§ On the Motion of VISCOUNT PALMERSTON,
§ The House went into Committee to take into consideration the Queen's Message with reference to the Treaty with Sardinia.
§ The QUEEN'S MESSAGE read.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I rise, Sir, to propose to the Committee a Resolution for the purpose of enabling Her Majesty to fulfil the engagement which by treaty she has entered into with the King of Sardinia; and I will now state the grounds on which, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, the arrangement made is one which it is befitting for Parliament to sanction. It is well known that we are engaged in a war with a great military Power. It is true that we are acting in concert with another great military power—the Emperor of the French, who has at his disposal a large amount of military force; but the circumstances under which this country engaged 1069 in a war—namely, beginning operations on a peace establishment, naturally had the effect of limiting within a more narrow compass than might have been expected at a more advanced stage of the war, the military resources of the country applicable to the operations which we had to carry on. Therefore, as we have not the power which other countries have of suddenly, by conscription, adding a large amount of force to their existing establishments, it became necessary for Her Majesty's Government to consider by what means we might make a rapid augmentation of that military force which it had become necessary for us to employ in the operations of the war. With that view it was that we had recourse to Parliament to enable Her Majesty to accept the voluntary services of a portion of her Militia for garrison duty in the Mediterranean. It was also for that purpose that we applied to Parliament to enable Her Majesty to accept the services of such foreigners as might be inclined to enlist in Her Majesty's service during the war. It was for this purpose, too, that the treaty with Sardinia was formed, and which is the subject of discussion on the present occasion. By that treaty, Sardinia engages to furnish an auxiliary force of 15,000 men to co-operate with the armies of England and France, and of course to maintain that auxiliary force at that effective strength. But as the sending forth of an army of that amount to a distant country must necessarily be attended with a considerable immediate outlay, it was agreed between the Government of Sardinia and that of Her Majesty, that application should be made to Parliament to enable the Queen to advance 1,000,000l. sterling to Sardinia, for the purpose of defraying the expense of this expedition—Sardinia paying 4 cent. interest upon that advance as a loan, of which 1 per cent. is to form a sinking fund for the ultimate redemption of the loan. Now if we come to consider, in the first place, what is the value of the auxiliary force thus obtained, I think nobody, who knows anything of the state of Sardinia, or of the Sardian army, will be disposed to underrate the value of that assistance. It is needless to refer to the records of history, which show that Piedmontese troops have always been distinguished, not only for their bravery in the field, but for all those military qualities and scientific attain- 1070 ments which render armies available, and increase, as far as numbers go, their chances of success, whenever or wherever they may be employed. It is well known that the Sardinian army is one of the best armies in Europe. The auxiliary force will be commanded by a general distinguished for his personal abilities, as well as for his professional knowledge—I mean General La Marmora; and I must say, Sir, that I anticipate great advantage from the co-operation of so valuable a force. The history of the House of Savoy is full of glorious records, but I will venture to say that there is no page in that history which will redound more to the honour of that dynasty and country than that which records the treaty by which Sardinia has associated herself with England and with France in the cause of the rights of nations, and of the independence of States. The position of Sardinia was peculiar with regard to this contest. Any immediate danger from the aggressions of Russia was less likely than danger to the interests of England and France, but the Government of Sardinia felt that the great principles of right and wrong could not be violated without danger to all—that the aggressions of power over weakness must, in their ultimate result, threaten all States, even those which were more remote from the immediate source of danger, and that, if once the ascendancy of might over right should prevail, it would be impossible for any State to know whence the next storm might come, or on whose devoted head it might burst. Sardinia, therefore, judged rightly when she thought that she should not be acting a part consistent with her national interests and honour if she did not engage with England and France in the conflict in which these Powers were engaged, But, Sir, if it is honourable to Sardinia to have thus taken this large and enlightened view of the position in which she stood, it is equally honourable to England and France, because it is a proof that we have on our side the sympathy of independent States, whose general conduct entitles them to respect, and whose opinion, therefore, is valuable as a testimony of the righteousness of our cause. I say it is honourable to both that this compact should have been concluded; and this transaction will, I trust, be attended with other advantages of a collateral description. Up to a recent time, and for some time past, there has been an 1071 unfortunate animosity prevailing between the Government of Sardinia and the Government of Austria, which has tended to disturb the tranquillity of the Italian peninsula. I trust, however, that when Sardinia and Austria find themselves both ranged morally and in opinion, though in a different degree, on the same side, in this great European contest, that identity of views and consentaneity of purpose will obliterate all those feelings of animosity which may have hitherto prevailed between them, and thus the greatest advantage will be derived, not only to both these countries, but to the other States of the Italian peninsula. When we see the wisdom with which the Sardinian Government have administered their affairs—the justice and the liberty which prevail in Sardinia, and contrast them with the far different state of things which unfortunately prevails in some of the more southern parts of the Italian peninsula, it is impossible not to anticipate that the cordial union between Austria and Sardinia, and between those Powers and France and England, may have a beneficial moral effect on the condition of the other States of Italy, and may lead, perhaps, to a more fortunate state of things in the Roman and Neapolitan States. These, therefore, Sir, are the grounds on which I propose to the Committee to sanction the engagement which Her Majesty has entered into with Sardinia; they are—that we want all the military assistance which we can obtain for the purpose of the war—that, by this means we shall be enabled to procure the co-operation of a most valuable and gallant body of men—that the alliance is one honourable alike to all the parties concerned, and that there is every rational hope for thinking that this alliance—coupled with the good understanding now happily prevailing between France and Austria, and which is a security for the peace of the northern part of the continent of Europe—that this union of cause, and this agreement of opinion between Austria and Sardinia, will have the same beneficial influence upon the southern part of that empire in the peninsula of Italy. I trust that, for these reasons, the House will concur in the Resolution which, Mr. Bouverie, I now place in your hands.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I do not think that 1072 Resolution of this nature should pass unnoticed, for the grounds upon which it has been recommended by the noble Lord appear to me to be of a very limited character. It must be a matter of congratulation to the Government, and also to the House, that a European Power, possessing a considerable military force, and distinguished, I am happy to say, by a liberal spirit and an anxiety to co-operate with us in that cause which we all have at heart, and which I believe to be a cause which involves the question of civilisation in Europe—it must be, I say, a source of congratulation that a Power of such a character should be ready to co-operate with us and our allies in the struggle in which, unfortunately, we are engaged. If that, however, were all I had to consider, I should entirely agree with the noble Lord in congratulating the House upon that circumstance, for I should feel that it afforded an additional security for a happy termination of the struggle in which we are engaged. But that is not the only question we have to consider in agreeing to this Resolution, and I do not think that it would be becoming to the House of Commons if it was passed unnoticed. It is not from mere sympathy on the part of the Government of Sardinia with us and our allies, not merely because they feel that general interests are concerned, that they are prepared to take the step they contemplate. There are other inducements and other influences involved in this Resolution which must not be lost sight of. I acknowledge at once the importance of the adhesion of Sardinia, but what I wish to call the attention of the Committee to is the fact that we are asked to assist Her Majesty in the contract which she has entered into to advance a loan of a considerable sum of money to the Sardinian Government. I think, Sir, the House ought to pause before it agrees to advance a sum of money to any foreign Power. I will not at this moment say that there are not circumstances which may justify it. So far as I can collect from Her Majesty's Gracious Message, and from the explanation (not very ample) with which the noble Lord has just favoured us, this is a loan which probably will not be very speedily repaid. I understand from the noble Lord that Sardinia is to pay for this advance at the rate of four per cent. interest, one-fourth of which interest is to form a sinking fund. The noble Lord has not favoured us with a calculation of the period when the aggregate 1073 amount raised by the sinking fund will form a sum which may repay this advance, but I do not think that is a period which can at all enter into our financial considerations for the present. Well, we heard last year of sonic financial operations which were described as loans in disguise. Now, Sir, I cannot help feeling that this is a subsidy in disguise; and if we are commencing a system of subsidies, I think it becomes the House of Commons to consider well before they sanction such a step, and not hereafter, when attention may be called to the consequences of perhaps a precipitate act, render themselves liable to be reminded that they allowed such a course of policy to be pursued without comment and without consideration. It is unnecessary at the present moment to enter into any elaborate reasoning to prove that the system of subsidies is one vicious in principle and usually pernicious in operation. At the end of the last war I think it was the unanimous opinion of this house and of the country generally that, although under circumstances of extreme difficulty, and during a contest prolonged beyond the average of even great wars, we had been often without thought hurried into a financial course which depended much upon a system of subsidies, still I believe it was the general opinion of both sides of the House that nothing but extreme necessity could sanction a recurrence to a system so pernicious in its principle. That system is one which tends, I think, to lessen the character of the country which has recourse to it, as well as of the country which receives the aid. If Sardinia, for example, from considerations of high policy, feels that it is her duty to embark in this struggle, a State, under such circumstances should certainly primâ facie not require foreign aid to assist her in the fulfilment of that which she deems her highest duty; while, on the other hand, every man must be conscious that a country which has recourse on principle to foreign arms to support the contest in which it has embarked is, in fact, placing itself almost in the position of a tributary, and is having recourse to mercenary aid to accomplish those results which should be achieved from her own essential strength and resources. I wish to guard myself against stating that there may not be exceptions to the principle which I lay down—namely, one hostile to any recourse to loans; but it should be a case of extreme necessity which should authorise even the House of 1074 Commons to consider the expediency of recurring to such a system. Now, does that extreme necessity exist at present? And if it does exist, what is the cause of that extreme necessity? These certainly are questions which we ought to have solved—questions which will be demanded of us by our constituents, and which, on an occasion like the present, should, I think, at least be heard in this assembly. Sir, we are embarked (the noble Lord tells us) in a war with a great military Power. Undoubtedly we are. But before we embarked in a struggle with a great military Power surely it was our duty to consider the risks we incurred, the sacrifices we should be called upon to make, and the resources we had at our command. It is not a sufficient vindication of this policy of subsidies to be told that we are embarked in a struggle with a great military Power. Before we entered into such a struggle we should have duly considered what must be the inevitable consequences of the policy we were pursuing. We have been at war but a year; and it is at the end of the first year that we are obliged, according to the representations of the noble Lord, to originate this recurrence to the system of subsidies. The noble Lord has given us to-night, as his principal reason for the deficient military means which we have at our command and the deficient resources we have displayed—he has given, I say, a reason which has been offered before in this House, but which has not yet been considered satisfactory. He says that we entered into war on a peace establishment. Is that true? And, if it be true, are not the Ministers responsible for entering into war under such circumstances and at such a disadvantage? Sir, we did not enter into this war hastily. It was not on a sudden that England found herself involved in a struggle with a great military Power. The whole country, long before the Message of Her Majesty came down to the Houses of Parliament, was prepared for more than the possibility of such a great contingency. The Ministry who for more than a year had been carrying on negotiations—were they during that period making no preparations for the war which they must have considered inevitable, and which, if they did not consider it inevitable, was at least a proof of their want of becoming prescience? Her Majesty's Ministers, we now know, were in possession of secret information a year before war was 1075 declared—they were apprised of the most confidential intentions of the late Emperor of Russia. I say, then, that after having been placed in possession of those intentions, Her Majesty's Ministers must, or ought to, have felt it their duty to prepare for the great struggle which was more than possibly impending. The noble Lord may tell us, as he has told us before, that when negotiations are going on it is not becoming to increase the military establishments of a country; but I doubt the validity of that position. Why, Sir, negotiations are going on now, and never were military preparations being made on a greater scale. According to the argument of the noble Lord, which he used some mouths ago, and to which I have referred, he might as well say that because a Congress is at this moment sitting at Vienna our fleet should not now be preparing for the Baltic, and the armies of France should not be about to embark for the Crimea. The argument of the noble Lord—if you can call it an argument—appears to me one refuted by facts and circumstances hourly occurring, and requires hardly any answer. But, Sir, if war was more than possible a year before it was declared, I deny that it was merely by an ostentatious increase of our military establishments that we should have prepared for that war, or that we need have rendered necessary a recurrence to the pernicious system now introduced to us by the noble Lord under a cloak. We might, without exciting any odium, without taking a single step which any foreign Power could have challenged as one menacing to the then still existing peace of Europe—we might, I say, have laid the foundation of a military power and of military means which would have rendered this recurrence to a system of subsidies unnecessary. What were the steps which Ministers took with regard to the Militia—that force which had been called into active life before even the fear of a Russian war was prevalent in the country, and when the possibility of such a war could only have been known to those in the secrets of the Cabinet? What was the course, I ask, which was pursued by Her Majesty's Ministers with respect to a force which by developing they might have rendered a source of inexhaustible strength and of almost unlimited military means? Sir, they entirely neglected that great source of power, and there is no Minister in this country, in my mind, more responsible for that neglect than the noble Lord 1076 who now occupies the most eminent post in the Government, and who has this evening, in a brief speech, expected as a matter of course that the House of Commons would immediately, and in silence, sanction a recurrence to the odious system of subsidies. Why, Sir, even so lately as the commencement of the year 1854, after eight months of bootless negotiations, after eight months had elapsed since Her Majesty's Ministers were aware of the secret policy of the late Emperor of Russia, when we were on the eve of declaring war, what did the noble Lord do with regard to the Scotch and Irish militia? It was pressed upon his notice not merely to embody on a much greater scale the English militia, but to call out the Scotch and the Irish militia; and what was the course pursued by the noble Lord? Silence and negligence; no notice of the appeal made to him; and when at last that appeal was noticed, it was only by words in this House, not by acts in his office, not in that spirit which would have impressed upon the country the importance of the exigency, and would have laid the foundation of military means which would have prevented the necessity of the course recommended by this Resolution. Why, Sir, even after war was declared—even after the 25th of March, the date of Her Majesty's declaration—the noble Lord took no steps for the further development of the military resources of the country in regard to the militia. Not only was the militia not embodied, but the noble Lord still neglected calling out the Irish and Scotch militia, and it was not till months after the declaration of war—not till after Midsummer—that the noble Lord at last had recourse to these means. Had they been appealed to six months or a year before—and we should have been perfectly justified in appealing to them at least a year before—we might have made that appeal without our policy and conduct being held out by foreign nations as circumstances menacing to the still existing peace of Europe. The noble Lord and his colleagues, and especially the noble Lord, neglected those means, and from that moment we have reaped the bitter fruits of official negligence and want of confidence in the resources and support of the country. I shall not, of course, take upon myself the responsibility, in the present state of the country, of opposing the measure which the noble Lord has brought forward, but I will not allow it to pass in silence. I will 1077 not, as far as any influence which my words may exercise, allow it to be unknown to the country that at the commencement of the second year of war we are beginning a system of subsidies, and that we are beginning a system of subsidies because Her Majesty's Ministers have from the first neglected those national means which would have prevented a recurrence to so odious a measure. Sir, with these views, I shall not, as I have previously stated, oppose the Resolution which the noble Lord has moved, but I trust the House of Commons will not allow it to pass in silence. I trust the House of Commons will pause to consider that they are now, perhaps, at the commencement of a system which may bring disgrace and disappointment upon their arms and upon their hopes, as that system has brought upon them before, and that we shall on this and every occasion impress upon the Government of this country our conviction that if war is to be carried on by England it must be carried on mainly with the resources and by the spirit of England.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, as the right hon. Gentleman has announced that it is not his intention to oppose this Resolution, I apprehend very little is required from me in reply to the observations which he has made; but I cannot permit the right hon. Gentleman to attempt to confound a system of loans bearing interest, with a system of subsidies, upon which no interest would be paid, and which would be a pure and entire sacrifice upon the part of this country. The right hon. Gentleman may think less highly than I do, less highly than Her Majesty's Government, and less highly, I venture to say, than the country at large do, of the respectability of that country with which we have contracted these engagements annually, and of the means which the kingdom of Sardinia possesses of paying the small amount of annual contribution which will annually be required as the interest of the loan; but, supposing even that the loan was a sacrifice for a certain number of years—which it is not—any man who has cast his eye over the Estimates, and knows that the ordinary expense of 1,000 men on a peace establishment is 40,000l., in comparing that expense with the advantages which we are to derive from the services of 15,000 excellent, well-trained, well-disciplined, and ably commanded troops, will at once perceive the advantageous nature 1078 of the contract we have entered into with Sardinia. But, forsooth, the right hon. Gentleman says, we ought at the time when negotiations were pending to have come down to this House and increased the war estimates, placed our army and navy upon a war establishment, and prepared for an event which we had then every reason to hope would never occur. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman knows very well that no such proposition could have been carried. I should like to know what would have been the indignant denial with which the right hon. Gentleman and those who sat around him would have met a proposition for greatly increasing the army at a time when negotiations were being carried on, which we had good ground to expect would have ended in the amicable settlement of the affairs in dispute. The right hon. Gentleman compares the course which he says we ought then to have pursued with the course which we are now pursuing, and, because we did not choose to interrupt the progress of hopeful negotiations in a time of peace by ostentatious preparations for war, he tells us we ought now, when we are engaged in war, when our troops are engaged in a great, important, and difficult undertaking—on the same principle we ought now to abstain from making preparations for continuing the war, and that we should, as it were, lay down our arms, because negotiations are going on for peace. The right hon. Gentleman says, that although negotiations were then pending, yet there were then as good grounds for making preparations for war as there were now for proposing this loan to Sardinia, although negotiations are now pending at Vienna; but the two cases have no similarity whatever. They are as different from each other as two things can possibly be. The right hon. Gentleman reproaches the Government and myself individually with a want of proper foresight in not having called out the militia before the war began. Now, Sir, if there be any want of foresight in regard to the militia, I think that the right hon. Gentleman and those who sit near him are responsible and ought to make their defence to such a charge. What was the Militia Bill which they brought in? It was a Militia Bill—good in many respects, no doubt—inasmuch as it established a most valuable force for the defence of the country; but it did not establish a force for carrying on operations in the Crimea, and it was by no means such a force as would 1079 have superseded the necessity or diminished the advantage of having a well-disciplined, well-trained, and well-commanded force like that of the Sardinian army. I admit and fully acknowledge the merit of the Government to which the right hon. Gentleman belonged in reorganising and re-establishing the militia, but let me ask what was the condition upon which it was established? Could it be embodied in a time of peace? Could the embodiment of the militia be one of those measures of military and threatening preparation for war, during the pending of negotiations for peace, which the right hon. Gentleman says we ought to have had recourse to? Certainly not, for there was no power to embody the militia in a time of peace. Then, could we have embodied the militia when war was declared? No, Sir, we could not. The Bill only gave power to the Crown to embody the militia in a case of "actual invasion or of imminent danger thereof." Now, Sir, in a war with Russia, with the Baltic and the Black Sea blockaded, and our troops going to the East, could any man pretend to say that there was any actual invasion of this country or imminent danger thereof? Sir, we embodied a certain number of militia regiments as soon as war broke out, and how did we embody them? Not by any power which the Bill gave us, but by the voluntary offers of these regiments, which, with no power to compel them to serve, gallantly and voluntarily tendered their services in aid of the national efforts to carry on the war in which the country was engaged. In all, sixteen militia regiments were embodied at a time when we had no power of compelling them to serve, and when the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman opposite had given us no power of ordering them to be embodied. Well, we then brought in a Bill to enable the Crown to embody the militia in time of war, and when that power was given to us we proceeded to embody a number of other regiments. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman says it was a proof of a want of foresight that the militia was not embodied before the war and at the commencement of war I say that that want of foresight belongs to those who sit around the right hon. Gentleman, and not to us. We had no remedy in our case, and it is for hon. Gentlemen opposite to answer the speech which the right hon. Gentleman has made. But, Sir, would the organisation of the Scotch and Irish militia, even at an earlier period, 1080 have superseded the necessity for the assistance which we are about to derive from a Sardinian force? Will any man tell me that raw troops, just enrolled, partially disciplined, recently trained, incapable of going abroad, by the very terms of their service tied to the defence of the country—will any man tell me that the Scotch and Irish militia, under these circumstances, would have been a substitution for that Sardinian army, ably commanded, well trained, and well disciplined, which you are about to obtain by the Resolution now under the consideration of the House? No doubt, I shall be told, "True, the Scotch and Irish militia could not have gone abroad, but they would have afforded recruits to the British army. No doubt they would, and gallant and good men they would have furnished. Many militiamen have honourably and nobly volunteered their services into the line, and will still, I hope, do so, and highly honourable it is to the commanders of militia regiments to find them contributing in this manner to the service of the Crown and the country; but I say that, however these Scotch and Irish regiments might be useful in that respect, it is absurd to tell me that they would be a substitute for a well-organised army of 15,000 men; which is to be kept up to that establishment. The Scotch and Irish militia will enable us, I trust, to keep our own army complete, but they never could be considered as a substitution for that force which this treaty places in co-operation with our army. With regard, therefore, to the charge of want of foresight and neglect of duty in respect to the militia, I think that charge does not apply here, but it is for those who sit behind the right hon. Gentleman to answer it.
§ MR. EVELYN DENISON
said, he took a view of this transaction different from that of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli), and he could not but regret some of the expressions which had fallen from him. It did not seem to him (Mr. Denison) to be a transaction discreditable to one party and derogatory to the other, but, on the contrary, alike honourable and advantageous to both. The people of Sardinia and the Government of Sardinia deserved the warmest sympathy of that House. There was not only a gallant and spirited people, but also a faithful and upright king. It was owing to the fortunate combination of these causes that constitutional liberty had taken root and 1081 flourished in that country almost alone of any of the southern countries of Europe. As no opposition was to be offered to this vote, he regretted that it should be given in a grudging spirit; he could have wished it to be given with the hearty good-will of the House. Let it not be forgotten—rather let it be publicly proclaimed—that this tree of liberty which had taken root and sprung up in that country was flourishing among a population, not the entirety, but the great majority of whom professed the Roman Catholic religion. In that country they had been wise enough to recognise the close connection of religious with civil liberty—and greatly to their honour, they had respected the liberty of conscience, and had granted perfect freedom to the exercise of religions of all denominations and creeds. He could not but congratulate the able Minister who presided over that country and the representative of our Queen there, on having brought these negotiations to a successful issue. He trusted that the free Government of Sardinia might long flourish. He was sure that the only prospect for liberty in southern Europe depended upon the success of that Government. He trusted that it might long prosper—that the union between the two countries might become close and intimate. That the example of successful constitutional Government which are there exhibited might long prevail, a spectacle alike instructive to people and to kings.
§ MR. BRIGHT
It strikes me, Sir, that the question which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) has introduced, and upon which the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) has touched, is hardly the one which is before the Committee. With regard to the defect in the Militia Bill, I certainly think the noble Lord was hardly fair in his remarks upon hon. Gentlemen opposite, because, if any attempt had been made to remedy that defect when the Bill was passing through this House, no one knows better than the noble Lord that the Bill would not have been passed at all. The question before the Committee is that of lending 1,000,000l. this year and 1,000,000l. next year to the Government of Sardinia, in return for which they are to furnish us with a force of 15,000 men for the war. The noble Lord says this is not exactly a subsidy, because the Sardinian Government are to pay interest upon the loan, and a part of that interest is to go in reduction of the debt, but the noble 1082 Lord has not told us anything about the security. I believe that debts of this kind, from one State to another, are generally shuffled off under some pretence not very long after the money is advanced, and I should be infinitely better satisfied with some security, whatever it might be, if we were not to have these 15,000 men. I sympathise quite as much as the hon. Gentleman who last spoke with the progress which Sardinia is making in civil and religious freedom, but I contend that nothing can be more hostile to such progress than that Sardinia should needlessly throw herself into a struggle like this, in which she cannot have the remotest interest, and from the issue of which she cannot gain the remotest benefit. I think it is one of the great misfortunes, among many others, of this war, that we are endeavouring, wherever we can do it, in the case of large States to coax them, and, in the case of small States, to bully them, into entering upon a struggle which, with regard to ourselves, has been attended with so much ill-success and so many disasters. If there be a country in Europe which can have no interest whatever in the war it is Sardinia, and yet the hon. Gentleman (Mr. E. Denison) thinks it very honourable and advantageous to Sardinia to get into this scrape, just as if a war was something exceedingly valuable—something like a nugget which is found by two or three men, but in the scramble for which everybody is ready to join. I am not going to divide the Committee upon this Resolution. I think it an unfortunate thing for ourselves that we should have entered upon a war which we find ourselves altogether unequal to carry on. The notion of this country's sending land forces to any portion of the continent of Europe is foolish enough, but that we should send land forces to the very extreme point of Europe, to a distance from England by sea of 3,000 miles, is, to my mind, little less than an act of lunacy. The consequences of such acts we have already seen to a certain extent, and if we persist in this course much longer we shall experience them to a still greater extent. While I have no sympathy with measures which will lead other nations, who have from their position a more remote interest than ourselves in the struggle, to engage their forces in a war which I believe never should have been entered upon, I wish also to express my entire dissatisfaction with the plan of subsidies, whether in their original form or in the shape of a loan. I 1083 wish further to express my deep regret that the kingdom of Sardinia should have left the peaceful and honourable pursuit in which she was engaged, of settling her own internal freedom on a firm and satisfactory foundation, and should have thrown herself into a struggle from which greater countries than Sardinia cannot retire without loss and disaster, and probably dishonour, and from which I believe that Sardinia, especially if her forces are placed under your generals and under your management, will retire with the same dishonour as ourselves.
§ MR. BOWYER
said, he wished to address a few observations to the House upon this subject, which related to a country in which he had resided for many years, and which he had very lately visited. He did not wish to throw obstacles in the way of any measure which Her Majesty's Government believed to be essential to the prosecution of the war, and he had no intention of disparaging or undervaluing the assistance which might be derived from the Sardinian army. Indeed, he believed that a better disciplined and more gallant army did not exist in Europe, but he thought Her Majesty's Government should not be relieved from the blame which attached to them for resorting to means of this kind in prosecuting the war. When he asked the noble Lord at the head of the Government the other day whether he was prepared to afford the House any information as to the state of the Sardinian finances, he expected that the noble Lord would at least have been ready to have given the House such information as would show that good security could be given for the proposed loan. He had been surprised to hear the noble Lord say he believed it was a matter of notoriety that the credit of the Sardinian Government was good. Did the noble Lord rely upon the accounts of newspaper correspondents, and could he not have obtained an accurate knowledge of the state of the finances of Sardinia from our Minister in that country before he advised the advance of so considerable a loan as was now proposed to the Sardinian Government? It appeared to him (Mr. Bowyer) that this recklessness with regard to the means of repaying the advance was a strong indication that it was to be, not a loan, but a subsidy. Supposing, however, that it was intended to be a loan, the noble Lord must be aware the state of the Sardinian finances was such that the money would 1084 never be repaid. The noble Lord certainly said that interest was to be paid upon the loan, but what prospect, he wanted to know, was there of the return of the capital? He thought it was evident that the advance must be looked upon as a subsidy, because, if the credit of Sardinia was good, why did not the Government borrow this money from the great capitalists of Europe in the ordinary way? He could not show by exact figures the financial position of Sardinia, because the Government now in power had never laid before the House of Representatives, as he was informed by a member of the Assembly, any complete balance-sheet representing the precise state of the revenue and expenditure. It was notorious, however, that there was an annual and increasing deficit in the revenue of Sardinia, which amounted to several millions of francs; the taxes were heavy; commerce had been stimulated to the utmost; there was considerable over-speculation, and, therefore, an unsound state of credit in the trade of the country. There was an increase of expenditure every year arising from the manufacture of places, which were disposed of for the purpose of enabling the Government to manage the House of Representatives and obtain that influence which was necessary to carry their measures. Then there was a great standing army, out of all proportion to the resources of the country or to its necessities. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) had referred to the absurdity of Sardinia engaging in the present war. This view would be confirmed when it was considered that Genoa, the great trading port of the country, must be seriously injured, indeed, almost ruined, by such a war. The trade of Genoa was carried on principally with Russian ports, and it was impossible that it should not receive serious injury. When the noble Lord, therefore, induced Sardinia to embark in this war by a loan of 2,000,000l., he should have considered how much the security for that loan would thereby be diminished. The Government of Sardinia had resorted to a series of measures which strikingly exemplified the insecurity of the financial affairs of that country; but he would refer only to two of these. There was in Turin a great hospital which had revenues arising from large estates in Italy. Two years ago the Government, finding themselves embarrassed by a large deficit, brought in a Bill to purchase the property of that hos- 1085 pital. It seemed strange that the Government should have purchased these large estates; but they passed a measure by which they were enabled to sell the property and apply the proceeds to the current expenses of the year, giving the hospital nothing in return but the interest in Government paper. The next case to which he would allude was the confiscation of Church property. They had brought in a Bill to take possession of, or sell the property of different cathedral churches and religious bodies, and apply the proceeds towards the current expenses of the year, while the only reimbursement given was in the shape of Government debentures. These two circumstances—to which he could assure the House he had referred to without reference to any religious or ecclesiastical considerations—were quite sufficient to show how uncertain was the security they possessed when they made this loan to Sardinia. He also must complain of the employment of foreign troops to do that which our own troops would have so much better done, had not our resources and the energies of our army been so disgracefully mismanaged and crippled.
Sir, until I heard the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, I felt that the course of this debate or conversation was eminently satisfactory in one respect, namely, in this, that although different views have been taken by different Gentlemen of the proposal now made by Her Majesty's Government, some of them supporting, and others of them on one ground or another questioning or even objecting to this proposal, yet not a word has been said by any Gentleman in any quarter of the House which could tend to give a false impression respecting the feelings of this country towards Sardinia. And if I rise to offer a few observations to the Committee, it is because I think that the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, if no comment were made upon it in a different sense, would convey an inaccurate impression to the country respecting the feelings of hon. Members in this House. The hon. Member for Malton (Mr, Evelyn Denison) has stated, and stated well, the special claim that Sardinia has on our sympathy and respect. In the midst of events, in many respects far from favourable to the progress of constitutional government—at a period when many nations have had the prize of freedom 1086 apparently within their grasp and lost it again—when retrogression rather than advancement has in many cases marked European history—Sardinia is the country that, amidst difficulties almost unprecedented, has succeeded in establishing for herself the blessings of a free government. It is undoubtedly true that she has not succeeded in conciliating the revolutionary spirit; and those who are true revolutionists, whether with respect to Italy or any other country, have manifested the nature of their feelings, and have borne the strongest testimony to the true policy of Sardinia by this fact, that the friends, I will not say of freedom, but the friends of revolution and the political incendiaries have manifested even greater animosity to the free constitutional government of Sardinia than they have shown to despotism in other parts of Italy and Europe. I think, Sir, that is a fact which ought to secure from the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Bowyer), as I am certain it will secure from almost every one who hears me, that respect which is due to an assertion alike firm and temperate of the principles of freedom combined with the principles of order. I am bound also to say, and I hope I shall not offend the feelings of any Gentleman in this House by saying so, that I think the hon. Member for Malton was justified in adverting to the union that prevails in that country between civil and religious liberty—a subject in connection with which we may open some painful chapters in the recent history of Sardinia. It is impossible, however, not to feel that Sardinia has had difficulties, and I will also venture to say it has enemies, of a peculiar character to contend with. Her internal difficulties fomented from without are of a nature which has greatly increased the weight of responsibility upon her statesmen, but which must also greatly increase her claims upon our sympathy and respect. The hon. and learned Gentleman who just sat down has stated to us that the credit of Sardinia is bad—that the finances of Sardinia are deranged—that, so far from economy being the result of this state of things, the greatest extravagance prevails; that this extravagance has not reference to the legitimate purposes of Government, but that the lavish expenditure takes place for the purposes of corruption; and then he goes on to show us instances which he thinks proves his view of the case, and testifies to us that Sardinia is an untrustworthy 1087 debtor. I was sorry to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman utter a portion of those observations, because, when the hon. and learned Gentleman says that the finances of Sardinia are expended for the purpose of Parliamentary corruption, he ventures upon statements which he knows it is unlikely that any of those who heard him can be supplied with the means of refuting. I do not think that with regard to a friendly Power—but, above all, with regard to a Power that does not stand in the first rank in Europe in regard to the magnitude of her resources—such a charge should have been made by the hon. and learned Member unless he had been prepared not to deal in generalities alone, but to go forward and to supply us with facts which would warrant him in casting so serious an imputation upon that country. As to his charge with respect to the state of her finances, I do not think the case he quoted was at all conclusive. He says a law was passed by which the Government was authorised to sell the property of an hospital in Turin, and to provide for the maintenance of the hospital by means of Government paper; but I apprehend that in this country, when we have occasion to borrow or obtain money under the sanction of the law, we are very apt to give to those from whom we get the money no other instrument or security but that which the hon. and learned Gentleman seems to have condemned under the name of Government paper. [Mr. BOWYER rose to explain; but, amidst cries of "Order!" resumed his seat.] I understood the hon. and learned Gentleman perfectly, there is no necessity for any explanation; he has no right to complain of what I say. Government paper is a very good thing or a very bad thing in proportion as the Government is a Government of character or otherwise. No doubt there are many countries—some States of Italy, for instance, where I might go, if necessary, to find an example—where Government paper is of very little value, indeed; but the question with regard to Sardinia which it is material for this House to consider is this—has Sardinia ever broken her financial engagements? I may be wrong, but, so far as I am aware, all the financial obligations of Sardinia, notwithstanding the great political difficulties she has had to confront, have on every occasion been met and discharged with exemplary fidelity; and, for my part, I can hardly understand why this 1088 insinuation and imputation should be cast upon the character of a Government whose faith has been as yet untainted by suspicion. So much for the character of Sardinia, with respect to which it is felt to be material, not on one side alone, but throughout this House, that no mistake should exist with regard to the feelings that animate Englishmen. As regards the questions immediately before the Committee, I shall venture to say a few words. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) says that last year he heard of a loan in disguise, and on the present occasion he thinks he has heard of a subsidy in disguise; and he was followed by the hon. and learned Member near me (Mr. Bowyer), who not only concurred with that remark, but went greatly beyond it, because he produced facts and statements which, as he considered, demonstrated that this loan bore the character of a subsidy. Now, Sir, I feel with the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the whole question of subsidies is a grave and serious question. I feel the great responsibility which a Government incurs in proposing a pecuniary grant to a foreign State under any form whatever; but how far greater would that responsibility be if they were to propose it to Parliament in a form they believed to be delusive. You cannot treat this as a matter of slight importance—it is a matter of the highest importance; and if this professed loan really be not a loan, but a subsidy, then Parliament should know it. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Bowyer) and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) will remember that discussions in this House at the present moment on the question as to whether this is a loan or a subsidy are not mere passing words, but that these very discussions might hereafter, under possible circumstances, be determining elements in the question, and actually decide the question whether it should be a loan or a subsidy. It is not merely what is written in a treaty that decides that question, but the spirit also in which the proposal was received, and the general impression with which the vote of Parliament is given. This is, I believe, a loan as it professes to be, and is not a subsidy in disguise. The hon. and learned Gentleman says he can demonstrate it as a subsidy. He says, if it be not a subsidy and only a loan, why should Sardinia come to the British Government to borrow money? Why does does she not go to the money market as 1089 other nations have done? He says the Emperor of France has gone into the money market, but he might have quoted the case of a Power that has not such good credit as the Emperor of France. The Sultan of Turkey went into the money market within the last twelve months, and obtained from the capitalists of this country a loan of several millions. The hon. and learned Member then asks, why did not the King of Sardinia go into the money market like other States? Now, I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman is justified in founding any conclusion upon the fact that the King of Sardinia prefers a loan which he expects to obtain, through the power and resources of England, at 3 per cent interest, to a loan which he would possibly contract, as Turkey contracted in the money market, at the rate of 6 per cent. I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that the credit and resources of France are infinitely beyond those of Sardinia, yet it must be remembered that the French loan was only obtained by the Emperor of France at a rate somewhat exceeding 5 per cent. Is it not natural that the King of Sardinia should have wished to obtain the money on the most reasonable terms he could obtain it, and as it was possible to get it from the English Government on terms inure reasonable than he could get it in the open market, it was natural that he should wish to reduce the burden he was entailing upon his country for interest, to one-half what it would otherwise be. When there is this motive for his conduct, why should we be driven to the necessity of imagining illegitimate motives and concealed purposes, or of supposing that the King of Sardinia was attempting a juggle upon the people of England, and was endeavouring to extort from us a grant of money under the plea of a loan. Hon. Gentlemen can correct me if I am wrong when I state that the Government of Sardinia, during the communications that have preceded this engagement, have been by no means indifferent on the question whether this should be a loan or a grant. Their opinion was, that it would not be compatible with the disinterested motives with which they entered into the war, or, on the other hand, with the real and unimpaired dignity belonging to their country, that they should accept a grant from Great Britain for the purpose of the war, and I believe themselves were the parties that were the least anxious to obtain a 1090 subsidy. Perhaps I do not say too much when I express the opinion that they were determined not to have a subsidy from the British Government. The engagement into which they have entered is a perfectly bonâ fide engagement. They borrow money on favourable terms, and they enter into an obligation that binds them, within half a year from the present time, to make the first payment of interest. If that payment shall not be made, it will be competent for the hon. and learned Gentleman, and entirely consonant with his duty as a Member of Parliament, to call the attention of the House of Commons to that default on the part of the Government of Sardinia. Parliament is under the greatest obligation, for the sake of the country at large, to take care that they treat this with which we are dealing as a loan and not as a grant. My belief is that it is a loan, and I repeat that the expression of a contrary opinion might possibly, under certain circumstances, have an unfavourable influence. The character of a loan has been stamped upon it throughout, and the definiteness of the terms of the engagement, and the unqualified assurance of the Government of Sardinia, carry entire satisfaction to my mind, as they carried it to the minds of my noble Friend at the head of the Government, and of the Earl of Clarendon, the Minister chiefly responsible for this transaction. If it be a loan, still I grant that the expenditure of 2,000,000l. for aid extended to a foreign country in carrying on this war, is a very serious matter. it is nut the first time, however, that aid has been extended to foreign countries during the present war. It is the first time, no doubt, that service has been rendered in the shape of money, but most important services have been performed in other ways, which, if stated, in the shape of money, would be found to amount to a very considerable sum, both in the Baltic and Mediterranean. I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman does not mean to go to the extreme—I will not say extravagant—length of arguing that we are entirely to abjure the principle of making the resources of this country available for War otherwise than through the medium of our military establishments. Whilst I feel with him that the system of subsidies carried on during the last war was, both in its nature very dangerous and in its consequences very frighful, yet I think there are circumstances attending 1091 the position of this country, the amount of its pecuniary means and resources as compared with that of its military means being also immense, which teach you not absolutely to cut yourselves off from granting to foreign nations assistance, through the medium of money, for prosecuting the common objects of the war. It is not in the last war, but in every war in which you have been engaged since the Revolution, you have found it necessary to act upon that principle. The whole question then is, is the form in which it is done safe and judicious, and is the necessity which produces it absolute enough to justify the proposition? I believe the form is a safe and judicious one, but, more than that, I give the Government entire credit for the bona fides of this proposition. I believe it is not a subsidy in disguise, but that it is what it professes to be—a loan of money. As to the necessity of the measure, I think that requires little demonstration; it was not requisite for my noble Friend to enter into details with the view of showing the immense advantage of bringing so important a contingent into active service in the Crimea at the very shortest notice, and in the highest possible order. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) said that at the end of the first year of the war we are driven to ask military aid from a foreign Power. That may be so, but there have been other wars in which we were engaged, and in which, at a period of the contest not much later, we asked similar assistance from that very foreign Power; and I think it was either in the second or third year of the revolutionary war that we found it necessary to give a subsidy to Sardinia. The quicker it is done, I say, the better, if it is to be done. There is no good policy, no economy, no humanity, in protracting the operations of war. Perhaps, in the present case, the error has been on the other side, and, instead of making efforts too slight and too late, as has sometimes been imputed to the Administration, our exertions have been on too vast and excessive a scale. But to accumulate the means of carrying on great operations with speed and effect, and to strike your blows at the most vital parts of your enemy, are, I believe, the foundations of sound military policy; and the great and effective aid you are about to derive from the Sardinian contingent will, I must confess, supply an adequate justification for the proposals of Her Majesty's Government, though I 1092 entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the whole question of pecuniary aid to foreign Powers is one which ought to be sifted and scrutinised by the House of Commons with the nicest jealousy, and that such measures are of a nature which canot be justified without the clearest views of public advantage, and without the strongest necessity for their adoption.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, it seemed to him that when a country was willing to furnish aid it did not much matter whether that aid was in the shape of men, of ships, or money. All he asked was that, as it had been argued that men were required, that the country should first be allowed to furnish its own men rather than to employ the men of another nation. The noble Lord who brought forward the Resolution, in the short speech which he had made, thought it was quite sufficient if he passed a panegyric on Sardinia to make the proposal acceptable to the Committee, and he was followed by the hon. Member for Malton (Mr. Evelyn Denison), who had asked whether Sardinia was not a fine country, with a noble king and a noble constitution? They all agreed in that, but still it did not appear to him a sufficient argument for the loan; and when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) added to that argument that her finances were in a good condition, he made the demand for the loan much less accountable than ever. He granted that if this country was exhausted, the noble Lord could not have gone to a better country than Sardinia to procure men, for he believed there was not a finer army in Europe than the Sardinian army, nor a nobler or more chivalrous Monarch, who had, in the bloody field of Novara, where three horses were shot under him, proved himself a most gallant soldier, as well as a constitutional King. But did that settle the point whether they were to give aid to Sardinia, for whether it were a loan or a subsidy it was an aid. Indeed, it bordered very nearly on the character of a subsidy if they looked to the length of time before the sinking fund proposed would cover the capital, and, however faithfully Sardinia might fulfil her engagements, few Members of that House then present would see the day on which the loan would be entirely repaid. There was also, let him say, something on the face of the Resolution calculated to raise a grave suspicion that by its terms the country was being asked to furnish Sardinia, with an annual loan 1093 durante bello. The noble Lord when asked to state the ground upon which this money was to be lent, said that every one who was acquainted with military affairs must know that it took 40,000l. per annum to maintain 1,000 men. Well, for the 15,000 men of the Sardinian army it would, according to this calculation, take only 600,000l. a year, being little more than the half of the sum of 1,000,000l. that was asked for. It really appeared to him little other than a proposed annual subsidy to maintain 15,000 men, and he protested, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member of Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), against a recurrence, on the part of this century, to that system of subsidies which during the late war had occasioned such difficulties. The noble Lord had unfairly taunted the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, when he said that, according to the right hon. Gentleman, the country should lay down its arms and contract its operations. What the right hon. Gentleman proposed to do was, to develope the resources of the country so as to enable us to fight our own battles with our own men. If this was a temporary difficulty it should be met by a temporary grant, but if, on the other hand, it was to be a permanent provision for Sardinia, why should England be called upon to make it more than any other country involved in the war? In entering into this quarrel, Sardinia would be fighting her own battle and advancing her own interest, not animated by a pure philanthropy in the interests of others. Let them first develope their own resources, let them encourage volunteers and the militia, and, above all—and he called the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to this subject—let them do their utmost to develope the resources of England in her Colonies. He wished to press upon the Government this fact, that one regiment of volunteers from a British colony would be worth more, for the prestige of this country, than fifteen regiments from any foreign Power. But it might be said that Canada offered only recruits, and what was wanted was drilled men. Could the noble Lord assure them that the proposed Sardinian forces were not recruits themselves, and not the veteran soldiers that were so necessary. In following up the objections which had been taken by his right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, he did so with no desire of in any way impeding the Resolution for 1094 a loan to Sardinia, but in order to urge upon the Government the importance of losing no time in developing to the fullest extent the resources of our own country.
§ MR. K1NNAIRD
said, he viewed with the highest, admiration the conduct of the Government of the King of Sardinia, and he regretted that the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Bowyer) and the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) had not come forward to advocate the cause of the depressed people of Italy. Although, however, he was not surprised at the observations of the hon. Member for Manchester, he must express his extreme astonishment that the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had selected such an occasion for the discussion to which he had given rise. It was remarks such as those which the right hon. Gentleman had employed that evening which had nullified the proposition of the Government for obtaining the assistance of foreign troops on a previous occasion when the Foreign Enlistment Bill was under discussion; and now the right hon. Gentleman repeated those remarks, and again spoke about a "tributary and a mercenary army." He had himself received letters from officers in Switzerland, in which they stated that, from no mercenary feelings, but from those of the purest sympathy, they would have enlisted wider our standard, but that nothing should induce them to do so after the manner in which they had been spoken of in the House of Commons. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman should have used expressions which must tend to diminish that cordiality between this country and foreign nations, which was necessary to carry out the war to a successful termination.
Sir, I have never listened to anything in this House with more surprise than the language of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. Does the hon. Gentleman mean to say, when he expresses his feelings of astonishment and regret at what he heard the utter, that he really expected a Motion of this kind would have been passed in silence in this House? Why, Sir, what is this Motion? it is a Motion for a Vote of the public money to the amount of 2,000,000l.! The hon. Gentleman expresses his surprise that a Member of Parliament should get up and make a comment upon a proposition of this character! Why, Sir, I hold that it would be most indecent in the House of Commons, however unanimous 1095 we might be on the policy of this Vote, if we allowed to pass in silence a proposition of so large a character, affecting the public purse, without a comment or any demand for explanation. I entirely protest, also, against what I have observed much in the course of this debate—namely, an anxiety to dwell on the nature of the Government to which we are about to make, what I will now call to prevent discussion, a loan. It is of the utmost inconvenience when questions of this kind are brought before us—when we are asked, on the ground of public policy, to advance from our Treasury a loan of money for the aid of a foreign potentate, that we should have discussions upon the form of constitution, or the nature of the religion professed, in the particular State in question. Sir, I entirely object to those elements being brought into our discussion. I have as much sympathy in the progress of Sardinia as any Gentleman in this House; but if we are called upon to agree to such a Vote as this, on account of the ecclesiastical changes that are making in Piedmont, or on account of the new constitution that recently has happily been established there, we shall, I conceive, be laying down a most dangerous precedent. Why, Sir, we should have, when similar propositions were brought forward in respect to countries where there may be that free constitution or those elements of religious liberty which exist in Sardinia, a new chain of arguments brought into the debate, and a Minister might often find it difficult to recommend his measures to Parliament, if, instead of looking to the abstract policy of the proposition, we should be called upon to consider it in reference to the state of religion or the particular degree of freedom that might or might not exist in the country to which the loan was to apply. There were one or two remarks made by the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown, which I will take the liberty of noticing. I never wish to avail myself of the privilege of speaking a second time in Committee; but as the noble Lord has spoken twice upon this occasion, he, at all events, cannot have any just cause of complaint against me. The noble Lord's answer to my objections, so far as I could follow him, consisted of imputations against myself. First, he says, I attempted to depreciate the character of Sardinia. Now, Sir, I studiously guarded myself from doing so. It is not very likely that I should be guilty of such conduct, which is so alien to my 1096 feelings. But I avoided altogether touching on a point which has nothing whatever to do with the matter. The noble Lord, in the second place, imputed to the Government of Lord Derby, that it was from their negligence the power of our militia had not been more effective and earlier developed. Now, that is an objection which I consider has been already disposed of by a single observation which fell from the hon. Gentleman opposite; and as the House seemed also to be of the same opinion, I thought it unnecessary to dwell upon it. The noble Lord must remember that it was with the utmost difficulty the original Militia Bill was carried which secured the services of this body in this country. It is also well known that it was sought to introduce a clause into that measure which would have secured its condemnation. The noble Lord also says, that it would have been preposterous before war was declared that any attempt should be made to increase the forces of our army by the development of the power of our militia. Now, this is the second or third time that the noble Lord has urged that argument; but he quite forgets that while these negotiations were going on—before war was declared—this country was preparing, under a Government of which he was a Member, two magnificent fleets. It appears, then, that the noble Lord had no objection, while these negotiations were going on, and before a declaration of war, to take part in preparing those two vast armadas. Why, then, should we not try to increase our militia force, and thereby secure the strength of our army, I cannot comprehend. I can only account for it upon this ground—that the Government were not sincere in their attempt to carry on the war in which we were unfortunately engaged. The Government in the first instance attempted merely by a demonstration to carry on this war. You sent out large fleets, which came home again without meeting our enemy. I can only account for this by supposing that you never intended to enter upon real warfare, which by your miserable policy you entailed upon this country. The noble Lord has been guilty of another misrepresentation—and in so short a speech I must say I never listened to so many. He says, in the few remarks which I had made I had recommended, at the moment important negotiations were going on, that our military preparations should cease. Why, Sir, on the contrary, I urged upon the Com- 1097 mittee, when the original negotiations were going on, and before war was declared, that our military preparations should be pressed forward with much greater vigour than at a time when we should be involved in extreme difficulties. As I said originally, I shall support this Resolution—I shall support it, though I object to the policy of it, because I think that at this moment there is a State necessity which would render it almost the duty of the House of Commons to secure every means that are placed at the command of the Government to carry on the war. But although State necessity may justify me in taking a course which abstractedly I should think impolitic, and which under ordinary circumstances I should deprecate, still I cannot shut my eyes to this fact—that it is the impolicy of the Ministers that has brought about the circumstances that have rendered this State necessity so imperative and inexorable. All that the noble Lord said respecting the conduct of the Government of Lord Derby in reference to the militia I deem too idle for me to notice. But what the noble Lord says in vindication of the Government of which he was a Member, and of that particular department for which he was personally responsible, cannot for a moment be allowed to pass. He wants to persuade us that he did not call out the militia, because there were not then any indications of disturbance in the progress of the negotiations; and that, in fact, his apparent negligence was the consequence of his prescience and sagacity. Why, Sir, it was only last May the noble Lord gave us reasons why he would not call out the Scotch and the Irish militias. And those reasons were that the expense would be too great for him to take the responsibility of incurring. Now, what must be thought of a Minister who in the month of May last, when war had been declared, declined on the ground of expense to call out the militia of Scotland and Ireland? I say that this neglect of developing in its full force and most comprehensive character that nursery of our army is the cause, and the only cause, of our being obliged, under these circumstances, to supply ourselves with this foreign contingent. There is another cause, no doubt, for the necessity of our having recourse to the Sardinian contingent. If you had done your duty with regard to the British army sent out to the Crimea, this measure would never 1098 have been necessary. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone)—upon whose speech it is unnecessary for me to make any comment, because, subsequently, the right hon. Gentleman agreed with me in everything I said—observed that vigorous action was most necessary if we agreed in carrying on the war. I concur, Sir, with the right hon. Gentleman in this remark; but there is one thing more important than even a British militia or a Sardinian contingent, and that is, if you have a great and gallant army in the enemy's country, you should take care that they do not want raiment, that they do not want food, that they do not want medicine, that they do not want shelter. The hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird) attacks me and my Friends because, in December last, we succeeded in defeating the measure of the Government in regard to the enlistment of foreigners; that, we did not formally, but that we virtually defeated that measure. Well, I must say that I am happy I contributed, however slightly, to so fortunate a result. If in December we knew what we ascertained a few days after the adjournment of the House, do you think that our debates upon the Foreign Enlistment Bill would have occupied our attention? No, instead of such debates we would be calling you to account for the state of the British army in the Crimea. It is possible or probable that this Resolution which you have put into the hands of Mr. Bouverie may be a necessity. I will not take the responsibility of saying that it is not. I will support it, however, upon that issue, though I am opposed to it abstractedly as to its general policy. But I admit its necessity, because of your mal-administration. It is a necessity, because you have, first of all, failed in making the proper preparations to meet the war in which you have involved the country. And, secondly, by the inefficient measures with which you have conducted the war you have driven yourselves, even at this early period, to this objectionable proceeding. I call it objectionable, because, notwithstanding the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), I still retain my opinion as to the nature of this particular advance. I will not now discuss whether this is a disguised subsidy or a formal loan; but this I know, it is most unfortunate that at so early a period of the struggle we should find ourselves obliged to have recourse to 1099 means of this kind. And whether it be right or whether it be wrong, I am not sorry I have had this opportunity thus early of protesting against a renewal of a system of subsidies by this country. If you are not recommencing that system, so much the better for England. I should be glad to acknowledge that I am in error in this respect. The system is one which failed in the hands of Pitt—it broke that mighty spirit; and I confess I have not that confidence in the noble Lord at the head of the Government to believe that he will succeed in that in which Mr. Pitt failed.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I think that the right hon. Gentleman has misconceived and misrepresented what fell from the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird). I did not understand that hon. Gentleman as finding fault with the right hon. Gentleman for disapproving either of the policy of the Government or of the measure now produced. But that which he did disapprove of was the language which he thought the right hon. Gentleman had used, representing these Sardinian troops as mercenaries, and tending to cast upon them those imputations which he had cast on other foreign troops which the Government attempted to raise, but whose services the right hon. Gentleman, in his observations upon the measure before Christmas, had prevented us from obtaining. If the right hon. Gentleman did not apply his observations to that measure, then the comments of my hon. Friend would fall to the ground. But my hon. Friend spoke in the belief that the application had been made. Now, I must confess I was rather surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman—wincing under the taunt—driven to express congratulations to himself that a measure which Parliament had deliberately sanctioned was, by means of imputations cast by him upon foreign troops, indirectly defeated. I should hardly have expected the right hon. Gentleman, in the position which he occupies, to congratulate himself that by the adoption of such means he had prevented a measure, which had been deliberately sanctioned by this House, being carried into effect. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that that success which he boasts of as having obtained over that measure, has by no means tended to raise him or the party with which he is connected in the estimation of foreign nations. On the contrary, I am bound to say that the indignation which his observations have 1100 excited on the Continent has had the most injurious effect upon the general reputation of England in foreign countries. I therefore think that the right hon. Gentleman has been rather hasty in expressing himself in such a spirit. Another observation made by the right hon. Gentleman will not, I think, stand the test of argument. It has been stated by the right hon. Gentleman that it is rather disgraceful to the Administration, that so soon in the course of the war they should be obliged to have recourse to this extraneous means for increasing our effective force. Now, Sir, I say that it is precisely at the beginning of a war that it may be necessary to employ such means, and that after the war has lasted a long time, if unfortunately it should do so, when Government has been able, by those means of voluntary enlistment at its command, to raise the number of efficient men to the required amount to undertake great operations, then these foreign auxiliaries are no longer necessary. At the commencement of a war, when the country is called upon to make great efforts, is precisely the time when foreign auxiliaries are most required, and, therefore, I do not think there is much force in that argument of the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to the question, as to whether this advance is a subsidy or a loan, I can confirm what has been stated by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) that, from the very beginning of the negotiations, the Government of Sardinia have repudiated all notion of its being a subsidy, to accept a subsidy being, in their view, inconsistent with the dignity and honour of their country. They thought it was more convenient to obtain the money they wanted, and that it might be obtained on easier terms, through the medium of England than if they had gone alone into the market; they added that they took this money on their own responsibility; and I do not think the engagement thus entered into was one which should be regarded as insufficient. The right hon. Gentleman has deemed it necessary to apologise for trespassing upon the Committee in two speeches, and such an apology is, perhaps, more called for from me, who have exceeded the right hon. Gentleman by one. I wish, however, to observe that on another subject, with regard to the militia, the right hon. Gentleman misunderstood the force of what I said in reply to him. His reproach to Her Majesty's Government was, that we did not, even before the war began, 1101 but certainly immediately afterwards, embody the whole militia, and that thus we showed a want of energy and of vigour. My answer to this was complete. It was that as the law stood, the law as brought forward and passed by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a member, we had not the power to embody the militia; and that the law only gave us that power in case of actual invasion or apprehension thereof, It was not until Parliament had passed another Bill, allowing the militia to be embodied in time of war, that we had the power to do what the right hon. Gentleman said we ought to have done, With regard to the Scotch and Irish militia, new Acts of Parliament were required in each of those cases also, and we proposed those measures, and, as soon as they passed, embodied the whole of the militia of those countries. But even if we had had the Scotch and Irish militia embodied at an earlier period, that would not have given us a force available for those purposes for which we now propose that Parliament should give us this contingent.
§ MR. WALPOLE
I do not wish, Sir, to stop the progress of the Resolution before the Committee. There is no difference of opinion with reference to the passing of that Resolution, though some difference has been expressed in regard to the policy which may be supposed to be contained in it. I think, however, that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli) may very well congratulate himself upon having brought this subject before the notice of the Committee, for if it had not been fully debated very great misconception might have taken place with respect to the question of loans and subsidies. As it is, the discussion this evening gives a clear intimation of the opinion of this House as to when loans ought and ought not to be made in these cases, and especially I refer to the opinions expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member fur the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), which appear to me very much in conformity with those of my right hon. Friend, and in which opinions I need hardly say that I entirely concur. The observations of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) put this question in the best light. He said, with reference to the Resolution before the Committee, that two points were to be established; one being whether this was a safe and a judicious course, and the other whether it was a case in which necessity justified such a 1102 course. Now, with reference to the latter point, there cannot be two opinions. A great State necessity has arisen, though upon the causes of that necessity we may possibly differ. In regard to the point, that this is a safe and judicious course, the authority of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) who must have known what was going on before he left the cabinet, and of the noble Lord the head of the present Government, shows that there is no idea of a subsidy in this advance to Sardinia, but that it is bonâ fide taken as a loan. Now, until these declarations were made, great misapprehension, I think, was entertained upon the subject, and my right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli), therefore, has done great service to the country by eliciting these observations. With respect to the remarks of the noble Viscount, that my right hon. Friend had used the phrase of "mercenaries," in referring to the Sardinian troops, I am perfectly certain, as far as my own recollection serves me—indeed, I may say, from my own knowledge—that the noble Viscount, as well as the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird), was entirely mistaken. I have often heard my right hon. Friend express his opinion on this subject in private (and I am sure he said nothing in contradiction to that opinion this evening), namely, that the Sardinian troops, instead of being mere mercenaries, are some of the best troops in the world. [Viscount PALMERSTON: I did not say the right hon. Gentleman used that expression.] With regard to the militia, what my right hon. Friend complained of was, that the necessity which has now arisen has been to a great extent occasioned by the Government not making sufficient preparations for the war in which they must have foreseen they were likely at no distant period to be engaged. Allow me to remind the noble Viscount, that it was my right hon. Friend in the month of July or August, 1853—[Mr. DISRAELI: It was 1854]—it was, speaking more correctly, in 1854 that my right hon. Friend called upon the Government, in the case of war, or the probability of war, not to allow Parliament to be prorogued for the usual period, but that they should meet in the course of the autumn, in order to provide those other measures which now my right hon. Friend justly says the Government neglected to provide. When Parliament met in the spring of 1854, the militia had not been embodied, and I think, had not been called out for more 1103 than the shortest period for which it had been called out before—namely, for twenty-eight days. At any rate, I am sure the noble Viscount never brought in his Bill until late in the Session to enable him to embody the militia in the event of war in the same manner as he could under the Bill which, as an instrument of the Government to which I belonged, I had the honour of introducing to this House, and by which the militia was to be embodied in the case of invasion or imminent danger thereof. Now, nobody knows better than the noble Viscount, for he was Secretary of War during the revolutionary war, and down to the peace in 1815, that under certain words in the old Act of Parliament, and continued in that which was passed through this House by the Government of which I was a member (aided very materially, I admit, by the noble Viscount himself), you always called out the militia before. I agree that there may have been a reasonable doubt upon that point; but instead of charging Lord Derby's Government with want of prescience in not making provision for calling out the militia in time of war, a very great doubt, indeed, has always existed in my mind whether you were justified last year in passing a Bill, as you did, for altering the character of the force you then raised. At the time I said nothing, because I would not impede the Government in raising what they believed a necessary force for the service of the country; but I believe as a general rule it would be better that the militia should only be raised in case of invasion or imminent danger of invasion, except for the purpose of garrisoning your towns. You should give every possible encouragement to the militia to enlist into the army; you should render it a nursery for the army; you should call them out for longer periods to train for the army, and then turn them into the line, instead of (except in great emergencies) drawing these persons altogether from the avocations in which they are engaged, they being a civil as well as a military body. It is not my wish to pursue this subject into anything like a hostile controversy with the noble Viscount, for on this side of the House there is the strongest desire to support him in the prosecution of this war with vigour and efficiency; and no party considerations will induce us to swerve from that determination. I hope, however, that in the prosecution of the war the end of that war will be more carefully looked to 1104 than it has been hitherto; that is to say, that you will propose to yourselves a clear, precise, definite aim—that you will know exactly what you intend to,do, and that Parliament may be informed as to what you propose; for, as long as we remain in the same uncertainty on the subject in which we have been from the very beginning, I fear you will neither prosecute the war with so much vigour as you would otherwise employ, nor—which I still more apprehend—will you be able to accomplish a peace which will be safe and honourable to the country, and which England as well as the rest of Europe, provided that it is safe and honourable, emphatically desires.
§ MR. J. BALL
said, he would admit that it was true that the finances of Sardinia had been to a considerable extent embarrassed of late years, but it was important to consider whether it arose from chronic causes, such as deficiency of resources, or merely from temporary causes. He thought that they were purely temporary causes, and that the embarrassment had been brought about by the enormous sacrifices made in 1848 and 1849, and by that most unfortunate campaign with Austria, and also by short crops. There was not the slightest reason to believe in the permanence of the state of things that had arisen from these causes, and in proof of that, he might refer to the great industrial exertions, and the development of the railway resources, which had occurred in Sardinia. In no country in Europe had there, since 1848, been so much capital, in proportion, laid out. Cultivation had also much increased, and the mining resources of the country had been developed in the highest degree. At the same time, he could not avoid stating his belief that some of the recent measures of the Government of Sardinia had been highly impolitic, but he quite agreed with the general course of legislation in Sardinia. As to the charge of culpable extravagance in Parliamentary corruption, he would say that though he had had great intercourse with people in that country, he had never heard an imputation of the kind, except from some of the more violent radicals. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) said the people of Sardinia had acted contrary to their own interests in entering into a treaty, but surely the representatives of the people of Sardinia, who voted for the treaty, ought to know what was best for the interests of that country. If the war were to continue, he did not think it right or just that it 1105 should be supported solely by France and England, when the whole of Europe was interested in the objects for which it had been undertaken.
§ MR. COBDEN
said, he thought the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. J. Ball) had somewhat misapprehended the remarks of his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright). His hon. Friend approved the efforts of Sardinia to advance liberal institutions as much as the hon. Member for Carlow, but he thought that they had acted unwisely in this instance. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ball) said, the majority of the representatives of Sardinia were in favour of the step which had been taken; but the treaty, if he was rightly informed, was by no means unanimously agreed to by the Sardinian Parliament; and it sometimes happened that Parliamentary majorities were Wrong, and minorities right, though the hon. Gentleman would have the decision of a majority submitted to as a doom of fate. He (Mr. Cobden) had watched for some years with great interest the progress of Sardinia, and he yielded to no one in his wishes fur the prosperity and freedom of that country; for he regarded Sardinia as the only ray of hope in the dark political horizon of Italy, and he felt that if Sardinia and her Parliamentary and representative Government failed, a heavy blow would be dealt to the hopes of every other State in Italy. That being his feeling toward Sardinia, he could not be accused of speaking of her in a hostile spirit, when he said that he doubted whether she had consulted her own interests in entering into this war. Why should Sardinia, which was the only antagonist to the power of Austria in Italy, be forced into the war before Austria had fired a shot? Was it not like the monkey putting the cat's paw into the fire to draw out the chestnut? During the last two months enough had been heard of Austria entering into the contest. And why, then, was she not invited to enter into it first, rather than a smaller Power, which had always been regarded as a sort of equipoise against the influence of Austria in Italy, and a most salutary equipoise wherever it had been felt? While Austria preserved its neutrality—for virtually she was neutral—could anybody suppose that Sardinia, as against Austria, could gain power and influence? He was sorry, as he had just said, for the step which Sardinia had taken, but he would go so far with the hon. Gentleman below him as to express a 1106 sincere hope that the head of the Sardinian Government, in whose abilities he had great confidence, was right, and that Sardinia might be ultimately benefited by the engagement into which she had entered with England and France. Leaving this part of the subject, he was desirous of calling the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to a point in the discussion of the question which he was surprised had not been alluded to before—namely, the time and the circumstances under which the House were called upon to vote this money. For four or five months they had been told that terms of peace had been proposed to Russia, which terms of peace were made the basis of negotiations so far back as last December. On the 2nd of December the Four Points were drawn up, on the 27th of December the interpretation of those points was handed in to Russia, and so long ago as the beginning of January they were told that Russia had accepted them as the basis of negotiations. From that time to the present, everything they had heard tended to the belief that Russia had entertained these Four Points as grounds for negotiations for peace, and, latterly, the steps which had been taken had assumed a far noire important aspect. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London had withdrawn from most important functions at the Colonial Office, and was now at Vienna solely for the purpose of negotiating peace upon the Four Points, and they were told, though he did not know how far the report was true, that already two of these points had been definitely arranged. They were also told, that in the course of another fortnight they might expect the noble Lord home from Vienna. Surely, then, they were justified in assuming that this was an important crisis in the war, and that within a fortnight the electric telegraph might flash from one end of Europe to the other the announcement that the dispute had been finally and satisfactorily arranged, and that there was no reason why the belligerent Powers should not agree to an armistice. This must be the result of the Vienna conferences, or else everything that had been done up to this time would be mere childishness and trifling. In a week or ten days they would either hear that peace was probable, or they would be painfully conscious that war upon a much larger scale, and extended, perhaps, all over Europe, would be inevitable. He would suggest, then, to the 1107 noble Lord whether, under such circumstances, it was absolutely necessary that the 1,000,000l. of money now asked for should be voted; and whether, considering that peace might be entered into, it would not be as well to take into consideration the propriety, at all events, of not involving this country in the advance of so large a sum of money to Sardinia. He assumed that it was not the interest of Sardinia to go to war for the sake of war, and he was told that the troops had not yet sailed from Piedmont to the Crimea; it was, therefore, still possible that no expense would be incurred for the transmission of troops. He would, therefore, advise the noble Lord to look a little before him, for, from the moment that peace took place, a retrospect would begin as to the conduct of the war—the tongues of all parties would be let loose, and every item of mismanagement, waste, and extravagance would be revived to the prejudice of the Government. Was it not possible, if peace should be the result of the negotiations, that this very Vote would be revived against the noble Lord's Government as an item of extravagance for which that Government was responsible. Upon this ground, therefore, he would suggest to the noble Lord to take into his consideration the contingent circumstances which might arise to render the vote unnecessary.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he rose to ask the noble Lord at the head of the Government whether, supposing peace should be concluded before the Sardinian expedition sailed to the Crimea, the obligation we had incurred with regard to the loan would be insisted upon?
§ MR. BOWYER
said, he wished to explain a point to which reference had been made by the right hon. Gentleman near him (Mr. Gladstone), who appeared to imagine that he had charged the Sardinian Government with corruption. No one could be more adverse than he was to attacks upon foreign Governments, but the statement he had made was made for the purpose of showing that the Sardinian Government could not administer its finances in a safe and proper manner, and he could produce facts to prove that what he had said was not a mere vague assertion. His statement with regard to the confiscation of the property of a hospital at Turin was, that the fee simple of the estates had been sold and the proceeds employed by the Government, and repayment of the capital not having been secured to the hospital, 1108 it was now left with nothing but the interest.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
The treaty was made with Sardinia upon the supposition that the Sardinian contingent would have to go to the seat of war, and carry on operations in conjunction with the British army during the year. The 1,000,000l. was to be advanced in two halves, one as soon as possible after the assent of Parliament had been given, and the other at the end of six months. Of course the Sardinian Government wanted the money to meet the greater expenses that were incurred by an army in the field than by an army stationed at home. Some of these expenses would have been incurred in preparing the contingent to take the field; and everybody acquainted with these matters knew that there were a great number of things requisite to equip an army for operations in the field which must be prepared before the army embarked. If peace were proclaimed before the army embarked only a certain portion of expense would have been incurred; on the other hand, if the army embarked and reached the scene of operations before peace was made, a greater portion of expense would have been incurred. Again, if peace were made only after the army had been there a certain time, a still greater portion of expense would have been incurred. The only answer, therefore, that he could give his hon. Friend (Mr. M. Milnes) was this—if peace should be made at an earlier period than the treaty contemplated there would naturally be a fresh arrangement between the two Governments, dependent upon the particular moment at which peace should have been made. If the Sardinian army should have reached the Crimea before peace was made, then an expense would have to be incurred in providing for their return; but he could not imagine that the Sardinian Government would wish to burden itself with a greater amount of loan than was necessary for the particular service which it had engaged to perform, and which it would be called on under that engagement to perform. Resolution agreed to. Resolved— "That the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury be authorised to issue, out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the sum of Ono Million Pounds sterling, during the present year, by way of Loan, to the Sardinian Government, in accordance with the terms of a Treaty concluded between Her Majesty and the King of Sardinia, and 1109 the like sum of One Million Pounds sterling in the following year, in the event of the War not having been brought to a close before the expiration of twelve months after payment of the first instalment of the above-mentioned Loan."
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.