§ Order for Committee read.
§ MR. WALPOLE
Before the Chancellor of the Exchequer commences his reply to the observations of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), I wish to put a question to him. I perceive that in the original Convention the word "séparément " occurs in three articles, but in the translation of the Convention laid upon the table the word "separately" 1464 is omitted in all the articles. Now, I apprehend that the legal effect of the Convention would be very different, according to the omission or insertion of that word. The Bill is framed upon the supposition that the translation is correct, and is not framed according to the original Convention. The recital of the Bill states that—Whereas a Convention has been signed between Her Majesty, His Majesty the Emperor of the Frenhch, and His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, in which it was agreed as follows:And then follows the English translation of the Convention, omitting the word "separately" throughout, adopting the English translation, and not copying the original. The enacting part of the Bill, which purports to give effect to the Convention, makes it lawful for Her Majesty to guarantee, in conjunction with the Emperor of the French, the interest on the loan to be raised by the Sultan upon the terms and conditions set forth in the Convention. Now, the conditions of the Convention differ from the terms and conditions recited in the Bill which we are asked to pass, and which adopts the English mistranslation, or omission. I wish to ask whether Her Majesty's Government would be willing to amend the Bill in Committee by inserting the word "separately" throughout the Convention which it recites, and by following up that Amendment so as to make the enacting part of the Bill correspond with the Convention?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The understanding of Her Majesty's Government is, that the guarantee of England, as well as the guarantee of France, applies to the entire loan. I apprehend that the nature of the obligation contracted must be perfectly clear to any one who reads the Convention. The right hon. Gentleman raises a subordinate question as to the proper mode of translating the word "solidairement." My right hon. Friend says that word ought to have been translated "severally" or "separately." I apprehend that, on the contrary, that word does not mean separately or severally, but conjointly, and that there is no word in the English language which could render literally the French word "solidairement." In the original draught, prepared in the Foreign Office, the words "conjointement et solidairement " were, after inquiry, translated "conjointly and unitedly." It was remarked that the word "unitedly" was not exceedingly good English, and that it 1465 did not add to the force of the word "conjointly," and, therefore, it was thought that the word "conjointly" was the proper translation of the French phrase. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole), who is a lawyer as well as a scholar, must know that the French word "solidairement" is synonymous with the phrase of the Roman law "in solido," and I maintain that the translation in the papers laid upon the table is the most faithful translation that could have been adopted. If it is thought that the enacting portion of the Bill might be rendered more clear by the insertion of other words, I am quite ready during the discussion of the clauses, to consider what would be the effect of such an alteration; but it must be observed that all the Government seek to accomplish is to enable Her Majesty to carry into effect the stipulations of the Convention, and I think no one who reads the treaty can entertain any reasonable doubt as to the effect of those stipulations. The guarantee is undoubtedly separate with regard to each contracting Power. There is an entire and separate guarantee on the part of England; there is an entire and separate guarantee on the part of France; so that supposing Turkey not to pay the interest on the loan, it would be an obligation upon England and France separately to provide for the payment of that interest. If England were to fail in the payment of the interest it would be the duty of France to pay the whole; if France were to fail in the payment it would be the duty of England to pay the whole. The obligation of each Power is entire as applied to the whole guarantee. [Mr. WALPOLE made a remark.] The French Government inserted the word "solidairement" in the treaty, and I have no doubt it expresses their idea more strongly than any term we could use. I may observe that the treaty concluded between England, France, and Turkey is in the French language, and with regard to our obligations with France and Turkey we are, therefore, bound by that treaty, notwithstanding any errors that may have occurred in the English version. The English copy of the treaty, is, in fact, a perfectly unauthentic copy, which we make for our own use. I will now endeavour, to the best of my ability, to reply to the remarks which were made at the morning sitting by the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford. He observed that the terms of the treaty into which Her Majesty's Government have entered with 1466 the Governments of France and Turkey have been unanimously condemned by this House; that no Member of the House has approved the terms of that treaty; that the principle of a guarantee was incurably bad, and that nothing could redeem it from the condemnation which it deserved. The right hon. Gentleman said that, on a previous night, he had called upon Her Majesty's Government, in consequence of defects in the arrangements into which they had entered, and which he had pointed out, to reconsider the terms of the treaty, and to enter into fresh negotiations. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!] At any rate he called upon them to reconsider the terms of the treaty, and to endeavour to amend the arrangements into which they had already entered. The right hon. Gentleman further said that we had treated his advice with little respect, and that we had evinced no disposition to modify the arrangements which we had already made out of consideration to the universal opinion of the Members who had spoken. With regard to the question of reconsidering our arrangements—which, I think, notwithstanding the dissent of my right hon. Friend, must be regarded as identical with a fresh negotiation—it is clear that we could have no power to alter the terms of a Convention already concluded with France and Turkey. We could only modify those terms by entering into fresh negotiations, and obtaining the assent of France and Turkey to a modification of the terms embodied in a treaty the ratifications of which have been exchanged. Let the Committee consider the position in which we should have been placed if we had requested the French Government to reconsider the terms of the Convention. I find that the Moniteur of Friday the 20th of July, contains the promulgation of the law giving the French guarantee to the Turkish loan of 5,000,000l. The promulgation is signed by the President and Secretaries of the Chamber, and the article declares that the Minister of Finance is authorised, in the name of the French Government, and on the conditions set forth in the Convention of the 27th of June, to guarantee the loan. The French Chamber has actually adopted that law, which has been promulgated by the Emperor of the French; the promulgation has been made public in the official journal—the Moniteur—and the session of the Legislative Chamber has now, I believe, concluded. In what manner, then, could 1467 we have approached the French Government? What arguments could we have used to induce them to reconsider a Convention so solemnly entered into, and to which, with the full knowledge of the circumstances, we had ourselves so recently assented? I think the Committee will see that the course recommended by the right hon. Member for Oxford University offers obstacles which may fairly be deemed insurmountable. Then, as to the principle of the guarantee. The right hon. Gentleman says that the principle of a guarantee is incurably bad, and that, whatever we do, we ought not to guarantee the Turkish loan. I wish to call the attention of the Committee to the alternatives we had to consider if we had adopted the recommendation of the right hon. Gentleman, and had entered into a fresh negotiation with the view of modifying the arrangements we had made. In the first place, suppose we had resorted to the expedient of a loan. Is it likely that the French Government would have consented, in addition to the loan which they had advertised, to call for an addition of 2,500,000l. in order to lend that money to the Turkish Government? Are we ourselves in a position, now, after the engagements we made on contracting the loan in the spring, to go into the market to borrow 2,500,000l., in order to advance it to Turkey? My right hon. Friend points to the example of the Sardinian loan, the treaty for which was signed when he was in office, and says it is a model which ought to have been followed by us upon this occasion. But let me call the attention of the House to the principle of that arrangement. This country agreed to advance 2,000,000l. to assist Sardinia in the prosecution of the war. Did France bear any part in that engagement? Not at all:—the whole of the burden of that loan was undertaken by the Government of this country, and it cannot be said that, as far as the entirety of the obligation was concerned, we divided it with our ally. But my right hon. Friend objects to our undertaking a joint guarantee. At all events, we have the good faith of a country upon whose good faith we may reasonably rely, in bearing with us half the responsibility of that loan; and the terms of the loan are not so high as we were compelled to pay when we had to raise money ourselves. But then it is said by my right hon. Friend, that it would have been preferable not to guarantee the loan 1468 with France, but to raise the money and give it absolutely to Turkey, and that then we might have avoided any subsequent diplomatic altercations. On that subject I differ altogether from my right hon. Friend. A guarantee is disadvantageous when it ends in becoming a loss. If you are never called upon to fulfil your guarantee, it cannot be burdensome. What would have been the effect of a gift to the empire of Austria of the two loans of 1795 and 1797? Two loans were raised in those years amounting to 7,500,000l. at 3 per cent. Those loans were raised by the Emperor, and guaranteed by England—both the interest and the sinking fund. The fund which was known as the Imperial Annuities was abolished, and the whole were incorporated with the funded debt of Great Britain, in 1824, by the 5 Geo. IV., chap. 9, and a sum of 2,500,000l. was at that time repaid by Austria. The loss to Great Britain, who guaranteed the loan, was about 4,000,000l. [Mr. GLADSTONE: And interest.] Yes, and interest. But Mr. Pitt by that loan secured the services of Austria as an ally during the war, and that was one of the means by which Mr. Pitt brought the great pecuniary power of Great Britain to bear against France during the wars of the Revolution and the Empire. No doubt, a loss accrued to this country by those loans; but it was not an entire loss of the money advanced, some portion, 2,500,000l. being repaid, and the utmost that can be said of that, which was, no doubt, very ruinous in a financial point of view, is, that what was a guarantee originally became afterwards, in fact, a gift and a subsidy. If that sum had been duly paid, it was impossible to say that any disadvantage would have accrued to England. At all events, this country recovered 2,500,000l., and it is possible, moreover, that some benefit accrued to England from having assisted Austria in her need by her large funds. My right hon. Friend came at last to the question of separate liability, upon which he dwelt at some length. He says that instead of a joint liability we ought to have a separate liability, and that, if we engaged to enable Turkey to raise a loan of 5,000,000l., the obligation of England should have been limited to 2,500,000l., and that of France to the other 2,500,000l.; and he thinks that some arrangement might have been made by which the loan might have been raised at the same rate of interest, without any difference of credit 1469 making itself manifest. [Mr. GLADSTONE expressed dissent.] I understood my right hon. Friend to say that, if the example of the Greek loan of 1833 had been followed, the evils of the present loan would have been avoided. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, too, also laid some stress upon the Greek loan. Now, I will briefly call the attention of the House to the history of the Greek loan, and I think I shall satisfy them, whatever the defects of the arrangement under consideration, that, at all events, in raising that loan, the interests of Greece were not very sedulously attended to. It was agreed, in the Convention between Great Britain, France, and Russia, and Bavaria, concluded at London, May 7, 1832, that a loan should be contracted by the Government of Greece, under the guarantee of Great Britain, France, and Russia; that the principal of the loan should not exceed 60,000,000 francs; that it should be raised by three instalments of 20,000,000f. each; that each of the three Governments should be responsible for one-third of the annual amount of the interest and sinking fund, the payment of which should be secured upon the first revenues of the Greek State; and that the several instalments should be raised according to the necessities of the Greek Government. The financial arrangements were exclusively made by the Greek Government, and the guaranteeing Governments did not interfere in raising the loan. The two Commissioners, one a Greek, the other a Bavarian, met at Paris, and contracted with Messrs. Rothschild and Co. in January, 1833, for the whole 60,000,000f. at one and the same time, and at one and the same price—namely, 94 for a 5 per cent bond. By this means the credit of England, France, and Russia were weighed out at the same rate. 40,000,000f., being two out of the three instalments, were raised at once at that price, and the remaining instalment was also issued at the same rate of 94. In the beginning of 1833 the English 4 per cent stock was at 102, 103; the French 5 per cents at 101, and the Russian 5 per cents at 101. This loan must, therefore, have been very advantageous to the contractors. In August, 1836, about which time England guaranteed the remaining third of her third, the price of 3½ per cents in London was 100; French 5 per cents 108, and Russian 5 per cents 112. Now, it is material to observe the value in the open market of the three sets of Greek bonds guaranteed by the three Powers. The 1470 price of the English guarantee is from 108 to 112, the French guarantee 99, and the Russian about 88. Those who managed this loan for the Greek Government, guaranteed by the credit of the three Powers, contrived it so that, in the contract which threw all the credits together, that joint credit was lower than the credit of any of the three guaranteeing Governments, and the Greek Government lost the advantage of the comparatively high price of the English and French funds. And that is the arrangement which my right hon. Friend holds up as a model for imitation. For myself, I can hardly conceive a financial arrangement more ruinous to the State it proposes to assist, or less calculated to obtain the benefit of the guarantee afforded by those Governments. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole) misunderstanding some remarks I made, said that we asked the House to indicate the policy and explain the terms which it was expedient for the Government to require. I asked the House for no such assistance. What I stated was that we had submitted our plan to the House, and that we were prepared to abide by it; but that, if the House thought fit to reject the terms we had made, it was incumbent on them, before they proceeded to the extreme course of rejecting a Resolution framed in accordance with the Convention, distinctly to point out to us what course they thought preferable. The course we adopted was the simple one of doing what we were asked to do. We were applied to by the Turkish Government, in the first instance, to guarantee the 2,000,000l. which remained of the loan, in addition to the 3,000,000l. previously contracted for by Mr. Horsley Palmer and Baron Rothschild. The Committee is probably aware that two years ago a loan of 5,000,000l. was projected by the Turkish Government, of which 3,000,000l. were raised by contractors in England, and that about 210,000l. out of 280,000l. a year, the amount of the tribute of Egypt, was assigned as security for the payment of the interest of that 3,000,000l, leaving 70,000l. a year for the remaining 2,000,000l., which were not raised. The first application of the Turkish Government to the Governments of England and France was to guarantee those 2,000,000l. upon the security of the remainder of the Egyptian tribute. To that request Her Majesty's Government acceded, and it was proposed in the first I instance that the guarantee of England 1471 for one of these 2,000,000l. should be a separate guarantee, and that the guarantee of France for the other 1,000,000l. should, in like manner, be separate. This proposition was communicated to the Government of France, who objected to such an arrangement for reasons which they assigned, and who said it was desirable that there should be no separate guarantee; but they would agree to an arrangement founded on the understanding that the guarantee should be joint. That arrangement Her Majesty's Government were prepared to carry into effect. Soon afterwards a communication was made to Lord Stratford by the Turkish Minister at Constantinople to the effect that the demands of the war upon the Turkish finances, as well as on those of England and France, were so large that it was not probable that the remnant of the loan would be sufficient to defray the growing expenses which were being incurred, and that it would be necessary for the Turkish Government to apply to us to guarantee a loan of 5,000,000l. The request of the Turkish Government was taken into consideration, and the Governments of France and England agree to guarantee fen increased loan of 5,000,000l. on the same terms as those upon which they were to have guaranteed the smaller loan. That is the manner in which this arrangement has been entered into. We did what we were asked to do. We made the arrangement which the Turkish Government requested us to make, and the Turkish Government voluntarily tendered to us—the Governments of France and England—the security of the remnant of the Egyptain tribute, which had not been assigned as security for the former loan of 3,000,000l., together with the customs of Syria and Smyrna. They did so of their own free will and mere motion, without any influence having been exercised over them, or any suggestions or applications having been made to them on the part of the French and English Governments; and, therefore, there is no foundation for the suspicion of sinister motives in obtaining those securities which my right hon. Friend this morning seemed to impute to the English Government. My right hon. Friend asks what power is there of dividing the liabilities of England and France; how are we to apportion our liabilities in the event of our joint guarantee being called into active operation? I will state the arrangement which 1472 has been made; I believe that arrangement to be satisfactory and complete, and, although I may fail in obtaining his assent to it, I am not afraid of submitting it to the consideration of the House. It is clear that, although a guarantee may be a joint one, yet that the money, whenever it becomes due, must be payable somewhere. It has been undertaken on the part of the English Government that the loan shall be negotiated in London; and the Government have come to an understanding with the Bank of England that, if necessary, they shall allow the money to be received into the Bank, so that the bondholders will look to the Bank of England to receive their interest. In the event of the guarantee being called into activity by the failure of the Turkish Government to resist the necessary funds, it will undoubtedly be the duty of the guaranteeing Government of England to make good the deficiency in the first instance; but they have entered into a separate agreement, by a separate instrument, with the French Government, that in such an event the half of all moneys paid on their behalf shall be repaid them by the French Government. The French Government have signified their readiness to enter into a specific undertaking to that effect. It is quite true that the place of payment is the Bank of England, but it is equally true that the place of payment does not determine the extent of the guarantee—it does not diminish the liability of France nor increase that of England. Supposing that Turkey fails to pay the interest of the debt, and that England also fails to pay it, no doubt would arise as to the obligation of France to make it good, and to take means for paying it to the bondholders at the Bank of England. The question of the place of payment does not in any degree affect the question of the separate and entire liability of each of the guaranteeing Powers. This remark will also apply to the question with respect to the translation of some words which I answered this evening. My right hon. Friend asks, what is to be our power of distraint? He wishes to know, in the event of Turkey failing to pay the bondholders, and of France and England being called upon to fulfil their engagements, what remedy we have against Turkey—whether we can seize the revenues of Egypt and distrain upon the customs of Syria and Smyrna? My right hon. Friend, who is so well 1473 versed in the law of nations as well as in all other questions relating to the theory and practice of politics, can hardly be serious in asking such a question with regard to an international compact. He knows very well that between nations there is no tribunal which issues writs of distress, or gives any power to seize the revenues of particular provinces. When you make a Convention such as this with a foreign Power, you can only look to the general good faith and to the readiness of that Power to fulfil its engagements; you cannot take by treaty the power of entering and distraining the tribute of Egypt, and the revenue of the customs of Syria and Smyrna. You can only call on the Trurkish Government to fulfil its obligations, and, if they omit or refuse to fulfil them, there is, unhappily, only one ultimaratio to which independent nations can have recourse, and that, I grant, is of very imperfect value for the purpose of enforcing a guarantee. Mr. Pitt did not go to war with Austria to compel her to fulfil her pecuniary obligations to this country. It is clear that it is not in the nature of things that the clauses of an act should give to the English Government; any legal remedy against the Turkish Government in the event of their obligations not being fulfilled. In dealing with the semi-independent and partially dependent j provinces of India, when we effect loans, or make subsidiary treaties, or pay military forces, we often do act in a somewhat irregular manner, in a manner which the European law of nations would scarcely justify; we do seize provinces as security for the payment of debts; but I am not aware that our practice in India, where, we act as a sort of lord paramount, with a recognised influence, extending over the whole peninsula, could ever be pursued in our international relations with European countries. I have now, to the best, of my power, explained the grounds upon which this Convention has been recommended to the House. I do not dispute that an arrangement of this sort, which has become necessary during the progress I of a great European war, may be open to many objections, but it is necessary in the course of a war to incur many obligations which in a state of peace every man would willingly avoid. It is a true observation that war is a hard taskmaster, which compels every nation to submit to measures to which voluntarily it would not submit. But beyond that necessity 1474 to which every Government must bend in circumstances such as those in which we are placed, I see no reason for thinking that better terms than those now under the consideration of the Committee could have been obtained by Her Majesty's Government, or that a reconsideration, such as my right hon. Friend suggests, would enable us to amend the conditions into which we have entered.
My right hon. Friend has covered a very wide field in the course of his remarks, and it is no action of mine if we are now involved in a discussion of a very large and general nature upon the features of this Bill. The object of my remarks this morning was not to raise at large the principle of this Bill, or to enter into any comparison between the policy of the measure and that of former measures of the sort. My argument was confined entirely to the terms, tenour, and construction of the treaty, and the effect of those terms upon the position of the relative parties to it. My right hon. Friend has entered at great length into a discussion of the Sardinian and Greek loans, and into a history of the proceedings which led to the present treaty; he has gone into a number of details which would not have been out of place when he first introduced this Bill; but when he comes to my argument as to the terms of the Convention, he passes that over in a few words, which show that he is entirely in the dark as to its purport. If I have not made myself more clear to the rest of the House than, as it seems, I have to my right hon. Friend, I must certainly express my regret that I should have so far wasted its time, for he appears to think that certain light, trivial, and even jocose topics are the only ones which arise out of those observations. He speaks of the Greek guarantee as having been an arrangement utterly wasteful of the public money, because that loan was raised upon terms much worse than the credit of any one of the three Powers who raised it. That is a very small question, and, indeed, I must complain that my right hon. Friend seems altogether to have taken a very small view of this subject, and seems to think that the only question worth considering was how we could have saved a few pounds in raising the loan. To my mind, the financial questions are utterly trivial and unimportant as compared with the political questions involved in this matter, and I have not the slightest ob- 1475 jection, therefore, to make my right. hon. Friend a present of the whole of his argument relating to the Greek Loan, with this single observation, that I do not think that arrangement could have been so wasteful a one, seeing that it was raised at 94, while the Russian Five per Cents, were at 89.
Well, I do not pretend to be completely informed as to the financial history of that operation, and I willingly concede to my right hon. Friend the whole force of his argument on that point. He has spoken, however, of joint guarantees in a manner which shows that he looks upon them as matters of so simple and every-day a character that it really matters very little whether they are entered into or not; and as I, on the contrary, am filled with alarm at this arrangement, and as I trust that as it is the first so it will be the last of the sort to which this House will, under any circumstances and on any consideration, give its assent, I must take the liberty of pressing on my right hon. Friend the real danger of these guarantees, as to which he seems at present altogether in the dark. My right hon. Friend says that all we have to apprehend from an arrangement of this sort is that, if the worst comes to the worst, it becomes a payment instead of a guarantee. But that shows that he is entirely at the threshold of this subject. It is not the worst of a guarantee that if Turkey does not pay we shall have to pay for her—I had almost said that that is the best of it. The worst of this guarantee is, that all the guaranteeing Powers acquire a political hold upon Turkey, and if it were possible to put so dangerous a proposition into one form more dangerous than another, my right hon Friend has succeeded in discovering exactly which is the most dangerous, because he infinitely aggravates its perils by consenting to accept the assignment of special securities for repayment. My right hon. Friend, taking advantage of my ignorance of the legal part of this question, and quoting my language about "distraining upon Turkey," which of course I used merely for the purpose of illustration, is kind enough then to tell us that it is not in the clauses of an Act of Parliament to give one nation rights over another. Certainly, however we may be in the dark in these mat- 1476 ters, I am persuaded that we are not quite so ignorant as to need that explanation to us. But, Sir, I throw aside the question of financial liability. As a financial measure this is a bad one, because it is delusive; it induces the people to sanction a guarantee under the idea that it costs them nothing. It is dangerous just as funding is dangerous, because by funding you enable the people to spend 20,000,000l. at a present expense of some 600,000l. or 700,000l. I can compare it to nothing but the argument which is used to the young spendthrift to induce him to spend his money on all sorts of useless articles—" I don't want you to pay, only give me your bill." Now, I am going to put one or two questions to my right hon. Friend which I put to him this morning, but to which he has given me no answer. In the first place, I wish to ask him—and if he does not answer me now I shall repeat the question again till I do get an answer—has the language of this Convention been approved by the law officers of the Crown? and, next, are the law officers of the Crown prepared to tell us what the legal construction of the Convention is; and does the French Government agree in the legal construction which they put upon it? These are questions which my right hon. Friend has entirely passed over, but to which I shall certainly expect an answer from Her Majesty's Government. My right hon. Friend said twice over that it I was really impossible for any one to read I the Convention without seeing at once what 'its meaning was, and what were the liabilities which it created. Here are the unfortunate consequences of a superior understanding, for that which is so clear to my right hon. Friend after a simple perusal is to me so obscure and so dark that I have not been able to understand it after the utmost application—nay, as it appears, with all the pains I have taken, I have not been able even to shape my questions on the subject in such a form as to make them intelligible to my right hon. Friend. What I want to know is this—having concluded your Convention in terms which constitute what you call a joint and several liability, how do you mean to apply the principle you have just laid down? I said this morning that I understood the essential characteristic of a joint and several liability to be this—that it is a liability which attaches precisely in the same degree and in the same manner to all the parties it affects. Am I right or am I wrong in 1477 that doctrine? for up to this time my right hon. Friend has not condescended to tell me. Until he does, or until I am set right by some one of the legal Members whom I see present, I assume that that is the nature of a joint and several liability; and I want to know, then, does the liability created under this Convention attach equally to all the parties concerned in it? I do not mean as between England and France merely; that is quite a different matter. I quite understand that, when the question comes into discussion between them, Her Majesty's Government will be entitled to ask France to take half of the liability; but France and England are not the only parties concerned. I must consider the relation between the guaranteeing Governments and the creditors who lend the money; and I want to know, is the position of the French Government the same as that of the English Government with regard to their liability to the Creditors? In the Convention you indicate the particular place where the interest is to be paid, and in your Act of Parliament you create a power, which is also an obligation capable of being enforced against; the Lords of the Treasury, by which they are to issue from the Exchequer the whole sum required to cover the interest of this loan. A complete obligation has, then, been created, I believe, partly by the Convention and partly by the Act of Parliament, in virtue of which the British Government is compellable to pay the whole interest of this loan. Has the French Government undertaken a similar liability? Is the French Government liable to the creditor, and can the creditor proceed against that Government under this Convention until he has been to the Bank of England and been refused? He cannot. Therefore, he is bound first to go against the British Government. He must first go to the Bank of England, and you, by your Act of Parliament, have created the obligation that the Bank of England shall pay him. You have authorised the Lords of the Treasury to issue the money that may become payable under the guarantee; but that authority is likewise, I apprehend, a full warrant to the persons entitled to the money to prosecute the Lords of the Treasury and compel them to issue it. There can be no question as to that. Then, I say, the position of the creditor is this;—he can go against the British Government, and can go against the British Government only. And here I do not found my- 1478 self simply upon the fact that the money is payable at the Bank of England. If France has passed a legislative Act, which would have placed her Government in the same position as the British Government, I could have quite understood that the mere locality at which the money is payable might not affect the question. But France has passed no such Act at all; she has not rendered her Government liable to the creditor in the first instance. Nay, more, the matter does not simply stand in this negative state. My right hon. Friend tells us that the English Government have a kind of sub-engagement or collateral contract with the French Government, by which France is to remit to us half-yearly one moiety of the interest; but the liability of the British, Government to the creditor is entire in the first instance. If, therefore, there is no remittance from abroad when the day of payment arrives, is it not the duty of the Commissioners of the Treasury to cause to be issued to the Bank of England funds sufficient to discharge the whole interest? It is; and that being so, I want to know whether there is any corresponding obligation resting on the French Government.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The obligation of the French Government is undertaken by the law which I read to the House a short time ago.
That law has not been laid upon the table of this House, as I certainly think it ought to have been. Nevertheless I have heard the terms of it, and they are these,—that the Emperor is enabled by this law to guarantee conjointly—that is, according to the condition of the Convention—but the Convention contains nothing that makes the French Government liable for the issue of the money. Its terms point out no executory machinery for the enforcement of his rights by the creditor. Your Act of Parliament, however, offers such facilities in the case of England, although there is no corresponding provision in regard to France. Therefore there is a complete machinery affecting England, and compelling the people of this country to bear the whole of this guarantee; while in the case of France there is no such stipulation, although there is, indeed, an agreement between France and you (which is a totally different matter) binding her to send the money to the Bank of England. You must distinguish the mutual relations between the two Govern- 1479 ments from the relations between the two Governments and the creditor; for I am now examing the latter. I don't deny that the two Governments are made to stand, in the face of one another, on a footing of equality. What I say is, that the relations with the creditor are entirely different in the case of the two Governments. By the Convention and the Act of Parliament the English Government is made liable to the creditor; whereas the French Government is only placed under an obligation, constituted under an agreement, that we have not yet seen, to remit half the money to the British Government, I wish therefore to know from her Majesty's Government, whether they are prepared to say that the relative position of the two parties corresponds with the legal idea of a joint and several guarantee? Is the position of the British Government, in respect to its responsibility to the creditor, the same as that of the French Government? If this be not so, if the British Government lies under certain obligations to the creditor by the joint effect of the Convention and the Act of Parliament, to which there is nothing analogous on the part of the French Government, then I want to know whether the rights of the parties are identical, or whether they are different? Because, if there are two parties to this guarantee, and they stand in different attitudes, it is quite plain that the difference in their liability, whatever it may be, must be represented by a corresponding difference in their rights. If, as I believe, you are constituting a primary liability against the British Government, backed, it may be, by a collateral guarantee entered into by France towards England, then the British Government stands between France and the creditor; and, that being the case, I repeat that I wish to know—and I beg that my right hon. Friend will give me a distinct answer to this question—whether the rights of England and France, in respect to recovery from Turkey, whatever those rights may be, are identical in their nature? My questions therefore are, first, whether the liabilities of the two Governments to the creditor are identical? And secondly, whether their rights of recovery are identical? I do not think my right hon. Friend justified in treating jocosely matters relating to the rights of recovery constituted under a convention creating a joint and several guarantee. I have another question to ask him, and it is this,—have you any examples on record of trans- 1480 actions of this kind? What cases of treaty are there to be found in history where nations have given guarantees of a joint and several description like the present? If you have such instances, so far they will be in the nature of precedents, and they will afford ground for the presumption that there may possibly be principles of international law which are applicable to the rights of the parties But observe, that you are now forming a partnership between England and France, a partnership, first, as to expenditure, and secondly, as, to reimbursement. I want to regulate the relations of the parties to that partnership? My right hon. Friend has not attempted to answer any of these questions. If I understood him correctly, he said that there was no right on the part of the Powers guaranteeing the loan on behalf of Turkey to occupy her territory in the event of her failing to make her payments. I would like to know what my right hon. Friend means by that doctrine? You have assigned to the British Government a portion of the revenues of Egypt and part of the customs duties of Syria and Smyrna as security. How, for instance, will your power over the customs of Smyrna affect the rights of the Turkish Government? Will the Turkish Government have the right to abolish or revise the customs' duties at Smyrna, or will it not? That is a point which I should like to hear explained by my right hon. Friend. Does he mean to assert that, if Turkey does not fulfil her engagement, the guaranteeing Powers are to have no right of occupation? He states, indeed, that there is only one ultima ratio between Governments, namely, force. So there is only one ultima ratio between our courts of law and the defaulter, namely, the turnkey or the sheriff's officer. But the question is, do these special assignments of revenue mean anything or nothing? Do they confer on you any rights whatever? If they do not, why then have you inserted them? If they do give you rights, what are those rights excepting those of occupation? If you tell us that these assignments mean nothing, and that no rights of occupation as against Turkey are conveyed by this Convention, again I ask, is France agreed with you in that view of the instrument? For I apprehend the source of all the evils of this unusual proceeding is, that you are creating a state of things wholly novel and unprecedented, and originating strange 1481 rights and relations which have not heretofore existed, which are not governed by any known and established principles, and with respect to which you have exercised no forethought in making some provision for the adjustment of questions that may hereafter arise. It is the duty of the executive Government to take precaution against the occurrence of such cases; and if some provision of this kind has not been made—and, certainly, up to the present hour we have not heard of any—it is incumbent on this House to point out such dangers as come into our view. And now, one word more before I sit down. My right hon. Friend says, "Look at the position in which we should have stood if we had gone to France and asked for a reconsideration of this Convention. In France, he states, the whole arrangement has been completely sanctioned, it has been authorised by the Emperor, and referred to the Legislative Chamber, which has given to it its assent; that assent has been published to the world, and was promulgated long before we were asked to give any vote on the question. Now, I wonder that my right hon. Friend could recite that chain of procedure without a twinge of conscience. In what position has he placed the Government by this state of the case? What is the Legislative Chamber of France? I don't mean to stand upon any mere individual opinion. But I say it is not a responsible body; and so conscious is the French Government of this, and so determined is it to keep this fact in full view, that you will observe, if you look into the Convention, the totally different language which, with a most marked and skilful application, is used in the two cases. The Queen of England undertakes "to recommend to Her Parliament to enable Her to guarantee;" and the Emperor of the French, on the other hand, "engages, subject to the ratification of the Legislative Body of France," to guarantee. This is a very remarkable circumstance, and, if you revert for a moment to the precedent of the Greek loan, you will find that exactly the same language is adopted in that case also. The King of England there undertakes to recommend the guarantee to his Parliament, and the Emperor of the French engages to guarantee, subject to the ratification of the Legislative Body; and the intention is to mark the ratifying function of the French Chamber as secondary to the functions of the English Parliament. This is not a case in which you are 1482 constituting equal liability, for you have constituted by your arrangement a scheme of liability, Under which it is not denied that the English people are the parties liable and responsible in the first instance, that the French Government is the future resource. Under these circumstances, was it right, was it becoming, was it decent, did it show a proper regard for the office of the House, or a proper respect for the independent judgment of the House, that the parties who had a secondary share of the liability in the matter should seal up the whole of this transaction, and that Her Majesty's Government should come down here and tell us, "We are compelled, by form of law, to ask your assent, but you may spare yourselves the trouble of exercising your judgment, because prerogative prevented us from consulting you in the first instance, and policy precludes your exercising a free judgment now?" Sir, in my opinion it is a matter of absolute necessity that, under whatever pressure of circumstances, this matter should be thoroughly worked out and understood; it is absolutely essential to the welfare of the country that such transactions should not be repeated. If the House is to keep its position in the country and the constitution it must make it intelligibly understood that its discretion in such matters is to be respected, and that a more careful and judicious use is to be made of the prerogatives of the Crown in regard to the construction of Conventions. I was going to allude to something that has occurred elsewhere, and to certain comments which have been made on the conduct of the House by a colleague of the Government who has been addressing his constituents; but, as I hope to see that colleague in his place in a few days, I think it will be more convenient to wait till he has taken his seat, and then to call upon him to vindicate the language which he is represented as having used. Following the example of my right hon. Friend, I have been led into a general discussion; but what I want to know is the legal construction which is to be put upon this Convention, what rights and liabilities are created under it, whether the Government have considered those rights and liabilities of the guarantee, and what view they take in regard to its character?
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, that he did not think there was the slightest difficulty with regard to the meaning of the Convention. He would no go into the 1483 financial part of the question, but he would simply say, that however the right hon. Gentleman might consider a guarantee more dangerous than a loan, and a loan more dangerous than a gift, yet in private and social life it was well known that many persons would give a guarantee in preference to making a loan, and make a loan in preference to making a gift. It should be remembered that in matters of this kind it was not always possible to choose the form of their arrangement. It was said that we were sure to get into diplomatic difficulties in this matter, because the guarantee gave a power over this country into the hands of the country for which she was bound. But did not a loan produce the same effect? He meant to deal legally only with the argument of his right hon. Friend, and he must say that he did not know that his definition of a joint and several guarantee was in all respects correct. A joint and several guarantee as against creditors, meant that each of the joint and several obligants was liable for the whole obligation, and that the creditors had a right of recovery against each and all of them. But his right hon. Friend said that there was a variance in the terms of the treaty with regard to the rights of the two parties; but although you might vary their rights as between each other by contract, yet the joint and several liability did not the less apply. In this case there was superadded to the joint and several liability an agreement that the Queen of England and the Emperor of France should fix a place for the payment of the interest on the loan, in order to save Turkey the expense attendant on its payment, and the place fixed was London. If that place had been fixed at Vienna, or at Brussels, there would have been an end of his right hon. Friend's argument, founded on the place fixed being the Bank of England.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
However that might be, the fact was, that if a creditor was act paid he might go against France as well as against England; and if he was a French creditor, which he might well be, he was entitled to go against the French Government, and was not compelled to come over here in order to seek his remedy from the English Government; for the liability was the same as against both It might be more convenient for the creditor who did not get his money at the 1484 Bank of England to proceed against the English Government, but the liability of both Governments was the same.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
complained of the disadvantage under which the House laboured in discussing this question, in consequence of the Government not having placed before it the whole of the correspondence which had passed between England and Turkey and England and France in reference to this Convention. That inconvenience had been made manifest that evening, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred to some communication that had been made by the Sultan of Turkey to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, and a supplementary agreement between the Governments of England and France had also been referred to. The value of such references could not be ascertained until the documents were before them, and he did not think the withholding of them was consistent with the statement of the Government that they really wished Parliament to understand clearly the nature of the obligations which the various Powers were about to undertake. If there had been any difficulty with the French Government, and any delay in consequence, the discretion of Ministers being fettered, whose fault was it? What right had the Government to assume the consent of Parliament to a matter which referred to the taxation of the people? He contended that it was a principle beyond dispute that no Minister of the Crown could enter into a treaty with any foreign Power which entailed the expenditure of the public money except subject to the consent of Parliament; and that was a more valuable principle to stand by than even the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire, to which he preferred the independence and privileges of the British Parliament. No such engagement ought to have been completed and promulgated to the world without its having first obtained the assent of the British Parliament, for the Executive of this country had no constitutional right to place the Parliament of England under restrictions, and, above all, to deprive it of its discretion in matters affecting the taxation of the people. There was no constitutional writer who had not laid it down as most irregular and improper for a Minister to prejudice the opinions of Parliament in the matter of levying the people's money. To that privilege he would adhere; and he asserted that, if there had been any difficulty in raising the money, 1485 the fault rested, not with the House of Commons, but with the Ministers of the Crown, who assumed that they had the consent of Parliament without being certain of the fact. The Government now said that they were about to guarantee a loan to Turkey "on the terms and conditions set forth in the said Convention." What were those terms and conditions? So far as his experience went, when one country received assistance from another, in the shape of a gift, a loan, or a guarantee, it was customary for the country receiving the assistance to undertake to perform a definite obligation in return for the aid rendered. Now, he asked what the Government of Turkey had undertaken in consideration of the guarantee which England was about to give? "Carrying on the war with vigour." But what did that mean? It was an indefinite phrase, after all, and what one called "vigour" another called "apathy and neglect." He certainly could not help regarding the Convention as of a very one-sided character; and he confessed that he was at a loss to understand to what purpose the money raised was to be applied. Returns were to be afforded, showing how much of the 5,000,000l. had been issued; but there were to be no returns of the purposes to which it had been so applied, so that the House would have no security for the due application of the funds. He contended that Turkey should have undertaken some certain and definite course of conduct in return for this advance of money. The arguments of his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford had not been answered. There was no machinery for the creditor to recover against any other Government except that of England; he believed that the creditor would go to the Bank of England, and that he would never go beyond that spot; in fact, that this was an English loan, that it was to be negotiated in London, and that the interest was to be paid at the Bank of England. He could not admit, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had fulfilled his promise that he would not raise another loan in England in the present year; because it was obvious that there was no difference between this and any other loan. His right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford had alluded to one of the colleagues of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and he (Mr. M. Gibson) could not help referring to the language of the right hon. Baronet the Mem- 1486 ber for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth), in addressing the electors that day. He would take leave to call the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to the language which the right hon. Baronet had employed, and to ask him whether, if he disapproved of that language, he would remind the right hon. Baronet that he had used expressions which were not becoming even a Member of Parliament, still less a Minister of the Crown? The right hon. Baronet was reported to have said, that if—This war should end in a recreant and dishonourable peace, that peace will never be the work of my noble Friend (Lord Palmerston) or of Lord Palmerston's Government; but it will be the act of those factions who clandestinely combined the other night to break our engagement with France on the subject of the Turkish loan—I mean the Peace party, the Peelites, the more unscrupulous portion of the Opposition, and some few unreflecting Liberals who formed an ambuscade last Friday night to surprise the Government on the question of the Turkish loan.Speaking of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and that "more unscrupulous portion of the Opposition," the right hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark said—I therefore denounce the conduct of those men and their want of patriotism, as deserving of the severest censure and condemnation from all persons and all parties, who hare the interest and honour of their country at heart.He (Mr. M. Gibson) considered that that was not becoming language for a Member of the Cabinet to hold, and he asked the noble Viscount at the head of the Government whether he encouraged such a tone, and whether he considered that a Member of Parliament, expressing his opinion in that House and delivering his honest judgment, was to be charged, if he differed from the views of the Government, with dishonourable feelings and want of patriotism? He (Mr. M. Gibson) contended that the right hon. Baronet was not justified in making these foolish appeals to public faction, especially when he altogether misrepresented the facts of the case. The House of Commons was the sole arbiter in all questions of raising public money. That power had never been delegated to the Crown or the Crown's Ministers, and every man who valued the privilege of Parliament or the independence of the country ought to stand by the right of the House of Commons to exercise a free judgment in this particular. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord would administer to the right hon. Baronet the 1487 rebuke which he deserved, and that he would point out to him that that was not the mode by which the Government were likely to acquire the confidence of the country. One word with regard to the security of the Smyrna customs' duties. He should have thought that of all securities which a free-trade Government would have thought of accepting in giving a guarantee, the last would have been upon import duties. Were those import duties upon British productions alone? He believed that this was only one of a series of loans. If he were in favour of the war, he could not conceive a worse mode of applying money to carry it on with vigour than lending it to Turkey without any security whatever as to its application, and if he were called upon to devise a plan by which the war might be carried on in mere name, but without effect, he should certainly recommend lending money to the Sultan. In his opinion, instead of tending to carry on the war with vigour, this assistance to Turkey would only lead to the necessity for further applications for money; for if the means of Turkey were not flourishing now, they would certainly be deteriorated in the prosecution of the war. The noble Lord the Member for London had stated some time ago in his place in Parliament that a war with Russia about Turkey would add 300,000,000l. to the debt of England; and this loan of 5,000,000l. was only one of the little additions which the debt would receive. He believed that they would be deceiving themselves unless they dealt with this matter as part of a system of advances and subsidies, which would not end until it was stopped by the displeasure and dissatisfaction of the English people. So long as the people cheerfully found the money, so long, no doubt, the Ministers would be willing to carry on the war; but when the disappointment of success was accompanied by the pressure of taxation, diminished trade, increased crime, and universal distress, then the people would lay the whole responsibility of the war on the Government, and the Ministers who should be found carrying it on in those bad times would be driven from office amidst universal execration.
§ MR. WILKINSON
said, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had put before the House every possible alternative to which this guarantee might lead; and although he might agree with him that the arrangement of the terms might have 1488 been better, still, as the question was not so much as to the arrangement of the terms as to the policy of the arrangement itself, he believed that the course pursued by Government would meet with the approbation of the country. The right hon. Gentleman put forward the alternative of Turkey's not meeting her engagement, and Prance not fulfilling her part of the contract. He had, in fact, exhausted every alternative but one—namely, that England might not fulfil hers. He apprehended no difficulty as to the raising of the loan. Even if the 5,000,000l. turned out to be a pure gift to Turkey it was not to be considered a loss, for it might be that Turkey had need of money whilst we had need of men. He was not surprised that the advocates of peace should adopt their present policy in reference to this measure, because the most effectual way of putting an end to the war would be the stopping of the supplies. With regard to the language of the right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Molesworth), he did not believe the noble Lord at the head of the Government would disavow it, for he thought the castigation given to the Gentlemen who opposed this measure was deserved.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that whatever the hon. Gentleman might think of the part he had taken in the discussion of this question, his object certainly was not in the least to stop the vigorous prosecution of the war. What he objected to was the way in which the Convention proposed to take securities for the repayment of the loan, which might lead to unpleasant complications. That was simply and solely the ground of his opposition to the present measure, and he desired he might not be included among those who wished to stop the war. No such thought ever entered his head, and he repeated what he had before said—that everything the Government might require for the proper and vigorous prosecution of the war he would freely give. Still, as there was a Convention in the present case, he should like the Solicitor General to satisfy the House that they were passing the present Bill in the way they ought. He had already called the attention of the Committee to the omission of the words "separately" or "severally" in the first article of the Convention, as inserted in the Bill. He had since looked into the dictionary of the Academic, and it was quite clear that the meaning of the words conjointement et solidairement was jointly and separately. The 1489 first article of the Convention, as it now stood in the Bill, ran as follows—Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland undertake to recommend to Her Parliament to enable her to guarantee, conjointly with His Majesty the Emperor of the French; and His Majesty the Emperor of the French engages, subject to the ratification of the Legislative Body of France, to guarantee, conjointly with Her Britannic Majesty, the interest of a loan of 5,000,000l. sterling, to be raised by His Imperial Majesty the Sultan.He now asked whether the Government would render the Bill strictly conformable with the original Convention, by inserting words to make the obligation "several," as well as "joint?"
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, his right hon. and learned Friend was quite correct in his translation of the French words conjointement et solidairement. Every one conversant with the French law knew that as between debtor and creditor the equivalent term in English jurisprudence for those words was "jointly and severally." It applied both to the creditor and debtor—as applied to the creditor it gave him the power of bringing an action for the whole amount, and as applied to the debtor it made him liable for the whole amount. The corresponding word in our law was "severally," so that, unquestionably, the French term "conjointement et solidairement" should be rendered "jointly and severally." This matter had not been brought under his notice until to-day, and immediately on seeing it he wrote on the copy of the Bill an Amendment which would make the English translation correspond exactly with the French original. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) seemed to be frightened and disturbed by mere phantoms. He seemed to think that the Government of England was placed in a more disadvantageous position than that of France. He did not think that was so, because the contract between the debtor and the creditor would be the bond. It was true the Sultan was bound to remit the money to this country for the payment of the loan, and that this country was to be made the place of payment, in case the Sultan did not remit the money; but the creditor would have the right of coming upon the Governments of France and England, and both must have the means of answering to the full extent of the obligation. For that purpose, the Government 1490 were authorised to issue such sums of money as were requisite to fulfil the guarantee—not, be it well observed, to pay the debt. The terms were framed with the greatest caution in reference to the guarantee, and they were so framed that they could not be regarded as an additional and special contract between the creditor and the Government of Great Britain. That seemed to be the alarm of the right hon. Gentleman, but there was no foundation for it. But, even if there had been an engagement that the creditor could come in the first instance on the Government of Great Britain, that would not vitiate the engagement altogether, for then they would have a right to receive a moiety from Prance. As to the appropriation of the Customs of Smyrna, that might be regarded in the light of a simple mortgage. If the Sultan sent the money to pay the interest they would have nothing to do with the Customs of Smyrna; if he did not send the money they would have a right to have an account of these Customs rendered, to have them appropriated and received by receivers appointed on the conjoint representations of the two guaranteeing Powers. He believed the whole extent of the obligation was as he had stated it. He trusted the House would pass the Bill, though, no doubt, they had a perfect right to reject it, seeing that the treaty was subject to the approval of Parliament.
§ MR. J. L. RICARDO
thought that the creditor would well understand the security on which he gave his money; but he must say that he thought no explanation was given as to the relative positions of France and England with regard to the guarantee. The present debate showed that there was a great field for diplomacy in the guarantee as it stood, and all the difficulty would have been avoided if a separate guarantee had been substituted for a joint one. He admitted that the money would be raised on easier terms by the joint guarantee, because the credit of England was the highest, and was that which ruled the market. This was shown by the actual price of the Greek Loan, which was a separate guarantee. The price of the Greek stock guaranteed by England was 107; that guaranteed by France was 98; and that by Russia was 87; which made an average price of 97. He thought that England would bear the whole burden of this arrangement, and 1491 not the country whose credit was lower, and who, conjointly with England, guaranteed the loan. He did not wish to go into the whole question again, but if anything had been said upon the whole question, it was owing to what had been said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the reply which he had concocted between the twelve o'clock and the evening sitting. He had alluded to papers of which they had no knowledge, and to a separate arrangement with France as to the payment of her portion of the interest money, and that paper, especially, he thought that they ought to see. He had alluded, also, to the original demand of the Turkish Government for 2,000,000l. only. He could not, he thought, be included in the category of those referred to by the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr.Wilkinson), who opposed the loan in order to throw an obstacle in the way of carrying on the war, for he had done nothing of the kind. He Lad acted on the broad ground that he was opposed to subsidies altogether, unless he saw some immediate and absolute necessity for granting them. There was a house in this city which had offered to lend the money to Turkey herself, and it was not that Turkey might have the money to carry on the war, but that she might have it at a better price at the expense of the tax-payers of England, that this arrangement had been entered into. If it were, as the noble Lord at the head of the Government had said, that Turkey would fall to pieces if she had not this loan, he would vote for it, much as he opposed the system; but when the object was only that Turkey should borrow it cheaper, they had no right to put the tax-payers of England under any responsibility. It was not until Turkey was unable to carry on the war that they had a right to call on the people of England for assistance. The press had been continually telling them that if there had been only two more on their side they would have overthrown the French alliance; but if the French alliance were not stronger than that, it would not require any vote of that sort to dissolve it. They had been told, again, within twenty-four hours, by a Cabinet Minister (Sir W. Molesworth), the Convention was made, and that they had no right to vote as they had done in this matter. The Solicitor General had said that they had a right to discuss the matter; but the Secretary for the Colonies said that they had no right to discuss it. 1492 He has said, "If in the opinion of the Opposition we had done wrong in making that engagement with Turkey and France, they should have endeavoured to dismiss us with contumely and censure from office, or to impeach us, but they should have ratified our engagement, and should not have endeavoured to make the country appear to foreign nations to be a State with which no engagements can be safely concluded, and on the word of whose agents no reliance can be placed." That came to this—that if the noble Lord chose tomorrow to lend 20,000,000l. to Turkey or to France, the House of Commons might impeach the Ministers, but they must begin with voting the 20,000,000l. That was a doctrine to which he would not subscribe. The only power that House possessed arose from having hold of the purse-strings, and he was not inclined to let go that hold. He did not want to obstruct in any way this measure, and he had been led into these few observations by those who had preceded him. There were, however, one or two matters on which he should be glad of some explanation. He found that there was to be a sinking-fund of 1 per cent on the whole capital of 5,000,000l., and he wanted to know, first of all, whether we were to guarantee that sinking-fund? And, if so, how it was to be expended? Who was to have the application of that sinking-fund? Was it to be applied to the purchase of stock in the market at any price it might happen to be at, or was it to be applied by lot by drawing certain numbers, as was the case in some instances?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that on this question, as well as on the question adverted to by the Solicitor General, it was necessary for the Committee to observe the difference between the positions of the Turkish Government and the guaranteeing Governments. We did not guarantee the sinking-fund, and therefore that was an arrangement between the bondholder and the Turkish Government at the time the loan was contracted.
§ MR. J. L. RICARDO
also inquired whether there was any power for the reduction of the interest of 4 per cent, for the probability was that the stock would bear some proportion to the English funds, which would be considerably above par at 4 per cent?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
1493 was not aware that there was any power under the Convention of diminishing the interest; the Convention had arranged for 4 per cent upon 5,000,000l. sterling.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, that the Sultan stipulated to remit the money for the interest to the Bank of England, and on failure of that the Minister of the day was to issue the money from the Consolidated Fund. There was also a stipulation that the sinking fund was to be paid into the Bank of England, and he thought it would be inconvenient that there was no stipulation as to how that sinking fund was to be appropriated. There should be some authority on the part of the Government to deal with that sinking fund, but it appeared to him that they had no such authority at all.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
did not see how it was possible for the House to legislate as to a sinking fund which was to be provided by the Turkish Government and paid into the Bank of England, for it was a matter with which that House had no concern. Our obligation ended with guarantee of the interest. If we guaranteed the sinking fund, he quite admitted that we ought to legislate as to the sinking fund. If the Turkish Government failed to pay the interest, he presumed they would not provide the sinking fund; but this country would not have to provide any charge in that respect.
§ MR. HENLEY
thought that if the sinking fund were of any value at all, the joint Governments of England and France ought to have the power to apply it to the reduction of the debt, for otherwise the stipulations with Turkey were only that she should pay the sinking fund into the Bank of England; and there was nothing to prevent her from drawing it out for other purposes, or from letting it lie there.
said, that on consideration, he decidedly agreed with the right hon. Gentleman opposite. His first feeling was one of satisfaction that there was no guarantee of the sinking fund which appeared to him an extension of what he regarded as an inexpedient and mischievous principle; but when he looked further he found that guaranteeing the sinking fund was really a contraction of the mischief. They were going to guarantee interest at 4 per cent on 5,000,000l., and that 5,000,000l., which would cost them more than the price for which average English credit would obtain money in the market, might be paid off at a given 1494 rate through the sinking fund. Taking the average of times this country could borrow at less than 4 per cent; and therefore it would be advantageous if we could relieve ourselves from an engagement on which we should be bound to pay 4 per cent. It appeared to him, as a matter of money, to be plainly for the interest of the two guaranteeing powers that the sinking fund also should be guaranteed.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he believed that there would be no difficulty in the arrangement as to the terms on which the sinking fund was to be appropriated by the Turkish Government; but it was a matter, in the first instance, between the Turkish Government and the bondholders.
wished to repeat the point which presented itself to his mind. The better way to make it clear would be to premise a total default by Turkey to pay; and under that supposed state of things the question was, which was most for the interest and advantage of the guaranteeing Powers, that they should go on paying 4 per cent for ever, or have the means of extinguishing the debt by a sinking fund. It was quite plain that it would be for our interest to have the control of the sinking fund.
§ MR. JOHN MACGREGOR
said, it struck him that there had been a great deal of misrepresentation throughout the whole of the debate. In the first place, the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. L, Ricardo) had spoken of the whole of the interest on the loan having to be paid by the tax-payers of England on account of Turkey's failing to pay the interest, and yet he had admitted that a house in the City of London was ready to have lent 2,000,000l. to Turkey at a high rate of interest. That statement ought to remove the apprehensions which had been created in the minds of the people of this country by the opponents of this guarantee, for it was a proof Turkey was not in that insolvent state in which some hon. Members represented her to be. He believed that Turkey derived from her import duties a revenue more than sufficient to pay the interest on the loan. He thought that the House had better leave Turkey to deal with the question of the sinking fund; and he regretted that any opposition had been raised to the guarantee, as the union 1495 of England and France in this guarantee would lead to results a thousand times more valuable to England than the frivolous objections which had been made to the guarantee.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I think the Committee will consider that what has occurred to-night has justified us in not proceeding in this matter with that precipitation which the noble Lord in his impassioned harangue conveniently wished us to adopt. In consequence of what has taken place to-night, my right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) has succeeded in introducing into the Bill an expression which gives it quite a new character. He has succeeded in giving to the Convention an interpretation which it did not bear at six o'clock in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government—an opinion not carelessly given, but an opinion which we have been told to-night by a Cabinet Minister, was only accepted after deliberation, and of course the deliberation of Cabinet Ministers is a Cabinet Council. There appears to have been a Cabinet Council respecting the interpretation of a most important French epithet, and it seems that the Cabinet had decided upon an interpretation of that epithet which is quite contrary to the sense which it bears. What then are we to think of the interpreters of the Foreign Office? At six o'clock, the word "solidairement" meant united responsibility; but after discussion it appeared in a contrary light, and, instead of meaning united responsibility, it meant separate and several responsibility. I cannot help thinking that this circumstance alone justifies us in the course which we have taken; but, if we required further justification, I would appeal to the speech of the Solicitor General—one of the principal law officers of the Crown. He gave a complete and unqualified adhesion to the interpretation placed upon the epithet by my right hon. Friend, which gives an entirely different character both to the Act of Parliament and to the Convention. Surely the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not mean to repudiate the interpretation of the Solicitor General. Certainly the Solicitor General said—and I thought it was a strange admission for a Crown officer to make—that he had not read the Convention till this morning. I should have thought that it would be more convenient, and upon the whole, more advantageous to the Government, if the noble Lord would condescend to consult the Crown officers respecting 1496 the meaning of treaties before he recommends this House to sanction them by Acts of Parliament. However, we have now the unqualified admission of the Solicitor General, that the epithet solidairement expresses a meaning exactly contrary to that promulgated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I think that the view of the Committee is with the Solicitor General and my right hon. Friend in the interpretation which they have given. If the Solicitor General had only risen to express that opinion, I should have felt called upon to give my unqualified assent to it; but I confess that the security which we are to obtain by this Convention has filled me with alarm. I have all along felt that the arrangement might entail perilous consequences to the country; but there was one which was not included in the catalogue of dangers which were touched upon the other night. The right hon. Gentleman (the Solicitor General) has now given us a description of our security under the treaty, by which I find that we have strictly a mortgage upon Turkey. Who, then, is to be the receiver if the mortgage is not paid? I cannot conceive consequences more pregnant with danger to the country than those which may result from the arrangements which, viewing them according to the interpretation of one of the law officers of the Crown, have been made by the Government. I do not rise now to vindicate the vote which I gave on Friday night. I look back to that vote with entire satisfaction. I have listened to many Gentlemen who have thought it necessary to vindicate their votes, and I do not wish to interfere between them and their consciences or their constituents. For my own part, I am convinced that the vote which I gave was a vote dictated by sound policy and constitutional feeling, and that it will ultimately be recognised as a wise and prudent vote. I am perfectly ready to take the consequences of that vote, and I will not for a moment condescend to vindicate it. I have certainly heard with surprise the extraordinary doctrines which are held by Gentlemen representing numerous and popular constituencies, and I can only excuse the opinions which they express upon the charitable supposition, that they speak without previous reflection, and commit themselves to doctrines which, after a time, on due consideration, they will not venture to assert. Now, either the House of Parliament has the privilege, or it has not the privilege, of sanc- 1497 tioning the arrangements made by ministers when Her Majesty, under their advice, enters into Conventions upon which financial arrangements are concluded. If we are to be told that, though Her Majesty cannot enter into treaties by which She is bound to advance large sums of money without the sanction of the House, still it is most impolitic to hesitate to sanction such an arrangement, then I say that it would be much better if we were to come to some understanding upon the subject and were to rid ourselves of so nugatory a privilege as that which we possess. But I am not disposed to agree to that doctrine. I hold that it is a privilege not to be lightly treated, but a real and substantial privilege, which is to be asserted and exercised in an exigency without hesitation, but with a due sense of the responsibility which is to be encountered. Let us for a moment conceive what might be the consequences of our treating such a proposition as that which was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday night as a mere matter of course, or as if it were the mere adjournment of the House. Why, you might raise all the money necessary for carrying on the war without the interference of Parliament in any respect whatever. If you are to raise 5,000,000l. in this way, you might raise 10,000,000l.; if 10,000,000l., then 20,000,000l. or 60,000,000l. There could be no reason why, by a series of conventions, you should not raise a sufficient sum of money to carry on a war which might not meet with the sympathy of the people or the approbation of Parliament. You might raise 20,000,000l. for Turkey, and place it in the hands of a Royal Commissioner, to pay your army in the East—there would not be the slightest check to prevent such a proceeding; and therefore I am sure that hon. Gentlemen must feel that nothing can be more absurd than those commonplace remarks which the hon. Member for Lambeth has made on this and other occasions with regard to the conduct of those who have impugned the policy of the proceedings taken by the noble Lord, characterising their opinions as too wild for the House of Commons for a moment to adopt or approve, or as being prompted only by base, disloyal, and unpatriotic motives. In agreeing to a convention we approve the policy of the Ministers, and therefore conventions of this kind ought not to be agreed to without scrupulous examination and severe criti- 1498 cism. If your policy is a sound policy it should bear that criticism, and the Government would be strengthened in consequence of the discussion. If the contrary he the case, no majority can prop up a policy founded upon principles which are fallacious, when we deal with a question of peace or war; and I am surprised any one should contend that the House of Commons ought to pass measures of this kind without due deliberation and ample and complete discussion. I agree with those who disapprove the manner in which this Convention is to be carried into effect, and I must say that I have heard no satisfactory answer to those objections which have been made to it on that ground. When I find that the Government are not even now really aware of the nature of the engagements into which they have entered, as has been proved to-night by their answers to the objections of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole), I am the more confirmed in my opinion. I consider that the manner in which they are carrying their policy into effect is unsatisfactory. But I am told, "Our policy may be unwise—the manner in which it is proposed to carry that policy into effect may be inexpedient—but it is most hazardous for the House to attempt to change the course pursued by the Government, because by so doing you imperil your alliance with France." I may observe that before I had any idea that this Convention would be placed upon the table I took the liberty, with reference to other subjects, of warning the House not to encourage these stereotyped declarations of the Government that our alliance with France was endangered by the free expression of opinion in this House. If the free expression of our opinions endangers our alliance with France, that alliance is not the substantial thing which I venture to esteem it. Sir, it is by the expression of opinion in this country that that alliance will be supported. If the alliance will not bear discussion—if we are to be perpetually speaking in a whisper when the name and the interests of our great ally are mentioned—you may be sure a very short time will elapse before that alliance will indeed be endangered—for, unless our alliance with France springs from strong sympathy of feeling and identity of interest between the two countries, little reliance can be placed upon it:—unless the sentiments of the great majority of the two countries are in favour of that alliance, it can be maintained by no diplomatic arrangements and 1499 by no ministerial management. It is my conviction that the alliance does arise from that homogeneity of interest and feeling which has for many years prevailed, even unconsciously at first, among the population of these two great nations; I believe that the alliance which has been formed between them is a sound, substantial, and lasting alliance; and I am satisfied the best means of cherishing and maintaining it will be by speaking upon all subjects on which our interests are supposed to interfere, or, at least, to be concerned, with the utmost frankness as well as with the utmost friendship. But is it a fact that the Sovereign of this country having, by the advice of her Ministers, in the exercise of the undoubted prerogative of the Crown, entered into a Convention with France, and the Parliament of England hesitating to sanction the guarantee proposed by that Convention, the alliance between the two countries is necessarily endangered? A right hon. Gentleman has alluded, with great propriety, to the case of the commercial treaty of Utrecht—in my opinion one of the best treaties that was ever negotiated and ratified, and which was yet rejected by the House of Commons; but its rejection did not prevent the peace. I will call the attention of the House to a more recent case. In 1852, when, with my right hon. Friends near me, I was placed in the responsible position of a Minister of the Crown, we found on our accession to office a treaty which had been negotiated and concluded with the Emperor of the French by our predecessors, but which had not received the assent of Parliament. That treaty related to a subject of great interest to the Emperor of the French—the extradition of criminals between the two countries. It was of high importance at that moment that the treaty should be carried into practice; it was necessary that we should appeal to Parliament to ratify it; we acknowledged that the treaty was negotiated by our predecessors, and we claimed no credit on the ground of its conclusion. The noble Lord who was Secretary of State in the Government of Lord Derby (the Earl of Malmesbury) introduced the subject in the House of Lords. The question was one of infinite difficulty, and, if not of vital, was at least of vast importance to the interests and to the peace of Europe. We had the honour on that occasion of receiving in the House of Lords the opposition of our predecessors in office 1500 who had themselves negotiated the treaty. This was but one example of the remarkable candour with which the Administration of Lord Derby was invariably treated by Parliament. I must, however, entirely acquit from this charge the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Palmerston), who uniformly, during our attempt to administer affairs, behaved in a generous and candid manner. So strong was the opposition offered in the House of Lords by the statesmen who had negotiated the treaty that the noble Lord who was peculiarly responsible for the conduct of that important measure consulted me and my right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) who was then Secretary of State for the Home Department, as to the course he should pursue, and as to the possibility of carrying the measure through Parliament. I expressed my opinion that such was the prejudice existing at that moment against the Government that it was utterly impossible to carry through Parliament the Bill that would sanction and guarantee that treaty. I said, "The best thing you can do is to explain to the French Government your exact position, and to throw yourselves upon the good sense and the high spirit of the individual who, fortunately for Europe, governs the destinies of France." If we had been compelled to appeal to a commonplace Sovereign his feelings might hare been outraged, and the consequences might have been serious; but, fortunately, we had to appeal to a Prince of great capacity, and one who had long lived in this country, and His Majesty acted in a manner becoming a person of his high position and talents. Although it was scarcely possible that any circumstance could have occurred more obstructive to his policy and more injurious to his position than that the treaty should not be adopted, His Majesty did justice to the spirit of the English constitution, and the French alliance was not disturbed. He did not turn round and say, "There is an end of the cordial feeling between England and France." On the contrary, he said, "I respect the efforts you have made, and the feelings which have induced your Government to speak to me with such frankness. I deplore, as a most lamentable and injurious event for England, for France, and for Europe, that this treaty has not been carried. I lament that we have been obliged to yield to the false imputations that have been raised against us; but the alliance between England and France is too pre- 1501 cious a thing to be subjected to such political accidents." Although we were obliged to give up our efforts to carry into effect that treaty, I flatter myself that the good understanding between England and France, while we were responsible for the conduct of affairs, was at least undiminished. That is, I think, an answer to those who say that if the Parliament of England ventures, in the exercise of its constitutional rights, to express an opinion upon a Covention negotiated by a Minister we are endangering the alliance between the two countries, and destroying that cordial understanding which, I trust, may always exist. There is no person who would less respect the English Parliament than the Emperor of the French if we were to register our silent votes at the dictation of a Minister upon a subject like that now under our consideration. Whether we look to the policy of this Convention, the manner in which it is carried into effect, or the risks we run if we attempt to modify it, I see no grounds for accepting the opinion of the noble Lord, or for concluding that if we would have prevented this arrangement we should have diminished the degree of vigour with which the war is carried on. Well, Sir, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lambeth assumed that as a matter of fact. That, too, was the principle that animated the absent Secretary of State at the hustings at Southwark. But it is not fair to criticise that jubilant ebullition of a man so suddenly exalted to an unexpected position. We ought to sympathise with him, and rather to congratulate and compliment him. That right hon. Gentleman is the editor of the works of one of the great English philosophers—and finding himself a metropolitan Member and a Secretary of State—and the first metropolitan Member who ever was a Secretary of State—I can fancy him breaking out into a panegyric of despotic power, wishing to put down Parliament, and the free expression of opinion among his old colleagues. But this will pass off when the right hon. Gentleman becomes more tranquil, when he slumbers again upon the Treasury bench. I must say, I think the attempt which has been made to raise a prejudice against the right hon. Gentleman is very unhandsome. We ought to show our respect to one of the rank and file who has gained a high position, and to pass over these things lightly when we see a demagogue or a democrat in this political carnival attack- 1502 ing the freedom of Parliament. That right hon. Gentleman never went to the hustings that he did not personally attack me. That I do not care about. All I hope is that the next time he appears there it will be to offer a vindication for a defunct Ministry, and prepare his constituents for the programme of a progressive Opposition. If a proper constitutional opposition were offered to thin Bill during the rest of its stages the sittings of Parliament, instead of concluding in August or September, would be perpetual. But I do not think this a question upon which we ought to have a protracted discussion. It is necessary to vindicate the privilege of Parliament, and to express an opinion upon the financial and diplomatic arrangements entered into by the Government; but I admit that the happiest opportunity for exercising this privilege is not the discussion of a Convention with a cherished ally. I look upon our vote the other night as a protest against the system which the Government are commencing. If the Session had not been so far advanced my course would have been, after the vote of the other night, to ask the House next day, or the first opportunity, to address the Crown, and express an opinion that the manner in which Her Majesty's Ministers are apparently carrying on the war is not one which it is the policy of this country to pursue. But, having no opportunity to take that course at the end of the Session, when our numbers are diminished, the noble Lord comes down and makes a demand of very great importance, which, if accepted as an unchallenged precedent, might lead to an increase of debt to the amount of many millions, and to a mode of carrying on the war almost irrespective of Parliament. The course that was taken the other night was a wise and right course. It has been a significant one, and has made an impression upon the House and the country. The noble Lord at the head of the Government will be made aware that he cannot, in a light and thoughtless spirit, pursue that course upon which he has embarked. If he does, no commonplace declamations about interfering with the vigorous prosecution of the war, none of those platitudes with which we have been favoured during these debates from several thoughtless quarters, will influence me. I shall oppose, in every way, the adoption of the system of subsidies, as I must call it, whether apparent or disguised, as one of our principal methods 1503 of carrying on the war. I do not think that the war is being vigorously pursued, and I think that this money will be lavishly spent without producing any effect. I am not satisfied with either the principles or progress of the war. What we want is a change—an entire change in the conception and management of your campaign. You may come forward and demand greater sacrifices from the people of this country, but if they are excited by the patriotic eloquence of the noble Lord, or the precipitate remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southwark, the people of England will find that they are not obtaining the object of their endeavours, or securing the independence of Turkey.
§ MR LABOUCHERE
said, that although the right hon. Gentleman had at the commencement of his speech said that he would not condescend to vindicate or justify the vote which he gave on Friday night, he could not help thinking that the House would not have heard the lengthy address with which he had favoured it had he not been anxious to remove the objections which had been urged against it by some in whose good opinion he was desirous to stand well. The greater part of his speech had, however, been occupied in combating objections which no reasonable man would urge. He talked as though hon. Gentlemen sitting on the ministerial side of the House had questioned the right, nay the bounden duty of the House, to scrutinise and examine any Convention into which the Crown might enter with another Power. The right hon. Gentleman would hear from him (Mr. Labouchere) no such unworthy and unconstitutional doctrine. It was one of the most solemn duties of the House, if need were, to oppose the Crown in acts which involved the imposition of burdens upon the people; and in so doing, so far from being disloyal, they were giving the truest support to the Crown, while they took care that their constitutional right was not invaded. But in exercising this right the House was surely bound to exercise it with judgment and caution, and with a due regard to consequences. He might be wrong, but he confessed he was appalled at the hazard which Gentlemen who voted against the Resolution last Friday evening were prepared to run for the sake of avoiding contingent and possible dangers—especially was he surprised at the conduct of those who had been all along urging upon the Government the vigorous prosecution of the war. The op- 1504 position came from various quarters and included many Members of great ability, and having great weight with the House; and he was surprised that, situated as we were with regard to France, these gentlemen, overlooking the important and necessary consequences of the course they recommended, should have united to ask the House, not to scrutinise and examine this Bill, but to strangle it at once, and to say to the Crown, "we will not permit you to fulfil your engagement;" to France, "we will not join you in carrying out those measures which the Governments of the two countries thought most likely to effect the object for the attainment of which we are now allied," and to Turkey, "we will not furnish you with the assistance which we know you require." He hoped the danger was past. He would say nothing about the necessary effect of such an adverse vote upon the stability of the Government; at the same time he could not forget that the House had more than once unequivocally declared that, under present circumstances a change in the Administration would not be for the public advantage; yet had the Resolution proposed last Friday night been negatived, it was impossible that the present Government should have retained office. He would not attempt to disguise his desire that the present Government should continue in power; but were the Treasury benches occupied by the Gentlemen opposite, and were those Gentlemen carrying on the war, vigorously and efficiently, he should be most unwilling to give any vote which would disturb them. The success of the Opposition to that Resolution would, however, have been attended with most serious consequences. What would have been the effect at Paris, at Constantinople, at St. Petersburg? Would not the impression produced upon Europe have been that the people and the Parliament of this country were heartily tired of the war, and were unwilling to support the Government; and that, therefore, the Government had nothing to do but to accept any peace, however humiliating might be its terms? He longed for peace as much as any man could do; and he would support no Government which he did not believe would make peace on fair and honourable terms. So long, however, as he believed that the Government was seeking for a safe and honourable peace, through the energetic pursuit of hostilities, he should feel it his duty to give to it the best support that he was able. Of this 1505 he was certain, that if the House wished to express disapproval of the acts of the Government there could be no less proper mode of doing so than, without the greatest possible reasons, refusing its consent to a convention of this kind. Weighing, therefore, the objections which had been urged to the proposition of the Government with the dangers which would have arisen from the rejection of this Bill, every impartial man must rejoice that the House had followed the advice of those who recommended its adoption.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he did not imagine, when his right hon. Friend rose, that he was about to favour the Committee with a constitutional lecture, but thought that he intended to supply a deficiency in the discussions which had taken place upon the Bill. He alluded to the circumstance that no independent Member had spoken who had a word to say in favour of the terms of the proposition of the Government. He agreed with his right hon. Friend in desiring the stability of the Government, but he was not prepared to purchase that stability by voting for subsidies which he believed to be in themselves mischievous and certain to be followed by mischievous consequences. If the House admitted upon this occasion the argument of the effect the rejection of this Bill would produce in France, St. Petersburg, and Constantinople, were they to be precluded from expressing an opinion hereafter, when the question might be one of 20,000,000l. or of 50,000,000l., upon the same ground—namely, the fear of shaking the French alliance? But the Solicitor General had stated that express reference was made in the Convention to the necessity of the sanction of the House of Commons to the arrangement which had been entered into, and therefore the faith of the Crown could not be taken to be pledged. His right hon. Friend said it would be unworthy of the House to abstain from expressing an opinion upon the effect of a financial proposition. He would read to the Committee some precedents with regard to the manner in which that principle ought to be acted upon. A hundred years ago some very remarkable discussions took place upon this very question of subsidies, and what were the opinions expressed by the Mr. Fox of that day and by Lord Chatham? Lord Chatham said—We have suffered ourselves to be deceived by names and sounds—the balance of power, the 1506 liberty of Europe, a common cause, and many more such expressions—without any other meaning than to exhaust our wealth, consume the profits of our trade, and load our posterity with intolerable burdens. None but a nation that had lost all signs of virility would submit to be so treated.Lord Stanhope, in his History, thus summed up the transaction, and, changing Germany into Turkey, the passage would apply exactly to the present occasion—It seemed hard that the ultimate object in question—the security of the Germanic Empire and of the German princes themselves—could only be obtained by payments and promises to those very German princes. Hard as it seemed, however, no more than fifty-four Members of Parliament were found to vote against it.There was nothing left for those who were of opinion that this loan was a burden laid upon the people of this country for the purpose of furnishing Turkey with a subsidy, not upon the most provident or advantageous terms, but to take the course which they had taken. He denied that there had been any attempt at surprise, or any concert in the matter; they had expressed an honest, independent opinion on the question, and the result had shown that there was a very strong fooling in the House as to the prudence and propriety of the course which the Government had taken. He contended that they had been exercising an undoubted Parliamentary right in endeavouring to delay the Resolution, in order to give the Government—when they saw that the form of the Convention was objectionable to representatives of the people—an opportunity of communicating with the French Government for the purpose of ascertaining whether some more provident and suitable arrangement might not be made.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) that those Gentlemen who take exception to what is supposed to have been said by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies (Sir W. Molesworth) at his election to-day might as well have deferred their remarks until my right hon. Friend was here to answer for himself, especially as there is no man more capable than he is of defending himself in his place against anything which is laid to his charge. I would, however, venture to suggest to the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), who seems to take so much objection to what he calls violence of expression in speeches out of this House at hustings, that, after 1507 having delivered his lecture to my right hon. Friend, it would be well if he were to address some remarks aside to his Colleague the hon. Member for Manchester, and to the hon. Member for the West Riding, who in their speeches out of this House stand quite as much in need of such an admonition as does my right hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire accuses the Government of having endeavoured to hurry on this Bill, so as to prevent it from being fairly and fully discussed. No such thing did we do; on the contrary, it was those who voted against us who wanted to prevent discussion, inasmuch as they had endeavoured to strangle the Bill at its first stage, whereas the Government has urged upon the House to go on in order that it might fairly discuss the arrangements, and that my right hon. Friends might have an opportunity of stating the objections that they felt to them. That charge cannot, certainly, with justice, be laid at our door. Nor has anybody on this side of the House maintained that doctrine, which has been repudiated with such constitutional energy by various hon. Gentlemen—that Parliament has not a right to criticise and to reject any proposal of this kind. On the contrary, as was pointed out by the Solicitor General, the very terms of the treaty imply that the approbation of Parliament is necessary, and it would be manifestly impossible for the Crown to enter into any such engagement as this without the subsequent consent of Parliament. All that can be engaged by the Crown is, that it will recommend to Parliament to sanction and to give effect to the treaty into which it has conditionally entered. The charge which we make against those who voted against the Resolution on a former occasion is that they abused and misapplied their constitutional right—not that they had no right to consider the question, but that they exercised their right with a forgetful ness of the great interests of the country committed to their charge. This is measure peculiarly essential to the vigorous prosecution of the war. Does any man imagine that the war can be carried on with vigour and advantage if the Turkish army is not in the field? and how can that be if the Turkish Government is not furnished with the means of maintaining it in a state of efficiency? The object of this Bill is to supply the Turkish Government with those means; and, therefore, I 1508 maintain that it is essential to the vigorous prosecution of the war. It is the height of inconsistency in those who very lately concurred in a Resolution to pledge the House to support the Crown in a vigorous prosecution of the war now to turn round and endeavour to deprive the Government the means of carrying out that Resolution. On a former occasion we contended that the arguments urged against this Bill were only fine-drawn distinctions, and were not founded on any broad and intelligible principle, and I must say that up to the present instant I am really unable to understand what are the main objections o this Bill, and especially those of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford. I cannot understand whether my right hon. Friend objects to the Bill because the guarantee is a joint and not a separate guarantee, or whether it is that it is a guarantee and not a loan, or whether it is that it is a loan, and not a gift or a subsidy. In short, I am utterly at a loss to discover from my right hon. Friend's arguments what is his real and substantial ground of opposition to the Bill. If his objection is that it is a joint and not a separate guarantee, my answer is that which I gave the other evening—that, though Her Majesty's Government would have preferred a separate guarantee, yet the French Government laid so much stress mode of arrangement which upon the has been adopted that we thought it due to that Government to yield to their wishes in a matter on which we did not lay so much stress as they did. The great objection of my right hon. Friend seems to be based on political grounds. He says that great difficulties and embarrassments will arise out of this joint guarantee, inasmuch as it will give to the guaranteeing Powers some sort of means of seizing on territory in payment of debt. Now, Sir, if any disposition of that sort existed, or were likely to exist, I should venture to suggest that a separate guarantee would give greater means of carrying it into effect. Where the guarantee is separate and where each party guarantees a specific amount of the loan independently of the other, each party has a right to say—"you are paid your portion of the interest or not as may happen; we are not paid ours; we foreclose therefore, and we take possession of a portion of territory in order to indemnify ourselves from loss." On the other hand, where the gua- 1509 rantee is joint and several, if one of the parties show any disposition to act in the way I have described, it would be in the power of the other party to say, "You have no right to do it—I take upon myself the whole responsibility of the debt, and I guarantee that no loss shall fall upon you." Then, my right hon. Friend says he has a great objection to the assignment of particular branches of the revenue as a security for the loan; but if he will inform himself from persons who were colleagues of Lord Aberdeen in the Government of 1835, I rather think he will find that a treaty was drawn up at that time by which the Greek Government was to give exactly the same security to the three Powers for the payment of the interest on the Greek loan. If I am not mistaken, the three Powers were to have security on the customs of certain ports in Greece, which is the kind of security to which the right hon. Gentleman objects; it was agreed to by the English Government, but difficulties arose in other quarters which prevented it from being carried out. With regard to the manner of the guarantee, it appears to me that less difficulty is likely to arise from the treaty as it is than if the guarantee had been such as my right hon. Friend proposes. The practical question which the House has to consider is simply this—that a treaty having been concluded on that principle at the particular desire of France, whether this House should reject that treaty and throw it in the face of the French Government, on the very ground of objection to the arrangement that had been made in deference to their wishes? It is said that it would not affect the French alliance; that we are upon such excellent terms, and that the alliance is founded on such a firm basis that it cannot be shaken by an affront of this kind. But would it be right, on account of the intimate friendship which exists, to take a liberty that would be very insulting to the French Government? Such a course as that suggested could not be taken without negotiation, which would render a new Convention necessary, would delay the assistance which Turkey requires until a remote period, and would entirely defeat the purposes for which that assistance is necessary. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) cited a case where the Government of Lord Derby had been obliged to abandon a treaty in consequence of the enunciation of opinion in Parliament. 1510 But the right hon. Gentleman somewhat mistakes the circumstances of that case. The treaty to which he alluded was the extradition treaty, by which the two Governments were to surrender persons charged with certain offences who had fled from justice in their own country and had taken refuge in others. That was not a new treaty, because one already existed between England and France, for that purpose; but it was found difficult of execution as far as Frenchmen flying to England were concerned, because the law was difficult to be complied with by persons coming from Franco to claim the fugitives. A long negotiation was entered into with a view of making changes in that treaty, but the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken in saying that that treaty was concluded at the time that Lord Derby came into office. Negotiations had gone on, but the scheme proposed by France was one to which I had great objections on constitutional grounds. [Mr. DISRAELI: It was concluded by Lord Granville:] My impression was that the final arrangement of the treaty took place after Lord Derby's Government came into office. I may be mistaken. All I know is that up to the time I came into office, I objected to the arrangement which the French Government proposed. That treaty, however, is not a case in point; it is not like a treaty for the essential and vigorous prosecution of a war in which the two countries are engaged, and the revocation of which would leave penniless that very ally for which you are unndertaking the war. The only result of the rejection of the treaty to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded was that England and France remained in the same position under the treaty which already existed. Without renewing the discussion which has taken place with regard to the conduct of parties in the late division, I will simply say that I cannot at all look on that division in the light manner in which some hon. Gentlemen are disposed to represent it. I must own I think that it would have been a very serious thing indeed if that division had turned the other way, and the treaty had been contumeliously rejected by the House and flung back in the face of the Government of France. I do not say that it would have broken up the alliance, but I think that it would have created great coolness and alienation in the relations of the two countries, which would have been productive of much evil in 1511 regard to their connection, while its effects upon Turkey would have been fatal, at least for the moment. The right hon. Gentleman opposite says he would conduct the war more vigorously and effectively than it appears to be conducted at present. I do not know whether that will greatly recommend him to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford—though they do not sit upon the same benches they meet in the same lobby—but all I can say is, that we are doing our best, upon a full consideration of all the circumstances, and, acting in concert with our allies, to accomplish the object which we have in view. It is misrepresentation to say that we are levying taxes on the people to send our millions to Turkey. We do no such thing, for if Turkey fulfils her engagements no burden will be entailed on the people of this country. I think that if the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) was still in office he would take a more lenient view of the policy of the measure which we are now discussing, the object of which is to furnish our ally with the means which are absolutely indispensable for the maintenance of that army which is co-operating with ours, and without which co-operation we could not have the success which we expect and ought to have. It was, therefore, with great pleasure that I heard the right hon. Gentleman opposite state that, though he was bound to protest against what, in his opinion, was not a good arrangement, it was not his intention to propose any further obstacle to the progress of the Bill.
observed, that the Committee had given him an ample opportunity of expressing his feelings on this question, and he did not propose to abuse their patience by reopening the discussion. The noble Lord, however, had observed that, perhaps, if he had still continued Chancellor of the Exchequer, he should have been disposed to take a more lenient and favourable view of this matter. He appealed confidently to his colleagues whether the doctrines he held upon guarantees had undergone any change? and, with respect to the present measure, while he was not content with the arrangement, he submitted cheerfully to the opinion expressed by the House, although it must be remarked that not a single Member had given his approval to the terms of this arrangement upon the merits, or to the mode in which it had been brought forward by Her Majesty's 1512 Government. He urged that a treaty of this nature always involved corresponding obligations, and he was at a loss to see what Turkey undertook to do in return for the advance which we were about to make to her.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, that until the ratification should be sent to Constantinople nothing could be done in pursuance of the Convention; but that instructions had been sent to Lord Stratford with a view to the mode in which the money should be applied.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
suggested that some guarantee should be afforded that the money now to be advanced should be applied to the purpose for which it was intended, and was understood to instance a case in which this had been done.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, with respect to the case referred to that the grand difference was this, that it was Turkish money in the one case and English money in the other.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, that as to this being Turkish money that was a mere phrase. The money was to be paid into the Bank of England, and the Turkish Government would not have the power of touching one shilling of it there. He wanted to know how much of the loan might be transmitted by the Government to Turkey?
§ MR. WILKINSON
said, that Turkey was about to raise a loan, and this country had nothing to do with it until it should be called on to pay the interest.
§ LORD LOVAINE
thought the hon. Member was mistaken. The money was indeed to be raised in the name of Turkey, hut this country took the guardianship of it, and issued it from time to time to Turkey.
§ MR. MALINS
considered the words proposed to be introduced most objectionable. Turkey desired to borrow, and England and France were to guarantee. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to suggest that England and France were going to rob Turkey? The transaction was so simple that it required all the ingenuity of the right hon. Gentleman to mystify it.
deplored the unhappy condition of the hon. and learned Gentleman, who had been sitting in the House all the evening and wasting his precious time. The hon. and learned Gentleman appeared to impute to the right hon. Member for Manchester a de- 1513 sire to introduce into the Convention the very thing which was already in it—namely, a control over the transmission of the money. This, at any rate, was not a case where the French alliance was in danger; but as, with the views he entertained of the measure, he considered the adoption or rejection of the proposed Amendment a matter of insignificance he recommended his right hon. Friend not to press it to a division, though, if it went to the vote, he should support it as a slight acknowledgment of the functions of Parliament to exercise a control over the Executive Government in matters o money.
§ MR. MALINS
adhered to his assertion that the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Manchester suggested that the Executive Government were not to be trusted with the transmission of money paid into the Bank of England for the use of Turkey. Having listened to several remarkable speeches from the right hon. Member for Oxford University, he was surprised that that right hon. Member should charge him with having wasted his time.
§ MR. T. BARING
The money was money for Turkey; but it was also money to be used by Turkey under the special control of Commissioners to be appointed for that purpose. And if that were the case, what was the difficulty in having a return? We had control over the money until it was expended in Turkey, and it was only fair that this House should require some return as to how the money was to be spent.
§ Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3 (Accounts to be laid before Parliament.)
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
then proposed his Amendment in a form requiring an account to be laid before Parliament of the sums transmitted to the Sublime Porte on account of the capital of the Loan.
§ Question put, "That these words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:— Ayes 36; Noes 124: Majority 88.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ The preamble of the Bill, including the Convention, into which the words "and severally" were introduced, was also agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Bill reported as amended.
§ The House adjourned at half after One o'clock till Monday next.