§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £27,750, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1905, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, including a Grant-in-Aid of certain Expenses connected with Emigration."
§ SIR ROBERT REID
, continuing his speech, said he wished to refer to some matters which had not been discussed at all this session, and which were hardly discussed last year, but which at the same time were of vital importance. He could not help thinking that it was a commentary on the Downing Street method of Colonial government that, whilst there had been some four discussions this session on this subject, the important matters to which he was about to refer had not been dealt with. He was glad the Colonial Secretary had acknowledged the great devastation in the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal as the result of the war, because it was good that the people of this country for good or for ill should appreciate what had been the result of the war in South Africa. It was quite clear not only from what the Colonial Secretary had said, but also from what Lord Milner and other officials in South Africa had stated repeatedly in the Blue-books, that the country was a wilderness devoid of crops, of stock, of population, and to a large extent of habitable dwellings, whilst the native live stock had been nearly exterminated. That was the state of things which resulted from the war. During the progress of the war it was quite obvious the public were wholly deceived, 852 because hon. Members who took an interest in the subject at the time would recall the fact that information was asked for as to the number of houses destroyed, and a Return was given showing 6C0 houses or thereabouts, to each of which an explanation was attached giving the reasons why it was destroyed. The real fact was, however, that the greater part of the habitations in both colonies were destroyed. The fault was not with the military. It was even possible to think that if the policy of devastation had not been pursued the war might never have been brought to an end. The fault was not with the military, but with the authors of the war, at whose door must be laid the whole responsibility for this devastation. The duty to repair the ravages of the war, to rebuild, and to repatriate a multitude of people destitute of everything, had been, he was glad to say, acknowledged by the Government, and he regarded that with particular satisfaction. He thought this country was fully entitled to the credit of having exercised great humanity and great generosity in re-establishing those colonies after the war. That credit, humanity, and generosity was, in his opinion, one of our most valuable assets, and one which could not be taken from us. He had, however, found it extremely difficult to ascertain what the money was that had been spent upon it. From the various Estimates and Supplementary Estimates it would be seen that a great deal of money had been voted for this purpose during the past two years, and although the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary had endeavoured to assist him, the Return he had been good enough to make showed that the Colonial Office itself was not aware of what money had been spent, but so far as he could make out a sum of £20,145,000 had been paid by this country in two years since the conclusion of the war in respect of repatriation, compensation, and other matters. There was also a sum of £5,800,000 taken from the loan and applied in the same way, making a total of £26,000,000. The position appeared to be that these two colonies had been living on this country since the war, and that the expenditure was not to be found stated collectively. It was this money which had kept the two colonies from a 853 state of absolute financial destitution. Much, however, remained to be done.
One particular matter to which he wished to refer was the way in which military receipts had been dealt with. During the war receipts were signed by officers for goods supplied, and the Colonial Secretary very properly said that those receipts should be as good as English bank notes. From the information he received there was a great complaint that those receipts had not been good and that treatment of them had not been in accordance with the promise given by the Colonial Secretary. He could not help thinking that the utmost diligence ought to be observed in meeting those most sacred obligations. The Colonial Secretary also stated that the widows and orphans left by the late war should be compassionately dealt with and in his opinion the promise should be liberally and generously carried out. Generosity would be remembered in times to come and nobody could say how soon we should reap the benefit. The relations between the Boers and the natives also required to be considered, of course no one wanted the Boers or any civil population to be armed with rifles, but there ought to be sufficient rifles and ammunition distributed to enable the Boers to protect and defend themselves from the natives.
Another question to which he wished to draw attention was the land settlement. The policy of the Government was to settle upon the land many of those who went out to fight. He found that 1,135 settlers in all had been placed upon the land in the Transvaal and the Orange Colony, at a cost of £878,000. In addition to that there was a sum of £580,000 expended on land purchased which was as yet unallotted. What he wished to know was how many of those settlers were still there, because he had been informed that in many cases the settlers had not remained. In one case 120 settlers were established at Willow's Park and none of them were there now, whilst in another case out of fifty settlers only six were left. He would like to know how the right hon. Gentleman could reconcile the figures he had given, which totalled up to £1,400,000, and those which appeared in another part of the Blue-book, where it said that 854 £2,000,000 had been spent out of the guaranteed loan. What in fact was the true cost. He himself had had considerable experience in dealing with complicated add muddled figures, and from his experience he defied the hon. Gentleman to say that he understood the figures. It could not be done. He asked whether it was the case that the distribution of the Compensation Fund had cost £1,750,000 sterling, and, if so, what was the explanation of this extravagance. Under the Peace Preservation Ordinance, which established pure autocracy in the Transvaal, 600 persons had been removed from the country within the last eighteen months. What was the reason for keeping permanent this Ordinance, which was brought in as a temporary measure and how long was it going to be maintained? Dealing with the financial situation, he said he desired to point out that there had been a complete breakdown of the agreement made between the late Colonial Secretary and divers persons in the Transvaal a year ago. The profit tax was applied in such a way as to yield but a very small proportion of what was expected. The £35,000,000 loan had been duly guaranteed by this country, but we had not yet received the first instalment of the £30,000,000 promised on behalf of the Transvaal towards the war debt. He was not surprised, though he imputed no blame to the Colonial Secretary, and should in all probability have acted in the same way had he been in the right hon. Gentleman's place. It was obvious that a population of 400,000 could not take on their shoulders a burden of £65,000,000 sterling. The Government were perfectly right in not trying to enforce this shop-window agreement it against a population quite unable to meet the obligation. He did not believe there was any chance of our getting a single sovereign of the £30,000,000. He only hoped we should not find ourselves bound to meet the £30,000,000 which we had guaranteed.
He turned to the annual revenue and expenditure account of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony, and this subject was made more difficult by the fact that there were three separate accounts to be dealt with. There was the Transvaal Revenue Account, the Orange Colony Account, and the 855 Intercolonial Budget, and the figures were shuffled fron one account to another in a manner which was most confusing. There had been three stages during the past twelve months of this business. The first was in the summer of the previous year, 1903, when they had speeches from the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, the then Colonial Secretary, drawing pictures of tae most glowing kind of the Transvaal finances, that was just before the issue of the £35,000,000 loan. Then the loan was issued and then came the winter of 1903–4, the winter of our discontent." Lord Milner took a gloomy view, and misery and despair settled over the Transvaal until the Ordinance was passed, when all grief disappeared, and now before a single Chinaman had set his foot in South Africa everything was right again and everybody had the fullest confidence in the finances of the colonies. The annual expenditure account showed some strange miscalculations. The estimate of the profits of the gold tax was £450,000; the reality was £116,000. The estimate of the receipt from railways was £2,150,000; the reality was £1,400,000. There was another curious figure. The gentlemen who made the estimate on which the guaranteed loan was issued forgot altogether the cost of issue. The cost of issue which was not provided for was £378,000. There had been a serious miscalculation in regard to railway works. On railway works on existing lines the cost was greater than was anticipated, and the receipts were less in the past year, the total loss being £668,000. These figures taken together amounted to a very large proportion of the revenue of the Transvaal. There were other miscalculations which he had not time to go into. He did not think the accuracy of what he had said would be disputed. The accounts at the end, however, came out wonderfully square. How was that accounted for? It was difficult to find out from the books, but he thought he could trace something. In the first place there was a saving of £200,000 on £5,000,000 not advanced, and another saving on the constabulary charge which was reduced. The first item of the guaranteed loan they were asked to vote last year was £1,500,000. That was to meet the deficit of the year 1901–2. They were asked to vote that in the 856 latter half of 1903. The year for which the money was wanted had been over more than twelve months, and the deficit was not £1,500,000, but only £542,000. The result was that there was a balance of £958,000 which was diverted from the purpose for which it was originally voted by this House and appropriated to this or that in one way or another. If he was wrong he would be very glad to be corrected.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
My hon. and learned friend is not quite accurate in saying it was appropriated to purposes not authorised by this House. If he will look at the Act of Parliament he will see that there is power there expressly to devote such portions of money which are appropriated to certain purposes to ether purposes.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said he was very much obliged to the Colonial Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman gave his sanction to what he called the diversion. There was a despatch from the Colonial Secretary giving his consent. He was not saying that it was done illegally. He was dealing with the financial aspect of the question. Could anybody conceive that people dealing with finance could have made in July, 1903, such a mistake about the deficit of the year ending June, 1902? The thing was absolutely incredible, and it was not explained in the Blue-book. In connection with the guaranteed loan, the sum of £5,000,000 was provided for new railways. Would the Colonial Secretary be good enough to tell the Committee whether any of that money had been spent on new railways at all? He knew that about £2,000,000 had been spent on material and rolling stock, but he rather thought that there was very little, if any, new railway constructed at all. Of that £5,000,000, £700,000 was diverted from new construction, and applied to what was called capital expenditure. It was not capital expenditure. It was revenue expenditure absolutely. The colony of Natal had paid the sum of £788,000 for the ceding of territory and railway by the Transvaal. He wished to know whether that sum had been used for the purposes of the Transvaal, or was it still in the coffers of that colony? He found from these 857 Papers that, quite, apart from the guaranteed loan recently raised, the Transvaal had been borrowing on short loans. He wished to knew the extent to which that had gone on, and the rate of interest paid for the loans. He calculated that of the guaranteed loan of £30,000,000 not more than half had been spent productively. That being the state of things, South Africa threatened to be a gulf into which the treasure of this country would be squandered unless this House interfered. It was time to return to Lord Rosmead's doctrine that you could not govern South Africa without the good will of the Dutch, who were an increasing majority. They must grant representative government, if not complete, at all events substantial. If the war had been a blessing Lord Milner had been indeed blest. He was the chief author of it. In his opinion, that very fact, quite apart from all other reasons, made him a man who was not fit to lay the basis of a true peace. The course he suggested was not free from danger, but it was the lesser of two dangers. If a course of that kind were not adopted he believed that our position in South Africa was nearing its end.
§ MR. JOHN STROYAN (Perthshire, W.)
said he thought they might be perfectly well satisfied with the speech of the Colonial Secretary. It was a most able speech characterised by full knowledge of a situation in regard to which there was much ignorance and misrepresentation. Some very extraordinary arguments had been brought forward in the course of the debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton had referred to certain shares which were originally £1, and which were to-day £17 each. Personally he did not know the shares to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. It would be very hard, however, if in a speculative business like mining those who took all the risks were to be refused the plums which turned up now and again. When the hon. and learned Member for the Dumfries Burghs was speaking he interjected a remark as to the reasons which caused the people of the Transvaal to alter their minds with regard to Chinese labour. The hon. and learned Member resented the inter- 858 ruption. He had great respect for the hon. and learned Member, and he should be sorry if he thought he meant more than an ordinary interruption. The people who originally objected to Chinese labour were undoubtedly the working men; they objected to it because they still hoped that there would be an ample supply of Kaffir labour which they had been accustomed to. But they became fully aware after the sitting of the Commission, and from other sources, that that was impossible. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire stated in 1901 that there would be a scarcity of native labour and that in consequence there would not be adequate employment for white men. He thought it had been clearly shown that the regulations under which the Chinese were to be imported were such as would give protection to white working men against undue competition.
There was just one fallacy he should like to correct, and that was that the white working man was not capable of protecting himself against the capitalists. He had had a long and intimate experience of the working men of the Transvaal, and to say that they were not capable of taking care of themselves was to betray utter ignorance of the qualities of men, many of whom had been bred north of the Tweed. The available Indian coolie was physically unfit, in his opinion, for hard work in the mines and standing the rigours of the winter. They had heard a great deal of the standard wages. They were told that the average wage at the present time was 50s. on the surface, and 60s. underground. That was the high-water mark standard at a time when there was a great demand for native labour and a great scarcity of the article. That was subservient altogether to the great issue in regard to the development of the agriculture of the country. Before the days of gold-mining the native labourer was paid 10s. to 15s., and all found. But when the demand for native labour grew up on the Rand wages rose to 50s. or 60s., which, as he had said, was the high-water mark. This meant that a farmer could not pay the wage, and grow crops profitably. The result was that flour and everything else was imported into the Transvaal, though it ought to be grown 859 in the country itself. He knew Kimberley before the days of the amalgamation, and he could state that the mines were worked by black men but there was a very much larger percentage of white men supervising them than was the case in the gold mines. The "boys" had to be carefully watched when they were picking. With regard to the course taken by the British population of the Transvaal in the war he would point out that as a matter of fact these much sneered-at men, the members of the Reform Committee, who were blamed for bringing on the war, went down to Natal, joined the British forces, and did as excellent service as any body of men during the war.
§ * MR. BOLAND (Kerry, S.)
said he made no apology for turning from the discussion of Chinese labour in the Transvaal in order to open a subject which during the past four years he had frequently brought to the notice of the House on this Vote and on other occasions. Malta, under English administration, had now become the choicest example of despotic rule. He desired to state frankly that it was the gallant fight Made for the retention of Italian as the language of culture and literature in the island that first compelled his attention. But events had marched rapidly in these four years. The struggle in Malta now was not merely for a language; it was for legitimate freedom as against despotism. Constitutional government there had, at its best, been nugatory; now it simply did not exist. The present Colonial Secretary had been less than a year in office. He had not yet shown an inclination to depart from the mistaken policy of his predecessor. He availed himself of this opportunity, therefore, to expose at their true value the contentions on which that policy was based, and to submit to the right hon. Gentleman the considerations which should lead him to better and more statesmanlike paths.
Let him first deal briefly with the figures, on which it was contended that the Maltese people preferred English to Italian as the secondary language. And here let him remove a possible misconception. He recognised fully that the home language of the islanders was Maltese, with its 75 per cent. of Arabic words and its 20 per cent. of Italian. 860 The point at issue was whether English was to supersede the position held by Italian as the language of culture and literature, and whether this attempted Anglicisation of the people was to be justified by its probable national or commercial results. Hon. Members were aware that the ex-Colonial Secretary based his principal contention on the ground that the parents of the school-going children had asked for English as against Italian. He brushed aside as of no consequence the fact that, election after election, representatives were returned to the Council without contest, and that the retention of Italian was a principal plank in their platform. As to the value to be placed on those schools' returns he should have something to say. In the first place, the census of 1901 disclosed the fact that only about 16,400 children of school age were attending school—in other words, only 36.4 per cent. In the second place, these returns dealt only with Government schools. It was important to note that there were 2,248 attending non-Government schools, children of the class to whom, as he should show, Italian was necessary. In the third place, this system of percentages ignored the natural divisions of the population. He had been at some trouble to investigate the conditions of the thirty districts into which Malta was divided for these school returns, and he hid no hesitation in saying that out of the thirty no less than twenty-two were rural districts in which the Maltese language was, for all practical purposes, the only one used. A glance at the figures of these districts would show that the children rarely attended after the second, or, at most, the third standard. It was calculated that fully 90,000 out of the total population of 180,000 native Maltese lived in these districts. The amount of English that could be learnt by a child whilst attending the first and second standard was almost a negligible quantity, for they had first to be instructed in their own language, the Maltese. To the parents in these twenty-two districts, therefore, the choice of English or Italian was immaterial. But was it immaterial to the teachers? These were Civil servants. The word had gone forth that English was to take the place of Italian in the island. He did not press the matter 861 further than that. As a matter of fact, Italian was the more useful as a secondary language to this class, for in their dealings with owners of property they required Italian, in which language receipts were given, and when they emigrated it was more useful than English. Moreover, in legal disputes it was Italian that was necessary.
Now, as regarded the rest of the population, 32,000 might be said to constitute the upper classes, to whom Italian was essential and English an accomplishment. The great majority of their children were in non-Government schools and had not been taken into account in this policy based on Government school percentages. Then there were about 40,000 of the artisan class whose language was Maltese, but to whom he was prepared to admit English was more useful than Italian by reason of their occasional employment in connection with military and naval works. Finally, there were about 15,000 connected with trade, to whom both languages were useful, Italian in a greater degree than English. To sum up, the contention based on Mr. Magro's percentages was misleading, because non-Government schools were not included; the high average in favour of English as against Italian was obtained by including districts in which half the population lived whose children rarely got beyond the second or third standard in school, and to whom it was therefore immaterial which language they chose, whilst the teachers were deeply interested in their asking for English. A quarter of the remaining population found Italian necessary, the remaining quarter English the more useful. On these facts he should like to observe that neither the Maltese people nor their representatives had opposed the teaching of English. They were in favour of its being taught where it was of value, but they were strongly and rightly opposed to the pushing of the Colonial Office in seeking to supersede the Italian language. That policy was apparent for many years. It culminated in the proclamation of 1899, in which it was laid down that English should be the language of the Courts after fifteen years. It was here that the ex-Colonial Secretary saw that he had gone too far, and withdrew the proclamation after an Amendment to the 862 Address was moved in the House in January, 1902. That withdrawal was made, as the House would remember, not as an act of justice to the Maltese, but on the ground that Italy had been offended. Did such a withdrawal satisfy the Maltese? Did it indicate a return to a saner policy? He maintained that the public opinion of Malta had been justified in the view it took of the action of the Colonial Office. These figures were still trotted out and the attempts at Anglicisation continued.
Before he dealt with the despotic nature of the present Government of Malta he wished to deal with the commercial aspect of this language question. It was beyond contest that the British trade with Malta was very small in comparison with the volume of trade between the island and Italy and other Mediterranean countries. The average import trade of the five years 1897 to 1902 showed that from the United Kingdom and the British colonies together there came only 1E500,000 of imported goods. The foreign imports during the same period showed an average of £8,500,000. Now, for trade with all the Mediterranean countries Italian was a necessary language. A know ledge of English was necessary for dealings with the garrison, the Navy, English visitors, and the small volume of English trade. Let him take another aspect of the case. For a teeming population such as that of Malta, emigration was necessary and healthy, as in the case of all surplus populations. Of the 34,000 Maltese to be found in countries bordering on the Mediterranean, the total in British colonies was 700, of whom 61i1 were in Gibraltar. But in Tunis Regency there were 15,000, in Algeria 5,000. In these Italian, or should he say the Lingua Franca, was undoubtedly more useful than English. But of course the Maltese language itself, with its proporton of 75 per cent of Arabic, was the real passport to success, and the positions occupied by the Maltese in these districts was proof of their capacity. Turkey and Greece absorbed between three and four thousand. There remained Egypt with 6,500 Maltese out of a total of 14,000 British subjects. He had yet to learn that English was the language of that country or that the international Courts were to be superseded. Here again it was the Maltese language 863 itself that was of most value to emigrants, and Italian, or the Lingua Franca, that was next in point of usefulness. Now, it was precisely from the rural parts of Malta, embracing half of the entire population, that the bulk of the emigration took place, a fact to be borne in mind when these school percentages were trotted out for Anglicisation purposes.
He now came to the last count in his indictment. The English Government had endeavoured to thwart the wishes of the Maltese people, as shown in election after dection, by imposing a despotic form of Government. What that meant in South Africa had been shown earlier in the discussion that day. In the course of last year they deprived the Maltese of the Constitution, poor thing as it was in reality, by reason of the Orders in Council, which they had had since 1887. They gave the official members a permanent majority. Seven times since last July there had been general elections in Malta. Not a single seat had been contested. In the whole of Malta they could not find a single man to stand as a representative of their policy. What, then, became of their contention that the English Government, and not the elected members, represented the wishes of the Maltese? The ex-Colonial Minister was accustomed to state that the Maltese took no interest in the elections; that the electorate consisted only of 10,000, and but few exercised their franchise rights. If there was no tariff reformer found to fight a free-trade seat, was that a proof that tariff reform represented the wishes of the people of England? Ordinary people would deduce the contrary conclusion, but possibly the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham hoped to establish his peculiar theory before long. Was the present Colonial Secretary of the same mind with regard to Malta as his predecessor on this point? If not, let him find a Government candidate and test the opinion of Malta. They complained of a small electorate, but had they ever broached the idea of enlarging the franchise? They named official members to act on the Council, knowing full well that they dared not express the least disagreement with the Governor or the Chief Secretary. Was it any wonder that the elected members resigned in a body after each election and refused 864 to be parties to a farcical form of government? If they took their seats they would be outvoted on every point by the official members, who had no minds or souls of their own, but must vote as one man. But if the Colonial Office had blundered in its administration of Malta, what was to be said of a Governor who was guilty of a wanton misstatement of an historical fact? Writing to the Colonial Secretary on January 21st, 1904 (page 33 of the latest Malta correspondence), Sir Charles Clarke said—There is nothing in the letter which has not been written and said many times before, including the unfounded statement that the Maltese spontaneously placed themselves under the protection of Great Britain.And further on, in the same letter, he sneered at the "so-called representatives." Now this was either a deliberate or an ignorant attempt to dispose of an historical fact. He should not appeal to history. He merely referred lion. Members to the speech of the ex-Colonial Secretary on 28th January, 1902, when he withdrew his ill-advised Proclamation. At page 1186, vol. 101 of Hansard, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said—They (the Maltese) are proud of the fact that they were incorporated in the British Empire at their own request and not by conquest.And with greater emphasis he restated the facts at page 1189—What are the terms, then, which the Maltese made with Great Britain when they voluntarily entered the British Empire? They were not terms of surrender, it is perfectly true; we did not conquer the Maltese, we were fighting side by side with them, but we were never fighting against them. It was not a conquest, it was a cession by the representative authorities of the Maltese.And yet the Governor now spoke of—The unfounded statement that the Maltese spontaneously placed themselves under the protection of Great Britain.That expression had deeply wounded a high-spirited arid sensitive people. Had the Colonial Secretary repaired that insult yet? If not, he invited him to do so that night. If this had happened in Australia or Canada he should not give much for that Governor's further tenure of office. But the Colonial Secretary had to do more that night. In reply to a 865 Question of his on 31st May, he stated that—The run upon the savings bank in Malta which was met without any difficulty whatever by the Government was not due to the cause suggested by the hon. Member, but to articles in the local Press deliberately calculated to have that effect.He would restate the facts briefly. The balance-sheet for the preceding eleven months was issued on the 29th February. It was there stated that the investments in Imperial and Colonial Funds amounted to £709,999. The only reserve funds on the other side of the account amounted in all to close on £24,000. Malta, the national paper, pointed out that sufficient allowance was not made for depreciation. This was confirmed in a reply to a subsequent Question put by him to the Colonial Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that the market value of these securities on that day was less by over £59,000. Moreover, these investments were placed at their cost price and not even at their nominal value, which he admitted was less by £27,000. To meet this depreciation of £59,000 there were only reserve funds amounting to £24,000. By taking these investments at their cost price the balance-sheet was made to show a surplus of £47,000 to be carried down to the Treasury account. If ever there were a balance-sheet that called for criticism, it was this. Remember this was a despotic Government. There were no representatives of the people to challenge the figures at a Council meeting, and he contended that the Press only did its duty in calling attention to a faulty balance-sheet. Subsequent replies, with which bon. Members were familiar, had not improved the position of the Colonial Secretary, acting of course on information received from Maltese official sources. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the balance-sheet was accompanied by other statements, and that on examination it would be found that the Government of Malta had to its credit the additional sum of nearly £68,000. He was still convinced that the arithmetical calculations of the right hon. Gentleman's advisers were wrong, for, in arriving at this total, allowance was not made for items of expenditure and advances amounting to over £25,000. But, in any case, sufficient confirmation of the justice of the Press criticisms was found in the fact that the Council had within the last 866 few weeks placed an additional sum of £20,000 to the reserve fund. He only cited this matter as a proof of the despotism now rampant in Malta. Civil rights were being entirely superseded in the interest of naval and military control. Public meetings were only allowed to be held at a considerable distance from the principal centres of population. It was just as if the English Government decreed that meetings of the citizens of London should be held on Ealing Common and not in Hyde Park. If he were an English Member of that House, he would say, what was the value of Malta to England as a naval station if they deliberately estranged the people? Yet that was what their policy would eventuate in. Why not face the facts baldly? Let them give up their attempted policy of Anglicisation in the matter of the language question; give the people reasonable control of their local affairs; separate, as they could very well do, Imperial from local interests, and they would observe, in spirit as in the letter, that voluntary cession by which a small but high-spirited people came into the Empire.
* MAJOR SEELY
said he trusted the Committee would pardon him if he called attention for a few minutes to the question raised by the right hon. and learned Member for Dumfries. He believed it to be true that since the war ended between £20,000,000 and £30,000,000 had been expended by this country in South Africa. The point which he asked the Committee to consider was whether we were really getting the kind of country we wanted in South Africa in return for this immense expenditure that was now going on, and which for a great part must be continued. He would say, with great respect, that we were not building up such a State there as we should wish to see established, at any rate in some important particulars. It seemed to him that we should do four things. The first was that we must be generous—it was a small matter financially, though a great matter for the future of the country—in the matter of repayment of the amounts due for damage done to property. He thought we should do wisely if we altogether abandoned the rule refereed to by the hon. and learned Member for 867 Dumfries in regard to military receipts, namely, that the fact of having been on commando should be any bar to recovery of money. The second was that we must realise, which we were not doing, that we did not hold the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony in the remotest degree by the actual military force that we kept there. It was altogether to misunderstand the facts to think that we held those colonies by the garrison at present there. How far it might be necessary on account of native troubles, and how far those native troubles might be accentuated by the proposal to introduce an alien race who would undercut the wages of the natives, he did not know; but that this garrison should be maintained for the purpose of keeping the Boers in order was ridiculous. He knew the Boers well, and he was certain that they were now the last people in the world to misunderstand the determination of this country; a garrison of 25,000 men more or less had no real bearing on possible military operations—another war would again demand from a quarter to a third of a million of men, and 20,000 men more or less were of comparatively little moment in this matter. It was as well to state these facts frankly.
The third thing was that we must do nothing in the country which was not consonant with the highest ideas of British justice. That we were not doing, because there could be no doubt that we were actually running counter not only to the principles of British justice, but to the principles of British law. So much so that, in the endeavour to transport these Chinese labourers into the Transvaal, it had been necessary, unless he had been misinformed, for the Government of Natal to pass special legislation to enable them to get the semi-slaves—frankly he called them so—for that was what they were in the eye of the law—into the neighbouring colony. The power to deprive them of their liberty was not inherent in the colony of Natal, because it was not inherent either by the common law of England, or by the Roman-Dutch law which prevailed in Natal and the other colonies in South Africa. The contract which the Chinaman voluntary signed could not be enforced in any English-speaking colony. That he asserted with out fear of contradiction. And if that were so, surely it was not an undue straining of language to say that they were 868 introducing semi-slavery, or modified liberty—he did not care which it was called—into this new country. And when they did that, they did a thing which was, which must be wrong, and which no necessity could possible excuse. If there was a shortage of labour and if white men could not work the mines entirely, which was, of course, more or less true, the truth being that while some mines could be worked by white labour only, others could not, even so no amount of necessity could justify our departing from the high principles which had been laid down by the English law by countless decisions, and which had never been called in question until this legislation had been sanctioned. They had introduced a power by which a man might part with his liberty, which the English common law and the Roman-Dutch law did not permit. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham himself confessed that the Indian Government would not permit their inhabitants to subject themselves to the terms of this Ordinance and deprive themselves of the rights which were consonant with British citizenship. Even the financial necessity seemed to have disappeared since the Ordinance had been passed.
One other thing they must do in addition to those he had already stated. They must keep faith; they must do that which they had promised to perform. Solemnly, on behalf of this country, as the responsible Minister, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had laid it down as a principle that the introduction of Asiatic labour should not be sanctioned until the great majority—these were his actual words—of the inhabitants of both States had been clearly ascertained to be in favour of such importations. Now, had the views of the great majority of the inhabitants of both States been ascertained on the point? They did not know what the Englishmen in the Transvaal thought about it. That must remain uncertain. A petition had undoubtedly been promoted by private individuals. Whether it was entirely bona fide was immaterial; but it had not been scrutinised, and was therefore not serious evidence. He himself believed, from information which came to him, that the majority of the English inhabitants 869 of the two States were opposed to this importation of Chinese labour. But what about the opinion of the other half of the white people in the two States, the Dutchmen, to whom the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham appealed with so much force and effect when he was in South Africa? They were told that in these tar States there were fourteen Dutchmen to ten Englishmen, and there could be no doubt as to what the opinion of the Dutchmen was. On 23rd May a Boer Congress assembled which was attended by 168 duly elected delegates. At mat Congress a resolution was passed declaring that the importation of Chinese labour was an evil thing for the country, and not by one single vote was that resolution called in question. Where was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham's pledge? Where was England's honour? Dragged in the mud! He should like to know what the answer of the right hon. Gentleman was to that. The resolution passed by that Congress was a convincing proof that the great majority of the people in the two States were against the introduction of Chinese labour. He urged the Committee at this eleventh hour to reconsider the decision they had come to. It was a sad thing to have broken one's pledged word, but it would be a better thing to acknowledge the mistake and do the best they could to repair the damage. Everybody in that House would welcome the statement of the Colonial Secretary that he proposed to give a measure of representative government to the Transvaal. To give representative government before it was demanded as a right was a wise and politic thing to do. But they should no longer remain under this slur. They should take a vote of the people of the Transvaal and fulfil the pledge given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. He would respectfully ask the right hon. Gentleman to urge upon the Government to take that vote. It could be done, and would remove all his hostility to the action of the Transvaal Government, except the semi-slavery portion of the Chinese Ordinance. Until that vote was taken, it was idle for anyone to suppose that tins matter would be allowed to drop. It was a stain upon 870 our honour, and as such must be fought until it was removed.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
said the hon. Member had quoted one statement made by his right hon. friend the Member for West Birmingham but not another. In a subsequent statement his right hon. friend pledged himself to treat the inhabitants of these two colonies for all purposes as self-governing colonies. They had been so treated. The hon. Member for Camberwell the other day was unable to grasp the distinction between giving a colony self-government and treating a colony as if it had it.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
said the Colonial Secretary had received a telegram from Australia and his answer implied that the Transvaal was to be treated as a self-governing colony.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
The hon. Member is repeating the fallacy that was explained the other day. We may have a system of government that is not representative and we may elect to treat a colony so constituted as if it were a self-governing colony. The Transvaal is being treated a a self-governing colony at the present time.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I rise to a point of order. I heard the junior Member for Oldham say "It is humbug." I ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether that is a Parliamentary expression?
* THE CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member for Oldham is constantly interrupting, and I was about to ask him to desist. I cannot say that the word "humbug" is un-Parliamentary, but I would ask the hon. Member for Oldham to allow somebody else to speak besides himself.
§ MR. WINSTON WINSTON CHURCHILL
Of course I bow to your ruling, I should like to say I did not intend the word "humbug" to have personal application to the Colonial Secretary, but only to be a political criticism upon the present status which is attributed to the Transvaal Government.
* THE CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Member would reserve his remarks for his speech it would be much more desirable than keeping up a running comment.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
The endeavour has been made to follow the principle laid down by the late Colonial Secretary and to treat the Transvaal as a self-governing colony, adopting the prevailing opinion in matters other than those of Imperial concern. We have formed the best Government, and nobody denies that it is the best Government we can get for the time being, and we have endeavoured to the best of our ability to obtain the opinion of the country from that Government. If that Government expresses by an enormous majority a certain view, we must abide by that decision unless we desire to act against the wishes of the colony. That was the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and that is the principle which the Government have followed. That is the principle which we believe in, and it is the principle which the Government are willing to put into operation by granting representative government next year, in which case it would be amply competent for the country, if we are wrong upon this matter, to reverse the decision we have come to. The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down 872 urged that we should be generous to the Boers, and I am not disposed to disagree with him in that aspiration; but what I venture to say is—and I will fortify it by a statement which I do not think can be denied— that we have been really generous towards the Boers in this matter. We have heard from gentlemen who sit here and at home, and who enjoy a comparatively easy life, bitter criticism and bitter reflections upon Lord Milner and those who are assisting him the Government of the Transvaal. Those who criticise Lord Milner and his assistants in administration should remember the difficulties. The war has reduced the country in parts to a wilderness. Think what the Government, few in number, had to do. They had to get 200,000 men out of the country and bring about the same number in. The over-sea prisoners had to be restored, they were placed in camps, they had to be restored to their families and their farms, often a long distance away. In many cases only ox-wagons could be used for transport, and the journey occupied three weeks. Material for houses, rations, stores, stock, seeds, implements for agriculture had to be supplied in the face of prodigious difficulties. Very few mules and oxen were left, and such as remained were in poor condition and fell victims to diseases communion in the country.
said he had only alluded to the differentiation between those on commando. He did not dispute that the Government had displayed the greatest generosity.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I am only trying to explain what has been done. The 873 difficulties were increased by a drought, and the work of repatriation of the Boers was one of enormous physical difficulty. The greatest possible energy was displayed, and no doubt it was accompanied with lavish expenditure, for the lives of men were at stake. Ready and lavish was the expenditure, and it is idle to blame men who were confronted by a gigantic task—it is idle to criticise over-minutely the expenditure they thought necessary. It has been necessary for Lord Milner to create local government. Twice the number of children are now being educated in these colonies than has ever been educated before. He had to consider such complicated questions as the Gold Law and the Diamond Law. The native laws had to be modified, I might almost say to be repassed. The legal system had to be reconstituted. The reparation and reconstruction of railways had to be undertaken. Without further elaboration this is enough to show that a huge effort has been made and that the replacing of so large a portion of the population in their homes within nine months of a tremendous war is a most wonderful performance. This country has shown unparalleled generosity in its treatment of a conquered people. Besides the free gift of £3,000,000, £5,800,000 has been expended out of the guaranteed loan for repatriation purposes. When it is pointed out that the whole of the loan has not been devoted to the purposes of development I answer that such parts of it as have been diverted to the purposes of charity have been rightly diverted. £2,000,000 has been given as compensation to British subjects, to foreigners, and to natives; £2,000,000 as a free gift to the protected burghers; £2,500,000 has been spent in honouring requisition receipts. I may safely chal- 874 lenge any Member of the Opposition to say whether he can produce from any country an instance of an expenditure of £250,000,000 on war being followed by an expenditure of £14,500,000 in the interest of those with whom there has been war.
My hon. and learned friend has made certain commentaries on the financial situation. My hon. and learned friend's position, as I understand it, is that this conquered country is not fit to stand alone, and that we are practically obliged to finance it, and have financed it to the extent of £21,000,000. The hon. and learned Gentleman's object is to show that the expenses paid in the past are likely to be recurrent, and the equilibrium obtained between revenue and expenditure is illusory. In the Civil Service Estimates of 1903 there is an item of £17,305,000 in respect of various sums paid to the Transvaal. Of that sum, £6,000,000 has been repaid by the Transvaal, £4,500,000 has been paid for the South African Constabulary, which really forms part of the war expenses, and £1,800,000 has been paid for the railways while they were being worked for military purposes. These items make a total of about £12,500,000, all for war purposes, £6,000,000 of which has been repaid. The remainder is made up of £3,000,000 due to the burghers under the treaty, and £2,000,000 for other purposes under the treaty. I contend it is absolutely impossible for my hon. and learned friend to show that any item is likely to be recurrent. Comments have been made upon the miscalculations alleged to have been made in the Estimates, but, as a matter of fact, the revenue of the Transvaal has been estimated almost absolutely correctly. I entirely differ with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean in 875 regard to the constabulary. I can assure him that from the first it has been said by Lord Milner that 6,000 men were necessary for the constabulary, and that those numbers would be reduced as time went on. That has been done. Economy has been exercised, with the result that the Transvaal has obtained a very substantial sum of about £800,000 and the Orange River Colony has a surplus of nearly £200,000. The whole of the land settlement organisation has been placed on a very much reduced basis.
With regard to the Intercolonial Council, I may say that it is true that the estimate of the return of the railways was very much greater than the amount realised. That is due to a miscalculation regarding the effect of a very large reduction of rates, the benefit of which the country has had. It was estimated that there would be only a loss of £500,000, and the actual loss was £1,000,000. There was also a serious miscalculation as to the expenditure upon certain lines. The result is that, instead of equilibrium as between the expenditure placed upon the Inter-colonial Council and the revenue which is appropriated to it, there is a considerable deficit. Reference has been made to the tossing about of figures. The only tossing about of figures has been that any deficit in the Intercolonial Council figures has to be made good by the Transvaal and Orange River Colonies. They have proved adequate to the task. It is true that at one time last year things looked much darker than they have looked since. As to the position of these two colonies, they have undertaken to make a contribution of £30,000,000, the first £10,000,000 of which was underwritten by financial houses, with the stipulation 876 that the issue should not be made under unfavourable financial conditions. We have never yet been in a position in which the terms of that bargain could be fulfilled. If you enter into an undertaking you must of course stick to the terms upon which it is made. It is like any other contract, and you cannot enforce it until the conditions under which it was made have been fulfilled.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
We have fulfilled our part of the bargain but the other part has not been fulfilled.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
The hon. Member has been misinformed. I agree that that was all part of one transaction, but it was part of the bargain that the financial condition of the country and the market should be favourable. We have not, since the undertaking was entered into, been in that position, and therefore we could not call upon the underwriters to fulfil their bargain. Though the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal are able to pay their way, there is still no surplus available to meet the interest on the £30,000,000. Alluding to some of the criticisms that have been made, it is an error to suppose that money has been charged to capital account which ought to have been charged to revenue account, for the sum which has been spent in relaying the railway lines, in erecting new railway buildings, and purchasing new railway stock, is properly chargeable to capital account and not to revenue account. The sum of £900,000 which has been drawn from the balance has been properly applied just in the same way as other items of expenditure, and I venture to say that that is not an item of expenditure which we may expect to recur. The hon. Member is 877 not correct in saying that there has been any borrowing on short loans. It was anticipated that that might be necessary but it was found unnecessary to have a short loan.
With regard to Malta, that is a chose jugée, as my predecessor has convinced the House. ["No."] It was shown by my right hon. friend that, so far from there being any real repugnance on the part of the population of the island to learn English, from 90 to 95 per cent. elected to learn English instead of Italian. With regard to the figures which the hon. Member has quoted I am afraid that it would be perfectly useless for me to go into them now. If these Estimates had come on next week instead of this week, as was intended, a despatch on this subject which is now on the way might have reached me. It has been brought to my notice that one of the Crown Agents is a director of the London Assurance Company and has occupied that position for a considerable time. I believe absolutely that, as far as the tenure of that office by the gentleman in question is concerned, nothing but good has resulted to the public service. Sir Ernest Blake accepted the directorship in accordance with precedent, and his association with the company has been absolutely honourable and worthy and has really inured to the benefit of the public service. But now that the matter has been called in question I am unable to sanction the tenure of that appointment on the part of a gentleman who, though not a civil servant, has in many respects more important duties than civil servants have to discharge.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said the Colonial Secretary had treated the contribution promised by the 878 mining gentlemen in the Transvaal as if it were a voluntary offer on their part. On the contrary, it was part of an honourable bargain they entered into with this country in consideration of something which we promised.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said it was on the basis of that contract that this country guaranteed the £35,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman must have forgotten what his predecessor said on 6th May, 1903, when he issued that very glowing prospectus to the British public upon the strength of which the £35,000,000 were found. The right hon. Gentleman said—These arrangements for contribution are connected with and conditional upon the loan which I am now recommending.This country had performed its part of the condition, and he would like to knew whether the gentlemen in the Transvaal were going to perform their part. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think there was something ill-natured in criticising these financial miscalculations in South Africa. But his predecessor, when money was wanted, went to the British public with a glowing account—One of our difficulties has been how to deal with the extraordinary growth of revenue which we have to chronicle, and which comes upon us as a constant surprise month by month. I must warn the House, "he added," that the estimates of the Transvaal are perpetually changing. Every month we get a new estimate, and it is always a better one than the last.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
And so it was until the £35,000,000 were subscribed. These estimates from the Transvaal were 879 still changing, but they were changing for the worse. It was of that that the Opposition complained. Those gentlemen came to the British public and said, "We are prospering and thriving and we have so much money that we really do not like to tell you how much we have got for fear you might think we were humbugging you." But immediately they got this loan they turned round and said, "Things have changed and they have got very much worse. We cannot pay the interest and we cannot perform our part of the bargain." He thought under those conditions that they had a perfect right to complain. This kind of thing was, unfortunately, what they had experienced from the Transvaal from the very beginning. They were frequently told that these things were done upon the statements of men of the greatest integrity and unimpeachable honour in South Africa, and then some six months afterwards they found that the whole thing had been absolutely falsified. It was all very well to make such statements in regard to Chinese labour. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Transvaal was not self-governing, but his complaint was that the Colonial Secretary treated it as if it were self-governing. The ex-Colonial Secretary gave the House a pledge with regard to Chinese labour, and that was the difficulty they had got into. Those pledges were given to the House upon facts obtained from gentlemen in South Africa, and when it turned out that those facts were not correct then the Government were guilty of a breach of faith owing to having trusted the statements of gentlemen in South Africa. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, while Colonial Secretary, dealing with the question of imported labour, said to the House— 880Remember chat the vast majority of the people of South Africa are opposed both to forced and Asiatic labour.Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say—So long as that condition obtains the Government are not going to force either compulsory or Asiatic labour upon them.That was a distinct pledge on the part of the right hon. Gentleman that so long as the vast majority of the people of South Africa were against Asiatic labour it should not be forced upon them. Did any one contend that the vast majority of the people of South Africa were not against Asiatic labour? [MINISTERIAL cries of "Yes."] The Cape Parliament had passed a unanimous Resolution against it. No one could deny that the Orange River Colony was against it. The only contention was that there was a majority in its favour in the Transvaal, but there was no proof of that. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who had given this pledge on behalf of the Government, was now in the position of seeing his successor in office breaking it. The right hon. Gentleman, who, with Lord Milner, was responsible for the condition of South Africa, who had given the country a pledge that the war was in the interest of the white races in South Africa, was personally bound to see that that pledge was redeemed. The hon. Member for Perthshire said that the white man in the Transvaal was intelligent and could look after himself. Perfectly true, and that was the reason why Chinese labour was to he substituted for white labour for fear trade unions should be established.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said that all these conditions with regard to Chinese labour were questions entirely for the 881 Chinese themselves. Not at all. These contracts were entered into in the name of the Sovereign of this country, and he thought it was the interest of every man in the country to see that no con-act was entered into in the name of the representative of this Empire which was discreditable and dishonourable in itself. These conditions were of that character. But the right hon. Gentleman said that they were explained to the Chinese. Were they? He had a letter with him which demanded explanation from the Colonial Secretary. It was written to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton by a missionary very well known. [A laugh.] Hon. Members laughed at missionaries, but they were very willing to quote missionaries during the war. This letter was from a missionary named the Rev. Arnold Forster who stood very well with the Wesleyan Methodists London Mission. In it he called attention to the translation given in the North China Herald of the contract which was being presented to the Chinese emigrants to the Transvaal to sign. He said that in quite a number of particulars ale Chinese document differed materially from the conditions announced by His Majesty's Government in Parliament as the conditions by which the labourers were to be bound, and he submitted that every one induced to emigrate to the Transvaal on the strength of that information given in that document would be acting almost entirely in the dark in regard to the limitations of his freedom and his liability to penalties for infringing them. Nothing was said of the right of the labourer to be accompanied by his wife and children. This was a serious charge brought by a responsible gentleman on the spot as to whom the directors of the mission 882 said there was no man in the China Mission who more thoroughly deserved their sympathy and confidence. If it was true, this was a grave charge of fraud against somebody. It was the business of the Government to have seen that a proper translation of the contract was given to these men.
At any rate, he was glad that this matter had once more been brought forward, were it only that it had given the right hon. Member for West Birmingham an opportunity to nail the yellow flag to the mast of protection. A certain amount of credit was taken in the country by tariff reformers for the fact that the late Colonial Secretary was against Chinese labour. They were told that they must not attach the stigma of Chinese labour to him. He had nothing to do with it. He got away when all the unpleasant consequences came on. He left them to his successors—the payment of interest, Chinese labour, deficits, and all these troubles. The Colonial Secretary said they had spent millions of money for rebuilding. Rebuilding what? The right hon. Member for West Birmingham said in the House there were only 600 farms destroyed. Why should all these millions be spent on rebuilding 600 farms? This was a horrible mess from beginning to end, and the two Gentlemen primarily responsible for it were the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and Lord Milner. From time to time the right hon. Gentleman had made these glowing statements about this land of gold and diamonds, with plenty of money coming in, and with increasing estimates. That was the sort of statement he was making now about trade matters. 883 He trusted that the people would begin to put together these estimates which had been made from time to time by the right hon. Gentleman on the authority of some one. All these estimates had been falsified, and it was because they had landed the country in this great mess that he moved a reduction of the Vote by £100.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £27,650, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Lloyd-Georye.)
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said that the Transvaal had ceased to be as productive as it had been because of the shortness of labour. This rendered the importation of Chinese labour necessary. The pledges with regard to white labour had not been fulfilled because of the obstruction of hon. Members opposite. When Chinese labour had been established in the country a demand would be created for additional white labour. Charges had been made against his right hon. friend with regard to the non-fulfilment of the conditions about the wives and children of the Chinese labourers. He hid heard a good many statements in his time from the opposite side of the He use which required verification. There was the case of—
And, it being Midnight the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.