§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [20th Jonuary] to Main Question [16th January], "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 McCalmont):"—
§ And which Amendment was, at the end of the Question, to add the words,—473
§ "But we humbly represent to Your Majesty that this House, while prepared to support all proper measures for the effective prosecution of the war in South Africa, is of opinion that the course pursued by Your Majesty's Ministers, and their attitude with regard to a settlement, have not conduced to the early termination of the war and the establishment of a durable peace:"—(MR. Cawley):—
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ (4.17) MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Oldham)
said that the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment seemed rather proud of it, and stated that it was a distinctly plain and definite proposal. But Amendment was not likely to attract very much support on that side of the House. However much hon. Members on that side might exercise their own judgment in relation to matters of South African policy, they would require, if an Amendment were brought forward from the Opposition, in the first place that it should be of a definite character, in the second place that it should command the assent of a united party, and in the third place that it should set forth propositions which commended themselves to Members on that side. And even then they would have to make up their minds upon those propositions with reference to all the considerations of the case. But the Amendment had become a very convenient peg on which to hang a discussion on the various aspects of this great question, in the shadow of which we had been so long. He rejoiced that the discussion so far as it had proceeded had been of a most moderate character.
He would like, in the first place, to express thanks to the right hon. Gentleman who spoke late last night, for his courtesy in sitting down before the clock reached the hour of 12, and thus enabling him to secure the adjournment of the debate. He thought the right hon. Gentleman in showing such consideration to younger and more humble Members of the House, has set an example which might well be copied with great advantage by the occupants of both Front Benches. The right hon. Gentleman was a great authority on South Africa, because, 474 like some other hon. Members, he had been to South Africa, and, like a great many other people, he had written a book upon it. But since the question had assumed such great prominence the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman has undergone some change, because, whereas he wrote a most moderate and reasonable presentment of the case, when the question assumed a party and controversial character, the exigencies of the speeches which he felt it necessary to make required that he should bring out a second edition of his book which was very different in marked particulars from the earlier edition.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I made no change whatever in the present edition of my book. I added anew preface, which purported to be a new preface relating to the events that had happened since, but I expressly said I introduced no change whatever in the body of the book, and everything I wrote in 1897 stands there to day.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
No doubt it must have been the preface which misled me, and evidently misled the newspapers which commented on the book. [Opposition cries of "Oh."] Newspapers, of course, are invariably misinformed, I rejoice at the return of the right hon. Gentleman to the moderation of his earlier preface.
Continuing, the hon, Member said that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in his speech last night, referred to very little that was new matter—such matters as he dealt with did not appertain to the facts which had been adduced in this debate. The right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean brought forward a series of very detailed complaints and criticisms against the War Office. He would not attempt to deal in detail with those matters. Unless a nation was so fortunate as to possess a very great general like Napoleon or the Duke of Wellington or the Duke of Marlborough, it must win its wars either by the superior quality or quantity of the troops employed. If during this guerilla war the Government had been able to supply superior quality, by which he meant troops equal to the Boers not only in courage, discipline, and devotion, but in swiftness and enterprise 475 and deadliness with the rifle at close quarters—that he firmly believed would have been the shortest road to victory. But the Government were not able to do that, although, as he knew, they made considerable efforts in that direction. Failing quality, the alternative was quantity. If they were unable to run down the enemy in the open, then it became necessary to entangle them in a net, and so we came directly to the system of blockhouses, which were now spread over the country and turning South Africa into one vast fortification. That system was very characteristic of Lord Kitchener. It was slow, painful, and laborious, but, like the desert railway in the Soudan, it was so far as one could see, absolutely certain in the end. It required a great number of troops, and perhaps some hon. Member who had just returned from the front could say how many battalions were absorbed; but the more closely the blockhouses were put together, the smaller the areas into which the country was divided, and the more mobile columns there were available in the enclosed country, the sooner the end would be reached. Therefore he did not think it would be valid for the Government to say that Lord Kitchener had enough troops. He could not have enough troops. He and the Government had been working together, not only in this great enterprise, but in another enterprise, and their uninterruptedly cordial relations must have established a comradeship, and no doubt the General would endeavour to make things easy for the Government, and the Government would do what they could within limits, to help the General. But his contention was that if Lord Kitchener had more troops he would get on more quickly. In November last year the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War told them that he had 100,000 men, who would reinforce the field army as much as was necessary. Why then did he not begin to prepare a new force of 30,000 or 35,000, who by now would have been nearly trained, and who would have infused new vigour into the new year's campaign? Over and over again during the recess the right hon. Gentleman had been urged to make preparation for a supreme effort in the new year. He 476 had no desire to be captious in his views, but this was, he believed, a perfectly valid charge which could be brought against the Government, that although they committed themselves deliberately to a military policy, the essential condition of which was the great number of our troops, they did not make sufficient preparation to provide that that great number should be maintained. Never during this campaign had the War Office done what he ventured to think should have been one of the earliest steps, namely, to lay down a regular rota by which the army in South Africa should be reinforced, and to adhere to that principle through good report and through ill report, and particularly through good report. If such a course had been taken and followed consistently from the first, he thought they might be looking back on a brighter past and looking forward to a brighter future. It was not too late even now for them to deal with the question, and to reinforce the South African army on a thoroughly logical basis. It was absolutely necessary to have something in hand with which to threaten and alarm our antagonists.
The Colonial Secretary said last night that he would welcome instructive criticism in regard to military operations. The hon. Member urged the Government to prepare now an army of 30,000 men. [Nationalist cheers.] No doubt hon. Members from Ireland would vote Supplies! These troops would go out to South Africa, if the war was not over, at the end of April, to strengthen those already there. The sending out of reinforcements would have a considerable moral effect upon the enemy, by the spectacle of their arrival. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had "stage-managed" the reinforcements as well as he might have done. They heard that the Boers were accurately informed as to what was going on in this country. He wondered how they got their information. No doubt they subscribed to one of the press-cutting agencies. The prospect of the despatch of troops from this country would produce possibly a decisive result on the commandos in the field.
He thought the Government might reconsider the question of the employment 477 of Indian troops. Formery he was very much, personally, opposed to this idea, because he thought this was a white man's war essentially, and because he was to some extent captivated by what his right hon. friend the Member for Montrose had said—that there was a kind of prejudice that Christians should be killed by Christians. We had to consider the Colonial sentiment of hostility to the employment of what they would call Coolies, in the early stages of the war, but now the situation was quite different. We had employed Kaffirs to watch and to scout, and the loyalist sentiment in South Africa had not been outraged in the least. Now great numbers of troops were required, not so much for active field operations as the discharge of the duties of an army of occupation, and to garrison block-houses. Under these circumstances there was no reason which he could see why we should not, if we wished and found it convenient, avail ourselves as Lord Beaconsfield did, of the enormous moral and material advantages of throwing the sword of India into the scale, and of opening up before the eyes of the stuggling Boers the prospect of the indefinite and almost infinite reservoir of men to be found in India. Some hon. Members might say that perhaps the natives of India would be tempted to think that we were at our last gasp. He could not imagine that any intelligent native Indian would be so silly as to think so. If 30,000 native troops were sent to South Africa, in conjunction with an equal force from home, he thought his right hon. friend would have a reserve force which would enable him to do two very desirable things. First of all it would put the Government in a very much better position to receive any overtures which the Boers might make in a friendly spirit, and secondly it would enable them to bring home some 10,000 or 12,000 men now serving, and whose absence from home caused hardship.
So much for the military operations. He hoped the government would not confine themselves to disclaiming their incapacity in the conduct of the war. It was also desirable that they should evince—this was entirely secondary to the other question—a disposition for peace on satisfactory terms. The difference, so far as he could see, between those who voted against the Amendment to the Amendment last night 478 and the supporters of the Government was whether the settlement which was to follow the war should rest upon compromise or upon force. The hon. Member for North Monmouthshire, who seconded the Amendment, tried to make out, in inflated periods which at all events produced as much effect upon himself as the House, that this was the very issue between the two parties in the House, and that it was a great battle to be fought against the reactionary forces of Toryism by those who adhered to the old traditions of the Liberal party. The hon. Member for Oldham ventured to think that between annexation by compromise and annexation by force there was no real difference of principle. There was only one great difference of principle in the course of this war, and that was on the question of annexation. That was the one great dividing line. If they consented to the destruction of a nationality, whether that destruction was effected with the consent of the nationality was a matter of minor consideration. Obviously the rights of minor Nationalities would be more greatly enhanced by the protest effected by the unyielding resistance of the nationality, than by that nationality becoming an accessory to its destruction. Hon. Members opposite, on grounds of patriotism and common sense, consented to support the annexation of the two Republics. Then he thought there was no real dividing line of principle, although there might be room for any number of differences of procedure.
We were now committed to annexation, and the only question to be considered was the question of expediency. It was as a matter of expediency that he would like to discuss the proposition, whether the settlement should rest upon compromise or upon force. He confessed himself—he was afraid he would not carry with him some of his hon. friends behind him—he preferred compromise without any doubt or question. He would give two material reasons. When he looked back on the course of events in South Africa, he found that the area near the quadrilateral line of block-houses had always been the stage of the South African drama. The Uitlanders, though not, perhaps, themselves of any great consequence, were indeed, of very real and vital consequence, because they represented the British principle 479 throughout South Africa. He had always thought that our Government were right to intervene in the cause of the Uitlanders, to take up negotiations in their cause, to carry the cause into the field of war, and to show that we were prepared to make great sacrifices for our kith and kin. But if the Uitlanders represented the Cape British, it was no less true that the Boers represented the Cape Dutch. So long as the Boers were antagonistic and disaffected, so long would South Africa be estranged and distracted. That was why, on practical grounds, he preferred to settle by compromise. But there was another, and still more practical reason. No doubt the situation in South Africa was steadily improving. He supposed he was right in saying that the system of dividing up the country into water-tight compartments by blockhouses, would, with mathematical certainty, exclude the Boers from all the settled country. But there was a danger. Supposing that within six months all the Boers within the area of the blockhouses were killed or captured, there would still be a few hundred implacable Boers in the north-east of the Transvaal, and north-east of the Cape Colony; and what would be the position then? In order to protect the settled districts from these roving bands, a large number of troops would be required from the Delagoa Railway to the town of Sutherland, and down to the sea—a length of 900 miles. Then there was the prospective return of the prisoners of war. It would be most dangerous to withdraw a large part of our troops, for that operation must be covered by a substantial military force. Therefore, by a settlement by force alone, and not by compromise, we would be compelled to face a period of great expenditure. He did not think that either of these disadvantages or difficulties or dangers, however unpleasant they might be to be faced, were likely to prove insuperable obstacles to the course which this country was determined to pursue. There was no doubt that any one who spoke of conciliation and negotiations must certainly make this plain, too, as there was a body of public opinion in England, not less than in the Colonies, strong and unyielding, who, if the Boers persisted in their demand for independence, would shrink from no 480 sacrifice, would stop short at no measure of severity—[Mr. SWIFT MACNEILL: Even to the murder of children]—which the hard circumstances of innumerable precedents of war would sanction. His reason for favouring the idea of compromise rather than any settlement by force was that it would be far better for the interests of Britain, far better for the future of South Africa, and far better for the Boers themselves, that the war should end, not as they would force us to end it by the stamping out of a general conflagration, but by a military compact or treaty between those fighting on either side, which should be to the Boers a Magna Charta, and to the British the title deeds of the country.
He had given his reasons why he considered a settlement by compromise intrinsically better than settlement by force. He knew that many men on that side of the House did not hold that view, but the facts appeared to him to be tolerably plain. Any one who had travelled in the country and reflected on the situation must have had the facts brought prominently before him. Very likely the Government did not take the view that he had attempted to put forward. He did not speak for them, though he should not be surprised if the view they took in their hearts was that, while settlement by force was better than by compromise, there must be circumstances in which settlement based on compromise would be more convenient. If that was the view of his right hon. friend, he only trusted that in the present juncture of affairs his right hon. friend, standing in a position of authority and responsibility, would think it well to declare it. Whatever they might say or think about the question which he had been discussing, it was at the present time a purely academical one. It was not before the country just now. They might all wish to see the lamb lie down with the lion, but he was afraid they would not. Settlement by compromise was doubtful; settlement by force was absolutely certain. That could not be too often stated; and they should not imperil the substance of military success by the shadow, however attractive, of conciliation. When the Leader of the Opposition in this House said he would combine the policy of the sword in 481 one hand with the that of olive branch in the other, he ran the risk of over materialisation, and if he attempted that policy he might find that it would end with a blunt sword and an olive branch stained with blood. He confessed that he should like to see negotiations on the military and civil questions undertaken with the Republics, but the question was how could such negotiations be set in operation. Hon. Members had varied a good deal in their interpretation of the Boer attitude. At one period they were told that the Boers were permanently estranged and implacable; but, on the other hand, they were assured that the Boers were ready to be received with open arms and with respect. The most remarkable thing he had heard in the course of the debate was said by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, who declared that the Government had made it impossible to conclude an honourable peace with the Boers. Really, he could not see how that statement could be reconciled with the actual facts. What had the Government done? They had taken three decided steps, made three distinct overtures, which were all recorded in the Blue-books. In the first place there was the dispatch of the peace envoys; next, the June negotiations, and last of all, there was the letter written by Lord Kitchener, now published, which Mr. Steyn himself described as couched in an not unfriendly tone. What was the reception of these overtures?
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
What I said was that they had left themselves nobody with whom they could conclude a peace; and that, there having been absolute annexation long ago, there was no Government of any kind left with whom to treat.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
That is not the opinion of the Boers—who hold that they have actual Governments in both States and it is not the opinion of Lord Rosebery.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
I thought the right hon. Gentleman was only speaking of the actual facts—all 482 the overtures which the Government had at different times and by different methods made to the Boers had been rejected. Lord Kitchener's letters had led to a wordy controversy, in which complaints had been made of the methods of concentration camps. The June negotiations were rejected by the Boers with contumely; but not only that, they had been used as an argument by the Commanders in the field to their followers for further resistance. "See," they said, "what you have got by going on!" Then we sent the peace envoys and they were shot. In the face of these overtures and these refusals, the right hon. Baronet said that the Government had made an honourable peace impossible! He confessed he did not follow that reasoning at all. His hon. and gallant friend the Member for the Isle of Wight, who spoke the previous day, described the attitude of the Boers. It was an attitude of the defenders of a beleagured town, to resist to the last morsel of food and to the last round of ammunition. It was a very unyielding and military attitude, and one which, in other circumstances, would be very refreshing to witness in the latter days of the world. In the face of facts like these, it was solemnly proposed that we, who were advancing with measured and resistless strides towards the long-delayed conclusion of these operations, should compromise them by offering further overtures.
Hon. Members opposite had not only urged the Government to renewed negotiations, they had stated three propositions which he would venture to deal with seriatim. The one point to be borne in mind was that we should not compromise the military operations. We owed that to our soldiers. The first proposition was that we should invite the Boers to a conference. We knew what came of that before. Second, that we should state our terms without any conference. There was a good deal to be said for that, and less against it. And lastly, there was the proposition, which he thought very good and excellent, that the Boers should invite us to a conference. That was a matter that rested with the Boers, and with which we were unable to interfere. The Colonial Secretary last night made a speech 483 which drew, he thought, a great many bullets from the cartridges prepared against him. He said that, provided the Government were satisfied that those who spoke on behalf of Boers were really in control—in effective command—of the Boers and of these scattered commandoes, and provided they would state before negotiations the terms on which they would negotiate, and provided these terms afforded a satisfactory basis in regard to essentials, then, so far as they were concerned, the Government would not turn a deaf ear to them. It must be self-evident to every one who had studied the South Africa question, that the loyal co-operation of the Boers in the settlement of South Africa, would be such a dazzling bribe, such an enormous advantage, that it would be inconceivable that any Government acquainted with the conditions should refuse to make any considerable sacrifices to secure so desirable an end. For all these reasons he confessed that he did not see, either in the amendment proposed or in the debate so far as it had proceeded, or in the situation in South Africa, or in this country, any good reason which would justify those members of the Opposition, who had hitherto loyally, patriotically, to their own disadvantage and vexation, and to the disadvantage of their Party, supported the policy of the Government in voting for an amendment which, so far as it was supported, would seem to betoken divisions in their councils which had not hitherto existed and which might, for that very reason, produce in the situation in South Africa, evil consequences which were not in their power accurately to anticipate. In regard to that question, it was above all things important that they should not lose their sense of proportion. They were living in a time of strain and trouble which a majority of this House have never before been called upon to face. In this age they get information so quickly, every detail was presented with such great vividness, that no doubt they felt more keenly than any other representatives who had met in former times to debate the critical fortunes of this country. He hoped they should not dwell too much on their labours. Other generations 484 had to face difficulties not less great, and dangers not less terrible, and it would be almost impossible now to see any real evidence of their sufferings. All that was petty was effaced, and there remained only their example to inspire them to emulate their achievements, and if this war, which was mournfully drawing to its close, should so change the destinies of that country, that instead of being, as it undoubtedly would have been a stagnant and reactionary Dutch Republic, it should take its place with the other great and free commonwealths which they had scattered about the world, that would be a solid achievement for which those who come after them, either sitting in this House or living in South Africa, would not be altogether ungrateful.
§ *(5.10.) SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
The interesting speech to which we have just listened shows at least that there are different opinions on both sides of the House. I do not suppose His Majesty's Government or any other Gentlemen on that side of the House entirely approve the views of the hon. Member who has just sat down. I was very glad to hear in the speech of the hon. Member that he realises the dangerous, character of the situation in South Africa. Though I do not agree in many of the opinions he has uttered, at least I can concur with him that this country has never been placed in a more serious position. I would wish very much that that was the tone in which this subject was always discussed. For my part, I recognise perfectly that on this side of the House, as on that, there are great differences of opinion in reference to the war. I myself have always deplored this war. If I were or had been in any degree responsible for it—which, thank God, I am not—if I had felt it an inevitable necessity, I should all the same have deplored it as a great disaster, and should not have been disposed to think its authorship a feather in my cap. However, to-night, and in the situation in which we find ourselves, it is not so much the question of the origin of the war, or the justification of the war, as how we may best, with honour to this country, bring it to an early conclusion. It is from that 485 point of view that what I will ask leave to address to the House shall be directed.
What are the consequences of this war, so far as it has gone, and so far as it has been conducted, under the policy of His Majesty's Government? I would express my opinion upon it from a source which has been much resorted to in these debates. As was once said of Shakespeare, it is full of quotations. I will state my opinion of the consequences of this war in the words of Lord Rosebery. He says that this war has produced an open sore, through which is oozing much of our strength. He says, secondly, that it weakens our international position, and reduces us to a standpoint in international politics very different from that we were accustomed to occupy. Thirdly, that it stops all domestic reform, and he says further it adjourns and embitters the ultimate settlement of South Africa. That is a very true statement of the consequences of this war. It has one other consequence, and, in my opinion, a very grave consequence in the disapprobation, amounting to hostility, on the part of almost all the nations of the world. I know, Sir, that this is claimed by some to be a special advantage. We are told that the proof of our greatness is the extent to which we are hated. If that is statesmanship, it is a fine art which His Majesty's Government has carried to the highest point of perfection. If for individuals or states to be hated is the real proof of greatness, then no doubt, we are the greatest people in the world. For my own part, I have never been an advocate of offensive or defensive alliances. I have never desired that this country should be entangled in foreign complications in which we have no special interest. But I have always desired the moral influence of England, which for generations, I believe, has had a most beneficial influence upon the civilised world. I do not, consequently, look with indifference upon the hostility of other nations. I do not rejoice in what to-day is called a splendid isolation. I do not think that it has added to the dignity or the strength of this nation, that we should be in the position of making rejected addresses declined without thanks. I do not think that that is a policy which is advantageous, and I 486 for one rejoice as much as any man in the cordial and splendid support which we have received from the people of our own race in the dominions of the King beyond the seas. But I do not despite, I do not flout the opinion of the world, and I would gladly have that on our side, by taking a course which would inspire them with a belief in our sense of justice and our spirit of magnanimity. I think that is one of the most evil consequences of this war, and is one we should endeavour to remove in any attempt we may make to put an end to the conflict by a satisfactory settlement. This splendid isolation is a heavy burden on the people. It puts a strain to-day on your men and money, and will put a far heavier strain on your resources in the future. I retain my own conviction that I shall always feel and believe that by a different management in the commencement, this war might have been avoided, but as we are committed to it and engaged in it, I for one hold that it is right not to refuse to support the measures that were necessary to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion.
That is the basis of the position I have endeavoured to occupy with reference to this war, but when we come to the consideration of the measures by which it may be brought to a conclusion, we have to regard a different set of circumstances. In my opinion, a satisfactory conclusion to this war can never be arrived at by what Pitt denounced as the impious course of forcing an unconditional surrender. The hon. Member who has just sat down recognised the serious—the very serious—and terrible consequences of endeavouring to extinguish a nationality. That is a process which has never commended itself I think to men of liberal minds. That this unfortunate contest has been so long prolonged by errors—errors—of judgment—of the Government, I think nobody denies. It has arisen from an entire misconception of the two things, the extent of the territory and the spirit of the people with whom they have had to deal, and the country has been led on from step to step by illusion after illusion. And if the country has been deluded, it is small consolation, I think, that their rulers have been ill-informed. Let us just see how this operated; there have been from time to time dates fixed 487 for the termination of this war. We have been informed in fact that the war was over. That has gone on, I was going to say, for years, but at any rate it has been going on for more than two years and four months after that time. No doubt there are people who do not object—practically do not object—to this state of things. There are people who want to fight to a finish, but I confess I prefer a finish on fair and reasonable terms, to a fight without any termination, and that is the great difference between the two policies. There is the policy declared and pursued by Lord Milner. Now there is no man in this House, from reasons which will be familiar to every Member, who is more bound to entertain the highest feelings of respect and of gratitude to Lord Milner than I, having regard to the services which he rendered to me when in office. There shall be no words spoken by me disrespectful of Lord Milner, though I deplore his policy in South Africa. But I regard Lord Milner as being the mouthpiece of the Government, and therefore in criticising Lord Milner I am speaking only of the responsibility—which they will admit—the direct responsibility of the Government.
Now what is the policy of the Government as stated by Lord Milner? The other night the Colonial Secretary appealing to hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, said that there was no material distinction between the opinions expressed by Lord Rosebery and those entertained by His Majesty's Government. Well, will he allow me to read these sentences to him, and see how far they correspond with that idea. Lord Rosebery, referring to the statement of policy of Lord Milner says this:Hunting the Boers, and capturing and killing them, and getting them to surrender as they are now doing, and when they have got to a certain low number to treat them as banditti and not as existing combatants.That embraces a policy against which he enters an emphatic protest, and he justly says of the policy "it means endless war; it means a garrison of 70,000 men." He put it a great deal too low; the highest military authority in this House, the hon. Member for Central Sheffield, puts it at at least 100,000. Lord Rosebery said "it involves," that is the policy 488 declared by Lord Milner, "no settlement within reasonable time, and fourthly, it makes the banished leaders forever heroes and martyrs." Yet the right hon. Gentleman, the Colonial Secretary, says that Lord Rosebery's views are as near as possible those of the Government. He goes on to say that "that policy exhibits that lack of statesmanship which has always characterised the conduct of the Government from the beginning of the war to the present time." The imputation "of lack of statesmanship" does not seem to me to indicate the close coincidency of opinion, which to the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, seemed to exist in this matter. But it goes further, Lord Rosebery says "the policy is identical with the policy of Lord North supported for twelve years by large, blind, and docile majorities." I could not venture to use such language "large, blind, and docile majorities who almost ruined the country." That is a statement of a policy which, we are told, is almost identical with that of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies. There cannot be any doubt of what the policy is. It was developed in one speech when Lord Milner stated that there might be no formal end of the war; but this speech was followed by one in which Lord Milner said that his policy was imperturbably squeezing the Boers without fidgetting about negotiations. The negotiations recommended by Lord Rosebery were contemptuously dismissed by the Colonial Secretary as negotiations discussed in some public house on the Continent. That is hardly proof of the coincidency of the two policies. The right hon. Gentleman says that between himself and Lord Rosebery there was little or no distinction. What he said was this—I was looking for the actual words:Wild and wilful talk of negotiations to be casually undertaken in some public house."Wild and wilful talk" is the complimentary language which the Colonial Secretary addresses to Lord Rosebery with whom he professes substantially to agree. Then comes the proclamation of August last to which last night the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, declared his absolute and unswerving adhesion. What Lord Rosebery says about 489 that, is that "it has done unmixed harm in prolonging the war and driving the Boers to despair, and with regard to that he would certainly annul it." In the statement I do not see that concensus of opinion on which the right hon. Gentleman so much relies for the support he expects to get from this side of the House.
Now, on this proclamation I should like to say a word. I believed, and I think the country believed, that that proclamation was going to be allowed, like its 41 predecessors, to fall into abeyance, but that is the one thing to which the Government is going to adhere. It was definitely stated last night, and it was stated with a curious preface. The right hon. Gentleman said "for the sake of argument, suppose that proclamation is wrong, still to withdraw it in the face of the enemy would be a sign of weakness." I venture to say that, whether in the case of individuals or nations, there is no greater source of weakness than the fear of being thought afraid. Of all forms of cowardice that is the most mischievious and most fatal, and I should be ashamed that so great a nation as ours should be guilty of such poltroonery. The idea that you must persist in a course which you do not deny to be wrong, in order that you may be thought not weak is the cause of the greatest disasters which befal mankind either in private or national life. Now, what is this proclamation that we are to persist in? I will, for the sake of argument, accept your view, that overtures for peace are to come not from us but from the Boers. All I have to say will be founded on that assumption, but if you really mean peace you ought to do that which would encourage the Boers to make the overtures and not discourage them and prevent them coming forward. What would be the effect of this proclamation on the Boers? The right hon. Gentleman said last night that what he looked to more than any general pacification arranged by agreement, was the separate surrender of the Commandants. How are you encouraging the separate Commandants to come forward and surrender, when you inform them beforehand that the man who comes to make the surrender comes with a halter around his neck and a sentence of banishment over his head? The fate of every Commandant 490 or superior officer of the Boers now in arms in South Africa was sealed on 15th September last. The sentence of banishment takes effect from that time, and this is the way you are going to encourage the Boer Commandants to come forward and make overtures of surrender! Indeed, that does show the fatal lack of statesmanship which Lord Rosebery so justly condemned. Was there ever such a foolish conception of the means to bring this war to an end?
Then the right hon. Gentleman said—What we desire by this is to secure the permanent, absence of these men from South Africa.The permanent absence of these men from South Africa? You may remove their bodies but will you remove their spirit? If you remove these men their spirit will be more present throughout South Africa than ever it was before. The exiled men will be, as Lord Rosebery has told you, the martyrs and heroes of the Dutch race. And where are you going to exile them to? Where are they to go? There is not a nation in Europe which would not receive your exiles with enthusiasm.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,.) Birmingham, W
They might come here; we should receive them at least with courtesy.
§ * SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would, because his courtesy to his opponents is well known to us all. But I do not think his language hitherto has been such as to encourage them to seek that courtesy here. But speaking seriously, does any man believe that the banishment of Both a, De Wet, or De la Rey, would strengthen your position in South Africa? Do you believe that the spirit of the men whom you have not reconciled would be driven out of the minds of the people, who are now in arms against you? And how are they to be banished? Your proclamation of banishment is a mere piece of waste-paper. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that it was to be ultimately enacted by statute. I do not know by what statute, but I suppose by one of the local legislature, such as you may establish either in the Colonies or in the Cape Colony, when you allow it again to be a local legislature. So that the first statute 491 of the legislature of the Colony after peace will be one of proscription. Do you think the prospect of peace will be improved by the passing of a statute to proscribe these men who are the leaders of Dutch sentiment and Dutch opinion? Do you suppose that that is a course which is likely to reconcile the two races in South Africa? Upon that policy—I use again the words of Lord Rosebery—"once more, for the hundredth time in the history of the Government, the fatal lack of statesmanship which has marked every step of their proceedings, is written. I say that the policy of that proclamation is condemned."
Then there is the question of terms. I will assume that the application for terms is to come from the Boers and not from us. But are the Boers likely to come to us unless they have some idea of the sort of terms you are going to offer them? I believe that in this House and outside there was a universal expectation, hope, and belief that the terms offered in March last were still open to the acceptance of the Boers. Nobody has spoken more strongly on that point than the hon. Member for Berwick. I think my hon. friend expressed very strongly his desire that the terms should be stated. It is said that he and others differed from Lord Rosebery because Lord Rosebery did not think it necessary that the terms should be stated. But the noble Lord gave this reason, to which the Colonial Secretary referred last night. He said that "the Boers are very acute people. They know that the revocation of these terms was only formal, and that they are still open." What did the Colonial Secretary say last night? He deplored that Lord Rosebery should have said anything of the kind, because, he said, "if the Boers believed that they were still open, they were very much mistaken." From the statement, it appears that Lord Rosebery is not always in absolute agreement with the Colonial Secretary. But the terms are not to be stated. We are told that the Boers are not to have the old terms, that some of the terms are to be excluded. But we are not told which terms are to be excluded, and that, I think, is a very material consideration. The terms, says the Colonial Secretary, "are to be made more in our favour." That means, of course, they are to be less in favour of the Boers. But what 492 are the terms excluded? Are they with regard to amnesty? Are they with regard to representative institutions? Unless the Boers have some idea that you are going to offer them favourable terms, why should they approach you at all? You offered them terms which you believed at the time to be fair. Now you say, "oh, no, you cannot have those terms any more. The terms you may have are more unfavourable but we will not tell you what they are." To my mind, nothing could more discourage the Boers from coming to you and seeking for peace.
Then the right hon. Gentleman told us another extremely important thing, which I am afraid is not in favour of peace, nor will it encourage the Boers to approach the Government for the purposes of a settlement. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the terms of peace by which this terrible war, which has cost us so much both in life and in treasure, is to be concluded are not to be settled by a Government responsible to the Imperial Parliament, which it may be hoped is disposed to look at the matter with an impartial eye, and in the interests of both races who are to live, together in the future, and upon whose good will and agreement the future of South Africa depends; but they are to be settled according to the dictates of a partisan and irresponsible Government at the Cape. I say "irresponsible," because at the present time the Government at the Cape is responsible to nobody; it has abolished the Parliament to which it was responsible; and it is partisan because it reflects the passions and prejudices of the dominant race. That, to my mind, offers no prospect of an early settlement or a durable peace. What sort of spirit is it that the Government of the Cape, by its mouthpiece, the Prime Minister, has exhibited in this matter? We have had an inflammatory speech, which appears in the Blue-book, and within the last few days has appeared the report of another speeeh, as a sort of call to the Colonial Secretary. I have a report of a speech by Sir Gordon Sprigg. It is not a very full report, and, I dare say, does not use his exact language, but it is in entire consonance with his former remarks. The report states.
In an important speech the Premier said 493 the Government was entirely opposed to the acceptances of Boer surrenders—that is, the acceptance of Boer surrenders on conditions. Such acceptance would vitiate any satisfactory settlement. If anything, the enemy must come hat in hand, or on their knees if necessary, and subject to the terms imposed by the British Government. Sir Gordon Sprigg then referred approvingly to the statement by Mr. Chamberlain that Colonial opinion should be regarded.And that is "Colonial opinion!" That is a very serious matter. Do you think that, in the presence of language of that kind, you are likely to induce the Boers to make offers, or that you are likely to conciliate or reconcile Dutch opinion at the Cape? Is that the road to peace? No, SIR, it is subjugation, it its most odious form, expressed in the most menacing tone, and it is not in the smallest degree likely to produce anything like reconciliation. Mark you, it is not a question of seeking terms at all. It is a question whether you will accept their surrender on any conditions, and that is repudiated. If the Government really desire overtures from the Boers they will have to approach the question in a very different spirit. There is one phrase used by Lord Milner which struck me very much and very painfully. He said that this BoerLooms too largely in the British imagination.Yes he does loom very largely, and it is because he has held all your armies at bay for more than two years; it is because he has employed 250,000 of your men; it is because he has cost you thousands of lives and millions of money. It does not require imagination to make people of that kind "loom largely." This is the language of a man who regards the interests of the Boers as a quality that may be neglected. It is absolutely inconsistent with anything like a spirit of treating people on equal terms or of giving them equal rights. I venture to say that in all this there is very little which holds out hopes of the termination of the war by a friendly settlement.
There is only one other point upon which I will venture to remark, and I think it is a very interesting point. The Colonial Secretary has referred, and I have referred upon a former occasion, to the present condition of the Cape. That has, and will have, upon the settlement of peace a most enormous influence. For you must remember that you have 494 got to make peace, not only in the new Colonies, but at the Cape; and what is the condition at this moment of the Cape. The right hon. Gentleman has always in his mouth the self-government of the Cape, but there is now no self-government at the Cape. Self-government does not exist at the Cape at this moment, and it is not a self-governing colony. Self-government, which was conferred by the Imperial Parliament, depended upon representative institutions and a responsible Ministry; but the responsible Ministry has suspended the Parliament from whom they alone can derive their authority. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, said the other night, very properly speaking of his own Government—The Ministry exist by a majority of the Parliament.Yes, but the Colonial Secretary has talked of the Minister at the Cape being the Minister of the majority, but in order to have a majority he must have a Parliament, and when you abolish Parliament, the majority disappears. The First Lord of the Treasury said very truly that a Minister is the creature of Parliament, but I do not understand by what right the creature puts an end to the existence of the author of his being. That is what has been done at the Cape. They had no authority from their Parliament, legally, to postpone its sittings, and from that time what is the situation? Who are their Ministers responsible to? They are responsible to nobody at the Cape. The right hon. Gentleman told us the other night that the Governor, who represents the Crown, was obliged to do what they told him, and that it is not for him to demur either to martial law or the suspension of the constitution or anything else. These Ministers, he tells us, are not responsible to anybody here. That is the doctrine of the Colonial Secretary. It would be impertinent, he says, on his part to interfere. That is not self-government; that is a mere autocracy of an executive, contrary to every principle of self-government. But the right hon. Gentleman said "he did not care a scrap about these doctrines of law and these legal opinions on one side or the other." It was not necessary for him to give us that information, because we 495 were perfectly aware of it, and it can easily be assumed from the language of his speeches. If the right hon. Gentleman will permit me, I will give him an opinion which is not a lawyer's opinion at all, and perhaps he will value it on that account, and that opinion is thus:—I admit that this martial law is a matter which requires to be watched with the utmost care. There ought to be a thorough review at the hands of competent authorities of all great Acts of martial law. Something has been said about Acts of Indemnity. That is a matter on which the Parliament of this country will have to satisfy itself that the law has been set aside on grounds of real necessity. Parliament (this Parliament) must determine on these items of indemnities which are necessary to clear the position, not only of the soldiers and of those who are under the direct warrant of His Majesty, but also (I beg the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to this) of the authorities and instruments of the Cape Government who are themselves very largely implicated in all the irregular proceedings to which the war may make them resort. It is necessary for both Houses of Parliament to watch with the most careful jealousy the exercise of powers which no doubt, if unrestrained, might be very dangerous to the liberty of the subject. The superseding of a constitution is not the ordinary business of the Government either here or there, and it is only under the greatest exigencies that such a thing should be done, but the power of doing it must necessarily be somewhere with the duty of giving afterwards the reason why it was done and coming to the supreme Parliament of Great Britain for the indemnity that must follow.These are very sound constitutional principles. They are those of the Prime Minister of this country which Lord Salisbury declared in the other House of Parliament, and yet the right hon. Gentleman stated to the House of Commons that he had nothing to do with it, and the responsibility rested alone with the Ministers of the Cape. Talk of differences of opinion on this side of the House—what do you think of the differences of opinion in the Cabinet? Contrast what are the doctrines laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the other night and those stated almost at the very same moment by the Prime Minister in the House of Lords who confuted him upon every point.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me, I think I can show him that there is no consistency between those two statements. I think the right hon. Gentleman must 496 have misunderstood one or the other. The point I was referring to is as I said, that the responsible Cape Minister having acted as he has acted would have to obtain indemnity from his own Parliament I was not speaking about martial law then, but about his action in the suspension of the constitution. Then I understand my noble friend, in another place, said something about an indemnity from this Parliament. That could only be considered if the indemnity was refused by the local Parliament. If indemnity was refused by the local Parliament then it might become a question for themselves.
§ * SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
If anyone reads the speech of the Colonial Secretary on Thursday night and that of the Prime Minister on Thursday afternoon, in the House of Lords, I can only say if he can see any possibility of reconciling those two speeches he is much more ingenious than I confess I am. Nothing could have been more soundly constitutional than the statement of the Prime Minister. A more deliberate refutation to what had been said by the Colonial Secretary could not be imagined. The right hon. gentleman challenged me to state definitely what was the thing that I was contending for. The proposition which I contended for—and I wish to state it definitely in order that the right hon. Gentleman may assent to it or deny it—I affirm that it is not the right, nor is it in the power, of a temporary Minister, at his will and pleasure, to supersede the law and suspend the Parliament of a self-governing Colony, and that it is the right and the duty of the Imperial Parliament to protect the constitution which they have conferred against the arbitrary usurpation of the executive in the Colony. I do not know whether he meant it for a taunt that I was the representative, I hope I am a humble disciple of the old Liberal Party, but this is not the doctrine of the old Liberal Party alone. I thought it was the doctrine of the great constitutional party to which no doubt the right hon. Gentleman did not belong by birth, but of which he is the naturalised citizen. What sort of doctrine is that? As it has been said before, it is the doctrine of the Stuarts. 497 This has never been the doctrine of any party in this country. The right hon. Gentleman thought that the opinions I had expressed would be ill received in the Colonies, but I don't believe that at all. I do not believe that our great Colonies desire any more than we do that the executive should set aside the control at their pleasure of Parliament. The last thing in the world that they would desire would be that a Minister of their Colonies should suspend their Parliament, set aside their laws, and destroy the self-government with which they had been endowed. Therefore, Sir, in my opnion, before you can make this peace, you must re-establish self-government at the Cape. There is no other authority at the Cape which can give you an opinion or express the desire of the Cape upon which you can act. The present Minister at the Cape have no such authority. I asked the Colonial Secretary the other night when Parliament was to meet at the Cape again, and he said "When there is peace." Yes; but ought it not to meet before then, if its opinion on the peace is worth having at all? Again, you are offering as an inducement to the Boers—if you mean to offer it—the benefit of English law and ultimately of representative institutions. What will they think of that offer with the example of the Cape before them, if they are to be at the mercy of martial law proclaimed by the Executive, and if their representative institutions may be dispensed with as they have been illegally dispensed with at the Cape? This is one of the matters which require to be most carefully considered. I desire to say, in conclusion, that, looking at this matter from the beginning to the end, I can only feel that the policy of the Government has been a mistaken policy. I do not attribute to them—I never have attributed to them—evil motives or intentions in this matter. I believe it has been a mistaken policy, I believe that the policy has led to the prolongation of this unhappy war, and I can see in it nothing that gives promise of a durable peace. For that reason I will cordially support this Amendment.
§ *(6.5.) Mr. ARTHUR ELLIOT (Durham)
said it appeared to him that, in 498 discussing the constitutional problem, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, did not regard the situation as it was to-day. The power of the Empire in South Africa had been contested. The Ministry at the Cape and the Government at home had had to encounter the most tremendous, almost overwhelming difficulties, and they could not dispose of the difficulties that had existed by merely referring to constitutional practices which ought to be respected. He knew that it was a most serious matter to interfere with the constitution. He agreed completely with what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, that it was absolutely illegal for Ministers on the Executive Government to suspend their own constitution. But another question arose whether under the circumstances of the case—the outbreak of a great rebellion—it was not the duty of the Ministers of the Crown to interfere with the ordinary procedure of the constitution, to act on their own consciences more or less, and to appeal as they must appeal in the end for an Act of Indemnity to the local and Imperial legislatures to justify them.
§ * SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
There is one thing which I forgot to say, and which I think I ought to say. I meant to point out that it was perfectly open to the Government, according to the condition of the country before the time expired, to have got Authority from Parliament to continue the prorogation to a certain period. That would have been perfectly legal.
§ * MR. ARTHUR ELLIOT
said he ventured to think that it was the duty of His Majesty's representative in the Colony not only to do what was constitutional but to consider what was best under the extraordinary circumstances of the time, and if under those circumstances it might have been injurious to call Parliament together, it was their bounden duty not to do so. The power of the Imperial Parliament ought to be considered more than it had been regarded hitherto in the discussions which he had heard and read. Parliament had authority of various kinds. He wished to call attention to the duty of Parliament in controlling the Imperial Executive. It was all very well to argue about the control of the Colonial Ministry in South Africa, but let the 499 House dismiss subtle legal argument and text books and judgments, and let them look at the actual glaring facts of the case. He had no hesitation in stating that at the present moment South Africa was governed—he did not say wrongly governed—absolutely by the War Office in Pall Mall, and the Colonial Office in Downing Street. Who gave these Departments power? The Imperial Parliament gave them power, and they were responsible for the action of the War Office through Lord Kitchener and the action of the Colonial Office through the Secretary of State and Lord Milner. Irregular trials were under certain circumstances necessary. He wished to associate himself with every word of the admirable memorandum written by the Attorney General of the Cape Ministry, when the question of the institution of martial law was being considered. He thought it was necessary under the circumstances, but he said they should take care in instituting martial law that every possible precaution was adopted to render justice safely administered. That responsibility lay on the Imperial Parliament in supporting the Executive Government of the day. He defied any man who felt any responsibility to look at the state of affairs in South Africa, and not be almost weighed down by the difficulties and dangers we had to meet. In the circumstances the Amendment brought forward by the recognised leaders of the Opposition contained the heaviest charge that could be brought against the Government. The Government were charged with prolonging the war because of their incompetence, and because they had not done their best to secure a safe and honourable peace. But what the House had to consider, was the evidence that had been brought in support of the charge. He had listened to almost every word in the debate, but he had not heard from the party in Opposition any kind of justification for the indictment. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Forest of Dean was the only man who had seriously attempted to show the inefficiency of the Government. What did his charge amount to? It amounted to this, that the Government ought to have drilled sufficient troops—men apparently well practiced in the art of warfare on the veldt. Was that 500 practical politics? The Government had had to deal with enormous difficulties. They had had to resist a power twenty times greater than they expected. He was one of those who, from the beginning, disliked the war. He never could see, as his hon. friends saw two years ago, that war should be resorted to in order to establish satisfactory relations in South Africa. But the war came upon us, and certainly for the steps which finally made the war necessary, we were not to blame. His view, was that once the war began we could not end it with any safety but by means of annexation. We might use the words annexation, or conquest, or subjugation. He did not know that there was any desire to force our enemies under any unnecessary yoke. He preferred the word annexation to conquest or subjugation, but for all necessary purposes they meant the same thing. To him the conquest of a brave people was intensely disagreeable, but by nine out of ten hon. Members in this House the policy of annexation had been accepted.
What justification was there for the charge against the Government of refusing to welcome a possible peace? He said there was none. He had been a little puzzled by some of the things said here by his right hon. friend opposite, in regard to the speech of the Colonial Secretary. Never since he had been in this House had he heard a speech more worthy of admiraton. Moderate in tone, it was also moderate, in demands, with an entire absence of vindictiveness. He had heard the right hon. Gentleman say that it was impossible, after a year and a half, to go back precisely to the terms which had been discussed between General Botha and Lord Kitchener. But the right hon. Gentleman also stated—and he thought this a very remarkable and important part of his statement—that though in detail there might be a difference, yet in substance and in spirit the Government stood now where they had stood then. The language which the Colonial Secretary used proved that he and all the Government with him felt—as indeed as statesmen they should feel—that they had a real desire to come to a rational settlement and peaceful relations with the Boers. Who could say that unconditional surrender was really involved between ourselves and 501 the Boers in the negotiations between General Botha and Lord Kitchener? That was after Lord Roberts' time. He had never felt that there was any mystery about the matter, because the Boers were not willing to accept that which we demanded. It was absolutely necessary that they should accept annexation if only for the safety of the British flag. Then, as to unconditional surrender, he admitted in fairness, that his right hon. friend opposite had considerable justification in stating that unconditional surrender was asked for in the telegraphed speech of the Prime Minister of Cape Colony. He had read that speech; but it was rather hard to discuss a speech summarised by telegraph.
§ * MR. ARTHUR ELLIOT
said that the telegraphed summary of the speech only appeared in the newspapers a few days ago. But they were not here discussing what was said by the Cape Premier. They were here to deal with the views and policy of the Imperial Government. Suppose that there was any difference between them, he turned from the speech of the Prime Minister of Cape Colony to that of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and all through the latter there was not a single note of insisting upon unconditional surrender. The right hon. Gentleman asked for some security, for some authority to make peace, and beyond that he did not go. A speech of that kind, admirable in tone, was bound to be read by all sorts and conditions of people—by bitter opponents and keen friends in this country, by bitter opponents on the continent of Europe, by the loyalists throughout South Africa, and ultimately, he did not doubt, by the Boers themselves. That speech would be read with advantage by all sections. It held out an open way to settlement: to those who agreed to annexation a great hope. A great deal had been said by those who maintained that it was quite certain the Boers would never consent to annexation. He admired the Boers. Their courage, he thought, was magnificent. It might be true that their case was hopeless; but on the other hand, the independence of one's 502 country was worth fighting for. All that a man could do was to die for his country. Although it might be much wiser and better even for his country if he should submit to the inevitable, he did not blame the Boers who preferred to die for their national independance. There was the remarkable letter of Reitz on behalf of the Transvaal Government, who, after describing the continual surrenders, the lost ammunition, the weakening of the authority of the Government, said he was prepared to consider the question of absolute surrender. The answer to that letter by President Steyn was equally remarkable. He said that "for the time being we cannot think of giving in." When two representative men wrote in these terms, was it unreasonable to expect the Boers would not persist in their struggle? He held that it was possible, they might find that it was best to submit to the inevitable.
Another remark fell from the right hon. the Colonial Secretary, which gave him extreme satisfaction. Accounts of continual political executions were hateful reading. He, himself, thought that they might have been unavoidable, but they were intensely disagreeable to every Englishman. The remark made by the Colonial Secretary was that not one single man had been executed for treason or rebellion. Now, the time would come when those words would be one of our great stand byes in asking the good-will of the Dutch people in South Africa. If we could say that no single man had been sent to execution in consequence of his treason or rebellion, we should have done something, not only to show the power, but the spirit, which animated the British Empire, and the time would come when we should make that a proud boast. He believed that the Boers would yet be able to see, that in some respects we had behaved to them with something like generosity; and that would redound to our credit. He felt that throughout we had under-estimated the difficulties we had to deal with, and had not realized what a vast undertaking we had embarked on in conquering the two Republics. It was very easy to be wise after the event, but he maintained that we were only able to accomplish the task of conquering 503 such a race by modern developements, modern methods, and modern means of communication. But there lay before the country another task not less difficult of accomplishment than that with which they had been engaged for the last two years, viz., that of building up again free-government throughout South Africa. At present, of course, there was no free government there; it was inconsistent with the present state of things. What we had to do was to tax every nerve and power we possessed to win: that was the condition precedent to making any progress whatever. Really free constitutional Government was impossible until re-establishment of peace. But when peace had been re-established, the difficulties before us would still be immense. Every possible act of generosity towards the Boers that we could perform, consistently with our main end, would be not only right in itself, but wise in the matter of policy, because ultimately South Africa could not be in a satisfactory condition until the two nations, Dutch and British, worked together again. He would indeed be in despair did he not think it possible that, after a time—it might be a long time—the races would mix again. There was no reason why they should not come together again unless there remained the terrible feeling of animosity, which must be excited by such a war. He hoped the war portion of the trouble was coming to its close, and it would be for statesmen in the future to decide how to make good come out of evil. He was glad something had been done in the direction of bringing back the mining population. That was necessarily the first step towards restoring the industries of that part of the world. But that, after all, was a very small part of the question. The gold mines in two or three years might be flourishing again, but he was thinking more particularly of the wide area formerly inhabited by the agricultural population, He hoped they might live to see some progress made in the restoration of peace and prosperity even in the rural districts of South Africa. If anything had been established by the debate on the Amendment before the House, it was that upon the main business in hand—that of finishing the war—there was really very 504 little difference between one side of the House and the other. The remarkable division of the previous night had shown, that as far as regarded English and Scottish Members, they were almost unanimous in the support they were prepared to give for the successful prosecution of the war. That unanimity was a good omen. Everybody must see that upon that issue the country had made up its mind. They would have troubles again—he did not wish to be a prophet of evil—but he did not see why, with patience and perseverance, and above all, with time, they should not really build up again something like prosperity and free constitutional government in South Africa.
§ *(6.35) Mr. NORMAN (Wolverhampton, S.)
I ask the indulgence of the House, for a short time, with less reluctance, as this is the first occasion on which I have opened my lips on the subject of the war since I have been a Member of this House. Some of us, on this side of the House, are in a somewhat embarrassing position, and our attitude may be open to misunderstanding. It is difficult enough for any Member to form a final opinion on this grave question; it is hardly less difficult for some of us to be allowed to hold that opinion when we have formed it. There are newspapers which know more about our opinions than we know ourselves. There are political enemies who are posing as friends. There are even political friends acting—I will not say, as enemies, but at any rate, as very severe critics. Therefore, in order that one in whose Liberalism Imperialism is inherent, may explain why he proposes to support this Amendment, I think I shall not ask in vain for the indulgence of the House.
The Amendment consists of two parts. In the first place, it declares that those who vote for it are prepared to support all proper measures for the effective prosecution of the war in South Africa. I, for my part, have voted for every supply in connection with the war from the beginning, and I shall continue to do so to the end, for the simple reason that I see no other course open to a patriotic citizen when his country is thus at war, and because, from the beginning. 505 I have never been able to see any issue but one to the struggle.
The second part of the Amendment is of a different character. It declares that those who go into the lobby in its support are of opinion that the course pursued by the Government has not conduced to the early termination of the war. That, in my opinion, is a truism. Not only is it my opinion, but it appears to be the almost universal opinion. There is hardly an organ of public opinion in the country, either of the daily or of the periodical press, from which it would not be possible to quote the severest criticisms, amounting in many cases to denunciations of the Government, for not having pursued a course conducive to the early termination of the war. From The Times alone, the principal supporter of the Government, a perfect arsenal of arguments and criticisms could be culled in support of this Amendment. These criticisms rest upon bases so familiar that I could not think of wearying the House by recapitulating them. I will, however, mention in the briefest possible manner, a few of the reasons why the Government deserves censure for its conduct of the war. It began by neglecting the warnings addressed to it by the Intelligence Department; it scorned the expert and technical advice and offer of assistance placed at its disposal by the hon. Members for the Ilkeston Division of Derbyshire—advice which, if it had been accepted, would in all human probability have saved 1,000 lives. It then declared that the kind of troops it preferred were unmounted, not—this is my personal opinion—because its military advisers thought mounted troops would not be required, but because an early end to the war was anticipated, and unmounted troops were the less expensive. The troops were sent to the front in slow transports, and every military expert has pointed out that the Government failed to keep up a due supply of reinforcements. It forwarded to the front rifles which were wrongly sighted, and it allowed the reserve of cartridges four months after the war commenced to sink to 3,300. Even when men had been to the front and returned, it failed to pay them until grave dissatisfaction was expressed, and, on one occasion, it did not pay the men until it was compelled by what was virtually a threat, 506 if not an act of mutiny. Then, when disasters had occurred, it invited one of its own generals to tamper with his dispatches—and failed.
§ * MR. NORMAN
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman admits it is ancient history. In proof of the truth of these charges, we had the remarkable statement of the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight, who, last night, positively informed us that after the Government had been at war for 14 or 15 months the enemy were in a stronger position than we were, implying that we very narrowly indeed escaped a grave Imperial disaster. The concluding portion of the Amendment deals with the settlement and the establishment of a durable peace. This opens up a very long vista of possible discussion into which I shall not go. I desire to mention only one or two points. First, with regard to this now famous proclamation of banishment—one of those which we scattered with such a light heart, galloping through the country in the manner described by the hon. Baronet the Member for Berwick. That proclamation stands self-condemned. It was of use only as a threat to induce the enemy to surrender. If it had succeeded in doing that, it would have been justified, but being a failure, it is self-condemned, and Lord Rosebay's demand that it should be withdrawn, is merely a piece of ordinary logic.
With regard to the terms of peace, we have for a long time been told by the most influential speakers on behalf of the Government, that the Boers were familiar with the terms of peace. The Home Secretary said so; the Chancellor of the Exchequer said so; the Duke of Devonshire was not quite sure whether it was so or not, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he said, was a very accurate gentleman, and if he said so, no doubt it was true. Suppose the Boers had taken these influential 507 speakers at their word, and had acted on the assumption that the terms of peace were before them, what would they have been met with? I presume they would have been met with the speech of the Colonial Secretary last night, and the right hon. gentleman would have said to them "You think you know the terms of peace, but you are very much mistaken: they have worsened very considerably." Why have those terms been altered for the worse? Because they were originally un statesmanlike, or would have placed us in a dangerous position in South Africa, or were unjust? Is it for any reason of that sort? Not at all. As far as I was able to follow the right hon. Gentleman's speech, they had been altered—I hope I do the right hon. Gentleman no injustice; it is very far from my intention to do so—as a punishment. The Boers did not accept them when they could have had them; now, if they want them they shall not have them. I cannot put any other interpretation upon the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, as the only explanation he gave us was that it would be bad policy to allow the Boers to think they could have now the terms they refused in the first instance. The Colonial Secretary also said that if anybody on this side of the House could suggest a better method of bringing the war to a conclusion, he would be happy to adopt it. That is looking at the Amendment from the wrong point of view. This is not a piece of constructive policy that we are offering to the Government; it is a vote of censure. We are looking at the past, and it is on account of their past inefficiency that we are going into the lobby, whether we be many or few, to censure the Government. My chief encouragement in taking that step is the simple fact that to me the British Empire is infinitely the most important impersonal consideration on earth, and it is just because I believe that by their inefficiency on the material side and their grave falling short in what we may call the moral issues of the war, they have done, among many services, great disservices to the cause of the best kind of Imperialism—an Imperialism which makes the highest appeal to all at home and abroad—that I shall certainly go 508 into the lobby in support of this Amendment.
(6.47.) Mr. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said the last speaker had stated that the Amendment under discussion was a vote of censure, but as the debate proceeded it appeared rather to be a bond of amity, and unknown and unsuspected accordances had been disclosed. The Colonial Secretary had shown complete accordance between his policy and that of Lord Rosebery and the Liberal Imperialists, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire had to-day made an attempt to show agreement between himself and Lord Rosebery, in which attempt he had succeeded as well as did the Colonial Secretary on the previous day. In fact, it seemed almost as if there was a contention between the Colonial Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire for the possession of Lord Rosebery or his opinions. In the present state of extraordinary flux and change in political parties and political opinions, some of the new Members of the House might look forward to the time when they would see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, the Colonial Secretary and Lord Rosebery forming part of one and the same Government, with the right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the House relegated to the cold shades of Opposition.
If the Amendment under discussion simply declared discontent with the military conduct of the war on the part of His Majesty's Government, he knew perfectly well that it would represent the opinions of a large number of people outside the House, and a considerable number of Members even on his own side of the House would find a difficulty in voting against it. But it did nothing of the kind. It was a tame half-hearted Amendment, intended to rope in everybody, and fated as usual to secure the support of nobody. It was not an Amendment which the House could really seriously consider. He would rather have had one drawn up in the style of the right hon. Member for West Monmouthshire; he would have known what to say, and the House would 509 have had before it a definite proposition. The country had not been satisfied, and many Members of the House were not satisfied, with the military conduct of the war by the Government. There had been proclamations which neither frightened nor persuaded; there had been yeomanry who could neither shoot nor ride; the best material in the world, of which the British Army was composed, had been frittered away in attempts to make into soldiers men who had not had any opportunity of training; and. above all, the British Navy, one of our most potent engines for preventing supplies reaching the Boers, not only had not been used for that purpose, but, as Lord Kitchener himself admitted had been prevented from being used, with very serious results.
He was sorry not to see the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture in his place, as he desired to call attention to some of the speeches he had made during the recess. On the 17th October last, the right hon. Gentleman ridiculed a suggestion which he (the hon. Member) had made, that it was advisable that Cabinet Councils should occasionally be held in times of emergency, and contended that to hold Cabinet Councils would be to suggest that the Cabinet were not united, and that would be a very evil thing. But, as a matter of fact, a few days after the suggestion was made, the Prime Minister left Beaulieu, and Cabinet Councils were held. But he particularly desired to quote the President of the Board of Agriculture with regard to the military conduct of the war. In the speech the right hon. Gentleman said—Our Departments must be overhauled. No Government could be trusted by the people which did not put War Office reform in the very forefront of its programme. We could not afford to be caught unprepared.…We must see that we had a real army, and that in promotion favouritism had no voice whatever. We had got to put an end to any system by which smart ladies of society or anybody except those who were alone capable of judging an officer's merits should have a voice in promotion.Then, in a speech on the 4th November, he said—There was a good deal too much of a tendency on both sides to hush up things that were going wrong, and not to trace the responsibility home, as it ought to be traced.510 In those statements he saw the spirit of the associate of years gone by; there he saw the candour of the man who was not insensible to the demerits and failings even of his own Government, and presumably, of himself as a member of it. He hoped that in the Cabinet Councils, which, after all, were held, the right hon. Gentleman was able to assist the Government to come to a conclusion as to whether we had a real army, whether it was managed in its promotion by favouritism and the influence of fine ladies, and whether there was too much of a tendency to hush things up, and, if such things were found to be, he trusted proper steps had been taken to put an end to them.
Undoubtedly, as an able correspondent in The Times said, the Government, in their military conduct of the war, had alternated between an incurable optimism and spasms of pained surprise when things were not going aright. They did not really apprehend that there was a serious war. The First Lord of the Treasury had stated that nobody ever supposed that the war would be of the grave and serious nature it had turned out to be. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman read his (the hon. Member's) speeches, but long ago he assured the House that the war was the most serious undertaking in which this country had ever been engaged, and that, in consequence of the extent of the territory and the length of the lines of communication, we should have a more difficult task than in any previous campaign. He had also ventured to predict that if the War Office remained as it had always been within living memory and beyond, we should, in all probability, have reverses and disasters. But then, as now, in spite of all, he had urged that we must persevere to the end, and bring about an effective and lasting peace. Therefore, his withers were unwrung when the right hon. Gentleman said that nobody expected the war to be a long and serious one.
It would not suffice to blame for the prolongation of the war the encouragement given to the Boers by the people called pro-Boers. Of course there was always a tendency on the part of Ministers to treat critics as though they were enemies of their country, but it was quite 511 possible to criticise the Ministry, and yet retain some degree of patriotism. The same thing occurred on a former occasion, when Lord Chatham protested against the imposition of taxes upon America, and defended the Americans for resisting them. The famous George Grenville said on that occasion—The seditious spirit of the Colonies owes its birth to the factions in the House. Gentlemen are careless of the consequences of what they say, provided it answers the purposes of Opposition.[Ministerial cheers]. Some hon. Members cheered that statement, but he would remind them that Lord Chatham, who originated the debate, immediately replied in these words—I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millons of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves would have been fit instruments to make slaves of all the rest.No; it was not the speeches of the pro-Boers, or the speeches of all the Leaders of all the Oppositions, that had encouraged the Boers to remain in the field He had never known a speech to turn a single vote in the House, and to expect Members to believe that one speech, or many speeches, would induce men to face ruin and death, and that nothing else would avail, was really taking advantage of the simplicity of human nature.
But whatever the cause of the continuance of the war might be, the struggle must certainly be prosecuted to the end. The business of the Government, from the moment of the delivery of the Boer ultimatum and the invasion of our territories, was to conduct the war with the utmost vigour, and, if opportunity offered, to pursue peace with the utmost generosity. Neither of those things had been done as completely as he should have wished. Take the negotiations between Lord Kitchener and General Botha. They had been told again and again that the Boers would not negotiate for peace except on the basis of independence. The account of the negotiations in the Blue-book absolutely negatived such a statement. There was an express condition, made before Botha and Kitchener met, that independence was not to be the basis of settlement. When they met, Botha tried hard to get some form of independence recognised, but it was refused. Did that stop negotiations?
512 Not at all; negotiations continued, and terms were agreed and sent home. Those terms commanded the assent of Lord Kitchener—the man above all others whom he would have trusted; and of Lord Milner—the man above all others whom the Government should be prepared to trust. The statesman who, under these conditions, undertook to alter terms so arrived at, incurred the gravest possible responsibility. But that was what the Colonial Secretary did, and he must call attention to the way in which the right hon. Gentleman did it. The proposed terms were received on March 3rd, and on March 6th the right hon. Gentleman, without any consultation with the Cabinet, sent out alterations which, in his (the hon. Member's) opinion, changed the letter from an offer of terms which might be agreed to, to a letter of further exasperation, which was impossible of acceptation by the Boers. How were those alterations made? They were made without any consultation of the Cabinet; that was obvious, because there was no Cabinet Council on the day the right hon. Gentleman sent them out. The right hon. Gentleman received the terms on March the 3rd, the alterations were sent out on March 6th, and on the 7th of March there was a Cabinet Council. He thought it was unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman did not wait twenty-four hours and consult his colleagues in the Cabinet before he made those alterations. There might be some explanation, but he had not seen it, nor could he imagine it. There was one point of great importance which the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary made. He was glad to note the conciliatory tone in which the Colonial Secretary spoke last night, and the readiness he expressed to accept overtures from the Boers. But the right hon. Gentleman then suggested that there was no authority with whom it could be possible for England to treat. He was not going too far in saying that, because the right hon. Gentlemen had exhausted the mall. The right hon. Gentleman asked, Was Kruger such an authority? No; because he had ceased to be the governing authority of the Transvaal. He and his friends over here were a deputation to Europe, having no Government authority in the Transvaal, save such as their advice gave. Had the two Governments of the 513 Transvaal and the Orange Free State any authority? No, said the right hon. Gentleman, because they were perambulating Governments. He (the hon. Member) did not think that was sufficient reason for saying that there was no governing authority. King David was once a perambulating Government. Then the right hon Gentleman asked, Would it be possible for any general in the field to act as such an authority? How could they say that Botha had not sufficient authority to enable the Government to treat with him, in view of the fact that he had already been in conference with Lord Kitchener on the question of terms, and that a copy of the revised terms of the Government had been sent to him? But, apart from that, the regularly constituted Government of the Transvaal, to whom the Executive authority had been regularly delegated, were Acting-President Schalk Burger and President Steyn. These countries were not ours yet. We were in occupation, but we had not completed our conquest, much less had we established sovereignty. Therefore Schalk Burger and Steyn were perfectly competent authorities to negotiate with.
If it were true that there were no upstanding authority with whom we could negotiate terms of peace, then the case seemed to be perfectly helpless and hopeless; but it was not so. The reason why he thought it was extremely important that we should come together and make a pact was this. The only other way by which we could establish peace in the Transvaal would be by right of conquest. Every student of the law of nations knew that nothing was so difficult to establish as the right of conquest. It must involve complete subjugation. There must not be so much as a man or a mouse in arms against them. In addition to that, there must be the lapse of a certain time, to show that the conquest, even if complete, was maintained. That was a very long and very uncomfortable process to face. But the Transvaal was not a black man's country, with no laws and no system and no complicated interests. It was a country where there were highly complicated interests, and consequently a country in which we required our sovereignty to be completely established, and until then we had not got to the end of our trouble. We might require to charge the revenues of the Transvaal. He very 514 much doubted whether we would get very much good out of it if we did, but until our sovereignty was recognised and there had been a complete transfer of sovereignty either through right of conquest or some other means, we could not do so. Every student of history also knew that, whenever a statesman of capacity, intelligence, and knowledge of life and of men, had conquered another country, he had always found it necessary to make a pact of peace with that other country, and if he could not find a Government with which to make it he had, to use Lord Rosebery's phrase, "fabricated" a Government. That was exactly what took place in 1814, when the Allies entered Paris. He held it to be of the utmost importance that this Government should not allow itself to drift into the position of relying for their authority in the Transvaal upon the right of conquest, that they should receive an offer of negotiations from the Boers, and that they should come to some pact of peace with them and not rely on the mere effluxion of time. Were the Boers ready to to make overtures of peace? He asked the question of the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary on the previous day, but the right hon. Gentleman did not appear to understand it from the answer he first gave. He (MR. Bowles) had quoted the statement of Mr. Schalk Burger, styling himself "Acting State President of the South African Republic," in which he said—We all long for peace, and I can assure your Excellency I shall do everything I can to bring about that peace.And then further on—This Government is now discussing the desirability of sending in a joint proposal for peace to your Excellency's Government.And he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether the letter of the 5th of September from Schalk Burger to Lord Kitchener had been followed by any further communication to the effect suggested by those words, either to Lord Kitchener or to His Majesty's Government through any other channel, and the right hon. Gentleman replied, "No, Sir, not that I am aware of." The same answer, almost in the same terms, had been given by the Prime Minister in another place in answer to a similar question. It was remarkable that the Colonial Secretary should not be aware of any overtures, if any had been 515 made. He suspected that they had been made in an indirect way; he did not know whether the Foreign Office might be aware of them or not, but he presumed, if overtures had not been received, those, overtures might be expected, and he earnestly trusted that when they came they might be entertained.
He would make one plain, if crude, suggestion—that the Government should themselves make up their minds as to the exact definite terms that they would grant to the Boers, and that they should let those terms be known. The great difficulty was the question of the Cape rebels. On the one hand, the Government might grant them complete amnesty, and the other hand, they might exact the extreme penalty of the law by having them hung, drawn and quartered. He thought no man would entertain the idea of going to either of those extremities. In justice to the loyal subjects at the Cape, we could not give complete amnesty on the one hand, and on the other hand, it was impossible to exact the extreme penalty of the law, and he thought that somewhere between those two points there was a point at which a compromise could be arrived at which a reasonable Government might adopt. His suggestion was that the Government should make up their mind how far they would go between amnesty and the other extreme, and having arrived at that point, let the Boers and all the world know it. His belief was that with definite conditions like that the Government would have a far better chance of coming to terms with the Boers.
He did earnestly trust that the war might now be soon over, for he was convinced that, as long as it lasted, it exposed this country to a very serious and a very important danger. He had already told the House that it was within his own knowledge that, during the continuance of this war, several attempts had been made to get up a European combination against England. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said that he did not like isolation, and he confessed that he did not share the fears expressed by him. If the combination that he had spoken of were made—he meant a combination of European States to declare war against 516 England on account of the South African trouble—he did not think it would outlast six weeks of war; but if it did, and the worst came to the worst, he should not be afraid of it, because every man who went to South Africa had to go by sea, and England could hold the seas to such purpose that the European Powers would find it very difficult to effect a landing on English shores. It was not the absolute intervention of one Power, or more than one, that he was afraid of; but what he did fear was the effect that the announcement of such a combination would have upon a timid Foreign Minister, confronted by it in his closet, and called upon to make concessions to avoid it. What he was afraid of was the sort of timidity which made Lord Salisbury withdraw from Port Arthur, and which caused the Government to abandon the right of search, practically, over all German mail steamers between Delogoa Bay and Aden, with the result that Lord Kitchener complained even now of the intercourse that was held between the Boers and Europe. We had seen how, when our cruisers had captured the "Herzog," on very good evidence of contraband of war, Lord Salisbury's timidity induced him to give peremptory orders that the ship should be released, without even seeing whether contraband of war was on board or not. That was the sort of influence he was afraid of, and he confessed that he had been a little relieved recently to see that there was one member of the Ministry who knew how to stand up and speak his mind in a plain way to foreign people. If Lord Salisbury had too much suavity and too little backbone, the Colonial Secretary had too much backbone and too little suavity, and he would rather have the latter fault than the former. The latter fault was what we wanted in these days, and he did not know how much more we might not want it in the future. Take the case of Germany, where was released the "Herzog" without being searched, although she was suspected of having on board contraband of war. Our cruisers were deprived of the prize money, and what gratitude did we get from Germany? The obscene inventions of a scrofulous Press. Those German people who talked to us in this way should not forget that 517 at the time of the first development of the Prussian monarchy, it was England that saved it. We had a right to expect the same courteous and considerate treatment from the German nation as we had from other nations. The Kaiser's telegram of 1896 stated that—In the event of a conflict with England in Africa we should have had to rely solely upon our own strength. From the perception of this fact a conscientious Government was bound to draw its own conclusions, and we drew our own conclusions.He hoped that Count von Bülow's avowal could not be interpreted to mean that if she had not had to rely only on her own strength Germany would have gone to war with us. But despite the slackness, the want of interest in the war, and the want of determination too often evinced by the Government, at last, to use the words of Frederick the Great, England had "been in travail, and brought forth a man."
§ (7.24.) MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE (Bristol, E.)
The hon. Member opposite has dwelt upon the want of preparation and other shortcomings of the Government, and he has so eloquently portrayed them that at all events he has proved the absolute justification of this Amendment being put forward. I think it is a very curious thing that, with the single exception of the Member for Durham, there is not a single speech from the Benches opposite from which, if it had been listened to by an impartial person, that person would not have concluded that the speaker was going into the lobby in favour of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Prestwich. If any other justification was needed for the Amendment which had been put forward, I would point to a speech made by the Colonial Secretary last night as the first public declaration of the policy of the Government with which we have been favoured for the last year. It is almost exactly a year ago since a similar speech upon a similar occasion was made by the Colonial Secretary, and I cannot but feel gratified to them over and seconder of this Amendment that the declaration made in such moderate language should have been made by the Colonial Secretary. In nearly every speech made on this or the 518 other side of the house that has been worthy of the occasion, there has been a very noticeable difference between those utterances and the speeches which have been made during the recess in the country. Take the question of amnesty. We have been told for the first time authoritatively that a large liberal policy of amnesty is to be observed towards those not actually leaders of the Boer forces. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling talked about amnesty in the recess there was a howl of execration from the Government and from the speakers representing Government views. The marked difference of tone between the speeches then and now is a gratifying feature of the situation.
Just for one moment I want to refer to the speeches of those hon. Gentlemen who have preceded me in this debate. The hon. Member for Central Sheffield and the hon. Member for Oldham both drew attention to the grievous deficiency of the troops in the field. The hon. Member for Oldham talked of the strong necessity for employing native troops, but, difficult as the situation in South Africa, may be, I do not think we should be justified in carrying out this suggestion. The hon. Member for Oldham talked about the terrible state of affairs in South Africa, and the constant under-estimation by the Government of their difficulties, both now and in the past, and the hon, Member announced his sincere hope that we might eventually arrive at a settlement by compromise, as distinguished from the policy of the Colonial Secretary. All this makes up such a chorus of criticism from the Benches opposite as to amply justify the usual form of procedure upon the gracious Speech from the Throne being followed in this case, by having an Amendment moved and supported by the whole official strength of this side. Whatever else the Amendment has done, it has at least shown unanimity and unity on these Benches, and it has shown want of unanimity and unity on the Benches opposite. There is not a single hon. Member who has spoken upon this side of the House who has not spoken in support, not only of the language, but of the spirit of the Amendment. There isnot a single hon. Member op- 519 posite, except the hon. Member for Durham, who has spoken in this debate, who has not criticised the past action of the Government and criticised their future proposals, and then has ended his speech by declaring that he is going to support the Government. This, I think, betrays a want of sympathy on the part of the supporters of the Government with their leaders, and I hope that in the future they will cease to tax us with a similar failing.
Just for a moment or two I wish to touch upon one or two points which have been mentioned in the recent Blue-book. There is a very curious episode, which has been alluded to before in this debate, in connection with the spirit of resentment which may be presumed to exist amongst the Dutch population, both in the Transvaal and in the Cape, as against the Anglo-Saxon race in that part of the world. It has been shown that upon one occasion it has been emphasised and at another time it has been minimised by the Government. I should like to get some information as to the writer of the letter and the person to whom that letter was addressed. The letter is quoted in the recent Blue-book as emanating from a Member of the Volksraad and addressed to a Member of the Cape Assembly. In that letter it is pointed out that it was the object of the Dutch to drive the English from South Africa, and, almost side by side with that, one sees communications from the Boer exiles at St. Helena, Ceylon, and Bermuda, expressing their willingness to fight on behalf of the English forces against their own friends. Which is the right interpretation of the spirit existing among the Dutch? Is it a spirit of deep and widespread hostility, or a readiness to accept the inevitable, and to fall into line with the new érgime?We ought to know authoritatively which is the prevailing sentiment, because you can quote the one or the other in support of the policy of the Government. This is not dealing fairly with the House, and unless you rightly arrive at that sentiment, it will be an obstacle in the future settlement at the Cape.
There is one suggestion I should like to make in connection with this future settlement. In the report made by 520 Lord Milner on 15th November, he tells us that the British refugees must be permitted to return to the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony before the Boer prisoners can be allowed to go back, and he adds that there will be abundance of work for those refugees to find employment. I would suggest that one of the best ways of putting an end to the present hostilities would be to create a civil population out of sympathy with the war. We know from the reports of the Commander-in-Chief that considerable districts in the Transvaal, by means of blockhouses, have been cleared absolutely, or practically entirely cleared, of the enemy. I would suggest that instead of employing some of these reconciled burghers in the prison camps to fight against their fellow countrymen, they should be permitted to return safely to the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, and there allowed to enter upon the cultivation of the land, the produce of which is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of the British refugees when they do return. This consideration to the Boer prisoners is not incompatible with the return of the British refugees. The British refugees will go to the towns, and the Boer prisoners to the country. I think we may well calculate that the sight of constant employment and British labour and industry in the towns will do as much as anything else to bring home to the leaders on commando that their power has really been broken and that the game is hopeless. On the other hand, it would be some guarantee to the commandos in the field that theynd a their fellow soldiers would be able to cultivate their fields and get a return for their industry. It would be some guarantee to them that the war is over, and that they too would be able to share in the prosperity of the country. It has been constantly said that the speeches on this side of the House have been so widely read in South Africa that they have conduced to the prolongation of the war. It has been constantly dwelt upon by the Government Press, the Colonial Secretary and other speakers on the Government side of the House, that the whole Opposition are practically pro-Boers. Whether that accusation is or is not true, is not 521 germane to my argument; but what I would suggest to hon. Members on the other side of the House is that, notwithstanding the continual reiteration of that charge for party purposes, the whole of the Opposition, no matter what their opinions may be, are devoted heart and soul to the successful conclusion of the war. If there was a cessation of this class of speech, and an avoidance of what I venture to think is the defamation of the Opposition, you would have some chance of putting an end to the continued resistance of the enemy. It is to be remembered that we have the strongest evidence that the people of the Transvaal, the Orange River Colony and the Cape are deteriorating morally and materially. The present loss may be theirs, but the ultimate loss is ours, because, whether you like it or not, they are to form an important part of the agricultural population of the new colonies. They are the people who are to form the permament industrial class when the wealth of the gold now existing there has been worn out. I confess that, in the interest of the Empire as a whole, I think that everything that can be done to put a stop to the present hostilities should be undertaken by the Government.
§ *(7.37.) MR. RENWICK (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
The hon. Member for East Bristol complains that we seem to think the whole of the Opposition are pro-Boers, but at any rate we are apt to do so until we find Imperial Liberals rising in this House and rebuking the pro-Boer speeches which are so often delivered on the other side. I have been extremely sorry to hear most of the speeches delivered in connection with this Amendment, because I am firmly convinced that their result will be to still further prolong the war. We are told by the hon. Member for King's Lynn that we ought to approach the Boers and offer them terms, and that the Boers are not at present prepared to adhere to their demands for the independence of their country. But when I asked the hon. Member what was the date of the letter from which he was quoting, we discovered that it was the very same date on which the leaders mentioned independence in speaking to the burghers. All the evi- 522 dence we have up to the present time points clearly to the fact that the only condition on which the Boers are prepared to come to terms is that they should retain their independence. That independence the country is not prepared to give them, but I venture to think that the country is with the right hon. Gentleman, the Colonial Secretary, when he says that any terms which we agree to must be such as will not embarrass us in future. If there is one thing which I think the country is firmly convinced of, it is that all our troubles at the present time, and the direct origin of the war, are due to the unfortunate surrender we made at Majuba Hill. [Laughter.] We have heard from the other side that this Amendment is one which different sections of the Opposition do not agree upon. I think that with an alteration of one word in the Amendment we could get a practically unanimous vote upon this side. If it were altered in this respect we should attain that object—
"Humbly to represent to your Majesty that this House, while prepared to support all proper measures for the effective prosecution of the war in South Africa, is of opinion that the course pursued by your Majesty's Opposition and their attitude with regard to a settlement, etc."
I believe the opinion of the country is that the whole of our troubles in South Africa are due to the conduct of the Opposition. We heard also, unfortunately, from the junior Member for Oldham that he was in favour of compromise. I believe the hon. Member's constituents will not agree with him. Last week I addressed a large open meeting in my constituency, and I venture to think it is an important constituency. I asked them to send a message, through me, to this House in favour of unconditional surrender, and that request was received with the greatest enthusiasm. A resolution was passed to that effect. It is, I believe, upon these lines that we will bring about a lasting peace in South Africa. There was a laugh raised when Imentioned that I thought the surrender after Majuba Hill was the cause of all our troubles. Let me read to the House the opinion of Lord Rosebery in regard to that surrender. He used 523 these words at Bath on 28th October, 1899—Now whatever they might think of that attempt, the thing in itself was a sublime experiment. Mr. Gladstone, with his overpowering convictions of the might and power of England, thought she could do things which other nations could not do, and therefore endeavoured to treat with the Boers after the reverse which took place. We know how Mr. Gladstone's magnanimity was rewarded. He felt a deep misgiving at the time in respect to this course of policy, and his fears had been realised in the result. The Boers had regarded magnanimity as a proof of weakness, and they rewarded Mr. Gladstone's magnanimity with a deliberate and constant encroachment on the terms of the settlement.I believe that if we offered equally magnanimous terms to the Boers at the present time, again they would look at it as a source of weakness. We might offer terms to a European nation, but not to a nation such as the Boers, who, whenever we have shown any desire whatever to treat them in a lenient manner, have at once set it down to weakness on our part. I do sincerely trust that the Colonial Secretary will not budge from those words he used last night, and will take care that whenever a settlement comes it will be such that it shall not embarrass this country in the same way as it was embarrassed by the unfortunate Majuba surrender.
I was extremely sorry to hear the hon. Member for King's Lynn sneer at the Imperial Yeomanry. He told us we sent out to South Africa men who could neither ride nor shoot. I should like the hon. Member to tell us, when our regular army is in South Africa, when our Reservists are there, and nearly the whole of the Militia, where we are going to get ready-trained men. The only possible thing is to appeal to our countrymen for recruits for the Yeomanry, and for Volunteers from the various volunteer regiments. What has been the result of the last appeal? Take Newcastle. No fewer than 3,000 young men have come forward as recruits for the Yeomanry. Why should these young men be sneered at because they can neither ride nor shoot? It is the sneers in which the Radical party have indulged that have landed them in the humiliating position they occupy at the present time. Hon. Members opposite should remember that things are changed. At one time nearly the whole of our army was drawn 524 from the same class; but during this war we have widened the area of our recruiting, and have gained recruits from every class. The war has drawn the middle classes into closer communion with the army than ever before, and every word that is said about the barbarism of our troops, or any sneers at the Yeomanry that they cannot ride or shoot, are insults to, it may be, to the brothers or fathers or near friends of the Volunteers and Yeomanry. It is because the Radicals persist in these sneers that, at the present time, when one of their leaders wishes to address a meeting he has to have the way to the meeting guarded by police, and when he leaves the meeting he has to don the uniform of a policeman. We Unionists on this side of the House, when we wish to address a meeting, have no reason to fear doing so. We can address a meeting at any populous centre, and claim that this war must be persisted in to a successful conclusion; we can say that we are in favour of unconditional surrender, and can carry our resolutions unanimously. We have no necessity to adopt the tactics which seem so popular with the other side in connection with their meetings. I would conclude by again urging hon. Members, on this side of the House especially—and after all it is to us that the verdict will be left—to make up their minds come what may, to backup the Colonial Secretary when he insists that when any terms are offered to the Boers—I would much rather that the Boers came first to us—they will not be such as will embarrass us in the future, as we have been embarrassed in the past by that sublime experiment after Majuba.
§ *(7.50.) Mr. C. P. SCOTT (Lancashire, Leigh)
said it was rather significant that they should have reached this period of the debate and that the first speech he had heard in favour of unconditional surrender had only just been delivered. He congratulated the hon. Member for Newcastle as an interesting survival of a vanishing party. This was one of the most satisfactory and encouraging features of the debate. It was not the only point on which the debate had revealed a tendency towards agreement between the two sides of the House, and 525 he would also say between the different sections on the Opposition side. He regarded this tendency as a good omen for the prospects of peace, and for the prospects of a durable settlement when peace was concluded. It had already been pointed out that there had been a singular agreement between persons of the most opposite opinions in their estimates of one of the most notable of recent occurrences—the Chesterfield speech. He did not approach that speech in any degree from a personal or party point of view. When they found the Colonial Secretary pointing out that to a large extent he was in agreement with that speech, when they found him twitting hon. Members on that side of the House who had hitherto supported his policy with refusing to support it any longer, though he himself was so much in agreement with the speech, he thought there was a little rift in the cloud and a hope of better things. When they found persons who had been opposed to the war from the beginning, such as the hon. Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs, also declaring that in the Chesterfield speech were to be found the elements on which peace might be made and concord established, they should not regard this as a matter of mockery, but that they might be pretty sure that they were reaching a point when there was at least a chance of approximation between the views of those who had hitherto been divided by a great gulf.
Both the essential points which must be observed in seeking a lasting peace were to be found in Lord Rosebery's speech. The first essential was that we should, if possible, negotiate a peace by agreement and conpromise, and not by force. It was a very great advance when a Member on the other side of the House told them deliberately, and not as a matter of sentiment or of party feeling, but as a matter of practical advantage to this country, that he was in favour of concluding peace upon the basis of a compromise. If they went on a little longer he thought they would even find the Government willing to forget a good many of their utterances, which they on that side of the House would be very glad to forget also. But it was not enough to negotiate; they must know 526 what terms they were going to negotiate on, and here also he hoped and believed that they were getting to something like, he would not say agreement, but at least the beginnings of agreement. There was the question of amnesty. The Colonial Secretary had declared that he was willing to grant a most generous measure of amnesty, but he had exempted from that amnesty the very men whom it was most necessary to include within it. What was the use of the Colonial Secretary telling them that he was willing to grant a measure of amnesty if, at the very beginning, he excluded by that measure the men who alone could secure the submission of the troops in the field? It was a most absurd position to take up, and he trusted that the Colonial Secretary would see fit to withdraw from it. Then there was the question of self-government, upon which they would like some further information from the Government. It was a matter on which Lord Rosebery and his friends in this House had not expressed themselves with perfect clearness, but he thought it was plain that they were prepared to take a step beyond the position which they formerly occupied. It had to be remembered that the task was not merely to make peace, but to govern these people when peace had been made. If there was to be anything like a satisfactory settlement, it must be a settlement which they were prepared to work. This was not the first time Great Britain had annexed the Transvaal. When we annexed it previously we declared, as he declared now, that it was our hope and intention and fixed purpose to grant the Boers self-government. On that occasion we annexed the territory without resistance, and we had complete control over it; but we held it for years without giving the Boers self-government. There was always found some reason why we could not give it—it would not be safe, or it would be abused; and self-government was put off and put off again, until at last the rebellion came and we found ourselves at war. If that happened then, it might happen again. Unless self-government was part of the terms of peace—self-government not in some dim and distant future, but at a time which was dis- 527 tinctly agreed upon—he thought that history was likely to repeat itself, and that we should find ourselves two, three, four, or it might be ten years hence, as unable to grant self-government as we found ourselves 25 years ago. Self-government would not merely be an immense inducement to our enemies to make peace with us, but it would be of enormous assistance to us hereafter in the management of the country. For that reason it was essential that self-government should form part of the terms of peace. There was also the question of the restoration of a ruined country. He was glad to see from the Blue-book that no more refugees, as they were called, were to be swept into the camps. He hoped that meant that no more country was to be devastated. But the territory that had been devastated already was enormous, and he was not surprised when the hon. Member for Central Sheffield told them that instead of £1,000,000 for the purpose of restoring the country £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 would be required. He hoped that on that point also the Government would be prepared to go greatly beyond the terms which they originally offered. What were a few millions spent in building up and restoring the country to the millions which had been spent in ruining and destroying it?
If there was one thing likely to ruin the prospects of the future, it was the planting of the seeds of bitterness between the two races who had to live together in South Africa. That was why it was so vitally important that the military executions should not go on. If there was one thing which a nation never forgot, it was the execution of those who were, rightly or wrongly, regarded as the leaders and the heroes of that nation. We might spill oceans of blood on the battlefield, and it would not be remembered against us as would be the blood of a single man executed in cold blood on the scaffold. He was glad to hear from the Colonial Secretary that no executions had taken place so far on the ground of treason or rebellion alone, and he hoped that that statement might be regarded as a pledge that none would take place. But although we might say that a man like Scheepers had been executed for causes other than rebellion, his people would be slow to believe it.
528 He therefore trusted that Members of this House would have the fullest information as to this execution, and all the other executions which had taken place or which might take place hereafter under martial law, so that it might be placed on record that these men had been executed, whether rightly or wrongly, still on grounds that would justify their execution in the eyes of all civilised peoples. It was to be feared that in some cases already terrible mistakes had been made. It was pretty certain that at least three absolutely innocent men had been executed. These were things which embittered the soul of the people, and which would make harmony and concord hereafter impossible if they were continued. It was for that reason also that the terrible mortality of the concentration camps was so infinitely to be regretted. They owed a debt of gratitude to the Colonial Secretary for taking an active and energetic interest in the improvement of the condition of those camps. They had not yet heard, however, that his intervention had had a great effect. The Colonial Secretary's intentions were excellent, but their fulfilment was obstructed, to all appearances, in South Africa, and they had not yet heard that this terrible mortality had ceased, or that the necessary steps had been taken towards breaking up the camps, towards taking them nearer to the sources of supply, and towards providing the children with the food without which they could not live. He trusted they were all of one mind in desiring to bring these abuses to an end. They might not be able to bring about peace—that did not rest wholly with them—but they could at least prevent things being done which would make concord hereafter forever impossible. That was their plain and simple duty, and he trusted that every man who called himself a Liberal, whether he called himself a Liberal simply or an Imperialist, would look at these things from the point of view alike of humanity and of statesmanship, and would determine that, so far as in him lay, these terrible things which were sowing the seeds of hatred between race and race in South Africa should come to an end.(8.12.)
§ (8.48.) MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
said he had been present during the many debates on the South 529 African question which had been held in this House during the last few years, and he had listened to the speeches with what patience he could command, and had contented himself with recording a silent vote. He trusted that the patience which he had shown in previous debates might be extended to him during the next few minutes while he offered to the House a few comments. The debate had, to his mind, been remarkable. Surely no vote of censure upon a Government was ever put forward in such a half hearted manner as this had been. So far as he could recollect, only two Members of the front Opposition Bench had supported the Amendment, although it had been before the House for one and a half Parliamentary days. One would have thought that if the phraseology of this Amendment could be justified, if it was true that the Government had gone on blundering from one position to another from the commencement of this war, if in fact the speeches made to the public during the recess had any real foundation, some member of the front Opposition Bench would have seized the very earliest opportunity of showing distinctly to the country those points on which the Government had blundered, making clear to the whole world the faults which had been committed. The very reverse had been the case, for there had been a walking round the Amendment, and anything like an attack had been wanting, with the solitary exception of the speech made by the hon. Member for East Mayo, which he would refer to presently.
The debate had been remarkable from another point of view. The Amendment had, it was true, received but very lukewarm support, but equally those hon. Members on the Government side who had spoken, had, with one exception, given a very lukewarm support to the Government, and their attitude had been, to some extent, critical. He was one of those who thought that it was a mistake altogether to spend their time criticising small details which, through the agency of the Press might be magnified outside, and made to appear to the public as signs of strong discontent shown by Parliament itself. He held very strongly to the view that unity at home would have been worth 530 to our country many battalions in the field, and that if from the commencement of this war Great Britain had shown a single undivided front to the enemy, our task would have been easier in South Africa, and peace, which the Opposition claimed so ardently to desire, might have been brought nearer to accomplishment. He marveled at the attitude of the Irish Members, and there was only one redeeming feature to his mind in their conduct.
§ * MR. ERNEST GRAY
I will say that the redeeming feature of the Irish Members is that they have been consistent in their opposition. Theirs is a position which one can thoroughly understand, if one does not appreciate it. They have taken every conceivable opportunity, in the House and out of it, of telling Great Britain's foes that they sympathise with them, and, of denouncing the country and the Crown to which they have sworn loyalty. Theirs is a position logical in principle, except in one particular, that, while they ardently desire peace, by every word they utter and every vote they give they encourage our foes to prolong the war.
§ * MR. ERNEST GRAY
I will not take up every interruption, but I will refer to this one. There is not any authority in Europe which does not recognise the annexation of the Boer Republics, and that freedom as a nationality will never again be enjoyed by the Boers. That being known, what folly it is to encourage those men by speeches here and elsewhere to prolong a struggle which can only bring greater misery to this and to their own country and cause the loss of more lives? To my mind a huge responsibility rests upon those who by speech or vote prolong this war. Sympathy is given again and again to the Boers, whether in concentration camps, on the farms, or in the battlefield, but I have not heard from the Benches below the gangway one word of sympathy 531 for the families at home who have sustained losses at the front.
§ * MR. ERNEST GRAY
continuing said that the attitude of Irishmen had been logical with the exception he had just mentioned. He had endeavoured to keep quiet during criticisms made by hon. Members from Ireland which had been intensely repugnant to him, and he hoped hon. Gentlemen opposite would extend to him the same courtesy. He wanted to make it clear that those who sent him there gave the Government no half-hearted support, and he did not go into the lobby silently and in obedience to the behests of any party Whip, or from any feeling of party loyalty, but because he was convinced not only that the Government was in the right in this matter, but that the Government had, with probably but few exceptions, conducted this war in such a way that it had not only been a source of surprise to our ownpeople but a source of no little envy to those who thought our country weak and our army inefficient. The people who sent him there were the typical working men and artizan population of one of the largest towns in the country. Amongst them would be found Conservatives, Unionists, and a large part of the party which was formerly Liberal, and which might be Liberal again when this war was out of the way; and they declared unhesitatingly that nothing whatever would induce them to withdraw their support from His Majesty's present advisers until this war was completed and peace was established throughout South Africa. He could say without hesitation that a part of the vote which sent him back to Parliament in 1890 was made up by men who in previous elections had voted for the Liberal party, and who on this occasion felt bound to put country before party. This matter was to be settled once for all, so that the peace of South Africa might never again be disturbed. Their desire was that the peace should not be a patched up compromise, and that we should not go running about making advances to this, that, or the other so-called representative of the Boers. It should be amply recorded that 532 the Boers were conquered and sued for peace. When they sued for peace, let us grant them generous terms. He held that the greatest curse of South Africa during the last century had been the vacillating policy adopted by the British. It had been a policy of alternate conquest and retrocession. With the exception of Cape Town and a few miles round it, he did not think there was a single inch of territory from the Zambesi southwards we had not at one time taken and handed back. What was the inevitable argument? That we would do it again. Nothing would make more for the future peace of South Africa than that it should be once for all clearly laid down that the Boers on this occasion were compelled to admit conquest. Any step on our part by which it would be made to appear that we were seeking to make peace would be wilfully misconstrued immediately. It must be made clear for all future generations that conquest was complete, and that annexation would remain as long as the British Empire endured. The hon. Member for East Mayo had found no word of sympathy for all those of our own people who had been driven into the concentration camps by the Boers. He only harped on the old string that his own country was criminal to the backbone. Why did not the hon. Member go elsewhere?
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
This is not my country, and I thank God that my country has no responsibility for the war.
§ * MR. ERNEST GRAY
said that the Irish troops had fought side by side with the British, and they were as good Irishmen as the hon. Member. He very much doubted whether the hon. Member was prepared on Irish soil itself to repudiate those countrymen. The working classes of this country regarded the perpetual accusations against England and the perpetual sympathy with her foes with disgust and loathing, and nothing had done more to make Home Rule impossible than the events of the last few years. Last night the hon. Gentleman separated himself from all condemnation of the soldiers. He had reminded the House that no word he had ever used could be regarded as impugning the honesty or humanity of the troops.
§ MR. DILLON
I did not say anything of the kind. What I said was that I never hesitated to make charges against British soldiers if I thought they were true, but that I never made any charges against them of cruelty in the concentration camps.
§ * MR. ERNEST GRAY
Perhaps I generalise. If my generalisation is not justified by the illustration, I naturally withdraw it.
§ * MR. ERNEST GRAY
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will bear with me with patience. In regard to the concentration camps no accusations were made; but what was his very next phrase? He said all this work, all this barbarity, was done under the order of their superior officers.
§ * MR. ERNEST GRAY
Very well, then; the charge of barbarity was made against Lord Kitchener. His own impression was that "the man in the street," so often referred to, was quite as capable as anyone in this House of judging who was likely to be guilty of barbarity, and whether or not officers, men, and troops would carry out orders which they themselves realised were barbarous, unnecessary, needlessly extreme. It was all very well to bring forward these subtle distinctions; but they could not separate the work of officers and men. The work was the work of the Army as a whole; and no sophistries, no pretences, would ever lead any thinking man to separate the work of the headquarters' staff, of Lord Kitchener, of Lord Roberts, from that of the private soldier. One might seek to soften the accusation by the declaration that the conduct of the men was everything to be desired, while the superior officers were brutes and barbarians, but he did not think an argument of that kind was likely to be swallowed by the most ignorant of the electorate in the country. If there was one thing they were clear upon, it was that this war had taught them to have greater faith, greater confidence, in the officers of our 534 army than ever. Before the war began a sentiment very largely prevailed that many of the officers were carpet knights. That sentiment had disappeared. The work that had been done during the last twelve months by those commanding in the field had secured the admiration and support of practically everybody outside the ranks of the Irish party. There were two items in the attack—one referred to the devastation of the country, and the other to the policy of the concentration camps. He could not claim to be a great military authority, but what was called devastation was only clearing the enemy's country of supplies. The only question was, had that been necessary? If necessary, it was, he maintained, justifiable. One had to recollect that the Boer Army was not like a Continental Army. When, after Waterloo, the French were in full retreat on Paris, every retreating soldier could be identified; he could not turn aside to the nearest farm and be a farm labourer one minute and a soldier the next. His uniform proved the means of identification. Now, that was not the case with the Boers; they were fighting one day and ploughing their fields the next. The policy of depriving these men of the means of re-creating their army and providing themselves with means of refreshments and with horses, might have been disastrous to the Boers, but was to be defended by the laws of war. War was war. Some people talked as though they imagined that war could be played with kid gloves, that we should allow our enemy every conceivable advantage and take none ourselves. He did not think that policy would have been tolerated for a single instant by our people at home. In fact, the cry went up from a large number of people who were by no means bloodthirsty that the Government ought to take more stringent measures to bring the war to a conclusion.
§ * MR. ERNEST GRAY
The great body of the electorate in the large towns. These men knew full well that a sharp war would be a short war, and that wherever our generals had not been sufficiently equipped to enable them to take sharp measures war had been prolonged, and disease, caused by the prolongation, cut off more lives than the battle field. 535 It seemed to him that there was no other policy to pursue than that of depriving the enemy of all possible means of support.
§ * MR. ERNEST GRAY
said he would deal with the children in a moment. In a European army every soldier had his distinctive mark. That was one of the rules governing civilised warfare, except in cases where a people was called upon in an emergency to defend itself. But in this case the Boers were not called upon to defend themselves. They invaded our territory, and chose their own time to do so. They could have fixed a date, therefore, to enable them to provide themselves with a distinctive mark, and they could have taken measures to protect their own women and children. The taunt was thrown away upon him therefore, that we inflicted cruelty upon these women and children. That brought him to the question of the concentration camps. Now, what would have been the attitude of the Opposition in this House, above and below the gangway, if, having cleared any portion of the territory of the Republics of the means of supporting their army, we had left the women and children on the veldt? He could imagine the pictures that would have been drawn, and by no one with more force than by the hon. Member for East Mayo, of death following the policy of devastation, of the mountain passes literally littered with half-starved women and children unable to drag one foot after the other, and of the main roads lined with skeletons. If the policy of depriving the enemy of means of support and of the chance of recruiting his army and obtaining supplies was permissible by the laws of war, then the policy of the concentration camps became inevitable. We could not have left the women and children on the homesteads, because we could not take away the means of supporting the army without also taking away the means of supporting the women and children, and if we did so we were bound to find them means of support elsewhere. We did our best. There was evidence throughout the Blue-books, impartial records, which showed that whatever the death rate had been, and no doubt it had been high, the policy of the concentration 536 camps was inevitable. He ventured to assert that if the question was put to them, our soldiers would say that food that under normal conditions would have gone to the fighting line had been diverted in order that the people in the concentration camps should be well supplied. His firm opinion was that the best, under the circumstances, was done for these people, and that the verdict of history would be that England had done all that was possible to avoid loss of life. He did not think in the whole course of these debates, although it had been asserted that there was an inadequacy in the food supply and medical comforts, that it had been said to be preventable.
§ * MR. ERNEST GRAY
said that in that case he withdrew. He had not heard it said that it was preventable. Warnings had been given no doubt, but it was not possible to change the conditions existing in so wide a operation involving the moving of great masses of people; and the assertion that this state of things was preventable must be taken as a further illustration of the fact that the scales of justice had not been fairly held by the hon. Member for East Mayo. The difficulties of transport and food supply had not been considered. It drove one to the conclusion that it was not sympathy for the Boers, but hatred of the motherland, which gave rise to these suggestions. He had marvelled at the bitter and venomous attacks which had constantly been made on the right hon. Gentlemen the Colonial Secretary in the course of the debates on South Africa during the last three years, and at the toleration with which the House listened to phrases which many people regarded as little less than treasonable. Night after night he had listened in silence, but there came a time when he was strongly disposed to hurl those treasonable phrases back in the teeth of those who used them, and to say how bitterly such speeches were resented by the country. Hon. Members of the House knew they were only one move in the great game, but people outside had come to hold the House in disrespect because it was so tolerant of treason. He had often heard it said outside that the 537 House tolerated language which no other Senate in the world would allow, provided the language used was grammatical. But some Members of the House were bitterly pained by these exhibitions; they were not consonant with the feelings of the great mass of the British people, who deeply resented them. He had noticed the venomous attacks which had been made upon the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, and the magnificent manner in which he had repelled them attacks made at a time when it was the duty of all true Englishmen to have supported the Colonial Secretary with all their might, instead of playing false to their own land—their own people—in the eyes of the whole world, and making the burden which the right hon. Gentleman had to bear heavier still. In his opinion, there was no phraseology too strong to condemn such conduct. It was the duty of every true Englishman to stand by and assist the man who had got to carry this matter through, and to enable him and the Government to discharge their duty, and to reserve criticism until the day of trial had passed away.
§ (9.37.) Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had referred to certain Gentlemen who had used epithets of hatred towards the motherland. He would like to know who had done so. They had criticised very freely the action of the Government. They regarded the war as disastrous; some of them regarded it as a crime; but they opposed the war, not because they hated the motherland, but because they loved her as truly as the hon. Member did, and they were sorry that disasters of this kind should have brought her to the position in which she was at this moment. With the exception of the hon. Member, every hon. Member upon the Government side of the House who had spoken had shown a real appreciation of the gravity of the situation, and the one thing which struck him was that all those Members who had been to South Africa, and who were acquainted with the circumstances, had not made such a bellicose speech as that to which they had just listened from the hon. Member, who had no personal acquaintance with the subject, and who was simply urging 538 others to go to South Africa to make sacrifices which he was not himself prepared to make.
They had listened to some very remarkable speeches in the course of the debate, and it was noticeable that all the speeches of Members who had been in South Africa were full of the spirit of conciliation, and of peace. They recognized the gravity of the situation. The optimistic tone of the First Lord of the Treasury was not justified by the facts, and he would point out two or three circumstances from the Blue-book recently issued, because he thought it would strengthen the appeals which had been made by Members on the Government side of the House. Until he read the report of Sir W. Hely Hutchinson, he did not think the rebellion at the Cape was so great as it was. He remembered asking the question himself—a question brought on by a statement in a Unionist paper, that there were 7,000 men who had joined the rebellion, and the Colonial Secretary replied that, according to his recollection, there were only 1,800, but now we had a specific statement giving the particulars of the districts, though the worst districts were not in it, because they were in the hands of the enemy. Of those which were returned, 11,000 men had joined the rebellion, and therefore it would not be unfair to assume that 13,000 or 14,000 men in the worst districts had also joined. They had heard something about clearing the Cape, and they had had very optimistic messages and statements with regard to the war being over in June, but he found from another paragraph of Sir Walter Hely Hutchinson's dispatch, that the area of one district in the west and northwest of Cape Colony in the hands of the rebels was about 156,000 square miles, a district as large as the whole of the United Kingdom and another Ireland thrown in (one would have thought that one was enough); a district as large as the Transvaal and the Orange Free State put together; a difficult, mountainous district, with a population of about 200,000, without railways or roads, and a German frontier. We had not yet cleared the midlands, although we had been there for 14 months, with the best general in the British Army, General French. Was not all this 539 enough to impress the House of Commons with the seriousness of the situation? A great deal had been heard about the surrenders, but he believed he was within the mark in saying that there were still 20,000 to 25,000 Boers unaccounted for.
Bearing such facts in mind, it was easy to understand why hon. Members, on the Ministerial side, aquainted with the situation, suggested agreement as the best method of settlement. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield had said that when we had finished the war we should have to keep a garrison there of 100,000 men for four or five years at least, and the hon. Member for Oldham had rather confirmed that view, because he had said that for a very long time the prisoners could not be restored, and until they were restored the troops could not be retired. If that was the prospect, the war might take an indefinite period. The hon. Member for Oldham would not pledge himself that the war would come to an end in June next or in June following. And, if after that period, we had to have garrisons of 100,000 for four or five years, with all the possibilities, of foreign complications, it was time the House of Commons began to listen to the appeals of hon. Members opposite to terminate the war by conciliatory methods rather than continuing this bloodshed for an indefinite period. He was not one of those who believed it was impossible to agree on the terms of settlement without agreeing on the merits of the war. If that were so, the position of the nation would be hopeless. That was why he heartily welcomed Lord Rosebery's declaration at Chesterfield. He thought the noble Lord has provided a basis upon which a settlement could be arrived at. The best tribute to the excellence of Lord Rosebery's suggestions was the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, had quoted so many of those utterances with approval. That was a proof of arrival at something like agreement on the terms of settlement, and he personally had been much impressed by it. His right hon. friend, he thought, completely dealt with the utterances of the Colonial Secretary in this matter, 540 and had pointed out that there were very grave differences between the position laid down by Lord Rosebery and the position which the Colonial Secretary took up. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary had said on the previous evening that he was in favour of a very liberal ministry, he had advanced considerably since February last year, at which time he was certainly not in favour of any such thing.
He regretted very much that he was unable to vote for the Amendment. The Amendment laid down no terms of a settlement; it simply laid down two contradictory propositions, and this had been called a compromise. It was not his idea of a compromise, and he regretted he could not support the Amendment. What did it mean? The first part declared in favour of a prosecution of the war. He could not comprehend the position. In one breath they declared that the war was unjust and then turned to the Government and said, "Unjust though it be, we will support you in prosecuting it." The Boers were said to be fighting for freedom and independence, and then Members were invited to vote for shooting and capturing these Boers. He regretted he could not accept that position. It meant that one set of gentlemen were asked to support what they regarded as a criminal enterprise as an inducement for another set of gentlemen to vote for a proposition they did not believe to be true. One set of gentlemen were told that if they would vote what they considered was black to be white, another set of gentlemen would vote what they considered was white to be black. That was not his notion of a compromise. He did not think they would ever get any unity, he did not think they would ever get any working basis, on these lines. He sincerely regretted it, because he believed that unity was necessary for peace, and unity was possible on the terms of settlement, and he was sorry that another had not been confined to a declaration of the principles laid down on that point by Lord Rosebery at Chesterfield. His right hon. friend had really gained nothing by this Amendment. He had been induced to make a declaration after which he could not be very en- 541 thusiastic, he had been induced to modify, he had been captured, and, it was to be feared, he had been treated by his captors as the Boers treated their prisoners—he had been stripped of all his principles, and left on the veldt to find his way back the best way he could. He hoped it would be a lesson to his right hon. friend. After all, on a question of this character, compromise was impossible. Compromise on the question of terms could be arrived at. He was not sure that a statement of terms could not be made that would receive acceptance from Members on the other side of the House; but, when they came to deal with the question of origin, and with the question of prosecuting the war, it was a mistake to attempt anything in the nature of a compromise. A party who opposed a war at any time was bound to bring upon itself unpopularity, and he did not deny that opposition to the war had brought unpopularity upon the liberal party; but, after all, let them face it like men. Let them not try to get out of it by shuffling in this way. There were some who believed the war was wrong and that it would bring disaster to the Empire, but what was the position? They could not vote for an Amendment like this except on the assumption that if they had the opportunity they would put it into action. Every man should vote as if his individual vote would carry the declaration into operation. It was not impossible. The present Government was not immortal. His own opinion was that, though the country at the present moment was stubbornly bent on pursuing the war—he would admit that—and he was not sanguine that it was going to change its mind, he believed the people of the country were as sick and tired of the war as Lord Milner said the people of the Cape were; but they were still bent on prosecuting the war to what they regarded as the only issue. That was his candid opinion. It was an unpleasant fact to realise, but there it was. He did not think, however, that the people were confident that the Ministry had done their best to carry out the purpose they had set themselves; and if the people saw that all their great efforts resulted in something tantamount to failure—["Oh! Oh!"]—well, it was not a success—the national pride would impel them 542 first of all to say there was some defect in their Ministers, rather than lack of strength in the Empire.
As in the Crimean War and in every other war, the penalty of failure must be paid by Ministers. That did not mean the abandonment of the war, but it might mean that the "alternative Government" might have its chance; and he asked Members who voted for the Amendment if their party came into power would they vote for the prosecution of an unrighteous war—for that was the policy of the Amendment—a war which they regarded as a disaster to the Empire? Would they go on with such a war? If not, then what was the meaning of this Amendment? If they were prepared to go on with it, what did the denunciations of the war in the past mean? No, there was only one party in the country who could prosecute the war effectively—he would not say only one Ministry, but only one party—and that was the party who believed in it. They could not prosecute a war with a halting conscience. They must put their whole heart, their whole strength, and their whole might into it, and he was proud to believe that the right hon. Gentlemen on the front Opposition Bench could not do that. Their position was a clear one—or at least it ought to be. It was to say, "This is not a war of ours. It was started by hon. Members opposite. [Ministerial cries of "Oh."] It is in pursuance of their policy. They accept responsibility for it." The policy of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Bench was perfectly clear. It was to say: "The war is your business. We can have nothing whatever to do with it." He appealed earnestly to right hon. Gentlemen now, not by voting for this Amendment, to accept any share of the responsibility for the war. It was a mistake, even if it brought temporary popularity on the party, to pawn, as it were, the heirlooms of that party in order to buy off unpopularity. At any rate, as long as they faced it they would have the respect of the country. But, on the other hand, if they did adopt that course, they would simply substitute for an unpopularity, which was undeserved as long as it came from the adhesion to a difinite 543 principle, a contempt which was thoroughly well merited."
§ (10.12) SIR ELLIOTT LEES (Birkenhead)
, who spoke amid considerable interruption and was very indistinctly heard, thought that if the hon. Member who had just spoken had had an opportunity of seeing for himself things as they were in South Africa, it would have had a moderating and modifying effect upon his views. In the course of the debate many Members had urged the Government to come to terms with the Boers. Speaking with a full sense of responsibility, he felt that it would be the gravest mistake this country could commit to come to political terms with the Boers in South Africa. He fully agreed that they might well grant, if it were asked for, full amnesty, and they might well offer lives and property to individuals, and, with advantage, terms as to the restocking of the country. But he believed they would commit a grave blunder if they attempted to make political terms with the Boers at the present moment. He remembered the negotiations of March last year, and he was well aware of the manner in which the terms offered were received by the Army, for our soldiers declared that notwithstanding the hardships they had endured they would rather continue the struggle than grant the Boers such terms as had been suggested. He did not wish to detain the House very long, but he wished to join with his hon. friend the Member for the Isle of Wight in bearing testimony to the humanity of our troops. It might be a stale story, but those charges had been repeated, and had found even an echo in this House. Therefore it was well that all who had been out in South Africa should bear their testimony to the falseness of the charges brought against our soldiers. He had served in the campaign for a year, and he had seen a large area of the theatre of war. Not once did he hear of any British soldiers being guilty of any ill-treatment or any insolence towards women or children. Many a time he had seen them sharing their rations with the Boer women and children, and he honestly believed that anything like cruelty or even unkindness towards defenceless people was 544 utterly alien to the British character. He indicated also, that a lenient policy was tried until after the fall of Pretoria. Up to the end of September, 1900, British soldiers might touch nothing without paying for it, and ten days before Pretoria was surrendered he remembered Lord Roberts fining a man for stealing a cake of soap.
Last August he wrote a letter to The Times newspaper in which he stated that a lenient policy had been tried and failed. If peace had been brought about after the occupation of Pretoria when the country was practically undisturbed, with the machinery of agriculture and industry effectively working, no feelings of rankling bitterness would have existed in the hearts of the Boers, and matters would have rapidly settled down with a contented population in South Africa. It was assumed from his letter that if they had offered terms after occupying Pretoria, peace would have been restored, but nothing was further from his intention. A reference to Lord Roberts' despatches would show that the military situation was such, immediately after the fall of Pretoria, that peace was within sight, only the news of De Wet's success in capturing the Derbyshire Militia and cutting the lines of communication prevented General Botha from very seriously considering and consenting to peace with this country without terms at all. At the time General Botha had failed to rally his men, and Lord Roberts was within an ace of obtaining peace on military grounds alone soon after the occupation of Pretoria.
The war might last some time longer, and he wished the House and the country to realise the magnitude of the task they had undertaken. He wished hon. Members to realise that our army of 250,000 was the largest which this country had ever sent out, and was larger than England was ever thought capable of sending out. It was an army as large as the whole population of a great English town like Bristol, but they could easily imagine that such an army was very thin upon the ground when spread over an area as large as France. He thought the House and country needed to be very patient. He urged upon the Government that their policy should now be to constantly reinforce the army in the field, because the 545 best troops must become stale with constant work. He looked with hopefulness to a not too far distant conclusion of the war. He knew that the block-house system was producing very remarkable results. He was confident, at any rate, that by the beginning of the year 1903, they would see the last vestige of resistance stamped out in the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony.
We were told that we were creating for ourselves a second Ireland in South Africa. He could not endorse that view. In the first place, there was no difference between ourselves and the Boers in religious matters. In the second place, there was a very slight difference between ourselves and the Boers in racial matters. There was no government in South Africa of what had been called a quick witted race ruled by a dull race. The Boer might be quick witted in the matter of war, they might be slim on commando, but no one had ever accused him of being more quick-witted than the average Englishman in the ordinary matters of politics and Government. In the third place there had arisen—strange though it might seem to hon. Members—between the combatants on both sides, a feeling of mutual respect. He believed that if the policy which the Government had adopted and foreshadowed were carried out without haste, and without tyranny, we might hope for a prosperous South Africa. There were those now in the House, who, in spite of the great difficulties with which we were confronted, would yet live to see South Africa most contented, most prosperous, and not the least loyal of the Colonial possessions of the Crown.
§ (10.34.) Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
I can assure the hon. and learned Member for South Shields, whom, to my great regret I have prevented from taking part in this debate, that I have done so with the utmost reluctance, and though I do not mean to occupy any great amount of to-night I would like to give an adequate period for the Leader of the Opposition to deal with the Amendment, which he himself, I think, would be the first to admit has up to the present moment been very inadequately dealt with by those who sit on the benches opposite. On the general range of the Amendment I might have thought it necessary, had I spoken earlier in the debate, to speak at some length and use language, I will not say of 546 acerbity, but perhaps of vigour, such vigour as I can command. But I am perfectly aware that, at all events under modern conditions of Parliamentary procedure, it is allowable for one's friends to use much stronger abjectives about one than one's opponents, and I certainly could not match the epithets which have been hurled at the right hon. Gentleman's head in the course of the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. The hon. Member, in a speech of extraordinary conciseness and pungency, gave his view of not merely the expediency and propriety, but the common honesty of the Amendment to which we are now asked to address ourselves; and unless I do the hon. Gentleman's rhetoric a great injustice I think that the epithet "shuffling" was almost the mildest with which his ample vocabulary supplied him to hurl at the proposal which, after all, was made by the leader of his party in the House of Commons, and which, therefore, according to my view, at all events, of Parliamentary propriety, might have been objected to, but need hardly have been abused by him with the violence which he adopted. But, at all events, it has absolved me of the task which I should otherwise have had to undertake, and I am sure that anybody who heard the hon. Gentleman's speech will acquit me of flattery when I say that I am perfectly certain that no amount of premeditation woull have enabled me to accumulate so much bitterness in so short a speech as the hon. Gentleman has contrived to do in the observations he has made. I will therefore do no more than say that the Amendment has been stretched to its utmost limits in order to admit every kind of attack on His Majesty's Government which it might please any member of a somewhat, not merely divided, but perhaps I am not excessive when I say, sub-divided party, to hurl against any Minister of the Crown who in times of admitted difficulty and stress is conducting the affairs of His Majesty's Empire.
So far as I have noticed this debate, the greater number of the speeches were devoted to observations on the attitude which His Majesty's Government ought to take towards some hypothetical negotiators in the interests of peace. But before I say what I have to say—and it is only a few words—on that part of the subject, I must deal with another class of criticism—that levelled 547 against the Government by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, and though levelled against the Government generally, in particular directed against my right hon. friend the Secretary for War. I understand that those accusations were more or less endorsed by my hon. friend the Member for Oldham, and there was another Gentleman of Imperialist tendencies on the other side, the hon. Gentleman the Member for one of the divisions of Wolverhampton, who made, in the course of a short speech, a rapid survey of the last two years, raked up every exploded accusation against the Government or the War Office, including that most disgraceful accusation—I mean disgraceful and discreditable to those who used it—in connection with the despatches on Spion Kop, and who generally associated himself with those who assert that the present Government have shown quite exceptional and abnormal inefficiency in carrying on the military responsibilities of the Empire. The only gentleman who has developed that attack at length or in any form which either requires or deserves an answer is the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the Forest of Dean; and he concentrated his attack into a more definite charge, as I understand him, to the effect that whereas, when the recrudescence of the war occurred at the end of the year before last, and the invasion of Cape Colony took place, an appeal was made by Lord Kitchener to this country for fresh reinforcements of Yeomanry—that, whereas that appeal was made at the beginning of December, it was not complied with till February.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
I said nothing about his asking for Yeomanry. I distinctly said that at the time at which the first appeal was made by Lord Kitchener for fresh mounted men, he did not know that the old Yeomanry were to be sent home. But I asked the question when he was first acquainted with the fact that the first batch of Yeomanry were to be sent home.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman has slipped into a fresh error, for the old Yeomanry were not sent home or brought home by us; they were sent home by Lord Kitchener, and not at our request. I pass that, and go 548 back to the main charge. I thought the right hon. Gentleman used the word Yeomanry; it was my mistake. Lord Kitchener did, as a matter of fact, apply for Yeomanry, and he applied for Colonial troops. He applied for 4,000 Yeomanry in December. If we are to believe the right hon. Gentleman's charge, that appeal was not responded to until February. Now what are the facts? The moment that appeal for fresh troops arrived, we made arrangements for sending out 4,000 regulars 6,000 Colonials, and, in addition, we directed Lord Kitchener to make further arrangements for Colonial levies within Cape Colony, and sent out to him 10,000 mounted Constabulary. We not only did everything he asked for, but a great deal more. So far is it from being the fact that not until February did we take steps to send out those reinforcements, that some of the regiments sent out in response to the appeal were actually in pursuit of the enemy, and nearly caught De Wet before the end of February. [Nationalist laughter.] I quite recognize the natural satisfaction with which gentlemen from Ireland regard the fact that De Wet was only nearly caught, but I am sorry to qualify that satisfaction by adding that, although he was not caught, he was driven out of the Colony. That isnot all. In addition to these troops that we sent unasked for to Lord Kitchener, we made demands on the country in January for 15,000 Yeomanry. Instead of 15,000 we got 16,500, and we sent out in the course of January, February and March no fewer than 36,000 fresh troops to the Colony. Now I will say a word about these Yeomanry, who have been so violently attacked by the right hon. Gentleman. It was at Lord Kitchener's request that we sent them out untrained. He said that in his judgment he could train them better in the colonies and quicker.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
The right hon. Gentleman says they have been violently attacked by me. Let me say I only read Lord Kitchener's words.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Of course if there is no attack there is no necessity of any offence. The fact is what I said. They were sent out untrained at Lord Kitchener's request; and I think it probably is a fact that the military authori- 549 ties in South Africa asked those troops to go into action prematurely, and that because the first who had been tried had shown such distinguished qualities it was somewhat rashly assumed that the ordinary period of training might in the case of the whole body be more or less dispensed with. Since that they have done most excellent service. I do not wish to labour this point any more; but it may be worth informing the House that when the recrudscence of the war made itself manifest we promptly raised the total force under Lord Kitchener from 205,000 men to about 250,000 men, and that within the course of the year ending 31st December last, we sent out no less than 81,000 men and 129,000 horses to South Africa. I have briefly recapitulated these facts, because I confess that I listened with considerable disgust—I will not say indignation, it is too solemn a word—to the kind of attack made upon the War Office during the course of the war. You will say I cannot speak with impartiality because I am a member of the Government responsible for what the War Office do. But I am not directly connected with military administration, and I try, at all events, to the best of my ability, to form an impartial judgment of what they have done, and what the country owes them; and I say boldly that if any man had got up in this House and before this war occurred had declared that our War Office could have done not what they have done, but one-tenth of what they have done, the idea would have been scouted. I say it is a remarkable and an extraordinary performance; and anybody who will endeavour to look at the matter, not through party spectacles, but at things as they are, will form a very different estimate of the military strength of this country in a crisis from that which any of us would have dared to form before the war began. It is easy for the humblest and stupidest critic, looking back over the two years of stress and difficulty in which, undoubtedly, great mistakes as regards military anticipations have been made, but mistakes which have added to the difficulties of the administration of the War Office—it is easy for such a critic to say we might have sent out more horses here and more men there. But, take the performance as a whole, I say the administrative work of the War 550 Office, its power to provide great bodies of troops, and to supply them with every necessary—nay, with every luxury—has been remarkably demonstrated, and is a performance which has been unequalled so far in the history of this Empire.
Now, Sir, I pass from the topic of the war, which has been dealt with very gently by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, and only sporadically and incidentally by other speakers in the debate to the main issue raised by this many-coloured Amendment. I take it that the extraordinary dulness, want of vigour, and want of fire in this debate, almost unexampled when a great Opposition moves an Amendment on a great issue in the King's Speech, has been solely due to the fact that, in vulgar parlance, the speech of the Secretary for the Colonies has "knocked everybody out of time." Well, I admit that speech was not directed to gentlemen from Ireland. They stand outside the controversy between gentlemen sitting here and gentlemen above the gangway opposite. They think the whole war was an iniquity, and I do not mean to contest their views at all. They stand on a lower level. Well, on another level—I do not know that it is a question of a higher or a lower level—but ever since the speech of my right. hon. friend the whole controversy, as between gentlemen above the gangway opposite and gentlemen on this side of the House, is really pettifogging with words. [Cries of "No."] You may, if you like, quarrel with us, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth did, who brought up again his objections to martial law and the Cape Parliament not being summoned—both matters in which he interested us very much—but for the life of me I cannot connect them in the remotest degree with this Amendment. It all happened in South Africa, no doubt, and in that sense it all has to do with the war. But if there had been no war, there would have been no martial law, and the Cape Parliament would have been sitting in the ordinary course. But that objection is somewhat distant and remote, and I cannot see why anybody should vote "Aye" or "No" in this division because he thinks, with the right hon. Gentleman, that martial law 551 ought never to have been established or thinks with Lord Rosebery that it wag established much too late. And, by the way, as in the accident of controversy, I have mentioned the right hon. Gentleman and Lord Rosebery in the same sentence. I may be permitted to say that in all the triumphs which Lord Rosebery has had, and in all the triumphs which in the ordinary course of nature he may have if he lives, as we all hope and expect he will, for many years, I do really think the greatest is that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth should have come down to this House and spent at least three fourths of his speech in explaining how entirely he agreed with Lord Rosebery, and to show how absurd it was for any Liberal Imperialist associated with Lord Rosebery to do otherwise than vote for the Amendment. I think that was a remarkable thing. I have always thought the Chesterfield oration was a considerable effort of a considerable man, delivered under circumstances of great interest, and naturally exciting much public comment, but upon my word, I never knew what a speech it was until I heard the right hon. Gentleman coming down to-night, and tie himself to the chariot wheels, and urge everybody to follow in the procession.
So far as I can understand, the only difference which really separates hon. Gentlemen opposite from His Majesty's Government is that they think we should, in their own phrase, call a Boer Government into existence in order to make terms with it, and they point out that at the end of all wars the conquering Power was glad to have a Power to treat with. No doubt at the end of the Franco-German war the Germans were glad that there was a French Government to treat with for the surrender of Alsace-Lorraine. We should have no objection to the existence of a Power to treat with in this war. But my right hon. friend the Colonial Secretary has pointed out the difficulty of finding one. That difficulty arises not from any desire on our part to destroy the authority, but from the fact that the mere progress of our arms necessarily had that result. It was agreed upon by statesmen sitting 552 above the gangway on each side that after the invasion of our colonies by the Boer Republics their separate existence could no longer continue. The military operations were conducted on that theory. The result was that one President fled to Europe; that the other President peregrinated about the country finding where he could safety for the sole of his foot; and we separated and divided the ever lessening body of men opposed to us into separate commandos, under separate generals who, so far as we know, own no common head, and own no common allegiance. These things are plainly the direct result of our military operations, and no man could complain of these operations unless he thinks that the two Republics ought not to be incorporated in our dominions. What is the complaint made against us? Hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to think that a Boer authority will be delighted to be called into existence for no other purpose than to commit suicide immediately afterwards. It may be extremely convenient; it may be extremely desirable; but is it likely? The Germans, no doubt, wanted a French Power to make a treaty with, and they naturally desired a stable Government in a country coterminous with their own. But, had they been absorbing the whole of France—which of course was not their wish nor within their power—and desired a Government for the purpose of surrendering the whole of France to them, was such a Government likely to come into existence? Let us not fall into the mistaken idea that unconditional surrender means surrender of either the lives or the property of the conquered. It only means that, so far as political arrangements are concerned, there should be a surrender of some kind, as was made in the case of Alsace-Lorraine, in the cases of South America and the Canadian rebels, and, so far as I know, has been made in almost every case in which incorporation of the kind which we think necessary has taken place.
I have heard infinite ingenuity expanded in explaining why the negotiations which have already taken place have been abortive, and why, owing to this or that iniquity on the part of my right hon. friend the Colonial Secretary, negotiations in the future are likely to be futile. I cannot understand hon.
553 Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite being so blind to what, after all, are the true issues. The fates of nations never depend upon the refinements of grammar or of style. They depend upon far greater conditions. You have only to read what the Boers say to each other, and, indeed, what they have said to us in explicit language, to see that the differences between us—the differences which prevent the declaration of peace—are not the small or relatively trifling differences which gentlemen seem to think are the obstacles to a settlement of the conflict. No; they are much larger, and, I will add, much worthier. There is only one reason why there is not peace. It is because the men fighting in the field want their independence, and because we do not mean to give it them. That is the whole case in a nutshell. And may I point out that any other theory would entail an amount of criminal responsibility to the Boer leaders from which any set of men might shrink? Would not all civilised nations, religion, and humanity shrink from men who, on a smaller issue than that, allowed a state of things to continue which produced such wide-spread devastation in the country, such immense suffering, not merely to the combatants, but to helpless women and children? The Boers have suffered; however they may have been diminished by the humanity of our troops, they know that sufferings have been caused, and they have deliberately accepted them. And why? Not because we promised too little about farms or anything of that sort. No. Sir, they are fighting for what they believe to be a much bigger thing. If they are not fighting for what they believe to be a much bigger thing, they are scoundrels. And that is the sole cause why, up to the present moment, the negotiations have broken down. If that is so, surely it is time that we should abstain in this House from these parade fights which the right hon. Gentleman has provoked. Everybody here knows that the result of this division, be it what it may in actual numbers, will not turn out His Majesty's Government, will not affect party history in this country, will not change its course and policy even by a hair's breadth.
554 Within these walls, within the constituencies which send us here, the division to-night is of no moment; it matters not whether we take a division or abstain. Yes, Sir, but there is a much bigger issue being fought in South Africa, and it is this bigger issue which we can here modify by any course we take to-night. It may be too late to make the appeal, but as I am speaking before the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, I would earnestly beg of him, even at this last moment, to reconsider the course which he has rashly embarked upon. He is not likely, if I may venture to say so, to reap much in the way of either success in the debate, or in the Division Lobby from the course he has taken. Though the result of a division will have little effect here, I do seriously believe that in South Africa, if it be recognised that the Leader of the Opposition has moved an Amendment, a vote of censure on the Government, in connection with the war, be it worded ever so cunningly, whatever its preface may be, whatever its operation may be, the mere fact that he has moved such a vote of censure will drive still deeper into the hearts of the Boers the conviction which they have already imbibed—namely, that their hopes of success are not hopes built upon the possibility of their relatively small forces defeating our much larger forces in the field, but depend solely upon their power of prolonging the war until such time as the Opposition may be in power and the present Government be displaced. That is the lamentable conviction with which he inspires our enemies. I well believe the right hon. Gentleman had no desire to produce any of the effects which I have endeavoured honestly without exaggeration to portray, but I would nevertheless make this appeal. If to him I cannot appeal with success, I would venture to appeal to the units who sit behind him ["Oh!"]—yes, to the single responsible Members who sit behind him, each of them responsible, not merely to his constituency, not merely to his party, but to his country. I would appeal to them and remind them that to-night a division which should show strength in the opponents of the Government would give renewed 555 vigour to our enemies in the field. Hon. Members will acquit me of any desire to snatch from them any party advantage, if party advantage is to be got from this division or this debate. Surely there are plenty of things on which you can unite to abuse the Government, and, if you can, to turn them out of office without touching the South African war. Cannot you allow for the few months during which it may still last that the war shall be a neutral territory on which no party controversy shall be allowed to take place? I am convinced, Sir, in giving that advice, that were it taken, we as a party should lose, but, what I care much more for, I am equally confident, this Empire and this nation would gain as a whole.
§ (11.12.) SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
The right hon. Gentleman has made a strong and impassioned appeal, which did him honour, to me and to those who sit around me to put aside party spirit and to consider the interests of the country. Sir, it is with no party spirit, with no seeking of party advantage whatever, that I and my friends shall vote for this Amendment. And the very reason we shall vote for it is that which the right hon. Gentleman adduced when he wished me to get it withdrawn—namely, that we consider the future interests of our country to be profoundly involved in the policy which the right hon. Gentleman and the Government, of which he is an ornament, have embarked upon. It is because we believe that their policy and their attitude are not likely to conduce, as the Amendment says, to the establishment of a durable peace and to the strengthening of our Empire in South Africa—that is the conscientious reason with which I for one shall vote for this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, is not entitled to assume that we are seeking to steal some little party benefit from a question of this sort.
The right hon. Gentleman did not devote a very large part of his speech to the question before the House; he only, I think, came to the actual Amendment within the last ten minutes or so of his speech: and in that time he showed, I am sorry to say, even a more stiff and unrelenting attitude than was displayed by his colleague the Colonial Secretary last night. This 556 Amendment has been much canvassed and we have been told as if it was something peculiar to ourselves, that we are divided in opinion. Why, SIR, we have had in this very debate abundant evidence of differences of opinion on the other side not very far short of those which are supposed to prevail here. They are not so exposed to the public, I admit; the Press is not quite so full of them; but I think I need not allude to the terms of private conversation, even the speeches we have heard to-night have shown what I have said, that there is a great deal of difference of opinion. Now this Amendment affirms three things. It affirms, in the first place, the necessity of vigorously conducting the military operations in order to bring the war to a speedy close; it affirms, in the second place, our conviction that the course pursued by the Government in the political conduct of the war has unduly protracted the war; and, in the third place, it affirms our desire that the Government should abandon their tone of discouragement to negotiation with view to a safe and generous settlement.
The first part of the Amendment deals with the prosecution of the war, and here I find myself at variance with my hon. friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. If my hon. friend will allow me to say so, I think he might have expressed his difference from his friends quite as effectively with more respect to them. My hon. friend has from the first opposed this war, and I believe I am right in saying he has voted against all the grants of money for this war. That is not the position that has been taken up by the great mass of Members on this side of the House. On the contrary, whatever our opinion might have been as to the origin of the war honour and interest of our country was involved in it, we did not show any when the war was entered upon, and the indisposition to grant all the Supplies that were demanded by the Government. We have declined to take any responsibility for the war, or for its conduct; it is under the Government's auspices that it has been entered upon; it is their business, and not ours, to get the country out of any difficulty that may arise from it. But we have never put any impediment in the way of any military preparation they might make, and we have, as I say, granted all that was asked of us. Well, 557 we do more than affirm that in the words that appear in this Amendment. Our countrymen have spared no effort, and have shrunk from no sacrifice, not only in order that the war might be successfully concluded, but that it should be speedily concluded, with a view, as far as possible, to save the waste, and the sorrow, and the loss of life with which it is attended, and with a view also to prevent its being unduly protracted, and therefore exasperating the racial feelings which already exist in South Africa. I have, therefore, nothing to apologize for to my hon. friend the member for Carnarvon Boroughs or to anybody else, in voting for the words which express this in the present Amendment.
I will not follow up the observations of the right hon. Gentleman on the question of the conduct of the war. We are hardly in a position to judge—so scanty is the information given to us—of what has taken place. The right hon. Gentleman has had a controversy with my right hon. friend the member for the Forest of Dean as to the Yeomanry that were sent out. Well, I will leave that alone. But, as I am on this subject of military operations, or preparations, there is one little matter which I should like to bring before the House. I only came upon it in the course of my investigations into the recent dispatches. It is contained in a memorable after-dinner speech of the Prime Minister of the Cape, which had been embodied in the Blue-book and served up to us, I suppose, with the entire approval of His Majesty's Government. It draws attention to the fact that a remarkable transaction appears to have occurred recently in the Cape Colony a transaction of which the House and the country are, as far as I know; entirely unaware. There has been raised by the Colony a force of 18,000 white men and 558 7,000 coloured men, and they are apparently under the separate jurisdiction of the Government of the Colony. Sir Gordon Sprigg says:—Months ago we pressed strongly upon the Commander-in-Chief to hand over to us the colonial forces then under his direction. We thought that if we got them into our possession"—an odd phrase to use in regard to a part of the troops of the Crown—"not only defraying the cost of their maintenance, but taking charge of certain parts of the Colony, we could keep those districts clear of the enemy. We were continually putting that view before the Commander-in-Chief and the High Commissioner, but still the matter hung.Then Sir Gordon describes how he went with two colleagues to Pretoria, and he adds:—It has been put all over the country that we were ordered to go to Pretoria by Lord Kitchener; but so far from that being the case, it was our suggestion that we should take over the command of certain parts. We went to Pretoria to secure that object; and in that we were successful; and you know that we have taken over practically 31 districts of the Colony divided into two divisions.If anyone had been following me in this debate, I should have asked for an immediate explanation of this statement; but as it is, I hope that we shall have an explanation soon of what seems to be an extraordinary state of things. This Prime Minister of a colony is a very remarkable man, because he can suspend his own Parliament and get on quite as well without it as he did before, and at the same time he becomes a sort of Commander-in-Chief, independently of the British military authorities, over these 25,000 men. That is a state of things requiring some explanation and justification on the part of the Government.
This question of the provision of proper military measures, however, is not the most important matter before us. That to my mind, is by far the political conduct of the war, by which I mean the 559 attitude of his Majesty's Government towards the people with whom we are fighting, and the tone and spirit of our dealings with them. As my right hon. friend the member for South Aberdeen said last night, this is a most exceptional war, and not only in the nature of the warfare and the characteristics of the country. In a great European war there is a duello between the two States, and then one gets the mastery of the other; whereupon the victorious State has the grievances redressed on which the war was founded, and it exacts compensation in money and possibly in territory, But then the two States resume their former relations towards each other. In this war, however, the case is widely different. The two countries with whom we are fighting are neighbours geographically, and they are more than that. They are in an enclave in British territory. They are closely interlaced in all their public relations with us. Besides, by blood relationship and affinity they are indistinguishably commingled with our fellow-citizens in the Cape Colony; and then, to make the connexion stronger still, they have been made our fellow-citizens already by what I consider the unwisely precipitate action of the Government, so that they are an essential part of the South Afriean community and will remain so. Further, they are not a passive population. They are ardently attached to their national distinctions in habits, laws, religion and lands. These are undeniable facts; and whether we praise the Boers or lament their character and denounce them—and I think it is better not to denounce them even when we find lapses in their character, as we think—we must recognize these facts, As these men will have to live alongside of our own race, they are 560 men whom we cannot look forward to keeping down by force of arms. The strain upon us would be greater than we could bear. Do hon. gentlemen propose to keep a force of 50,000 or 100,000 men permanently in South Africa? That would be an undue, if not an impossible strain upon our resources. Besides that, we cannot in the face of the world keep down a European race by force of arms; it is contrary to our principles and to our traditions. We cannot possibly put ourselves in such a position. Now, in my opinion, this is at the root of the whole matter. These are the facts that ought to have governed our political action in the war. Fight as sternly and as vigorously as you may, but do nothing wantonly and unnecessarily to exacerbate feeling and to leave behind you the embers of hate, with the result so well described by the right hon. Gentleman who, as we know, always has said what he has said.
I wish the House for a few moments to apply this test to the question of farm-burning. We have a return that was presented to the House, giving full particulars of the burning of farms between June 1900, and January of last year. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether that return can be continued to date; I do not see any reason why it should not. We have had it for these six months, and there it stops. It is most important for us to know—for this country is responsible for all that is going on in its name—it is important for us to know whether this process of farm-burning still continues. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury the other night said that it did in cases of military necessity. If he means pure military necessity, if he means even punitive action as a protest against, and as a means of 561 punishing cases of treachery or actual opposition in arms, then one can understand it. But is there no other farm-burning, and has there been no other going on? If it has been continued after the House has almost unanimously protested against it, in the debate of December 1900, and after the assurance given that it would be stopped, or at least discountenanced, then I think we ought to be made aware of it. It is part of the general policy of devastation which was entered upon after the occupation of Pretoria.
Now, Sir, I must say a few words on this question of devastation and on the question of the camps. We are now told by the right hon. Gentleman that the necessity for the camps arose from our having to protect the wives and children of the burghers who had been compelled to rejoin the commandos. But the Government do not get much further by that explanation. Why were these burghers compelled to rejoin the commandos? Because they had taken an oath of allegiance to us or the oath of neutrality, and we had promised in the most explicit way to protect them; we were unable to protect them, and therefore it was that they, finding that powerful bodies of Boers came into their neighbourhood, were obliged to join these forces, and consequently their wives and children were left. I wish to know how many of the women and children who are in the camps are due to that process, and how many are due to our destruction. [Ministerial interruption, and Opposition cries of "Order."] I am perfectly entitled to speak on this subject, and I have a duty laid upon me to speak upon it, because I wish to say again in the House of 562 Commons anything that I may have said elsewhere. Sir, that would show the character of the camps. But the whole policy, in my opinion, was a gigantic, political blunder, driving to present despair and to future exasperation. But I am bound to say that according to the Blue-book further measures of concentration would appear to be stopped, because Lord Kitchener says—Very large numbers of women and children are still out, either in Boer camps or in their farms, andmy column commanders have orders to leave them alone, unless it is clear that they must starve if left on the veldt.But that really disposes of the argument that they would all have starved if they had not been brought into camp.
However that may be as a matter of policy, let me say a few words as to the condition of things in the camps themselves. I go back to the debate of 17th June of last year, and I take what I myself said in that debate as an ordinary instance of the sort of criticisms and suggestions that were being made to the Government at that time. I said that what I objected to, was the whole policy of concentration—the whole policy of destroying the homes of women and children, and driving them, in circumstances of considerable cruelty, but certainly of unintentional cruelty, into these camps. I said that I had not a word to use—this was in June last—implying cruelty or even indifference on the part of officers or men of the British Army. I urged that a staff of nurses and competent civilian medical men should be sent out, and I urged also that people in the camps should, where possible, be allowed to go back to their homes or to friends in the Cape Colony. Now, Sir, let us see how many of these things have been done. I am glad to say that many things have been done or are in process of being done—that many 563 doctors and nurses have been sent out, that leave has been given to certain persons to join their friends, though I am afraid the conditions render permission rather nugatory; that orders have been given to spare no expense, and that the larger camps have been thinned out or removed. But why were these reforms not sooner undertaken? This is the point which I wish to make against the administration of the Government in this matter. Why this delay of months before the nurses and civilian medical men were sent out? Why? The Government waited until the public opinion of the country was shocked at the death rate in the camps. There was no promptitude, there was not even a reasonable hurry. Lord Milner telegraphed on November 21st, although our suggestions were made on June 17th, and the Government ought to have realised the state of things long before that, and what did Lord Milner say in that telegram? He says, "Things will only be made worse by flurried action." Flurried action! Flurried action five months after we had pleaded that immediate and strenuous action should be taken! Unfortunately, the nurses and doctors came in many cases too late, and I will not give the House the proof I have of that. I am not complaining of individuals, but of the whole system which, without any provision at all adequate, swept in 100,000 people, and then for months waited on Providence until the mortality of the camps became a public scandal. In our general indictment of the Government policy—a policy which, we say, has prolonged the war—concentration, with all its mischiefs, inevitable and preventible, stands out in my judgment as an offence against civilisation as a military mistake, and as a political disaster. It arose out of that policy of undeviating miscalculation and ignorance 564 and levity which has been so conspicuous throughout. ["Oh! Oh!"] If we look for the origin of the camps we shall find it in the notion that all this country had to do was to overthrow a corrupt oligarchy, occupy the capitals and chief towns, and issue a proclamation of annexation. We may look for it in the failure to understand that love of country and of independence was deep-rooted in the hearts of the people. The moment that the Government, through Lord Roberts, proclaimed a policy of unconditional surrender, instead of making fair terms after the British successes, the campaign against the mass of the people began; and the devastation and waste of life must lie, I am sorry to say, at the door of the men who, I can well believe, did realise the consequences of what they were doing, and who completely misjudged the situation. Now, Sir, I ask could any worse course have been taken when our highest interest was to convince the enemy in the field of our kindly disposition towards them, and to build up a solid peace on the basis of mutual confidence and goodwill? The effect was, however, to provoke anger and disorder, and this was a powerful factor in prolonging the war. I will not enter into the question of martial law in the Cape Colony, because that has been so exhaustively dealt with by my right hon. friend.
Now I come to the question of the best means of arriving at a settlement. The hon. Member for Oldham spoke, in the course of his remarks to-night, of a settlement by compromise and a settlement by force, as being the alternatives. What evidence have the Goverment given that they have any policy except a policy of settlement by force? The Kitchener-Botha negotia- 565 tions ended in failure because of the vagueness of the terms offered, and because of the apparent reluctance and suspicion introduced by the alteration in the original proposals of Lord Kitchener. Except this, what other effort have the Government made to remove the impression that surrender without conditions is their object? We have heard it declared by the First Lord of the Treasury to-night, almost in so many words—because he defends unconditional surrender. He explains to us that it does not mean giving up life and property, so that he argues in favour of it, and he shows us that it is not so bad a thing as we thought. He, at least—I will not bandy words, but he was good enough to apply in an interrogatory way the word "honesty" to his opponents on this side; I will not use the word honesty, but he has the candour to admit that unconditional surrender is the object which the Government have in view.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
When the right hon. Gentlemen explained and defended unconditional surrender, he was, I suppose, explaining and defending something of which he approved himself.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
The right hon. Gentleman may object to it, and the Colonial Secretary repudiate it, but the thing remains. The thing remains in the spirit and the temper with which his dealings with the two States are saturated. The Colonial Secretary 566 also objects to the use of the word extermination. The object of the Government is not, he says, to exterminate the Beer in the sense of destroying men, women and children among them. No one means that. But there is something short of that which will still come under the general name of extermination—not the removal of them from the face of the earth, but to obliterate them and reduce them and deprive them of their national identity. This is the old spirit of race ascendency, the old spirit which, wherever it has been applied in the experience of the world, has brought serious and deadly evils with it. This is what the world at large discerns in the recent policy, which was the policy of His Majesty's Government from the first, and I fear in the face of the facts it will not be easy to disown it. A great part of the controversy as to the possibility of negotiations turns, as right hon. Gentleman says, on phrases and matters of form. Does it matter what particular form a negotiation takes if the spirit is there? The right hon. Gentleman says they must have some Government in existence, that they cannot deal with separate commanders, and they must have someone who will be answerable to them. But the Colonial Secretary admitted that that was a formal argument, and that in the end it would always be possible to find some authority. And, again, as to whether we make overtures. Two questions go to the root of this matter. Are the Government of this country honestly deSIRous to make peace—a generous and magnanimous peace, but not the less on that account a safe and a solid peace—by way of negotiation? The second question is quite as important—Are the Boers on their part anxious for a similar result? That is a question that we cannot answer. We in this 567 country have no control over them and no responsibility for them. We can only conjecture by our own conception of what we should do in their case. On the first question whether we have that desire we are our own masters; and my firm belief is that the great majority of the people of this country are in favour of such a peace. Why then should we not make our disposition known? Nothing but this will bring about that speedy close of the war which we all desire. Nothing but this will lay the basis of future security and prosperity in South Africa. No reinforcements that could be sent, no skill, no energy on the part of your military leaders, no irritating proclamations, no severities, no force will forward the cause of peace
§ and strengthen the interests of the Empire so much, or anything like in the same degree, as the simple announcement of your generous intentions. The gravest error, in our opinion, in the conduct of the Government and in their attitude at the present moment is that their spirit and conduct are running counter to such intentions. It is on that ground that we have felt it to be a high duty to move this Amendment as a protest against the policy of the Government.
§ Question put.
§ (11.52). The House divided:—Ayes, 123; Noes, 333. (Division List No. 5.)571
|Abraham, Wm. (Rhondda)||Grant, Corrie||Norman, Henry|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Norton, Captain Cecil Wm.|
|Allen, Chas. P (Glouc., Stroud||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Asher, Alexander||Harwood, George||Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hayter, Rt. Hon Sir Arthur D.||Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Helme, Norval Watson||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Bayley, Thos. (Derbyshire)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Price, Robert John|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Holland, William Henry||Rea, Russell|
|Black, Alexander William||Horniman, Frederick John||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Reid, Sir R. T. (Dumfries)|
|Brigg, John||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jacoby, James Alfred||Rigg, Richard|
|Brown, Geo. M. (Edinburgh)||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Bryce, Right Hon. James||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. H. Sir U.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Burt, Thomas||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kitson, Sir James||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Caine, William Sproston||Lambert, George||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Caldwell, James||Langley, Batty||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Spencer, Rt. H. C. R. (Northants|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Leng, Sir John||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Levy, Maurice||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Crombie, John William||Lewis, John Herbert||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, I|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lough, Thomas||Thomas, Alf. (Glamorgan, E.|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Crae, George||Thomson, F. W. (York, W.R.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||M'Kenna, Reginald||Tomkinson, James|
|Edwards, Frank||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Ellis, John Edward||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Ure, Alexander|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Markham, Arthur Basil||Wallace, Robert|
|Fenwick, Charles||Mellor, Rt. Hn. John William||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Morley, Rt. Hn. J. (Montrose)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Morton, Edw. S. C. (Devonport)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Moulton, John Fletcher||Whiteley, George (York W.R.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Newnes, Sir George||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Whittaker, Thomas Palmer||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Hud'f'd.||Mr Herbert Gladstone and Mr M'Arthur.|
|Wilson, F. W. (Norfolk, Mid.)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Cranborne, Viscount||Halsey, Thomas Frederick|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cripps, Charles Alrfed||Hambro, Charles Eric|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hamilton, Rt. H. Lord G. (Mi'd'x|
|Aird, Sir John||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nde'ry|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Crossley, Sir Savile||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm.|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'rd|
|Arrol, Sir William||Cust, Henry John C.||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dalkeith, Earl of||Harris, Frederick Leverton|
|Austin, Sir John||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Davenport, William Bromley-||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Davies, Sir Hor. D (Chatham)||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Denny, Colonel||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley|
|Balcarres, Lord||Dewar, T. R. (T'rH'ml'ts, S. Geo.||Heath, James (Staffords, N. W.|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Dickson, Charles Scott||Helder, Augustus|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r.)||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Henderson, Alexander|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Ger. W. (Leeds)||Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield||Hickman, Sir Alfred|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Higginbottom, S. W.|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred. D.||Hoare, Sir Samuel|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Hobhouse, H. (Somerset, E).|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. Hicks||Doughty, George||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, B'side).|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Horner, Frederick William|
|Bignold, Arthur||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Hoult, Joseph|
|Bigwood, James||Duke, Henry Edward||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Howard, J. (Kent, Faversham|
|Bond, Edward||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Howard, J. (Midd, Tottenham|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Hozier, Hon. J. H. C.|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)||Hutton, J. (Yorks. N. R.)|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)||Fardell, Sir T. George||Jackson, Rt. Hon. W. Lawies|
|Brassey, Albert||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St John||Fergusson, Rt. H. SIR J. (Manc'r.||Jessel, Capt. H. Merton|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Finch, George H.||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Brown, Alexander H. (Shrops.)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne)||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.|
|Bull, William James||Fisher, William Hayes||Kenyon, Hon. G. T. (Denbigh|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Fison, Frederick William||Kenyon-Slane,y Col. W. (Salop|
|Butcher, John George||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Keswick, William|
|Campbell, Rt. H. J. A. (Glasgow||Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Kimber, Henry|
|Carlile, William Walter||Flower, Ernest||King, Sir H. Seymour|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Forster, Henry William||Knowles, Lees|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Foster, Sir Mich. (Lond. Univ,)||Lambton, Hon. F. W.|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.)||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbys.)||Galloway, William Johnson||Law, Andrew Bonar|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Gardner, Ernest||Lawrence, J. (Monmouth)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Garfit, William||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lon.||Lawson, John Grant|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (S. Albans.||Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Chapman, Edward||Gordon, Maj. Evans-(T'rH'mlts||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Charrington, Spencer||Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby (Salop||Leigh-Bennett, H. C.|
|Churchhill, Winston Spencer||Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.||Leveson-Gower, F. N. S.|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Gorst, Rt. H. Sir John Eldon||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Coddington, Sir William||Green, Walf'rd D. (Wednesbury||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Bristol, S.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Grenfell, William Henry||Lowe, Francis William|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Gretton, John||Lowther, Rt. Hon. J. (Kent)|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Groves, James Grimble||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Lucas, Col. F. (Lowestoft)|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Gunter, Sir Robert||Lucas, R. J. (Portsmouth)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Guthrie, Walter Murray||Lyttleton, Hon. Alfred|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Hain, Edward||Macartney, Rt. Hon. W. G. E.|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Plummer, Walter R.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Pretyman, Ernest George||Stock, James Henry|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. E.||Stone, Sir Beniamin|
|M'Calmont, Col. H. L. B. (Cmbs||Purvis, Robert||Stroyan, John|
|M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.||Pym, C. Guy||Strutt, Hon. C. H.|
|M'Killop, J. (Stirlingshire)||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Sturt, Hon. H. Napier|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Randles, John S.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Manners, Lord Cecil||Rasch, Major F. Carne||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Ox. Un.|
|Maple, Sir John Blundell||Ratcliff, R. F.||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Rattigan, Sir W. H.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F||Reid, James (Greenock)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir H. E. Wig'n||Remnant, J. Farquharson||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Maxwell, W. J. H. (D'frieshire||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Maysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Renwick, George||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Ridley, Hn M. W. (Stalybridge||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Ridley, S. F. (Bethnal Green)||Valentia, Viscount,|
|Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Richie, Rt. Hon. C. T.||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H. (S'field|
|Milton, Viscount||Robertson, H. (Hackney)||Vincent, Sir E. (Exeter)|
|Mitchell, William||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Walker, Col. W. H.|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Ropner, Col. Robert||Warde, Col. C. E.|
|Moutague, G. (Huntingdon)||Rothschild, Hon. L. W.||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Montague, Hn. J. Scott (Hants||Round, James||Wason, J. C. (Orkney)|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (T'nton|
|Moore, William (Antrim, N).||Rutherford, John||Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts)|
|More, Robert J. (Shropshire)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. L.|
|Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Sadler, Col. S. Alexander||Whiteley, H. (A'ton und. Lyne|
|Morgan, H. F. (Monm'thsh)||Samuel, H. S (Limehouse)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Morrison. James Archibald||Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. Myles||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Willoughby, de Eresby, Lord|
|Mowbray, Sir R. Gray C.||Saunderson, Rt. Hn Col. E. J.||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Muntz, Philip A.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.||Wilson, A. S. (York, E. R.)|
|Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute||Seely, Capt. J. E. B. (I. of W.||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry||Seton-Carr, Henry||Wilson, J. W. (Worcester, N.|
|Myers, William Henry||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Newdigate, Francis A.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (R'frew||Wodehouse,Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Worsley-Taylor, H. W.|
|Nichol, Donald Ninian||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. O. B. Stuart|
|O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Wylie, Alexander|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Smith, A. H. (Hereford, East||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Smith, J. P. (Lanarks)||Wyndham-Quinn, Major W. H.|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Smith, Hon W. F. D. (Strand||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Pease, H. P. (Darlington)||Spear, John Ward||TELLERS FOR THE NOES,—|
|Peel, H. W. R. W.||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Penn, John||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Percy, Earl||Stanley, E. J. (Somerset)|
|Pilkington, Lieut.-Col. R.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs)|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
§ Main Question again proposed: Debate arising;
§ It being after Midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.572
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow.
§ Adjourned at five minutes after Twelve o'clock.