brought up the following Resolution—That it is the opinion of this Committee, that Her Majesty be authorised to guarantee the payment of the interest on the loan of five millions sterling, to be contracted for by His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, in pursuance of the Convention signed at London on the 27th day of June, 1855, between Her Majesty, His Majesty the Emperor of the French, and His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, and that provision be made out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, or the growing produce thereof, for the issue of such sums of money from time to time, as may be required to pay any interest which may at any time be required to fulfil the guarantee of Her Majesty in respect of such interest, conformably to the tenor of Her Majesty's engagement as specified in the said Convention, together with the attending charges of management thereon.
§ Resolution reported.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
I rise, Sir, because I am anxious to express my regret that the House should have been surprised into a division upon Friday night, which I believe affords but a very imperfect indication of the feeling of this House or of the country. I attended the House that evening, and I remained in it till considerably past eight o'clock. When I left, I certainly understood from various quarters that it was not intended to carry the discussion on the question beyond a conversation, and that no division was to be taken upon it. I am bound to add that, within a few minutes after that, the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Ricardo) stated that it was his intention to divide; but I may appeal with confidence to those who attended that day whether it was expected that a division would take place? My conviction is that, if the House had been full at the time of the division, the majority would have been much larger in proportion in favour of the Resolution. I will not contend that the House has not the right to question any convention of this nature, because, though it is the prerogative of the Crown to conduct these negotiations and to make treaties, yet it is the privilege of the Commons of England to comment upon them, and to withhold the required supplies if they think fit to do so. I admit that there is upon the face of this Conven- 1284 tion, and of the negotiations which have ended in it, much that may be made the subject of animadversion and hesitation. I can see the difficulty of carrying out this Convention—I can see that which was urged on Friday night with great ability against the particular form of the Convention—and I can conceive the embarrassment which may possibly arise from the manner in which each party is made to guarantee the interest on the whole amount of the loan. Admitting all these circumstances, still it is with reference to the affairs of Europe at this time, and to our particular relations at this moment with the great Power which has joined us in this guarantee, that I cannot but regret the language which was held upon the occasion in question, and that it should have gone forth to Europe that the House had nearly rejected that Convention altogether, and had only sanctioned it by the small majority of three. Looking to all these circumstances, and to the extreme danger—I do not say of disturbing the alliance between France and England, because I do not believe that such a trifle would have disturbed the alliance between two such Powers—but looking to the dangers of the proceedings of Friday night being taken as an indication by the friends of Russia of a misunderstanding between the two Powers, and of a hesitation in carrying on the war, I must say that I deeply regret the occurrence. I cannot wonder at the earnestness with which the right hon. Gentleman who sat below me spoke upon the subject; but I wonder that those who have always professed themselves most anxious to assist in the energetic, powerful, and vigorous prosecution of the war, should have joined in a vote which, though it may not be misunderstood and may be well accounted for here, may have the appearance in Europe of hesitation to grant the necessary supplies for the war. I must apologise to the House for these observations, but I should be very sorry that it should be supposed in our own country or elsewhere that that small majority on Friday in any way represented the feeling of the House or of the nation.
§ MR. BRIGHT
Sir, I did not say anything about the loan upon Friday night, but I voted with the minority. The right hon. and learned Member will admit that I, at all events, have not been inconsistent in the course which I have taken; but I think that there is no difficulty in defending the vote which I gave upon that occasion. 1285 There was no surprise whatever; and if the right hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to keep the people of this country or of Europe well informed of what passes in this House, he has no right to say that it was any surprise. If an hon. Gentleman chooses to go away between seven and eight o'clock, and not to come back again during the evening, is he to get up three or four days afterwards and to tell us that we who were here, as we conceive, in the fulfilment of our Parliamentary duties were guilty of something like a trick in endeavouring to get a majority against the Government? The noble Lord at the head of the Government will not say that it was a surprise, because my right hon. Colleague (Mr. Milner Gibson), some two or three weeks ago, when the loan was first whispered of, asked the noble Lord whether such a loan was to be proposed, and whether the House would have sufficient notice of it, because he believed that it would meet with considerable opposition. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke, who was the first person who spoke in the debate, and who sat down before seven o'clock, stated distinctly that he intended to divide the House; and that determination was come to without the slightest knowledge that any single human being in the House, with the exception of three or four, would support his proposition. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, with his legal and logical mind, has himself given us reason for the course which we took. He says that he is quite aware of the magnitude and force of the objections which were raised to the loan in its present shape. But, if he is aware of them, does it not follow that some others were aware of them to an extent that impelled them to take the course they did with regard to it? And I say that neither any person in this House nor through the press has been able to shake the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke, or the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford. The Press has given us all the usual stuff with which it treats its readers upon this subject, about "danger to the French alliance." The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that he has no fear about the French alliance. What if it should turn out to be the fact, not only that the alliance does not depend upon the guarantee, but that the French Government, instead of insisting upon it, had to he urged into this particular mode of accomplishing the object in view by the Go- 1286 vernment of this country? The noble Lord never showed that it was not so, although he made three speeches the other night; neither did the Chancellor of the Exchequer, although he made two speeches; and I must say that I thought the last speech of each of these Members of the Government was made against time, in order that their Friends, who had not heard one word of the arguments, might be whipped up and come down in the most docile manner to vote. The noble Lord did not tell us that there was any fear of the French alliance. Of course he threw out insinuations, and pointed out the vague shadowy dangers which he knows do not exist, except, perhaps, in his own imagination. The fact is—and we had better look it in the face—it is understood by the occupants of the Treasury bench, that when the country is at war the House of Commons is to be a shadow. There is, in fact, a disposition to deal with Parliament in the same way, that the Parliament was dealt with in another great European city. It is not to discuss questions which are concerned in the war. A few crotchetty individuals, like myself, for instance, may be allowed to express opinions; but for the majority of the House to look the noble Lord and his colleagues in the face, and to protest against the measures which they are adopting, is held to be unparliamentary, and is not to be tolerated in a state of war. If you want to know the opinions of Gentlemen upon the Treasury bench on this subject, I will give it you from a journal of great influence, which is supposed to be under the control of an hon. and very able Gentleman who sits upon that bench. Here is a paragraph which appeared in a leading article of that paper upon the 30th of December, 1854, and, of course, things are worse now.—It is difficult to say whether the leaders of the Radicals or the leaders of the Tories—whether Lord Derby, Mr. Bright, or Mr. Disraeli—have done most to awaken us to a perception how mischievous, at critical conjunctures, free legislative assemblies may become. The plain truth is, that Parliamentary government is, in time of war, an embarrassment, a danger, and an anomaly, and we have to thank the advocates of an extended suffrage and the supporters of rotten boroughs for making it so plain. Legislative bodies are needed for legislation and control. They are not needed, and they are not fitted for executive action, especially in moments of peril and difficulty. The seldomer Parliament meets, and the shorter time it sits during actual hostilities, the better for the country which it represents, and the better for its own dignity and influence.1287 Now, that is a paragraph from the Economist newspaper, which is supposed to be under the management of a Member of the Government. But if there is one thing that Parliament should be jealous of, and upon which the people of England, during forty years of peace, have more unmistakably expressed their opinion than upon almost any other, it is the recurrence to that system of subsidies which proved to be so useless for any practical purposes during the last war and so efficient for involving the country in debt and embarrassment. I said nothing the other evening on the subject of the loan, but I will now, without detaining the House more than a few minutes, in one or two sentences state what appears to me to be an overwhelming reason against this loan. I agree with the arguments which have been used against this loan, but there is one argument which to my mind is of more importance than any other. I fear this loan is the beginning of a course of scandalous inconsistency on the part of this country, which may lead to results which it is impossible for any one to foretell. I think that if you mortgage the revenue of Egypt then that of Syria, then that of Smyrna, the great outlet and inlet for the commerce of Asia Minor, as is now proposed, you do of necessity, considering the present circumstances of Turkey, take the first step in a direction which may ultimately lead to the partition of Turkey. I have not the slightest belief that, when it is pointed out as being apparently advantageous or desirable mode of escape from some troublesome dilemma—I have not, I say, the slightest belief that the Gentlemen on the Treasury bench, or their great ally, will hesitate to follow up this step by other steps. We all know that England has for some time been supposed to have an eye upon Egypt, and that France has been equally supposed to have an eye upon Syria; and, although these charges have no doubt been made without the slightest foundation, yet the prejudice and suspicion which run in that direction will be greatly strengthened by the course which the Government have pursued with regard to this loan. You must also bear in mind that you are professing to fight for the independence of Turkey; and yet I understand the noble Lord at the head of the Government to say, that the money which it is proposed to raise is not to be intrusted to the Ottoman Government; and, indeed, it 1288 is arranged by the Convention that there is to be a joint commission of English and French agents, and I presume one Turk, which is to have the distribution of the expenditure of the amount to be collected by this loan. Now, if you mortgage the revenue of that part of Turkey which lies to the south of the Dardanelles, and appoint a commission to regulate the expenditure of the money which Turkey finds necessary to maintain its army, I ask the noble Lord at the head of the Government, I ask any reasonable man, where is the guarantee for the maintenance of the Turkish Empire? If we could by possibility, with the knowledge which we possess of the history of the past, conceive ourselves in the Ottoman Empire and subject to its rule, with two of the Powers of the West coming and, under the pretence of defending us from an enemy, taking first the revenues of Egypt, then that of Syria, then that of Smyrna, the inlet and outlet of their commerce, and then appointing a commission to sit in our capital city to expend the money necessary to defray the expenses of our army, should we not say, the glory of the nation had departed, and with it the last shadow of our independence? Should we not say, that the nations pretending to assist us were but treacherous friends, and that they were more likely to precipitate the ruin of our country than the enemy against whom they professed to defend us? With regard to the division which took place the other evening I am perfectly ready to take my full share of responsibility. Does the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wortley) think, or do those people out of doors, who in the public Press write lectures to us, think, that we are mean, sneaking cowards? Are we to be browbeaten by this Press? Are we to be told by it that we do not represent our constituents aright or defend the true interests of our country? Why, Sir, on that subject we judge for ourselves, and take the responsibility with our constituents. It is not necessary for any man that he should have a seat in this House; but it is necessary that, having a seat, he should have regard to the interests of his country, and should act in the way which his own conscience tells him is most consistent with his duty. The noble Lord at the head of the Government may find that the division of the other evening will turn out very salutary to him. A few nights before a division took place, in which the noble Lord was in a majority of more than 100, and the friends and flatterers and 1289 claqueurs of the noble Lord, and writers of all sorts in the Press, say that that was a great and significant evidence of the confidence which the House of Commons feel in the Government of the noble Lord. Now, Sir, I do not believe a word of it. The hon. and gallant General, the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), who moved the previous question, admitted that, if the vote had been a direct vote of want of confidence in the Government, he would have supported it; and the noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil) who seconded the Motion, I believe, said the same, and not less than fifty Gentlemen from the other side of the House, who never pretended to have any confidence in the noble Lord, voted in the same lobby with him on that occasion. I do not say that they had not sufficient reason for the vote they gave, for, indeed, I think the question was one upon which earnest and reasonable men might honestly differ; but what I do say is that, if we are to be told that, as the noble Lord escaped on that occasion by a majority of 100, therefore his Government enjoys the confidence of this House, then, in my opinion, it was a very salutary thing that, when the noble Lord brought forward a proposition which in itself was so objectionable that only the noble Lord himself and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a single word to say on its behalf, a division such as that of Friday night should have taken place. There were several Gentlemen who supported the noble Lord who might have said something, if they were able to say anything, in support of his Resolution; but, instead of doing so, they left the noble Lord to make three speeches and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make two in its favour; and it is my belief that if this Resolution were put to the House without any pressure of Government necessity, it would not receive the support of ten Members who sit on the Treasury bench. We hear a great deal about endangering the Government and the French alliance; but Governments there will be when the noble Lord is no more, and the alliance with France, I trust, will endure long after the present war. Let the House of Commons do what it ought to do in spite of the imaginary fears of the noble Lord, and in spite of the browbeating so commonly inflicted by the Press of London if any one says anything reasonable with regard to the war.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHEE
said, he was as little of a claqueur or partisan of the noble 1290 Lord as the hon. Member who had last addressed the House, and he thought the hon. Gentleman very much mistaken when he said that Members who had voted silently with the majority on Friday, because they preferred hearing what the noble Lord and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to say on the subject, had no reasons to assign in support of the vote which they gave. For his part, he had very good reasons to give for his vote, which was quite as sincere and honest as that of the hon. Gentleman against the Resolution. The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Ricardo), to whose speech he had listened with great attention, and from whom he had derived much instruction, had certainly announced his intention of dividing the Committee; but it was not until the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford spoke, that there was the smallest reason to suspect a preconcerted intention upon the part of a strong party in that House to divide the House against the Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman was the first who, upon this Resolution, declared war against the Government. The right hon. Gentleman began by saying, that he would deal with the question entirely independently of the subject of the limitation of the naval force of Russia, of counterpoise or limitation, or four or eight ships; and the moment the right hon. Gentleman had delivered himself of that precaution, he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) understood that it was his intention to defeat the Resolution and to embarrass the Government, if he possibly could, in the prosecution of the war. He was ready to listen to the arguments which might be adduced by any hon. Gentleman against the further prosecution of the war, and he had himself expressed the opinion that one of the proposals made by Russia was worthy of more consideration than it had received; but, at the same time, when he remembered that the House had come to a unanimous vote to support Her Majesty in the prosecution of the war until the means of obtaining a safe and honourable peace should be secured, he confessed that he was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman, who was himself a Member of the Government which entered into the war, and who supported it until he found that it could not be carried on by the annual taxation of the country, take the first opportunity of tripping the Government, and of doing all in his power to frustrate the vigorous prosecution of the war;—thereby dishonouring in the face of the 1291 nations of Europe, he would not say Her Majesty, but the honour and good faith of the Crown of England. He had voted for the Resolution, because the reasons which had been advanced against it by the right hon. Gentleman appeared to him transparently fallacious and unworthy of being advanced by a Member of that House who was a Privy Councillor, and who had lately been a Cabinet Minister. The main reasons advanced against the Resolution by the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford consisted of imputations against the good faith and honour of the allies of the English Crown. The right hon. Gentleman said that Turkey was engaged in a war, and he had put the supposition of Turkey forgetting this loan as soon as the war was concluded. Now, that was, in his opinion, a direct imputation upon the honour and good faith of one of the allies of the Crown of England. Was any such supposition warranted by facts? Why, whatever else had been charged against the Government of Turkey, a want of good faith, or a disposition to repudiate pecuniary engagements, had never been at any time imputed to her. Now, there was nothing of argument in that observation; but it was hardly becoming of one in the position of the right hon. Gentleman to throw out that taunt upon an ally of the Crown. But the right hon. Gentleman was not satisfied with attacking the honour of Turkey. "France," he said, "engaged to pay half that interest, should it be necessary; but suppose France refuses to pay her share? What right had the right hon. Gentleman to make that insinuation, which was a direct attack upon the honour and good faith of France? Such an imputation coming from a right hon. Gentleman who had only just left the councils of the Crown, so far from being an argument which tended to convince independent Members of this House, that the course he recommended was expedient, appeared to show clearly that the right hon. Gentleman had some other object in view, which perhaps he did not altogether own to himself—some other object than to support the honour and dignity of the Crown and the country in the difficult circumstances in which they were placed. But the right hon. Gentleman had other arguments, and told the House that this guarantee was worse than a loan—that it would be better to lend Turkey the money ourselves, or even to give it to her, rather than let her borrow it and England gua- 1292 rantee the interest. He gravely told the House that it was better to become instantly chargeable for the interest, or even give the money, than become contingently liable to pay that interest. The right hon. Gentleman must have a very low opinion of the intelligence of this House, to venture on such an argument. But, besides this, the right hon. Gentleman appeared to him altogether to disregard what was due to the character and reputation of this country in the grave and difficult position in which it was placed. We had induced the Turkish Government to enter into engagements with the persons who had lent her their money, upon the promise of our guarantee, and the Emperor of the French had been induced to become a surety for the payment of the interest upon half this loan, upon the understanding that this country would join him. Now, it was true, that in the Convention the engagement was entered into subject to the approbation of Parliament; but in what position would England be placed if other Powers could say, "How do we know we can depend upon you? How do we know that, by a majority of three or four, the most solemn engagements into which you enter (although acting strictly within the prerogative of the Crown) will not be set aside by the House of Commons?" Other Members who had followed the right hon. Gentleman had only repeated what he had said. This had been fully and sufficiently answered at the time by the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) had thought himself quite at liberty to give a silent vote in favour of the Resolution.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he had voted for the Resolution because he considered it was impossible to separate the financial from the political grounds on which it stood, and because the latter counted for something in the present critical and serious position of the country. Lord Aberdeen, an advocate for peace, had launched this country into an aggressive war with Russia; and, with the exception of France, this country had no allies, nor was likely to have any. Prussia was neutral; Austria was the same, and was likely to be so, according to the meaning of Count Buol's answer to the noble Lord the Member for London after the 18th April. In what position, then, would this country be placed if the whole force of Russia should be directed 1293 on the Crimea? The best thing that could be done was to assist the Turks, who had thousands of brave men in the regions around the Black Sea eager to fight for their independence, and who only needed to be provided with the means. The best means of assisting them was to assist them with money; per se, therefore, the Resolution was a wise and prudent measure, and he voted for it, as he would have voted for a grant of money to Turkey. That difficulties existed he would not pretend to deny; but he thought they were exaggerated by the right hon. Gentleman, and at all events all danger of entanglement between England and France might be avoided, as by the treaty England had the power of paying the dividend on the loan herself in case of necessity. He could not see how any complication could arise, therefore; and as he thought it was the duty of Parliament to wage war as effectually as possible, he had supported the Resolution as one of the best means to that end.
§ MR. ALCOCK
said, he had voted against the Resolution the other night simply because, having listened to the arguments adduced on both sides, and considered them according to the best of his judgment, he had come to the conclusion that a more indefensible proposition had never been laid before the House. Politically it was most objectionable, because it sowed the seeds of future dissensions with the utmost certainty; and commercially, because it was pitiful to exact a mortgage from so wretched a country as Turkey for a debt which she would be quite unable to defray. If the allied Powers were really desirous of assisting Turkey, instead of granting a loan, let them give her the sum of money which she required as a free gift. He did not deny that Turkey might stand in need of assistance, but he objected to this Convention because they were calling upon Turkey to give a security which, though it might be the best she had it in her power to give, was in reality of no value at all. It was not a question of Turkey's desire to be honest—she had not the power of being so. He had no doubt that the people of this country would be quite willing to support a proposition for giving to Turkey a sum of 2,500,000l., our share of the loan; but it would be useless, in this pitiful manner, to grant a loan of which there was no prospect of getting back either the interest or principal. Already 1294 the Asiatic army of Turkey had been inadequately supplied with food, clothing, and money, for the simple reason that it was out of the power of Turkey to supply the means of keeping it upon a proper footing. If this money wore voted as a free gift, the allies would have a right to call upon Turkey to attend more closely in future to that army, and the result might be an expedition to Georgia as successful as that which the allies undertook a short time ago in the Sea of Azoff.
§ MR. J. L. RICARDO
said, he had been quite willing to rest under the imputations and misrepresentations which had been made out of doors with regard to his conduct upon the Vote of Friday night; but when the right hon. Gentleman the Recorder for London deliberately rose in his place and accused him of having taken the House by surprise, he felt called upon to address a few remarks to the House in reply. In the first place, he believed that if ever a division had been fairly announced and fairly taken it was that on Friday, and he ventured to assert that, if there had been any wish to deal with the subject unfairly, a large, majority on their side might have been secured. From the soreness which had been exhibited upon this question by those who had voted in the majority, he could not help thinking that they had less consciousness of right than they wished to be supposed, and that they felt that the argument was on the side of the minority, and that the only argument which could be used in support of the Convention was, that it was already made, and that therefore the House must vote for it. Now that the country was at war, he, for one, was most anxious that it should be carried on with energy. There was no sacrifice that ought not to be made to carry it on with vigour; but, at the same time, peace was worth all the wars in the world, and no exertion or sacrifice would be too great that would secure it. If he had thought that the vote which he gave on Friday would injure the cause of this country in the slightest degree, he should have refrained from recording it; but he had given it because he conscientiously believed that this Convention would not aid or assist in the accomplishment of the objects which the country had at heart. He believed that he was right in the course which he had taken, and he did not see why, because he happened to differ from hon. Gentlemen on either side of the House, he should have motives and designs attributed 1295 to him to which he was no party whatever. In guaranteeing this loan to Turkey the House had taken a most unwise and impolitic step. They had taught her to depend upon the resources of her allies rather than upon herself, and hereafter, instead of making a struggle to help herself, she would depend entirely for support upon England and France. It was said that the object of the war was to secure the independence of Turkey; but were they taking the proper mode of securing her independence? They had been told that if they had gone to a vote an hour or two before they did on Friday night the alliance with France would by this time have been dissolved. Having always understood that the alliance between this country and France was strong and cordial, it was certainly with great surprise that he was now told that it would be inevitably dissolved if the Parliament of this country refused to subsidize Turkey. He had opposed the Vote on Friday because he was altogether opposed to the principle of subsidies; but he believed that the greater portion of those hon. Gentlemen who voted with the minority objected not so much to the Convention itself as to the mode in which the arrangement was proposed to be made. Would the noble Lord tell him that, because Parliament expressed an opinion that it would be better that this loan should be carried out in the same manner as the Greek Loan, a casus belli would arise between England and France, and that an end would consequently be put to the existing alliance? He must confess that he did not believe that the alliance between the two countries hung upon so slender a thread, and that he was satisfied the Government of France would most willingly have reconsidered the subject. He protested against the doctrine laid down the other night by the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the appeal to the House of Commons for its sanction to a measure of this kind was a mere form. If the money of the taxpayers of this country was to be diplomatised away without any expression of opinion on the part of the House of Commons, that House might as well at once abdicate its functions with reference to questions of this nature. He must remind the House, however, that it was distinctly stated in the Convention that Her Majesty merely undertook to recommend to her Parliament a grant of money for the purposes 1296 of this loan. If the Legislative Assembly of France had refused to assent to the loan, did anybody suppose that the people of England would have considered the alliance at an end. He did not regret the vote he gave on Friday night, and was willing to bear the responsibility of that vote before his constituents and the country. He protested, however, against the accusations which had been made against those hon. Members who voted in the minority, and the motives which had been attributed to them. He was satisfied the Vote on Friday would not be without its fruits, but that it would show the Government that they could not give away the money of the people of this country by Conventions with foreign Powers without encountering some opposition from Parliament.
§ MR. DEEDES
said, that, whilst the hon. Gentleman took credit for being actuated by patriotic motives, he insinuated that some Members of the majority regretted the course they had taken, and that if they had the same opportunity again they would not vote in the same direction. He for one protested against that interpretation being put on his vote. They had satisfied their own consciences in voting as they did, and they were not afraid of meeting their constituents upon it. For himself he should repeat the vote he had given on Friday, if he had the opportunity. He did not, at the same time, entirely approve of the terms of the loan. He thought the political considerations involved were of greater moment than the financial. The financial was but a prospective difficulty, whilst the political one appeared to be imminent, and to some extent unavoidable. If the vote had been the other way, he thought the Government would find itself placed in great difficulty with the French Government.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, he thought the Vote of Friday night had substantially taken many hon. Member by surprise. It had come by surprise on him. He did not vote at all, but if he had thought that the consequences would have been so serious as it now seemed to have been, he would have given his vote in unqualified support of Government. It had been said that lending money to Turkey was only a means of rendering her dependent instead of independent, and they had been told a great deal about the superiority of Russia over Turkey. England was, year by year, paying interest on 1297 a loan of 3,000,000l. to Russia, and he had never yet heard that that country was becoming dependent. Everybody must remember the excellent service which the troops of Portugal rendered to our army in the Peninsular war. Their troops were maintained by loans, the distribution of which was superintended by a British Commission sitting at Lisbon; and he saw no reason why the same mode of proceeding should not be adopted now in regard to Turkey. In the present state of the Turkish army, any delay in sending this money would be most injurious. Some hon. Members had called in question the honesty of Turkey; but there was no country in Europe which had given less ground for such an imputation than Turkey. It was a country which had less public debt than any other country in Europe. During the present war Turkey had made great efforts; she had organised her regular army, and her artillery was in the highest state of efficiency. Assuming that the noble Lord would take proper precautions for the due application of this money, and that the money would be applied to legitimate purposes of war, he could not see any objection to the loan. He must give his support to the proposition, although, perhaps, there might be some unfairness in allocating particular duties for the repayment of the interest.
§ MR. LAYARD
trusted that, as he was one of those Members who were not aware the other evening that a division of such importance was about to take place, he should now be allowed to say a few words. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Oxford University, would forgive him for expressing his conviction that the course he had taken on this subject was alike unwise, unstatesmanlike, and unpatriotic. Let the House look to the facts. That section of the Cabinet of which the right hon. Gentleman was a most distinguished ornament was perhaps mainly the cause of the present war, owing to the vacillating policy it had pursued. That Cabinet launched this country into the enterprise in which it was still engaged, the despatch which ordered our troops to the Crimea having been signed by the Duke of Newcastle; and now, when he stood in great straits, the right hon. Gentleman and his friends were the first to turn round and, embarrass the Government. The right hon. Gentleman could not have adopted a more effective mode of furthering the designs of our enemy than he had done. 1298 Supposing the opposition to the guarantee had been successful the other night, what would have been the effect upon Russia? Why, St. Petersburg would have been illuminated, and universal joy have been spread throughout the length and breadth of Russia. And what, on the other hand, would have been its influence upon Turkey? The Turks would have been disheartened, and would have thought this the first step towards our deserting them. He would say nothing of the effect of such a vote upon our ally across the Channel, but he believed it would have been most disastrous. But he held the right hon. Gentleman responsible, to a certain extent, for the embarrassments of Turkey. About two years ago the Porte wished to raise a loan herself in this country; and she might have done so on favourable terms, the market having then been well supplied with money. He (Mr. Layard) then entreated the right hon. Gentleman to say one word in support of the credit of the Turkish Government; and if something of that kind had passed, Turkey might have raised a loan without coming to our Government at all. The right hon. Gentleman, however, being at the time a Member of the Government which was about to embark in a war in defence of Turkey, made a speech at Manchester, in which he declared that the Turkish Empire was falling to pieces, that it was a country which we could not support, and one that was rapidly sinkin under the fate which the Emperor of Russia had ascribed to it—namely, that of "the sick man," who was dying fast. That speech would have been enough to destroy the credit of Turkey in this country, and to prevent her Government from obtaining the loan which it might otherwise have raised. It was true that at the commencement of this war Turkey was in some pecuniary difficulties; but why so? Because she had made considerable exertions in time of peace to place herself in the rank of civilised European States. With this view she bought up all her old coin, and took other steps in improvement which had incidentally caused some embarrassment to her finances. She had also made great and successful efforts in organising her army, which had necessarily entailed upon her considerable expenses. The course pursued by the hon. Member for Manchester was not so open to censure, because it had at least the merit of consistency, that hon. Gentleman having plainly told the House that he would 1299 endeavour to embarrass the Government in the conduct of the war. Now, no doubt a joint guarantee of a loan might be exceptionable in form; but considerations of statesmanship outweighed minor objections of that kind; and certainly it could not have been expected that a division would have been insisted on upon such a question. Two classes of objections had been stated to this guarantee—one relating to the honesty of Turkey, and the other based on her want of resources. Now, the fact was, Turkey had never yet repudiated a debt that she had contracted. She might not have satisfied every extortionate demand, but she had faithfully liquidated every shilling she had ever undertaken to pay. Indeed, Turkey was not only perfectly honest, but was even generous in her pecuniary transactions. In some instances the Turkish Government had been actually defrauded and imposed upon; and, in the case of the Tripoli claims, particular merchants received sums to which they had no sort of right or title. With regard to the resources of Turkey, he would take the liberty of reading interesting extracts from two letters which he had received from a gentleman who was better acquainted with the state of that country than perhaps any one else that he knew. The first letter was dated Samsoun, the 30th of January, 1855, and said—The war, no doubt, has stimulated the trade of this place; the necessities of our army and the closing of the Danube and Odessa have created a great demand for grain here; this will cease to a certain extent, when the extraordinary causes which have produced it shall be terminated by peace. But my belief and hope is, that the trade created and fostered by the war will not cease with the war; the people of the interior have learnt to send their produce hither for sale, and have gained so largely that they have been tempted to extend tillage to the utmost in their power. The forests behind us are being cleared, and, as men are scarce, the women are used to cultivate the land. This immense increase of production must come hither for sale, as the interior has no consumption for it. I have been quite surprised to learn the riches of some of the landed proprietors in Asia Minor—one Bey offered to give in one sale 30,000l. worth of wheat, all stored and ready for delivery! This, probably, was the proceeds of two or three years harvest, but still I am surprised that such riches should still exist among what may be called the landed gentry of Anatolia—the real aristocracy, in fact, of the country—out of which something may, perhaps, some day be made … Anatolia possesses enormous resources, which our Commissariat would have done wisely to avail itself of much more largely than it has done.The second letter bore date Samsoun, the 15th of June, 1855, and stated— 1300Asia Minor is fulfilling your predictions. It has become one of the chief producers of supplies to the allied armies, especially Samsoun. Our harbour is crowded with shipping loading animals and grain. The quantity of bullocks in this country is extraordinary. We have delivered as many as a thousand a week to the Commissariat, and might give many more if required; but we suffer rather from too many beasts than too few. Steamers are constantly coming in—French, English, and Turkish, for supplies * * * * I have made large purchases of horses, mules, and camels for the land transport; and we are sending off great quantities of firewood for both armies. * * * * There is no doubt that from this the three armies will receive next winter a very considerable proportion of their supplies of all descriptions—animals, barley, wheat, straw, and hay.This description was applicable, not to Asia Minor alone, but to Turkey in Europe. What the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) said the other night was strictly true—no country had made such rapid progress as Turkey had done within the last fifteen years. In 1839, when he went to Turkey for the first time, there was scarcely a steamer in the Black Sea. Since then a trade had been opened in every port, and companies now ran their vessels to Trebizond, Samsoun, Varna, and other places. What Turkey most required was roads. ["Hear!"] The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bright) cheered that statement, but what were the facts? About two years ago the Turkish Government was on the very point of signing with a British firm of great eminence a contract for the construction of a railway from Belgrade to Constantinople, with branches to other points. That railway would have developed the resources of the country, and quadrupled, perhaps increased tenfold, the revenue of Turkey; but its construction was prevented by the Austrian Minister, who declared that such an undertaking would meet the strongest opposition of Austria, and would be regarded by her as an act of hostility towards her; and it was consequently abandoned. Again, in Asia Minor, the Turkish Government was on the point of constructing a road from Batoum to Kars, but was prevented by Russia. What Power had prevented Turkey from uniting the Danube with the Black Sea? Why, Russia again. The fault therefore was not attributable to the Turks. It was to repress such interference that the present war had been mainly undertaken, in order to permit Turkey to develope her resources, which were so great that a trifling debt of 5,000,000l. could be easily met. At present that country had no debt to bear, 1301 but he believed that to some extent a national debt was an advantage, because it interested the holders of the debt in the welfare of the country, [A laugh.] The, hon. Gentleman laughed, but he (Mr. Layard) was reminded of the case of the Turkish pachas who committed all sorts of atrocities against the inhabitants of the district which they governed, but they could not be removed because they always owed money to Christian bankers, who said to the Porte, "You cannot remove this man, or we shall lose our money;" and yet these very Christians were the people who complained of the injustice and oppressions of the pachas. He was of opinion that by the neglect with which this country had treated Turkey the resources of the latter had been seriously crippled. In Asia Minor, by our neglect, we had suffered Turkey to be deprived of her valuable trade with Persia, and ho feared still worse consequences would follow. Two years ago he had entreated the Government to keep its eye upon Asia Minor, and the noble Lord the Member for London, at the beginning of the year, assigned as one reason for quitting the late Government that his (Mr. Layard's) representations upon that subject had not been attended to. Yet the noble Lord had since then held office, but no steps had been taken upon that subject; but, on the contrary, everything had been done to prevent the Turkish Government from doing anything in Asia Minor. He (Mr. Layard) looked with alarm at the probable consequences of such conduct. If the Russians succeeded, as he feared they would, in taking Kars, the whole of Asia Minor would be in their hands. Then, how could we propose terms of peace? If we took Sebastopol, and would not allow the fortress to remain, or to be reconstructed, the Crimea would be useless to Russia, who would say, "We don't want the Crimea, because we have a material guarantee for the whole of the East in Asia Minor." He earnestly entreated the attention of the Government to this point as one of the most vital importance, upon which account he had referred to it on the present occasion, although it was not strictly connected with the subject under discussion.
Sir, the hon. Gentleman has just been pleased to say that, in his judgment, my conduct, in respect to the Turkish loan, has been unwise, unjust, unstatesmanlike, unpatriotic, 1302 and has applied, I think, all the epithets which are to be found under that particular heading in the dictionary. I will not discuss matters of general opinion in detail with the hon. Gentleman, so far as regards the present war, because I am bound to say that, with respect to this particular subject, with the views he entertains and the part he has taken as to the present war, both in bringing it about and in increasing its virulence, I regard the use of those epithets concerning my own conduct only as compliments. I have no objection, however, to tell my hon. Friend what was the origin of my speech at Manchester in 1853, to which he has referred. At that time the war had not broken out, but, on the contrary, there was the greatest hope that hostilities might be avoided. It was before sending out those rational propositions on the part of Turkey to Russia, which were settled at the latter end of 1853, and which were madly refused by Russia. At that time there were gentlemen in this country, of whom I think the hon. Gentleman was the chief, who appeared to me to be propagating most dangerous delusions with regard to the state of Turkey. Of course the hon. Gentleman will not understand that I impute to him anything beyond a perfectly sincere fanaticism; but, unless I am much mistaken, the hon. Gentleman was the most powerful witness, on account of his knowledge of Turkey, who filled the minds of the people with false ideas and with expectations which must be bitterly disappointed. That bitter disappointment is now arriving; but the statements of the hon. Gentleman had great influence in propagating those erroneous ideas of the condition of Turkey, and I thought it my duty to do what I could to give the public more accurate information on the subject, and to endeavour to lessen, if I could not altogether destroy, the influence of those erroneous views as to which the country is only now beginning to be undeceived. So much for matters of opinion; and now as to matters of fact. I thought I might have had some common ground with the hon. Gentleman. He said he was taken by surprise on Friday, and he did not anticipate there would be a division. That was what he said. Now, here I deal with a matter of fact, and it is certainly very strange that, as the hon. Gentleman anticipated no division, he should have paired upon this particular question with an hon. relative of mine, and should have been himself the 1303 person who acquainted me with the fact that he had made that convenient arrangement. However, not having found it convenient to he in his place on the occasion when the subject was rather fully discussed, he has joined with my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. S. Wortley) in the somewhat unusual course of delivering a rebuke to Members of this House for the line of conduct which they thought fit to pursue in going to a division upon a matter in which my right hon. Friend himself admits they made out a strong case. My right hon. Friend fully admits—every Member of the House admits—that this engagement is a bad one. There is—and I beg to impress it on the Government, for it will have its effect upon the country—there is not one man in this House, with the exception of the First Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has stood up to defend this arrangement. The hon. Baronet the Member for Eve-sham (Sir H. Willoughby), one of the fairest and most impartial men in the House, says my objections to the measure are greatly exaggerated, but he thinks there is considerable force in the objections urged. And then, again, we are told there was a preconcerted movement on the part of the Opposition on Friday night. The learned Serjeant (Mr. Serjeant Shee), who has paid me the high compliment—for such I consider his answering upon a subsequent occasion, a speech which he himself heard delivered on a former night, when having indulged his intellectual exercitations he left the house—the learned Serjeant says, that there was such a preconcert was evident from my speech. If there had been any preconcert between me and any hon. Member I should have been the first to avow it, for it appears to me that nothing is more natural than that those who agree together should vote together, and when they intend to do so should know each other's intention. But in this instance, the active imagination of the learned Serjeant has misled him, for the fact is that on Friday evening before the debate began I asked the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Ricardo) whether he intended to divide against the Resolution, and his affirmative reply was the first knowledge I had upon the subject of a division; the second knowledge of it which I received was the announcement of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury, that he paired on the question, who now complains he was taken by surprise. Well, he says 1304 my conduct is unwise, unjust, unstatesmanlike, and unpatriotic; and for what? For agreeing with him, the hon. Member for Aylesbury. If he does not choose to agree with me, I, nevertheless, do agree with him in his emphatic denunciation of what I look upon as the most important part of the arrangement—namely, the joint guarantee. That proposition of the Government has been condemned by him, it has been condemned by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir H. Willoughby), it has not been defended by the learned Serjeant(Mr. Serjeant Shee), it has been condemned by my right hon. Friend behind me—condemned right and left, front and rear—defended by two Ministers of the Crown, and by no one else. Now, Sir, I am not going to retaliate upon those who have attacked us—I am not going to find fault with the hon. Baronet, or with any one else who voted in the majority; I am here to state fairly my opinion in this time of difficulty, not to pass censure upon those who judge differently from myself, and who have thought proper to support the Government in the proposition which they have made. I am here to say that the course we took was one that we had a right to take, and one that was in conformity with the spirit of the constitution, and which is supported by the practice and precedent of Parliament. Did my right hon. and learned Friend who has censured us consider whom he was censuring? Did he take the pains to investigate previous questions of this kind, and does he really know what are the privileges and functions of the House of Commons? [Hear.] The right hon. Gentleman cheers me, as if he thought that what he had done was within the ordinary discretion of a Member of Parliament; but it is not in the ordinary discretion of a Member of Parliament to absent himself at a particular stage of a measure, when it was fully discussed, and to come down to a subsequent stage and complain of the conduct of the minority of the House on the stage at which he was absent. Have we not a right at any time to express a decisive and deliberate judgment upon the principle of a measure, and is that a right to be asserted in the abstract, and never to be put in practice? If it is to be put into practice on any occasion, can there be a fairer or more just occasion than one in which almost every individual Member of the House has concurred in condemning the plan of the Go- 1305 vernment? I am sorry to be obliged to produce the law—such as it is—upon this question; but in 1795, in an unreformed Parliament, and at a time when Mr. Pitt, with his huge majorities, was carrying everything with a high hand, he proposed one of these guarantees the bitter fruits of which the nation had not then experienced. Did Mr. Fox bend his neck to the serville doctrine? Did the Whigs of that day consider the great inconvenience which was to result from the free assertion of the privileges of the House of Commons? On the contrary, every stage of that Bill was debated, and three times the voice of the House was called for on the principle of the measure. You say, look at the consequences. Well, Sir, I should like to know whether there has been any occasion of this kind, except under the gravest circumstances? What was the object of the guarantee of Mr. Pitt? It was to induce the Emperor of Austria to keep 200,000 men and upwards in the field against France; but that such was his object did not restrain the representatives of the people from exercising their independent judgment upon the matter before them. Is that all? Let us go a little further back, and the farther you go buck into history, the more you will find that this House is not to be deterred from the exercise of its rights by censures and imputations of this kind upon those who choose to exercise them. In 1714, after the peace of Utrecht was made, along with the papers respecting the peace of Utrecht there was presented to the House a commercial treaty with France—a commercial treaty forming part of the general pacification of Europe—a commercial treaty, therefore, which formed a portion of an arrangement yet more comprehensive and yet more pregnant with momentous results than the arrangement which is now before us. That treaty, however, contained provisions respecting the taxing functions of the House of Commons, respecting the duties upon importations from France, and the House of Commons, 141 years ago, thought itself free and took the liberty of rejecting those articles of the commercial treaty, and threw out the Bill that was introduced for the purpose of giving them validity. Therefore, Sir, while I do not in the slightest degree censure those who take a different view, but frankly admit that the case is one of real and great difficulty, I say that it ought to be treated as one 1306 of those fair occasions on which a difference of opinion may prevail, and that it ought not to be taken out of the category of ordinary questions, and made the subject of a retrospective lecture. Sir, I will refrain from touching on any part of this question which might impugn the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. They have not entered into this discussion, and I shall be satisfied if they leave it to us. But the hon. Member for Kent (Mr. Deedes) has said that he admits the force of my financial objections, but he thinks that I ought to take a political view of the case, and that, if I take a political view of the case, I should see that the embarrasment that would result from our relations with France, from the rejection of this Convention, are so serious that my financial objections would be overborne by them. But my hon. Friend confounds financial and political with present and future. I appeal to those who heard me whether my speech was a speech founded on financial objections. I stated, indeed, that, financially, I looked upon this measure as deceptive, but it was the political objections upon which I laid, and shall ever lay, the chief stress. The financial mischief may be limited within the figure of 5,000,000l. which, great as it is, can well be borne by the gigantic resources of this country. The political objections of the measure are those upon which I dwelt, and I must tell my right hon. and learned Friend who spoke of the French alliance, that in my opinion he has not well considered the bearing of the subject on the interest of that alliance. Is that an alliance of to-day and to-morrow, and not the next day? Is it our duty to provide some hand-to-mouth arrangement that will keep it straight for the present, and leave the future to shift for itself? Are we, the Members of the House of Commons, on the plea of present inconvenience, even if the exaggerated inconvenience which has been conjured up to alarm us exists, to become deliberate and silent parties to a plan so impolitic and so improvident that in every line of it it is full of the seeds of future difficulty and possibility of division? The hon. and learned Serjeant says I spoke as if the practical good faith of Franco was not to be trusted. The hon. and learned Serjeant certainly says he was present when I spoke, and therefore I presume he was; but I do not recollect to have used a single syllable casting a shadow of suspicion upon the practical 1307 good faith of France, which, in my opinion, is entitled to stand as high—and I can say no more—as our own national good faith in pecuniary matters. But, Sir, I ventured to put to the House on Friday many questions as to the cases that might arise in the interpretation of this Convention, or that might arise on the guarantee, for I did not confine myself to the questions of to-day. This is an arrangement for future generations. Let Turkey fulfil her engag, ementsand I dare say she will if she is able, hut that I look on as a matter of considerable doubt—let her, however, fulfil her engagements, and the Convention that we are now discussing will not be wrought out in less than thirty or forty or fifty years; and, consequently, for forty or fifty years, if you are to maintain this joint guarantee, we are to he in those relations with France which we cannot guarantee ourselves. It has been said by moralists that those who wish to avoid sin should avoid the occasion of sinning, so a nation that wishes to avoid a quarrel should avoid the occasion of quarrelling. Here is a Convention, however, which creates and husbands the opportunities of quarrelling; and when I asked what was to be done in the cases that would arise under the Convention, in the case of one party wishing to recover from Turkey, and the other unwilling, or in case of one party obtaining satisfaction and the other not, although we were favoured with two speeches from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and rising in number, according to the dignity of the Speaker, three from the noble Lord at the head of the Government, they could not find one word in answer, or tell us what course we could take, what rights we were to exercise, and what to insist on under the arrangement of this joint and several guarantee. I do not think, then, that my right hon. and learned Friend is justified in the animadversions he has made on the conduct of the House on Friday night; but, after all, the main question is the practical question before us. I hope that Her Majesty's Government, upon whom I call at present for no declaration of opinion, inasmuch as I think there is no intention to-night on the Report to test the judgment of the House by a division, to bear in mind this remarkable fact—and I believe I am strictly borne out in the assertion—that though there is great difference of opinion—and for my part I do not wonder at or complain at the differ- 1308 rence of opinion—as to the propriety of voting for this Convention, yet there appears to be no difference of opinion whatever upon the prudence, the wisdom, or the expediency of the terms of the Convention. I hope that if there are hon. Gentlemen in this House who think that this is a wisely devised and constructed arrangement they will rise in their places and say so. In this House such is the freedom of debate, and such the variety of the constitution of the human mind, that, if it be desirable so far to deviate from the common line as to form a particular class of opinion in favour of a particular measure, here you are sure to find it. But although we are almost a menagerie of curiosities in matters of opinion, yet still of one particular class, up to the present moment, we have not got a specimen—namely, of a non-official man who approves, upon its merits, of the terms of this Convention. I entreat my noble Friend at the head of the Government, to see what he can do for the improvement of this arrangement. I know perfectly well that he is placed in a difficulty after what has taken place; at the same time I think that he and his colleagues, unless I have greatly underrated their abilities and discernment, will plainly see that the imputation of faction, pre-concert, and charges of that nature are not enough to account for the proceeding of Friday. I entreat him to consider well, in the interval of the two or three days which must elapse before we can come to the consideration of the details of this Bill in Committee, what he can do to institute proceedings in the way of negotiation for moderating some of the more serious evils and getting rid of the more formidable dangers which may attend the working of this Convention. So far from being ashamed of the vote I gave on Friday evening, I believe that those who voted as I did on that occasion have been of service to the country; but I for one am not disposed to push this matter to extremes. I am disposed to admit that there is some part of the mischief of this arrangement which we must tolerate. The most virulent and most acute portion of the poison lies in that political aspect of the question on which I have raised my chief objection, which springs from the joint guarantee, and from which I anticipate the greatest dangers to the alliance with France, which I hope will long outlive the miserable complications of this war. Without, therefore, asking for any 1309 specific pledge on this occasion, and without reference to the squabble in which we, the Dii Minores, have been involved, I would ask the noble Lord whether he cannot do something to free the measure from some of the more serious evils which have been anticipated from it? And I will only add that if he is successful in devising any measure by which that end can be accomplished, he will confer no small or insignificant service on the country.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
explained. His hon. Friend seemed to think that he had had the presumption to express censure on the Members of the House; but if anybody had thought it worth while to report fully what he had said, it would be found that he had expressed no such opinion. He only said that the House had been taken by surprise by what had taken place on Friday night, but he had imputed factious conduct to nobody.
§ MR. JOHN MACGREGOR
said, he did not consider that the annual interest of this loan was a very serious matter; but he thought it would have been much better and wiser if France had guaranteed l00,000l. of that interest, and England the other 100,000l.; but as the terms of the Convention stood, England might be called upon to pay the whole. The refusal to accede to this proposition would lead to very serious results from the statements which would consequently be made in Russia. He looked upon the division on Friday night as a great moral error on their part. He believed, although the Convention had been entered into, that it was still open to the Government to enter into arrangements with France as to their guaranteeing each half of the loan. He believed that every shilling that Turkey borrowed she would pay; and he, for his part, would sooner trust a Turk with 100l. than a Greek with 5s. He wished that they would show to foreign countries that they could settle this matter independently of any party considerations.
§ MR. KIRK
said, after the observations of the hon. Member for Manchester he felt bound to state his reasons for voting as he did on Friday night. The first reason was, that the French maintained an army of 120,000 men in the Crimea, while the English army did not exceed 30,000; and, therefore, if the whole sum of 5,000,000l. were paid by the English it would be nothing more than was reasonable, in order to make up the difference between the expense incurred by this country and that 1310 incurred by France. The second reason was, that this nation was much more deeply interested in the war than the French nation, because one object of Russia was to move in the direction of India. As to the prudence of the terms of the Convention, he did not profess to be statesman enough to judge; but for the reasons which he had given he had a perfect right to vote, as an independent Member, in favour of the Resolution.
§ MR. LAING
said, his vote was given without any previous concert with any other Member before be entered the House, and he would leave it to the country to judge whether he did wrong in endeavouring to stop, by his vote, what he believed to be the most dangerous and vicious system of guarantees at the outset. He believed that they (the minority) had taught the Government a useful lesson, stopped the mischief at the fountain head, and done good service to the country. It had been imputed to the minority that they had shown a disregard for the French alliance. Now, what was the simple history of the vote which he gave? Strongly as he felt the financial objections to the loan, the main objection which occurred to his mind was that the particular form of guarantee proposed was one which involved great difficulties and complications in their future relations with France. He could not for a moment imagine that the Emperor of the French, acquainted as he was with the institutions of tins country, knowing that the House of Commons habitually and constitutionally took cognisance of questions of this kind, would have taken umbrage at the House of Commons for exercising their constitutional privilege to the extent of saying that assistance should be given to their Turkish ally in one form rather than another. No Member of that House felt more the importance—the absolute and vital necessity—of maintaining unimpaired the French alliance, than many of those who voted in the minority; but he would tell the supporters of the measure that the danger to the French alliance did not arise from a fair and deliberate expression of opinion on the part of the House of Commons, but from the clamour and agitation and pressure from without to which the House of Commons might in an incautious moment be induced to give way. The alliance with France was cemented by too many ties of interest to be disturbed by a fair, and frank, and constitutional expression of 1311 opinion on the part of the House of Commons; but if that House, yielding to a pressure from without, urged on France to a course which she disapproved, he should tremble for the French alliance.
§ MR. CAYLEY
said, that an hon. Member had said that no independent Member had supported the proposal of the Government. He had only to remind the hon. Member that it was not usual for independent Members to get up and support proposals for taxation. After listening to the objections to loans, to subsidies, to guarantees—to the objections of the party for peace at any price, and to that of the party for peace at half-price, he saw the difficulties of the question, and felt inclined to wash his hands of the matter altogether. Considering all circumstances, he thought the Vote was a most perilous one, and that although there might be objections to the financial plan it did not appear to him that those objections at all counterbalanced the dangers and difficulties they encountered in opposing the proposition. In his opinion it was not desirable at present to have a change of Government, and though he agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster that the conduct of the present Government was not quite satisfactory, yet considering the period of the Session, the state of our alliance with France, and the condition of affairs in the East, he thought it would be a most perilous thing to reject the Resolution of the Government, and for the whole loan itself he would not have incurred the responsibility of opposing it. One form of Government had already received a severe shock in the opinion of foreign countries, and he did not think it would be at all wise to change the Administration just at the moment when they might be expected to apply most effectively the plans and arrangements they had made. They would be judged by their works when the House met after the recess, and he could tell the noble Lord that he (Mr. Cayley) would be one of the most severe judges on his proceedings if the war were not carried on with the vigour and energy which might be expected from a Minister who had such immense resources placed at his disposal.
§ MR. CROSSLEY
said, he always voted in favour of the Government of the day if his conscience permitted him to do so, and he utterly denied that in the vote which he gave on Friday evening he was actuated by factious motives. He thought that if they were not to be permitted to 1312 vote on the merits, the Executive should be permitted to decide on such subjects, and not bring it within the power of the Members of the House to say aye or no to them. He objected, in the case of nations, as well as of individuals, to entering into any bond; and he thought that, if Turkey were really in the prosperous financial condition described by the hon. Member for Aylesbury, the best course to adopt would be to allow her to raise the money she required herself; at all events, if we were to advance money to her, we ought to retain some control over it. It was, no doubt, desirable that this country should be on good terms with Turkey, but it was of much greater importance that it should remain on good terms with France, and in his opinion the complications which might arise out of a joint guarantee might tend to disturb the good feeling which at present so happily existed between the two countries. In his opinion the division of Friday should be a warning to the Government not to enter upon a similar course in future, and he could only say that although it was not his intention to continue to oppose the Resolution before the House, still he should feel it to be his duty to give to any similar Resolution his decided opposition.
§ MR. MUNTZ
denied that in the vote which he had given on Friday evening he had been actuated by any other motive than a desire to take that course which he deemed to be best for the interests of the country. He had to look at the question of the proposed guarantee not only with reference to its own merits, but in connection with the complicated circumstances by which it was surrounded; and regarding it in that point of view, he voted not so much in favour of Her Majesty's Ministers, as of the union which subsisted between England and France. He must also observe that the nation for whose use the money was to be guaranteed was not one which had been lavish in her expenditure, as was proved by the trifling amount of her debt; while, so far as Turks individually were concerned, he should add, that, having had many business transactions with them, he had never lost a shilling by them, but had always found them most honourable and fair in their dealings. He thought therefore that there was a very good prospect for the repayment of the money.
§ MR. PHILIPPS
said, he looked more to the political than to the financial embarrassments which might arise, and thinking that those political embarrassments 1313 would be more likely to arise from rejecting the Resolution than from agreeing to it, he had on Friday voted in its favour. As far as financial embarrassments were concerned, if the worst came to the worst, the whole thing might be set right by paying the money; but by rejecting the Resolution embarrassments of a much more serious character, and not so easily arranged, would be very likely to arise.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. FITZROY, Viscount PALMERSTON, and the CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER.