THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
having moved the third reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill,
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said: Sir, I rise to speak upon this Bill, and not only to refer to the subject to which I yesterday stated that I should call the attention of the House, but likewise to speak for some minutes, at least, upon the prospects which we have before us. I do not wish either to diminish or to aggravate the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government; but I think it worth while to notice that there never was a Government in this country which had a more responsible task before them, or which, on approaching the interval between the sittings of Parliament, were likely to have so many grave questions brought under their consideration. We have heard from the hon. Baronet who has spoken upon the last Bill, that more than 49,000,000l. have been voted this year as war expenses, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated that his Budget at the commencement of the financial year amounted to 86,390,000l., to which 4,000,000l. have since been added, making an amount of upwards of 90,000,000l.; and that he reckons upon no more than 2,105,000l. as surplus. Now, it must be owned that, whether we consider the amount of this sum or the expenditure of former wars, especially that great war of life or death in which we were engaged with the French Republic and the French Empire, there is enough in these sums and in our prospects to induce most serious reflections; and I do not think that the gravity of those reflections is at all diminished by the consideration of the immediate prospects of the war. It will no doubt be the object of Her Majesty's Government to administer those sums in the manner in which they will be most efficient for the purposes of the war. It will be their duty likewise to consider of the preparations to be made for another campaign; and it will also be their duty, if any occasion should arise, to consider of any proposal for negotiations with a view to the re-establishment of peace. Now, taking these matters in their several order, if we look first to the prospects of the war, we perceive that with regard to our navy, which has been always our great arm for war, that, while we have no reason to doubt either its efficiency or its gallantry if called into action, 1931 it is evident that our enemy does not mean to meet us on the sea, and that therefore we cannot expect to end the war by great naval victories or great blows to be struck by our navy. No doubt it is possible that Admiral Dundas may perform in the Baltic feats which Sir Charles Napier could not accomplish; but we are now in the month of August, and a season has arrived which, instead of being more favourable, it becomes less so for naval operations. We therefore cannot be very sanguine on that subject, even admitting the utmost skill on the part of the commander, and the utmost gallantry on the part of the fleet. With respect to our prospects in the Black Sea I do not wish to say anything; but I must say that I do consider that there is danger on the Asiatic frontier of Turkey. I was in hopes, when the proposal for a Foreign Enlistment Bill was made last winter, that we should have been able, seeing that our own force, and probably that of the French, would be required for the campaign in the Crimea, to obtain a subsidiary force by means of that foreign enlistment, and that 20,000, or 30,000 men, perhaps, might have been sent to the Asiatic frontier to support the Turkish army. That hope has hitherto been disappointed—from no fault, I must say, of Her Majesty's Government, though not, perhaps, entirely without fault on the part of the Opposition, because of the discouragement which was given in Germany to the obtaining of that force, and which so much delayed its enlistment. Still, however, our present prospect is that no such force as I have mentioned, properly equipped and disciplined, can be sent to the scene of action in Asia, or, if it were thought necessary, to the Crimea, during the present campaign. We have, therefore, neither in regard to our naval force in the Baltic, nor with respect to the Asiatic frontier, any immediate prospect of gaining such a decided success as might lead to the termination of the war. It will be for Her Majesty's Government, of course, to direct what use shall be made of the very large force that is now collecting in the Crimea; but it is obvious that that force, however large it may be—and no doubt, every effort has been made to increase it and to make it efficient—will be met by a large Russian army, that army being now augmented by troops which are sent from Poland and from other frontiers of Russia bordering on the Austrian Empire, 1932 which are now set free owing to the present policy of Austria. I cannot but think that these matters, without in the least imputing blame, are matters deserving very great reflection, and that the prospect before us is such, not, indeed, as to induce us in the slightest degree to limit or cripple the powers which this House has already granted, and which have been granted with a most liberal hand, but to require that when Parliament shall meet again—which may not, perhaps, be for six months—there shall be an inquiry into the use which has been made of the means that have been given and into the general prospects of the country. I have said, Sir, that it will be the business of the Government to consider the preparations for the next campaign. On that point, of course, I can say nothing, because any discussion upon such a subject could not but be mischievous. I am afraid too much publicity has been given already to plans of operation, and I should be sorry that any further information should be given as to the views of the Government on that subject. Sir, with regard to the proposition for peace, I must say a few words, not intending to revive the discussion which has taken place with respect to the particular questions of limitation or counterpoise, or any other scheme by which the preponderance of Russia in the Black Sea might be destroyed, but with a view simply to our future prospects. As far as I am myself concerned, though I entirely acquiesce in the decision of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, that it would not be for the advantage of the public service that the despatches containing an account of my proceedings at Vienna should be produced, yet so far as I am myself concerned, I must say that I could not but wish that those despatches should be laid upon the table, and that Parliament should see everything which I had written containing an account of my proceedings at Vienna, and of what I thought were sufficient motives for the conduct which I pursued. They have not been produced; but I hope that the time may come when they can be given entire, without garbling or omission, for the public will then be able to judge of the course of conduct which I adopted. But, Sir, with respect to the future, very serious questions arise, because it will have been observed that the Turkish Ambassador at Vienna—a man of as much intelligence, 1933 perhaps, with regard to European affairs as almost any person I ever met of any nation, and who knew well the interests of his own country—was perfectly satisfied with the terms which were then proposed by the Austrian Government. I have never heard whether there was any decision in Turkey similar to that which was arrived at in London and Paris; but if there has not been—if the Turkish Government are of opinion that terms of peace have been proposed which would be sufficient for the security of Turkey; and if the war is to be carried on henceforth, not for the security of Turkey, but for the maintenance of the military and naval reputation of France and of Great Britain, then the position of this country and of France will be very much changed. It is true that, as we have assisted Turkey, and have in a great degree contributed to save her, we may ask her to continue the war with us. In that case, however, we can no longer have Turkish loans or guarantees, but we must give plain and downright subsidies to Turkey—and subsidies of a large amount, to induce her to fight with us. Such, therefore, appears to me to be the inevitable result if the Turkish Government should be of opinion at any future time that sufficient terms of peace have been proposed. With regard to the French Government, I would only say that the Emperor of the French has been not only so faithful, but altogether so prudent and just an ally, that I should be disposed to pay the utmost consideration to any opinion which he might hold with regard to any negotiations for peace. Of course it will be for Her Majesty's Government to consider the whole of the circumstances if such an opportunity should arise. If it should arise, I hope, upon the one hand, that they will not consent to any terms which they do not think honourable and safe and sufficient for their purpose—but those are very general words—and, upon the other hand, that they will not continue the war for one moment when such terms have been proposed. With respect, then, to those three questions of the carrying on of the war at present, the preparations for a future campaign, and any negotiations which may possibly arise, I can only say that I think there never was placed by this House greater confidence in a Government than is displayed by the Bill which is now about to be read a third time; and that the House will have a fair right, therefore, to call upon the Government 1934 next Session to show that they were deserving of that confidence.
I will now advert, Sir, to one particular part of that measure to which I said yesterday, that I should call the attention of the House. Part of the sums which have been granted have been applied for the purpose of transporting the Piedmontese troops to the seat of war. The sending of those troops was in consequence of a treaty made with Sardinia; and I cannot help calling the attention of the House to the fidelity to the cause of Europe, and to the general spirit which has animated the King of Sardinia and his Ministers. The King has waved all minor points, he has declined to press for any concessions which France and England might be expected to grant him; he has come forth boldly and generously as an ally; he has sent some of the best troops in Europe to the field of battle, and I am quite sure, if the occasion should call for it, that those troops will sustain the reputation which they have acquired in every period of the history of Europe. But, Sir, if the King of Sardinia and his Ministers have thus acted—if with no immediate peril to their own State from the war, they have acted on behalf of the general balance of power in Europe, it is not to be supposed that they do not expect to obtain the moral support of this country to a cause which that Government have always had deeply at heart. It is perfectly well known to those who are at all conversant with the leading men who have taken a part in the affairs of Piedmont and of Italy, that there is nothing which that Government has at heart so much as that a better system should prevail in Italy. I cannot wonder at that anxiety; on the contrary, I give them credit for it. The Government of Piedmont have been able to do that which until lately it seemed very difficult for any State of Southern Europe to accomplish—they have established a free representative Monarchy, and they have established it without violating any rights and without any bloody revolution, while they have maintained most firmly those principles of freedom which they have adopted. They wish naturally that the general state of Italy should be at least improved, and, if no constitutions should be established, that, at all events, such disorders as now prevail, and such oppressions as are brought to their knowledge from day to day, may receive some check, and he no longer consecrated, as it 1935 were, by the name of Government. They perceive that in the Papal States there is a system of outrage and oppression prevalent in the chief towns; that persons are imprisoned without cause; that dreadful punishments are inflicted without the means of redress, or of innocence escaping; and that, while that is going on under the cover of a legitimate Government, there is outside those towns an organised system of brigandage which makes the roads unsafe, which disables persons from going from one part of the country to another to seek their own dwellings, and which makes the whole territory insecure. With regard to the kingdom of the Two Sicilies I need hardly speak, because the sufferings of the best men of that country have been most powerfully brought to light by my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford. Some of those victims whose sufferings he then portrayed, some of the best men of Europe and of the most patriotic, are still suffering in Neapolitan dungeons, and I cannot find that the extent of suffering and outrage has been at all diminished. Time after time, no doubt, our Government have advised an amnesty to that Sovereign, in order to end these scenes of oppression; but it seems that his past oppressions make him dread the liberty of any of those persons, and no such plans of clemency have been adopted. In Tuscany, which has recently been occupied by Austrian troops, the system which was initiated nearly a century ago by the Grand Duke Leopold, of religious toleration, and of great mildness in the administration of the civil government, if not of political freedom, has been exchanged for a tormenting and inquisitorial religious persecution which is a disgrace to that country. But, Sir, what seems to aggravate this whole matter is, that those oppressions and persecutions are taking place, not because there is domestic misgovernment, not solely because the people themselves are unable to check those evils and to seek a remedy for those difficulties, but because one part of the principal States of Italy—the States of the Church—is occupied by an Austrian army, while Rome, the capital of the country itself, is occupied by the troops of the Emperor of the French. It has already been said, on behalf of the Roman Catholic Powers of Europe, that it was necessary that the Pope, as the head of the Roman Catholic religion, in order to have entire liberty of 1936 judgment, should have perfect independence of action. I was only the other day reading an account of a conversation held between the Emperor Napoleon and Monsieur de Narbonne. Napoleon had seized Rome, and Monsieur de Narbonne, in controverting the opinions which he entertained upon the subject, said to him, "In order to be free in these days it is necessary that the Pope should be master in Rome and possess an independent territory." Now, that is an intelligible position; but at the present moment the capital of the Pope and his provinces are occupied by foreign troops, and where is the freedom or independence of the people, when it is obvious that under the present system the Pope must be dependent upon one or both of the foreign States whose forces occupy his territory? I wish also to point out to the House that this occupation of the territories of the Pope by foreign troops is, in its character, different from those other military occupations which have taken place in the history of Europe since the year 1815. The principle of such occupations is certainly of doubtful application; but when they have taken place there has generally been this alleviation—that those Powers who have occupied with their troops the territories of foreign States have alleged as a cause for doing so that there had been disturbances, that there had been anarchy, that it would take some time to settle the minds of men, that, after a great convulsion, foreign coercion for a time—let the time be as short as possible—was necessary; and they have always promised that when the proper time arrived, that when it became clear that the institutions of the country had regained their force, that the authorities had reacquired their power, their troops should be withdrawn. Such has been, not only the theory, but also the practice of those occupations, and those who have considered the subject are aware that in most instances the promises so made have been faithfully fulfilled, and the foreign troops withdrawn as soon as domestic authority had reassumed its sway. But in the present instance the case is very different; for not only has the foreign occupation of the Roman territory continued for, I believe, now a period of five years, but I perceive no symptom whatever of the Papal authority gaining root, or acquiring more force than it had at the commencement of that period. On the contrary, every man who is acquainted 1937 with those States will tell you, and the statement cannot be controverted, that if the French and Austrian troops were withdrawn the authority of the Pope would be denied, and that in his stead some sort of government would be established more consistent with their notions of right and justice, one which would afford some liberty of opinion, and which would not employ the odious means of exercising its control which have hitherto been employed by the ecclesiastical Government. If this be true, what prospect is there under the present system that either the Emperor of Austria or the Emperor of the French will consider himself able to withdraw his troops from Italy? If, however, this occupation continue it will afford not only a logical contradiction to the theory that the Pope in order to be free must possess due authority, and must have an independent territory, but it will also be likely to cause a disturbance of the balance of power in Europe. It is not possible that England can be carrying on a war at the enormous expense which I have mentioned, because Russia has occupied part of the territory of her neighbour, and yet allow the occupation of the territories of the Pope by foreign troops. Is this disturbance of the balance of power of Europe one to which the influence of the British Government should be exercised in order to put an end? What is to be the end of this occupation? Is it not possible that the English Government, in concert with the Government of France, may succeed in devising some system of government for those Roman States more consonant with the interests and wishes of the people and more charged with the elements of justice? Were the war terminated, I believe that one of the first acts of the King of Sardinia would have been to ask his allies to turn their attention to this subject. I cannot doubt that he, as an Italian Prince reigning over a free people, and having the happiness and welfare of Italy at heart, would have called upon the Governments of France and Great Britain to assist him with all their influence, and to ask for the assistance of Austria, in the task of devising some durable system of government for the Roman States, thereby enabling France and Austria to withdraw their foreign forces, and that foreign power that now prevails there. Such, I am sure, would have been the course adopted by that Monarch. We have now, unhappily, no immediate prospect of obtaining peace, 1938 but I call the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to this subject—not, I am confident, his unwilling attention—for I am sure that the noble Lord, if he could perceive any opportunity for exerting the influence of this country for the benefit of the people of Italy, for the improvement of their condition and for placing them more in accordance with the general interests of Europe, would be not only willing, but most glad to embrace it, I cannot see that there ought to be anything very difficult in the task. I do not enter into the question of the original occupation of Rome by France, or into the graver question of the title of Austria to the dominion she exercises; but, I cannot but think that the Emperor of the French would be most happy to consult with us as to the best method of improving the condition of the Italian people as preparatory to the withdrawal of his forces from the Italian territory. It may be said that this is an old grievance—that from the time of Petrarch to the present day, nothing has been heard but laments of foreign dominion in Italy; that this beautiful and unhappy land has been subjected to oppression of every kind, and that she has never had that freedom which a people of so much genius, so much industry, so much capacity for physical and intellectual enjoyments ought to have possessed. But I do not see any reason why, because this is an old grievance it should be a perpetual grievance. During the past year we have seen that Spain, not under foreign control, has made vigorous efforts to improve her government; those efforts are still going on, and I hope to God that they will prove successful; but such efforts in Italy are prevented and crushed by foreign influence, and I trust that the voice of England will be roused in order to improve the system of government in that country, not by introducing, but, on the contrary, by checking and controlling that violent spirit which Mazzini and his fellows seek to encourage, and by substituting a rational and temperate spirit, and above all, by introducing those laws which, founded upon the real principles of justice, possess eternal power. I have felt it my duty to offer those observations to the House, because I could not allow the Session to come to a close without commending this subject to the attention of my noble Friend at the head of the Government when the close of the Session shall have given him leisure to look into it.
§ Lord PALMERSTON and Mr. WILKINSON rose together—the noble Lord gave way.
§ MR. WILKINSON
trusted the noble Viscount would forgive him, if before the noble Viscount replied to the noble Lord, he (Mr. Wilkinson) offered a few observations from an independent Member upon the speech which they had just heard. The reputation of the noble Lord belonged to the House and to the country, and everything which fell from him could not but be of importance. Yet he (Mr. Wilkinson) could scarcely understand the drift of the noble Lord's speech. The noble Lord urged upon Her Majesty's Government an interference in the affairs of Italy; no doubt the sympathies of the people of this country were with the Italians, the Poles, and the Hungarians, but it did not appear to him (Mr. Wilkinson) that the present was the fitting time to call upon the Government for active interference, although certainly the Government should not be unmindful of the position of those countries, and the noble Viscount might well reply to the appeal of the noble Lord, in the words of Hector to Andromache—That post shall be my care,Nor that alone, but all the posts of war.The noble Lord objected to the occupation of Rome by French troops. He (Mr. Wilkinson) regretted this occupation, but he could not help thinking that the necessities of the position of the Emperor Napoleon might have some connection with that occupation, and probably, when the Emperor was more firmly seated on the Throne of France, as we all hoped, for the peace of Europe, that he would be—that occupation might cease. Before, however, he proceeded further with his remarks upon the noble Lord's speech, he wished to refer shortly to what had taken place on a former occasion. He had, on Friday last, listened, almost with dismay, to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford. Such a speech, from a man calling himself a statesman, he (Mr. Wilkinson) had never had the bad fortune to read or to hear. He had never heard sentiments so astounding uttered by an Englishman. That right hon. Gentleman had risen in his place and after a maze of words and mystification, had drawn disastrous, and unfounded pictures of the resources, and prospects of this country, of France, and of Sardinia,—and then proceeded to eulogise, and at the same time, give an 1940 exaggerated account of the resources of the Government, and the enthusiasm of the people of Russia. He (Mr. Wilkinson) trusted that there was no other man in that House who would venture to adopt a similar course. With respect to the terms proposed by Austria, and which Her Majesty's Government were blamed by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) for not accepting, he (Mr. Wilkinson) had always understood, that the noble Lord had been of opinion that those terms ought to have been accepted—but that when he came to London from Vienna, he altered his mind, and was of opinion that they could not be accepted. Now, however, he appeared to have changed again, and thought that these terms ought to be accepted [Lord J. RUSSELL, No!] so he (Mr. Wilkinson) had understood the noble Lord. Now with regard to these terms, when the hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing) said, that the whole question had turned upon the two plans of limitation and counterpoise, one thing had struck him forcibly—namely, that only one of these proposals could be called a plan. He could understand a plan of limitation, by which each party should agree to limit the amount of its force—but as to what was called the plan of counterpoise, that by which, if the ships of one power were augmented the ships of the other might likewise be augmented, it was no plan at all; for of course there could be no hindrance offered to such augmentation. [Lord J. RUSSELL: In the Black Sea.] Yes, in the Black Sea; but what was to hinder the other Powers from going into the Black Sea? The supposition was, that Turkey was menaced, and then she was to have leave to call her allies to her assistance; but this she could always do without any stipulation or treaty. In short one was a plan, the other was not. The noble Lord said, that was a point which had considerable weight with him, and that the Turkish Plenipotentiary, a man whose opinion commanded great influence, believed the plan proposed by Austria likely to be satisfactory to Turkey; and then he (Mr. Wilkinson) understood the noble Lord to argue that the object of the war being so far accomplished, we should have no right to carry it on for the purpose of establishing the military glory of England and of France. [Lord J. RUSSELL: No, no!] He understood the noble Lord to say, or to infer, that if Turkey were satisfied with the terms of peace proposed, we could not 1941 call on her to assist us without subsidising her. Now, he (Mr. Wilkinson) had always thought the protection of Turkey was but a means to an end, and that the main object in view was to curb the ambition of Russia, and to cheek her schemes of aggrandisement. He agreed that it would be improper to carry on that war for one moment after its objects were attained; but he could not think that those objects were yet attained. Entertaining this belief, he could not help regretting that the House was about to separate without a distinct expression of opinion on the subject of the continuance of this war; for every vote they had yet come to on this question, had been mixed up with some other matter. He had risen on Friday night to move an Amendment on the proposition of the hon. Member for the Wick Boroughs, which would have had the effect of eliciting this opinion; but the hon. Member for Aylesbury had caught the Speaker's eye, and after that, the House would remember how his hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding had led the debate away into a personal encounter with the right hon. Bart, the Secretary for the Colonies (Sir W. Molesworth) upon an entirely different subject. He (Mr. Wilkinson) was one of those who thought that if a firmer and more uncompromising tone had been taken by Her Majesty's Government in the first instance, this war, for the present at least, might have been prevented. He did not blame the Government of Lord Aberdeen on this account, because he felt the grave responsibility which rested upon any Minister, who, after forty years of peace, should plunge this country into war. But now we were in the war, and it appeared to him that the only secure and speedy mode of obtaining and maintaining peace, was by the most vigorous prosecution of the war. We wanted that which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) said it was wicked to desire—we wanted success, and success we must have. There was no middle course, England and France were embarked in the war and they must fight it out, and succeed they must, or fail altogether. The object of the war, as he understood it, was to show to Russia and the world, that the peace of Europe is not to be lightly disturbed, and that if it be, the penalty of the disturbance shall fall upon the head of the disturber. Until that was shown, he believed the country would never be satisfied.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I do 1942 not rise to complain that my noble Friend has called the attention of the House to matters and topics of the deepest national importance, and with regard to which he himself, when in office, took a prominent part. It is natural that in those great questions which occupied his attention when he was in office he should feel great interest now when he has more time to devote to them; and it is not at all unnatural that at the close of the Session, when the probability is that Parliament may not meet again for some months, he should avail himself of this opportunity not only to state his own views, but to call upon the Government, so far as they can consistently with their duty, to state what are their views upon the maters to which his observations referred. Sir, my noble Friend began by stating the amount of the responsibility which weighs upon Her Majesty's Government. I can assure him and the House that Her Majesty's Government are deeply sensible of the gravity and importance of that responsibility. No man, Sir, could have been a party to entering into the great contest in which we are engaged—no man, at least, ought to have been a party to such a policy—without having deeply weighed in his mind the gravity of the contest in which he was about to engage the country, and without having satisfied his mind that the cause was just—that the motives were sufficient—that the sacrifices which he was about to call upon the country to make were such as a statesman ought properly to call upon the country to endure. But it must indeed be a grave reason which could induce a man who had been a party with Her Majesty's Government to this line of policy, I who had, after full, and perhaps unexampled deliberation sanctioned its commencement, who, having concurred after that full and mature deliberation, had also joined in calling upon the country for great sacrifices in order to continue it, and who had up to a very recent period assented to all the measures that had been proposed I for its continuance—I say it must indeed be a grave reason which could induce a man who had so acted utterly to change his opinions—and to declare that the war to which he himself was a party was unnecessary, impolitic, and unjust—to exaggerate the resources of the enemy, and set before the country all the imaginary disasters with which his fancy could furnish; his speech, and to magnify and exaggerate the force of the enemy and the difficulties 1943 of our own position. Sir, I am not such a man as that; my right hon. Friends, my colleagues in the Government, are not men of that stamp; and therefore, in answer to my noble Friend, to whom nothing that I have said in the slightest degree applies, I have to state that Her Majesty's Government, fully conscious of the great importance of the contest—fully conscious of the immense exertions which may be necessary to bring it to a successful termination—are prepared to take upon themselves the responsibility attaching to their position, and will not be afraid when Parliament meets again to render an account of the manner in which that responsibility has been borne by them. Sir, we are conscious also of the generous support which the House and the country have given to us throughout the exertions which we have felt it our duty to make. Whatever may be the opinions of some few Members of this House—and, indeed, I may say of a few persons out of this House—for I do not believe that the opinions which we have heard here against the continuance of the war have any echo whatever out of doors—I am satisfied that the great majority of this House, as proved by the votes which they have given, are the faithful representatives of the manly spirit of the country, and that the confidence of this country, and the support of the country, will be given to any Government, whoever they may be, who may conduct the great contest in which we are engaged, and who may perform the duties which devolve upon them to the best of their ability, and in accordance with the wishes of the people of this country.
Sir, my noble Friend has thrown out his notions, or his doubts, as to the operations of the war, and has made observations as to the terms of peace. It cannot, I am sure, be supposed that Her Majesty's Government can enter into any explanations upon either of these subjects. It would be most unfitting indeed, and would obviously tend to defeat the policy of the country if we were to sketch out what we thought might be accomplished by the prosecution of the war, or if we were to state to the House what should be the terms of peace upon which we think the contest may be terminated with safety to the country. The operations of the war must, in their nature, be dependent upon the circumstances that may arise. The conditions of peace must depend upon the circumstances under which the negotiations mey be begun, and upon the suc- 1944 cess which either party in the war may have obtained at the moment when these negotiations may commence. But there is one point to which my noble Friend has adverted, which calls for some remark—I mean the opinion which he seems to have entertained that the Turkish Government was of opinion that the Austrian proposals ought to have been accepted, and that that opinion was overborne by the contrary decision of the Governments of England and France. Sir, my noble Friend must know far better than I can the personal opinion upon that matter of the Turkish representative at Vienna; but I can only say that I have no reason whatever to believe or to suppose that the Turkish Government differ in opinion from the Governments of England and France as to the necessity of not accepting the propositions to which my noble Friend has referred. No doubt, if the time should come when the Turkish Government should think deliberately that certain conditions were consistent with its future security, that opinion ought to weigh much in the scale when the Governments of England and France shall be called upon to deliberate upon the conditions of peace; but I think that the remark which the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Wilkinson) made, ought not to be lost sight of—namely, that the objects for which this war was undertaken are far wider and more important than to depend solely upon the decision of the Turkish Government. The war was undertaken not only for the protection of Turkey, but, as the hon. Gentleman well observes, as a means to an. end. No doubt the protection of Turkey, as a question affecting the maintenance of the balance of power in Europe, is an object which it would be the duty of all the other Powers of Europe to contend for. But, as I have said, beyond the question of the protection of Turkey lies the still greater question of the grasping ambition of Russia—an ambition which no man has more forcibly or more fully explained than my noble Friend himself. That ambition aims at the moral and physical subjugation of the Continent of Europe, and the extinction of all those principles of political and commercial liberty upon which the power—and, I may even say, the independent existence—of the kingdoms of Europe mainly depend. Therefore, I should not be prepared to say that it ought to rest with the Government of Turkey to decide what are the conditions which may be 1945 consistent with the future security and the permanent peace of Europe. I should say that the Governments of England and France have even greater—at least, fully as great—an interest in this matter as the Government of Turkey itself—and that their enlightened views upon matters of European policy arc perhaps more likely to be right than even the views of the Turkish Government. But there is no reason to suppose that that difference of opinion is likely to occur; and I can only say that at the present moment, and I hope it may so continue, there is perfect unanimity and concord between the Governments of England, France, and Turkey. In mentioning the Government of France, I must express my entire concurrence in the opinion which my noble Friend has expressed as to the perfect sincerity, cordial friendship, and entire unity of opinion which have prevailed between the Governments of England and France. The two Governments, indeed, may be said, upon these two great questions, to form but one Cabinet, of which some members are sitting in London and some in Paris. There is between them a perfect unity of views and of purpose, and I cannot but anticipate that that entire union between those two great countries must, in the end, accomplish the great objects for which they are united.
Sir, my noble Friend has observed upon the fact that we have not hitherto been so successful as we expected to be in carrying into execution that power which Parliament gave us before Christmas for the enlistment of foreign troops for the purpose of reinforcing the troops of this country and of France. My noble Friend has adverted to the cause of our failure in that respect. I do not wish now to go back to former debates, but I will say this, that it is mainly owing, not to men on the Continent, but to the unfavourable impression which was produced on the minds of men on the Continent by the difficulties which were thrown in the way of the Foreign Enlistment Bill in its progress through the two Houses of Parliament that that measure has not been successfully carried into effect. We are now, however, proceeding with greater rapidity than hitherto in carrying into effect the provisions of that law, and I do trust that, before the autumn sets in, we shall be enabled to send a considerable reinforcement to our army in the Crimea by means of the power which Parliament has given to us. With regard to the war, 1946 then, Sir, I have nothing more to say, except that we feel that it is our duty to carry it on by all the means which Parliament has so generously placed at our disposal, and we humbly trust that we shall so perform our duty that, when Parliament meets again, we shall not be found to have forfeited that confidence which Parliament has hitherto been pleased to repose in us.
Now, Sir, my noble Friend has adverted to other topics also of great public interest. My noble Friend has directed our attention to the condition of Italy. Sir, that is, no doubt, a painful subject. He has adverted to the frightful character of the kingdom of Naples. He has also dilated most eloquently, but most justly, upon the admirable example which is afforded by the kingdom of Piedmont to all Europe. He has pointed our attention to a people wise enough to know the value of constitutional institutions, and temperate, moderate, and firm enough to know how to work them well without almost any previous experience. That country affords an example almost unparalleled in the history of Europe; because we have seen many countries which, from arbitrary Government, have suddenly obtained representative institutions, but which, owing to want of previous practice and experince, have, for years and years, found those institutions unavailing for any practical promotion of rational liberty. Not so with Piedmont. There the people seem as if they had enjoyed for centuries the excellent institutions which they have only recently obtained; for there had been few of those conflicts and violent antipathies which frequently take place in and disfigure the earlier periods of constitutional government; and while the people, on the one hand, have shown that wisdom and steadiness of purpose which dignifies them in the history of Europe, they have, on the other hand, had the good fortune to be ruled by a Sovereign who well understands that the real power, dignity, and reputation of a Monarch depend upon his gaining the affections of his people, and who has respected the institutions which his country has obtained, and which, while they appear to curb his power, place that power upon a firmer foundation, and who has set to his people an example worthy of the exalted position in which he stands. Sir, no doubt it is only natural that such a people and such a Monarch should look with painful anxiety upon the condition of other parts of Italy. No doubt that condition is as 1947 deplorable, as it has been described by my noble Friend. In many parts of Italy, and especially in the Roman States, and in the kingdom of the two Sicilies, events take place and circumstances arise which form a most painful contrast with the state of things in the kingdom of Sardinia. Foreign influence in all countries is fatal to the well-being of the people; but foreign influence, maintained by arms, is still worse even than that which is maintained by political ascendancy. But in Italy, unluckily, both have had their sway. In the kingdom of Naples we see the ascendancy of foreign political influence—for it is vain to disguise the fact that the influence of Russia is predominant there. And that is one example of that which has been denied by many of the manner in which, even in countries divided from the Russian Empire by large tracts of land, the influence of that Power weighs heavily. Upon more occasions than one the Government of Naples has shown its hostility to England and France by its prohibitions against the export of things of which their neutrality did not forbid them to permit the export; and I am concerned to say that only recently there have been cases of cruelty and oppression committed by that Government which really do not belong to the age in which we live. On the other hand, the occupation of the Roman States by French and Austrian troops has naturally increased the ability of that Government to commit acts which are not in consonance with the feelings of the people of this country. But the House must, I am sure, see that that is a topic most difficult and delicate for the British Government to touch. There cannot, at the present moment, be anything less desirable for the interests of the country than that either discussions in this House or that any proceeding should be taken by Her Majesty's Government which would tend to cast a shade of coldness over the relations between this country and France on the one hand, or between this country and Austria on the other. But I may say this, that, with regard to France, without entering into the motives which led to the occupation of Rome, or the effects which that occupation has had, and which, indeed, I am bound to say have been those of tranquillity—I believe that no complaints have been made of the conduct of the French troops during that occupation, but that, on the contrary, their conduct has been most exemplary. With regard to the 1948 French occupation the House is probably aware that the number of the occupying troops, instead of being increased has been materially reduced. And with regard to the Austrian occupation, it has altogether ceased in Tuscany. An Austrian garrison occupied Florence till very recently; but that garrison has been removed, and the Government of Tuscany has been left to its own resources in the administration of its own affairs. There has been a report, I know, prevalent, that recently the Austrian force in Italy has been considerably augmented. I do not believe that that report is well founded; on the contrary, information which Her Majesty's Government has recently received goes to show that though a certain number of Austrian troops—3,000 only, or 4,000, 5,000, or 6,000, according to different accounts—have entered Italy, they have only replaced a certain number of Italian troops, to whom leave of absence for a certain period, in the usual course, has been given. The present actual number of Austrian troops in Italy has, therefore, not been increased. Whether that portion which occupies Ancona is greater or less, I am unable to say; but I believe that the aggregate amount is not larger than it has been for some time past. And, therefore, any notions that may have prevailed as to a change of policy on the part of Austria with regard to Italy, and which it was said was totally incompatible with her relations with England and France, are, I am persuaded, utterly unfounded; and I am perfectly convinced that whether Austria may or may not, at a future time, find it to her interest to take the field in conjunction with England and France, of one thing I am perfectly satisfied, that we shall not see Austria take the field against England and France in concert with Russia. My noble Friend, however, has said that he thinks it would be becoming for Her Majesty's Government to take advantage of any circumstances which might from time to time arise, with the view of endeavouring, by means of the Governments of France and Austria—or without them, according to the state of things—to ameliorate the condition of that fine country which he has so well and so justly described. Sir, it must be painful to see that great people—for I must call the Italians a great people—who, by nature, are endowed with the finest qualities, and are capable of becoming, as they have been in former times, models of everything 1949 that elevates and dignifies human nature, debarred, by the accidental circumstances of their political condition, from pursuing that career which would enable them as a great nation, to rival the most of the world. It must therefore be an object of great interest to any British Statesman—as it was on a former occasion the object of my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford—not only to endeavour to alleviate the pressure now weighing upon the Italians, but to open to them a nobler career, more congenial to those qualities with which nature has endowed them. But every man must be aware how difficult it is to alter the state of things which circumstances have brought about. At the same time, I can assure my noble Friend and the House that no fair or proper opportunity which may present itself to Her Majesty's Government, by which the condition of the Italians may he improved, will be lost. It must be in the recollection of many hon. Gentlemen that, so long ago as 1832, the five powers of Europe, by their representatives at Rome, did suggest to the Roman Government changes and administrative improvements, which, if carried into effect, would have gone far to improve the condition of the people of the Roman States. Those recommendations made not only by the representatives of England and France, but by those of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, unfortunately fell to the ground. They were recently partially taken up again and acted upon so far that a council of finance had been established. I am afraid that that council of finance has remained a powerless body; for though they have, I know, made reports and representations, those representations have led to no advantageous results. There were also combined with that measure certain provincial annual assemblies, in which there were the elements, I will not say of representative Government, by which the feelings of the people might have been made known to the Government, and by which the Government might have become better acquainted with the true interests of the people. But there has been one great difficulty in the way of the adoption of those arrangements, namely, what is called the secularisation of the administrative departments. That difficulty has not been overcome. My noble Friend thinks that, if the troops were withdrawn, the Italian people themselves would establish a form of government which would be more con- 1950 genial to their feelings and more conducive to their interest than that which now exists. If those changes could be made with that deliberation and calmness which are most calculated to accomplish a satisfactory result, I should say, for myself, let the troops go to-morrow, and let such improvement take place. But, unfortunately, the road from bad to good government is not always smooth, easy and rapid. There are difficulties in the way—there are dangers to be passed—there are evils to be encountered which sometimes, for the moment, almost counterbalance the good which is seen in the distance; and I should be afraid that, unless arrangements were previously made, and the way carefully prepared beforehand, any sudden introduction of such changes as my noble Friend suggests would set loose the wild notions which may here and there be entertained, and might lead, perhaps, to disturbances and inconveniences which no man would be more anxious than my noble Friend, I am persuaded, to avoid. But I think I can somewhat answer for the Government of France—and I am sure I can answer fully for the Government of England—that the attention of both has not been withdrawn from this most interesting subject, and that we should be most anxious to avail ourselves of any opportunity which may present itself, for the purpose of furthering those benevolent objects to which my noble Friend has directed the attention of the House.
I am not aware that there is any other topic which he has mentioned to which it is necessary for me to refer. I have said that a due sense of the responsibility of the Government, with reference to the war, is entertained by them, and that it is our intention to do the best that we can in discharge of that responsibility—that we are conscious that we shall have to render a strict account when Parliament meets again as to the manner in which we shall have discharged our trust; and I will only add that we hope and trust that our conduct may then be satisfactory to Parliament and to the country.
§ MR. HENLEY
I hope, Sir, the noble Lord may not prove to be too sanguine in his expectation that on the reassembling of Parliament he will be able to render an account of the proceedings of the Government which will be satisfactory to the House and to the country. For my own part, I ardently trust that that account may be satisfactory, and may redound to the 1951 honour of the noble Lord, who has, with a spirit which well becomes him, assumed for himself and for the Government the deep responsibility of our present position. I believe the noble Lord has correctly stated that the country at large is most desirous that the war should be prosecuted with vigour and determination. I confess I was somewhat at a loss, till the noble Lord at the head of the Government rose, to understand the why or the wherefore this discussion was raised. The noble Lord has had long experience, and I have no doubt the reason he stated was the true one. He stated that the noble Lord the Member for the City of London was now in a position that enabled him to compass an enlarged view of a great number of things, and that he had taken this opportunity to give vent to an expression of opinion on several matters that he had found leisure to study and understand. That is not an unnatural solution of the difficulty, because it is in my recollection that the noble Lord himself (Viscount Palmerston) has, when similarly situated, favoured us with a similar line of conduct, and we generally find that in such cases men judge of others by themselves. Some of the questions raised by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London are not only of some interest, but, considering the high position of the noble Lord, may almost be regarded as causes of some apprehension. On a recent occasion he took an opportunity of discussing the question of the negotiations, when he found himself in a warlike mood, and he then opened up to us the important subject of the nationalities of Poland and Hungary. [Lord JOHN RUSSELL: No, never!] The noble Lord dissents. How far I am right or wrong in saying that he opened up the whole question may give rise to a difference of opinion; but this at all events is clear, that the noble Lord called, in the most forcible language, the attention of the House and the country to the conduct of Russia in those particular countries, and this, by an easy transition of the mind, may be called an opening up of the whole question. The condition of those countries was used by the noble Lord in a warlike mood as a sort of makeweight to show us the kind of Power we had to deal with in Russia. The noble Lord then slipped, in a peaceable mood, to other topics.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon, but I do not remember saying a word about Hun- 1952 gary. What I referred to was the Russian government of the Polish provinces.
§ MR. HENLEY
The noble Lord says his observations were confined to Poland, and no doubt that country was enlarged upon as his greatest point. However, the noble Lord afterwards fell into a peaceable mood, and the House certainly did not find him drawing a very sanguine picture of the prospects of the country with regard to the war. He said but little, but that little was not calculated to lead us to believe that the noble Lord's opinion was a very sanguine one with regard to the success of the war; and having that opinion, the noble Lord suggests a very odd way of helping us out of our difficulties. He suggests, on the one hand, that he would have been better pleased if the whole of his opinions that are on record in the Foreign Office had been laid before the House, leading us to infer that the country is not now in possession of all those facts that would enable it to come to a sound judgment on the matter; and, on the other hand, he suggests—what certainly is of great importance, because the noble Lord the First Minister admits that in this particular the noble Lord the Member for London had better opportunities of forming an opinion than anybody else—he suggests that it was possible Turkey might have been quite satisfied with one of the arrangements that had been proposed, and that, if this were so, ordinary justice required that instead of granting a loan to Turkey we should supply her with subsidies. Now, when the noble Lord makes a suggestion of that kind, with the consequence which he infers from it, people are naturally led to suppose that he has stated what was his own impression, because men do not usually draw inferences of that kind unless their own minds have arrived at a definite opinion on the subject. Passing from these matters, the noble Lord, as if things were not complicated enough, had recourse to his historical recollections, and pointed to operations of various kinds which the noble Lord at the head of the Government has had to do with in other parts of the world, and not unnaturally he thought of Italy. Here is a nice matter, he no doubt thought to himself, to take up when it is convenient to be in the warlike mood again—Poland does not answer the purpose well, it is out of reach—but here are fresh nationalities in Italy. The noble Lord now at the head of the Government is well known to have performed certain 1953 feats in that country, and to have originated a certain roving diplomatic expedition, for what precise purpose many different opinions were formed at the time. This, however, may be said, that if it did not cause certain things, they happened very oddly together. Seeing all these matters have been fermenting in the mind of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) during his period of leisure, why should he not call attention to them? But the noble Lord at the head of the Government has not, as we might have expected, chosen to give us much information on those points. After a great deal of description, which I have no doubt is perfectly true and sound, of the good faith and good sense of our ally, he went the length of saying that the two Governments might now be considered as one Cabinet. That was a very satisfactory statement to make to the country and to the House, because, no doubt, unity of action in all great operations is essential to success. Then the noble Lord glanced rather slightly at the existing state of Italy, though he did so with his usual ability. We all remember that the year 1832 was a period when ultra-Liberal principles were in the ascendant. Everybody blazed away in the full swing of the Reform Bill; and we recollect that the five great Powers of Europe made sundry propositions to the Roman States which were attended with very little success. There are many things connected with that matter on which the noble Lord might have enlightened the House, but he has not seen it his duty to do so. After a reference to Sardinia, the noble Lord turned to Naples, and called upon us to see how completely that country was under the thumb of Russia. He points to the cruelty and oppression there perpetrated, and uses many hard words, though I am ready to confess not one jot harder than the occasion requires. But then the noble Lord immediately alludes to those parts of Italy which are occupied with foreign troops; and I ask the House to perceive how differently he describes the acts that are done there. He speaks of them as acts not in accordance with the feelings of the people of this country. That is the easy and ingenious way in which the noble Lord deals with countries that are not circumstanced like those which are under the influence of Russia. He speaks of the sad influence of Russia as a despotic Power; and so also of Austria as a despotic Power; but I have yet to learn that 1954 France is not also a despotic Power at this moment. The noble Lord very conveniently skips over the eventful period of 1848. It would have been instructive to this House to hear from the noble Lord a little information as to what took place then. He had it in his power to do so, and a most graceful opportunity was presented him of enlightening the House on subjects with respect to which there is reason to believe considerable misapprehension exists; but the noble Lord did nothing of the kind. He told us that the Austrian troops had been withdrawn from Tuscany, and that there are now a smaller number of French troops in the Papal States than formerly there were, and the noble Lord adds, that it is a painful thing to see Italy misgoverned as it is; but that unless they are prepared at all hazards to place themselves in a better position, the people of that country will be apt to fall into acts of violence and disorder which all must lament. How far the noble Lord had the same opinion in 1848 I do not know; but so far as we can judge from what has since taken place, 1 should say he had not. The noble Lord then went on to say that it was absolutely necessary that foreign troops should continue in occupation of the country—for what? For the purpose of keeping order. But with all the strong wishes which he has expressed that the Italian States should be better governed, he did not give us the least reason to suppose that now that order has been kept in those countries during five or six years by means of foreign bayonets, there is any intention to get things into a better state than they were in when the troops went there; neither has he held out the least expectation that the time was approaching when these foreign troops might be withdrawn. I must confess that I regret that this matter has been brought forward at all, for I think that it will lead to no good, and that it is only throwing down another apple of discord, when there can be no doubt that the Government, without interfering in this matter, will find sufficient employment in carrying on the war with efficiency and in obtaining a secure peace. I agree with what has been said by the hon. Member for Lambeth, and believe that this country was got unnecessarily into this war, and that if the Government had been in different hands this country would have been kept out of it. But what we must do now that we are en- 1955 gaged in the war is a very different question. We must do everything in our power to bring it to a safe and honourable termination; and I must confess that I have not been of opinion that there has as yet been afforded any fair opportunity of bringing it to such a termination. I do not believe, in those negotiations which took place at Vienna, that any of the parties who went there were actuated by any real intention of making peace. Judging from the papers giving an account of those transactions, neither what took place on the part of the Allies, nor on that of Russia, conveys to my mind the impression that any of the parties went to Vienna to make peace; they appear to have gone there to endeavour, through negotiation and diplomacy, to gain for their respective countries an advantage, and to place them in a position to make peace. The negotiations, at all events, have failed; and that being the case, I believe that the Government has now nothing to do but to fight out this war, for I think that is the only mode of obtaining a secure peace.
§ Bill read 3o and passed.