch with the people, and until they did that they could not have any satisfactory administration in regard to education.
One paragraph in the Speech from the Throne dealt with the necessity for land legislation. A Bill on the subject might be introduced, but he doubted very much, in view of the programme which had been put forward, whether the Bill promised on this subject would ever come to the second reading. But even if it did the measure was handicapped by their own action. In Ireland the Government placed a premium upon agitation by refusing to do anything until they agitated, and when agitation got on foot they tried to choke it off by coercion, although they might afterwards adopt the tenets of the agitators. It had been so in the past and it was so in the present. Looking back over the last twenty years 141 who could deny that the Land Act was the result of the Land League agitation? The benefits which had been given by the Land Courts were the direct result of the well known "Plan of Campaign," and even Lord Salisbury and others denounced the idea of allowing these owners to apply to the Land Courts.
There was another consideration which enormously handicapped Ireland, as well as every other part of the kingdom, and that was the present war. The South African war, of which they had heard so much, had affected every class of the community, and it certainly had had an injurious influence on the Land Question in Ireland. Before this wretched war sprang up, a landlord was able to obtain from £110 to £112 for his land stock, but owing to the war, which had dragged on for some years, that same land stock, if placed on the market to-day, would not fetch more that £93. That was a consideration which must effect any landlord who contemplated selling. This voluntary system for the sale of land had proved of no use whatever, and in the North, South, East, and West of Ireland the people had joined together in favour of the demand for compulsory sale. He noticed that in the Speech from the Throne there was no very definite mention of the probable cessation of the war. Last year certain conjectures were made upon this question, but subsequent events proved that they were entirely wrong. The whole thing would have been prevented had we had Statesmen at the head of affairs who would control their tongues and temper for the sake of the country. The country did not know when we went to war what we were going to war for, but it did know that nine-tenths of the differences were settled, and for the other tenth the country had been plunged into a war which would prove one of the most costly wars in which we had ever been engaged. And these people, who were thought to fall such an easy prey, will live in history as having made the most gallant stand that ever people made in defence of their hearth and home. In the previous session he had ventured to speak against the £100,000 grant to Lord Roberts. One of the reasons Lord Roberts gave for annexation was that the war had descended to the guerilla stage, and was no longer carried on in the ordinary way of military operations. He was of opinion that the war was still 142 carried on by the Boers by proper military operations, and he thought the annexation by Lord Roberts was not right because by that means he was enabled to employ forces against the Boers he would not have been able to employ against ordinary belligerents. These men were not rebels in the ordinary sense of the term. The telegrams which had appeared in The Times newspaper clearly proved that so far from the war having descended to a guerilla stage, it was being carried on on the principle of regular military manœuvres, and it was a most ungallant thing to make these men rebels who had made so great a stand for their home and country. The people of England had proved they were favourable to the war, but the representatives of Ireland were returned pledged to vote against the expenditure in regard to the war. It might be said that those who sat with him had no right to speak for Ireland, but no one had a greater right to voice the views of Ireland than those elected to represent her, and they would be false to themselves and the people of Ireland if they did not proclaim in the House, as they had done in their own constituencies, that they had opposed this war as being an unjustifiable war, and one which had been waged on behalf of capitalists, stock-brokers, and grabbers of mineral wealth.
§ (9.42.) MR. SWIFT MACNEILL, (Donegal, S.)
said he had never befors intervened in the debate upon the Address, and he only intervened on the present occasion in order to direct the attention to the House to the fact that a Member of the House was in prison owing to the action of a Member of the Executive of the House. The Chief Secretary was as responsible for the imprisonment of Mr. O'Conor Kelly as if he had actually arrested him. A great outrage had been perpetrated on the Irish representation by the imprisonment of the Member who, however, was perfectly willing to undergo any hardships for the cause; but by the action of the Executive he had been hindered in attending to his parliamentary duties. Mr. O'Conor Kelly in December last was addressing his constituents on the subject of compulsory land purchase, at a meeting which was absolutely legal, and there being no proclamation by the Government that the meeting should not be held, and he was thereupon prosecuted for illegal assembly. How 143 was that done? Under the law of England the first proceeding would be by summons before a magistrate, then by indictment, and finally by trial before a jury, but in Mr. O'Conor Kelly's case the magistrate had been precluded from hearing it. The Chief Secretary sent down the Crown Advocate, who was to prosecute, and removable magistrates, who gave the judgment they were sent down to give; they had simply carried out their orders. These men were, under the power of the right hon. Gentleman, removable without a moment's notice. They were his judical utensils, and he has used them against his own colleague in the House. He appealed to any lawyer in the House whether the question of the meeting being legal or illegal was not one involving most grave considerations in law. The authorities on the matter were exact upon the fact that an assembly in order to be illegal must have used threats of violence or be accompanied by violence, but this meeting was perfectly peaceful. When the Chief Secretary sent these gentlemen down he knew perfectly well what they would do. The removable magistrates were the out-at-elbow retainers of the Irish Executive. He never paid attention to annonymous letters when they came to him, but he remembered receiving one from the Cape, which stated that a resident magistrate, who had been actively engaged in prosecuting Members of Parliament, had been dismissed for gross peculation from a Cape Regiment. If the Government did not know his antecedents when they appointed him, how did they come to appoint him? If they did they were despicably base. He appealed to the Chief Secretary to defend himself against the accusation made against the Government of Ireland that this prosecution of Mr. O'Conor Kelly was evidence of the cowardice of the Government and of the rancour and barbarity of the Chief Secretary himself. He greatly regretted that in the Speech from the Throne there was no mention of any repeal or modification of the Titus Oates declaration put into the mouth of the King. He had raised the question in Committee of Supply as to whether the law officers of the Crown had any knowledge of law or anything at all, except their salaries, in drafting the declaration. He was then told he was out of order, that it was the collective effort of the 144 Government. The declaration made by the King on February 14th last was not in accordance with the Bill of Rights; he was wrongly advised. The law officers, who had had no refreshers in the case, said the King could make the declaration. He wished them to tell the King to make it again on the day of his coronation, and he wished the Government then a happy deliverance from the Irish Nation. The hon. Member for North Islington had, in December, 1900, commented on the fact that there were too many relatives in the Government. He had heard that Lord Salisbury was about to resign, and his feelings had been relieved when the chorus of relatives had implored him not to do so. He would tell Lord Salisbury that charity should not begin at home, when that charity was administered out of public funds. He had not intended to make a speech, but "out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaketh." He would ask first of all the Chief Secretary to defend the appointment of a poor relation of his. It was well known that whosoever provided not for his own family was more than an infidel, and that being so his observations might be called scurrillous, therefore he would justify them. He was now able, after 14 years, to quote to the House a begging letter from a family with which the right hon. Gentleman ought to be acquainted. (The hon. Member proceeded to read a letter soliciting, on purely personal grounds, an appointment as stipendiary magistrate for a Mr. Fitz Patrick.) The person alluded to eventually received the appointment. It was true that the letter was dated some time back, but things were as bad now as then, and such individuals were put in a position to consign more respectable gentlemen than themselves to prison cells for political purposes. Similar letters were written by Lord Monk and others; in fact, the resident magistracy was a means for providing out of public funds for the out-at-elbow protegees of the landlord class. It would require all the right honourable Gentleman's powers of "brilliant oration" to answer the indictment brought against him. The hon. Member then referred to the case of a man named M'Gally, 68 years of age, greatly respected in County Sligo, who was sentenced by the "Removables" to a month's imprisonment. The magistrates were asked, but refused, to increase the term by one day, in order to give a right of 145 appeal, thus showing they distrusted the decision of the superior Court. In England there was an appeal possible in every case tried at Petty Sessions, but no appeal was allowed in Ireland. When the Coercion Act of 1887 was going through Committee the matter was pointed out, and the present First Lord of the Treasury, then Chief Secretary for Ireland, said it was a mere omission, and pledged himself that there should be an appeal in every case. The exact words of the right hon. Gentleman would be found in Hansard for May 17th, 1887. That pledge had been flagrantly disregarded. If the humblest English Member was treated as Mr. O'Conor Kelly had been the House would consider itself to have been insulted. Unfortunately, however, there was one rule for English and another for Irish Members, and the sooner that was clearly understood the better. Moreover, the Chief Secretary had violated the promise of the First Lord of the Treasury, that under no circumstances would the Coercion Act be put into operation unless first of all there had been a proclamation placing the county under its provisions. No portion of Mayo had been proclaimed, nor could it be, because for two years there had been no case of serious crime in the county. The whole system was an infamous contrivance for hindering the Parliamentary representatives of Ireland from doing their proper work. The Chief Secretary could give no reply as to Fitzpatrick's qualifications, nor as to why he chose two promoted police-constables to try Mr. Kelly on a highly technical offence; he could only maintain his place and pose in the House; but he (the hon. Member) warned the right hon Gentleman that if he attempted any outrage on Irish Members, they would make it very difficult and very unpleasant for him.
§ *(10.15.) SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
As the Chief Secretary of Ireland does not rise to reply to the indictment of my hon. friend who has just spoken, I desire to call the attention of the House to a matter which I think ought to occupy its attention. I do not propose to go into the South African question generally—that is reserved for the Amendment to be moved subsequently—but I wish to call attention to the present condition of the Cape of Good Hope with regard to the violations of the Constitution which have 146 taken place and are taking place there now. To my mind, perhaps the most melancholy thing at the Cape, next to the devastation of the territory as a consequence of the war, is the abolition of all the rights of British subjects in a self-governing colony. Only think what the condition of the Cape was before the war begun! One of the most thriving parts of His Majesty's dominions, where every British subject was free—as free as we are in England; described by Lord Milner at that time as a country distinguished for its loyalty in both races there. It had the eulogium of the First Lord of the Admiralty for its handsome contribution to our Navy, voted, mind you, by a Parliament which consisted not only of British subjects but of Dutch subjects. When we consider that at this moment that territory has no rights, that it has lost all the advantages and privileges which belong to freemen, of which we are so proud and which we say we are going to communicate to the dominions that we have conquered, I think the House of Commons, which ought to be vindicators of the liberities of British subjects all over the world, ought at least to consider what is the situation of British subjects in Cape Colony.
It is called a self-governing Colony. How is the self-government of the Colony guaranteed by law? Under the Constitution of the Cape there is this provision which is embodied in Article 77 of the document of 1853—I may be mistaken, but I think I am right in saying there has been no alteration in its stipulations:And be it enacted that there shall be a Session of Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope once at least in every year, so that a period of 12 calendar months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the said Parliament in one Session and its first sitting in the next.Nothing could be more precise than that. Now, the last sitting of the Cape Parliament was on October 13th, 1900. The consequence was that by the law of the Constitution it was absolutely necessary to call Parliament together at the expiration of 12 months, and any further prorogation was illegal. Therefore a crime against the Constitution of Cape Colony by breaking the law has been committed ever since October 13th last by not calling Parliament together. I was surprised to hear the First Lord 147 of the Treasury in concert with the Colonial Secretary say, "Oh, but that was advised by the Ministers of the Crown." What power have the Ministers of the Crown to abolish the Constitution? Is it possible to exhibit more extraordinary ignorance of the first principles of the Constitution of this country or of a self-governing Colony than to say that the Ministers, in collusion with the representative of the Crown, can at their will and pleasure prevent Parliament meeting in accordance with the law? Here is the actual law, which I will quote, if I may be permitted to do so, from the Constitution of the Cape:And be it enacted that there shall be a session of the Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope once at least in every year, so that a period of twelve calendar months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the said Parliament of one session and its first sitting in the next.But we are told that the Ministers of the Crown advised the Government to prorogue Parliament contrary to that Act. On the 13th of October last the prorogation of that Parliament was an illegal act. Oh, but it is said, that was done on the advice of the Ministers. That is the doctrine of the Stuarts. That is the way Charles I. and Charles II. and James II. conducted affairs. The Ministers of the Crown advised the Crown not to call Parliament together.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Is the right hon. Gentleman quoting what I said? I said the Ministers of the Colony.
§ * SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The Ministers of the Colony advised the Governor, who is the representative of the Crown, to break the law and not to call Parliament together. I say that is a grossly unconstitutional and illegal act I challenge anybody to contradict me. Conceive what the consequence is. Suppose a set of Ministers think they will find Parliament inconvenient and not likely to give them a majority. They recommend the Governor not to call the Parliament together and to prorogue it. If this can be done—and it has now been done for many months—there is nothing to prevent its being done for many years.
§ * SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The right hon. Gentleman may find it extremely 148 convenient not to call the Parliament of the Cape together.
§ * SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
You have the power. Who is the man who is responsible for the law being broken? The Governor. The Governor is not bound to take the advice of the Ministers to break the law. If he looks at the records of the Colonial Office he will find that the Government has supported the Governors of the Colonies in preventing laws being passed, and certainly he would have the power to prevent them assenting to an illegal act. If he is so advised he can say: "I have no power to break the law. That is advice I cannot take." It is quite plain that if the right hon. Gentleman is right the Ministers may prevent Parliament ever meeting at all. If the Governor is bound to follow the advice of the Ministers, what you say is this—that it is in the power of the Executive Government to destroy the self-government of a Colony which has been conferred upon it by the Crown and by Parliament. That is the course you are adopting. The Executive has no such power. It cannot be denied that if this practice is to be continued the self-government of the Cape will be perpetually destroyed, as it is at this moment destroyed. There is no self-government at the Cape at this moment. What is the position of these Ministers? The Leader of the House said that Ministers are the creatures of Parliament and its majority, and it may sometimes be a very convenient thing to destroy the Parliament. Who is to call these Ministers to account? By what right are they Ministers, and by what right is Sir Gordon Sprigg a Minister? It is because he is supposed to enjoy the confidence of Parliament, but when Parliament is destroyed what is the position of Sir Gordon Sprigg and whose confidence does he enjoy? It is monstrous to assert that it rests with the temporary Executive to destroy the self-government of a Colony by violating the law which guarantees the existence of its Parliament. That is a constitutional proposition which I defy any man to contradict or refute. It may be necessary that the Parliament should be suspended, and that you should make provision for the suspension of the Consti- 149 tution; but how is that to be done? It is to be done as was done in Canada in 1838. If the Colonial Secretary will condescend to read the speech of Lord John Russell on that subject when he introduced the Bill for the temporary Government of Canada, he will find some sound constitutional doctrines which I think he will do well to apply in this case. You cannot abolish the Constitution of a self-governing colony by any other process than by Imperial action, and when the Government of Canada was suspended it was by Act of Parliament. He said that for a Minister of the day to take upon himself to advise the perpetual prorogation, and destroy the Parliament of a self-governing colony, was a monstrous doctrine which I venture to say there is not a British Colony would be found to accept. That is a doctrine of a most mischievous character. What was done in the ease of Jamaica? When the then existing Government of Jamaica was done away with the local Government surrendered its existing Constitution into the hands of the Crown, and then the Crown, with Parliament, made a new settlement and a new Constitution. Where the local Government considered it desirable or necessary to alter the Constitution the proper course would be for the Parliament of the Colony to give its consent to a new Constitution being framed; but to say that it rests with a temporary Minister of the Crown to prevent the Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope meeting is a doctrine altogether subversive of the liberties of the people of the Cape of Good Hope now and hereafter. For what security is there that this Minister, or any other Minister, will not prevent the Parliament meeting? If it is necessary to make a change in the government of the Cape of Good Hope it ought to be done under the authority of the Parliament. It could not be done simply by the act of a single Minister, who in point of fact only derives his authority from the Parliament which practically he abolishes. That is my objection to the course now taken, and I say, if it be necessary to suspend the Parliament of the Cape, it cannot be done by the Executive Government. It ought only to be done by the consent of the local Parliament or by the Imperial Parliament, as in the case of Canada in 1838.
There is another matter which grievously affects British subjects at the Cape of Good Hope, and that is the question of martial law. On this subject we are 150 left in total ignorance. We do not know how it is administered; but it is plain from such information as we have got that there is no man at the Cape at the present time whe is secure of his life, or liberty, or property being dealt with according to the law of the land. What is martial law? There are two things which are sometimes confounded, military law and martial law. Military law is a code for the government of soldiers. It is administered upon definite principles according to the Articles of War, and people know what military law means. It has certain defined proceedings and is contained in a code. But martial law is not law at all. It has been laid down by Lord Hale that it is "a thing which is indulged rather than allowed." Martial law is an illegal exercise of force necessary upon an emergency to preserve the peace. Do hon. Gentlemen, opposite agree with that? Very well but martial law is an emergency law. It occurs in a riot, in a rebellion, and in an invasion. I am apparently stating the law agreeably to hon. Members opposite. I hope they will equally agree with the conclusions I am going to draw from that. It is a great thing to have your premises granted and then one feels pretty easy about one's conclusions. I have said that martial law is essentially an emergency law, as it is, according to all the principles laid down by lawyers and by constitutional statesmen, a law which is justifiable only by necessity, because there is no other law available. When the Courts are open—and I am going to quote some authorities even greater than the First Lord of the Treasury upon this subject—and when the common law can determine a thing, martial law ought not to operate.
§ * SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but if I am not wearying the House, I should like just to read an opinion. The able law officers of the Crown of to-day will admit that there never were greater law officers of the Crown, than those who signed the opinion which I am about to read, Campbell and Rolfe. No greater names in questions of this kind could be quoted, and I will read their definition of martial law to the House. This is the opinion which, in the case of Canada, was 151 given to the Government of Canada when they proposed to proclaim and maintain martial law in Canada in 1838:—The right of resorting to such an extremity is a right arising from, and limited by, the necessity of the case.Now here comes a bit of Latin. I will, according to the old saying, veil the sentiment under the cloak of an ancient language:—Quod necessitas cogit, defendit. For this reason we are of opinion that the prerogative does not extend beyond the case of persons taken in open resistance.Do you cheer that?And with whom, by reason of the suspension of the ordinary tribunals, it is impossible to deal according to the regular course of justice.That is exactly the definition given by Lord Coke when he says:—"Peace is when the Courts of Justice are open." People must be taken in resistance, and there must be no possibility of trying them by the ordinary law. Everybody knows that in the great rebellions of '15 and '45 traitors were tried by the Courts of Law, and even in the Bloody Assize during the Monmouth rebellion, which made the name of Jeffreys infamous, it was not by martial law that people were tried. Well, the opinion goes on:When the regular Courts are open so that the criminals might be delivered over to them to be dealt with according to law, there is not, as we conceive, any right in the Crown to adopt any other course of proceeding.And mark this. This is really my conclusion:Such power can only be conferred by the Legislature, as was done by the Act passed in consequence of the Irish rebellions of 1798 and 1803, and also by this Irish Coercion Act of 1833. From the foregoing observations, your lordships will perceive that the question how far martial law when in force supersedes the ordinary tribunals can never in our view of the case arise. Martial law is stated by Lord Hale to be in truth no law, but something rather indulged than allowed as law, and it can only be tolerated because, by reason of open rebellion, the enforcing of any other law becomes impossible.I agree with that altogether.The question is, is it impossible that any other law in a case of this kind is impossible; and it cannot be said in strictness to supersede the ordinary tribunals inasmuch as it only exists by reason of these tribunals having been already practically superseded. It is hardly necessary for us to add that in our view of the case martial law can never be enforced for the ordinary purposes of civil or even criminal justice, except in the latter, so far as the 152 necessity arising from actual resistance compels its adoption.That I believe to be an absolutely accurate statement of the constitutional law of this country, and it amounts to this—that martial law, if established chronically, must be authorized by Act of Parliament. But this martial law rests only on the authority of the Executive, without any definition of the method or the means by which it is to be executed, and that is contrary to the Constitution of this country. It is contrary to the practice and the traditions of this country. If you want martial law established, you ought to establish it by Act of Parliament.
If I am not wearying the House I want to establish the proposition, one of the greatest consequence to all of us, that it is not in the power of the Executive to destroy the liberties of the community without the authority of Parliament. Of course, if there was any Parliamentary authority at the Cape, you might establish martial law; but you have destroyed the Parliament which could give the authority and, therefore, the only authority that can be given must be given here. I am now going to quote a great authority, Sir James Mackintosh in the case of Demarara. This is his statement of the case:—The Irish Statue, 39 George III., c. 2, after reciting that martial law had been successfully exercised to the restoration of peace so far as to permit the course of the common law partially to take place, but that the rebellion continues to rage in considerable parts of the kingdom, whereby it has become necessary for Parliament to interpose, goes on to enable the Lord Lieutenant to punish rebels by Courts-martial. This statute is the most positive declaration that where the common law can be exercised in some parts of the country, martial law cannot be established in others, though rebellion actually prevails in these others, without an extraordinary interposition of the supreme legislative authority itself.If there be a rebellion raging in one part of the country, and there is another part of the country where the Courts of Law are open and can be applied to, it is before these Courts of Law, and not before military tribunals, that the subject is to be brought. That is the constitutional doctrine, and to depart from it is most mischievous and most dangerous.Thus the matter stands," says Sir James Macintosh, "by the law of nations; but by this law of England it cannot be exercised except where the jurisdiction of Courts of Justice is interrupted by violence.[Hear, hear! from Ministerialists] Yes; but is it interrupted at the Cape by violence? 153 I am informed that the Courts of Law are sitting all over the Cape, and are administering the law and are fit to try these cases. And, therefore, you have no right to call cases before the military tribunals. I admit there may be circumstances—I have not seen them stated—which might make it necessary to authorise martial law, even although the Courts were sitting; but that can only be done by statute. That has been laid down over and over again, and it is stated expressly in the statutes that martial law may be exercised "though Courts are sitting," this reservation showing that without special statutory authority martial law could not be exercised. There is another thing certain—that where martial law is exercised without the authority of a statute, you are obliged to come for an indemnity. And in all these cases—you may go back, strangely enough, to the time of Wat Tyler's rebellion for the instances—of martial law exercised without special authority there is a statute of indemnity brought in. I should like to call attention to a very remarkable example of this which took place in the island of St. Vincent, where martial law had been exercised and the Government brought in a Bill of indemnity when they had had recourse to martial law. They sent home this Act of Indemnity, and the Act stated that it had been lawfully and necessarily exercised. The Colonial Secretary of those days, the Duke of Newcastle, wrote back and said:—The first clause declares the proclamation of martial law to have been lawfully issued, but this is not the fact and ought not to have been so declared. In proclaiming martial law the executive authority in fact declares it is obliged for the protection of the community to neglect the law, trusting to the Legislature to relieve all who in obedience to the constituted authority may have acted in defiance of the law for the public safety, protecting them from the consequences of acting unlawfully. The proclamation was right and necessary, but it was not strictly lawful, and to declare it so would be to endanger a most important constitutional principle.Thus the Colonial Secretary of a free country would not allow martial law to be recited even in an Act of Indemnity as a lawful act. The Act of Indemnity was required because it was an illegal act; and therefore I would confidently state that martial law by the sole authority of the Executive is justi- 154 fiable just as certain homicides are justifiable, and that you may defend yourself by killing another man in an emergency, but in the ordinary case you must take your remedy in the Courts of Law. So in regard to martial law. The emergency at the time and the preservation of peace are to be dealt with by the Executive, but if martial law becomes chronic, if it is to exist in a state of society where you have the Courts of Law acting side by side with martial law, then it can be only under the authority of Parliament which regulates the conduct of that martial law. That is what was done in 1833 when the tremendous Coercion Act of Ireland was passed. You should take care to see that precautions are taken in measures of this character. When martial law was enforced in the Act of 1833 care was taken to regulate these Courts-martial. In the first place the authority was placed in the Lord Lieutenant. He was to authorise a field officer to convene a Court-martial. There were not to be less than five nor more than nine men on the Court-martial. I wonder if that is the case at the Cape! I am told that it is only three. If so, it is a distinct violation of the securities which have been given to leave a decision which might involve life or death at the Cape to three men. The security is this, that out of nine men seven have to concur to give the sentence. Is that the case with the Courts-martial at the Cape? I do not know; we have had no information, but this Parliament ought to ask for the information. We ought to have an official statement of the constitution of these Courts-martial, on what principles they are administered, and whether they are regulated as they have been regulated before by this House. With less than nine, five must concur under the Act of 1833, and there is to be no officer upon a Court-martial under the rank of captain. Is that rule observed at the Cape? The parties are to have counsel and attorneys to examine and cross-examine witnesses as in a Court of Law. Is that the case with Courts-martial at the Cape? That is why I say if you are to have martial law, not to be enforced in an emergency but as a regular system going on in administering the law, then it must be based under the authority of the Parliament of the Cape; but you have destroyed the Parliament of the Cape. It is prorogued again, though the 155 right hon. Gentleman said last year that it would meet in October.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I reported the statement made by the Prime Minister of Cape Colony; I offered no opinion.
§ * SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I have no objection to the prorogation if it is within the terms of the Act, but after October 13th it was an absolutely illegal act in regard to every one who took part in it. The right hon. Gentleman was an accessory after the fact. There are penalties even for that.
§ * SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I do not know exactly how we are to proceed in the matter, but I would venture to suggest that if this transaction is to take place it ought to be legalized. There may arise occasions where it is necessary to suspend the Parliament. It can be legalized by an Act of the Imperial Legislature. There may be cases where you find a condition of society in which there is need for a continuing chronic state of martial law. That must be legalized by statute, in order that you may have provisions giving security to the subjects that no greater suspension of their liberties may be made than is necessary. By the suspension of the Constitution of the Cape and the administration of martial law you have set the example of violating the law, and you ought to come to Parliament for an Act of Indemnity, and if you want to continue the administration of martial law you ought to get a statute authorizing the suspension of the ordinary law. In that way you would pay respect to the true principle of self-government and follow the traditions of a law-abiding country.
§ (11.0.) MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
In replying to any speech that may be made from the Benches opposite I have always to bear in mind that it is the earnest desire of every Member there to bring the war to a successful issue. I try to keep that in mind even after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and I shall not impute to him any motive inconsistent with what I suppose to be his intention, though I am bound to say I do not think that the method he has taken is the one most 156 likely to carry out his object. The right hon. Gentleman has made a speech to-night in which he has dealt with two subjects, first the postponement of the meeting of the Cape Parliament, contrary to the provisions of the Cape Constitution, and, secondly, he has complained of the institution of martial law in Cape Colony. He did not say a word about the institution of martial law in Natal, where it has existed for two years with the full assent of the population, and where Parliament is still sitting, and no opposition has been manifested.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
But the right hon. Gentleman desires, I understand, to alter the situation in these two respects; he requires the intervention of the Imperial Government to force a meeting of the Cape Parliament against the wishes of the Ministers of a majority of the Cape population. He also desires that by some Act of the Imperial Parliament we should prevent the operation of martial law in a self-governing colony.
§ SIR WILLIAM. HARCOURT
The right hon. Gentleman misunderstands me. I did not say to prevent the operation of martial law. If it is necessary you should authorize, legalize, and regularise it.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
He contends that the Cape Parliament in a self-governing colony has no authority whatever to institute martial law—
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Will the right hon. Gentleman wait until I have finished my sentence? Are those Ministers of the majority of the Cape Parliament, in the absence of a session, to have no authority whatever in the government of the Colony to authorise the institution of martial law without a Bill of Indemnity, forsooth, from the Imperial Parliament? I have stated what I believe to be the right hon. Gentleman's object, and there is no doubt whatever he has raised two questions of immense importance, which, if decided in his sense, would undoubtedly provoke an immense amount of comment and of unfavourable criticism in our self-governing colonies. But whilst bringing forward views of this enormous importance the right hon. 157 Gentleman confines himself to general statements and does not follow his speech by any Amendment.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I want to know what your martial law is. I demand an account of this martial law, and you ride off upon this taunt.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I thought the right hon. Gentleman was a lawyer, a constitutional lawyer, and should have thought he knew better than myself what martial law is. I am going to tell him before I sit down; but whatever it may be it does not touch this question in the least, this double question, whether the Imperial Government should interfere in the matter of a meeting of the Cape Parliament, and, secondly, whether we should interfere with the martial law to which the Cape Government has given consent. I say again these are questions involving the relations of the United Kingdom with its colonies of such enormous importance that if the right hon. Gentleman thought proper to bring them forward at all he ought to have concluded with an Amendment and taken a decision of the House upon his views. In my opinion it is monstrous to raise questions of this delicate character, closely affecting the powers of self-governing colonies, without, at all events, having the courage to tak the opinion of the House upon them. Both these questions are questions for a self-governing colony, and I might very easily rest myself there, but I do not choose to do so. I am perfectly ready to give the House the opinion of the Government on this action by the Government of a self-governing colony, and I believe it is entirely right in both instances. I am not responsible for it, but I entirely approve of it. It is not my business to accept responsibility, and it would be an impertinence for me to interfere with the responsibility of the Cape Government. But I thoroughly approve of the decisions which they have taken in both cases. I think they were absolutely right to postpone the meeting of Parliament, and absolutely right to call for the institution of martial law throughout Cape Colony. Having said in the clearest and frankest way that I am in entire agreement with the action of the Cape Colony, I am obliged again to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that his attack is distinctly an attack upon the Ministers of 158 a self-governing colony, and that it is entirely inconsistent with all that interest in self-government, which from him, claiming to be a representative of the older Liberalism and taking credit for the institution of self-governing colonies, comes ill. The Ministers of the Colony, he says—for this cannot possibly apply to the Imperial Government—are adopting the doctrines of the Stuarts; they are guilty of grossly illegal and unconstitutional acts. I rather object to adjectives which are unnecessary and offensive; but the words "illegal and unconstitutional" I admit—that is to say, the Ministers of Cape Colony have taken upon themselves to decline to fulfil the conditions of the Constitution and the law. That is an illegal act. The Ministers of this country, although we have not lived in such troublous times and in such circumstances of emergency, have, even in times of perfect peace, done illegal and unconstitutional acts from time to time, and we have had to come to the House of Commons for an indemnity. The Ministers of Cape Colony express their full intention and perfect readiness at the proper time to go to their Parliament and ask them for an indemnity for the act which they believe now, in the interest of the Colony and of the Empire, they are forced to take. That is the position. What is the use of all this legal lore? If it were a question of the Courts I should not presume to stand up against the right hon. Gentleman; but it is a question of common sense, and, if I may use an expression which is sure to be a popular one in the present session, it is a question of "efficiency," in the presence of a great emergency, and of a war which is calling for great sacrifices from the Cape Colony as well as from the mother country.
Now, Sir, what is the position of the right hon. Gentleman? I have stated the facts. An illegal and unconstitutional act has been committed by the Cape Ministers, who say that they will ask for an indemnity when the exceptional circumstances have come to an end. I quite understand that, when the Government of a self-governing colony does anything which the right hon. Gentleman does not like, his affection for self-government becomes tepid. [Hon. Members: Oh!] But that is not the point. The right hon. Gentleman contends that these Ministers having taken 159 this action, the Imperial Government should interfere to prevent them; and he says that the Governor of Cape Colony is our servant, and that the Governor of Cape Colony could, if we chose, refuse to give his assent to the proposals of the Cape Ministry. Yes, that is perfectly true. Theoretically, this Parliament can pass laws for all the colonies. Theoretically, the Governor, under instructions from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, can veto every Bill passed by every Colonial Parliament. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that we should take advantage of that power? Clearly not. I do not attribute such a ridiculous position to him. Then, does he contend that this is such an exceptional circumstance that we are bound to interfere and to set ourselves up against what is not only the decision of the existing Cape Government, which is the only Government that we can recognise, but what is, I believe, the view of the great majority of the population of Cape Colony, whether Dutch or English? Sir, in the first place, as I have frankly stated, we entirely agree with the view which they have taken. But if I disagreed, I cannot conceive it possible that I should venture to advise the House to support me in going against the decision of the Cape Government in such circumstances. There may be occasions in which this right of Imperial veto and control may still have to be exercised; but only in cases in which Imperial interests are concerned—never in cases in which the circumstances are such as to concern the internal affairs of the Colony alone.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
This is not the Secretary of State vetoing an Act sent up to him. It is a Ministry violating a law.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman raises another question, with which I will deal when I come to his objection to martial law. But my case is that, whatever the Cape Government has done, we have no right to interfere unless Imperial interests are concerned. I say in this case no Imperial interests are concerned, and therefore I would not interfere even if I disapproved of the action of the Cape Ministry. I do not disapprove of the action of the Cape Ministry, and so long as His Majesty's present Government are in office we will give them all the support we can possibly give them.
I come now, Sir, to the second 160 question which the right hon. Gentleman has raised—the question of martial law. Anybody would think that the right hon. Gentleman was hardly aware that there was any emergency at all. He talks as though we were in times of peace, and he argues as one might argue in a Court of Law. But the whole position of the Cape Government and of this Government is that an emergency has arisen, and in case of an emergency martial law is the abrogation of the ordinary law and the substitution of an arbitrary law. There is no doubt about that. That, again, is common sense, as well as good law. The right hon. Gentleman comes down here and tells us that the ordinary Courts of law are superseded.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
But that they are superseded in certain cases by the Courts of martial law. That is perfectly true, and that might cause us to shiver or to be indignant, according as if we were frightened or angry, if we were dealing with ordinary times, with times of peace. But we are dealing with times of emergency. We are dealing with times of war. We are dealing with more than that. We are dealing with times of rebellion; and I do not care a scrap for the legal authorities on one side or the other, which the right hon. Gentleman may quote as decisions which ought to govern the decisions of the Executive Government. I say, if the law is broken, it is to the existing Law Courts that you must go for a decision on that point. I say the Government has only to deal with an emergency which exists, and to take advantage of the universal practice, not of this country, but of all countries in such a case, to abrogate the ordinary law. The right hon. Gentleman tries to make out that there is something exceptional in the fact that martial law exists, and has been operative in Cape Colony at the same time that the ordinary Courts of Law are sitting. I believe he insinuates that that is an illegal position. Very well, let him bring it before the Privy Council. [Opposition cries of "Oh!"] I do not mean a personal appeal. Let it be brought before the Privy Council. The Privy Council still sits in this country and could decide a question of that kind; and, although I fear to tread upon ground with which I am unfamiliar, I believe that the Privy Council has been appealed to in 161 precisely that case, and that the Privy Council has given its decision, which happens to be opposite to that which has been expressed to the House of Commons by the right hon. Gentleman. The opinion of the Privy Council is good enough for me. What the right hon. Gentleman wants, is that I should set myself up, not as a lawyer, but arbitrarily as an executive authority, to overrule the judicial opinion and the wishes of the Cape Government, and to establish a law of my own.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his wishes for my elevation, but that is not my own ambition. Sir, martial law is, undoubtedly, a very disagreeable state of things, an abnormal state of things; what the right hon. Gentleman calls an illegal and unconstitutional state of things. But it is a state of things which every nation has found necessary in the circumstances in which we stand. If we are carrying on a war, and if there is rebellion in part of our own territory, the establishment of martial law has always followed, in past history, that state of things; it has followed that state of things to-day, and it appears to me to be justified. The only justification which I offer is the necessity of the case. The emergency is the justification. Sir, I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to bring this matter to the test of a division in the House of Commons. What form would his Amendment take? What are the questions which the House would have to decide? They would have to decide this. Is, in the present circumstances, martial law necessary? That is the first question. The second question would be, If martial law is to exist, ought it to be made effective? If he will move an amendment negativing these two propositions I am perfectly prepared to take issue with him and to take the sense of the House on the subject. The only effect of the action of the right hon. Gentleman, which is, as I say, inconsistent with the desire which I attribute to him to bring the war to a conclusion—the only effect would be to deprive us of a most important weapon, a weapon which has been found to be important in similar circumstances, which has been used, as I have said, by all belligerents in the same case, but of 162 which he, forsooth, wishes to deprive us in this particular struggle, with the certainty, if he did so, that it would prolong the continuance of the struggle. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by saying that he wished to have these illegal proceedings legalized. Well, Sir, I pointed out, so far as martial law is concerned, that if any wrong has been done there is already a tribunal open to those who consider themselves aggrieved, before which they can bring their case, and by which they can have it settled. But, as regards the other point—the question of the postponement of the meeting of the Cape Parliament—that can be legalized, and will be legalized, by an Act of Indemnity. But it is not to this Parliament, at all events in the first instance, to which an appeal will be made to pass an Act of indemnity; it is to the Parliament of the Cape Colony.
§ MR J. CHAMBERLAIN
I can say I can heartily share the hon. Gentleman's hope and expectation. But, clearly, that is the common-sense answer. The state of things to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, with regard to martial law especially, certainly will not end until the emergency ends. The time when the Ministers of the Cape Colony may think that it is right and proper to summon the Cape Parliament is for them to fix and not for me. But this I can say—the reasons which they gave, and which I read out to the House in the last session of Parliament for not calling that Parliament together, remain in full force. There is not one of the reasons they gave which does not exist at the present time, and, in these circumstances, the case is no stronger against postponement than it was then. I say again, with regard to the whole question, that in a war you must take the consequences. We are not now discussing the merits of the war—whether it is just or unjust. It is possible the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman may be more or less influenced by the view he takes of the character and justice of the war; but, at the present moment, that is not the subject of discussion. If you go to war you must take the consequences of war; certainly you must make the sacrifices 163 which are demanded in order to carry it to a successful conclusion. In my opinion, it would be the very height of folly either to abandon the power which is given to us by martial law at the present time, or to call together the Cape Parliament in existing circumstances, which would bring about a confusion which would give encouragement to the enemies of the country, which would, I believe, be a serious disadvantage to the Cape Colony, and which the Ministers of the Cape Colony entirely disapprove of.
§ (11.27.) LORD WILLOUGHBY DE ERESBY (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
I do not think I would be entirely misinterpreting the spirit of my constituents if I were to say that the legislative programme of the Government will not disappoint them, because they did not expect that His Majesty's Government would introduce any measure of very great importance in view of the war in which we are at present engaged. All of us, when we looked at the legislative programme, must have recognised that it contains many old friends; at any rate, they appear under the same old names. The first, is a measure to provide Londoners' with water, the second, is a measure to deal with the question of education, and the third is a measure dealing with Irish land. These questions, however, are not of deep interest to myself or my constituents, and I am somewhat doubtful whether the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was not quite right when he said that there was not a great deal of enthusiasm in regard to the prospects of an Education Bill. I know that in my constituency there are some who consider that we have spent a great deal too much money on education, and others who consider that money is not spent to the best advantage. We think that the money should have been spent in making for better efficiency. I do not think that any of the measures are likely to create very great interest to the large number of gentlemen who sit on this side of the House. As regards the Water Bill, ever since I have been a Member of this House a Water Bill has been with us. When the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the Sleaford Division, was President of the Local Government Board we had frequent Water Bills before us; and even when gentlemen on the other side of the 164 House were on this side of the House I can remember several afternoons being spent in discussing the question of London Water supply. I do hope that the Government, if they proceed with this Bill, will attempt to do something final and settle the question. I will not labour the question of the Education Bill. However agreeable it may be to discuss the shortcomings of old friends I do not intend to deal with their Education Bill at any length. Suffice it to say that in 1896 this question was to be dealt with, and that after controversy it was decided that the best course the Government could pursue was to fulfil the promise given at the general election, to provide sufficient funds to make the voluntary schools efficient. Very few sessions have passed in which Irish Land Bills have not occupied a considerable time of the House. I think there are many on this side of the House who share the opinion that these measures are necessary, and we would heartily support the Government in carrying them into law. I hope the First Lord of the Treasury will not take it amiss if I ask him, in dealing with these questions, to look a little ahead and see that they are passed into law. I think my right hon. friend must understand the position of county Members like myself in dealing with matters in which they or their constituents are not particularly interested. Anxious as I am to support the Government and anxious as I believe my constituents are that the Government should have a large and united majority, I cannot help impressing on the First Lord of the Treasury, at this early period of the session, the necessity of as far as possible mapping out the time of the session, so that it should be used not merely for the purposes of idle debate, but rather for the discussion of Bills which are meant to be passed.
§ (11.34).DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.) moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I understand the hon. Gentleman has moved the adjournment of the debate with a view of moving an Amendment to-morrow. I very much hope that we shall get over this preliminary discussion as soon as possible, and therefore I will not resist the motion of the hon. Gentleman.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.
§ Adjourned at twenty-five minutes before Twelve o'clock.